In the wake of the Las Vegas shooting, I’d like to share this article by an associate of mine: Why Did God Allow the Las Vegas Massacre?
For the month of October, The Remnant is advancing its daily posts to Tuesdays, in order that our fifth and final post in this series will be released on 31 October, the five hundredth anniversary of the Reformation’s beginning.
Why these sixty-six?
It’s an oft-asked question. Why, for example, is the gospel of John included where the gospel of Thomas is not? Where do we draw the line between divinely inspired scripture and too-late heretical writings? And why do we listen to these 66 books anyway? What’s so special about them? Just who says they’re divine work?
The Old Testament
Well, the answer starts over four and a half millennia ago in the midst of Arabia, wherein the events of the book of Job occurred. Chronologically, however, both the writing and the events of the Torah precede the events described in Job, despite what you may have heard. Most likely, the book of Job was written in the last millennium BC, leaving Genesis as the most likely candidate for the first chronologically written book. And thus Genesis and all other books of Moses’ work must necessarily be considered Biblical canon, as they form the very basis, heart, and soul of the Bible.
Most other books in the Old Testament are beyond dispute. Many claim divine inspiration, others contain clearly interpreted prophecies, and the remainder lends credence to the Bible’s historicity (for an example, the books of Chronicles contain both accurate prophecy and historical credence).
However, the Jewish Bible numbers fifteen books fewer than the typical Protestant one, and this is for good reason: Protestant Bibles typically split several books which Jews do not. In the Jewish Bible, Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles are each one book, as in the original manuscripts; the twelve minor prophets are one book (a decision which sits somewhat uncomfortably even in the most traditional of Jewish circles, since many of these books were written hundreds of years apart); and Ezra and Nehemiah are considered one book, as they detail two parts of the same story. (This is a similar situation to the two-part writings of Luke, namely Luke and Acts.)
Additionally, Catholic Bibles include a swath of additional books, such as Tobit, Judith, I and II Maccabees, additions to Daniel and Esther, and several other noncanonical books. The decision by the Protestant Church during the Reformation to reject these books is founded on their lack of historical credence, the scant evidence for divine inspiration, and their failure to include accurate prophecy.
The New Testament
But it is on the New Testament which articles such as this typically focus, since their development is less of an even progression of writings with occasional dissension and more of a haphazard piling of books written in the sixty years or so after the resurrection of Christ. Deciding which of these hundreds of mostly heretical books to include in the final Bible is an unenviable task, and one which caused large amounts of trouble in the early church. This also gave rise to the Gnostic dissenters, who have rebounded in modern colours due to Bart Ehrman’s popular 2007 historical study Misquoting Jesus. An excellent rebuttal, Timothy Paul Jones’ Misquoting Truth, points out Ehrman’s errors, but nevertheless, Misquoting Jesus has led to difficulties for many who don’t investigate further.
Many have argued that the modern New Testament is a Romanisation of the original books, and Constantine bastardised the real, accurate Bible. Such accusations are inaccurate, however. The Council of Nicea, in 325 AD was the founding point for our modern, complete Bible. The absolute latest that any respectable church disagreed with our modern New Testament was in the early fourth century.
Such a sixty-six book Bible, divinely inspired, was reaffirmed in the 1546 post-Reformation Council of Trent, which was followed by the 1563 Thirty-Nine Articles and other Christian affirmations. Our sixty-six books, concurrent and non-contradictory, are no accident. They are the complete and inspired word of God.
I can’t accurately express how useful of a book Misquoting Truth is. If you wish to go further in depth with the study of the development of the Biblical canon, it’s an impeccable and unrivalled source to do so.
Overall, however, such things are ultimately unimportant. The issues of whether or not certain small doctrines are true or false pale in comparison to the key teaching of the Bible: justification by salvation by repentance and belief in Christ. And that is the core of the Protestant Reformation.
This is a big problem.
‘Ninety-seven percent of scientists agree: #climate change is real, man-made and dangerous.’
The White House tweeted this a few years ago, carrying on a myth that really ought to be gone by now: that global warming is real.
I touched on this in my first article, but it deserves its own article.
The Study: Data Manipulation and Misinformation
A study by Kendall Zimmerman and Peter Doran in 2008 appears to be the original source of the ‘97%’ myth. The University of Illinois students took an online survey of scientists and concluded that the consensus among them lead to a 97.4% agreement about global warming.
The first misstep in these calculations is that the survey was overwhelmingly biased toward American and Canadian scientists, with 96% of respondents from these countries. This isn’t an irredeemable problem, but the American mindset about pollution and climate change would obviously be different than, say, the Chinese mindset, where for many decades in the twentieth century pollution coated Chinese megacities in smog and smoke.
The second problem lies in the line of questioning: ‘climate change’ and ‘global warming’ were used interchangeably in the survey, but any expert on the topic, or even one who has done any amount of research into it, will be able to tell the difference. Global warming is a specific subset of climate change which states that climate change is a) causing the earth to grow warmer at an unprecedented rate, b) dangerous to the environment, c) potentially able to cause large amounts of flooding and rising water levels in coastal cities such as Los Angeles, New York, or New Orleans, and d) caused by humans. Each of these points is crucial, but the last is of primary importance because people often confuse it with being part of climate change. One can believe in climate change but profess that it is caused by the natural environment more than human causes.
The Cause: Chlorofluorocarbons and the Industrial Revolution
From a creationist standpoint, this warming makes a certain amount of sense. We’re entering an unprecedented period in human history after the Ice Age, and it’s been warming all the while. It’s accelerating now, but will it continue?
In the early twentieth century, materials known as ‘chlorofluorocarbons’ began to be produced. They were vastly useful for firefighting and production increased at fast rates.
After about fifty years, the ozone layer began to break down over Antarctica, letting in more sunlight and heat, causing more melting, causing global temperatures and sea levels to rise. And because chlorofluorocarbon production increased in parallel with better industrial technology, it was easy to see the apparent link between, say, car ownership (increasing because of the increase in mass production) and climate change.
In the 1970s, a scientist by the name of James Lovelock realised the CFCs were practically omnipresent on earth. Even over Iceland, one of the cleanest and least industrialised countries in the world had notable amounts of CFCs in the air. By 1987, countries began to heavily regulate the production of CFCs. By 2010, CFC production was banned practically everywhere.
But since CFCs have such a long lifetime – anywhere from fifty to one hundred years – we haven’t yet seen the effects of banning them. Climate scientists who have studied them are almost certain that the ozone layer will began to reform around 2030 and be fully healed by around 2080, but we can’t be sure because we haven’t been able to see the effects, in the same way that they were undetectable from the 1920s to the 1970s.
The thing is, lots of things have been increasing quickly over the past century. World population and industrialisation are just a few of them. And that makes it easy to attribute climate change to an incorrect cause that sounds quite reasonable.
So what do we do? Spread the word.
Let people know that climate change may soon be ending. The harsh conditions of the industrial revolution are gone, and in their place will come a new – and better – world. Perhaps the earth will still be warming, but it will be slowed. Maybe it will end entirely. Maybe – and perhaps soon – Jesus will return (Revelation 22:20-21). There’s no way to know – but as Christians, we can place our trust in God, and know that all that happens is to His glory.
So what is climate change?
Well, it’s not global warming, for what it’s worth.
As previously, I’m addressing a contradiction from the Skeptic’s Annotated Bible, which comes up with supposed Biblical discontinuities. This week, I’m refuting this page, which argues about the creator of heaven and earth.
Essentially, the page argues that some passages claim the God did it, while others claim the Jesus did it, and yet more passages claim that both of them did it together.
So which one is right? How to resolve the contradiction?
Well, as Christians we know that Jesus is God. This is the doctrine of the Trinity, which states that God is three persons in one. Don’t try to understand this; you can’t. It’s an eternal concept which we will understand only when we are made like God (see 1 Corinthians 13:12).
The atheist, however, must necessarily have this proven beyond a doubt, and so we must prove Jesus’ deity.
Here are a few examples of proofs of Jesus’ deity: first, He proclaimed multiple times in various language that ‘I and the Father are one’ or that He had been alive before Abraham, both clear claims to deity (John 8:58, 10:30). Secondly, Revelation 19:10 is a direct command to John to worship only God. To take an example, John himself worships God in Matthew 14:33, but is not rebuked, which Jesus would do if He were not God. Finally, Jesus was capable of paying for our sins. An infinite debt can be resolved only by an infinite saviour, and a Jesus who is not God cannot be that.
So if Jesus is God (and He definitely is) then the contradiction is resolved, right?
Not quite yet. Isaiah 44:24 is brought up as stating that God created alone, not with another being. The triune God is the only explanation for this.
Next time, I’ll address the creation of the plants.
The sluggard says, ‘There is a lion in the road! There is a lion in the streets!’
It’s easy to mock this sluggard (an old English word for a lazy, slothful person) without thinking about it. His excuse for staying indoors is pitiful. A quick glance outside will tell you that there’s no lion out there. It’s obvious that he’s just trying to get out of work.
So…why is this verse here?
Well, the Bible has a habit of exposing our flaws. I’m often in the middle of a Bible passage and scoffing at the Israelites’ folly or the disciples’ confusion when I realise that it’s there to apply to me.
So, in context of that, this passage implies that we have our own lions in the streets. That we make excuses to avoid going out and proclaiming the gospel.
What’s interesting is that, when they are mentioned in the Bible, lions aren’t typically a sign of evil. Rather, they are a symbol of God – in all His fearsome judgement. It is a symbol of God coming to redeem His people and humble the scoffers. In fact, this symbolism forms the basis of Aslan’s character in C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia. And with that knowledge, the meaning of this passage is very clear.
When we fear lions in the streets, what we are really afraid of is being found guilty before Jesus.
But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.
This article was originally from my other blog, at aesthus.wordpress.com.
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.
These verses are I Corinthians 6:9-10, ESV (emphases mine), and they have recently become some of the most contentiously translated verses in the Bible.
The problem, of course, is the phrase, ‘men who practice homosexuality’, which in the original text is the Greek word arsenokoitai. Before we translate this, it helps to know that it also pops up in I Timothy 1:9-10, so let’s consult that as well.
Knowing this, that the law is not made for a righteous man, but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and for sinners, for unholy and profane, for murderers of fathers and murderers of mothers, for manslayers, for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine…
Now, what does arsenokatoi mean?
Well, it turns out that it appears in a different form in Leviticus 20:13 as arsenos (man) and koiten (lay/mat/bed). Paul combined those two words into one which literally means ‘man lay’, or more accurately, ‘men who lay with men’.
And it is most certainly not a mistranslation. The other meaning of koiten – κοίτη – is litter. That doesn’t seem very ambiguous to me.
The other argument against this translation is the fact that homosexuality was rare to nonexistent within Christianity in the first century AD, and Paul wouldn’t have addressed it.
Oh, about that…God is omniscient.
He knows everything.
If He can inspire the Bible, send fire from heaven, and save the world through His Son’s death, are you telling me He can’t see into the future?
After all those prophecies?
That’s the trap of selective omniscience, and it can be hard to avoid. God is relatable, but He’s still ultimately powerful.
Note: I Corinthians 6:9 is not suggesting that those who have at one point in the past done these things cannot enter heaven; it states that they must repent first. There’s a silent unrepentant right before the list.
Thanks to Increasing Learning for this excellent article about arsenokoitai and its meaning.