Aug 16, 2008

Thank God For Evolution

Another blog I read brought to my attention today the book Thank God For Evolution, a book which supposedly preaches the idea that evolution and creation can coexist, that the two are not mutually exclusive, and that any Christian who believes in God and Jesus can also believe in evolution...just not the liberal evolution most biologists hold to, but instead a form of evolution that basically says the universe is evolving in some grand way through evolution.

I was curious, so I began to search online for reviews and impressions of the book, and even stumbled across the author's blog.

Then through another blog, I discovered this quote from the author:

"I cannot agree that “Jesus as God’s way, truth, and life” means that only those Christians who believe certain things about Jesus or the Bible get to go to a special otherworldly place called heaven when they die. I used to believe that, but I don’t anymore. In hindsight, I see that my old belief cheapened, belittled, and impoverished the universal glory of the Gospel. What Jesus’ life and ministry were actually about is far larger and more meaningful, and offers more this-world relevance, than my old clannish, contracted “we win, you lose” understanding. More, one need not be a Christian, nor ever have read the Bible, in order to walk what is, effectively, the same path we Christians aspire to—the same “one way”to a realized, redemptive life of fulfillment and service in this world, here and now, while simultaneously blessing future generations."

John 14:6 says "Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me."

Anything less than that is not Christianity, not the gospel, and certainly not in line with a Creationist viewpoint. Anyone who denies that basic truth is not a Christian, pure and simple.

Just as with the currently celebrated fictional book The Shack, I am still curious what exactly the author has to say in this piece. But I'd warn anyone who wants to read either book to go into it knowing exactly what not only the author really believes, but also what the Bible has to say. And remember, the Bible is our authority, first and foremost.

Here's something else I discovered on the author's website:

Until churches in America teach and preach evolution enthusiastically, in ways that expand and enrich faith, the battle over teaching evolutionary science in public schools will never end. One of the goals of Thank God for Evolution is to assist religious believers in letting go of attachment to literal interpretations of their otherworldly, supernatural sacred stories/myths in order to wholeheartedly embrace an evidential, empirical worldview. Surely, this turn needs to happen in order for radically diverse religious people to cooperate in service of a just and sustainable future. Anyone who believes that we can achieve a healthy future for planet Earth and its species without billions of religious people being commited to it is simply not thinking clearly.

An interesting fact about the author: his wife is an atheist.

Use discernment.

Aug 7, 2008

How did Jude quote Enoch?

One of the side effects of me choosing a new Bible translation to read through has been an increased interest in Biblical study. I've been reading the Word a lot more recently, trying to go more deeply too. Every day I seem to see something new and cool, whether its a piece of end times theology, some insight into a misunderstood part of the Deity, or just something unique that catches my eye.

Tonight, one of those "eye-catchers" got me. Jude 14-16.

14 It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, 15 to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” 16 These are grumblers, malcontents, following their own sinful desires; they are loud-mouthed boasters, showing favoritism to gain advantage.

For those don't know, Enoch is one of the first people mentioned in the Bible, the "seventh from Adam" as it says above. Specifically, Genesis 5:18-24.

18 When Jared had lived 162 years he fathered Enoch...

21 When Enoch had lived 65 years, he fathered Methuselah. 22 Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah 300 years and had other sons and daughters. 23 Thus all the days of Enoch were 365 years. 24 Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him.

Verse 24 could also be translated, "was not found." Meaning that Enoch did not die; God brought him into heaven. In a moment, Enoch was walking on the earth, and the next moment, he was just gone; not dead, but in the prescence of God. In all of Scripture, this has only happened to two people, Enoch and Elijah. (Bruce once pointed out to me that Hebrews 9:27 says that "It is appointed to men once to die, and after that the judgement...", which then raises the question as to when Enoch and Elijah will die and face the judgement we will all face.)

The Book of Jude was written roughly 69 A.D., yet Enoch lived on this earth roughly 3100 B.C. That's a heck of a time difference. So how did Jude know what Enoch used to say back then? We don't have any other records of what Enoch might have said, how did Jude find out?

My guess is that it was the Holy Spirit. And Jude had no prior knowledge of what Enoch might have said before he wrote it down.

And on a related note...what is he talking about? Surely there weren't many false teachers in Enoch's day; the earth was essentially Godless anyway, no need of false teachers, plus it's not like there were tens of thousands living.

A hunch? Enoch was prophesying about the upcoming Millennial reign of event which still hasn't happened yet.

Crazy stuff.

Oh, and a side WOW moment: Jude 5

5 Now I want to remind you, although you once fully knew it, that Jesus, who saved a people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.

Can that be any clearer? It was JESUS who brought the Jews out of Egypt! It was JESUS power as GOD that did it!

If the Jews can be used as an example of a Christian's walk with God, then it was also Jesus who saved us from our sin, regenerated us clean in the "Red Sea", led us into the wilderness where we learned to rely on Him and cast off sin, and eventually lead us into the promised land of His riches and blessings!

I realize a New Testament passage out of Jude won't convince any Jews that Jesus is their Messiah, but for us believers already, this is powerful stuff!


Andrew Murray - The Indwelling Spirit

This hit me really hard tonight. Really hard.

"The first step on the way to true spirituality is faith. We must seek the living, all-consuming conviction that the Holy Spirit is in us; that He is the power of God dwelling and working within us, that He is the representative of Jesus, making Him present within us as our Redeemer King, mighty to save. In the union of a holy fear and reverence before the tremendous glory of this truth of an indwelling God, with the childlike joy and trust of knowing Him as the Paraclete, the bringer of the divine and irrevocable presence of Christ, this thought must become the inspiration of our life: The Holy Spirit has made His home within us; in our spirit is His hidden, blessed dwelling place."


Side note - I really need to study the Paraclete more.

Aug 3, 2008

Quick Study of Bible Translations

Since it has been brought to my attention that a few people don't know why I was looking for a new Bible, because some people believe that a Bible is simply just a Bible, any one will do...I thought I'd point out a few different things.

First off, the Bible is not simply just THE Bible. There is actually a difference between Catholic and Protestant Bibles. The main difference is that the Catholic Bible has extra books not found in the Protestant Bible. These books are known as the Apocrypha books. For various reasons these books are not considered Scripture, but can still be beneficial to readers. They are just not the inspired word of God.

Since I'm Protestant, I'll focus a little more on common Protestant Bibles.

The first thing to keep in mind is that the Bible was written by many different authors over many centuries, and yet they all flow together and were all inspired by the Holy Spirit. That's one of the main reasons we know that the Bible is the inspired word of God. The Bible was written in three languages: Hebrew, Greek, and a small bit of Aramaic (the Book of Daniel). We do not have ANY of the original texts; all we have are copies and translations. From the sheer multitude of versions we have, we are able to determine exactly what the originals said; there might be some variations, but if we have 3 manuscripts, and 2 agree, odds are the original was in line with those 2.

There have been various "authoritative" texts throughout time, such as the Latin Vulgate and others. Jesus himself used a translation and not the original texts. He used the commonly accepted Scriptures at the time. In the last few hundred years, we have our own translations of the original texts. I'm going to go over a few of them, but not all.

King James Version. Some would call this the "Authorized" version...all that means is that King James authorized it's translation way back in 1611. Jesus didn't authorize this version, just some English monarch. Many will claim that the King James is the only Bible worth reading, that all other versions are demonic and heretical. The funny thing that these people don't realize is that the KJV they are reading is the 11th or 12th version; the original original sounded more like Shakespeare.

When it comes to the KJV, I have a hard time accepting KJV Only people as Christians. That might be a hold over from the days I was surrounded by legalistic people, but I still have my doubts. I respect people who prefer it over other translations, but the instance they start saying that it is the ONLY inspired word of God, I just have to laugh at them.

Funny cartoon about it.

New King James Version. I have not read this one extensively, but it reads very similar to the KJV but without all the "thees" and "thous". Still pretty high English and hard to read at times, though. Expect to be doing your own translations on the fly for this one.

New Internation Version. This is the version I read the most growing up, this and the KJV; KJV was at church and school, and the NIV was what I read at home. Very readable, it's been the favorite of many over the years, yet it also is one of the more controversial for various reasons.

The Living Bible. A paraphase, this is not a translation of the Bible. It is similar to The Message, in that someone is trying get thoughts and ideas across; saying what Jesus meant to say rather than what Jesus really said, for example.

The New Living Bible. This is actually a true translation that reads similar to the Living Bible or The Message, but is closer to the originals. Very readable, it's a great translation for devotions, but not really suited for traditional Bible study.

New Revised Standard Version. Sometimes hailed as the "Gender Neutral Bible", this one is 'free from man-made theological viewpoints', as my professor used to say. I like to call this the "liberal Bible" because of the many liberal theologians that perfer it. It's a VERY literal translation, very wooden, hard to understand at times.

English Standard Version. The latest translation on this list, this is the Bible I have decided to start reading extensively from the most. It's a very readable translation, and also the most faithful to the originals that also try to utilize all modern English. It's not awkward to read at all, I'm really enjoying it!

So that's a brief reason why looking for a new Bible is a complicated affair. Not only do you need to choose what translation you want, but you have to look for different features too, such as a concordance, illustrations, maps, etc.

Hence, I decided to get a ESV Study Bible. It's on order and will be delivered to me when printed. Here's a link, I believe I ordered the ESV Literary Study Bible.

Any questions? I could talk more at length on this subject, this was the bare minimum.