Showing posts with label Genesis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Genesis. Show all posts

Sunday, September 24, 2023

Broken Window Sins

All sins create distance between man and God.

Still, even before the sun rises tomorrow, the proud man can stick a pin in his swollen ego; the narcissist can begin to learn empathy; the drunkard can put the bottle down before his liver finally packs it in; the liar can start telling the truth; and the thief can commit himself to making his victims whole. John the Baptist taught wholesale, on-the-spot lifestyle modification to all he baptized. When you just stop doing certain things and start doing the opposite, all kinds of wonderful stuff can happen.

Then there are the “broken window” sins.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

What Does Your Proof Text Prove? (25)

Earlier this month Josh Butler wrote a post called “Sex Won’t Save You” for the Gospel Coalition site that stirred up something of a ruckus. The link above is to an archived version; yes, the ruckus was sufficient to get it deleted, to cause Butler to resign from his position as a fellow with the Keller Center, and to cancel his appearance at an upcoming Gospel Coalition event. Such are the times in which we live.

The status of Butler’s forthcoming Multnomah book Beautiful Union, from which the article was an excerpt, should probably be regarded as “formerly forthcoming”, at least from its original publisher.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Try Reading It First

From the department of “Let’s actually open our Bibles and read before we start preaching”, here’s Matt Chandler on Adam and Eve:

“What happens is the Serpent deceives Eve with Adam standing right there. Eve takes the apple, believing the lie of the Serpent, takes a bite of the fruit, and then hands it to her passive idiot husband, who also takes a bite.

Do you know who God blames for sin introducing itself into the cosmos? Adam. Because he had the role of spiritual headship, of covering and protection. He didn’t step up. He did the spiritual equivalency of, ‘Go check it out, baby.’ ”

This is so … NOT what actually happened.

Thursday, August 04, 2022

The Mythical Native

So you’re speaking to someone about the gospel. And suddenly he gets that ironic glint in his eye. He folds his arms, steps back and says, “Well, what about the people who have never heard? What about people not born in Christian cultures, or even in cultures with some other religion? Hey, what about the native on some remote South Sea island, who has never even seen a white person and knows nothing about Western culture? If you have to believe the gospel to be saved, then isn’t that poor guy going to hell? And how is that fair? After all, he never even had a chance.”

He smiles smugly at you, confident you won’t be able to field that one. And you stumble.

Wednesday, July 06, 2022

Revisiting Lot’s Wife

“But Lot’s wife, behind him, looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.”

Wow. That’s a bit harsh, don’t you think?

As a child, I certainly did. That image stuck in my head: righteous family fleeing from a condemned city, scrambling frantically for the shelter of the little town of Zoar, as instructed by angels. Then sulfur and fire begin falling from heaven.

And … poof! The wife takes one fleeting glance over her shoulder and gets incinerated.

Was God looking to make a point or something? As a believing youngster, I found it more than a little scary. And it raised very practical and personal questions, like “Is this sort of instant, inescapable judgment the type of thing I can expect from God if I slip up?”

Maybe, but a few of my assumptions as a child appear to have been a little off.

Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Acts of Faith That Aren’t

Some things in my life that might look like faith to the uninitiated are really just me being me.

I’m not alone in this. Like many other Old Testament saints, Jacob’s faith rates a mention in Hebrews 11. But it’s interesting to see the act of faith for which he is commended, and to consider the many acts for which he is not.

It would, of course, be foolish to think the Hebrews list of acts of faith is exhaustive: the writer concludes with the words “time would fail me to tell”, which statement strongly implies numerous acts of faith left unmentioned among which may well be a number of Jacob’s.

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

Things Hidden in Darkness

Reuben was Jacob’s firstborn. He was named by his mother in hope that his existence in the world would be a turning point in her relationship with her husband, who had eyes only for her more-attractive sister. But now that Leah had given Jacob a son, perhaps finally she would be loved.

As one might anticipate, that optimistic gesture turned out to be futile. Leah’s hopes were dashed.

Did young Reuben resent the way his father treated his mother? Come on, a firstborn son? We feel responsible for everything that happens to everybody. That’s just the dynamics of birth order. It would have been impossible for him to grow up unaware of the ever-present tension between his mother and her sister, or of the lack of interest his father displayed in Leah. No, Reuben was right in the middle of all the family intrigue.

Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Two Camps

Jacob was a natural manipulator. Born the second of a pair of twins, he came out of his mother’s womb hanging on to Esau’s heel. That makes sense: why expend your own effort when you can just ride along in big brother’s slipstream? That act, probably completely unconscious, defined him and became his name, and “grasping the heel” became a Hebrew metaphor for taking the easy way out.

Cheating, we call it. And Jacob did it over and over again.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Candles and Flags

“So Lot went out and said to his sons-in-law, who were to marry his daughters, ‘Up! Get out of this place, for the Lord is about to destroy the city.’ But he seemed to his sons-in-law to be jesting.”

On the bright side, at least Lot didn’t have to start with an explanation of who “the Lord” was. He had at least that much of a testimony: that he was a worshiper of Yahweh, as opposed to whatever god or gods were worshiped in Sodom, where he had rather unwisely made his home.

Evidently his prospective sons-in-law knew that much about him.

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Happy Accidents

My college painting teacher had a name for improbable color choices or brushstroke combinations that gave a pleasing and unexpectedly-mature aesthetic to student-level work.

He called them “happy accidents”.

Most often he was correct. Sometimes things happen at random that just work.

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

Second-Hand Christians

“So Abram went, as the Lord had told him, and Lot went with him.”

Lot wasn’t Abram. The Lord didn’t speak to Lot directly as he had spoken to Abram. The Lord didn’t “appear to” Lot.

Abram went; Lot went with. Abram went as the Lord had told him; Lot went as Abram told him.

Sunday, August 08, 2021

Bible Study 06 — Comparison [Part 6]

Another instalment in the re-presentation of our 2013-2014 series about studying the Bible using methods deduced from the Bible itself. The series introduction can be found here and parts 1 through 5 can be found herehere, here, here and here.

The first Bible study tool we are discussing is comparison, specifically comparison of words and phrases in the original language.

Wednesday, August 04, 2021

Bible Study 05 — Comparison [Part 5]

Another instalment in the re-presentation of our 2013-2014 series about studying the Bible using methods deduced from the Bible itself. The series introduction can be found here.

The first Bible study tool we are discussing is comparison, specifically comparison of words and phrases in the original language.

Tuesday, August 03, 2021

Bible Study 04 — Comparison [Part 4]

Another instalment in the re-presentation of our 2013-2014 series about studying the Bible using methods deduced from the Bible itself. The series introduction can be found here.

The first Bible study tool we are discussing is comparison, specifically comparison of words and phrases in the original language.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

They Shall Become One Flesh

At work a few weeks ago, the old phrase “one flesh” came up in conversation. I can’t remember how exactly, but I think it had something to do with the low priority modern married couples often place on the husband-wife relationship in comparison to the parent-child relationship. Sadly, we all know people whose emotional attachment to their children or parents greatly exceeds their loyalty and commitment to their own partner.

In our highly atomized age, the concept of two individuals becoming mystically united seems exotic, even unrealistic, to many. So what does it mean? Does “one flesh” merely refer to the sex act itself? Does it refer to the cooperative production of the fruit of marriage, children? Can two people really function as one person?

Monday, May 10, 2021

Anonymous Asks (144)

“Did God make any promises to Abraham that remain unfulfilled?”

I count 40 separate promises to Abraham made over the course of seven chapters and a period of (very approximately) 40 years.

How about that.

Mileage May Vary

Your mileage will certainly vary, for a number of reasons. For example, promises #3 and 4 could be considered a single compound promise if you like, but since they affect two distinct groups of people and could each stand alone, I am reading them as two separate promises.

Tuesday, March 09, 2021

Burning Sons

God commanded Abraham to offer his son Isaac as a burnt offering on a mountain in Moriah. Most of us know the story very well.

And yet over the generations since the account was written down, readers continue to express outrage and doubt, both about the character of a God who would make such a demand, and especially about the character of any man who would comply with it. Even Søren Kierkegaard had great difficulty with the passage, referring to the act as an “ethical rupture”. More recently, James Goodman writes, “Could there be better evidence that God is a tyrant, Abraham a sycophant and Isaac an utterly abused child?”

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Too Clever For Their Own Good

Far too often the mere existence of a biblical record of how fallible, sinful men behave is taken as evidence of what God prefers.

That’s a mistake, whether it is done by unbelievers attacking the character of God and the morality of his instructions, or by believers looking to the frequently sub-optimal choices of Old Testament patriarchs for their standards of acceptable Christian behavior.

We can and should learn moral lessons from history, of course, but it is foolish to go beyond what is actually written. When we do, we are often being too clever for our own good.

Tuesday, October 06, 2020

Walking Before God

When Abraham, who was still called Abram at the time, was in his hundredth year on this planet, God appeared to him. He gave him a rather daunting challenge: “Walk before me,” God said, “and be blameless.”

Many good things would come of this. Years later, when Abraham was “well advanced in years” and the fulfillment of God’s promises to him was apparent, the patriarch would speak to his servant of “the Lord, before whom I have walked”.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Out of Sight, Out of Mind

My youngest son has an amazing memory for detail. If you play him a song he’s familiar with, he can tell you when he first heard it — year, month and sometimes day — where we were and what we were doing at the time, and probably what video game was released that week.

I, on the other hand, can go back into the ComingUntrue archives, read a two-year-old post, and wonder “Who wrote that?”

It was usually me.

Tuesday, July 07, 2020

Out in the Woods

Van life proponent and pseudonymic woodsman Foresty Forest comments on some well-known people’s conjectures about the nature of reality, and his own motivation for wandering the mountains and valleys of the more obscure parts of Canada:

“Elon Musk, who thinks that reality is all just a simulation ... what kind of processing power would you need to model all these rocks, texture-map them ... what kind of computer would you need for that? That’s the question.

I started losing interest in gaming, and getting into real life adventures.”

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

The New Creationism

I’ve gotten far too used to seeing creationists adopt a more or less defensive posture, taking issue with what purports to be intelligent criticism from a scientific perspective, but usually amounts to nothing more than derisive sniping. The non-scientific media relentlessly harangue creationists over views they haven’t read and don’t understand in favor of secular views they also haven’t read and couldn’t coherently articulate in any case.

These apologetics are of some limited use; however, because they are almost completely defensive, they cannot do much to rehabilitate — let alone popularize — the creationist position in the public sphere.

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

More Than One Blessing

“Have you but one blessing, my father?”

Mature Christians will tell you the answer to every problem in life is Christ. They are not wrong. The most complex interpersonal disasters, the most dysfunctional families, the biggest crimes and misdemeanors and all the fallout that comes from them — in one way or another, Jesus Christ is the answer to all these things.

When you have smashed all the dishes, Christ is the answer. But he will not mend them for you and put them back on the shelf. When you have blown up your marriage, Christ is the answer. But he may not magically transform your ex-husband into your best friend. When you have raised an ungrateful, spoiled, crazy child, Christ is definitely the answer. The child may still decide to go to hell.

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Testing, Testing ...

“After these things God tested Abraham ...”

Once upon a time — okay, it was tenth grade actually — I wrote world’s worst exam. I doubt the test itself was unusually difficult, but I was uniquely ill-prepared to write it, having spent the first few months of my Fall semester reading novels in math class and ignoring my homework assignments with impeccable consistency. I had done so well in Grade 9 math that I had acquired the mistaken notion that paying attention to the course material was optional, and that I could figure it all out if and when I needed to.

Apparently it isn’t, and I couldn’t. I turned in the exam with exactly one line filled in: my name.

That was the tiniest bit embarrassing.

Monday, July 01, 2019

Anonymous Asks (47)

“How did people stay alive so long back in the Old Testament?”

If we are going to consider how it was that people were able to live to exceptional ages in the early chapters of Genesis (930 years for Adam, 912 for Seth, 969 for Methuselah, which is the highest recorded, and so on), we had better first ask the question, “Did they really?”

After all, some Bible students believe they did not. I think they’re wrong, but we should at least let them weigh in.

Monday, May 20, 2019

Anonymous Asks (40)

“In Genesis, Adam and Eve leave the garden and cities are already there and other people. Please explain.”

This is definitely something you have been told, not something you have observed for yourself. I can say that with confidence because it’s quite wrong, and even a quick and dirty scan-read of the first chapters of Genesis should not leave a reader with that impression.

Sunday, May 12, 2019

The Religious Flesh

“It is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. For this is what the promise said: ‘About this time next year I will return, and Sarah shall have a son.’ ”

Fruit is often used both in the Bible and elsewhere as a metaphor for children, and with good reason. You don’t need to be a geneticist to observe that the fruit of a tree carries in it the nature of the tree on which it grows, and expresses that nature to the world in the next generation. Or at least it should. Real-world results with human beings vary, as we have all observed.

Turnabout being fair play, perhaps you will excuse me using children as a metaphor for fruit. Well, metaphorical fruit at least.

Sunday, May 05, 2019

Persecution and Wrath

A great number of Christians believe the Church will go through the Great Tribulation.

Reasons for this vary. For some it’s all about heavenly trumpets: how many there are, and when they sound. For others, the teaching of the apostle Paul that the godly “shall suffer persecution” and the words of the Lord himself that “in the world you will have tribulation” tip the scales in favor of a Church that will suffer through the end times along with the world. Others compare the order of events in John’s Revelation visions with the future described by the Lord Jesus in the gospels, leading them to anticipate martyrdom like so many of our fellow believers throughout history. Still others believe the doctrine of the Rapture originated in the 16th century counter-reformation teaching of Papal Rome, and therefore consider it discredited.

All these are arguments from detail.

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

When Our Number Is Up

“Then Israel summoned his strength and sat up in bed.”

The book of Hebrews tells us that when Jacob rallied his strength to bless Joseph’s children, it was an act of faith; and not only an act of faith, but one worthy of mention alongside Abraham’s near-sacrifice of Isaac, the crossing of the Red Sea and the fall of the walls of Jericho.

I’m not quite sure how to picture this scene, but it is the last act of a very old man who has come a very long way with God. At the beginning of chapter 48, Israel summons his strength and sits up on his deathbed to give his benediction. Probably he swings his legs down to the floor, sitting on the edge of the bed. When he finishes, at the end of chapter 49, he pulls his legs back into bed and breathes his last.

Job done. Quite the way to go, when you think about it.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Blessing and Judgment

“Gather yourselves together, that I may tell you what shall happen to you in days to come.”

“Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.”

One day, fellow Christian, you and I will be gathered together to hear what will happen to us in days to come. What will your reward be for the things done in the body and your service rendered to Christ? What will be my role in the millennial kingdom of Jesus Christ and in the New Jerusalem for eternity?

These are not irrelevant questions. Eternity is not some giant golf course.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Five Times as Much

“Benjamin’s portion was five times as much.”

The Spirit of God frequently uses Old Testament characters to depict aspects of the person and work of the coming Messiah. To list only a few, Adam, Abel, Melchizedek, Isaac, Moses, David, Solomon and Jonah may all be compared in one way or another to the Lord Jesus Christ. Just in case we miss them, the writers of the New Testament (and sometimes Jesus himself) draw our attention to these pictures or “types”.

Joseph is generally considered a better type in that his character and experiences are more “on-model” than, for instance, Jonah or Adam. Numerous similarities may be observed between Joseph and the Lord Jesus. This chart lists 27, but the accompanying article suggests there may be as many as 100. Not only that, but it is generally held that that there are no moral missteps in Joseph’s record which would serve to ruin the sterling comparison.

Or so I have always been taught.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Relative Righteousness

“She is more righteous than I …”

Judah’s wife had died. He wasn’t exactly a young man at this point, but as they say today, “He had needs.” The cult prostitute he encountered on the road to Timnah was an admittedly sinful but pragmatic way of managing those very normal human impulses so he could get on with the necessary business of shearing his sheep undistracted.

What Judah didn’t know was that the veiled “prostitute” was actually his daughter-in-law, the former wife of his eldest son. She provided her services to him that day in exchange for a young goat from Judah’s flock, which she never received.

Technically, then, not actually a prostitute. Perhaps not a role model exactly, but nobody in this story really is.

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Semi-Random Musings (12)

I cannot say what the process of becoming honest is like for the occasional white-liar, but people who practice deceit definitely have great difficulty quitting.

I have probably detailed in some post or other my own experience of giving up the practice of lying cold-turkey by forcing myself to publicly confess every single new falsehood I uttered, and doing so the moment the words left my lips. It involved a level of red-faced humiliation and personal exposure I was very much unused to. Rarely was a confession received in quite the way I expected.

I suppose all bad habits are hard to break.

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

Bit Players in an Eternal Drama

When Jacob returns to Canaan from sojourning in Paddan-aram, along with his wives, family, servants and flocks, he finds himself anticipating the inevitable confrontation with his brother Esau. The same Esau whom Jacob had swindled, and from whom he had fled in fear more than twenty years before. Esau who, it is reported, has four hundred men with him. That doesn’t bode well. The writer of Genesis tells us “Jacob was greatly afraid and distressed.”

A reasonable reaction, all things considered.

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Between Prissiness and Profanity

I’m never sure how sorry we should feel for Esau.

I’m not troubled by the way he lost his birthright by trading it to his brother for a bowl of lentils. That one’s all on him. Jacob was a savvy deal-maker to be sure, but there was nothing sneaky about that particular arrangement. The problem was Esau’s: he failed to value something very valuable indeed. He despised his birthright. That’s just not very bright, and certainly not very spiritual.

The stolen blessing was another story. That involved some serious connivance, misdirection and outright lying. Esau had every right to be furious.

The problem was that he was furious about the wrong thing.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Faith and Impatience

One of the major features of the middle chapters of Genesis is a plethora of good people trying to accomplish good things in the worst possible way.

Sarah trying to bring an heir into the world to fulfill the promises of God via the womb of her Egyptian servant. Her husband Abraham going along, though it means infidelity to his own wife. Scripture doesn’t tell us whether Hagar was an especially attractive woman, so let’s give the patriarch the benefit of the doubt and just say he unwisely capitulated to Sarah’s poorly-thought-out plan rather than to something less honorable, like garden-variety male lust.

Then we come to Rebekah.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

No, But …

And Abraham said to God, ‘Oh that Ishmael might live before you!’

God said, ‘No, but …’ ”

Two lines out of context. Allow me to supply some.

Abraham is once again in conversation with God. This is the fifth time God has brought up the subject of his covenant promises. Months or years are passing between each remarkable event, but every time the Lord appears or speaks or encounters Abraham in a vision, he elaborates further on what he intends to do on Abraham’s behalf. In Genesis 12, he promises to make from him a great nation, give him a great name, bless the whole world through him and protect him from his enemies. Each new encounter provides details the previous ones did not.

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

The Missing Backstop

It was I who kept you from sinning against me.”

Francis Thompson famously referred to the “Hound of Heaven”, his metaphor for a God whose hand is so relentlessly upon the affairs of a person’s life that the divine influence can be neither evaded nor ignored.

There have been times when I too had a very strong impression God was personally on my case, and that all my efforts to circumvent or evade his will were doomed to end in utter futility. At other times, his impact on my choices and the circumstances around them, if present at all, has been incredibly subtle. Absent evidence of God’s direct involvement, to ascribe any specific decisions I have made in this life to the influence of providence would be, I think, quite presumptuous.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Flooded Out

Secular historians advance the argument that the spate of flood myths found everywhere around the globe is the natural result of local peoples preserving stories about local floods. These do not, the experts say, provide evidence for the truthfulness of the Genesis flood account.

That line of reasoning makes a certain sort of superficial sense: there are lots of local floods, and some of the flood stories out there are surely a product of those. But some are not. When you actually examine the content of these flood stories more closely, you find that a non-trivial number of them have features in common with the book of Genesis, and therefore with each other, that no local experience and lore can explain.

Sunday, March 10, 2019

The Worst Myth Ever

When comparing the flood account from the Epic of Gilgamesh Tablet XI to that of the Genesis flood, I took a few paragraphs at the outset to establish that the two accounts are roughly contemporary: they were written and edited within a couple hundred years of one another.

The reason this is important is that secular historians commenting on tales of the miraculous reliably resort to the “primitive man” argument: the notion that in times past, men could believe in miracles because they were ignorant of the laws of nature, and therefore wrote about unusual — even impossible — events uncritically and unselfconsciously.

Wednesday, March 06, 2019

Flood Myth-takes

It is often said today that the flood account in Genesis is spiritual truth taught in the form of myth. Confronted with the claims of secular scientists about the age of the earth and of humanity, many Christians have beaten a hasty retreat from reading Genesis literally into reading it more like one of Jesus’ parables: it means something important, sure — just not quite what it says.

I say meh to that.

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

A Tale of Two Floods

Scratched into twelve clay tablets in cunieform script, the ancient Sumerian Epic of Gilgamesh is thought to be the oldest written story in existence. Well, parts of it anyway. It recounts the adventures of a quasi-historical king of Uruk believed to have ruled around 2700 B.C. Tablet XI of the Epic contains one of three surviving Babylonian flood stories, each of which has a number of elements in common with the Genesis flood account.

The Gilgamesh account is only one of many flood myths found in various ancient cultures around the world. Christians who discover the spate of other flood stories in circulation are alternately reassured and disconcerted: reassured because one might reasonably expect a genuine historical event to wind up recorded in more than a single place, even if grossly distorted by time, miscommunication and cultural baggage; disconcerted because not a few of these flood stories are alleged to be older than the story in Genesis.

Should we be reassured or concerned? Let’s consider.

Sunday, March 03, 2019

Lightning and Molasses

Last week I took issue with an argument made by the higher critics that Genesis 2 teaches that animals were created after mankind rather than on the fifth and earlier part of the sixth days, as described in chapter 1.

Their argument, if you recall, is based on a straightforward linear reading of chapter 2. The creation of man is described in verse 7, they say, followed by the creation of beasts, birds and livestock in verse 19, then the creation of woman in verse 22. That “contradicts” the order given us in chapter 1.

My response was that the narrative is not linear, and that all the events of chapter 2 are not given to us in consecutive order. There is no reason they should be.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

The “Two Creations” Myth

I keep reading that there are two different creation stories in Genesis. More importantly, the argument is made that the stories are not just different but mutually contradictory.

This was news to me when I first heard Jordan Peterson say it, and I have been reading Genesis regularly over the course of my entire life. At first I wondered if the problem was that I hadn’t been reading carefully. Yet, even poring over the text repeatedly, I find I simply don’t see the issues that prompt the higher critics to assign Genesis 1 to the Babylonian captivity and most of Genesis 2 to a different author at a different historical period.

So why do the critics insist the narrative from Genesis 2:4 on forms “a second account”?

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

The Extinction Agenda

A follow-up to last Sunday’s post, inspired by this article from CNN:

“A small brown rat which lived on a tiny island off northern Australia is the world’s first mammal known to have become extinct due to ‘human-induced climate change,’ the government says.”

As a Christian, I must confess the demise of the Bramble Cay melomys greatly disturbs me. Sure, it’s only a “small brown rat” on some obscure South Pacific isle nobody’s ever heard of, but the media is obviously convinced this particular small brown rat matters. After all, the little guy has been front and center on every major news outlet for several days now, eclipsing even the latest alleged faux pas from the media’s perpetual nemesis, President Trump.

So, even though he looks like every other species of dun vermin I’ve ever seen in my life, let’s mourn this late little fellow’s unique and special contribution to our ecosphere.

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Cake on a Fence

Theistic evolutionists attempt to reconcile the claims of secular scientists with the claims of the Bible. The idea is that by allegorizing or mythologizing the early chapters of Genesis, Christians can retain the important moral teaching of scripture without losing their audience.

It is an increasingly popular position, though hard numbers of Christians who hold it are difficult to come by. On the low side, a Gallup poll taken for the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birthday showed only 24% of frequent church attendees believe in evolution. On the high side, a more recent study claimed almost 50% of Roman Catholics believe it.

That’s an apples/oranges comparison, of course, but the actual percentage of Christians who feel comfortable acknowledging some form of theistic evolution probably falls somewhere in between those two numbers.

Monday, November 05, 2018

Anonymous Asks (12)

“Where did God come from before he created earth, animals and humankind?”

This is the kind of question that could be asked two entirely different ways. The first is out of curiosity. The second is out of an obdurate refusal to believe anything that can’t be stringently proved on one’s own terms.

Since I have no idea where this anonymous questioner is coming from in his current thinking, I’ll answer it both ways and trust he’ll take it appropriately.

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Anonymous Asks (7)

“If Adam and Eve had Cain and Abel, shouldn’t those be the only people on earth? Because when Cain kills Abel, Cain is scared that someone will kill him. But at that time, no one else existed. So who was Cain’s wife?”

Okay, well, let’s start by acknowledging that the Bible doesn’t give us explicit answers to many of our technical questions about the early days of the human race, especially in areas of study that are not spiritually significant. So we cannot say with any biblical authority how Cain got his wife. No Bible student can.

That said, let’s not imagine that either the human writer of Genesis or those who told the story for centuries before him were unintelligent men and women. They were not.

Monday, October 01, 2018

Apocrypha-lypso (11)

Obsessive music fans know that every artist or band has a “canon” made up of albums recognized by fans, critics and record labels as official releases.

Once an artist becomes established, however, opportunists commonly flood the market with rough takes on familiar tunes, rejected songs from album sessions, cover versions played once for a lark, and bootleg live tracks of questionable sound quality. While these new offerings usually contain a few rare gems and often provide insight into an artist’s work process, they generally do not compare favorably to music released exactly as the performer intended.

The Book of Jubilees might well be called “Outtakes from Genesis”. At least, that’s what it reads like.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

What Does Your Proof Text Prove? (11)

A censor librorum is a Roman Catholic ecclesiastical authority charged with the task of reviewing texts and granting to them a decree of nihil obstat, or their church’s authoritative approval. Nihil obstat is Latin for “nothing stands in the way”. If your commentary or explanation of church doctrine has that declaration on it, you are good to go in the Catholic world.

Not being Roman Catholic, and because my comprehension of Latin is pretty much limited to Veni, vidi, vici, I had to look that up.

All to say that back in 2004, a censor librorum declared the following explanation of Genesis 38:8-10 to be “free of doctrinal or moral errors”. Take that for what it’s worth.