Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Thoughts about Inerrancy.

I have been doing some more digging and believe that my first impression of Craig Evans was a bit off. Here is a some questions which he answers and makes me rethink my first opinion I had of him, which I discussed in this post.

Undoubtedly if you ever explored this blog you will come to see I have a very high view of scripture.

Our view of scripture determines all that we believe. If we view scripture as mere words of man we may just as well declare our local glossy magazine our book of faith.
The way we understand what the Bible is, determines how serious we take it.

There are very different views on scripture. We can see it as inerrant in its original transcripts or we can say it is a human book pure and simple.
Both these views have pitfalls. The question is “Is there a middle ground?”
I do not think so, either it is the word of God or it is not. Others would say that there is a middle ground and if you take ever side you are going too far.
You can also say that if you follow the doctrine of inerrancy to it’s a logical conclusion you will arrive at an unscientific place or at full blown liberalism.
These past few days I’m being delving into what Dr Craig Evans has to say. He has a very unique take on the whole thing which warrants more investigation.
If I understand him correctly he will not defend the Bible as historical inerrant but, what the Bible sets out to do it accomplishes.The Bible brings us the good news of Christ and how we might be saved.
He would not agree with the Chicago statement of inerrancy then. Would he?

I’m still checking it out but it does seem on face value that he takes the Bible seriously and that he believes that Jesus physically died and rose again. I will then place him under the wider evangelical umbrella but, not under the traditional group.
He makes a very good case that we must take all the differences in the synoptic gospels seriously. He seems to be a very competent and thoughtful scholar. What I do think is that he gives up to much ground. I see many points where he could have defended the reliability of the Bible.
What I do appreciate of him is that he does a very in depth study of everything he is just a wealth of information. Not a grain of laziness in the man.
Although I think that my view of scripture is pretty much the same as Norman Geisler, I think his answers and explanations of some difficult passages are a bit shallow and he doesn’t really answer many of the concerns.

I admit I have limited resources on both these men and pray that I will be able to acquire more in the future. In all I’m not satisfied with either ones handling of the issue.

Craig Evans gives to much ground to the sceptic and it seems that Norman Geisler isn’t really listening to them. I wonder what Kaiser will say. I have read his book on the reliability of the Old Testament documents and his approach was very balanced. He takes the critics very serious but, he makes a strong stand. Don’t take me wrong when Evans decides on this hill he will die on, he makes a stand. 
My quest is to sift all these thoughts running around in my head and find out which way is the best.
Giving up ground on the issue on inerrancy is not to be taken lightly. My question is it even necessary. In the past it has been proven on many occasions that the Bible is reliable.

Many times the historicity of the gospel is taken in question because of many differences between the synoptic gospels. The problem is that these differences do not impact basic doctrine.

Many times the sceptic is are simplistic about the perceived discrepancy. They take it at face value while on other occasions they fire both barrels of the shotgun if we dare take the Bible at face value.
The sceptics always seem to fire off all the alleged discrepancies in the gospels and then claim “superior number of arguments wins” while each individual argument and accusation must be handled on its own.

This is one of the problems with debates. For some or other reason the liberal will list his long lists of complains and the “evangelical” just gives an answer that is weak and vague, they sometimes try to explain a principle to answer similar arguments but, never answer the point made by the liberal. Maybe it is the way debates are done but, why not for once just answer the man’s question straight down the middle? If I look at Norman Geisler’s stuff I think he will actually do it, the problem is sometimes even I can spot the holes in his argument.
I’m probably being a bit to forward, I regular keyboard warrior. My question is why not take the dog by the scruff of the neck and manhandle the opinion, say it like it is, answer the critic, go at him toe to toe. Or do we have no real answer or witty comebacks?

I think the problem is not as simple as just saying we are inarticulate or not assertive enough when it comes to debate ting these issues.
Most debates between evangelicals and liberals always have the evangelical starting off on the back foot, defending an already weaken position.

For starters they almost never bring in the ancient tradition, on who wrote the gospels. It is a great big debate yes but, why have we resigned from that fight. Many scholars have written against the historical teachings on who wrote the gospels. They doubt the accuracy of these traditions. The question is must they not proof their case to us, are they not attacking a very old tradition handed down through generations? Are these persons who wrote about this tradition not closer to the original authors in time and culture?

The case is made that these guys seen as the writers traditionally could not have written such great literature and that just 3% of the people living in Israel at that time could read what to say of being able to write such well edited gospels.
Let us look at the traditional writers then.

The Gospel of Matthew was said to be a tax collector appointed by the Romans , would the Romans appoint a illiterate man as tax collector?.
The Gospel of Mark was written by some companion of Peter. Mark according to tradition wrote the Gospel according to what Peter told him. Peter was one of the leaders of the church a man of great influence. The church was very large over five thousand and there was added to their number daily, is it not possible that out of this large crowd Peter could find such a writer as Mark.

The Gospel Of Luke, according to tradition he was a companion of Paul and that he also was  a kind of doctor, is it also such a far fetch dream that he could have been well educated just as Paul? Is it so far fetch that a doctor could read and write?    
Then we get to sequence of the gospels. The modern view is that Mark was written first after that Luke and Matthew. So how do they devise such a sequence? Well they look at all synoptic gospels and seen that a lot of material over lapses. Sometimes exactly. So they come to the conclusion that they must have copied from each other or used a common source. They even gave the source a name “Q”.

The question is then this, why could they not all been written independent from each other? Why could they not just have been writing the same story from three prospective and why could the overlapping parts not be because they are telling the same story.
Bart Ehrman makes a very strong case, he says that even if you take a lot of eyewitnesses and let them write what exactly happened that you wouldn’t get two accounts that is remotely same to the extent that the gospels are similar.

This is a very strong argument, the problem is this cannot be the only argument, I believe he would add a few. The problem is what about inspiration of the Holy Spirit, was He not the one who inspired the writers to write accurate accounts?
The other question is why accept the viability of the “Q” source which has no proof accept the similarities between the gospels and reject the historical account of the possible existence of the Hebrew gospel?

Has the liberal scholar not infringed on the evangelical scholars so much that we have fallen to the winds of chance, while we believe in the God who created that wind.

We have abandoned to many outposts, it is time to take stock and decide which ones are to be retaken.
In a real sense I agree with Craig Evans, the Christian faith is grounded on the factual death and resurrection of Christ and not on the Bible. The problem is that the Bible is the source that ultimately proofs it and explains it.

Over simplification is very dangerous. The minimal facts approach is great for short debate and discussions but, not enough for deep, sustained Christian life.

Speaking in Tongues.

I have been asked to explain the phenomenon known as speaking in tongues. This is sometimes a very emotional charged subject. Christians many times find their relationship with Christ and their Christian life in general as “plain” and uneventful and the seek something more intense.

This search for a deeper spiritual life is commendable and the yearning to be “closer” to God is good but, sometimes our motive sends us into the wrong directions. We are called to grow as Christians. Our Christian growth comes through communion with God through prayer and Bible study and is cemented in by our actions.

The chase after something more than gospel reveals that we misunderstand what the gospel is. What Christ has done is sufficient nothing can be added to what He has done.
Now, let us look at the phenomenon of speaking in tongues.
Firstly let me kick off by sharing part of my journey.

I also frequented charismatic churches and groups and was attracted by what I perceived as a deeper faith. One night I answered the alter call and experience what they call “baptism with the Holy Spirit” and started praying in tongues. I loved it but, something wasn’t right for me, and only practiced it a few times.
When we investigate anything we must go to the Bible as our source.

So what does the word “tongue” mean in scripture?
When the Bible speaks about “tongues” it plainly means language, a language that is spoken and understood by people.
Genesis 10:20

These are the sons of Ham, by their clans, their languages, their lands, and their nations.”

   The best place to start looking in this study is in the book of Acts. When we study the Bible the best way to find out what the Bible teaches about a specific thing is to look at different passages and then let them help interpret each other.

Acts 2:3-6

“And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them.

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven.

And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language.”

If no one would have told you about speaking in tongues would you think that these were languages spoken of in Acts 2 is strange languages or would you understood that they are already existing languages? Jerusalem was filled with foreigners. These foreigners spoke different languages and God through the Holy Spirit gave the Christians in the upper room the ability to talk languages they never heard or learned before.

This gift was given to the Christians as a sign that the Holy Spirit which Jesus promised has arrived. It further indicated that the Gospel is for everyone not just for the Jew but for every “tongue” meaning every nation.

Many things have been said about the fire that descended on the Christians when they received the Holy Spirit. Let me remind you of what John the Baptist said about the coming of the Holy Spirit and Fire.

Luke 3:16

  John answered them all, saying, "I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.

Remember why John the Baptized people. He baptized them with water as a visible sign of people being cleansed and leaving their old life behind. The Baptizing with Holy Spirit is basically the same thing being cleansed and washed.

In the following passages it is evident that when the Bible speaks of “tongues” it is speaking of a known language and not some Angelic language. It is also not used to talk about some revelation form God.

John 5:2; Revelation 5:9; Revelation 9:11; Ezra 4:7

The gift of tongues was a declaration that the Gospel will be going out to all nations. Never is there spoken of tongue as a tongue that is not understood by someone. These “tongues” was not just strange sounds like it is claimed to be today. No, it was actual languages spoken by actual people groups. The wonder was that Christians was speaking languages they never learned. These Christians was not just saying “hi” in some strange language, they were preaching the gospel.

Act 2:9-12.

  Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,

 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome,

 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians--we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God."

 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "What does this mean?"    

The non-Jews also received the gift of speaking in tongues to confirm that the Gospel was also for the gentiles. The gift was not just a tool to evangelism but, a sign to confirm that all nations were welcome at the Lord table.

The sad thing is it is clear to many that the gift of speaking in tongues practiced today is not the same as what we find in the book of Acts. They recognize that many of the “speaking in tongues” is well nonsense. It’s just a whole lot of letters blustered out and none can translate it. So they claim that the there’s actually two gifts of speaking in tongues the one in Acts and the one in Corinthians.

They will explain that the one spoken about in Acts is a genuine man spoken language and the kind we find in Corinthians was something different and an interpreter was needed.

1 Corinthians 14:27-28.

Clearly in this passages it is instructed that there should be an interpreter, it is also clear that the Gospel and the evangelization of the listeners was the focus.

The reason for the speaking in tongues was so that people of all nations could hear the Gospel. It was not the bringing of a word of wisdom or some prophecy, the aim was evangelism of all nations.

Acts 10:45-47.
And the believers from among the circumcised who had come with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out even on the Gentiles.

 For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and extolling God. Then Peter declared,

 "Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?"

Now let us look at the tuff question. We have now established that the gift of speaking in tongues was an existing language.
The gift of speaking in tongues was a “sign” gift”.

Let me explain while it had a purpose namely communicating the gospel to strangers it was also a sign that things were changing.

Think of the miracles that happened in Egypt, they did not continue, they strengthen the Israelites in their faith. When they had to through the Sea before they went into the Promised Land it was a sign to them that God was still with them the same way He was with their fathers when they left Egypt.
When Jesus was on earth He preformed many signs and wonders to confirm His deity and that which He was teaching. When the apostles went out they also preformed signs and wonders confirming this new work that was done. These things were meant as evidence that they were preaching the same truth as Christ.

The sign gifts were never meant to be permanent.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Check your time.

In this crazy beautiful world we live in everything is changing. We as Christians have a constant, an anchor, God.

Today everything is seen as relative. Every person believe that what they think is right is right. The freedom of speech is a good thing. The freedom of thought is a very good thing.

Asking questions is the only way we develop as man. The problem comes in when we believe that more than one answer is the right answer.

We say that there is many ways to skin a cat. The thing is we ask questions like “What is a skinned cat?” We build a case that questions the meaning of the very words. We would question if there is really something like a cat. We will question and ask what it means when we say “skin the cat”. We ask ourselves so many questions even questioning the answers of the answers.

In the end we would say it is all relative, who says the cat, if it is a cat? Is not skinned already?

Today as every other age Christians should know what they believe and why they believe it. If we are to stand, if we are to grow in faith, if we are to answer the question posed to us, we cannot just pitch at church on Sunday and listen to the sermon and hope it is enough to face the tuff questions.

Our time is filled up with so many things, work, hobbies, school, family, friends, Facebook, blogs, net-browsing, movies, TV shows and all other kind of activities, we never dust the Bible cover off.

Our knees is bruised not because of praying but, because we bumped when we texted our friend as we are leaving his house.

The sense of community is fast being eroded by our technology. While we have the best communication networks today, nobody really knows anybody else.

In this vast disconnected world we find ourselves alone in a crowd.

We have access to the word of God but, we don’t know what we believe and how to explain why we believe it. We have access to a multitude of friends but, do we have any?

We say we are richer, but are we really?

The most precious thing we have is time, and we received it freely. The problem with time we never can get it back. How do we invest our time? Do we make wise choices when we decide how to spend it?

Is the time spending watching great movie worth more than a boring hour with the kids? Is a quick text to someone you hardly know worth more than eye contact with the person you speaking too.

Our frantic search for that illusive “Meaning of life”, our unquenched thirst for that deep satisfying relationship leads us to this over stretched life.

We compound as much things into the shortest, thinking maybe that will for fill my life maybe that will fill this void.

Christians also fall into this trap, chasing riches, cheap thrill that best life now. While quality goes out the window.

We have fallen victim to the “Fast Food” life.

Everything now, very fast and tasty (sort of) no matter what the results are.

That is not the Christian life. The pay-off is not now. This is time of investments, some fruits will follow now but, most will only be visible later.

Quality time is a “myth” there is no substitute for quantity.

If you don’t put in the time you won’t get a dime.

If you start off and start doing just a little each day you will over time accomplish a something big and it will last.

I wanted to learn a few things, my wife bought me a series of books and I have read about 12000 pages in that series. Some will say wow. Others will say so what I read that in a few months.

You see I never read much, I think I only read two or three of my prescribed books I had in high school.

How did I get through those books? By reading 20 pages a day.

Doing a little each day goes a long way and normal then it will be of better quality than the little quickly rushed things.

The most important thing in life is your relationship with God through Jesus Christ. Set yourself a goal, set a schedule stick by it, cut time off all the other little thing you do, beg borrow steal but, make time.