Sunday, February 28, 2010
Friday, February 26, 2010
After studying the science quite a bit, I'm inclined to side with Ken Ham on this:
In my lectures, I explain to people that believing in an old earth won’t keep someone out of heaven... Then I’m asked, “Then why does AiG make an issue of the age of the earth—particularly a young age?”
The answer is that our emphasis is on the authority of Scripture. The idea of millions of years does NOT come from the Bible; it comes from man’s fallible, assumption-based dating methods. If one uses such fallible dating methods to reinterpret Genesis (e.g., the days of creation ), the one is “unlocking a door,” so to speak, to teach others that they don’t have to take the Bible as written (e.g., Genesis is historical narrative) at the beginning—so why should one take it as written elsewhere (e.g., the bodily resurrection of Christ). If one has to accept what secular scientists say about the age of the earth, evolution, etc., then why not reinterpret the resurrection of Christ—after all, no secular scientist accepts that a human being can be raised from the dead, so maybe the resurrection should be reinterpreted to mean just “spiritual resurrection.”
The point is, believing in a young earth won’t ultimately affect one’s salvation, but it sure does affect what those that person influences believe concerning how to approach Scripture. Such compromise in the church with millions of years and Darwinian evolution etc., we believe has greatly contributed to the loss of the Christian foundation in the culture.Read the whole thing.
Thursday, February 25, 2010
John Sailhamer's thoughts seems to carry much weight in many cirlces, including within the circle of some of my long-time friends. Though I have never asked them personally, I assume that much of it is due to the fact that John Piper (whom we all appreciate so much) also favors Sailhamer, not just in his view of Genesis, but for his exegesis in general. However, with so many of these great scholars, it is not their scholarly work that I am apt to disagree with, but with their assumptions over what science has "proven" and "not proven", and how that guides their interpretations from the beginning. For my part, I think that is a dangerous foot to start on.
I encourage you to read the comments section of my brother Doug's recent post, where we get into some of these issues. Feel free to join the discussion there.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
On the social network site Mixi (a Japanese equivalent to Facebook) there was recently posted a survey of 630 people with the question: What kind of friend do you not want to have?
The top answers:
1. A friend who invites you to a religious event.
2. A friend who is self-centered.
For the record, I would never want to be invited to a religious event by a friend either!
For my friends in Japan in particular, please know that I am not interested in religion - not even a little- but I am interested in showing genuine love and care to many people. I want to listen to my friends and learn from you and laugh with you. I will not hide that the source of all of my love and joy and peace is through a personal relationship to God through Jesus Christ, but I will never push that source onto any friend. If I did, these two top answers would really represent the same person.
Monday, February 22, 2010
In 2007 a group called, "Rally for Reason" published a flyer designed to attack the opening of the Creation Museum (near Petersburg, KY) entitled:
The Top 10 reasons why the Universe, the Sun, the Earth, and Life are NOT 6,000 years old: A Primer [PDF]
Below is a document written in response (also from 2007) by PhD level scientists from the museum.
- Get Answers: Young Age Evidence
- Responding to Reason 10: The big bang
- Responding to Reason 9: Stars and galaxies
- Responding to Reason 8: Radioactivity
- Responding to Reason 7: Supernova 1987a
- Responding to Reason 6: The sun shines
- Responding to Reason 5: Continental drift
- Responding to Reason 4: Rock strata, ice cores, and all that
- Responding to Reason 3: Fossils
- Responding to Reason 2: Evolution
- Responding to Reason 1: The documentary record
Saturday, February 20, 2010
The Happiest Place in the U.S.A.
I am often amazed how much people in Japan work and how much they have and yet how unhappy so many people are. I found this piece by ABC News and thought I'd type it out, both for you and for my Sunday English class:
"A hard-hit town in Michigan has just been ranked by the Gallop poll as one of the happiest places in the whole U.S.A.
When most of think of happy we think of this (beautiful beaches). So how on earth can this be one of the top happiest places in America? Horrible blizzards, horrible unemployment – sixteen percent!
'If a small community, located in a state with the worst economy can feel good about itself, it seems to me that we’ve got hope as a country.'
Well arrive and town and ask these 35,000 people while they are so happy. The first answer is religion that reaches out. In fact, Holland is known as the city of churches, 170 places of worship, offering practical help and paying it forward.
'You know, you need gas for the week. I’ve heard of several churches that will give you gas cards. If people are out of work, we try to help them in some way. If we’re their neighbors we’ll try to steer something their way.'
In Holland there 100 volunteer groups fanning out through the city – more than cities twice their size. And despite its unemployment, this region was recently named one of the most generous regions in the U.S.
Another word we kept hearing: family. Families that live near each other, have dinner together at night. By the way, the crime rate is one half of the nation’s. So think of this as city, still living in a Norman Rockwell world. Sometimes it’s just nice to remember that solutions do not come from the maze in Washington, but the simple things we know about caring for the neighbor next door.
And the Dutch, who founded Holland (surprise, surprise) have a word for that happy feeling you get when you’re close to each other. It’s called “hezelich”. Be gentle with me on that. But have a “hezelich” night and hope to see you again tomorrow." (2/17/2010)
My quick answer: Yes. Foundations are very important.
I have received some important questions lately about why I am so passionate about understanding Genesis. One good question was, "Why do you put so much focus on this issue when our real goal should be to point people to the cross of Christ?" I thought it might be helpful to give you some background on where I am coming from and in the process I hope to show how essential, in my view, Genesis 1-11 is to the very good news that all Christians want to proclaim.
Eight years ago God called me as a long-term missionary to Japan through these verses in Isaiah 58:
10 if you pour yourself out for the hungry
and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then shall your light rise in the darkness
and your gloom be as the noonday.
11 And the Lord will guide you continually
and satisfy your desire in scorched places
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters do not fail.
12 And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt;
you shall raise up the foundations of many generations;
you shall be called the repairer of the breach,
the restorer of streets to dwell in.
As I look back now I can see more clearly what God was calling me to way back then. Eight years ago this calling was vague - all I knew was, "Go to Japan and spiritually and emotionally feed and satisfy the afflicted and Jesus will take care of every need of mine." Now I can see a little more clearly that when God called me to "satisfy the desire of the afflicted" and to "rebuild the ruins and raise up the foundation for many generations" what He meant. God was really calling me to teach science, mostly in English (to fulfill the desire/need of many Japanese) to mainly Japanese 2nd-5th graders. Through this key ministry I have already been able to "raise up a foundation" for the gospel of God "for many" in a place where less than 1% of the population even acknowledges a creator God, as Christians would know Him.
As I have studied how to present (in a scientific and in a Scripturally understandable way) a Creator, to the masses who don't yet believe in one, I have been led to see the utter crucial nature of clearly getting Genesis 1-11. If the Japanese cannot understand the foundational issues and doctrines of Genesis clearly, how could we expect them to accept the rest of the Bible, including the gospel? There is no need for Jesus if they do not understand these foundational issues. Furthermore, if the gospel is to be clear and understandable, surely its forerunner and schoolmaster and shadow, the O.T., must be clear and understandable as well. If not, we are in big trouble as missionaries.
Now what does this have to do with you? Maybe you or the culture around you already embraces a Creator God. If that is you, please stay with me - I really think that we are all going to need to be more aware of just WHY we believe in this Creator God as this modern age continues to develop.
Now how are we to scientifically interpret such a silly looking text as Genesis 1-11? We've got talking snakes, big boats that carry two of every living kind of animal, worldwide floods and, oh yeah, God finishing his creation in six short days... (days and nights written in just for added clarity!) This looks hard... Before we rush in to let "science" reinterpret what seems to be the plain reading of the text let's consider:
What are the foundational doctrines that have begun to be developed in those first 11 chapters? I have chosen just 5, since they are simply the first to come to my mind. Following them are honest and humble questions I have for you or anyone who is willing to think about this with me:
The Foundations of 5 Key Doctrines in Genesis 1-11:
1. Sin and the Curse - How could there be millions of years of death before Adam's sin? How could the world and everything in it be called, "good" and "very good" by God if it was (from the beginning) laced with disease, suffering and death - for millions of years before Adam even came into the situation? Why is the creation groaning to be set free (Romans 8:19-25) if it was created suffering before sin even entered the picture?
2. Complimentary Manhood and Womanhood: If this is a figurative/poetic text, what do we do with the very precise and key doctrines that are shaped for us here about men and women and personhood in general? Are they figurative as well? Why or why not?
3. Universal Judgment: How can the coming judgment of the entire world have any significance if Noah's flood did not cover and judge the whole world? (2 Peter 2:5) How could the flood have so much significance to Jesus and Peter (in particular) if it was merely a local flood? Why would they continue to stress, "the whole world"? (Luke 17:27, Mt. 24:38)
4. Redemption: How could the first pillar of redemptive history be laid without a literal Adam and Eve? (Gen. 3:21) How could Romans 5:12-18 make any sense without a real Adam, in a real garden, with a real tree in the middle of it?
5. The Trinity: The first clear statement regarding the Trinity is in Gen. 1:26 as God shows that he is a plurality and yet a singular God. If we take the word, "our" figuratively or poetically, why should we believe in a Trinitarian God? Isn't this just being too literal?
The Integrity, Believability of the Bible: This is really what the issue comes down to for me. Why should we believe that the N.T. material be taken objectively or at face value if that is not what we are expected to do for the first and foundational book of the Bible - where we see the introduction of the Creator, the Creation, Sin and the Curse, the Trinity, the coming Judgment, and the Redemption through Christ? A recent study shows that this is where many kids from Christian homes start to fall away from the gospel. The foundations are so shaky. The Sunday school stories (O.T. and N.T.) are some real whoppers and churches are not giving good answers as to why I should trust the stories or take them at face value.
So, you see, for me it all comes down to Christ and preserving the pure gospel of God from Genesis to Revelation. I am open to your rebuke and help. Please help me to see my errors if you see any glaring at me. I am wanting to approach this whole issue with a humble heart. I admit that may indeed be wrong. But I have studied the Bible and the scientific data enough to think that I am not overlooking the importance of this issue. In my mind it is foundational.
Thank you for your refining questions and thoughts (and prayers).
Friday, February 19, 2010
Improving Culture - The Berenstain Bears
After my somewhat negative posts these past couple days, (thanks for bearing with me!) I think God wanted to encourage me, and maybe you too, with this bit of improving culture.
I have enjoyed the Berenstain Bears story books ever since I was a little boy. I was eagar to get these books for my boys too so they could grow up knowing the stories. So a couple years ago I bought a bunch of used copies from Ebay. My mom saw that I had bought them and recommended their new books, published by ZonderKidz. While the Berenstain Bears have usually kept a pretty good moral lesson to each book, these books go a step farther and introduce a Christian worldview. It makes me wonder, what happened? If you know the story, please let me know.
For example, notice this big difference:
From "The Berenstain Bears Nature Guide" copyright 1975:
"Nature is every person, thing and place here on Earth and out in space... Nature is you and me! It is all that IS or WAS or EVER WILL BE!"
(emphasis in the original) Wow, where is God in that? Or check this zinger out: "So-o-o, if you're ALIVE and MOVE AROUND, if you NEED FOOD to survive, it's beginning more and more to seem that you can join the animal team! (Again, not my emphasis!) This reminds me of a children's picture dictionary I saw that had an entry for "animal" with pictures of a couple of animals... and a little girl. Yes, a real little girl! Needless to say I chucked that out pretty quickly!)
Now see the amazingly cool change (From a review of "The Berenstain Bears God Loves You" copyright 2008):
"With the weather clearing, they suggest a family walk in the great outdoors. Along the way, the Bear family discovers a beautiful rainbow in the sky. Seeing a great opportunity to impart a bit of hope and wisdom into their cubs, Mama and Papa use the chance to tell them about God's love. Using the rainbow as an example, Mama and Papa explain to Sister and Brother how much God loves us no matter whether we fail or make mistakes. Just like a mama and papa always loves their child, no matter what, so does God love us, We might not be perfect, and God might not always love what we do but he always loves us. And He shows us this through His wonderful creation."
So happy for the change. All glory to God - literally.
Just because something seems true, doesn't make it true. Just because the Bible (for example) has had a great impact on millions of lives around the globe, and has had a positive benefit on society as a whole for centuries, it still does not mean that it is necessarily true.
The Spirit of God testifies to the believer's heart and mind that the Bible is indeed God's Word. But how about for someone who is not yet a Christian? How could a non-believer be led to assume that the Bible just may be a trustworthy guide to life? In that case we would need evidence, not just personal testimony.
Rick Warren gives us just a taste of the overwhelming amount of evidences available:
There's a world of objective evidence, both external and internal, that says the Bible is true.
External evidence proves the Bible is a historical book that you can rely on. There are 5,366 copies of the Bible dating from the time it was written to just 70 years afterwards. That fact dispels the urban legend that the Bible was changed as it passed through generations and languages.
External evidence also includes many archeological discoveries. For example, historians used to say that Solomon couldn't have had the horses the Bible says he had because no one had horses at that time. But then thousands of horse stables were found in an archeological dig.
There's also the internal evidence of the Bible itself. In a court of law, a prosecutor with two or three eyewitness accounts has a good chance of making his case. The Bible is filled with eyewitness accounts. Moses was there when the Red Sea split; Joshua was there to watch Jericho fall; the disciples saw the resurrected Jesus.
The internal evidence of the Bible also includes the fact that it tells one story with consistency - though it was written over 1,500 years on three different continents by 40 different authors from every walk of life. No human being could account for that. It's an amazing example of God's abilities.
The Bible says, "There's nothing like the written Word of God for showing you the way to salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. Every part of Scripture is God-breathed and useful one way or another—showing us truth, exposing our rebellion, correcting our mistakes, training us to live God's way. Through the Word we are put together and shaped up for the tasks God has for us." (2 Timothy 3:15-17, MSG)
Thursday, February 18, 2010
In my previous post I quoted Bruce Waltke who claimed, as many do, that there is,
"[an] apparent gulf that currently exists between science and faith"
I suggest that he (and all of us) stop equating the worldview of naturalistic macroevolution with science. It is emphatically not science.
Science is the interpretation of physical observable data, not the extrapolation of the beliefs of modern man.
For example there is no conflict for a Christian to go to the moon, become a doctor or a software engineer. There is absolutely no "gulf" to cross whatsoever. In fact, only within the framework of a Christian worldview could one imagine a rational, orderly universe where things work by laws and not by chance.
Secondly, let us all work to understand the extreme difference between microevolution (change within kinds), which we can observe, and macroevolution (change into other forms of life), which no one has ever observed and which is genetically impossible.
I would hope that we would be more careful as Christians to know what science is and what it is not. Let us not fall victim to the illogic of bandwagon appeal.
Wednesday, February 17, 2010
In the video, "The State of the Nation 2", Ken Ham quotes Dr. Bruce Waltke, one of the foremost O.T. scholars in America today, at length. It is a sad thing that so many great Christians are falling into the ID trap of trying to reconcile macro/ human evolution with the Bible. We are in the process of seeing CRAZY interpretations of Genesis beginning to emerge.
Francis S. Collins, noted for his leadership of the Human Genome Project, for his recent appointment by President Barack Obama to head up the National Institute of Health and for his founding of BioLogos, has asked me to prepare a white paper by September 15, 2009 on “Identifying the barriers that hinder the typical evangelical theologians from accepting the possibility of creation by means of an evolutionary process.” The paper is one of several to be presented to a conference that has been organized by Francis S. Collins, Alister McGrath, Os Guinness, Tim Keller and Darrel Falk. The purpose of the meeting and papers is to bring together a group of evangelical leaders who will think together about the apparent gulf that currently exists between science and faith, and how the Church can best narrow that gulf without diminishing our shared commitment to the evangelical Christian faith.
To fulfill my assignment I have prepared a brief, anonymous survey-questionnaire, listing several potential barriers. I am asking you as a leading evangelical theologian to check as many barriers that hinder you from accepting creation by the process of evolution.
Read Waltke's whole paper here.
Check out Ken Ham's message here.
God have mercy on the church!
Think that title is a little too strong? I encourage you to watch this video and judge for yourself. See how the worldview of historical naturalism has been highjacking our schools and minds under the guise of legitimate science. May God strengthen our foundations.
Monday, February 15, 2010
Saturday, February 13, 2010
Often times in Japan we hear the phrase, "All roads lead to the top of Mt. Fuji", meaning, "Every spiritual road we take, if we are intent on seeking purity and truth, really goes to the same destination anyway."
If you believe something like that then I encourage you to look at this Bible verse (John 5:23) where Jesus' words are recorded:
Jesus said, “Whoever does not honor the Son (Jesus) does not honor the Father (God) who sent him.”
John Piper writes:
"In other words, if you want to know if someone in another religion, or no religion, honors God (has a true worshipful relationship with God), the test that you use to know this is: Do they honor Jesus for who he really is—as the divine Son of God, the Messiah, the crucified and risen Savior of the world, the Lord of the universe and Judge of all human beings? If they don’t, then they do not honor God." And by implication they do not find purity or truth.
Again Jesus said clearly, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." - John 14:6 (My emphasis added)
The Good News is that God welcomes all to come to Him through Jesus Christ for free, not on the basis of innate goodness or depth of spirituality. The road to the top of Mt. Fuji is really a narrow road that can only be taken with the all-powerful loving God at your side guiding and providing for your every need every step of the way.
Friday, February 12, 2010
Why All The New Interpretations of Genesis 1?
"Here is the problem I see. Genesis 1 teaches a unique supernatural creation of the material universe divinely spoken into existence out of nothing in 6 24hr. periods (the text is historical genre). To the modern scientific mind this is absolutely absurd and one would have to be a complete loony to believe such nonsense. Just like we Christians are loony to believe in the resurrection and all those other goofy miracles of the Bible.
Christians don’t want to appear loony for believing what the text says; we want to appear respectable in the eyes of the unbelieving world. But here is the problem, we also don’t want to denigrate the text. We want to believe in the inspiration, inerrancy and authority of Scripture too so we can’t just reject the text. So we need to figure out a way to make it say something different; something that will appear respectable to the unbelieving world so that they won’t laugh at us. We need to give it some scholarly backbone to make it even more credible and believable as well. In the end, the text needs to comport with the way the world says we came into existence since modern science has undeniably solved this question.
I may be wrong, but I am suspicious that this is why we are witnessing so many recent novel interpretations of Genesis. But here is the thing, no matter how hard we try to be respectable in the eyes of the unbelieving world they are still going to dismiss us as a bunch of loonies."
I encourage everyone to continue to look into the matter closely before rushing into call foolish what is the wisdom of God.
Tuesday, February 09, 2010
"I want to spend far less time searching out new information and more time reflecting on the information I’ve already got."
Ouch - This is exactly what I needed to hear. He has some great points on checking email too often also. My goal after reading this: To schedule my free time rather than letting my free time schedule me.
Read the whole thing here.
Monday, February 08, 2010
Friday, February 05, 2010
With the economic condition that we currently have both in Japan and in America, I thought you might be encouraged by this as I was.
1. God is near me to help me.Philippians 4:5-6: “The Lord is at hand; [therefore] do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.”2. God cares for me.1 Peter 5:7: “. . . casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”3. My Father in heaven knows all my needs and will supply all my needs.Matthew 6:31-33: “Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”4. God values me more than birds and grass, which he richly provides for and adorns; how much more will he provide for all my needs!Matthew 6:26-30: “Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”5. What can man do to me?Matthew 6:25: “Do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” [I.e., you still have eternal life even if you have no food; you will still have a resurrection body even if you are physically deprived.]6. Anxiety is pointless.
Luke 12:4: “Do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do.”
Luke 21:16, 18: “Some of you they will put to death. . . . But not a hair of your head will perish.”Romans 8:31-32, 35, 38-39: “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? . . . Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? . . . For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”Matthew 6:27: “Which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” [Answer: no one.]7. Anxiety is worldly.Matthew 6:31-32: “Do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things. . . .”8. Tomorrow doesn’t need my anxiety.
James 4:4: “You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.”Matthew 6:34: “Do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
Lamentations 3:23: “[God's mercies] are new every morning.”
Thursday, February 04, 2010
As I have talked to atheists, I have thought that proving God's existence is a little like trying to prove to the other person that he is really awake. One cannot logically prove that we are not all dreaming, but by experience we have great reason to believe that we are not. I believe I am awake (and not dreaming) not because of blind faith, (there are many reasons) and yet I cannot logically prove to you the point fully. Knowing God is consistent with logic - it makes sense, but it is more than that - it is experiential. Unless one has the experience of knowing God truly he or she will never be convinced by the logical argument. However, if we do truly experience God, we will also see the foolproof logic of knowing Him by His Word, the Bible.
My challenge for atheist/agnostics: Try to know God by experience. Seek Him in prayer and through the Bible. See if he is real by pursuing Him as if He is real, not as if He isn't.
Wednesday, February 03, 2010
“A man’s physical hunger does not prove that that man will get any bread: he may die of starvation on a raft in the Atlantic. But surely a man’s hunger does prove that he comes of a race which repairs its body by eating, and inhabits a world where eatable substances exist.” In other words, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probably explanation is that I was made for another world.” - Quoted by John Piper
Monday, February 01, 2010
ABC's Nightline recently hosted another face-off between two worldviews. One side, more or less the Biblical view of sex, marriage and adultery; and on the other side, basically the secular, non-religious side. I encourage you to watch.
"In this fourth installment [of the face-offs], Pastor Ed Young of the Fellowship Church and recovering sex addict and founder of "Be Broken Ministries" Jonathan Daugherty will face-off against Ashley Madison.com founder and CEO Noel Biderman and author Jenny Block about adultery, the seventh commandment and if we are born to cheat."