17 February 2019

Drones prohibited

Your weekly Dose of Spurgeon



The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from Speeches at home and abroad, Pilgrim Publications, page 72.

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"All our members should be at work, with no exceptions, unless it be such as extreme sickness or disability." 

I was taken aback the other day when I heard a minister of large experience, who has been for many years a pastor of a very useful church, say that he did not think that more than five per cent of the members of our churches were actually serving God by direct Christian effort.

I began to inquire among my brethren, and although I challenge the statement as applying to the church of which I am the pastor, I have reason to believe that it is sadly near the truth as to many churches; for while a large number of workers would be reckoned up in our statistics, it would be found that the same persons are filling several posts of service, and so are counted several times over.

Those who work in one direction are usually the first to occupy yet another part of the field; but a still larger proportion were doing nothing beyond paying their subscriptions, listening to the preaching of the gospel, and, I hope, behaving themselves with moral decency. It is really a very degrading state of things, if such is largely the case.

My esteemed brother, who is a very apostle of Christ, Mr. Oncken of Hamburg, in forming Baptist churches in Germany, lays down as one of the first questions to be asked of a person applying for membership, “What will you do in the service of Jesus Christ?”

Perhaps the candidate says, “I can do nothing,” and in that case the pastor replies, “I cannot receive you; we can have no drones in this hive.” Or perhaps the candidate will reply, “What do you think I can do?” and the pastor will say, “Something you must do; you can only become a member of this church by engaging in some Christian service.” 

I would almost carry it so far as to say, "Unless you are laid aside by illness, you must continue to do something, or be excommunicated ipso facto by your doing nothing.” That might be too extreme a rule; but the spirit of it is right.

If it were a generally understood regulation that one of the conditions of church membership was service, we might see our churches rising to a far higher degree of zeal for God than they have ever yet attained.

11 February 2019

"What's Your Name?"

by Justin Peters



hen most of us think of John MacArthur we think of the precision of his preaching and the care with which he has handled God's word. We think of the courage he has displayed in interviews with Larry King and more recently Ben Shapiro as he has boldly declared unvarnished biblical truth and yet done so with love and compassion. All of these things are true.

There is another aspect of John, though, that has had just as much impact upon me as has his preaching. His humility.

Though I do not pretend to know him nearly as well as do many others, I have had the opportunity to see his humility come through in a couple of totally unscripted moments. One such opportunity came on a Sunday morning in November of 2017. I was guest preaching at the Grace Life Pulpit, led by Phil Johnson and Mike Riccardi. John knew that I was there with my wife, Kathy, and invited us to sit on the front pew with him during the morning worship service.

Kathy and I were not there by ourselves, however. Also with us was one of Kathy's close friends, Franke Preston, whom God soundly saved out of lesbianism just a year or so before, and Franke's then 19 year old niece, April. After Grace Life Pulpit the four of us walked to the sanctuary and sat down on the front pew. Kathy sat to my left followed by Franke and then April.

A few minutes after taking our seats John walks into the sanctuary from our left so the first person to whom he comes is April. He extends his hand to shake hers and said, "Hello, what is your name?" She responds, "April. What's your name?" Without missing a beat and without the slightest hint of surprise he responds, "Hi April, I'm John. It's so good to have you here with us this morning."

You see, April is lost. She does not know Christ. She had never heard of Grace Community Church and had no idea who John MacArthur even was. Imagine this scene for a moment and put yourself in John MacArthur's shoes. You walk into the sanctuary of Grace Community Church on Sunday morning for worship, greet someone on the front pew sitting there by invitation, she looks you in the eye and asks, "What's your name?" I'd be willing to bet that it is not often John MacArthur is asked that question—much less on a Sunday morning by someone sitting in the front pew of Grace Community Church. It had to have been at least somewhat surprising to him that this young lady did not know his name, but if it was, you would have never known it by observing this brief but revealing interaction between a seasoned pastor and a young lady who does not know Christ. He was so kind and gracious with her. It was an impromptu reveal into John MacArthur's heart that I will never forget.

Now, lest you think I am giving him undue accolades, I understand theologically that none of us as believers does anything with 100% pure motives. We live in a fallen world with fallen bodies, fallen wills, and fallen motives. Yes, we are new creatures in Christ; the old things have passed away and new things have come (2 Corinthians 5:17). Our hearts of stone have been graciously and sovereignly replaced with hearts of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26). But within every believer resides rebel outposts of sin that not even the most godly among us can completely put to death this side of glorification (Romans 7). John MacArthur is not an exception to this; a reality, I have no doubt, he would be the first to confirm.

But if anyone had reason to be prideful it would be John. He has preached through the entire New Testament verse by verse, has written dozens of books including a complete commentary set and systematic theology. He has likely done more to champion expository preaching, sound doctrine and equip pastors and churches than anyone in the modern era. He has now had a full half century of faithful pastoral ministry unblemished by scandal. There are very few men of whom this can be said. There can be no doubt that he has had to put to death the temptation to be prideful. But, at least from what I have observed, John does it as well as anyone.

The Apostle Paul was granted the magnanimous privilege of being caught up into the third heaven. Paul writes, "Because of the surpassing greatness of the revelations, for this reason, to keep me from exalting myself, there was given me a thorn in the flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me—to keep me from exalting myself" (2 Corinthians 12:7). Though Paul does not specify exactly what this "thorn" was (The Greek word σκόλοψ—skolops—is better rendered as "stake." This was no minor annoyance.), he does say that it was given to engender in him humility. It seems most likely that the skolops was a false apostle in the Corinthian church who opposed Paul and tried to turn others in the church against him.

John MacArthur has certainly had his detractors and to this day has been unfairly maligned and slandered. He has had more than his share of skolops. But I have never seen him return evil for evil. I have never seen him disparage those who disparage him. As the skolops developed in the Apostle Paul genuine humility, its modern-day equivalents seem to have done the same with John MacArthur.

I pray that one day April will come to be known by God (1 Corinthians 8:3). If so, she will almost certainly eventually come to know who John MacArthur is and will remember that Sunday morning he beautifully displayed to her true Christian humility.

I have learned much from John MacArthur's 50 years of faithful ministry. I have learned much about how to study and preach God's word. As thankful as I am for these things, I am equally thankful for the model of genuine humility he has been to me and countless others.

God gives true humility to His slaves, not to glorify them but to glorify Himself. The humility I have seen in John leaves me in awe of God for I know that this is the good fruit borne from a lifetime of study and application of the scriptures.

"God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble" (1 Peter 5:7). I am thankful for the tremendous grace God has given to John MacArthur.

JustinPeters

10 February 2019

Dwelling upon excellencies

Your weekly Dose of Spurgeon



The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from Speeches at home and abroad, Pilgrim Publications, pages 73-74.


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I remember when I came first to London preaching to eighty or ninety in a large chapel, but my little congregation thought well of me, and induced others to come and fill the place. I always impute my early success to my warm-hearted people, for they were so earnest and enthusiastic in their loving appreciation of “the young man from the country,” that they were never tired of sounding his praises. 

If you, any of you, are mourning over empty pews in your places of worship, I would urge you to praise up your minister. There can be no difficulty in discovering some points in which your pastor excels; dwell upon these excellencies and not upon his failures.

Talk of the spiritual benefit which you derive from his sermons, and thus you will induce the people to come and listen to him, and at the same time you will do him good, for the full house will warm him up and make him a better preacher, and you yourself will enjoy him the more because you have thought and spoken kindly of him. 

I have already said, those who are doing no good are the very ones who are creating mischief. Have you ever observed that exceedingly acute critics are usually wise enough to write no works of their own? Judges of other men’s works find the occupation of the judgment-seat so great a tax upon their energies that they attempt nothing on their own account. 

Mr. Gough used to tell a story of a brave man and admirable critic in Russia, who on one occasion was visited by a bear. Now, there was a ladder which led up to the room on the roof, and the aforesaid hero climbed it nimbly, and for fear the bear should come after him he took up the ladder, and left his wife with Bruin below. 

His wife, who must have been his “better half,” seized a broom, and began to belabour the beast right heartily, while her heroic lord and master looked on from above, and gave her his opinion as to her proceedings in some such terms as these: “Hit him harder, Betty.” “More over the nose, Betty.” “Try the other end of the broom, Betty,” and so on in the most judicious manner. 

Surely his spouse might have said, “Good man, you had better come down and fight the bear yourself.” Those who are doing nothing are sure to be great in discovering flaws in the modes and manners of those who bear the burden and heat of the day. Surely they would be much more nobly occupied, and usefully occupied, if they would show us our faults by doing better themselves.

05 February 2019

On Preemptive Outrage

by Jeremiah Johnson



t will come as a surprise to some to learn that the Dallas Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel contains no ultimatums. There are no threats about repercussions to follow for those who don't fall in line with its affirmations and denials. Not one use of the menacing phrase, "or else."

And yet, if you give ear to the persistent bleating of some overwrought discernment bloggers and evangelical gadflies, you might think the drafters of the Dallas Statement are guilty of making empty threats. That their collective bluff has been called, that they caved to compromise, and that they betrayed their fellow signatories, if not the very gospel itself.

Hogwash.

To refer to such foolishness as mere jumping to conclusions severely underplays its recklessness. We'd almost need to invent an entirely new sport just to adequately illustrate the perilous logical leap involved—one that includes a trampoline, a pole vault, roller skates, and a blindfold.

What triggered this chorus of complainers and their misguided manifestos? Of all things, it was the announcements of the guest speakers at last month's G3 Conference and the upcoming Shepherds' Conference. Both events feature speakers who, to varying degrees, have personally promoted the popular doctrines of the social justice movement in the church (or have expressly supported those who do).

The response from some corners of the church has been the sadly predictable rush to judgment—to disavow the conferences and decry the supposed failures of their respective figureheads, Josh Buice and John MacArthur.

I don't know Buice personally, but I had the privilege of attending the G3 conference, and can vouch for the fact that the conference theme—missions—remained unadulterated and unambiguous throughout, regardless of who took the stage. Not only was there an absence of crosstalk regarding social justice, Buice and the organizers hosted a pre-conference that put specific emphasis on defending the Dallas Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel. We heard from many of the original drafters—Voddie Baucham's message was particularly strong in its denial of social justice rhetoric. Neither G3 or the pre-conference were home to capitulation or sissified speech regarding the threat presented by the social justice movement. Put simply, it did not live up to the hype about all the confusion it might have caused.

On that point, a brief aside: I believe the single greatest cause of concern and confusion on this issue of who is speaking where is the constant barrage of handwringing articles about their potential to cause confusion. It should go without saying that when your calls for discernment are actively fomenting confusion, you're doing it wrong.



Never mind that the Dallas Statement wasn't about delivering an anathema, or even a prelude to one. The point wasn't merely to delineate new dividing lines—give the drafters more credit than that. Yes, it was a rebuke, but a loving, brotherly one, with an eye toward restoration. That sense is largely absent from the way believers today mark out and discuss their differences. God's people shouldn't be so eager to write off and dismiss one another. At the very least, we ought to be able to talk with and about one another in a way that evidences a sharp contrast to current social discourse, bringing salt and light into a world in desperate need of both.

By way of example, here are a couple paragraphs from the closing chapter of John MacArthur's book, Strange Fire.

I titled this chapter "An Open Letter to My Continuationist Friends" because I want to emphasize, from the outset, that I regard as brothers in Christ and friends in the ministry all who are faithful fellow workmen in the Word and the gospel, even if they give a place of legitimacy to the charismatic experience. I have good friends among them who label themselves as "reformed charismatics" or "evangelical continuationists."

The Charismatic Movement is teeming with false teachers and spiritual charlatans of the worst kind, as can be aptly illustrated by turning the channel to TBN (or any of several smaller charismatic television networks). Certainly I do not view my continuationist friends in the same light as those spiritual mountebanks and blatant frauds. In this chapter, I'm writing to Christian leaders who have proven their commitment to Christ and His Word over the years. Their allegiance to the authority of Scripture and the fundamentals of the gospel has been consistent and influential—and it is on that basis that we share rich fellowship in the truth.

Those so eager to signal the death and destruction of the Dallas Statement need to reread it in the spirit of those paragraphs, and the compassionate concern they communicate. God's truth is always an anvil, but not every situation requires our heaviest hammer.

You might think that G3's uninterrupted focus and uncorrupted pulpit would lead to more measured and circumspect pre-reactions to the Shepherds' Conference, or a ceasefire in the glowering prognostications altogether. You'd be wrong.

If anything, G3's lack of compromise has emboldened these prophets of doom. Full of their own virtue, they appear more confident than ever that the Shepherds' Conference is a bellwether of capitulation and corruption, and that John MacArthur is leading the charge.

That's right, the same John MacArthur who this week marks fifty years of faithful ministry in the pulpit of Grace Community Church. The same man whom church history will likely regard as this generation's premiere expositor of God's Word. The man who has shown time after time to be willing to take the unpopular stances that Scripture demands, and has held fast to the Word throughout countless battles for its authority, sufficiency, perspicuity, and relevance. It is that John MacArthur who they argue has now caved to corruption and compromise.

Frankly, I've had more than my fill of seeing these discernment wonks cite their respect for John MacArthur's decades-long track record of integrity, discernment, and faithfulness as the prelude to questioning his integrity, discernment, and faithfulness. If you really have so much respect for the man and what the Lord has accomplished through him, might that not lead you to reflect on your own, comparatively short track record of expertise? At the very least, shouldn't it give you some inkling that the flaws you're attempting to identify in his discernment are just as likely to be present in your own? Such humility is in short supply in the church these days, especially among those angling for the role of evangelical Jiminy Cricket.

At the very least, can't you holster your weapons and wait for an actual offense to take place before writing off the man altogether? Does a half century of integrity and faithfulness—not to mention the personal spiritual influence you profess he has had on you—not merit at least some measure of circumspect restraint? Doesn't love hope for the best rather than presume the worst?

And if your conscience is so weak that the mere presence of these speakers is tantamount to a betrayal of the Dallas Statement—or perhaps the gospel itself—let me encourage you to hold back your word vomit and not inflict yourself on the rest of us. The church is chock full of spiritually immature confusion; we don't need yours, too.

That might be the great tragedy of this latest rush to judgment. The church—of all places—ought to be the last bastion of circumspect wisdom and thoughtful responses. We ought to be the most patient and forbearing, and the least likely to overreact and jump to conclusions. We ought to be able to see the counterproductive trends that dominate the world's discourse today, and we ought to strive to be markedly better.

If you can't bring yourself to do even that, then you ought to pack it in altogether. Your tongue is a dangerous flame, and this world is already on fire. We could—and should—be doing much more important work with the time it takes to stamp out your ginned-up controversies and endless outrage. For the edification of the saints and the growth of Christ's kingdom, please shut up and step aside.

Maybe learn to code.

Jeremiah's signature

04 February 2019

Five Decades of Faithfulness Will Inevitably Come under Attack

by Hohn Cho



Update: See the P.S. below for answers to some of the questions about John Perkins and John MacArthur.

his week at Grace Community Church and beyond, we are celebrating faithful ministry from the same pulpit by Pastor John MacArthur for the incredible period of 50 years. For many earnest Christians, it's an opportunity to thank the Lord for the work of His servant—or to use a better translation, His slave—who has been laboring joyfully for God's Kingdom and the benefit of His saints. Here's a great interview between MacArthur and Phil Johnson to mark the occasion.

And of course, it is inevitable that any Christian engaged in public ministry over five decades of faithfulness will come under attack. We can see this throughout church history, and also in Scripture, which warns in John 15:19 that precisely because God has chosen the faithful out of the world, the world will hate us. That's a theme the apostle John echoes in 1 John 2:15 and 1 John 3:13. And yet the Word also promises us in Psalm 34:19 that "Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all."

The latest "controversy" is brought to us by a website that even upon cursory inspection appears to be, shall we say, of questionable repute. In its "About" section it states plainly, "We don't claim to not have spin. Our biases are evident." And sprinkled throughout the website are stories labeled with the "Conspiracy Theory" tag and links to clickbait ads with lurid and tawdry titles. I'm not going to dignify the hit piece with a link, but the essence of the claim is that MacArthur lied about his associations and experiences during the Civil Rights Movement.

Johnson responds briefly but clearly here. I would only add that neuroscientific studies demonstrate that memory is a highly fallible and unreliable tool under even excellent circumstances, much less after you add multiple decades of intervening time and the rigors of increasing age. The term "fade to gist" (coined by Dr. Charles Brainerd of Cornell) seems particularly apt, and whether Charles Evers was actually present or merely on the phone after a call from his secretary, or James Earl Ray was standing on a toilet or a bathtub, or a trip to the crime scene took place hours or days after the tragic assassination of Martin Luther King, the underlying "gist" would seem to be the same, and generally in line with MacArthur's consistently-related accounts.

That the article author, as well as Charles Evers' "interviewer" (who comically attempted to conceal his voice, but in such a low-tech manner that a few moments of investigation with readily-available tools apparently exposed the ruse), would manufacture this fake "controversy" in their continuing, axe-grinding grudge against MacArthur is no surprise, given their incorrigibly vitriolic hostility toward him in recent years. The Word may have something to say to them in Proverbs 6:16-19 and 10:18. Neither is it surprising that certain WVW cronies and "watchblogs" and "discernment ministries" would give maximum exposure to this hit piece, because that's just their stock in trade.

It's both saddening and at least mildly surprising to me, however, that certain professing Christian "social justicians" would seize upon this thin reed and attempt to use it like a club against MacArthur. The seeming eagerness to pass along this false report in violation of Exodus 23:1 by some on Twitter has been something to see. Could it really be that simply because MacArthur has disagreed with them plainly and biblically on the topic nearest and dearest to their hearts, that they would actually be excited to see a faithful man of God be taken down, regardless of the motive of the accuser and even more, the validity of the accusation? That's an attitude more akin to someone bewitched by an idol, than a believer!

Anyone wishing, hoping, or preferring that MacArthur lied rather than the far more reasonable, understandable, and most of all charitable explanation of a misrecollection by one or more parties really ought to have his head (and even more, heart) examined.

You'd think that they'd gain a clue from watching the mainstream media over the past few weeks, as it's been burned leaping to conclusions forwarded by people with an agenda, whether it's the Buzzfeed report about the Mueller investigation that was refuted by Mueller's own team, or Nick Sandmann and the Covington Catholic kids who were unfairly excoriated by an American Indian Movement activist with a history of false statements.

Sadly, however, in one of the great ironies of the "social justice" movement, the mavens of so-called tolerance are hardly tolerant of others who decline to subscribe to their overzealous worldview. This movement which calls for charity and mercy toward the most vulnerable is actually among the most uncharitable and merciless for those who refuse to toe the party line. I shudder when I think of Matthew 7:2 and even more, James 2:13, from the famous passage on partiality, as applied to some of the most severe and unrelenting "social justice" commissars.

I'd urge Christian social justicians to pray and repent of any celebration of scurrilous attacks against faithful proclaimers of the saving Gospel. I'd urge them to tread very carefully in this regard, and to examine their own lack of forgiveness for matters like this, and even more, past wrongs of decades or even centuries ago, and current offenses of the microaggression variety. As my fellow elder, Mike Riccardi, said elegantly, "Woke theology teaches Christians to regard one another according to the flesh, to nurse bitterness, keep records of wrongs, and build walls that Christ has torn down. Gospel unity teaches Christians to regard one another in Christ alone, to forgive, absorb wrongs, and be at peace with all." I haven't yet found a better short biblical summary for what many of us who are in accord with the Statement on Social Justice find so wrong with the Christian "social justice" movement, and so I'll just leave it at that.

Hohn's signature

P.S.


03 February 2019

Up or down?


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Your weekly Dose of Spurgeon





The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from the Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, volume 38, sermon number 2,281, "Our Lord in the valley of humiliation."


"The lower he stoops to save us, the higher we ought to lift him in our adoring reverence."

Did Christ humble himself? Come, brothers and sisters, let us practise the same holy art. Have I not heard of some saying, “I have been insulted; I am not treated with proper respect. I go in and out, and I am not noticed. I have done eminent service, and there is not a paragraph in the newspaper about me.” 

Oh, dear friend, your Master humbled himself, and it seems to me that you are trying to exalt yourself! Truly, you are on the wrong track. If Christ went down, down, down, it ill becomes us to be always seeking to go up, up, up. 

Wait till God exalts you, which he will do in his own good time. Meanwhile, it behoves you, while you are here, to humble yourself. If you are already in a humble position, should you not be contented with it; for he humbled himself? If you are now in a place where you are not noticed, where there
is little thought of you, be quite satisfied with it.

Jesus came just where you are; you may well stop where you are; where God has put you. Jesus had to bring himself down, and to make an effort to come down to where you are. 

Is not the Valley of Humiliation one of the sweetest spots in all the world? Does not the great geographer of the heavenly country, John Bunyan, tell us that the Valley of Humiliation is as fruitful a place as any the crow flies over, and that our Lord formerly had his country house there, and that he loved to walk those meadows, for he found the air was pleasant? Stop there, brother. 

“I should like to be known.” says one. “I should like to have my name before the public.” Well, if you ever had that lot, if you felt as I do, you would pray to be unknown, and to let your name drop out of notice; for there is no pleasure in it. 

The only happy way seems to me, if God would only let us choose, is to be known to nobody, but just to glide through this world as pilgrims and strangers, to the land where our true kindred dwell, and to be known there as having been followers of the Lord. 

01 February 2019

A Creationist and Evolutionist Rapprochement?

Response to "Ten Theses on Creation and Evolution That (Most) Evangelicals Can Support": Part 2
(See part 1 here.)

by Dr. Colin Eakin



Christianity Today has published an article by Todd Wilson entitled "Ten Theses on Creation and Evolution That (Most) Evangelicals Can (Mostly) Support." These theses—termed "Mere Creation" when first developed—were the result of some "grappling" (Wilson's term) that occurred when he brought his belief in evolutionary creationism to his new church and its commitment to a literal six-day creation paradigm. What was the outcome? Part 1 of this two-part post reviewed the first five theses along with Wilson's supporting commentary. We now continue with a look at the final five theses, with some concluding remarks.

  1. Human beings are created in the image of God and are thus unique among God's creatures. They possess special dignity within creation. This is a true statement, taken right out of Gen. 1:26-28. But don't miss how Wilson's embrace of evolutionary creationism places himself in a real pickle as a result of this thesis. Evolutionary creationists cannot say that the version of humans we see today are the ones made in God's image. Why not? Because evolution presumes the human species, like all species, is constantly progressing to a more highly developed form through environmental adaptation. In an evolutionary paradigm, every species is always evolving to a higher order of being, and this must also include humans. Thus, for the evolutionary creationist, there is no way around this dilemma: either humans are never quite made in God's image, because they continue to evolve, or they are made in God's image because God is evolving just as they are. Both are profoundly unbiblical perspectives.
  2. There is no final conflict between the Bible rightly understood and the facts of science rightly understood. God's "two books," Scripture and nature, ultimately agree. Therefore Christians should approach the claims of contemporary science with both interest and discernment, confident that all truth is God's truth.

    Two books of infallible truth? Hardly. Jesus declares God's Word to be truth (John 17:17). He says, " . . . If you abide in my Word . . . you will know the truth . . .." (John 8:31-32). Thus, believers can be certain that if their convictions about anything—natural or spiritual—are anchored to the Word of God, they will always be aligned with God's truth. But God never made the same promise about His creation. He never said to anchor oneself according to discoveries about the natural world made by finite minds. He never said that the origin of the universe and everything in it could be uncovered using scientific constants of today applied to the beginning of time. In fact, He says the exact opposite. In Chapter 3 of his second epistle, Peter specifically instructs the reader not to assume uniformity of natural processes at the beginning and end of time. He writes that foolish scoffers will be the ones to say, " . . . all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation" (v. 4), with the obvious implication that you do not want to be a foolish scoffer. Peter goes on to unveil that catastrophic events outside the bounds of uniformity marked the creation of this world, and will also mark its end. Using this paradigm, where uniformity of nature is not presumed at the bookends of time, we have a framework from which to acknowledge the uniformity we see in the present, while at the same time we can trust the Bible's literal rendering of how the world began and how it will end.



    Note also that if you take Wilson's "two books" proposal to its logical conclusion, it actually makes all truth relative. How so? Wilson contends his two sources of truth will ultimately agree, but he admits that this might only be seen in eternity. Until then, what happens when they yield conflicting conclusions? Which source gets the final say? The Bible? Science? Sometimes one and sometimes the other, whichever seems to be the most compelling? That is the definition of relativism, and is certainly not the approach of a biblical inerrantist. Ironically, this was the approach of the mainline Protestant church and other institutions (e.g. Fuller Seminary) in the 20th century, when in a Faustian bargain they surrendered biblical inerrancy in order to curry favor with the world. The result? A landscape of institutions fast declining into irrelevancy, having no discernible sign of (nor any interest in) biblical orthodoxy whatsoever. Mark this: whenever one sees the proposed "two books" paradigm in operation, the Bible is always subordinated to the latest so-called "scientific" discovery, with a predictable corresponding deterioration into heterodoxy, then apostasy, and ultimately heresy.

  3. The Christian faith is compatible with different scientific theories of origins, from young-earth creationism to evolutionary creationism, but it is incompatible with any view that rejects God as the Creator and Sustainer of all things. Christians can (and do) differ on their assessment of the merits of various scientific theories of origins.

    The Christian faith is not compatible with evolutionary creationism, theistic evolution, or whatever term of the day is in vogue. But don't take my word for it. This assessment is according to the ultimate Master, the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Where? As noted previously, Jesus Himself refers to the creation of Adam and Eve as a historical event in Mark 10:6 (cf. Matthew 19:4), where He quotes from both Gen. 1:27 and 5:2: "But from the beginning of creation, 'God made them male and female.'" In those twelve words, Jesus utterly refutes the underpinnings of evolutionary theory.

    How so? First, Jesus uses the past tense—"made"—to confirm the creation of the first humans as a finished product. In other words, the process was immediate and complete, not developmental and ongoing, as must be the case with evolution. Second, Jesus states that this male and female were created "from the beginning of creation," and not billions of years after the world was formed. And since—according to Jesus—humans were created "from the beginning of creation," the sixth day on which they were created must have so close in time to the first as to be nearly indistinguishable in the whole of creation. Third, by claiming that, "from the beginning, God made them male and female," Jesus is here establishing human sexual reproduction as the means by which the species has procreated from its inception. This statement of Jesus invalidates the possibility that humans could have ever derived from single cell organisms via asexual reproduction. With an eloquence and economy of words that only the Lord Himself could devise, Jesus completely exposes and repudiates the lie of evolution.

    How do we know Jesus was referring to a specific Adam and Eve in His reference to male and female originating at the beginning of creation? From the context of Jesus' statement. In Mark 10, Jesus is explaining God's perspective on marriage and divorce. As He continues (Mark 10:7-8), Jesus quotes Genesis 2:24: "'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.'" To what reason is Jesus referring? He is referencing the prior verse in Genesis 2:23: "Then the man said, 'This at last is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.'" What man? The only man referenced in Genesis 2, and actually named in verse 20: Adam. Thus, these verses specifically relate to the instantaneous and mature creation of woman from Adam. In fact, the only man and the only woman in the Bible up until this point were the first man and woman, Adam and Eve. So, by referencing Genesis 2, Jesus clearly affirms his belief in the creation of a literal Adam and Eve on the sixth day of the earth's existence. It may be that, according to Wilson, "Christians can (and do) differ on their assessment of the merits of various scientific theories of origins." But Jesus is clear where He stands on the issue.

  4. Christians should be well grounded in the Bible's teaching on creation but always hold their views with humility, respecting the convictions of others and not aggressively advocating for positions on which evangelicals disagree.

    This thesis is in itself an oxymoron. How so? Ask yourself, how can Christians be "well-grounded in the Bible's teaching on creation," and yet not defend that ground when confronted with any challenge to that ground? Being "well-grounded," by definition, means to stand your ground. It means to understand something in a way that will not move you from your foundation. Well-grounded Ph.D. students in any other field are expected to make a defense of their foundation of knowledge when their course of study is complete; no degree ensues without it! But Wilson wants well-grounded students of creation to bend at the slightest breeze of opposition, if that opposition is coming from someone who professes to be of the same faith. This isn't biblical humility; this is post-modern, theological drivel! Following this advice, Jesus would have remained politely silent or even agreeable when Satan presented Him with what he had learned from Scripture (Matt. 4:6). As it happened, Jesus did not respect the conviction of another (in this case, the devil), but rather aggressively advocated an opposing position, rebuking Satan's false interpretation of Scripture with His own true one (Matt. 4:7).

    In contrast to Wilson's idea, biblical humility occurs when one completely submits one's own contemplations of the world to God and His Word. The humblest Christians are those who stay most true to the Word of God, not letting the appearances of the world disengage them from commitment to the truth of the text (Prov. 3:5-6). This goes against the trend in post-modern evangelical Christianity, where a so-called "hermeneutic of humility" has arisen, which in reality is nothing of the sort. This hermeneutic suggests that certainty and intransigence in presenting one's own convictions on a topic of controversy is arrogant and spiritually immature. Wilson claims, "In practice, humility and a desire to preserve ecclesial unity mean respectfully listening to the views of others. It also means not agitating for change or grandstanding with one's own views. On a complex, sensitive, and contentious issue like origins, it is best for evangelicals of goodwill not to aggressively advocate for positions on which evangelicals disagree." Elsewhere he writes, "It is a sign of childhood or adolescence to be agitated by a less than black-and-white world."

    Really? Jesus was polemically agitated in His hostile interaction with the Pharisees on "complex, sensitive and contentious issues," such as the kingdom of God, proselytizing, the Sabbath, tithing, persecution of His faithful messengers and the like (Matt. 23:1-36). Later in the NT, the Apostle Paul writes that we are to be imitators of him, as he is of Christ (1 Cor. 11:1). So what does Paul recommend when the truth of God's Word is under assault, passive regard or confident rebuke? His model is Christ as he compels the church in Corinth to, " . . . destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete" (2 Cor. 10:5-6). So Jesus gets agitated when the black-and-white instruction of God is assailed, and Paul does the same. How can the true believer do anything less?

    Why was Paul so incensed at arguments and lofty opinions raised against what God has said in His Word? Because false teaching in one area has a way of spreading to all areas, and with false teaching comes proclivity to sin; the book of Jude lays this out plainly. Because of this, Paul writes to that same church in Corinth, "Who is made to fall (i.e. drawn into sin), and I am not indignant?" (2 Cor. 11:29b). According to Paul, righteous indignation in the face of false teaching is the appropriate and indeed, biblically prescribed reaction for those who would establish themselves as true followers of Christ. As Pastor John MacArthur has said, one sign of Christian maturity is when God is dishonored and you feel the insult. Now obviously, not every theological difference is a polemical hill on which to die. But as we have already established with Thesis #1 in Part 1, the issues at stake if a literal, historical view of Genesis 1-2 is surrendered are comprehensively devastating to the Christian faith. This is why, on the issue of creationism versus evolution, the admonition of Paul pertains: " . . . the Lord's servant must not be quarrelsome but kind to everyone, able to teach, patiently enduring evil, correcting his opponents with gentleness. God may perhaps grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, after being captured by him to do his will" (2 Tim. 2:24-26).

  5. Everything in creation finds its source, goal, and meaning in Jesus Christ, in whom the whole of creation will one day achieve eschatological redemption and renewal. All things will be united in him, things in heaven and things on earth.

    This is the sort of statement one expects from someone who is not a true biblical inerrantist, and therefore struggles to comprehend the true plan of God, as found in His Word. It is true that Jesus Christ is the source of creation (John 1:3; Col. 1:16; Heb. 1:3), that all things presently hold together in Him (Col. 1:17), and that, in time, all things will be united in Him (Eph. 1:10). It is not true that everything in creation finds its source in Jesus Christ, for that would make Him the Author of evil, which the Bible repudiates (Hab. 1:13; James 1:13; 1 John 1:5). It is also untrue that the "whole of creation will one day achieve eschatological redemption and renewal." Much of creation is headed for devastation and ruin, when Jesus returns to judge the earth, inflicting vengeance and promising eternal destruction on those who rebel against God and do not obey the gospel of the Lord Jesus (2 Thess. 1:8-9). We'll concede Wilson's larger point is true, that ultimately everything in this world—including evil—is ordained for the glory that the Father is bestowing upon His Son. But the Son's preeminence above all things is precisely why it is so important to see what Christ has to say about origins (see Thesis #8 above). Since our Master's position on origins negates any consideration of evolution, so must our own.
Conclusion: As you can see, the theses upon which Wilson and his church have joined in agreement on the issue of creationism versus evolution leave much to be desired. These ten "theses" should cause the biblically committed believer to grieve for both Wilson and his congregation; Wilson for his meager understanding of both biblical inerrancy and the limits of science, and his congregation for their error in judgment that brought him to their pulpit. No effort to bridge the divide between those who believe in some sort of evolutionary creationism and those who hold fast to a literal creation scheme will ever be successful. While one side holds fast to the truth of the text, the other routinely jettisons these textual convictions whenever human reasoning based upon so-called "science" commands, regardless of formal protests of inerrancy or a "high view" of Scripture. And once one begins to allegorize the Scripture to accord with the unsubstantiated conjectures of finite minds, where is the end point? Why stop playing fast and loose with Scripture at Genesis 2? In fact, most evolutionary creationists do not stop there, which is why most who side with evolution also stray into ideas of egalitarianism, supersecessionism, preterism, postmillennialism, and similar sorts of theological error. Wilson's article should stimulate biblically-faithful believers to commit themselves to uphold the biblical record of Genesis 1-2 in a literal historical manner, and refute those who would peddle any evolutionary alternative.

Dr. Colin L. Eakin Pyromaniac

Dr. Eakin is a sports medicine orthopædic surgeon in the Bay Area and part time teacher at Grace Bible Fellowship Church's Stanford campus ministry. He is the author of God's Glorious Story.