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The Bible and Science

Administrator

In our final week of our summer series What's the Elephant in your Living Room? we have a cluster of questions all relating to the Bible and Science. This post is a summary response with links to a number of specific examples the questioner posted. It's also a resource for the sermon content, too. Below my responses with links to the inquirer's questions, you'll find the resource webpage for the list of 10 scientific facts found in the Bible that I shared. This list highlights my ONE BIG THOUGHT for this message: 

The Bible is not a scientific textbook. Rather, it is God’s message to us... and it is scientifically accurate.

This ONE BIG THOUGHT is important for reframing our mindset as we approach this topic, and it serves as our mental hook on which to hang all this stuff. Now to the inquirer's questions: 

Now to the inquirer's questions: 

1.  The first (compound) question is: What is the church point of view on climate change? Why is the Bible Belt in the U.S. refusing to acknowledge climate change as a fact?

I think the best kind of answers are from those well informed. Here's an article and video link to the webcast The Years of Living Dangerously in which Don Cheadle interviews climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe, who also happens to be an Evangelical Christian. In the article, she lists five reasons why Evangelical Christians in the South (U.S. Bible Belt) have a 20% lower belief in climate change in response to this question. 

2.  And our second (very compound!) question is: How do we balance Scripture and theology with modern science and what has been learned and discovered in modern times...  

From here the questioner lists five different examples, asking about the relationship between the Bible and some scientific viewpoint. To answer these, please see my comments or links to other resources for you to consider: 

  • e.g. creation vs. evolution; This question is way too broad to consider here as there are a wide range of diverse positions across the entire spectrum. Let me say this as my opinion, however: I don't believe in "evolution" as popularly conceived as life having evolved from inorganic matter by chance, and by continued chance evolved into higher and higher orders of being until we reach the complexity and consciousness of our human state today. In this respect, the theory of evolution is trumped by the 1st Law of Thermodynamics (and a law always trumps a theory; please examine the difference between a theory, a hypothesis and a scientific law). What's that, you say? The law basically states that all things move from a state of organization and coherence to disorganization and incoherence. In other words, all things are slowing down and breaking down. I challenge you to seriously put your own thoughts or the thoughts of your evolutionist friend to come up with a "hard," verifiable example today of an organism having mutated and "improved," plus (because this is required to prove evolution) that this mutation is being reproduced and outperforming the otherwise original or unmutated population, driving them out of existence. Since evolutionists want to claim that theirs is a scientific worldview, then please show us all the evidence. And the evidence is not a few fossils that are subject to theories of what may have happened. On the other hand, I do believe God created us and perhaps all of life with an ability to adapt. We can adapt to changing conditions, but this is not the same thing as "evolution" wherein something changes from one species to another species entirely. 
  • e.g. the timeline of the Bible vs. the timeline of modern science gives us - that the earth and universe are billions of years old: Again, there's a huge span of positions on this on all sides. To answer from both Christian and scientific points of view, please consider The Faraday Papers from The Faraday Institute for Science and Religion. Also, consider the website Science and Belief.
  • e.g. how do we incorporate that we all came from Adam and Eve, when we know there are so many different races with distinct genetic differences and who have lived all over the world. In reply: If by "genetic differences" you mean our differences in our physical appearance that we classify as "ethnicities," these are again simply the process of adaptation. Here's a "humane" example of what has happened to humanity through the millennia (as it is considered inhumane to experiment with humans in this same way): All dogs - yes, ALL dogs, all sizes, all breeds, all centuries, have evolved by human manipulation from wolves (yes, more than one "wolf" breed). Research the evolution of dogs (because that's what it's called today, not because it's "evolution" as popularly defined above). Correlate that with our ability to adapt, too, a God-given ability. 
  • e.g. how do we account for “the big bang” theory? Again (yes, "again") the question touches upon a hugely broad field and question, with widely varying viewpoints. One I find particularly compelling, however, is this video freely available on YouTube. Great stuff! 
  • e.g. how do we account for the recent finding that there is another planet similar to earth that can also sustain life? The Bible doesn't say anything conclusively for or against life on other planets. But Dr James Emery White does a great job addressing this popular question and how we as Christ-followers can respond to it. Enjoy! 

I trust each of these will help you as you fulfill Psalm 111:2, 

Great are the works of the Lord, studied by all who delight in them.

SCIENTIFIC FACTS IN THE BIBLE

As the ONE BIG THOUGHT states, the Bible isn't a science textbook from which we study science. Yet it is scientifically accurate. And that makes sense with the Biblical worldview: God is creator and sustainer of all things. Therefore His messages to us are logically coherent and consistent with His scientific knowledge of all things. 

Now I didn't come up with that list on my own, but - as shared with speaking - are drawn from what is called The Evidence Bible. It is a Bible that has extra resources added to help the user share confidently with those posing science-based questions. Here's the link to their web page on this topic, which you'll see includes more than the 10 that I shared on Sunday. 

May you be blessed as you examine these for yourself, and share them with your friends. May your friends come to find God and His message in Jesus Christ, as testified to in the Bible, true, compelling, and resulting in saving faith. May you journey with them in growing obedience to Jesus Christ throughout your lives. 

Can We Trust the Bible?

Administrator

We're continuing in our series What is the Elephant in Your Living Room? and I'm enjoying the process of searching the Scriptures, books, websites and other scholars to help you answer the questions put forward. This week's question deals with defending the veracity - the verifiable truthfulness - of the Bible. 

It has been often stated something like "serious scholars no longer question this historicity of Jesus." Yes, it's accepted as a fact: Jesus did exist! But to your and my friends who probably aren't serious scholars, then we need to review these facts with them. Just to establish this one point, check out these pages: 

  • Wikipedia page titled "Historicity of Jesus," second paragraph. Read together with them as much as each of you like all the references to support this fact. 
  • Here's a great example, too. This one is from an avowed atheist. And still he is defending the historical fact that Jesus existed to other nay-sayers. Hilarious. 
  • This is actually an easy point to address. Just google the question with your friend and look at all the responses from responsible journalism in support of it (while also noting that there will always be irresponsible nay-sayers...but do they really want to be like them?!). 

Once we've established that Jesus is indeed historically proven, then let's see how that fact coincides with what the Scriptures say about Jesus. And even more, how mathematically ... well, either impossible or miraculous ... him fulfilling all of these (or even just a few) staggers the mind. And remember: We're using science, mathematics and historically verified documents to demonstrate that faith in the person of Jesus actually isn't "crazy" at all, but quite rational. 

To do this, however, will take more space than I usually contain in a single blog posting. So, I'm sharing HERE a document from a website (the source link is inside this document, and I give all the credit to them for compiling it). WARNING: It's 18 pages long! Most of that, however, is a list of Scriptures where you'll find the 365 prophecies and passages about Jesus. The preface to that list, however, is the mathematical examples of how miraculously impossible it is that one person fulfils all of them. May you enjoy reading this article, searching the original source website, and the Scriptures about Jesus. With this, may Jesus be lifted up in your eyes and the eyes of your questioning friends. Why? Because, when He is lifted up, He draws people to Himself. And that's just what we want with our friends, too. 

In addition to the above, let me also refer you to the excellent and highly accessible ministry website called Answers in Genesis. They have a series of pages about seven compelling evidences that the Bible is true. Excellent stuff to bless you and your inquiring friends! 

And one more addition! Dr. Timothy McGrew is a Christian theologian, historian and apologist. In a recent conference he shared the incidental details of 8 different passages and how they speak to the veracity of the Gospels due to the knowledge of the authors. The video is about one hour long, so settle in for a good listen and take good notes! 

Enjoy, 

PC

The Dynamic Tension Between Grace & Truth

Administrator

Truth-vs-Grace-dynamic-tension-pic.jpg

Dynamic tension, that pull between two opposing forces, is a principle that pops up frequently in Christian faith. It's like the "already-but-not-yet" aspect of our sanctification: The Father sees us as completely, already made into the image of Jesus since He's looking through the covering of Jesus' blood and righteousness upon us. Yet what we see and experience on this side of heaven is quite different: We know the work isn't complete, but in process throughout this life. 

The dynamic tension in sanctification isn't that taxing upon us; rather, reflecting upon it causes us to worship Him more. Other instances of dynamic tension have greater pull, sometimes even quite uncomfortably so. 

The tension between the two extremes of grace and truth is one that, as we work to be true to both, we definitely feel the pull. It's challenging. How do I remain filled with grace toward people who are steeped in sin around me? How do I "love them as myself"? (Matthew 22:37-39; Galatians 5:14).  Confronted by their sinfulness, even urged on to join them in their sin and then mocked when we don't, how do I continue to act with grace and Christ-likeness toward them? 

In these situations we're often tempted to withdraw behind the shield of truth, like a bulwark against a flood. Over that wall of protection, we wield the sword of truth and fire away arrows of truth to fight back, defend truth, and cut down their untruths. 

But there's a problem. We don't have a shield of truth. Nor a sword of truth. Nor arrows of truth. We have a shield of faith against the flaming darts of the enemy and a belt of truth to gird up our own loins (joined with the breastplate of righteousness, these two protect all our vulnerable abdomen). Even the sword of the Spirit isn't a big broadsword, but a short sword for close up work in face to face against the enemy. Notice that in Ephesians 6, the armour of God isn't for attacking people outside the Church. No, it's for our defence against attacks from the enemy. But I digress off into another area ... let me come back to pursuing my main thesis. 

Yesterday I used the illustration of two chairs tied together on opposite sides of the platform, one representing truth, the other grace. On each chair was a water glass of rocks of various sizes and colours. The rocks represent people. The rope represents the invisible bond and dynamic tension between truth and grace which we often don't see. When we pull to one side resisting the other, we tip the chair, overturning it and the people camped there. We end up denying both Biblical truth that we're supposed to uphold, and damage people on that side. It doesn't matter which side we're on: If we're polarized and pulling away, we're both sacrificing people and the Word. Not good. Damaging. Unbalanced. 

As I look around all of Western Christianity today, I see a polarization on moral issues, similar to the polarization we see in politics. Within and adjacent to the Church, believers and movements are polarizing over the issue of same-sex attraction (SSA) and the question: Is it permissible and not sinful to engage SSA? How do we respond to both believers and non-believers who have differing opinions and theological arguments on this topic? 

For those interested, the Bible speaks directly about same-sex attraction in five passages, two in the Old and three in the New Testament: Genesis 19; Leviticus 18 & 20; Romans 1:18-32; 1 Corinthians 6:9-10; 1 Timothy 1:8-10. The context of each is quite plain and clear. It is not ambiguous in any way, though it is painful to acknowledge that plainly because - as I said yesterday - I know that that truth causes pain for many. Trying to speak with as much grace as possible, I must also remain true to what Scripture says: Only by radically reinterpreting each passage and context, thus violating all commonly accepted Biblical hermeneutic principles, can they be reworked so as to justify indulging SSA. Such as Mel White has done in his 24-page paper titled "What the Bible Says - and Doesn't Say - About Homosexuality." Please don't be mislead by the title, though, and go read his paper without serious critical thinking on your part. Rather, here are two solid rebuttals by those trained and experienced in serious Biblical critical thinking: 

Dr Stanton Jones, Wheaton College

Dr Daniel B. Wallace, Dallas Theological Seminary

Additionally, Stan Jones wrote a "pastoral conversation" that's a summary of his many interactions with those confessing and struggling with SSA. This piece is instructive to see how we can lovingly discuss with both grace and truth the issues with the person in front of us. 

Further, if you or someone you love is struggling with SSA and are looking for good, solid, loving and Biblically grounded advice, consult and follow Sam Allbery and the site LivingOut.org

But what about when we're being attacked for our stand on what the Bible does clearly say about SSA? What do we do then? 

Here are two more things that will help: 

First, remember that Jesus said we will be reviled for His name's sake, that we will be persecuted by the world just as it rejected and persecuted Him. And that in the midst of all that, He is with us. We must be true to him. Knowing this helps. 

Second, practice some basic apologetics. Yes, "defending our faith" (i.e. apologetics) is both Biblical and highly needed in our very post-Christian Western culture. I won't get into more details on all this here, but rather provide again some helpful links: 

Consult Greg Koukl's ministry site Stand to Reason to learn more about apologetics. 

And here's a specific response by David Robertson to the claim that Christians are bigots relative to this topic. Warning: He comes at this with that cheeky British humour! 

Video & Text article

I'm trusting that, as we come with humility together before the Lord and His Word, we will be full of the Spirit, remain true to both grace and truth, loving one another as we journey - yes, struggle together - through this process of sanctification that is going on in each of us, no matter where we land on the theological, ideological or experiential scale regarding SSA. May we each continue to grow in the image of Jesus together. 

To exercise the grace side of this issue as much as the truth side, I invite those of DCC and our Danforth community with this: Should we start a group for all who are affected by this issue? If you're touched by this issue as one struggling, or a family member struggling, please contact me and let's talk. 

Sloths in a Face-Paced World?

Administrator

Sloths are so slow they're almost cute. At least, in the YouTube videos they are. Are human sloths so cute? Maybe not. 

Have you felt the "hurry sickness" of frustration waiting behind someone in the check out line? Maybe it was the aisle at the grocery store or lawn and garden centre with their overloaded cart stuck in the middle blocking everything? 

We don't often use the adjective of sloth much anymore. We tend to think simply of laziness. As an "absence of interest" or "habitual disinclination to exertion" (1), slothfulness is more akin to apathy...that which underlies laziness. Whereas most other of the seven deadly sins are sins of commission - this we do, slothfulness is a sin of omission - not doing what we should. 

Dante, in his classic work Purgatorio, defines sloth as "The failure to love God with all one's heart...mind...soul." It is, he said, an "insufficiency of love." (1)

What does the Bible say about slothfulness, laziness and the like? 

In our Sunday series this week, we're looking at Sloth vs Diligence. And the Bible has tons to say about these. More than we can insert in a meaningful way into the sermon. That would be overload. So I've added this blog to detail some of the passages that are helpful to those looking to go a little deeper after this morning of sharing from the Word. I pray you are blessed as you delve deep in the Word. 

Here are a few zingers from Scripture:  Proverbs 10:4, 12:27, 15:19, Matthew 25:25-30

There are so many in the wisdom literature of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes, especially, that it is more prudent for me to simply redirect you to THIS page to read them all! (That's not slothful, because if I were being slothful I wouldn't even have taken the extra time to create this blog posting resource for you!). Go about half way down the page to "Laziness in the Bible." Amazing. 

My wish, prayer and work for you is this: That you be virtuously diligent in all areas of your life - especially that of your spiritual walk, since that has greatest potential to empower your diligence in all other realms of life - and that you not be characterized by the vice of sloth in any way. 

What could be the "theme verse" for this? Well, there could be many, but a central one is this: 

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance (diligence) the race marked out for us...
— Hebrews 12:1

 

(1) Wikipedia.org: Sloth (deadly sin) 

A Resource for Battling Porn

Administrator

This is growing to be one of the largest - and most damaging - problems in modern society, including inside the Church. Do you challenge that statement? Josh McDowell commissioned  research last year that revealed "Of young adults 18-24 years old, 76 percent actively - and these are Christians - actively seek out porn."  Barna, the great Christian research group, conducted the study and provides THIS executive summary of their findings. 

This Sunday in our series Seven Vices or Seven Virtues: Your Decisions Determine Your Destiny we're looking at a double-double: Lust & Gluttony vs Chastity & Temperance. This series is about the "seven deadly sins" and their polar opposites, the "seven cardinal virtues." Missed one in the series? You can listen to the podcasts on our media page

While researching and preparing, I came across this resource from the Evangelical Fellowship of Canada. It's a 40-page booklet entitled Battling Pornography. We don't need as a church office to print these that are free online. Plus, many are understandably shy about picking one up or raising their hand saying in effect Yes, I want one of those.  So, I'm making this available to you via this blog, where you can come anonymously and download the resource.

Click HERE to download this guide, and be blessed in your battle. 

Here to strengthen, 

PC 

Spiritual Anorexia Amidst Social Lunacy?

Administrator

If I told you there is just ONE thing you can do to positively affect ALL other areas of your physical fitness, are you interested? If I told you there's just ONE thing you can do that will advance ALL areas of your social standing, do I have your attention? If I told you there's ONE simple thing you can do daily that will increase your financial bottom line, are you salivating yet?

What do you call it, then, when you know this ONE thing and neglect it? In the physical realm, we call that a wasting disease, such as anorexia. Regarding our reputation, we'd call such neglect social suicide. In finances we'd say you're just plain financially incompetent and shouldn't be trusted with a credit card.

Yet the majority of us in the Church neglect the ONE thing we know WILL positively affect ALL other areas of our lives. Like good nutrition to the body, like marketing for socialites, and wise investments in our bottom line, daily reading your Bible is the ONE thing that will positively affect all other areas of your spiritual life.

Despite this, only 11% of Canadian and 14% of American CHURCH GOERS read the Bible daily. 

And this stands in direct contrast to the majority's time investments elsewhere: According to Shea Bennett on Social Times, in 2015 we spent 28% of all our online time surfing social media sites. When you combine that with an additional 13% on micro-blogging sites such as Twitter, our time on trolling what all other people think about situations is 41% of our online consumption.  Now 41% of 1 minute isn't much, but we're spending lots more time than that. Our social media surfing averages to 1.72 hours daily, and .81 hours daily on micro-blogging. That's over 2.5 hours daily in 2015. Amazing. And these numbers have been growing annually, so today it's even more.

What more astounding is the common assertion from Christians to the question, Why don't you read what God is saying to you daily? "I don't have time." Really?!

If we answer thus, we've got spiritual anorexia. Think about this: Anorexia is defined as "an emotional disorder characterized by an obsessive desire to lose weight by refusing to eat."

Refusing to dine daily on God's word is a spiritual and emotional disorder. Our lunacy is an obsessive desire is for social media consumption, all the while starving our spirit and mind of good, life building nutrition.

We respond to those diagnosed with conditions like anorexia and bulimia with great social and emotional concern. A few years ago a friend's daughter was diagnosed with such. They rallied all necessary resources - counseling, prayer chains, and much more - because these disorders are life altering, depleting and ultimately fatal.

We should respond to our spiritual anorexia in the same way.

If this catches your attention and you "self-diagnose" (actually a work of the Holy Spirit because He loves us, so we're not really doing it by our own "selves") with such a deficit of spiritual nutrition, where do you start? Genesis? Maybe. But maybe not.

If you use a smart phone (otherwise used for your social media consumption and games) and a Bible reading app, following a reading plan is easy because they come built in or easily accessible. But what if you use a good ol' "dumb" phone the just calls people? What if you lost the one year Bible reading handout you got at church or in the mail? Now what?

Let me share a simple Bible reading plan you can keep in your head and follow any day:

I learned this when a teenager, and have followed it on and off through the years. I've taught it to dozens and dozens of new believers when giving them a Bible, and hundreds of believers in general. I don't know where I first heard it, so I can't give credit to that person. But that's not always the most important thing, which rather is this: The Holy Spirit is always working to make sure you and I hear and know what we need. Yes, we often frustrate that process, but we can be built up knowing He's constantly working for our good!

So how does it work?

Rather than beat ourselves up over missing a day here or there in our reading - especially thinking in some way that God is standing over us, disappointed and ready to whack us ... which is a totally non-Biblical thought - be free from such and walk in grace. Accept the call to hear His voice for today, and seize this day. Actually, seize this date specifically. Today as I write this it happens to be August 19th. 19. Note that.

In this plan, we're reading 5 Psalms a day, 1 Proverbs, 1 of the New Testament and 2 of the Old. This gives us a broad perspective that's healthy, like a well rounded meal on your plate. Which Psalms to read today? Multiply 19 by 5. Now I'm definitely not great at doing math in my head, but the ones, twos, fives and ten times tables are simple enough for me to handle. Thus, I know you will excel past me in this regard. 19 x 5 = 95. Read chapters 91-95 on the 19th. Thus the date daily tells us which chapters to read. Now here's God's great thing about this: If we read 5 Psalms a day daily, we'll read the book of Psalms each month, as there are 150 chapters, 5 for every 30 days! Next...

Read one chapter of Proverbs. Yep. You guessed it already. Read chapter 19 on the 19th, etc. Now why read Psalms and Proverbs daily? Because Psalms is prayers and praises to God. We need this, and the Word actually teaches us how to do it. And we need God's wisdom, which Proverbs is in compacted format. In fact, there's so much in each chapter there's more than we can remember for an entire day. Don't sweat it. Just focus on the one or two verses the Holy Spirit draws your attention to. Sometimes you realize instantly what it's for; other times it hits you later in the day when the need arises. And here's another of God's great things: If you read 1 chapter of Proverbs daily, you'll read it monthly, because there are 31 chapters!

Start your New Testament reading in Matthew, and - yes - start your Old Testament reading in Genesis. Nothing like starting from the beginning.

Now here's the last amazing thing of God's word: If you read 3 chapters (those NT and OT portions) daily, you'll read the entire Bible in 365 days.

This is like Bible reading by the numbers. And when you do, you won't have spiritual anorexia nor social lunacy at all. Try it and let me know how you're blessed.

ASK: Because YOUR Questions Matter

Pastor Charles

In our summer Sunday series @DCC... YOU will set the topics!

What questions about the Bible, theology, God, morality, life, the after-life, heaven, hell, angels & demons or whatever have you been sitting on? What questions have you not found satisfactory answers to yet? Now is your chance to ask.

Submit your question quick…the Sundays will fill up fast!

Use the comment form here, or - to submit your question anonymously - feel free to call it in on the church line or drop us a good ol' fashioned handwritten note.

I can't wait to see - and reply to - your questions!

Reach Out & Steal Your Relativistic Friend's iPhone

Pastor Charles

Many of the topics we've been covering in our current series, Jesus Among Other Gods, touch upon moral relativism.

Some might know what that is, but a few others might be saying, "Those are big words and concepts, Charles. What is that?"

Moral relativism is the belief that says what is true for you may not also be true for me. Perhaps in a most limited context there are some places where moral relativism has place in our lives and interaction. In most areas of life and social behaviour, morality is not relative at all.

How does this play out in our lives and conversations?

You and your friend are conversing. You're getting into the nitty-gritty of real life stuff, touching upon what you believe versus what they believe. You each realize that your individual worldviews are impinging upon the others. In reaction to the truth claims of Jesus you're sharing, they reply, "Well, that might be true for you, but that's not true for me. What's true for you isn't true for me." And some are more blatant than this, claiming that there are no moral absolutes, such as those decrying a Christ-follower's lack of enthusiastic embrace toward alternative sexual lifestyles or other areas of morality. "There are no moral absolutes!" they cry.

Really?

How do we respond to this kind of claim?

Reach out and steal your friend's iPhone. This is Andy Bannister's advise. Go ahead. Try it. BUT first, watch his short video on how to follow up this radical action to challenge your friend's claim to belief in moral relativism.

Enjoy!