“How do you tell Olaf that a summer at the beach will kill him?” SOC: Oversharing on the Internet
This post is for those close to me. This is for those occasionally confused by why I say what I say, those who have persevered through this blog, occasionally commenting in civil discourse. This is for the lurkers, for those of you that say nothing, and are inwardly struggling with your faith, but dare not let anyone know, for fear of social consequences.
Many of you have known me since childhood, and are somewhat perplexed my my theological changes over the years, as exemplified in this blog. Interestingly enough, I recently had an online conversation with a stranger, that reflects exactly what those changes are. I’ve kept the person’s name anonymous, out of courtesy.
The person’s comment was on my Facebook page, as a response to the following blog post: Where did Cain find his wife, and who was he afraid of?
Anonymous: Theistic evolution goes directly against scripture. Therefore by one man sin entered the world and death by sin…..you cannot have death before Adams sin.
Me: Actually, there had to be death before sin, otherwise metabolism wouldn’t be possible at all. Plant life is life, and plants have DNA, and in order to be able to eat plants or eat fruit, they have to die. If plants die, then life with DNA already has death working in it, without anyone sinning.
Me: [linking to an article] No Death Before the Fall – A Young Earth Problem
Anonymous: The more common definition of life up until the late 1800s was understood to be human and animal, that is meat creatures. Plants were declared good for food, and therefore when Paul wrote romans he was talking about the fallen nature where man and animals created to live eternally, would now die. And yes plants die, but it is clear that the death being described in Genesis is a spiritual death where the spirit is separated from God and where the spirit is separated from the body in physical death plants having no spirit do not die in this fashion there for the death of plants being eaten by men was not included as death.
Anonymous: However plants were affected by the fall in that now they die cease to function from the disease and things that they were not intended to die from before the fall
Me: Seeing as DNA wasn’t discovered until 1869, and then we had no idea it had anything to do with trait inheritance until 1943, it’s safe to say that the “common definition of life up until the late 1800s” was incorrect.
Me: Also, you don’t actually know what a spirit is, though I’m sure you’ll claim you do. The bible is not specific. No two christians on the face of the earth are in complete agreement on what a spirit is. Some think it’s a ghost like thing, some think you “have” a soul and a spirit, some you “have” a spirit and that soul and spirit are the same thing. Some think you “are” a spirit, you “have” a soul, and you “live” in a body.
If you read the story of the rich man and Lazarus, the rich man is in Hell/Hades/torment, and he still has “eyes” “ears” a “tongue”, he still apparently has metabolism because he’s “thirsty”.
Even Martin Luther, the great reformer, disagreed with most evangelicals on the concept of spirit. He believed that when Christians die, they cease to exist, except in the memory of God. Only at resurrection, does God re-create you to face judgement. As far as the person is concerned, since he is not conscious during his non-existence, it seems that he is instantaneously at judgement at the moment of his death. Thus we are all judged at the same time, regardless of what time period in which you lived.
So I said all that to say, you have no idea what a spirit is. No one does except God.
Me: [pulling quotes from the article, since I figure she’s not going to read the article, but she might read my comment] Traditional Jewish exegesis such as Midrash (Genesis Rabbah 38) says that Adam spoke Hebrew because the names he gives Eve – “Isha” (Book of Genesis 2:23) and “Chava” (Genesis 3:20) – only make sense in Hebrew. – Wikipedia
“Genesis one specifically describes the creation of wild animals, (Gen 1:24-25) which are the carnivores. The Hebrew words used to describe the creation of these animals refers to animals that eat other animals…
Before the creation of Eve, God brought the animals before Adam for him to name. The text makes it clear that Adam, and not God, named the animals.10 This is important for an understanding of what Adam had seen prior to the Fall. If the young earth creationists are correct, one would expect the names of the carnivores to reflect the non-carnivorous activities of these creatures prior to the Fall. However, Adam gave some very unusual names to some of the carnivores. For example, the Hebrew name for lion is derived from the Hebrew root that means “in the sense of violence.” Was Adam referring to the violence with which the lion ate its vegetables? It doesn’t seem likely! In addition, Adam named some of the predatory birds using a Hebrew word with the meaning “bird of prey.” Were these birds preying on fruits and nuts? In naming the eagle, Adam used the Hebrew word whose root means “to lacerate.” Was the eagle ripping up plants with its talons? Likewise, the Hebrew root for the word “owl” means to “do violence to” or “treat violently.” Although it is possible that Adam named the animals in some language other than Hebrew, and that those names were entirely different than the Hebrew ones, there is no biblical evidence for this idea. Even so, if the names were transliterated into Hebrew at a later point, one would assume that they would carry forward their original meanings, or else the Bible would have never made a big deal about Adam giving the animals their names….
Further support that Adam had seen death before the creation of Eve comes from God’s threat to Adam. When Adam was first put into the garden, God said that he could eat from any tree except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God threatened that Adam would “surely die” if he broke this command. This threat makes no sense unless Adam had already seen the death of animals. There is no recorded reply of Adam asking what death was. If he had never seen death this would have been an obvious question. This, along with Adam’s names for the carnivores, is strong biblical evidence that Adam had already seen the death of animals before the Fall and before Eve was created.” – No Death Before The Fall – A Young Earth Problem (cited above)
Anonymous: All I can say is the bible says death entered the world thru sin. And I believe my bible over my eyes.
Me: No you don’t. Otherwise, you’d cross the street with your eyes closed.
“The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord: and he delighteth in his way.” – Psalm 37:23
“He will not let your foot slip– he who watches over you will not slumber;” – Psalm 121:3
“In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.” – Proverbs 3:6
“for we walk by faith, not by sight.” – 2 Corinthians 5:7
The truth is, like everyone else, you choose when to believe the bible, and when to believe your eyes, and choose when the bible is being metaphorical and when it’s being literal.
You might be able to convince yourself you believe the bible over your eyes, because that sounds like a nice “Christian thing to say”, but the rest of us (both Christians and non-Christians) see right through it.
At the same time, I don’t have a problem with you believing that, as an act of faith between you and God. Actually I respect it in a way. I only have a problem when you go trying to debate a point as if it’s true, and then “I believe my bible over my eyes” is your rebuttal. It’s better to be silent, because such an answer will actually turn people away from the truth of God’s word and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
God bless you though. I know you have good intentions.
Anonymous: Forgive me, but you are an idiot.
Anonymous: Just for the misuse of the verses above.
Me: They were misused on purpose. To show you exactly what you’re doing. 😉
Me: “But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca,’ is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.” – Matthew 5:22
[Conversation over. What remains is her giving me clues that she didn’t actually read my article that she was commenting on, and me ending the conversation. Seriously, you should read before you comment.]
A Biblical Case for an Old Earth
I’ve never been a Young Earth Creationist, as far as the age of the earth was concerned, though I did agree with their rejection of evolution during my private school days. From Kindergarten to the 5th grade, I went to public school and was taught evolution. I took it in stride, and didn’t really see any conflict with my bible. I’d always focused on the Jesus story, and not much of the Old Testament (aside from the epic battles, which interested me). Then my dad bought me a Dake’s Annotated Reference Bible, and I started to read my bible basically every single day, because Dake’s commentary made it so interesting. I was reading that Dake Bible like I was Milo from Disney’s Atlantis: The Lost Empire.
According to the lingo, I was an “Old Earth” Creationist.
Then in my early 20s, I read a book by David Snoke, PhD2, called A Biblical Case for an Old Earth. This was the book that caused me to abandon Gap Theory, and just subscribe to an Old Earth based on the scientific evidence alone. I’d been so trained to mistrust any evidence if it came from the mouth of an “evolutionist” (which Snoke is not, by the way), so it took a Christian Old Earth Creationist to hold my hand and take me through the scientific and scriptural evidence for an Old Earth and death before The Fall to feel “safe.”
As I read the evidence for Earth’s age, I found no conspiracy to undermine the Bible. It was just geology, astronomy, and chemistry. I was pissed.
My opinion of Young Earth Creationists – whose textbooks I’d been reading in school, and whose opinions I was at times ready to succumb to – fell to an all time low when I read how the U.S. Navy discovered magnetic stripes on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean, in an effort to better detect enemy submarines. The stripes which occur about every 10 miles, symmetrically on both sides of the Mid-Atlantic-Ridge, show a geological record of hundreds of flips of Earth’s magnetic field, an event that according to modern analysis of earth’s magnetic field and it’s spinning core, is only supposed to happen about every million years or so.
“So this is what Creationists have been in a huff about all these years??!!!”
Snoke goes on to explain that God created carnivores – scary teeth and all – and that there was animal death before Adam’s sin. Remember that Snoke does not believe in biological evolution as I do now. He explains how the Garden of Eden was a special place of protection for Adam and Eve, and that the world outside the garden was full of animals, animal death, viruses, bacteria, and scary sea monsters. Basically, if God were to come down tomorrow and re-create a Garden of Eden, where nobody got sick or died, so long as they were inside the garden…then, save for the advancement of human technology and 7 billion of us on the planet now, it would be the same situation as Genesis 2. Animals eating each other, dogs dying of rabies, etc. all going on outside the garden.
Here’s an excerpt of his preface:
This book was instigated by a debate within the Presbyterian Church of America (PCA), my own denomination, in regard to the orthodoxy of the old-earth position. “Young earthers” say that the earth and all of creation is at most ten or twenty thousand years old, essentially the same age as the history of modem humans. “Old earthers” say that the earth is billions of years old, in agreement with the assumptions of modern geology. Some Christians insist that the old-earth position is theologically heretical, or at least heterodox, and some in my denomination want to deny pastors the right to preach if they do not hold to a young-earth view. The debate is not restricted to my denomination, however. Unfortunately, this issue threatens to divide Christians-many well-known seminary professors and teachers such as Meredith Kline and Michael Horton adhere to an old-earth view, while notable figures such as John MacArthur, for whom I have great respect, have publicly called the old-earth position theologically “liberal,” or heterodox.
Theological liberalism does exist. We have seen a century of slide on almost every church doctrine. Because many Christians react so strongly against liberalism, however, sometimes leveling the charge of “liberalism” is an easy way to dismiss an opposing argument. Some Baptists dismiss those who baptize infants as liberal; Catholics who believe in the Latin rite dismiss those who believe in using the vernacular as liberal. This happens with more esoteric issues, as well: some people who believe in the eschatological doctrine of a pre-tribulational Rapture view all who disagree as liberal; within my own denomination, some have dismissed Presbyterian authors like R. C. Sproul and Francis Schaeffer as liberal because their writings do not conform to the doctrines of presuppositional apologetics expounded by Cornelius van Til. On many of these issues, however, Christians have learned that we can fellowship with people with whom we disagree on broad issues of interpretation of Scripture because we know that at least they share with us a strong view of the inerrancy and primacy of Scripture. Each of us must be convinced from Scripture, and often this means we must adopt a minority view for the sake of conscience, even if most conservatives believe otherwise.David Snoke. A Biblical Case for an Old Earth (pp. 7-8). Kindle Edition.
What is a Christian?
Christians need only fit the following description:
If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10:9
He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved–you and your household.” Acts 16:30-31
“If you love me, keep my commands.” John 14:15
Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. John 14:23
In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God. 1 John 5:3-5
Somewhere along the line, someone added in, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘The world is 6000 years old,’ and vote Republican, you will be saved.” (‘Merica 10:9, words of Jesus in red, white and blue)
Past Experiences with this type of thinking
It’s actually this type of thinking, that Anonymous championed, that started to pull me away from the church while I was in college. Fortunately, I was able to differentiate between propaganda of imperfect followers of Christ, and Jesus Christ himself, which is why I’m still a Christian today. Not everyone has made that demarcation:
When I left what I will call modern Christianity was during the SB1062 controversy. The place I worshiped, and a host of churches posted pro SB1062 signs out front. Now, outside of my objection to politicizing a place of worship, can you see how this would be a negative message to the lgbt community. A clearer declaration of (to borrow from Yancy) “no undesirables welcome” rather than “there are no undesirables” that I can think of…
I do not take the mantle Christian, but mostly out of shame. I am ashamed of my brothers and sisters in Christ and I am ashamed of the state of that word. I would call many houses of worship on my valley the eye of the needle, because it appears that many rich men are entering the kingdom of heaven, but their mission of pushing family values and conformity to the outer trappings of religion is not compelling. An acquaintance
I actually wrote about the Arizona SB1062 controversy, in my efforts to do damage control.
During the Caitlyn Jenner controversy, you probably noticed on social media that Christians split into two major camps. One group were the storm troopers, and the other the medics. For the most part, both groups actually agreed on root of the matter, they just disagreed about how to engage the culture about it.
Making yourself feel better
The idea that some Christians actually believe that they believe the bible over their eyes, is a topic I’ve previously handled in greater depth. The professionals go much farther than our friend, Anonymous. They ascribe to themselves magical powers: Can you know for certain that God exists?
“I believe my bible over my eyes.”
I admit that would’ve made me feel pretty good a decade ago. Even now, I can hear the tune of Onward Christian Soldier playing in the background as I make my valiant stand.
Sometimes I think we Christians say things just to make ourselves feel better, not to actually follow any scriptural commands, and even if it has the opposite effect of what we actually want.
There is a basic human-to-human etiquette that many Christians choose to ignore when talking about God or their beliefs. I tend to say to people, “If God exists…,” when talking to a non-believer, even though I definitely believe God exists, because we as Christians take it for granted that God exists. Many don’t ignore this etiquette because the bible tells them to, they do it because they’re antisocial. On the flip side of this, many people don’t actually reject Christianity or Jesus, or even the idea that they are sinners. They reject you.
After many years in the Christian faith, and hanging around so many imperfect human beings, myself included, I began to find that religion is often just as much about personality types as it is about faith.
You’ll find that certain denominations and doctrines appeal to certain people, not because of the legitimacy of such belief, but rather the expressive outlets it gives people with a personality type conducive to it’s adherence.
Martin Luther, the great reformer was a stubborn, obstinate man. He said of himself, “I eat like a Bohemian and drink like a German, thanks be to God for this. Amen.”
His personality type was very confrontational, and he railed against the Pope.
“You are the prostitute of heretics!”3
“As far as I have been able to see and hear, you have no argument but high-sounding words of sacrilege. Everyone ought properly to shun and avoid you as messengers of none other than the devil.”4
“Even if your writings were from an angel from heaven I would take this horrible document, and, after having used it as toilet paper, wipe its nose.”5
“Get out in the name of a thousand devils, and break your neck before you are out of the city.”6
“I was frightened and thought I was dreaming, it was such a thunderclap, such a great horrid fart did you let go here! You certainly pressed with great might to let out such a thunderous fart – it is a wonder that it did not tear your hole and belly apart!”7
“The devil rides you.”8
It is then of no surprise, that there are many in the Reformed tradition to which I presently adhere (I was raised a Charismatic with more of a John Wesley tradition), more or less, who mirror the personality type of the great reformer, and think they do good.
Those people holding “God hates fags” signs outside of funerals aren’t Christians who were convinced to be bigots. They’re bigots who became convinced they were Christians.
The reason you know this, is that if you’re born into such a group, and you don’t have that personality type…no matter what, you eventually have doubts and leave. From what I know about cults, it’s usually very few people at the top that keep the culture going. The instigator class create the culture, the sheep class just want to fit in and mimic the culture, and the incompatible class feel uneasy and try to keep it a secret until they can’t anymore, and then get reported on by a sheep, or they just run away.
I remember almost two years ago when I said in a blog post (cited earlier):
The fledgling movement [Presuppositionalism] has all but died, and due to the loss of moral authority of Christians worldwide, no person of any widespread public repute accepts Hovinds position, Christian or not. Can you know for certain that God exists?
Presuppositionalists that came across that blog post simply couldn’t fathom what I meant by that.
They said things like, “My pastor is a respected apologist and theologian, with a Th.D.9“, or that he was called onto a news station to debate such and such an issue. Basically, they acted like I was just out of the loop about who is and isn’t respected in the public eye.
What they didn’t understand is that their pastor, or whoever it may be, is not a respected apologist and theologian outside of their tiny little bubble. What they didn’t understand is that he was called onto whatever news network because they needed to cast someone as the “crazy extremist” for ratings, not because they somehow respected him as a thought leader.
You want to know what a thought leader looks like?
Martin Luther King, Jr.
People don’t agree with half of what they say, but for some reason, they can’t help but like them anyways. I wonder why…
So, what did I mean by that quote, especially regarding the loss of moral authority in Christianity?
I meant this: when you assume the position of the nation’s police force, rather than the nation’s conscience, you lose moral authority. It’s when you try to use the sword of the government to enforce your religious laws on a populace that you cease to be seen as a thought leader. You’re rather seen as a bully.
People always turn on the bullies sooner or later.
It’s embarrassing to say that we’ve failed at being the police, and at being the conscience. We could have failed on the latter, and still been respected, but we failed at both.
Olaf is already on the beach
The day is already here where scientists, philosophers, politicians, and thinkers won’t debate Christians. Even Bill Nye received push-back for his debate with Ken Ham, but it’s pretty obvious that was more of a stunt to promote his book Undeniable than anything else.
Folks, the truth is you had eyes before you ever had a Bible. And if you didn’t believe your eyes, you wouldn’t have believed the words in the bible as you read them for the first time.
There is nothing wrong with believing your Bible. In fact if you’re familiar with this website, you’d know I think it’s a good thing to believe your Bible.
But anyone with a twinge of common sense sees right through the claim, “I believe my bible over my eyes,” or ears, or whatever else you might concoct. And they probably thinks less of the Bible and Christianity in general, not on their own standing, but by virtue of you being a lousy ambassador.
In 60 a.d. you could travel in from another town, go to the public square, say, “Jesus is Lord; he died for your sins and rose again; his grave is empty; convert and be saved,” and people generally wouldn’t question it. In 2015, anyone you talk to has likely already heard of Jesus, thanks to 2000 years of church history, television, and the internet, and has likely already formed an opinion.
Evangelism has to change to accommodate that shift in information gathering, and you can’t go around saying nonsense just to make yourself feel good.
I like to think of Ovienmhada.com as that little snow cloud that followed Olaf around, so he wouldn’t melt in the sun.
* * *
Picture Credits: Disney Enterprises, Inc. (Frozen, Atlantis: The Lost Empire)*
This was before Google and Wikipedia, so I had no idea the trouble he got in until long after I had abandoned Dake’s annotated KJV for just a regular ESV bible.↩
PhD in Physics.↩
From Explanations of the Ninety-Five Theses, pg. 185 of Luther’s Works, Vol. 31↩
From Concerning Rebaptism, pg. 259 of Luther’s Works, Vol. 40↩
From The Keys, pg. 362 of Luther’s Works, Vol. 40↩
From Letter to the Christians at Strassburg, pg. 69 of Luther’s Works, Vol. 40↩
From Against the Roman Papacy, an Institution of the Devil, pg. 344 of Luther’s Works, Vol. 41↩
From Against the Heavenly Prophets, pg. 157 of Luther’s Works, Vol. 40↩
You might have never heard of that. It’s called a Doctor of Theology “D.Th.” or “Th.D.”↩