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Who Wrote the Bible: God or Man?

Who Wrote the Bible: God or Man?

Who wrote the Bible- God or man?  How can we trust that the words we read in the Bible are the words of God? These are common questions many people have about the Bible known in theology as the inspiration of Scripture.  This doctrine addresses the question: In what sense, or exactly how, is the Bible inspired by God?

To begin, the Bible is indeed inspired by God.  To say that the Scripture is “inspired” means that God is the source behind its creation and truth.  The Bible is God’s revelation of Himself to man.  A key biblical text which teaches this is 2 Tim. 3:16- 17- “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”  The word “inspired” in this verse literally means “God-breathed.” The Bible is not merely the work of man, but are words “breathed out” by God.

A second key text that demonstrates God as the inspiration behind Scripture is 2 Pet. 1:20-21- “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”  The doctrine of the inspiration of Scripture seeks to answer exactly how we are to go about interpreting that last phrase- “men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”

In general, there are four major views, or theories, of the inspiration of Scripture:

Illumination

This view states that the author is not divinely inspired, but rather the reader is inspired by the reading.  This makes the Bible “inspired” like we would consider the works of Shakespeare are inspired.  The theory of illumination makes the source of inspiration not God, but the reader of the text.  If this view were true, it would explain apparent “errors” in Scripture since it eviscerates any notion of the Bible being propositional truth.  The “truth” of the Bible would be up to the interpretation of the reader. The problem is that this view ignores the statements made in 2 Tim. 3:16-17 and 2 Pet 1:20-21 on God inspiring the text and thus gives the Bible no real authority.

Dictation

This view states that humans were only stenographers that God used to write the Bible.  There is no human element involved and thus the men who wrote the words of the Bible did so as automatons whom God “zapped” to record the Scripture via dictation.  If this theory were true, it would answer any issue with supposed “errors” in the Bible.  If the men took direct dictation from God there could obviously be no mistakes since God is perfect.

The problem with this view is that it does not take into account the obvious personality, writing style, and background of the biblical authors.  For example, when my Greek professor would give us assignments from the Bible to translate, we would always breathe easy when he assigned writings of John.  His sentence structure is simple and he uses very basic vocabulary.  On the other hand, if our teacher assigned something from Luke or Acts, we groaned somewhat because Luke uses complex sentences and vocabulary.  Another example is Mark, whose Gospel is known for its rapid movement.  Mark uses the historic present tense a great deal- about 150 times in his Gospel.  He clearly prefers this over the past tense, so we read “Jesus comes… Jesus says… Jesus heals…” time and time again.  Jesus is always on the move in Mark.  Furthermore, to express rapid movement Mark uses the Greek word for “immediately” 42 times whereas Matthew and Luke use it 7 times- “and immediately Jesus got into the boat…”   When you read each book of the Bible, it becomes clear that each author has a distinct purpose and emphasis for writing.  For example, Matthew clearly wrote his Gospel for a Jewish audience.  Luke wrote his Gospel for a Gentile audience.

Another weakness of the dictation theory is that it doesn’t explain why there is so much repetition in the Bible.  If God was dictating his word to a scribe, why do we have four different accounts, from four different perspectives, about the life and ministry of Jesus (the Gospels)?  Why do we have 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, and 1 and 2 Chronicles, which overlap much of their material?

Dynamic

This view emphasizes the inspiration of the author more than the actual words they recorded.  In other words, God only inspired the thoughts of the authors and left the details of what was to be recorded up to them.  With my students, I compare this view to something akin to Deism- that God created the world, then removed His presence, and let naturalism run its course.  This theory means that cosmology, grammar, and history are reflective of the author and his times, which explains apparent problems of history and science in the Bible.

Adherents of this rubric of biblical inspiration often cite that the Bible in terms of “religious” things is OK because God inspired their basic thoughts on the subject.  However, scientific and historical things are not to be trusted because biblical authors were all members of pre-industrialized society. Their words are not trustworthy in such matters because they did not have access to modern scientific knowledge.  The problem with all of this is that it creates a huge slippery slope for biblical authority.  If not all of the Bible is inspired, which parts are inspired?  We go back to 2 Tim. 3:16-17- “All Scripture is inspired…”

Verbal Plenary

This final view is the most preferable one because it gives strong authority to the Bible as the actual words of God while allowing for the human element to be involved in its recording.  The word “plenary” means “full” and the word “verbal” refers to the actual words in the Bible.  Thus, the verbal plenary view states that God inspired every word of Scripture.  Each statement in the Bible is propositionally true.  Yet, at the same time, God used the personalities and backgrounds of the authors to accomplish the task of recording His written revelation of Himself.  When people ask me the question, “Who wrote the Bible: God or man? Who wrote Romans: God or Paul?” I always respond with a tongue-in-cheek, “Yes!”  God inspired it and He uniquely used unique authors to record the Scripture.

Critics of this view argue that it cannot be adequately explained- it is too much of a mystery.  Yet, when it comes to the Bible- the actual words of our Creator, should we expect to neatly package and explain everything that comes from One infinitely greater and wiser than us?  This final view best captures what is clearly apparent when reading the Scripture- every word is inspired by God and He used human personalities in order to uniquely and effectively communicate His truth to the human race.  What an amazing book the Bible is- and an even more amazing God who inspired it!  Yes, the Bible contains the accurate and trustworthy words of God.

 

Is the Bible Credible?

Is the Bible Credible?

You have heard objections to the credibility of the Bible: “The Bible is just a fairy tale.”  “How do we know people didn’t just make this stuff up?” “The Bible we have today isn’t what the original authors wrote.”  “The Bible cannot be trusted because the originals do not exist.”  “The Bible is full of mistakes.”  Unfortunately, much of what we hear from mainstream media promulgates such statements through the insistence of only consulting liberal scholars such as those within the Jesus Seminar.  In addition, my experience of teaching biblical hermeneutics and debating others about the veracity of Scripture has taught me that many people who question the Bible know very little about it.

In this post I hope to give evidence that the Bible is an amazingly credible document.  A few caveats: First, there is so much more I could add of a technical nature (which I teach in my seminary class) to defend this position, but for sake of space (and boredom!) I will try and make it simple.  Second, one ultimately believes in God and believes His Word on the basis of faith.  That said, I firmly believe that believing in God and the credibility of Scripture is a very rational thing.  In other words, to be a Christian and believe in the Bible does not mean you have to check your brains at the door.  Third, issues relating to this topic such as the inspiration of Scripture and the inerrancy of Scripture will be covered in forthcoming posts.

So, is the Bible reliable?  What does it say about itself and what does the historical evidence reveal?

Internal Evidence

The first question we should ask is whether or not the Bible itself claims to be the authoritative words of God.  The answer is a resounding “yes!”  Consider these texts:

2 Tim. 3:16- 17- “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.”

2 Pet. 1:21- “For no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”

Also significant is that Jesus considered the Scripture to be authoritative, accurate, and credible.  Matt. 5:17-Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets [i.e. the Old Testament- the “Bible” of Jesus’ day]; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.”  Clearly, Jesus had the utmost regard for Scripture.

External Evidence

Consider the following in terms of the credibility of the Bible:

The practical effects of the Bible in the lives of people.  Granted, this may be an academically weak point, but you cannot discount the fact that the Bible has changed more lives in human history than any other book.  It remains today one of the best selling books (and can be argued the best seller) every year.

Remarkable survival and withstanding of scrutiny. The Bible has been scrutinized and held to a higher standard in terms of credibility than any other document in history.  See “Credibility of the Text” below.

Confirmations in archaeological findings. Consider, for example, that the Book of Mormon states that the people of Jared, descendants from the Tower of Babel, migrated to North America and built large, industrialized cities in the pre-Colombian era.  The problem is that archaeologists have yet to find one of these cities.  On the other hand, the vast majority of the cities mentioned in the Bible have been discovered.

Credibility of the Text

The Bible has been scrutinized more than any other book.  In general, scholars consider the validity of an ancient document on the basis of two criteria: One, the number of ancient copies that are extant (in existence); Two, the date of the earliest copy in relation to the date of the autograph (the original).  NOTE: It is often argued that the Bible is not to be trusted because the originals do not exist.  However, the original to ANY ancient document the age of the Bible does not exist.  The actual documents written by the hand of Plato, for example, are not extant.  So, the lack of originals is a completely fallacious argument.

Consider the two criteria I just mentioned.  The first is number of ancient copies.  Let’s say you walked into a high school or college classroom and asked the students, “Do you any of you doubt Livy wrote Roman History?” No one would raise their hand.  But if you asked that same question of Paul and his letters, you would certainly have some skeptics.  But let’s examine the evidence. Today, there are 20 copies of Livy’s Roman History.  There are 9 copies of Julius Caesar’s Gallic Wars.  There are 8 copies of Herodotus’ History.  All of these easy fulfill the scholarly criteria for being credible.  So what about the Bible- the New Testament in particular?  Today we have over 5,000 full copies and fragments of the New Testament in its original language of Koine Greek (if you include other language copies, that number shoots to more than 25,000).  20, 9, 8, and 5,000- which document is more credible?

The second criteria is the gap of time between the date of the original and the earliest copy.  The argument is that the shorter amount of time between the original and earliest copy is better because that is less time for scribes to make errors or additions.  The oldest copy of Caesar’s Gallic Wars we have today was written around 850 A.D.  Caesar wrote Gallic Wars around 50 B.C.  The gap of time between the original and the earliest copy is 900 years.  The gap of time between the original of Herodotus’ History and the earliest copy is about 1,300 years.  The gap of time between the writings of Plato and the earliest copy is also about 1,300 years.  All of these fit the scholarly criteria and would never be thought as anything but credible.  Once again, what about the Bible?  John wrote his Gospel around 90 A.D.  We have a portion of a copy of John 18 (the Rylands fragment, known as “P52”) that is just 35 years after the original!  900 years, 1,300 years, and 35 years.  Which document is more credible? The Muratorian Canon (170 A.D.- about 200 years after most of the New Testament was written) contains a list of almost the entire New Testament as being in wide circulation in the early church (incidentally this is a blow to the “research” of author Dan Brown).

The works of Livy, Herodotus, Caesar, and Plato are seldom, if ever questioned, as for their credibility.  However, the Bible is always questioned.  Yet, the historical evidence does not bear this out.

Scholars and scribes through the centuries have used strict criteria in evaluating biblical manuscripts.  They consider the age of the manuscript and its physical condition.  They consider what is known about the manuscript and its scribe and if there is any reason to suspect editing.  They consider if the text is in harmony with the same text in other manuscripts.  They look to see if there is an easier reading substituted for a more difficult one.  In so many ways, the text of the Bible has been carefully copied in the transmission of God’s Word.

Credibility of the author

Here’s another objection to the credibility of the Bible: The authors are biased.  Do they tell us the truth about Jesus or what they want us to believe about Jesus?  Everything ever written is biased to some degree.  Everyone who writes has a purpose for writing and a particular point of view.  A newspaper story, the letter you got from your mother, even your electric bill has some bias.  The question is, “Is there too much bias?

Biblical authors included their shortcomings unlike most ancient authors. Caesar’s Gallic Wars, the chronicles written by Pharoahs, and Mesopotamian kings are all written about themselves by themselves.  They do not tell of any defeat, only victories.  The purpose of these writings is to glorify themselves.  On the other hand, biblical writers are out to glorify God, not themselves.  If the biblical writers were biased, we would not read about:

-Moses murdering a man and forced into exile.

-David sleeping with Bathsheba and murdering her husband.

-Peter denying Christ three times.

Accuracy

The Bible is accurate in all that it says.  There are countless critics who have determined so-called “errors” in the Bible.  I do not have the time to consider these (perhaps in future posts?), but studying these “errors” and how time after time advancements in textual scholarship and archaeology always support the Bible and not the critics is fascinating.  We could go through a long litany of evidences on how the Bible is accurate, but consider just two.

One, much of what the Bible claims, if they were lies, would by their nature not exist.  Let me explain.  Let’s say four guys named Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all meet at the Jerusalem Starbucks in 60 A.D. and decide to “invent” a new religion to foist onto to people as a joke or ploy for popularity.  If they were “inventing” a new religion, wouldn’t they make it something that would be believable and credible in the minds of people?  Instead, the Gospels start off with the protagonist being born of a virgin, healing people and raising people from the dead, then raising himself from the dead with the first witness of the resurrection being a woman (whose credibility as a witness in the first century was inadmissible).  The only reason such “unbelievable” things appear in the New Testament is because they really happened.  If these guys were making this stuff up they certainly would not have included such outrageous claims.  Furthermore, most of the earliest followers of Jesus gave their lives as martyrs for their faith.  If the account of Jesus had been a lie they had fabricated, they certainly would have come clean about their deception in order to save themselves.

Two, the fulfilled prophecy contained in the Bible cannot be discounted.  Suppose you picked up a book and it predicted the major events of WWII.  It talked about the rise of Hitler, Pearl Harbor, D-Day, and the atomic bomb.  You then looked at the copyright on the book and it says “1950.”  Big deal.  Written after the facts.  But what if that same book had a copyright of 1920?  Then you would be on to something!  Consider the fulfilled prophecy in the Bible written long before the events occurred, many times in amazing detail.  Micah wrote (5:2) that Jesus the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, over 700 years before it happened.  Psalm 22, written even earlier, accurately predicted that the soldiers would not divide Jesus’ robe at the crucifixion, but rather cast lots for it. There are about 300 prophecies in the Old Testament fulfilled in the person Jesus Christ.

There is so much more that could be said in defense of the Bible, but I hope I made the point that, even by the world’s secular standards, the Bible can fairly be called the most credible ancient document in existence.  You don’t have to check your brains at the door!  Again, we ultimately trust God’s Word to be true and authoritative on the basis of faith.  We love His Word because we love Him.  The Bible is truly an amazing, powerful, guide by which to live our lives.

Psalm 119:129-130- “Your testimonies are wonderful; therefore my soul keeps them. The unfolding of your words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple.”

 

Tough to Tackle Tuesdays

Tough to Tackle Tuesdays

Today I am going to launch a new feature on my blog entitled, “Tough to Tackle Tuesdays.”  I know, it sounds cheesy, but it’s my feeble effort at being creative.  In these posts I hope to fulfill a major reason I started the blog in the first place: to equip believers to grow in their faith and defend it.  1 Pet. 3:15 states, “But in your hearts regard 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.”

Tough to Tackle Tuesday posts will be about issues in apologetics and the difficult questions we often have of the Bible and Christianity.  In time, I’ll try and give explanations to passages in Scripture that are difficult to interpret and common objections to Christianity we so often see in TV shows and hear about at work or school.  Sample topics/questions would be: Where did Cain get his wife? Who were the Nephilim in Gen. 6? Was the flood worldwide? Is evolution correct? Is Jesus the only way to be saved and what about people who never hear the gospel? The problem of evil and suffering and a loving, all-powerful God. Did Jesus visit hell while in the tomb (1 Pet. 3)?  The list is very long and hopefully we’ll cover some topics of interest to you or deal with some issues in which you are discussing with others.

I hope these posts will generate discussion and be helpful for you to use in your spiritual growth and to assist in the growth of your family.  I’m going to start Tough to Tackle Tuesdays with a topic that is very dear to me: the Word of God.  Is the Bible credible? Exactly who wrote the Bible- God or man?  Does the Bible have mistake sin it?  In the next several Tuesdays I’ll attempt to cover some common questions about the Bible.  The first post, “Is the Bible Credible?” is coming up right now…

 

Is God Angry at Japan? Listen to the Bible, not Beck

Is God Angry at Japan? Listen to the Bible, not Beck

Whenever tragedies strike, it is always inevitable that some will go down the path of dangerous theologizing.  In the wake of the horrific earthquake in Haiti, Pat Robertson stated the tragedy was a result of that nation’s “pact to the devil” and CBN later said the country was “cursed.”

The recent earthquake/tsunami/ radiation crisis in Japan is no different.  On Monday, while the Japanese people were still pulling victims from the rubble and battling potential nuclear meltdowns, radio/TV personality Glenn Beck stated that the tragic events were a message from God.  Beck stated, “I’m not saying God is, you know, causing earthquakes,” and then added that he’s “not not saying that, either.”  Beck continued, “Whether you call it Gaia, or whether you call it Jesus, there’s a message being sent and that is, ‘Hey, you know that stuff we’re doing? Not really working out real well.’ Maybe we should stop doing some of it.” Perhaps Beck is not singling out the Japanese people in his comments and saying that the message from God in these earthquakes is for all of us to heed.  However, the timing and the implication are troubling and these comments only add to the corpus of Beck’s past comments/writing about religion that reveal him to be confused and at odds with Scripture.  So, how is it wrong of us to say that tragedies are the result of people’s particular sin?

Jesus made it very clear how we should interpret the meaning of tragic events.  In Luke 13, some people report to Jesus about others who had been persecuted and killed by Pilate.  Jesus used it as an opportunity to teach us about how we should respond to tragedies.

Luke 13:1-5- “There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

This passage of Scripture makes it clear that tragic events are not the result of people’s particular sin.  Rather, they are they the effect of living in a fallen world cursed by sin.  Jesus taught that in response to a tragedy, we should not point our finger at the victims and say, “They sinned.”  Instead, tragedies are a reminder that we have all sinned and unless we repent and have a right relationship with Christ on the basis of faith, we will all be liable for the judgment.  It’s not just a few that are cursed, we all are.  Honestly, I think some of the statements that tragedies are the results of some people’s sin are made from prejudice.  What would we say if an earthquake caused the nuclear reactor in Arkansas to melt down?  Are they cursed?   Do they have some “extra” sin the rest of us do not?

Please listen to Jesus rather than the pundits when it comes to thinking about why tragedies happen.  They remind us we will all perish unless we live for Christ.

 

I’m Already Dead

I’m Already Dead

I recently read about a man who visited a leper colony in Calcutta, India. He met a beautiful young English woman in the colony who was holding a diseased and disfigured crying baby to her chest. She was gently cradling the child and singing lullabies. After observing this maternal act of selfless love, the young man asked the lady, “Aren’t you afraid you will catch that child’s diseases?” To which she replied, “Why would I be afraid? You see, sir, I’ve already died. I’ve been crucified with Christ, so my life is now His.”

She was quoting Gal. 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” The Scripture makes it very clear that when a person comes to Christ by faith, they essentially died on the cross with Jesus. They are no longer their own, but have died to the former life of following sin and receive new life in Christ. Perhaps the place in the New Testament where this is most poignantly described is Romans 6. Take a minute some time today and read that chapter. Here is an excerpt from Rom. 6:5-8- “For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him.”

Our faith in Christ unites us not only to new life through the resurrection of Jesus, but also to His death on the cross. The old self in bondage to sin dies as a result of Christ’s death on the cross and my faith in Him. Paul is not saying in these words that we will stop sinning on this earth. We will always struggle with sin because of our sin nature and the fact that we live in a fallen world. However, in Christ, the penalty of sin (that aspect of sin that condemns us to God’s judgment) and the power of sin (that aspect of sin that makes us in bondage to it) is broken. Yes, we still struggle with sin, but we are no longer enslaved to it. We are now slaves of Christ (Rom. 6:16-22). As a result, who we were before Christ is now dead. We are made new in Him: 2 Cor. 5:17-18- “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” As Christians, we have indeed died, but are alive in a completely new way. The second half of Gal. 2:20 reads, “And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Karl Marx once said, “A communist is a dead man on reprieve.” Oddly enough, and in a very different sense, that is true for Christians.

In his commentary on Romans, Kent Hughes makes the interesting connection between objects entering a black hole and believers who have died and been changed forever by Christ. Hughes writes, “A black hole is a collapsed star of such density and gravity that nothing can escape from it, not even light, which is why it appears as a dark spot in the heavens. Objects rushing toward it approach the speed of light as well as approach infinite mass; as a result, the normal laws of physics tend to lose meaning at the center. No one knows what happens when an object reaches the center, but some have speculated that for reasons beyond most people’s ability to grasp, an object might shoot through the “hole” and pass into another time period or existence. I have no idea whether such speculations are true. But it occurs to me that passing through a black hole is an apt illustration of a Christian’s having died to sin and having been raised to new life in Christ– if for no other reason than that he or she cannot come back. Anything that has gone through a black hole has passed through it forever. Similarly, anyone who has been united to Christ has died to sin, is on the way to God, and can never return to his or her former sphere of existence.”

James Calvert was a young pioneer missionary to the cannibals of the Fiji Islands. En route, the ship captain tried to discourage Calvert from going to minister to the cannibals. Eventually, the captain pleaded with Calvert in desperation, “You will lose your life and the lives of those with you if you go among such savages.” To which Calvert replied, “We died before we came.”

Have you truly died? Does your life exhibit still exhibit bondage to sin or transformed life in Christ?

Having Your Cake and Eating It Too: The Incompatibility of Jesus and Darwin

Having Your Cake and Eating It Too: The Incompatibility of Jesus and Darwin

There has been quite a bit of attention lately about the issue of theistic evolution. Books like Saving Darwin by Karl Giberson propose that Christians can hold to their religious convictions and believe in evolution at the same time. Notable people such as Francis Collins have stated that Christians must hold to the theory of evolution or lose its credibility with the world to share the gospel. Of course, theistic evolutionists would disagree with atheistic, naturalistic evolutionists in that our origins lie with God’s creation. But beyond that, theistic evolutionists concur with most of the scientific community that the earth is billions of years old and that the evidence for evolution and transitional forms is irrefutable. The epistemology (how we know things) of science is the scientific method which means the burden to “prove” the fact of evolution is incumbent upon scientists. In fact, as Phillip Johnson so poignantly notes in his book Darwin on Trial, the scientific community rarely refers to the theory of evolution, but rather the fact of evolution.

The problem is that any objective study of the evidence of of the fossil record, the field of chemistry, etc. reveals that evolution is far from a fact. It cannot be “proved” by any stretch of the imagination. Perhaps this is why, if you have ever heard Richard Dawkins speak at an event such as his appearance at Oklahoma University a few years ago, he doesn’t speak about scientific evidence for evolution. Instead, he gives ad hominem arguments against the Christian community and insults them for their ignorance and backwardness. One can only wonder if he does this because he doesn’t have the evidence on his side? The scientific community merely approaches the question of our beginnings from the presupposition that faith in the supernatural is not a rational position to hold.

The dangerous issue the Christian community faces today is the growing number of Christians who have bought into the “fact” of evolution. To do so, and adhere to theistic evolution, presents doctrinal challenges that eviscerates the gospel of Jesus Christ. One of the major issues of holding to theistic evolution is that it eliminates the possibility (and necessity) of Adam and Eve being historical, literal people (in fact, theistic evolution really cannot adhere to the historicity of the first eleven chapters of Genesis). If Adam and Eve are figurative characters, then it becomes impossible to reconcile the biblical account of the Fall of man and the introduction of sin into the world. This obviously has huge implications for the gospel and the work of Christ on the cross and resurrection.

The theistic evolution debate is another sign of the Christian community trying to have its cake and eat it, too. Why do we need to accept what the world says in order to be “credible?” We are reminded in Scripture that the cross will often be an offense and stumbling block for many. Theistic evolution has bought the lie that if you do not believe in evolution you are an anti-intellectual (a fallacy indeed!). Yet the doctrinal price is too high to pay to hold to theistic evolution. Christians need to affirm that Jesus and Darwin are competing worldviews- it is impossible to reconcile them.

For further study, read the Baptist Press articles (links below) recently released which track the debate about theistic evolution between Albert Mohler and the BioLogos Foundation.

The New Shape of the Debate
Theistic Evolutionists, too, Face “Suspicion” and “Condescension”
Mohler at Center of Debate Over Evolution and Bible

Also, one of the best books available that refutes evolution and its accompanying presuppositions and fallacies is Darwin on Trial by Phillip Johnson.

Earning Our Way to Heaven?

Earning Our Way to Heaven?

News outlets have been reporting that the Roman Catholic Church is planning on beatifying former Pope John Paul II as soon as May 1.  To be beatified, one must conduct a miracle.  Catholic authorities are claiming that a French nun with Parkinson’s Disease has been healed after praying to the former Pope.  John Paul II will need a second miracle to be become a saint.  Such news is a reminder of how misguided we can become in regard to matters of faith.  When we interject our own spurious interpretations of Scripture, it leads us away from a God-exalting, truth-honoring worldview.  There is much I could say in opposition about the beatification of the former Pope.  Suffice it to say Jesus never taught us to pray to people, only to God.  The notion of venerating a person runs counter to the biblical principle that God alone is to be glorified.

However, this news story points to a larger issue that plagues so much of the world’s religious understanding: that being good and doing good will make you right with God.  Pope John Paul II enjoyed a long tenure and did much to advance the perception of the papacy.  He wrote books and tirelessly toured the world to advance the beliefs and causes of which he believed.  As such, the public is pushing for the former Pope to reach sainthood.  In 2005, at the funeral mass for John Paul II, the crowds shouted, “Santo Subito!” or “Sainthood immediately!”  Because he did so much good, many believe, the Pope should become a saint.

On any given day, I could go to a public place (even here in the Bible Belt) and take a poll on how a person gets to heaven.  Without fail, the majority of responses to the question, “How can you get to heaven?” would be based on good works.  Many people believe that as long as their good deeds outweigh their bad deeds, then they will be right with God.  The Scripture teaches something much different- “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Eph. 2:8-9).  Salvation is not the result of balancing deeds, it is the result of Christ cancelling out our sin-tainted deeds at the cross.  I am saved not because of what I do, but because of what Christ did.  No amount of good works a person could do would ever satisfy the perfect, righteous standard of God.  We must trust in the perfect work of Jesus at the cross and in the Resurrection to atone for our sin and put us in right standing with God.

Don’t misunderstand: good works are very important.  Yet, we must remember that Good deeds are the result of salvation, never the basis for it.  I do good, not as an effort to be right with God, but because I have already been made right with Him on the basis of His work and my faith in Him.  Take a moment today to thank God that your salvation is not dependent on you.  If it were, we’d all be in trouble!  “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21).