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Category Archives: Apologetics

Now I Know…

I mentioned in a previous post, that I am involved in a topic study on Open Theism. This post is a result of some of the ongoing reading/discussion:

 

In his book “No Other God”, John Frame argues for an anthropomorphic interpretation of Genesis 22:12 “Then He said, “Do not lay a hand on the boy or do anything to him. For now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your only son from Me.”” To speak anthropomorphically is to use human terminology in regards to God, in order to communicate a meaning, even though the human attribute isn’t true of God. for example, “the right hand of God” would mean God the Father’s power even though we know God the Father is a spirit and doesn’t have a body. Frame’s defense of this, as seems to be typical of him up to this point in his book, is to attack the opposing view instead of substantiating his own. While there is a problem of saying this is anthropomorphic, I would like to point out the problems with Frame’s attempted attack on the Open Theistic interpretation of this passage.

AbrahamIsaac Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2014 in Apologetics, God

 

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God – Personal or The Ultimate Stick in the Mud?

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I am doing a group study on the topic of Open Theism. The group I am in has agreed to read three books (1 pro-Open Theism and 2 pro-Classical Theism): Greg Boyd’s “God of the Possible”, John Frame’s “No Other God”, and Norman Geisler’s “Creating God in the Image of Man?”. While it is difficult for me not to go into detail of all the arguments among the three that I have found convincing or failing, I will resist the temptation. I just want to focus on one from Geisler’s book. Dr. Geisler founds his book on “Aquinian” reasoning (he takes the first 25% of his book to argue for his position in this manner). He uses the philosophical works of Thomas Aquinas to “prove” that God must have certain attributes if He is in fact really God. (This seems odd to me for one who should be letting the God of Scripture be defined by the Scripture He inspired.)

In illustrating how an immutable God can have a genuine relationship with humanity he employs the analogy of a pillar and a man. Dr. Geisler states,

“Thus, when there is a change in the creature there is no change in God. Just as when the man changes his position from one side of the pillar to the other, the pillar does not change; only the man changes in relation to the pillar.” (“Creating God in the Image of Man?” – pg 33)

The pillar is such because it is stationary (representing immutability). This pillar stands there, like a stick in the mud. And this “stick-in-the-mud” pillar is analogous (in Geisler’s mind) to God.

stickinthemudTo Dr. Geisler, this constitutes a genuine relationship between persons. The human relates to the stick, and we describe this relation through prepositions: above, beside, behind, beneath, beyond, around, etc. Geisler argues that when Scripture says God changes, it is not God that actually changes but man’s position to God that has changed. From man’s perspective the stick has changed, but the stick has always been the way it is, it is just the man seeing the stick differently or relating to the stick differently; but the stick has not changed. Aside from the problem that Geisler dismisses these passages as anthropomorphic with the ease of a Jedi mind trick; it affirms that there is no real, personal relationship with God. God does not feel, does not change according to the actions of the beings around Him. If God appears to be angry, it is just because we are on the angry side of God. We need to reposition ourselves to God. The analogy goes like this: If we would relocate ourselves away from the ugly side of the stick over to the bloomingly beautiful side, then to us it would appear the stick has changed. But it hasn’t, for it cannot change, because if the stick were to change then the stick would not be the ultimate stick as it would be somehow affected by man and thus relationally dependent on man. Geisler even states, which is the common view of classical theism, that prayer doesn’t even change God.  He states,

“It is utterly presumptuous for mortal man to believe that their prayer actually changes God. Instead prayer is a means by which God changes us and others.” (“Creating God in the Image of Man?” – pg.87)

The stick must not be affected by anything around it. It is just there, in the mud, unemotional, unmovable. The epitome of a loving relationship, right?

This Harvy Dent view of God is the price one pays to maintain the “classical” view of God. There is no real relationship. There is HarvyDentmerely the immovable, unaffected God that we must play ring-around-the-rosie with in order to stay on His “good side”. An unmoveable deity that speaks to us as if, and acts as if, He changes and is affected by our actions and prayers, but Who is really quite the opposite. A god who is a misleading, immovable, stick in the mud.

That is not the God revealed in Scripture.

That is not the God revealed in Jesus.

 

 
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Posted by on August 9, 2014 in Apologetics, God, Jesus Christ

 

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We Need To Have A Talk

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There are many different points of views within the body of Jesus on a variety of topics; so much so that there is a ton of ink spilled, both from the inkwell and the ink cartridge, than most would care to read in it’s entirety. Some devote their lives to studying it and some of those have begun the task only to give up out of desperation. All this disagreement is within the group who are a family; a group who all is to be following the teachings of one Man – Jesus the Messiah. These disagreements can get pretty nasty at times. But disagreements aren’t just within the group of people who follow the teaching of Jesus, but are also had between those who claim to follow Jesus and those who do not. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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A Brief Look at Ephesians 2:11-22 and short Critique of J.B. Phillips on the passage

Ephesians 2:11-22 is one of the clearest passages in Scripture about the union of Israel and the Gentiles. I find it baffling at how J. B. Phillips tries to work around the “plain reading” of Scripture (something he claims sets him apart from those who would say Israel and the Church are one). While this is by no means an exhaustive commentary on the Ephesian passage, nor an exhaustive critique of Phillips’ work, I would like to take a brief look at the passage as well as some of Phillips’ comments and make a few of my own, and show how the dispensationalismsystem he holds (which has only been around since the 1830’s) is founded on an assumption not Scriptural teaching.

Here is the passage in discussion:

 

11 So then, remember that at one time you were Gentiles in the flesh—called “the uncircumcised” by those called “the circumcision,” which is done in the flesh by human hands.12 At that time you were without the Messiah, excluded from the citizenship of Israel, and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.13 But now in Christ Jesus, you who were far away have been brought near by the blood of the Messiah. 14 For He is our peace, who made both groups one and tore down the dividing wall of hostility. In His flesh, 15 He made of no effect the law consisting of commands and expressed in regulations, so that He might create in Himself one new man from the two, resulting in peace. 16 He did this so that He might reconcile both to God in one body through the cross and put the hostility to death by it.[d] 17 When the Messiah came, He proclaimed the good news of peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. 19 So then you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of God’s household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the cornerstone. 21 The whole building, being put together by Him, grows into a holy sanctuary in the Lord. 22 You also are being built together for God’s dwelling in the Spirit. Ephesians 2:11-22

 

In speaking of vs 12, Phillips says, “prior to the great dispensational change that has now taken place, the only way a Gentile could partake of the spiritual blessings and covenantal benefits of Israel was to become a Jewish proselyte. Gentiles were natural-born aliens and had no part in the great covenantal promises God made to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and David. Cut off from these promises, the Gentiles had no hope and were without God.” He goes on to say that once the gospel came, “Now they [Gentiles] no longer needed to belong to the commonwealth of Israel; they could establish a direct relationship with God themselves.” (Exploring Ephesians and Philippians: An Expository Commentary by John Phillips, pg. 70)

There is much he assumes to be true here, but is found nowhere in this passage, or any other passage. While he is correct in the fact that Gentiles needed to be proselytes to be a part of the Jewish commonwealth and the covenant promises, he seems to fail to realize that at no point in the history of Israel was simply being a blood-born child of Abraham enough to establish a relationship with Jehovah. It was ALWAYS by faith (Romans 9:1-13, 30-33; Hebrews 11:13 to give just two examples). No one was ever privy to a relationship with Jehovah simply because of who their daddy or grandpa was. But Phillips, along with every other dispensationalist, has to assert this type of distinction. Even though there is no textual support for it, they have to keep Israel and the church separate. So you will see, from the above quote and further down, that every time Phillips speaks of the union of the two he is quick to qualify it in some way as to mark it out as a different type of union. (As you will see, he will even go so far as to take natural born Jews out of Israel and have them join the church.) Phillips states that while the Gentiles were separated from the promises of God to Abraham and his descendants, that now Gentiles are joined to God WITHOUT those things. That there is no need to be a part of the commonwealth of Israel. This line of thinking ignores what Paul said at the start of this passage. “At that time you were without the Messiah, excluded from the citizenship of Israel, and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.”

1.Without the Messiah: a distinct promise Israel was waiting on. The Messiah was so united to Israel that He is called “Israel’s consolation” (Luke 2:25, also note Isaiah 61) and when Simeon sees Jesus he refers to Him as bringing glory to Israel. On that same day, Anna (also in the temple) began to tell everyone who was looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem about The Messiah. He was the long awaited promise to Israel (Galatians 3:16).

2. Excluded from the citizenship (commonwealth) of Israel: to be outside of God’s people meant you were outside of God’s covenant promises. Now we know that all those who were born into Israel weren’t all partakers of the covenant to Israel, but there was a remnant of the faithful (I Kings 19:18, Romans 9:6, 9:27-29), but one could not be outside of Israel and partake of the promises. Which leads to the third point.

3. And foreigners to the covenants of the promise: To be outside the commonwealth of Israel was to be outside God’s people, thus a stranger to the covenants of the promise (Genesis 12:7; 13:15; 17:8; 24:7; Galatians 3:16). The promises were to Abraham’s family.

4. without hope and without God in the world: This sums it up. Gentiles were not part of God’s people, we had no claim to the covenants, no claim to The Messiah, we were strangers among God’s people.

BUT! Paul uses a contrasting conjunction here. “But now in Christ Jesus [or Jesus The Messiah]” all that has changed. When the Messiah came, He didn’t just proclaim peace to Israel, but also to the Gentiles. He brought the kingdom to those who were near and far off. Notice the implications this has on us Gentiles. In verse 19, Pauls says, “So then you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of God’s household” We who were outside Israel, are now inside Israel. In other words, we are adopted members into God’s household (Israel). It isn’t that God pulls Jews out of Israel and Gentiles out of the world and make a church apart from Israel, only to eventually go back later and fulfill the promises made to Abraham. Not only is Phillips’ view not taught in this passage, but is contradictory to what is taught. Paul explicitly states that the Gentiles are joined to Israel as God makes this new man. The new man is not just natural born Jews, but Natural born and Unnatural born. Nor is this “new man” something separate from Israel. We see Paul declaring this in Romans 11:11-24 that the natural branches (the physical descendant of Abraham) has been broken off from their OWN tree because they didn’t have faith in their own Messiah while the unnatural branches (the Gentile) is grafted into the Jews OWN tree. It’s not that believing Jews are grafted into a new tree with the believing Gentiles, but that the believing Jews are left in their own tree with the Gentiles being grafted into it. He also states that the Jew can be grafted back into his tree if he/she believes in the prophesied Messiah, but they only need to be grafted in if they were previously cut off due to unbelief).

Pauls also says in Galatians 3:27-28, “27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ like a garment.28 There is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, male or female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, heirs according to the promise.” Being joined to Christ makes me a child of Abraham, which makes me an heir according to the promise given Abraham. There is no separating the covenants of Israel from salvation in Christ.

 

Dispensationalism creates a division within the Scriptures as well as the body of Christ that isn’t there. Jesus is the Jewish Messiah that the OT prophets spoke of. He is the hope that Israel was waiting for. He is the promise Jehovah gave David, the One Moses pointed to, the promised seed of Abraham. You cannot separate the mission of Jesus from Israel. It is clear from the OT and the NT that His very Jewish mission always included adopting the Gentiles into the family (Acts 15:14-18; Amos 9:11-12), and He did just that as we are taught here olive treein Ephesians 2:11-22, as well as in Romans 11, Galatians 3,  and Romans 8:15. Jesus is The Messiah – The Hope and Glory of Israel – and us Gentiles are grafted into that Israelite Olive Tree because of the love and grace of Jehovah! Amen!!

 

 
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Posted by on February 19, 2014 in Apologetics, Church

 

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Stop Bogarting the Bible

bogarttingThe recent debate between (Young Earth Creationist) Ken Ham and (Natural Evolutionist) Bill Nye (“the science guy”) has sparked much conversation, especially within the Christian community. There is diversity on the issue within Christendom as not everyone who believes the Scriptures to be the Word of God is a young earth creationist (YEC). Yet, there is an overwhelming tendency of YEC-ers to “bogart” the Bible. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Dude, You’re Missing The Point!

 

My oldest son was watching this commercial while we were in a restaurant. He had seen it before and he laughed when it came on as he exclaimed, “Look! The commercial where the man is running after the boy like, ‘Hey, Give me my taco back!’” It was obvious that although he had seen this commercial multiple times; and I wanted to say, “Dude, you’re missing the point!” (That wasn’t the time or place.) He was seeing the same things I was seeing, and hearing the same things I was hearing, but the real message was missed by him. Why? Because he didn’t understand the meaning of the phrase, “Her parents came home early”. See, in his world, the real meaning of that phrase doesn’t compute. Due to this he unknowingly supplies his own context and meaning to make sense of the commercial. The thought of two young people engaging in physical contact that would set the daughter’s loving father on the war path never even crosses his mind. So the clear meaning of the commercial is that the grown man came home early and walked in on the kids eating his Taco Bell food, now he is chasing the boy out of the house trying to recover the meal.

   We may laugh, but that is exactly what has happened in many of our churches. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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Posted by on January 16, 2014 in Apologetics, Church, Scripture

 

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Once Saved Always Saved? “BOLOGNA!”, I say:

{This article is a bit lengthy, but I hope not without benefit to the reader.}

There is one question that has been asked by 99.9999999% of professing Christians at some point in their life – “How do I know I’m saved?”. And there are multiple ways we have attempted to answer this question in a biblically comforting way.  Read the rest of this entry »

 

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