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Ethan

Thanks for this, Chris.

I have been studying Job and Jonah recently, and in the past I have been challenged that these accounts are not an historical event but simply a parable. I'm not exactly sure when people started believing books in the Old Testament were just parables, but I appreciate your reminder that Jesus himself (as well as the apostles) spoke of the Old Testament accounts as being literal, historical events.

Another passage from the Old Testament helps us with the historical figure, Jonah:
"[Jeroboam] restored the border of Israel from Lebo-hamath as far as the Sea of the Arabah, according to the word of the Lord, the God of Israel, which he spoke by his servant Jonah the son of Amittai, the prophet, who was from Gath-hepher."
~ 2 Kings 14:25

Chris

Excellent post Chris and thank you so much for sharing it. It is a black and white issue that very much needs to be addressed. It is foundational understanding.

Eric Ekong

Just recently Job came up in our Bible Study with a thought it only being a parable of sorts. I found it very interesting more than a few folks are noticing this new theory on Old Testament books. I commend you on your efforts. Your podcast keeps me informed, intrigued, and entertained all at the same time.

Nathan W. Bingham

Chris:

Thanks for putting this post together. It is an important topic. Amen also to your closing quotation, Matthew 24:35.

Tim Wirth

Really good post Chris. One I wish I would have written but I am glad you did. Great defense of the faith brother.
Sometimes its really hard to see why the Emergent crowd doesnt get this.
But I guess with absolute truth comes accountability to a Holy God.
Peace
Tim Wirth

Christopher

Chris,

Man! I wish I had ran across this article a day earlier. I think this would have been an excellent article to help someone confused about salvation. I've been in dialog with someone on my blog for the past few days that has the idea of universal reconciliation formulated in their mind. My guess is that they selectively picked and or locked in on the word "all" from Romans 5:15-19 and 1st Corinthians 5:28 as proof text for universal reconciliation.

Anyway the article is still much appreciated as is your work with Fighting For the Faith.

Grace and peace be with you

Dave Ellis

A great article, Chris, many thanks.

A couple of posters are not sure where this viewing scripture as myth and legend comes from - it is the result of Higher Criticism, where theologians decided to analyse the Bible as though it were just the ordinary writings of ordinary men. It began to surface in the 1600s to 1700s and is the result of the Age of Reason and the Enlightenment, which gave us Modernism. The majority of the theologians had a dislike of the Bible, particularly the King James version, and their avowed intention was to undermine it.

All we are seeing with the Emergents is the postmodern follow-on to modernism as it pretty much opposes same things i.e. foundational doctrine and the authority of scripture.

Chris, and those of like mind - keep the faith and keep on speaking the truth.

Once again, thank you.

Truth Unites... and Divides

Dear Chris,

Thank you for an exceptionally well-argued, well-reasoned article. I have had vigorous discussions with liberal scholars and liberal laypeople and liberal clergy who steadfastly maintain to the hermeneutics of historical-criticism (and its numerous variants and offshoots) and they are highly dismissive of inerrancy (particularly CSBI 1979) and their shorthand dismissal of inerrantists are "fundamentalists" and "literalists".

My response is that they are liberals.

I'm also not too keen on Karl Barth's neo-orthodoxy and his response to liberal protestantism. Are you going to write about that too?

Matt Jamison

Exactly so.

I find that I have been converted from a squishy, try-to-please-everyone belief in thiestic evolution, to orthodox belief in a literal creation by exactly this argument.

To be a Christian or "Christ-follower" is to put the clear word of Our Savior before and above every other authority. The arguments for an old Earth or evolution may appear persuasive, but I cannot follow them to the point of disbelieving the One whom I follow.

Of course, upon closer examination, that in the natural sciences that appears persuasive (such as the fossil record) is much more ambiguous than the self-appointed scientific and academic priesthood would have us believe.

To say in public that I believe in a literal, Biblical view of creation will get me branded as an idiot and extremist, even by many who proudly claim to be conservative Christians. I think Jesus warned us about this!

dustin germain

Question: I asked someone who don't believe in a literal Adam and Eve or Noah, "what do you make of the New Testament genealogies of Jesus? Or Jesus' references to Adam and Eve, the flood, and Jonah"? and they responded as such:

"First - I would liken it to me telling you "Just as Robin Hood stole from the rich, and gave to the poor, so too should you steal from the rich". I'd be giving you a moral imperative, and using an example that you are familiar with. You understood exactly what I'm talking about - but that doesn't mean I am making an assertion as to the historical literalness of Robin Hood.

Second - the Jews of the day did believe in a literal Adam and Eve, because they would have had no reason not to..just like they believed the earth was the center of the universe and everything rotated around it. Would you expect Jesus to stop his moral teachings to try and explain allopatric speciation, natural selection, genetic drift, etc..? Of course not. He could have spent his entire ministry trying to teach the Jews about DNA without any success. That was not why he was there."

How do I respond to this?

Tim the Cyanide-Gargling Faith Gladiator

Dustin,

What I would say: Yes, the Jews of that day believed in a literal Adam and Eve. And Jesus frequently corrected their beliefs on a variety of extraordinarily controversial issues.* This is to say that He did not engage in "politically correct" ambiguity; i.e., He was never even complicit in a lie. Are we to believe then that He suddenly reversed course and cited fictional characters (particularly in the ways that He did) without the slightest caveat? (Recall the clearly delineated parables.) No. It is obvious from Jesus' record that He believed they were literal persons. No other explanation is possible.

*Of particular interest is John 5:31-47. Jesus corrects the Jews' views of Scripture (the OT). He claims that the Scriptures testify of Him. He ought to have corrected their view of Adam, etc. as well--if in fact they were wrong.

Judah

Chris,

Just curious, but what does the Bible say about paying your debtors? As the owner of Vendtegrity, you skipped out without paying people, and their families are suffering as a result. Are you eating? Are you driving a car? Are you living life more prosperously than those from whom you stole money? God cannot take pity upon you until you make an effort to rectify your sins.

You are not pious. Your words are tarnished with hypocrisy. Live as you preach, and until you do, your words will be futile.

Take a look at Matthew 23:28... and may God give you the strength and tools to live and act as He would expect you to.

- Peter

Tim the Cyanide-Gargling Faith Gladiator

The Word of God is never futile.

Judah


Chris,

Just curious, but what does the Bible say about paying your debtors? As the owner of Vendtegrity, you skipped out without paying people, and their families are suffering as a result. Are you eating? Are you driving a car? Are you living life more prosperously than those from whom you stole money? God cannot take pity upon you until you make an effort to rectify your sins.

You are not pious. Your words are tarnished with hypocrisy. Live as you preach, and until you do, your words will be futile.

Take a look at Matthew 23:28... and may God give you the strength and tools to live and act as He would expect you to.

- Peter

Heidi Sue

Peter (Judah),

Just curious, but what does the Bible say about dealing with a brother who sins against you? It appears you've been wronged in some way by Chris, but have you tried telling him his fault between you and him alone? If that didn't work, have you brought one or two others along with you as witnesses?

I might be wrong, but I'm guessing that a world-wide accessible blog is probably not the best place to air out these sort of differences. How Chris deals with ad hominem attacks on his blog is his own business, but I for one would rather you deal with these issues offline and in a direct manner.

Your last lines could be directed just as easily at yourself (not to mention probably anyone that posts anywhere, anytime--that whole "poor, miserable sinner" thing). You are not pious. Your words are tarnished with hypocrisy. What you have presented here is not a caring brother trying to help an erring one--you have presented a person with an axe to grind.

The good news is, God CAN have pity on you (and yes, even on Chris) in spite of your sin, and I pray that He strengthen and encourage both you and Chris to reconcile and sort out whatever issues have come between you.

Jeff Caithamer

Good stuff, Chris. Well written and defended. This modern and post-modern line of thinking is running rampant in churches today. I know this first hand. It is so bad that they could read your post and question whether or not Jesus really said those things and meant what he said literally. It is quite sad. It is poison.

Jeff Caithamer

Good stuff Chris. Well written and defended. Modern and post-modern thinking is running rampant in the churches right now; I know this first hand. Some are so taken with this line of thinking that they would actually question whether or not Jesus actually said those things and meant what he said in a literal sense. It is quite sad. It is poison.

Jeff Caithamer

I apologize for the multiple posts. Please delete at will.

Mark

Chris, great article! It is so good I had to copy and paste it into my blog on MySpace along with other great defenders of the faith like John MacArthur.....Sorry, I had to do it, it is THAT GOOD, and I'm going to use it myself in defense of the gospel.....

Denise

I constantly am reminded of this verse:

Psa 138:2 I bow down toward your holy temple and give thanks to your name for your steadfast love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word.

So many even in "solid" churches, mouth the words of Satan, "Hath God said?" and call it being academic or scholarly, or tolerant, or optional viewpoints, when in fact they have just commenced War On The Word!

With a low view of Scripture people get a high view of Man, a low view of God, and will not be sanctified. Jesus said in Joh 17:17 "Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth."

It is no wonder then, that Scripture says:

Pro 13:13 Whoever despises the word brings destruction on himself, but he who reveres the commandment will be rewarded.

One's view of Scripture reveals one's view of God. Period.

The question then becomes: how do you hold Scripture folks? It gets uncomfortable when it hits close to home like young mothers working outside of the home, men being leaders of home and church, wives submitting to husbands, being separate from the world, and how we even evangelize (do you do things His way or the world's way?), etc.

Scripture is living and active; its double edged. It hurts and heals, and truly is a blessing.

Denise

I had one more thought re: Adam and Eve.

I believe that if a person does not hold to a literal 6 day Creation, then they will question the historocity of Adam and Eve, The Fall, the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, His resurrection.

In other words one of the first things we believe after being saved is that God is Creator and created in six days as HE SAID IN HIS WORD:

Heb 11:1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
Heb 11:2 For by it the people of old received their commendation.
Heb 11:3 By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.

So I think that the doubt of Adam and Eve BEGINS with the doubt of the 6 Day Creation, then tumbles downhill from there...to their peril!

Travis

I don't recall Jesus saying that the one who does not believe in a literal Bible would be condemned. I do recall Paul saying that the story of Abraham's sons was an allegory (Gal 4). And when did salvation through faith in Christ become synonymous with salvation through belief in a literal Genesis? Does faith equal theology? Is it my theology that saves me, or the one in whom I believe?

Aren't the doers of God's will saved, rather than those who merely call Christ "Lord"? Those who say, "You don't believe in the inerrant Scriptures--you must not be a Christian," might as well be saying, "Stop casting out demons in Christ's name because you're not one of us."

My discipleship isn't determined by the doctrines I adhere to. It's determined by the one with whom I am crucified, who lives in me, who loves me, who gave himself for me, and who works all things through me. My job as a follower of Christ is not to separate the wheat from the tares, but to preach the Gospel at all times and, when necessary, to use words. And the truth of that Gospel doesn't depend on my personal opinion regarding the inerrancy of Scripture, but transcends it. The truth of the Gospel depends on a God who is faithful even when I am not, and who works all things together for good for those who love God and are called according to God's purpose. I think we can all agree on that.

So let your faith be your own conviction before God (Rom 14), since presumably the Kingdom of God is not about 6-day creations, literal scriptures, and heterosexual clergy, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. And thank God that the Holy Spirit calls, gathers, enlightens, and sanctifies despite our ignorant and persistent efforts to confine it.

Michael J. Bridge

Travis, I was there with you until your last sentence. I do believe the scriptures to be inerrant, but I don't think that believing in an old earth model means that the bible is wrong. The scriptures need to be read in light of what they mean to say. Genesis can only be taken literally so far since chapters 1 and 2 say different things about creation. Since I don't believe this is a mistake, it must mean that they are different genres with different purposes. One thing is for certain, Genesis 1-2 aren't intended to be used as science textbooks. That isn't to mean that God didn't create in 6 days. But we have to understand that the bible isn't a book about science meant to use as a textbook in physics or natural science classes. The purpose of these chapters is to attest to God's glory and power in creation (chapter 1) and the status he gave man and humanity within his creation (chapter 2). A literal 6 day creation, or an old earth model that leads to Adam and Eve in the garden as the first humans aren't what determines God's glory or his plan for redemption.

Where I break with you, Travis, is the last thing you said. "So let your faith be your own conviction before God, since presumably the kingdom of God is not about 6-day creations, literal scriptures, and heterosexual clergy, but righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit."

The issue of sexuality with clergy (or with anyone for that matter) is an issue of righteousness. So if you mean to suggest that we shouldn't concern ourselves with the sexuality of our clergy, but instead should focus on righteousness, then you are denying that issues of sexuality are indeed about righteousness. And Paul seems to treat sexual sin as the worst of sin within the church, as it is the only sin that he says those involved in it must be put from the church until they repent. If Paul wouldn't tolerate sexual sin from the lay members of the church, what do you think are the chances that he will accept it from the clergy?

The issue of literal scriptures needs to be put in context as well. There doesn't have to be a literal 6 day creation in order to believe the scriptures are inerrant. Another example would be the book of Revelation. It is clear that Revelation is full of symbolic imagery. Some people believe there will really be a great dragon at the end. Others believe it is symbolic for something else that will take place. In that regard we are trying to understand genres and intentions of the authors. 6 day creations (or great dragons) and whether or not homosexuality is a sin aren't in the same category. To disbelieve that homosexuality is a sin is to suggest that the scriptures don't have the authority to speak to what is and isn't sin. This isn't about interpretation (like the 6 day creation issue is), but about scripture's authority altogether.

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