Creation

A good unifying summary statement about the Creation account in Genesis:

We believe that the Scriptures, and hence Genesis 1-3, are the inerrant word of God.  We affirm that Genesis 1-3 is a coherent account from the hand of Moses.  We believe that history, not myth, is the proper category for describing these chapters; and furthermore that their history is true.  In these chapters we find the record of God’s creation of the heavens and the earth ex nihilo; of the special creation of Adam and Eve as actual human beings, the parents of all humanity (hence they are not the products of evolution from lower forms of life).  We further find the account of an historical fall, that brought all humanity into an estate of sin and misery, and of God’s sure promise of a Redeemer.  Because the Bible is the word of the Creator and Governor of all there is, it is right for us to find it speaking authoritatively to matters studied by historical and scientific research.  We also believe that acceptance of, say, non-geocentric astronomy is consistent with full submission to Biblical authority.  We recognize that a naturalistic worldview and true Christian faith are impossible to reconcile, and gladly take our stand with Biblical supernaturalism.

The Committee has been unable to come to unanimity over the nature and duration of the creation days.  Nevertheless, our goal has been to enhance the unity, integrity, faithfulness and proclamation of the Church.  Therefore we are presenting a unanimous report with the understanding that the members hold to different exegetical viewpoints.  As to the rest we are at one.  It is our hope and prayer that the Church at large can join us in a principled, Biblical recognition of both the unity and diversity we have regarding this doctrine, and that all are seeking properly to understand biblical revelation.  It is our earnest desire not to see our beloved church divide over this issue.

taken from http://www.pcahistory.org/creation/report.html

They go on to provide a brief history and analysis of the varying views that have existed within the Church over time.  For example, here is a summary of their study regarding views that were held from the time of the Early Church up to (and including) the formulation of the Westminster Confession:

  • First, it is apparent that there existed in the church prior to the Reformation two broad tendencies in the interpretation of the Genesis days: one more figurative, the other more literal—the Calendar Day view.
  • Second, the Calendar Day view was advocated in both the eastern and western parts of the church (Basil, Gregory of Nyssa, Ambrose and Bede), as was the figurative view (Origen, John Scotus Erigena and Augustine).
  • Third, the Calendar Day view appears to be the majority view amongst influential commentators. Certainly, it is the only view held by contemporary Reformed theologians that is explicitly articulated in early Christianity.
  • Fourth, the issue of the length of the creation days was apparently not taken up in any ecclesiastical council and never became a part of any of the early ecumenical creedal statements.
  • Fifth, the Reformers explicitly rejected the Augustinian figurative or allegorical approach to the Genesis days on hermeneutical grounds.
  • Sixth, the Westminster Assembly codified this rejection, following Calvin, Perkins and Ussher, in the Westminster Confession.
  • Seventh, there is no primary evidence of diversity within the Westminster Assembly on the specific issue of whether the creation days are to be interpreted as calendar days or figurative days.  Such primary witnesses as we have either say nothing (the majority) or else specify that the days are calendar days.

A pdf version of the entire report is available here:
http://www.pcahistory.org/creation/report.pdf

He’s Talking to You (and Me)

The Apostle Paul said:

Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.  Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share.  In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life. (1 Timothy 6:17-19, NIV)

 

According to Randy Alcorn:

If you have:

sufficient food,
decent clothes,
live in a house or apartment,
and have a reasonably reliable means of transportation,
you are among the top 15 percent of the world’s wealthy.

If you have:

any money saved,
a hobby that requires some equipment or supplies,
a variety of clothes in your closet,
two cars (in any condition),
and live in your own home,
you are in the top 5 percent of the world’s wealthy.

(Money, Possessions, and Eternity)

 

Jesus said:

I tell you the truth, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God. (Matthew 19:23-24, NIV)

 

 

What God Can’t Do

Thought for the day:

Do not ascribe to man an ability that God himself does not possess: the ability to do that which is contrary to his character.

 

God cannot violate His character.  God cannot sin, because He is completely holy.  God cannot lie, because He is the source of all truth (Heb 6:18).  God cannot cease to be who He is (2 Tim 2:13).  All His actions are consistent with His character.

Although we sometimes say that people do things that are “out of character” for them, that is technically not true.  What we mean is that someone has done something that is unusual for them; something that is seemingly inconsistent with the characteristics that they normally display.

A person who makes right choices displays character that has been redeemed by the grace of God.  A person who makes wrong choices displays character that has been marred by the sin nature inherited from Adam. (Luke 6:45)

Even the most righteous man will make wrong choices sometimes.  Those wrong choices are not contrary to his character, but evidence that his character is still flawed.  A wicked man cannot do what is right, unless God intervenes to change his character.

Man has the ability to choose, but he is not “free” to choose that which is contrary to his character.

A Higher Standard for Elders

Q:  Is a church elder held to a higher standard of personal conduct than the “average” Christian?

A:  It depends on what you mean by “higher standard.”

Anyone who is serious about the authority of Scripture would agree that a church elder must satisfy the requirements that Paul lists in 1 Timothy 3:1-7 and Titus 1:6-9.

Some churches see these requirements as unique requirements for eldership, requirements that are not necessarily expected of all Christians.  Such churches might allow that there are cases where a Christian may legitimately divorce, but they would say that a divorcee may not be an elder, because an elder must be the “husband of one wife.”  Similarly, some churches acknowledge that, while the Bible warns about the dangers of intoxicating beverages, it does not forbid their consumption.  While acknowledging that the consumption of alcohol is a matter of Christian freedom, they may still require an elder to completely abstain from alcohol, because they believe that this is part of the “higher standard” to which elders are called.

I believe that this is a faulty view of the requirements for an elder.

There are not two different standards for Christian conduct: one for elders, one for everyone else.  All Christians are held to the same standard of conduct.  All Christians are expected to be chaste, hospitable, temperate, gentle, self-controlled, etc.  The standard is perfect conformity to the image of God.

However, no Christian can live up to that perfect standard.  Since no Christian actually meets the standard, should the role of elder be open to any Christian, regardless of how fall short they fall?  No, an elder should meet a “minimum” standard of maturity.  While no Christian is perfect, there is a range of Christian maturity.  The biblical requirements for an elder are a way of saying that an elder must be “this far along” in their sanctification.

So, if by “higher standard” you mean that an elder must meet certain requirements not expected of other Christians, then I say, no, the Bible does not teach that.

But, if by “higher standard” you simply mean a greater degree of conformity to the one high standard of Christian living, then I will agree that the “entrance requirements” for eldership are higher than say, the entrance requirements for church membership.

What Constitutes Christianity?

On his blog today, Al Mohler takes issue with some recent comments from Joel Osteen: Does Joel Osteen Not Know, or Does He Not Care?

Mohler:

Joel Osteen is in the news once again, this time for saying that Mormonism is just another form of Christianity.

The main point of concern in Joel’s latest comment is the lack of any biblical standard of judgment and the total abdication of theological responsibility.

He doesn’t “get hung up” on doctrinal issues, nor has he “really studied them or thought about them.”

Not to heap criticism on Osteen, but Mohler is right that all Christians need to think deeply about what constitutes Christianity, and what beliefs separate authentic Christianity from non-Christianity.  We are constantly bombarded with different ideas about what “Christianity” should look like.  Are these different ideas just different opinions from various Christians, or do some of them deviate from actually being Christianity?