Augustine1 Conservative Christian Worldview Blog

April 23, 2014

God’s Not Dead: A Focus on the Family Movie Review

Filed under: Uncategorized — augustinehippo1 @ 9:29 pm
“What is your humanities elective?” asks a helpful registration assistant at Hadleigh University.The object of his inquiry? Freshman Josh Wheaton, who replies, “Uh, Philosophy 150. Radisson, 11:00 on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.”Noticing the cross and the Newsboys T-shirt the first-year student is wearing, the registrar suggests, “You might want to think about a different instructor.”“Yes?” Josh responds, confused. “Let’s just say you’re wandering into the snake pit. … Think Roman Colosseum. Lions. People cheering for your death.” Noone ends up actually cheering for Josh’s death in this movie. Still, the guy gets it mostly right, because Prof. Jeffrey Radisson isn’t just interested in teaching freshman why famous atheist philosophers such as Michael Foucault, Richard Dawkins and Albert Camus don’t believe inGod. No, he’s anevangelist for unbelief and the complete repudiation of faith. And on the first day of class he makes his students write “God is dead” on a piece of paper, sign it and hand it in. “I can’t,” Josh says, the lone dissenter. “I can’t do what you want. I’m a Christian.” “All right, Mr. Wheaton,” Radisson retorts. “Allow me to explain the alternative: If you cannot bring yourself to admit that God is dead for the purposes of this class, then you will need to defend the antithesis: that God is not dead. And you’ll need to do it in front of this class, from the podium. And if you fail—as you shall—you will fail this section and lose 30% of your final grade right off the bat. Are you ready to accept that?” He is. And Josh even ups the ante, suggesting that his classmates be the judges of how well he argues God’s case. 

Positive Elementslion of the tribe

Josh’s dramatic, high-stakes stand against his professor is not only the right thing for him to do, it bears almost immediate fruit. Chinese foreign exchange student Martin Yip, for example, is moved by Josh’s courage to consider Christianity. And despite Martin’s father’s objections, the young man soon professes faith in Christ. A Muslim girl named Ayisha also seems to borrow some of Josh’s strength as she struggles with whether or not to admit her own conversion to Christianity.More generally, we’re shown that Josh’s stalwart commitment to not letting God down inspires hundreds if not thousands of others who learn about what he’s doing by way of a Newsboys concert.And in a parallel stand, a young woman named Mina, a former student of Radisson’s who became his girlfriend, decides to leave him because of his continuous belittling of her faith.Helping Josh, Ayisha and Mina navigate their winding, at times agonizing, spiritual journeys is Pastor Dave. He’s a reverend who harbors his own deep doubts about whether he’s making much of a difference in people’s lives. But he ultimately sees that he is indeed having a significant impact.

Spiritual Content

When Josh has second thoughts about what he’s gotten himself into, Pastor Dave gives him two passages of Scripture to look up: Matthew 10:32-33 and Luke 12:48. The former—which Josh quotes out loud—deals with acknowledging God before men, something Josh does with his whole heart for the balance of the movie.We see quite a lot of the in-class debate between Josh and Radisson, and some of the point-counterpoint gets pretty detailed. Josh, for instance, takes apart the famous quote from Richard Dawkins, who said, “If you tell me that God created the universe, then I have the right to ask you, Who created God?” Josh responds, “Even leaving God out of the equation, I then have a right to turn Mr. Dawkins’ question back ’round on him and ask, ‘If the universe created you, then who created the universe?’ You see, both the theist and the atheist are burdened with the same question of how did things start. What I’m hoping you’ll pick up from all this is that you don’t have to commit intellectual suicide to believe in a Creator behind the creation.”Several other long scenes include similar theological and philosophical expositions explaining the reasonableness of faith.It’s renewed faith that at least partially prompts Mina to leave Radisson. An ambush-style reporter, Amy, tries to stick it to the Newsboys backstage … and ends up on the receiving end of prayers by the group instead when they learn that she’s been stricken by cancer. As mentioned, Martin tells Josh that he’s become a Christian. And Ayisha risks everything to follow Jesus. Speaking of Ayisha, we’re shown how bad it can get for some people when they profess faith in Christ. Namely that her conversion spurs her traditional Islamist father to disown her and kick her out of the house. And Josh’s girlfriend, Kara, works overtime trying to convince him to give up on trying to convince the class that God is alive, finally leaving him over the matter. Mina’s dementia-afflicted mother serves to stimulate thought about how serving God doesn’t always iron out all of life’s wrinkles. “You prayed and believed your whole life,” Mina’s brother says to their mother, almost as an accusation. “Never done anything wrong. And here you are. You’re the nicest person I know. I am the meanest. You have dementia. My life is perfect. Explain that to me!” Then, in a moment of unexpected spiritual clarity, she does. “Sometimes the devil allows people to live a life free of trouble because he doesn’t want them turning to God,” she tells her shocked son. “Their sin is like a jail cell, except it is all nice and comfy and there doesn’t seem to be any reason to leave. The door’s wide open. Till one day, time runs out, and the cell door slams shut, and suddenly it’s too late.” Indeed, in the face of difficulty, we hear a lot about God always being good, and having a plan for our lives. When Amy waylays Duck Dynasty stars Willie and Korie Robertson on their way to church, she suggests that some viewers might be offended by the family’s Christian faith. Willie responds, “Hey, we’re not trying to offend anybody. If they don’t want to watch the show, they can turn the channel. As far as my praying to Jesus, my life and my whole eternity belongs to God. All this stuff is temporary. The money, the fame, the success, temporary. Even life is temporary. Jesus—that’s eternal.” [Spoiler Warning] Even Prof. Radisson eventually admits that he hates God so much because of the pain he experienced when his mother died of cancer when he was 12. And he comes to Christ in the end … as he himself is on the brink of death.

Sexual Content

Kara’s tops reveal cleavage. It can be inferred that Radisson and Mina are living together.

Violent Content

Ayisha’s father hits her twice in the face, then, in a rage, throttles her, marches her down the stairs of the family’s house and throws her out. She collapses, crying, outside the slammed door.Somebody gets hit by a car. We see his body flip into the air before landing with a sickening thud on the pavement. Help arrives, but it’s clear that the victim’s ribs are crushed and that he’s bleeding to death.

Crude or Profane Language

“Dork” is used as an insult.

Drug and Alcohol Content

Mina buys wine, then serves it to guests—who complain that it’s ruined from being overheated in her trunk. A conversation references merlot and chardonnay. 

Other Negative Elements

Pretty much everyone who’s not a Christian in this story is villainized for being mean, abusive, grouchy or narrow-minded. Several such sinners are condemned to either death or terminal illness, as if they’re being punished for their attitudes.


What would you do if someone in a position of authority and influence in your life demanded that you renounce your faith? That’s the central question God’s Not Dead forces viewers to grapple with. And Josh Wheaton’s answer is to refuse. And then to explain exactly why he’s refusing.When Martin asks Josh why he’s willing to risk Radisson’s destroying his law school dreams, the freshman says simply, “I just think of Jesus as my friend. I don’t want to disappoint Him, even if everyone else thinks I should. See, to me, He’s not dead. He’s alive. I don’t want anyone to get talked out of believing in Him because some professor thinks they should.”The story is sometimes melodramatic. And there are moments of implausibility that emerge as the list of non-Christians behaving badly lengthens. But God’s Not Dead can always be seen focusing on the simple power of testifying to the Truth, no matter the cost. Josh makes a decision to let the chips fall where they may, delivering the gospel message bravely and boldly in a hostile environment. He carefully prepares to give his answers. And he always puts God first.

lion of the tribe


On March 21, 2014, the movie God’s Not Dead was released in 780 theaters across the country. Since then, more than 1,000 other theaters began showing the film, which grossed over $41 million in less than one month—pretty good for a movie with a budget of only $2 million (God’s Not Dead, 2014a).

Though many Christians and pro-Christian organizations around the country have been fairly complimentary of the film, general reviewers have not been so kind. rated the movie with one star, as only 15% of the Web site’s approved critics gave the movie a positive review (God’s Not Dead, 2014b). Although the Hollywood Reporter had a few positive things to say about the movie, in their “bottom line” they referred to it as a “simple-minded sermon” (Farber, 2014). Claudia Puig of USA Today has alleged that “the contrived premise of God’s Not Dead is anything but credible.” Puig dismissed the idea of a professor at a respected academic institution ever criticizing religion as “primitive superstition,” saying, “Even if a teacher believed this, it’s highly unlikely he would declare it to a class full of students” (2014, emp. added).

The fact of the matter is, belligerent criticism of theism and Christianity has been occurring on college campuses all over the country for years, and it is very appropriate for God’s Not Dead to raise awareness of such bullying from various intolerant, liberal professors. Sometime ago a gentleman, who had been a student at a well-known university in the southeastern United States, visited with us after one of our lectures and recounted how, at the beginning of one particular semester, a science professor asked students in the class to stand up if they believed in God. Seven individuals out of a fairly large class rose from their seats. The professor then went on to say that by the end of the semester not one of them would stand up when he asked that question. Sure enough, toward the end of the semester the professor posed the question again, “How many of you believe in God?” Only one student stood up. Several months later, another student from the same university confirmed that the same thing happened in one of her classes. There was obvious bullying and intimidation taking place. The often-overlooked fact is, theistic, creationist, and Christian-oriented students and professors are frequently the target of liberal, atheistic, and/or evolutionary professors and department heads (e.g., Kingkade, 2013; Bergman, 2008; Stein and Miller, 2008; see also Miller, 2011).

Perhaps the most powerful and pervasive message of God’s Not Dead is that any person who calls himself or herself a Christian must be willing to sacrifice everything for Christ. The hero of the movie, a young university freshman named Josh Wheaton, is willing to sacrifice his relationship with his fiancée, his university career, his future job, and his reputation to stand up for God’s existence. In a subplot, a young Muslim student is willing to sacrifice her family relationships for her belief in Christ. A freshman student from China is consistently urged by his father to stop thinking about “foolish” religious ideas and concentrate on his grades, but the young man refuses. And the girlfriend of the antagonistic atheistic professor breaks off their relationship because of her religious convictions.

This message of sacrifice is both biblical and extremely important in our increasingly self-centered society. Jesus said: “Whoever desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me…. For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels” (Mark 8:34,38). In all of our years as Christian apologists, we have seen countless “Christians” bowing to the secular standards of our day, afraid to stand for the truth of the Bible and God’s existence. We could recount stories of college freshmen too afraid of ruining their reputations or of getting a bad grade to stand up for their belief in God. We could tell of university professors who were so very concerned about tenure, their salary, or their teaching positions that they refused to speak or write about their faith in Christ because of the possible repercussions. How many school teachers have allowed their Christian influence to be silenced because they might lose their job? It truly is a shame to see the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross and the complete dedication of His early followers who “rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name” (Acts 5:41), and then witness certain “Christians” today who will not even acknowledge in public that they believe in God or His Word. Any faithful Christian would have to say “Amen,” to the movie’s main message that following Jesus requires complete sacrifice to His Will.

Aplogetics Press


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April 20, 2014

What the Resurrection did in the Lives of Four People: Sermon by Pastor Rusty Lyon

Filed under: Uncategorized — augustinehippo1 @ 9:12 pm
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                                        Easter Srustyunday 2014





1. Let’s begin with Mary Magdalene:                                Click for Audio

jesus_lives10.jpgMatthew 28:1-8 (ESV)  Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. 2  And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3  His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. 4  And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. 5  But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6  He is not here, for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. 7  Then go quickly and tell his disciples that he has risen from the dead, and behold, he is going before you to Galilee; there you will see him. See, I have told you.” 8  So they departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.  
John 20:10-18 (ESV)
10  Then the disciples went back to their homes. 11  But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb, and as she wept she stooped to look into the tomb. 12  And she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had lain, one at the head and one at the feet. 13  They said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” She said to them, “They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.” 14  Having said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing, but she did not know that it was Jesus. 15  Jesus said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you seeking?” Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” 16  Jesus said to her, “Mary.” She turned and said to him in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” (which means Teacher). 17  Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.’” 18  Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, “I have seen the Lord”—and that he had said these things to her.
And what did the resurrection do for Mary? It provided reassurance and inspired hope!
2. How about Peter?
John 20:19-21 (ESV)
19  On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being locked where the disciples were for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.”
feed my sheep.jpg
John 21:15-17 (ESV)
15  When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.”16  He said to him a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Tend my sheep.” 17  He said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was grieved because he said to him the third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep”.
And for Peter, what did the resurrection do? It erased his guilt and brought him back into ministry.
3. There is another story. Let’s talk about Thomas:
John 20:24-29 (ESV)
doubting thomas.jpg24  Now Thomas, one of the Twelve, called the Twin, was not with them when Jesus came. 25  So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord.” But he said to them, “Unless I see in his hands the mark of the nails, and place my finger into the mark of the nails, and place my hand into his side, I will never believe.” 26  Eight days later, his disciples were inside again, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27  Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and see my hands; and put out your hand, and place it in my side. Do not disbelieve, but believe.” 28  Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!” 29  Jesus said to him, “Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”
What did the resurrection of Jesus do to Thomas? The resurrection transformed doubt into certainty.
4. Have you ever thought about the temple guards?
tomb guards.jpg
Matthew 28:12-15 (ESV)
12  And when they had assembled with the elders and taken counsel, they gave a sufficient sum of money to the soldiers 13  and said, “Tell people, ‘His disciples came by night and stole him away while we were asleep.’ 14  And if this comes to the governor’s ears, we will satisfy him and keep you out of trouble.” 15  So they took the money and did as they were directed. And this story has been spread among the Jews to this day.
What does the resurrection do? It forces us to make a decision.
What the resurrection can do in our lives TODAY !
1. The resurrection provides reassurance and inspires hope!
2. The resurrection erases your guilt and propels you back into ministry !
3. The resurrection transforms your doubt into certainty.
Seek God..jpg4. The resurrection forces you to make a decision.
Pray with me: Lord Jesus I do believe you came to earth, died on a cross to pay the price for my sins, were buried in the tomb, rose from the dead on the third day, and ascended into heaven where you ever live to make intercession for me. Thank you Lord Jesus. Now I am yours. Amen.


April 24, 2014

Counterfeit Christians: Part 2 (1 Jn. 3:1–10)

Filed under: Uncategorized — augustinehippo1 @ 8:45 am

Originally posted on Pastor Joe Quatrone, Jr.:

1 John 3_1-10 In my introduction to this post, we looked at the contrast between a true Christian and a counterfeit Christian. We learned a true believer does not live in habitual sin because he loves God and wants to obey his heavenly Father. As we continue our study in John’s first letter ( 1 Jn. 3:1–10 ), he gives us a third reason for living a holy life.


“Whosoever is born of God does not practice sin!” Why? Because he has a new nature within him and that new nature cannot sin. John calls this new nature God’s “seed.”

When a person receives Christ as his Savior, tremendous spiritual changes take place in him. He is given a new standing before God, being accepted as righteous in God’s sight. This new standing is called “justification.” It never changes and is never…

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April 23, 2014

Counterfeit Christians (1 John 3:1–10)

Filed under: Uncategorized — augustinehippo1 @ 6:25 am

Originally posted on Pastor Joe Quatrone, Jr.:

fake-christian3 The United States Treasury Department has a special group of men whose job it is to track down counterfeiters. Naturally, these men need to know a counterfeit bill when they see it. How do they learn to identify fake bills? Oddly enough, they are not trained by spending hours examining counterfeit money. Rather, they study the real thing . They become so familiar with authentic bills they can spot a counterfeit by looking at it or, often, simply by feeling it.

This is the approach in 1 John 3, which warns us in today’s world there are counterfeit Christians—“children of the devil” (1 Jn. 3:10). But instead of listing the evil characteristics of Satan’s children, Scripture gives us a clear description of God’s children. The contrast between the two is obvious.

The key verse of this chapter is 1 John 3:10: a true child of God…

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April 20, 2014

Christ’s victory over the Fall

Filed under: Uncategorized — augustinehippo1 @ 12:28 pm
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The new earth

Christ’s victory over the Fall

by  and 

Published: 20 April 2014 (GMT+10)


Wikimedia commons/Jon ‘ShakataGaNai’ Davis

There is a lot of confusion over the doctrine of heaven and the future new heavens and earth. Many Christians, while they look forward to being with Jesus after our physical death here on earth, do not have a real idea of what our eternal existence will ‘look like’ or entail. Often, they read about the new heavens and earth described inRevelation 21–22 and then imagine existing forever in some sort of ethereal realm, instead of eternal existence in a real, restored, physical universe. However, the Bible has a lot to tell us about what we have to look forward to, and understanding our future state also helps us to understand what we lost when Adam fell. This also has serious implications for those who want to allegorize the Creation events in Genesis in order to add millions of years of evolutionary history.

In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul takes a bold stance on the Resurrection:

Now if Christ is proclaimed as being raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain, and your faith is in vain. We are even found to be misrepresenting God, because we testified about God that he raised Christ, whom he did not raise if it is true that the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. If in Christ we have hope in this life only, we are of all people most to be pitied” (15:12–19).

Paul is saying that we must believe in the physical resurrection of Christ to be saved—it’s that important. This is because our future resurrection—what we look forward to—is the same sort of resurrection as Jesus’. So the resurrection of the dead is a Gospel issue; you can’t be a Christian and not believe that we (believers) will live forever with Christ—in real, physical, resurrected bodies. But where will those bodies live? Scripture’s testimony is clear and unanimous that the new heavens and earth (hereafter NHE) will be a physical (yet also spiritual) realm.

Before we go on we would like to point out that, although we need to look into future times (eschatology) to discuss the issue, we are not taking some denominational or eschatological position that falls outside of our ministry’s mandate of dealing with origins (our reasons are explained in End-times and Early-times). As we shall see, a fully restored creation (as outlined in the book of Revelation and elsewhere in Scripture) is unequivocally linked to the events in the Garden of Eden and is part of all mainstream eschatological views. The doctrine of a NHE has been a standard core doctrine of the evangelical church and all of the mainstream (non-cultic) denominations throughout all of Christian history.


Luc Viatour/

This present world will end

The Bible teaches that this present earth (indeed all of creation; cf. Rom 8:22) is cursed because of the presence of sin and will be destroyed. Peter writes:

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies [or ‘elements’] will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt away as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. Therefore, beloved, since you are waiting for these, be diligent to be found by him without spot or blemish, and at peace” (2 Peter 3:10–14).

Note that Peter is not using figures of speech. Indeed, just before this, he reminds his readers that God had previously judged the whole globe with a cataclysmic flood in history. He does not say, “It will be as if the heavens are being burnt up”. In straightforward language, he is saying that God is actually going to burn up the universe and set up a “new heavens and earth in which righteousness dwells”. And he uses this fact to tell his audience to live a life befitting citizens of the new heavens and earth.

It is not a hyperbole to call them an “uncreation” of the heavens and earth—many judgments in the Bible are reversals of creation; for example, the Flood reversed creation to the time before the land was separated from the seas on Day 2, and Jeremiah 4:23 alludes to a future uncreation that reverses the universe back to the state described in Genesis 1:2.

Again, depending on one’s eschatological stance, many of the various judgments in Revelation (e.g. one third of mankind killed [9:15]) may be presented either with some symbolic meaning or a more literal meaning, but this distracts from the main point of this article—what happens at the end. It is not our point to discuss the details, but to clearly present the big picture, and this is that the present Creation will suffer terrible, utterly destructive judgment because of sin. But the destruction is not the end of the story, because God will create a new heaven and a new earth “for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away” (Revelation 21:1) and believers will live in that new creation for eternity.

Why will this world be destroyed?

To destroy a whole universe seems a rather drastic solution to the problem of a fallen world. However, Scripture is clear that the whole creation fell. Romans 8:19–23 says:

For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (emphases ours).

When Adam sinned, the earth was cursed because of him (Genesis 3:17–19), and the earth was further polluted by murder, violence, and immorality (6:11–12Leviticus 18:24–28Numbers 35:33Psalm 106:38Jeremiah 3:2916:18). But it is not just the dirt on the surface of the earth; it is the entire universe, all of creation (Greek ktisis), that is cursed. Thus, all of creation is in need of restoration.

Because the earth has been affected by the Curse and further polluted by man’s sin, it is not a suitable place for resurrected, perfect people to live.

Because the creation has been affected by the Curse and further polluted by man’s sin, it is not a suitable place for resurrected, perfect people to live. How could we live among fossils, graveyards and reminders of death (even if their inhabitants were vacated), and a Flood-scarred earth that bore testimony to God’s great judgment of sin? How can we live forever next to a star that has a limited lifespan or in a universe with built-in, non-eternal features that will eventually die of ‘heat death’? All of this is a reminder that death is an enemy that beset all of Creation, and a reminder that Christ has conquered death, thus, giving us something to look forward to:

For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. … The last enemy to be destroyed is death” (1 Cor. 15:21–2226).

Just as our bodies die, and return to dust, they will be raised as new bodies that nevertheless have continuity with our former selves, likewise the earth is fallen and will be destroyed, but it will be destroyed in order to be renewed. The restoration of the earth is directly analogous with the resurrection of the redeemed in Christ. Just as we have to die before we are resurrected, the earth must be destroyed before it is renewed. It is not an ‘ultimate’ or final destruction; it is a destruction that clears the way for its re-creation.

The new world we look forward to

Genesis uses the phrase “heavens and earth” to encompass all of the physical creation (the universe). When the Bible (2 Peter 3:13,Revelation 21–22) uses the phrase “new heavens and earth”, it is has a similarly all-encompassing meaning. It is an indication of thecontinuity of the new creation with the old. But the word ‘new’ has the connotation of “superior” or “improved”, such that the old will be obsolete.1

If we want to see what an unfallen physical creation looks like, the obvious place to start is Eden.

We are given several images of the new world. If we want to see what an unfallen physical creation looks like, the obvious place to start is Eden. Eden is a picture of God’s ideal paradise on earth. It was a place especially suited for humans to live comfortably and engage in easy, pleasant work (Genesis 2:15) and for the purposes of appreciating their Creator. All Adam and Eve’s needs were provided for, and they were in regular, direct fellowship with God. There was no sin, no death, and no barrier to mankind’s relationship with God.

In the NHE there is a return to a sinless state with no suffering or evil of any kind, and unlimited access to God (Revelation 21:3–4). All of this is possible because of Christ’s sacrifice in paying for our sins. But it is even better than the original creation, because it is not a simple return to Eden. Rather, God will redeem the best parts of culture as well as the earth.

The best advance in the new heavens and earth will be that there will never be any possibility for sin or another Fall. “Since ‘the wages of sin is death’ (Romans 6:23), the promise of no more death is a promise a promise of no more sin. Those who will never die can never sin, since death is a punishment for sin. Sin results in mourning, crying, and pain. If those will never occur again, then sin can never occur again.”2

Will the new earth be physical?

As we mentioned earlier, some people think our eternal destination is an ethereal place populated by disembodied spirits. But that makes the mistake of confusing two places: the place where believers who die await the resurrection (variously called Paradise or Heaven), and the place we will exist after the consummation of all things eschatological. On this Paul wrote:

So we are always of good courage. We know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord … Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord” (2 Cor 5:68).


The Bible is clear that, although believers who die are “at home with the Lord”, they still await the resurrection of the dead, when our bodies will be transformed to be like Jesus’. Again Paul says:


Flickr/Mikel Ortega

So is it with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable”, (1 Cor 15:42).

We will also be morally perfected at that time so we will never sin.

The NHE will be as physical as the current heavens and earth. Just as the place where perfect people will live cannot be fallen, it also cannot be ethereal and non-physical. We will need a physical, material world to live in then just as much as we do now. And the Bible’s descriptions of this world include re-created animals and trees, cities, streets, rivers, and other physical things. Conversely, the new earth is never described in ‘ethereal’ or ghostly terms.

What about the ‘spiritual body’?

In 1 Corinthians 15:44, Paul says, “It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body.” Some people take this to mean that when we are raised, we will be some sort of ethereal being. This interpretation misunderstands what Paul means when he calls our earthly bodies “natural” and our resurrection bodies “spiritual” (see Christ as the Last Adam). It doesn’t refer to the ‘stuff’ the body is made of, but of what motivates us and drives our desires. E.g. Paul previously referred to a ‘spiritual’ person, using the same Greek word pneumatikos, and it was obviously a physical person (1 Corinthians 2:15). Let’s remember that even in our sinful physical bodies we are still spiritual beings. Even the Lord Jesus was referred to as a ‘life-giving” or “quickening spirit”. The point being made that one can be physical and spiritual at the same time. And in the same way, the NHE will be both a physical and spiritual place. The spirit is not the sum of our being but part of it. This is why God first made the body of Adam from the dust of the ground, then breathed on him and this man became ‘a living creature’ or ‘living soul’ (Hebrew nephesh chayyahGenesis 2:7).

Currently, even at our best we’re sinful, even though we’re forgiven sinners. In the resurrection, our desires will be perfectly aligned with God’s will. Not only will we not be able to sin, we won’t want to sin. It will be incomprehensible to us to sin.

Will we experience time?

If the NHE will be made of matter, then it will take up space. And we know that space (size) and time are connected and related to each other. It is a common belief that eternal life will be timeless, but that is not really correct. Time, as we understand it, began with the creation of the physical universe. And the timeframe used in the Bible is the earth’s. When the earth rotates with a light source on it, it defines a day. So only God is outside of time, because He preceded what He created—only that which has no beginning in time can ever be outside of time. Every created being experiences and will always experience life as a continuous series of events, one moment after another. When we sing a hymn in heaven, we will sing one word after another in time and we will need to count the bars of the song over time. If we go from one place to another, it will take us time to travel. It’s uncertain how that time will be measured, but it will certainly be experienced in some form.

God’s triumph in the restored creation


ForestWander Nature Photography,

Author and former pastor Randy Alcorn writes:

“God has never given up on his original creation. Yet somehow we’ve managed to overlook an entire biblical vocabulary that makes this point clear. Redeem. Restore. Recover. Return. Renew. Resurrect.Each of these biblical words begins with the re- prefix, suggesting a return to an original condition that was ruined or lost. God always sees us in light of what He intended us to be, and He always seeks torestore us to that design. Likewise, He sees the earth in terms of what he intended it to be, and he seeks to restore it to its original design.”3

One important theological reason that the new earth has to be physical is simply: if God does not redeem or restore the physical world, then Satan wins, because he would have foiled God’s original purpose in creating., We’re told that God will undo everything Satan did, and He will make creation even better than before.

By the end of Revelation, sin is gone. In addition, God gets praised because of His mercy and grace, and Jesus is glorified as the Saviour of the nations. Humans are resurrected. We’re not just sinless in the Resurrection; we’re positively righteous and can never fall again. The earth must similarly be restored, or there is a huge gap in how we perceive God’s redemptive work.

Compromise on Genesis creates an NHE problem

When one reads of the restored creation and the New Heavens and Earth, particularly in chapters 21 and 22 of Revelation, it is absolutely clear that this is analogous to what God originally did in Genesis 1. They are inexorably intertwined. He is sovereign and finally has His way and we can only marvel at His plan—even though He knew of Satan’s plans in advance.

If God’s original design involved millions of years of death and suffering, then what is wrong with this creation? Why destroy it and create a new one?

Those who believe that God somehow used a process of millions of years of evolution have a huge inconsistency problem here. Presumably they have no problem with what is often called the ‘Blessed Hope’—this future eternal paradise where all believers will live forever in a restored universe, recreated miraculously and instantaneously by God. But because it is analogous to Genesis 1, then how could God have used a process of death and suffering to create the original? Simply, is God going to restore things back to millions of years of death and suffering? Moreover, if in the NHE we can see stars billions of light years away, do we then think that God ‘recreated’ and stretched out space over billions of years again (according to an old-Earth view of Genesis). Of course, that makes no sense. One option would be to allegorize the concept of a NHE just as is done with Genesis 1, but one then has to wonder why bother being saved because one cannot be sure of the future state or have any real hope of what there is to look forward to. In short, if God’s original design involved millions of years of death and suffering, then what is wrong with this creation? Why destroy it and create a new one?


Wikimedia commons/Balkhovitin

The NHE doctrine only makes sense within a creation/fall/restoration framework. If God created a perfect world with no sin or death, it makes sense that God will restore it to a perfect world with no sin or death. But every old-earth or evolutionary view puts death before Adam was created. This does not come from Scripure but from deference to a philosophical assumption callednaturalism (the belief that natural processes can explain everything that has ever happened in the history of the universe). So to some extent, it makes death part of God’s originally ‘very good’ creation (cf. Genesis 1:31). The NHE tells us what God’s intended creation looks like—but in the view of the compromisers, why didn’t He simply create it that way to begin with? The NHE is a powerful testimony to the original very good creation.

Paul tells us, “‘What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him’—these things has God revealed to us through the Spirit” (1 Corinthians 2:9–10a). The Bible tells us exactly what we have to look forward to when we trust in Jesus—eternal life in a perfect resurrection body, in a physical restored body, in perfect sinless fellowship with God.

Related Articles

Further Reading

References and notes

  1. Alcorn, R., Heaven (Tyndale House, Carol Stream, IL, 2004), p. 149. Return to text.
  2. Alcorn, R., Heaven, p. 299. Return to text.
  3. See interview, An eternal perspective on creationReturn to text.

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April 19, 2014

Daniel Chapter 12

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Daniel 12:1-13 (ESV)
1  “At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people. And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book.


1. What time is this?

In the Book of Daniel, chapters 10, 11, and 12 are a part of one revelation. Chapter 10 serves as the introduction; chapter 11 provides a number of the details of God’s prophetic program, and chapter 12 serves as the conclusion.

The first verse of chapter 12 reveals two facts pertaining to the end times we would not have expected apart from divine revelation. First, the angel Michael is the instrument through whom the period of the Great Tribulation is initiated. There is a definite link between the “king of the North” and the Great Tribulation to be sure. But the text leaves this evil king behind in chapter 11, linking the beginning of the tribulation to Michael, who will arise and bring about a “time of great distress,” a time particularly directed toward the Jews.

It is easy to see that the first half of verse 1 pertains to Michael and the last half to the period of the Great Tribulation, but it is difficult to accept the connection between the two. When Michael arises, the time of Israel’s trouble begins. At first this does not seem possible. Michael is “Israel’s prince” (10:21), the “great prince who stands guard” over the sons of Daniel’s people, Israel (12:1). How could the “protector of Israel” precipitate this time of such great suffering?

The answer is found in the second surprising fact revealed in verse 1: The deliverance of God’s people is that which occurs in the time of her greatest trouble—the Great TribulationIf we are surprised to see Michael associated with the suffering of Israel, we should also be surprised to see Israel’s deliverance associated with the time of her greatest suffering. Those whose names are found written in the book of life will be rescued.

Pharaoh-enslaves-the-HebrewsGod has chosen to bring about the salvation of his chosen ones by means of suffering. God does save men and women from suffering, but He also saves through suffering. Consider for a moment the deliverance of Israel from Egyptian bondage. God was well aware of their suffering and heard the cries of His people. He sent Moses to deliver His people from their suffering. But the deliverance of the Israelites came through suffering. When Moses appeared before Pharaoh and demanded that he let God’s people go, Pharaoh only made things more difficult for the Jews. The Jews protested that Moses had only made matters worse. In a sense, they were right. Things were going to get worse before they got better. It looked as though the entire nation would be wiped out by the Egyptian army as they found themselves trapped between the Red Sea and the approaching Egyptian forces. But God opened the sea, bringing about the salvation of His people and the destruction of their enemies.

The salvation of sinners has been accomplished by our Lord Jesus Christ. He delivers us from sin, from suffering, and from death, but He did so by means of His own suffering and death. So too the nation Israel will be delivered from its sins and suffering, but this will happen by means of the suffering of the nation in the time of the Great Tribulation. Then the people of God will be rescued.

For this reason, Michael, the guardian prince of the nation Israel, is revealed as the one who will arise, bringing about the Great Tribulation. Israel’s time of great suffering is God’s appointed means for her deliverance; thus, the angel appointed to protect her precipitates by his actions the time of her suffering. When Michael arises and the tribulation begins, it is like the doctor who “breaks the water” of a woman as she nears the time to give birth to her child. A time of pain will come upon her, but it is through this pain that the joy of new life will come to pass. RD

At the time of the end (11:40), Michael, the angel responsible to protect Israel (cf. 10:1321), will arise in defense of this nation. This revelation focuses the reader’s attention again on the invisible and supernatural dimension to the events that will take place. “Now at that time” introduces additional information about this end time; it does not introduce a chronologically subsequent event.

This period generally will be a time of extreme distress for the Jews, worse than any other time in their national history (cf. Deut. 4:30Jer. 30:7Matt. 24:21Rev. 6—19). Showers argued that the Day of the Lord, the Time of Jacob’s Trouble, and the Great Tribulation are all terms that Scripture uses to describe a three and one-half year period of intense trouble yet future, namely, the last half of Daniel’s seventieth week. I agree, though the term “the Day of the Lord” refers to other times as well (i.e., the seven-year Tribulation, the Millennium, both periods together, and other times at which God breaks into history dramatically). The repetition of “your people” in this verse clearly identifies the Jews, not all believers. They will be the focus of intense persecution, though many non-Jews will also suffer, and their land will become an international battlefield (cf. Matt. 24:22). CN

By what authority do we call this period the Great Tribulation period? By the authority of the Lord Jesus, because He used the same language in speaking of the the-time-of-jacobs-trouble-great-tribulation-now-the-end-beginsGreat Tribulation that Daniel uses here. He said that this would be a brief period, a time of trouble, and that there would never be a time like it before or afterward. This is the time the Lord Jesus called the Great Tribulation period. He knew what He was talking about, and we will accept what He said (see Matt. 24:15–26).

“At that time” identifies the time frame as the time of the end (Dan. 11:35, 40; 12:4) and the latter days (Dan. 10:14). This is now the end of the vision given to Daniel, and it ends with the Great Tribulation period. Dr. Robert Culver wrote in Daniel and the Latter Days, p. 166: “Another expression, ‘at the time of the end’ (11:40), seems to indicate eschatological times. I do not feel that this evidence, taken by itself, can be pressed too far, for obviously the end of whatever series of events is in the mind of the author is designated by the expression, ‘time of the end.’ This is not necessarily a series reaching on to the consummation of the ages. However, it is quite clear from 10:14, which fixes the scope of the prophecy to include ‘the latter days,’ that the ‘time of the end’ in this prophecy is with reference to the period consummated by the establishment of the Messianic kingdom.”

“Michael” is identified for us here. He is the only angel given the title of archangel, Jude 1:9 (ESV) 9  But when the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, was disputing about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a blasphemous judgment, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.”  . His name means “who is like unto God?” He is the one who is going to cast Satan out of heaven (see Rev. 12:7–9). He is the one who protects the nation Israel and stands in her behalf, as Daniel makes clear here. His strategy is outlined by John in Revelation 12:14–16.

Revelation 12:14-16 (ESV)   But the woman was given the two wings of the great eagle so that she might fly from the serpent into the wilderness, to the place where she is to be nourished for a time, and times, and half a time. 15  The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood. 16  But the earth came to the help of the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed the river that the dragon had poured from his mouth.

“For the children of thy people.” This is positively the nation Israel. Otherwise the language has no meaning whatsoever.

“And there shall be a time of trouble.” This is the Great Tribulation period as our Lord so labeled it in Matthew 24:21.

Matthew 24:21 (ESV)   For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be.

The believing remnant of Israel will be preserved (see Matt. 24:22; Rom. 11:26; Rev. 7:4). “And I heard the number of them which were sealed: and there were sealed an hundred and forty and four thousand of all the tribes of the children of Israel” (Rev. 7:4). JVM


2  And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. 3  And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.


2. Who are the many?

a. Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake: Some think this is this is the resurrection of Israel as a nation. But the plainest meaning is that it refers to the resurrection of the body.

b. Some to everlasting life, some to shame and everlasting contempt: The Bible clearly teaches two resurrections, one for the saved and one for the damned (Joh_5:29; Rev_20:4-6; Revelation 11-15). If we really believed every one of us will live forever, it would profoundly change our lives.

judgementi. Everlasting contempt: The terror of hell never ends. There is not blissful annihilation after some period of punishment. This passage denies a rising doctrine within the church, a modified annihilationism that teaches that unjustified sinners are sent to Hell, and they suffer torment for a while, but then their beings perish for eternity.
ii. Rev_20:10 also certainly describes eternal punishment for the Devil and the Antichrist. “There would be no way possible in the Greek language to state more emphatically the everlasting punishment of the lost than here in mentioning both day and night and the expression ‘forever and ever,’ literally ‘to the ages of ages.’” (Walvoord)
iii. Logically, Hell must be eternal, because it is where imperfect beings must pay a continual penalty for their sins, because they cannot ever make a perfect payment. Principles behind Old Testament sacrifice remind us that an imperfect payment for sins must be a continual payment for sins.

c. Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake: Are there only many resurrected? There is evidence that the Hebrew word for many in Dan_12:2 can also be used for “all.” “The emphasis is not upon many as opposed to all, but rather on the numbers involved.” (Baldwin)

i. As well, the Bible states that all are raised but not all at the same time or in the same manner (Rev_20:5-6).
ii. “The wicked also shall ‘come forth,’ but by another principle, and for another purpose; they shall come out of their graves like filthy toads against this terrible storm.” (Trapp)
a. Those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the firmament: Those who live in God’s wisdom will shine. Despite all the calamitdaniel12_3y, all the difficulty coming upon Israel, God has those who are wise, and they shall shine!

b. And those who turn many to righteousness like the stars: Here, the wise among God’s people are those who turn many to righteousness.

i. All God’s people are like stars in the sense that they radiate light and help others to see and find their way. But certainly, those who turn many to righteousness shine even more brightly, helping even more people to see the light and find their way.
ii. This promise applies to all the wise, and all of those who turn many to righteousness through all ages. But it may have its most specific application to the 144,000 evangelists from Israel’s tribes during the Tribulation (Revelation 7).

c. Forever and ever: The brightness of God’s wise ones, and those who turn many to righteousness, will last forever. It isn’t fading. It endures, when so many other things that we put our effort into, even if they succeed, give have an only temporary “shine.” It’s worth it to invest our lives into the things that last forever and ever. GZ

12:2 Many … these … others. Two groups will arise from death constituting the “many” meaning all, as in Jn 5:29. Those of faith will rise to eternal life, the rest of the unsaved to eternal torment. The souls of OT saints are already with the Lord; at that time, they will receive glorified bodies (cf. Rev 20:4–6).

12:3 have insight. Those having true knowledge, by faith in God’s Word, not only leaders (as 11:33), but others (11:35; 12:10). To “shine” in glory is a privilege of all the saved (cf. the principle in 1Th 2:12; 1Pe 5:10). Any who influence others for righteousness shine like stars in varying capacities of light as their reward (as in 1Co 3:8). The faithfulness of the believer’s witness will determine one’s eternal capacity to reflect God’s glory. MSBN

12:2 Multitudes who sleep in the dust of the earth will awake. They will rise from the dead (see Isa 26:19 and note ). some to everlasting life, others to shame. The first clear reference to a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked. See Jn 5:24-29 and notes . everlasting life. the phrase occurs only here in the OT. NIVSB


4  But you, Daniel, shut up the words and seal the book, until the time of the end. Many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall increase.”


3. Why shut and seal the book?

seal shut up… seal the book– John, on the contrary, is told (Re 22:10) not to seal his visions. Daniel’s prophecy refers to a distant time, and is therefore obscure for the immediate future, whereas John’s was to be speedily fulfilled (Re 1:1, 3; 22:6). Israel, to whom Daniel prophesied after the captivity, with premature zeal sought after signs of the predicted period:Daniel’s prophecy was designed to restrain this. The Gentile Church, on the contrary, for whom John wrote, needs to be impressed with the shortness of the period, as it is, owing to its Gentile origin, apt to conform to the world, and to forget the coming of the Lord (compare Mt 25:13, 19; Mr 13:32- 37; 2Pe 3:8, 12; Re 22:20).  JFB

 In conclusion, the angel instructed Daniel to close the record of this revelation. In the ancient Near East, people wrote official documents and then, after making a copy for reference, deposited the original in a safe place. The phrase “conceal these words” does not mean that Daniel should keep them to himself but that he should preserve this revelation because it was important (cf. 8:26). Also it was customary for the scribe who recorded important documents such as contractual promises to run his cylinder-seal across the bottom to guarantee authenticity. That is what the angel instructed Daniel to do with this contractual promise. By sealing it, Daniel would certify that what stood written was exactly what God had revealed to him and had promised would happen (cf. Rev. 22:18-19).

Daniel was to preserve this revelation until the end of time (or the “time of the end,” the last half of the Tribulation ) because much of what God had revealed to him concerned the far distant future. He confessed that he did not understand much of it (v. 8), as we can appreciate since most of it predicted things still future from his standpoint in history. CN

4. To and fro?

Daniel was instructed to shut up the words and seal the book, both because its contents were not fully comprehensible and also to keep them safe for future generations of God’s people to read. The wise will know where to find this wisdom, though those around them run to and fro, seeking knowledge in vain (cf. Amos 8:12). ESVN

Amos 8:12 (ESV)  They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, to seek the word of the LORD, but they shall not find it.

 go back and forth. This Heb. verb form always refers to the movement of a person searching for something. In the tribulation, people will search for answers to airplanethe devastation and discover increased knowledge through Daniel’s preserved book. MSBN

These prophecies were to be sealed until “the time of the end.” This does not mean the end of time but refers to that definite period of time which in the Book of Daniel is the Seventieth Week. In view of the fact that we are in the interval immediately preceding this period, it is difficult to know just how much we understand. Since so many good men differ today on the interpretation of prophecy, it would seem to indicate that there is much that we do not understand. All of this will be opened up when we reach this particular period. This is the reason we need to keep our eyes upon one thing—“Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13).

“Many shall run to and fro.” I personally believe that this refers to running up and down the Bible in study of prophecy—many shall search it through and through. Tinternethere is a serious study of prophecy being made by many scholars today which has not been done in the past. Different great doctrines of the church have been studied and developed during different periods of the history of the church. At the very beginning, the doctrine of the inspiration of the Scriptures was pretty well established—also the doctrine of the deity of Christ and of redemption. Other doctrines were developed down through history. Today I think we are seeing more study of prophecy than ever before.

“Knowledge shall be increased.” I believe this means knowledge of prophecy. It is true that knowledge has increased in every field today, but this refers primarily to the study of prophecy. JVM


 5  Then I, Daniel, looked, and behold, two others stood, one on this bank of the stream and one on that bank of the stream. 6  And someone said to the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the stream, “How long shall it be till the end of these wonders?” 7  And I heard the man clothed in linen, who was above the waters of the stream; he raised his right hand and his left hand toward heaven and swore by him who lives forever that it would be for a time, times, and half a time, and that when the shattering of the power of the holy people comes to an end all these things would be finished. 8  I heard, but I did not understand. Then I said, “O my lord, what shall be the outcome of these things?” 9  He said, “Go your way, Daniel, for the words are shut up and sealed until the time of the end. 10  Many shall purify themselves and make themselves white and be refined, but the wicked shall act wickedly. And none of the wicked shall understand, but those who are wise shall understand. 11  And from the time that the regular burnt offering is taken away and the abomination that makes desolate is set up, there shall be 1,290 days. 12  Blessed is he who waits and arrives at the 1,335 days. 13  But go your way till the end. And you shall rest and shall stand in your allotted place at the end of the days.”


 5. Who are these guys?

These verses return us to the vision which Daniel had seen at the beginning of chapter 10.

“The man clothed in linen” has been previously identified as the postincarnate Christ. Two others join Him here—one stands on one bank of the Tigris River and the other on the opposite bank. One asks how long these events will take, and the postincarnate Christ swears that it will be three and one half years, which is the last half of Daniel’s Seventieth Week.

“To scatter the power of the holy people” is a strange phrase. It may mean that the rebellion of Israel will have finally been broken by the end of the Great Daniel-AngelsOnRiverTribulation period and that there will have been a great turning to God at that time. JVM

Daniel now saw two other individuals, undoubtedly angels, beside the one who had been addressing him since 10:11, standing on either side of the Tigris River (cf. 10:4). One of these angels asked a question of the man (Son of Man) dressed in linen (cf.10:5-6) who was above the river. He wanted to know how long it would be until the end of the events just related (cf. 1 Pet. 1:10-12), namely, the things having to do with Israel’s final persecution and deliverance (11:36—12:3). CN

Daniel did not ask the question. Instead, one of the angels standing on the shore of the Tigris river asked for him. The answer was given by the One whom Daniel saw in the vision of 10:5-6—our Lord Himself. He raised both hands and swore by the eternal Father117 who “lives forever” that the end of these wonders would come after a time, times, and half a time. This is generally understood to mean a period of three and one-half years. While Daniel would surely be concerned with the length of time his people would suffer in the Great Tribulation, the emphasis of this paragraph does not seem to fall on the length of Israel’s suffering but on its purpose. The suffering will end when its purpose has been fulfilled: “as soon as they finish shattering the power of the holy people, all these events will be completed” (verse 7). Israel’s deliverance does not come about because God will make them strong, but rather because God will use wicked men to shatter the power of His holy people. Here again we come to a biblical principle which defies human logic but consistently underlies the way God deals with men.

The principle is this: God’s power and our deliverance come not through our strength but through our weakness. RD


 6. Time, times, and half a time?

Daniel and his angelic companion address two related questions to the divine messenger clothed in linen. The angel’s question is a reminder that a heavenly audience is watching with interest the unfolding earthly drama. The questions concern “How long shall it be till the end of these wonders?” (v. 6) and “what shall be the outcome of these things?” (v. 8). The answer to the question “How long?” has two parts: “for a time, times, and half a time” (v. 7), and for “1,290 days” (v. 11, cf. 9:27). Revelation 11:3 and 12:6 apparently look back to this idea, though the number in those two verses is 1,260 days. (Both 1,290 and 1,260 are approximately three and a half years—1,290 in terms of a 365-day year, and 1,260 in terms of a 360-day year.) Yet “a time, times, and half a time” (probably three and a half times) focuses on the limited nature of this period as half of a complete period of judgment, which is seven times (see Dan. 4:25).

Dan. 12:10 Those who are wise will be able to determine specifically when the three and a half years of the tribulation start (they shall understand), namely, “from the time that the regular burnt offering is taken away” (cf. 9:27).

Daniel 9:27 (ESV) And he shall make a strong covenant with many for one week, and for half of the week he shall put an end to sacrifice and offering. And on the wing of abominations shall come one who makes desolate, until the decreed end is poured out on the desolator.”

Dan. 12:11 The specification of 1,290 days emphasizes the precision with which the period is measured, predetermined by God to the very day (just over three and a half years, however this time is understood). In this time many will “purify themselves” and “be refined” (v. 10), and the Jewish nation will be shattered by their enemies, but then God will step in to vindicate them.

Dan. 12:12–13 The additional figure of 1,335 days, 45 days longer than the 1,290-day period, heightens the sense of mystery that surrounds the Lord’s timing and emphasizes the need for the saints to persevere faithfully, even when to human wisdom God’s arrival seems overdue. The response to the “outcome of these things” is the assurance of continuing persecution to purify and refine the wise (v. 10; cf. 11:33–35) and of continuing wickedness on the part of the wicked. This matches God’s consistent pattern of working in this world, moving through suffering to glory, and refining his people through trials and persecution, even to the point of martyrdom. In the meantime, God’s people are to go on living faithfully in this corrupt world, confident of the inheritance that is stored up for them at the end of the days. ESVN


a time, times, and half a time. This answers the question of v. 6. Adding these (one, two, and one-half) come to the final 3½ years of Daniel’s 70th week (9:27), the time of trouble when the “little horn,” or willful king, persecutes the saints (7:25; cf. 11:36–39 and Rev 12:14; the same span is described by other phrases in Rev 11:2, 3; 13:5).

12:10 Many … purified. Salvation will come to many Jews during the Great Tribulation (cf. Zec 13:8, 9, where the prophet speaks of one-third; Ro 11:26; Rev 11:13).The truly saved develop in godliness through trials. The unsaved pursue false values.

12:11 the regular sacrifice. This reference is to the end of daily temple sacrifice, previously allowed under a covenant which the Antichrist formed with Israel, which he later causes to cease in the middle of the final 7 years (9:27). Then, favorable relations give way to persecution. Even his abomination that desecrates the temple (as 9:27; Mt 24:1; Mk. 13:14; 2Th 2:3, 4) is accompanied with persecution. will be 1,290 days.From the intrusion of the abomination, there follow 1,290 days, including 1,260 which make up the last 3½ years of the final 7 years (see note on v. 7), then 30 days more, possibly to allow for the judgment of the living subsequent to Christ’s return (cf. Mt 24:29–31; 25:31–46), before millennial kingdom blessings begin.

12:12 blessed. This is in the kingdom (2:35, 45; 7:13, 14, 27) that gives blessedness after the subjugation to Gentile empires in chaps. 2, 7, 8. to the 1,335 days! Forty-five more days, even beyond the 1,290 days, allows for transition between Israel’s time of being shattered (v. 7) and God’s setting up of His kingdom (cf. 7:13, 14, 27).

12:13 go. Daniel’s own career would soon involve death. rise again. In resurrection (cf. 12:2; Jn 5:28, 29). at the end of the age. The kingdom will ensue after the prophesied days of 9:24–27; 12:11, 12. MSBN




  • NIVSN……………….NIV Study Notes. 
  • JVM ………………….J Vernon McGee,
  • ACC ………………… Adam Clarke’s Commentary
  • BN ……………………Barnes Notes
  • WBC………….…….Wycliffe Bible Commentary
  • CN ……….…………..Constables Notes 
  • IC……………….…….Ironside Commentary
  • NET…………….…….Net Bible Study Notes.
  • JFB……………………Jamieson Fausset  Brown Commentary
  • VWS………………….Vincent Word Studies
  • CMM………………..Commentary on Matthew and Mark
  • BDB……………..….Barclay’s Daily Study Bible (NT)
  • Darby……………….John Darby’s Synopsis of the OT and NT
  • Johnson……………Johnson’s Notes on the New Testament.
  • NTCMM…………..The New Testament Commentary:  Matthew and Mark.
  • EHS………………….Expositions of the Holy Scriptures
  • CPP…………………The Complete Pulpit Commentary
  • SBC…………………..Sermon Bible Commentary
  • K&D…………………Keil and Deilitzsch Commentary on the OT
  • EBC……………….…Expositors Bible Commentary
  • CBSC……………….Cambridge Bible for Schools and College
  • GC……………………Guzik Commentary
  • RD…………………..Robert  Deffinbaugh
  • NSB …………………The Nelson Study Bible
  • MHC…………………Matthew Henry Commentary
  • ESVN……………..….ESV Study Bible Notes 
  • MSBN……………….MacArthur NASB Study Notes
  • CSTTB………………..Chuck Smith Through the Bible     

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Is There Historical Evidence for the Resurrection of Christ?

Filed under: Bible,Theology — augustinehippo1 @ 12:00 pm
Historical Evidence for  the Resurrection of Christ:  
by Christopher Louis Lang

The Evidence: A Brief Survey

Approaching the Bible


In order to examine the evidence for the resurrection we must place ourselves in the historical situation. bibleThe events surrounding the life and death of Christ didn’t occur at a place where we can gain no knowledge of them. Rather, they occurred in history, on earth, and were recorded by men who witnessed the events.

When we approach an ancient document such as the Bible or another ancient document such as Tacitus’ History of Rome (115 A.D.) we must come to the text with an understanding attitude. This does not mean that we assume the text to be 100 per cent true. But we need to be able to ask the right questions. In the first century much less writing took place than does in our time. Many were illiterate, few could read, much less write, and paper or parchment (leather) to write on was expensive. The incentive to fabricate was not as it is today. In other words, The National Enquirer, could never have been published at this time. A high regard was given to writing and the luxury to create fictional material was virtually non-existent, for instance there was no such thing as a novel or a newspaper, although there were artistic writings such as poetry. The Bible however, is a much different kind of literature. It was not written as a poem or story, although it also contains poetry. It was for the most part written as history and is intended to communicate truth throughout.


The gospel of Luke begins:


Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word [Paul, Peter, etc] have handed them down to us, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you might know the exact truth about the things you have been taught. (Lk 1:1-4)
lukeLuke was not an apostle, he was however the companion of Paul and probably dictated some of his letters. Luke tells us that he is writing in consecutive order because the other gospels, Matthew, Mark and John, are written more by topic than chronologically.
How do we know anything historically? There is no “scientific” proof that Lincoln was the president. We cannot recreate him in a laboratory or bring him back to life. We cannot reproduce the experiment. We cannot calculate an equation that tells us that he was. But we can assert with a high degree of probability that Lincoln was indeed our president and was assassinated in 1865. We do this by appealing to historical evidence. Many people saw Lincoln. We have some of his writings and even his picture, not to mention his likeness on our pennies. But none of this “proves”, in a scientific sense, that Lincoln ever lived or was the president.
The kind of evidence used in historical research is the same kind as that used in a court of law. In a courtroom case certain kinds of evidences are appealed to in order to determine what exactly happened, eyewitnesses are questioned, motives are examined, and physical evidence is scrutinized such as fingerprints or journal writings.
It is the same kind of evidence that we appeal to in order to establish Christ’s life, death, and resurrection. Granted, the evidence is not as great as that for Lincoln, nor as recent. But it is better evidence than we have that Plato ever lived, or Homer, or many historical figures that we take for granted.

Historical Evidence Outside of the Bible

Often people are uncertain about the existence of Christ, but few scholars would disagree that a man named Jesus lived roughly between 2 BC and about 33 AD. History documents that this man was not a myth but a real person and the historical evidence for this is excellent. For instance, the Roman historian Tacitus, writing in about 115 A.D., records the events surrounding Emperor Nero in July of A.D. 64. After the fire that destroyed much of Rome, Nero was blamed for being responsible:
Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on anero class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus [Christ], from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilate, and a most mischievous superstition [Christ's resurrection] thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their center and become popular. (Bettenson, p. 2)
In about 112 A.D. the Roman governor of what is now northern Turkey wrote to Emperor Trajan regarding the Christians in his district:
“I was never present at any trial of Christians; therefore I do not know what are the customary penalties or investigations, and what limits are observed. . . whether those who recant should be pardoned. . . whether the name itself, even if innocent of crime, should be punished, or only the crimes attaching to that name. . . . Meanwhile, this is the course that I have adopted in the case of those brought before me as Christians. I ask them if they are Christians. If they admit it I repeat the question a second and a third time, threatening capital punishment; if they persist I sentence them to death. For I do not doubt that, whatever kind of crime it may be to which they have confessed, their pertinacity and inflexible obstinacy should certainly be punished. . . the very fact of my dealing with the question led to a wider spread of the charge, and a great variety of cases were brought before me. An anonymous pamphlet was issued, containing many names. All who denied that they were or had been Christians I considered should be discharged, because they called upon the gods at my dictation and did reverence. . .and especially because they cursed Christ, a thing which it is said, genuine Christians cannot be induced to do.” (Bettenson, p. 3)
These passages indicate that Christianity was wide spread in the Roman empire within 80 years of Christ’s death. Again, these are eyewitness accounts, not historians looking back years later.
The popular historian Will Durant, himself not a Christian, wrote concerning Christ’s historical validity, “The denial of that existence seems never to have occurred even to the bitterest gentile or Jewish opponents of nascent Christianity” (Durant, The Story of Civilization, vol. 3, p. 555). And again, “That a few simple men should in one generation have invented so powerful and appealing a personality, so lofty an ethic and so inspiring a vision of human brotherhood, would be a miracle far more incredible than any recorded in the Gospels” (Ibid., p. 557).
It is a substantial thing that an historian who spends his life considering historical facts should affirm the reality of Christ’s existence as well as the rapid growth of the early movement.
josephusThe Jewish historian Josephus,writing for the Roman government in the 70′s A.D. records some incidental things regarding Christ and the church. He confirms that John the Baptist died at the hand of Herod (this same incident is recorded in the gospels) as well as the death of, “The brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James. . . he delivered them to be stoned” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, Book XVIII, ch. V, p. 20; Book XX, ch. IX, p. 140 ). Again we have sources external to the Bible that demonstrate the historical reliability of the text. Josephus, who was probably alive during the time of Christ, is attesting to the reality of his existence. What this also tells us is that within 40 years of Christ’s death, the knowledge of who he was was widespread enough that Josephus could reference him and expect his readers to know exactly who he was talking about.

The Accuracy of the Biblical Records

  The question often arises when discussing the biblical records, “How can a document that has been copied over and over possibly be reliable? Everyone knows there are tons of errors in it.” While it is true that the documents have been copied many times, we often have misconceptions about how they were transmitted. All ancient documents were copied by hand before the advent of the printing press in the 16th century. Great care was exercised in reproducing these manuscripts. When we think of copying manuscripts we often assume that one copy was made and then another from that and another from that and so on, each replacing the copy it was reproduced from. This is not how manuscripts copying worked. Copyists were usually working from one or two documents that were very old. They would make many copies of their source copy, all the while preserving their source and comparing the copies they have made.
Josephus tells how the Jews copied the Old Testament. “We have given practical proof of our reverence for our own Scriptures. For although such long ages have now passed, no one has ventured either to add, or to remove, or to alter a syllable; and it is an instinct with every Jew, from the day of his birth, to regard them as the decrees of God, to abide by them, and, if need be, cheerfully to die for them” (Against Apion, Book I, sec., 8, p. 158). Josephus statement is no exaggeration. The Jewish copyists knew exactly how many letters where in every line of every book and how many times each word occurred in each book. This enabled them to check for errors (Shelly, Prepare to Answer, p. 133). The Jews believed that adding any mistake to the Scriptures would be punishable by Hell. This is not like the modern secretary who has many letters to type and must work hard to keep their job, and consequently feels that mistakes are inevitable. Great care is exercised with scriptures when someone holds a conviction such as this.
But even with the great amount of care exercised in copying, errors have crept into the manuscripts. No one questions that spelling errors, misplaced letters, and word omissions have occurred. What is not true is that these errors have gradually built up over time so that our copies look nothing like the originals. This view was commonly held until recently.
In 1947 the accuracy of these documents was confirmed by the Dead Sea Scrolls. These scrolls were dead sea scrollsfound in caves in the dessert near the Dead Sea by a shepherd boy. Before the discovery of these scrolls, the earliest Old Testament manuscripts we had were from about 980 A.D. The manuscripts discovered in the caves dated from 250 B.C. to shortly after the time of Christ. In careful comparison of the manuscripts it was confirmed that the copies we had were almost precisely the same as those which date over 1000 years earlier. Old Testament scholar Gleason Archer said that even though there is such a difference in dates of the manuscripts, “they proved to be word for word identical with our standard Hebrew Bible in more that 95 per cent of the text. The 5 per cent of variation consisted chiefly of obvious slips of the pen and variations in spelling.” No other historical literature has been so carefully preserved and historically confirmed.two thousand citations in the writings of the Fathers prior to the Council of Nicea (325)” (Moreland, Scaling the Secular City, p. 136).

Historical Reliability

There is one more important feature of the Bible to examine before we move to the evidence of Christ’s resurrection, that is their historical reliability. Unfortunately I cannot go into the history of this topic. Many critics have challenged the historical accuracy of the Bible and have been proved wrong. Let me provide one example. Historians questioned the accuracy of the accounts surrounded Pontius Pilate’s crucifixion of Jesus. Pilate found nothing wrong with him and was reluctant to crucify an innocent man. The Jews put pressure on Pilate saying that if you refuse this “you are no friend of Caesar” (John 19:12). At which point Pilate gave in to the Jews. This did not fit any historical records we had of Pilate who was a cruel and dominating man, not likely to give in to a group of Jews whom he hated. Many believed that this account was historically inaccurate because of the way in which it portrayed Pilate.
Later it was discovered that Pilate had been appointed by a man named Sejanus who was plotting to overthrow Caesar. Sejanus was executed along with many of his appointees (Delashmutt, Sejanus, p. 55, 56). What this demonstrated was that Pilate was in no position to get in trouble with Rome. The Jews had him in a tight place. If word returned to Rome that Jerusalem was in rebellion, Pilate would be the first to go. The gospel account was confirmed as accurate.
Many facts recorded in the Bible have been challenged with the same result, later archeology confirms the reliability of the biblical records down to the smallest detail. A respected Jewish archaeologist has claimed that, “It may be stated categorically that no archaeological discovery has ever controverted a biblical reference” (Shelly, p. 103). This is a strong statement for any archaeologist to make because if it were not true, he would quickly be condemned in his own field.
The conclusion that one draws from this material is that the Bible is a reliable historical document. Its accuracy has been proved numerous times. Its historical inaccuracy has never been demonstrated. So that when we approach the Bible, we do so with a good amount of confidence that what it records actually happened. If this is true, then we need to come to terms about what the Bible claims. We cannot dismiss it out of hand because we were not there, regardless of the difficulty of what is said.


Miracles and Modern Man


This brings us to the issue of miracles. The Bible records many miracles occurring over a period of more than 4000 years. It is easy to get the misconception that miracles were common occurrences in the biblical times. This is not the case. It is the nature of history to record events out of the ordinary. The Bible is no exception. The very reason that these things were recorded is because they were unusual occurrences of supernatural activity.
We must be careful, however, when we approach the Bible to be willing to entertain the idea that something outside of what we see, hear, and feel could exists. All of these sensory experiences are in the realm of science. But science, which deals with the laws of nature, can say nothing of the supernatural. Science has its limits — especially in the area of the miraculous — because miracles are by definition non-repeatable, non-natural, and non-ordinary events. If miracles exist and if they function as I’ve described, then we would not expect everyone to have experienced a miracle in their lifetime.
We cannot rule out miracles because we have never personally witnessed one. In other words it is wrong to reason that a miracle cannot occur on logical grounds (by reason alone) because one has never seen one (something that can only be validated by experience). It is certainly possible that supernatural events have indeed taken place throughout the history of mankind. And it is better to come with an attitude that maintains that it might be possible and with reliable witnesses we may be convinced that something supernatural has taken place. Let’s leave this question open.
Those who lived a long time ago were not necessarily more gullible than we are. We commonly assume that ancient peoples believed miracles occurred regularly. This is not true in the sense that we use the term miracle. They certainly wouldn’t have been able to explain as much about the natural world as we can. But this does not make them ignorant individuals willing to believe any abnormal event is a supernatural occurrence. They were awed by things that we can explain using the “laws of nature.” But they were also aware of a difference between things that occurred naturally, such as lightning, and those which didn’t, such as people rising from the dead. They were men who lived day to day without these amazing experiences just as we do.

The Biblical Record


resurrection2At this point I would like to move on to the direct evidences for the resurrection of Christ. There are a certain number of historical facts that we can glean from the biblical records. They are: Jesus died by crucifixion, he was buried in a tomb known to the authorities, his disciples were distraught because of his death, his tomb was found empty, the disciples believed that they saw Jesus risen from the grave, this experience changed their lives, the message was central to early church teachings, and it was preached in the very city in which Jesus died (Miethe, Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?, p. 19, 20). These historical facts will be the basis of our argument for Jesus’ resurrection.

Jesus died by crucifixion. Crucifixion was a most painful and certain means of death. Christ was whipped by Roman soldiers before his crucifixion (Mt 27:26-31). The Roman method for this was to give thirty-nine lashes before crucifixion. (Forty lashes was considered legally dead after which point an individual could no longer be punished.) The effect of this was to induce considerable blood loss. The Romans used what was called a “cat-of-nine-tails.” This whip had many ends to it and usually had pieces of bone, glass, and metal shards attached to it which would rip open the flesh. After being whipped Jesus was forced to carry his own cross to the place of crucifixion. The gospel records indicate that in his weakened state, he was unable to carry the cross (which would have been carried on his wounded back Mt 27:32). Incidentally, Jesus was probably not a weak man. Before his preaching ministry he had been a carpenter and during his ministry he walked hundreds of miles throughout Israel.

Jesus was then nailed to a Roman cross at which point his death came within hours. The Jews were concerned that no bodies would be left on crosses at sundown that evening because it was the beginning of the Sabbath. “The Jews therefore, because it was the day of preparation, so that the bodies should not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away” (Jn 19:31). Crucifixion victims, depending on their health and the method of crucifixion, could last days on a cross. Victims died primarily through blood loss, dehydration, and suffocation. In order to breath when on a cross, it is necessary for the victim to push up with their legs to release the pressure on the lungs. This is a painful process because of the nails in both the hands and feet or ankles. The purpose of breaking the victims legs was so that they would be unable to push themselves up to breath and thus dies more quickly.
crucifyHowever, when they came to Jesus the Roman guards realized he was dead already. “The soldiers therefore came, and broke the legs of the first man, and of the other man who was crucified with Him; but coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs; but one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately there came out blood and water” (Jn 19:32-34). John records this detail of piercing Jesus side to indicate that he was in fact dead. In an article published in the Journal of the American Medical Association the doctors examining the historical evidence concluded that the spear probably pierced the sack of fluid that surrounds the heart (JAMA, Vol., 255, No. 11, 1986, p. 1455ff ). If he had not been dead before this time, he was surely dead now.
The gospel records indicate that upon his death two prominent Jewish admirers came to gather Christ’s body. “And after these things Joseph of Arimathea, being a disciple of Jesus, but a secret one, for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus; and Pilate granted permission. And Nicodemus came also, who had first come to Him by night; bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about a hundred pounds weight” (Jn 19:38). These men were both of the ruling class of the Jews (seventy-one men in all) and well known in the community as well as to Pilate. The mention of prominent men indicates that this account is not fictitious. If the disciples had created this story it would have been counterproductive to make up a person that was supposed to be in a prominent position. This could easily have been refuted were it not true. (Moreland, p. 167).

“And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the entrance of the tomb and went away. And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the grave” (Mt 27:59-61). Archaeological evidence confirms the description of this tomb being that of a rich man, which was rare in this day. The probable location described in the gospels correlates with the specific location of the Garden Gate at the north Wall of Jerusalem where tombs have been excavated like those described in which Jesus was laid (Ibid.)
There are some important features to this account. First, this was not a poor man’s grave. Only the rich had tombs carved in rock and situated in a garden area. Second, the tomb was identified by Joseph, Nicodemus, and the women who watched where he was buried. The grave is also carefully marked by the Jewish and Roman authorities as this same passage records,
Now on the next day, which is the one after the preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered together with Pilate, and said, “Sir, we remember that when He was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I am to rise again.’ Therefore give orders for the grave to be made secure until the third

day, lest the disciples come and steal Him away and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last deception will be worse than the first” Pilate said to them, “You have a guard; go, make it as secure as you know how.” And they went and made the grave secure, and along with the guard they set a seal on the stone. (Mt 27:62-66)

It is also important to note here, that a Roman guard is a group of soldiers not an individual. The seal which was placed over the grave was a wax seal with rope, to break this Roman seal was punishable by death in the Roman empire.


We know also that the disciples were very disillusioned by Jesus’ death. The man they had followed around Israel for three years, whom they believed would be the next ruler of the nation, had just been crucified. They had expected a Messiah who would be king, not a criminal to be convicted and killed in the most humiliating way. They probably felt that their lives had been wasted for the past few years and they had publicly been made fools. Of course, they realized that what they had experienced with Christ for the last three years was significant. But how and what was significant, they did not yet understand. The disciples scattered when Christ was arrested in the garden of Gethsemene (Mrk 14:50ff). Peter denied ever knowing Jesus during his “trial” on the night before his crucifixion (Mrk 14:66ff). The disciples were ready to return to their lives as fishermen because they thought it was over (Jn 21:3).
Three days after his burial the tomb was found empty. Each of the gospels reports that Jesus’ tomb was found empty (Mt 28: 1-10, Mrk 16:1-8, Lk 24: 1-3; Jn 20:1-10). “But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, bringing the spices which they had prepared. And they found the stone rolled away from the tomb, but when they entered, they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus” (Lk 24:1-3). When it had been reported to the disciples by Mary that the tomb was empty, they came running:
Simon Peter therefore came, following him, and entered the tomb and he beheld the linen wrappings lying there, and the face-cloth, which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself. So the other disciple who had first come to the tomb entered then also, and he saw and believed [that the body was gone]. For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. So the disciples went away again to their own homes. (Jn 20:6-10)
This recording is significant, but what is more significant is that the events which followed Jesus’ resurrection bear witness to the fact that his body was indeed missing.
An historical question confronts us at this point. What happened to the body. Scholars have generally agreed that the body was indeed gone and many explanations have been put forth to account for this fact. The most common response is that it was indeed stolen. But this view is hampered with many problems. Who would have stolen it? The Jews would not want to steal it. It was they that posted the Roman guard and they had the most to gain by ensuring that Jesus stayed in his tomb and his teachings died with him. The Romans really had no motivation. It was in Pilate’s best interest as a governor whose job was in jeopardy to keep his realm quiet, not to mention that the Romans hated the Jewish religious fanaticism.
The only reasonable explanation for the missing body is that the disciples stole it. But is this plausible? These are the same men who scattered when Jesus was arrested. They were cowardly. They were disillusioned and depressed. And they would need to overpower the Roman guards. It is not likely that they would have had the courage or motivation to carry out such a plan. Why would they steal it? Possibly they wanted to start a new religion, to gain fame and fortune. This is possible but not likely as we will see. The disciples would have put themselves in great risk to steal the body. The Jews and Romans both wanted this disruption stopped, had they believed that the disciples stole the body they would have dragged them into prison and beaten them until they confessed and produced the body. No such thing happened.
A number of incidental details in this account bear the markings of history as opposed to fraud or fiction. The gospels do not portray the disciples in a very glamorous light. If the disciples had propagated this myth we would empty-tombexpect their own accounts of the events to paint them in a better light than we actually see them in. The disciples were not the first to see the risen Christ rather, a group of women were. The disciples were very reluctant to believe that Jesus was alive again when the women reported what they had seen. “Now they were Mary Magdalene and Joanna and Mary the mother of James; also the other women with them were telling these things to the apostles. And these words appeared to them as nonsense, and they would not believe them” (Lk 24:10,11). Thomas response was, “Unless I shall see in His hands the imprint of the nails, and put my finger into the place of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe” (Jn 20:25). These men knew that when someone died, they were dead. Thomas was no fool.
It is of crucial importance to notice in all the accounts that the women were the first to see the risen Jesus (Jn 20:11-17; Lk 24:1-9; Mrk 16:1-8; Mt 28:1-7). In the first century women had no legal power as witnesses in a court of law. A woman’s testimony was unacceptable. But it is to the women that Jesus first appears. If the story is fabricated, why choose women, whose testimony no one would accept, to be the first witnesses? Instead of being a story concocted by the disciples for their own gain, it appears to be an historical record of what actually took place..
When Peter stuck his head in the tomb he saw something unique that made him realize that something out of the ordinary had happened there. He saw the linen wrappings that Joseph and Nicodemus had used to coat the body. This was done by wrapping the body, head to foot, in cloth and caking on the spices and burial ointments which would be reapplied in succeeding days to help the smell of decomposition. Peter probably saw the wrappings in the shape of a body without a body inside. But he also saw the head cloth, “rolled up in a place by itself.” No one stealing the body would have had time to roll up the face cloth and carefully set it aside. This is a curious detail that caught Peter’s attention.
But this was only a foreshadowing of what was to come as Peter and the others personally experienced Jesus Christ in the succeeding days.
And while they were telling these things, He Himself stood in their midst. But they were startled and frightened and thought they were seeing a spirit. And He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” (Lk 23:36-39)
This is no less remarkable for us today than it was for them. And we can understand their reluctance to accept him. But they came to believe that they had witnessed something unique as Jesus appeared to them many times over a period of four days. These experiences had a profound impact on their lives.
How their lives changed after they had seen the risen Jesus is another mark of the story’s truthfulness. The disciples became the forerunners of a new movement that swept the world. They spoke out for the message. They were persecuted for the message and they ultimately gave their lives for this message: Jesus Christ rose from the dead. Reliable historical sources tell us that all twelve of the disciples except John died as martyrs. Peter was crucified in Rome. Paul was beheaded. And James was stoned to death, to name a few. This is of crucial importance. If they had pulled off a hoax, why would they go to their graves proclaiming that it actually happened. Certainly, many have died for a lie. Nazis gave their lives for what was false. Plenty of other religious followers have died for their faith, but the crucial point here is that the disciples would have known it was a lie, if they had stolen the body or made up the story. They all would have died for what they knew was a lie. Is it plausible to believe that not one of them, under the threat of death would have admitted, “we made the whole thing up?” What they saw changed their lives. They believed they had seen Jesus Christ rise from the dead.
And because of what they believed they saw, these men who were meek suddenly became powerful spokesmen for Jesus Christ. Peter who denied Christ a few weeks earlier preached to over three thousand people in Acts 2.
Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know–[he is appealing to their common knowledge of Jesus and what he did] this man, delivered up by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. And God raised Him up again, putting and end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power. (Acts 2:22-24)
Not only were they now bold spokesmen, but of a fundamentally different religion than Judaism. For a Jew of the first century to change his religion or preach some heretical doctrine would be to risk eternal damnation. (Moreland, p. 172). For us in the twentieth century, we are not surprised by new religions, but this kind of hoax is almost unthinkable in first century Judaism whose culture and beliefs changed slowly (Ibid., p. 180). They were convinced that what they saw and experienced was true.
What did the disciples see? Could they have seen a vision that they assumed was the risen Christ? Could it have been an hallucination. Because of the strength of the evidence that something did happen that changed the disciples’ lives, some critics have suggested the idea that what they saw was an hallucination. There are two problems with this theory: it doesn’t match what we know of the account and it doesn’t match what we know of the psychology of hallucinations.
J.P. Moreland summarizes the nature of hallucinations well.
First, hallucinations happen to persons who are high-strung, highly imaginative, and nervous. Second, they are linked in an individual’s subconscious to his past beliefs and experiences. Third, it is extremely unlikely that two or more people would have the same hallucination at the same time. Fourth, they usually occur at particular places (places of nostalgia which create a reminiscing mood) and they recur over a long period of time. (p. 177)
I would add further that the idea of mass hallucinations has been disproven in modern psychology. If you hold that what the disciples saw was an hallucination, then you must acknowledge that they experienced this hallucination in groups of three, four, twelve, and even five hundred people.
The hallucination theory does not fit what we know of the disciples’ expectations. As I have said earlier, the disciples were not expecting Christ to rise from the dead. They had no concept in Judaism of the Messiah rising physically from the dead with the same body, a body they could touch and interact with. Nor do the descriptions given in the gospels reflect the kind of vagueness that makes up an hallucination. What they experienced was concrete. They could recall and explain it clearly. And because many of them experienced the same thing, separately and together, they could confirm their experiences with each other.
The hallucination theory also fails to explain one other fact: the empty tomb. Had the disciples, and many others, hallucinated Jesus’ appearances, the commotion they were causing in Jerusalem could have been easily stopped by producing the body. This is an argument from silence. In other words, there is nothing said in history about whether the Romans and Jews tried to produce Jesus’ body. But it is crucial in this case that there is nothing said in recorded history about what happened to Jesus’ body other than what we find in the gospels. Had Jesus’ body been exhumed by the Jews or Romans and presented to the mass of people who were deluded about his resurrection, it is hard to believe that the early church could have gotten started. But the movement did start and the resurrection of Jesus was the grounds on which it began.
Jesus resurrection from the dead was central to their faith. Peter preached the message in Jerusalem as Acts chapter 2 goes on to say, “Brethren, I may confidently say to you regarding the patriarch David that he both died and was buried, and his tomb is with us to this day.” Peter is saying that we know where David’s body is. We can go and dig it up. But Jesus’ body is missing. Had this not been true, anyone in the audience could have refuted his claim. The Jews or the Romans could have opened the tomb and paraded the body through the city to show everyone that the disciples’ message was false. But they didn’t because there was no body to find and all of Jerusalem had heard the news (Lk 24:18). Even the Jewish historian Josephus writing forty years later comments on Jesus’ death.
It is important to note that the message was preached, not in a remote location where no one could verify the account, but it was preached in Jerusalem where all of these events took place and where the story could have easily been falsified or verified.
It is from this location that the church grew. The movement grew very quickly. Acts records three thousand people being baptized in one day (Acts 2:41). On another occasion five thousand people came to believe (Acts 4:4). This corresponds to what we know of the growth of the early church and it is one of the reasons historians do not suspect that Jesus was a legend. Legends take many years to accumulate and gain acceptance. Christianity spread immediately. The Jewish authorities were unable to contain its growth because it was so rapid.
The resurrection of Christ is central to the Christian faith. Without it, there is no Christianity. Paul says, “if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain” (I Cor:15:14). Paul who was a vigorous persecutor of the church before seeing the risen Christ maintains that Jesus did rise from the dead. In writing to the Corinthian church he says,
[F]or I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas [Peter], then to the twelve. After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep [died]; then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; and last of all . . . He appeared to me also. (I Cor 15:3-8)
jesus and the crowdWhat he is telling his readers is that many people saw Jesus after the resurrection. He is saying, “if you are skeptical you can go and speak with them yourselves because most of them are still alive!” Paul is so confident of what he and the others saw that he is willing to stake everything on this claim. This was not an event that occurred to a few men in a remote location. It happened in a huge metropolitan city and there were many witnesses to verify it.

Our Response


Christians stake their entire faith on the resurrection of Christ because it is only through this event that forgiveness can come. The gospels and the historical evidence bear out this claim that Jesus rose from the dead. The question is what will you do with the evidence? It has been God’s practice to give evidence to those who are willing to respond. Christ appeared to his disciples because they were willing to believe when given enough evidence. He will not give evidence to those who refuse to believe.

And after eight days again His disciples were inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors having been shut, and stood in their midst, and said, “Peace be with you.” Then He said to Thomas, “Reach here your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand, and put it into my side; and be not unbelieving, but believing.” Thomas answered and said to Him, “My Lord and my God!” (Jn 20:26-28)
Thomas was willing to accept the evidence he saw. The question is, how much evidence will it take for us. As Christ states in the very next verse, “Because you have seen Me, have you believed? Blessed are they who did not see, and yet believed.”
There is much more evidence for the truth of Christ’s message than is presented here. This is only a brief sketch of some of the historical evidence. There is also the evidence of fulfilled prophecy from the Old Testament, as well as other kinds. The point is that the evidence exists. If the evidence is weak and unconvincing, then we can throw Christianity out and look elsewhere. But if it is true, the message of Jesus Christ applies to us. And we must be willing to submit to it, regardless of what it says about us.
God demands humility from us. If he is indeed our Maker, we cannot approach Him with an attitude that is arrogant and demanding. We must approach Him on His terms. Christ spelled out those terms: mankind is in rebellion toward God and in need of forgiveness. This is exactly what Christ came to offer. “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life (Jn 5:24). And also, “I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly” (Jn 10:10).


Bettenson, Henry, Documents of the Christian Church, Oxford Press, London, 1943.
Delashmutt, Gary, The Xenos Journal, vol. 2, no. 1, Columbus, OH, 1988.
Durant, Will, The Story of Civilization, Simon and Schuster, New York, NY, 1944.
Josephus, Flavius, Antiquities of the Jews, Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI, 1974.
McCallum, Dennis, Christianity: The Faith that Makes Sense, Tyndale, Grand Rapids, MI, 1990.
Miethe, Terry L., ed., Did Jesus Rise from the Dead?, Harper and Row, San Francisco, CA, 1987.
Moreland, J.P., Scaling the Secular City, Baker House Books, Grand Rapids, MI, 1987.

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Do the Resurrection Accounts Conflict?

Filed under: Bible,Gospel of Matthew,Theology,Uncategorized — augustinehippo1 @ 11:55 am

Suppose we have a general knowledge that there is going to be funeral tomorrow morning at our church. Several groups of people will potentially be involved. Communication between these groups is primitive to nonexistent. Our church members live in various locations and are coming from different directions and at different times.

The first people arrive at the church and are unable to get into the church because for some unknown reason the key will not work in the door lock. After a certain amount of discussion and attempts at using other keys, the decision is made to leave and go get some different keys from another church member. In the meantime another group shows up and are wondering where everybody is. They expect the church to be open and decide to leave and try to contact others who might know what is going on. The first group arrives at the home of some people who did not plan to attend the funeral but decide to rush down to the church to see if they can get the door open. The original group follows behind them, but are slower and cannot keep up. The non-attending bunch get to the church, cannot get the door open and decide to go find a locksmith to get the lock open.

 The group that showed up expecting to find the church already open and who went seeking info, run across the folks who now have a locksmith with them and they all return to the church just as the slow group also show up. The church get opened up, everybody is at the church and the funeral proceeds.

Now if each group were to give their own version of the incident, can you see how if all the individual stories were contrasted, it might seem like we had contradictory untruthful stories. Each group has no idea what the others were doing and it would take a certain amount of investigation and reconstruction to make sense out of the different version.

 Let us look at one possible scenario which might harmonize what might appear to be conflicting resurrection accounts.

 Very early on Sunday morning the resurrection took place, the earthquake followed, the angel descended and rolled away the stone (Matthew  28:2-4) and the guard fled (Matthew 28:11)

 Matthew 28:2-4 (NASB)  And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. And his appecross-66700_640arance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men.

 Matthew 28:11 (NASB) 11  Now while they were on their way, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all that had happened.

 A little later Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome hastened to the sepulcher while another group of women follow with the spices. Mary Magdalene reaches the sepulcher first, sees that that it is empty and immediately goes to inform Peter and John.

 John 20:1 (NASB)  Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene *came early to the tomb, while it *was still dark, and *saw the stone already taken away from the tomb.

 The other Mary and Salome approaches and see the angel (Matthew 28:5). Thereafter the other women with Joanna among them come along, they see the two angels and receive the message that Jesus has risen (Luke 24:1)

 Matthew 28:5 (NASB)  The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified.

 Luke 24:1 (NASB) But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb bringing the spices which they had prepared.

 In the meantime Mary Magdalene reaches Peter and John, and they hasten to the sepulcher (John 20). Mary M. also follows them again and arrives at the sepulcher after the others have departed.

 John 20:2-10 (NASB)  So she *ran and *came to Simon Peter and to the other disciple whom Jesus loved, and *said to them, “They have taken away the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid Him.” So Peter and the other disciple went forth, and they were going to the tomb. The two were running together; and the other disciple ran ahead faster than Peter and came to the tomb first; and stooping and looking in, he *saw the linen wrappings lying there; but he did not go in. And so Simon Peter also *came, following him, and entered the tomb; and he *saw the linen wrappings lying thereShe weeps at the sepulcher (John 20:2) and sees the two angels, who ask her why see is weeping.  After this she sees Jesus herself who she mistakes for the gardener. (John 20:14), and the face-cloth which had been on His head, not lying with the linen wrappings, but rolled up in a place by itself.  So the other disciplejesus-160077_150 who had first come to the tomb then also entered, and he saw and believed. For as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.10  So the disciples went away again to their own homes.

 John 20:14 (NASB)  14  When she had said this, she turned around and *saw Jesus standing there, and did not know that it was Jesus.

In the meantime the other women had gone to the other (which do not include Peter and John) disciples and told them their experiences, but their words are regarded as idle tales, until Peter and John confirm them.

When the women were afterwards probably again on their way to the sepulcher, Jesus meets them (Matthew 28:9)

 Matthew 28:9 (NASB) 9  And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him.

  Later in the day the savior appears to Peter alone (Luke 24:34) and 1 Cor. 15:5). Toward evening he appears to the men on the road to Emmaus, and a little later to the whole group of disciples, with the exception of Thomas. (Luke 24:36-43), (John 20:19-24)

 Luke 24:34 (NASB)  34  saying, “The Lord has really risen and has appeared to Simon.”

 1 Corinthians 15:5 (NASB)  and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve.

 Luke 24:35-43 (NASB) 35  They began to relate their experiences on the road and how He was recognized by them in the breaking of the bread. 36  While they were telling these things, He Himself stood in their midst and *said to them, “Peace be to you.” 37  But they were startled and frightened and thought that they were seeing a spirit. 38  And He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts?39  ”See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.”40  And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet.41  While they still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement, He said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?”42  They gave Him a piece of a broiled fish;43  and He took it and ate it before them.

 John 20:19-24 (NASB) 19  So when it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and when the doors were shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in their midst and *said to them, “Peace be with you.”20  And when He had said this, He showed them both His hands and His side. The disciples then rejoiced when they saw the Lord.21  So Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you; as the Father has sent Me, I also send you.”22  And when He had said this, He breathed on them and *said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.23  ”If you forgive the sins of any, their sins have been forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they have been retained.”24  But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came.

 A week later he again appeared to the disciples, including Thomas, who was convinced of the certainty of the resurrection (John 21:1-23)

 John 21:1-23 (NASB)   After these things Jesus manifested Himself again to the disciples at the Sea of Tiberias, and He manifested Himself in this way.  Simon Peter, and Thomas called Didymus, and Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, and the sons of Zebedee, and two others of His disciples were together. Simon Peter *said to them, “I am going fishing.” They *said to him, “We will also come with you.” They went out and got into the boat; and that night they caught nothing. But when the day was now breaking, Jesus stood on the beach; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. So Jesus *said to them, “Children, you do not have any fish, do you?” They answered Him, “No.” And He said to them, “Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat and you will find a catch.” So they cast, and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great number of fish. Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved *said to Peter, “It is the Lord.” So when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put his outer garment on (for he was strippedfor work), and threw himself into the sea. But the other disciples came in the little boat, for they were not far from the land, but about one hundred yards away, dragging the net full of fish. So when they got out on the land, they *saw a charcoal fire already laid and fish placed on it, and bread.10  Jesus *said to them, “Bring some of the fish which you have now caught.”11  Simon Peter went up and drew the net to land, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not torn.12  Jesus *said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” None of the disciples ventured to question Him, “Who are You?” knowing that it was the Lord.13  Jesus *came and *took the bread and *gave it to them, and the fish likewise.14  This is now the third time that Jesus was manifested to the disciples, after He was raised from the dead.15  So when they had finished breakfast, Jesus *said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me more than these?” He *said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He *said to him, “Tend My lambs.”16  He *said to him again a second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” He *said to Him, “Yes, Lord; You know that I love You.” He *said to him, “Shepherd My sheep.”17  He *said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love Me?” Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, “Do you love Me?” And he said to Him, “Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You.” Jesus *said to him, “Tend My sheep.18  ”Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were younger, you used to gird yourself and walk wherever you wished; but when you grow old, you will stretch out your hands and someone else will gird you, and bring you where you do not wish to go.“19  Now this He said, signifying by what kind of death he would glorify God. And when He had spoken this, He *said to him, “Follow Me!”20  Peter, turning around, *saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them; the one who also had leaned back on His bosom at the supper and said, “Lord, who is the one who betrays You?”21  So Peter seeing him *said to Jesus, “Lord, and what about this man?”22  Jesus *said to him, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow Me!”23  Therefore this saying went out among the brethren that that disciple would not die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he would not die, but only, “If I want him to remain until I come, what is that to you?”

  And during the 40 days before his ascension the Lord also appeared in Galilee to the seven disciples at the Sea. Obviously the Galilean disciples, especially after Jesus’ command that they should go there, left Jerusalem after a few weeks for Galilee.

He also appeared to the 500 hundred of His followers in Galilee (as a result of the command of mark 16:7 they would probably, after the reports concerning Jesus’ resurrection had been brought to them, have assembled spontaneously in expectation of His appearance). When Paul wrote 1 Cor. 15:6, most of the 500 were still living witnesses of the fact of the resurrection.

 Mark 16:7 (NASB) 7  ”But go, tell His disciples and Peter, ‘He is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see Him, just as He told you.’”

 1 Corinthians 15:6 (NASB) 6  After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep;

 From Acts 1:3-4 and from the whole history from the commencement of Christianity, it appears that during the 40 days before His ascension Jesus often appeared to His followers and spoke to them about many things in order to prepare them as builders of His church.

 Acts 1:1-3 (NASB)   The first account I composed, Theophilus, about all that Jesus began to do and teach, until the day when He was taken up to heaven, after He had by the Holy Spirit given orders to the apostles whom He had chosen. To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of the things concerning the kingdom of God.

 Toward the end of the 40 days he commanded them to go to Jerusalem and to remain there until the promise of the Holy Spirit.

After their return to Judaea the Savior also appeared to James (1 Cor:15:7) and to the apostles.  After His ascension he appeared to Paul near Damascus (Acts 9:3-6),  and again in the temple (Acts 22:17-22)

 1 Corinthians 15:7 (NASB) 7  then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles;

 Acts 9:3-6 (NASB)  As he was traveling, it happened that he was approaching Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him;  and he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?”  And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” And He said, “I am Jesus whom you are persecuting,  but get up and enter the city, and it will be told you what you must do.”

 Acts 22:17-22 (NASB)  17  ”It happened when I returned to Jerusalem and was praying in the temple, that I fell into a trance, 18  and I saw Him saying to me, ‘Make haste, and get out of Jerusalem quickly, because they will not accept your testimony about Me.’ 19  ”And I said, ‘Lord, they themselves understand that in one synagogue after another I used to imprison and beat those who believed in You.20  ~’And when the blood of Your witness Stephen was being shed, I also was standing by approving, and watching out for the coats of those who were slaying him.’21  ”And He said to me, ‘Go! For I will send you far away to the Gentiles.’”22  They listened to him up to this statement, and then they raised their voices and said, “Away with such a fellow from the earth, for he should not be allowed to live!”

 Also Stephen, the first martyr, saw Jesus after His resurrection (Acts 7:55).

Last of all Jesus appeared to John, the gray haired exile on the isle of Patmos (Rev. 1:10-19)

 Acts 7:55 (NASB) 55  But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God;

                                                                                                                                                                                                           Revelation 1:9-19 (NASB)  I, John, your brother and fellow partaker in the tribulation and kingdom and perseverance which are in Jesus, was on the island called Patmos because of the word of God and the testimony of Jesus. I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and I heard behind me a loud voice like the sound of a trumpet,11  saying, “Write in a book what you see, and send it to the seven churches: to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.”12  Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking with me. And having turned I saw seven golden lampstands;13  and in the middle of the lampstands I saw one like a son of man, clothed in a robe reaching to the feet, and girded across His chest with a golden sash.14  His head and His hair were white like white wool, like snow; and His eyes were like a flame of fire.15  His feet were like burnished bronze, when it has been made to glow in a furnace, and His voice was like the sound of many waters.16  In His right hand He held seven stars, and out of His mouth came a sharp two-edged sword; and His face was like the sun shining in its strength.17  When I saw Him, I fell at His feet like a dead man. And He placed His right hand on me, saying, “Do not be afraid; I am the first and the last, 18  and the living One; and I was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and of Hades.19  ”Therefore write the things which you have seen, and the things which are, and the things which will take place after these things.

 Do the Resurrection Accounts Conflict and what Proof is there that Jesus Rose from the Dead.  John Ankerberg and Dr. John Weldon ,pages 87-88


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The above post may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. It is being made available in an effort to advance the understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, social justice, for the purpose of historical debate, and to advance the understanding of Christian conservative issues.  It is believed that this constitutes a ”fair use” of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the Copyright Law. In accordance with the title 17 U.S. C. section 107, the material in this post is shown without profit to those who have expressed an interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

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April 18, 2014

Coal and Young Earth Creation

Filed under: Uncategorized — augustinehippo1 @ 10:42 am

Gippsland basin

The Gippsland Basin, deposited at the edge of the Australian continent.

Coal: memorial to the Flood

South-East Australia’s Latrobe Valley has some extremely thick deposits of brown coal which are mined to fuel several huge power stations. One bucket-wheel excavator removes the relatively thin overburden and exposes the coal seam. Another excavator digs the coal and drops it onto a moving conveyor belt for the power-station boilers.1
The machines are immense, towering over the people who work on them. Indeed, a person could easily disappear inside one of the many buckets. Each excavator can dig up to 60,000 tonnes of coal each day.1 Yet the coal seams are so thick that they dwarf these massive excavators, which must traverse the seam several times before the coal is completely removed.

Huge coal basin

The coal seams occur within thick layers of clay, sand and basaltic lava, which together form a 700-metre (2,300-foot) sequence of rocks, known as the Latrobe Valley Coal Measures.2 These lie in a large, deep depression, called a ‘basin’, shaped like a triangle 300 km (190 miles) long and 300 km (190 miles) wide (see diagram below). Most of the basin lies under the ocean off the southern coast of Australia. Offshore the coal measures are estimated to be almost 5 km (3 miles) thick. 
Latrobe Valley coal consists of a mass of very fine plant debris containing partly-decomposed plant remains.1 It is clear that a great quantity of plant material accumulated in the past to produce such huge deposits of coal.
Yallourn Energy

Massive machines such as these excavate the coal and associated overburden.
Ken Ham

This huge tree trunk, broken and dumped by watery cataclysm, is now coalified.

How did the coal get there?

How would such a great amount of vegetation collect together in one place? No-one alive today has ever observed such a process. All scientists can do is to invent plausible explanations based on what they think may have happened.
It is consistent with the devastation of Noah’s Flood, which would have uprooted the entire pre-Flood biosphere and buried it with huge quantities of sand and mud.
For those who believe the Bible, the presence of such great quantities of buried vegetation is easily explained. It is consistent with the devastation of Noah’s Flood, which would have uprooted the entire pre-Flood biosphere and buried it with huge quantities of sand and mud. 
However, geologists who do not believe the Bible base their explanations on a different philosophy. They are committed, from the outset, to explaining the evidence using what we see happening today. There has only ever been one global Flood, and according to the Bible it occurred some 4,300 years ago. Since it can’t be observed today, these geologists will not accept that it happened in the past. Thus, they try to explain everything by slow and gradual processes over millions of years.
For these brown coal deposits, they say that the vegetation accumulated as peat in a swamp during ideal climatic and geologic conditions.1 They say the swamps formed on floodplains near the coast,2 which were slowly sinking and eventually inundated by the ocean.3
Photo by Ken Ham

Water sprayed on the huge exposed seam settles dust and keeps the air clean, and prevents a fire hazard with explosive coal dust.

Evidence against the swamp theory

But the evidence indicates that these brown coal deposits did notaccumulate in a peat bog or a swamp. 
First, there is no sign of soil under the coal, as there would be if the vegetation grew and accumulated in a swamp. Instead, the coal rests on a thick layer of clay and there is a ‘knife edge’ contact between the clay and the coal.2 This kaolin clay is so pure that it could be used for high-class pottery. Furthermore, there are no roots penetrating the clay.
Then there are a number of distinct ash layers that run horizontally through the coal. If the vegetation had grown in a swamp, these distinct ash layers would not be there. After each volcanic eruption, the volcanic texture of the ash would have been obliterated when the swamp plants recolonized the ash, turning it into soil. Not only is there no soil, but the vegetation found in the coal is not the kind that grows in swamps today. Instead, it is mostly the kind that is found in mountain rainforests. The best match for the mix of vegetation in the coal occurs in the mountains of the western half of the island of New Guinea some 1,200–2,200 metres (4,000–7,000 feet) above sea level.4Similar vegetation is also found in the mountains in Australia, Malaysia, New Caledonia and New Zealand. The kinds of plants that make up the coal did not grow in a swamp on a floodplain.
Large broken tree trunks are found randomly distributed through the coal in many different orientations. Even swamp advocates wonder how such large trees could have obtained an adequate root-hold in the ‘very soft, organic medium’, and how the roots could have breathed under water.5 These large trunks are not consistent with slow accumulation over thousands and thousands of years in a swamp, but indicate fierce and rapid transportation by water. See Sinking the swamp theory below.
Within the coal seams are pollen-rich layers up to half a metre (20 inches) thick. It makes sense that the pollen was washed there by water, because flowing water would sort vegetation into its different components. The idea that such huge pollen-rich layers could gradually accumulate in a coastal swamp over long periods of time does not make sense. There would have been some very bad seasons for hay fever!
When the brown coal burns, it leaves hardly any ash behind. The ash produced from most of these coals ranges from 1.5–5%,6 which is less than the 3–18% ash in typical peat.7 The low ash is consistent with the vegetation being transported and washed by water, not with lying in a swamp for tens of thousands of years.

Gippsland Basin, geological cross section

Geological cross-section of the eastern Gippsland Basin, including the Latrobe Valley depression (after Hocking2). The tops of the coal measure were eroded as they folded.

An unbelievable story

When the evidence points so convincingly to large-scale water transport, why would some geologists think that the coal formed in a swamp? Simply because we do not see water transporting and accumulating vegetation in these quantities anywhere on the Earth today. It would obviously take a lot of water, and everything would have to be quickly buried before the vegetation decomposed. The amount of water needed speaks of continental-scale catastrophe, and this goes against the geologists’ prior commitment to slow and gradual processes.
Photos by Tas Walker

A peat bog in the Ring of Kerry, south-western Ireland.

Peat retrieved from the marshy ground is a good source of fuel for fires. Such relatively thin, local bogs do not match the massive Latrobe Valley brown coal deposits.
So, philosophically, the uniformitarian geologist rejects catastrophic water transport and thereby creates problems for himself. Obviously an environment conducive to prolific growth is needed, but growth alone is not enough. He must find a mechanism to conserve the vegetation for tens (or even hundreds) of thousands of years, until enough material has accumulated. Oxygen must be kept out to prevent decomposition, hence the need for stagnant water—a swamp. These are the only places where vegetation accumulates today. In all other environments vegetation decomposes as quickly as it is produced.
But how would such great thicknesses of peat accumulate in a swamp? Very precise geologic conditions would have been called for; namely that the swamp must have subsided slowly, at exactly the same rate as the vegetation was accumulating. If it had sunk too fast, the water would have drowned the plants, and growth would have been stopped. If it had sunk too slowly, the organic debris would have emerged above the water and decomposed. And these precise geologic conditions would be needed for tens, or hundreds of thousands of years!8Geologically, the idea that thick seams of brown coal accumulated in a swamp is ridiculous in the extreme.
Not only does the swamp model have problems explaining the seam thickness, but it is also difficult to envisage how vegetation could have accumulated over such a large geographical area. As well as covering a huge area of land, the Latrobe Valley Coal Measures extend hundreds of kilometres under the ocean to the continental shelf. Indeed, the crude oil under Bass Strait was derived from these coal deposits after they were heated in the Earth. Even today the oil continues to form under the sea.9 How could the precise environmental and geological conditions have been preserved over such a large area for such a long time? Understandably we do not see peat swamps covering such extensive geographic areas today. Rather, peat only accumulates in relatively small, isolated swamps.10
Contrary to what some people believe, it does not take millions of years to produce coal and oil.
Contrary to what some people believe, it does not take millions of years to produce coal and oil. Once we understand the conditions needed (see aside below), it is clear that the 4,300 years since Noah’s Flood is ample time for all the buried vegetation to have transformed into brown coal.

Deposited during Noah’s Flood

The location of the Gippsland Basin suggests that it was filled with sediment early in the second part of Noah’s Flood (the Recessive stage: see aside on Biblical geology, below).11 As they flowed off the land, the receding floodwaters would have deposited sediment around the edges of the continent. After the coal measures were deposited, they were compressed horizontally by earth movements to form broad gentle folds. Interestingly, while the sediments were folding, the tops of the folds were sliced off, consistent with erosion by broad sheets of receding floodwaters.
Continued erosion by fast-flowing water eroded the uplands to the north of the Gippsland Basin and covered the coal measures with sands and gravels. Finally, local erosion by the present rivers brought some of the thick coal seams close to the present land surface where they are now mined. After the land was dry, new plants sprouted from the scattered clumps of vegetation left on the surface by the receding floodwaters. Thus, the kinds of plants in Australia today are similar to the plants in the coal buried during the final stage of the Flood.
If ever there was a geological phenomenon that should remind us of Noah’s Flood, it is coal. Coal points to a global catastrophe, because huge quantities of vegetation have been uprooted, transported, and buried by water under great volumes of sediment all over the world. Coal is a stark memorial to the Flood of Noah, and bears witness to the reliability of the Bible.
Photo by Hazlewood Power, Latrobe Valley, Victoria.

Distinctive marks on the coal seam produced by the massive bucket-wheel excavator’s ‘teeth’.
Photo by Ken Ham

Volcanic ash layers toward the top of a 150 m (500 ft) coal seam, and a pollen-rich layer in the middle.

Sinking the swamp theory

Most of the types of plants in the Latrobe Coal Measures still grow today. Though the slow-and-gradual theory insists they were fossilized in a swamp environment, the overwhelming majority is not swamp-tolerant.

Most of the plant material in Latrobe brown coal came from conifers,1 a group including pines, spruces, and cedars. The following conifers have been identified in the coal:

Young celery top pine by Don Batten

Young Celery-top Pine by Don Batten

Young celery top pine by Don Batten

Banksia flower by Don Batten

Young celery top pine by Don Batten

Kauri tree by Andrew Snelling
  • Araucaria. The Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heterophylla) is a well-known member of this genus, and is widely planted in coastal regions. It grows in sandy soils and tolerates sea spray. Araucaria are adaptable to a range of different soils but not waterlogged conditions.2
  • Agathis. The Kauri Pine (Agathis robusta) is a well-known example. They grow up to 50 metres (160 feet) tall and are valued for their wood.3 Kauri Pines do not grow in swamps but prefer well-drained, deep, moist soils.4 In Queensland, Australia, they inhabit the drier margins of rainforests.
  • Lagarostrobos. The Huon Pine (Lagarostrobos [previously Dacrydium] franklinii) is a native of Tasmania, Australia. Although it grows in moist soils near rivers, it needs good drainage. The slow-growing Huon Pine can exceed 40 metres (130 feet) in height.
  • Phyllocladus. For example, the Celery-top Pine (Phyllocladus aspleniifolius) in Tasmania, Australia. This tree reaches up to 30 metres (100 feet), prefers cool, moist, well-composted soil, and a protected semi-shaded position. It does not grow in waterlogged conditions.2
  • Podocarpus. The Brown Pine (Podocarpus elatus) is a member of this group that grows in coastal rain- and scrub-forests of eastern Australia.3 It is a large tree that grows up to 45 metres (150 feet) high. Members of this genus prefer well-drained soils, not swamp conditions.
Non-conifer plants have also been identified in the coal, including:
  • Casuarina. Only two of the 30 or so species of Casuarina tolerate poor drainage. Only one, the Swamp She-oak (Casuarina paludosa), actually prefers swampy conditions. Most prefer light, well-drained soils.2
  • Banksia. Only two of the 47 species of Banksia tolerate swampy conditions. Most species prefer well-drained conditions.3
  • Nothofagus. The native New Zealand Red Beech (Nothofagus fusca, which grows to 30 metres) and the Silver Beech (Nothofagus menziesii) are cool-temperate rainforest trees which like moist soils in a protected, sunny position.5 They are found at high altitudes—1,000–3,000 metres (3,000–10,000 feet); they do not grow in swamps.2
It is clear that, overall, the plants identified in the brown coal are not the sorts that grow in wet, swampy conditions. Rather, most are drought tolerant, and grow at high altitudes, consistent with a huge watery catastrophe that swept vegetation together from a large geographical area. It was from the cones, seeds and plant debris of this catastrophe that the vegetation recolonized the islands and continents of the Southern hemisphere after the Flood. Return to main text.

References and notes

  1. Duigan, S.L., The nature and relationships of the Tertiary brown coal flora of the Yallourn area in Victoria, Australia, The Palaeobotanist 14:191–201, 1966.
  2. Bodkin, F., Encyclopaedia Botanica, Angus and Robertson, Sydney, 1986.
  3. Cronin, L., Key Guide to Australian Trees, Envirobooks, NSW, p. 30, 2000.
  4. New Zealand is known for wood products crafted from Swamp Kauri, a timber recovered from swampy ground, 27 November 2000. However, the trees did not grow in the swamp, but were carried there by a (post-Flood) catastrophe at the end of the Ice Age.
  5., posted on 4 August 2000.

Biblical geology

To be properly understood, geology (like every area of science and learning) needs to be interpreted from a Biblical perspective.
The key is to tie our area of study to the true history of the world in the Bible. We need to ask, ‘What would we expect to find?’ Geologically, we would expect that most rocks formed quickly during two very short periods of time. First, during the six-day Creation event, the entire planet was produced. Later, this was reshaped during the one-year Flood. By comparison, not much happened geologically in the 1,700-year period between Creation and the Flood, or in the 4,300-year period since. Modern geology is built on a philosophy that strenuously denies both the Creation and the Flood (cf. the scoffers predicted in 2 Peter 3:3–8).
The Biblical geological model illustrated starts with the Biblical timescale vertically on the left. The earliest time is at the bottom, and the scale is divided into the four significant parts: the Creation event, pre-Flood era, the Flood event and the post-Flood era. The term ‘event’ signifies a short period of time but an ‘era’ is much longer. This reinforces the idea that past geologic processes varied in intensity.
A second scale, a rock-scale, is shown to the right, with the most recent rocks at the top and the earliest ones at the bottom—the same way they occur on the Earth. The lengths on the rock-scale correspond to the volume of rocks on the Earth today, and contrast with the lengths on the timescale. Arrows illustrate the relationship. For example, arrows point from the Flood event (small time) on the timescale to the Flood rocks (large volume) on the rock-scale.
To be useful scientifically, this broad framework must be expanded to provide specific details of the events and processes, and their time relationships. This is not difficult. The Flood event, for example, can be divided into two stages: an Inundatory stage with floodwaters rising upon the land, and a Recessive stage with floodwaters flowing off.
The model can be divided further by splitting the stages into phases. The aim is for each part (e.g. each event, era, stage and phase) to relate to a geologically significant process with identifiable starting and finishing criteria as described in the Bible. We can then evaluate the rocks in the field and link them to Biblical history.1 Return to main text.


  1. For a practical application of this geological model, see Walker, T.B., The Great Artesian Basin, AustraliaJournal of Creation 10(3):379–390, 1996. See a laymanized version on my Biblical Geology page.

Coal needs only weeks, not millions of years, to form

LoyYang Power

Coal-fired power stations like this one may burn as much as 50,000 tonnes of coal per day to provide power for homes and industry.
It has been known for many years that the most important factor for coalification is temperature.1 The higher the temperature the higher the degree of coalification, or rank of coal.2 The length of time is not particularly important. Pressure actually retards the chemical reactions slightly.
Surprisingly, relatively mild temperatures, from 100–150°C, are enough to drive off oil and gas and produce a low-rank coal. This has been demonstrated in the laboratory. For example, Argonne National Laboratories have reported that lignin (the major component of wood), water and acidic clay heated in a sealed container to only 150°C produced brown coal in just two to eight months.3
Higher temperatures, up to 400°C, produce a material with the infrared spectra (thus chemical bonding) of the most altered, black coal (anthracite) with a very high carbon content. The brown coals of the Latrobe Valley are much less coalified and still contain lots of their original moisture. They have not been heated to the same extent as higher-grade coals. Return to main text.


  1. Stach, E. et al.Textbook of Coal Petrology, Gebrüder Borntraeger, Berlin, pp. 55–59, 1982.
  2. ‘Rank’ refers to how much the organic material has been coalified.
  3. Hayatsu, R., McBeth, R.L., Scott, R.G., Botto, R.E. and Winans, R.E., Artificial coalification study: Preparation and characterization of synthetic macerals,Organic Geochemistry 6:463–471, 1984.

Related Articles

Further Reading

Related Media

References and notes

  1. Cochrane, G.W., Quick, G.W. and Spencer-Jones, D. (eds.), Introducing Victorian Geology, Geological Society of Australia, Melbourne, pp. 194–197, 1991.Return to text.
  2. Hocking, J.B., Gippsland Basin; in: Douglas, J.G. and Ferguson, J.A. (eds.), Geology of Victoria, Geological Society of Australia, Melbourne, pp. 322–347, 1988.Return to text.
  3. Gloe, C.S., Barton, C.M., Holdgate, G.R., Bloger, P.F., King, R.L. and George, A.M., Brown coal; in: Douglas and Ferguson, Ref. 2, p. 498, 1988. Return to text.
  4. Duigan, S.L., The nature and relationships of the Tertiary brown coal flora of the Yallourn area in Victoria, Australia, The Palaeobotanist 14:191–201, 1966.Return to text.
  5. Patton, R.T., Fossil wood from Victorian brown coal, Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria 70:129–143, 1958. Return to text.
  6. Ref. 3, p. 506. Return to text.
  7. Diessel, C.F.K., Coal-bearing Depositional Systems, Springer-Verlag, Berlin, pp. 7–8, 1992. The ash contents have been adjusted to 60% moisture content of the brown coal. Return to text.
  8. McCabe, P.J., Depositional environments of coal and coal-bearing strata; in: Rahmani, R.A. and Flores, R.M. (eds.), Sedimentology of Coal and Coal-bearing Sequences, Special Publication 7, International Association of Sedimentologists, Blackwell Scientific, Oxford, pp. 22–23, 1984. Return to text.
  9. Snelling, A.A.The recent origin of Bass Strait oil and gasEx Nihilo 5(2):43–46, 1982. Return to text.
  10. See for example, The peatlands of Ireland, 13 July 2000. Return to text.
  11. During the Recessive stage of the Flood, the floodwaters receded steadily off the Earth (Gen. 8:3) into the newly forming ocean basins. At first the water would have flowed over the continents in wide, continuous sheets that eroded flat surfaces. Later, the water would have divided into broad channels that eroded many of the wide valleys we see today. Our rivers still flow through these valleys, but are only a trickle compared with the flow during the last phase of the Flood. Return to text.

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The Implications of Rejecting the Literal Days of Genesis 1

Filed under: Uncategorized — augustinehippo1 @ 10:39 am

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.
The assault of humanism upon the American mindset in the last half-century has taken a dreadful toll on our culture. Its atheistic tentacles have invaded virtually every facet of social life: politics, education, entertainment, medicine, industry, and yes, religion. The church has not eluded its grasp. Evidences of humanistic influence in the church may be seen in the fluctuating attitudes toward morality, authority, worship, and fellowship.
One prominent manifestation of humanistic influence in the church is the tendency to make concessions to the theory of evolution. Even Christian college science professors have been seduced by pseudo-scientific “proof ” that the Earth is 4.6 billion years old. Evolution’s illusion of scientific credibility depends upon an ancient Earth. This circumstance has created a climate in the scientific community in which those dating methods that support an ancient Earth receive preeminence, while those that support a young Earth are effectively ignored.
Once a Christian accepts the idea of an ancient Earth, he automatically is placed in a position where he must abandon a literal interpretation of the biblical Creation account. He must reject the “days” of Genesis one as literal twenty-four-hour days (or accept some other compromising concept such as the Gap Theory, Modified Gap Theory, etc.). Historically, in their frantic need to maintain their own credibility as a valid academic discipline, liberal theologians reevaluated their views of Genesis 1, and altered their assessments in order to accommodate the evolutionary framework. Consequently, the Creation account was stylized as a “myth” or a “hymn.” It is incredibly naïve to think that Christians can use the term “myth” to refer to Genesis 1, and there be no connection with liberal theology, evolution, and a devaluated view of the inspiration of that sacred chapter.
What are the practical effects of retreating to such a view? Many older Christians (i.e., World War II generation and before) were faced with the growing threat of an evolution-based view of science at a time when their own convictions about the reliability and inspiration of the Bible already had been crystallized. Consequently,77 many simply have not understood what all the fuss is about. They have been convinced that one can believe in evolution and an ancient Earth, and yet still hold to firm convictions about the reliability of the biblical account of Creation. What they fail to realize is that they already had come to accept the Bible viewpoint, and so learned to live with the logical incompatibility of the two divergent viewpoints. Their determination to maintain a belief in the inerrancy of Scripture was formed at a time when bold comparisons with the evolutionary framework were not forced upon them in the classroom.
But times are different. Babyboomers, whose adolescent years transpired after World War II, were forced to bring into bold relief and stark contrast two clearly clashing world views: creation and evolution. Irreligious science teachers caused us to face the fact that there is no common ground between the two views. Ultimately, the main reason for accepting the idea of an ancient Earth is to accommodate an evolutionary position of one sort or another.
Generation X arrived, and has been genuine and honest enough to see and embrace the logical implications of the ancient Earth viewpoint. Consequently, they colorado-shooter-27f57809773bab79have adjusted their perceptions of the integrity of the biblical text. They recognize that since Genesis 1 may be interpreted rather loosely, so may the rest of the Bible and, for that matter, the whole of their parents’ religion. Generated by a secular, humanistic society, and perpetuated by careless parents, the children have come to adopt a relativistic view of Christianity (if they have not abandoned it altogether). Alarmed, even panic-stricken, parents look on with wonderment at how their children can so easily throw overboard such ironclad certainties as God’s laws governing marriage, New Testament worship, and the plan of salvation. They apparently are blind to the fact that they, themselves, in league with humanistic philosophy, have sown the wind that yielded the whirlwind!
The solution? It may be too late to save many of the post-World War II population, in whom a modern mindset has been deeply embedded. However, the only road to recovery, and the only hope for future generations, is a return to complete trust in the written documents of the Bible. Tampering with the text in order to accommodate every fast-talking scientific or theological “authority” that comes along must stop. God must be taken at His word. Everything must be measured by the standard of the plain teaching of the Bible. The god of secular education, which has become the measuring stick and the absolute authority, must be dethroned. The God of heaven must be re-enthroned in one’s life. His ability to communicate His view of reality to humans in simple, straightforward, easy-to-understand language must be taken seriously.
Once the biblical text is compromised, once the obvious meaning of Scripture is whitewashed in order to make its teaching more palatable and in step with secular culture, once Scripture is adjusted to fit human ideas rather than human ideas being adjusted to fit Scripture—the battle has been lost and Satan has won. No one should be surprised if our children have enough sense to see it, and to live accordingly.


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April 17, 2014

How can we figure out what the bible says?

Filed under: Uncategorized — augustinehippo1 @ 10:38 am

The Bible and hermeneutics

by Andrew S. Kulikovsky

Hermeneutics is the formal process by which the interpreter employs certain principles and methods in order to derive the author’s intended meaning. Naturally, this is foundational to all theological studies, and before a biblical theology of creation can be built, it is necessary to discuss the hermeneutical approach that should be utilised and how it should be applied to the text of Scripture, and in particular, the creation account of Genesis

The biblical account of creation simply assumes that God had endowed man with the faculties to communicate with his Creator.

Biblical inerrancy

Presuppositions and prior understandings have always played a significant role in the hermeneutical process, and one such presupposition is biblicalinerrancy. Inerrancy is a complex doctrine, but it is internally coherent, and consistent with a perfect and righteous God who has revealed Himself. Broadly speaking, the doctrine of inerrancy identifies Scripture as true and without error in all that it affirms, including its affirmations regarding history and the physical universe.1 Article IX of The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy states:

‘WE AFFIRM that inspiration, though not conferring omniscience, guaranteed true and trustworthy utterance on all matters of which the Biblical authors were moved to speak and write.

WE DENY that the finitude or fallenness of these writers, by necessity or otherwise, introduced distortion or falsehood into God’s Word.’

Concerning the role of history and science in the interpretation of Scripture relating to creation and the Flood, Article XII states:

‘WE AFFIRM that Scripture in its entirety is inerrant, being free from all falsehood, fraud, or deceit.

WE DENY that Biblical infallibility and inerrancy are limited to spiritual, religious, or redemptive themes, exclusive of assertions in the fields of history and science. We further deny that scientific hypotheses about earth history may properly be used to overturn the teaching of Scripture on creation and the flood.’

Indeed, as Herman Bavinck noted, when Scripture touches on science it does not suddenly cease to be the Word of God.2

Of course, a high view of Scripture is ‘of little value to us if we do not enthusiastically embrace the Scripture’s authority.’3 Indeed, many scholars who claim to be evangelical have either rejected this doctrine outright, or have redefined it to allow for errors in historical and scientific references. Francis Schaeffer described the denial of biblical inerrancy as ‘The great evangelical disaster’. He noted that accommodating Scripture to the current scientific consensus has led many evangelicals to a weakened view of the Bible and to no longer affirm the truth of all that it teaches—not only in regard to theology and morality but also regarding science and history.4 Why, then, have many so-called evangelical historians and theologians denied inerrancy and infallibility in relation to history and science? John D. Woodbridge suggests they believe that if the Bible is only infallible for faith and practice, then it cannot be negatively affected by evolutionary hypotheses.5 The irony of this position is that in trying to defend inerrancy, they have essentially given it up!

But even if one affirms the superiority and inerrancy of the special revelation of Scripture in all areas, what are we to do with science? How does science affect our interpretation of specific passages and our overall theology? These are pertinent questions when constructing a biblical theology of creation.

It is often stated that the theologian is the God-appointed interpreter of Scripture, and the scientist is the God-appointed interpreter of nature. For example, Roger Forster and Paul Marston present the relationship of the Bible and theology, and the relationship of nature and science as follows:

2 Books:



Human Interpretation:



The point here is that both books (the Bible and nature) are true and infallible, but their human interpretations are not.6 In other words, interpretation occurs in both theology and science, which means there is also a possibility of making interpretive errors in both fields. Thus, denying a particular interpretation does not necessarily mean or imply that biblical inerrancy is being questioned or denied. In the same way that a scientist may wrongly interpret certain scientific data, the theologian may also incorrectly interpret a particular passage. However, Forster and Marston offer no solution to this problem, nor do they discuss the methodological problems and issues relating to scientific research. They simply dismiss the problems of scientific research by merely stating that there are also problems in biblical interpretation.7 David F. Payne, on the other hand, acknowledges the primacy of biblical revelation when he states:

‘[I]t must be decided what exactly the biblical teaching is before any criticism of its accuracy can be made … The majority of Concordists take the scientific data as their starting-point, and interpret the biblical statements to fit them. But it is essential to achieve first a sound exegesis of the latter; and then, if any rapprochement is necessary, it can be made on a firm basis. Biblical exegesis is paramount, even when the scientific challenge is under consideration.’8

This raises the question of epistemology (the theory of knowledge) and the possibility of knowing. How can the interpreter know whether his exegesis is accurate or whether a particular interpretation is the correct one? Can the interpreter know anything for certain, or should all interpretations be held tentatively? Upon which criteria can such an assessment be made?

Scripture and the problem of interpretation

It is certainly true that different interpretations of Scripture abound, especially for those Scriptures which teach about creation. But are all interpretations valid and equally plausible, or is there only ever one correct interpretation? If there is only ever one correct interpretation, how can it be determined?

Human language as God’s medium of communication

The Bible is God’s special revelation and its purpose is to communicate specific truth to all humanity, past, present and future. In order to accomplish this, God employed common human language as the medium for His message. The biblical account of creation does not discuss the question of whether God can meaningfully speak to mankind or whether mankind can understand God. It is simply assumed as ‘self-evident’ that God and mankind could engage in meaningful linguistic communication.9 Thus, Jack Barentsen concludes that ‘God must have endowed man with adequate faculties to respond to and interact with his Creator.’10 Indeed, ‘Genesis describes God as the first language user … . [He] instituted language as the vehicle of communication between man and himself.’11 Similarly, Packer points out that Genesis ‘shows us that human thought and speech have their counterparts and archetypes in [God]’.12 Furthermore, God continued to employ human language as His medium of communication throughout biblical history. When God spoke directly to Moses, He used intelligible human language; when He spoke to His prophets He used intelligible human language; when Jesus taught He used intelligible human language; when He appeared to Saul, He used intelligible human language.

Nevertheless, there are many who claim that language in general, or the biblical languages in particular, are somewhat deficient in that they are unable to communicate with the same precision as modern languages. Hugh Ross, for example, argues that since biblical Hebrew has a much smaller vocabulary than English, Hebrew words can convey many different ‘literal’ meanings.13 This is surely a very naïve view of language. Vocabulary size is irrelevant. Indeed, all languages ‘are quite able to express complex, deep, or subtle ideas. Virtually anything that can be said in one language can be said in another, provided one takes enough time.’14

God is sovereign and He wills to be understood (2 Tim. 3:15–17), and actively reveals Himself to us.15 Human language ‘offers no resistance to his purposes and cannot frustrate his desire to communicate.’16 As E.R. Clendenen succinctly writes: ‘Language works. A skilful reader will experience what a skilful communicator intended to accomplish through the agency of a text as an interface takes place between the worlds of the author, text, and reader.’17 Indeed, everyday human experience confirms this to be so. As innate users of language, human beings readily engage in meaningful linguistic communication. Such communication is not always easy, but it is never impossible.

Propositional revelation and truth

God’s linguistic communication to humanity as recorded in the Bible takes the form of propositional revelation. God supernaturally communicated His message to a chosen spokesperson in the form of explicit cognitive statements of truth, and these statements are recorded in sentences that are not internally contradictory.18 As Carl Henry states, ‘the inspired Scriptures contain a body of divinely given information actually expressed or capable of being expressed in propositions. In brief, the Bible is a propositional revelation of the unchanging truth of God.’18 By ‘proposition’, Henry means ‘a verbal statement that is either true or false; it is a rational declaration capable of being either believed, doubted or denied’,19 and adds that ‘[n]othing can be literally true but a propositional statement’.20 Likewise, Norman Geisler notes that ‘the normal and consistent New Testament usage of “truth” is of truth in the cognitive, propositional sense’.21

Roger Forster and Paul Marston claim that a statement can still have genuine historical content but be allegorical in form.22 In other words, a distinction is made between historical fact and historical event. A particular historical fact may be presented in the form of a non-historical event. But on what basis can one claim that a non-historical event represents a true historical situation? Such distinctions are not only arbitrary; they lack any coherence, and are surely motivated by concerns totally external to the Bible. Mcquilkin and Mullen add:

‘To deny the possibility of words corresponding to reality is ultimately an attack on the nature and activity of God … Evangelical faith is that God can communicate and indeed has communicated in words all the truth about ultimate reality he thinks it necessary for us to know.’23

Viewing the Bible as propositional revelation from God implies there is the possibility of verifiable facts involved. God has verbally communicated in a propositional form to humanity, not just truth about spiritual matters but also truth relating to history and science. If truth was not expressed in this way, then the interpreter can never be sure of anything—even his own salvation.

In Scripture, propositional revelation most often takes the form of historical narrative.24 Indeed, Rodney Decker points out that

‘Scripture employs narrative genre deliberately, but it does so in such a way that the historical basis (event) for the narratival depiction (text) is absolutely essential. The revelation value of the Bible depends on its history value … Historical narrative explicitly appeals to history to verify what it teaches: names, places, events, dates, etc. are cited … . If these references are not trustworthy, it casts grave doubt over the theology being propounded in narrative fashion.’25

Keep in mind that true communication does not necessarily lead to exhaustive knowledge. Francis Schaeffer writes:

‘It is helpful … to distinguish between true communication and exhaustive communication. What we claim as Christians is that when all of the facts are taken into consideration, the Bible gives us true knowledge although not exhaustive knowledge.’26

He adds: ‘… we can have confidence that this is true history, but that does not mean that the situation is exhaustively revealed or that all our questions are answered.’27

The influence of postmodernism

In the 19th century, Søren Kierkegaard, although a deeply religious and apparently pious man, proposed that true knowledge was completely subjective, and that absolute certainty was impossible (one must wonder how he was ‘certain’ that this claim was ‘true’). In other words, it is not possible to express absolute truth in propositional form.28 Thus, Kierkegaard unwittingly became the father of postmodern existentialism. It is unfortunate that this same kind of postmodern thinking has convinced many interpreters that it is virtually impossible to be certain of the meaning of a text, especially the biblical text.29 Many believe that language ‘cannot accurately communicate thought to another person’s mind’, and that meaning is relative, especially in relation to the interpreter’s present subjective perceptions.30 Donald Williams notes that postmodernism ‘manifests itself in literary study that ignores (or “deconstructs”) traditional issues of meaning or even aesthetics … .’31 In effect, language and the communication process is ‘deconstructed’. The usual meaning and implications of common words, grammar, expressions and idiom are rejected, along with normal interpretive procedures. Instead of being a natural and intuitive activity, linguistic communication becomes a problematic task with insurmountable hurdles. This is clearly illustrated by the anti-young-earth-creationist Mark Noll in his critique of the hermeneutics of certain conservative Christian groups. He accuses them of ‘… an overwhelming tendency to “essentialism”, or the conviction that a specific formula could capture for all times and places the essence of Biblical truth for any specific issue concerning God, the human condition, or the fate of the world [and] a corresponding neglect of forces in history that shape perceptions and help define the issues that loom as most important to any particular age.’32

Clearly, Noll thinks that following a systematic procedure when interpreting the Bible in order to accurately determine what God is saying to all men in all times, is somehow presumptuous and negligent. This is surely postmodernist existentialism applied to biblical interpretation!

Bernard Ramm, on the other hand, is more subtle: ‘Revelation is the communication of divine truth; interpretation is the effort to understand it.’33 Nevertheless, the implication is the same. Although God communicates inerrant truth, the interpreter may misunderstand it. Despite God revealing Himself in history as recorded in the Bible, the interpreter can never really be certain about the meaning of this revelation, and must always remain open to alternative interpretations. Unfortunately, those who hold such a view rarely apply it consistently. Their scepticism and uncertainty are almost never applied to scientific interpretations and conclusions.

In contrast to previous generations,34 we seem to be caught in a state of biblical and theological uncertainty. As Mcquilkin and Mullen poignantly note, ‘we seem to be in the process of losing any assurance of certainty about knowing and communicating objective reality. And many evangelicals are becoming at least moderate relativists.’35 This has serious implications for biblical and theological studies. If the meaning of a text cannot be known for certain because no particular understanding can claim to be authoritive, then there is no basis for integrating it with other related texts in order to produce an overall theological statement or synthesis.

In fact, the problem runs deeper still. Interpretive uncertainty essentially implies that it is meaningless to talk about the authority, infallibility and inerrancy of the Scriptures because the Scriptures do not really tell us anything—or at least anything of which we can be certain. The meaning ascribed to each text is merely a human interpretation which may or may not be correct. This, of course, means that the central pillars of Christianity, the doctrines of sin, atonement and judgment, the virgin birth, and the physical resurrection are mere interpretations which may or may not be correct. Indeed, since historic Christianity is merely a systematic framework of biblical interpretations, it too may not be correct. Therefore, this view of biblical interpretation can only lead to liberalism or agnosticism—and in many cases, it has done exactly this.

Furthermore, arguing that interpretation is always uncertain due to the supposed limitations of language is ultimately self-defeating and incoherent, as Mcquilkin and Mullen point out:

‘If we do not do interpretation on the premise that God has spoken and that he can be understood, that truth about him can be communicated accurately in words, we run the danger of ending up where postmodern thinking has taken some proponents: speaking nonsense. That is, they use words in an attempt to communicate their own thought about how impossible communication with words is.’36

Is it possible, then, to be certain about the meaning of a given text? If we assume that Scripture is revelation from God, that it is the word of God, then it must be possible for any person, regardless of their culture, language or historical situation, to comprehend, at least in a general sense, what Scripture is saying. If God’s communication is not objectively understandable, then He has essentially failed to communicate. In effect, He may as well not have spoken at all! If this is the case, then on what basis can the Bible be regarded as the Word of God? What authority can it possibly have? Indeed, what is the point of having an authoritative, infallible, inerrant message if it is impossible to ascertain its meaning?

Historical-grammatical exegesis

The key to understanding the biblical text is to apply a hermeneutic which takes into account the historical and literary context. This can be done by employing historical-grammatical exegesis. This method presupposes that human beings are rational creatures capable of linguistic communication, and that linguistic communication is meaningful and objective. Historical-grammatical exegesis involves a systematic approach to analyzing in detail the historical situation, events and circumstances surrounding the text, and the semantics and syntactical relationships of the words which comprise the text. In essence, it attempts to formalize what language speakers do automatically and unconsciously whenever they read a book, watch television or engage in conversation.

The importance of a systematic approach to interpreting Scripture cannot be underestimated. Walter Kaiser points out that ‘… the basic teaching of all of sacred theology is inseparably connected with the results of our hermeneutics; for what is that theology except what Scripture teaches? And the way to ascertain what Scripture teaches is to apply the rules and principles of interpretation. Therefore it is imperative that these rules be properly grounded and that their application be skillfully and faithfully applied. If the foundation itself is conjecture, imagination, or error, what more can be hoped for what is built on it?’37

Space does not allow for a detailed exposition of the historical-grammatical method and how it is applied,38 but two articles of the Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics are worth noting. Article XIV explicitly affirms the historical basis of Scripture:

WE AFFIRM that the biblical record of events, discourses and sayings, though presented in a variety of appropriate literary forms, corresponds to historical fact.

WE DENY that any such event, discourse or saying reported in Scripture was invented by the biblical writers or by the traditions they incorporated.’

This is reinforced by Article XX which affirms that the Bible also speaks truly on matters relating to history, science and the natural world:

‘WE AFFIRM that since God is the author of all truth, all truths, biblical and extrabiblical, are consistent and cohere, and that the Bible speaks truth when it touches on matters pertaining to nature, history, or anything else. We further affirm that in some cases extrabiblical data have value for clarifying what Scripture teaches, and for prompting correction of faulty interpretations.

WE DENY that extrabiblical views ever disprove the teaching of Scripture or hold priority over it.’

Note also that the denial explicitly disallows the teachings of other fields, including philosophy and the sciences, to ‘trump’ the teachings of Scripture.

But will the historical-grammatical method bring certainty regarding the teaching of Scripture? There are, of course, numerous difficult passages which can be understood in different ways, and although a good exegetical case can be made for several options, no consensus presently exists. Yet even in such cases it is still possible to be certain of the broad thrust and theological message even though some of the details are difficult to comprehend. As Packer puts it: ‘One can master the argument … and still be unsure of the precise meaning of occasional sentences in it.’39 Nevertheless, the vast majority of biblical teaching is very clear, and even those passages which at first seem confusing, can be more easily understood when the interpreter performs a thorough analysis of the text’s genre, structure, language, and historical and cultural setting.

Indeed, the task of interpreting the Bible is apparently much simpler and less error-prone than interpreting scientific data. Scientist Taylor Jones acknowledges that the ‘Word of God is inherently more reliable than science’, and that Scripture is much easier to interpret than nature.40 Likewise, Robert C. Newman admits that since general revelation is not in human language, ‘it is more liable to misinterpretation than is special revelation’.41 David Diehi also concedes that propositional revelation ‘has a certain advantage over nonpropositional revelation’.42 In any case, all misinterpretations and misunderstandings of Scripture result from false presuppositions, insufficient data, or an inadequate or inconsistent hermeneutic. However, all these problems can be overcome if the interpreter is willing to thoroughly investigate the text’s historical and grammatical context.

Cultural accommodation?

Theologians of a more liberal persuasion have long believed that divine revelation necessitated the use of time-bound and erroneous statements. This position was never held by the Reformers or ascribed to by the protestant scholastics (Lutheran or Reformed), but arose in the eighteenth century in the thought of Semler and his contemporaries.43 Nevertheless, there is now a growing trend among evangelicals to redefine inspiration and inerrancy to allow for errors when Scripture speaks on matters of history and science. Inerrancy is limited to truth concerning spiritual and moral matters. For example, Bernard Ramm, under the influence of German higher critical thinking, was convinced that ‘language of accommodation’ contained errors.44 Such language ‘employs the culture of the times in which it was written as the medium of revelation’,45 and that all direct references to nature are most likely ‘in terms of the prevailing cultural concepts’.46 This is essentially another way of saying that Scripture is always wrong when it contradicts modern scientific conclusions. As Woodbridge points out, Ramm ‘is actually advising [evangelicals] to consider departing from the central tradition of the Christian churches regarding the authority of Scripture’.47Likewise, Paul Seely believes a ‘more biblical approach’ to relating science and the Bible is to accept the historical-grammatical meaning ofGenesis 1 but to acknowledge that ‘it reflects the cosmology of the second millennium BC, and that modern science presents a more valid picture of the universe … there is no biblical reason why the theological message in Genesis 1 cannot be eternally valid, while the package in which it came was a temporal concession to the people of that time.’48

While it true that an infinite God must in some way accommodate Himself to finite human ways of knowing in order to reveal His nature, law and Gospel, this does not imply the loss of truth, nor the lessening of Scriptural authority. Accommodation occurs specifically in the use of human words and concepts, and refers to the manner or mode of revelation, not to the quality and integrity of the revelation itself.49 It is adaptation to human finitude, not accommodation to human error. Communication directed at mankind may involve less precision, but imprecision must not be confused with error. Inerrantists do not require scientific precision in order for a statement to be true.50

In any case, why stop at the possibility of errors in only those texts which relate to history and science? Why not allow for errors in spiritual, moral and ethical matters also? If the language of accommodation does indeed allow for errors, then limiting such errors to nature and history is surely an arbitrary decision. Ramm, Seely and others who adopt the same approach appear to accept that although much of Scripture is true, some parts are false, and the interpreter decides in which category a particular text should be placed. Thus, the standard of truth ultimately becomes whatever the interpreter decides at that time.

The stability of Scripture and theology

Unlike scientific data, theories and conclusions, the Scriptures have remained essentially the same for centuries, with respect to both text and canon. The Old Testament canon has been well known and generally accepted since the beginning of the Christian era, and the New Testament canon was officially recognized by the fourth century (i.e. the Church recognized what had always been authoritative since the Canon was closed by the death of the last Apostle51).

The actual accepted texts (i.e. the current consensus of what the originals said) of both testaments have undergone minor revisions as a result of textual and philological studies of newly discovered manuscripts. But these changes are relatively few in number, and have not caused any significant changes in Christian belief or practice. No doctrine of Christianity rests on a disputed text.

The central doctrines and theological motifs of Christianity have remained remarkably stable and unchanged since the time of the early church. As Michael Bauman points out, ‘[T]he Apostle’s Creed, although it has been refined and expanded over time, has never gone throughany extensive and fundamental changes, let alone several’.52

In relation to the doctrine of creation, W.F. Albright notes that it is ‘unique in ancient literature’ and that modern scientific cosmogonies ‘show a disconcerting tendency to be short-lived’. Indeed, he seriously doubted whether science ‘has yet caught up with the Biblical story’.53


If the interpreter begins his task by assuming that the Bible is God’s special, inerrant, propositional revelation to humanity in human language, then most interpretive problems will quickly disappear. Biblical interpretation is sometimes difficult, but careful and judicious exegesis is worth the effort, and gives virtual certainty or at least a very high level of confidence in one’s interpretation.

Yet, so many interpreters continue to be intimidated by the truth claims of modern science, and either deny what the Scriptures apparently teach or stretch them to fit the current scientific consensus. The truth claims of science always seem to trump exegesis, regardless of how thorough it is and how well done. At this point, one would do well to heed the warning of John D. Hannah:

‘[In the 19th century] science appeared to speak with the inerrancy that we accord to Scripture alone. It behooves us to remember to be cautious not to neglect the exegesis of Scripture and the qualitative gulf between special and general revelation.’54

E.J. Young asks:

‘Why is it so difficult to [get at the meaning the author sought to convey] with the first chapter of the Bible? The answer, we believe, is that although men pay lip service to the doctrine of creation, in reality they find it a very difficult doctrine to accept.’55

Indeed, it appears that when considering the doctrine of creation, the difficulty is not understanding the teaching of Scripture, but believingit …

References and notes

  1. For detailed expositions of inerrancy see: ‘The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy’ J. Evangelical Theological Society 21(4):289–296, 1978; Geisler, N.L. (Ed.), Innerrancy, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 1980; Carson, D.A. and Woodbridge, J.D. (Eds.), Scripture and Truth, 2nd edition, Baker, Grand Rapids, MI, 1992; Carson, D.A. and Woodbridge, J.D. (Eds.), Hermeneutics, Authority and Canon, Baker, Grand Rapids, MI, 1995. Return to text.

  2. See: Young, E.J., Studies in Genesis One, Baker, Grand Rapids, MI, p. 43, 1964. Return to text.

  3. Carson, D.A., Recent developments in the doctrine of Scripture, in: Carson, and Woodbridge, Hermeneutics, Authority and Canon, ref. 1, p. 46. Return to text.

  4. Schaeffer, F.A., The Great Evangelical Disaster, Crossway, Westchester, IL, p. 37, 1984. Return to text.

  5. Woodbridge, J.D., Some misconceptions of the impact of the ‘Enlightenment’ on the doctrine of Scripture; in: Carson and Woodbridge, Hermeneutics, Authority and Canon, ref. 1, p. 269. Return to text.

  6. Forster, R. and Marston, P., Reason, Science and Faith, Monarch, Crowborough, East Sussex, p. 322, 1999. Return to text.

  7. Forster, R. and Marston, P., Reason and Faith, Monarch, Eastborne, UK, p. 267, 1989. Return to text.

  8. Payne, D.F., Genesis One Reconsidered, Tyndale, London, pp. 6, 8, 1964. Return to text.

  9. Barentsen, J., The validity of human language: a vehicle for Divine truth, Grace Theological Journal 9:30–31, Spring 1988. Return to text.

  10. Barentsen, ref. 9, p. 31. Return to text.

  11. Barentsen, ref. 9, p. 38. Return to text.

  12. Packer, J.I., The adequacy of human language, in: Geisler, ref. 1, p. 214. Return to text.

  13. Ross, H.N., Stanley Lecture Series, Toccoa Falls College, 19–20 March, 1997. Return to text.

  14. Poythress, V.S., Adequacy of language and accommodation, in: Radmacher E.D. and Preus R.D. (Eds.), Hermeneutics, Inerrancy and the Bible, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, p. 360, 1984. Return to text.

  15. Bauman, M., Between Jerusalem and the laboratory: a theologian looks at science, Journal of Creation 11(1):19, 1997. Return to text.

  16. Poythress, ref. 14, p. 352. Return to text.

  17. Clendenen, E.R., Postholes, postmodernism, and the prophets: toward a textlinguistic paradigm, in: Dockery, D.S. (Ed.), The Challenge of Postmodernism, Victor, Wheaton, IL, p. 144, 1995. Return to text.

  18. Henry, C.F.H., God, Revelation and Authority, 6 vols., Word, Waco, TX, vol. 3, p. 457, 1976–1983. Return to text.

  19. Henry, ref. 18, p. 456. Return to text.

  20. Henry, ref. 18, p. 430. Return to text.

  21. Geisler, N.L., The concept of truth in the inerrancy debate, Bibliotheca Sacra 137:333, October-December 1980. Return to text.

  22. Forster and Marston, ref. 7, p. 217. They cite John 4:38 in support, but this verse is clearly a metaphor. In commanding the disciples to reach out to the Samaritan people, Jesus employed a common saying as an illustrative metaphor. While Jesus’ command relates to a real and actual situation, the individual elements of the metaphor are not referring to real and historical people, places and events. In other words, Jesus did not have a literal reaper and a literal field in mind. Return to text.

  23. Mcquilkin, R. and Mullen, B., The impact of postmodern thinking on evangelical hermeneutics, J. Evangelical Theological Society 40(1):71, 1997. Return to text.

  24. This does not mean that other biblical genres do not contain propositional statements, or that statements from these genres cannot be rephrased or transformed into propositional statements. Return to text.

  25. Decker, R.J., Realistic or historical narrative? J. Ministry and Theology 4(1):59–60, 2000. Return to text.

  26. Schaeffer, F.A., Genesis in Space and Time, in: The Complete Works of Francis A. Schaeffer, 2nd edition, 5 vols, Crossway, Wheaton, IL, 2:22–23, 1985.Return to text.

  27. Schaeffer, ref. 26, pp. 23–24. Return to text.

  28. Barentsen, ref. 9, p. 27. Return to text.

  29. Stallard, M., Literal interpretation: the key to understanding the Bible, J. Ministry and Theology 4(1):14, 2000. Return to text.

  30. See Mcquilkin and Mullen, ref. 23, p. 71. Return to text.

  31. Williams, D.T., The great divide: the church and the post-modernist challenge, paper presented at the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, Colorado Springs, CO, p. 2, 14 November 2001. Return to text.

  32. Noll, M.A., The Scandal of the Evangelical Mind, Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI, p. 127, 1994. Return to text.

  33. Ramm, B., The Christian View of Science and Scripture, Paternoster Press, London, p. 31, 1955. Return to text.

  34. Luther, for example, held that it was possible to be certain about the meaning of Scripture. Thomas, R.L., General revelation and biblical hermeneutics, The Master’s Seminary Journal 9:16, Spring 1998. Return to text.

  35. Mcquilkin and Mullen, ref. 23, p. 71. Return to text.

  36. Mcquilkin and Mullen, ref. 23, p. 75. Return to text.

  37. Kaiser, W.C., Legitimate hermeneutics, in: Geisler, ref. 1, p. 119. Return to text.

  38. For detailed expositions of the historical-grammatical method from an evangelical perspective see: The Chicago Statement on Biblical Hermeneutics, J. Evangelical Theological Society 25(4): 397–401, 1982; Radmacher, E.D. and Preus, R.D. (Eds.), Hermeneutics, Inerrancy and the Bible, Academie, Grand Rapids, MI, 1984; Fee, G. and Stuart, D., How to Read the Bible for All its Worth, 2nd edition, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 1993; Osborne, G.R., The Hermeneutical Spiral, IVP, Downers Grove, IL, 1991; Klein, W.M., Blomberg, C.L. and Hubbard, R.L., Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, Word, Dallas, TX, 1993. Return to text.

  39. Packer, J.I., Infallible Scripture and the role of hermeneutics, in: Carson and Woodbridge, Scripture and Truth, ref. 1, p. 330. Return to text.

  40. Jones, T., Science and the Bible: guidelines for harmonization, The Master’s Current 4:2, Fall 1997. Return to text.

  41. Newman, R.C., Progressive creationism, in: Moreland, J.P. and Reynolds, J.M. (Eds.), Three Views on Creation and Evolution, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, p. 131, 1999. Return to text.

  42. Diehi, D.W., Evangelicalism and general revelation: an unfinished agenda, J. Evangelical Theological Society 30:448, December 1987. However, he attempts to nullify this concession by claiming the advantage ‘is easily exaggerated’. Nevertheless, his concession is still an admission that the authority of Scripture is greater than that of general revelation. Return to text.

  43. Muller, R.A., Dictionary of Latin and Greek Theological Terms, Baker, Grand Rapids, MI, p. 19, 1985. Return to text.

  44. Woodbridge, ref. 5, pp. 264–266. Return to text.

  45. Ramm, ref. 33, p. 48. Return to text.

  46. Ramm, ref. 33, p. 53. Ramm actually seems to be a bit confused on this point. He states elsewhere (Ramm, ref. 33, p. 51) that he believes the biblical writers ‘do not teach any cosmological system or follow any cosmogony, ancient or modern. Rather their writings are prescientific and phenomenal or non-postulational’ (my emphasis). Ramm’s belief that Scripture is ‘prescientific’ is surely an attempt to insulate it from scientific criticisms, since (despite Ramm’s claims to the contrary) ‘prescientific’ is another way of saying it is not correct. Return to text.

  47. Woodbridge, ref. 5, p. 267. Return to text.

  48. Seely, P.H., The first four days of Genesis in concordist theory and biblical context, Perspectives on Science and the Christian Faith 49(2):95, 1997. Return to text.

  49. Note that verses such as Isa 55:8–9 do not imply that God’s thoughts cannot be expressed in human language because they are so much higher than our own. As Carson (ref. 3, p. 37) points out, the context shows that God’s thoughts are ‘higher’ in the moral realm, and therefore ‘our response must be repentance, not some kind of awareness of the ineffable’. Return to text.

  50. E.g., stating that the approximate value of p (pi) is 3 is no less truthful than saying it is 3.1415926535897932384626. Both values are approximations but the latter is more precise. See also Grigg, R., Does the Bible say pi equals 3.0? Creation 17(2):24–25, 1995. Return to text.

  51. The NT scholar F.F. Bruce writes (The New Testament Documents: Are they reliable? IVP, Downers Grove, IL, 1960): ‘The NT books did not become authoritative for the Church because they were formally included in a canonical list; on the contrary, the Church included them in her canon because she already regarded them as divinely inspired, recognising their innate worth and generally apostolic authority, direct or indirect … . [Church] councils [did] not impose something new upon the Christian communities but codif[ied] what was already the general practice of those communities.’ Return to text.

  52. Bauman, M., Between Jerusalem and the laboratory, Journal of Creation 11(1):19, 1997; my emphasis. Return to text.

  53. As cited by Ramm, ref. 33, p. 120. Return to text.

  54. Hannah, J.D., Bibliotheca Sacra and Darwinism: an analysis of the nineteenth-century conflict between science and theology, Grace Theological Journal4(1):57, 58, 1983. Return to text.

  55. Young, ref. 2, p. 101. Return to text.

Creation Ministries International  Dear Augustine: You are welcome to post CMI articles on the mentioned website, as long as you agree not to change any of the content and reference and the relevant authors, as you have indicated.Kind regards,  Annalouise Bekker  AdministrationCreation Ministries International (Australia)


April 15, 2014

“The Road to the Cross” a Sermon by Pastor Rusty Lyon 4/13/2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — augustinehippo1 @ 10:02 pm

The Road to the Cross…………Audio


Context:  We begin today’s message when Jesus was just 33 years old…..the road

Where did “the road to the cross” really begin? How about John 11:16?

Thomas says, “Let us go with Him that we may die with Him”

John 11:47-50: After Jesus had just resurrected Lazarus, the high priest inadvertently makes a prophetic statement. Does that tell us anything?

John 11:47-50 (NASB) 

ciaphus47  Therefore the chief priests and the Pharisees convened a council, and were saying, “What are we doing? For this man is performing many signs. 48  If we let Him go on like this, all men will believe in Him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” 49  But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all, 50  nor do you take into account that it is expedient for you that one man die for the people, and that the whole nation not perish.”

Luke 19:28f. What message was Jesus communicating by riding the donkey colt into Jerusalem? The peace that only Jesus could give would on be provided if Jesus stayed the course on the road to the cross!

Luke 19:28, 36-38 (NASB) 
28  After He had said these things, He was going on ahead, going up to Jerusalem……36  As He was going, they were spreading their coats on the road. 37  As soon as triumphal-entry_I4C4447-300He was approaching, near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God joyfully with a loud voice for all the miracles which they had seen, 38  shouting: “BLESSED IS THE KING WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”

Luke 22:7-22  What did the Passover bread symbolize in the Old Testament, and what did Jesus indicate it would mean in the future? What did the Passover wine symbolize in the Old Testament, and what did Jesus say it would mean in the future? 

Luke 22:7-22 (NASB)
7  Then came the first day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. 8  And Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, so that we may eat it.” 9  They said to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare it?” 10  And He said to them, “When you have entered the city, a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him into the house that he enters. 11  And you shall say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, “Where is the guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?”‘ 12  And he will show you a large, furnished upper room; prepare it there.” 13  And passover-last supperthey left and found everything just as He had told them; and they prepared the Passover. 14  When the hour had come, He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him. 15  And He said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer; 16  for I say to you, I shall never again eat it until it is fulfilled in the kingdom of God.” 17  And when He had taken a cup and given thanks, He said, “Take this and share it among yourselves; 18  for I say to you, I will not drink of the fruit of the vine from now on until the kingdom of God comes.” 19  And when He had taken some bread and given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” 20  And in the same way He took the cup after they had eaten, saying, “This cup which is poured out for you is the new covenant in My blood. 21  But behold, the hand of the one betraying Me is with Mine on the table. 22  For indeed, the Son of Man is going as it has been determined; but woe to that man by whom He is betrayed!”

Matthew 26:36f. What happened on the Mount of Olives where Jesus led His disciples to pray? What were His prayers indicating?

Matthew 26:36-46 (NASB)
36  Then Jesus *came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and *said to His disciples, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 37  And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed. 38  Then He *said to them, “My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me.” 39  And He went a little beyond them, and fell on His face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; yet not asgashemine I will, but as You will.” 40  And He *came to the disciples and *found them sleeping, and *said to Peter, “So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour? 41  Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.” 42  He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.” 43  Again He came and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. 44  And He left them again, and went away and prayed a third time, saying the same thing once more. 45  Then He *came to the disciples and *said to them, “Are you still sleeping and resting? Behold, the hour is at hand and the Son of Man is being betrayed into the hands of sinners. 46  Get up, let us be going; behold, the one who betrays Me is at hand!”

Matthew 26:52-54 Why didn’t Jesus allow His disciples or His legions of angels to protect Him?

Matthew 26:52-54 (NASB)
52  Then Jesus *said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword. 53  Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels? 54  How then will the Scriptures be fulfilled, which say that it must happen this way?”

Matthew 26:57 f. What was the purpose of this sham of a trial?

Matthew 26:57-66 (NASB)
57  Those who had seized Jesus led Him away to Caiaphas, the high priest, where the scribes and the elders were gathered together. 58  But Peter was following Him trialat a distance as far as the courtyard of the high priest, and entered in, and sat down with the officers to see the outcome. 59  Now the chief priests and the whole Council kept trying to obtain false testimony against Jesus, so that they might put Him to death. 60  They did not find any, even though many false witnesses came forward. But later on two came forward, 61  and said, “This man stated, ‘I am able to destroy the temple of God and to rebuild it in three days.’” 62  The high priest stood up and said to Him, “Do You not answer? What is it that these men are testifying against You?” 63  But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest said to Him, “I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God.” 64  Jesus *said to him, “You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, and COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN.” 65  Then the high priest tore his robes and said, “He has blasphemed! What further need do we have of witnesses? Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy; 66  what do you think?” They answered, “He deserves death!”


John 18, 19; Mark 15:2; John 18;36; John 19:10-11: When Jesus is before the cruel and spiteful governor, Pilate, how come Pilate was so powerless to steer things his way? How could Pilate’s wish be thwarted? 

John 18:33-38 (NASB)
33  Therefore Pilate entered again into the Praetorium, and summoned Jesus and said to Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” 34  Jesus answered, “Are you sayingpilate this on your own initiative, or did others tell you about Me?” 35  Pilate answered, “I am not a Jew, am I? Your own nation and the chief priests delivered You to me; what have You done?” 36  Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” 37  Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” 38  Pilate *said to Him, “What is truth?” And when he had said this, he went out again to the Jews and *said to them, “I find no guilt in Him.

John 19:1-7 (NASB)
1  Pilate then took Jesus and scourged Him. 2  And the soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on His head, and put a purple robe on Him; 3  and they began to come up to Him and say, “Hail, King of the Jews!” and to give Him slaps in the face. 4  Pilate came out again and *said to them, “Behold, I am bringing Him out to you so that you may know that I find no guilt in Him.” 5  Jesus then came out, wearing the crown of thorns and the purple robe. Pilate *said to them, “Behold, the Man!” 6  So when the chief priests and the officers saw Him, they cried out saying, “Crucify, crucify!” Pilate *said to them, “Take Him yourselves and crucify Him, for I find no guilt in Him.” 7  The Jews answered him, “We have a law, and by that law He ought to die because He made Himself out to be the Son of God.”

 Mark 15:2 (NASB)

2  Pilate questioned Him, “Are You the King of the Jews?” And He *answered him, It is as you say.”

John 18:36 (NASB)
36  Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.”

John 19:10-11 (NASB)
10  So Pilate *said to Him, “You do not speak to me? Do You not know that I have authority to release You, and I have authority to crucify You?” 11  Jesus answered, “You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.”


Then the road to the cross begins in earnest!

The whipping and the scourging of Jesus.

Jesus carries his cross through the streets of Jerusalem…… Luke 13:22
22  And He was passing through from one city and village to another, teaching, and proceeding on His way to Jerusalem.

The literal crucifixion and execution of Jesus.

The supporters and mockers who all came to the cross….

The ominous darkness that fell upon the land………….

The part of what Jesus had to endure that He feared the most!……

The key sayings of Jesus at His death:

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

“It is finished. “

“Into your hands I commit my Spirit”132

The testimony of the centurion: “Surely, He was the Son of God”.

The Roman soldier thrusts his spear into Jesus’ side, for what?

Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus take Jesus’ body and prepare it for burial. Jesus is buried behind a huge rock, and supposedly it’s over!..

When Jesus came to this earth, there was one thing He came specifically to do !  This is what He had to do !  He spoke about it freely and plainly:

John 2:18-22 (NKJV)  So the Jews answered and said to Him, “What sign do You show to us, since You do these things?” 19  Jesus answered and said to them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20  Then the Jews said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will You raise it up in three days?” 21  But He was speaking of the temple of His body. 22  Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.

John 10:11 (NKJV) 
11  I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep.

John 15:13 (NKJV)
13  Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.

John 12:23-24, 27-28, 32-33 (NKJV)
23  But Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come that the Son of Man should be glorified. 24  Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain.  ……..27  “Now My soul is troubled, and what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour’? But for this purpose I came to this hour. 28  Father, glorify Your name.” Then a voice came from heaven, saying, “I have both glorified it and will glorify it again.”………………....32  And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself.” 33  This He said, signifying by what death He would die.

Mark 10:32-34 (NKJV)
32  Now they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was going before them; and they were amazed. And as they followed they were afraid. Then He took the twelve aside again and began to tell them the things that would happen to Him: 33  “Behold, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and to the scribes; and they will condemn Him to death and deliver Him to the Gentiles; 34  and they will mock Him, and scourge Him, and spit on Him, and kill Him. And the third day He will rise again.”


* Application for today and this week:  ” Are you sobered by Christ?”  31345-rusty















“What is presuppositional apologetics?”

Filed under: Uncategorized — augustinehippo1 @ 12:04 pm
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Answer: Presuppositional apologetics is an approach to apologetics which aims to present a rational basis for the Christian faith and defend it against objections by exposing the logical flaws of other worldviews and hence demonstrating that biblical theism is the only worldview which can make consistent sense of reality.

Presuppositional apologetics does not discount the use of evidence, but such evidences are not used in the traditional manner—that is, an appeal to the authority of the unbeliever’s autonomous reason. Presuppositional apologetics holds that without a theistic worldview there is no consistent basis upon which to assume the possibility of autonomous reason. When the materialist attempts to refute Christianity by appeal to deductive reason, he is, in fact, borrowing from the Christian worldview, hence being inconsistent with his stated presuppositions.

The presuppositional approach to apologetics calls for the Christian and non-Christian to engage in an internal examination of their respective worldview and thus determine whether or not they are internally consistent. The essence of presuppositional apologetics is an attempt to demonstrate that the non-Christian’s worldview forces him to a state of subjectivity, irrationalism, and moral anarchy.

Since the unbeliever’s worldview is objectively false, it of necessity contains demonstrable contradictions (e.g., he makes moral judgments, but he cannot account for moral absolutes without the theistic worldview). The believer, within the Christian framework, can account for things like rationality, logic, uniformity of nature, morality, science, etc., because the Christian worldview conforms to a transcendent reality.

In summary, the presuppositional apologist engages in an internal critique of a given worldview in order to demonstrate that it is arbitrary, inconsistent within itself, and lacks the preconditions for epistemology. The presuppositional apologist can thus take a given value which is held by the unbeliever and demonstrate to him that if his own worldview were true, that very belief would be incoherent and/or meaningless. Presuppositional apologetics seeks to prove Christianity with reference to the impossibility of the contrary. In other words, unless the Christian worldview is presupposed—whether at a conscious or subconscious level—there is no possibility for proving anything.

Read more:

“…only the Christian worldview provides the necessary preconditions for the intelligibility of human experience.That is, only the Christian view of God, creation, providence, revelation, and human nature can make sense of the world in which we live. So, for example, only the Christian worldview can make sense out of morality since it alone provides the necessary presuppositions for making ethical evaluations, namely, an absolute and personal Law Giver who reveals His moral will to mankind. It does not make sense, however, for the atheist/materialist to denounce any action as wrong since, according to his worldview, all that exists is matter in motion. And matter in motion is inherently non-moral. That is, since the world according to the materialist is totally explicable in terms of physical processes, and since physical processes are categorically non-moral, moral considerations have no place in his worldview. Thus for the materialist to say that stealing is morally wrong makes as much sense as saying that the secretion of insulin from the pancreas is morally wrong. [This is not to say, however, that atheists never act morally. Atheists feed their children, give money to charity and often make good neighbors. But atheists cannot give a justification for their actions. In the words of Cornelius Van Til, they are living on "borrowed capital" from the Christian worldview. Thus they profess one thing, but their actions belie this profession].- Michael Butler

In defending the Christian faith, the most important question before us is “What sort of defense will best glorify our God (cf. 1 Cor. 10:31)?” God forbid that in seeking to defend the faith before others we should in that very act compromise it. The so-called “presuppositional” school of apologetics is concerned above all with answering this question. Among all the sources of divine revelation (including nature, history, human beings in God’s image), Scripture plays a central role. Indeed, though the point cannot be argued in detail here, my view is that Scripture is the supremely authoritative, inerrant Word of God, the divinely authored, written constitution of the church of Jesus Christ. Scripture is therefore the foundational authority for all of human life including apologetics. As the ultimate authority, the very Word of God, it provides the foundational justifications for all our reasoning, without itself being subject to prior justification.  John Frame

Jesus employed a presuppositional apologetic method. Christian apologists today would do well to follow our Lord’s example. The Savior was perfectly consistent in His teaching. As outlined above, Christ taught the doctrines which have come to be known as the five points of Calvinism. These doctrines teach that man is a totally depraved sinner and therefore salvation is 100% by God’s grace. An evidential apologetical method is inconsistent with this Calvinistic doctrine, while totally consistent with the Arminian doctrine of free will. The Arminian evidentialist believes that if given enough compelling evidence, a man will reason that the Bible is the Word of God and that Jesus is who He claimed to be. He will then employ his free will to “accept Christ”.

I grant the fact that evidence for the veracity of Scripture and the claims of Christ are everywhere (Rom. 1:18ff). However, because of the noetic effects of sin, corrupt man suppresses such evidence. Even if one could prove beyond the shadow of a doubt that Jesus rose from the dead and that the Bible is the word of God, this would not convince one more person to be saved, for salvation is of God’s grace, not the will of man (John 1:13). It is the accurate preaching of the whole counsel of God which God employs in the salvation of souls. In His “defense of the faith,” Jesus never sparred with the Romans by setting up an elaborate system of theistic proofs. Nor did He attempt to overwhelm the Sadducees with empirical evidence of the supernatural aspects of Scripture. Jesus “presupposed” the existence of the God of the universe revealed in Scripture, how could He have done otherwise, being Himself “God with us” (Matt. 1:23).

In the forty days of being tempted by Satan, Jesus knew that His best weapon against the Evil One was the self-authenticating Word of God. Three times Jesus countered the devil’s temptation with “It is written…”

Not only did Jesus “presuppose” the truth of God’s Word, He took it at face value. Jesus accepted as historical fact the events that modem rationalistic theologians relegate to the categories of “myth” or “saga”. For example, Jesus taught the Genesis account of creation (Matt. 19:4) as an historical event. He taught the story of Jonah as an actual event and did not even hint of a possibility that Jonah’s amazing experience was apocryphal or solely symbolic (Matt. 12:38-41). Our Lord also affirmed the historicity of Noah and the flood (Matt. 24:37-39). Jesus assumed the truth of Scripture, using even details of these “difficult” passages to illustrate aspects of His work. For example, Jesus used the historicity of the story of Jonah to illustrate that He would remain under the darkness of death for a time but would rise again on the third day (Matt. 12:40-41). Copyright Policy: While all of the material on the website is under copyright protection, the only purpose of our copyright is to make sure people copy it right. As long as you always clearly reference and/or link to as the source of the material, you have our permission to copy, print, and distribute our material.

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Presuppostional Apologetics Destroys non Christian Worldviews.

Filed under: Uncategorized — augustinehippo1 @ 10:35 am

“People have presuppositions, and they will live more consistently on the basis of these presuppositions than even they themselves may realize. By presuppositions we mean the basic way an individual looks at life, his basic world-view, the grid through which he sees the world. Presuppositions rest upon that which a person considers to be the truth of what exists. People’s presuppositions lay a grid for all they bring francisschaefferforth into the external world. Their presuppositions also provide the basis for their values and therefore the basis for their decisions.”
- Francis Schaeffer  How Then Should We Live?: The Rise and Decline of Western Thought and Culture

Question: “What is presuppositional apologetics?”

Answer: Presuppositional apologetics is an approach to apologetics which aims to present a rational basis for the Christian faith and defend it against objections by exposing the logical flaws of other worldviews and hence demonstrating that biblical theism is the only worldview which can make consistent sense of reality.

Presuppositional apologetics does not discount the use of evidence, but such evidences are not used in the traditional manner—that is, an appeal to the authority of the unbeliever’s autonomous reason. Presuppositional apologetics holds that without a theistic worldview there is no consistent basis upon which to assume the possibility of autonomous reason. When the materialist attempts to refute Christianity by appeal to deductive reason, he is, in fact, borrowing from the Christian worldview, hence being inconsistent with his stated presuppositions.

The presuppositional approach to apologetics calls for the Christian and non-Christian to engage in an internal examination of their respective worldview and thus determine whether or not they are internally consistent. The essence of presuppositional apologetics is an attempt to demonstrate that the non-Christian’s worldview forces him to a state of subjectivity, irrationalism, and moral anarchy.

Since the unbeliever’s worldview is objectively false, it of necessity contains demonstrable contradictions (e.g., he makes moral judgments, but he cannot account for moral absolutes without the theistic worldview). The believer, within the Christian framework, can account for things like rationality, logic, uniformity of nature, morality, science, etc., because the Christian worldview conforms to a transcendent reality.

In summary, the presuppositional apologist engages in an internal critique of a given worldview in order to demonstrate that it is arbitrary, inconsistent within itself, and lacks the preconditions for epistemology. The presuppositional apologist can thus take a given value which is held by the unbeliever and demonstrate to him that if his own worldview were true, that very belief would be incoherent and/or meaningless. Presuppositional apologetics seeks to prove Christianity with reference to the impossibility of the contrary. In other words, unless the Christian worldview is presupposed—whether at a conscious or subconscious level—there is no possibility for proving anything.

World Views

by Jerry Solomon

World-View-Bg… the cherished premises or assumptions you hold about ultimate reality, human beings, and the relationship between the two.

In two national surveys conducted by Barna Research, one among adults and one among teenagers, people were asked if they believe that there are moral absolutes that are unchanging or that moral truth is relative to the circumstances. By a 3-to-1 margin (64% vs. 22%) adults said truth is always relative to the person and their situation. The perspective was even more lopsided among teenagers, 83% of whom said moral truth depends on the circumstances, and only 6% of whom said moral truth is absolute.

“Christians have very gradually become disturbed over permissiveness, pornography, the public schools, the breakdown of the family, and finally abortion. But they have not seen this as a totality – each thing being a part, a symptom of a much larger problem. They have failed to see that all of this has come about due to a shift in the world view – that is, through a fundamental change in the overall way people think and view the world and life as a whole. This shift has been away from a world view that was at least vaguely Christian in people’s memory (even if they were not individually Christian) toward something completely different – toward a world view based upon the idea that the final reality is impersonal matter or energy shaped into its present form by impersonal chance”. [Francis A. Schaeffer, A Christian Manifesto, 1981]

  A friend of mine recently told me of a conversation he had with a good friend we will call Joe. Joe is a doctor. He is not a Christian. This is how the conversation went: “Joe, you’re an excellent doctor. You care deeply about your patients. Why do you care so much for people since you believe we have evolved by chance? What gives us value?” Joe was stunned by the question and couldn’t answer it. His “world view” had taken a blow.

The concept of a world view has received increasing attention for the past several years. Many books have been written on the subject of world views from both Christian and non-Christian perspectives. Frequently speakers will refer to the term. On occasion even reviews of movies and music will include the phrase. All this attention prompts us to ask, “What does the term mean?” and “What difference does it make?” It is our intent to answer these questions. And it is our hope that all of us will give serious attention to our own world view, as well as the world views of those around us.

What is a World View?

worldviewWhat is a World View? A variety of definitions have been offered by numerous authors. For example, James Sire asserts that “A world view is a set of presuppositions (or assumptions) which we hold (consciously or subconsciously) about the basic makeup of our world.”{1} Phillips and Brown state that “A worldview is, first of all, an explanation and interpretation of the world and second, an application of this view to life. In simpler terms, our worldview is a view of the world and a view for the world.”{2} Walsh and Middleton provide what we think is the most succinct and understandable explanation: “A world view provides a model of the world which guides its adherents in the world.”{3} With the realization that many subtleties can be added, this will be our working definition.

The Need for a World View

World views act somewhat like eye glasses or contact lenses. That is, a world view should provide the correct “prescription” for making sense of the world just as wearing the correct prescription for your eyes brings things into focus. And, in either example, an incorrect prescription can be dangerous, even life-threatening. People who are struggling with world view questions are often despairing and even suicidal. Thus it’s important for us to give attention to the formulation of the proper world view. Arthur Holmes states that the need for a world view is fourfold: “the need to unify thought and life; the need to define the good life and find hope and meaning in life; the need to guide thought; the need to guide action.”{4} Yet another prominent need for the proper world view is to help us deal with an increasingly diverse culture. We are faced with a smorgasbord of world views, all of which make claims concerning truth. We are challenged to sort through this mixture of world views with wisdom. These needs are experienced by all people, either consciously or unconsciously. All of us have a world view with which we strive to meet such needs. The proper world view helps us by orienting us to the intellectual and philosophical terrain about us.

World views are so much a part of our lives that we see and hear them daily, whether we recognize them or not. For example, movies, television, music, magazines, newspapers, government, education, science, art, and all other aspects of culture are affected by world views. If we ignore their importance, we do so to our detriment.

Testing World Views

A world view should pass certain tests. First, it should be rational. It should not ask us to believetesting contradictory things. Second, it should be supported by evidence. It should be consistent with what we observe. Third, it should give a satisfying comprehensive explanation of reality. It should be able to explain why things are the way they are. Fourth, it should provide a satisfactory basis for living. It should not leave us feeling compelled to borrow elements of another world view in order to live in this world.

Components Found in All World Views

In addition to putting world views to these tests, we should also see that world views have common components. These components are self-evident. It is important to keep these in mind as you establish your own world view, and as you share with others. There are four of them.

First, something exists. This may sound obvious, but it really is an important foundational element of world view building since some will try to deny it. But a denial is self- defeating because all people experience cause and effect. The universe is rational; it is predictable.

Second, all people have absolutes. Again, many will try to deny this, but to deny it is to assert it. All of us seek an infinite reference point. For some it is God; for others it is the state, or love, or power, and for some this reference point is themselves or man.

Third, two contradictory statements cannot both be right. This is a primary law of logic that is continually denied. Ideally speaking, only one world view can correctly mirror reality. This cannot be overemphasized in light of the prominent belief that tolerance is the ultimate virtue. To say that someone is wrong is labeled intolerant or narrow-minded. A good illustration of this is when we hear people declare that all religions are the same. It would mean that Hindus, for example, agree with Christians concerning God, Jesus, salvation, heaven, hell, and a host of other doctrines. This is nonsense.

Fourth, all people exercise faith. All of us presuppose certain things to be true without absolute proof. These are inferences or assumptions upon which a belief is based. This becomes important, for example, when we interact with those who allege that only the scientist is completely neutral. Some common assumptions are: a personal God exists; man evolved from inorganic material; man is essentially good; reality is material.

As we dialogue with people who have opposing world views, an understanding of these common components can help us listen more patiently, and they can guide us to make our case more wisely.

Six World View Questions

Have you ever been frustrated with finding ways to stir the thinking of a non-Christian friend? We are confident the following questions will be of help. And we are also confident they will stir your thinking about the subject of world views.

We will answer these questions with various non-Christian responses. Christian responses will be discussed later in this article.

First, Why is there something rather than nothing? Some may actually say something came from nothing. Others may state that something is here because of impersonal spirit or energy. And many believe matter is eternal.

6 questionsSecond, How do you explain human nature? Frequently people will say we are born as blank slates, neither good nor evil. Another popular response is that we are born good, but society causes us to behave otherwise.

Third, What happens to a person at death? Many will say that a person’s death is just the disorganization of matter. Increasingly people in our culture are saying that death brings reincarnation or realization of oneness.

 Fourth, How do you determine what is right and wrong? Often we hear it said that ethics are relative or situational. Others assert that we have no free choice since we are entirely determined. Some simply derive “oughts” from what “is.” And of course history has shown us the tragic results of a “might makes right” answer.

Fifth, How do you know that you know? Some say that the mind is the center of our source of knowledge. Things are only known deductively. Others claim that knowledge is only found in the senses. We know only what is perceived.

Sixth, What is the meaning of history? One answer is that history is determined as part of a mechanistic universe. Another answer is that history is a linear stream of events linked by cause and effect but without purpose. Yet another answer is that history is meaningless because life is absurd.{5}

The alert Christian will quickly recognize that the preceding answers are contrary to his beliefs. There are definite, sometimes startling differences. World views are in collision. Thus we should know at least something about the world views that are central to the conflict. And we should certainly be able to articulate a Christian world view.

Examples of World Views

In his excellent book, The Universe Next Door, James Sire catalogs the most influential world views of the past and present. These are Christian Theism, Deism, Naturalism, Nihilism, Existentialism, Eastern Pantheism, and New Age or New Consciousness.{6}

Deism, a prominent world view during the eighteenth century, has almost entirely left the scene. The Deist believes in God, but that God created and then abandoned the universe.

Nihilism, a more recent world view, is alive among many young people and some intellectuals. Nihilists see no value to reality; life is absurd.

Existentialism is prominent and can be seen frequently, even among unwitting Christians. The Existentialist, like the Nihilist, sees life as absurd, but sees man as totally free to make himself in the face of this absurdity.

Christian Theism, Naturalism, and New Age Pantheism are the most influential world views presently in the United States. Now we will survey each of them.

Christian Theism

Let’s return to the six questions we asked earlier and briefly see how the Christian Theist might answer them.

Question: Why is there something rather than nothing? Answer: There is an infinite-personal God who has created the universe out of nothing.

Question: How do you explain human nature? Answer: Man was originally created good in God’s image, but chose to sin and thus infected all of humanity with what is called a “sin nature.” So man has been endowed with value by his creator, but his negative behavior is in league with his nature.

Question: What happens to a person at death? Answer: Death is either the gate to life with God or to eternal separation from Him. The destination is dependent upon the response we give to God’s provision for our sinfulness.

Question: How do you determine what is right and wrong? Answer: The guidelines for conduct are revealed by God.

Question: How do you know that you know? Answer: Reason and experience can be legitimate teachers, but a transcendent source is necessary. We know some things only because we are told by God through the Bible.

Question: What is the meaning of history? Answer: History is a linear and meaningful sequence of events leading to the fulfillment of God’s purposes for man.

Christian Theism had a long history in Western culture. This does not mean that all individuals who have lived in Western culture have been Christians. It simply means that this world view was dominant; it was the most influential. And this was true even among non-Christians. This is no longer valid. Western culture has experienced a transition to what is called Naturalism.


cafepress_pillars_introEven though Naturalism in various forms is ancient, we will use the term to refer to a world view that has had considerable influence in a relatively short time within Western culture. The seeds were planted in the seventeenth century and began to flower in the eighteenth. Most of us have been exposed to Naturalism through Marxism and what is called Secular Humanism.

What are the basic tenets of this world view? First, God is irrelevant. This tenet helps us better understand the term Naturalism; it is in direct contrast to Christian Theism, which is based on supernaturalism. Second, progress and evolutionary change are inevitable. Third, man is autonomous, self-centered, and will save himself. Fourth, education is the guide to life; intelligence and freedom guarantee full human potential. Fifth, science is the ultimate provider both for knowledge and morals. These tenets have permeated our lives. They are apparent, for example, in the media, government, and education. We should be alert constantly to their influence.

After World War II “Postmodernism” began to replace the confidence of Naturalism. With it came the conclusion that truth, in any real sense, doesn’t exist. This may be the next major world view, or anti-world view, that will infect the culture. It is presently the rage on many of our college campuses. In the meantime, though, the past few decades have brought us another ancient world view dressed in Western clothing. 

 New Age Pantheism

Various forms of Pantheism have been prominent in Eastern cultures for thousands of years. But it began to have an effect on our culture in the 1950s. There had been various attempts to introduce its teachings before then, but those attempts did not arouse the interest that was stirred in that decade. It is now most readily observed in what is called the New Age Movement.

What are the basic tenets of this world view? First, all is one. There are no ultimate distinctions between new agehumans, animals, or the rest of creation. Second, since all is one, all is god. All of life has a spark of divinity. Third, if all is one and all is god, then each of us is god. Fourth, humans must discover their own divinity by experiencing a change in consciousness. We suffer from a collective form of metaphysical amnesia. Fifth, humans travel through indefinite cycles of birth, death, and reincarnation in order to work off what is called “bad karma.” Sixth, New Age disciples think in terms of gray, not black and white. Thus they believe that two conflicting statements can both be true.

On the popular level these tenets are presently asserted through various media, such as books, magazines, television, and movies. Perhaps the most visible teacher is Shirley MacLaine. But these beliefs are also found increasingly among intellectuals in fields such as medicine, psychology, sociology, and education.


We have very briefly scanned the subject of world views. Let’s return to a definition we affirmed in the beginning of this article: “A world view provides a model of the world which guides its adherents in the world.” If your model of the world includes an infinite-personal God, as in Christian Theism, that belief should provide guidance for your life. If your model rejects God, as in Naturalism, again such a belief serves as a guide. Or if your model asserts that you are god, as in New Age Pantheism, yet again your life is being guided by such a conception. These examples should remind us that we are living in a culture that puts us in touch constantly with such ideas, and many more. They cannot all be true.

Thus some of us may be confronted with the need to think more deeply than we ever have before. Some of us may need to purge those things from our lives that are contrary to the world view of Christian Theism. Some of us may need to better understand that our thoughts are to be unified with daily life. Some of us may need to better understand that the good life and hope and meaning are found only through God’s answers. Some of us may need to let God’s ideas guide our thoughts more completely. And some of us may need to let God’s guidelines guide our actions more fully.

Paul’s admonition to the believers in ancient Colossae couldn’t be more contemporary or helpful in light of our discussion. He wrote:

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ (Col. 2:8).


1. James W. Sire, The Universe Next Door (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1988), 17.

2. W. Gary Phillips and William E. Brown, Making Sense of Your World (Chicago: Moody Press, 1991), 29.

3. Brian J. Walsh and J. Richard Middleton, The Transforming Vision (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity, 1984), 32.

4. Arthur F. Holmes, Contours of a World View (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1983), 5.

5. Sire, 18.

6. Ibid.


Part II

A consideration of four world views… deism, nihilism, existentialism, and postmodernism in light of the fact that we have every right to expect that a true description of reality will be rational, be supported by evidence, provide the widest explanation for all of reality, and accord with human experience

Worldviews – Some Basics

What is a worldview? James Orr, the 19th century church historian, said that a worldview “[denotes] the basicswidest view which the mind can take of things in the effort to grasp them together as a whole from the standpoint of some particular philosophy or theology.”{3} A developed worldview supplies answers to the questions of origin, purpose, and destiny among other things, or as some put it, the “why, whence, and whither” of things.{4}

But some may object that such a view of Christianity is too intellectual or esoteric, or might say that Christianity by its very nature doesn’t allow being forced into some set of philosophical ideas. It’s true that one can present an overly philosophical picture of Christianity, one that makes it seem very remote from real life. But does that invalidate the cognitive element? Note that the apostle Paul had no problem with considering the rational aspect of the faith. There must be knowledge of Christianity in order to live it out. Read Eph. 1:17,18.{5} In Colossians we see how Paul gave his readers intellectual grounds for rejecting the philosophy of the day (cf. 1:9ff).

There are a couple of reasons for thinking of Christianity in world view terms. Over a hundred years ago church historian James Orr called for such a perspective because first, Christianity does involve a lot of interconnected beliefs which cannot be picked and chosen in a cafeteria-style fashion. He says, “He who with his whole heart believes in Jesus as the Son of God is thereby committed to much else besides. He is committed to a view of God, to a view of man, to a view of sin, to a view of Redemption, to a view of the purpose of God in creation and history, to a view of human destiny, found only in Christianity. This forms a ‘Weltanschauung,’ or ‘Christian view of the world,’ which stands in marked contrast with theories wrought out from a purely philosophical or scientific standpoint.”{6} Christianity, thus, by its nature forms a worldview.

Second, Orr says, since Christianity as a whole is under attack, it must be defended as a whole; not just as individual doctrines but the whole concept of supernatural, revealed religion. “The opposition which Christianity has to encounter,” says Orr, “is no longer confined to special doctrines or to points of supposed conflict with the natural sciences–for example, the relations of Genesis and geology–but extends to the whole manner of conceiving of the world and of man’s place in it, the manner of conceiving of the entire system of things, natural and moral, of which we form a part.”{7}

Evaluating Worldviews

How shall we evaluate a worldview? We have every right to expect that a true description of reality will be rational, be supported by evidence, provide the widest explanation for all of reality, and accord with human experience. Regarding its rational nature, it must both not contradict itself and be coherent as a system. Regarding evidence, it must not only be consistent with and explain the facts of nature and history, but it must give an adequate explanation for special occurrences in history (I’m thinking here specifically of the person and work of Jesus, including His life, death, and resurrection). A worldview answers the “why” question in its ability to explain what we see around and within ourselves. Regarding human experience, it must both explain what we know of ourselves and answer our deepest longings and aspirations.

Furthermore, we should not be surprised at supernatural elements such as miracles and prophecies, and reports of such should withstand investigation as far as we’re able.

Finally any truths revealed which couldn’t be known otherwise–even though transcending what we can know on our own and being difficult to understand–should not conclusively contradict what we know in the range of human experience.

Let’s turn now to a consideration of our four worldviews.


Historical background

The era called the Enlightenment, which spanned the 17th and 18th centuries, saw significant changes in the way Western man viewed his world. The flowering of knowledge in the Renaissance which broke watchmakerthrough in the arts and sciences led to the restoration of a high view of man. Even in the Christian church there developed something called “Christian humanism.” In the Enlightenment era which followed, though, the “Christian” part began to fall off, leaving man as the final authority on all that is true. But this change didn’t occur overnight. There was a period of time when God was still recognized, although some believed He had lost touch, as it were, with His creation. He was pushed out and restricted to His heaven. Notions of God’s providential care over the earth faded away. Thus was born deism, the first of four worldviews.

Several factors were involved in this transition. One was the flowering of science, specifically Newtonian physics, which supposedly gave a rational, orderly explanation of the world, thereby removing the mysterious, supernatural elements. Another factor was the religious wars a century or two before which had a souring effect on people’s attitudes about organized religion. Finally, there was a growing awareness of other peoples and religions which made Christianity seem provincial rather than universal.{8} Divine law gave way to natural law. Now there was “revealed religion” coming from God, and “natural religion” discovered in nature. And “natural religion,” believed to be neutral and universal, became the norm for what could be accepted as true “revealed religion.”


Deism, then, is the belief that “natural religion contains all that is true in revealed religion; where the latter differs, the differences are either morally insignificant or superstitious.”{9} There is nothing higher than natural religion. Reason is capable of knowing God and His will, so there is no need for revelation. On the moral side, man’s duty is simply to do God’s will which is to seek the happiness of all men.

 How was it that deists retained belief in God? According to one writer, the Newtonian view of the cosmos seemed to demand a God; the intricate order of the universe suggested an intelligent designer. In fact, this made God seem bigger than ever. However, God was removed from an active part in human affairs. His transcendence was emphasized at the expense of His immanence. Also, although God was the author of natural law, He “receded behind the battery of secondary causes with which men have daily to do.”{10} God was seen as too big to be involved in the trivial experiences of man’s life. There was no real concern on God’s part for the details of our lives and no divine purpose in history. Knowledge of God was “emptied of most of its concrete religious connotations.”{11}

 Contrasted with Christian Theism

Three major factors separate deism from biblical Christianity. First, God was separated from the workings of real life due to His awesome transcendence. As Sire puts it, “God is distant, foreign, alien.”{12} Scripture teaches, however, that God continues to be involved in His creation both in sustaining the natural order (Col. 1:17) and in relating to mankind.

 Second, deists saw man as just a part of the clockwork universe, operating according to strict laws. While man was recognized as a creation of God and made in His image, he wasn’t seen as essentially a sinner. Gone was the sense of the drama of human interaction with God over concerns about sin and grace and judgment. Man was now in charge of himself. However, he was not truly free for man was locked in the natural system of cause and effect.{13}

 Third, because the world was not seen as fallen, but rather as God created it to be, the natural order reflected what was good and right. As Pope said, “One truth is clear, whatever is, is right.”{14} Not every deist went this far, however. Ethics was very important to deists; they didn’t turn morality over to the subjective realm. But wrongdoing wasn’t against God so much as against some abstract ethical principles discernible in nature.

 Internal Weaknesses

Although few if any people would claim to be deists today, there are some aspects of deism which still weaknessreveal themselves in our beliefs. For example, some speak of one God who is all-powerful yet not directly concerned with the daily lives of human beings, who is known through the world of nature, but who hasn’t revealed Himself authoritatively and finally in Scripture or through Jesus.

 However, the halfway position of deism made it incapable of standing as a serious worldview for very long. Deists believed they knew things about God, but they were limited to empirical knowledge; that is, knowledge obtained through nature. If we only gain knowledge from nature, we cannot see the whole picture, and there are certainly things about God which can’t be known unless He tells us (which is what revelation is). It would seem that they were presupposing certain things about God learned from special revelation without giving credit where it was due.

 Thus, one needed to either keep God in the picture and acknowledge His significance, or remove Him altogether. The latter was the response of naturalism. Since that worldview was considered in the previous article, we’ll move next to nihilism, a frame of mind growing out of naturalism.


Now that God was pushed to the edge of human experience, why not remove Him altogether? He had lost all practical value; why believe in Him at all? Thus was ushered in naturalism, the belief that there is only one order of existence and that is nature; there is no supernatural order. This view was discussed in the earlier article, so I won’t develop it here.

 Historical Background

For many, naturalism was a breath of fresh air, for now one needn’t look to religion to find answers. Modern man with his naturalistic beliefs tended to be optimistic about man’s prospects for making a good life for himself. Being free from the confines of the supernatural, man was free to make of himself whatever he wanted

 Many, however, didn’t see the clear benefits of this “freedom.” Naturalism produced an emptiness it couldn’t fill. Are we really just another stage of evolutionary development? Is this present reality all there is? Is there no permanent, transcendent value in the universe? The worldview–or perhaps we should say, mindset– which emerged was nihilism. Nihilism isn’t really a philosophy because it doesn’t present any kind of a systematic conception of the world. It is more anti-philosophy than philosophy because it is essentially denial–denial of real value in anything. There is no real right and wrong, no beauty, no knowledge, etc.

 A name very often associated with nihilism is that of Friedrich Nietzsche, the 19th century philosopher. Having decided that God was dead, Nietzsche saw that with God’s death went the high values of Western man which were based upon belief in God. He also recognized the loss of freedom which this loss entailed. That we are just the natural products of evolution, just materialistic bodies and minds means that there is no real freedom at all. We are determined parts of a determined universe.

 Another explanation for the rise of nihilism brings in the social and political elements. After going through many “isms” this century, many people have decided that one simply cannot put one’s confidence in any of them, so they simply adopt a basic pragmatism, the idea that workability is all that matters. German theologian Helmut Thielicke made this comment:

 In a world that is saturated and infested with pragmatism, the question inevitably arises whether everything is not “pseudo,” whether everything is not–at best–a productive lie, and thus whether at the tail end of this parade of idols there is Nothing, a Nothing which is always dressed up in some new ideology, but still nothing but nothingness.”{15}


Thielicke continues, “Nihilism is not a program but rather a value judgment. It is the last of all conceivable value judgments–at least in any logical series–and to that extent a judgment of death. Nihilism has no other will or purpose; it is content to draw a line and call it quits.”{16}

 James Sire mentions Breath, a play by Samuel Beckett, as a prime example of nihilism in theater. There are no actors, just a pile of rubbish on the stage. The light on the stage dims, then brightens, then dims again. “There are no words, only a ‘recorded’ cry opening the play, an inhaled breath, an exhaled breath and an identical ‘recorded’ cry closing the play. For Beckett life is such a ‘breath.’”{17}

 Nihilism, then, is a philosophy of loss; those who toy with it as a trendy worldview either don’t understand it or haven’t tried to. As one writer said, “Nietzsche replaces easy-going atheism with agonized atheism.”{18}

 Contrasted with Christian Theism

Nihilism is obviously out of accord with Christian doctrine. God is not dead, and His nature and will provide a structure for value and meaning which transcend us. Because God is active in the world and is working to bring about His plans, there is real basis for hope.

 Internal Weaknesses

Nihilism also has its own internal weaknesses. Because it is fundamentally naturalistic, it carries naturalism’s weaknesses. It robs us of any real freedom since the natural order is believed to operate either on a strictly causal basis or by chance (or both). Yet nihilists, like everyone else, act as if they have significant freedom. We are all daily confronted with the responsibility of making right choices and of facing the consequences if we don’t. Also, the strict naturalism of nihilists makes their claims to knowledge suspect. If the chemicals and electrical charges in our brains are simply following the physical laws of cause and effect, why should we believe our ideas reflect any reality outside ourselves and aren’t just the results of the random activity of our brain cells? Finally, morality can’t be simply a matter of “what is, is what ought to be” or else there would be no room for reform. Any charge that another person or culture ought to do something–not just because it would work better but because it is right–would be illegitimate. Nihilism thus leaves us empty with respect to our being, our knowledge, and our morality. With all of these goes a loss of meaning.

 But all this is to say what the nihilist already knows! Sincere nihilists haven’t just adopted this worldview because they like to be trendy. They are simply reflecting back in their words the way they see the world, and they grieve over it.

 How can we respond to nihilism? We can start out by pointing out the existential inconsistencies nihilists exhibit. For one thing, although they say there is no meaning to anything, they indicate what they think is meaningful by the time and effort they put into various activities. The art of nihilism, such as Dada, for example, attempts to say something; it is purported to have meaning. If it doesn’t mean anything, it can’t convey the image of the world nihilism wants to reveal. Second, all their assertions about meaninglessness are supposed to be statements about the way the world is. But if there is no knowledge, nihilists can’t know the way the world is. Third, it simply flies in the face of everything our being seems to require–meaning, value and dignity being three examples.

 Very few people can live out a completely nihilistic worldview. The most thoroughgoing cynics will apply themselves to something–even if it’s small–which they consider meaningful, even if it is crying out against the meaninglessness of life. To feel the despair of the loss of meaning and value indicates that one really wants such things. What can the nihilist do? He can take his life so he doesn’t have to face such an absurd world. He can keep on living but keep his philosophy of no value and his life of value-seeking separate. Or he can look for something to give life value and meaning. In existentialism we find a worldview which seeks to find meaning in an absurd universe. To that we now turn.


Edvard%20Munch%20The%20ScreamExistentialism is a worldview (or really a collection of worldviews) which holds, in essence, that our choices determine what we are. We create our own meaning and value. “Existence precedes essence,” it is said. What we do, the choices we make, determine our essence. Existentialists, thus, seek to create their own meaning in a meaningless world.

 (I should note here that there are theistic and atheistic forms of existentialism. Here we will only consider the atheistic variety.)

 Historical background

Existentialism has both philosophical and experiential roots. With respect to philosophy, naturalism had left man without God, and the radical individualism and autonomy endorsed by modernistic thinking had left individuals standing alone. With respect to life’s experience, technology had made us just another part of the machine; either be efficient or get out of the way, was the modernistic attitude. In addition, some by-products of technology such as pollution and the atomic bomb made life riskier. Then came two devastating World Wars conducted on the doorsteps of Europeans. The result was that man was thought to be in all alone and in danger. These factors provided the setting for a philosophy of despair.


Despair is at the foundation of existentialism. We are said to live in “a ‘broken world,’ an ‘ambiguous world,’ a ‘dislocated world,’ a world into which we are ‘thrown’ and ‘condemned’ yet ‘abandoned’ and ‘free,’ a world which appears to be indifferent or even ‘absurd.’”{19} Existentialists refused to accept the solutions coming from reason or nation or tradition. They saw that the usual means of happiness failed people, means such as money, physical pleasure, and fame. Of course, atheistic existentialists refused to look to God. God was dead, not only in the halls of philosophy, but also in the city streets, and man was left on his own.

 The real problem, they thought, was a false understanding of the human condition itself which kept people from true happiness. We are alone in a vast and scary universe that doesn’t care a whit about us. This realization produces anguish, an interplay between a sense of dread on one hand and the exhilaration of complete freedom on the other. We don’t know why we exist or what our destiny is; we aren’t told where we come from or given the value of anything. It is all up to us–to me–to decide. Even though I can have no confidence that the universe will suit itself to my ideas and desires, I must do something–I must act. I am condemned to make of myself whatever I can. And to be authentic I must be true to myself and my own chosen values above all.

 Existentialism, then, is first of all a theory of value. It focuses on the human condition and what makes for a good life. This has made it popular with many who are sensitive to the plight of humanity living in a very impersonal world.

 Existentialism proved to be very attractive in this country in the ’60s. It gave individuals the “freedom” to toss aside convention and tradition and make their own rules. We see traces of it in the prevalent notion that we, individually, are the final authorities for value in our own lives, in our emphasis on experience over reason, in our live-for-the moment attitude.

 The theme of turning one’s back on traditional morality in favor of determining one’s own life was seen in the movie Pleasantville, the story of two young people who are transported into the world of Pleasantville, a black and white TV show. Their lives only turn into color when they begin to express their sexuality. The girl eventually finds herself in the healthy area of academics, but this is a choice she alone makes; she is in charge of her own existence.

 Contrasted with Christian Theism

The contrasts between atheistic existentialism and Christianity are obvious. The Bible teaches that we do know where we came from; the universe isn’t just some vast wasteland but the setting in which the true and living God is working out His plans of which we are part. We do have a source for truth, morality, and values which stands above us. We do (or can) know where we’re going. On the other hand, however, while we do have significant freedom, we don’t have absolute freedom to make of ourselves what we will. Neither are we all alone; we have the resources of God to experience rich and meaningful lives.

 There’s nothing wrong with taking note of our predicament, with noting the dangers to life, and with being resolved to stand firm in the face of a seemingly absurd world. The problems come with believing we are all alone, and that the burden of our lives rests upon us. God has taken on the burden of our present and future lives. We aren’t on our own.

 Internal Weaknesses

There are internal problems with existentialism as well. For one thing, one wonders why we should even care if we are in the condition existentialists say we are. Why care about being authentic, about operating in good faith, as we create our own existence? Why bother about bothering at all? Why not just eat, drink and be merry? Regarding standards of value, how can one avoid the notion that there are some values that everyone should accept, universal standards of good and evil, beauty and ugliness? We can’t help believing some things are worth preserving while others are unworthy of our efforts.

 With existentialism there is no basis for judging actions or for making the major decisions of life beyond the simple affirmation, “I choose it.”

 Is that enough?


It is rather easy for us to consider the worldviews already discussed from a distance. Probably few who Fred and Ginger Buildingread this article are deists or nihilists or even existentialists. These can be safely tucked away in the cupboard of tried and forgotten worldviews by most of us (even though many of us can find elements of one or another in our own thinking). The situation is quite different with respect to postmodernism, the last worldview we’ll consider, because it describes the basic mindset of turn-of-the-century Western mankind. We are all immersed in the sea of postmodernism whether we know it or not, and its presuppositions are rooted so deeply in our thinking that even those who are Christians often reveal postmodern attitude. 


What is postmodernism, anyway? In the 1970s, Jean-François Lyotard presented “a report on knowledge in the most highly developed societies” to the Council on Universities of the government of Quebec. This report was published as The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge.{20} This book, a standard text in understanding postmodernism, gives a clue as to the nature of this worldview in its very title. Postmodernism isn’t really a philosophy, for philosophy traditionally has been a tool used to understand the reality in which we live. Postmodernists believe that can’t be done. So postmodernism is more a condition or mood than a philosophy. In short, postmodernism is a reaction against Enlightenment rationalism. But it’s also an era, a historical time period which began somewhere between the late 19th and late 20th centuries.{21} In this article we’ll concentrate on postmodernism as a mood rather than as a time period.

 Historical Background

By “Enlightenment rationalism” we’re referring to the ideal of knowledge which was developed in the 17th and 18th centuries in Europe. It formed the intellectual basis of what we call modernity. Two issues were important in the Enlightenment: criticism and power (criticism referring here to close analysis). The object was, as one writer says, to free people from “myth, superstition and enthralled enchantment to mysterious powers and forces of nature.”{22} Truth wasn’t found through revelation but through scientific investigation and reason. Knowledge now had to be dispassionate, objective, and certain. Everything now had to conform to the rules of computation and utility; it had to be measurable, and it had to be functional. Reason was in effect reduced to one kind of reason, that of mathematics or scientific precision.{23}

 Postmodernists believe that when knowledge was reduced to computation, something was lost.

 There were several problems with Enlightenment rationalism. First, newfound knowledge gained through science and the resulting development of technology led people to think that man could solve the major difficulties of life without any transcendent help. It was found, however, that reason didn’t have the potency it was thought to have. With all our learning and technology, we still didn’t have the power we desired over our lives. Natural disasters and major wars such as the two World Wars in this century made people realize that we aren’t able to fix everything that ailed us simply through reason.

 These and other factors such as new mysteries discovered by science served to undermine our ability to really know what is true. In fact, postmodernists veer away from the classical understanding of truth, that is, the correspondence of propositions with external reality. Some very influential postmodernists now espouse pragmatism, the belief that workability is all that can be hoped for. This, I would venture to say, is how many if not most Americans think today.

 Another postmodern characteristic regarding truth is this. In keeping with its rejection of the individualistic attitude characteristic of modernism, postmodernism holds that truth isn’t found in the workings of the individual mind, but in the group. As one writer noted, “Truth consists in the ground rules that facilitate personal well-being in community and the well-being of the community as a whole.”{24} Our thinking like all other aspects of our being is shaped by our community.{25} Politically and sociologically this means, for example, that the individual is expected to conform in his or her thinking to that of the larger group.

 Still another problem which resulted from the secularized nature of knowledge and from the loss of confidence in knowing truth in general was the loss of the knowledge of ultimate truths. There can be no “totalising metanarratives,” that is, no big stories or explanations of the way things are which encompass everything. This can be both liberating and frightening: liberating in the sense that one needn’t feel bound by any system of thought; frightening in the sense that we are in the dark about what is true. This is a bit like eating in a cafeteria where one can choose from a variety of foods without having any confidence in the nourishing value of any of it.

 A second problem with Enlightenment rationalism was the separation of fact from value. The mathematical mindset of Enlightenment didn’t permit the intrusion of judgments about value; that was something separate. What grounds were left, then, upon which to make judgments? Thus the ethical dilemma of postmodernism: How does one make judgments without having any grounds for judgment?{26} One writer argues that the Holocaust itself was a model of Enlightenment thinking. “In the world of the death camps,” says author Thomas Docherty, “everything was rationalized.” There was the desire to master nature seen in determining which races and kinds of people should survive and which shouldn’t. The process was very orderly and efficient. The tools of technology, also, were used efficiently to advance the Nazi cause.{27} They even used reason as their greatest ally in accomplishing their goals. Thus, the ideals of Enlightenment rationalism could be put to fundamentally evil purposes.

 Third, with the secularization of reason in the Enlightenment there developed a growing pessimism about the future. With no transcendent Being to consult, who was to know where history was going? And who was to say whether the direction being taken was truly progress? “No longer do we know with any certainty the point towards which history is supposedly progressing,” says Docherty. “Humanity has embarked upon a secular movement whose teleology is uncertain.”{28}

 Postmodernism, then, leaves us without knowledge of ultimate truths, with no basis for value judgement, and with no basis for confidence in the future. In general, then, the postmodern mood is pessimistic. How, then, do we know what we should believe and do? With no knowledge of why we’re here or where we’re going to guide us, and no grounds for determining value coming from some transcendent source, people have grown to believe that we must simply choose for ourselves what will be true for us. The will is now introduced into knowledge.{29} The questions postmodernists ask are: “What do I choose to believe?” and “What do I choose to do?”

 The postmodern mindset has shown itself in several areas of life. One is a change in understanding language. Language is now thought to be socially constructed; it conveys what the group says it does. Literature, then, is understood as reflecting the biases of a writer and his cultural group: the writer was obviously saying what would benefit himself or his group. It’s up to the reader, then to deconstruct the text to find the real meaning. Since the writer is trying to perpetuate his will on the reader, the reader adopts a suspicious mindset and looks for political demons behind every tree. Since the meaning of a text is determined by the reader, a text can have as many interpretations as readers.

 In art, there was a move to the abstract, because it was thought that we couldn’t accurately represent the essence of whatever the object is being painted, for instance. Those things which couldn’t be represented accurately had to be
presented abstractly. Also, since there are no rules anymore in general, there are none which define or delimit good art. The artist discovers what she’s doing as she does it.

 Architecture was one of the first areas in which postmodernism showed its face. With the demise of a modernism which always looked to the future, and, again, the loss of any rules, architecture moved from a functionalistic, forward-looking style to an eclectic style. Old buildings are restored, since the past can be appreciated, too. Several different styles can be mixed together. As one writer said, “postmodern design is historically and stylistically pluralistic.”{30}

 Earlier I spoke of the fact that even Christians espouse postmodern beliefs without realizing it. It is so much a part of the thinking of young people today that even some in the church accept without even thinking about it a “true for you but not for me” mindset. A young woman who taught high school Sunday School at an evangelical Baptist church in Dallas told a newspaper reporter that she believed what the Bible taught, but that it wasn’t necessarily true for everyone.{31} Perhaps she doesn’t understand the claims of Scripture, but more likely she has fit Christianity into the framework of “my truth, your truth.”

 Contrasted with Christian Theism

Although Christians can learn from postmodernists (especially with respect to the excesses of the Enlightenment), it’s important to see the fundamental differences between postmodernism and Christianity. Most importantly, we can know ultimate reality because “it” is a “He” who has revealed Himself and His will. The result is that we can know truth even though not the exhaustive truth which the Enlightenment thought possible. We do have an idea of where history is going, and we do have a basis for moral judgment.{32}

 Internal Weaknesses

Postmodernism cannot long survive. Besides being devoid of anything upon which to build a philosophy of life, it also reveals internal problems. While we might like to take an aesthetic approach to truth–in other words, judge by style rather than by substance–we want others to treat us in keeping with universal canons of truth and morality. Also, it is impossible, we now know, to make a clean break between fact and value. Even the most precise and objective scientists must make value decisions with respect to the very work they do. In other words, one project must be chosen over others, and such choices reflect certain values. Furthermore, postmodernism strips us of all stability beyond what our immediate culture can give us. But since even a cultural group can’t know ultimate truth but can only choose its values based on a pragmatic viewpoint, there is ultimately no stability in one’s cultural group either.

 As I’ve noted, postmodernism is a mood rather than a full-fledged worldview. Something must fill the vacuum created by the demise of modernism. This is what excites some Christian thinkers. For now the door blocking out the supernatural has been thrown open, providing an avenue for Christians to announce the good news that in Christ is found truth, value, and hope for the future, indeed, for all the human race.


1.James W. Sire’s The Universe Next Door (3rd ed., InterVarsity Press, 1997), has provided an almost indispensable guide in understanding worldviews. The choice of views considered in this program were taken from this text.

2.James Orr, The Christian View of God and the World (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1948), 3.

3.Orr, 6,7.

4.”[I pray] that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of Him. I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.”

5.Orr, 4.

6.Ibid., 4.

7.Waring, v-viii.

8.Ibid., x.

9.Ibid., xiii.

10.Ibid., xiii.

11.Sire, 44.

12.Ibid., 46.

13.Quoted in Sire, 48.

14.Thielicke, 25.

15.Ibid., 29.

16.Sire, 76.

17.Bloom, quoted in Sire, 93.

18.Robert C. Solomon, ed., Existentialism (New York: The Modern Library, 1974), ix.

19.Published in English by the University of Minnesota Press, 1984.

20.Docherty, 1,2. One theologian of our day sees modernism as having ended on July 15, 1972 when a housing project based upon modernistic principles of functionality was demolished. Still another marks its demise with the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989. Cf. Gene Edward Veith, Postmodern Times: A Christian Guide to Contemporary Thought and Culture (Wheaton, IL; 1994), 27,39. Perhaps this wide time span points to the way philosophies can take years to come to fruition in the public sphere.

21.Thomas Docherty, ed., Postmodernism: A Reader (New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1993), 5.

22.Docherty, 5.

23.Stanley J. Grenz, A Primer on Postmodernism (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996), 14.

24.For more on this the reader might wish to consult my article Where Did “I” Go?: The Loss of the Self in Postmodern Times.

25.Docherty, 26.

26.Ibid., 12,13.

27.Ibid., 10.

28.Ibid., 6.

29.Veith, 114.

30.Mary A. Jacobs, “Truths Under Construction,” Dallas Morning News, 31 May, 1997.

31.Another major difference is over the matter of human nature and identity. In postmodern thought, the self is lost, whereas Christian theology sees us as distinct individuals with permanent identities (even though we might experience changes in our personalities, vocations, lifestyles, etc.).


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Galatians Chapter 3

Filed under: Galatians — augustinehippo1 @ 9:00 am

1 O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. 2 Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?   1. What is spirit and how do we receive the Spirit? We live in an artificial temporary creation. E = MC2; Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity tells us that there is a direct relationship between matter (stuff) and energy. In effect God just took energy and converted it into stuff. Our bodies are part of that stuff, protons and electrons in a certain arrangement. All stuff is temporary and eventually will pass away. The universe as we know it is winding down and left on its own will suffer heat death. All this will pass away. Spirit is eternal and will not pass away. Spirit is real. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth.”John 4:24 (ESV) Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. Gen 1:26 (ESV) God created us with a spiritual component, a spiritual component that was given the ability to connect with the Spirit of God and have spiritual relationship with him. Adams was made with a healthy active spirit, but his spirit died on the day he rebelled against God and chose to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. This is why Jesus said we have to be born again. “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” John 3:3 (ESV) And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. John 14:16-17 (ESV) No where—not even in the Old Testament—did anyone ever receive the Holy Spirit by the works of the Law. He is received by the hearing of faith. The Galatians never received the Spirit by the Law. The Holy Spirit is evidence of conversion. Scripture tells us, “But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Rom. 8:9). “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise”(Eph. 1:13). JVM Peter’s in the book of Acts verifies that all believers receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. “If God therefore gave to them the same gift as He gave to us also after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way?” (Acts 11:17).   4  Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5 Does he who supplies the Spirit to you and works miracles among you do so by works of the law, or by hearing with faith— 6 just as Abraham “believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”? 7 Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” 9 So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.   2. Why does Paul bring Abraham into this discussion? Abraham believed God—This is quoted from Genesis 15:6 And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness. Paul restates this in,Romans 4:3-5 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wages are not counted as a gift but as his due. 5 And to the one who does not work but believes in him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is counted as righteousness. Abraham, while even uncircumcised, believed in God, and his faith was reckoned to him for justification; and Abraham is called the father of the faithful, or, of believers. If, then, he was justified without the deeds of the law, he was justified by faith; and if he was justified by faith, long before the law was given then the law is not necessary to salvation. ACC Paul is making the point that Abraham, who the Jews considered to be their father, was brought into relationship with God through his faith, before he was circumcised, and hundreds of years before the Mosaic Law, then why would they now think that they were justified before God by obeying the Mosaic Law. And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham   Matt 3:9 (ESV)   3. So who are the sons of Abraham? The Judaizers, in emphasizing the Mosaic Law, appealed to Moses frequently. Paul took them back farther in their history to Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation. Abraham is the father of God’s people not because he is the biological ancestor of the Jews but because he has a family of spiritual children who follow in his footsteps by believing as he did. God promised Abraham that he would bring life from his dead body. Thus Abraham is a living OT prophecy of the gospel: he was not an Israelite but a pagan, and God justified him by faith.   10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, jesus diesand do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for the righteous shall live by faith. 12 But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”— 14 so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.   4. How is the Law a curse? Any system of regulations only comes into effect when I fail to keep them. The speed laws on the freeway only become relevant when the CHP notices I am speeding. Driving the speed limit for years and I still don’t get a letter of commendation from the CHP   5. What is significant about “The righteous shall live by faith.”? This is a quote from the OT prophet Habakkuk “Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith.” (Habakkuk 2:4) This great principle–”the just shall live by faith”–was the Scripture that so inflamed the soul of Martin Luther that it became the watchword of the Reformation. It occurs first here in the small prophecy of Habakkuk, but is then quoted three times in the New Testament. The term “just,” of course, means “justified” or “righteous.” God says a person is enabled to live righteously by his faith.   6. How was Jesus cursed by God? 21  For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Cor 5:21 (ESV) God the Father, using the principle of imputation, treated Christ as if He were a sinner though He was not, and had Him die as a substitute to pay the penalty for the sins of those who believe in Him. On the cross, He did not become a sinner (as some suggest), but remained as holy as ever. He was treated as if He were guilty of all the sins ever committed by all who would ever believe, though He committed none. The wrath of God was exhausted on Him and the just requirement of God’s law met for those for whom He died. MSBN   15 To give a human example, brothers: even with a man-made covenant, no one annuls it or adds to it once it has been ratified. 16 Now the promises were made to Abraham and to his offspring. It does not say, “And to offsprings,” referring to many, but referring to one, “And to your offspring,” who is Christ. 17 This is what I mean: the law, which came 430 years afterward, does not annul a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to make the promise void.18For if the inheritance comes by the law, it no longer comes by promise; but God gave it to Abraham by a promise.   7. What is a covenant?   In the general sense, a covenantis simply a binding agreement or compact between two or more parties; in legal terms, it is a formal sealed agreement or contract. The Abrahamic Covenant, found in Genesis 15, granted the Israelites a promised land in the Land of Israel. In this covenant, God promises (see Genesis 12:1-3; 13:14-18;15:1-21; 17:1-22):   1. To make from Abraham a great nation and to multiply his seed exceedingly and to make him a father of great many nations. 2. To bless Abraham and make him great. 3. To make Abraham a blessing to all the families of the earth. 4. To bless those who bless him and curse those who curse him. 5. To give Abraham and his seed forever all the land which he could see. 6. To give him a sign of the covenant (circumcision). 8. How does the Abrahamic covenant point to grace apart from works? This covenant was an unconditional declaration by God of what he planned for Abraham and his offspring. Part of this covenant was not just a covenant based on bloodlines but on the faith that Abraham, a former pagan idol worshipper had exhibited in this life; that faith being in Yahweh. Paul is pointing out that offspring a singular word is what is operative here. Christ is the seed, not seeds. Those who are in Christ are included as the seed of Abraham not just seeds as all children of Abraham. Many who claimed to be sons of Abraham were not his spiritual sons, because they boasted in their fleshly inheritance to Abraham.   19 Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary. 20 Now an intermediary implies more than one, but God is one. 21 Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. 22 But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe. 23 Now before faith came, we were held captive under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith would be revealed. 24 So then, the law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian, 26 for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28  There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.   8.Why then the law? The question then arises: If the law has no impact on God’s plan rooted in his promise, why was the law ever given? Because of transgressions: (1) “to provide a sacrificial system to deal temporarily with transgressions,” (2) “to teachpeople more clearly what God requires and thereby to restrain transgressions,” (3) “to showthat transgressions violated an explicit written law,” (4) “to revealpeople’s sinfulness and need for a savior” (cf. Rom. 3:20: “through the law comes knowledge of sin”). All four senses are theologically true, but the last is probably uppermost in Paul’s mind. ESV   9. Is the law contrary to the promises of God? The law is certainly not contraryto the promises of God: Paul regards the law as “holy and righteous and good” So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good. Romans 7:12 (ESV) But because of human sinfulness, the law was never able to give life. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. Romans 8:3 (ESV)   10. Who is the intermediary? In the Old Testament, Moses was the intermediary. Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off  and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, lest we die  Ex 20:18-19 (ESV) Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the rules. Ex 24:3 (ESV) “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen— Deut. 18:15 (ESV) Now Jesus Christ is our intermediary. For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.  1 Tim 2:5 (ESV)   11. So what work must I do to be saved and what kinds of people can receive the gift of salvation. Jesus answered them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.” John 6:29 (ESV) Male female, slave free, Jew Greek, God chooses and offers the free gift of salvation to people from every people group and class of people.   ·                      ESVN………….ESV Study Bible Notes ·         MSBN…….MacArthur NASB Study Notes                      ·         NIVSN…..NIV Study Notes.  ·         JVM ….J Vernon McGee, ·         ACC …. Adam Clarke’s Commentary ·         BN …..Barnes Notes ·         WBC……   Wycliffe Bible Commentary ·         CN ……Constables Notes  ·         IC……….Ironside Commentary ·         NET………Net Bible Study Notes. ·         JFB…………..Jamieson  Fausset Brown Commentary ·         VWS……………..Vincent Word Studies ·         CMM………….Commentary on Matthew and Mark ·         BDB…………..Barclay’s Daily Study Bible (NT) ·         Darby………..John Darby’s Synopsis of the OT and NT ·         Johnson………Johnson’s Notes on the New Testament. ·         NTCMM…………..The New Testament Commentary:  Matthew and Mark. “Fair Use “ Notice – Title 17 U.S.C. section 107 The above post may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. It is being made available in an effort to advance the understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, social justice, for the purpose of historical debate, and to advance the understanding of Christian conservative issues.  It is believed that this constitutes a ”fair use” of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the Copyright Law. In accordance with the title 17 U.S. C. section 107, the material in this post is shown without profit to those who have expressed an interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

April 14, 2014

Origins and the “Created Kind” Concept

Filed under: Uncategorized — augustinehippo1 @ 8:51 pm
by Trevor Major, M.Sc., M.A.

Q. The Bible speaks of things reproducing “after their kind.” What does the biblical word “kind” indicate?
A. Today, most creationists take the view that variation and speciation can occur only within created kinds. These kinds appeared for the first time in the creation week, and have since colonized the Earth. For land-dwelling animals, modern representatives would have to be the descendants of the kinds carried on the ark (Genesis 6:17; 8:17-19). However, there is no consensus on the biological definition of kind, or the criteria for grouping animals within a kind. Some creationists equate the term with a particular taxonomic level higher than species, such as genus or family. Most, however, avoid such comparisons altogether. Byron Nelson wrote: The “kinds” of Genesis refer not to the “systematic” species identified by men, but to those natural species of which the world is full, which have power to vary within themselves in such a way that the members of the species are not all exactly alike, but which, nevertheless, cannot go out of the bounds that the creator set (1967, p. 4).
In 1941, Frank Marsh coined the term “baramin”—a compound of the Hebrew words bara (“created”) and min (“kind”). He suggested that the nearest equivalent to the created kind would vary, depending on the greatest taxonomic level at which two organisms could interbreed (1976, p. 34). For example, while there are several species of cattle and bison, they probably belong to the same kind because they all can interbreed (Marsh, 1976, p. 31). The differences of opinion, and the apparent flexibility in the idea, have given anticreationists cause for criticism.
Joel Cracraft complained: The “created kind” is the unit of creation event just as the species is the unit of evolutionary change. Consequently, if the concept of “created kind” cannot be defined so that it can be used to interpret and investigate nature, then it is of little or no importance for the growth of knowledge (1983, p. 169). However, the same sort of criticisms leveled at kinds also can be turned on the species concept, which is neither well defined nor objective.
First, the widely held biological species concept “holds that a species is a population of organisms that can at least potentially breed with one another but that do not breed with other populations” (Rennie, 1991). Unfortunately, two populations may not breed because they are isolated geographically. This may lead to taxonomic splitting, by which taxonomists give two different names to populations that could interbreed if given the chance. Practically speaking, very few species undergo extensive cross-breeding experiments before classification to test their reproductive isolation. Hybridization is another problem.
Two seemingly distinct plant species may cross to produce fertile hybrids. The potential for taxonomic splitting is especially acute in the fossil record, where it is impossible to apply the biological species concept. Instead, paleontologists tend to define species on their morphology alone. However, the soft parts of an organism rarely are preserved, and the identification must rest almost entirely on hard parts (e.g., bones, teeth, etc.). Any evolutionary relationships drawn from such studies are necessarily limited (Major, 1991). Second, the species idea often takes on a definite evolutionary connotation.
As we have already seen, Cracraft claims that the species is “the unit of evolutionary change” (1983, p. 169). He wants to replace the biological species concept with his own phylogenetic species concept, mainly because he is not satisfied with any definition that ignores alleged evolutionary relationships. Cracraft’s concept defines a species as “the smallest recognizable cluster of individuals that share a common pattern of ancestry” (Rennie, 1991). The created kind concept can hold its own against these definitions. It proposes that a kind will consist of populations that can interbreed, while still allowing room for variation.
If implemented systematically, the concept would reveal barriers or discontinuities between created kinds. “In order to make this evidence of creation available,” Kurt Wise has suggested, “there is a serious need for creation biologists to create, adopt, and employ a reproducible method of flagging identifiable phyletic discontinuities” (1990, 2:354). Creationists, like Wise, are continuing their work on kinds. In the meantime we face a taxonomic system encumbered with evolutionary presuppositions.
REFERENCES Cracraft, Joel (1983), “Systematics, Comparative Biology, and the Case against Creationism,” Scientists Confront Creationism, ed. Laurie R. Godfrey (New York: W.W. Norton), pp. 163-191. Major, Trevor (1991), “Problems in the Interpretation of Variation Within the Fossil Record,” Creation Research Society Quarterly, 28:52-53, September. Marsh, Frank L. (1976), Variation and Fixity in Nature (Mountain View, CA: Pacific Press). Nelson, Byron (1967), After Its Kind (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany Fellowship). Rennie, John (1991), “Are Species Specious?,” Scientific American, 265[5]:26, November. Wise, Kurt P. (1990), “Baraminology: A Young-Earth Creation Biosystematic Method,” Proceedings of the Second International Conference on Creationism, July 30-August 4, 1990, ed. Robert E. Walsh (Pittsburgh, PA: Creation Science Fellowship), pp. 345-360. ——————————————————————————–
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The created kind

The Scriptures imply that this originally created information was not in the form of one ‘super species’ from which all of today’s populations have split off by this ‘thinning out’ process, but was created as a number of distinct gene pools. Each group of sexually reproducing organisms had at least two members. Thus,

Each original group began with a built-in amount of genetic information which is the raw material for virtually all subsequent useful variation.

Each original group was presumably genetically and reproductively isolated from other such groups, yet was able to interbreed within its own group. Hence the original kinds would truly have earned the modern biological definition of ‘species’.4 We saw in our dog example that such ‘species’ can split into two or more distinct subgroups which can then diverge (without adding anything new) and can end up with the characteristics of ‘species’ themselves—that is, reproductively isolated from each other but freely interbreeding among themselves. The more variability in the original gene pool, the more easily can such new groups arise. However, each ‘splitting’ reduces the potential for further change and hence even this is limited. All the descendants of such an original kind which was once a species, may then end up being classified together in a much higher taxonomic category—e.g., family.Take a hypothetical created kind A—truly a biological ‘species’ with perhaps a tremendous genetic potential. See Figure 1. (For the sake of simplicity, the diagram avoids the issue of what is meant by two of each kind aboard the Ark—however, the basic point is not affected.) Note that A may even continue as an unchanged group, as may any of the subgroups. Splitting off of daughter populations does not necessarily mean extinction of the parent population. In the case of man, the original group has not diverged sufficiently to produce new species.


Hence, D1, D2, D3, E1, E2, E3, P1, P2, Q1, Q2, Q3 and Q4 are all different species, reproductively isolated. But all the functionally efficient genetic information they contain was present in A. (They presumably carry some mutational defects as well).

Let us assume that the original kind A has become extinct, and also the populations X, B, C, D, E, P and Q. (But not D1, D2, etc.) If X carried some of the original information in A, which is not represented in B or C, then that information is lost forever. Hence, in spite of the fact that there are many ‘new species’ which were not originally present, we would have witnessed conservation of most of the information, loss of some, and nothing new added apart from mutations (harmful defects or just meaningless ‘noise’ in the genetic information). All of which is the wrong sort of informational change if one is trying to demonstrate protozoon-to-man evolution.

Classifications above species are more or less arbitrary groupings of convenience, based generally on similarities and differences of structure. It is conceivable that today, D1, D2 and D3 could be classified as species belonging to one genus, and E1, E2 and E3 as species in another genus, for example. It could also be that the groups B and C were sufficiently different such that their descendants would today be in different families. We begin to see some of the problems facing a creationist who tries to delineate today’s representatives of the created kinds.

Creatures may be classified in the same family, for example, on the basis of similarities due to common design while in fact they belong to two totally different created kinds. This should sound a note of caution against using morphology alone, as well as pointing out the potential folly of saying ‘in this case, the baramin is the family; in this case, it is the genus, etc.’ (Baramin is an accepted creationist term for ‘created kind’.)

There is no easy solution as yet to the problem of establishing each of these genetic relationships—in fact, we will probably never be able to know them all with certainty. Interbreeding, in vitro fertilization experiments, etc. may suggest membership of the same baramin but lack of such genetic compatibility does not prove that two groups are not in the same kind. (See earlier discussion—genetic barriers could arise via mutational deterioration.) However, newer insights, enabling us to make direct comparisons between species via DNA sequencing, open up an entirely new research horizon. (Although the question of where the funding for such extensive research will come from in an evolution-dominated society remains enigmatic.)

What then do we say to an evolutionist who understandably presses us for a definition of a created kind or identification of same today? I suggest the following for consideration:

Groups of living organisms belong in the same created kind if they have descended from the same ancestral gene pool.

To talk of ‘fixity of kinds’ in relation to any present-day variants thus also becomes redundant—no new kinds can appear by definition.

Besides being a simple and obvious definition, it is axiomatic. Thus it is as unashamedly circular as a rolled-up armadillo and just as impregnable, deflecting attention, quite properly, to the real issue of genetic change.

The question is not—what is a baramin, is it a species, a family or a genus? Rather, the question is—which of today’s populations are related to each other by this form of common descent, and are thus of the same created kind? Notice that this is vastly removed from the evolutionist’s notion of common descent. As the creationist looks back in time along a line of descent, he sees an expansion of the gene pool. As the evolutionist does likewise, he sees a contraction.

As with all taxonomic questions, common sense will probably continue to play the greatest part. The Scriptures, the fossil record and common sense unite to prevent creationists doing too much ‘lumping together’ as we go back in time. For instance, it is conceivable (though not necessarily so) that crocodiles and alligators both descended from the same ancestral gene pool which contained all their functionally efficient genes, but not really conceivable that crocodiles, alligators and ostriches had a common ancestral pool which carried the genes for all three!

Ligers and wholphins? What next?

Crazy mixed-up animals … what do they tell us? They seem to defy man-made classification systems—but what about the created ‘kinds’ in Genesis?

Wikimedia commons: Restle


If we can cross-breed a zebra and a horse (to produce a ‘zorse’), a lion and a tiger (a liger or tigon), or a false killer whale and a dolphin (a wholphin), what does this tell us about the original kinds of animals that God created?
The Bible tells us in Genesis chapter 1 that God created plants to produce seed ‘after their kind’ (vv. 11, 12). God also created the animals to reproduce ‘after their kind’ (vv. 20, 24, 25). ‘After their/its kind’ is repeated ten times inGenesis 1, giving emphasis to the principle. And we take it for granted. When we plant a tomato seed, we don’t expect to see a geranium pop up out of the ground. Nor do we expect that our dog will give birth to kittens or that Aunt Betty, who is expecting, will bring home a chimpanzee baby from the hospital! Our everyday experience confirms the truth of the Bible that things produce offspring true to their kind.
But what is a created ‘kind’? And what organisms today represent the kinds God created in the beginning? The creationist scientist, Carolus Linnaeus (1707–1778), the founder of the science of taxonomy,1 tried to determine the created kinds. He defined a ‘species’ as a group of organisms that could interbreed among themselves, but not with another group, akin to the Genesis concept. 

Finding the created kinds

From Genesis 1, the ability to produce offspring, i.e. to breed with one another, defines the original created kinds. Linnaeus recognised this, but named many species2 without any breeding experiments, on the basis of such things as flower characteristics. In his mature years he did extensive hybridization (cross-breeding) experiments and realised that his ‘species’ concept was too narrow for the species to be considered as created kinds; he thought that the genus perhaps corresponded better with the created kind.3,4

The Created Cat Kind

Possible family tree of cat kind(s)

Possible history of cats since Creation. Speciation (based on pre-existing created genetic information) probably occurred faster after the Flood due to greater environmental pressures, isolation due to migration of small populations, and many unoccupied ecological niches.
Even today, creationists are often misrepresented as believing that God created all the species we have today, just like they are today, in the beginning. This is called ‘fixity of species’. The Bible does not teach this. Nevertheless, university professors often show students that a new ‘species’ has arisen in ferment flies, for example, and then claim that this disproves the Genesis account of creation. Darwin made this very mistake when he studied the finches and tortoises on the Galapagos islands. (He also erred in assuming that creation implied that each organism was made where it is now found; but from the Bible it is clear that today’s land-dwelling vertebrates migrated to their present locations after the Flood.)
If two animals or two plants can hybridize (at least enough to produce a truly fertilized egg), then they must belong to (i.e. have descended from) the same original created kind. If the hybridizing species are from different genera in a family, it suggests that the whole family might have come from the one created kind. If the genera are in different families within an order, it suggests that maybe the whole order may have derived from the original created kind.
On the other hand, if two species will not hybridize, it does not necessarily prove that they are not originally from the same kind. We all know of couples who cannot have children, but this does not mean they are separate species!
In the case of three species, A, B and C, if A and B can each hybridize with C, then it suggests that all three are of the same created kind—whether or not A and B can hybridize with each other. Breeding barriers can arise through such things as mutations. For example, two forms of ferment flies (Drosophila) produced offspring that could not breed with the parent species.5 That is, they were a new biological ‘species’. This was due to a slight chromosomal rearrangement, not any new genetic information. The new ‘species’ was indistinguishable from the parents and obviously the same kind as the parents, since it came from them.
Following are some examples of hybrids that show that the created kind is often at a higher level than the species, or even the genus, named by taxonomists.
Images courtesy Camilla Maluotoga

zonkey zorse

Zonkeys result from a cross between a zebra and a donkey (left). ‘Tigger’ (right), belongs to Camilla Maluotoga, from New Mexico in the USA, and is the name she gave to this cross between a horse and a zebra, known as a zorse.

Mules, zeedonks and zorses

Crossing a male ass (donkey—Equus asinus) and a horse (Equus caballus) produces a mule (the reverse is called a hinny). Hybrids between zebras and horses (zorse) and zebras and donkeys (zedonk, zonkey, zebrass) also readily occur.
Some creationists have reasoned that because these hybrids are sterile, the horse, ass and zebra must be separate created kinds. However, not only does this go beyond the biblical text, it is overwhelmingly likely that horses, asses and zebras (six species ofEquus) are the descendants of the one created kind which left the Ark. Hybridization itself suggests this, not whether the offspring are fertile or not. Infertility in offspring can be due to rearrangements of chromosomes in the different species—changes such that the various species have the same DNA information but the chromosomes of the different species no longer match up properly to allow the offspring to be fertile. Such (non-evolutionary) changes within a kind can cause sterility in hybrids.


A male African lion (Panthera leo) and a female tiger (Panthera tigris) can mate to produce a liger. The reverse cross produces a tigon. Such crossing does not normally happen in the wild because most lions live in Africa and most tigers live in Asia. Also, lions and tigers just don’t mix; they are enemies in the wild. However, the Institute of Greatly Endangered and Rare Species, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina (USA), raised a lion and a tigress together. Arthur, the lion, and Ayla, the tigress, became good friends and bred to produce Samson and Sudan, two huge male ligers. Samson stands 3.7 m (12 feet) tall on his hind legs, weighs 500 kg (1,100 lbs) and can run at 80 km/hr (50 mph).
Wikimedia commons: Hkandy

Liger couple

Lions and tigers belong to the same genus, Panthera, along with the jaguar, leopard and snow leopard, in the subfamily Felinae. This subfamily also contains the genus Felis, which includes the mountain lion and numerous species of smaller cats, including the domestic cat. The cheetah, genus Acinonyx, belongs to a different subfamily.6 Thus the genera PantheraFelis and Acinonyx may represent descendants of three original created cat kinds, or maybe two: Panthera-Felis andAcinonyx, or even one cat kind. The extinct sabre-tooth tiger may have been a different created kind (see diagram above).
The Panthera cats lack a hyoid bone at the back of the tongue, compared to Felis. Acinonyx has the hyoid, but lacks the ability to retract its claws. So the differences between the cats could have arisen through loss of genetic information due to mutations (loss of the bone; loss of claw retraction). Note that this has nothing to do with molecules-to-man evolution, which requires the addition of new information, not loss of information (which is to be expected in a fallen world as things tend to ‘fall apart’).

Kekaimalu the wholphin

In 1985, Hawaii’s Sea Life Park reported the birth of a baby from the mating of a male false killer whale (Pseudorca crassidens) and a female bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus).7 The birth surprised the park staff, as the parents are rather different in appearance. Here we have a hybrid between different genera in the same family, Delphinidae (dolphins and killer whales).8 Since the offspring in this case are fertile (Kekaimalu has since given birth to a baby wholphin), these two genera are really, by definition, a single polytypic biological species.2 Other genera in the group are much more alike than the two that produced the offspring in Hawaii, which suggests that the 12 living genera might have all descended from the original created kind.

Rama the cama

Veterinarians in the United Arab Emirates successfully cross-bred a camel and a llama. The ‘cama’, named ‘Rama’, has the cloven hooves of a llama and the short ears and tail of a camel. The scientists hope to combine the best qualities of both into the one animal—the superior fleece and calmer temperament of the llama with the larger size of the camel.
Photo by Dave and Lynn Jolly

Genae’ the snake—the live, healthy offspring of snakes from two different genera

‘Genae’ the snake—the live, healthy offspring of snakes from two different genera (see main text).

Genae the hybrid snake

‘Genae’ (pictured right) resulted from a cross between an albino corn snake (Elaphe guttata) and an albino king snake (Lampropeltis triangulum) in a reptile park in California.9Apparently, this particular intergeneric hybrid is fertile. Genae is almost four years old and already 1.4 m (4½ ft) long. The parent snakes belong to the same snake family, Colubridae; the success of this hybrid suggests that the many species and genera of snakes in this family today could have all originally come from the same created kind.

Other hybrids

With the cattle kind, seven species of the genus Bos hybridize, but so also does the North American buffalo, Bison bison, with Bos, to produce a ‘cattalo’. Here the whole family of cattle-type creatures, Bovidae, probably came from an original created cattle kind which was on the Ark.10
Plant breeders have bred some agriculturally important plants by hybridizing different species and even genera. For example, triticale, a grain crop, came from a cross of wheat (Triticum) and rye (Secale), another fertile hybrid between genera.
lychee longan
The delicious fruit species, lychee (left) and longan (right) hybridize, despite being different genera.
During my years as a research scientist for the government in Australia, I helped create a hybrid of the delicious fruit species lychee (Litchi chinensis) and longan (Dimocarpus longana), which both belong to the same family.11 I also studied the hybrids of six species of the custard apple family, Annonaceae. Each of these two family groupings, recognised by botanists today, probably represents the original created kinds.
God created all kinds, or basic types, of creatures and plants with the ability to produce variety in their offspring. These varieties come from recombinations of the existing genetic information created in the beginning, through the marvellous reproductive method created by God. Since the Fall (Genesis 3), some variations also occurred through degenerative changes caused by mutations (e.g. loss of wing size in the cormorants of the Galápagos Islands).
The variations allow for the descendants of the created kinds to adapt to different environments and ‘fill the earth’, as God commanded. If genera represent the created kinds, then Noah took less than 20,000 land animals on the Ark; far fewer if kinds occasionally gave rise to families. From these kinds came many ‘daughter species’, which generally each have less information (and are thus more specialized) than the parent population on the Ark. Properly understood, adaptation by natural selection (which gets rid of information) does not involve the addition of new complex DNA information. Thus, students should not be taught that it demonstrates ‘evolution happening’, as if it showed the process by which fish could eventually turn into people.
Understanding what God has told us in Genesis provides a sound foundation for thinking about the classification of living things, as Linnaeus found, and how the great diversity we see today has come about.

A ‘geep’? No—a ‘chimera’

Despite the fact that the ‘geep’ has both sheep and goat in its parentage, and shares the characteristics of both species, it is not a hybrid. It is a ‘chimera’, formed by mixing the (fertilized) embryo cells of two different species.
The DNA in each adult cell (including sex cells) is thus either fully sheep or fully goat—hence there are patches of either thin white goat fur or thick sheep’s wool. Thus also, any offspring will be either all sheep or all goat. This artificial manipulation is very different from the situation where two animals of the same kind (but different species) mate producing live offspring.

Linnaeus and the classification system

Linnaeus established the two-part naming system of genus and species. For example, he called wheat Triticum aestivum, which means in Latin, ‘summer wheat’. Such ‘scientific’ names are normally italicised, with the genus beginning with a capital. When used in scientific works, the names are followed by the abbreviated name of the scientist responsible for the name. When ‘L.’ follows a name, this shows that Linnaeus first applied the name. For example, the name for maize or ‘corn’ is Zea mays L. Linnaeus named many plants and animals.
There can be one or many species in a genus, so genus is a higher level of classification. Linnaeus also developed the idea of grouping genera (plural of genus) within higher groupings he called orders, and the orders within classes. Linnaeus opposed the pre-Darwin evolutionary ideas of his day, pointing out that life was not a continuum, or a ‘great chain of being’, an ancient pagan Greek idea. He could classify things, usually into neat groups, because of the lack of transitional forms.
Later, other levels of classification were added so that today we have species, genus, family, order, class, phylum and kingdom. Sometimes other levels are added, such as subfamily and subphylum.

Kawili Kai

Kekaimalu the wholphin, a 19-year-old offspring of a false killer whale and an Atlantic bottlenose dolphinwhale-dolphin, mated with a dolphin to produce a girl, Kawili Kai (above).

The world’s only Wholphin … false killer whale/dolphin cross

False killer whales (pseudorcas) and bottlenose dolphins are each from a different genus. Man-made classification systems were thrown into confusion when these two creatures mated and produced a live offspring (see main text).
This suggests that all killer whales and dolphins, which are all in the same family, are the one created kind.
This wholphin’s size, shape and colour are right in between those of her parents. She has 66 teeth—an ‘average’ between pseudorcas (44 teeth) and bottlenose dolphins (88).
Kekaimalu has since mated with a dolphin to produce a live baby.

References and notes

  1. The study of the naming and classification of organisms. Return to text.
  2. ‘Biological species’ is often used today to refer to a group of organisms that can interbreed to produce fertile offspring. It does not always correlate with the taxonomic ‘species’. Note that the kinds would originally have met the criterion for each being a separate biological species, since they did not interbreed with any other kind. Return to text.
  3. In Latin, ‘genus’ conveys the meaning of origin, or ‘kind’, whereas ‘species’ means outward appearance (The Oxford Latin Minidictionary, 1995). Return to text.
  4. Creationist biologists today often combine the Hebrew words bara (create) and min (kind) to call the created kind a baraminReturn to text.
  5. Marsh, Frank L., Variation and Fixity in Nature, Pacific Press, CA, USA, p. 75, 1976. Return to text.
  6. Encyclopaedia Britannica 98 CD. Other authorities call the Panthera genus Leo, so that the lion is then Leo leoReturn to text.
  7. Keene Rees, Waimanalo Hapa Girl Makes 10! Waimanalo News, May 1995,, March 1, 2000. Return to text.
  8. The New Encyclopaedia Britannica 23:434, 1992. Return to text.
  9. Genae belongs to David Jolly, M.S. (USA). Genae was bred at a reptile park at Bakersfield. Corn snakes are one of the most popular pet snakes in North America, and snake fanciers have bred all sorts of colour variations, which are catalogued at, March 22, 2000. Return to text.
  10. See Wieland, C., Recreating the extinct Aurochs? Creation 14(2):25–28, 1992. Return to text.
  11. McConchie, C.A., Batten, D.J. and Vithanage, V., Intergeneric hybridization between litchi (Litchi chinensis Sonn.) and longan (Dimocarpus longan Lour.),Annals of Botany 74:111–118, 1994. Return to text.
Creation Ministries International  Dear Augustine: You are welcome to post CMI articles on the mentioned website, as long as you agree not to change any of the content and and the relevant authors, as you have indicated.
Kind regards,  Annalouise Bekker  Administration
Creation Ministries International (Australia)

“Fair Use “ Notice – Title 17 U.S.C. section 107

The above post may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. It is being made available in an effort to advance the understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, social justice, for the purpose of historical debate, and to advance the understanding of Christian conservative issues.  It is believed that this constitutes a ”fair use” of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the Copyright Law. In accordance with the title 17 U.S. C. section 107, the material in this post is shown without profit to those who have expressed an interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

How did all the animals fit on Noah’s Ark?

Filed under: Uncategorized — augustinehippo1 @ 1:37 pm

by Dr Jonathan D Sarfati

The Bible specifies Noah’s Ark as 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide and 30 cubits high, a huge, stable, seaworthy vessel.
The Bible specifies Noah’s Ark as 300 cubits long, 50 cubits wide and 30 cubits high, a huge, stable, seaworthy vessel.

Many skeptics assert that the Bible must be wrong, because they claim that the Ark could not possibly have carried all the different types of animals. This has persuaded some Christians to deny the Genesis Flood, or believe that it was only a local flood involving comparatively few local animals. But they usually have not actually performed the calculations. On the other hand, the classic creationist book The Genesis Flood contained a detailed analysis as far back as 1961.1 A more detailed and updated technical study of this and many other questions is John Woodmorappe’s book Noah’s Ark: a Feasibility Study. This article is based on material in these books plus some independent calculations. There are two questions to ask:

  • How many types of animals did Noah need to take?
  • Was the ark large enough to hold all the required animals?

How many types of animals did Noah need to take?

Another problem often raised by   atheists and theistic evolutionists is ‘how did disease germs survive the flood?’ … In fact, even now many germs can survive in insect vectors or corpses, or in the dried or frozen state, or be carried by a host without causing disease. Finally, loss of resistance to disease is consistent with the general degeneration of life since the Fall.

The relevant passages are Genesis 6:19–20 and Genesis 7:2–3.

Genesis 6:19–20:

And of every living thing of all flesh, you shall bring two of every sort into the ark to keep them alive with you. They shall be male and female. Of the birds according to their kinds, and of the animals according to their kinds, of every creeping thing of the ground, according to its kind, two of every sort shall come in to you to keep them alive.

Genesis 7:2–3:

Take with you seven pairs of all clean animals, the male and his mate, and a pair of the animals that are not clean, the male and his mate, and seven pairs of the birds of the heavens also, male and female, to keep their offspring alive on the face of all the earth.

In the original Hebrew, the word for ‘beast’ and ‘cattle’ in these passages is the same: behemah, and it refers to land vertebrate animals in general. The word for ‘creeping things’ is remes, which has a number of different meanings in Scripture, but here it probably refers to reptiles.2 Noah did not need to take sea creatures3 because they would not necessarily be threatened with extinction by a flood. However, turbulent water would cause massive carnage, as seen in the fossil record, and many oceanic species probably did become extinct because of the Flood.

However, if God in His wisdom had decided not to preserve some ocean creatures, this was none of Noah’s business. Noah did not need to take plants either—many could have survived as seeds, and others could have survived on floating mats of vegetation. Many insects and other invertebrates were small enough to have survived on these mats as well. The Flood wiped out all land animals which breathed through nostrils except those on the Ark (Genesis 7:22). Insects do not breathe through nostrils but through tiny tubes in their exterior skeleton.

Clean animals: Bible commentators are evenly divided about whether the Hebrew means ‘seven’ or ‘seven pairs’ of each type of clean animal. Woodmorappe takes the latter just to concede as much to the biblioskeptics as possible. But the vast majority of animals are not clean, and were represented by only two specimens each. The term ‘clean animal’ was not defined until the Mosaic Law. But since Moses was also the compiler of Genesis, if we follow the principle that ‘Scripture interprets Scripture’, the Mosaic Law definitions can be applied to the Noahic situation. There are actually very few ‘clean’ land animals listed in Leviticus 11 and Deuteronomy 14.

What is a ‘kind’? God created a number of different types of animals with much capacity for variation within limits.4 The descendants of each of these different kinds, apart from humans, would today mostly be represented by a larger grouping than what is called a species. In most cases, those species descended from a particular original kind would be grouped today within what modern taxonomists (biologists who classify living things) call a genus (plural genera).

One common definition of a species is a group of organisms which can interbreed and produce fertile offspring, and cannot mate with other species. However, most of the so-called species (obviously all the extinct ones) have not been tested to see what they can or cannot mate with. In fact, not only are there known crosses between so-called species, but there are many instances of trans-generic mating, so the ‘kind’ may in some cases be as high as the family. Identifying the ‘kind’ with the genus is also consistent with Scripture, which spoke of kinds in a way that the Israelites could easily recognize without the need for tests of reproductive isolation.

The Ark would probably have carried compressed and dried foodstuffs, and probably a lot of concentrated food. Perhaps Noah fed the cattle mainly on grain, plus some hay for fibre. Woodmorappe calculated that the volume of foodstuffs would have been only about 15 % of the Ark’s total volume. Drinking water would only have taken up 9.4% of the volume.

For example, horses, zebras and donkeys are probably descended from an equine (horse-like) kind, since they can interbreed, although the offspring are sterile. Dogs, wolves, coyotes and jackals are probably from a canine (dog-like) kind. All different types of domestic cattle (which are clean animals) are descended from the Aurochs, so there were probably at most seven (or fourteen) domestic cattle aboard. The Aurochs itself may have been descended from a cattle kind including bisons and water buffaloes. We know that tigers and lions can produce hybrids called tigons and ligers, so it is likely that they are descended from the same original kind.

Woodmorappe totals about 8000 genera, including extinct genera, thus about 16,000 individual animals which had to be aboard. With extinct genera, there is a tendency among some paleontologists to give each of their new finds a new genus name. But this is arbitrary, so the number of extinct genera is probably highly overstated. Consider the sauropods, which were the largest dinosaurs—the group of huge plant-eaters like Brachiosaurus, Diplodocus, Apatosaurus, etc. There are 87 sauropod genera commonly cited, but only 12 are ‘firmly established’ and another 12 are considered ‘fairly well established’.5

One commonly raised problem is ‘How could you fit all those huge dinosaurs on the Ark?’ First, of the 668 supposed dinosaur genera, only 106 weighed more than ten tons when fully grown. Second, as said above, the number of dinosaur genera is probably greatly exaggerated. But these numbers are granted by Woodmorappe to be generous to skeptics. Third, the Bible does not say that the animals had to be fully grown. The largest animals were probably represented by ‘teenage’ or even younger specimens. The median size of all animals on the ark would actually have been that of a small rat, according to Woodmorappe‘s up-to-date tabulations, while only about 11% would have been much larger than a sheep.

Another problem often raised by atheists and theistic evolutionists is ‘how did disease germs survive the flood?’ This is a leading question—it presumes that germs were as specialized and infectious as they are now, so all the Ark’s inhabitants must have been infected with every disease on earth. But germs were probably more robust in the past, and have only fairly recently lost the ability to survive in different hosts or independently of a host. In fact, even now many germs can survive in insect vectors or corpses, or in the dried or frozen state, or be carried by a host without causing disease. Finally, loss of resistance to disease is consistent with the general degeneration of life since the Fall.6

Was the ark large enough to hold all the required animals?

The Ark measured 300x50x30 cubits (Genesis 6:15), which is about 140x23x13.5 metres or 459x75x44 feet, so its volume was 43,500 m3 (cubic metres) or 1.54 million cubic feet. To put this in perspective, this is the equivalent volume of 522 standard American railroad stock cars, each of which can hold 240 sheep.

If the animals were kept in cages with an average size of 50x50x30 centimetres (20x20x12 inches), that is 75,000 cm3 (cubic centimetres) or 4800 cubic inches, the 16,000 animals would only occupy 1200 m3 (42,000 cubic feet) or 14.4 stock cars. Even if a million insect species had to be on board, it would not be a problem, because they require little space. If each pair was kept in cages of 10 cm (four inches) per side, or 1000 cm3, all the insect species would occupy a total volume of only 1000 m3, or another 12 cars. This would leave room for five trains of 99 cars each for food, Noah’s family and ‘range’ for the animals. However, insects are not included in the meaning of behemah or remes in Genesis 6:19-20, so Noah probably would not have taken them on board as passengers anyway.

Tabulating the total volume is fair enough, since this shows that there would be plenty of room on the Ark for the animals with plenty left over for food, range etc. It would be possible to stack cages, with food on top or nearby (to minimize the amount of food carrying the humans had to do), to fill up more of the Ark space, while still allowing plenty of room for gaps for air circulation. We are discussing an emergency situation, not necessarily luxury accommodation. Although there is plenty of room for exercise, skeptics have overstated animals’ needs for exercise anyway.

Even if we don’t allow stacking one cage on top of another to save floor space, there would be no problem. Woodmorappe shows from standard recommended floor space requirements for animals that all of them together would have needed less than half the available floor space of the Ark’s three decks. This arrangement allows for the maximum amount of food and water storage on top of the cages close to the animals.

Food requirements

The Ark would probably have carried compressed and dried foodstuffs, and probably a lot of concentrated food. Perhaps Noah fed the cattle mainly on grain, plus some hay for fibre. Woodmorappe calculated that the volume of foodstuffs would have been only about 15 % of the Ark’s total volume. Drinking water would only have taken up 9.4% of the volume. This volume would be reduced further if rainwater was collected and piped into troughs.

Excretory requirements

Possibly they had sloped floors or  slatted cages, where the manure could fall away from the animals and be flushed away (plenty of water around!) or destroyed by vermicomposting (composting by worms) which would also provide earthworms as a food source.

It is doubtful whether the humans had to clean the cages every morning. Possibly they had sloped floors or slatted cages, where the manure could fall away from the animals and be flushed away (plenty of water around!) or destroyed by vermicomposting (composting by worms) which would also provide earthworms as a food source. Very deep bedding can sometimes last for a year without needing a change. Absorbent material (e.g. sawdust, softwood wood shavings and especially peat moss) would reduce the moisture content and hence the odour.


The space, feeding and excretory requirements were adequate even if the animals had normal day/night sleeping cycles. But hibernation is a possibility which would reduce these requirements even more. It is true that the Bible does not mention it, but it does not rule it out either. Some creationists suggest that God created the hibernation instinct for the animals on the Ark, but we should not be dogmatic either way.

Some skeptics argue that food taken on board rules out hibernation, but this is not so. Hibernating animals do not sleep all winter, despite popular portrayals, so they would still need food occasionally.


This article has shown that the Bible can be trusted on testable matters like Noah’s Ark. Many Christians believe that the Bible can only be trusted on matters of faith and morals, not scientific matters. But we should consider what Jesus Christ Himself told Nicodemus (John 3:12): ‘If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things?

Similarly, if the Scriptures can be wrong on testable matters such as geography, history and science, why should they be trusted on matters like the nature of God and life after death, which are not open to empirical testing? Hence Christians should ‘but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect’ (1 Peter 3:15), when skeptics claim that the Bible conflicts with known ‘scientific facts’.

Christians would be able to follow this command and answer skeptics’ anti–Ark arguments effectively, if they read John Woodmorappe’s book Noah’s Ark: a Feasibility Study. This remarkable book is the most complete analysis ever published regarding the gathering of animals to the Ark, provisions for their care and feeding, and the subsequent dispersion. For example, some skeptics have claimed that the post-Flood ground would be too salty for plants to grow. Woodmorappe points out that salt can be readily leached out by rainwater.

Woodmorappe has devoted seven years to this scholarly, systematic answer to virtually all the anti–Ark arguments, alleged difficulties with the Biblical account, and other relevant questions. Nothing else like this has ever been written before—a powerful vindication of the Genesis Ark account.

‘It has just the sort of facts and details that kids find fascinating, and would make an excellent source of information for enhancing Bible study projects and class lessons on the Ark and Flood. Anyone interested in answering the many questions about the ark, especially from skeptics, would be advised to read Noah’s Ark.’7

Creation Ministries International  Dear Augustine: You are welcome to post CMI articles
on the mentioned website, as long as you agree not to change any of the content
and reference and the relevant authors, as you have indicated.
Kind regards,  Annalouise Bekker  Administration
Creation Ministries International (Australia)

“Fair Use “ Notice – Title 17 U.S.C. section 107

The above post may contain copyrighted material the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. It is being made available in an effort to advance the understanding of environmental, political, human rights, economic, democracy, scientific, social justice, for the purpose of historical debate, and to advance the understanding of Christian conservative issues.  It is believed that this constitutes a ”fair use” of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the Copyright Law. In accordance with the title 17 U.S. C. section 107, the material in this post is shown without profit to those who have expressed an interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

Geology And The Young Earth by Tas Walker

Filed under: Uncategorized — augustinehippo1 @ 1:35 pm

Geology and the young earth

Answering those ‘Bible-believing’ bibliosceptics


 Photo: David Swincer

The hand-written note pinsedimentary layersned to some photocopied pages was typical. ‘I wonder if you could help with a geological problem?’ The writer, who identified himself as a Bible-believing Christian, was confused. He had just encountered some tired old geological arguments attacking the straightforward biblical account of earth history—i.e., denying a recent creation and a global Flood on the basis of ‘geological evidences’.

A number of books in the last 25 years have stirred up these so-called ‘geological problems’ and undermined faith in the Bible for many people. Sadly, the ones which cause most confusion and distress are those written by professing ‘Bible-believers’.1,2,3,4

A curriculum writer with a Christian home school association wrote to us that he was ‘pretty well wiped out’ after reading these books.5 He wondered if we ‘might have answers to what these gentlemen say.’ We certainly have! Another person who had read some of them said, ‘I may have been … overlooking information that cast doubts upon the recent creation model.’

Because the ‘recent creation model’ he refers to is simply what the Bible plainly says, he has really been caused to doubt the Bible.

Even if we can’t answer some of the apparent problems now, we can be confident that there is an answer.

The unsuspecting readers of such books, thinking they are getting something from ‘Bible-believing Christians’, expect encouragement and faith-building material. They are generally unprepared for the explosive mixture of heretical theology, poor science and vehement attacks on Bible-believers.

For example, the author Alan Hayward claims to be a ‘Bible-believing Christian’. However, he is a unitarian, which means he denies the tri-unity of God. The deity of Christ is clearly taught in the New Testament (e.g. John 1:1–14, 5:18; Titus 2:13; for more information, see our detailed Q&A pages Is Jesus Christ really God? and Is one God really three persons?), yet Hayward denies this.6 Clearly, ‘Bible-believing’ Hayward chooses to reinterpret those parts of the New Testament with which he disagrees.

He works the same way with the Old Testament. Instead of accepting the clear teaching of Genesis, he reinterprets the passages to fit his billion-year preference for the age of the earth.7

In so doing, of course, he introduces confusion and problems that destabilise readers. We are warned to beware of teachers who vandalise the clear teaching of Scripture to fit with their philosophy (Colossians 2:8).

Photo: Y. Robertson

varves Superficially, Hayward amasses an impressive battery of arguments as to why the Bible can’t mean what it says. Perhaps the single most important lesson from his book is his strategy itself. Each of his attacks on the Word of God elevates some other ‘authority’, whether derived from geology, astronomy, secular history or theology, above the Bible. This approach is as old as the Garden of Eden.

True knowledge begins with the Bible (Proverbs 1:7, Psalms 119:160; 138:2), and that is where we need to start. God was there when He created the world. He knows everything, does not tell lies, and does not make mistakes. It is from the Bible that we learn that the world is ‘young’ (see also The earth: how old does it look?).

If the Bible taught that the world was millions of years old,8 we would believe that. However, the concept of millions of years of death and suffering contradicts the Word of God, and destroys the foundation of the Gospel of Christ.

Many people find it difficult to accept that scientific investigation should start with the Bible. They think we can answer the question about the age of the earth by coming to the evidence with an ‘open mind’. In fact, no one has an open mind. Evidence does not interpret itself; rather, everyone views the world through a belief framework. Unfortunately, as humans we never have all the information. So, when we start from the evidence, we can never be sure our conclusions are right—like in a classic ‘whodunnit’, just one piece of information can change the whole picture. By contrast, when we start from the Word of God, we can be sure that what it says is true.

Even if we can’t answer some of the apparent problems now, we can be confident that there is an answer. We may not find out about the answer on this side of eternity, but that would simply be because we did not have all the information necessary to come to the right conclusion. On the other hand, ongoing research may reveal the answer—and it often has, as we will see.

On first appearance, the evidence that Hayward assembles seems so overwhelming. But the problems he describes are easily answered—indeed many answers were known before he wrote his book. Either he was unaware of the answers, or he deliberately ignored them. Let’s look at some of the ‘science’ he presents so persuasively.


Courtesy of Steve Austin

Divers examine a broken tree stump embedded upright on the bottom of Spirit Lake below Mt St Helens volcano. This stump was initially part of an immense floating log ‘mat’ and illustrates how the logs sank root end first.

A common argument against the Bible involves varves—rock formations with alternating layers of fine dark, and coarse light sediment. Annual changes are assumed to deposit bands with light layers in summer and dark layers in winter. It is reported that some rock formations contain hundreds of thousands of varves, thereby ‘proving’ the earth is much older than the Bible says.9 But the assumption that each couplet always takes a year to form is wrong. Recent catastrophes show that violent events like the Flood described in Genesis can deposit banded rock formations very quickly. The Mount St Helens eruption in Washington State produced eight metres (25 feet) of finely layered sediment in a single afternoon!10 And a rapidly pumped sand slurry was observed to deposit about a metre (3–4 feet) of fine layers on a beach over an area the size of a football field (cross-section shown on the right: normal silica sand grains are separated by darker layers of denser mineral grains like rutile).11

Photo Don batten

Cross-section of alternating layers formed rapidly from a sand slurryLayered sediment formed quickly on beach.

When sedimentation was studied in the laboratory, it was discovered that fine bands form automatically as the moving water transports the different sized particles sideways into position.12 Surprisingly, the thickness of each band was found to depend on the relative particle sizes rather than on the flow conditions.13 A layered rock (diatomite) was separated into its particles, and when redeposited in flowing fluid, identical layers formed.14

Much is often made of the Green River varves,9 in Wyoming, USA. But these bands cannot possibly be annual deposits because well-preserved fish and birds are found all through the sediments.

When sedimentation was studied in the laboratory, it was discovered that fine bands form automatically as the moving water transports the different sized particles sideways into position.

It is unthinkable that these dead animals could have rested on the bottom of the lake for decades, being slowly covered by sediment. Their presence indicates catastrophic burial. It is often claimed that the fish and birds remained in prime condition at the bottom of the lake because the water was highly alkaline and this preserved their carcasses.15 Yet highly alkaline water causes organic material to disintegrate, and that is why alkaline powder is used in dishwashers! [Ed. note: some sceptics have claimed that alkali merely ‘cuts grease’, evidently ignorant of the elementary chemistry involved, i.e. base-catalyzed hydrolysis of polymers, which would do the opposite of preserving the fish.] Another problem for the varve explanation is that the number of bands is not consistent across the formation as it should be if they were annual deposits.16


Similar bands in some huge deposits containing calcium carbonate and calcium sulphate in Texas are also used to argue the case for long ages.17 One explanation says the deposits were formed when the sun evaporated seawater—hence the term ‘evaporite deposits’. Naturally, to make such large deposits in this way would take a long time. However, the high chemical purity of the deposits shows they were not exposed to a dry, dusty climate for thousands of years. Rather, it is more likely that they formed rapidly from the interaction between hot and cold seawater during undersea volcanic activity—a hydrothermal deposit.18

Too many fossils?

Another claim of bibliosceptics is that there are ‘too many fossils’.19 If all those animals could be resurrected, it is said, they would cover the entire planet to a depth of at least 0.5 metres (1.5 feet). So they could not have come from a single generation of living creatures buried by the Flood.20

Not surprisingly, the substance disappears when the detail is examined. The number of fossils is calculated from an abnormal situation—the Karroo formation in South Africa. In this formation the fossils comprise a ‘fossil graveyard’—the accumulation of animal remains in a local ‘sedimentary basin’.21 It is certainly improper to apply this abnormally high population density to the whole earth. The calculation also uses incorrect information on today’s animal population densities and takes no account of the different conditions that likely applied before the Flood.22

Too much coal?

Another argument used against the Bible time-line is that the pre-Flood world could not have produced enough vegetation to make all the coal.23 But again, this argument is based on wrong assumptions. The pre-Flood land area was almost certainly greater before all the Floodwaters were released onto the surface of the earth. Also, the climate was probably much more productive before the Flood.24 Furthermore, it has been discovered that much coal was derived from forests which floated on water (see also 320k JPG drawing of the floating forest.).25 So, calculations based only on the area of land would be wrong. And finally, the estimates of how much vegetation is needed are based on the wrong idea that coal forms slowly in swamps and that most of the vegetation rots. The Flood would have buried the vegetation quickly, producing a hundred times more coal than from a swamp.22

Fossil forests

Photo Lowell Baker

Upright fossillised trees in Yellowstone. Evidence shows they could not have grown in place.Upright fossillised trees in Yellowstone. Evidence shows they could not have grown in place.

The petrified forests of Yellowstone National Park have often been used to argue against Bible chronology.26 These were once interpreted as buried and petrified in place – as many as 50 successive times, with a brand new forest growing upon the debris of the previous one. Naturally, such an interpretation would require hundreds of thousands of years to deposit the whole sequence and is inconsistent with the Bible time-scale. But this interpretation is also inconsistent with the fact that the tree trunks and stumps have been broken off at their base and do not have proper root systems. Furthermore, trees from different layers have the same ‘signature’ ring pattern, demonstrating that they all grew at the same time.27

Rather than 50 successive forests, the geological evidence is more consistent with the trees having been uprooted from another place, and carried into position by catastrophic volcanic mudflows—similar to what happened during the Mount St Helens eruption in 1980, where waterlogged trees were also seen to float and sink with the root end pointing downwards.28


Science ultimately can’t prove or disprove the Bible.

The origin of pitch is also used to ridicule the account of Noah in the Bible.29 Pitch is a petroleum residue, we are told, and creationists say that petroleum was formed by the Flood. So, where did Noah get the pitch to seal the Ark (Genesis 6:14)? This old argument stems from ignorance of how pitch can be made. The widespread use of petroleum is a 20th century phenomenon. How did they seal wooden ships hundreds of years ago before petroleum was available? In those days, pitch was made from pine tree resin.30 A huge pitch-making industry flourished to service the demand.

Noah’s mud-bath?

Some attempts to discredit the Bible are wildly absurd—like the idea that there is too much sedimentary rock in the world to have been deposited by the one-year Flood. It is claimed that the Ark would have floated on an ocean of ‘earthy soup’ and no fish could have survived.31 This argument takes no account of how water actually carries sediment. The claim naïvely assumes that all the sediment was evenly mixed in all the water throughout the Flood year, as if thoroughly stirred in a ‘garden fishpond’. Sedimentation does not occur like this. Instead, moving water transports sediment into a ‘basin’ and, once deposited, it is isolated from the system.12 The same volume of water can pick up more sediment as it is driven across the continents, for example, by earth movements during the Flood.

More (former) problems, more answers

Some similar geological problems which were once claimed to be ‘unanswerable’ for Bible-believers but for which there are now clear answers include:



  • Coral reefs need millions of years to grow.32 [Actually, what was thought to be ‘coral reef’ turns out to be thick carbonate platforms, most probably deposited during the Flood.33 The reef is only a very thin layer on top. In other cases, the ‘reef’ did not grow in place from coral but was transported there by water.34]
  • Chalk deposits need millions of years to accumulate.35  [Chalk accumulation is not steady state but highly episodic. Under cataclysmic Flood conditions, explosive blooms of tiny organisms like coccolithophores could produce the chalk beds in a short space of time.36]
  • Granites need millions of years to cool.37 [Not when the cooling effects of circulating water are allowed for.38]
  • Metamorphic rocks need million of years to form.39  [Metamorphic reactions happen quickly when there is plenty of water, just as the Flood would provide.40]
  • Sediment kilometres thick covering metamorphic rocks took millions of years to erode.41 [Only at the erosion rates observed today. There is no problem eroding kilometres of sediment quickly with large volumes of fast-moving water during the Flood.]


The section above shows some of the other arguments along this line that were once claimed to be ‘unanswerable’. If this article had been written some years earlier, we would not have had all those answers. We still don’t have all the answers to some others, but this does not mean that the answers don’t exist, just that no-one has come up with them yet. There may be new arguments in the future alleging to ‘prove’ that the Bible, or one of the previous answers, is wrong. And when these are answered, there might be new ones again. That is the nature of science. All its conclusions are tentative, and new discoveries mean that old ideas must be changed—that is why creationist research is important. But science ultimately can’t prove or disprove the Bible. Faith—but not a blind faith—is needed. It is not the facts that contradict the Bible, but the interpretations applied to them. Since we never will know everything, we must start with the sure Word of God in order to make sense of the world around us.

Related Articles

Further Reading

References and notes

  1. Hayward, Alan, Creation and Evolution: The Facts and Fallacies, Triangle, London, 1985. Return to text.
  2. Wonderly, D.E., God’s Time-Records in Ancient Sediments, Crystal Press, Michigan, 1977. Return to text.
  3. Morton, G.R., Foundation, Fall and Flood, DMD Publishing, Dallas, 1995. Return to text.
  4. Ross, H.N., The Genesis Question, NavPress, Colorado Springs, 1998 (see review). Return to text.
  5. John Holzmann, Sonlight Curriculum, letter and catalogue on file. Return to text.
  6. This was admitted in a letter to creationist David C.C. Watson—see his review of Hayward’s book in Creation Research Society Quarterly 22(4):198–199, 1986. Return to text.
  7. Hayward, Ref. 1, pp. 167 ff., ‘reinterprets’ the Bible to mean that God did not create in six days but only gave the orders to create (fiats). It then took billions of years for His orders to be executed. This idea not only contradicts the Bible but is inconsistent with evolutionary geology as well. It achieves nothing but added confusion. Return to text.
  8. The Hebrew writers could easily have described long ages if necessary—see Grigg R., How long were the days of Genesis 1? Creation 19(1):23–25, 1996. Return to text.
  9. Hayward, Ref. 1, pp. 87–88. Return to text.
  10. Ham, K., I got excited at Mount St Helens! Creation 15(3):14–19, 1993. Return to text.
  11. Batten, D., Sandy stripes: Do many layers mean many years? Creation 19(1):39–40, 1997. Return to text.
  12. Julien, P., Lan, Y., and Berthault, G., Experiments on stratification of heterogeneous sand mixtures, Journal of Creation 8(1):37–50, 1994. Return to text.
  13. Snelling, A.A., Nature finally catches up, Journal of Creation 11(2):125–6, 1997. Return to text.
  14. Berthault, G., Experiments on lamination of sediments, Journal of Creation 3:25–29, 1988. Return to text.
  15. Hayward, Ref. 1, p. 215. Return to text.
  16. Garner, P., Green River Blues, Creation 19(3):18–19, 1997. Return to text.
  17. Hayward, Ref. 1, pp. 89–91. Return to text.
  18. Williams, E., Origin of bedded salt deposits, Creation Research Society Quarterly 26(1):15–16, 1989. Return to text.
  19. Hayward, Ref. 1, pp. 125–126. Return to text.
  20. Creationists accept that some fossils formed post-Flood, but these are relatively few and do not alter the argument. Return to text.
  21. Froede, C., The Karroo and other fossil graveyards, Creation Research Society Quarterly 32(4), pp. 199–201, 1996. Return to text.
  22. Woodmorappe, J., The antediluvian biosphere and its capability of supplying the entire fossil record, in The First International Conference on Creationism, Robert Walsh (ed.), Creation Science Fellowship, Pittsburgh, p. 205–218; The The Karoo vertebrate non-problem: 800 billion fossils or not? CEN Tech. J. 14(2):47–49, 2000. Return to text.
  23. Hayward, Ref. 1, pp. 126–128. Return to text.
  24. Higher atmospheric CO2 has been repeatedly shown to cause more luxuriant plant growth. Return to text.
  25. Wieland, C., Forests that grew on water, Creation 18(1):20–24, 1996. Also Scheven J., The Carboniferous floating forest—An extinct pre-Flood ecosystem, Journal of Creation 10(1):70–81, 1996, and Schönknecht, G., and Scherer, S., Too much coal for a young earth? Journal of Creation 11(3):278–282, 1997. One of the ‘old-earth’ authors dealt with here actually cited this paper without the question mark, implying that the paper presents a problem for young-earthers, whereas it actually shows a solution! See Ross, Ref. 4, p. 152–153, 220 (notes 17 and 21). Return to text.
  26. Hayward, Ref. 1, pp. 128–130. Return to text.
  27. Morris, J., The Young Earth. Master Books, Colorado Springs, pp. 112–117, 1994, Return to text.
  28. Sarfati, J., The Yellowstone petrified forests, Creation 21(2):18–21, 1999. Return to text.
  29. Hayward, Ref. 1, p. 185; Ross, Ref. 4, pp. 153–4. Return to text.
  30. Walker, T., The pitch for Noah’s Ark, Creation 7(1):20, 1984. See also: ‘Naval stores’, The New Encyclopædia Britannica 8:564–565, 15th Ed., Chicago, 1992. Return to text.
  31. Hayward, Ref. 1, p. 122. Return to text.
  32. Hayward, Ref. 1, p. 84–87. Return to text.
  33. Oard, M.J. The paradox of Pacific guyots and a possible solution for the thick ‘reefal’ limestone on Eniwetok Island, Journal of Creation 13(1):1–2, 1999. Return to text.
  34. Roth, A.A., Fossil reefs and time, Origins 22(2):86–104, 1995. Return to text.
  35. Hayward, Ref. 1, p. 91–92. Return to text.
  36. Snelling, A.A., Can Flood geology explain thick chalk beds? Journal of Creation 8(1):11–15, 1994. Return to text.
  37. Hayward, Ref. 1, p. 93. Return to text.
  38. Snelling, A.A.. and Woodmorappe, J., Granites—they didn’t need millions of years of cooling, Creation 21(1):42–44, 1998. Return to text.
  39. Hayward, Ref. 1, p. 91–92. Return to text.
  40. Snelling, A.A., Towards a creationist explanation of regional metamorphism, Journal of Creation 8(1):51–57, 1994. Also: Wise, K., How fast do rocks form? In The First International Conference on Creationism, Robert Walsh (ed.), Creation Science Fellowship, Pittsburgh, pp. 197–204, 1986. Return to text.
  41. Hayward, Ref. 1, pp. 91–92. Return to text.

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There are at least 500 legends of a worldwide deluge?

Filed under: Bible,Creationism,Theology — augustinehippo1 @ 1:31 pm

Flood! By  and Russell Grigg

A garbled version of the biblical accounts of Noah and Babel? Perhaps. This story comes from the Aztecs of Mexico—one of many such tales, from geographically remote and widely divergent cultures, that speak of a cataclysmic flood.“When mankind were overwhelmed with the deluge, none were preserved but a man named Coxcox … and a woman called Xochiquetzal, who saved themselves in a little bark, and having afterwards got to land upon a mountain called by them Colhuacan, had there a great many children; … these children were all born dumb, until a dove from a lofty tree imparted to them languages, but differing so much that they could not understand one another.”1

A wealth of deluge legends


Tablets excavated from Iraq recount the myths of ancient Mesopotamia. They speak of a vanished culture in Sumer and of a king called Gilgamesh. He was renowned for his great wisdom and knowledge. Gilgamesh related the story of a worldwide flood. This was told to him by Utnapishtim, a king of a pre-flood civilisation and a survivor of the catastrophe.
The story relates that Ea, lord of the waters and man’s guardian, warned Utnapishtim of the deluge by which the gods planned to exterminate mankind. Ea told Utnapishtim to “tear down your house and build a boat” and to “take up into the boat the seed of all living creatures. … [E]ach side of the deck measured one hundred and twenty cubits, making a square”. There were seven decks in all. The flood itself was frightening and full of fury. Utnapishtim recounted that ‘the god of the storm turned daylight to darkness, when he smashed the land like a cup’. Once the tempest had subsided, Utnapishtim ‘looked at the face of the world and there was silence, all mankind was returned to clay. The surface of the sea stretched flat as a rooftop … on every side was the waste of water’. Utnapishtim loosed a dove who returned finding no resting place, and then a swallow with the same result. Finally, a loosed raven did not return. The boat came to ground on a mountaintop and Utnapishtim offered a sacrifice.2


The North American Indians have several flood stories. One from the Choctaw tribe tells how, long ago, men became so corrupt that the Great Spirit destroyed them in a flood. Only one man was saved—a prophet whose warnings the people disregarded, and whom the Great Spirit then directed to build a raft from sassafras logs. After many weeks, a small bird guided the prophet to an island where the Great Spirit changed the bird into a beautiful woman who became the wife of the prophet. Their children then repopulated the world.3


Likewise, there are several Australian Aboriginal flood stories. One tells how, long ago, there was a flood that covered the mountains so that many of the Nurrumbunguttias, or spirit men and women, were drowned. Others, including Pund-jil, were caught up by a whirlwind into the sky. When the waters receded, and the mountains appeared again, and the sea went back into its own place, the son and daughter of Pund-jil ‘went back to earth and became the first of the true men and women who live in the world today’.4


Early Jesuit scholars were the first Europeans to gain access to the Chinese ‘book of all knowledge’ from ancient times. This 4,320-volume collection told of the repercussions of mankind’s rebellion against the gods: “The Earth was shaken to its foundations. The sky sank lower towards the north. The sun, moon, and stars changed their motions. The Earth fell to pieces and the waters in its bosom rushed upwards with violence and overflowed the Earth.”5
Another story, in the folklore of the Bahnars, a primitive tribe of Cochin, China, tells of how the rivers swelled “till the waters reached the sky, and all living beings perished except two, a brother and a sister, who were saved in a huge chest. They took with them into the chest a pair of every sort of animal …”.6


Flood stories from the continent of Africa are rare, but one from Egypt tells of an ancient creation god, Tem, who “was responsible for the primeval flood, which covered the entire earth and destroyed all of mankind except those in Tem’s boat”.7


The Incas of Peru also had a tradition of a deluge. “They said that the water rose above the highest mountains in the world, so that all people and all created things perished. No living thing escaped except a man and a woman, who floated in a box on the face of the waters and so were saved.”8


The stories of the Teutonic tribes of Scandinavia are vivid and describe terrifying events. The imagery of these legends emphasizes the size of the cataclysm. One such tale portrays the chaos of the world when the mighty wolf Fenrir shook himself and “made the whole world tremble. The aged ash tree Yggdrasil [envisaged as the axis of the earth] was shaken from its roots to its topmost branches. Mountains crumbled or split from top to bottom … ”. Men “were driven from their hearths and the human race was swept from the surface of the earth. The earth itself was beginning to lose its shape. Already the stars were coming adrift from the sky and falling into the gaping void. … Flames spurted from fissures in the rocks; everywhere there was the hissing of steam. All living things, all plant life, were blotted out. … And now all the rivers, all the seas rose and overflowed. From every side waves lashed against waves. They swelled and boiled and slowly covered all things. The earth sank beneath the sea …”. Then slowly “the earth emerged from the waves. Mountains rose anew … . Men also reappeared. … Enclosed in the wood itself of the ash tree Yggdrasil … the ancestors of a future race of men had escaped death.”9

Uncanny coherence to Noah’s account

There are at least 500 legends of a worldwide deluge. Many of these show remarkable similarities, with many aspects similar to the details about Noah’s Flood in the Bible (see asidebelow).
We are left with a few options. Perhaps all the peoples of these remote civilisations had different flood experiences that, by chance, had all these features in common, on which they based their stories. However, the more reasonable alternative is that these legends all find their root in the same one global Flood experience that Genesis records.
EarthSo why do sceptics reject the story today? The Bible says that people willingly close their minds about the Flood: “For this is hidden from them by their willing it, that the heavens were of old, and the earth out of the water, and through water, being held together by the word of God, through which the world that then was, being flooded by water, perished” (2 Peter 3:5-6).
The Bible also proclaims that this world is being reserved for another cataclysm: “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a rushing noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat. And the earth and the works in it will be burned up” (2 Peter 3:10).
All too often we rest in the surety of yet another benevolent sunrise. We rely too smugly upon the delicate balance that makes life on our planet possible. The ancient prophecies and legends, corruptions though they are of the original true account, help to remind us of our vulnerability before God. We should humbly bow the knee and get in step with His purposes. They are the only purposes that really count.

Australian Aboriginals relate legend of world-destroying flood

Australian Aboriginals
One of the more striking Flood accounts, summarized here, was discovered by anthropologists among a remote Aboriginal tribe in Western Australia, before any contact with missionaries.
“It came about that the earliest-time children tormented and ill-treated the Winking Owl, Dumbi. Ngadja, the Supreme One, was inwardly grieved and felt deep sorrow for him. He instructed Gajara, ‘If you want to live, take your wife, your sons and your sons’ wives and get a double raft. Because of the Dumbi affair, I intend to drown everyone. I am about to send rain and a sea flood,’ he told them. ‘Put on the raft long-lasting foods that may be stored, foods such as gumi, banimba, and ngalindaja, all these ground foods.’
“So Gajara stored all these foods. He also gathered birds of the air such as the cuckoo, the mistletoe-eater, the rainbow bird, the helmeted friar bird and finches; these he took on the raft, and also a female kangaroo. Gajara gathered his sons as the crew, and his own wife and his sons’ wives together.
“Then Ngadja sent the rainclouds down, shutting the clouds in upon them. The sea-flood came in from the north-north-east and the people were closed in by the salt-water flood and the tidal waters of the sea. Ngadja whirled the flood waters and the earth opened, drowning and flattening them all. He finished them at Dumbey. Meanwhile, the flood carried all those who were on the raft with Gajara along on the current far away to Dulugun.
“At last, the floodwaters brought Gajara back in this direction. He sent some birds out from the raft, first the cuckoo. The cuckoo found the land and did not return to him. Gradually the waters were going down. Later on, the other birds returned to Gajara and he sent them out again the following day. The land was already drying the waters up and the living creatures found a home and food. They killed a kangaroo after landing, and Gajara’s wife, Galgalbiri, put it in the earth oven and cooked it with other foods. The smoke rose slowly until it reached through into the sky. Ngadja, the Supreme Being, could smell the steam and smoke rising from the female kangaroo as it was cooking and he was pleased.
“Ngadja, the Supreme Being, put the rainbow in the sky to keep the rain-clouds back. The rainbow protects us so that the rainfall does not rise too high. Our people understand the significance of it. When we see the rainbow we say, ‘There will not be any abnormally heavy rain.’.”10

Flood stories around the globe

Mountain High Maps
Funk and Wagnall’s 1950 Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology and Legend stated under the heading ‘Deluge or Flood’: “A world cataclysm during which the earth was inundated or submerged by water: a concept found in almost every mythology in the world. The exceptions are Egypt and Japan …” [But see Egyptian myth mentioned above (Ref. 7).] It goes on to describe the ‘bare bones of the usual deluge story’ as follows: “The gods (or a god) decide to send a deluge on the world, usually as punishment for some act, broken tabu, the killing of an animal, etc. (in a Tsimshian myth the deluge comes because the people have mistreated a trout), but sometimes for no reason. Certain human beings are warned, or it comes without warning. If warned, the people construct some kind of vessel (raft, ark, ship, Big Canoe, or the like), or find other means of escape (climbing a mountain or tree, growing tree, floating island, calabash or coconut shell, a turtle’s back, crab’s cave, etc.). Sometimes they also save certain things essential to a way of life, such as food, rarely domestic animals. The deluge comes (rain, huge wave, a container broken or opened, a monster’s belly punctured, etc.). Bird or rodent scouts are often sent out, but this is not universal. When the deluge is over the survivors find themselves on a mountain or an island; sometimes they offer a sacrifice (not universal), and then repeople the earth, recreate animals, etc., by some miraculous means.”11
If there were no near-universal distribution of world-destroying flood legends, sceptics would no doubt attack the Bible’s credibility on this basis, questioning how the memory of such an awesome account could be lost in so many cultures.
The dictionary quoted from here seemed to feel the need to reassure its readers with, “The fact [of a world Flood] itself finds no place in the geological history of the earth … .” But arguing against a global Flood on the basis of the earth’s ‘geological history’ of ‘long ages’ is only sound if that long-age history is a correct reading of the rocks, and the long-age reading is only true if there was no global Flood. This is known as the logical fallacy of ‘begging the question’—assuming that which you are trying to prove.12 The cultural memories of a world-destroying Flood, obviously altered by centuries of telling and retelling, are powerful, worldwide evidence consistent with the veracity of Genesis. They are an exciting reminder of the way in which the true history of the Bible connects with the real world of today. Return to text.


  1. Frazer, J.G., Folklore in the Old Testaments: Studies in Comparative Religon, Legend and Law (Abridged Edition), Avenel Books, New York, NY, USA, p. 107, 1988. Return to text.
  2. Sanders, N.K., The Epic of Gilgamesh, Penguin Classics, London, UK, pp. 108-113, 1972. Return to text.
  3. Morrison, W.B., Ancient Choctaw Legend of the Great Flood, <>, September 8, 2000. Return to text.
  4. Reed, A.W., ‘The Great Flood’, in Aboriginal Fables And Legendary Tales, Reed Books, Sydney, Australia, pp. 55-56, 1965. Return to text.
  5. Berlitz, C., The Lost Ship of Noah, W.H. Allen, London, UK, p. 126, 1987. Return to text.
  6. Ref. 1, p. 82. Return to text.
  7. Mercatante, A.S., Encyclopedia of World Mythology and Legend, Child & Associates Publishing, NSW, Australia, p. 613, 1988. Return to text.
  8. Ref. 1, pp. 105-106. Return to text.
  9. The Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology, Chancellor Press, London, UK, pp. 275-277, 1996. Return to text.
  10. For full version see: Coates, H., The Flood, Creation 4(3):9-12, 1981. Return to text.
  11. Funk & Wagnalls, Standard Dictionary of Folklore, Mythology and Legend, 1950. Return to text.
  12. In 1795, before examining the evidence, Hutton, ‘the father of modern geology’, proclaimed that ‘the past history of our globe must be explained by what can be seen to be happening now … No powers are to be employed that are not natural to the globe, no action to be admitted except those of which we know the principle’ (emphasis added). This automatically ruled out the globe-covering Flood the Bible records. Hutton, J., Theory of the Earth with Proof and Illustrations; cited in Holmes, A., Principles of Physical Geology, 2nd edition, pp. 43-44, 1965. Return to text.
Creation Ministries International  Dear Augustine: You are welcome to post CMI articles on the mentioned website, as long as you agree not to change any of the content and reference and the relevant authors, as you have indicated.
Kind regards,  Annalouise Bekker  Administration
Creation Ministries International (Australia)

April 11, 2014

What was the flood really like?

Filed under: Uncategorized — augustinehippo1 @ 5:11 pm
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In our Sunday school classes we show the Noah and the Ark story with cute little animals sticking their heads out of a cute little boat with cute little rain.

In reality the flood was anything but cute. It was the most catastrophic event in the history of the world. This wasn’t just a problem with too much rain like when our streets get flooded and our satellite TV acts up. This was more like a hundred million super Old Faithful Geysers ripping the continents apart spewing trillions of gallons of high pressure water up above the stratosphere along with mega earthquakes and thousands of volcanoes exploding all around the earth. 

Genesis 7:11-12 (NASB)
 In the six hundredth year of Noah’s life, in the second month, on the seventeenth day of the month, on the same day all the fountains of the great deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky were opened. 12 The rain fell upon the earth for forty days and forty nights. 

Most of the water for the flood came from the fountains of the deep rather than from the collapse of any vapor canopy. Very heavy rainfall, even for 40 days and 40 nights, would not likely yield more than a few tens of feet of water. All the water from the flood is still present on the earth. If one bulldozed all the continents into the ocean depths, the earth would now be entirely covered by about a mile of water today. For example the Pacific Ocean is about two miles deep on the average, while the continental US averages less than one mile above sea level. 

Most of the great mountain ranges we see today were probably build up after the flood by isostatic rebound, and by collision of the continental plates after rapid breakup and accelerated “drift.” Before the flood the earth seems to have had just one continent. Division of the continents may have occurred rapidly “in the days of Peleg” (Gen. 10:25)—which was about 150 years after the flood. This can not be strongly supported from the Bible except for the fact that the root PLG (Peleg) is found in modern words such a “pelagic” and “archipelago.” All that Genesis 10 actually says about Peleg is “in his days the earth was divided.” This could mean a division and migration of peoples rather than referring to continental breakup. Rapid continental drift would have been so disastrous in terms of earthquakes, tidal waves, vulcanism and other upheavals that many scientifically-oriented Bible scholars believe the splitting of earth’s original continent (“pangea”) occurred during the year of the flood. Technical papers on the subject are available from the Ist, IInd and IIIrd International Conferences on Creationism, referenced at the end of this paper. 

Job seems to have lived soon after the Flood. Earth’s ice age(s) and the time of dinosaur extinction seem to have followed the flood because of radically changed environmental conditions resulting from the collapse of the vapor canopy. 

Prior to the flood the earth apparently enjoyed a uniform sub-tropical climate everywhere. There were apparently no storms (hence no rainbows, Gen. 9:13), no wind (Gen. 8:1b), no snow, ice, floods. Water from springs prior to the flood was evidently abundant (Gen. 1:10) and a generous nightly mist, or very heavy dew watered the ground (Gen. 2:5). Fossils of tropical plants can be found in Alaska today, great coal beds have been discovered in Antarctica, and hundreds thousands of suddenly quick-frozen warm-weather mammoth elephants in Siberia. The surface of the earth has been drastically altered as a result of the flood. The Grand Canyon of the Colorado River was evidently the result of a sudden catastrophic draining of a huge inland lake, etc.

Notice that the breaking up of the subterranean reservoirs would mean a lot of geologic upheavals. When the crust breaks open, lava breaks out to the surface. This is what happens in a volcano, but it happened on a much larger scale in the flood. Lava rushing down a mountain slope would suddenly bury large amounts of flora and fauna – that’s just the right criterion for fossilization. Surely enough, large ensembles of plants and animals in awkward positions have been found as fossils. The Bible records that the flood destroyed was global and that it destroyed all non-aquatic macroscopic life outside the ark (Genesis 7:18-24).

The hydroplate model

The hydroplate theory has the advantage of explaining great devastation in the first 40 days. This theory for the catastrophic formation of the sedimentary rock layers during the Flood has been proposed by Dr Walter Brown (former chief of Science and Technological Studies at the Air War College, and Associate Professor at the U.S. Air Academy).
The main proposal for the origin of the Flood waters is massive catastrophism in the first 40 days of the Flood. (We agree with the European Flood proponents that the initial devastation was exceedingly great, but we dispute that there remains no evidence of the mabbul and its effects on creatures in the geological record.) The Brown hypothesis is that the Earth’s crust was fractured (maybe by an impact), releasing vast subterranean waters (the ‘fountains of the great deep’) under great pressure into the atmosphere, perhaps as high as 30 km. Brown’s model essentially deals with water, but in the following continental drift phase includes volcanic activity as a result of the fast tectonic movement caused by the widening rupture in the Earth’s crust. Thus he states:
‘In some regions, the high temperatures and pressures formed metamorphic rock. Where this heat was intense, rock melted. This high pressure magma squirted up through cracks between broken blocks, producing other metamorphic rocks. Sometimes it escaped to the earth’s surface producing volcanic activity and “floods” of lava outpourings such as we see on the Columbia and Deccan Plateaus. This was the beginning of the earth’s volcano activity.’ 
Brown states further:
‘Shifts of mass upon the earth created stresses and ruptures in and just beneath the earth’s crust. This was especially severe under the Pacific Ocean, since the major continental plates all moved toward the Pacific. The portions of the plates that buckled downward were pressed into the earth’s mantle. This produced the ocean trenches and the region called the “ring of fire” in and around the Pacific Ocean. The sharp increase in pressure under the floor of the Pacific caused ruptures and an outpouring of lava which formed submarine volcanoes called seamounts.’ 
Thus the initial rupture of the Earth’s crust under this view would hurl rocks and sediments in gigantic muddy fountains of water which then lead to intense precipitation (consistent with Genesis 7) for the 40 day period. These

fountains would eventually be followed by many large volcanic eruptions in the ‘Ring of Fire’ around the Pacific, all with the force of Krakatoa. This volcano exploded in 1883 sending rocks and dust into the atmosphere to a height of 55 km. The explosion was so intense that it could be heard 4,600 km away. Dust fell at a distance of 5,327 km ten days after the explosion, and a tsunami (tidal wave) 30 metres high travelled right across the Indian Ocean at 720 km/h. Similarly, during the Flood, on top of the water borne sediments, and sometimes mixed with them, vast layers of magma would be poured out or catastrophically exploded into the atmosphere.

The rain in the first 40 days of the Flood involved not only the return to the Earth of the jets of superheated steam ejected into the atmosphere (which would partly fall as hail and snow), but great quantities of rock debris as well. Many fossils could have formed within the first few weeks of the Flood in this model. In the next 110 days, further vast layering, scouring and re-layering of the continents would occur under the ravages of the Flood waters. The final catastrophic drainage of the waters occurred at the end of the continental drift phase when, after massive tectonic upheaval, the land eventually re-appeared as the Earth’s crust found a new equilibrium. It is significant that Genesis 8:3 speaks of the waters ‘returning from off the earth’ (literally ‘going and returning’ in the Hebrew).
Recoil phase of the hydroplate model for the geological events of the flood (from Brown).Rupture of the crust allows steam and sediment to be ejected as a fountain into the atmosphere, returning to the Earth as rain. The continents start to move apart.
Some have criticised the rupture phase of the hydroplate model with its vast quantities of hot steam ejected at enormous speeds into the atmosphere, causing immense rainfall. However, the ‘explosive mixing of water and lava’  targeted by these objections, is very possibly how the ‘windows of heaven’ were opened as described in the Flood account.
Within the context of the hydroplate model, it is entirely feasible that many creatures would flee in vain to survive. We would expect to find fossil evidence of this, such as tracks in mud subsequently covered quickly by sediment.  Furthermore, since it was a full year before Noah came out of the Ark, there is certainly room within the Genesis account for some late-Flood and post-Flood disasters as the waters receded. Thus the Grand Canyon may well have been formed when a vast natural inland lake (left behind after the Flood receded) burst its banks and scoured out the canyon. In this process, vast quantities of silt and debris would be carried to the Pacific coast-line.  Brown, describing the aftermath of the hydroplate catastrophe, agrees with Austin that the Grand Canyon formed in this way. The Toutle Canyon was observed to form catastrophically in a similar manner, but on a much smaller scale, after the Mount St Helen’s eruption in 1980. Such catastrophic processes may account for the burrows of small marine creatures in rocks at one horizon, but which are now covered by further sediments.
Global or local flood?


And the waters prevailed exceedingly on the earth, and all the high hills under the whole heaven were covered. The waters prevailed fifteen cubits upward, and the mountains were covered (Genesis 7:19–20).

Many Christians today claim that the Flood of Noah’s time was only a local flood. These people generally believe in a local flood because they have accepted the widely believed evolutionary history of the earth, which interprets fossil layers as the history of the sequential appearance of life over millions of years.12
Scientists once understood the fossils, which are buried in water-carried sediments of mud and sand, to be mostly the result of the great Flood. Those who now accept millions of years of gradual accumulation of fossils have, in their way of thinking, explained away the evidence for the global Flood. Hence, many compromising Christians insist on a local flood.
Secularists deny the possibility of a worldwide Flood at all. If they would think from a biblical perspective, however, they would see the abundant evidence for the global Flood. As someone once quipped, “I wouldn’t have seen it if I hadn’t believed it.”
Those who accept the evolutionary timeframe, with its fossil accumulation, also rob the Fall of Adam of its serious consequences. They put the fossils, which testify of disease, suffering, and death, before Adam and Eve sinned and brought death and suffering into the world. In doing this, they also undermine the meaning of the death and resurrection of Christ. Such a scenario also robs all meaning from God’s description of His finished creation as “very good.”
If the Flood only affected the area of Mesopotamia, as some claim, why did Noah have to build an Ark? He could have walked to the other side of the mountains and escaped. Most importantly, if the Flood were local, people not living in the vicinity of the Flood would not have been affected by it. They would have escaped God’s judgment on sin.
A local flood covering the mountains?
A local Flood?
In addition, Jesus believed that the Flood killed every person not on the Ark. What else could Christ mean when He likened the coming world judgment to the judgment of “all” men in the days of Noah (Matthew 24:37–39)?
In 2 Peter 3, the coming judgment by fire is likened to the former judgment by water in Noah’s Flood. A partial judgment in Noah’s day, therefore, would mean a partial judgment to come.
If the Flood were only local, how could the waters rise to 20 feet (6 m) above the mountains (Genesis 7:20)? Water seeks its own level; it could not rise to cover the local mountains while leaving the rest of the world untouched.
Even what is now Mt. Everest was once covered with water and uplifted afterward.13 If we even out the ocean basins and flatten out the mountains, there is enough water to cover the entire earth by about 1.7 miles (2.7 km).14 Also important to note is that, with the leveling out of the oceans and mountains, the Ark would not have been riding at the height of the current Mt. Everest, thus no need for such things as oxygen masks either.
There’s more. If the Flood were a local flood, God would have repeatedly broken His promise never to send such a flood again. God put a rainbow in the sky as a covenant between God and man and the animals that He would never repeat such an event. There have been huge local floods in recent times (e.g., in Bangladesh); but never has there been another global Flood that killed all life on the land.
12 For compelling evidence that the earth is not billions of years old, read The Young Earth by Dr. John Morris and Thousands … not Billions by Dr. Don DeYoung; also
13 Mount Everest is more than 5 miles (8 km) high. How, then, could the Flood have covered “all the mountains under the whole heaven?” Before the Flood, the mountains were not so high. The mountains today were formed only towards the end of, and after, the Flood by collision of the tectonic plates and the associated up-thrusting. In support of this, the layers that form the uppermost parts of Mt. Everest are themselves composed of fossil-bearing, water-deposited layers. For more on this, see Chapter 14 on catastrophic plate tectonics.
14. A.R. Wallace, Man’s Place in the Universe, McClure, Phillips & Co, New York, 1903, 225–226;
Where Did All of the Flood Waters Go?
by  Eric Lyons, M.Min.
According to evolutionist Bill Butler, “The greatest geologic fiction that the Creationists adhere to is Noah’s Flood” (2002). The idea that water ever covered the entire Earth, including the highest hills and mountains (Genesis 7:19-20), supposedly is unthinkable (and impossible). Evolutionists propose several questions when expressing their unbelief in the Noahic Flood. One such question was raised by Butler in his article, “Creationism = Willful Ignorance.” He asked: “If the earth’s surface were covered by an additional 29,000+ feet of water, how do you get rid of it?” If Mt. Everest reaches a height of over 29,000 feet, then the Bible allegedly indicates that the Flood waters reached even higher—approximately 23 feet higher than the peak of Mt. Everest (Genesis 7:20). If such is the case, where did all of the water go?
First, the Bible is more specific about who caused the waters to subside, than where exactly all of the waters went. Genesis 8:1,3 says, “God made a wind to pass over the earth, and the waters subsided…. And the waters receded continually from the earth.” Years later, the prophet Isaiah recorded how Jehovah compared a promise He made to Israel with His promise “that the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth” (Isaiah 54:9). Although these passages do not tell us exactly where the waters went, for the Christian who believes that the Bible is God’s inspired Word, such revelation should be adequate—God did something with the Flood waters.
Second, the skeptic’s assertion (that there presently is not enough water on the Earth for there ever to have been the kind of flood described in Genesis 6-8) is based upon invalid assumptions. The truth is, we are unaware how high the mountains were in Noah’s day, nor do we know the depth of the ocean valleys. Thus, one cannot know how much water was on the Earth during the Noahic Flood. Psalm 104:6-8 indicates that, at some time in the past, God established new heights and depths for the Earth’s mountains and valleys. While directing his comments to Jehovah, the psalmist proclaimed:
You covered it [the Earth—EL] with the deep as with a garment; the waters were standing above the mountains. At Your rebuke they fled, at the sound of Your thunder they hurried away. The mountains rose; the valleys sank down to the place which You established for them” (NASU, emp. added).

Just as God miraculously altered the Earth’s topography during the creation week (Genesis 1:9-13), and just as He miraculously sent flood waters upon the Earth, it appears that God miraculously caused the waters to subside. In all likelihood, the antediluvian world was vastly different from the Earth of today (cf. 2 Peter 3:6). It seems probable (and reasonable to believe) that the mountains of Noah’s day were much smaller than, say, such peaks as Mt. Everest or Mt. McKinley that are so well known to us. Thus, the Flood did not have to rise to levels of 29,000+ feet to cover everything on the Earth. We know, according to the Scriptures, that the waters rose above the mountaintops; however, we simply cannot know the heights reached by the antediluvian mountains. (Interestingly, marine fossils have been found near the top of Mt. Everest.)

Where did all of the Flood waters go? The most logical answer in light of the Scriptures appears to be that God made room for the waters by adjusting the Earth’s topography. Much of the water from the Flood likely has retreated into the deeper ocean trenches—valleys that, in places, are over seven miles deep.
1. Large quantities of subterranean water existed in the ancient past.
Psalm 24:2. … He has founded it [the earth] upon the seas …
Psalm 33:7. … He gathers the waters of the sea together as a heap; He lays up the deeps in storehouses … (A storehouse is a closed container that preserves something you may use later. God used that water when He brought it forth as a flood. Many storehouses, or interconnected chambers, held the subterranean water.)
Psalm 104:3. He lays the beams of His upper chambers in the waters …7 [Pillars were formed.]
Psalm 136:6. … [He] spread out the earth above the waters …
II Peter 3:5. … the earth was formed out of water and by water …1
2. These subterranean waters, under growing and very extreme pressure, burst forth bringing on the flood.
Genesis 7:11–12. … the fountains of the great deep burst open,8 and the floodgates9 of the sky were opened. And rain fell …10
Job 38:8–11. … who enclosed the sea with doors, when bursting forth, it went out from the womb; when I made a cloud its garment …
Psalm 18:15. … the channels of water appeared, and the foundations of the world were laid bare …
Proverbs 3:20. … the deeps were broken up and the skies dripped dew …


Butler, Bill (2002), “Creationism = Willful Ignorance,” [On-line], URL:


Butler, Bill (2002), “Creationism = Willful Ignorance,” [On-line], URL:

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