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Internet

Do we "like" sin?

Welcome to the Information Age. With apps like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, we now have a window into the lives of our friends, family, acquaintances and even complete strangers. Business owners can now Google prospective employees, parents can check Instagram to vet new friends of their children, and a woman can search Facebook about a potential boyfriend. We can track down long lost friends from high school and keep in touch with family around the world. The benefits are evident in our churches too, in how we can share information about prayer requests, children’s illnesses, bus routes being late, weather conditions, and new study groups. Via these social media forums, users are connected together in an online virtual world where our interests and ideas can be shared at the speed of light to our online peers. We can share articles that we deem interesting or important, and we can take political stands on issues. With a click of the button, we can friend and follow almost anyone we want. We like or dislike our way through thousands of gigabytes of information, telling everyone our favorite TV shows, games, authors, preachers, speakers and much more. But how does our online presence reflect our allegiance? Do our likes match up with God’s own? Many brothers and sisters seem to disconnect the online version of themselves from the real (or maybe their social media presence is their true self?). Christians will watch horrific godless shows and discuss them and like them on Facebook. Some may share photos of themselves in provocative poses with minimal clothing, or share pictures of drunken partying. We’ll fight with others online, speaking wrathfully, and assume the worst of whomever we’re arguing with. Disputes with our consistory, or our spouse, will be aired publicly and captured for all eternity. We’ll speak derisively about our employers, or our minister, family members, or friends. Online Christians will use filthy language, or casually take God’s name in vain in ways that they would not in the offline world. The Bible calls this disconnect an unstable “double-mindedness” (James 1:8, 22-25) – we are trying to be two people, each serving a different master (Matthew 6:24). Not only are we responsible for how we present ourselves online, we’re responsible for what we like and follow. When we see pictures of brothers and sisters sinning and like them, when we click thumbs up to a godless show, or blasphemous musician do we understand what we are telling everyone? Though it may take little thought – just a quick click of the mouse and a friendly like or thumbs up – what we are saying is I agree, I like this, I love this, this is good. Though it seems harmless, this is encouragement. When I sin and someone says good job,they are enabling me. That is not love. That is sinful. It is wicked. We should not condone sin whether online or off. In fact, we should love one another enough to be willing to privately approach and hold our brothers and sisters accountable. Maybe we think this a task better suited to elders. But not all consistory members are on these online forums. They don’t always know what is happening on Facebook or Instagram. And it is not their job to follow every one of us everywhere we go. As brothers and sisters in the Lord, we need to hold each other accountable out of love for each other (Eccl. 4:9-12). And we need to do so out of love for our Lord – the world will get their ideas of Who He is based in large part on how we, his ambassadors, act. Finally, whether we sin in daily life or online, God sees. In a world of both hate and tolerance, filth and fanaticism, we need to be careful not only in how we behave online, but also in what we like, share and post and therefore condone, as well.

News

Saturday Selections - July 27, 2019

Seal bearing name that appears in the Bible was discovered (3 min) It's tiny, but it's big – this recent archeological find is a seal is from the same time period as its namesake and includes a title that would likely match as well. How Matthew Vines turned "you will know them by their fruits" into a justification for homosexuality  When Matthew Vines' book God and the Gay Christian came out in 2014, it didn't seem all that significant – the arguments weren't too different from any liberal Christian text: we need to radically revise what the Church has always agreed on, in this case, homosexuality. But the book has had a big impact in evangelical circles – in circles where folks say they take the Bible as authoritative – convincing many to completely flip their position. So it's worth looking at one of the key arguments in the book, where Vines appeals to what Jesus said in Matt. 7:15-20 about trees bearing bad and good fruit. How kids change dad Science is discovering that after a man has children, his body and brain changes in very different ways than his wife's, which underscores how God really did make us male and female (Gen. 1:27). So, "as Ryan Anderson is fond of saying, there is no such thing as 'parenting.' There’s only mothering and fathering." Defy culture: invite them to your wedding Have you thought about how many of your non-Christian friends, neighbors, co-workers and relatives you can invite to your wedding? Weddings are an opportunity to glorify God and evangelize by reflecting the coming marriage feast. Why it's important to read to our kids Reading with your children regularly sets up an opportunity for cuddling and, equally important, conversations. Chemist's challenge: “Show Me the Chemistry” of the origins of life. “It’s Not There.” (50 min) How did life first come to be? The impression is often given that Darwin answered this question, but he hardly touched it, only offering that it must have happened somehow in "some warm little pond" that had all the right compounds readily available. But there is no evidence for the spontaneous generation that Darwin's theory needs to start things off. As James Tours shows in this, brilliant, often hilarious, and frequently complicated (don't fret if you don't get it all) lecture, what Darwin thought could happen by chance can't even be planned by the most brilliant scientists, with the most fantastic equipment. This hour-long lecture isn't for everyone, but if this is an area of interest, or if you know an arrogant evolutionist or two, then this will be a treat and an encouragement. Presenter James Tours follows the typical Intelligent Design approach of keeping God out of the conversation, and instead adopts the secularist's own worldview ("Science is god") to blow it up ("but your god can't explain the origin of life"). The problem with this approach is that it doesn't take us past the point where we kill their god. Our purpose on Earth isn't to rob false god's of their glory, but rather to give glory to the one true God...and we can't do that if we won't say His Name. That said, James Tour is very clear where he is coming from, and points listeners to God in an indirect way.

CD Review, Parenting

CD REVIEWS: Bach and Beethoven for kids (and adults)

C.S. Lewis once made mention of a man who did not like children. Now some of our dislikes are simply a matter of taste – whether your favorite ice cream is chocolate or vanilla says nothing about your character – but this man recognized that his disregard for little ones was wrong. There is a beauty in little children, a wonder about what God has done in making these tiny new people that everyone really should appreciate. If a man doesn't, it is because of something missing in the man. Lewis was making the point that there is such a thing as good and bad taste – all is not mere opinion. When it comes to classical music I'm like this man. I've never appreciated it, but I recognize this as a deficiency in myself. I should like it. After all, this is music that has stood that test of time. We play Beethoven and Bach's music centuries after it was first written; does anyone think the same will be done for Lady Gaga, Beyonce, or Justin Timberlake? Even those of us who don't like Bach know that in a real tangible way he is better than Beyonce. Since having kids I've hoped that my daughters' musical tastes will be better developed than their dad's. So I was very happy to come across these two CDs: Beethoven Lives Upstairs and Bach Comes to Call. Each is a dramatized account of the composer's life, sprinkled throughout with a liberal dose of their music. In Bach Comes to Call (47 min) Bach appears in modern times, under unexplained circumstances, to a girl who is having a hard time getting her piano homework done. The composer encourages young Elizabeth by telling her the story of his own childhood and musical triumphs. In Beethoven Lives Upstairs (46 min) we are introduced to a little boy who has the misfortune to live below Beethoven's apartment. Beethoven, it turns out, is demanding, short-tempered, and makes the strangest sounds as he paces in his room. The boy airs his complaints to an understanding uncle who teaches the young boy to empathize with this great composer, who hears wonderful music in his head, but who can no longer hear it with his ears. How very frustrating that must be! A couple cautions to note. First, there is a moment in Beethoven Lives Upstairs that might lead to a little tittering. The boy complains that Beethoven was laughed at by little children who, while peering through his window, saw he was composing while wearing no clothes at all! Not a big thing, but it might have been nice to leave that detail out. Second, my wife and I have listened to other CDs and DVDs in this "Classical Kids" series and have yet to find any others we would want to recommend, so don't assume they will all be good. These two, however, are excellent, and a great way to foster a love of classical music in kids, and maybe even their dads.

Science - Creation/Evolution

I believe in theistic evolution

I recently realized I believe in/affirm theistic evolution.  Depending on your perspective, have I sold out or have I finally come to my senses?  Neither.  Let me explain. It has long perturbed me that those who affirm or allow for Darwinian macroevolution to be compatible with a biblical worldview will sometimes call themselves "creationists" or will claim to believe in/affirm biblical creation.  They do this knowing that biblical creation is usually understood to refer to a view that holds to God having created in six ordinary days on a timescale of some thousands (rather than millions or billions) of years ago.  By claiming to believe in creation they lay concerns to rest, whereas all they have really done is disguise their true position. Stephen C. Meyer has helped me to see I could do the same thing with theistic evolution.  Meyer wrote the "Scientific and Philosophical Introduction" to Theistic Evolution: A Scientific, Philosophical, and Theological Critique, a massive volume published in 2017 by Crossway.  He notes that theistic evolution can mean different things to different people, as can "evolution" without the modifier "theistic."  For example, it can refer to common or universal common descent or to the creative power of the natural selection/random variation (or mutation) mechanism.  But evolution can also just simply mean "change over time."  And if one believes that God causes "change over time," then that can be understood as a form of theistic evolution.  With that, Meyer contends, no biblical theist could object (p.40).  He concludes, "Understanding theistic evolution this way seems unobjectionable, perhaps even trivial" (p.41).   So, in the sense of believing or affirming that there is change over time directed by God, I am a theistic evolutionist -- and I suspect you are too! But what's the problem with this?  Let's say I were to (miraculously) get myself invited to a BioLogos conference as a speaker who affirms theistic evolution.  It appears I'm on board with the BioLogos agenda.  The conference organizers are a little doubtful, but I insist that I affirm theistic evolution and they take me at my word and welcome me in their midst.  Then I give a talk where I evidence that I'm actually a six-day creationist who believes Darwinian macroevolution to be a fraud.  "But you said you hold to theistic evolution!"  "Oh, but you didn't ask me what I meant by that.  I believe that God causes change over time -- that's how I'm a theistic evolutionist."  Would anyone blame the conference organizers for thinking me to be lacking in some basic honesty? Integrity is really the heart of the matter.  If I say, "I read a book and I realized I'm a theistic evolutionist," most people will hear that and conclude that I still believe in God, but I also affirm Darwinian evolution.  And that is not an unreasonable conclusion.  Furthermore, what would be my purpose for making such a claim?  Would it be to tell something designed to mislead so as to advance my cause?  Does the end justify the means? If you affirm Darwinian macroevolution as the best explanation for how life developed on earth and you believe God superintended it, then man up and say so.  Honestly say, "I am a theistic evolutionist."   As for me, believing that God created everything in six ordinary days on the order of some thousands of years ago, I will say directly, "I am a biblical creationist" or "six-day creationist," or "young earth creationist."  But let's all be honest with one another. Biblical creationists also have to stop being naive.  Just because someone says they believe in biblical creation doesn't mean they actually believe the biblical account as given in Genesis.  They can fill out those terms with their own meaning.  So we have to learn to ask good questions to ferret out impostors.  Questions like: Do you believe God created everything in six ordinary days some thousands of years ago? Was the individual designated as Adam in Genesis ever a baby creature nestled at his mother's breast? Was the individual designated in Genesis as Eve a toddler at some point in her life? Do you believe it biblically permissible to say that, as creatures, the figures designated in Genesis as Adam and Eve at any point had biological forebears (like parents/grandparents)? What does it mean that God created man from the dust of the earth?

These are the types of questions churches need to be asking at ecclesiastical examinations for prospective ministers.  These are the types of questions Christians schools need to be asking prospective teachers at interviews.  True, even with these sorts of questions, there are no guarantees of integrity, but at least we will have done our due diligence.

Dr. Bredenhof blogs at yinkahdinay.wordpress.com and CreationWithoutCompromise.com where this first appeared. 

Science - Creation/Evolution

Deep Time – the god of our age

Throughout history, human beings have had the tendency to reject their Creator, and replace Him in their lives with gods of their own making. From the Greek and Roman pantheons, to the Egyptian sun-god, people would rather worship a god that they create than the God who created them. Such false gods always have the following characteristics:

  • They are attributed one or more characteristics or powers that belong only to the Living God, especially a power over some aspect of nature.
  • They are given allegiance, worship, or reverence above God in at least some way.
  • They are created either physically or conceptually by man.
  • They are not the Living God, the Creator of all things.

In our modern “educated” world, people often look back at the silliness of the Greek, Roman, or Babylonian gods, as if we are far too sophisticated for such primitive nonsense. But that just isn’t the case. There are many false gods in our modern world; entities that are revered by people above God, and attributed powers that they cannot literally possess. Whether it is the worship of concepts like nature, or power, or physical entities like money, such things should not be respected above God, and they cannot do what God alone can do.

One false god that stands out

But one false god stands out among others today; this god is worshipped and reverenced as the ultimate god of our culture. Many books have been written about him, and dedicated to him. He is the foundation of most modern philosophy and education. What is the ultimate false god of our age? Is it Evolution? No, Evolution is certainly a popular god. But many people doubt Evolution. And in any case, Evolution answers to a higher god – a god who is far more popular and powerful than Evolution: the god Deep Time.

Deep Time is the concept of vast ages of pre-history: the notion that the Earth and universe are billions of years old. It is a popular belief today, and is considered by many people to be the mainstream “scientific” position. Disciples of Deep Time would probably object to the notion that he is a god, or that he is even a person at all. They might say that Deep Time is an academic concept, the conclusion of scientific reasoning – not a person with power. However, by their actions, Deep Time disciples do indeed imbue him with personal characteristics and powers that only a conscious being can possess. Students of logic will recognize this as a reification fallacy. Nonetheless, for this article, we shall honor their beliefs and refer to their god as their actions suggest that we should. Deep Time, as he is commonly followed today, does indeed fit the characteristics of a false god.

1) They attribute to Deep Time a power that belongs only to the Living God

Deep Time has characteristics and powers that belong to God alone. In fact, the parallels are truly amazing!

For example, Deep Time has the power of creation. According to His followers, he has made stars, planets, and galaxies. He has made canyons, and mountains. Deep Time separated the continents and oceans. He has made all living creatures through his servant – Evolution. Indeed, Deep Time took the elements of this world, and from that dust he made man. These are all powers and actions that are rightly reserved for God alone (Nehemiah 9:6, Psalm 33:6, Job 38:4, Psalm 104:5-8, Genesis 1:9-10, Genesis 1:20-25, Genesis 2:7).

But it doesn’t end there. Deep Time is also said to have tremendous power to direct the course of events in the universe. Deep Time creates and destroys species and civilizations at a whim. He gives life and takes it away. He continually shapes the earth as he sees fit – changing deserts to lush gardens, and gardens to deserts. Deep Time existed long before man, and will continue long after man, or so we are told. Again, these are characteristics that are rightly attributed only to God (Acts 17:26, Job 42:2, Isaiah 46:10, Isaiah 45:7, Amos 3:6, Acts 17:25, 1 Timothy 6:13, Job 1:21, Isaiah 51:3, 43:19-20, Genesis 13:10, Deuteronomy 29:23, Genesis 17:1, Deuteronomy 33:27, Isaiah 43:10, Revelation 22:13).

But according to his disciples, nothing is too difficult for Deep Time! He is able to do any miracle! Consider this famous quote from Dr. George Wald:

Time is the hero of the plot. … Given so much time, the impossible becomes possible, the possible becomes probable, the probable becomes virtually certain. One only has to wait; time itself performs the miracles.

Yes, the gradual evolution of dust into people may seem impossible. But with Deep Time, all things are possible! He is the “hero of the plot!” Compare this with the characteristics associated with the biblical God (Matthew 19:26, Jeremiah 32:17).

2) Disciples of Deep Time worship him with reverence and awe

They may deny this with their words, but their actions indicate that they do cherish this god above all others. This makes sense: if indeed Deep Time does have the powers and abilities that his disciples attribute to him, then he should be worshiped. Such worship takes place in the schools and universities, where Deep Time’s wonderful works are praised all the day long.

The worship of Deep Time is found in many a science textbook too. Sandwiched in between the discussions of science will be stories about the amazing feats of Deep Time. A little science here, and an amazing story there. Although Deep Time has nothing to do with science, often the science and the stories are interleaved such that it can be difficult to tell where one begins and the other ends! The mixture makes for an entertaining, though deceptive read.

Devotees take their religion very seriously. Deep Time must not be questioned. That would be sacrilege! Those who fail to worship at the altar of Deep Time are ridiculed, and face being expelled from the classroom. Textbooks that fail to acknowledge the supreme lordship of Deep Time are not likely to be used, or even published. Those who wish to work as professors must swear allegiance to Deep Time and His servant Evolution if they want to be hired.

3) Deep Time is manmade

The concept of vast ages of prehistory is not something that has been revealed to us by the Living God, nor recorded by the history books of men. Rather, it is an invention of man to account for the characteristics of our present world without invoking biblical history. The modern version of Deep Time can be traced back to James Hutton – a medical doctor who lived in the 18th century. His ideas were further popularized by Charles Lyell in the early 19th century. However, this is merely a re-imagining of a much older idea. A number of ancient cultures believed that the Earth was significantly older than the biblical timescale.

4) Deep Time is not the Living God

Deep Time is not an aspect of God, a creation of God, or an ally of God. Deep Time exists only as a concept, created by the mind of men. He has no literal existence. Although his disciples ascribe to him many of the characteristics of the biblical God, it is clear that Deep Time is fundamentally different than the God of the Bible.

The biblical God is love (1 John 4:8). The biblical God is righteous, just, and merciful. He made a perfect world with no pain or death, a world that was corrupted by Adam’s sinful actions. God punishes evil, as any good judge will do. However, God is so full of love and mercy that He has extended forgiveness to all who will trust in Him. He has paid the penalty for their treason by dying on a cross in their place, and will undo the curse of death by resurrecting everyone.

But Deep Time is a cruel, uncaring creator. He creates billions of organisms, only to slaughter them off at a whim. He does not care about justice or love, and is merciless and arbitrary in his judgments. He creates using death and pain, and does not listen to the cries of anguish of his creations. He punishes the innocent along with the guilty, and rewards evil and good alike. There is no forgiveness or mercy to be found in Deep Time – only the certainty of death.

This last characteristic deserves special attention. For the biblical God, death is an enemy that was introduced by Adam’s sin: an enemy that God Himself will destroy (1 Corinthians 15:21, 25-26).

But death is Deep Time’s ally and servant. Evolution works through death. Progress is made incrementally by the slaughtering of billions of creatures, so that one may gain a slight improvement. What a sadistic and inefficient process that Deep Time has chosen! I can only say that I’m grateful to the Living God that Deep Time doesn’t actually exist. What a horrible god he would be!

“You shall have no other gods before Me”

Since Deep Time is so contrary in nature and actions to the God of Scripture, it is disappointing that many Christians attempt to honor and serve both of them. There are those who teach that God used Deep Time to create the universe, in stark contrast to God’s own revelation of creation. They claim that God used billions of years of death and suffering to get the world to be the way He wanted it (apparently unaware that death is an enemy of God, and one that was introduced as a punishment for Adam’s sin.) It’s not that modern Christians want to give up the True God. Rather, they simply want to add another god, one who is contrary in nature and actions to the Living God. Unfortunately, this type of syncretism has been a common failing in God’s people.

Consider the Israelites. Their main struggle was not with giving up God completely, but with adding other gods. They wanted to merge their beliefs with the pagan practices of the day, and worshiped and served the gods of Canaan. This was totally inappropriate, not only because the Canaanite gods are fictitious inventions of the mind, but because God alone deserves our worship and does not tolerate idolatry. In the First Commandment, God states that, “You shall have no other gods before Me.” The phrase translated “before Me” has the meaning of “in my presence.” Scripture is clear: God alone is to be worshiped as God (e.g. Matthew 4:9-10).

Remember reading of Baal? Baal was the Canaanite god of weather and thunder. The Israelites often fell into Baal worship, in violation of the First Commandment. Elijah pointed out their absurd inconsistency in 1 Kings 18:21, “How long will you hesitate between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him.” It was illogical for the Israelites to attempt to serve two contrary gods (and immoral). Are we any different today when we try to add other gods to Christianity?

No man can serve two masters (Matthew 6:24). Those Christians who want to believe in Deep Time along with the biblical God are being dreadfully inconsistent. They may claim that they serve the Lord alone, but by their actions they reveal that Deep Time is their primary god, and the Lord is secondary. We can tell this by the way they handle Scripture. For the Deep-Time-Christian, all Scripture is interpreted in light of the dictates of Deep Time. Thus, Deep Time is primary, and the Scriptures are secondary. Indeed, if the Scriptures were primary, then the individual would have to reject Deep Time as a false god (Exodus 20:3, Isaiah 45:5-6) and fictitious concept (Exodus 20:11)

It can be discouraging to see so many Christians attempting to serve the pagan god Deep Time. It often feels like the Christians who truly stand on God’s Word are so very few. But we should remember that Elijah was discouraged as well. In a time when he was afraid for his life, and thinking that he was the last faithful believer he cried out to God (1 Kings 19:14). But the Lord responded: “Yet I will leave 7,000 in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal and every mouth that has not kissed him.” (1 Kings 19:18). Think of this the next time you are discouraged about the rampant compromise within the Church. How many more Christians has the Lord kept for Himself who have not bowed the knee to Deep Time?

This article was first published on JasonLisle.com and is reprinted here with the permission. Dr. Jason Lisle is the founder of the Bible Science Institute.


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