Archive for the ‘Orthodox Christianity’ Category

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I’ve been pondering over the Creation account in Genesis for years now.

I mean, let’s face it; in today’s scientific and naturalistic culture, it’s a confusing topic.

All Christians believe in Creation…I mean, once you accept Genesis 1:1, every other miracle after that is small potatoes.

It’s the method God uses in Creation that’s in dispute.

There are basically 3 or 4 ideas about the method of Creation that bear ruminating on:

1. Young Earth Creation- self-explanatory. 6 literal 24 hour days. For most of my life, this was my belief. This would be the belief of Ken Hamm and Answers in Genesis.

2. Old Earth-Gap Theory/-Reconstruction Theory- thanks to my owning a Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible, this became my next belief during my Word-of-Faith captivity period. The basic thought is that at some point God created the heavens and the earth. It could have been millions of years ago. There was a pre-Adamite race that fell with Lucifer, creating demons, and requiring God’s judgment of a universal flood. Then God renovated the earth a second time, restoring it in 6 literal 24 hour days. It seeks to harmonize young and old earth Creationism, but it’s Scriptural evidence is scant, and its speculation on pre-Adamites is dubious. Still, it does introduce the idea that there could have been vast ages between Ge 1:1 & GE 1:2. Many Pentecostals/Charismatics hold to this teaching, mainly due to Dake’s influence.

3. Old earth-Day/Age Creationism- This is the theory that the days of GE 1 & 2 are metaphorical, representing immense periods of time. Although this is a separate theory from Theistic Evolution, it tries to match the Book of Nature and the Book of Special Revelation (i.e. the Bible). Many current Intelligent Design scientists, and many thoroughly orthodox Evangelicals hold to this teaching. The group Reasons To Believe would be one of the more prominent groups promoting the Day/Age Theory.

4. Theistic Evolution- This is the belief that God initiated Creation, but instituted Macroevolution as the means to achieve the the arrival of humanity. It is basically a revamped Deistic and anti-supernatural explanation, catering to Darwinism and Neo-Darwinism. Groups such as Biologos promote this theory. This is the one of the four I have no tolerance for. It’s too reminiscent of Old-line Liberslism’s compromise with the Enlightenment. Most of these advocates end up denying the Imago Dei, the Incarnation of Christ, and the physical Resurrection of Christ, unless they violate their own worldview. IMHO, this lies outside of the historic Evangelical Faith.

All of this is a simplistic summary of each of these views. There are obvious nuances and explanations I can’t get into here, unless I’m ready to write a post that would rival War and Peace in length.

I believe we have to give one another room to disagree over the first three views. Many soundly orthodox Evangelicals hold to one of these three views. Obviously, all three can’t be true. The Law of Non contradiction precludes this. Yet, I don’t believe we’ll ever be able to answer all of the issues with any of the three views this side of Heaven.

Each view has to deal with some weighty subjects:

1. Uniformity of scientific laws since the beginning of time;
2. The introduction of death in the animal kingdom;
3. The fossil record;
4. The old appearance of the universe; and,
5. The apparent singular source of all life on earth, in the form of DNA.

One can’t discuss this theological difficulty with non- Christians without being reminded of the controversy involving Galileo in the 17th century.

If you want to make sense of the whole Roman Catholic Church and Galileo, you have to start with the Ptolemaic-Aristotlean worldview (the dominating earth-centric view of the solar system), juxtaposed against the Copernican-Galilean worldview (the upstart sun-centric solar system).

The Roman Catholic Church was staunchly pro-Ptolemy in its doctrine. It’s not really hard to understand. They were simply relying on the established scientific view of the day. The problem was in joining Christian doctrine with scientific theories and codifying them. There’s a lesson here for Christians to remember.

“Ironically, the traditional beliefs that Galileo opposed ultimately belonged to Aristotle, not to biblical exegesis. Pagan philosophy had become interwoven with traditional Catholic teachings during the time of Augustine. Therefore, the Church’s dogmatic retention of tradition was the major seat of controversy, not the Bible. It may also be noted that Pope Urban VIII was himself sympathetic to Galileo but was not willing to stand against the tide of controversy. In reality, the majority of persecution seemed to come from intellectual scientists whose monopoly of educational authority had been threatened. During Galileo’s time, education was primarily dominated by Jesuit and Dominican priests.

” [3]

Much of the controversy began when Roman Catholic Tradition had been criticized by the Reformers of the 16th century. The Roman Catholic hierarchy responded with the Council of Trent, which censored

“any books that challenged traditional interpretations of the scripture.”

[3]

Galileo quoted Augustine (who was partly responsible for an overly allegorical view of Scripture himself):

“If anyone shall set the authority of Holy Writ against clear and manifest reason, he who does this knows not what he has undertaken; for he opposes to the truth not the meaning of the Bible, which is beyond his comprehension, but rather his own interpretation; not what is in the Bible, but what he has found in himself and imagines to be there.”

[1]

It’s always dangerous to hold to tightly to scientific theories as applied to theology.

“Beware of holding steadfastly to a particular interpretation of Scripture and/or a scientific model, which may be in error. For instance, there are various scientific challenges to the Young-Earth Creationist position. We should hold many of our scientific views and their corresponding Biblical interpretations loosely. For we will never have all the right answers this side of heaven.”

[2]

This is as applicable to today’s Science/Faith controversy as it was in the 17th century.

The difference is that today, the roles are reversed. In the 17th century, it was ensconced Ptolemaic/Aristotelean philosophy embedded in Roman Catholic tradition that was the majority view, while Copernicus and Galileo challenged the stays quo.

In the 21st century, Science reigns as king, and it is Creationism and Intelligent Design that is challenging the weakening view of Darwinism and NeoDarwinism.

Remember Galileo’s warning:

“Take note, theologians, that in your desire to make matters of faith out of propositions relating to the fixity of sun and earth you run the risk of eventually having to condemn as heretics those who would declare the earth to stand still and the sun to change position–eventually, I say, at such a time as it might be physically or logically proved that the earth moves and the sun stands still.”

[4]

All of this adds credence to my statement that we need to be careful of dogmatizing a particular scientific interpretation of Genesis. We could wake up in Heaven to a V8 head slap from Jesus, calling us lunkheads for not seeing the complete answer to our Creation queries.

I remain a tentative young-earther. However, I am certainly open to the reality I could be completely wrong. Let’s give one another some slack here for disagreement…except for Theistic Evolution. I’m not going to compromise Scripture for Darwinism.

I end with one more quote:

“The lesson to be learned from Galileo, it appears, is not that the Church held too tightly to biblical truths; but rather that it did not hold tightly enough. It allowed Greek philosophy to influence its theology and held to tradition rather than to the teachings of the Bible. We must hold strongly to Biblical doctrine which has been achieved through sure methods of exegesis. We must never be satisfied with dogmas built upon philosophic traditions.”

[3]

1. Galilei, Galileo, and Stillman Drake. Discoveries and Opinions of Galileo: Including The Starry Messenger (1610), Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina (1615), and Excerpts from Letters on Sunspots (1613), The Assayer (1623). New York: Anchor, 1990. pg. 186, Print.

2. Henderson, Thomas H. “What Were Galileo’s Scientific and Biblical Conflicts with the Church?” Christiananswers.net. Christian Answers Network, 1996. Web. 1 Apr. 2014. .

3. Bebber, Mark V. “What Is the Lesson That Christians Should Learn from Galileo?” Christiananswers.net. Christian Answers Network, 1995. Web. 1 Apr. 2014. .

4. Galileo, 1632, in Janelle Rohr, editor, Science & Religion–Opposing Viewpoints (Greenhaven Press, 1988), p. 21.

simul iustus et peccator,

Eric Adams
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The Jesus’ Wife Fragment and The Trustworthiness of the Bible

by Eric Adams

The Jesus’ Wife Fragment

Tell me it ain’t so

It is amazing to see how quickly the secular media, and the Religious Left will jump on any story that questions the history of Christianity, or especially its’ truth claims, and more especially, the character and Gospel claims of Jesus Christ. One recent story that has garnered a lot of attention of late is the discovery of a fragment of papyrus that supposedly indicates that Jesus was married. It caused a kerfuffle in Sept., as is demonstrated by this NYT article from Sept. 21:

“…But the discovery is exciting, Dr. King said, because it is the first known statement from antiquity that refers to Jesus speaking of a wife. It provides further evidence that there was an active discussion among early Christians about whether Jesus was celibate or married, and which path his followers should choose.

“This fragment suggests that some early Christians had a tradition that Jesus was married,” she said. “There was, we already know, a controversy in the second century over whether Jesus was married, caught up with a debate about whether Christians should marry and have sex.”

…What convinced them it was probably genuine was the fading of the ink on the papyrus fibers, and traces of ink adhered to the bent fibers at the torn edges. The back side is so faint that only five words are visible, one only partly: “my moth[er],” “three,” “forth which.”

“It would be impossible to forge,” said Dr. Luijendijk, who contributed to Dr. King’s paper.

Dr. Bagnall reasoned that a forger would have had to be expert in Coptic grammar, handwriting and ideas. Most forgeries he has seen were nothing more than gibberish. And if it were a forgery intended to cause a sensation or make someone rich, why would it have lain in obscurity for so many years?

“It’s hard to construct a scenario that is at all plausible in which somebody fakes something like this. The world is not really crawling with crooked papyrologists,” Dr. Bagnall said.

…Much of the context, therefore, is missing. But Dr. King was struck by phrases in the fragment like “My mother gave to me life,” and “Mary is worthy of it,” which resemble snippets from the Gospels of Thomas and Mary. Experts believe those were written in the late second century and translated into Coptic. She surmises that this fragment is also copied from a second-century Greek text.

The meaning of the words, “my wife,” is beyond question, Dr. King said. “These words can mean nothing else.” The text beyond “my wife” is cut off.

via http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/19/us/historian-says-piece-of-papyrus-refers-to-jesus-wife.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

Benedict Arnold

Take a gander at the claims made by the following Episcopal priest:

“But what this new discovery does do is to provide additional confirmation for a body of evidence already mounting from those other recently discovered early Christian sacred texts—specifically, the Gospel of Thomas, the Gospel of Mary Magdalene, and the Gospel of Philip—that a group of very early Christians remember a version of their history quite different from what eventually became the officially sanctioned story. They remember that Jesus’s relationship with Mary was far more than just that of a teacher to a pious devotee or recovering prostitute. They remember that the relationship was spousal in nature, and that she was his designated lineage-bearer. This same message is conveyed, in much the same way in Thomas and in Mary, and Philip specifically refers to Mary Magdalene as Jesus’s koinonos, his “companion.”

It’s also right there hidden in plain sight in the four canonical gospels once you start looking more closely.

So this new fragment is not exactly building from scratch. It joins and further verifies a tradition whose authenticity has already been unquestionably established.

Sooner or later, the evidence trickling in from all quarters is going to be too overwhelming for all but the most obdurate traditionalists to ignore. I had already seen this coming when I wrote my “The Meaning of Mary Magdalene” in 2010. My real business in that book was not to argue the question of Mary Magdalene’s and Jesus’s relationship one way or another (I leave that to scholars such as King), but to help people try to get over the shock and sense of betrayal that this revelation so often leaves them with. Why has institutional Christianity become so invested in maintaining that Jesus has to be a celibate to be Jesus? That, it seems to me, is by far the more searching question.”

via http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/guest-voices/post/jesus-wife-papyrus-provides-confirmation-on-early-church-history/2012/09/21/c231711a-0434-11e2-8102-ebee9c66e190_blog.html

Life is like a piece of chocolate

This is what I call Da Vince Codaphilia. The Liberals of the Religious Left are ready at the drop of a hat to throw Jesus and the Orthodox understanding of Jesus under the bus…in fact, they’re quite prepared to simultaneously drive the bus, and bounce Christ and his church off the pavement with the force of a professional wrestler.

Fast-forward to Oct. 17, and voi la-

“A copied error from an online translation of the Gospel of Thomas may be the “smoking gun” that strongly suggests the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife, a controversial papyrus fragment that supposedly refers to Jesus being married, is a forgery, scholars say.

If the text is fake, it would represent an extraordinary tale of how an amateur with no knowledge of a long-dead language could fool some of the world’s leading experts by using a readily available Internet tool — and how scholars countered by rallying online to swiftly investigate the case together.

…One of the most compelling arguments for the fragment being a forgery has emerged from Andrew Bernhard, an Oxford University graduate and author of the book “Other Early Christian Gospels” (T & T Clark, 2006). Hepublished an online paper last week pointing out a pattern of similarities between the Gospel of Jesus’ Wife and the Coptic Gospel of Thomas — similarities that include grammatical errors and line breaks found only in the online word-by-word translation of the Gospel of Thomas.

“It’s remarkable that a forger could have forged something like this using a simple tool on the Internet,” Bernhard said. “It’s equally stunning how quickly scholars could respond and analyze the text.”

via http://www.foxnews.com/science/2012/10/17/did-jesus-have-wife-scholar-calls-parchment-forgery/

Somebody get me a fact-checker, please

Believers, don’t lose your cool when claims of the demise of orthodox Christianity is prophesied from the pagans. We have nearly 2,000 years of textual, and historical evidence for the foundational teachings of Christianity. The early councils of the church, and the Creeds, reflect the accurate teachings of our faith. Trust them.

Here is a list,  from Devin Maddox, of responses Christians should have to Biblical claims in general:

“So how should Christians respond in light of conversations regarding new claims about Jesus life?

1.�Test everything, hold on to what is good -�While you might recognize falsehood immediately, be dilligent, reasoning through why that might be the case. Even if your initial impressions are confirmed, neglecting to “test all things and hold on to what is good”�fails to incoporate the wisdom of the New Testament.�(1 Thessalonians 5:21)�

2.�Expect false gospels�- Christians who read the New Testament should not be surprised to find false testimony concerning the gospel. The problem is as old as the church. (1 John 4:1)

3.�Have patience with skeptics�- Apart from the grace of God, we are all in the same boat. Treat those who lay captive to false gospels with an attitude of mission, not pugilism.

4.�Commit to Scripture�- Scripture validates itself. Those who view the Bible with any degree of seriousness, as most Christians do, must wrestle with the internal testimony the Bible provides about itself. Those who come out on the other side committed to the authority of Scripture will be well-equipped for times such as these. (2 Timothy 3:16)

5.�Study more church history�- Christians have nothing to fear while wading through the deep waters of church history. The truth of all matters concerning the canon are on our side, so dive in.

6.�View it as an opportunity for evangelism�- Any time the gospel is the topic of popular discussion, view it as an opportunity to share your faith. What better time is there to discuss matters of faith with a lost and dying world than when they are asking the questions?

7.�Pray�- The challenges situations like this one present are not merely intellectual. The spiritual dynamics of theological controversy are not subordinate in debate. Pray as often as you critique.”

via Did Jesus Have a Wife, and Can We Trust the Bible?.

I protest!

These are particularly good points to remember when someone tries to jar your faith in the trustworthiness of the Scriptures. Speak up, and defend your faith, brothers and sisters.

simul iustus et peccator,

Eric Adams