Let me start off by saying that I don’t know too much about Catholic theology as it differs from other Christian denominations. Growing up, there were no Catholics where I lived (or at least, I never knew any until at least my teenage years, and there still is no Catholic Church within 20 miles of my childhood home); Baptists, Methodists and Presbyterians a-plenty, along with smaller segments of many various other denominations, but no Catholics. In school (private, Christian school), we mostly stuck to things that all Christians had in common, though in our history lessons of Western civilization, of course we had to get into religious wars and Catholic dominance of Western Europe, etc., so I had a good overview of Catholicism generally. Since growing up, I’ve learned more about Catholicism, even engaging in a couple of online forums (fora?) for a short while, but never delving very deeply into it; and most of what I learned was from an anti- or at least non-Catholic position (or from pop culture, like the christening scene in The Godfather, and the Christmas Day Mass in While You Were Sleeping).
However, now I have several Catholic friends on facebook, and am currently living in an area that is predominantly Catholic, so I don’t want to unnecessarily offend Catholics, even if I do think they’re wrong; and at one point I previously said something to a Catholic about “praying to saints”, and she said that they don’t “pray to saints” as if praying to God, but rather asking them to intercede, just as you might call up a friend and ask them to pray for you about something; therefore, in order to meet Catholics where they are, I can’t go based on what I have read from non-Catholic sources about what Catholics believe, because they tend to reject such language. Yes, the non-Catholics are right in that Catholics pray to dead people, but Catholics reject the unbiblical insinuations of it, and put a Biblical (or quasi-Biblical) twist to it, so that they can hold what seem to be two contrary opinions at once. [I say “quasi-Biblical”, because I do agree that it is Biblical to ask people to pray for you, but that it is unbiblical (perhaps even demonic or approaching witchcraft) to communicate with the dead, and that there is nothing in the Bible that indicates that living Christians should ask dead Christians to intercede for them.]
So, Catholics claim they don’t “pray to dead people” in a bad/unbiblical sense, and they also claim they “don’t worship Mary” (another common charge leveled against Catholics by non-Catholics). No matter how many non-Catholic resources I could quote confirming Mary worship, Catholics wouldn’t accept them as truly understanding Catholicism, and they would brush off any such statements as being inaccurate, so I decided to go to the source. Just about every movie that depicts Catholics or Catholicism at all includes one person with a rosary necklace and/or praying the rosary, but I never knew exactly what it was; at some point I learned that the necklace is used as a reminder of the form of the prayer, with every bead being a different thing to say or think about, so that once you go all the way around the necklace, touching each bead and saying the right prayer attached to each bead, you were done. But here is the rosary from a Catholic source.
It starts off good enough with the Apostles’ Creed and the Lord’s Prayer, but then comes three Hail Marys. So God gets one prayer, while Mary gets three. Okay…. The first part of “Hail Mary” is taken from the Bible in which the angel Gabriel visits Mary and tells her that she will become pregnant and give birth to Jesus, but then it devolves into asking a dead person to intercede on behalf of the living — again, perfectly acceptable to Catholics, but nowhere said or implied in the Bible. Continuing the rosary is again something that no Christians so far as I know would have a problem with, “Glory be to the Father”, followed by the first “mystery” (there are 4 different types of mysteries, with 5 mysteries in each type — more on that later), then “Our Father”, then while contemplating the “mystery”, the person is to say 10 Hail Marys followed by another “Glory be to the Father”, then repeat the cycle with the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 5th mysteries, saying each mystery followed by “Our Father”, 10 Hail Marys and “Glory be to the Father”. Does anybody else see the problem of the ratio of praying to and hailing and honoring Mary vs. praying to and honoring God?
Now a brief sidetrack into the discussion of the “mysteries”. Most of the things in the “mysteries” are taken directly from the Bible, and are basically just a recitation or repetition of stories in the Bible, although with some occasional non-Biblical/extra-Biblical things thrown in — but for the most part, are things that no Christian would disagree with until… the last two of the “Glorious Mysteries”, “The Assumption” and “The Coronation”. Having read that, I just have to say, “WOW!!” Whoo, boy!
The Fourth Glorious Mystery: THE ASSUMPTION
- After the apostles have dispersed, the Blessed Mother goes to live with John, the beloved disciple.
- Mary lives many years on earth after the death of Christ.
- She is a source of comfort, consolation and strength to the apostles.
- As she had nourished the infant Jesus, so she nourishes spiritually the infant Church.
- Mary dies, not of bodily infirmity, but is wholly overcome in a rapture of divine love.
- Her body as well as her soul is taken up into heaven.
- After her burial the apostles go to the tomb and find only fragrant lilies.
- Jesus does not permit the sinless body of His Mother to decay in the grave.
- Corruption of the body is an effect of original sin from which Mary is totally exempted.
- The bodies of all mankind, at the last judgment, will be brought back and united again to the soul.
Spiritual Fruit: To Jesus through Mary
The Fifth Glorious Mystery: THE CORONATION
- As Mary enters heaven, the entire court of heaven greets with joy this masterpiece of God’s creation.
- Mary is crowned by her divine Son as Queen of heaven and earth.
- More than we can ever know the Hearts of Jesus and Mary overflow with joy at this reunion.
- Only in heaven will we know the great majesty of that coronation, and the joy it gave to the angels and saints.
- Even the angels, who by nature are greater than humans, hail Mary as their Queen.
- Mary shares so fully in the glory of Christ because she shared so fully in His suffering.
- Only in heaven will we see how central is the role of Mary in the divine plan of redemption.
- The angels and saints longed for the coming of her whose heel crushes the head of the serpent.
- Mary pleads our cause as a most powerful Queen and a most merciful and loving Mother.
- A great sign appeared in heaven; a woman clothed with the sun, the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars.
Spiritual Fruit: Grace of Final Perseverance
Really? First, there is nothing in the Bible of this; it’s just Catholic additions. Secondly, if Mary were sinless (4th mystery, #8 & 9), why does she need a Savior and Redeemer? — Luke 1:47. Thirdly, the “spiritual fruit” that is supposed to come from this 4th mystery is “To Jesus through Mary”?? In a recent discussion with a Catholic friend of mine on facebook, I told her that one of the problems I had with Catholicism is that it puts the priests as a mediator between God and man, while the Bible says that there is One such Mediator, Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 2:5). She basically said that priests weren’t mediators in that sense, and affirmed that Jesus was the only Mediator. I still insist that Catholic priests are mediators in a way that the Bible forbids, and now after reading this, I must add in that Mary is another such mediator. If we have to go through anybody but Jesus to get to God, whether that is priests or as this says, “through Mary to Jesus”, then that is putting an unbiblical mediator between God and man. Now Catholics may say that it’s not putting a mediator between God and man, but it is. Fourthly, aside from the blatantly unbiblical nature of all this (except #10, which is a quote from the Bible and may or may not refer to Mary at all), #7 — “only in heaven will we see how central is the role of Mary in the divine plan of redemption”?? Oh, dear! And #8 is not just “extra-biblical” (meaning, outside of the Bible, like the existence of the Mayans and Incas) but absolutely **UN**Biblical. The Bible says that it is the heel of the Son, the offspring of the woman, that crushes the head of the serpent, *not* the woman’s heel!! — Gen. 3:15.
Okay, enough of the “mysteries”. Back to the rosary, which is technically finished, but after the end of the rosary, this is supposed to be said:
HAIL, HOLY QUEEN, Mother of Mercy, our life, our sweetness and our hope! To thee do we cry, poor banished children of Eve; to thee do we send up our sighs, mourning and weeping in this vale of tears. Turn then, most gracious advocate, thine eyes of mercy toward us, and after this our exile, show unto us the blessed fruit of thy womb, Jesus. O clement, O loving, O sweet Virgin Mary!
So now MARY is “our hope”??? We cry to Mary, and “send up our sighs, mourning and weeping”? Why not just straight to God? Why this other mediator between God and man? And MARY is our advocate? How unbiblical can it get!?
Finally, I also take issue with them saying that we are “poor banished children of Eve”. While technically true in that Eve is the mother of all living, it is through Adam that we have our federal headship, and we sinned in Adam, not in Eve. That is just one more twisting of the Bible by misplacing the emphasis that the Bible gives, putting it on something that is not emphasized.
Romans 1:26-27 reads (KJV), “For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.” [You can click this link and change it to any number of different versions if you want, but most read very similarly.]
I’ve read this passage in numerous versions, in pondering this topic, and most basically say the same thing: the women turned a natural thing into an unnatural thing, and in a similar way so did the men, leaving the natural use of women, and began lusting after each other, committing homosexual acts. A couple of versions, those which do not pretend to be literal translations, but rather intentionally take the literal words and turn them into what the author thinks the original meaning was, outright say that this means, “women started having same-sex relations, and the men did also.” Any time I’ve encountered this passage, no matter what the version, that has been what the preacher or expositor says it means — it’s a condemnation of homosexual relations, whether female or male.
To be honest, I can certainly understand where that came from, and it may indeed be the correct way of looking at it, and I may be totally off-base. But something (and I can’t remember what) got me to thinking about this and looking at it in a different way, and wondering if the common understanding is the correct one, or if people misunderstood the “natural vs. unnatural” and the connection between “the women having unnatural relations” and “likewise also the men”.
So here’s how I’m wondering how it can be taken: the “changing of the natural use into that which is against nature” may refer not to the unnatural manner of female same-sex sexual relations, but rather be referring to anal sex.
Yes, it may be that two women together may be rightly considered as “against nature”; after all, what is natural is males with females and sex ultimately creating children. Not only is female-female unnatural, but it is a sterile form of sexual relations by its very nature, and as such could be said to be “against nature”. But then, so is anal sex. The “lower alimentary canal” (large intestine, rectum, anus) is naturally used by the body for elimination of undigested and indigestible food and toxins and all other sorts of stuff that would be bad for the body to retain. What could be more unnatural than using this excretory system/organ(s) for sex? [Plus, there are all sorts of diseases that can afflict the participants in anal sex (passing of STDs and other germs), and sex can damage the anus, rectum, and lower bowel because it is not designed for sex, and sex can tear the delicate lining of the bowel, leaking toxins, fecal matter, and other germs into the interior of the body, where it is not supposed to go.]
Backing up a little bit in the Bible to add context, Paul says that even the ungodly, heathen sinners are “without excuse” (v. 20) because they shoulda, coulda, woulda been able to recognize God and His rules by nature, except for the fact that they didn’t want to. They refused to glorify Him as God, and became idolators, worshiping other gods and making images of these false gods, using things in creation as their model, rather than retaining the worship of the Creator. So, God turned them over to their own imagination and lust; and because of their lust and idolatry (and wicked imagination) they began to commit strange sexual practices. [This much, I think pretty much everyone agrees the passage means.] And if I’m right, these strange and unnatural sexual practices included anal sex, which led to male homosexual relations. So, the “likewise the men” would not mean, “the women entered into same-sex relations, and so did the men”, but rather, “the women allowed unnatural anal sex, and then the men did too, leaving women entirely and began lusting after other men, engaging in homosexual (anal) sex”.
Again, pretty much everyone agrees that the end result of whatever the women did “and likewise the men” was unnatural and anti-God homosexual sex, which brought a greater and just curse upon the participants. (The only ones I know who would disagree are those who want to rewrite the Bible and pretend that homosexual relations are not condemned in the strongest terms throughout the Bible.) The only question is does this passage condemn lesbian sex, or is it more proper to use it to condemn anal sex?
I can see it going either way. Using the understanding I’ve outlined above, it seems pretty easy to step from “men started having anal intercourse with women” to “men started having anal intercourse with men” — as if once they accepted non-vaginal or anal intercourse with women, it became even easier to start lusting after other men and having anal intercourse with them. But using the common, perhaps even near-universal understanding, it could also be easy to understand this as “both women and men started having homosexual relations”.
After writing the above but before hitting “publish”, I read what Dr. John Gill (eminent Baptist preacher from the 1700s, whose Exposition of the Whole Bible my husband has in our library) has to say about it, and he basically says what I say above — the first option he gives is that it is referring to the practice of sodomy (male-to-female anal sex, perhaps as prostitutes) “and likewise also the men” (male-to-male anal sex); while he gives as other possibilities the women sexually gratifying themselves or each other without men (and as I read it, I’m uncertain whether Dr. Gill was saying that these women were sodomizing each other and/or themselves [by use of sex toys, I suppose, or other such objects], or whether he was referring to other non-anal sexual practices of a lesbian or self-gratifying nature). So, if I’m wrong, at least I have good company, since that seems to be the same line of reasoning and train of thought that one of the greatest theologians had 300 years ago.
There are some religious people who claim to believe the Bible (or at least the Old Testament), and say that abortion is not wrong, is not murder, is justifiable, is not prohibited by the Bible, etc. They will usually “argue from silence” and note that abortion as such is never mentioned, much less prohibited. Or they’ll take the passage in the Law of Moses that talks about if a pregnant woman is struck and “her fruit pass from her”, that it is not a murder charge — there is no taking of the striker’s life for causing the fetal demise — they assume that “her fruit pass from her” is a miscarriage, and the “evil” that may happen afterward is maternal injury. Others will note that this passage could easily (and, they say, more properly) mean that this is talking about a preterm birth in which the baby lives, and the “evil” that happens afterwards could be either maternal or neonatal injury. Obviously, in those days, there was precious little that could be done to save preterm babies, so it could easily mean that if the baby was big and old enough to survive, then the person that struck the woman and caused the premature birth would only receive a mild sentence for endangering the pregnant woman and by extension her fetus/neonate; but if the baby could not survive and/or the mother was injured or killed, then the person would pay with his life, if a life was taken, or he would pay some sort of restitution for the injury.
That’s about the sum total of so-called “Biblical support” for abortion that I’ve seen. If there are others that I’ve missed that you’ve heard of, feel free to add them.
Most Christians that try to answer this question or argument basically give the explanation I outlined in the first paragraph, in response to the “her fruit” passage; and say things like, “Of course abortion as such isn’t mentioned — it’s obviously murder, so wouldn’t need to be specially mentioned, any more than a specific type of rape or child molestation would need to be mentioned, other than a general prohibition against any sort of sexual conduct outside of marriage.”
While I agree with this, it doesn’t go far enough, because all the opponent has to say is, “The fetus is not a person and therefore cannot be murdered. It is not obviously murder.” Then the two people just end up in a stalemate.
The line of reasoning I’m about to put forth will only work for people who believe the Bible. The others will find some carnal excuse to continue to support abortion.
In the creation story, God created Adam and Eve in His image, and also the animals, and said that they each would reproduce “after their kind.” [Kinds are not necessarily “species” as we define them, but probably could be a “family” or “genus” as we classify them. All dog types, including domestic dogs of all breeds, wolves, foxes, dingos, etc. would have been originally one “kind,” which speciated after the flood.] But, using species that are familiar to us, it’s obvious that dogs produce other dogs — they don’t give birth to cats; cats give birth to cats; mice give birth to other mice; cows don’t give birth to horses; humans give birth to humans, etc.
Later on in Genesis (perhaps even a few different times, plus other times in Exodus), capital punishment for murder is not just allowed but even required. Gen. 9:6 is one such passage. But more than just being a law given, this verse also contains the reasoning for the law: namely, “for in the image of God created He man.”
To kill a man is to kill God in effigy, which is why the murderer is required to lose his own life. He has, one might argue, made the ultimate insult to God. This is also, I would argue, why Satan loves murder so much. He would love to kill and/or dethrone God; but since he can’t, he will do as much as he can — and this includes killing men himself (perhaps by subtly encouraging them to do self-destructive things, including suicide, promiscuous behavior [becoming infected with lethal diseases such as AIDS], addictions to drugs and alcohol, etc.), and inciting them to kill each other — on a large scale like the Holocaust, or on a small scale like drive-by shootings. Also by abortion.
Because, as I said before, man produces after his kind. This has been proven by genetics — at conception, the male and female gametes come together, and their genes mix to produce a genetically new human. If that “conceptus” is taken and analyzed, it would show that it was definitely human, even though it was only a one-celled creature. It is also most certainly alive, biologically speaking, so to kill this life would be to kill a genetically unique human. To kill a man, a human, one of the human kind, one of the creatures made “in the image of God,” is to commit murder.
We live in an age of relativism. Just like Pontius Pilate, many people today are asking, “What is truth?” There is the idea of “it’s right for you, but not for me.” (To a certain extent, I can agree with that — my husband would not be right for you, but is right for me — that sort of thing.) But one thing that is particularly disturbing to me is in the area of changing the meaning of words, or changing what a document says to bend the words to a preconceived notion.
A few years ago, I read a book called The Genesis Flood, by Drs. Whitcomb and Morris, in which they studied what the Bible said about the Flood as described in Genesis. It was very interesting. One of the things they said that stuck with me is that at the time they wrote the book (I think in the late 60s or early 70s, although it has extended up to this day), some people were trying to say that when the Bible said that all the hills and mountains were covered, and all flesh died, and all this and all that… that all didn’t really mean “all.” Now, I know that sometimes “all” can be used in a limited sense — “everybody watches the Olympics” — well, certainly not every single member of the human race does — but that is not the language of Genesis. The authors point out that the original Hebrew terms, specifically the repetition involved in using “all” so many times in such a short space, shows that there is no way that “all” can be taken in a limited sense, without seriously distorting the meaning of the term and in fact the entire Hebrew language. The way they said it was (paraphrasing, because I can’t remember the direct quote), “If this section is not meant to show a global flood, but instead a limited flood, what other terms could have been employed to show a global flood?”
I think about that a lot, as it relates to the Bible, as well as other things. Take, for example, the section of the Constitution that deals with Eminent Domain. Now, it looks pretty simple to me — the government can force you to sell your land if it is needed for public use; however, the Supreme Court has ruled that “public use” includes selling that land to private individuals or organizations for them to build apartment complexes or malls, which will generate more revenue in the form of taxes, which is considered to be beneficial for the public/government. Huh? So, let me ask the question this way: Had the framers of the Constitution intended to restrict Eminent Domain to being used solely to take land for highways and such (what has historically been the restrictions), what language could they have used to delineate that?
I guess that’s why I’m not a lawyer — I like plain English. 🙂
(This post was inspired by a search term that someone used to find my blog.)
Answer: It depends. There were many individuals listed in the Bible who were not married, but most were. Paul apparently was not married, but Peter was. In the Old Testament as well as the New, it is crystal-clear that sexual relations are only allowed between married individuals. So the short answer is, no, you don’t have to get married, as long as you’re willing not to have sex.
Paul wrote most eloquently to the Corinthians that it is best not to be married, because unmarried people have more time and energy to devote to the work of the Lord. But those who “burn” (with sexual desire) are distracted by it, and are therefore hindered in their work. He further wrote that those who desire to get married are not sinning, although he wished that they were as he was–that is, so filled with the desire of the work of the Lord that their sexual urges were greatly minimized or even completely done away.
I rather suspect that the person who Googled that search question was trying to justify his or her behavior. I’ve heard of some so-called Christian couples who live together before they were married, and although they didn’t have a verse in the Bible to back them up, justified it by saying, “We’ve prayed about it and have peace, and feel like God is making an exception in our case.” What nerve!
But there is the possibility that this person had been told that marriage was necessary. I’ve heard that some of the sects of Mormons preach that girls must be married in order to enter heaven–which is why they have girls as young as 14 get married, many times to older men. This is obviously Biblically inaccurate. When Paul wrote to the Corinthians (above), he specifically mentioned females as well as males when talking about whether or not Christians should get married, saying that it was better to remain unmarried if you could stand it. If you can’t, then yes, you must get married.
Update to this post: I was blessed to read this post from a man’s perspective on why modern men seem to want to avoid marriage and talk young ladies into shacking up instead, and what women can do about it.
As a Christian, I believe the world was given to man to rule over and subdue. Since the earth and all the animals are in our care and under our dominion, then we have the responsibility to be wise in the use of resources, to be humane to the animals, and to preserve the health of the earth as much as possible. However, environmentalists go way too far in this. Many of them worship (or practically worship) nature, fulfilling Rom. 1:25, “who… worshiped and served the creature more than the Creator….” They will uproot humans to preserve the habitat of a field mouse. They will interfere with the production of energy, and protest against using nuclear energy (though these things are typically cleaner and more environmentally-friendly than, say, burning wood or coal for heat). Many are vegetarians and vegans because they put animals on equal footing with humans, denying the special place God has created humans in.
Let me be clear–I am not against being a vegetarian or a vegan, nor am I against various “green” or environmentally-friendly things. But the reason behind what I choose to do and what some of the environmentalists do is vastly different.
Most of my environmentally-friendly actions are related to being frugal–things like using less energy (to heat/cool the house or drive my car), reducing my waste (by buying in bulk so there is less packaging and using less of it), and eating less meat and more vegetables. I try to be conscious of how my actions fit in with my Biblical world-view.
While I enjoy the “wild untamed beauty” of the wilderness, I am also not opposed to harnessing that beauty and taming it. I enjoy walking through the woods, but there is also beauty in the order of an old English garden. I do not support the wholesale destruction of the rain forests, but I do support feeding the humans who live there, and if that includes taming the jungle, then so be it.
We should not worship the earth and the environment, but we are to be good stewards of what God has given us, and to take care of it wisely.
A word about global warming. Frankly, I think it’s stupid, but there are plenty of blogs, articles, and websites that discuss this better than I can. My understanding of what the global warming fear-mongerers say is that global warming is going to melt the ice at the poles, and flood the world. But from a Judeo-Christian perspective, this is not only ridiculous, but impossible, because Gen. 9:8-17 declares that God will not destroy the earth with water again. Also, some years ago, my brother-in-law wrote a research paper in which he showed that ozone levels varied directly with the sun-spot cycle. It would not surprise me if “global warming” (or is it global cooling?) is more affected by the sun-spots than by any actions of man. This “research” of global warming only goes back about a century because we have only been keeping records of these things about that long; but I’ve read that some people are looking at old diaries and government records (such as those kept in China 1000 years ago) to look at environmental changes. For instance, one old priest or monk’s diary reported that a few centuries ago, one Sunday the communion wine was frozen. Now that’s cold! If we take that temperature as “normal January temperatures” then it certainly looks like the earth is warmer than it should be. However, is that normal? Are current temperatures normal, or high, or low? We must first establish “normal” before we can decide what we should be doing to get or keep things normal. It’s likely that “normal” is a range, and precious little we do or don’t do changes it.
I just finished reading Show Me God and must say that I’m a little disappointed in it. As a Bible-believing Christian, I assumed that this book confirmed the Bible. And it does….except for the literal Creation story in Genesis. If you don’t believe the Bible is literal and accurate, then you won’t have a problem with this book.
First, the good parts–Heeren shows through interviews and quotes and scientific deduction/logic that the Big Bang is the only theory that fits what science currently knows or believes; and that eminent scientists such as Albert Einstein have no possible explanation for the universe as it exists today, except for a Creator. Simplistically, according to their calculations, the universe cannot possibly have always existed, so it must have come about somehow, and matter cannot come from nothing. Since it cannot come from nothing, it must have come from someone or something outside of this universe. In that, it does not necessarily confirm the God of the Bible, but he does point out that no other ancient deity was presumed to have created everything; but that all other religions show the gods coming out of the natural world. Further, it shows that proceeding from the Big Bang theory, there must have been exceedingly precise adjustments in order for the universe to exist as it does (something like 1 to the 10 with 40,000 zeros behind it). It is written in “accessible” language with a minimum of jargon, so the average person should be able to understand it. However, it does rather boggle the mind, simply because of the necessary technical discussion of the world of astro-physics. If a person believes that the Big Bang theory precludes a creator, then this book shows that idea to be inaccurate.
Now, what I had against the book. Perhaps it was that it’s been so long since I’ve been in high school and college, but there seemed to be some loopholes in the theory and presumptions that the Big Bang is built on. I was reminded many times while reading this book that prior to the days of Galileo and Newton, there were pretty plausible theories on how planets moved, and the earth was the center of the universe; and only after the laws of planetary motion and gravity were discovered were these old theories shown to be completely false. I can understand that so far the calculations line up with the Big Bang theory; but there are some unanswered questions that are not so far answerable, and that makes me think that there are other better theories out there yet to be discovered.
This book demotes the Genesis account to myth or fabrication. Those aren’t the words of the author!–he affirms the accuracy of the Bible, and speaks very well of the truth of the Creator-God of the Bible, and Jesus, and those things. However, he accepts the Big Bang theory as truth, and thereby demotes the first chapter of Genesis. He says that the Big Bang theory confirms the creation account, but never explains how this theory which has the stars forming from plasma or a cosmic dust cloud hundreds of billions of years ago jives with the Genesis account which says that God created the stars on the 4th day. Further, the author declares that the earth is millions of years old, and ascribes to “punctuated equilibrium” as his method of believing that God created the animals–the “six days” aren’t literal days, but eons of time. My biggest problem with that theory is that in order for the fossil record to exist for millions of years, these animals must have lived and died prior to man arriving on the scene and sinning; yet the Bible is extraordinarily clear that death came about as a result of man’s sin, so I can’t quite understand how millions of animals lived and died for millions of years without sin being the cause of it. I also reject the evolutionists’ interpretation of the fossil record, and a good book on that is The Genesis Flood, which very handily exposes the logical and scientific fallacies of geologists as they assume evolution to be true and then bend the facts to support that conclusion.
Heeren’s main logical argument for a Christian to believe the Big Bang theory instead of the Bible (in addition to believing scientific theories to be completely accurate) seems to be the following argument: As we look deeper and deeper into space, we can see light coming from stars that are billions of years away; therefore, these stars must be billions of years old. To see a supernova explode that must have happened millions or billions of years ago, when the universe is only thousands of years old, would make God be deceptive, since that event did not actually happen–He just made it appear to be so. And the only reason for that appearance would be to make us believe that the universe is millions or billions of years old when it actually is not. The alternative is that the Genesis account is lying, and that means that God definitely would be a liar to tell man through His inspired Word that He created the universe in 6 days, when He actually accomplished it over the course of billions of years. Or else, the Genesis account is inaccurate; and then that puts the accuracy of the whole Bible into question. Now, which scenario makes God to be the bigger liar? Did it make God to be a liar to have created humans as adults? They were only one day old, but had the appearance of being years old. Was that deceptive? Or is man perhaps willingly deceiving himself when he looks through a telescope and builds theories upon suppositions on theories?
It amazes me that so many people call themselves Christians, but don’t believe the Bible. Perhaps I’ve been a bit too insulated in my world (I’m not complaining, by any means!), but the statement “My God wouldn’t do that” sounds foreign to my ears. I’ve heard it in many different ways, by different people, in different settings–my aunt was probably the first person I heard in person say it; but many people on the internet and my email groups will say this from time to time. This statement makes me wonder, just who is your god anyway?
Usually when people say “My god wouldn’t do that,” they are objecting to something that is in the Bible–prohibitions against homosexual behavior, women in leadership positions at church, the death penalty, sending people to hell, etc. If their god isn’t the God of the Bible, then who is their god? They will say they believe the Bible….just not certain parts of it. My aunt said she believed that the Bible as it was originally written was God’s absolute truth, but that “through the centuries” people had added in their own prejudices to it. She said, “I don’t believe Paul wrote that.” Another person through email said that she didn’t think it was God’s will that anybody be disempowered (meaning, I suppose, that women are expressly forbidden to teach in the church). So, who is her god, then?
If you say you are a Christian, then you are bound to believe the Bible; and if you believe the Bible, then you must act on it (otherwise it is not true believe, just mental acknowledgement). Why do you believe parts of the Bible and not other parts? Deists of the 18th century believed the Bible….just not the parts that showed God interacting with His creation, especially the miracles. They believed in “The Watch-maker God”–that is, that God set up the universe with certain rules, like winding a clock, and then let it go on its own. Why did they cut out the miracles? Because they were “Enlightened” and only believed in the natural, because the supernatural was beyond reason. Do you believe the miracles of the Bible, but not the prohibitions against homosexual behavior? Who is your god?
“Well, I believe that God is love, and God wants me to be happy, and [doing this] makes me happy.” Does God want you to be happy? Or does He want you to be joyful, and give Him glory? What if you found your happiness in molesting little children? Some people do (in some sick, twisted way). Are pedophiles allowed to do whatever they want, just because they get pleasure and gratification from it? “Well, that’s sick. I’m not a pedophile, I just…..” But what does the Bible say? “Well, I don’t like what the Bible says there, and I don’t think that’s right, so I don’t think it was what God originally said.” I encourage you to read Josh McDowell’s Evidence that Demands a Verdict, for a fuller explanation of the accuracy of the Bible as we know it (among other things, it states that almost every verse in the New Testament exists apart from the texts, in collections of letters and sermons and things from the early centuries).
The problem is not with the Bible, the problem is with people who don’t want to believe the Bible and obey it. They call themselves Christians, but they have sex outside of marriage, and have abortions, but think the death penalty is murder, and allow women preachers, and allow homosexuals to remain in the church and even to be preachers, bishops, etc. And all because “My god wouldn’t do that.” Psalm 50:21 says, “….you thought I was altogether as yourself…..” When people alter the Bible to suit their own preconceived notions, they bring God down to their level, so that they have a deity whom they can understand, and even control. This god is like a doting old grandfather letting his rambunctious grandchildren do generally whatever they want, because he just can’t bring himself to punish them. That is not the God of the Bible. This god is more like the ancient deities of the pagan and heathen cultures–a god of their own imagination.
In Joshua 24:15, we read this familiar passage, “….as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” But often, we don’t read the rest of the verse: “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” In other words, if you’re not going to serve God (the one true and living God), then it doesn’t really matter who you do serve. So, who is your God?
No, not on December 25 1 B.C. or A.D. 1! I’m not worrying about the year–probably 3-6 years “Before Christ,” thanks to whoever messed up the calculations back a thousand years ago or so. I’m talking about the day. Why is it celebrated on Dec. 25? Because back in the early centuries, when Catholicism had become established as the official denomination of Christianity, they began to meet the pagans half-way on some religious things, to make Christianity more palatable for them. One of the things they did was to change certain pagan holidays (such as the winter solstice celebrations) into “Christian” holidays, such as Christmas. This let the heathen continue to worship in their old forms, but with a Christian bent to it. And this is why many Christians do not celebrate Christmas–because of the heathen heritage. There are few people who have really looked at this question who would still place Jesus’ birth in the winter–and those who do would probably just say, “We don’t know when it was, and it could have been then.”
But I think it was around September, and very likely on whatever day was the Day of Atonement (now known as Yom Kippur). The particular day is probably impossible to know–and if it were important, I daresay it would be specified in the Gospels–but I read something years ago that mentioned that of the three chief Jewish holy days of the Law, something important happened in Christianity on two of them–those being Passover (the crucifixion, of course), and Pentecost (when Peter and others preached in languages they had never learned, and 3,000 were converted and added to the church). But nothing is said of the Day of Atonement, which was typically in late September-early October. That’s circumstantial evidence, though–complete inference.
What is known about Christ’s birth is in the Gospels, but there is no clear way to know from those accounts when it was, except that the shepherds were outside watching their flocks the night Jesus was born, and that is unlikely to have been the case in the middle of winter in Palestine.
So what makes me think it was September and not, say, June? Well, Christ was killed on the Passover, which corresponds to our Easter, so probably around March or April. In one of the Gospels, it is stated that Jesus began his earthly ministry when He “began to be about 30 years old.” (I think this is also the age in the Law when priests began to serve.) I can’t remember right now if his earthly ministry is ever stated to be about 3 & 1/2 years long, but it definitely lasted more than 3 years and fewer than 4, based on the number of Passovers. Plus, in Old Testament prophecy (as well as in the Revelation) 3 & 1/2 years is extremely significant–especially in Daniel. So, if He began His earthly ministry around 30 years old, and continued for 3 & 1/2 years, and was killed in the early spring at the age of 33 & 1/2, then He must have been born about half a year before March-April, which is September-October.
Reading through the Bible, and looking at the significance of Old Testament “types and shadows” being fulfilled in the New Testament, it is obvious that God likes to do things like this. For instance, it is said that Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt on the very day that fulfilled the end of the prophecy of their enslavement. Coincidence that it was the very day? I don’t believe that God leaves things up to coincidence or chance. 🙂
This past month, I’ve been amazed at how several things have come together to show how the Bible truly is “the Book of books.” One of the main things has been reading the book called The Heart of Anger, by Lou Priolo. I didn’t realize what the premise of the book was at the time I picked it up–I was just looking for something to read, and that looked like I could skim through it pretty quickly. While it is simple, it is extremely profound! Not only is it not something I could skim through, I think I’m going to have to read it several times to really be able to implement it. The best thing about it is that it is truly biblically based–I was astounded at how many references there were–it seemed like there was a Bible reference after every sentence sometimes. It really made me realize that if I knew my Bible better, I could find in it the answers to a lot of life’s disturbing questions.
Investing for the Future, by Larry Burkett, is another book–I’ve just started it, and am only a few chapters into it. But it also looks to the Bible for the basis of money management. I’ve read through the Bible more than once, so that’s not totally surprising, but still–Wow! the Bible which is so spiritual and heavenly-minded also talks about the physical realities and carnal concerns of man.
A third book that I’m almost done with is Lectures on Baptism, by William Shirreff. This man (who died during Charles Spurgeon’s lifetime–probably nearly 150 years ago now) was a Presbyterian minister who late in life became convinced that infant baptism was insupportable by the Scriptures, and left the church over whom he’d been a minister for decades, and was baptized–immersed–and became a Baptist. He wrote this series of lectures to explain to his much-loved former congregation why he left, and also hoped to convince them of their error in continuing in paedobaptism. I have found this book to be an extremely interesting read as well, also because of its strong recurring theme of “what does the Bible say?”
My husband and I are having discussions about something that is going on in our church. For most people it would be a non-issue–and it has been for me as well. However, what does the Bible say about it? Primitive Baptists have not historically had Sunday School. In general, our denomination says, if it’s in the Bible, we’d better do it; if it’s not, we’d better not. That’s why we sing a capella, have only male preachers & deacons, immerse, baptize only believers, don’t have missionary societies, etc. So we don’t have “Sunday School,” but for years on Wednesday nights, the children have come to the front and sung some Christian songs, and then had a little Bible lesson. It’s all done in the presence of the parents and the entire church, but it is “children’s church” even if we don’t call it that.
Sunday School started back before child-labor laws, when children often worked very hard all week and only had Sunday off, so some people decided to start teaching them reading, ‘riting and ‘rithmetic on their day off, so it was truly “school” on Sundays. Then, children were no longer employed, and most went to schools; and Sunday school evolved into teaching children on Sunday some of the “nuts and bolts” of Christianity, as well as songs, Bible stories, etc. What’s wrong with that?
Well, what’s wrong with it, is that it’s not in the Bible.
There is the concept of Christian liberty in the Bible, but before you can claim liberty in a matter, you have to determine what the Bible has to say about that matter–both by its words and its silence. What does the Bible say about the teaching of children? (This is a separate discussion from secular education.) It says that fathers and/or parents are to teach their children, to raise them in the fear of the Lord, to “bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.” Whenever the Bible talks about how children are to learn (religious/spiritual things), it is in the context of the family, and usually with the father doing the instructing, or at least superintending the education. In the Old Testament, there is the positive injunction of fathers to speak to their sons as they were working side by side in their daily work–to talk about the Law all the time–going in, coming out, walking along the road, etc. There is nothing in the New Testament that seems to change that, and certainly no hint that someone else’s father is supposed to teach that child. There is no account in the New Testament of children being separated from their parents and being taught a special sermon or a different gospel. In the descriptions of Christians meeting together, there are times when children would probably have been present (the meetings in houses, for example), but there is no hint of them being anywhere except with their own families.
“Well, how is my child supposed to learn stuff about the Bible, if he doesn’t have children’s church or Sunday school? He can’t understand what the preacher is saying to adults about the Bible–and the preacher shouldn’t have to stop and explain it to the kids the parts they can’t understand!” Very true. What does the Bible say? The Bible says that fathers are to teach and explain it to their kids. It’s the father’s job, not the preacher’s job, not the youth minister’s job.
“Well, I [or my husband] don’t know the Bible well enough for all that.” Well you should! If you’re a Christian, then you should. End of story.