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Conundrum: Solved

Dearest hijas,

The solution to the conundrum I proposed in the previous post is in the wording, isn’t it? There really is no missing dollar. The hotel got $25 for the room ($30 minus the $5 given to the bellhop). The three sisters paid a total of $27 ($9 x 3) for the room. The difference of $27-$25 = $2 is what the bellhop kept for himself. Everything accounted for.

Love,
Dear ol’ Dad
Vaya con Dios mis hijas

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Conundrum

Dearest hijas,

Three sisters are on vacation and go into a hotel. The desk clerk says that the room charge is $30, so each sister pays $10 dollars and they go to the room. Later, the clerk realizes the room was only $25, so he sends a bellboy to their room with $5. On the way, the bellboy couldn’t figure out how to split $5 evenly between the 3 sisters, so he gave each sister $1 and kept the $2 for himself. This meant that the 3 sisters each paid $9 for the room, which is a total of $27. Add the $2 dollars that the bellboy kept = $29. Where is the other dollar? (HT: W.J. Mencarow, The Paper Source, Nov. 2017)

Love always,
Dear ol’ Dad

From whence comes thy criticism?

Dear hijas,

It is often noted that those Christians who criticize the recent creation and young earth position (the orthodox position of the Church for 1800 years), vying instead for the secular version of earth history and it’s billions and millions of years, almost never offer their criticism from Scripture. The criticism usually comes from unwarranted belief in supposed secular interpretations of astronomical age, radiometric dating, tree-ring dating, varves, ice cores, and the like, ad absurdum.

But very rarely does a criticism come from the Scriptures and from a theological rendering of the Biblical text. The reason is that you can’t find theological support from Scripture for billions and millions of years. It just isn’t there. And if one’s final authority is not in Scripture, then where is it? Obviously in something other than Scripture (man’s autonomous ideas), which for the Christian poses a big problem; a big 2nd commandment problem; a big idolatry problem.

…for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God…(Ex. 20:5)

Few Christians today who accept an old earth and old cosmos understand this connection. They honor and accept autonomous secular man’s ideas of how old the earth and cosmos are, never investigating and understanding where these ideas came from and the impetus behind them in the first place, and in the same instance dishonor the God they say they have placed their trust in.

They get their knowledge and base their salvation on the words of Scripture in the Gospels concerning Christ’s death and resurrection and solution for their sin problem, yet on the other hand disbelieve and discount these same Scriptures in Genesis when it comes to Creation in six days and a young earth. It’s a sad and harmful intellectual schizophrenia.

Few realize they are dishonoring the Christ they say they love, for He Himself in His work of Creation was Holy, and pure, and blameless. Attributing to Christ the deaths of millions and millions of His very own created creatures, let alone the natural evils of killer earthquakes, asteroid bombardment, mega-tsunamis, disease, decay, and massive destruction against His very own work in Creation over billions and millions of years, and all before Adam sinned, is a charge against Christ that is nothing but unadulterated blasphemy.

We are told to “Love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind (Matt. 22:37), yet few realize what loving God with all your mind requires. It requires an evaluation of one’s intellectual thinking on any matter whatsoever and slicing and dicing it up against the words of God Himself in Scripture. Does it comport, or is there variance? If variance, what warrant is there for believing man’s ideas against the almighty and omnipotent Creator of the universe? Does the creature have warrant and justification for shaking his fist at God and saying to the Almighty he thinks he knows better; that the Almighty doesn’t really mean what He says He means? He does so to his own jeopardy and peril.

With love, I remain,
Dear ol’ Dad
Vaya con Dios mis hijas

Secular GeoHistory’s Hidden Fallacies: Part 1

Dear hijas,

“If Christians are to understand Earth history, we must first understand how it was taken by secular thinkers.” So says John K. Reed in Chapter 3 of “Rocks Aren’t Clocks: A Critique of the Geologic Timescale”, Creation Book Publishers, Powder Springs, GA 2013.
rocks-arent-clocks
Dr. Reed details the hidden fallacies underlying the secular view of Earth history, and he says there are four of them. They originate within a naturalistic and secularistic worldview, but Christians have fallen prey to believing them as well:

1) An ignoring of the worldview conflict between Christianity and Naturalism.
2) An assumption of the reality of ‘prehistory’ and its pre-human billions and millions of years.
3) An assumption that natural history is science, and not history.
4) Seeing more ‘history’ in the rocks than is really there.

Let’s take them one at a time. Within Western culture there are two broad worldviews squaring off against each other: Naturalism and Christianity. Naturalism came out of the Enlightenment (generally mid 17th century to late 18th century) and is the worldview of the secularist. “It is built on the assumption that if there is a god, he is too remote from human affairs to be known or to have had any physical effect in the world. Truth comes not from revelation, but from man’s knowledge, and the zenith of human knowledge is science,” says Reed. “Naturalism began as a minority view, but one strongly held by Enlightenment intellectuals. Its proponents offered conciliatory lip service to ‘religion’, took advantage of Christian tolerance, and talked up compromise at every turn,” he continues. It was the so-called “Age of Reason”, and as it grew in strength it influenced (sadly) the Church. Yet the winds of change are blowing, and Christians are waking up to the masquerade. They are beginning to realize that the science that gave us millions and billions of years of pre-human Earth history was a façade for a philosophical worldview, according to Reed. You see, mis hijas, more of us need to wake up and understand the worldview conflict here. Naturalism’s strength has always been hiding behind ‘science’, and it’s time we understood the philosophical assumptions behind the science.

Fallacy #2 is the assumption of the reality of “prehistory”. That prehistory is long before humans, and involves billions and millions of years of earth development along with its ensuing biological development way before humans ever showed up on the scene.
Geologic timeline
But is this prehistory really true? Not according to the Scriptures it isn’t. But that’s the point, Reed says. The Enlightenment invention of prehistory was an attempt to make Genesis irrelevant. It was an end run around the Biblical narratives of Adam and Eve and the creation of the universe and everything in it in six days, and an “insertion” of this long prehistory before Adam and Eve and a ‘wink, wink’ that the six days weren’t really six days. The stratagem worked. Theologians of the day compromised and became part of the “smart” crowd and we are where we are today: theologians still compromising, conjuring up new ways to interpret Genesis 1 to accommodate the billions and millions of years of prehistory.

“Christians cannot continue to waffle,” Reed says. He continues,

“There is either one unified history, taught by the Bible, or there are two distinct histories: human history and prehistory. Prehistory is not a given. Either it existed or it did not.”

As always, I remain,
Dear ol’ Dad
Vaya con Dios mis hijas

Are Rocks Clocks? You are the Geologist

Dearest hijas,

Imagine that you are a geologist sent out to map and gather information concerning the geology of a certain newly discovered area of the earth.
antarctic-lava-lake-670x440

You arrive at your destination hoping to identify the type of rock in the area and determine if you can’t place these rocks into a local geologic column. You spend hours in the field; mapping, studying, climbing, and taking samples of the different rock units. You come to recognize these different rock units and determine their composition and relative orientation in space. You send your samples off for laboratory analysis, but you can generally see a sandstone layer on top of a limestone layer with fossils, on top of a basalt layer. You use their relative positions to create an idealized local geologic column: a vertical sequence of sandstone-limestone-basalt. Between the sandstone and limestone layers is an unconformity: an erosional surface.

But you can’t impress your fellow geologists and move your career along by just describing the strata–you must be able to interpret their history. When were these formations deposited? How long did it take? How many years are represented by the unconformity between the sandstone and limestone layers? You have no idea, so you compare your local column to the global template of the geologic timescale:
geologic timescale
From fossils in the limestone layer and a few radiometric dates that came back from the samples you sent in for lab analysis you determine that all these formations were deposited during the Jurassic; the sandstone in the early Jurassic (about 200 million years ago), and the limestone and basalt in the late Jurassic (about 150 million years ago). Since radiometric dates from the basalt you sent in for analysis range from 150 – 170 million years ago you feel confident this interpretation is sound. You then publish your study. Eventually, it (like thousands of others) is included in the body of work by your fellow geologists around the world and cited by fellow geologists and stratigraphers as an empirical conclusion not only of your local column but of the validity of the timescale itself.

This all seems rather straightforward, doesn’t it? It seems to validate the premise that rocks are clocks. But wait, have you analyzed the assumptions you used to conclude what you have published as empirical reality? We, properly, should ask a number of questions about your assumptions:

1) Why have you assumed there is historical content in the rocks?
2) Why have you assumed there is no other relevant source of historical information?
3) Why have you assumed that the position of the rocks in the field tells their relative ages?
4) Why have you assumed that the formations were deposited slowly over long periods of time, and provide a representative sample of all those years?
5) Why have you assumed that erosion has not removed enough evidence to impede historical reconstruction?
6) Why have assumed that your local column of sandstone-limestone-basalt fits in the geologic timescale?

None of these assumptions are proven by fieldwork–they are simply the context you absorbed in your studies. The timescale is not an empirical conclusion of your study, but only the historical template by which you shoehorned your local column into temporal interpretations. You assumed the timescale was true already, and simply plugged your data into a likely section, the Jurassic.

But wait, there’s still more assumptions you may have forgotten:

1) Why have you assumed that nature is rational and that your mind is rational as well?
2) Why have you assumed there is such a thing as “truth”?
3) Why have you assumed that history is linear, instead of cyclical like some philosophies and religions of the East?

How do you know any of these are true? They are true only on the basis of Judeo-Christian theology. Secular scientists wishing us to believe in billions and millions of years are thieving and using the assumptions that only Judeo-Christian theology can support. Their own secular system of Naturalism cannot support the very basis and foundation of their very own scientific work and conclusions. It’s truly amazing how the most confirmed atheist can be such a good Christian in her most fundamental assumptions.

(Ilustration and analogy above taken from ‘Rocks Aren’t Clocks-A Critique of the Geologic Timescale’, by John K. Reed, Creation Book Publishers, Powder Springs, GA, 2013, pp.46-48, and all credit for text and conclusions are to him.)

With love, as always,
Dear ol’ Dad
Vaya con Dios mis hijas

Writer’s Block

Dearest hijas,

stickman confused

For several weeks now I’ve been stymied on what to write that would be meaningful and insightful and a tool for learning and further investigation on your part.  This God-given life, this blessing to be called sons and daughters of God, this birth from above and granted us to live on earth here below fills me with wonder and gratitude every day He allows me to draw breath. It should fill you with the same wonder and gratitude (and I know it does) as well.

For you my beloved, and for any readers who by Providence have stumbled across these pages, what are you questioning? What are you seeing raised up against the knowledge of God in conversations and dialogue with friends and co-workers? What is a sticking point in your knowledge of Scripture and what you read therein?

As always, with love, I remain,

Dear ol’ Dad

Vaya con Dios mis hijas

Controversy over Free Will: Three Short Synopses

Resurrection

Dear hijas,

Something to think about while I am putting the Luther and Erasmus post together.

Pelagius: man born “well” – just needs a teacher to guide him on the right path.

Semi-Pelagianism: man born “sick”, “wounded” – needs a physician to prescribe the right medicine or put a cast on him or suture the wound.

Augustine: man born “dead” (Eph. 2:1) – needs a resurrection, brought back to life, needs a Savior.

Vaya con Dios mis hijas,

Dear ol’ Dad

The Councils of Carthage: Augustian/Pelagian Controversy Over Free Will

Council of CarthageAfrica Carthage Map

Dear hijas,

The Augustinian/Pelagian controversy over free will, was taken up in the city of Carthage in 412 AD. There were actually several councils that met in this African city, not just one, and it is the councils of 412, 416, and 418 that we are concerned about here and that condemned Pelagianism in all its forms.

Remember from our last post that Pelagius, perhaps from the Greek philosopher Aristotle (384-322 B.C.), believed that human beings started out ‘tabula rasa’, a blank sheet of paper. He believed man was perfectly capable of obeying and pleasing God, no one was contaminated by the Fall of Adam, nor were they born in sin. In essence, he denied the doctrine of original sin and the fallen nature of man, and saw man today in the same state as Adam was when he was created. Pelagius taught that sin was not inevitable, that there were many who had never sinned, that Adam was created mortal, physical death was a natural occurrence even to Adam, and he (Adam) would have eventually died even if he had never sinned.

By combining the teaching that man has a will and can avoid the consequences of the Fall and a denial of man’s sin nature, Pelagius made salvation by grace through faith unnecessary. Man wasn’t born in sin, therefore one doesn’t need Christ, for only sinners need a Savior.

Augustine on the other hand, from Scripture, believed that man is born “dead” in sin and trespass (Rom. 6:11, 8:10), cannot please God in and of himself, and that we’re dependent on the grace that God gives us to obey and please Him. He believed that the whole of man was corrupted by the Fall. Not just his moral aspects, but his will and intellect were fallen as well. We speak of this as the ‘noetic’ effects of sin (from nous, the “mind”, noeo, “think”). Augustine believed, per Scripture, that Adam was created immortal and sinless, perfect and whole in his being, and because of his rebellion, and God’s curse, man today was now corrupted in the totality of his being.

What flows from this per Rom. 6:23 that ‘the wages of sin is death’, is seen in that physical death had been promised as a result of disobedience (Gen. 2:17), confirmed in Gen. 3:19 ‘to dust you shall return’, and one of the chief evidences that we are all sinners is that death is the common occurrence of us all. We all ‘die’. Physical death is the indication that we are all living in the corruptible state of spiritual death. If as Pelagius believed, Adam was created mortal and would have died whether he had sinned or not, it would remove the Biblical evidence for the veracity of God in placing the curse on disobedient Adam and his posterity in the first place. If unfallen Adam would have died anyway, then the threat of God (Gen. 2:17) would have been meaningless. It would have been a nonsense statement. This view took Pelagius further away from Biblical truth, for if Adam would have died anyway, and death wasn’t a punishment for sin, then Christ would not have had to die a physical death to defeat death. What would be the purpose?

The two views of Augustine and Pelagius were diametrically opposed. The 412 AD council, 416 AD council and two years later in the 418 AD council, overwhelming settled the issue in favor of Augustine, and proclaimed Pelagius and his followers as heretics. The council reaffirmed that man was conceived and brought forth in sin (Ps.51:5). Man’s will was not free, or “well”, as per Pelagius, but instead was in bondage to its sinful nature. As a result of the Fall, given the opportunity to choose between good and evil, God or Satan, unregenerate man would always and ‘freely’ choose evil unless God Himself intervened.

There was dissent in some quarters however. Bishop of Rome, Zosimus, sided with Pelagius and penned a letter denouncing the council’s ‘anathema’ of Pelagius. It was this presage on the part of Zosimus and later Popes towards Pelagianizing tendencies that became the “works righteousness” of the Roman Catholic belief system. By the Middle Ages, Rome via Zosimus and these Pelagianizing tendencies began to metastasize and spread, and by the time of the Reformation, was teaching that man saved himself by cooperating with the grace of God; a position known as semi-Pelagianism.

It is then to the Reformation we now must turn to find the next characters in the debate: Martin Luther and Desiderius Erasmus.

And remember, to always,

Vaya con Dios mis hijas!

Dear ol’ Dad

Predestination and Free Will: Augustine and Pelagius

AugustinePelagius

Dear hijas,

Augustine of Hippo (354-430) and the British monk Pelagius (354-418). Do you think these two guys had anything to do with our topic of predestination and free will?

Enough with the mysteries you say, tell us straight forward. Speak the truth without deviation. But what about Luther and Erasmus I say?

Martin LutherDesiderius Erasmus

‘Enough,’ you say, ‘enough.’ This is too much. How can Augustine and Pelagius, Luther and Erasmus, Calvin and Arminius have anything to do with predestination and free will? Stop the torture you say, how can there be so many people involved in this? I thought it was so simple. “Can’t you just point to one or two verses in Scripture to settle all this?”

Ah, well there, mis hijas, is the rub. It’s not so simple. The philosopher George Santayana (1863-1952) is famous for saying, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

We do well to pay attention to church history; to the councils and creeds and confessions that came out of the doctrinal disputes and clarifications of our learned fathers in the faith through time. ‘That which has been is that which will be, and that which has been done is that which will be done, So, there is nothing new under the sun.” Do you know which great philosopher said that? The philosopher and wise King Solomon (Ecc. 1:9).

Do we really think that we’re the first and only ones to struggle with the question of predestination and free will? That our brothers and sisters in the faith who came before us didn’t have this question?

So how did they resolve it? What were their answers? This, mis hijas, will take us on a journey through time; to look at Augustine and Pelagius, Luther and Erasmus, Calvin and Arminius. At councils and synods, confessions and creeds. At anathema’s and Remonstrances. Are you ready?

Vaya con Dios mis hijas,

Dear ol’ Dad

Les Misérables – Incredible!

Mis hijas,
Even though Dear ol’ Dad is getting hard of hearing, and I could only follow about 30-40% of what was being sung, I thought this review by Bob Mattes of ‘Reformed Musings’ sums up my sentiments exactly.

With love,
Dear ol’ Dad

Reformed Musings

I saw the new release of Les Misérables yesterday. Two words – see it! The cast, music, and direction all combined to hit this one out of the park. I’ll try to write this without spoilers for those unfamiliar with the various outcomes in the story.

Les-miserables-movie-poster1

I saw Les Misérables on the stage some years back, and it was excellently done. The film felt very much like a live stage production. The cast sang live during the filming, adding a realism, emotion, and power to the production missing in most movie musicals. This made an amazing difference in my opinion.

Anne Hathaway sang like an angel, with Samantha Barks close behind. Their singing captured the pathos of the characters and situations beautifully and naturally in the course of their acting. Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe showed incredible range and talent well beyond that required for most movies these days…

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