A review of Genesis, Science, and the Beginning: Evaluating Interpretations of Genesis One on the Age of the Earth by Benjamin D. Smith, Jr.
I can agree with the author about one thing. He says that, while young-earth creationists are generally in agreement in their interpretation of Genesis (p. 17), old-earth Christians keep multiplying new interpretations of Genesis to justify their acceptance of Big Bang cosmology. He counts 9 different old-earth interpretations of Genesis (p. 21). Ben does not want to face the fact that the most obvious reason for this difference is that young-earth creationists are largely willing to conform their thinking to what the text says, while old-earth creationists have come to a view of earth’s history independently of the text, and their view is one that the text cannot bear. Old-earth creationists keep trying to come up with ingenious ways to make a square peg fit into a round hole. Ben makes sure to tell the reader that, as far as the format of his book goes, he is going to look at the text of Genesis and follow it wherever it leads, regardless of the scientific evidence. Yet, he also divulges that in his own personal thinking, he changed his belief in young-earth creationism to an old-earth view because of scientific issues; then he began searching for an interpretation of Genesis that would fit what he thinks that scientific evidence demands (p. 31). Continue reading
David Haines will be presenting a paper on Van Til at the upcoming apologetics conference at Southern Evangelical Seminary. Joshua Whipps provides a good critique of a previous paper that Haines wrote on Van Til, but the summary of his thesis for the new paper that Haines provides is full of problems itself. Even though Van Til is difficult to understand at times, I can’t imagine someone who actually took the time to read several of Van Til’s books coming to the conclusions about Van Til’s positions that Haines does. Haines repeats some standard misconceptions about Van Til, so he must be repeating what some other uninformed critics of Van Til have said. This merry-go-round has to stop. Continue reading
The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem by David Roberts (1850)
The Most Publicly-Visible Proof that Jesus Provided of His Legitimacy as a Prophet from God
For the reasons that I have briefly outlined in part 1, Jesus’ resurrection from the dead is supported by overwhelming empirical evidence and testifies that Jesus is the Messiah. And His resurrection from the dead was His most theologically significant fulfillment of prophecy, because by it He paid the penalty that allows humanity to be reconciled with God. But Christ’s resurrection is not his most publicly-visible proof that He provided that He was a legitimate prophet from God, one who truly spoke a message from God. (And if He was a true prophet, then He was more than a mere human prophet, because He claimed to be God.)
Christ’s most publicly-visible proof that He was a true prophet was His prediction of the destruction of the Jerusalem and the Temple within a generation of when He spoke. That happened, just as He predicted it would, in A.D. 70. Today, any visitor can go to Jerusalem and see that the Temple that stood in Jesus’ day is no longer there. On its foundations is build the Dome of the Rock, an Islamic mosque. Jews still visit and pray at a remaining portion of the western retaining wall of the Temple. That wall is called the “wailing wall” because of the practice of Jews to stand next to it and mourn the destruction of the Temple. Also still visible to this day is the “Arch of Titus” in the city of Rome, erected in A.D. 82 by the Emperor Domitian shortly after the death of his older brother Titus to commemorate Titus’ military victories, including the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple in A.D. 70. The arch is etched with images of the articles of the Temple being carried away, like the Candelabra and Table of Showbread. There is no reasonable historical basis for doubting the event of the destruction that ended in September of A.D. 70. Continue reading
Risen movie sealed tomb screen shot
Secular skeptics have this idea that biblical revelation comes from some guy hearing voices in his head, to the extent that it is not purposely made up to appear to be revelation. Revelation is purely subjective in their view, completely separate from science, the realm of objective, provable facts. In another essay, I have addressed how the truth of Christian theism is actually necessary for the possibility of science. Putting religion completely in the realm of the subjective is an error for the additional reason that Christianity makes numerous historical claims. Michael Patton points out that Christianity is unique among the world’s religions in its falsifiability: Continue reading
Part 3b: Nazi Social Policy – Animal Rights, Environmentalism, Vegetarianism
Hitler was an anti-Christian, pro-evolution, pro-euthanasia and pro-abortion (except for Aryans), pro-gun control, socialist vegetarian; he waged aggressive no-smoking campaigns and animal rights campaigns. This, in itself, does not prove that any of these things are wrong (the “reductio ad Hitlerum” fallacy). But it could be that Hitler arrived at the same conclusions on social policy as post-WWII liberals because he was being consistent with basic philosophical beliefs that he and post-WWII liberals have in common, namely statism and biological evolution. And the fact that Hitler’s ideology overlapped to a large degree with modern liberalism serves to refute the common liberal charge that Nazi ideology can be equated with “right-wing conservative Christianity” in the modern American sense. Continue reading
Paul at Areopagus by David Martin (1639-1721)
What is the scope of issues that should be included under the field of Christian apologetics? There is the well-known verse, 1 Peter 3:15: “[B]ut in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect. . . . .” Based on this passage alone, it might seem that apologetics is mainly limited to the issue of telling unbelievers about individual assurance of salvation (Christ in your heart) and Christ’s resurrection (the basis for “hope”).
But there is more to the story. Paul says that for a man to be qualified to be an elder, he must be “able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it” (Titus 1:9). What is the scope of sound doctrine? Jesus says that, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4). We also see that the Apostle Paul says, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). The scope of sound doctrine is the entire Bible, and since Paul says to rebuke those who oppose sound doctrine, the scope of apologetics is a defense of the entire Bible. The obligation of the church is to teach all Scripture and defend it against those who oppose it. Theology drives apologetics. Continue reading
Part 3a: Nazi and Liberal Common Ground on Social Policy: Gun control laws
[This is the third installment on a series on Nazism. This is the first on social policy.]
Stephen P. Halbrook provides the most in-depth study to date of Nazi uses of gun control laws in his recent book Gun Control in the Third Reich. Halbrook documents that the Nazis made use of gun registration laws from the Weimar Republic to oppress Jews and other enemies of the state, and they also passed legislation that allowed confiscation of guns from anyone known to be a Jew. Although it is common among gun rights advocates to raise the example of Nazi use of gun registration laws to oppress the Jews, gun control advocates often counter that the Nazis did not pass gun control legislation except to liberalize gun control laws. Halbrook demonstrates that the gun control advocates are using half-truths to present the situation as the reverse of what really happened under the Third Reich. Continue reading
Part 2: Is Luther to Blame for Nazism?
Luther and Racism
“Anti-Semitism” often carries two different meanings, and unfortunately people often equivocate between the two. “Anti-Semitism” can refer to being against the race of the Jews. The genetic inheritance of the Jews is blamed for somehow causing the alleged moral failings of Jews. However, “anti-Semitism” is also used against those who reject the Jewish religion, a belief system. But this is no more racist than Aristotle’s rejection of Platonism was racist. That is, it’s not racist. Luther’s opposition to the Jews was because of their beliefs, not their race. He had hoped that, with the burden of Roman Catholic theology and history having been thrown off, Jews would embrace the Protestant beliefs in large numbers. Luther wrote:
I would request and advise that one deal gently with the Jews. . . . If we really want to help them, we must be guided in our dealings with them, not by Papal Law, but by the Law of Christian love. We must receive them cordially, and permit them to trade and work with us, hear our Christian teaching and witness our Christian life. If some of them should prove stiff-necked, what of it? After all, we ourselves are not all good Christians either.
Fifteen years later, after his hopes of wide-spread conversions among the Jews were not realized, Luther wrote On the Jews and their Lies in which he makes vitriolic demands for the State to persecute Jews as he thinks idolaters were in the Old Testament – by burning down Jewish synagogues and homes, forbidding rabbinic teaching, and forcing them into manual labor. It should be noted that these demands had nothing to do with race and nationality but with belief systems. He was reacting to Rabbinic writings that called Jesus Christ “the bastard Son” of “that whore, Mary” and worse. Luther was as equally vitriolic toward the Roman Catholic Church, which had nothing to do with race. Continue reading
1. Nazi Rejection of the Christian God
2. Nazi Rejection of the Resurrected Christ
3. Nazi Rejection of the Old Testament
4. Nazi Rejection of the Apostle Paul
5. Nazi Religion of Nature and Race
6. Nazi Plan to Destroy the Church
Part 1: Nazi Religion – Nature Worship, with Superficial Appeals to Christianity
Atheists often claim that the Nazis were a Christian movement because Hitler denounced Marxist materialism and made some public comments appealing to God and promising to promote “positive Christianity.”i You can trust a politician’s promises, can’t you? Nearly all politicians in the West give perfunctory honor to God. For some atheists, pointing to an instance where Hitler “named the name of Christ” is sufficient to prove that he was a Christian. But the logical fallacy of this argument is simple: Equivocation – using the same words as Christians but giving them a different meaning. That Hitler always spoke positively about Jesus Christ does not prove that he believed in Christianity or the Christian God because Hitler’s views of Jesus and God bear little resemblance to the traditional Christian views. Hitler spoke positively of Jesus Christ, but he often denounced Christianity in his private conversations. Hitler rejected the Christian view of God, rejected the Old Testament because it was Jewish (even though Christ endorsed it – Matt. 5:17, Luke 16:17, John 10:35), rejected the scriptures from the Apostle Paul because his message was internationalist rather than racist and nationalist, rejected the resurrection of Christ, rejected the deity of Christ, and rejected Christ’s Jewish lineage. Hitler’s “Christ” was a product of his own imagination: a completely mortal, anti-capitalist, anti-Semite Aryan. Hitler’s occasional pro-Christian rhetoric masked a secret plan by the Nazis to destroy the Christian Church. He wanted to return German religion to pre-Christian nature worship. The main source of Hitler’s ideology was Friedrich Nietzsche, who declared that “God is dead,” and Darwinian evolution in terms of races struggling against each other so that societal progress is achieved by the survival of the fittest race. Continue reading