The Five Solas: Now in E-Book and AudioBook

As the Bible came to be read in the common language of the people, the great central truths the Bible proclaimed were recovered, often at great cost to those who came to embrace them.

The Reformation recovered and highlighted glorious Scriptural truths which have been expressed in five memorable phrases, now known as the Five Solas. Properly understood, these Five Solas bring us back to the very heart of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

ANNOUNCEMENT: My new book/booklet “The Five Solas – Standing Togther Alone” is now available in EBOOK and AUDIO BOOK at this link. I trust you will find it to be a blessing in these new formats.

ENDORSEMENTS:

Recently wrote the author these words: “You have succinctly and clearly distilled the essence of the ‘Solas.’ May God mightily use your book for His glory. Thank you for the encouragement in the gospel you have brought to me.” – Dr. R.C. Sproul

“Some authors make you read three chapters before getting to the first point in their outline. If you wish to understand the foundation of the solas of the Reformation but would like to do so in under an hour, John Samson provides you with the basics right here.” – Dr. James White

“Get this book! Then get several more to share with your friends and family. John Samson has the remarkable ability to communicate essential truths with an undeniable passion and faithfulness that is winsome, clear, and devastating to the opposition. The people of God in this generation are in need of these old truths: the same truths that transformed the early church and led our heroes (throughout history) into living lives that changed the world. Go sell 100 of your vapid, modern Evangellyfish books and turn that money into getting this book into the hearts and minds of Christians everywhere.” – Jeff Durbin

“Recent years have seen a number of key anniversaries connected with events and people who were vital catalysts in the Protestant Reformation. Thankfully this has resulted in a renewed focus on the ‘five solas’ – a convenient shorthand list of the Reformers’ key convictions. Throughout church history, wherever these principles have been stressed and adhered to, the church has always flourished. So it is a highly encouraging trend. I’m thankful for this excellent booklet by John Samson; a cogent, focused, and accessible study of the solas that not only reminds us what these principles mean, but also shows us why they are important – and why they must stand together.” – Phil Johnson – Executive Director, Grace To You

“This is such a crucial topic; and having read many pieces written on the five solas, this one stands out for not only being theologically sound, but also clear and concise. It is written in a way that just about anyone could pick up and understand. I am thankful that God has raised up his servant John Samson for this deeply needed work; a work we ought to get into the hands of as many people as possible.” – John Hendryx, monergism.com

PAPERBACK VERSION: AVAILABLE HERE

EBOOK & AUDIO BOOK (read by the author): AVAILABLE HERE

About the Church

Article: Dr. Sam Storms – 10 Things You should Know About the Church (original source here).

It’s both amazing and deeply distressing that I continue to hear of people who are supposedly “in love with Jesus” but not with the church. “We like you, Jesus, but we don’t care for your wife!” Really? The so-called “organized” church is for some reason offensive to them. Does the NT support such a notion? Is it possible for someone to be a Christian and remain opposed to his Bride, the church? I hope these ten truths about the church will forever put that misguided idea to rest.

(1) The church is the primary means by which or through which God makes known the glory of his saving wisdom. We read this in Ephesians 3:10 – “so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in heavenly places” (Eph. 3:10).

God’s ultimate aim is that his own “manifold wisdom” might be made known “through the church”. The word translated “manifold” could be rendered “richly diversified,” “multifaceted,” “highly variegated,” or “infinite diversity.” God’s saving wisdom is gloriously intricate in its design and its effect. It is the very antithesis of boredom and routine.

The “rulers and authorities in heavenly places” are angelic beings, primarily demonic spirits (see Eph. 1:21; 6:12; Col. 1:16; 2:10). In this way these fallen spirits are provided with a tangible reminder that their authority has been decisively broken and that they, indeed all things, have been made subject to Christ. Note: the purpose for the church extends far beyond its internal ministries. God intends for the church to serve a larger, indeed cosmic, purpose in spreading his glory.

God intends to accomplish “through the church,” not nature, nor other angels, not the animal kingdom, but through the church! It is through the very existence of this new multi-racial, trans-cultural community of believers in which Jew and Gentile are co-heirs of the promises that God makes known his wisdom. No other organization on earth, neither government nor educational institutions nor civic clubs can accomplish this purpose. What, then, becomes of the display of God’s wisdom when the church remains internally divided and externally segregated?

(2) The Greek word ekklesia, translated “church,” is occasionally used in a non-technical sense to refer to an assembly or congregation of people (see Acts 7:38; 19:32, 39, 41; also Hebrews 2:12 which is a citation from Psalm 22:22).

Some have tried to argue that since ekklesia is built on two words that mean “out of” and “to call” that the church should be defined as those who are “called out of” the world to be God’s people. But it is a mistake to build a definition of a word based on its component root parts. Meaning is based on usage, and the predominant usage of ekklesia is assembly, gathered ones, congregation.

A close study of the word in the NT reveals that there are two fundamental senses in which we may speak of the “church”: the universal or invisible “church” and the local or visible “church”. Most often in Paul’s writings the word ekklesia refers to actual concrete gatherings of Christians in a local setting (1 Cor. 4:17; Rom. 16:5; Philemon 2; Gal. 1:2).

We refer to this as the “visible” church because it is comprised of actual people who can be seen, known, and counted. The “local” or “visible” church may also be designated in two ways, either as a group of local churches in a particular geographical region (Gal. 1:22 [“the churches of Judea”]; possibly also Acts 8:3 and 1 Timothy 3:15) or as individual churches in a particular city (see above).

(3) But on occasion, ekklesia appears to refer to an entity that is much broader than any one local congregation (Gal. 1:13; 1 Cor. 10:32; 15:9; Phil. 3:6; Col. 1:18, 24).

Other similar uses of ekklesia, in which the word appears to have in view the universal Church, the “body” of all believers, indeed all Christians collectively in every geographical location together with those who have died and are now present with Christ in heaven, can be found in Ephesians 1:22; 3:10, 21; 5:23, 24, 25, 27, 29, 32. We read this in Hebrews 12:22-23, a description of those now in heaven:

“But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly [lit., ekklesia, church] of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect . . .” (Heb. 12:22-23).

(4) There are several ways in which the word “church” is never found in the NT. (a) You never find in the NT the word “church” used to refer to a building or physical structure. Whereas a particular local “church” may meet in someone’s house (e.g., Rom. 16:5), or today in a building, the structure itself is never called a church. (b) You never find in the NT the word “church” used to refer to a denomination. (c) You never find in the NT the word “church” used to refer to an organization of believers related to a specific country or nation, such as the Church of England (Anglican) or the Church of Scotland.

(5) We must remember that the NT never entertains the idea of someone being a member of the universal or invisible Church who is not also an active member and participant in a local church. Ideally, the two should be co-extensive, but reality is such that there are many who are “members” or who are present within a local church who are not “members” of the universal body of Christ (see 1 John 2:19).

(6) Some say the “church” or the “assembly/congregation” of God’s people began with Adam, while others say it began with Abraham. But I have in mind what we know to be the “body of Christ” (see 1 Cor. 12:12-13), that spiritual organism that is comprised of both believing Jews and believing Gentiles who share equally in the promises of God and have all been baptized by Jesus in the Holy Spirit. Several texts suggest that this “church” began or was birthed at Pentecost when the Holy Spirit was poured out permanently on all believers. See Matthew 16:18 (the “church” that Jesus would build is yet future); 18:15-20; Ephesians 2:11-22; 3:4-6. The “church” thus began with the experience we know as Spirit baptism (inaugurated at Pentecost), a work of Jesus Christ that incorporates believers into his spiritual body (1 Cor. 12:12-13; 12:27).

(7) Here is a good working definition of the church. A local church is a group of baptized believers in Jesus Christ who meet regularly in corporate assembly to worship God, through Jesus Christ, in the power of the Holy Spirit. Certain practices are essential to this gathered body: they are under the authority and guidance of duly appointed Leaders; they are regularly taught the Word of God; they celebrate the ordinances of Baptism and the Lord’s Supper; and they consistently practice Church Discipline.

There are certainly other features and ministries that ought to characterize every local church, such as evangelism, mutual accountability and encouragement, missional outreach, the exercise of spiritual gifts, etc. But the absence of these latter factors only means that a local church is weak or is falling short of its responsibilities.

(8) This means, for example, that Inter-Varsity chapters, CRU, Navigator groups, BSF, Young Life, and Youth for Christ clubs are not local churches. They may well be expressions of the life of the local church or efforts by Christians to achieve specific goals that the local church is unable to pursue, but they are not themselves local churches.

(9) Small group gatherings, likewise, are not in and of themselves local churches. They are the local church in smaller, more manageable embodiments, designed to facilitate community life, accountability, spiritual growth, exercise of spiritual gifts, mutual encouragement, prayer, discipleship, etc. But for a small group to be, in itself, a local church, it must have duly appointed leaders (Elders) who provide for the regular teaching of God’s Word, the celebration of the ordinances, and the exercise of church discipline where called for.

(10) There are numerous ways in which the NT describes the local church, numerous and diverse images or metaphors, the most important of which are: the church as the Body of Christ (Rom. 12:4-5; 1 Cor. 10:17; 12:12, 27; Eph. 4:12; 5:23, 30; Col. 1:24); the church as the Bride of Christ (2 Cor. 11:12; Eph. 5:31-32; Rev. 19:7-8; 21:9); the church is the family of God (Matt. 12:49-50; 2 Cor. 6:18; Eph. 2:19; Gal. 6:10; 1 Tim. 5:1); the church is God’s house (Heb. 3:6; 1 Tim. 3:14-15; 1 Pet. 4:17); and the church is the Temple of God (1 Cor. 3:11, 16-17; 6:19; Eph. 2:19-22; 1 Pet. 2:5-7).

Luther was a flawed man

God has only ever had one Person He used who had no flaws, namely the Lord Jesus Christ.

We celebrate the Protestant Reformation. We admire and respect the men (and women) God used in what was the greatest move of God in Church history, outside of the book of Acts. And yet, even while we do so, we never wish to ignore historical reality. For the sake of honesty and truth, we need to acknowledge the presence of very real flaws even in those God used in dramatic and far reaching ways.

One such example of this is the treatment of Fritz Erbe. Fritz did not embrace infant baptism and the terribly severe treatment he endured because of this, even in the same location where Luther translated the Bible into the German vernacular (the Wartburg Castle), reveals a sad truth that is often overlooked. Dr. James White explains (beginning at the 1:05:04 minute mark):

Understanding Deuteronomy 22 and the Virginity Test

Question: “How accurate was the virginity test mentioned in Deuteronomy 22?” (Original source here)

Answer: Part of the Old Testament Law dealt with the matter of a husband who accused his new wife of not being a virgin when he married her. If such a charge was leveled, “then the young woman’s father and mother shall bring to the town elders at the gate proof that she was a virgin. Her father will say to the elders, ‘. . . Here is the proof of my daughter’s virginity.’ Then her parents shall display the cloth before the elders of the town” (Deuteronomy 22:15–17). If the proof of the bride’s virginity was given, her husband who made the false accusation was punished and fined (verses 18–19); however, if no proof could be found and the charge was true, then the unvirtuous bride was stoned to death (verses 20–21).

The “cloth” used as proof of a bride’s virginity was the material containing blood from the bride’s broken hymen. This evidence was collected on the wedding night by others and kept by the bride’s parents. The question before us is, how reliable was such evidence? What if the new bride did not bleed during initial sexual intercourse? And what if her hymen had broken previously, due to non-sexual physical activity?

To correctly interpret and understand a biblical situation, it is imperative that the situation is evaluated in its textual, cultural, and historical context—we must consider the cultural norms and social conditions in which a particular situation was addressed. The primary and most applicable meaning of any passage is the meaning intended for the original readers; all other meanings, interpretations, and applications are secondary to that primary meaning and can never contradict, negate, or overrule that primary meaning. With this in mind, we must evaluate the “virginity test” of Deuteronomy 22 in its proper context.

Let us first look at this “virginity test” in its textual context:

We see right away from Deuteronomy 22:13–14 that it’s possible the charge being brought against the woman is simply a concoction. The husband “dislikes” his bride and, being dissatisfied with her for some reason, uses the pretext of her supposed lack of virginity to slander her and have her punished. What the Law of Moses did was to extend protection to women who were falsely accused of infidelity. If there was evidence from the wedding night of her virginity, a woman could not be punished.

Also, the same law placed a penalty on the husband for lying. The law made clear that, if the “proof of virginity” was present, then the husband would be facing a stiff penalty himself (Deuteronomy 22:18–19). It would be foolish for him to level such a serious allegation and assume that the proof of her virginity would not be forthcoming. Prudence would dictate that he have something more tangible and universally acceptable in his hands to substantiate his allegations and not rely on mere accusation.

With this in mind, notice that there are two requirements that must be met before the woman was punished: “If, however, the charge is true and no proof of the young woman’s virginity can be found” (Deuteronomy 22:20, emphasis added). First, the charge must be true; second, there must be no proof of the woman’s virginity. The first part indicates that an investigation is to be carried out and the allegation proved; this investigation is then supplemented by the lack of exculpatory evidence. Only then is the woman held guilty. We can therefore surmise that the final judgment was not entirely predicated upon the presence or absence of the evidence. The physical evidence no doubt had important bearing on the case, but the “virginity test” of the cloth was unlikely to be the sole means of establishing the woman’s guilt or innocence.

Now we look at the “virginity test” from a social and historical context:

We often err in understanding biblical situations because we look at the situations from the perspective of modern cultural and social norms. We need to remember that the Law was given to the Israelites soon after they had come out of bondage in Egypt. The instruction of Deuteronomy 22 was given to the people of Israel, a conservative and closed community, about 3,500 years ago. In that time period and in those conditions, what activities could the Israelite girls have indulged in that would have broken their hymens? There were no sports or horseback riding or other activities that sometimes result in a broken hymen. In Egypt, the girls would mainly have been confined to their slave quarters. In their trip to Canaan, they would have stayed near their camps and completed household chores—again without much chance of overly strenuous activity. Hence, the Law’s prescribed test of virginity would been considerably more accurate than what we might expect, given today’s norms.

With no medical facilities, no gynecologists, no surveys on virginity, and no social or familial leeway to allow for sexual promiscuity, the Israelites had to rely on the test mentioned in the Law. Of course, this “evidence of virginity” was not foolproof, but under those circumstances, for that time and culture, there was no readily available method of confirming virginity except for the bedsheet of the bride’s first night. As already discussed, the lack of that evidence was not incriminatory by itself. Any charge of impropriety against the bride would have to be investigated fully before a final verdict could be pronounced.

Cases of husbands suspecting their new brides of immorality or infidelity were not common. There is no record that any woman was ever stoned to death on the basis of this law, much less any woman who was unjustly executed due to her hymen being broken prior to sex with her husband.

Berkhof On Salvation And Good Works

3. THE NECESSITY OF GOOD WORKS.

There can be no doubt about the necessity of good works properly understood. They cannot be regarded as necessary to merit salvation, nor as a means to retain a hold on salvation, nor even as the only way along which to proceed to eternal glory, for children enter salvation without having done any good works. The Bible does not teach that no one can be saved apart from good works. At the same time good works necessarily follow from the union of believers with Christ. “He that abideth in me and I in him, the same beareth much fruit,” John 15:5.

They are also necessary as required by God, Rom. 7:4; 8:12, 13; Gal. 6:2, as the fruits of faith, Jas. 2:14, 17, 20–22. as expressions of gratitude, 1 Cor. 6:20 unto the assurance of faith, 2 Peter 1:5–10, and to the glory of God, John 15:8; 1 Cor. 10:31.

The necessity of good works must be maintained over against the Antinomians, who claim that, since Christ not only bore the penalty of sin but, also met the positive demands of the law, the believer is free from the obligation to observe it, an error that is still with us to-day in some of the forms of dispensationalism. This is a thoroughly false position, for it is only the law as a system of penalty and as a method of salvation that is abolished in the death of Christ.

The law as the standard of our moral life is a transcript of the holiness of God and is therefore of permanent validity also for the believer, though his attitude to the law has undergone a radical change. He has received the Spirit of God, which is the Spirit of obedience, so that, without any constraint, he willingly obeys the law.

Strong sums it up well, when he says: Christ frees us “(1) from the law as a system of curse and penalty; this He does by bearing the curse and penalty Himself …; (2) from the law with its claims as a method of salvation; this He does by making His obedience and merits ours …; (3) from the law as an outward and foreign compulsion; this He does by giving us the spirit of obedience and sonship, by which the law is progressively realized within.”

LOUIS BERKHOF, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans publishing co., 1938), 543.

Apostolic Miracles?

Article: I Have Not Seen Miracles Here: Between Pentecost And The Parousia by R. Scott Clark (original source here)

And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages as the Spirit gave them utterance (Acts 2:3–5).

When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it (Acts 5:5).

Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband (Acts 5:10).

…the Spirit of the Lord carried Philip away, and the eunuch saw him no more (Acts 8:39).

But Peter put them all outside, and knelt down and prayed; and turning to the body he said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up (Acts 9:40).

When Paul had gathered a bundle of sticks and put them on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened on his hand. When the native people saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, “No doubt this man is a murderer. Though he has escaped from the sea, Justice has not allowed him to live.” He, however, shook off the creature into the fire and suffered no harm. They were waiting for him to swell up or suddenly fall down dead. But when they had waited a long time and saw no misfortune come to him, they changed their minds and said that he was a god (Acts 28:4–6).

…Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe (John 4:48).

…For false messiahs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect (Mark 13:22).

I have not seen miracles here, but I do not disbelieve in miracles as such (Martyn Wendell Jones, April 24, 2016).

According to Holy Scripture after our Lord Jesus ascended to the right hand of the Father, i.e., after he began his heavenly reign over all things with and for the Father, he poured out his Holy Spirit upon the apostles. This was in fulfillment of what he had promised: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes in me will also do the works that I do; and greater works than these will he do, because I am going to the Father” (John 14:12). At Pentecost God the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the Apostles and they did mighty works. By the power of the Spirit they spoke in languages that they had not learned, they put people to death, they raised people from the dead, they were transported by the Holy Spirit, and they survived threats that ordinarily killed others. They did all these things not because they had sufficient faith—Peter denied the gospel even as an apostle (Gal 2:11–14)—nor because they sent money to some “ministry,” nor because they attended a revival. God the Spirit did these things through them in order to confirm their office, to establish Christ’s church, and to advance his kingdom through the preaching of the gospel.

Since the death of the apostles, however, there have been periodic attempts to replicate the Apostolic ministry. From the late 2nd century, the Montanists claimed to have apostolic power, revelation, and gifts. Such claims appeared periodically through the history of the church. In the 1520s, the Anabaptists regularly claimed to speak in tongues, to be filled with and slain in the Spirit, and to receive extra-canonical revelation. Indeed, Thomas Müntzer (1489–1525) taught that the continuing revelation he received was superior to Holy Scripture and he mocked the Reformed pastors as “ministers of the dead letter.” The Scriptures, he argued, are not the Word per se but become the Word in an existential encounter. In the early 20th century a certain well-known Swiss theologian would come to agree not only with his view of baptism but also with his doctrine of revelation. In the early 19th century, there was another claim of renewed, apostolic power at Cane Ridge, KY that inaugurated decades of religious enthusiasm known as the Second Great Awakening. A century later in Topeka, KS (1901) and five years later in the Azusa Street revival in 1906 there would be yet more neo-Pentecostal phenomena virtually identical to that experienced by the Anabaptists in the 1520s. In the 1980s Christians were been enthralled by revivals in Kansas City. In the 1990s it was the Brownsville revival. The latest such episode seems to be centered in Northern California at Bethel Church.

Martyn Wendell Jones is a Toronto-based writer and editor, who attends a PCA congregation in Toronto). Recently he visited Bethel Church and writes about his experience in Christianity Today. The story is carefully and thoughtfully written. The bottom line is that Jones saw no actual apostolic phenomena. He saw glitter on the ceilings and various sorts of enthusiasm but unlike the Peter, Paul, and Philip, there was no genuine apostolic phenomena. There never is. Jones hesitates to judge the episodes but the strongest endorsement he seems to be able to muster is that it has subjective value for the participants.

This is all one really has to know about all the neo-Pentecostal episodes since the Montanists. None of them have ever actually possessed or exercised apostolic power. The signs and wonders performed by the Spirit, through the Apostles, were not mere subjective experiences. They were objective, empirically verifiable saving (or damning) acts by the Spirit in real history (in contrast to mytho-poetic subjective appropriation of a story, Geschichte, that may or may not be actually true). There were as objectively historical phenomena as Jesus’ resurrection. People were actually put to death. People were actually raised from the dead. None of the miracles performed by the Spirit through the apostolic company were dependent upon the faith of the apostles or upon the faith of those involved. When the viper attached itself to Paul’s arm those around him expected him to die because that is ordinarily what happens in such cases. They doubted but Paul lived. Peter’s authority to end the lives of Ananias and Sapphira was not contingent upon Peter’s faith or theirs.

Evangelicals were once strongly critical of the liberal tendency to reduce Jesus’ resurrection to a subjective experience (e.g., treating his resurrection as a metaphor for one’s personal experience). Since the Second Great Awakening, however, American evangelicals have more willing than they should to reduce the work of the Spirit to purely subjective experiences and to redefine the apostolic phenomena and to fudge the difference between the two. In truth, neo-Pentecostal glossolalia is not the Apostolic phenomena of speaking in foreign languages by the power of the Spirit. Call it primitivism, a hoax, mass delusion, or group therapy but do not call it apostolic. What is taking place at Bethel Church, as in the earlier cases, is a classic example of American religious enthusiasm. Since the early 18th century, in the so-called First Great Awakening, American evangelicals have been on quest for an immediate encounter with the risen Christ or with the power of the Spirit. In the Second Great Awakening that quest manifested itself in a remarkable series of episodes including Cane Ridge, Mormonism, and the Millerite Apocalyptic movement. The skeptic H. L. Mencken described such moments as “magic and noise.”

I understand that it is hard to accept that we live in a time between Pentecost and the Parousia but we do. We need to accept that fact. No one at Bethel Church has apostolic power just as no one in Kansas City, or Brownsville, or Azusa, or Topeka, or Cane Ridge had it. I understand that it hurts to give up this dream. It is like losing a friend. When we realize that these episodes really just “magic and noise” we may grieve for what we have lost but that sense of loss is salutary and good. In it we should look for that which is real: Christ, his gospel, and his promises made visible in the holy sacraments. In place of the Quest for Illegitimate Religious Experience, that euphoria once felt at certain chord progressions or when the first row of people began to collapse to the floor, look to Christ who saves sinners and to the solid promise of the constant presence of the Holy Spirit, through whom Jesus said, “Behold, I will be with you always.”

15 Answers to Evolutionist Misconceptions

By Dr. Jason Lisle (original source here)

Recently, someone sent me a link to an article appearing in Scientific American – a popular science magazine. The article is entitled “15 Answers to Creationist Nonsense.”[1] The article was extremely revealing, but not in the way the author probably intended. The article exhibited a very common problem we often see among evolutionists: ignorance of creation literature. Creationists have written literally thousands of peer-reviewed publications showing how modern scientific discoveries confirm creation and biblical history. These range from layman-level articles, to highly technical scientific publications.

Unfortunately, most evolutionists are too intellectually lazy to read these. Consequently, the majority of evolutionists are badly uninformed about creation.

Not only are they uninformed about creation, but most evolutionists are misinformed. They have heard other evolutionists claim that creation scientists believe a particular thing, but they didn’t bother to check. Instead, most simply repeat the claim and the myth is reinforced rather than corrected. This tends to result in straw-man fallacies. Namely, an evolutionist will misrepresent what creationists claim, and then refute that misrepresentation. Indeed, most of the article’s criticisms are against a position that no informed creation scientist holds. They are not claims that are published and defended in peer-reviewed creation technical literature. So, far from refuting creationist “nonsense”, the critic has actually merely revealed his profound ignorance of the topic.

Second, the article reveals another problem commonly found among the most ardent defenders of particles-to-people evolution: a lack of critical thinking skills. Let’s face it. When it comes to origins, evolutionists simply don’t reason rationally or scientifically. They might reason very well when it comes to other areas of thinking. But for some reason, when it comes to origins, logic seems to disappear. We see several examples of this in the article. So, let’s examine the article’s claims, and see if they (1) fairly represent what creation scientists teach, and (2) stand up to rational scrutiny. I will put the article in purple font, with my comments in black.

The problems begin with the article’s subtitle:

Opponents of evolution want to make a place for creationism by tearing down real science, but their arguments don’t hold up.

This subtitle contains the first straw-man fallacy: it claims that creationists are against science – indeed that creationists are “tearing down” science. This is false. As a creationist, I really like science! I like it so much that I spent years in graduate school to obtain a Ph.D. in astrophysics. Furthermore, most of the active researchers in creation science have a Ph.D. in science, such as Dr. Nathaniel Jeanson, Dr. Georgia Purdom, Dr. Tim Clarey, Dr. Andrew Snelling, Dr. Danny Faulkner, Dr. Russ Humphreys, Dr. John Hartnett, to name just a few. If they are so anti-science, then why do they spend their lives doing science?

Students of logic will also recognize the “no true Scotsman” fallacy in the critic’s subtitle. Note the phrase “real science.” Presumably the critic wants us to think that his position is scientific and the creationist position is not. And he tries to persuade by simply redefining “true science” as that which corresponds to his beliefs. But anyone could apply that rhetorical trick. I could say, “real science is creation science” and that would have no more logical weight than the critic’s assertion.

We also see an example of the question-begging epithet fallacy. This is the fallacy of using rhetoric in place of logic to persuade someone. One such epithet is subtle: evolution is contrasted with creationism. The addition of the ‘ism’ on ‘creation’ but not ‘evolution’ rhetorically suggests that creation is a belief, whereas evolution is not. But no logical argument is made for this, and nothing could be further from the truth. It is empty rhetoric, without any logical merit.

When Charles Darwin introduced the theory of evolution through natural selection 143 years ago, the scientists of the day argued over it fiercely, but the massing evidence from paleontology, genetics, zoology, molecular biology and other fields gradually established evolution’s truth beyond reasonable doubt.

Here we have the fallacy of elephant-hurling. Rather than providing actual evidence for Darwinian evolution, the critic simply claims that there is overwhelming evidence for it, and lists many fields of science. This would be acceptable if he later gave specific examples from these fields that establish his claim. But he doesn’t. His attempt to persuade is mere rhetoric with no logical merit.

Note that the kind of evolution we are discussing here is the kind Darwin believed in – that all organisms on earth are descended from a common ancestor through progressive modification over billions of years. We might call this “Darwinian evolution.”

It is also sometimes called “neo-Darwinian evolution” (since this includes the specifics of mutations and genes which Darwin did not know). It is significant that we do not mean “evolution” in some generic sense of change. Rather, we are debating a very specific claim about how organisms change.

Today that battle has been won everywhere–except in the public imagination. Embarrassingly, in the 21st century, in the most scientifically advanced nation the world has ever known, …

It doesn’t seem to even occur to the critic that there might be a connection. Could it be that the reason the United States is so scientifically advanced is because we employ creationist thinking? The creationist presumes the world is upheld by the mind of God, so we expect to find patterns in nature. The creationist believes his senses and mind were designed by God, and therefore have the capacity to learn about nature. These biblical convictions justify our faith in science. But if the universe were just an accident, if our senses are merely the result of accidental mutations, why expect science to work?

…creationists can still persuade politicians, judges and ordinary citizens that evolution is a flawed, poorly supported fantasy.

Again, we see a question-begging epithet fallacy. Presumably, we’re supposed to think, “how terrible that people can be convinced that evolution is a poorly supported fantasy!” But that would only be a problem if evolution were not a poorly supported fantasy. Second, notice that the critic does not mention the many scientists that have been persuaded that evolution is a poorly supported fantasy. But if he mentioned that, it might be harder to maintain his façade that science somehow supports Darwinian evolution.

They lobby for creationist ideas such as “intelligent design” to be taught as alternatives to evolution in science classrooms.

There are several problems here. First, there is a whopping big difference between biblical creation, and the intelligent design movement; yet the critic does not distinguish between these two. Most of the creation scientists I know are not affiliated with the intelligent design movement. Creation scientists like myself are not primarily concerned with applying political pressure to get alternatives to evolution taught in secular schools. Neither are we opposed to this. It is simply not our focus. Continue reading

She’s Not Real

Written some years back, this article still has relevance:

Porn and paper pastors by Dan Phillips

Decades ago, I read a disturbingly candid essay by a pastor about his struggles with pornography. It was in Leadership magazine. Years later, two of his realizations still stand out to me.

The author came to see (as I recall) that he was attracted to these images because they were unreal. The women in the pictures never had bad days, were never crabby and demanding, never disrespectful and demeaning. No mood swings. They always suited his mood, his needs, his wants. They were unreal.

He came to see that he had no actual relationship with these women whatever. If (he named a female celebrity) had sat down next to him in an airplane, she wouldn’t know him from Adam. Whatever may have happened in his sinful fantasies, the two of them had no relationship in the real world.

Of course, this is why so many women resent actresses and models. It isn’t catty pettiness or smallness. It is that they know how visually-tempted men can be, and they know that they can’t compete with a fantasy — if their man is fool enough to chase one.

And they’re right, in a way. They can’t compete with these women. Because these women don’t exist in the real world! They may not even look like their pictures! Thanks to computer wizardry, the pictures we see may actually bear only the slightest resemblance to the actual women.

Nobody can compete with a fantasy.

And this post is not about pornography, men, women, nor marriage.

It is about people with paper pastors.

Now, some professed Christians sin outright, by never physically attending an actual, in-person church. We’ve talked about that, and they aren’t our focus.

But others do attend a church — physically. They come in, they sit down. They sing, they may give financially. They may look at you, Pastor, as you preach.

But you know their heart belongs to another.

Their real pastor isn’t you. It’s Dave Hunt. Or it’s John Piper. Or it’s John MacArthur, or Ligon Duncan, or Mark Dever, or David Cloud, or Joel Osteen. Or it’s Charles Spurgeon, or D. M. Lloyd-Jones, or J. C. Ryle. Or Calvin, or Luther, or Bahnsen, or de Mar, or R. B. Thieme (Jr.), or J. Vernon McGee.

And they’re such better pastors than you are! You know they are!

Why? Continue reading

See You In Church!

Strong stuff!!

Article: Why you need to be in a church this Sunday by Dan Phillips (original source here):

Howdy! While Pyro was dark during October, I went a bit nuts over at my place, posting about sixty-six times. A couple of them, I mean to re-work and share with anyone here who may not have dropped by there. Here’s the first, all re-worked, with extra coals added. Hey — this is Pyromaniacs!
“Everything old is new again,” and the saying certainly holds true when it comes to heresy, false doctrine and plain old unbiblical nuttiness.

For instance, back in the anti-establishment 60s and 70s, Christianoid kids would verbally trash the “organized church.” Didn’t need to go to a building, they’d say; they were the church. The real Bible scholars among them (relatively speaking) might yank 1 Corinthians 6:19 out of context and waterboard it a bit, until it said what they wanted to hear.

But no, Trevor, you’re not the church. You’re part of the church. The word ἐκκλησία (ekklēsia) means “assembly,” and no, you’re really not an assembly. Doesn’t matter how many chins you have, you still aren’t an assembly.

What you are (you tell me) is a Christian. If you’re a Christian, you claim Jesus as your Lord.

Where’s your Lord today? He depicts Himself as walking among local assemblies (Revelation 1:12-13, 20), holding their pastors in His right hand (vv. 16, 20). What do you think the message is, there? Why is He not watching a lovely sunset, or fishing, or walking the dog, or riding a comet? Why among churches, among assemblies, cherishing their pastors?

Because that’s where Jesus is. That’s where His great heart is. Do you know better than He? Which one of you is “Lord,” again?

That’s the church, that local assembly of believers where pastors lead, the Word is preached, the ordinances are observed, and discipline is carried out. Christ loved it and gave Himself for it (Ephesians 5:25). He died for it.

But you won’t walk into one of them, and stay there? Which one of you is “Lord,” again?

Before He died, Jesus prayed for the church, all of it (John 17). Even (especially!) with what He was facing, the church was on His heart.

But you won’t attach yourself to one, to join it and work in it and pray for it? Which one of you is “Lord,” again?

Who is your pastor? Are you fool enough to say “Jesus is my pastor”? Nonsense. When He ascended, He gave pastors to the church (Ephesians 4:11). If He gave them, then He isn’t them. Which one is your pastor, your toe-to-toe, eyeball-to-eyeball pastor?

Your “Lord” charged pastors with the care of souls. That means Jesus — your Lord, so you say — thinks your soul needs watching over (Hebrews 13:7, 17). Which individual flesh and bones living pastor is watching over your soul, in person, individually?

If “none,” how is it that you decided you are smarter than Jesus? You know, Jesus. Your “Lord.” Which one of you is “Lord,” again?

Jesus, your Lord, also called you to know, show respect for, esteem highly in love, and submit to the leadership of your flesh-and-blood in-person pastor (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; Hebrews 13:17). Which pastor is it that sees you come regularly to be discipled and led, and sees you loving and trusting God enough to yield him the love and submission to which God calls you?

If you bristle at the thought of embracing what Jesus calls you to — which one of you is “Lord,” again?

And if you fall into unrepentant sin, which assembly will even know of it, let alone discipline you? Jesus says you need that, too (Matthew 18:13-20). I don’t care what complex, high-sounding Dagwood sandwich of excuses you can slap together. If you say you don’t need to be in a local assembly, you say you’re smarter than Jesus, and are sufficient.

Fool!

And remember, that Jesus you say is your “Lord” said that the second most important thing in the world is to love your neighbor (Matthew 22:39). He moved Paul to tell you your fellow-church-member is your premier neighbor (Galatians 6:10). That’s where you take all that rich doctrine (Ephesians 1—3), and live it out in community (Ephesians 4—6). That’s where you do all those dozens of “one anothers.”

And if you tell yourself that your spouse or children are all the “one anothers” you need, God already said “No.” If you insist, you put your judgment over God’s.

Meaning that, whatever your mouth professes, your choices say you find God’s judgment deficient, and yours superior.

Meaning you’re a fool and a de facto blasphemer — whether you intend to be or not.

And you thereby bring harm on your spouse and children, by preaching and living a lie to them.

That’s for starters.

So, Jesus — your “Lord” — says you need to be in a local church. You say you don’t?

Which one to believe? You? Or Jesus? You? Or Jesus? Hmm.

Here’s the problem, I think. I’ve said a word thirteen times: Lord. The confession of Jesus as Lord is fundamental to Christian faith (Romans 10:9; 1 Corinthians 12:3; Philippians 2:11). In repentant faith, we bow the knee to Christ’s Lordship. Continue reading