Religious

Tom Oord and why evolution is completely incompatible with Sovereign grace.

A few articles ago I made the statement that the theory of evolution contains propositions that are mutually exclusive to Christianity. I want to unpack that here. While I cannot give an exhaustive look at the all the propositions from all the proponents, let me examine a few that I think are somewhat universal. Christian propositions will be labeled with a “C” and Evolutionary ones with an “EV.” In order to be fair to Tom Oord, I will label the theological evolutionary position with “TEV.”

Proposition C1) The Bible is the inerrant word of God.

Proposition C2) God created all things.

Proposition EV1) God does not exist

Proposition EV2) All things came into being mechanistically

Proposition TEV1) Genesis is Allegorical

Proposition TEV2) God created all things with the eventual mechanics of Evolution.

There are multiple hidden propositions in the TEV position but I only need to identify one:

Hidden Proposition TEV1) Genesis is allegorical because (macro) evolution must be true.

Proposition C1 and TEV 1 cannot co-exist unless Genesis is interpreted allegorically. If Genesis is interpreted as having a literal Adam and Eve, a literal Cain and Abel, and a literal Moses, then the world it describes has man and the animals fully formed and functional from their first day of existence. The next question then must be, are there textual markers that suggest Genesis be taken allegorically. Is there a clear limit to the allegory and is it clearly started and ended? In other words, is only Genesis chapter one allegorical? What of chapter 8? What of Exodus and the rest of the books of the Pentateuch?

Genesis is not taken allegorically because the text itself suggests that reading. Now I suppose it could be argued that any story can be allegorical and since the opening Bible narrative reads like a story, it could also be allegorical. However if the Bible is similar to a Suzerainty treaty, which it appears to be in form, an allegorical rendering of the history of God and the creation of man would not make sense.

Genesis appears to be taken that way because Tom Oord and others of his ilk are accepting macroevolution as true a priori. They are insisting that science can somehow posit truth for an un-observable, un-repeatable event and that our understanding of Genesis needs to comport with their view.

Let that sink in for a moment. Science bases it’s truth claims upon the notion of repeatability. How can someone claiming to be a scientist claim true knowledge of a non-repeatable historical event? Oh sure a scientist can examine modern day events and try to extrapolate back with some theory, but they can never know with any degree of certainty what actually happened. It is epistemologically impossible. I repeat it is simply not possible.  I suppose I will be accused of not understanding the nuanced difference of extrapolating modern theory and making historical truth claims, but that is another can of worms.

If we consider the basis for the allegorical reading it is because readers suggest that the Genesis creation narrative doesn’t make sense anymore. Therefore the Genesis  story must be re-ordered to make sense in light of modern science. This presents a different problem. If someone is willing to re-interpret Genesis in light of evolutionary theory, why not the Gospels and Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection? To arbitrarily claim that science is authoritative in one area is to claim it in all, or be logically inconsistent. So when a scientist argues that human sexual disorders are natural, then we must re-interpret the Apostle Paul. We can’t accept one and reject the other.

Materialism and its account of evolution are completely incompatible with Christianity, the theory of humanity and God. I doubt any Atheist or humanist scholar would disagree with that statement.

Theological Evolution, in trying to compromise the the contradictory views, arbitrarily turns chapters into allegory so as to not feel ashamed of the crazy things the Bible teaches. It is a Gospel issue inasmuch as it is an authority issue. Either God is correct in his account or the faux-science of Tom Oord is.

Why can’t we all just get along?

Paul Opposes Peter (ESV)

11 But when Cephas came to Antioch, I opposed him to his face, because he stood condemned. 12 For before certain men came from James, he was eating with the Gentiles; but when they came he drew back and separated himself, fearing the circumcision party. 13 And the rest of the Jews acted hypocritically along with him, so that even Barnabas was led astray by their hypocrisy. 14 But when I saw that their conduct was not in step with the truth of the gospel, I said to Cephas before them all, “If you, though a Jew, live like a Gentile and not like a Jew, how can you force the Gentiles to live like Jews?”
The church, at least the churches I am witness to, often seem to fall into the same patterns of human error. The above scripture and context sheds light on many important truths. I do not consider myself a Bible scholar by any means, and therefore welcome reproof if I am in error, but let me tease out some basic truths here.
  • 1) (v11) Love opposes those who stand condemned. It is the duty of brothers to protect each other. Paul stepped in, not because he had a bone to pick, nor a grudge to avenge, nor because he desired Peter’s seat. Paul stepped in to save Peter, not overthrow him or cast him down in some misguided attempt to magnify himself.
  • 2. (v14) The crime was done in public by a leader, therefore the rebuke was also done in public, for the benefit of all. It is tempting to suggest that Paul should have went to Peter first in private. This would seem more loving would it not? Paul doesn’t mention such a prior occurrence but perhaps it went down. Since he doesn’t mention it, it is safe to conclude that either such an occurrence either didn’t happen, or it was so unsuccessful as to not even merit mentioning.
  • 3. (v13) The crime led others astray. The burden of leadership is that the leader’s mistakes are often compounded by the mistakes of those he leads astray. In this case Peter had, by influence alone, convinced others of the correctness of his error. Paul, a fellow leader, was acutely aware of the responsibility Peter bore for the sin he was leading an entire congregation to commit.
So from these basic observations in the text, I would like to draw some conclusions:
  1.  Leaders must hold themselves to higher standard and must swiftly and demonstrably be refuted when in error to prevent their errors from spreading.
  2.  A loving rebuke is virtually indistinguishable from an unloving one. If we did not have Paul’s motivations written down in hindsight, we would not be able to see any of his motivations. This would leave us free to assume what we would about his reasons for rebuke. Peter himself had no insight as to Paul’s motivations, only to the words that Paul spoke.
          I want to focus on the second conclusion and what it means for me (and you). It is not my responsibility to consider the source of reproof to determine their motivation. In other words, when someone reproves me, I need to listen to their words, judge them for any truth they might hold and repent regardless of that person’s motivations. Allow me to illustrate:
          Let us imagine that Peter, upon hearing Paul’s reproof, grew angry with Paul. What if, instead of repenting of this error, he leveled charges back at Paul assuming Paul wanted his position of power and influence. Now let us also assume that such an assumption was correct. Let’s assume Paul only wanted Peter’s job, and because of that desire is leveling charges that while true, are still hurtful sounding. The truth of the charges still stand despite Paul’s evil motivation! If Peter were to dismiss Paul’s charges then who would be most at fault here? Paul would be wrong due to his motivation, but Peter would be even more liable because, upon hearing the truth, he rejected it in favor of his own sinful view.
          I have heard supposedly “Christian” leaders use many excuses to simply reject truth once offered. Many times the truth was rejected because the leader leveled the charge of “unloving rebuke” or some variation of that idea at the person refuting their viewpoint. Such a charge cannot ever be made in full knowledge because, as I pointed out earlier, a loving rebuke is virtually indistinguishable from an unloving one. The only people who truly know if they are loving in their rebuke or not is the one doing the rebuking.
          If you are the target of rebuke, it is your duty to dismiss misgivings about the person who brought the rebuke and examine the charges with the scriptures to see if they are indeed correct. Human pride is the full-fledged enemy of such introspection. Notice what happened when the truth was revealed as you read farther. Peter’s response was not what many people would have. He repented of the sin he had found in his own motivation. He didn’t throw the baby out with the proverbial bathwater. If an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ is not above reproof, how much less an under-sheperd? Or laymen such as myself?

Hate the bride? You probably don’t know the groom.

Here’s the article Follow Link

So yet another complaint against the church purporting to show us why [post-modern] millennials are leaving the church en masse. As you read the article you may notice that certain thoughts come out. We want this, we don’t want that. We want genuine worship, but we don’t want exclusivity. We want integrity, we don’t want cool. We want, we want, we want…

As the article progresses, what begins as a harmless view of the preferred aesthetics of the millenials morphs into something else. You clearly can recognize some of the author’s own theological views as they start to color the piece. A child of post-modernism, Rachel Held Evans is heavily invested in ideas like inclusivism, tolerance, etc. Consider this quote:

Recent research from Barna Group and the Cornerstone Knowledge Network found that 67 percent of millennials prefer a “classic” church over a “trendy” one, and 77 percent would choose a “sanctuary” over an “auditorium.” While we have yet to warm to the word “traditional” (only 40 percent favor it over “modern”), millennials exhibit an increasing aversion to exclusive, closed-minded religious communities masquerading as the hip new places in town.

Notice the last sentence in her statement and ask, is her conclusion consistent with the data she just used? The “data” does not mention any measurement of “exclusive” or “close-minded.” That’s her insertion. If the words “close-minded” or “exclusive” are used in the research cited, I could not find them. Granted I read through the Barna Group findings somewhat quickly. Since this isn’t the only instance of her theology leaking out into the article perhaps it will be sufficient to show one more example. Consider her following words:

 When I left church at age 29, full of doubt and disillusionment, I wasn’t looking for a better-produced Christianity. I was looking for a truer Christianity, a more authentic Christianity: I didn’t like how gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people were being treated by my evangelical faith community.

Why mention the LGBT crowd at all? It seems that the context is forming up to be that people who stand firm in their rejection of the LGBT lifestyle as normative are close-minded and exclusive and that is a very very bad thing. In fact it is the one thing that can drive off these millenials whom you so desperately need to keep up your church attendance. The following is the most explicit conclusion she makes:

In other words, a church can have a sleek logo and Web site, but if it’s judgmental and exclusive, if it fails to show the love of Jesus to all, millennials will sniff it out. Our reasons for leaving have less to do with style and image and more to do with substantive questions about life, faith and community. We’re not as shallow as you might think.

If young people are looking for congregations that authentically practice the teachings of Jesus in an open and inclusive way, then the good news is the church already knows how to do that. The trick isn’t to make church cool; it’s to keep worship weird.

The words inclusive and exclusive leave no doubt as to the theological bent the author is coming from.

My search has led me to the Episcopal Church, where every week I find myself, at age 33, kneeling next to a gray-haired lady to my left and a gay couple to my right as I confess my sins and recite the Lord’s Prayer. No one’s trying to sell me anything. No one’s desperately trying to make the Gospel hip or relevant or cool. They’re just joining me in proclaiming the great mystery of the faith — that Christ has died, Christ has risen, and Christ will come again — which, in spite of my persistent doubts and knee-jerk cynicism, I still believe most days.

One need not be an Episcopalian to practice sacramental Christianity.

Apparently one need not be repentant of one’s sins either. Is there nobody in this church who understands that communion cannot be had between practicing sinners and the redeemed? At this point I must conclude that the author who began to describe to us statistic based preferences of millenials is now trying to slip in her own ideas while claiming the authority of the prior data. In other words, she has found a soapbox to slip in her ideas and preach inclusiveness while feigning the benign matter of just informing us what millenials prefer aesthetically.

But I believe that the sacraments are most powerful when they are extended not simply to the religious and the privileged, but to the poor, the marginalized, the lonely and the left out. This is the inclusivity so many millennials long for in their churches, and it’s the inclusivity that eventually drew me to the Episcopal Church, whose big red doors are open to all — conservatives, liberals, rich, poor, gay, straight and even perpetual doubters like me.

This young lady would never be satisfied until she found a church made in her own image. She cannot love the God of the Orthodox church and the Bible because quite frankly she doesn’t know Him. The God she is describing above is of her own design, not that of Scripture. If she does not know God, she cannot love God. If she cannot know God, she cannot recognize his true church (or those who are in it). Her spirit cannot bear witness because it is ill-informed and lacking knowledge. Therefore her lack of love for the bride is only the symptom of the larger problem.

Therefore while I am encouraged that there is a return to traditional worship and sacramental Christianity, I fear that it is only due to aesthetics and not out of an honest search for the truth about God. It seems that the “hip” thing is to be “anti-hip” and that is just another fad that will pass away.