Category Archives: Christianity

As it says, reflecting my faith

Is Genesis History? Well, nope

 

Image result for is genesis history

Is Genesis History? is a DVD to show that early Genesis is “history” and that the earth is a few thousand years old, God talked the universe into being in 144 hrs, the flood was worldwide and most of the strata were laid down at that time. Evolution is a big no-no.

It has the support of most creationist groups and many of their “experts” have contributed to this beautifully flawed production.

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More can be found on their website. https://isgenesishistory.com/ 

The introductory page makes it clear.

“Will strengthen confidence in Scripture, clarify understanding of the relationships of revelation, science, history, and faith, and enhance understanding of difficult questions all while being both beautiful and entertaining.” – E. Calvin Beisner, PhD

Is Genesis History? features over a dozen scientists and scholars explaining how the world intersects with the history recorded in Genesis.  From rock layers to fossils, from lions to stars, from the Bible to artifacts, this fascinating film will change the way you see the world.

The film’s goal is to provide a reasonable case for Creation in six normal days, a real Adam and Eve, an actual fall, a global flood, and a tower of Babel. Dr. Del Tackett, creator of The Truth Project, serves as your guide—hiking through canyons, climbing up mountains, and diving below the sea—in an exploration of two competing views … one compelling truth.

This says it all, but who are the experts?

Experts Interviewed

Many people don’t realize just how many scientists and scholars see Genesis as the key to understanding the world around us. Each of these experts has spent decades working in his respective field to better understand how it relates to the history recorded in the Bible.

 

Those who fllow Young Earth Creationism will recognise most of these names. It’s true that they have Ph.D.s and have worked for years in their chosen fields, but…..

I’ve met five of them, but none have more than a few academic papers to their name – which, in the case of geology, do nothing to refute “old earth ” geology. At times their treatment of standard science is duplicitous.

And so another page deals with their answers to “questions”.

https://isgenesishistory.com/category/questions/

I’ll focus on one – the theologian Douglas Kelly

 https://isgenesishistory.com/when-did-the-church-stop-reading-genesis-as-history/

Dr. Douglas Kelly explains the history of the church’s relationship with Evolution and the Bible.

DEL: Where do you see all of the sudden the thought beginning to work its way in, that there is something less than historical record found in Genesis?

DOUG: Dr. Nigel Cameron, who did a book a number of years ago which unfortunately it’s out of print, Evolution and the Authority of the Bible, in which he shows convincingly to me after serious study on his part that the whole church as far as commentators and creeds on into Protestant confessions held straight six day creation, until the European enlightenment. And particularly two things happen, well many things happened in the European enlightenment but two things particular reference to creation. One is there was the introduction of the thought of vast geological ages being evidenced by geological structures. That was happening largely in the 18th Century, late 18th Century. And then in the 19th Century of course we have Charles Darwin. It was not that theories of evolution were totally novel. They weren’t, because if you go back to certain pre-socratic philosophers, Democritus, Lucretius and others, they held some kind of evolution, but that Christianity had purged that out and said it’s ridiculous and it goes way underground.

DOUG: It’s able to come back to the surface by the European enlightenment. Geology first and then with particularly Darwin and his grandfather was teaching Erasmus Darwin but Charles Darwin’s major work came out in 1859 and sold out in about two days because people were so desperate to find an intellectual alternative to divine creation. Well Cameron shows that when about five years, five or six years after Darwin’s book became popular i.e. by the late 1860s there was scarcely a protestant commentator, a protestant commentator that didn’t accept some form of evolution or at least say this is a matter best left to the scientists. Let’s deal with the spiritual.

DEL: It happened that fast.

DOUG: It happened that fast within six or seven years. Now there were exceptions. Good Bishop Wilbur Force resisted it, but that’s how quickly it happened.

I facepalmed at the last sentence “Bishop Wilbur Force”. It clearly they meant Bishop Samuel Wilberforce, son of William Wilberforce.

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Wilberfoce was competent in science and attended geological lectures by William Buckland for three years while at Oxford. His 1860 review of the Origin of Species was competent though rejecting evolution.

Kelly studied for his Ph D in Edinburgh under T F Torrance, the leading 20th century Scottish theologian, who had a sound view of science and theology!

In 1999 he published a YEC book supporting a six day creation , full of poor theology and worse science.

The quotes by Kelly here are weak. He is wrong to say theologians held to a six day creation until the Enlightenment. See my chapter here; Genesis 1 & geological time from 1600-1850 Until there was geological evidence for an ancient earth theologians took varied opinions but after 1780 few opted for a young earth. What Kelly does not say is that after 1800 very few theologians, Protestant or Catholic accepted a 6-day creation. That includes conservative protestants and evangelicals on both sides of the pond. By 1870 most accepted some kind of evolution.  This is just for Britain, the situation in the USA was similar  – at least til the Scopes trial. Evolution and religion in Britain from 1859

So lets get on with this blog  on

6 Reasons Christians Should Embrace 6 Day Creation

Watch the film

https://isgenesishistory.com/6-reasons-christians-embrace-6-day-creation/

The blog  has a clear purpose – to give 6 reasons why Christians must accept a 6-day creation.

When Is Genesis History? opened in theaters last year, we had no idea it would be the top grossing Christian documentary for 2017. We were even more surprised when our distributor said they were bringing it back to theaters on Feb 22, 2018 for an Anniversary Event.

Why did this film resonate so much with audiences?

Perhaps it demonstrated that it’s intellectually reasonable for Christians to embrace 6-day creation.

By ‘6-day creation,’ I’m referring not just to one’s view of Genesis 1, but to an entire chronology of historical events. These include the immediate creation of everything in six normal days, a Fall that brought corruption and death into the universe, and a global Flood that destroyed the world.

I recognize that among some Christians this is not a popular view of history. Instead, some have adopted the framework hypothesis, analogical days, or the cosmic-temple model to interpret Genesis 1.

They then accept the conventional chronology of universal history. This includes the slow formation of everything over billions of years starting with a Big Bang, the corruption and death of trillions of creatures before the arrival of Adam and Eve, a Fall that introduced death only to mankind, and a local flood during the days of Noah.

It is the events included in 6-day creation that are essential for Christian theology.

I realize that intelligent and godly Christians hold to this model of Earth history. Nevertheless, many seem unaware of the actual events they must inevitably adopt when affirming a 13.8 billion-year-old universe.

After all, one cannot extend history for billions of years without attaching new events to it. Those events have theological consequences.

This is why thinkers like Geerhardus Vos, Louis Berkhof, and D. Martin Lloyd-Jones embraced 6-day creation. They understood it is the events included in 6-day creation that are essential for Christian theology.

Note that included is not only a 6-day creation, but also a Fall which brought death into the world. This latter is a plank for YEC as the death of Christ is often presented as reversing the effects of the Fall, thus giving more plausibility to YEC. Note how the expression “corruption and death” is put forward in contrast to a “good2 and “very good” original creation.

Then Six theological reasons for YEC are considered.

Here are six theological reasons worth considering:

N.B. Here I give the blog in “quotes” , the rest are my comments

1. God’s Goodness Must Be Reflected in the Original Creation

Ligon Duncan observed in an interview for ‘The Gospel Coalition’ that affirming the goodness of the original creation is non-negotiable. As the Westminster Confession states, the goodness of the original creation is the manifestation of the glory of God’s own goodness. (WCF 4.1)

 

If the expression “original creation” was not used, most , if not all Christians subscribe to this. Creation,( however it came about, however old it is), “is the manifestation of the glory of God’s own goodness. (WCF 4.1)”. However the use of “original Creation” is used to imply that creation took place in a matter of 144 Hours. That most Christians disagree with.

they then ask;

What does that goodness look like? It is full of life-giving power and bounty.

I find this photo an odd one to show the earth without corruption 🙂 In fact it shows beauty and tranquillity and so much of our scenery and wildlife shows the beauty and wonder of Creation. Here are two taken from near home I quickly found at random . It is difficult to see it as “not good”. I try hard to see the corruption here.

DSCF5863DSCF8789 (1)

 

This is what we see in Genesis 1. God pronounces His original creation ‘good’ and ‘very good.’ It was a world of plenty and beauty without animal carnivory (Gen 1:30) and without corruption and death (Rom 8:21).

Yet this picture of an artistically-designed, beautiful world only fits within the chronology of 6-day creation.

 

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I’d be very surprised if any reader does not see this as a “picture of an artistically-designed, beautiful world”. Just look at the colours and delicacy of the plant’s structure and the exquisite tiny flowers coming into bloom. Many will recognise it as sundew (drosera rotundiflora) which is common in boggy areas. I found this ten miles from my home in a gorgeous boggy lake full of drosera and surrounded by Bog asphodel.

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Beautiful though it is, the sundew is  – er  – um -” a product of the Fall and Curse” as it is a  carnivorous plant and gains some sustainence from catching insects with those tentacles in the leaves. as well as that the boggy area is a morass of dead plants and animals in varying stages of decomposition. So if the sundew and bog asphodel are beautiful they are the result of the Fall and Curse!! This rather contradicts the claim that “this picture of an artistically-designed, beautiful world only fits within the chronology of 6-day creation”.

Further they are right to say “This is what we see in Genesis 1. God pronounces His original creation ‘good’ and ‘very good.’ It was a world of plenty and beauty …..” We see this good and very good all around us, and especially if we are tuned to see the wonder of creation in both large and small things.

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But then they say “It was a world of plenty and beauty without animal carnivory (Gen 1:30) and without corruption and death (Rom 8:21).” Well, we see a world of plenty and beauty WITH corruption and animal death. We must ask how the Fall and Curse changed creation. The photos I chose all show a world of plenty and beauty with carnivory present! Gen 1 vs 30 has to be squeezed very hard to make it affirm carnivory. I’ll deal with Romans 8 later.

If one adopts the conventional chronology, one must accept that the Earth was absent from the universe for its first 9 billion years. After a galactic cooling event, the Earth slowly formed through billions of years of uninhabitable environments. God eventually created the first complex marine life, then progressively created or evolved different types of organisms. These experienced death and massive extinction events that led to the destruction of trillions of living creatures.

All this happened long before the appearance of Adam and Eve.

I realize that some Christians may not be interested in these sorts of details. Yet anyone who chooses to accept an old universe implicitly accepts the historical events that go with it. It is a history filled with lifelessness and death, not the goodness of God.

This flight of fancy begs some questions. Yes, we have a long evolution over 13.4 billion years and during most of that there was no life – but why is that bad? To correct an error of emotive appeal, the earth was not “slowly formed through billions of years of uninhabitable environments”. Yes, earth was formed 4.6 billion years ago, but life was almost certainly there by 4 billion. There has been life ever since.  But even “lifeless creation” has beauty and wonder.

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Now this is the “lifeless” view from the present summit of Mt St Helens taken in October 2009. The foreground is “lifeless” lava and glacier! Behind the area was wiped clean of most life in May 1980, but is now regenerating.

2. Adam’s Sin Resulted in Universal Corruption and Death

According to the conventional chronology, corruption has always been a part of the universe. This can be seen in the fossil record which supposedly represents 540 million years of animal suffering and death. It provides snapshots of a world often full of thorns and thistles.

It’s a funny use of corruption, when it is used to denigrate the endless cycle if the universe changing over time. The universe has a history of stars being born and dying, but why is that corruption? The next sentence is rather inaccurate. The fossil record goes back 4 billion years, not 540 million!!

In this view, Adam’s sin could not have been the ultimate cause of universal corruption. As an historical event, his disobedience occurred long after “corruption” was present. Of course , their assertion is that the earth is young and geological and cosmological ages are wrong. But no evidence for that is given. Neither do they point out that arguments for these vast ages go back 300 years or so, so cannot be laid at the door of Darwin.

By ‘6-day creation,’ I’m referring not just to one’s view of Genesis 1, but to an entire chronology of historical events. These include the immediate creation of everything in six normal days, a Fall that brought corruption and death into the universe, and a global Flood that destroyed the world.

Where does it say the Fall brought “corruption”  to the universe. It is simply not in any version of Genesis 3. Yes, Genesis 3 speaks of thorns and thistles (vs18) but not animal death, earthquakes or anything else. They really need to show that DAY must mean 24 hours. For 2000 years Christians have varied on this and though until about 1680 most reckoned the earth to be young, a significant number did not on theological grounds as they had no scienitific evidence to guide them.

Further the popularity of their view of corruption stems from Milton’s poem Paradise Lost, rather than a theological consensus.

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2016/02/19/why-the-apple-didnt-kill-adam-and-eve/

However animal pain and death is a problem to all who beleive in a benifient God. As Darwin asked about the Ichneumon fly and a cat playing with a mouse

ichneumon

 

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2015/05/06/parasitic-wasps-and-the-death-of-jesus-with-hat-tip-to-darwin/

Ultimately there is no resolution and either the Curse or “billions of years of suffering and death ” does not get God off the hook!! It is a hard thing to accept that God created a world with death and suffering, but equally hard if God introduced death and suffering because a pair of nudists went scrumping.  It is irresolvable.

Or even more starkly 

https://twitter.com/i/status/1158800625775206400

This is what Paul affirms in Romans 8:21. It is what Christian theology has always affirmed: Adam was given dominion over the entire creation at the beginning; when he sinned, the entire creation was subjected to corruption as a consequence of its unique relationship to him.

Here we have the usual appeal to Rom 8 vs21. It is the standard interpretation but not unanimous. This turns on the translation of several Greek words. The word translated creation is ktisis, which can mean humanity in both parts of the New Testament and Apostolic Fathers. Few accept that today, but it was the view of the 18th century commentator John Gill and the 17th century John Lightfoot, who dated creation to 3926BC, making him more young earth than Ussher.

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2017/03/18/mis-reading-romans-chapter-8/

Too many “orthodox” (i.e old earth) theologians seem to go for a Fall in creation as did the commentators Sanday and Headlem and also NT Wright  in Evil and the Justice of God p 117 and p109.

There is a lack of clear thinking in this area, but it must be said that if the earth is even a few million years old, then death is of the order of creation and not due to a Fall. Creationists cash in on this lack of clarity. Perhaps I spent too long in scorching temperatures in the Namib Desert sorting out the geology !!

3. The Pattern of Creation-Fall-Redemption Culminates in the New Creation

If the universe contained death and corruption that wasn’t the result of Adam’s sin, what does that mean for Jesus’s redemption of both man and creation?

This is a superficially appealing argument, BUT it shifts the emphasis of the redemptive work of Jesus on the cross from the atonement of human sin to sorting out the mess of the Fall and Curse.

Consider His miracles: He was re-forming the world according to the goodness of the original creation. Whether Jesus was healing the sick, raising the dead, or feeding the hungry, He was showing that redemption results in tangible bounty to actual people. It is a goodness that culminates with the new creation. Passages in the Prophets and Revelation suggest a return to the space-time goodness of the original creation.

Yet it is only the chronology of 6-day creation that provides the historical framework for this pattern to have meaning.

If the original creation was not good, or if the Fall did not transform that creation into something evil, then what is the real nature of our redemption? And what is the real potential of the new creation?

For the bookends of creation to match, they must be mirrors of each other. This is only possible with 6-day creation.

This is a bit rambling.

4. Scripture Must be Used to Interpret Scripture

In the Odyssey, when Penelope wants to prove her husband’s identity, she requests he shoot an arrow through 12 axe handles placed in a row. She knows he is the only one who can do it. In the same way, although different interpretations claim to be accurate, only those which pass intact through the entirety of the Bible are true.

This is what we see with the events associated with 6-day creation: they are affirmed throughout the entire Bible.

Whether it is Moses connecting creation week with a normal week in the fourth commandment; or Isaiah affirming God created man at the same time He created the heavens and the earth; or Jesus explaining the global destruction of the Flood in light of His second coming; or Luke tracing the history of the world through a single genealogy; or Paul relating the work of Adam to the work of Christ; or Peter showing the relationship between the creation, global flood, and judgment to come, there is only one historical sequence that consistently fits: 6-day creation.

This is not what it says as it is an appeal claiming that THEIR interpretation is correct and the others wrong. To interpret Scripture one must use other parts of Scripture, but alway consider the context and genre and use extra-biblical information, especially on the cultural context.

5. Essential Doctrines are Embedded in History

Last year, I had lunch with a friend who takes a more liberal view of the Bible. As he heard what was in the film, he said, “if there really was a global flood, that changes everything.” This is similar to the line of thinking we see in Acts: if a man really rose from the dead, that changes everything.

Paul establishes the necessary connection between the events of history and Christian doctrine in 1 Corinthians 15. Peter does the same in 2 Peter 3 with creation, the flood, and the final judgment.

Yet it is only within the historical framework of 6-day creation that all these events cohere to the fabric of time.

For instance, if the thick fossil-bearing rock layers are the result of a global flood, they are a physical reminder of God’s global judgment on the earth in the past—as well as in the future.

If, however, one adopts the conventional chronology, those huge layers are merely a testimony to millions of years. God’s judgment is erased from the earth—and perhaps overlooked in the future.

This is based on an obvious assumption  and that is that the history of the New Testament is the same as early Genesis. It is hard to say they are. This overlooks so many differences. I note that they look to God’s judgement in the Flood as if this were a proof of a young earth.

6. Presuppositional Thinking Helps Us Understand the Discipline of Science

Finally, what about science itself?

When I started researching our documentary, I came across a book entitled The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn. Although there is much that could be said about Kuhn, his method is easy for philosophically-minded Christians to grasp: he applies presuppositional thinking to the discipline of science.

Anyone who has read Christian philosopher Cornelius Van Til can see the similarities between them:

Both point out that data is not “value-neutral,” but that people bring a ‘set of glasses’ toward the interpretation of the world around them. Both recognize the intense commitment people have toward certain views to the exclusion of all others. Both note that groups consistently interpret what they observe in light of their base presuppositions.

Night Sky

Now what makes Kuhn interesting is that he explores the history of science in light of this thinking. The result is that he effectively questions the absolute epistemological authority of modern science.

This is a total misreading of Kuhn. He argued that accumulated evidence changes the “paradigm” of scientists  eg geocentricity to heliocentricity. It was not a case of changing “presuppositions”. It can also be done on geological time and evolution (though Kuhn did this v badly), plate tectonics etc. People did not change their views on geological time due to changing presuppositions, but accumulated evidence gleaned from a methodologically naturalistic perspective. Thus scientists gradually changed their views on the age of the earth, from a few thousand in 1660 to millions in 1800 to billions by 1910. It is often overlooked that many of these geologists were Christians.

Having read both Van Til and Kuhn I cannot see the similarities, though I have to admit I’m a fan of neither!

 

In Closing

I regret the abbreviated nature of these thoughts. They are only a few of the many I arrived at during my three year process researching this film. I have explored them at greater depth in the Is Genesis History? Bible Study that accompanies the film.

In closing, it is my strongest conviction as a Christian that 6-day creation is the only longterm viable option for Christian theology. As D. Martin Lloyd-Jones said, “I have no gospel unless Genesis is history.”

They have not made their case!! To claim Genesis is history as we know it today is to make the Gospel incredible and thus no gospel.

Michael’s Conclusion; is Genesis History?

In the normal sense NO and it does not claim to be. To ask this question and to put it in a way that you must answer YES is to misunderstand early Genesis and the rest of the Bible.

It stems from the view that the bible is written in the same way from Genesis to Revelation and all is equally “history”. The Bible is variable on history. When we study the Gospels and Acts we find that is akin to our historcal understanding today and that of its time. It can stand alongside Caesar’s Gallic Wars as a narrative account. This, in itself, does not mean it is accurate history and Caesar was prone to massaging the facts for his own purposes. Opinions vary on the historical reliability of the New Testament, but I am persuaded that it is reliable history, and to some I take a hopelessly conservative position.

Once we consider the Old Testament things change. and its historicity and reliability  becomes less the earlier the events are. From Saul onwards i.e. after c1000BC the account fits with other contemporary accounts. But this is far less so for the Exodus and conquest, though some link it to contemporary events. For the Patriarchs – Abraham, Jacob and Joseph, the sitz-im-leben is the early Second Millenium, but there is no supporting evidence. Hence some say the Patriarchs are non- historical figures. I disagree there.

And so we come to Genesis 1 to 11, the substance of these films and blog. It is fair to say they were seen as history until the 18th century, but discoveries of an ancient earth – both geological and anthropological challenged that.

Most important is to see the historicity of Jesus Christ and not a pair of anti-diluvian nudists.

I reckon G M Hopkins gives us a better way to consider Genesis

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2014/08/26/gods-grandeur-gerard-manley-hopkins/

(Some) American Lutherans Become creationist

 

Caution Creationists3

Martin Luther was the first in the Reformation in 1517, and what followed laster , in a sense, always looked back to him whether Calvin or even Anglicans. The subsequent history of the Lutherans in Europe is most significant, but not relevant here.

As many Germans emigrated to north America they took their Lutheranism with them. As an aside the early USA nearly made German, rather than English, the official language. That is a topic for an alternative history. As groups who emigrate tend to be more conservative than those left at home this was the case of Lutherans .

Lutherans varied, but in the Midwest many took ultra-conservative views on inerrancy and even on geocentricity as this long quote from my book Evangelicals and Science shows

LUTHERAN GEOCENTRICITIES
Whereas no other Protestants questioned the Copernican system in the
nineteenth century, some conservative Lutherans in themid-west rejected
heliocentricity in favor of geocentricity. To go back to the sixteenth century,
Martin Luther (1483–1546), possibly dismissed Copernicus’s theory
of a heliocentric universe, and perhaps that fact explainswhymodern geocentric
beliefs seemto have beenmore common among Lutherans. Exactly
how strongly Luther objected to Copernicanism is difficult to ascertain as
his comments are to be found only in his Table Talk, which was collected
together by his followers and may not be reliable. At the end of the sixteenth
century both Tycho Brahe (a geostatist rather than a geocentrist)
who rejected Copernicanism and Johannes Kepler were Lutherans, but
even so Lutherans were more hostile to Copernicanism than Calvinists.
As a result of German immigration to the mid-west strong Lutheran
communities formed especially in Missouri and Wisconsin. One of the
leaders was German-born Carl Ferdinand Wilhelm Walther (1811–1887)
who came to St. Louis in 1838 to be a pastor. He also founded a seminary,
a publishing house, and a theological journal and was president of the
German Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio, and other states
(forerunner of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod), which dates from
1847 and a leading figure in the Evangelical Lutheran Synodical Conference
of North America, which was formed in 1872. (Noll, 1992, p. 216)
These bodies were largely self-contained until large-scale immigration
from Germany ceased in the 1930s, and they kept aloof from the indigenous
American evangelicals. Even in the 1930s they were reluctant to pray
with other Protestants and more recently would not allow Southern Baptists
and others to receive communion with them. Walther disparaged
Copernican astronomy in the pages of the synod’s official publication, Der
Lutheraner. The theologian F. A. Pieper (1852–1931) also rejected Copernicanism,
as did August Graebner (1849–1904), who insisted that if the
Copernican systemdisagreedwith the Bible, “the heliocentric systemmust
fall” (Numbers, 1991, p. 106). Several other works were published like J.
C. W. Lindemann’s (d1879) Astronomishe Unterredung zwischen einem Liebhaber
der Astronomie und meheren ber ¨uhmten Astronomen der Neuzeit, worin
deutliche Auskunft gegeben wird ¨uber die Untr ¨uglichkeit des Kopernikanischen
Sonnen-Systems published in1873. Hencemost geocentricworks published
in America between 1870 and 1920 were written by members (mainly
clergy) of the forerunners of the LCMS and that geocentricity was widely
taught within the synod. These were discussed by Friedrich E. Pasche’s
1906 book Bibel und Astronomie, which also discussed about sixty passages
from the Bible that indicate an unmoving earth and/or a moving sun. In
1915 he also wrote in English, Fifty Reasons:Copernicus or the Bible. Philosophy
and vain deceit, or true science? Which Is Right? and showed that there
were fifty reasons why Copernicanism was wrong!
During the twentieth century these Germanic Lutherans slowly gave up
geocentricity, but not their insistence on a young earth. which is to be seen
in the numbers of Lutheran flood geologists in the inter-war years and
the division of the Lutheran Church into the Lutheran Church Missouri
Synod (LCMS) and the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ECLA)
in the 1970s, which was over inerrancy and biblical literalism.
THE RETURN

In the early 20th century many mid-west Lutherans rejected  Evolution and geological time  as did Theodore Graebner in many books. He also accepted Mccready Price’s odd ideas.

Thus in the 60s the Lutherans were polarised into the ultra-consevatives and liberals and moderated. By the 70s there was a split with the more liberal ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church of America) and the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod. (LCMS) .

Lutheran-church

The LCMS was very conservative opting for inerrancy in its strongest form. It was also opposed to evolution and the telephone numbers of geological time!! some members rejected this, but the common policy of the church and its colleges was young earth creationist.

This is where I come in. In 2000 Concordia College, Mequon, Milwaukee in Wisconsin hosted a conference on Design. All the ID crowd were there, Behe, Mayer, Dembski et al, and others including Michael ruse, Ted Davis etc. It was a good conference but I found that unless you agreed 200% with ID you were an out cast. However I found concordia only taught YEC, which disturbed me. As Concordia renewed contracts annually it was difficult for an academic to dissent as his contract would not be renewed. Hence if a prof suggested that the earth might just be a million years old, he was liable to lose his job. That is hardly the environment for open critical academic thinking.

Since then I have casually followed goings-on of the LCMS and saw no loosening on their anti-evolution and YEC stance. And so last month it became official doctrine

At the 67th Regular Convention of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod on Tuesday [23 July 2019], the theologically conservative denomination adopted Resolution 5-09A, titled ‘To Confess the Biblical Six-Day Creation.’”1

This clearly makes it impossible for any pastor, or  academic at a college to be anything but YEC. I suppose they will have to keep quiet, if only to keep their jobs.

Most important, is that a significant US has insisted on YEC as in its basis of faith. Here the Southern Baptists are not far behind , especially if Alber Mohler gets his way.

At best LCMS has made a secondary issue a primary one, but what it has done is to exclude all those devout Christians , who do not accept YEC, for the simple reason that is is utterly wrong.

We shall see what happens, and whether the Southern Baptists follow suit. (Ironically it qwas a Southern Baptist minister who guided me to christian alternatives to YEC while I was at L’abri many decades ago.)

creationist binjgo

Well, now you can read Creation Ministries International gleeful commentary on it…………..

As for me, I shall remain a heretic, who actually subscribes to the Nicene Creed !! I am grateful for all Anglicans and those from other churches who have taken a sensible, rational and truthful approach to science

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Source: Lutherans take stand on creation – creation.com

Is Genesis really poetry?

One of the many creationist groups is Biblical Creation & Apologetics Ministries, which has a facebook group which mostly reprints articles from Creation ministries and answers in Genesis. Unlike many they do allow heretics like me to post on their page !!

You can read them here

https://www.facebook.com/pg/BiblicalCreation/about/?ref=page_internal

One of their latest (27/7/19)  is on whether Genesis is poetry. This question polarises conclusions to either being poetry and thus not true , or not poetry and true. This is slick and unconvincing to many, but good for the faithful.

https://www.facebook.com/BiblicalCreation/photos/a.207326895983895/2250443738338857/?type=3&theater

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Biblical Authority: Is Genesis Poetry?

The idea that ‘Genesis doesn’t tell us how God created’ is one of those vague half-truths that fails to address the specifics of either the passage or the issue that the statement is trying to comment on. To be precise, we want to know whether Genesis contradicts the prevailing ‘billions of years’ framework for the history of nature. For that, we need to know: what does Genesis 1 tell us about the history of nature, if it tells us anything? There are good reasons to think Genesis 1 does indeed refer to the past (see Genesis as ancient historical narrative [http://bit.ly/2ydR7KM]). And there are several crucial historical questions Genesis 1 does answer.

1. Who created? God.

2. What did God create? The heavens and earth in their vast array.

3. By what means did God create? He spoke, and things came to be.

4. How long did God take to create? Six days (e.g. Exodus 20:8–11).

5. When did God create? At the beginning (with no prior beginning for any class of creature explicitly mentioned in Genesis 1, which includes the earth, the sky, all forms of animals and plants, and all stars).

https://creation.com/genesis-not-poetic

And here in slow motion dealing with each point

 

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Biblical Authority: Is Genesis Poetry?

The idea that ‘Genesis doesn’t tell us how God created’ is one of those vague half-truths that fails to address the specifics of either the passage or the issue that the statement is trying to comment on. To be precise, we want to know whether Genesis contradicts the prevailing ‘billions of years’ framework for the history of nature. For that, we need to know: what does Genesis 1 tell us about the history of nature, if it tells us anything? There are good reasons to think Genesis 1 does indeed refer to the past (see Genesis as ancient historical narrative [http://bit.ly/2ydR7KM]). And there are several crucial historical questions Genesis 1 does answer.

1. Who created? God. My answer

Absolutely. This is fundamental to any theist. We may be baffled at who God is – and I am – but God is creator of all

I go further and insist on creatio ex nihilo – creation from nothing

Perhaps it is best summed up in William Temple’s equations

God- world = God

World – god = 0

You can follow this up in most Christian writers of creation

2. What did God create? The heavens and earth in their vast array. My answer

Yup, the whole lot.

But now we diverge.

3. By what means did God create? He spoke, and things came to be. My answer

Genesis and the rest of the Bible affirms that God is creator but doesn’t say how. Whichever passage you turn too in the old or New Testament, there is AFFIRMATION of god as creator, often in poeticised form, but never  a description of how God created.

To say “He spoke, and things came to be.” is a paraphrase of the refrain in genesis One and says nothing about how god did it. At worst it is parroting meaninglessness.

Calvin

calvin

in his commentary on Genesis in the 1550s realised this ( as did and do all intelligent Christian writers) when he wrote

He who would understand astronomy and other recondite arts let him go elsewhere.

For 2000 years theologians have grappled with this question and their conclusions are usually reflect the science of their day.  To my knowledge none say how God did it.

Perhaps they should have considered aspects like the nature of the firmament and the problem of Day 4

storehouse-300x165

 

He spoke, and things came to be. is simply a cheap rhetorical advice designed to convince/browbeat those of little understanding

4. How long did God take to create? Six days (e.g. Exodus 20:8–11). My answer

That is a simple answer to a complex question. We can approach it in three ways;

  1. we can look at genesis in a simple way without reference to anything else and say “ah, it is 144 Hours.”
  2. We can start from modern science with a 13 billion year old universe and the rest and say “science says this and thus Genesis is wrong and has no value.”
  3. Or we can consider how Christian theologians have considered the time factor of Creation over the last 2000 years AND consider the developing scientific understanding over the last 3000 years.

5. When did God create? At the beginning (with no prior beginning for any class of creature explicitly mentioned in Genesis 1, which includes the earth, the sky, all forms of animals and plants, and all stars). My answer

Of course god created at the beginning!!! The question which has baffled theologians and scientists for 2000 years is WHEN.

Until the 17th century there was no scientific evidence on the age of the earth or universe. Even so Christian scholars varied on the when of Creation. Many from Barnabas and Theophilus until Ussher went for a few thousand years ago, with Ussher an his immortal 4004BC.

They saw Genesis one in a variety of ways, some took each day as 24 hours, others say God created chaos first and then later ordered the chaos (e.g. Prudentius in the 4th century.)

Things began to change in the 1680s and credit goes to Edward Lhwyd for his observations of “fallen” blocks below Snowdon in Nant Peris. As only one had fallen in living memory and there were hundreds, he concluded that the earth might be a lot older.soon others found more evidence.By 1800 few educated people and fewer “scientists” thought the earth wasn’t ancient, though opinions were divided whether it was millions or a few hundred thousand!

Geology exploded after 1800 and Anglican clergy, like Buckland,

bucklandWilliam Smith's A Delineation of the Strata of England and Wales with part of Scotland (1815)

Conybeare and Sedgwick made major contributions. When Darwin went to Wales with Sedgwick in 1831 few accepted Ussher’s date.

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However the actual dates were impossible and various rough guesses were made from 20 million to several billion. That gordion knot was untied with the advent of radiometric age dating in 1907 and since 1946 the age of the earth has been known to be 4.6 billion.

 

These published papers of mine deal with aspects of this

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2018/09/26/does-geology-destroy-god-genesis-and-geologyseven-papers/

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Astronomers were slower! By 1800 they knew the earth had to be millions beca=use of the distance of some stars being 2  million light years away. More came with Fr le Maitre’s ideas of the 1920s which led to the concept of a Big Bang, which superceded steady state understandings after controversies fuelled by Fred Hoyle.

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Even so the date of the formation of the universe was in question with dates between 8 and 20 billion years but by 2000 this had settled to 13.4 billion. If you wish for more on this yopu will need to follow it up elsewhere.

Yet all this science is rejected by creationists. Surely ALL geologists and cosmologists can’t be wrong!!!!

SH16DARWIN2

Is Genesis poetry? my answer

An answer-begging question with the implication that Genesis will loses its value if it is poetic. It would be correct to say that early Genesis is NOT poetic, but contains aspects of poetry in chap 1 and various imagery and old Ancient Near Eastern ideas to convey what the author intended. Psalm 8 and the end of Job are clearly poetic in the way they deal with creation. That does not make them untrue.

One of the best evocations of God as creator is the poem God’s Grandeur  by G M Hopkins. Through his poetry he brings out the Christian understanding of Creation

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2014/08/26/gods-grandeur-gerard-manley-hopkins/

Yes, Genesis has a narrative style, but that does not mean it is historical. Scholars have discussed this for centuries. Few, if any, scholars of repute reckon it gives a historical account and see it more as a statement of faith in a creator written from the culture of the writer, rather than giving historical and scientific evidence. It is a ringing affirmation that God is the Creator. Again so much has been written on this by Christians from the perspective of catholic, Evangelical or more liberal. visting the sites of the american Science Affiliation, Biologos, Faraday Institute or Christians in Science give many good articles.

 

But with a refrain at the end of each day, genesis one has a poetical slant

 So God made the ….. And it was so.
 God called the ……………… And there was evening and there was morning, the  nth day. 

 

 

 

Does Science confirm the Bible?

I don’t know which annoys me more; those fundamentalists who claim that Science has confirmed the Bible or the village atheist who says science has disproved the Bible.

Both are based on misunderstandings of science and the Bible.  The various 66 books of the Bible ( and more if you add the Apocrypha, and even more if you go for he Ethiopian canon) were written over a period of a good one thousand years and reflect the thought forms of the writer’s day. Hence you will not find any modern science in them, though they may reflect the science of the day and that would included a flat earth for the Old Testament, and maybe a spherical earth in the New. Classification of animals was hardly rigorous with bats seen as birds, which is a good folk description.

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Far too many , and especially ultra-conservative Christians, still use the old Authorised Version of 1611  aka King James Version, which suffers from questionable translations. Also the splitting up of the text into individual verses makes one read verses in an atomised way and not consider what style of writing that passage is. We read different writings according to their genre whether poetry, parable, letters, hymns and poetry, moral teaching and narrative. We also need to be aware of imagery. Further Biblical writers do not write history as historians write today and have a different appraoch to exact accuracy . Further like Herodotus they may write speeches as they thought they would have been given.

Above all, we cannot project today’s understanding of science back on to works of 2000 or 3000 years old, neither should we for Shakespeare.

To sum it up, both these memes depend on a misunderstanding of the Bible and a lack of awareness that scientific questions were irrelvant to those writers, who simply reflected understandings of their day.

That is why these memes, which may have appeal for some, are totally worthless in gaining understanding

Augsutine

So much for St Augustine but;

Caution Creationists3

Here you are ;

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  1. Dear old Isaiah’s spherical earth!! Actually the word chug in the Hebrew means a disc not a sphere, but some insist on mis-translating it.

Before 500BC most thought the earth was flat and the Greeks found it that the earth is a sphere.

As I dealt with this before then read this!!

https://michaelroberts4004.wordpress.com/2018/08/05/the-bible-and-a-flat-earth/

2. What about innumerable stars?  Well, astronomers/astrologers of 2000 -3000 years ago had no telescopes so used the naked eye and thus “missed” many stars.

As for the quote from Jeremiah it is a rhetorical or poetic statement, not an astronomical one. This shows a poor grasp of the nature of the Bible and this quotation and no awareness of the history of science.

3. So mother earth had mounted a large animal 🙂  That is a parody on one, and only one, ANE view that the earth  was on the back of a giant turtle. It’s easy to mock ideas from 3000 years ago, but Young earth Creationism , conspiracy theories today are more daft and less forgivable.

As for Job 26  vs 7 “and hangs the earth upon nothing” is NOT a scienti8fic description but simply a poetic way of evoking wonder.

4. Here we have the Atomic Theory in the Letter to the Hebrews. (ch11 vs1) This is simply a gross misreading as the writer (Priscilla?)  is introducing a long list of Old Testament heroes of faith. One would need to have a perverse and weird mind to even suggest  she might be writing about science

5. This is just silly. 2000 years ago astronomer was in its infancy and it was slowly changing. Even so despite “wrong” ideas they were remarkably accurate in measurements and predictions. As for Paul in I Cor 15 he was reflecting the views of his day . Previously in verse 37 he was wrong to say a seed dies, before it can come to life. We know how we can KILL seeds so they can’t germinate!

6. Light moves? Where is the evidence that some say light stayed in one place, which is reasonable from common sense observation. As for Job 38 vs 19-20, this is written in poetic style not as a scientific treatise!

7. Actually Job 28 vs 25 says wind has weight. When you are buffetted by wind it definitely feels heavy, especially if you are blown over.

8. How anyone can get cyclones out of Eccles 1 vs 6 is daft. Some people need to get a poetic imagination and not force their presuppositions onto all they read

9. blood is the source of life and health ? This is not what Lev 17 vs11 actually says.  “For the life of the flesh is blood” What about animals who do not have blood. Agian modern science does not say this.

10. Again this is blind to poetry. Facepalm

11. Ocean springs in Job! Again fails to see poetry. Also until people could test undersea no springs etc could be visible.

12. Washing hands in running water? NRSV says fresh not running water – whatever fresh water is! When you read the whole of Leviticus 13 there is far more to say.

The mind boggles at the mindset suggesting this one.

Now we may think of bullshit

Fourth Law

But atheists can produce as much.

And now for the Village Atheists

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  1. back to Is 40 and the disc vs sphere. See my comment and blog cited earlier.
  2. Even Calvin wanted to interpret firmament as sky, but it was a solid dome

Ancient-Hebrew-view-of-universe

When Genesis was written – say 1000BC most in ANE held to a flat earth and solid firmament.

3. Balaam’s ass raises issue for the more conservative and not directly related to geology astronomy etc. The question is whether this “miracle” was literal or else perceived as a chatty ass!

4. Probably moving mountains was a figure of speech even to Jesus. To make out what is done here is more desperate than any creationist argument.

5. A long life of 900 years. Except for the more conservative, early Genesis is seen as not very historical except in its core.

6. Cattle breeding by patriarchs is again the style of writning and not a scientific description

7. Keeping women quiet. I Tim 2 Yes a lynch-pin for keeping women out of ministry and this does not tie in with naughty Priscilla in Acts 18 vs 26 when she and Aquila taught others who are unspecified. It’s nothing to do with science!

8. Slavery was common everywhere until recently and the Old Testament reflects this. As much as Exod 21 is ghastly on slavery it does show a more compassionate view than surrounding cultures. But then Christians look to the New Testament for ethics and not the details of the old Testament. Again nothing to with science

9. stoning bad children to death was a common pactice in the Old Testament and long since rejected  ; i.e. before Jesus , though it remains in some religions. Again nothing to do with science

Well this village atheist was so short of examples that only 6 out of 9 refer to science!!

Oh dear, which is worse?

Moses, creation and science

This sums up the absurdity of Creationism trying to show modern science is found in Genesis

or this?

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science meets faith

Eric Hatfield provides a humorous interpretation of God trying to teach creation to Moses:

Scene: The Sinai Desert, 1400 BCE. Two unshaven and dust-covered men are sitting around a campfire.

Moses: Hey Aaron, how do you spell “quark” in Hebrew?
Aaron: No idea. What do you want to know that for?
Moses: It’s Yahweh again. Keeps telling me all this strange stuff about strangeness and charm and spin, and quarks and gravitons and dark matter. I don’t mind not understanding, but I need to know how to write this stuff down.
Aaron: Tell him we’re just stone-age goat-herders living a subsistence existence, and you’re the only one who can read and write. Ask Him for something simpler, like why does the sun rise every morning?

Moses goes away up Mt Sinai, and returns 3 days later.

Moses: He says the sun doesn’t rise in…

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Salvation by Cakes; or Justification by Cakes

Salvation by Cakes

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For the last 2000 years the church has been plagued by heresies. One of the early ones was Arianism which was bopped on the nose when Santa Claus (aka St Nicholas of Tyra) punched Arius in the face. Many reckon that the ultimate british heresy is Pelagianism names after Pelagius who lived at Bangor on Dee  around 400AD.

However in 1717 Martin Luther thought he had corrected this with his ideas of Justification by Faith which became the watchword of protestant churches until cakes came along.

I would suggest that the ultimate English (perhaps Anglican) heresy  is salvation by cakes or justification by cakes. It came about when the Vicar of Scronky in Lancashire invited the general secretary of the Protestant Truth Society, the Rev P. R. Ottydogg, to preach at his church in a particularly soggy part of Pilling Moss. It was creepy visiting that church as the foundations wobbled on the underlying peat and when it rained the whole church shook when the vicar climbed into the three-decker pulpit. Sadly after several wet winters the church disappeared into the peat as it got truly stugged.

As a good prot Ottydogg preached on  Galatians 2 vs 15, not that it would have mattered as it was said of him that “10,000 ,10,000 are his texts and all his sermons one” as every sermon came back to justification by faith. It was a straightforward sermon and beloved by the PTS. However the matriarch of the parish, Queenie, who was married to the churchwarden of 35 years didn’t quite hear it straight.

Instead of “justification by faith” she heard “justification by cakes.” That was a revelatory moment for her as she made thousands for the church’s cake stall. This cake stall was held weekly – in the hall as mammon was not allowed in church, and at every opportunity. Queenie had been annoyed with a succession of vicars as they did not see the value of cakes and preferred to speak of the love of Jesus exemplied by his death on the cross and his resurrection. Inevitably after three years there was a great falling out with the present vicar and usually he’d move on, except the Revd John De’ath, who moved into the church yard.

From then on Queenie was a great evangelist for Justification by Cakes. It dominated the life of St Meg’s at Scronky and as Queenie went round the diocese speaking about it other churches followed suit. She was very successful

Image result for cakes

And so this became the bog-standard theology of the lower level parishes in Lancashire. Historically they were mostly “Lancashire Low” in which the devotional life of the church was defined by the absence of the cross, both in theology and the altar. Parishioners were measured by the number of cakes they or their wives made. Recently when a couple left after their utter rudeness to the vicar and his wife, the defence was that “she’s made thousands for the church by baking cakes.” I kid not.

Salvation or Justification by Cakes  became a doctrine tenaciously held, and any vicar or parishoners who suggested anything else was soon squeezed out of the church, be they evangelical, new wine, charismatic or even Forward in Faith. Sometimes the methods of removal were not quite Christian, but you can’t have your cake and eat it..

It was OK for a new vicar to introduce candles and vestments, or happy-clappy songs provided cakes were sacrosanct. Even so, after about three years thery would have contradicted “justification by cakes” and so it was time for them to go.

If any parishioner wanted to be on the PCC or be warden or reader, the first question was how many cakes they or their spouse made.

You see, cake-making was the ultimate mark of sanctitiy, both for the cake-maker and spouse and it was vital for any position in church and for office.

 

Baking cakes also gave privileges in the church, depending on the number of cakes baked.

  • If you bake 10 cakes a year this allows you to miss one Sunday a month
  • For 20 cakes that was 2 Sundays off.
  • 30 cakes you were entitled to go on the church council
  • 50 cakes then you were eligible to be Churchwarden

So far so good.

But there was more

  • If you baked 40 cakes you could harass the vicar’s spouse to bake cakes
  • 45 cakes you could tell off young mums because their toddler toddled into the chancel.  (They never came again.)
  • 50 cakes allowed you to upset the Sunday School teachers
  • 60 cakes allowed you to criticise the vicar in public
  • 80 meant you could complain to the bishop for no good reason and threaten to stop baking, which would cause a financial crisis for the church
  • 100 cakes you could scare off any new members who thought more of Jesus than cakes
  • 200 cakes you could be vitrioloic to vicar and family when they were perceived to be rocking the boat (and cake stall)
  • 500 cakes, you could lead the opposition of the PCC
  • 1000 cakes fine to lead campaign to oust vicar and tell the odd porkie about her or him.

Often the first may devout parishioners realised they were wrong was when they got to the Pearly Gates and St Peter told them;

“You can have your cake and heat it, down you go and burn your cakes and yourselves!!”

Image result for burnt cakes

 

Little did the good folk of St Megs realise that they had misunderstood the Gospel and rejected it for a mess of cakemix.

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Yes, this is a bit far-fetched and OTT, but in too many churches you can find some attitudes like this, where raising money for the church through fetes and cake-making become the be-all and end-all of church activity. As a result the main purpose of the church is lost and so the worship of the church and teaching ministry is relegated to a secondary position. As for evangelism………. The latter can be seen as bible-bashing and unnecessary as everything needful was learnt in Sunday School decades ago. Here the church has become a club for like-minded people, who for some odd reason want to keep it going. This type of church is not what William Temple meant when he said

The church is the only organisation which exists for the benefit of its non-members

Sadly too many churches look back to the past, when this type of activity was sufficient to keep the numbers up – but it has not been for many decades. Churches who do this are simply in terminal decline.

Perhaps the future of the Church of England is that some churches will simply decline to extinction as justification is by cakes and faith in Jesus (except personal private opinions) is at best optional.

The churches will will survive and grow will be those who focus on Jesus Christ, whatever their churchmanship and even if they have some wayward ideas.

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