Posts Tagged ‘The Bible’

Reading The Bible As Literature

June 16, 2014

Is there a reason so many debates about the Bible just miss the point? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Okay. We get it in the atheism/theism debates. Some people believe the Bible is reliable. Some do not. That’s fine and until the return of Christ, that’s not going to change. Yet I have been pondering lately that the way we talk about the Bible is part of the problem, and this isn’t just how atheists talk about it, but also how theists talk about it.

It seems while we speak about if the claims of the Bible are true, which we should, there is a lack of the recognition that the Bible is a piece of literature. It speaks with allegory, hyperbole, metaphor, simile, etc. It uses poetry and narrative and proverbs and apocalypses to make its point. The Bible exists in one book, but it is itself a collection of many books, books written by different authors in different times and locations.

Considering all of this, the Bible is not going to be an easy book to understand! Add in that it comes from languages different from our own, a culture different from our own, a time different from our own, and a place different from our own.

I started pondering this the most recent time I saw someone describe the Bible as a book of fairy tales. This is a common claim, but quite frankly a strange one. Fairy tales are really wonderful works of literature that show a richness of imagination and insight into the human predicament. What kind of person would laugh at a fairy tale for being a fairy tale? Yet this kind of statement is not an insult to the Bible alone, but it is also a lowering of the kind of writing that is a fairy tale.

Now why do many atheists say this? I suspect it’s because our culture has been heavily influenced by scientism. We have this idea that all truth should be amenable to the sciences and that science is the highest way of knowing anything if not the only way of knowing anything. We expect then the Bible to speak in scientific language because we are a scientific people.

It doesn’t, and that’s not because the Bible is anti-science. Many of us are not anti-science and we don’t speak in scientific language. The Bible has a totally different purpose. Even if you don’t think it is from God, the authors at least were really trying to make a message about God and they did not have to do it in a way that is convenient to modern listeners. They would write in ways their immediate audience would understand.

Besides, how many of us would really like to have many events described in scientific language? Consider for instance the union of man and woman in the act of sex. Which account would you rather here to describe what happens in the event? Would you prefer a purely scientific account or would you prefer to get an account perhaps from the lovers themselves? (Naturally after they’re done. There won’t be much desire to explain in the midst of the act.)

If you choose the first one, I pity you. I really do.

What needs to be done is to wrestle with the literary forms of the Bible and see if maybe our modern ideas of what the text means are wrong. Perhaps the Bible is not interested in the questions we are interested in. Perhaps one really needs to wrestle with the text to understand it. Still want to disbelieve it? Fine. At least do your part to really try to understand it as a text.

I’ve spoken about the atheists, but frankly, I think the theists are just as guilty. In fact, in many ways, I think my fellow theists are more guilty than the atheists are because we’ve set the standard that the atheist will follow.

For us, it really boils down to one word.

Literal.

Immediately, some people reading this who are Christians are going into a defensive stance because I have just made a statement that is going to dare to suggest that we don’t take the Bible literally. Why I must just be a liberal Christian who rejects miracles and inerrancy and everything else.

On the contrary, I believe we should ALWAYS take the Bible literally.

Why?

Because literal really means “According to the intent of the author.” If the author meant the text to be taken straight forwardly, then do so. If he meant it to be a narrative, then do so. If he meant it to be a metaphor or an apocalypse or a generality, then take it that way as well.

Too often, we have taken literal to mean something more like a wooden reading of the text. That’s not what a literal meaning is. That’s why in today’s parlance if I was asked if the Bible is the Word of God to be interpreted literally, I would say no, because sometimes the Bible is not straight forward.

Why should this surprise us? Jesus told his own parables in a confusing manner. In fact, he did so purposely. Job in his book talked about the search for wisdom and compared it to mining and digging deep for great wealth. It would not be easy to understand and considering all we’ve said about the Bible, why should it be?

Thus, when we hear Christians talk about the literal interpretation, too often it sets up atheists who think that this is always the way the Bible should be read and when read in that sense, they reject most of it as nonsense, and who can blame them? In fact, none of us take it that way or else in reading the words of Jesus, we’d all be blind and have no hands. (Too many people heavy into inerrancy fall into this trap of literal interpretation.)

In fact, when I put a short form of this up on Facebook, what happened immediately but a debate started about Genesis 1, which shows the problem! It’s immediately jumped to that Genesis 1 must be read in scientific terms! Surely this is what the author of the text meant to convey!

But maybe it wasn’t! Could it be someone like John Walton is right with his interpretation of Genesis One. Of course he could be wrong, but isn’t it worth listening to to consider first instead of assuming our presupposition is correct?

The theist, you see, is often guilty of not treating the Bible as literature as well and not really being able to wrestle with the text and ask the hard questions of the text. Some of us have this idea that we should not question the Bible. I disagree entirely. We should question the Bible with every question we can bring to it. In doing so, we can best find out what it is the text is saying.

Ironically, the two sides mentioned both have similar mindsets. Both of them tend to view the Bible always in a straight forward sense and both assume the Bible was written in a way that is directly fitted for modern 20th and 21st century people in a Western civilization.

Maybe it isn’t.

That’s not the fault of the Bible then. That’s the fault of us for wrestling with the text.

If you are on a debate site and you are arguing about the Bible, then for this part, it doesn’t really matter what side you’re on. You owe it to yourself to wrestle with the text as literature and seek to find out what it means and why you think it means what it means. If someone questions that, then it’s up to you to defend your position and if you can’t, be open to changing your mind.

Will we still disagree about the truth claims of the Bible? Absolutely! Yet if we follow a procedure like this, hopefully some of us will have instead better informed disagreements as to the nature of the text and what it is saying rather than a quick dismissal of it all or a quick embrace of it all.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

The Trouble With Internet Debates

May 27, 2014

What’s so problematic about having debates on the internet? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I love debate. Okay. I can’t deny that. A good argument can get me really excited. I love the back and forth exchange of ideas. (Well supposedly the back and forth exchange.) Yet there’s something also irksome about it. In some ways, it can be like receiving a new gift at Christmas. It’s fun and exciting for a few days, but after awhile, the excitement just wears off.

What’s the problem with internet debates? Well very rarely do people talk about ideas that they really study. Instead, they talk about ideas that they have opinions on. Now opinions are fine and we all have them, but some opinions are to be more authoritative than others. I can have an opinion on evolution and cosmology. Don’t take it seriously. Why? Because I have not done the necessary reading on the topic. I am not an authority.

A word of warning at this point to my apologist friends out there and to other Christians. Reading the apologists on a topic does not make you an authority. If you want to be taken seriously, you need to read the scholars on the topic. You want to know what your opponents are arguing even better than they know it.

Now before atheists start thinking they’re not guilty of the same thing, they are. If you want to make an argument against the existence of God, don’t read someone like Richard Dawkins. Dawkins is just fine when talking about evolution, but he is not trained in the arguments for God’s existence.

Don’t go thinking that people like Jerry Coyne (Who Peter Boghossian refers to profusely) are authorities on Christianity. They’re not. When I go to his blog and see people arguing that Jesus never even existed, I know this is not something to take seriously. (And yes, no one who says Jesus never existed should be considered authoritative in the field. There are more PH.D.s in science who hold to YEC, a view I do not hold to at all, than there are PH.D.s in ancient history who say Jesus never existed.)

The new atheist movement has done this to atheism today. If you want to be a well-informed atheist, do not read the new atheists. Believe it or not, just because you are an atheist, it does not mean that you’re automatically a clear thinker. Christian and atheists both have fools and geniuses on their side.

Another problem both sides have is incredulity has become an argument. For an atheist, yeah. I get it. It seems incredible to you that a miracle occurred. Frankly, I don’t have any problem with you thinking it is incredible. It really is. I understand the skepticism. The problem is skepticism is not an argument. It is a position that one holds. Today, you will need to do more than quote David Hume. Have you read the critiques of Hume? Have you considered a work such as Miracles by Craig Keener?

It also won’t work to say “Extraordinary Claims Require Extraordinary Evidence.” Why should your position be the one that determines what claim is and isn’t extraordinary? The term is just way too subjective. How do you even recognize extraordinary evidence? Does it have some property like glowing in the dark?

extraordinaryevidence

And once again, to turn to the Christians, your incredulity does not count as an argument. Okay. Many of you are skeptical of evolution. I get that. Yeah. Now I have no firm opinion on the matter, but your incredulity does not count as an argument. It also will not work to say “The Bible says X.” Yeah. You accept the Bible as an authority, but your opponent doesn’t. Why should he care?

Now if you want to argue against evolution by all means be my guest. Just make sure you make the case scientific. If evolution is to fall, it will fall because it happens to be bad science. If it is bad science, then it can be refuted scientifically. Being incredulous will not count as an argument.

The problem with both of these positions is both sides can remain incredibly fundamentalist in nature. Many Christians will say automatically that they must be right because they agree with the Bible and the Word of God cannot be wrong. Now it could be true the Bible is the Word of God and cannot be wrong. (And I do hold to Inerrancy in fact) That is not to be assumed. If you’re debating a Christian who holds to that position, then fine. Use the Bible all you want to as an authority. It won’t work outside of that. It has no more effect on an opponent than my hearing what the Koran says from a Muslim has on me despite him insisting he’s telling me the words of the creator.

For the atheist, too often there is an engagement in what I call “atheistic presuppositionalism.” This is where you start off with the assumption of atheism, but you also start with the idea that because you are an atheist, you are reasonable and anyone who does not accept atheism is just irrational.

Now of course, if atheism is true, it is irrational to not accept it, but none of us are purely rational in all our thinking. We all make mistakes. You can be rational in many areas and irrational in others for any number of reasons. There could be a lack of study, reading the wrong resources, pride, or emotional or volitional barriers. Atheists often warn us about bias. They’re right. We should all be seeking to have our biases checked, but that includes atheists as well. The best way is to go out and read people who disagree with you and really interact with them.

But for too many atheists, the position is that they are rational and therefore any comment that they make is rational. Want to say Jesus never existed? That’s rational because you’re an atheist! Have an opinion on any topic you’ve never studied? It’s rational because you’re an atheist!

This also leads to too often a lack of serious engagement with religious ideas for atheists. For most, it is just a Google search and Google while a valuable tool for those who use it well, is an aid also to the laziness of our day and age. Why go out and read a scholar of a position? Just go find something in a Google search.

Want to claim Jesus is a copycat Messiah and there were several dying and rising deities? No problem! Just do a Google search! Sure! The source might not quote any scholars whatsoever and would not be taken seriously in the scholarly world, which it isn’t, but hey! It’s found on Google!

Now of course, a Christian should want to have an answer to that objection, but the question needs to be asked why it should be taken seriously as an objection in the first place? Is finding it on a Google search a good enough reason? I can find evidence on Google right now that the moon landing never took place! I can find evidence that the holocaust never happened! Now it’s faulty evidence to be sure (You can have evidence for false opinions), but it is evidence! Who would like to see something put up saying the moon landing never happened and expect to have to give an answer for that?

In fact, the reality is that 99.9% of us would say that it happened I predict. I have no doubt it happened. The reality is that most of us at the same time could not give an argument for it. Most of us do not know the physics and such of the matter to give an answer. That does not mean we’re irrational for holding it. We hold it on other grounds. Most of us could not give an argument for heliocentrism. Does that mean if someone put forward a web page claiming geocentrism that you would want me to take it seriously?

On the internet, anyone can put forward an opinion and it doesn’t have to be examined by critical minds. If you wanted to, you could start a blog right now for free and put out your opinion on whatever you want. That does not mean you’re an authority. It means you have an opinion.

Some of you might be thinking “What about your blog?” What about it? If you want to be skeptical, go ahead. I do not claim to be a scholar yet, but I do claim to rely on the works of leading scholars. If you think my opinion carries merit, feel free to share it. If not, then ignore it and just go and read the people who have actually reached the level of scholar.

Google is a tool for too many people who want instant information but are not wanting to do a real study. So many people don’t want today to do the real research required in learning a topic. Instead, they just want you to lay everything out front instead of doing the basic groundwork for what you wish to say. That’s another problem with internet discussions. If you’ve read the scholars, it’s very irritating to talk to people who haven’t and have them think they’re an authority.

And this gets us into another area as well. When people are contested, they can turn nasty. Now I am not one who says all satire and sarcasm is wrong. In fact, I think in many cases it’s necessary. Sometimes you need to call a spade a spade. Some arguers on the internet are just bullies who have not studied and want to present themselves as authority. They do not respond to sound argumentation.

Yet if all you have is just sarcasm and satire and you cannot back it with arguments, then you do not have an argument. Mocking Christians for being Christians is not an argument. Mocking atheists for being atheists is not an argument. If you’re one who does not have a problem with mockery, and to be fair, the Bible has no problem with it in many cases, then be sure that you also have the arguments to back it. Mockery, sarcasm, and satire are not to be your arguments. They are meant to be used, if you use them, as tools of argumentation but not the data itself.

Hopefully on both sides we can learn better argumentation. I have this strange dream that someday we’ll have debates where we only talk about topics that we’ve really seriously studied in debate. Unfortunately, as long as we think we are authorities because we have opinions, this will not happen. Yet I expect this most from the Christian community. I expect that we most of all will be fulfilling the life of the mind and engaging in areas where we have done our homework. It is no honor to our Lord to come to the debate not having done at least basic research. God is not obligated to give us knowledge because we have not done our part. That would in fact be encouraging laziness.

I also expect that too many people on both sides will hear this kind of advice on internet debates and ignore it entirely. This again is part of our modern problem as we consider ourselves exceptions to every rule out there.

If you want to honor Christ, be a student. Be a disciple. Be learning. Be reading both sides of the positions that you hold and love God with your mind. Sloppy thinking is no honor for the Christian to have.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Are We The Crazy Ones?

April 17, 2014

What value does our society place on books today? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

My wife really likes to watch the Crazy ones, a show starring Robin Williams. I watch it with her, often reading or doing something else at the time. Tonight we saw an episode about a move to save a library, which was not necessarily greeted with enthusiasm by others on the show and the way it was saved by actually staging a fake book burning so that people would get enraged and come out and save the library.

Spoiler alert: It worked.

Yes as I watched, the thought of burning a book was horrendous to me and if someone says “Well Christians burned books in history!” then I would say that wherever that happened that that too was a great evil. I think it would be wonderful to have more of the works that have been lost over time. Now of course, some works are lost just because there was no interest and no one was copying them and some were lost by other circumstances, but it’s a shame when anyone purposely destroys a work of literature.

In the past two novels have been written that deal with books. In Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury feared a world where people would have a job of burning books. In Brave New World, Aldous Huxley wrote about a world where there would be books, but no one would read them due to their quest for pleasure. Of course, this pleasure was mainly sexual pleasure.

Huxley’s view seems to have won the day.

Now keep in mind, I’m not against pleasure. I think we should enjoy our lives and that includes the sexual pleasure to be enjoyed in marriage. I’m not saying all we should be doing is reading. My wife and I go to a gym regularly and exercise. We have some favorite TV shows and movies we like to watch. We also have a number of game consoles and I do have a reputation as being a good gamer.

But do make sure to read.

In fact, this is my problem with too many Christians and too many atheists. They don’t read enough. Let’s look at some attitudes we see.

For atheists, too many of them are simply only reading what agrees with them. They are not reading works that are outside their worldview that will truly challenge them. How else do so many get suckered into the idea that Jesus never even existed? I found much confirmation of this in looking at the bibliographies in new atheist literature. Works that disagree with them are woefully lacking in reference.

As for the Bible, too many atheists don’t read the Bible and when they do, they make a mistake of not reading it as literature. They don’t read it to first see what the author is really trying to say. I don’t necessarily mean the divine author. Let’s even just go with the human author. Let’s take a book like Romans that is indisputably Pauline. How many are reading it to see what Paul really said? I don’t care if you agree or disagree with him at this point. Do you really seek to find out what he really said?

The Bible is often read only to attack it and then to mock it. Even if someone doesn’t believe in the message of the Bible, to be an educated person in this society, you must be familiar with it. The Bible is without a doubt the book that has shaped Western Civilization more than any other. If you do not understand the Bible, you will be incredibly ignorant in this culture.

Now what about Christians? Too many Christians don’t read what disagrees with them and challenges them, but there is another dangerous idea they have.

“I just read the Bible. That’s the only book I need!”

What nonsense! Now I do not doubt the Bible contains all that is needed for salvation and the message is there, but if you want to truly understand the Bible, you will need to read other books. For instance, if you don’t know the original languages, you will either want to try to learn them, as I am, to seek to understand what the Bible says in the original languages. Until then, you are at the mercy of a translator.

If you want to understand the culture of the Bible, you will need to read about that elsewhere. If you want to know about the history of the Bible, you will need to read that. If you want to know about textual criticism, apologetics, philosophy, etc. all of those are found in books outside of the Bible by people who have dedicated their lives to understanding this book, and for atheists who are still reading at this point, not all of those are Christians.

Beyond that, Christians need to be educated in other areas they talk about. If you want to understand philosophy read giants like Plato and Aristotle. If you want to understand history, choose a period of history and read all you can about it. If you want to understand science, do the same.

Too often in our culture, we are not reading books. I am not talking so much about books being converted to electronic format. I get that. In fact, I own a Kindle as well. (And in fact, would love to upgrade to a Kindle Fire.) I am not talking about audio reading either. I’ve done that too. I’m talking about just not reading books.

Of course, I am not opposed to reading material online. If I was, I would not be writing this blog, but I have a problem when I debate someone and all they link to is wikipedia and think that that constitutes an argument. There’s a reason I never bother to look when someone links to wikipedia in a debate. Nowadays, many of them are going to just YouTube videos. Now there are some good videos out there that explain works well, but there are a lot that don’t and sadly in our age, anyone can look like an authority. (And for those concerned about my own work here since anyone can look this way, feel free to check what I say and also note the link of endorsements on the side of this blog.)

I’m also not saying by the way to only read academic works. I like to read some fiction from time to time. My interest there is mysteries. I just ordered the latest Mary Higgins Clark novel from the library and I eagerly await the next Monk Murder Mystery being a paperback so I can order it on Amazon. I have no problem with reading just for pure pleasure.

My main message at this point is simple. Just read. Try to read at least a little bit every day. There are days I can get really constructive and focused and read a whole lot. There are days I don’t get in as much. Usually Allie goes to bed earlier than I do and I just get up and go to the living room and read. She knows and is fine with it. For me, it is a great way to clear my mind. Then as I go to sleep, I look up a few verses of a passage of Scripture, namely the Psalms I’m going through now, and just think about those verses as I drift to sleep. It seems to work well.

I fear a culture that does not read. A culture like this is uneducated and is easily swayed by every wind that comes along. At this point, I honestly don’t care if you agree with me as a Christian or not. I simply ask that you read. If you want to remain an atheist, at least seek to be educated on both sides in your atheism. If you are a strong Christian, by all means keep reading your Bible, but make sure to read the works of other great minds that have bent the knee to Christ and sought to pass their wisdom on to you. They have much to teach you.

I just hope our culture is willing to learn.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

In Defense of Craig Blomberg

April 14, 2014

Is Craig Blomberg a scholar that should be avoided? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

A few weeks ago, I reviewed Craig Blomberg’s excellent book “Can We Still Believe The Bible?”. I found it to be an excellent book that I highly recommend.

Apparently, some others didn’t think so.

Specifically, Norman Geisler, ever on the hunt for people who are going after his version of inerrancy.

There is no need to guess what Geisler’s stance is. He outright tells us.

“Denver Seminary Prof Denies Inerrancy

Link: http://tinyurl.com/k5nnjw2

Dr. Craig Blomberg of Denver Seminary attacks inerrancy in a recent book titled “Can We Still Believe in the Bible?” While he believes the Bible is reliable, he denies it is inerrant in the same sense that the 300 scholars of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy meant when they produced and signed the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy (the same statement adopted by the Evangelical Theological Society’s ~3,000 members) and the Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics.”

Well let’s look at this part alone.

Does Blomberg deny inerrancy? No. He doesn’t. In fact, as a member of ETS, he would have to hold to inerrancy in some sense. Therefore, right at the start, the well is poisoned as the reader will think that Blomberg does deny inerrancy.

Looking in the article itself, we see the following:

“The real answer to the question posed by Craig Blomberg’s book title is: Yes, we can believe in the general reliability of the Bible, but No we do not believe in its inerrancy, at least not in the sense meant by the framers of the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy (ICBI). Blomberg mistakenly attributes his own version of inerrancy to the ICBI.”

I find this incredible. The Bible is reliable, yes, but this work is going against ICBI and therefore it cannot be accepted?

Frankly, as an apologist who debates much more online and elsewhere than I’m sure Geisler is nowadays, I would be ecstatic just having people realize that the Bible is reliable. I really don’t care for this all-or-nothing game where we either have to go with all-out inerrancy or else we must remain skeptical.

And I do say that as an Inerrantist.

Yet Geisler goes on to say that Blomberg does not believe in its inerrancy, at least not according to the standards of ICBI. So this raises a question.

Can someone disagree with ICBI and still believe in inerrancy?

It’s kind of the same situation Blomberg addresses in his book about KJV-onlyists. If the KJV is the only true form of Scripture, does that mean mankind was without Scripture until 1611? Does that mean someone must learn King James English to know what Scripture says?

In the same way, does this mean that until ICBI came along that no one knew what inerrancy was or no one truly held to a view of Scripture that could be called inerrancy? If ICBI does equal inerrancy, then it would mean that inerrancy would not be a historical doctrine of the Christian church. If ICBI does not equal inerrancy, then one could believe in inerrancy without holding to ICBI as inerrancy is a doctrine that can exist independently of ICBI.

Geisler says Blomberg attributes his own version of inerrancy to ICBI. Is that really what’s happening? Why not just go with Blomberg’s own view of his view? If Geisler considers himself authoritative to interpret the ICBI statements, shouldn’t Blomberg’s view of his own position be authoritative? Shouldn’t he be the best one to say what he really believes?

And if he says then that he believes in inerrancy, should we not accept that?

The Geislers of this world will have nothing of it. It’s either their way or the highway.

And this is why so many people today are really starting to say that they don’t want to identify with inerrancy like this any more. If Geisler wants to blame someone for his legacy of ICBI going to waste, nay, for his entire life’s work being tarnished entirely, then all he needs to do is look in the mirror. There are several looking at Geisler’s approach in all of this and saying “If this is what is meant by believing in ICBI, I want no part of it.”

Count me as one of those.

Keep in mind some didn’t sign the ICBI document because they thought it gave too much leeway. It’s my understanding that Henry Morris would not sign it because it would allow for old-earth creationism. Does that mean that Henry Morris denies inerrancy? While I would disagree with Morris’s interpretations, I would hardly say that not signing ICBI meant a denial of inerrancy.

Let’s also deal with a misnomer. These were not 300 scholars who signed this. No doubt, some were scholars. No doubt, some are not. Hal Lindsey, for instance, would not be counted as a scholar. You do not get to call someone a scholar because they know a lot of stuff about the Bible (Supposedly) or some other field. I would consider myself quite well-read on Scripture, but in no way would I consider myself a scholar at this point. That’s a goal to aim for, but it has not been reached.

So anyway, let’s move on.

“However, our response here is not with persons but with principles. So, our critique is not against any person but only the ideas expressed. Our evaluation is focused on what they teach, not on their character or motives. We respect the individuals as scholars who disagree with inerrancy and love them as brothers in Christ. Our concern is with one thing and one thing only: Is their teaching in accord with the doctrine of inerrancy as defined by the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy (ICBI)? So, when we use of the word “inerrancy” in this article we mean the ICBI view of inerrancy as expressed in the following documents.”

Well it’s nice to know that there’s nothing personal in all of this. If this were true however, it would certainly be quite different from the hounding that went on after Mike Licona. Yet I am sure I am not the only one concerned about this last statement. The only concern is if the teaching is in according with ICBI inerrancy.

I have made a statement before that I think Geisler has ICBI in the back of his Bible.

I am now convinced I was wrong.

It is in the very front.

” Blomberg is aware of all these ICBI statements on inerrancy and even cites some of them (Blomberg, Can We Still Believe the Bible? [hereafter B], 136, 149, 170, 178, 222, 262). He even goes so far as to claim agreement with everything in the “Chicago Statement’ (CSBI) on inerrancy except one implied word (B, 273), the word always in the last line. He believes that ICBI is claiming that a denial of inerrancy always has grave consequences. Otherwise, Blomberg even calls the “Chicago Statement” on Biblical inerrancy (CSBI) “a carefully crafted document” (B, 149). Further, he praises Article 18 of CSBI, saying, “this affirmation reinforces everything we have been discussing” (B, 170). In addition, he commends the “reasonably well highlighted” statement on genre criticism in CSBI (B, 178). Strangely, Blomberg even commends one Chicago statement more than the other, declaring: “The Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics CSBH) has not had nearly the lasting effect that the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy did, which is a shame, because in many ways it is the superior of the two documents” (B, 261, n. 98).”

Looking at the references here, it’s noteworthy that on page 178, Blomberg does say it could have been highlighted more. He goes on to say “Institutions or organizations that claim to abide by it must allow their inerrantist scholars the freedom to explore the various literary options without reprisal.”

If only these words could be written in gold.

This is indeed the situation. If a scholar says he believes in inerrancy, let him make his case. Let him use the best scholarly tools for examination. If his case is false, it will not hold up. If it does not have the support from the data, others will not follow it. On the other hand, if it is true and if it is supportable, then we should seek to go with it. Are we not to be people of truth?

If Christians are called before an inquisition of sorts because they are wanting to explore an option, then we have reached a dangerous day for Christianity. We can no longer then say we are people of truth if we fear to look at where we think the evidence could lead.

Consider the case for the resurrection. If we assume inerrancy at the start, it would be easy to write a book defending the resurrection. Here’s how it goes.

The Bible is Inerrant.

The Bible says Jesus bodily rose from the dead.

Jesus bodily rose from the dead.

And then we can all sleep well tonight as the case has been proved.

Or you could actually have to do the real scholarly work of examining the texts, not assuming inerrancy, coming at it from the grounds that a skeptic would, and still being able to demonstrate the Bible is right on the question of the resurrection.

I would even suggest that a minister wanting to get up and teach on the resurrection on Easter Sunday while he will likely hold to inerrancy in a conservative church, he should still give reasons from a scholarly perspective about why the resurrection is true. (In fact, I did this when I spoke at my grandmother’s funeral. I had ten minutes to speak. The first five was building a case for the resurrection as briefly as I could. The last five were explaining what a difference it made.)

Geisler says there are some points that according to Blomberg one can believe without denying inerrancy. What are these?

“1. He denied the historicity of Jesus’ command about getting the coin from the mouth of the fish (in Matthew 17:27), saying, “Yet even the most superficial application of form criticism reveals that this is not a miracle story, because it is not even a story” (“NT Miracles and Higher Criticism” in JETS 27/4 [December 1984] 433). But this is a futile attempt to defend his disbelief by diverting attention from his denial of the historicity of this text on the grounds that it was not a story but a command (B, 263, n 113). By focusing on these factors, attention is deflected from a crucial point, namely, that Blomberg does not believe this event ever happened, as the Bible says it did. Blomberg added, “Further problems increase the likelihood of Jesus’ command being metaphorical” (B, “NT Miracles,” 433).”

Unfortunately, Geisler has not paid attention to the story, strange for someone who wants to go by what the text “literally” says. Nowhere in this account do you hear of Simon Peter going and catching a fish and getting a coin out of its mouth. Blomberg would not deny that it could happen, but the text does not say that it did. This would be strange as with many miracles, even where Jesus is not directly present, there is a record that the event took place. Here, there is not.

So could there be a metaphor? Let’s consider something. I know it’s a bizarre idea, but how about we examine Blomberg’s case and critique it from a scholarly perspective? Otherwise it becomes this.

The Bible is Inerrant.

Geisler’s interpretation is what the text says.

Therefore, Geisler’s interpretation is Inerrant.

Blomberg’s interpretation disagrees with Geisler.

Therefore, Blomberg denies inerrancy.

It’s at this point that one wonders if Geisler has become his own pope.

“2. According to Blomberg, “The author’s intention [in Genesis] is almost entirely to narrate the “who” rather than the “how” of creation” (B, 151). So, almost nothing informs us about how origins occurred, whether by creation or by evolution.”

In fact, I would agree with this. This is in fact why I interviewed John Walton on The Lost World of Genesis One</a. I agree with his view that Genesis is meant to tell us about the nature of God and His purpose in creating rather than how He did it or if He used evolution or not.

Has Geisler made a sufficient case that the Genesis account must answer our apologetics questions about origins? That might be what the big debate is about today, but was it really the question that would have been on the mind of Moses's readers? Was it really the argument they would need? Would they be more interested in how the creation came about, or in dealing with the polytheistic accounts around them?

Since this is in fact my position, if I say Genesis is focused on God and His purposes, how is that a denial of inerrancy? It seems quite odd really as well. It's like saying "The problem with Blomberg's view is that He allows for an approach that focuses on the God of creation rather than how He created."

Hmmmm. Which position do we think is more important in Genesis? Is it the who or the how?

And keep in mind, a view that was very much framework in its approach was that of Henri Blocher in his work "In The Beginning", which was in fact endorsed by J.I. Packer. Packer, we must remember, is one of the framers of ICBI. Such a view could allow for theistic evolution and it would not be a problem.

Therefore when we come to point 3

"3. Blomberg claims that “Some [inerrantists] opt for forms of theistic evolution in which God creates the universe with all the mechanisms built in to give rise…to each new development in the creative ‘week’” (B, 151). This too is deemed compatible with inerrancy according to Blomberg."

We have it answered already then. Geisler wants us to rise up in defense with the code word of "evolution" as if to assume that this must be stomped out at all costs. Strange this comes from such a defender of Thomism since many Thomists really have no problem with theistic evolution.

#4 on the list is

"4. He adds, “Must there have been a historical Adam and Eve? . . . Many scholars, including a few evangelicals, think not” (B, 152). Blomberg adds, “Nothing in principle should prevent the persons who uphold inerrancy from adopting a view that sees adam (“man” or Adam) and hawwa (“life or Eve) as symbols for every man and woman…” (B, 152)."

And once again, we have a code situation. If Geisler wants to argue against this view, what he needs to do is to critique a position like that of Lamoureux in "Four Views on the Historical Adam" which I reviewed here. It won’t work to say “Inerrancy, therefore the position is false.” Geisler has to show that his interpretation is the right one. Now I do not find Lamoureux’s position persuasive, but I am not ready to go after him. I am happy to say it is not an area of expertise for me so I am indeed speaking as a layman on that matter.

“5. Further, Blomberg believes that “None of this theology [about Job’s view on suffering] requires Job to have ever existed any more than the teaching of the parable of the Good Samaritan requires the Samaritan to have been a real person” (B, 156). He added, “Almost nothing is at stake if Job never existed, whereas everything is at stake if Jesus never lived” (B, 223).”

Question then. Would the lesson of Job be true even if Job never lived? Answer. Yes. Would Christianity be true if Jesus never lived? Answer. No. Why? Because Christianity is entirely dependent on real actions taking place in space and time. The lesson of Job is not dependent in that way. Does that mean it is untrue? No. I have no problem accepting Job as a historical figure.

“6. Likewise, he asserts that “Surely, however, someone might argue, Jonah must be completely historical, because Jesus himself likens his death and resurrection to Jonah’s experience with the great fish (Matt. 12:40; Luke 11:30). Actually, this does not follow at all” (B, 157). ”

Unfortunately, here Geisler gives part of the argument and then ignores the rest. The last sentence would tell you there is more. Blomberg makes the point that one could talk about Frodo going to Mordor and make a lesson out of it without thinking Frodo is a historical figure. The amazing thing is Blomberg makes a case for the accuracy of Jonah right after that and this is completely ignored by Geisler. It will sadly be ignored by his readers as well who will refuse to read Blomberg’s book and get the treasure trove of knowledge he has for us.

“7. Further, “Ultimately, what one decides about its [the Book of Isaiah’s] composition or formation need not have anything to do with biblical inerrancy at all” (B, 162, 163), even though he admits Jesus mentioned “the prophet Isaiah” as being author of texts in both sections of Isaiah (B, 161).”

And in dealing with this, Geisler will need to deal with an approach such as that found in The Lost World of Scripture, which was co-authored by John Walton who I referred to above and by Brent Sandy, who I interviewed here.

“8. Isaiah may not have predicted “Cyrus” by name 150 years in advance (in Isaiah 45:1) of his reign because “Cyrus could in fact be a dynasty name (like “Pharaoh” in Egypt) rather than a personal name (B, 162). This too is deemed compatible with inerrancy.”

How could this be incompatible? If Cyrus is indeed a name of a dynasty, then this would be an accurate statement. Geisler can only assume that it is not. If the Bible is teaching about a dynasty that will free the Jews from exile, then he is speaking the truth. I in fact wonder if the same could be going on with the ruler Abimelech in Genesis. The name can be translated as “My Dad is King.” Could this not point to a dynasty as well?

“9. According to Blomberg, the prophet Daniel may not have predicted all the things his book indicates because “Perhaps two works associated with the prophet Daniel and is successor, written at two different times, were combined” (B, 164).”

See my reply to #7 for this.

“10. Blomberg, argues that treating sections of “Matthew as Midrash” and not as history would have been taken by his audience “who would have understood exactly what he was doing, not imagining his embellishment to be making the same kinds of truth claims as his core material from Mark and Q” (B, 166).”

This was the position of Gundry which we will be getting to. I will save it for later.

“11. Likewise, Blomberg believes that the story of “Lazarus” (in Luke 16) is a “parabolic fiction” (B, 150).”

There are many fine evangelical scholars who see the story as a parable. I also see it as a parable and parables are fictional, unless Geisler suddenly thinks the fires of Hell are literal and that there is literally a great chasm between Heaven and Hell.

Well if that’s the case, why would there be someone named in this one?

Lazarus would be named so that he would be seen as honorable in comparison to the rich man. The only unnamed character in Ruth, for instance, is the one who refuses his duty to Ruth. This is a way of shaming him. Jesus’s parable is not meant to give the furniture of the afterlife, but rather to teach us that just because one has wealth in this life, that one is not necessarily living in the favor of God, and vice-versa for poverty. By not even giving the rich man a name, he is showing that the rich man is essentially not someone worth thinking about.

#12 deals with views based on Blomberg’s interaction with Mormonism. Not having read the book, I will not comment.

Moving on to some of Geisler’s responses, I wish to go to #6 straight away since it deals with an area I do consider myself knowledgeable on.

“Traditionally, many have considered the Gospels to be a genre of their own (sui generis) because of their unique nature as a revelation of God. However, Blomberg buys into the currently popular notion that the Gospels should be interpreted by extra-biblical genre. He wrote: “Once we determine, as best we can, what a passage affirms, according to the conventions of its style, and genre, a commitment to inerrancy implies acceptance of the truth of those affirmations. But a commitment to inerrancy does not exclude a priori any given literary style, form, or genre that is not inherently deceptive” (B, 164). In short, we must determine first what a passage means according to its genre. We cannot know in advance that it is going to be historical just because it is a narrative or is in a historical book. Further, the genre can be an extra-biblical like the Greco-Roman genre. Hence, an extra-biblical genre can determine the meaning of a biblical text. This is, of course, contrary to the ICBI statements on genre for several reasons.”

The notion is not the “Currently popular” one, but the currently scholarly one. Has Geisler critiqued yet the work of Burridge or that of Talbert and shown that their views are false?” If he has not, then he has not grounds for going against the scholarly consensus just because they go against his pet viewpoint.

Also, keep in mind Geisler was challenged on this by my friend Greg Masone, who was subsequently banned from Geisler’s page for pointing out the challenge. Geisler has NEVER accepted this challenge. It can be found here.

Because of this, it means Geisler is expecting his critics to answer his charges, but he is not willing to answer theirs.

Geisler considers these views extra-biblical, but what does this even mean? Is one only allowed to write Scriptures in a certain genre? Would it be that if Matthew began writing his Gospel that he’d hear a voice from Heaven say “Matthew! Do not write as the pagans do even though your work will be read on them! Write in a style completely unique that no one has ever done before!”?

Note also this usage of extra-biblical material is highly selective.

For instance, Geisler thinks that Genesis 1 teaches an old Earth. Why? Because modern science has shown us that it does.

So let’s bring in a YEC at this point. My hypothetical YEC at this point will say

“Geisler believes in an old Earth in Genesis 1, but this is based on the currently popular notion that modern science is right in its view of the age of the Earth. A true biblical interpretation however will not bring in extra-biblical science but will instead allow Scripture to be its own interpreter and show that the Earth is indeed young. Therefore, Geisler’s view is certainly incompatible with inerrancy and he is using extra-biblical science to deny the historicity of a young Earth and therefore the text.”

And yes, this is not my view at all. If this is said, what can Geisler say? If he points to his own authority, is he not making himself a pope of inerrancy?

In fact, none of Geisler’s defenses work here. Consider the first.

” First, ICBI Article XIII forbids the use of extra-biblical genre to determine the meaning of a biblical text. It reads “We deny that generic categories which negate historicity may rightly be imposed on biblical narratives which present themselves as factual” (emphasis added). Further, CSBH Article XIV says: “We affirm that the biblical record of events, discourses and sayings, though presented in a variety of appropriate literary forms, corresponds to historical facts” (emphasis added). ”

So extra-biblical genre cannot be used, but extra-biblical science can be used. The Jews in the time of Jesus would know about Greco-Roman bioi. The Jews in the time of Moses would not know about modern science. Was the truth of Genesis 1 then lost until modern science came along? Why can Geisler use information the Jews did not have to interpret Genesis 1, but Licona and Blomberg cannot use information the Jews did have to interpret the Gospels?

“Second, ICBI demands interpreting “Scripture by Scripture” (CSBI Article 18), not the Bible by extra-biblical genre. That is, nothing external to the New Testament text should be hermeneutically determinative of the meaning in the text. In some cases, one can derive the meaning (use) of a term from contemporary use of the word. But the meaning of a text is discovered from studying the text in its grammatical and historical setting, as compared to related Scripture on that text.”

Nothing external to the NT should be used to determine the meaning of the Gospels, but science that is external to Genesis one can be used to determine the meaning of Genesis. Why not have Scripture interpret Scripture? (Even though that is a nonsense statement. Interpretation is done by minds. Scripture comes from a mind but it does not have a mind itself.)

” Third, the alleged “purpose of the author” of which Blomberg speaks is not the determinative factor in understanding a text. For there is no way to know what the author had in his mind behind the text except by what he affirmed in the text. Hence, the appeal to the linguistic philosophy of John Austin to determine the illocutionary (purpose) act or the perlocutionarly act (results) is futile. Usually, all we have in Scripture is the locutionary act (What is affirmed). So, the locus of meaning has to be in what is affirmed, not why it is affirmed because often we are just guessing about that. Thus, the genre critic Blomberg is using extra-biblical ideas to determine the meaning of the biblical text.”

And if this is the case, then why does Geisler keep pointing to what the founders meant when they wrote X statement in ICBI? When Geisler has done that, he has just given us another text and we cannot understand his intent. Why do we keep hearing about what the founders intended and how that matters for ICBI, but we can’t try to know what the authors intended?

Keep in mind that this is not really a Thomistic stance. No less a Thomist than Mortimer Adler has written on how one should seek to understand the authorial intent of a text. Keep in mind that also because we do not know why a practice was affirmed, it does not mean the readers at the time did not know.

Yet this whole situation gets even more bizarre.

“Not only do the ICBI statements repeatedly contradict Blomberg’s view on inerrancy, but he repeatedly distorts the ICBI statements and demeans the character of those who defend the inerrancy of Scripture. We note first of all his unscholarly and unprofessional characterizations of those who defend the historical biblical view of inerrancy as represented in the ICBI statements.”

Yes. Because coming out and saying that people deny inerrancy and seeking to have their livelihood removed and passing around petitions behind their backs is perfectly acceptable behavior.

Geisler is like the schoolyard bully who goes after the other children who refuse to play the way he does, but when someone stands up to him, he then cries “Foul!”

“Blomberg often employs condemnation and exaggeration instead of refutation related to inerrantists claims. He labels inerrantists, for example, as “very conservative” (B, 7), “overly conservative” (B, 217), “ultra conservative” (B, 11, 214), “hyperconservative” (B, 13), “extremely conservative” (B, 7). Of course, this tends to make his views look more moderate by comparison, when, as we shall see, they are in direct opposition to those the mainstream evangelical view as reflected in the ICBI statements. He even likens ICBI defenders of inerrancy to Nazis and Communist (B, 8)! He quotes with approval the statement, “the far left and the far right—avoid them both, like the plague” (B, 8). At one point he stops just short of questioning the Christianity of ICBI supporters (B, 254). What is more, he sometimes makes it very clear about whom he is speaking by name (Robert Thomas, David Farnell, William Roach, and myself)–all Ph.D. in biblical related studies who have written critical reviews of Blomberg’s positions. He also addresses Dr. Al Mohler and Master’s Seminary in negative terms.
Such exaggerated language is not only unprofessional and unscholarly, it borders on being morally libelous, as the following statements reveal. Strangely and inconsistently, Blomberg responds strongly when other scholars use a negative term about his views (B, 254).”

It is amusing to see Geisler say Blomberg compares them to Nazis. What Blomberg does is refer to an English teacher in high school who lived through Nazism and Communism and gave the advice to avoid the far-right and far-left both like the plague. He referred to what she went through because that was relevant. It is bizarre to think that Blomberg was saying that people like Geisler are like Nazis. (Though it is obvious Geisler thinks he knows the authorial intent of Blomberg)

As for questioning the Christianity, Blomberg does not do this. What does he say? He points out how Robert Thomas referred to scholars who use form and redaction criticism as experiencing a “satanic blindness.” Blomberg in the note in the back says “I have no idea how a self-confessed evangelical Christian author dares to use such language in speaking of fellow evangelical Christians!”

Apparently, Blomberg should have just said Geisler had a satanic blindness about him and that would have been okay. So once again we see the double-standard. Thomas says someone has a satanic blindness. That’s okay! Blomberg raises his own charges going nowhere near that and that’s not okay!

Geisler can complain about this being unscholarly and even suggests it is libelous, but let him remember that he would not have been in this position if he had not thrown the first punch. Geisler goes after others saying they deny inerrancy and even goes after their professional positions, but woe befall anyone who dares to just suggest that he is misbehaving at all. It looks like Geisler thinks not only is his interpretation inerrant, but his behavior is inerrant as well.

Also Blomberg knows about his critiques, but are they all critiques in relevant fields? Being a Ph.D. in philosophy does not entail one to be an authority on Biblical matters. This is amusing since Paige Patterson has referred to Mike Licona as a philosopher, when he is not, and most of those in the Geisler crusade are in fact the philosophers.

“Blomberg goes further than extremist labeling of inerrancy defenders. He claims that we “simplistically” distorted the evidence in order to oust Robert Gundry from the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) over his midrash denial of the historicity of certain sections of Matthew (B, 167). He charges that we engaged in a “political campaign” against Gundry (B, 167). Elsewhere, he alleges that we have utilized a “standard ploy throughout his [my] career” when “trying to get someone removed from an organization” (B, 262 n. 111). He adds the allegation that inerrancy is used as “a blunt tool to hammer into submission people whose interpretation of passages differs from ours…” (B, 125). These charges of an alleged sinister and continuous career of unjustified activity on my part are both untrue, unjustified, and unethical. Indeed, they are serious moral judgments of motives for which Blomberg should apologize. Someone has rightly asked why it is that those who defend inerrancy are attacked and those who attack inerrancy are defended.
Without attributing motives, one thing seems clear: “Blomberg is dead-set on broadening the acceptable borders of orthodoxy on inerrancy, the result of which would be a more inclusive statement that would embrace scholars (like Blomberg himself) who have moved well beyond inerrancy as traditionally understood and as expressed by the ICBI. This may explain the use of such passionate and uncalled for language in describing those who wish to retain a more traditional stand on inerrancy. Perhaps a lot of their passion and zeal arises from the fact that those who hold a more liberal view on inerrancy may fear their view may be deemed unorthodox too. This might explain their pejorative terms about inerrantists such as “watchdog.” But given the analogy, it is certainly better than being a “kitty cat” on these crucial issue. The truth is that evangelicalism needs more watchdogs to ward off the wolves in sheep’s clothing who are attacking inerrancy.”

Blomberg should apologize….

It’s hard to read that without having one’s eyes roll.

Note that no one is going after someone for defending inerrancy. What is going on is people are gone after because of how they are defending it and what they are defending. For the watchdogs, it seems Geisler has lost sight of what really matters. He goes after Licona for a masterful defense of the resurrection because it goes against his view of inerrancy, thus cutting people off from an excellent defense. He goes after Blomberg because while Blomberg shows the Bible is reliable, he does not agree with ICBI inerrancy as Geisler sees it.

The ICBI is driving everything else. It has practically become an idol.

It would be believable that Geisler does not go around seeking to remove people from organizations if we did not have evidence of this. Alas, we do. We saw it happen with Licona and I had immediate experience of this.

You can see a link to such a petition here. This comes from Max Andrews. The only change he has made is to remove the email of Geisler since this is personal information. The content otherwise is the same. Max Andrews has written about that here.

It is no doubt true that inerrancy has been used as a hammer and that hammer has been constantly wielded by Geisler himself.

Geisler then goes on to say the following are untrue.

“1. No one offered an “intelligent response” to Gundry (B, 167). Even Blomgberg acknowledged that D. A. Carson wrote a critique of it, as did Doug Moo. Not to mention the scholarly response given at ETS and articles published in the Journal of The Evangelical Theological Society (JETS, 2003).”

This would work if that had been what Blomberg said. It isn’t. Blomberg said “not a single critic of Gundry who believed his view was inherently contradicting inerrancy has offered what Carson defines as “intelligent response”–wrestling in detail with the exegetical and historical methods and their applications that Gundry utilized.”

It would have been nice had Geisler accurately represented what Blomberg said. Blomberg knows very well of the responses, but keep in mind Moo and Carson did not believe that it was a denial of inerrancy. They were arguing the proper way. They were arguing on exegetical grounds.

“2. A majority of speakers at ETS were in favor of retainng Gundry in its membership (B, 166). This is a misleading statement since, when given a chance to vote almost three-quarters of the membership voted to ask Gundry to resign.”

Blomberg says the majority that showed up showed up after Geisler went around politicizing the event and calling up people to come to the meeting. It’s noteworthy that Geisler in this never responds to how Blomberg shows Geisler after the Pinnock situation with ETS went around calling it the Formerly Evangelical Theological Society. (P. 143) Yes. When the society went against him, it was not evangelical. When he needed someone to go against Licona, it was evangelical.

Funny how that works.

This would deal with #3 as well

“3. The proceeding of the ETS which resulted in Gundry’s removal from membership was not fair or representative (B, 166-167). On the contrary, it was the result of a long (two year) process, during which papers and articles were presented pro and con. The meeting at which the vote took place was deliberate and orderly and the vote was taken properly. Even Gundry accepted its conclusion.”

and to go along with that, #4.

“4. The vote for Gundry’s removal was not a bare minimum “just over” what was necessary (167). The vote was 116 in favor of his removal and 41 opposed (as reported by Christianity Today 2/3/1984) which is almost 74% in favor of his removal. This is nearly three-quarters of the membership present and well over the two-thirds (67%) necessary. ”

Yes. This was the vote. Here’s the question. How many people abstained? How many people were still there period? Does this meant that the ETS at the time only had 157 members? This seems quite unlikely.

“5. ETS did not “expel” Gundry from membership (B, 167). The vote was to ask Gundry to resign, not to expel him. If he had refused to resign, then there could have been another vote to expel which was unnecessary because Gundry voluntarily resigned.”

Here, we see a distinction without a difference. Today, we would not see any difference between asking Eich to resign from Mozilla and expelling him.

“6. The process of Gundry’s removal was a “political campaign” in which “circulating advertisements” occurred (B, 167). This too is false. No “campaign” was held and no “advertisements” were circulated. Each ETS member was given a paper with quotations from Gundry’s book so that they could make an intelligent decision on how to vote.”

Since this process took years supposedly, how about this? How about each person voted being given Gundry’s book to read and decide based on that? If they were given portions of it to read, then who decided what portions?

In fact, that sounds eerily similar to the petition going around against Licona.

Who selected the portions of the book in that case? I seriously doubt it was Licona!

“7. “Gundry’s views were simplistically presented…” at the ETS meeting (B, 167). This too is false. Exact and complete quotations were given of Gundry’s views to each member. There was nothing simplistic about it.”

See above and see the petition against Geisler. Excuse me if I’m skeptical based on the evidence I have right before me.

“8. Geisler utilized a “standard ploy throughout his career…when he is trying to get someone removed from an organization,” namely, getting all the living framers to agree with him in order to oust a member (262 n. 111). I never did and such thing. In the Pinnock issue, Roger Nicole contacted all the founders of ETS, but I was not a founder of ETS and was not part of any such effort. I have argued Licona’s views are contrary to the ICBI framers, but I was never part of a “ploy” or effort to get him ousted from the ETS organization, nor any other group. Neither, have I done it “throughout my career” (which is now almost 60 years long because there was never another occasion in all those years where a group of framers were involved in getting someone removed from an organization in which I participated. These are serious, sinister, and slanderous charges that impugns the character of another brother in Christ and call for an apology from the one who made them.”

Once again, see the petition from above and I can tell people based on my personal experience that I have seen this happen. I was one of the first people to hear about Geisler going after Licona after all.

“9. Geisler resigned from ETS because they exonerated Clark Pinnock of the charges against him. This is partly true. After all, Pinnock claimed to believe in inerrancy, yet he has said in print that there were false predictions in the Bible (see Pinnock, The Most Moved Mover, 50), and he denied the Bible is the written Word of God (Scripture Principle, 128). I was also disappointed with the process by which Pinnock was retained because it was not completely fair and open. However, the main and underlying reason I left ETS was because I believed it has lost its integrity by allowing a scholars to join who did not have to believe the doctrinal statement on inerrancy as the founders meant it (see my article, “Why I resigned from the Evangelical Theological Socity,” at http://normangeisler.net/articles/Bible/Inspiration-Inerrancy/ETS/2003-WhyIResignedFromTheETS.htm.)”

I just want to point out that the page of Blomberg’s book where he talks about this also contains how Geisler spoke of the Formerly Evangelical Theological Society, something Geisler has not addressed in this article.

“10. Geisler has become increasingly more conservative over the years as indicted by the successive schools at which he has taught (B, 143-14). This is false. In each case my move to an established school was because I was offered what appeared to be a better opportunity for service. In the case of the two Seminaries I helped start, they were after I retired and was asked by others to help them start two seminaries (where I still teach) which stress apologetics which has been a passion of mine from the beginning. It had nothing to do with the degree of conservativeness of the Seminaries. They all have sound doctrinal statements. None of them was significantly more conservative than the others.”

I urge people to just read what Blomberg himself said, though it is amusing to hear that Geisler wants to avoid the charge that he has become more conservative.

“11. Only a “tiny minority” throughout history held that inerrancy is the only legitimate form of Christianity (B, 221). This is a purely “Straw Man” argument since almost no one holds this view. ICBI, the view we are representing, states clearly that “We deny that such a confession is necessary for salvation” (CSBI Article 19). It adds, “We affirm that the doctrine of inerrancy has been integral to the Church’s faith throughout its history” (CSBI, Article 16). ICBI also held that there are “grave consequence” (CBSI Article 19) for denying inerrancy. But it never affirmed that is the only legitimate form of Christianity. So, this criticism is an empty charge, applying to almost no one.”

One such person affected by this view as Blomberg points out is Bart Ehrman. I have in fact met many “ex-Christians” who would also qualify under this. While we are pleased to see Geisler say inerrancy is not necessary for salvation, it has been put on too high a pedestal by him. When one goes after a masterful work on the resurrection because it does not agree supposedly with a view of inerrancy, then we have a problem.

Moving on, another point worth mentioning

“Of course, Blomberg laments that an overwhelming majority (nearly 74%) of the ETS voted to ask Gundry to resign from ETS because of his denial of the historicity of certain passages in Matthew. Blomberg remains proud that his is one of the small minority who voted to retain Gundry in ETS. Indeed, as even Blomberg admits (B, 168), the framers of the statement (of which I was one) “had Gundry in mind” when the CSBH statements were made which we certainly did. We wrote: “WE deny that generic categories which negate historicity may rightly be imposed on biblical narratives which present themselves as factual” (CSBH Commentary on Article 13). No amount of re-interpretation can override the clarity of this statement or the testimony of living framers as to its meaning. And when the framers die, the written words of the framers (as here) will remain to vouch for the meaning of their words.”

This is not what Blomberg says on page 168. He says

“Geisler and Roach may well be correct that the framers of a later document known as the Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics ahd situations like Gundry’s in mind when they penned ‘We deny that generic categories which negate historicity may rightly be imposed on biblical narratives which present themselves as factual.’ ”

Yet Blomberg continues to say

“But if so, the wording of this document failed to meet the challenge, because it cannot be applied until there is agreement on which narratives “present themselves as factual.” Approximately half of Jesus’s parables are presented without any contextual matter (like the use of the word “parable”) to indicate that they are not presenting themselves as factual. Internal evidence and formal similiarity to texts inside and outside the canon that are specifically labeled as parables allow us to intuit their nature. Similarly, it was internal evidence and formal similarity of Matthew to Jewish midrash, buttressed by the external evidence of divergent parallel accounts in Mark and Luke, that led Gundry to his position. However mistaken he may have been, if one admits there is a single parable in the Gospels not explicitly called a parable, then one cannot use the Chicago Statement on Hermeneutics ant more than the Chicago Statement on inerrancy, to exclude Gundry’s position.”

Blomberg is then saying even if Geisler is right in what he had in mind, then it still does not work. He is not at all saying that he knows what Geisler had in mind and he is saying that the wording that was used is not sufficient and if Geisler says all we have is the text, then Blomberg is following proper procedures. Why can Geisler point to his intent over and over while saying authorial intent cannot interpret a text?

Let’s move on.

“It is incredible that anyone, let alone a biblical scholar, would defend the orthodoxy (i.e., compatibility with inerrancy) of Mike Licona’s Greco-Roman genre views.”

No. It is not incredible. Those of us who do read the relevant scholarship are not at all shocked. (Should Geisler know that this will be my work on my Master’s in NT? I will be looking to see if the resurrection of the saints is historical or not. I seriously doubt I can turn in a paper that says “Inerrancy, therefore historical” and get my Master’s. If so, please let me know so I can start teaching now and working on my PH.D.)

Geisler then goes on to quote the 1,001 critiques he has of Licona. You know, the ones where he has ignored that myself, J.P. Holding, Max Andrews, and others have already answered him but alas, everyone else is supposed to answer Geisler and he is to answer to no one.

Geisler’s charges could be taken seriously if he would take the critiques of his position seriously.

In conclusion, Geisler has once again said something that will convince the few followers he has left, but the scholarly world as a whole will ignore it. This is probably why his latest book is published by Xulon, a self-publishing firm, since it is quite likely no academic publishing company would take it. Will there be buyers? Oh yes. I suspect most of these will be at the schools that Geisler and his followers teach at where it will be required reading. Will it prepare the readers to interact with real NT scholarship? No. If anything, it will set them back further and get them closer and closer to apostasy when their views cannot stand up and they have to run from scholarship.

As for Blomberg, I am pleased to keep reading his excellent works and even more pleased to call him a friend now. In fact, those who are interested in his latest book are invited to listen to my podcast, the Deeper Waters Podcast on April 26th this year. I will be having him on as my guest again to discuss it.

Also, for all interested, Geisler’s critique can be found here because as I have said, I care about letting people see critiques that I know about.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

End Times Hopscotch

January 27, 2014

Are we really reading the passages the way they were meant to be read? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I was asked to reply to a video found here. I think it is important to respond to such videos because frankly, the end times can be scary for a lot of people. When I was a pre-trib, pre-mill dispensationalist, I found it frightening also. Yeah. It’s kind of neat thinking the rapture can happen at any time, but kind of frightening too, and what about all those people left behind? What about all the destruction to come on the Earth? What about the antichrist?

With movies like “Devil’s Due” coming out, we can be sure end times mania is not far from people’s minds. That and I understand that a remake of Left Behind is in the works. It can hardly be the case that a ruler in the Middle East will sneeze without prophecy experts showing up immediately. Unfortunately, these experts have a great track record of being wrong as J.P. Holding of Tektonics shows in this video and in this video.

This is also why I think it’s important that people get their bearings straight on eschatology. Even if you come from a different view than I, at least know what you believe. That way, you won’t be able to be blown around by everyone who comes along with a new interpretation.

So let’s look at this video that I’m writing about together.

The video starts early saying not many people know what the Bible says about the second coming of Jesus Christ and therefore, they are in danger of being deceived.

As an orthodox Preterist, I think too many already are unfortunately. A first century event has been turned into an event sometime to occur in the distant distant future. Now some people hearing me identify myself as a Preterist might wonder what I’m talking about. For that, I recommend that you go here and here. I’m sure the makers of this video will count me as one deceived. Oh well if they do. In order to do so, they will need to address my criticisms.

Next we are told that on the day Jesus returns, there will be a polar reversal. What I’m wondering immediately at this is not about the polar reversal (Although I am wondering what passage of Scripture says this), but rather about that word “return.” Are we talking about the second coming or return? Are these one and the same?

This is a problem I have with futurists often. What do the words mean? Does the rapture count as a coming? Is it maybe a half coming since Jesus never fully comes to Earth supposedly but just appears? If this is a return, then is it the event described in Matthew 24? If so, then that leads to even more concerns. Paul ties in the return of Jesus with a mass resurrection in 1 Thess. 4 and in 1 Cor. 15. Nowhere in Matthew 24, Mark 13, or Luke 21 do we read anything about a resurrection. Why would Jesus not mention that and that be the main event Paul mentions?

According to the video, Isaiah 24:20 says “the Earth will shatter and crack and split open. The earth will stagger like a drunk, and sway like a hut in a storm. The world is weighed down by its sins. It will collapse and never rise again.” Immediately after this, the speaker jumps to Revelation 6:12.

Shouldn’t we finish looking at Isaiah 24 first?

You see, this is what I call Biblical hopscotch. You take one passage here and then hop over to another passage and then hop to one more passage never staying in any book for long to get a real taste of it. Imagine going to a restaurant and going to a buffet line and just taking a little piece of so many foods but never really sitting down and enjoying a meal. That’s the kind of picture that is taking place here.

So the futurists I meet are all about taking the text “literally” (A term that is highly misunderstood and as I show here led to disaster for the opponents of Jesus. Most people don’t understand that literally really means “According to the intent of the author.”

The video wants to move past Isaiah 24. I don’t. If we take it literally, then what happens? The earth is split. The text says cracked and shattered as well. And yet, somehow, the Earth supposedly has remained in one piece. Well maybe it’s not that literal…..

It’s literal except for the times that it contradicts the theory apparently, and then it’s not literal.

What’s going on is that the prophet Isaiah is giving descriptions of judgments on the nations around Israel. The language is apocalyptic to describe in cosmic terms the political events that will take place. An example of this is Isaiah 13.

9 See, the day of the Lord is coming
—a cruel day, with wrath and fierce anger—
to make the land desolate
and destroy the sinners within it.
10 The stars of heaven and their constellations
will not show their light.
The rising sun will be darkened
and the moon will not give its light.
11 I will punish the world for its evil,
the wicked for their sins.
I will put an end to the arrogance of the haughty
and will humble the pride of the ruthless.
12 I will make people scarcer than pure gold,
more rare than the gold of Ophir.
13 Therefore I will make the heavens tremble;
and the earth will shake from its place
at the wrath of the Lord Almighty,
in the day of his burning anger.

This sounds to many people like the end of the world. It’s not. It’s judgment on Babylon. Some readers might be thinking “Well obviously, Isaiah is talking about a Babylon that will show up in the far far distant future.” Why think that? Israel was concerned about Babylon then and this can show a fulfillment.

In Isaiah 23 we start to hear about the destruction of Tyre. Why think the prophet will suddenly interrupt this to talk about the world being destroyed? Listening to many of these end-times experts, you’d think the only time on Earth that the prophets were concerned about was a distant time when followers of YHWH supposedly won’t even be on Earth! (Save for “tribulation saints.”)

And besides, if the Earth is never to rise again, then how can it be that Christ will rule on the Earth? Is Christ going to rule over ruins? I thought His Kingdom was supposed to be a glorious Kingdom!

Once again, if you read it in a wooden sense, it cannot be consistent.

So let’s go on to Revelation 6.

In the NIV, the passage cited reads “12 I watched as he opened the sixth seal. There was a great earthquake. The sun turned black like sackcloth made of goat hair, the whole moon turned blood red, 13 and the stars in the sky fell to earth, as figs drop from a fig tree when shaken by a strong wind. 14 The heavens receded like a scroll being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.”

We’re given a detailed scientific account of what’s supposed to happen. Okay. I’m not a scientist. I can’t comment on that. Savvy readers who are skilled in the sciences are welcome to leave a comment about the matter. I am sure of this point.

If one star were to fall and hit the Earth, we would be doomed. I’m also quite sure that if the sun turned black, we wouldn’t be able to see the moon at all to tell what color it is.

The speaker goes to Psalm 97:5 that says the mountains melted like wax before the presence of the Lord to illustrate this.

Little problem there. Psalm 97 has everything in present tense. It is describing realities going on right now. The point is not global upheaval. The point is that all creation is to submit to the ruler YHWH. If the way the video reads the Psalm is the way we are to read it, then Psalm 98:8 will be an exciting time when the rivers clap their hands and the mountains sing for joy.

Okay. That would be a cool video to see.

Now we jump to Revelation 16:20 which says that every island fled away and the mountains were not found. Then there’s an immediate jump back to Revelation 6:15.

Exactly how are we to read the book of Revelation? Can we just jump wherever we want to and apply it in whatever method we want to?

Interestingly, 6:15 speaks of evil people who go to the mountains and ask them to hide them from He who sits on the throne and the wrath of the lamb.

You know, those mountains that the video just said had crumbled and the ones that Revelation 6 says were removed from their place prior….

Yeah. I don’t get it either.

The video then tells us that the global earthquake will cause every building to fall. Isaiah 30:25 calls it the day of the great slaughter.

Really?

What else does Isaiah 30 say?

Well actually, it’s not a prophecy of destruction at all!

“23 He will also send you rain for the seed you sow in the ground, and the food that comes from the land will be rich and plentiful. In that day your cattle will graze in broad meadows. 24 The oxen and donkeys that work the soil will eat fodder and mash, spread out with fork and shovel. 25 In the day of great slaughter, when the towers fall, streams of water will flow on every high mountain and every lofty hill. 26 The moon will shine like the sun, and the sunlight will be seven times brighter, like the light of seven full days, when the Lord binds up the bruises of his people and heals the wounds he inflicted.”

Note that it says the land will be rich and plentiful. We are told streams will flow on every mountain (Those mountains that had either crumbled or been removed) and every lofty hill. The moon will shine like the sun! (The moon that was supposed to be blood red and the sun that was supposed to be dark) and the sun will be seven times brighter. (Yes. That dark sun will be seven times brighter.)

And you know, if this was really a time of great blessing, it would not be a blessing for the sun to be seven times brighter in a wooden sense.

And what’s going to happen? God will heal his people. This is not judgment! Unfortunately, too many people will just hear what the vid says and not really look up the references. Understandable unfortunately, but a mistake.

Next, it’s back to Revelation 16:21 and hailstones about 100 pounds each falling.

So apparently in this time of great prosperity for God’s people, there will be giant hailstones falling on the Earth. Seriously. On what grounds does one have the right to jump from Isaiah 30 and suddenly go back to Revelation 16 like this?

Okay. Now we move on to Matthew 24:30 with the sign of the Son of Man appearing in the heavens. Every one will see him and He will come on the clouds. The video also goes to Revelation 1:7 saying everyone will see Him, even those who have pierced Him.

All of whom, by the way, are dead now….

And let’s talk a little bit about coming and clouds. These are words of judgment as well which show that the deity is acting. In 2 Samuel 22, David describes a past event and says

“7 “In my distress I called to the Lord;
I called out to my God.
From his temple he heard my voice;
my cry came to his ears.
8 The earth trembled and quaked,
the foundations of the heavens shook;
they trembled because he was angry.
9 Smoke rose from his nostrils;
consuming fire came from his mouth,
burning coals blazed out of it.
10 He parted the heavens and came down;
dark clouds were under his feet.
11 He mounted the cherubim and flew;
he soared on the wings of the wind.
12 He made darkness his canopy around him—
the dark rain clouds of the sky.
13 Out of the brightness of his presence
bolts of lightning blazed forth.
14 The Lord thundered from heaven;
the voice of the Most High resounded.
15 He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy,
with great bolts of lightning he routed them.
16 The valleys of the sea were exposed
and the foundations of the earth laid bare
at the rebuke of the Lord,
at the blast of breath from his nostrils.

Notice that David is talking about a past event, but read through the books of Samuel and you will not find this literally taking place. You will not find God hitching up his angels to go on a ride and shoot arrows at the bad guys. What will you find? David’s enemies regularly got judged, and often through natural means. But for the ancients, the deity (or deities) were involved in everything. Notice also the language David uses. He speaks about the Earth shaking and the foundations of the heavens trembling. This is language of destruction, but we have no record of a great earthquake in the lifetime of David.

We see the language of coming in Exodus 3

“7 The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. 8 So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey—the home of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites.”

God has come to rescue His people? But God Himself didn’t show up in Egypt. It was Moses who showed up and performed the works of God.

And in Matthew 26:64, Jesus says this to the high priest at his trial.

““You have said so,” Jesus replied. “But I say to all of you: From now on you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven.””

Note what Jesus says. From now on, Caiaphas will see this. This is not a one-time future event. This is going to be a continuous event. Note also that Jesus will be coming and at the same time, sitting at the right hand. How is this possible, unless coming is a way of saying that Jesus will be judging! This court that has convened to judge Jesus will actually be judged by Jesus. Caiaphas himself will see this.

So either, this has happened, or else Jesus gave a false prophecy. Your choice.

And in Revelation 2:5, we read this to the church in Ephesus.

“Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first. If you do not repent, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place.”

So if this church does not get its act right, the second coming will take place?

Now of course, the video goes to 1 Thess. 4 and we hear about the rapture. Therefore I am once again wondering about the viewpoint of the video. Are they post-tribulational? Are they mid-trib? Yet they say the Christians will be saved from this terrible wrath. How can that be if this wrath has already started and the Earth is reeling, which is necessary since they say this is how every eye will see Jesus? Again, I am confused.

And as for meeting him in the air and so shall we ever be with the Lord, does that mean we are always going to be remaining in the air? Once again, the text is to be taken literally, except for when it is not to be taken literally.

The video also goes to 1 Cor. 15 yet my question still remains, where in Matthew 24, Mark 13, or Luke 21 do we see this resurrection take place? Why did Jesus leave out such an important detail?

The video then says that we will all be gathered with the Lord to defend Israel. (Kind of odd that Jesus leaves out that bit too about defending Israel. Kind of odd especially since passages like Matthew 24 actually describe judgment on Israel and not a hint of deliverance. In fact, Christians are told to flee Israel at that time.) The text jumped to for this is Rev. 19 and Zech. 14:4.

We’re told Jesus and His army, notably us, go out to wage war against the many arab nations and the antichrist, that figure who has not been spoken about this time, but is apparently enjoying a successful career reigning where every building has been destroyed! Apparently, all these tanks of the enemy are going to fight just fine despite the sun being darkened.

We go to Joel 3:16 for this one.

“The Lord will roar from Zion
and thunder from Jerusalem;
the earth and the heavens will tremble.
But the Lord will be a refuge for his people,
a stronghold for the people of Israel.”

What is going on in Joel? Well, we’re not told. Joel is a difficult book to date. Some date it to the 6th century. Some date it to the 9th. It does describe present realities going on and an army that God will defend His people from. Note however what is said in verse 18.

“In that day the mountains will drip new wine,
and the hills will flow with milk;
all the ravines of Judah will run with water.
A fountain will flow out of the Lord’s house
and will water the valley of acacias.”

Those mountains again. They’ve been destroyed and they’ve been removed both, but now they’re going to drip wine. Let’s hope this doesn’t interrupt the singing they’re supposed to do in Psalm 98.

We go back to Rev. 19 long enough to hear we’re riding on white horses and dressed in some fine white linen. (Note that Rev. 19:8 says that fine linen stands for righteous acts of God’s people. I mean, yeah, the text explicitly tells you that the term it uses just a few verses later is symbolism but hey, details, who needs them?) From there we jump back AGAIN to Joel 2 and start at verse 4.

4 They have the appearance of horses;
they gallop along like cavalry.
5 With a noise like that of chariots
they leap over the mountaintops,
like a crackling fire consuming stubble,
like a mighty army drawn up for battle.
6 At the sight of them, nations are in anguish;
every face turns pale.
7 They charge like warriors;
they scale walls like soldiers.
They all march in line,
not swerving from their course.
8 They do not jostle each other;
each marches straight ahead.
They plunge through defenses
without breaking ranks.
9 They rush upon the city;
they run along the wall.
They climb into the houses;
like thieves they enter through the windows.
10 Before them the earth shakes,
the heavens tremble,
the sun and moon are darkened,
and the stars no longer shine.
11 The Lord thunders
at the head of his army;
his forces are beyond number,
and mighty is the army that obeys his command.
The day of the Lord is great;
it is dreadful.
Who can endure it?

Now some of you might have caught on to that I look at the whole context and figured “Aha! I have you now! Look at what is said in verse 2!

” a day of darkness and gloom,
a day of clouds and blackness.
Like dawn spreading across the mountains
a large and mighty army comes,
such as never was in ancient times
nor ever will be in ages to come.”

Never was in ancient times and never will be in ages to come! This must be a grand climatic final battle!

Well, no.

For one thing, the author assumes history will keep going because there is a time after when this will supposedly never be again.

But this is typical hyperbolic language. If you’re going this way, you have some problems. For one thing, consider 1 Kings 3:12 when this is said to Solomon.

“I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be.”

So realize what this means! By this interpretation, Solomon was wiser than Jesus was. Do you want to say that?

For another example, look at 2 Kings 18:5

“Hezekiah trusted in the Lord, the God of Israel. There was no one like him among all the kings of Judah, either before him or after him.”

Wow. No king like him before or after. (Did Hezekiah trust in God more than Jesus did?)

Yet in 2 Kings 23:25 we read

“Neither before nor after Josiah was there a king like him who turned to the Lord as he did—with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his strength, in accordance with all the Law of Moses.”

So did the writer of Kings totally forget about Hezekiah who he wrote about just a few pages earlier, or is this just hyperbolic language used to describe a great event?

In 2 Chronicles 30:26 we read about Hezekiah’s Passover that

“There was great joy in Jerusalem, for since the days of Solomon son of David king of Israel there had been nothing like this in Jerusalem.”

Yet in 2 Kings 23:22 we read about Josiah’s Passover that

“Neither in the days of the judges who led Israel nor in the days of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judah had any such Passover been observed.”

The same situation is being described. It’s hyperbolic language.

So what about the rest of the passage?

Noteworthy is the sun and moon are darkened and the stars no longer shine. Will they make up their minds what they’re going to do? If Isaiah 30 had been taken in its full context, the sun would be seven times brighter. Now it’s no longer shining. Did it burn itself out or something? The stars will no longer shine? I thought they had all fallen earlier! What’s going on?

And heck, I think it’d be pretty sweet to see armies of horses entering buildings through windows! Why can’t I see a vid of that?

The vid goes on to talk about the antichrist and his mark and false miracles and the Lake of Fire. (And apparently, this army is advancing just fine despite the sun being dark.) And hey, at least this video gives us a really cool fire-breathing Jesus!

So what’s the next passage in this vid? Ezekiel 39:6. It reads “I will send fire on Magog and on those who live in safety in the coastlands, and they will know that I am the Lord.”

Well isn’t that special?

Let’s see what else the text says!

Speaking to Gog, the villain in the passage, we hear that

“3 Then I will strike your bow from your left hand and make your arrows drop from your right hand. 4 On the mountains of Israel you will fall, you and all your troops and the nations with you. I will give you as food to all kinds of carrion birds and to the wild animals. 5 You will fall in the open field, for I have spoken, declares the Sovereign Lord. 6 I will send fire on Magog and on those who live in safety in the coastlands, and they will know that I am the Lord.”

So apparently, this army of the future will be fighting with bows and arrows. They will also fall on the mountains of Israel. (Will those mountains again decide what it is that they’re exactly doing? Are they crumbling? Are they being removed? Are they singing?) The animals and carrion birds will eat the armies as food. (Because those animals will surely survive well in a devastated wasteland where they can’t see because there are no lights in the sky shining.)

Then in verse 9 we read

“Then those who live in the towns of Israel will go out and use the weapons for fuel and burn them up—the small and large shields, the bows and arrows, the war clubs and spears. For seven years they will use them for fuel. ”

So these wooden weapons will be burnt and used for fuel. Sure, the vid shows tanks and not shields and clubs and spears but hey, details. Who needs them?

Hopscotch continues with Revelation 20 and the binding of satan. So satan, a spiritual being, is being bound with a chain and locked up somewhere. Once again, the language is meant to be metaphorical and it’s important to note it doesn’t take the Son of God to defeat the devil. One angel can do it. The great power raised up against God can be dealt with by one angel. (Empowered by God of course)

Then we go to Matthew 25 and the parable of the sheep and the goats. The problem with a passage like this being used is that it leads to a works salvation when not understood properly. The reality is that these good deeds are not done to obtain salvation. They are done because one already has salvation. Such misuses have produced unnecessary fear in the hearts of Christians who simply want to know they are in the right with God.

I have seen a longer version of this vid where there is an ending with a message of salvation. That’s important to have, but still lacking. It ends with a “Sinner’s prayer” and then says go find a good born-again church. (If you’re a new Christian, how are you to know what that is?) Our churches today unfortunately stress highly the concept of having conversions. They do not stress discipleship.

And besides, I’m concerned that this focus of evangelism will only work if you already accept the premise that the Bible is true. If you don’t, it’s just fearmongering. The apostles went a different route. They said Jesus is the risen Lord and King of the universe. Caesar is not! Get in line!

How much better off we’d be if we got that message instead?

What can be learned from this. Always check the context! We’ve found a great game of hopscotch going on in the biblical text, but the interpretations just do not hold up. There has not been given a methodology whereby we are to know how one is to apply which text where and listening to this kind of material, you’d think the only time the prophets were interested in talking about was this time in the future.

I am increasingly concerned more and more with a church that is caught in Last Days Madness, but is not growing in the knowledge of who Christ is and learning what it means to say Jesus is the resurrected Lord or learning more about their Bibles and how they have been handed down. Christians today often cannot defend the resurrection of the Lord, the central foundation of the faith, but they can sure bring out their charts and graphs to explain the end times!

Unfortunately, videos like this just add to the hype and in my opinion, increase the biblical ignorance. The Bible is a rich literary work that needs to be read in its proper context. When we treat it like a document written in our way of speaking, we do it, and its divine author, a disservice.

Keep in mind that in this post, I have certainly not disproved a futurist or dispensational approach. I disagree with those, but that is not my intent here. My intent is simply to show that I think a sort of sloppy reading of the text has taken place. Such reading has had a history of producing apostates of the faith who still insist other Christians read in a wooden literal sense. Let us seek to return to treasuring the Bible as the rich work that it is and realize understanding it is not a simplistic approach, but a difficult one that will require our time and effort.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

On Phil Robertson and Duck Dynasty

December 21, 2013

What do I think about the Phil Robertson issue? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

Normally, I don’t post on Saturday, but next week is Christmas and I will be busy and I have other reviews going on and this topic is important to cover right now so with a few hours before the podcast today airs, I’m going to give some thoughts on this one.

I can also say that I have never actually seen an entire episode of Duck Dynasty. My wife and I do not get A&E. I’ve only seen the tail end of one episode when we went to visit my parents and I remember seeing a truck get blown up (Which I thought was awesome) and having the family gather together for prayer and a meal. I liked what I saw, but never watched more.

Yet I have been watching what has been going on and quite enjoying what I see.

Phil Robertson as we know was asked by GQ his stance on various issues. This would include sinful behavior. It’s hardly a shock to anyone that Robertson, a conservative Christian, gave an answer that a conservative Christian would do. What should he do instead? Lie? (For those wanting to talk about how a true Christian behaves and believes, a true Christian does not lie.) No. He gave an honest answer. Some say he was crude. It’s amusing that these same people quite likely have no hesitancy using profanity and probably don’t complain about a number of jokes their favorite comedians make or can show up on television elsewhere.

What did A&E do in response? They cut him out of the show for going against what they believe. A key point in this has also been that Robertson included bestiality in the list of sexual sins.

Maybe he did that because it is included in the Christian list of sexual sins? Notice also he included men and women sleeping around. If anything, since that was listed afterwards, it could be implied that he’s saying that was worse. I don’t think he was saying that. He was just listing sexual sins.

And to top it off, he gives a passage from Scripture.

Now going back to A&E’s response, a lot of people see this as a free speech issue. Upfront, I will say that this is not an issue about free speech. I will assume for the sake of argument that A&E has all right to fire Phil Robertson if they so choose. The right to speak does not entail the right to be heard or agreed with.

Of course, in turn, families all across America have a right to boycott A&E and to cancel their cable.

And before going on, I just want to ask this question. A&E, what the heck were you thinking? Duck Dynasty is your cash cow. It is the number one show in the nation. It is the reason people are watching your network. Why on Earth would you want to risk the equilibrium of that show? People who watch it already know how Phil thinks whether they agree with him or not.

That having been said then, what is the real issue here?

The real issue I think is hypocrisy.

There are many homosexuals out there who are practicing homosexuals who see no wrong with the behavior, but at the same time, they’re also not dogmatic about wanting to redefine marriage. Many of them even oppose redefining marriage. They don’t want to be the center of attention. They don’t want to make their sexual behavior the focus of their life or stake their identity in it. Of course, they don’t want to be discriminated against in other areas of life, but they’d prefer to really just be left alone.

Most Christians will have no problem with these people. Now we’ll disagree with their lifestyle, but we suspect that we can have good and honest conversation with these people about the issues. These people will also disagree with orthodox Christians. Some will claim to be Christians themselves, but I don’t see any way around 1 Cor. 6 for a Christian. Those interested in more on this are invited to read Robert Gagnon’s “The Bible and Homosexual Practice” and listen to his interview on my show here.

What do we Christians mind?

We mind the ones that are very much in our face with their lifestyle and not only wanting us to listen to them, but demanding that we accept them.

“Oh you are huh? Well what about those Bible thumpers who go around telling everyone that they’re going to Hell? What about them?”

By and large, I think they’re generally an embarrassment to the kingdom. I do. The ones that I see are generally high on passion and low on knowledge on the topic. All they know how to do is quote the Bible. Get them in a discussion where they actually have to defend the Bible and they’re toast. Of course, I am not condemning evangelism, but I do think we are in a world where the Bible no longer has the authority it had before in the eyes of the world. We need to do pre-evangelism as well.

So was Robertson doing that? No. He was just answering a question and yes, he did quote Scripture, but he didn’t just say a Scripture. He also made an argument about the nature of the body and how it works. I have no problem with that. He gave the Christian view and then said “And here’s why I think this view is true.”

GLAAD of course would have none of it and immediately made a protest. Unfortunately, this has come back to bite them. GLAAD has been receiving complaints from people everywhere and if you go to their Facebook page, the people are livid. What do they point at? The hypocrisy.

All this time, the homosexual movement has been saying we should tolerate them. We should have a live and let live attitude. We should be willing to accept that they are different. Classically understood, Christians will have no problem tolerating homosexuals. True tolerance means “I disagree with your view, but I will give you all right to hold that view and live your life the way you want.” (Of course, this excludes actions that are illegal.)

The government with behavior can do three things after all. It can promote a behavior and say this is what we want society to do. It can prohibit a behavior and say this is what it doesn’t want society to do. It can also permit a behavior as a way of saying they’re not saying yes or no either way but leaving it up to people to decide.

Right now, the government permits homosexual behavior. There’s nothing illegal about it. That’s not saying anything about it being right or wrong. After all, the government permits adultery and Christians should condemn adultery. The government permits some forms of pornography (Excepting child pornography of course) despite that Christians consider (or they should!) that to be immoral as well.

Knowing that, most Christians will do the same. We’re up for having honest and frank discussions with people in the homosexual community who disagree with us. I have friends who are part of that community. I have friends who I disagree with on many issues and we know we disagree, but we can maturely discuss the issues.

GLAAD is not pleased with that. They don’t want discussion. They have shut down discussion immediately instead. When it comes to what Robertson has said, the question has not been asked “Is he right?” Personally, I think that would be a good question for us to discuss. Let’s suppose for the sake of argument that Christianity is true. Let’s suppose God does have a Kingdom. Let’s suppose this really is a behavior that excludes you from the Kingdom.

Isn’t that the kind of thing people should know about?

Let’s even suppose for the sake of argument that Christianity is false. However, Phil Robertson still believes that it is true. He honestly believes that people who are participating in homosexual behavior without repentance and not seeking to repent are going to be excluded from the Kingdom of God?

Isn’t it consistent for him to want to warn people about that?

GLAAD has decided to skip the step of if what is said is true or not. Now they could say “Well we’ve studied the claim and we’ve found that it’s not true.” Okay. Perhaps you think you have. Has your audience? What about people out there who think otherwise? What about people like myself who say we’ve studied the Bible and found it to be true and we agree with it here? We need to hear more than your indignation.

All this time GLAAD has been telling us to be tolerant of people who are different, but apparently, when someone shows up who is different from them, then that tolerance goes out the window. They no longer have a desire to be tolerant. They not only refuse dissenting arguments. They refuse dissenting opinions. If you speak out and say something that offends them, then they will come after you.

I’ve debated Muslims before. These Muslims tell me that I’m an idolater and a blasphemer. I am guilty of the sin of shirk for since I hold to the deity of Christ and the Trinity, I am assigning partners to God. I deserve to go to Hell forever.

And you know what? If Islam is true, they’re exactly right! If Jesus is not who He claimed to be, I am guilty of a great blasphemy anyway and I deserve what I get.

Am I offended by this? Not a bit! I think the Muslims are being entirely consistent.

When the Muslim says that, what do I say? I don’t go off on a tirade about being offended and therefore it is wrong. What I do is give my reasons why I think the Bible is true and why I do not think that the Koran is true. My reasons could be wrong for the sake of argument, but I give a reason.

What has happened with GLAAD is instead of focusing on the question under discussion, we are instead focusing on the feelings of those involved. If GLAAD feels offended, we cannot help with that. We cannot change what we believe is the truth just to help them feel better. What this ultimately means if we keep going down the route of discussing the feelings involved is that we are held captive by GLAAD’s feelings.

And why should we be?

Should we submit the truth to our feelings or submit our feelings to the truth?

GLAAD’s problem is that they are not practicing the gospel that they preach. The tolerance is a one-way street. If you agree and accept them, they are fine with you, but if you dare raise disagreement, GLAAD isn’t so…well…glad.

An interesting example of the kind of tactics GLAAD is doing is in the interview discussion between Al Mohler and Wilson Cruz. Do you know who these people are? Well let me tell you a bit about them.

“Wilson Cruz currently serves as a full-time GLAAD staff member and national spokesperson, having spoken about LGBT issues on MSNBC, Huffington Post Live, NBC Latino and in USA Today, among many others. He will soon be guest hosting ‘Raising McCain,’ the new talk show on Pivot TV hosted by Meghan McCain. His involvement with LGBT advocacy began in 1995, when he accepted the GLAAD Media Award on behalf of the groundbreaking drama, My So-Called Life. Cruz’s role as gay high school student Rickie Vasquez was a groundbreaking moment in the history of LGBT images in the media. Since then he has gone on to appear in several memorable roles that have spanned television, film, and the Broadway stage. In 1997, Cruz joined GLAAD’s Board of Directors. In 2008, GLAAD honored Cruz with its Visibilidad Award. He recently served on the Board of Directors for The Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), and for the past two years he co-chaired their annual Respect Awards which raises money for the organization. Cruz also worked at The National Gay & Lesbian Task Force as a Field Organizer, advocating in cities around the United States to expand human rights ordinances to includes sexual orientation. He has been the Grand Marshal at Chicago, Boston, San Francisco, West Hollywood and San Diego Pride events, as well volunteering for the Los Angeles Gay & Lesbian Center and APLA’s AIDS Walk. He is based in Los Angeles.”

And to let everyone know, this is not a description I have made on my own. This is a description that comes from GLAAD’s own web site and can be found here.

Now what about Al Mohler?

“A native of Lakeland, Fla., Dr. Mohler was a Faculty Scholar at Florida Atlantic University before receiving his Bachelor of Arts degree from Samford University in Birmingham, Ala. He holds a master of divinity degree and the doctor of philosophy (in systematic and historical theology) from Southern Seminary. He has pursued additional study at the St. Meinrad School of Theology and has done research at University of Oxford (England).

Dr. Mohler also serves as the Joseph Emerson Brown Professor of Christian Theology at Southern Seminary. His writings have been published throughout the United States and Europe. In addition to contributing to a number of collected volumes, he is the author of several books, including Culture Shift: Engaging Current Issues with Timeless Truth (Multnomah); Desire & Deceit: The Real Cost of the New Sexual Tolerance (Multnomah); Atheism Remix: A Christian Confronts the New Atheists (Crossway); He Is Not Silent: Preaching in a Postmodern World (Moody); The Disappearance of God: Dangerous Beliefs in the New Spiritual Openness (Multnomah); and Words From the Fire: Hearing the Voice of God in the Ten Commandments (Moody). From 1985 to 1993, he served as associate editor of Preaching, a journal for evangelical preachers, and is currently editor-in-chief of The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology.”

This is just a snippet of what can be found here.

In fact, I’ll even say I’m not a big fan of Al Mohler, but let’s suppose I didn’t know these two men from Adam. All I had was these descriptions of them and I’m hearing them speak about what Christians believe. If I have not done any research on my own, which of these two men should I give more credibility? The one who has a Christian position at a Christian ministry earning degrees in the subject from a Christian seminary, or should I listen to the one who has been an actor and works at an organization that champions homosexuality and has based his whole life on that view?

If you answered “Al Mohler has more credibility” you’re spot on!

Yet what does Cruz say to Mohler?

“You know, it is not a Christian thing to compare or to include homosexuality in a list that includes bestiality or slanderers.”

You can see that here.

Upon what authority does Cruz make this statement? Could he biblically back it?

Amusingly, Cruz goes on to say this:

“And here’s the other thing. There was a time in our history when we couldn’t actually speak up and say something about how we were being characterized. That is no longer today. When someone speaks about us in these ways, we will rise up. We will speak out. And the problem with some of these people on the other side is that they don’t like that anymore. They want us to stay quiet. But we won’t stay quiet when someone makes misogynists statements, when they make racist statements the way that Mr. Robertson did. That’s not American. That’s not Christian. ”

Yes. The problem is people don’t like the way that homosexuals speak out and they want them to stay quiet. This is incredibly funny considering that Cruz and his colleagues want Robertson to be silenced and stay quiet. They don’t want him to speak up at all or say his opinion.

In fact, let’s suppose for the sake of argument that Robertson made misogynist and/or racist statements.

He has freedom to do that too! If he’s a racist, he has that freedom. If he’s a misogynist, he has that freedom. It doesn’t mean he’s right to do so, but he’s free to do so. If you want to silence him, do so with an argument as to why it’s wrong.

What we can hope is that this will instead show that the homosexual narrative is not playing the way it is. We are told that more and more people are coming over to the homosexual side, at least supporting them. This should show that they are not and GLAAD has now shown their hand and the people who support Phil Robertson are angry about it. The message has been given loud and clear. “Do not speak out against us or we will deal with you.”

What this demonstrates is something I have said for awhile. Tolerance has been a sham. It’s always been a one-way street. It was never meant to go both ways. As soon as the homosexuals have the power, they misuse it just as much as anyone else would. They have wanted us to live and let live, but they do not want us to do that, unless we’re just isolated to the private sphere. We dare not be public with our faith, though the homosexual can be public with his lifestyle.

My hope in this is that we will instead get the debate started again and maybe some Christians will wake up and realize what is going on in their world around them and come out of their enclosed societies where they never interact with the world. What we see here today is that Christians are still a force to be reckoned with.

And now, they are ready to show that they will not be bullied any longer.

Where we go from here is up to everyone else and to what you and I do, but this is not a free speech issue in my view. It is a hypocrisy issue and it is time we call the other side on it.

In Christ,
Nick Peters