Tuesday, April 22, 2014

God and the Gay Christian Reviews

Recently a book came out saying that Christians have a  moral and Biblical obligation to accept same sex relationships. No longer does the Bible just tolerate homosexuality, but now it demands that the Church accept it and smile upon it. Here are some responses to the foolishness if you are interested.

Here is a free e-book that includes short chapters by Al Mohler, Denny Burk, and Owen Strachan. I read it this morning and found it helpful in cutting through the fog that these types of books like to put in our minds.

Here is a list by James Hamilton of some of the logical fallacies in the book.

Here James Hamilton calls upon the author to repent and turn from his sins.

Here is a review by Andrew Walker over at Canon and Culture.

These reviews are excellent to remind other Christians of what the Bible actually teaches and to strengthen their faith in Christ and trust in the Bible. But it will not convince homosexuals to change. This debate may have been about exegesis at some point in the past, but it no longer is. The Bible is no longer the real authority. The ultimate authority is my own experience. Below is a quote from a liberal New Testament scholar who believes homosexuality is fine. Unlike the author of God and the Gay Christian he is honest. He thinks the Bible is wrong and that his experience his right. All those "Christians" who think homosexuality is fine should just come out and say it as plainly as Luke Timothy Johnson does.
I have little patience with efforts to make Scripture say something other than what it says, through appeals to linguistic or cultural subtleties. The exegetical situation is straightforward: we know what the text says. But what are we to do with what the text says? ... I think it important to state clearly that we do, in fact, reject the straightforward commands of Scripture, and appeal instead to another authority when we declare that same-sex unions can be holy and good. And what exactly is that authority? We appeal explicitly to the weight of our own experience and the experience thousands of others have witnessed to, which tells us that to claim our own sexual orientation is in fact to accept the way in which God has created us.

All Three Genealogy Posts

I did some work on the Biblical genealogies. There are three total posts.

Here is the first, and most important one, on the Bible's genealogical record from Adam to Abraham.

Here is the second on the lines of Japeth and Ham.

Here is the third on genealogical record from Abraham to David and then David to the exile. This includes a discussion of Matthew's genealogy.

Genealogies Post-Abraham

I spent a bit of time on the genealogies from Adam to Abraham. I think these prove the point that the Bible leaves no room for gaps of any substance between Adam and Abraham. I wanted to take a little more time and look at the genealogies from Abraham onwards. Do these genealogies show that there are large gaps between the men listed? The text will answer that question for us.

Here are the main dates in the Biblical timeline from Abraham onward. These are accepted by most, if not all orthodox, Bible-believing Christians, as the approximate dates of key events. All dates are general and can be flexed a few years in either direction.

2100 B.C. Abraham Leaving Ur
1450 B.C. The Exodus
1010 B.C. David Become King
931 B.C. The Kingdom Splits
586 B.C. Southern Kingdom Falls to Babylon

The entire time from Abraham to the exile was only about 1500 years. Let's look at the data and see if there is proof of gaps in the genealogies. This would not be a strong argument for those who believe there are thousands of years of gaps in the genealogies, but it could at least prove there were gaps.

We know that the chronology from Genesis is Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and then his twelve sons. Without this exact chronology the narrative of Genesis falls flat. Then you have a c. 400 year gap between Joseph and Moses. After Moses you have Joshua entering the promise land and then the time of the Judges. It is clear from Judges 2:10 that generation of Judges immediately follows Joshua's generation. So there is no huge gap between Joshua and Judges. Then we enter the time of the Kings. So there are no gaps in the genealogical record from Abraham to David in the narratives.  Now let's look at various genealogical records of that time period and compare them with Matthew 1.

First we can compare the genealogies in Ruth to the one in I Chronicles and then to Matthew 1. I highlighted the names in I Chronicles and Matthew 1 to help the reader.

Ruth 4:18-22
(18)  Now these are the generations of Perez: Perez fathered Hezron,
(19)  Hezron fathered Ram, Ram fathered Amminadab,
(20)  Amminadab fathered Nahshon, Nahshon fathered Salmon,
(21)  Salmon fathered Boaz, Boaz fathered Obed,
(22)  Obed fathered Jesse, and Jesse fathered David.

1Chron. 2:4-15
(4)  His daughter-in-law Tamar also bore him Perez and Zerah. Judah had five sons in all.
(5)  The sons of Perez: Hezron and Hamul.
(9)  The sons of Hezron that were born to him: Jerahmeel, Ram, and Chelubai.
(10)  Ram fathered Amminadab, and Amminadab fathered Nahshon, prince of the sons of Judah.
(11)  Nahshon fathered Salmon, Salmon fathered Boaz,
(12)  Boaz fathered Obed, Obed fathered Jesse.
(15)  Ozem the sixth, David the seventh.

Matthew 1:3-6
(3)  and Judah the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, and Perez the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram,
(4)  and Ram the father of Amminadab, and Amminadab the father of Nahshon, and Nahshon the father of Salmon,
(5)  and Salmon the father of Boaz by Rahab, and Boaz the father of Obed by Ruth, and Obed the father of Jesse,
(6)  and Jesse the father of David the king.

The Biblical record of the line from Judah (Perez's Father) to David is consistent across the Scriptures. No proof of any gaps.  

Here is the genealogy from Solomon to the Exile in Babylon. It is a little trickier. Why? Matthew's list leaves out numerous people men that the writer of I Chronicles puts in. Here are the two genealogies side by side with ones Matthew leaves out in red. 

Matthew 1:7-11


 and his brothers, at the time of the deportation to Babylon.

I Chronicles 3:10-17



A couple of comments need to be made about this. 

First, the problem here is not a gap in the Old Testament genealogy, but rather in Matthew. We have no proof from the Old Testament that there are gaps in the genealogical record. It would have been more convenient for those who believe in large gaps in the genealogies if Matthew had included people that I Chronicles left out. That would prove that there are gaps. But he didn't. Therefore I am not sure how this helps their case. How does the fact that Matthew left certain men out of his genealogical record help prove that Adam was born 20,000 years ago? 

Second, Matthew is squeezing the genealogical record into 14 generations (Matthew 1:17). He purposely chose to leave certain men out, men who are in II Kings and who are in the list in I Chronicles to make a balanced picture of 14-14-14. Why Matthew did this is hotly debated, but that he did it is beyond question. So Matthew was not ignorant nor was he missing some information. He got his list from II Kings and/or I Chronicles. He made a conscience decision to leave some men out.

Third, proof that Matthew left men out is not proof that other writers did. It must be proven that I Chronicles or Genesis 5 have large gaps. This has not been proven.

Finally, given the time frame (late Israelite history) of this genealogy there is not room for large gaps anyway. Again the entire timeline from Abraham to the exile is only 1500 years.  How can we find thousands of more years in there? We can't.

So again, we come to the same conclusion as we did in our other blog posts.  There are no examples in the Bible of large gaps in the genealogies. The examples of Cainan in Luke and Matthew's genealogy are weak. There are very plausible explanations for why it was done this way that do not include inserting thousands of years into the genealogies. 

The Lines of Japheth and Ham

Earlier I pointed out how the Bible supports the idea that Adam was created around 6,000 years by looking at the genealogy from Adam to Noah and then from Shem to Abram.

I wanted to bring in two more genealogies. These are not as important biblically because the Bible is focused on the line that leads to Christ, that is Shem's line. But they still prove my point that the genealogical records in the Bible do not support thousand year gaps in the genealogical record. 

The Line of Japheth
Noah had three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. From these three sons and their wives the entire earth was repopulated following the flood. Here are the places where we see Japheth's line mentioned in the Scripture

Genesis 10:2-4 (Japheth’s line)
(2)  The sons of Japheth: Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras.
(3)  The sons of Gomer: Ashkenaz, Riphath, and Togarmah.
(4)  The sons of Javan: Elishah, Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim.

I Chron. 1:5-7 (Japheth’s Line)
(5)  The sons of Japheth: Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras.
(6)  The sons of Gomer: Ashkenaz, Riphath, and Togarmah.
(7)  The sons of Javan: Elishah, Tarshish, Kittim, and Rodanim.

These are exactly the same word for word.  Japheth, Gomer, or Javan are not mentioned in any other passages. Now I understand this is only three generations, Japheth, his sons, and his grandsons. But the point still stands. There is no evidence of gaps in the genealogy of these men. I Chronicles written hundreds of years after Moses gives us the same list as Genesis does. 

Here are the two places Ham's line is mentioned. I highlighted the corresponding questions in the same color to make them easier to read. I also took out the extended section about Nimrod in Genesis 10:9-12. 

Gen 10:6-8, 13-18 (Ham’s Line)
(6)  The sons of Ham: Cush, Egypt, Put, and Canaan.
(7)  The sons of Cush: Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah, and Sabteca. The sons of Raamah: Sheba and Dedan.
(8)  Cush fathered Nimrod; he was the first on earth to be a mighty man.
(13)  Egypt fathered Ludim, Anamim, Lehabim, Naphtuhim,
(14)  Pathrusim, Casluhim (from whom the Philistines came), and Caphtorim.
(15)  Canaan fathered Sidon his firstborn and Heth,
(16)  and the Jebusites, the Amorites, the Girgashites,
(17)  the Hivites, the Arkites, the Sinites,
(18)  the Arvadites, the Zemarites, and the Hamathites..

1Chron. 1:8-16 Ham’s Line
(8)  The sons of Ham: Cush, Egypt, Put, and Canaan.
(9)  The sons of Cush: Seba, Havilah, Sabta, Raama, and Sabteca. The sons of Raamah: Sheba and Dedan.
(10)  Cush fathered Nimrod. He was the first on earth to be a mighty man.
(11)  Egypt fathered Ludim, Anamim, Lehabim, Naphtuhim,
(12)  Pathrusim, Casluhim (from whom the Philistines came), and Caphtorim.
(13)  Canaan fathered Sidon his firstborn and Heth,
(14)  and the Jebusites, the Amorites, the Girgashites,
(15)  the Hivites, the Arkites, the Sinites,
(16)  the Arvadites, the Zemarites, and the Hamathites.

This is a similar situation to Japheth's line. It goes from father, to son, to grandsons. There are no further mentions of Cush, Egypt, or Canaan as men in the Old Testament to compare this genealogy to. This one is also more complicated because tribes are listed not just men. But there is no proof in either list of gaps in the genealogy. 

Monday, April 21, 2014

A Thin Thread

Was Adam created 20,000 to 100,000 years ago? Does the Biblical record actually allow for this? It is claimed by some that there are large gaps in the genealogical records. Is this true? I looked at two important genealogical records in the Bible: Adam to Noah and then Shem to Abraham. (There is very little debate about the timeline following Abraham so if we are going to find thousands of years worth of gaps we will find them prior to Abraham.) I will look at other genealogical records later, but I think these prove my point.

There are three places where we find the genealogical record from Adam to Shem. Here they are:

Genesis 5 (Adam to Shem)

Shem, Ham, Japeth

I Chron 1:1-4 (Adam to Shem)
Shem, Ham, Japeth

Luke 3:36-38 (Adam to Shem)

One can see that all three of these line up exactly with one another. There are no gaps, no exceptions, no spaces, nothing to indicate anything other than a straightforward list of men who lived one following the other.

Also Jude 1:14 says, "It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, "Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones."

So there are three times outside of Genesis 5 where the genealogy of Genesis 5 is confirmed exactly as we have it written there. The Bible provides no quarter for those who want gaps in the genealogy from Adam to Shem. 

The line from Shem to Abram is also listed in its entirety three times. There is a mini list in Genesis 10:22-25, which goes from Shem to Peleg and then stops. Here are the three other times Shem's line is listed.

Genesis 11:10-26 (Shem to Abram)


I Chron 1:17-28 (Shem to Abram)


Luke 3:34-36 (Shem to Abram)

Here there is almost total agreement with the exception that Luke adds "Cainan" between Arpachshad and Shelah.  Why does he do this? One possible answer is that he didn't. It is a copyist error. Jonathan Sarfati makes the follow points to show that the inclusion of Cainan in Luke may not be original.

-The extra Cainan in Genesis 11 is found only in manuscripts of the LXX [The Greek Version of the Old Testament] that were written long after Luke’s gospel. The oldest LXX manuscripts do not have this extra Cainan.

-The earliest known extant copy of Luke omits the extra Cainan. This is the 102-page (originally 144) papyrus codex of the Bodmer Collection labeled P (dated between A.D. 175 and 225).

-Josephus used the LXX as his source, but did not mention the second Cainan.

-Julius Africanus (c. A.D. 180 – c. 250) was “the first Christian historian known to have produced a universal chronology.” In his chronology, written in c. A.D. 220, he also followed the LXX ages but once again omitted this mysterious Cainan

So it is possible that the Cainan should not be in Luke at all. Still, even if it is original it does not help much. 
What if Luke or the writers of LXX knew there was another man between Arpachshad and Shelah? Does the addition of Cainan indicate that there can be thousands of years worth of gaps in genealogies? That is a thin thread to hang on. Those who translated the LXX might have included Cainan in Genesis 10:22 and 11:12-14. (They did not include him I Chronicles 1, though there are several verses missing in my version of LXX. I am not sure why that is the case.) However, they included no other men. There are not numerous gaps mentioned. The assumption should be that if Luke knew there was one gap he would have kown about others and included those. However, there is only one extra name. 

In the end, there are no reasons within the text of Scripture to put gaps of thousands of years in the Biblical genealogies. The list before Noah is the same everywhere in the Bible with no hint of gaps. From Shem to Abram there is the possible addition of one man, but that is all. There are no gaps of substance seen in these two genealogies. The argument for large gaps in the genealogies of Scripture is a forced argument from silence to accommodate certain ways of thinking.  

Book Review: Creation and Change

Creation and Change: Genesis 1:1-2.4 in the Light of Changing Scientific ParadigmsCreation and Change: Genesis 1:1-2.4 in the Light of Changing Scientific Paradigms by Douglas Kelly
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

It has been a while since I have studied the age of the earth/evolution debate. But I feel like I need to stay on top of it. Compromise in this area is common. I really enjoyed Kelly's book. He is a theologian, not scientist. Therefore what he asks is, "What does the Bible say and how can I get science to fit into what the Bible says." Thus he begins with the text and works his way outwards. This is how it should be.

He does a good job of showing that the debate is usually between theistic and naturalistic assumptions. Faith and presuppositions govern both groups. This does not rule out the study of the material world. But it does rule out us studying it without certain presuppositions. He differentiates between empirical science and naturalistic science. He also works through the seven days of creation. He is clear where he disagrees, but he is not normally derisive of his opponents. The book is a bit dated, having come out in 1997. He is well read, quoting numerous pro-evolution and anti-evolution men, secular and Christian scientists, as well as numerous scientific studies in foreign languages.

When he approaches science he is humble and tentative, but still comes to some solid conclusions on things like radiometric dating. Throughout the scientific chapters he notes how assumptions about the past govern our research in the present.

The value of this book lies in his solid exegesis, his humility, and his ability to expose the assumptions that govern how we operate.

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Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Structure of Psalm 132

I am preaching through the Psalms of Ascent (120-134). One of the most fascinating in the list is Psalm 132. It is a tightly structured Psalm with the people making a request in the first section and the Lord answering the request in the second section. What is most fascinating is that the people return the ark to Jerusalem in verses 6-7, but this section has no parallel in the second part of the Psalm.  So what part does the return of the ark play in the Psalm? Should we insert something (in our minds) between verses 12 and 13 such as "the ark returned?" Or is the absence of the ark [in the second section] a sign that the presence of Yahweh is not inevitably linked to the ark? I am not sure what the answers are. But the questions are worth asking.

Verses 1-10 The People’s Request
            Verse 1 The Initial Prayer
            Verses 2-5 David’s Oath: Find a Dwelling Place for Yahweh
            Verses 6-7 The Ark Returned (No parallel in 2nd section.)
            Verses 8-10 Threefold prayer of the people
                        That God would dwell with them.
                        That the Lord would cloth them with salvation and joy
                        That the Lord would not turn away from his anointed.

Verses 11-18 The Lord’s Answer
            Verses 11-12 Yahweh’s Oath: An Everlasting Dwelling Place for David
            Verses 13-18 Yahweh's threefold answer
                        He will dwell with them at Zion
                        He will cloth them with salvation and joy, as well as provide for them physically.
                        He will not turn away from his anointed. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Good Friday Service

This Friday at 5:30 pm Christ Church of Morgantown will be having their annual Good Friday Service. It will be located here, at the Seventh Day Adventist Church in Morgantown. We read through the Old Testament promises of Christ's coming, as well as the crucifixion account. We also sing many of the best known passion hymns such as "Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted" and "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross."  All told it runs about 30 minutes. Afterwards we will have meal of soup and chili.  If you do not have anywhere to go on Good Friday consider attending our service. It is a wonderful reminder each year of Christ's work upon the cross.

The Session of Christ Church also encourages fasting on that day. You can do it any variety of ways. My family usually eats bread and water for a couple of meals. You can skip a whole meal or a couple of meals. If you are pregnant or nursing you may want to forgo fasting. We also encourage you to spend the time you would normally be eating or preparing food in extra prayer.

Myths About Productivity

I am enjoying Matt Perman's book, Whats Best Next.  It has some of the typical drawbacks of this type of book. But I am at a place in my life where I want to be more effective in the vocation God has called me to, as well as in my family life.  I think this book is going to be helpful in my quest.

Perman begins by stating twelve myths about productivity and then puts the truth underneath it. I thought I would pass on these twelve myths about productivity. Not all of these impacted me equally, but I found #1, 2, and 9 to make me think carefully about my approach to productivity.

Myth #1: Productivity is about getting more done faster.
Truth: Productivity is about effectiveness first, not efficiency.

Myth #2: The way to be productive is to have the right techniques and tools. 
Truth: Productivity comes first from character, not techniques.

Myth #3: It is not essential to give consideration to what God has to say about productivity.
Truth: We cannot be truly productive unless all our activity stems from love for God and the acknowledgment that he is sovereign over all our plans.

Myth #4: It is not essential to make the gospel central in our view of productivity.  
Truth: The only way to be productive is to realize you don't have to be productive. [What Perman means is that we need to realize that we are fully accepted in Christ.]

Myth #5: The only way to be productive is to tightly manage yourself (and others!). 
Truth: Productivity comes from engagement, not tight control; when we are motivated, we don't need to tightly control ourselves (or others).

Myth #6: The aim of time management should be our peace of mind. 
Truth: Productivity is first about doing good for others to the glory of God.

Myth #7: The way to succeed is to put yourself first. 
Truth: We become most productive by putting others first, not ourselves.

Myth #8: We will have peace of mind if we can get everything under control.
Truth: Basing our peace of mind on our ability to control everything will never work.

Myth #9: To-do lists are enough. 
Truth: Time is like space, and we need to see lists as support material for our activity zones, not as sufficient in themselves to keep track of what we have to do.

Myth #10: Productivity is best defined by tangible outcomes. 
Truth: The greatest evidence of productivity come from intangibles, not tangibles. [By intangibles he means relationships developed, connections made, and things learned.]

Myth #11: The time we spend at work is a good measure of our productivity. 
Truth: We need to measure productivity by results, not by time spent working.

Myth #12: Having to work really hard or even suffer in our work means our priorities are screwed up or we are doing something wrong. 
Truth: We will (sometimes) suffer from our work, and it is not sin.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Book Review: By Faith, Not By Sight

By Faith, Not by Sight: Paul and the Order of SalvationBy Faith, Not by Sight: Paul and the Order of Salvation by Richard B. Jr. Gaffin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoy reading Gaffin. His Resurrection and Redemption was excellent. This book is very good as well. He packs a lot into a few pages. He is careful to avoid the either/or idea when it should be both/and. His exegesis is strong and careful. This book revolves to a large degree around II Corinthians 4:16 and what that implies for the anthropology of a regenerate man. He has a great discussion of sanctification, as well as future justification. He avoids the errors of the New Perspective, while still opening up new avenues of thinking. His point about us already being resurrected and our bodies catching up at the end of time was paradigm shifting for me.

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Let the saints be joyful in glory, let them sing aloud on their beds, let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a two edged sword in their hand, to execute vengeance on the nations, and punishments on the peoples; to bind the kings with chains and their nobles with fetters of iron. Psalm 149:5-8