The Creationism Debate

Christians hold a variety of positions on the Creation account, from a literal 7 day instantaneous creation version, to regarding the entire account as a myth with no veracity at all. People at both extremes still believe in Christ, and that God was the initial Creator. I’m not even going to try to cover the spectrum of views here.

This thread is a place for discussion on this vast topic to take place. It might be as long as the Calvinist thread.

Do you have a particular take on this issue as a Christian?

The only thing I ask is that we all respect one another’s positions on the subject, as we are all believers in Christ, regardless of what we believe about the Age of the Earth or related topics. It can be a very passionate subject – this is often where the love that we hope to demonstrate is tested. Hopefully, we will get some interesting stuff posted up here, regardless of what position people take.

*******************
RavingPente


49 thoughts on “The Creationism Debate

  1. I’m posting up people’s related comments from the previous thread:

    RavingPente:

    “This is controversial, but I am not a 7-day creationist. I’m aware of all the arguments though. I don’t find that necessary for my faith in Christ or in God’s role in creation either. Frequently I’ve stayed silent in rooms full of creationists because its just too hard to put another view, even one that doesn’t deny God. So I guess I am an example of someone who has found apologetics useful without needing to take up every position offered by some of those who put apologetics forward. (I hope that makes sense.)”

    Bull:

    “Bull says:
    June 25, 2010 at 8:08 pm
    Well, I may be a Christian, but I am also a physicist.

    7 days could be 7 epochs, if you like. We are now in the 8th day of Creation … which is why Christians worship on Sunday (the first day of the week) for God has gone back to work.

    The 8th day began at the resurrection (or the conception!) when God really did a NEW thing.

    If you take this approach, then the creation account largely conforms with the current scientific thinking.

    There are a few difficulties of course. Death of people and death of things come as a result of disobedience and Sin of Adam.

    It’s a tough nut to crack this one, isn’t it?”

    The rest:

    “teddy says:
    June 26, 2010 at 9:16 am
    Why does the universe look so old and other questions we can’t answer on this blog……..

    http://www.challies.com/liveblogging/why-does-the-universe-look-so-old

    teddy says:
    June 26, 2010 at 9:30 am
    Some interesting comments attached to Challies’ article.

    wazza2 says:
    June 26, 2010 at 1:31 pm
    “Why does the universe look so old”. I had a look at that article, and his basic answer is – its a young earth but God created it to look old.

    I dont think thats a tenable position. God would have had to create the earth with dinosaur bones in it, even though they never lived on the earth, specially carbon-aged so that they fool the scientists. In other words He created something that was deceptive. I dont think its how He works.

    teddy says:
    June 26, 2010 at 2:43 pm
    Why do you think dinosaurs never lived on earth? What about before the flood? Where’s this thread going? To a no flood position as well?

    specksandplanks says:
    June 26, 2010 at 2:51 pm
    “its a young earth but God created it to look old.”
    I’ve held this belief since primary school. No one told me to believe it. I was the only one that didn’t believe in dinosaurs in my class but that they were already in the earth.

    I believed that if God made time – he would have already had to create earths history. In the garden, if Adam cut down a tree, I believe he would have found growth rings in it’s trunk rather than nothing there.

    God would have had to have made fossils and historical records in the ground for time to be both past, present and future in the beginning. I have little diagrams of my beliefs in years four and five.

    teddy says:
    June 26, 2010 at 3:15 pm
    How about the mini “Grand Canyon” created by Mt St. Helens exploding. Instant layres – didn’t taKe millions of years. http://creation.com/images/pdfs/tj/j18_1/j18_1_45-46.pdf

    ravingpente says:
    June 26, 2010 at 7:23 pm
    Should we now start a creationism thread to pursue that tangent in its own space??? It could be as long as the Calvinist one.

    I am with Bull – 7 days could refer to 7 epochs, divided as God sees fit. We have plenty of references in scripture that demonstrate God’s perspective on time is rather different from our own. On the other hand, the lessons in the creation story are universal regardless.

    I have a pile of creationist literature lying around the house; old videos etc. Its interesting, and worth hearing a lot of. I even attended a creationist vs skeptic debate sponsored by the skeptic society once, which was pretty interesting, though for me, not at all faith shaking. Nonetheless, I find myself comfortable with epochs more than specific 24 hour periods. It is difficult to say that in some settings! As I said, it doesn’t change the nature of my relationship with Christ either way. All will one day be revealed – if we are right about some things, that will be great; I’m sure we’ll all have a lot of misunderstandings or omissions corrected as well.”

  2. I also agree with wazza that its a strange position to take to say that God created the earth to look old.

    There are a lot of myths in various cultures about a huge flood, not just the biblical account, which is interesting.

    I kind of like Bull’s suggestion that we are now in the 8th epoch since Christ came. It would make sense.

  3. I too am a physicist and believe without doubt that the universe is several billion years old, the earth about 4 billion. I believe the word yom can also be legitmately transmated as “time period” not just 24hrs. I believe the 7 days are 7 epochs.

    I do not believe in evolution (apart from micro-evolution).

    My view is similar to the of Hugh Ross at Reasons to Believe http://www.reasons.org

  4. I think the creationism debate is a great diversion.
    Talk each other to death about young or old earth, self organization or theistic evolution.

    Maybe good chances for atheists to ridicule Christians as stupid bigots and eventually dangerous fundamentalists.
    And the talk never gets to the point of Christ calling people to repent and follow Him.

    That said, I find it valuable to be informed about topics related to the debate, but it should in most cases not get in the way of talking to people about Christ.

    There is only a (very?) small group of people who really base their rejection of Christ on a well-informed study of divine creation vs. evolution through self organization of matter.

  5. I think the THEORY of evolution, to be treated as fact and pressed on to bible-believing Christians is an offense to the cross and the gospel.

    God wasn’t some microscopic cell of an amoeba and made man thousands of years later through it. Wouldn’t this mean that Jesus would have had to come as a microscopic cell of an amoeba, since we reflect the image of our creator?

    Does this mean 2000 years later I am more evolved and more intellectual, stronger and greater than Jesus?

    IF humanity is evolving further to be a greater species – then isn’t this what Satan wants us to believe, (as he convinced Eve), that we would be greater than God?

    To believe THEORY against what many Christians see as biblical fact, not only undermines our integrity of our genuine faith and exalts the image of man over God.

    Evolution does contradict scripture and undermines the gospel message.

  6. I think I probably agree with Pheonix on this. I don’t believe we evolved from a common ancestor with monkeys. I do believe there can be evolution within a species. So I believe in epochs rather than 7 literal days, but not in evolution as it stands.

    There is an annoying song on a kid’s music CD I have which sings about us being monkeys in trees. Thanks to that, I’ve already explained to my son that I don’t believe we came from ‘monkeys’ (or a common ancestor), but that I believe God created us as human beings in His image. My son is familiar with what the Bible says, and is aware that not everyone believes the Bible. As he goes through the school system, he’ll have to draw his own conclusions on this just as I did, for better or worse. I went through the public school system, and was never taught scripture in school. (In my high school, we all just did homework or read books instead of scripture classes, as clearly our principal had not gotten along with the local church ministers.)

    As Gandalf says, this debate can be a great diversion, and doesn’t necessarily impact on people’s faith in Christ Himself. Still, its often interesting, and sometimes excruciatingly painful to watch.

  7. Yup Gandalf.

    It’s an ‘in’ subject. We shouldn’t debate this in public (I know … we are kind of doing this.) we can forget to thank God for the cross in the process of what could turn into fighting over this.

    It is crystal clear that while our understanding of the universe and our technical achievements continue to grow and increase, for some reason ‘free’ society is becoming more debased, more crude, more degenerate.

    Humanity is devolving. But we should expect that. Jesus told His disciples that in the days of the coming of the Son of Man, it shall be like in the days of Noah. What were they like? Sexual Immorality and violence filled the Earth.

    Oh well, that’s a bit depressing isn’t it?

    ======================================

    Oh, you must remember to pray for your new prime minister. Who knows, but she might be God’s merciful choice for Australia.

    Shalom

  8. I was interested in hearing people’s different views, and certainly not in the business of judging different viewpoints on the subject, but if this thread might be misconstrued or damaging, then I am quite happy to delete it. (Which I can only do to threads I start.)

    Would people prefer I delete this one?

  9. No, I don’t agree that we should stifle or hide debate on this or any other issue. There are many other issues that we have debated that could be ridiculed or misconstrued by atheists or others. The Arminianism vs Calvinism debate for example.

    It would be a bad witness if we were beating each other up over this particular subject (or any other subject). But that hasnt happened on this thread.

    I suppose we should be careful when using ‘ad hominem’ arguments. They should be allowed when discussing religion, but should be used sparingly.

  10. “It would be a bad witness if we were beating each other up over this particular subject (or any other subject). But that hasnt happened on this thread.” – wazza2

    That’s true. I will leave it up then. I don’t like the idea of being coy about this one subject compared to others.

  11. So we turn God’s revelation (His revealed Word) into speculation (our opinion)? Not for me. What do we doubt next – heaven, hell, and sustitutionary atonement? Sounds like a bit of bible lite courtesy of Brian Mclaren.

    What do you do with Romans 5:12-21? Not highlighted in your bible – the inconvenient truth?

  12. I’m with you on this, teddy. There is ample reason for Christians to pursue a Biblical understanding of how life was created and is sustained. And how it adapts and develops. The Bible has never purported to be a scientific treatise. Science doesn’t have to be abandoned to make way for scripture, nor vice versa.

    I think it actually takes more faith to understand evolution than creation, and there are far more unexplained issues to wade through.

    By the way, s&p, I think, once a scientific idea reaches the ‘theory’ stage, it is considered practically a done deal, not just a concept.

    Greg, you seem to be abandoning some key essentials of Christian faith with your statements about evolution being an offence to substitutionary atonement, and the creation process involving Adam, and, the need for the last Adam. Can you expand on this?

  13. “By the way, s&p, I think, once a scientific idea reaches the ‘theory’ stage, it is considered practically a done deal, not just a concept.”

    Sad isn’t it FL. 😦

    Can anyone imagine any of the Israelites opposing God or Moses’ writings on Genesis on the creation account?

    Did the Jewish congregations agree with Moses’ writings on the Pentateuch as a whole? They all seemed to have an understanding what happened prior to the flood.

    To not believe what they believed the Torah meant, I would think would be gross error, surely. To believe an alternate creation account in Moses would have made God open the ground to swallow us up. Any thoughts on this?

  14. @ Greg – Jesus authenticated the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch…….but I don’t think Jesus’ words are enough evidence for you.

    Luke 24:44 “Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”

    John writes in John 1:17 “For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.”

    It boils down to one thing, 2 Tim 3:16 “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness…”

    Are you a Christian, Greg?

    That’s a fair question if you have studied God’s Word and having done so, deny substitutionary atonement.

    I’m sure people are Christians without UNDERSTANDING it, but to deny it is to deny the finished work of Christ on the cross in our place.

  15. Well, Greg, I’m glad we’ve clarified where you stand on Biblical issues.

    I once had a deep and desperate discussion on Evolution vs Creation, or, as it was, Intelligent Design, with a bunch of Uni Professors and Graduates on a secular, political blog where I’m allowed to be FaceLift, and they very much put me straight on the issue of what scientific theory is to scientists.

    But, you’re right, we didn’t learn evolution theories in Bible School.

    A scientific theory is ‘a supposition or a system of ideas intended to explain something, esp. one based on general principles independent of the thing to be explained’.

    ‘In layman’s terms, if something is said to be “just a theory,” it usually means that it is a mere guess, or is unproved. It might even lack credibility. But in scientific terms, a theory implies that something has been proven and is generally accepted as being true.’

    http://wilstar.com/theories.htm

    The Pentateuch would never be said by an orthodox Christian, or Jew for that matter, to be a theory. It is the basis of Jewish belief. Jesus was Jewish. My Bible says that Salvation is through the Jews.

    No Christian scholar denies the authenticity, relevance and importance of the Pentateuch to Christian doctrine.

  16. Why is there an evolution-creation debate? In spite of the fact that the evolution hypothesis is stuck in step 3 of the 7- scientific method and there are 4 gaps in the hypothesis that evolutionary scientists admit cannot yet be explained, Evolutionists have already won. Evolution is taught in public schools, creationism is prohibited. Evolutionists have won in the courts. The media unanimously supports evolution. Why don’t Evolutionists simply ignore the Creationists’ objections? Or, why not point out that Creationism is not within the purview of science because God is not a falsifiable hypothesis nor can he be proved by science?
    Consider the fact that of the 6 major theological positions on creation, 3 allow for evolution, albeit with a divine influence of some sort, such as to fill those 4 gaps that scientist are struggling with. There are 2 reactions when a Creationist proposed theistic evolution as an answer to the incomplete hypothesis testing and the 4 gaps. An evolutionary scientist would respond by admitting there is no scientific explanation for the gaps, as yet, and dismiss the influence of God as something outside the purview of science. The Evolutionist philosopher, however, becomes extremely agitated at the mention of God because Evolutionism is about atheism, not science.
    As a philosophy, Evolutionism is not held to the rigor of hard science – the scientific method can be ignored. As a philosophy, Evolutionism can object to theism whenre hard science cannot comment. Evolutionism is a major cornerstone of Marxism and Human Secularism because is supports those philosophies built on atheism. Twenty-five percent of the Humanist Manifesto is devoted to opposition to religion and theism, and the establishment of evolution and atheism. As long as there is a God, those philosophies fail. But Darwin supplied the “missing link” to their philosophies,; a way to explain how we got here – without a God.
    Science and faith are not mutually exclusive, but theism and atheism are. So when a supporter of evolution attacks creation (and usually the Creationist), he does so as a philosopher, not as a scientist. And, when a Creationist opposed evolution, he must do so as a philosopher/theologian – not as a scientist. An excellent resource regarding the creation-evolution debate can be found at http://sechumanism.blogspot.com/p/secular-humanism.html

  17. So you believe in the “way” of Jesus? Sure touched a sensitive button! And what’s with Mr Nasty? I’m not alone in my view of substitutionary atonement on this blog.

    I asked a fair question in light of your view of the atonement. What price was paid for your sins, or do you believe you’re not a sinner – I’m sincerely curious?

    Who is Jesus then, if not the Lamb that was slain before the foundation of the earth.

    I’m reminded that you said it’s through Shelby Spong you became a Christian? By what definition do you claim that name if you deny Christ’s death on the cross for you and your sin?

  18. Well, I’m glad you’ve clarified that, then, Greg. I never questioned your Christianity, just your attack on those who believe in Jesus’ vicarious sacrifice.

    You said, ‘substutionary atonement is juts like evolution – a theory not a fact’.

    Could you clarify what you mean by substitutionary atonement, please?

    You stated that your understanding of a theory was that it was not a fact, but a mere idea. This indicates that you consider the propitiation of Christ to be an idea, not a truth.

    Isaiah 53
    1 ¶ Who has believed our report? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
    2 For He shall grow up before Him as a tender plant, And as a root out of dry ground. He has no form or comeliness; And when we see Him, There is no beauty that we should desire Him.
    3 He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
    4 ¶ Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted.
    5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.
    6 All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.
    7 He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before its shearers is silent, So He opened not His mouth.
    8 He was taken from prison and from judgment, And who will declare His generation? For He was cut off from the land of the living; For the transgressions of My people He was stricken.
    9 And they made His grave with the wicked–But with the rich at His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was any deceit in His mouth.
    10 ¶ Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him; He has put Him to grief. When You make His soul an offering for sin, He shall see His seed, He shall prolong His days, And the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in His hand.
    11 He shall see the labor of His soul, and be satisfied. By His knowledge My righteous Servant shall justify many, For He shall bear their iniquities.

    The LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

    The key to understanding if you are correct or not is your interpretation of the word ‘atonement’, because an atonement, being the blood of creatures, could only cover sins, but a propitiation, the once and for all blood sacrifice of the Messiah, took our sins away forever.

    Where the KJV uses the word ‘atonement’, it should say, ‘exchange’. He took our place on the cross. The Father laid our sins upon him. He died our death. He conquered Death and the Grave for us. He was raised to give us new life.

    That is substitutionary.

  19. 1 Cor 15:1-4 “Now I would remind you, brothers, of the gospel I preached to you, which you received, in which you stand, and by which you are being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you — unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ DIED FOR OUR SINS in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised oon the third day in accordance with the Scriptures…..”

  20. The word ‘atonement’ appears 70 times in the OT. The word is ‘kaphar’, and it means ‘to cover, or to cover over’. ‘Atonement’ appears once in the NT at Romans 5:11. The Greek word is ‘katallage’, and means ‘exchange’:

    Romans 5
    8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
    9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
    10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
    11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

    The NT word used for the exchange is ‘propitiation’, and appears four times:

    Ro 3:25 whom God set forth as a propitiation by His blood, through faith, to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed…

    Heb 2:17 Therefore, in all things He had to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.

    1Jo 2:2 And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.

    1Jo 4:10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

    He appeases God by paying the price of our sins. To propitiate is to bring favour or grace.

  21. @ Greg – a few more fair questions.

    Do you believe Jesus is the second person of the trinity i.e. God?

    Do you believe He was born of a virgin?

    Do you believe He died and was resurrected?

    Do you believe He is coming again to judge the living and the dead?

  22. Greg,
    ‘being a Christian is not about what you believe but about who you follow’

    Hebrews 11
    6 But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.

    Galatians 3
    26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus.

    Ephesians 2
    8 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God…

  23. ‘…Jensenite baboons…’ – Greg the Explorer

    I love it! Greg, you might get me to set foot in an Anglican church again. Moore College and the Jensenites are one reason I want nothing to do with it. Had enough of that crowd many years ago. Sick of the patronising, superior, intellectual arrogance, not to mention their certainty that they were right about everything. Or at least the ones I dealt with were, and that would include Phil Jensen. It actually encouraged me to stick with C3OF, who were by contrast very friendly and inclusive.

    What a shame things have to be so polarised. Sometimes we find churches that are an exception (my old one was for a while there, though the minister was a tad arrogant, but didn’t expect people to follow his views like a God, so that was OK).

    Re being Christian… All we need to do is accept Christ and follow Him, not have perfect doctrine, or we’d all fail. If Greg follows Christ and believes He is Who He says He is – then regardless of Greg’s other positions, I am happy to call Greg a brother in Christ. Evolution is not an essential to salvation. Even literally believing every word of the Bible is not an essential to salvation. One could still find it useful and instructive while regarding some parts as myth. I personally wouldn’t know where to draw the line, and believe Adam and Eve were real people. But if someone doesn’t, that still doesn’t mean they are not a Christian. Our faith is in Christ – and He is the Word of God, not the Bible, though it is inspired.

    You don’t even have to believe in substitutionary atonement – that is a very evangelical concept, and there are other Christian churches who read the manner of our salvation differently. The Greek Orthodox church for example has a very interesting take on it. (Look up ‘The River of Fire’.) Have you read that, Greg? I am interested to know your take on how salvation works as opposed to substitutionary atonement – because I can see the problems with the latter doctrine. Not that I personally am claiming to know anything. Faith in Christ is enough, whatever the means in which God works.

  24. Thanks RP, that’s pretty much defined a character assination of me as a member of a bible-believing Anglican church. Simply a place that brought healing and spiritual growth after years of C3.

  25. RP,
    ‘All we need to do is accept Christ and follow Him, not have perfect doctrine, or we’d all fail. If Greg follows Christ and believes He is Who He says He is – then regardless of Greg’s other positions, I am happy to call Greg a brother in Christ.’

    Well put, RP. I concur.

    A question, RP. You took exception when Hillsong gave their doctrine as, ‘We believe that in order to receive forgiveness and the ‘new birth’ we must repent of our sins, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and submit to His will for our lives.”

    Is this the same as, ‘All we need to do is accept Christ and follow Him’?

  26. How can Greg believe who Christ says He is, if he denies the atonement? Why would he need Christ unless it’s just to walk the “way” of Christ. That’s not Christianity.

  27. “Moses is actually very unlikely to have written most of what we know w as the books of Moses or the pentateuch.”

    I know. Just wanted to ask provoking questions on this matter.

  28. Maybe it’s worth freezing this thread.

    I do respect Greg’s views on this matter and am keen to know more of his insights on his views. I don’t neccessarily agree with them, but am keen to know why Greg believes what he has been convinced of being as truth.

    Do you have any good articles explaining your views more clearly?

    And who are these ‘Jensens’?

  29. It depends on what he understands of the atonement, teddy. It’s not, as I have pointed out, a NT doctrine or term, strictly speaking. Let him answer this before making a judgement. I can’t say I knew what the atonement was or wasn’t for some time after I was saved.

    We’re not saved by believing in the atonement, but in the propitiation. In fact we believe that Jesus is Lord and confess this before witnesses.

    I like the Rev. Jensen, even though he hammers Pentecostals. He, at least, is a Bible believing evangelical. Just needs to see beyond his cabbage patch a little more, that’s all.

  30. I was quite clear earlier on when I said people can be Christians without UNDERSTANDING the atonement but if Greg knows what it is, and I believe he does, to then deny it brings his claim to be a Christian, into question.

  31. Sorry Teddy – I have not been to your church, and am not commenting on you. My comment is an honest reflection of my own experience, and my reaction to it. I have not heard you say you are a Jensenite or a follower of the Moore College crowd. I am referring to people I knew who were attending Moore College, and the way Phil Jensen came across to me years ago. I was a shy non-entity, but had regular experience of a group people back then, and those were my reactions. The settings were my ex-Anglican church, the Katoomba Convention, and university bible study. There may very well be other Anglican churches that do not reflect the ethos I experienced. However, it really did put me off the _Sydney_ Anglican church.

    FL – No. The way Hillsong puts it seems to me to add to salvation doctrine by combining the relationship of faith and love with the work of submission. By adding ‘and submit to His will for our lives’, a condition that we can never live up to is added to salvation doctrine. We all desire to submit to His will for our lives. Doing so is an ongoing process for all of us. Someone may well be saved who has accepted Christ as saviour in faith, yet is still not submitted in some area or other. Through their relationship with the Lord, the Lord will over time work in their hearts until they willingly submit, seeing that His will is better than their own. The Lord does not compel or pressure us. Even submitting to His will for our lives is salvation by works when it is added to the criteria of faith to achieve salvation.

    True faith however involves learning to trust God in a way that increases over time. The more faith we have in him, the more we trust Him, and the more we then lose our fear of doing what we discover is His will in our lives. When we submit because we trust Him more than we trust our own will, it is not work, or a prerequisite for salvation – it is the result of our salvation.

  32. In which case our doctrinal talk becomes religious gobbledegook to a possibly unsaved person [not saying this is the case, but hypothesising], and we have to walk in love, not condemnation.

  33. “And who are these ‘Jensens’?”

    Ha! S&P – you need to step out of the Pentecostal scene a little more! They are probably the most influential evangelicals in Australia. They are the most influential evangelical Christian group in Sydney in my view, apart from Hillsong. But Greg may know of others that are equally influential. You will often find them quoted in the paper or on the radio, alongside a contrasting Catholic spokesperson, or even Pentecostal spokesperson.

  34. Yes, I’m sure a lot of this is gobbledegook to a non-Christian! Actions speak louder than words, and often reveal the emptiness or otherwise of words, so walking in love should be our first priority for the sake of the world we are called to be salt and light in. Many of us are not salt or light much of the time, myself included. This is more important than any doctrine.

  35. Last comment in response to teddy.

    RP, then is ‘following’ works? Optional? Do we submit to Christ when we follow Christ, or not? Can we follow Christ and not be submitted? What are we submitted to, when we are submitted?

    “You are not your own. You are bought with a price. Therefore, glorify God in your spirit and in your body” “Present yourselves a living sacrifice unto the Lord, which is your reasonable service”. “Submit yourselves under the mighty hand of the Lord”.

  36. The key is the word ‘therefore’ I think. Our response to our salvation, to realising who God is and entering the Kingdom, is to submit. I think to make submission a prerequisite for salvation puts the cart before the horse. It is a result, not a means.

    Can we follow Christ and not be submitted?

    Well, yes, I think we can. I think the bible talks about the way people struggle in this way. We certainly have the dilemma of desiring to submit in all kinds of ways, but doing our own will regardless at times. We are so blessed that even in these struggles we can still place our faith in God to work in us and bring us through it, and out the other side, in time.

    Also, some churches judge people by their own definition of what God’s work is, and if we aren’t submitted to their version of that, they virtually exclude us from the list of those they think are in the kingdom. This can destroy people’s faith when they can’t live up to what the church says they must do. It does not have to though. Faith in Him is enough. Nothing we do can earn us a thing. But over time, if our relationship with Him continues on, we will hopefully grow in this area and submission to His will, whatever that really is in our case.

  37. You would think that if a person is saved, you would see the result in their life, of actions or behaviour that reflected the fact that they now trust in God, and do things differently to the pattern of the world around them, particularly in the area of love towards others at cost to themselves at times. It may be a sign that someone is saved – a fruit of salvation – but still, not the means or pre-requisite for salvation.

    Likewise, someone could do all the right things and still not really be saved. We all know this. Yet only God may look at someone’s heart rather than their external behaviour at any given point in time and know the difference. We can think we know. But we are guaranteed some surprises, in both directions.

  38. I’m not completely disagreeing with you, RP.

    I would agree with Hillsong, also, though, as long as the context is the Paul/James faith/works doctrine.

    We’re saved by faith, not by works, but our works demonstrate our faith, once we are saved.

    Obviously, these works must line up with the will and word of God. Thus we follow Christ.

    I think your concern is that works are loaded on believers legalistically, which I would agree with.

  39. I think that human beings have a tendency towards wanting to be religious, in a works sense, which is something our relationship with Christ ought to set us free from. We want laws because this is easier than dealing with the conflicting desires of our hearts. Hence the salvation of a transformed heart, evidenced by works but not saved by them. It is definitely a concern if works are loaded on believers legalistically as you say.

    Naturally I agree with your statement, “We’re saved by faith, not by works, but our works demonstrate our faith, once we are saved.”

    I think that the Hillsong statement:

    ‘We believe that in order to receive forgiveness and the ‘new birth’ we must repent of our sins, believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and submit to His will for our lives,”

    conflicts with your statement above. It could be that they just expressed their doctrine poorly, but I think it is important that statements on a website belonging to such an influential church should be a reflection of what they truly teach. If this is what they truly teach, then there is a problem as I’ve described. If it is a typo, it would be good if they fixed it. If they don’t think it matters, I would disagree, because we are talking about fundamental salvation doctrine, and adding any degree of works to that is harmful to people.

  40. This has become a very interesting thread.

    Teddy and FL are usually on opposite sides of the argument … look at their passionate defense of substitutionary atonement!

    Even if you disagree with them, they are very passionately in agreement with one another … isn’t that surprising? I think it’s very refreshing!

    For me, the cross of Christ makes no sense unless he is there for me. That in order to receive forgiveness, my sins must be paid for. Otherwise, God is not just. God can break promises and tell lies, just like Allah.

    God becomes unreliable and I cannot trust him. But no.

    I can trust Him. He never breaks a promise. He never tells lies. He is completely reliable!

    Why?

    It is all the way through the old testament we see pictures of Jesus.

    God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac and substituted a 1 year old ram with his head caught in the thorns at the same place that Jesus was crucified.

    Jesus takes our sins and gives us his righteousness in return (A double substitution!) and when the father sees us, He sees His own Son. That is my certainty right there … no I can call Him ‘Father’ and come into His presence.

    I am getting quite excited … not usual for me is it?

    God had invited everyone to come to the feast … but many have rejected Him still. Be sure that when you do come, you have changed your clothes, and gotten dressed in the wedding clothes He himself has provided.

    Shalom

  41. Yes I was thinking of that parable too Bull.

    What kicked this off was creationism v evolution.

    Unfortunately I think there are too many dishonest Christians out there on the creationist side.

    I read Ian Plimer’s ‘Telling lies for God’ many years ago which depressed me greatly.

    I agree that there is no such doctrine as substitutionary atonement in the Bible just as there as isn’t one on the Trinity – but I still think the cases are extremely strong.

    I don’t know if I believe in a literal Adam and Eve – I don’t know that I have to.

    But if I am to take the Bible as God’s inspired word to us, neither can I ignore it.

    I’ve said before that to me the first four chapters of Genesis along with the Gospels form the critical linchpins of understanding who we are, who God is, how our relationship broke down and the implications of that, and in turn what God has done for us to rescue us from our predicament.

    Take those four chapters away and you are now talking about may be a superior being from outer space.

    Honestly I don’t care how long God took to create…the only that matters is He created. Who are we to tell him He what time has to do it in like a task from Master Chef?

    I am quite wary of Greg’s vitriol – bad day may be? – but I understand where it comes from in part.

    I believe what I believe but it has shifted over the years – for the better I hope.

    I absolutely believe that Jesus died on the cross and rose from the dead on the third day.

    I believe generally that the Bible is the inspired word of God.

    But I very wary of writing people off because they don’t have my understanding of Scripture. I will defend it, argue for it, and hopefully point people towards Jesus, but the writing people off – whether they be Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, JW, worshipper of a shiny blue light, agnostic fence sitting artist – is not my job. It belongs to my Heavenly Father. If I am convinced that someone is not seeking God no matter what they profess, or that they are worshipping a God of a particular nature that is at odds with the one in the Bible I may have views about what I think will happen to them if they still hold those views when they die, but it is not my job to pass judgement.

    I do think it is fair enough for to have ‘ih-house’ discussions about what we think it all means, and I am interested that Greg hasn’t really come back to some fair questions.

    Must have lost interest or a better offer.

  42. There are some things about Christianity which are “mysteries”. You can talk about doctrines around the mysteries but when you get to the heart of them, you still cant fully understand them.

    The Incarnation, the Trinity, the Atonement .. they are all mysteries we cant fully explain in logical terms. How can someone be fully God and fully human at the same time? How can one be three? How did Jesus die for our sins? We can have theories and explanations but they are inadequate.

  43. Yes, I’m with wazza2 on this one. I suspect all our theories and explanations are inadequate. We do learn by grappling with them, but fortunately we don’t need perfect understanding. The outworking in our actions and character is the real test of our faith. (Says she, feeling somewhat inadequate.)

  44. I agree there are things which are mysteries, which we will grapple over until Jesus comes, which is another mystery, but the fundamental doctrine of the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, through his vicarious sacrifice and propitiation are central to our faith.

    There is enough scripture to give us a sound understanding of this, and be in no doubt as to the importance of why Jesus went to the cross.

    In terms so of this discussion, it would help if Greg gave his understanding of what the substitutionary atonement is, and why he thinks it is merely a theory.

  45. Also, I agree with mn. Can’t ignore the first 4 chapters of the Bible, whatever combination we believe about timing or Adam and Eve etc. Regardless there are still patterns and relational histories and revelations there.

    Also, I agree that believing in the resurrection of Christ is an essential must, and a linchpin around which everything turns.

    I agree that it is not our job to write people off, and to do so panders to our fallen nature and usurps God’s role. We need to exercise humility and love, and hope in all things. Who would have thought that Saul would become Paul? Or that Peter who denied Christ would later die such a terrible death for Christ?

    I am however genuinely interested in Greg’s views re alternatives to substitutionary atonement and would like to hear them without knocking him for them. For myself, I suspect I will never be entirely certain just _how_ God has done things, while knowing that the one thing we all agree on is that Christ has restored our relationship with our Father, however it has been done, and that the cross is essential to that process – in whatever way.

  46. If the Word is of any consequence to the discussion, then what do you do with Isaiah 53, particularly verse 10

    “1 Who has believed what he has heard from us?
    And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?

    2 For he grew up before him like a young plant,
    and like a root out of dry ground;
    he had no form or majesty that we should look
    at him and no beauty that we should desire him.

    3 He was despised and rejected by men;
    a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief;
    and as one from whom men hide their faces
    he was despised, and we esteemed him not.

    4 Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted.

    5 But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,and with his stripes we are healed.

    6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned—every one—to his own way;and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all.

    7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth;like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so he opened not his mouth.

    8 By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?

    9 And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth.

    10 YET IT WAS THE WILL OF THE LORD TO CRUSH HIM; HE HAS PUT HIM TO GRIEF; WHEN HIS SOUL MAKES AN OFFERING FOR GUILT, HE SHALL SEE HIS OFFSPRING; HE SHALL PROLONG HIS DAYS; THE WILL OF THE LORD SHALL PROSPER IN HIS HAND.

    11 Out of the anguish of his soul he shall see and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant,make many to be accounted righteous, and he shall bear their iniquities.

    12 Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong,
    because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.

  47. From “The Logic Of Penal Substitution” by J.I. Packer

    “The penal substitution model has been criticised for depicting a kind Son placating a fierce Father in order to make him love man, which he did not do before. The criticism is, however, inept, for penal substitution is a Trinitarian model, for which the motivational unity of Father and Son is axiomatic. The New Testament presents God’s gift of his Son to die as the supreme expression of his love to men. ‘God so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son’ (John 3:16). ‘God is love, . . . Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins’ (1 John 4:8-10). ‘God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us’ (Rom. 5:8), Similarly, the New Testament presents the Son’s voluntary acceptance of death as the supreme expression of his love to men. ‘He loved me, and gave himself for me’ (Gal. 2:20). ‘Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends . . .’ (John 15:13f.) And the two loves, the love of Father and Son, are one: a point which the penal substitution model, as used, firmly grasps.

    Furthermore, if the true measure of love is how low it stoops to help, and how much in its humility it is ready to do and bear, then it may fairly be claimed that the penal substitutionary model embodies a richer witness to divine love than any other model of atonement, for it sees the Son at his Father’s will going lower than any other view ventures to suggest. That death on the cross was a criminal’s death, physically as painful as, if not more painful than, any mode of judicial execution that the world has seen; and that Jesus endured it in full consciousness of being innocent before God and man, and yet of being despised and rejected, whether in malicious conceit or in sheer fecklessness, by persons he had loved and tried to save — this is ground common to all views, and tells us already that the love of Jesus, which took him to the cross, brought him appallingly low. But the penal substitution model adds to all this a further dimension of truly unimaginable distress, compared with which everything mentioned so far pales into insignificance. This is the dimension indicated by Denney — ‘that in that dark hour He had to realise to the full the divine reaction against sin in the race.’ Owen stated this formally, abstractly and non-psychologically: Christ, he said, satisfied God’s justice ‘for all the sins of all those for whom he made satisfaction, by undergoing that same punishment which, by reason of the obligation that was upon them, they were bound to undergo. When I say the same I mean essentially the same in weight and pressure, though not in all accidents of duration and the like . . .’43 Jonathan Edwards expressed the thought with tender and noble empathy: ‘God dealt with him as if he had been exceedingly angry with him, and as though he had been the object of his dreadful wrath. This made all the sufferings of Christ the more terrible to him, because they were from the hand of his Father, whom he infinitely loved, and whose infinite love he had had eternal experience of. Besides, it was an effect of God’s wrath that he forsook Christ. This caused Christ to cry out . . . “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” This was infinitely terrible to Christ. Christ’s knowledge of the glory of the Father, and his love to the Father, and the sense and experience he had had of the worth of his Father’s love to him, made the withholding the pleasant ideas and manifestations of his Father’s love as terrible to him, as the sense and knowledge of his hatred is to the damned, that have no knowledge of God’s excellency, no love to him, nor any experience of the infinite sweetness of his love.’44 And the legendary ‘Rabbi’ Duncan concentrated it all into a single unforgettable sentence, in a famous outburst to one of his classes: ‘D’ye know what Calvary was? what? what? what?’ Then, with tears on his face — ‘It was damnation; and he took it lovingly.’ It is precisely this love that, in the last analysis, penal substitution is all about, and that explains its power in the lives of those who acknowledge it.”

  48. @ Greg If your answers are in moderation, just write yes x 4 or no x 4 etc etc.

    Are you reading Karl Barth and Jürgen Moltmann?

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