Friday, May 31, 2013

Types of Calvinists

In my travels and discussions, I've come across Calvinists of all sorts of backgrounds. Now mind you, Calvinists are a distinct minority in Christian circles - I would estimate far less than 5% of Christians are Calvinist. But I've noticed a few types that repeat themselves, and since I like to categorize things, here goes:

Most of these folks are good people. Most of them are Christian. Most grew up in the Presbyterian Church and have ventured to few other places of worship. Presbyterian Calvinists (PCs) generally are not into research, hence the reason they continue to believe in Calvinism. PCs almost never have a very inquisitive nature when it comes to the Bible, or their beliefs. Often, they might not even know all five points of Calvinism ("TULIP").

Hyper Calvinist
Hyper Calvinists are usually Presbyterian, and rarely Baptist. They consider themselves the purest form of Calvinist, as they disagree with the Five Points the least, and as they embrace the logical end results of the acceptance of TULIP: for example - not evangelizing as God has already pre-ordained the elect who will be saved. Hyper Calvinists will actively berate Hyper Calvinists of the opposing denomination as being somewhat less Calvinist.

All of the other types of Calvinists will generally be associated with the Baptist denomination.
New Theologian
These are people - usually (but not always) they are fairly new Christians - who want to know why they believe what they believe. They fall quickly in love with the phrase "Sovereign God" and begin to accept the lies told by Calvinists about what that means and what it does not mean. When they like a few of the lead-in propaganda, they decide to go full tilt, and wind up accepting doctrinal lies no matter how ridiculous they get!

An NT Calvinist will enter into debates freely - at first to help themselves learn their own doctrine, then later to prove the perceived errors in the ways of others. Early on, they will back down when proven wrong. Later, they will call in for help. Much later, they will debate until proven wrong, then truncate the session, claiming the other party does not want civilized discourse.

Faux - Intellectual
This person is one who has usually graduated from the ranks of the "New Theologians," but they differ from the Evangelistic Calvinist, the Stealth Calvinist, and the Comfortable Calvinist in some key areas. The FI Calvinist is one who actively seeks debate. At first, their stated goals may be simply to show you how you are wrong in your opinions of Calvinism. But, in the end, they are trying to convert you to Calvinism, or otherwise bully you into not speaking against the falsehoods of their doctrine.

The FI Calvinist may actually have an above-average IQ. Not usually, though. Usually, they are a person who thinks a bit more highly of themselves than they ought. It is a combination of this personality trait and the fact that scripture is something that is largely unprovable one way or another, which combines to form the FI Calvinist.

Evangelistic Calvinist
This person is half salesman and half FI Calvinist. They know the broad definitions of Calvinism, and how to direct any doctrine into sounding like it is close to Calvinistic doctrine. They are trying to persuade you that you really are Calvinist - or almost - and you just don't know it yet. 

The EC and the FI Calvinists will relentlessly twist words so that you would feel guilty about debating them.
The EC and FI Calvinists will try to debate Greek when you point out their twisting of English words.
The EC and FI Calvinists will actively try to dodge normal English usage, instead relying on unusual words of possible multiple meanings.

The EC does not wish to go to Presbyterian
The EC rarely wishes to actually evangelize to the unsaved. Few Calvinists actually ever do.

Stealth Calvinist
A few people - a very few people - will be "talented" Evangelistic Calvinists and Faux-Intellectual Calvinists. These people often turn to a life of Stealth Calvinism. In fact, it is impossible to become a SC unless one has become a decently skilled EC and FI Calvinist - they are prerequisites.

Stealth Calvinists actively seek out non-Calvinist congregations (99%+ Baptist) and attempt via stealth to infiltrate, and coerce others into Calvinism. They will resort to bully tactics if needed. They want to transform a normal Christian denomination into one that is now Calvinist. A key indicator of this person is someone who "has been looking for a church home, but just hasn't found one."

Stealth Calvinists are among the most insidious of people. They are not to be trusted, and their intents should be constantly called into question. Their true aim will result in only the division of the church they have targeted. They might use this approach so as to better their own position in life - with perceived "power" after the restructuring of what had been a perfectly good church.

Stealth Calvinists are the reason there is a sub-denomination called Free Will Baptist Church.

Comfortable Calvinist
This category exists with two major subdivisions:
A) Those who embrace the concept of predestination to some extent, with variance in terminology. These folks do not care if others are Calvinist or "Arminian." They have their belief, and that is good enough for them. They are either uncomfortable about discussing Calvinism, period; or, are comfortable offering both viewpoints, and letting the other person decide what they believe.
B) Those who occasionally embrace the concept of predestination as plausible. They might actually alternate between the concept of free will and predestination. They might also have worked out in their mind some form of universe where these mutually exclusive concepts actually are intertwined.

Comfortable Calvinists might actually exist outside the Baptist and Presbyterian denominations. Indeed, a few Lutherans could be put in this category, as could a very few Anglicans. The possibility exists, though highly unlikely, that a CC might exist in the following denominations: Methodist, Catholic, Adventist, even Jehova's Witness (to some extent).


Calvinist Lies!

Debating with Calvinists is something fun for me. That said, they like to lie and twist words. Of course, if they didn't, they wouldn't be Calvinists. A recent debate had a Calvinist throwing up his proverbial hands because I simply asked for his definition of two words. He didn't want to be nailed down on definitions for the specific purpose of trying to twist the definitions.

It is no secret that Calvinists have become increasingly militant, and wish to infiltrate churches and spread their heresy. To borrow a quote: "In general most Calvinists are more concerned about converting people to Calvinism than to calling persons to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ." This activity has picked up in the past 20 years. Along with it, you will get outright lies by the same Calvinists about what is scriptural and what is not. The key though, is that they always start out with the truth, or an acceptable variation of the truth.

Lets discuss dishonest tactics, and outright lies they use:

Dishonest tactics.
- To be sure, Calvinists will say if you disagree with Calvinism then you are denying salvation by grace.
- Calvinists, when they see you do not agree with their false doctrine, will accuse you of being "Arminian" or even "Semi-Pelagian."  Neither is inherently wrong, but given the Calvinist lies and exaggerations about their respective doctrines, this is a big "insult."
- Calvinists will talk about all these famous Calvinists. The list is long. Many of the more famous ones are, at best, "shaky Calvinists." The only ones that have had any degree of influence outside of Calvinist circles are Sproul (modest influence, at best), Spurgeon (moderate influence), and Piper (modest influence, but the modern one).
- They will refer to their theology as "Reformed Theology." This title belongs to Luther and his work, and the two are only modestly similar.
- Calvinists will accuse those not given to Calvinism and say they don’t understand Calvinism.
- They will use the term "Sovereign" - as if other Christians do not believe God is Sovereign. Indeed, their definition of the term changes frequently. Directly ask them what it means, and make them stick to it!
- Most Calvinists are not Five Point Calvinists - and point out that Calvin himself wasn't, either. This is because they cannot reconcile with all five points. Problem with this is, if one crumbles, they all do.
- Calvinism makes automatons (robots) of people. We have no ability to choose God, but somehow, we can choose to sin. 


Thursday, May 30, 2013

I need your help!

Seriously, I need help from my readers. I had an email asking what are the true verses to the old Irish folk song: "Whiskey in the Jar." Here are the closest to the original verses that I've been able to ascertain. However, there are some verses that some use, and other verses used by other performers.

(Note: the chorus is typically sung between each verse, and sometimes twice)

As I was a goin' over the far famed Kerry mountains
I met with captain Farrell and his money he was counting
I first produced my pistol and I then produced my rapier
Saying "Stand and deliver" for you are a bold deceiver

I counted out his money and it was a pretty penny
I put it in me pocket and I took it home to Jenny
She sighed and she swore that she never would deceive me
But the devil take the women for they never can be easy

I went up to my chamber, all for to take a slumber
I dreamt of gold and jewels and for sure 'twas a wonder
But Jenny took me charges and she filled them up with water
Then sent for captain Farrell to be ready for the slaughter

'Twas early in the morning, just before I rose to travel
Up comes a band of footmen and likewise captain Farrell
I first produced me pistol for my rapier she had stolen
I couldn't shoot the water, so a prisoner I was taken

Now there's some take delight in the carriages a rolling
and others take delight in the hurling and the bowling
but I take delight in the juice of the barley
and courting pretty fair maids in the morning bright and early

If anyone can aid me 'tis my brother in the army
If I can find his station in Cork or in Killarney
And if he'll go with me, we'll go rovin' through Killkenny
And I'm sure he'll treat me better than my own a-sporting Jenny

Mush-a ring dum-a do dum-a da
Wack fall the daddy-o, wack fall the daddy-o
There's whiskey in the jar

Alternate verse?
(substitute for the fourth verse listed above)
This verse seems to only be found with the Grateful Dead version, and one other, but I am not certain.
Is this a real part of it, or was it simply added in by the 'Dead?

They put me in jail without a judge or jury
For robbing Colonel Pepper [Captain Farrell] in the morning so early
They didn't take my fist so I knocked down the sentry
And I bid a long farewell to that cold penitentiary

Chorus Translation
I have found, from various sources, that the nonsensical part of the chorus really translates into something that makes sense, when spoken in the old Irish (possibly Gaelic):
"Mush-a ring dum-a do dum-a da" in the old language is possibly translated as such:
"M'uishe rinne me don amada." - "My whiskey made a fool of me."
Certainly seems to fit. What say you?


Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Cooking Stuff

Recently, I received the following message from a reader:

You seem to be a guy with a well-rounded knowledge. I've read your advice on shooting, martial arts, tying a neck tie, and even cooking recipes. That last part is why I am writing you. Just became a single guy [details withheld]. Was wondering what cooking pots and pans you would get?

- Rob [name changed per request]

Thanks, Rob, for reading! This is actually one I have had the opportunity to discuss recently as my brother is also going through a divorce. To give a proper answer, I will put myself in your situation. If I woke up tomorrow with no pots, no pans, and no dependents, here is a list of what I would get:

Plates, bowls, cups, glasses, forks, knives, spoons. FOUR of each.
Plastic / paper plates and cups.
Large knife & sturdy cutting board.
Kitchen tongs & grill tongs.

Cooking Devices:
Grill (I use gas)
Crock Pot
Blender (if you mix smoothies, or other such concoctions - I would not, but many do)

Special Cooking Utensils:
Spatula - steel & teflon coated
Wooden spoon
Measuring spoons
Measuring cup
Teflon coated cooking spoon

Pots & Pans:
Large cast-iron skillet
Large oven pan
Small cooking pot
Small or medium teflon coated frying pan
Large cooking pot

Quick & Dirty:
If I had to really be minimalistic, this is how it would look-
Crock Pot,
Large cast-iron skillet
Large oven pan
Steel spatula
Cooking spoon
Cooking tongs & grill tongs
Knife & chopping board
Wok (can take the place of a cooking pot and a second skillet for a single guy)


Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Cafeteria Christianity

Often, many Christians will say XYZ is a sin, while ABC is no longer a sin.

The mix up comes from inconsistent application of the Bible, of course - as it always does. In the New Testament, we are taught that Christ Jesus fulfilled the Old Covenant. That is to say, things that the Jews used to have to do to show themselves separate, were no longer required. Still, some "sins" or other instructions for how the Jews could keep a different appearance as given in the Torah (first five books of the Bible - Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy), are now claimed by Christians - incorrectly - to still be "sins."

For example, you might get a statement like this:
It's OK to eat shellfish, but not to be homosexual.

How does one figure out what are the sins, and what are the lifestyle commands for the Jews? 

It is much simpler than most people would let you believe, and that because God made it simple, not complex. To determine what is a sin, one can look to one of three main schools of thought (which largely overlap):
- The Decalogue (Ten Commandments)
- The Noahide Code
- The Greatest Commandment

I've talked about the Greatest Commandment before (love God, love your neighbor). so, for the sake of this article, let's focus on the other two.

1. Have no other gods before Jehova.
2. Do not make graven images.
3. Do not take God's name in vain.
4. Remember the Sabbath.
5. Honor your father and mother in the Lord.
6. Do not murder.*
7. Do not commit adultery.**
8. Do not steal.
9. Do not bear false witness against another person.***
10. Do not covet.

Noahide Code
1. Prohibition of Idolatry.
2. Prohibition of murder.*
3. Prohibition of theft.
4. Prohibition of sexual immorality.**
5. Prohibition of Blasphemy.
6. Prohibition of eating flesh of an animal still alive (humaneness).
7. Establishment of courts of law to enforce 1-6.

Let's analyze:
Decalogue 1, 2, 3, 4 and Noahide 1 & 5 are all under the same umbrella.
Decalogue 6 = Noahide 2.
Decalogue 7 is covered under the same umbrella that is Noahide 4.
Decalogue 8 = Noahide 3.
Decalogue 5, 9, and 10 do not have a Noahide counterpart.
Noahide 6 and 7 do not have a Decalogue counterpart.

Rabbinic Jews would say that non-Jews cannot sin by failing to observe the parts of the Decalogue not covered in the Noahide. In other words, for a gentile (non-Jew), Decalogue 5, 9, and 10 are not sinful activities - according to Rabbinic Jews.

However, for the purpose of this article, lets include all of these as potential sins... just to be on the safe side. And let's face it, most people would agree that it is wrong to fail to honor one's parents, to bear false witness, and to covet. Likewise, being humane is a good thing, and being inhumane is bad. Enforcing the good is a necessary part of society.

So there we have it. Except the notes:

* The sin is murder. Killing a person may or may not be murder, depending on circumstance. Plotting the demise of a person who spoke ill of you on the internet would be murder. Shooting a burglar who breaks into your home and threatens your family would be a justifiable homicide - not murder. Murder is the sin. Killing a person may or may not be a sin... depending on what is in the person's heart.

** Adultery is specifically the breaking of the marriage vows.
Fornication is using sex to worship other gods, or to dominate / assault another person.
Sexual sin is covered in greater detail here.

*** Bearing false witness against another person is not necessarily lying. It is lying that causes harm to another. As in, lying on the witness stand ("bearing false witness"). Sometimes, deception is used by God to accomplish good (ie - saying: "no, Mr. psycho-murdering maniac, my family is not in the next room" when, in fact, your family is in the next room). We, being made in God's image, and with free will, are given the ability to distinguish using it for good vs. using it for evil. Bearing false witness as a sin is the use of deception for evil. 

Commonly or sometime listed as sins... but they are NOT sins:
- Premarital sex
- Eating of certain foods
- Wearing of certain mixed fabric garments
- Drinking alcohol
- Using drugs
- Short hair (women) / Long hair (men)
- Pride / Gluttony / Sloth / Lust / Greed are not sins if they do not harm you or another person.

Jewish Law
Simply put - all commands given by God to the Jews not included in the above are just that - Jewish Law. These may or may not fall into the category of sin for a practicing Jew, depending on wording and other factors. There are hundreds of laws that fall into this category, so they will not be touched on for the sake of brevity. Basically, if it is found in Leviticus, it is Jewish Law.


Monday, May 27, 2013

Calvinism and Christianity 9

If you are a Calvinist, you may or may not be a Christian. 

Do you believe that God exhaustively knows the future?
• If you answered yes, you might be a Christian.
• Calvinists and Christians believe that God exhaustively knows the future.
• Some Christians think that a denial of this doctrine is a rejection of basic Christian Theism, and that those who deny the doctrine cannot therefore be Christian.
• The Society of Evangelical Arminians affirms the doctrine, and one cannot belong to the society unless one is in agreement with it.

Doctrine does not affect one's salvation - belief in Christ does. However, there exists a distinct possibility that if your doctrine is false, as is the case with Calvinism, then you may never have asked Jesus' forgiveness and as a result, you may not have received salvation.

Material borrowed from this site. All edits are mine.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Power Corrupts

Folks, there are numerous examples of people getting assaulted / bullied / or otherwise illegally confronted by law enforcement officers. I am of the opinion that the problem is on the verge of becoming an epidemic.

Here is a video of a security guard that lets her "authority" go to her head. Doesn't turn out well for her.
(WARNING - strong language)

My analysis:
The victim (woman in offwhite shirt and denim shorts) has fair grappling skills for a beginner.
Nice leg sweep take down.
Good mount at first. Then she gave her opponent too much space.
Poor guard, but it worked.
Really poor headlock, but again - it worked.
3-6 months grappling experience? Tops?


Thursday, May 23, 2013

Another Author

Recently, I invited a friend to be an additional author on this blog.

I, for one, am excited to see what gets posted.


More on the myth

ADD and ADHD are a myth.

I've said so before. I still hold to that opinion.

Now, for those of you who do not wish to be parents - but rather to blame some invisible "disease" that is neither your fault, nor in your control for your child's behavior (which, ironically is both your fault, and well within your control) - here is a new bit of news you might just want to read...

Seems the Inventor of ADHD agrees (well, agreed. He has since passed away).

I can hear the wailing now from the crowd -
"But... but!"
"MY child has something!"
"Whatever you call it, it's still the same!"

Excuses, excuses. Get back to nutrition, exercise, and parenting, and watch the issues get resolved.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Summer o' Fun 2013

Last year I blogged about movies I was looking forward to seeing. Here is my recap:

- Prometheus - saw it. Thumbs up.
- Battleship - saw it. Thumbs up.
- MIB 3 - saw it. Thumbs up.
- Spider Man - saw it. Thumbs up.
- Dark Knight - haven't seen it yet.
- GI Joe - got pushed forward to this year. Still haven't seen it. Still want to. Netflix-bound.
- Expendables 2 - saw it. And the first one. The second one was better.
- Atlas Shrugged 2 - got pushed forward to this year.
- Taken 2 - saw it. Thumbs up.
- Red Dawn - Saw it. Thumbs up.
- The Hobbit - haven't seen it yet.

At the time, I wrote about movies coming out in 2013:
- Thor 2 - still want to see it.
- Iron Man 3 - saw it. Thumbs up.
- Man of Steel - still want to see it.
- Wolverine - want to see it, but may wait for Netflix.
- Star Trek 2 - saw it. Thumbs up.
- Robocop - this has been pushed to 2014, reportedly. Still want to see it.
- Ninja Turtles - this has also reportedly been pushed to 2014. Still want to see it.

There are also some other good movies in the works for this year:
- After Earth
- World War Z
- Monsters U
- The Lone Ranger (may wait for it to come out on Netflix)


Tuesday, May 21, 2013

You Left Stuff Out!

Over the years, lots of stuff has been left out of the Bible. These edits - all done by fallible men -are part of what make me want to dig further on everything.

I was talking with a friend on Facebook the other day. He had a post about the book of Esther not mentioning God. Esther, ironically, is also the first book in the Bible that calls the chosen people "Jews" instead of "Hebrews" or "Israelites."

I asked said friend why Esther had more verses in it until 1885. His response?
"Because those chapters were not in the original Hebrew only in the Greek Septuagint."


Really funny. 

The Hebrew texts are rewrites of the Greek texts in some parts. Otherwise, they would not rename Xerxes to "Ahasuerus." The English name Ahasuerus is derived from a Latinized form of the Hebrew Akhashverosh, which is a Hebrew rendering of the Babylonian Achshiyarshu.

Further, the Hebrew was not considered more technically accurate in all aspects - the book of Daniel, for example, survives in its current form as a translation from the Greek, not the Hebrew. Someone at some time (Jerome, 390) decided that one was "more authentic" than the other. So, keeping with one translation over another is uncertain, at best.

This gets into a classic debate of Septuigint (abbreviated LXX) vs. Masoretic Text (MT) vs. Latin Vulgate (LV). I'm certainly not going to settle that argument here. Instead, the simple fact that it is debated among scholars is enough for me to know that one version is not necessarily more accurate than another. I'll take all the text, and review for myself, thank you!


Monday, May 20, 2013

Calvinism or Christianity 8

If you are a Calvinist, you may or may not be a Christian. 

Do you believe in the penal satisfaction view of the atonement?
• If you answered yes or if you answered no, you might be a Christian.
• The penal satisfaction view of the atonement asserts that Jesus’ death entailed a payment for sin. It assumes that the justice of God requires that sin be punished and that the just wrath of God was diverted away from deserving sinners and poured out instead upon Jesus as their substitute.
• This view is held by most Calvinists and by a majority of Christians.
• Arminius himself affirmed the penal satisfaction view of the atonement.

Doctrine does not affect one's salvation - belief in Christ does. However, there exists a distinct possibility that if your doctrine is false, as is the case with Calvinism, then you may never have asked Jesus' forgiveness and as a result, you may not have received salvation.

Material borrowed from this site. All edits are mine.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Another Reason

Another reason gun bans don't work.
Another reason we need guns in schools / colleges.
Another reason we are over-policed.
Another reason the police we have are under-trained in marksmanship.
Another reason the police are not there to help you.
Another reason I'll never live in NY.

Police shoots a suspect 7 times and the suspect's hostage once.

Sad. All the way around.


Saturday, May 18, 2013

Why I am a Libertarian

It came out this week that the IRS has been targeting conservative groups for audit. 

Democrats correctly point to the same type of activity originating under President Bush during the waning years of his administration. Then, it was the directed targeting of Democrat and liberal groups. 

This is why I am Libertarian. 
Abolish the IRS and this problem goes away totally. 

Same for marriage - gay or straight. Do you really want someone in government defining what is their opinion of a legal marriage? If you answer "yes," it means that in a few short years, someone else will be in power, and they WILL NOT share your opinion.  Then you will be SOL. 

Same in the food and drug arena. You really want the FDA telling you what to eat? It is their recommendations that have led directly to the highest obesity rate in recorded history of mankind. By the same token, the FDA is incompetent when it comes to dictating what drugs are safe and what drugs to criminalize. 

These are just a few examples... I could go on and on and on... 


Friday, May 17, 2013

Cannot be translated

The other day, I came across this list of ten words that cannot be translated into an English word. Pretty interresting:

Link here.

My favorites?
Ilunga (from the Bantu).
Uitwaaien (from the Dutch)

As a youth; my friends, my brother, and I had our own words for:
Kyoikumama (from the Japanese) - we called it "the Joes."
Espirit d'Escalier (from the French) - we called it durnedolreply (durned ol reply).
Bakku-shan (also from the Japanese) - we called it LGGNC (said it like "log-ink")... it was an acronym which stood for: "Looks Good Going, Not Coming." I think I prefer bakku-shan now.

What about you? Any unique words you use?


Thursday, May 16, 2013

Sexual Sin

What is sexual sin?

Lets examine:

In the Bible, Old and New Testaments, there are several words that are used in the Hebrew and in the Greek referring to sexual sin. Interestingly enough, all 

Adultery is specifically the breaking of the marriage vows. If you made an oath to foresake all others, then you have sexual relations with a person who is not your spouse, that is adultery, and it is a sin.
Na'aph from the Hebrew - "adultery"
Moicheuo from the Greek - "adultery"
Be mindful - the sex is not the sin; the breaking of the vow is the sin of adultery. 

Homosexuality is not conducive to society. Not permitted.

Fornication - the word, as used in the Bible, most often refers to "sexual sin" (see above!).
Sex before marriage is not fornication.
Porneia from the Greek - "sexual sin"
Zanah from the Hebrew - "prostitute/whore" (not mentioned as a sin, but used as a derogatory term)
Taznuwth from the Hebrew - "prostitute" (not mentioned as a sin, but used as a derogatory term)

When the Bible is not best translated to mean the words "sexual sin," the term fornication actually means promiscuous and idolatrous sex with temple prostitutes. This was a form of "worship" practiced by the Greeks in Biblical times. This was what the New Testament refers to when it is not saying "sexual sin." 

Basically speaking, fornication - actual sexual sin - is the act of
1) worshiping another god (a sin - irrespective of sexual contact) - idolatry with sex involved.
2) dominating another person violently (a sin, irrespective of sexual contact) - rape.

Again - it is not the sex that is the wrong part - it is the evil intents of the person!

On the other hand, there is sexual immorality. Generally speaking, the Noahide Code considers sexual immorality to be:
- adultery (specific breaking of marriage vows),
- incest - homosexual or heterosexual,
- rape - homosexual or heterosexual,
- bestiality,
- sex with a person unable to consent (youth / mentally handicapped, etc.) - homosexual or heterosexual


Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Calvinist Corner - May 2013

Calvinism is not Biblical Doctrine. It's a human philosophy that appeals to proud-minded individuals.

The late Dr. Adrian Rogers on predestination - the cornerstone of Calvinism:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4


Tuesday, May 14, 2013

YE No Longer

I am no longer a "Young Earth" Creationist.

This will come as a surprise to many. However, much research on other topics has turned up information that is not only impossible to dismiss, it is clearly in favor of an Earth that is at least slightly older than ~6000 years. I am not going to make a statement as to how old the Earth might be... there are far more learned people that will have better arguments for their respective positions.

The first thing that started my change of mind and heart was the fact that many people "interpret" things so very differently. So many people intentionally read things into stuff that just ain't there. Often, these people have agendas, and reading the truth for what it is does not fit that agenda. Many translations of the Bible are translated the way they are for this very reason!

To be sure, I more firmly believe in Creation as a point of origin than I ever have.
To be sure, I believe evolution is best described as micro-evolution (genus and species level only), and no evidence of macro-evolution (evolution at the family or higher level) is evident anywhere on the planet. 

The book of Genesis is a very interesting book. A couple of things about it always struck me as odd. The first part of Genesis has a unique pronoun used by God to describe Himself - "We." The rest of the book has a singular pronoun for God. Also, the first 11 chapters read very differently than Chapters 12-50. Many scholars divide Genesis up the same way and call it "primeval history" and "Patriarchal history."

Because of the translations used, and needing information for what a lot of words and phrases meant in their original languages, I did research among Jewish and Christian sources. A lot of the more refined sources share opinions that a good portion of the first part of Genesis is written much like the book of Revelation - that is to say, it is allegorical. Among the allegories:
- Tree of Knowledge of Good & Evil
- Serpent
- Tower of Babel
- Flood of entire world
- Curse to have to farm the land
- Names of the first ten generations

Figures of Speech
Further, many phrases were not to be interpreted literally. Many were figures of speech. Too many to go into, but a few examples might include:
"Forty days and forty nights" which is more literally translated into modern English as: "many days."
"Forty years" might be better translated as "many years."
"And the evening and the morning were the xxx day," is better translated to "and that was the end of that time period."

Gaps in generations
Most Jewish sources feel that there are numerous gaps in the genealogies listed in Genesis. Because the OT is rarely as important to Christians as it is to Jews, this part of the Bible is largely ignored by Christians unless it supports a part of their argument for or against something. 

1000 Generations
The book of Psalms states that there were 1000 generations to whom God gave the Law orally (Psalm 105:8) before Moses received the written Law. A quick study of Genesis shows that Adam was 26 generations before Moses. That means there are 974 generations before Adam. 

If the average generation is only 20 years, that places Earth at a minimum age of 25,000 years old. If these people lived an average of 900 years and did not have children until after age 100 as was the case for other people listed in Genesis 1 - 11, then the age of Earth would be a minimum of 100,000 years. This doesn't even take into account the likely possibility of the missing generations mentioned in the last segment.

Dual identities of Adam
In Genesis 1 & 2, the word in Hebrew we think is "Adam" does not refer to a man, but mankind. In Genesis 3, it clearly refers to a specific man. 

Localized flood
A lot of evidence for a localized flood exists in place of a worldwide flood. Genesis is where most of this evidence exists. Many Jewish scholars of the old texts feel a translation should not be "entire world" but rather "entire geographical region."

How is it that the flood was supposed to destroy the entire world, and every living thing in it, but the Nephilim (Genesis 6: 1-4) were around pre-flood and post-flood (Numbers 13: 32-33)? Either A) the flood did not destroy the entire world, but just a localized area, or B) the Nephilim came back. There is more evidence that A is true than B. 

Ages of the ancients
There is much evidence that the patriarchs of old had their ages either outright misrepresented (to "keep up with the Joneses" of other stories told in the Babylonian empire), or misinterpreted from older texts. Keeping up with what "Joneses?" Google the List of the Sumerian Kings.

Age of Israel
Though it is small, there is a discrepancy between when the Bible, as it is currently translated, states the walls of Jericho were knocked down, and when we presume them to have been knocked down due to other historical markers. To be fair, the difference ranges from ~150 years to ~400 years, depending on source. Most authorities of the Bible say the conquest happened in about 1400 BC, while most outside historical markers place the event at 1550 - 1680 BC. 

Again, not a big difference, but a noticeable difference. When extrapolated, and added into the missing generations between Adam and Abraham, and added to the near 1000 generations before Adam, it adds up pretty quickly. 

Genesis 1 & 2 compared to Genesis 3
They are two separate events of creation. And the formation of humankind is clearly separate from the story of Adam & Eve. How much time happened here?

Genesis 1 is a poem
So says the Talmud. Books of the Bible that were formerly Cannon, or accepted Apocrypha, state as much. These same books, ignored by the rewrite of "Cannon" in 1885, did not play the game that King James wanted to play, nor the game of those who left out other books in 1885 and 382 with the Vulgate, as well as many other disagreements of what is and is not scriptural. 

Knowledgeable Jews
One Jewish scholar determined the Universe was 15 billion years old. This was before Darwin. 
Others have placed the age of the Earth consistently at between 25,000 years and 250,000 years. 
One or two have come to the conclusion of a few million years. 
Almost all of these happened well before the modern advent of old earth hypotheses.  

What I am NOT basing this on
- Any modern interpretation of evolution as a point of origin. 
- Any modern (and inherently inaccurate) method of dating rock layers, etc. 
- Any outside source other than Bible and real Biblical scholars. 

In light of all these facts, I am forced to reconsider everything I know about Genesis, and everything I thought about the origin of Earth. To be sure, everything in Genesis is true - the message God wishes us to know is still there, and is still as important today as it was then. The numbers are just very inaccurate from a scientific point of view, by the Bible's own admission. 

How old do I think the Earth is?
Does it matter?
Maybe 15,000 - 25,000 years... maybe 250,000 years... maybe 4 billion years.


Monday, May 13, 2013

Calvinism or Christianity 7

If you are a Calvinist, you may or may not be a Christian. 

Do you believe in eternal security?
The issue is whether people who truly believe in Jesus for salvation can possibly shipwreck their faith and forfeit their salvation, or conversely, once people have genuinely put their faith in Christ, whether their final salvation is unconditionally guaranteed.
• If you answered yes and do believe in eternal security, you might be a Christian.
• Even Jacobus Arminius (of "Arminianism" - what Calvinists call non-Calvinist Christians) himself was non-committal on the issue and never actually taught that believers may make shipwreck of their faith and so forfeit their salvation.
• The Remonstrants — people who sided with Arminius in the theological debates of 17th century Holland — originally took no position on this issue, though they ultimately came to the conclusion that believers can make shipwreck of their faith and so perish.
• If you answered no and don't believe in eternal security, then you affirm something which many Christians strongly affirm, and you certainly would not be welcome in the Calvinist camp.
• The official statement of faith of the Society of Evangelical Arminians only affirms that "persevering in faith is necessary for final salvation," without commenting further on the possibility of making shipwreck of one's faith.
• All Calvinists believe in unconditional eternal security (some without qualification and some because they think that faith and its continuance is due to unconditional election).
• Most Independent and Southern Baptists base their claim to be Calvinists on this sole issue; however, in light of historic agreement among Arminians to allow for disagreement on this issue, eternal security is not a determining factor in the question of whether one is an "Arminian" or a Calvinist.

Doctrine does not affect one's salvation - belief in Christ does. However, there exists a distinct possibility that if your doctrine is false, as is the case with Calvinism, then you may never have asked Jesus' forgiveness and as a result, you may not have received salvation.

Material borrowed from this site. All edits are mine.