06 July 2006

All wet: an essay about miracles

by Frank Turk

I have, against my better judgment, been reading the waterfall of comments at BHT regarding whether or not we should "believe" or "believe in" Noah's Ark, and whether there's anything to be gained in playing Indiana Jones in seeking out the remains of a big wooden boat which somehow beached on a mountain top a few thousand years ago.

Let me say, first, that I unequivocally believe that God covered the Earth in water and spared one family because of His relationship with the father of that family, Noah. And let me also say that Noah was a wine-bibber, and that the first thing he did after thanking God for the promise of the rainbow was to plant a vineyard, grow some grapes, make some wine, and get drunk -- proving that Noah wasn't saved because he was inherently good, but because God is merciful. I believe it, and I really don't have any arguments to support my belief.

I also, by the way, am not looking for archeological proof or evidence. For example, I am not really interested in funding expeditions in to all the mountains of Turkey, Iran and Iraq in order to find the remnants for the big boat. And that has nothing to do with blindness of faith or intransigence of ignorance: it has to do with the reason I believe that Noah built an arkie-arkie.

My reason, for whatever you take it to mean, is Jesus Christ. See: in my view, it is historically indisputable that Jesus Christ died, was buried, and then did something as amazing as building a big boat and putting 2 of every animal onto that boat, and then living on that boat for about a year until the water went down. Jesus Christ, in an event as real as the failed missile tests by North Korea, was raised on the third day, and was raised in such a way that He was able to walk the 7 miles to Emmaus with two of His own disciples and discourse with them about the Scriptures and what those said about the Christ.

See: most people discount the value of the resurrection to only spiritual or supernatural or metaphysical meaning. It's a nice thing to think about on Easter, I guess -- that Christ's resurrection gives us (the ones called out) a promise of eternal life in Heaven. It's a great idea in fact.

But what most people miss out on is the riches of the Gospel in the resurrection. When Paul tells the Corinthians that Christ died, was buried, and then was resurrected, he doesn't just trumpet the resurrection as a religious or spiritual event: he proclaims that these things were done in accordance with the Scriptures.

You english-speaking people in many ways gloss over that, but when Paul writes that he means the event happened in the way the Scriptures had already said they would happen. That is, history was conformed to what was written in the Scriptures. So in his proclamation, Paul is saying that God's promises in Scripture, and God's truthful in Scripture, are all pointed toward this event. And more importantly, they are also justified or established in this event.

So when Jesus walked out of the tomb, our understanding of history has to now take into consideration and weigh that there is only one account of the events which saw this coming, and which based its reputation as reliable and authoritative on this thing happening. There is only one account of the events of all of history which pointed to this, and was written specifically for the sake of explaining this event. And that account says that Noah built an Ark, and the water covered the Earth, and that this guy who walked out of the tomb said, "They were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and the flood came and destroyed them all." (Lk 17:27)

I believe in Noah's Ark because Scripture is justified as reliable based on its predetermined revelation of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus, who is Messiah. Jesus' resurrection forces us to stand on God's turf and not on the ground we think looks best to us. And take off your shoes, because this is holy ground.










45 comments:

Mike Y said...

Amen!

Even So... said...

Yeeeehaaaawww! Now we're talkin'!

The basis of our faith is the Word of God.

The focus of our faith is Jesus Christ.

The result of our faith is holy living.

The end of our faith is the salvation of our souls (1 Peter 1:9).

marc said...

Frank, In spite of your protestations on searching for evidence, I'm in the process of producing a documenterary film of my recent discovery of Noah's Ark. It was origianlly uncovered in the 1930's in the Catskill's and had been turned into a dinner theater for summer vactioning east coast upper middleclass jewish families. The film should be ready this fall.

FYI Shecky Green performed there in the 50's.

BugBlaster said...

You don't think that we should only order the food that we think tastes good?

Gavin Brown said...

Some guy in a comment thread over at Challies (who posted on the same thing, sort of) suggested that what most practically happened to the Ark is that it was stripped down and used as building material, since everything else on earth was useless for construction (being wet and all)...he's probably right, though there's no way of proving it.

Jonathan Moorhead said...

You silly biblicist - you're no fun.

Ben said...

Those people in that picture are buck naked!!!

TeamPyros is descending into smut faster than anyone could have imagined.

Steven Dresen said...

It wasn't two of every animal it was a pair of all the unclean animals and seven pairs of all the others... not to be pickey but you have to be exact with God's word. God bless.

Gordon Cloud said...

Pretty cool post you have here, Frank. It works for me.

Hoshea said...

"My reason, for whatever you take it to mean, is Jesus Christ. See: in my view, it is historically indisputable that Jesus Christ died, was buried, and then did something as amazing as building a big boat and putting 2 of every animal onto that boat, and then living on that boat for about a year until the water went down."

Huh? Funny typo.

Phil Johnson said...

Ben: Wardrobe malfunction. Sorry.

centuri0n said...

Hoshea: I guess I am blind. I don't see a typo.

Steve said...

Frank said, "then did something as amazing as building a big boat"

The editor in me wants to render that "then did something MORE amazing than building a big boat."

Otherwise, excellent post.

Hoshea said...

Frank,
I get what you're saying. At first read, in my head, it seemed like it was saying that Jesus built the boat and all that...my bad.

Jason E. Robertson said...

Frank, your post today was a refreshing reminder to me of the great joy that comes to those who believe the Bible! This post should be read in every seminary apologetics class. It is also proof that sound exegesis is more powerful than archeology and apologetics combined.

centuri0n said...

Hoshea:

Yeah, that's what you get when you're your own editor.

Steve:

I think it's pretty miraculous to take 100 years to build a boat and then round up 2 of every animal and squeeze them all in. My meaning is this: every miracle is a miracle. But there is one miracle which establishes the truth of all the others.

C. T. Lillies said...

One of the great things about not being a towering intellectual is that great posts like this can actually sneak up on me. So I just read through it and got to the verse in Luke and went "OH!" then I had to read the thing again. Loved it.

Keep it lit brothers!
Josh

DJP said...

Ben & Phil -- at least none's dressed in Goth or punk.

chamblee54 said...

So when Jesus walked out of the tomb, our understanding of history has to now take into consideration and weigh that there is only one account of the events which saw this coming, and which based its reputation as reliable and authoritative on this thing happening. There is only one account of the events of all of history, which pointed to this, and was written specifically for the sake of explaining this event.
I don't believe this.
1- There is a tradition in Korea of an avatar arriving there. Today, we have the phenomenon of Sun Yung Moon, the reputed Lord of the Second Advent. This is widely regarded as the result of a self fulfilling prophecy.
Could this be what was happening with Jesus? The coming of the messiah was foretold for centuries, and then an apparent avatar arrives on the scene. When the story is written years later, the account of the resurrection is tacked on for good measure.
FYI, the Unification Church sees itself as the successors to the Christian tradition, just as the Christians were the successors to the Jewish tradition. They teach that Jesus failed in his mission.
While I don't agree with the Moonie view, I think it is important to remember that not everyone agrees with your view. Also, this is another religion that comes out of a tradition of prophecy regarding avatars.
Before I go any further, I should emphasize again that I am NOT a Moonie, and I do NOT agree with their teachings.

2- "only one account of the events which saw this coming".. What about the documents that were lost when the library at Alexandria was burned? What about any other writings that have not survived into the post Nicean age? What about the stacks of holy books written in India? It is entirely possible that other seers told this tale. Were there any other versions that were suppressed by the early church?
3- There are stories in China of a great flood in ancient times. If their was a flood of this magnitude, wouldn't it have spread to China?
4- This kind of story shows the problems inherent in declaring a man made text to be the "word of god". If you base your faith on a book, then that does not leave much hope for the rest of us who do not share your belief in that book.

Even So... said...

Your belief is given by God, it is informed by the Bible...and yes, if you do not believe in the Word of God, you are without hope...and no, I do not "relish" saying that so as to "silence" you, I know I cannot do that, but I do say you have no hope without Christ because it is true...

donsands said...

Thanks Frank. Good stuff.

54,

"Then He [Jesus]said to them, 'These are the words ... which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.' And He opened their understanding that they might comprehend the Scriptures.
Then He said to them, 'Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, ..." Luke 24:44-46

centuri0n said...

Chamblee has, of course, stumbled upon the interesting problem of the resurrection: if you would rather believe anything else than what was frankly reported by many witnesses, you don't have to believe any of it.

And that's fine -- but why come back, Chamblee? Let's imagine for a second that you're actually convinced that Jesus is a historical fraud and a lie. Why keep seeking out arguments from people who allegedly hate you and who are deceived by a lie?

Taliesin said...

Frank wrote (in the comments):
But there is one miracle which establishes the truth of all the others.

To this statement and the entire post, I join in with Mike's, "Amen!."

chamblee54 said...

zdsb“Why keep seeking out arguments from people who allegedly hate you and who are deceived by a lie? “
All my life, bully Jesus Worshippers have yelled at me.
Now, I have a chance to yell back.
“if you would rather believe anything else than what was frankly reported by many witnesses,”
What about the witnesses that disagree? How were people encouraged in their memories, when these texts were written 70+ years after the crucifixion?
And how do we get these “eyewitness accounts”? We get them in the Bible. And what if that part of the Bible is not true?
It all comes back to belief in a book. A book written by man, edited by a Catholic committee, and translated by employees of the Gay King of England. While it is possible that this text was inspired by God, and that large parts of it are true, it is preposterous to call it the inerrant word of God.
The spell check suggestions for inerrant are inert and ignorant.

Peter D. Nelson said...

Hi Gavin I'm the some guy at Challes and I still say that's the best explanation of what happened to Noah's Ark.

But may I say Frank, again you have blown my mind well done!

Broken Messenger said...

Frank,

Good post, but with one question that I can see being seized upon by the Taveristas. I'll go ahead and ask it because I am curious too and I like expediency as much as anyone:

Are you making a link here between a belief in the biblical account of Noah's ark and a belief in historical resurrection of Jesu?

This is to say, are you making any claims that by anyone saying they don't believe the accounts of Noah's ark that therefore this is indicative in any way of not having a full belief in the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ?

Brad

donsands said...

I like Frank's thought on luke 17:27. And I agree.

Question: If someone says they do believe in the ressurection of Christ, but they do not believe in the flood, then would they believe Christ was misinformed, and even wrong with His statement?

C. T. Lillies said...

Well, if "that part of the Bible" isn't true then "we of all men are most miserable." Thats why Jesus is called the Cornerstone. Without Him the whole thing tumbles down.

You know what I really like about folks who say things like, "I don't believe it"? They're being honest about it. Give me a room full of guys like that any day. At least they're not just sitting in a pew acting like they believe it. They're are skeptical and vocal about it--and thats a good thing, says so in the Bible. The trick is to not let skepticism sour into cynicism and become so jaded that you can't draw rational conclusions from answers to your questions given by folks who care enough to give 'em. It ain't easy.

The other great thing is that we're all going to find out one of these days whether or not Jesus is in fact who he says he is in the Bible. I'm looking forward to it.

Josh

centuri0n said...

Brad:

You're not going to bait me into another Santa debate, bro. :-)

Listen -- the point of my post, Chamblee and the bar talk notwithstanding, was to indicate that there is only one miracle in the Bible, really, that we have to "worry about". Spending time, for example, looking for the planks of Noah's Ark, or looking for the furnace into which Shadrach, Mishach and Abednego were tossed into, or trying to figure out how the "sun stood still" without rending the entire solar system asunder ... these are interesting trivial pursuits, I guess.

Personally, I'll admit something for all of them: I have no idea how God pulled them off. I'm blank. But what I cannot do in the face of my empty cup of reasons is this: I cannot trade off the truthfulness of Scripture to assuage my own allegedly-rational "doubts" or "concerns".

When I say "I cannot", I am affirming that I am convinced, as Paul clearly was in affirming both Rom 1:1-7 and 1Cor 15:1-4, that Scripture is God's very word which is conforming the acts of History to His will.

So in that, I also admit that I have not idea about the Bill Nye, Science Guy details about how the crucified-to-death body of Jesus was resurrected, nail and spear holes and all, to new life -- in the same way that I could never tell you how the burning bush worked, or how the Red Sea parted.

But when I come to the resurrection, I don't simply say, "well, that one I believe without any questions -- because, well, you know ... I'm ashamed to tell you I'm a Christian. I have to believe that one or I'm just a stammering idiot who contradicts himself."

What I say -- and what I'm suggesting anyone who says he is a Christian reading this post ought to say because it is the case Scripture makes -- is that the resurrection is the keystone of our faith and of all the promises and accounts of history made by God. So, for example, when some athiest or some nutty liberal wants to force us to explain how water, exactly, turns into wine (and what % alcohol does it then yield, and is there any sediment), or some frankly-nutty literalist wants to make it his archeological mission to prove all the miraculous events of the Bible down to the condemnation of the fig tree, reasonable people of good faith ought to simply not go there.

Reasonable people -- the kind who don't get fooled by carnival barkers and door-to-door salesmen. Why? Because we are not declaring a Gospel which needs to be substantiated by Noah's Ark, or the fiery furnace friend, or water coming from a stone, or a brass snake which could heal people when it was lifted up and they turned to it. We are declaring a Gospel which is substatiated by the empty tomb of Christ and by His physical appearance to so many witnesses.

Listen: if you can believe that, you actually understand the Gospel -- which does not need your good works to save you or anyone else. That is, we don't have to prove that Joseph could interpret dreams in order to tell people about the Good News. It's not foundational: in a very real way, it is subordinate to the resurrection.

And when you actually understand the Gospel, you can then preach the Gospel.

Preach. The. Gospel. Do you see? The discussion which inspired this post was a kind of askance-look at the web site of a(nother) guy who claims to have found Noah's Ark. And you know what? I agree with the sentiment that this kind of pursuit (Ark hunting) is disreputable. but when we come back to the question, which they asked over at BHT, "do we believe in Noah's Ark?", the answer has to be: "I believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, and that is the only substatiation I need or require in order to truth the account of the Flood."

If some person wants to say, "oh geez -- I just can't buy the Flood because of the geologiocal preconditions blahblahblah ..." I say to that person, "I have no idea what you're talking about." if the Flood is that big a leap for you, I have not idea why you think the Resurrection is a smaller leap, and why you would bother to defend it.

I don't doubt that person's faith: I simply have no idea why he stands by it. He has already given up on the question of whether God works in time or not to do what He declares He will do. If "reasonable" and "rational" are the motives for giving up on the Ark, and they trump God's words' account, you have a very troubling place from which to start defending the persona dn work of Jesus Christ.

Is that fair enough without stepping on any toes?

centuri0n said...

and forgive ny typos, the the substitution of "truth" for "trust". I'm typing quickly before work and immediately after waking up.

centuri0n said...

Chamblee:

So I read your reasning for coming back to be that because you have been bullied, you now have a right to bully.

Nice. Glad your moral compass is locked on "north".

Fred Butler said...

I have always been convinced that if the ark was found and it was for certain the ark of Noah (or what was left of it), the unbelieving world will find some convenient excuse to explain it away. Say for instance, it was secretly built by the army at the orders of George Bush so he can shore up the Republican voting base in 2008 with the religious right.

So goes the sinful heart of man.

I wrote a similar piece a few months ago.

Fred

centuri0n said...

for Don:

The answer to your question, I think, is "how do you determine what is and is not trustworthy in the Bible?"

If the answer is, "I trust the Bible when it agrees with what I think I know about the world," you do not trust the Bible: it is a source no better or worse in your opinion than the newspaper or a blog.

If the answer is, "I trust the Bible and therefore will conform my views to it even when I am not quite sure how to work out the details," you are not using some external epistemological device to put 45% of the Bible in some kind of probationary status until you can provide an engineering drawing or a chemistry experiment which can then substantiate your claim that God did this thing in history.

Can someobody believe in the resurrection and not in the flood? I think there are plent of people who say that they do. The question, really, is why? And then: what does it say about their view of what the resurrection means in terms of understanding God's revelation?

centuri0n said...

And just to make things interesting, let me say "enlightenment and modernist presuppositions" without any context just to see what happens.

donsands said...

Thanks Frank for the good thoughts. I have some friends and family who struggle with the first eleven chapters of the Bible.

I don't quite get the next comment on "enlightenment" though. It could be me I guess.

Gummby said...

If the answer is, "I trust the Bible when it agrees with what I think I know about the world," you do not trust the Bible: it is a source no better or worse in your opinion than the newspaper or a blog.

Ding, ding, ding--we have a winner! Because if you feel like this about the Bible, what is the point in actually conforming yourself to what it says? Even atheists can say they trust the Bible like this.

I'll admit to being intrigued by your other question, though. If you find someone (at BHT or elsewhere) that has a rationale for believing in the Resurrection but disbelieving other parts of the Bible, I'm interested to hear it.

On a side note, you're also implicitly arguing for Presuppositonalism and against Evidentialism here, but who has time for that discussion on a Friday?

Broken Messenger said...

Is that fair enough without stepping on any toes?

Frank,

First, let me say that we agree on these points perfectly. I was just curious, as to the "behind the scenes" distinctions you might be making. No toes stepped on here.

Brad

chamblee54 said...

"Personally, I'll admit something for all of them: I have no idea how God pulled them off. I'm blank. But what I cannot do in the face of my empty cup of reasons is this: I cannot trade off the truthfulness of Scripture to assuage my own allegedly-rational "doubts" or "concerns".

When I say "I cannot", I am affirming that I am convinced, as Paul clearly was in affirming both Rom 1:1-7 and 1Cor 15:1-4, that Scripture is God's very word which is conforming the acts of History to His will."
This is the closest that you come to an actual argument in favor of the concept that the Bible is the word of God.
Question, can you take a quote from a text and use that quote as evidence that this text is the word of God? What is to stop anyone from writing a book, and making the claim in that book " This is the word of God"? And, what about the Billion Muslims who make the same claim for the Quaran?
Come to think of it, couldn’t those quotes from Romans and 1 Corinthians be used to support the idea that the Quaran is the word of God?
As for my other comments (i.e. Asian prophecies and flood histories) you are consistently silent.
As usual, you managed to get some personal digs in. You must not be able to argue facts, so you resort to ad hominem retorts.
Maybe you should finish your coffee before you post.

centuri0n said...

Great Question Chamblee.

Here's my suggestion: check the Koarn and all the other Holy Books of the word for what they say about how they establish their divine authority. here's what you get, more or less: "This book is divine because it says so."

So far, you seem to be onto something, right?

Now check the Bible. The Bible says that you should believe what it says because it provides prophecies which you can check out and see if they were fulfilled or not. That is, prophets were to be stoned if they provided prophetic evidence and it didn't come to pass (Deu 13), and if you didn't stone them for their "proof" prophecies (because they came true), you then ought to listen to and believe their "thus saith the Lord" prophecies.

The Bible says that fulfilled prophecy is the standard of proof -- and it also says that the ultimate objective of prophecy is this savior called "messiah" in the Hebrew, and "Christ" in the Greek. (Luke 24:25-27; Rom1:1-7; 1Cor 15:1-4) In that way, what we have is a book, written over a millenium or two, which makes statements about a man who would come, including his death and resurrection. When Jesus is crucified and then resurrected, we have something no other holy books even claims to provide: fulfilled prophecy including a frankly-supernatural event.

As for being consistently silent about anything you have said, you never answer any straight questions in a straight manner -- so again, you want something you will not give. But for your sake, re-read my answer here. If you can find another holy book which makes the kind of claim for itself the Bible makes -- that is, that it will provide evidence for its claims -- then you will have done something no one in history has done before you.

Last of all, if yopu can identify any ad-homs in this thread from me to you, please cut-and-paste them. An ad-hom is constructed by saying, in effect, "because Chamblee is a mediocre artist, you cannot truth his views on theology" -- which is to say, because you are bad in one way, you cannot be trusted in another. On the other hand, if one says, "because Chamblee justifies his admitted bullying because he claims to have been bullied, you cannot trust his criticism because he doesn't understand logic", that's not ad-hom: that's pointing out you don't have any idea what a logical argument looks like.

Thanks for asking.

centuri0n said...

Gummby:

I think there is a kind of evidentialism in Scripture -- via prophecy. It is not the kind that William Lane Craig practices. It ios the kidn where God says, "Here's what I'm going to do," and when He does it we gain confidence through His ability to act in a frankly-sovereign way.

But I also agree with you. have a nice weekend.

chamblee54 said...

The prophecy-fulfillment cycle you mentioned could be the result of after the fact editing.
Also, it does not "prove" that something is "the word of God" even if it is true.
The only way something can be accepted as "the word of God" is through faith.
I should also note the use of the singular "the". This implies that all other holy books are false, even those which have a similar message to the bible.
I will repeat myself...the first commandment prohibits worshipping a book. When you say the Bible is "the word of God", you are in effect holding that book up as a God before you.
As for the ad hominem thing. I have always understood ad hominem to mean attacking the messenger...that is, attacking the person instead of what he says. I may be mistaken in this.
However, you did say:
Chamblee:

So I read your reasning for coming back to be that because you have been bullied, you now have a right to bully.

Nice. Glad your moral compass is locked on "north".
Aside from being a twisted rendering of what I said (which was an answer to your question, btw), this bit of "bullturk" sidesteps the concerns I had expressed in my previous comment.
Perhaps a better answer to your question... "Why keep seeking out arguments from people who allegedly hate you and who are deceived by a lie? ...Is four fold.
1- It is fun. It is cheap entertainment. I don’t have to hear your voice, see your face, or work with you later. I can have my little playtime argument and then go on about my life.
2- I am an optimist. I would like to hear something that I can believe. I would like to hear a reason why the Bible is the word of God, other than " I told you so"
Also, I would like to maybe see why so many people enjoy Jesus. Jesus has been a source of misery to me, but apparently others see this differently. I am hoping you will give me some insight into this, but so far all I have recieved is insults and sophistry.
3-I am interested in your response to the other issues I raised in my initial comment.
4- This is not a church. This is the internet. If you make a fire breathing sermon in a church, no one is going to disagree, at least not out loud. However, you are saying things that I profoundly disagree with, and I want a bit of evidence.
You (or Daddy Phil) can throw me out at any time. I am here by your grace. Now, there is a topic for a sermon.

centuri0n said...

What is interesting, Chamblee, in your theory is that there's zero evidence for it. It is based on a "possibility" that could have happened but has no particular details to point to in order to say, for example, that either Isaiah 53 or the accounts of all 4 Gospels have been the subject to revision so that they comply with each other.

Notice also that your theory doesn't account for the lack of confirming criteria from the other holy books. isn't iot funny that if this "editorial process" happened, it only happened in one specific set of religious books which have a direct relationship to the only person in history who had witnesses who saw him resurrected from the dead?

You are welcome to believe you hyypotheses if that's what you think is right. You're been given the Gospel repeatedly here, and if it's not convincing to you, I admit (as I have in the past) that I cannot convince you: I can only tell you what it is. I have done that.

After that, you call me all the names you can invent. I have been called worse by worse.

God bless you.

Dan Paden said...

...the first commandment prohibits worshipping a book. When you say the Bible is "the word of God", you are in effect holding that book up as a God before you.

Hmmm. Hmmm. Hmmm. What I found most interesting here is that if you don't think the Bible is the Word of God, then the first commandment has absolutely no force, no validity, in the first place, rendering you free to do whatever you darn well please. If you don't believe the Bible to be God's Word, citing it seems a rather pointless exercise.

chamblee54 said...

I detect a bit of circular logic here. First, you say you believe the story of prophecy and fulfillment because it is in the book. Then, you say you believe the book because it has a story of prophecy and fulfillment. Somewhere in the midst of this, the book became known as the word of God.
As for the comment on the first commandment…I didn’t read that in the Bible. I saw it in a sign at the courthouse.

Brian C. said...

"I have, against my better judgment, been reading the waterfall of comments at BHT regarding whether or not we should "believe" or "believe in" Noah's Ark,..."

I enjoyed a lot of your article and maybe this doesn't matter but at the BHT there were 6 comments about this topic. 2 were jokes. One was a generalization about what most people on the blog likely believe that went on the mention that its author believes the flood happened as described in the Bible ("as is"). The remaining 3 were about the credibility of this supposed new finding in Iran.

It wasn't really a watershed and no one questioned "believing in the flood". Like I said, this was, all-in-all a nice post but that was a strange way to launch into it.