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Posts Tagged ‘Scripturalism’

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The Annunciation_Fra Angelico_15th c.

The Annunciation, Fra Angelico, 15th cen.

 

One of the many reasons I have long admired the work of John Robbins was his insistence on holding, and skill at handling, question and answer sessions after his talks.

As brilliant as his lectures were, some of his best recorded comments came in the discussions that he had with audience members after he was finished speaking.

A few years ago, Tom Juodaitis was kind enough to send me recordings of a number of sermons preached by Dr. Robbins at Reformation Chapel in Unicoi, TN.

Among the sermons was a two part series on John 3:1-17. At the end of part 2, there is a discussion among Dr. Robbins, an individual whose identity I don’t know, and Tom Juodaitis concerning the incarnation.

In this discussion, Dr. Robbins explains Gordon Clark’s teaching on the incarnation. Clarks mature thinking on this subject is found in the final book he wrote just before his death in 1985, The Incarnation. Clark’s work was at the time, and continues to be, controversial. For at its heart is the idea that Jesus of Nazareth is not, as is commonly taught, one person in two natures, but two persons in one individual, one a divine person and the other a human person.

This really shouldn’t be controversial. Just recently I heard a preacher say, correctly I would add, that Jesus is 100 percent God and 100 percent man. If this is the case, and it is, then we are logically driven to the same conclusion Clark reached.

Yet many people are offended at Clark’s thought, dismissing it as Nestorianism while ignoring the logical force of his argument.

John Robbins was one theologian was persuaded by Clark’s argument and had no problem saying so. In the discussion below, Dr. Robbins is at his best, brilliantly, simply and persuasively summarizing Clark’s argument.

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Jack Phillips_SCOTUS

Mary Torres holds up a rolling in in support of cake artist jack Phillips outside the Supreme Court n Washington on Dec. 5.  (Jacquelyn Martin / Associated Press)

In perhaps the biggest story of this past week, the Supreme Court began hearing arguments in the case Masterpiece Cake Shop v. Colorado Civil Rights Commission.

The case involves the Jack Phillips, owner of Masterpiece Cake Shop, who in 2012 refused to make a custom wedding cake for a same sex married couple, Charlie Craig and David Mullins. This set in motion a legal battle that saw Mr. Phillips, a Christian, dragged before the Colorado Civil Rights Commission, which did not look kindly on his appeals to free speech and the free exercise of his faith.

“I can believe anything I want,” said Commissioner Raju Jaram, “but if I’m going to do business here, I’d ought to not discriminate against people.” According to this same article, Phillips was ordered to stop discriminating against gay people, document any customers he refuses to service, provide antidiscrimination training for his staff, and report quarterly for two years.

One commissioner likened Phillips’ actions to those of the Nazis.

The Alliance Defending Freedom, the Christian legal organization representing Jack Phillips, argued this week before the Supreme Court that the baker’s First Amendment rights were violated by the Commission’s ruling. According to her, the Commission also violated Phillip’s religious liberty by attempting to force him, “to sketch, sculpt, and hand-paint cakes that celebrate a view of marriage in violation of his religious convictions.”

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Trinity Foundation

The Reformation at 500 conference will be held in Johnson City, TN on Friday, October 27 and Saturday, October 28, 2017.  For conference registration details, click this link: http://trinityfoundation.org/PDF/TheReformationAt500Flyer.pdf

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Nye_UndeniableThis week’s installment o f our series on Bill Nye continues our review of Chapter 2 of his book Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation.

Bill Nye Asserts The Consequent

Suppose for a moment we were having a conversation about my car and I said to you, “If my battery’s dead, my car won’t start.” “Okay,” you replied, “that makes sense.”

So we go out to my driveway; I hop in and try to crank the engine. Nothing happens.

“Alright,” I say, “obviously this is scientific proof that my battery’s dead!”

What would you say about my logic? Well, if you had any sort of mechanical background, or had just a little bit of training in logic, you’d probably point out to me that I was jumping to conclusions. You might say something like, “Not so fast there, Steve. Sure, your battery may be dead, but there are many other explanations why your car won’t start. Maybe you didn’t check your oil and your engine’s locked up (I had this happen once), or maybe your ignition switch is broken. You could have a bad battery cable. In fact, there are probably dozens of reason why your car won’t start that have nothing do with a dead battery. Don’t you think you’re getting ahead of yourself by claiming you know your battery’s dead?”

This little story illustrates a common logical fallacy called asserting the consequent. This fallacy is the result of the misuse of a form of argument called the hypothetical argument. In my illustration above, you can easily spot where I go wrong in my thinking. I conclude that my battery is dead, even though there are many other reasons that can just as easily explain why my car won’t start.

But here’s the shocking part: the logical fallacy of asserting the consequent is foundational to the scientific method. That’s right. All the supposed great “truths” discovered by science, the very ones that Bill Nye and others like to use to try to intimidate Christians, are built, as it were, on the logical equivalent of quicksand.

On pages 14 and 15, Nye attempts to solidify the invincible logical rigor of science by providing the reader with an example of a successful prediction made by science. In Nye’s mind, this example illustrates the validity of science, but all it really does is underscore his own poor reasoning skills.

Nye relates the story of a University of Chicago scientists who, reasoning that there must exist the fossil of an animal showing the transition between fish and land animals, led a an expedition to an area in northeastern Canada where he thought he would find what he was looking for. As it turned out, the expected fossil was found leading Nye to claim that this is sound science, because the scientist’s prediction of the fossil turned out to be true.

The hypothesis the scientist used to make his prediction is left unstated by Nye, but it probably ran something like this: If land animals evolved from fish, then I should be able to find the fossil of an animal in such and such a place that has features of both fish and land animals. Eureka! I did, in fact, find the fossil of such an animal in the place where I expected, therefore it is true that land animals evolved from fish.

This argument is in the same form as my example above about my car and the dead battery. There could be any number of reasons why the fossil – the name of the fossil in question is the Tiktaalik – was found where it was that have nothing to do with the professor’s particular hypothesis or even, more generally, evolution.

It’s remarkable how smart people like Bill Nye can be so easily misled that they mistaken obvious logical fallacies for the truth. Worth noting is that the Bible itself predicts Nye’s fallacious thinking, giving as the reason for it the fact that men, in their unrighteousness, suppress their innate knowledge of God. And refusing to acknowledge God, they will move heaven and earth to drive him from their conscience by erecting their own intellectual constructs, however full or logical errors they may be. The world calls this sort of humanistic reasoning wisdom. But God calls it foolishness.

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Nye_UndeniableIn recent years, Bill Nye has become something of an icon with the humanist, progressive, environmentalist, social justice warrior crowd.

As a result of his popular children’s science show in the 1990s, he may even be thought of as a sort of Millennial version of Mr. Rogers, a trusted fatherly figure who would never lead his followers astray.

But unlike Mr. Rogers – yeah, I’m a Gen-Xer who grew up on Mr. Rogers and Captain Kangaroo – Bill Nye has gone full social justice warrior in his later years, pushing not only evolution, but the climate change and LGBTQ agendas as well.

Nye has been particularly active in recent years having penned Bill Nye’s Comic History of the United States: The Human Side of the Story (2014), Undeniable: Evolution and the Science of Creation (2014), Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World (2016). This year will see the release of this latest book Everything All at Once: How to Unleash Your Inner Nerd, Tap into Radical Curiosity and Solve Any Problem.

Just this year, Nye served as one of three honorary co-chairs of the March for Science, an organization dedicated to proposition that it is right and just to use government force to take money from the American people and use it to subsidize scientists dedicated to pushing the false narrative of man-made global warming/climate change or whatever new crisis of the day that happens to be popular.

For my part, I’ve only recently begun to pay much attention to Nye. His science show didn’t start until well after I graduated from high school. When I was in school, we had Julius Sumner Miller as our “science guy,” whose programs were educational, memorable and, on occasion, pretty funny too.

As for Miller, I couldn’t tell you what his religious or political beliefs were. For unlike Nye, he didn’t wear them on his sleeve.

Although I had heard of him previously, Nye really didn’t come onto my radar screen in a big way until his February 2014 debate with Ken Ham of Answers In Genesis.

My best summary of Nye’s argument in that debate runs something like this: Evolution is based on the same scientific principles that have brought us electricity, polio vaccines and the internet. You cannot at the same time use and appreciate any of these scientific breakthroughs without also agreeing that Darwinian evolution is true. If you don’t insist and believing in Biblical creation and a 6,000 year old earth, not only are you contradicting yourself by accepting the benefits of science while at the same time rejecting its truth claims about the origin of life , but you’re stupid too. What is worse, if you teach the Biblical doctrine of creation to your children, you’re guilty of making them stupid. And not only that, your insistence on believing Biblical mythology over science endangers the very future of the United States of America.

Well, that’s quite a bit to unpack. Far more than time and space allow in a single blog post. And this doesn’t even touch on the rest of Nye’s body of work. Lord willing, I hope to begin a new series on Nye later this year. But for now, a few short observations on Nye’s thought will have to do.

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First-Amendment

Congress shall make no law…abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press.

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution

It’s fairly easy for Americans, living as we do under the Constitution, to take our freedoms guaranteed under that document for granted. This is certainly the case for me, at any rate.

The whole matter of the importance of the Constitution in securing our liberties was brought to mind just in the past few days with the release of an email cache related to French presidential candidate Emmanuel Macron.

What drew my attention to the release was not so much the question whether the emails were authentic or not, although that’s an important question, or the similarity of the release to what occurred during the US presidential election last year, but the way the French government dealt with the release: It ordered the news media not to report on the content.

According to the Independent,

France’s electoral commission has ordered media not to publish contents of Emmanuel Macron’s leaked campaign emails to avoid influencing the election.

I warned news outlets in France that journalists could face criminal charges for publishing or republishing the material, under laws that came into effect at midnight forbidding any commentary liable to affect the presidential race.

As lawless as things have gotten in the US, at least there’s still enough respect for free speech that there are no laws prohibiting political campaigning up to election day.

The idea that the federal government would have the right to criminally charge a reporter for commenting on publically available information just wouldn’t cut it in America, at least for the moment.

Mind you, there are plenty of American elitist types, both within and without formal governmental structures, who would like to see that happen. But at least for the moment, they constrained from enforcing their will.

That American deep state, master of the universe types hate free speech can been seen from some of the reporting on the Macron emails.

For example, CNBC carried a story by Reuters with the headline “US far-right activists, Wikileaks and bots help amplify Macron leaks: Researchers.”

The article goes on the darkly warn about, you guessed it, Russian involvement in hacking the emails and the responsibility of “far-right” journalists for spreading the news.

Is Freedom of the Press Biblical?

The short and sweet answer is, yes, by all means. Freedom of the press, freedom of speech, is certainly a Christian concept.

The press is free to publish. Likewise, the people are free to judge their words.

We can see this principle at work in the way church services were handled. Paul gave directions to the Corinthians to allow two or three prophets to speak, leaving it to the congregation to judge what they said.

The prophets were free to speak, but the people reserved the right to evaluate what they said.

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