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1 Good Point, 7 Bad Ones

27 May

#1. The One Good Pointhttp://unsettledchristianity.com/the-bible-and-the-constitution/ I haven’t been Joel Watts’ website for a while so i decided to check it out today and came across this interesting point or actually a very good question:

I love the argument that Christians have to obey the Word of God above the Constitution of the USA. Although I revere the U.S. Constitution, the Bible and The U.S. Constitution are not one and the same. However I’ve been thinking on it again and I realized that this is the same argument that ISIS makes about their Holy Book and Muslims in general use to defend Sharia Law! How then is it fair for Christians to condemn Muslims for believing that religious rules supersede the standing laws of a country? Is Christian absolutism, even prejudicial, the answer? Is “freedom from religion the answer?” Any thoughts?

To answer his question on ‘how is it fair…’ all we have to do is look at the actions of both groups as they defy governmental law.  The Christian does not use murder, rape, kidnapping, theft, and other sins in their defiance of national or local laws. The Christian is not allowed to sin in their ignoring of the commands of men and usually only defy man’s laws when the latter contradict or make the believer defy God’s laws or instructions.

To answer his last real question, freedom from religion is not the answer. That idea only leads to more sin and lawlessness. The problem comes in when those who look at the behavior of some religious groups and only stop looking at the surface and do not go deeper into the issue to see the root of the real problem. ISIS, like many different groups, only use religion as their cover, their disguise, their justification and do not really believe what their cover story really says. They are not true believers and they are not caring about how their religion looks as long as they get what they want–power, control and riches.

The real root of the issue is that groups like ISIS are acting on behalf of the devil and not on any religious or God’s behalf no matter how much they proclaim their religious beliefs. They are motivated by sin and the only relief from that motivation is, of course, salvation through Jesus Christ. Salvation won’t come from abandoning religion for all one is doing is replacing sin with sin. By the word ‘religion’ I am not including Christianity for true Christianity puts people on the path to flee sin and not practice it.

#2. The 7 Bad Points http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2015/05/7-problems-with-a-recent-evangelical-defense-of-the-historicity-of-genesis-1-11/ By the title I am not referring to my rebuttal but to Enn’s points against Hoffmeier. I am only going to quote Enn’s points as there is not enough room for both and I generally agree with Hoffmeier.

#1. I agree that there is a theological “structure,” so to speak, for the Christian Bible, and that structure reflects the theological sensitivities of the biblical writers and of those who directed the process of canonization (first OT then NT). But the presence of this theological structure does not settle the vexing historical problems of Genesis 1-11, and to think that it does is a common evangelical and fundamentalist assertion.

So What About God? Doesn’t he have a say in what was written in his book? Why does Enns automatically assume the first chapters of Genesis were solely a human product? What evidence does he have to support his assertion? And I use the word assertion because that is exactly what it is. He really cannot use that word for evangelicals or fundamentals because he has no evidence to prove the first chapters are not history. It isn’t the presence of a ‘theological structure’ that makes the beginning chapters of the bible historical; they are considered historical because they recorded actual historical events. Events that require faith not evidence to accept and believe. God’s rules come into play here not secular science’s demands.

#2. Evangelical defenses of historicity are often quickly propelled into the philosophical stratosphere of “presuppositions,” which has the unfortunate effect of reducing debates on concrete matters to claims of theological superiority.

The only reason Enns’ says this is because he, like so many others, do not regard the Bible as a historical document or text but merely religious writings. But he, like those so many others, are very wrong. The Bible is a historical text revealing actual historical events as they happened and with the exact conversations that took place. Believers are not making ‘presuppositions’ about the past when they talk about Genesis 1-11, nor are they making ‘claims to theological superiority’ but reciting what actually happened in Earth’s history. We have ‘theological superiority’ because we are reciting the truth and not some human alternative. Enns’ forgets that there is such a thing as truth and error in his arguments against those chapters.

#3. Another common evangelical tactic repeated here by Hoffmeier is to equate Wellhausen’s 19th c. theory of Pentateuchal composition with source theories that have developed since Wellhausen. Sparks effectively addresses this in his response.

That is like saying that the modern evolutionary theory has no root in Darwin’s thinking even though all evolutionists quote him and point to his work as their source for their version of that theory. Wellhausen and other German scholars launched the JEPD hypothesis and others just ran with it when they found that the original did not go far enough in describing their unbelief. Even though Wellhausen may not have contributed to the more modern versions of the documentary hypothesis, he was the spark, the motivation behind the rise of the alternatives to his initial thinking. It is not wrong to cite Wellhausen as the source for the modern opposition of the OT record.

#4. Following on #3, Hoffmeier seems to think that debunking Wellhausen not only neuters any source analysis of the Pentateuch but de facto puts Mosaic authorship back in its rightful place as the traditional, and problem-free explanation for Pentateuchal origins.

But Jesus puts Moses authorship ‘back in its rightful place…’ as Jesus referred to Moses in John 5:44ff by saying ‘if you do not believe Moses how will you believe me?’ Moses’ authorship is very important to the biblical text and if we say he did not write the Torah then we have no foundation to believe the Gospels and remove their historicity.

Enns’ does not grasp this point and many who believe alternatives do not either as I have had them say to me over the years– My lack of belief about Genesis does not affect my salvation.’  Well it does for if you cannot believe ‘In the Beginning God…’ how can you believe, ‘For God so loved the world…’ How would God love the world so much if he did not create it? Why would he send his son to die, if some formless, know nothing process developed living things? Why would God send a flood to destroy the world for their sins, if sin and death had been existing for millions of years and no instruction had been given on what is right and wrong? No, Enns does not think his points through and fails to see the significance of Moses recording real history.

#5. Sparks addresses this point, when he states what appears to me to be obvious: intending to write history doesn’t mean you pulled it off, and biblical authors do not get a free pass on “historical accuracy,” especially without addressing the type of history writing we can expect from ancient Israelite/Jewish authors.

I forget who said this first, it was a scholar I read many years ago and does not originate with me. He said, ‘If the OT is not true then the biblical authors become the first group of people incapable of writing their own country’s history and this is what Enns is saying with those words. He is saying that both God and his biblical authors are so incompetent that they cannot write the actual history they witnessed. It is a ridiculous thing to say about Israeli/biblical authors and that idea comes from arrogance and a superiority complex that knows no rivals.

It is also an insult to God as it says he and his people’s work are inferior to secular writers who have no real moral code to guide them and are free to alter history to fit their desires. And we know that secular people alter history, RK Harrison recorded it in his book OT Times, as have other scholars but biblical authors had God’s holiness and rules to live and write by thus they could not write what wasn’t true.

All Enns is saying here is that God lied and had his authors lie for whatever reason yet Satan is the one described as the father of lies (Jn. 8:44) so Enns is saying that God is Satan and that is a grievous error to make and renders his claims to being a Christian moot.

#6. This same slippery-slope line recurs again and again and again and again whenever it is suggested that science or other scholarly disciplines affect how we think of the Bible (especially in the evolution debate), but this rhetoric is useless for reasoned and scholarly discussion.

Enns forgets here that neither God nor Jesus give permission to their followers to take science over their words. Why would they? Science is a corrupt, sinful field of research governed by evil and in desperate need of a Savior so why would it have the truth over either God or Jesus. Enns says later:

The resurrection of Christ doesn’t provide such footprints and therefore is not open to the same type of scientific investigation.

Science is not the go to authority here. The Bible is and that book tells us to use faith and we use faith because we know that there is far too many events we cannot produce physical evidence to show they took place. The first century people could use their own eyes on the historical Jesus and his resurrection but Jesus said to Thomas:

Jesus *said to him, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.” (Jn. 20:29 NASB)

Jesus did not make physical evidence the criteria to prove the biblical events and science or its members do not have the authority to change the criteria of faith. Scientific investigation is not important when it comes to matters of the Bible. Paul said, ‘by Grace are ye saved through faith…’ he did not say, by scientific investigation and physical evidence are ye saved. Those who take secular science over the Bible are saying that they do not believe God and have turned to believe evil. Yes, how one uses science does determine how you look at the Bible and if you got science over the Bible then you need to make a change and repent of your sins.

#7. I find it incredible that Hoffmeier contends that Genesis 1-11 is essentially independent of Mesopotamian origins stories. This is like suggesting that Roman theology and politics can be best understood apart from preceding Greek culture.

Enns continues to display his ignorance of how God works, how the biblical authors wrote and how chronology works.  He ignores the fact that the first 11 chapters of Genesis are of divine origin and that the Mesopotamian writers either copied from the Israelites or they concocted their myths over time as they altered the stories told to them by Noah and his family. There is no reason for the biblical authors to base the first 11 chapters of Genesis or any other chapter of the Bible on secular stories.There are reasons for the reverse but Enns ignores those in his haste to embrace secular thinking over God’s truth.

His analogy fails because secular governments are not divinely inspired works but products of free choice and if the Romans wanted to copy the Greeks instead of following God’s way then that was their choice but that choice does not mean that the biblical authors are dependent upon Mesopotamian writers. The two situations have nothing in common and cannot be logically used here.

It is an assumption only that the biblical authors copied from secular people but that idea is based upon the rejection of the divine aspects of the Bible and the failure to have enough faith to believe God over sinners. There is no historical evidence showing that the biblical authors copied form anyone nor is there any proof that the ancient Israelites held such a reputation. All of that type of thinking is read into the biblical books by those who do not believe God.

Enns’ criticism of Hoffmeier fails because he has shown no divine authority supporting his position nor has he shown that he has the truth as related by God to all men. All the criticisms come from human sources written by those who do not follow God’s rules and by their own admission do not accept divine authorship of the Bible. If they did, their writings would look a lot different. One thing that is very important to remember.

People like Enns, who claim that the bible was a product of human authors and editors, do not use that same argument against the people who write works against the Bible. They also cannot produce any alternative divinely inspired ms. saying what they are saying against the Bible. Every ms. supports Mosaic authorship, divine inspiration and consistent content; thus we can say that people like Enns are making their arguments because they have been deceived and left God and his truth. Hoffmeier is correct as are those who stand with God and accept the Bible as a historical document recording the truth about God, earth’s origins, history and our salvation.

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Posted by on May 27, 2015 in academics, Bible, church, creation, faith, history, leadership, science, theology

 

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