"Atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning."
"The fingers of your thoughts are molding your face ceaselessly."
"Art, like morality, consists in drawing the line somewhere."
"Humility enforces where neither virtue nor strength can prevail, nor reason."
"Education without values, as useful as it is, seems rather to make man a more clever devil."
Resistance Thinking Faith
It is through the Jesus lense the Resistance Thinking seeks to explore truth about the world in which we live. In this faith section you will find articles, news and reivews that will help you explore the complexities of the Christian faith.
We will cover a broad range of topics, including: theology, church, leadership, devotions, classic Christian literature, prayer, everyday faith, apologetics, church history, Christian living, Old Testamnet, New Testament, creation, fresh expressions, epistomology...the list could go on and on!
If there is any topic you would like the Resistance Thinking team to go to work on please shoot us an email. If you have any work that could help us all to be more effective 'Resistance Thinkers' please send it in for our team to review.
"I believe in Christianity as I believe that the sun has risen: not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else." CS Lewis
The Bible reveals much about our creator. We see His nature and His plans. Here are some of the attributes that we can glean from Scripture.
God’s Omnipotence “Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.”
Jeremiah 32:17 (ESV)
God is all-powerful. In the beginning He created the earth and then, once man rebelled, He saved mankind. Yet can He be all powerful if He “cannot be corrupted, or tell lies, or make the true into the false (such as to undo what has been done), and many similar things?” (Anselm, Proslogion, pg 90). Yet what we find is that the power to do evil is not true power. The inability to sin does not dissuade God’s omnipotence. The ability to sin leads to impotence (that is, weakness) and not to power.
God’s Omniscience “Great is our Lord, and abundant in power; his understanding is beyond measure.”
Psalm 147:5 (ESV)
God is all-knowing. But how does this attribute work with the free will of humans? We need to understand that it is “not impossible for God’s foreknowledge (through which he foreknows the future events which are said to happen necessarily) to coexist with freedom of choice (by which much is done freely)” (Anselm, The Compatibility of the Foreknowledge, Pre-destination, and Grace of God with Human Freedom, pg 435-436). God knows our actions but this does not limit our freedom.
God’s Righteousness Then shall all the trees of the forest sing for joy before the Lord, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world in righteousness, and the peoples in his faithfulness.”
Psalms 96:13 (ESV)
God is the greatest standard of goodness in the universe. It is His approval that makes actions good and bad. Everything good comes from Him:
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”
James 1:17 (ESV)
To be righteous is to seek to glorify God’s name. In this way we see that not only does goodness come from God but every action that God undertakes is good because His very character glorifies His own name.
“In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
1 John 4:10 (ESV)
Many people will overplay this attribute of God and downplay others (like His jealousy or His wrath/justice) but this is still a key trait of God’s nature. He has immense love for His Son (John 3:35) and for His people (Romans 5:8). It is this love that defines what love actually means. Not some hippy love, not merely a tolerant love but one that burns in holiness for His creation.
There are many more attributes of God that I won’t discuss in this article (but some will reveal themselves in later articles) which are found in the Bible but this gives you some basis to work from. It is worth noting what Calvin says about dwelling upon the attributes of God:
“For if we reflect how prone the human mind is to lapse into forgetfulness of God, how readily inclined to every kind of error, how bent every now and then on devising new and fictitious religions, it will be easy to understand how necessary it was to make such a depository of doctrine as would secure it from either perishing by the neglect, vanishing away amid the errors, or being corrupted by the presumptuous audacity of men, It being thus manifest that God, foreseeing the inefficiency of his image imprinted on the fair form of the universe has given the assistance of his word to all whom he has ever been pleased to instruct effectually, we, too, must pursue this straight path, if we aspire in earnest to a genuine contemplation of God – we must go, I say, to the word, where the character of God, drawn from his works is described accurately and to the life; these works being estimated, not by our depraved judgment, but by the standard of eternal truth.”
John Calvin, Institutions of the Christian Religion, pg 28 (emphasis added)
It was brought home to me last night that one of the chief concerns with some young believers is the disbelief regarding the inerrancy of Scripture.
Many people will not be familiar with the term biblical inerrancy so to suffice I will give you a very compact definition. The belief in biblical inerrancy is the understanding that the Bible is free from error or contradiction. The basis for such a concept is summed up in the Greek word theopneustos - breathed out by God.
Last night, at Bible study, we read through and discussed 1 Thessalonians 2:13-16 (ESV):
"And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers. For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea. For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews, who killed both the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out, and displease God and oppose all mankind by hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles that they might be saved-so as always to fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them at last!"
This verse discusses those who are saved from God's wrath and those who are subject to it. The key component differing between these two groups is how they accept the Bible, as the "word of men" or as the "word of God". It is extremely concerning that this battle now rages within the faith. It seems to go without saying that we are saved because we believe that the Bible possesses power above and beyond the literary writings of man. Yet, there are those who second-guess or revise the Bible despite claiming an allegiance to Christianity.
It is my hope that this article will arm and equip you to counter such assertions. If you are taken by these manipulations then hopefully you will be challenged and convicted to rethink your position. The concept of theopneastos is established in 2 Timothy 3:16"[a]ll Scripture is breathed out by God" but is best elaborated in the second of Peter's letters where he says:
"[W]e have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit."
2 Peter 1:19-31 (ESV) (emphasis added)
It is established scripturally that the words presented in this very text are God-inspired and God-breathed. This internal reference to the Bible as the ultimate authority within the Bible may seem like circular reasoning yet theologian Wayne Grudem has no such concerns:
"It should be admitted that this is a king of circular argument. However, that does not makes its use invalid, for all arguments for an absolute authority must ultimately appeal to that authority for proof: otherwise the authority would not be an absolute or highest authority. This problem is not unique to the Christian who is arguing for the authority of the Bible. Everyone either implicitly or explicitly uses some kind of circular argument when defending his or her ultimate authority for belief."
Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, pg 78-79
As such, there is no logical fallacy in the Bible's claims that it is a higher authority. Yet, we still haven't established that we should put any trust in the claims of Scripture. So how about this, the Bible can be trusted because it has been shown to be historically accurate, as well as internally consistent and, more persuasively, prophecies are fulfilled within Scripture (Grudem, pg 78). These evidences, however, are secondary. Our assurance is given by the Holy Spirit as we delve into His word. This may sound foreign to the outsider but is perfectly plausible within a biblical worldview. Our understanding and trust in Scripture given from His Spirit is the fulfilment of the ultimate proof.
Such a belief in scriptural inerrancy will be challenged. There will be those outside the faith who say "there are errors in the Bible". Do not be persuaded by these pretensions, it is simple enough to ask them where the error in Scripture exists and, if they can point to it, it is perfectly fine to go away and research this supposed error yourself. There are many resources available on the numerous theological websites and you are more than welcome to email me on
. A great place to start includes this list of books:
- Gleason L. Archer - Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties
- William Arndt - Does the Bible Contradict Itself?
- William Arndt - Bible Difficulties
- John W. Haley - Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible
(as taken from the footnotes of Grudem, pg 98-99)
Understanding biblical inerrancy will affect the way you live as Christians. It will give you renewed hope and help you avoid the pitfalls of doubt as encouraged by the world around us. I will finish with an encouragement from Charles Spurgeon:
"Brethren, we have not followed cunningly devised fables. We are not wanton boys that swim on floats that will soon burst under us. But we are resting on firm ground. We abide where heaven and earth are resting, where the whole universe depends, where even eternal things have their foundation. We rest on God Himself. If God will fail us, we gloriously fail with the whole universe. But there is no fear. Therefore, let us trust and not be afraid. His promise must stand: "The mouth of the Lord has spoken." O Lord, it is enough! Glory be to your name, through Christ Jesus! Amen."
Far be it for me to tell off a church leader. Cardinal George Pell is essentially the head of the Catholic Church in Australia. As a Christian he and I should be on the same side. Yet, when he debated Richard Dawkins on Q & A on Monday night he was worlds away from what should be considered an accurate understanding of the Bible.
Dawkins was, as ever, the champion of “reason”. Whilst he may have made the studio audience snigger at times I found him significantly more compelling than George Pell. Not because I believe, or understand as truth, anything he propositions, but because I know exactly what he is going to say and because he is consistent. What is worse, he was accurately pointing out the implications of scripture while Pell was getting them dead wrong.
An example of this was when the discussion turned to evolution. A pointed question from the audience revealed that Pell believes humans to have descended from Neanderthals. This immediately moves God from the key player in the origins of humanity to a third party who plays a minimalistic part. God's word is no longer authoritative, instead we have blind processes in charge. God plays no personal role, instead He sets the world into motion and lets the chips fall where they may. God is less father and more bully.
This discussion leads abruptly to how Genesis and the story of Adam and Eve fits into Pell's understanding of evolution. Pell's response is baffling:
“Well, Adam and Eve are terms - what do they mean: life and earth. It’s like every man. That’s a beautiful, sophisticated, mythological account. It’s not science but it’s there to tell us two or three things. First of all that God created the world and the universe. Secondly, that the key to the whole of universe, the really significant thing, are humans and, thirdly, it is a very sophisticated mythology to try to explain the evil and suffering in the world....”
Sensing Pell's mistake Dawkins asks “Well, I’m curious to know if Adam and Eve never existed where did original sin come from?”. We never hear Pell's direct response to this question but Richard Dawkins has asked an excellent question. The logical conclusion that Adam and Eve are a myth is devastating to Christianity decidedly because Jesus is no longer required to solve the problem of original sin. If Adam didn't exist we have no longer rebelled from God's instructions. We are no longer inherently evil and God has been removed further from the equation.
This is terrible scriptural comprehension from a church leader but he manages to out-do himself. When presented with a question from an atheist about his salvation after death Pell states:
“Well, I know from the Christian point of view, God loves everybody but every genuine motion towards the truth is a motion towards God and when an atheist dies, like everybody else, they will be judged on the extent to which they have moved towards goodness and truth and beauty but in the Christian view, God loves everyone except those who turn his back turn their back on him through evil acts.”
Oh boy, Pell has managed to make a mess of origins and salvation in less than an hour. Dawkins really doesn't need to say anything because the words coming out of Pell's mouth are as toxic as any an atheist can say. Pell has removed the requirement of justification by faith alone and placed the new requirement of justification by works. John Calvin deals adequately with Pell's interpretation:
“If we destroy the righteousness of God by establishing our own righteousness, then, in order to obtain his righteousness our own must be entirely abandoned. This also, [Paul] shows, when he declares that boasting is not excluded by the Law, but by faith (Rom 3:27). Hence it follows, that so long as the minutest portion of our own righteousness remains, we have still some ground for boasting. Now if faith utterly excludes boasting, the righteousness of works cannot in any way be associated with the righteousness of faith. This meaning is so clearly expressed in the fourth chapter to the Romans as to leave no room for cavil or evasion. “If Abraham were justified by works he has whereof to glory”; and then it is added, “but not before God” (Rom 4:2). The conclusion, therefore, is, that he was not justified by works. He then employs another argument from contraries, i.e., when reward is paid by works, it is done of debt, not of grace; but the righteousness of faith is of grace: therefore it is not of the merit of works. Away, then, with the dream of those who invent a righteousness compounded of faith and works.”
John Calvin – Institutes of the Christian Religion, Book Third, Chapter 11, 13, pg 485-486 (2008 ed) (emphasis added)
Calvin correctly shows the folly of those promoting justification by works. Pell maintained that it is the pursuit of “goodness and truth and beauty” that defines salvation. Yet, even distorting salvation to this fails to help the atheist. Goodness and truth are established in God's commandments. The first being that His people should have no other god before Him (Exodus 20:3). This is echoed by Jesus when He says the greatest commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37 ESV).
It should be clear that disbelieving in God is against truth and goodness as a person cannot love God with all their mind if they don't believe He exists.
Pell's response should have been that atheists must be condemned if they are not justified by faith alone. He should have said that evolution is incompatible with a historical account of Genesis. He did neither and pandered answers with no scriptural integrity. It is not a common occurrence when a church leader is more destructive for Christianity than Richard Dawkins.
Last week I was invited by my work to participate in a buffet lunch put on by Creation Ministries. Included were some shameless plugs for upcoming events which I will allow because of the impressive goody bag they gave out at the end of the lunch. Included were several books that they sell through their ministry.
This included Don Batten and Jonathan Sarfati's short book 15 Reasons To Take Genesis As History (15 Reasons). What has me reviewing this book is it's very cheap price of $2.50-$3.00 coupled with its sub-30 page length. Because of these two characteristics I believe this to be a very appealing book to promote through Resistance Thinking.
Creation Ministries International is a group that I respect immensely. They are the antithesis to Biologos and present truth as it can be understood from scripture, not from outside influences. In this little booklet the authors present fifteen reasons why a Christian can rely on a historical interpretation of Genesis rather than a polemic reading of the Bible's first book.
There are a significant amount of compelling reasons why we should read Genesis 1 as being literal days. In the first instance there are grammatical grounds for such an interpretation. The word yom, used primarily in Genesis 1 is also used in Numbers 7:10-84. Yet, nobody claims that the Numbers passage is to be taken as anything other than literal days. Jesus affirmed the Old Testament as history which presents serious problems for those who would use scripture to argue for long earth creation.
Jesus wasn't the only one. The early church leaders understood Genesis 1to be discussing literal days. The Reformers also interpreted the creation account to be literal and historical. In fact, it wasn't until recent so-called scientific evidences appeared that Christians started to doubt the creation explanation. And, as put so eloquently in this small book "[c]ompromise with Genesis unlocks the door to doubting the authority of all Scripture, as history has shown repeatedly" (pg 24).
There are further arguments that could be made. For instance, re-interpreting Genesis 1 destroys the account of man's fall, the origin of death and destruction and would re-establish our understanding of God's nature. A very compelling argument is presented by 'deep time' believer Dr Pattle Pun (of Wheaton College):
"It is apparent that the most straightforward understanding of Genesis, without regard to all the hermeneutical considerations suggested by science, is that God created the heaven and earth in six solar days, that man was created on the sixth day, that death and chaos entered the world after the fall of Adam and Eve, and that all the fossils were the result of the catastrophic universal deluge which spared only Noah's family, and the animals therewith."
Pun, P.P.T., Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation 39: 14, 1987
It is clear that there is a lot at stake regarding this issue. It may not affect someone's salvation directly but it undermines the rest of the Bible, including the Gospels. 15 Reasons To Take Genesis As History may only be the equivalent of a chapter in a regular book but it is a great introduction to an issue that more Christians should be taking a stand upon.
This booklet can be bought from Creation Ministries International:
"In recent years, several self-proclaimed evangelicals, or those associated with evangelical institutions, have called into question the historicity of Adam and Eve. It is said that because of genomic research we can no longer believe in a first man called Adam from whom the entire human race has descended.
I'll point to some books at the end which deal with the science end of the question, but the most important question is what does the Bible teach. Without detailing a complete answer to that question, let me suggest ten reasons why we should believe that Adam was a true historical person and the first human being.
1. The Bible does not put an artificial wedge between history and theology. Of course, Genesis is not a history textbook or a science textbook, but that is far from saying we ought to separate the theological wheat from the historical chaff. Such a division owes to the Enlightenment more than the Bible.
2. The biblical story of creation is meant to supplant other ancient creation stories more than imitate them. Moses wants to show God's people "this is how things really happened." The Pentateuch is full of warnings against compromise with the pagan culture. It would be surprising, then, for Genesis to start with one more mythical account of creation like the rest of the ANE.
3. The opening chapters of Genesis are stylized, but they show no signs of being poetry. Compare Genesis 1 with Psalm 104, for example, and you'll see how different these texts are. It's simply not accurate to call Genesis poetry. And even if it were, who says poetry has to be less historically accurate?
4. There is a seamless strand of history from Adam in Genesis 2 to Abraham in Genesis 12. You can't set Genesis 1-11 aside as prehistory, not in the sense of being less than historically true as we normally understand those terms. Moses deliberately connects Abram with all the history that comes before him, all the way back to Adam and Eve in the garden.
5. The genealogies in 1 Chronicles 1 and Luke 3 treat Adam as historical.
6. Paul believed in a historical Adam (Rom. 5:12-21; 1 Cor. 15:21-22, 45-49). Even some revisionists are honest enough to admit this; they simply maintain that Paul (and Luke) were wrong.
7. The weight of the history of interpretation points to the historicity of Adam. The literature of second temple Judaism affirmed an historical Adam. The history of the church's interpretation also assumes it.
8. Without a common descent we lose any firm basis for believing that all people regardless of race or ethnicity have the same nature, the same inherent dignity, the same image of God, the same sin problem, and that despite our divisions we are all part of the same family coming from the same parents.
9. Without a historical Adam, Paul's doctrine of original sin and guilt does not hold together.
10. Without a historical Adam, Paul's doctrine of the second Adam does not hold together.
Christians may disagree on the age of the earth, but whether Adam ever existed is a gospel issue. Tim Keller is right:
[Paul] most definitely wanted to teach us that Adam and Eve were real historical figures. When you refuse to take a biblical author literally when he clearly wants you to do so, you have moved away from the traditional understanding of the biblical authority. . . .If Adam doesn't exist, Paul's whole argument-that both sin and grace work 'covenantally'-falls apart. You can't say that 'Paul was a man of his time' but we can accept his basic teaching about Adam. If you don't believe what he believes about Adam, you are denying the core of Paul's teaching. (Christianity Today June 2011)