by David and Tim Bayly on August 24, 2004 - 6:55pm
Over the years I've heard many Christians confidently declare that, though Scripture is clear on the role of women in the Church and home, it's silent concerning their role in secular society. But those making such statements mean by "silent" only that there's no silver bullet text forbidding a woman to serve as a queen, president, CEO, general, or judge.
Many doctrines central to our Faith are not laid out in Scripture explicitly, but implicitly, and both methods are a legitimate path for God's Truth to come to us. There are times when God is pleased to reveal His Truth with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer: "And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger" (Luke 2:12).
Other times it pleases God to speak in parables. In fact, on more than one occasion the People of God were rebuked for approaching God's Word with a wooden literalism when the truth being communicated was meant to be understood on a different level. Consider this exchange between Jesus and His disciples:
And the disciples came to the other side of the sea, but they had forgotten to bring any bread. And Jesus said to them, "Watch out and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees."
They began to discuss this among themselves, saying, "He said that because we did not bring any bread."
But Jesus, aware of this, said, "You men of little faith, why do you discuss among yourselves that you have no bread? Do you not yet understand or remember the five loaves of the five thousand, and how many baskets full you picked up? Or the seven loaves of the four thousand, and how many large baskets full you picked up? How is it that you do not understand that I did not speak to you concerning bread? But beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees."
Then they understood that He did not say to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees. (Matthew 16:5-12)
Yes, as Protestants we hold to the doctrine of the perspicuity of Scripture, and therefore oppose the notion that a believer must have a college or graduate degree in order to understand God's Word. Rather we confess that:
All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all: yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed, for salvation, are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them. (Westminster Confession of Faith I:7)
Yet again, this is not to say that the meaning of Scripture must always be what occurs to us at first blush (or most immediately). Many of the doctrines of our Faith are inferences and deductions from the study of God's Word; they're the product of coming to understand types and anti-types, of "getting" the point of the story. In fact, it may even be said that much of Scripture is intentionally hidden so that some people won't "get it." How else are we to understand the answer Jesus gave to this question posed by His disciples:
by David and Tim Bayly on August 28, 2004 - 8:21pm
Several years ago David and I took part in a battle opposing a number of members of the Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) in their efforts to remove the sex-markings of thousands of texts of Scripture in the New International Version. At the time, the NIV was the Bible translation standard of the Bible-believing, English-speaking world, so it was the efforts to modernize this particular translation that were our focus.
Our opponents' plan was to put out an updated NIV called the NIVI in which Hebrew and Greek words such as adam, adelphoi, and aner would be denuded of their male grammatical component and thereby rendered innocuous to Westerners raised in a feminized society in which it had become gauche to make references to mixed-sex groups using any word with a male marking. 'Man' became 'humankind', 'brothers' became 'Christian friends' (NLT) or 'siblings' (NIVI), 'man' became 'person', and so on--thousands of times across the pages of Scripture.
As you'll see from the above reference to the NLT, the NIV was not the only Bible in wide use across the evangelical world being similarly updated. In an effort to update the Living Bible which was growing long-in-the-teeth, Tyndale House Publishers had hired a long list of ETS academics to produce the New Living Translation which, benefiting from millions of dollars in advertising and purchased product placement in national bookstore chains, was steadily gaining market share.
Partly because of the naturally lower expectations of accuracy the NLT inherited from its predecessor, the Living Bible; partly because the academics who had done the NLT's translation work likely expected it to be more a devotional than a study Bible; and partly because the NLT's publisher responded to expressions of concern over some of the more egregious mistranslations evident in the NLT's text with thoughtful consideration and, eventually, a number of changes to the text of the NLT's subsequent printings; the public battle was focused almost exclusively on the updated NIVI, its publisher Zondervan, and Zondervan's subsidiary (in a manner of speaking), the International Bible Society and her subordinate Bible Translation Committee.
The battle was joined with the publication March 29, 1997 of Susan Olasky's cover article, "The Stealth Bible: the Feminist Seduction of the Evangelical Church," in World magazine. For almost everyone this was the first hint of Zondervan's plans and the response was a good measure of the profound theological divisions present within the vast entrepreneurial business park named "evangelicalism."
Predictably, one side decried Olasky's divisive spirit and focused their attack on World magazine...
by David and Tim Bayly on February 12, 2005 - 6:36am
Note: At times I'm asked for book recommendations. Here's the first in a list I hope to add to, as time permits. First, the Book of Books and specific recommendations for which version of Scripture you should use, and what small number of Bible study helps and reference works you should have at home, with links to click where you can buy them at a good price.
Book Number One: The Bible, "New American Standard Bible Updated (1995) Edition"
The Bible is the only book without error:
But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. (2Peter 1:20,21)
No other book is so worthy of our delight and constant meditation:
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. (2Timothy 3:16,17)
In Scripture we come to know the character, the perfections, of the Only True God--Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; here we have revealed to us the origin and nature of man, unique among all creation in his bearing the image of God, but sinful from the moment of conception by virtue of the federal headship of Adam; here, joyfully, we meet Jesus; here we read of His love for lost and sinful man; here we are brought to His Cross and promised eternal life if we believe on Him; here we find everything we need to know to lead a godly life in Christ Jesus.
Read this book as close to once a year as you can, never excluding the Old Testament. And as you read...
by David and Tim Bayly on October 13, 2005 - 6:03am
It's a sad indication of the status of modern Evangelical and Reformed Biblical scholarship that Charles Spurgeon's little classic, Commenting and Commentaries, remains a generally up-to-date guide to the best Biblical scholarship extant. Not in every case, but in far too many....
I've been using a modern critical Evangelical commentary while preaching through Luke and it systematically disappoints. Its usefulness, at best, is as a guide to critical thought. Once in a while it illuminates factually in a way Calvin doesn't. But in general, I've come to ignore it.
Perhaps the clearest symptom of the disease afflicting conservative Biblical scholarship is terminology. This commentary, like almost all modern exegetical commentaries on the Gospels, continually refers to the "Lucan", "Marcan" and "Matthean" accounts of parallel passages.
Why not simply refer to "Luke's" gospel, "Matthew's" account, and so on? Because conservative scholars are bounders, perpetual arrivistes at the scholarly table; to prove they belong they must genuflect to modern critical scholarship.
That's why they can't simply call it "Luke's gospel." Modern critical scholarship questions the authorship of the Gospels. So, instead of the flatly declarative "Luke's gospel," we get adjectival descriptions like "Matthean" and "Lucan." Conservative scholars may argue for "Lucan" authorship of Luke, but every time conservative scholars use their opponents' weasel-words, they submit to the lie even as they argue against it.
Until conservative Biblical scholars are willing to be simple lovers of God's Word--and thus disdained by the scholarly community for their refusal to kowtow to its God-denying precepts--modern conservative scholarship will remain fruitless in the lives of common Christians and commentators such as Calvin, Luther, Henry and Alexander will remain the gold standard for exegetical spiritual meat.
Update: It's for precisely this reason that so many love the work of Vern Poythress. Dr. Poythress writes for Christians. And I would add that despite my recent criticisms of CBMW, Wayne Grudem has consistently disdained striving after secular approval in his work on Biblical sexuality, the primary reason CBMW served a useful purpose for many years.
by David and Tim Bayly on January 6, 2006 - 10:29am
One of the shibboleths of modern Reformed theology is a denial of special revelation as a continuing part of post-apostolic Christian life. Enter a PCA ordination exam professing belief in the continuation of the inspired prophetic office and you will likely not pass.
Often, even internal dreams and external words of wisdom as means of Divine communication are denied. The desire, of course, is to protect Christians from babbling fools who claim the authority of the Word for their banal, self-inspired utterances. And a true concern it is. The Church has always suffered the Gospels of Thomas, whether written by "Thomas" or Mary Baker Eddy or Joseph Smith or shouted in the midst of worship by ecstatic Bob.
Yet this understandable caution also tends to create an almost unbridgeable gap between Reformed believers and many charismatics who practice what they believe is a less-than-holy-writ-but-still-from-the-Spirit form of prophetic utterance.
Are there messages from God in Scripture which, though inspired, fall short of the authority of the written Word?
by David and Tim Bayly on January 13, 2006 - 4:59pm
Four thoughts on Genesis 1 and 2....
1. It looks (from Genesis 2:18-22) at least potentially the case that God's first step in the provision of a helpmeet for the lonely Adam was the creation of the land animals.
18 Then the Lord God said, "It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him." 19 So out of the ground the Lord God formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man.
Not only are we told that God created the animals in consideration of Adam's loneliness, but the animals are then brought before Adam for naming with the resulting verdict in verse 21, "But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him."
This is interesting, first, in its apparent ordering of events on the sixth day of creation. In the sequence of Genesis 1 the creation of man precedes the creation of animals. But there is no actual statement of order in Genesis 1 beyond the sequence of the passage whereas Genesis 2 presents a logical order to events: Adam created first; Adam found lonely; God decides to provide a companion and helpmeet for Adam; animals created; animals brought before Adam for his examination; Adam names animals; Adam finds none suitable for him; Eve created out of Adam.
The one problem with reading order from Genesis 2 is that in Genesis 2 the birds are lumped with the land animals in creation and naming, yet Genesis 1 places creation of birds with fish on day five.
Interesting, second, in that even if Genesis 2 does not give insight into order of creation, it does seem to imply that the animals were brought before Adam as potential helpmeets.
2. It's striking to note that though fish and birds are told to multiply and fill the earth in Genesis 1:22, Adam is created incapable of multiplying initially. There must have been sexual differentiation between animals from the outset if they were told to multiply and fill the earth, yet man was created singly.
3. In Genesis 1:20 God commands the fish to teem, or swarm, or multiply abundantly in the water. God fears overpopulation in neither animals nor man. Man is to be fruitful, to multiply, to fill the earth and subdue it. Animals are to teem in the earth. Imagine a ripe banana teeming with fruitflies: so God has created the earth in ripeness that man may teem upon it.
4. Every animal is given every green plant for food in Genesis 1:30. Evidently there was digestion and elimination prior to the fall and thus the demise of plant life. We may not call it death, precisely, but the Bible speaks of plants "perishing" (see Jonah 4:10), leading us to conclude that there was at least a form of vegetation death and decay prior to Adam's sin.
by David and Tim Bayly on November 2, 2006 - 9:29am
Do I believe the Bible is literally true?
Yes. A thousand times yes.
But to answer this question "yes" is not to say every text of Scripture is intended by the Holy Spirit to be interpreted literally. These are two different uses of the word 'literal' and the second use does not logically follow, and is not necessarily connected to, the first:
1.) I believe the Bible is literally true.
2.) I believe the Bible should always be interpreted literally.
For instance, when modern Bible translators and publishing companies want to take the Hebrew and Greek words 'man,' 'brother,' 'son,' and 'he' out of the text of Scripture and replace them with gender-neutral words such as 'person,' 'sibling,' 'child,' and 'they,' we publicly oppose it because part of the literal meaning of the original Hebrew and Greek words inspired by the Holy Spirit is now missing from the English translation--namely, the masculine inclusive.
To change the historic translation of the Greek word, 'adelphoi,' from "brothers" to "siblings" is wrong because 'siblings' is not the word literally used in the original Greek. The word was 'adelphoi,' 'brothers,' and it ought not to be removed as an appeasement of our politically correct society where feminist sensitivities run rampant. We may not appreciate the Holy Spirit speaking in this way, but that is how He spoke and He is God, so it would be wise for us to assume that there's a lesson in His use of the male-marked Greek word 'adelphoi' for men and women together.
But when it comes to interpreting this Greek word 'adelphoi,' we must not say that only the literal interpretation of 'brothers' can be the right interpretation. When the Holy Spirit inspired the word 'adelphoi' in the Sacred Canon, He was not always referring to male children born of the same father and mother.
When we say we believe in the literal interpretation of Scripture, what we are really saying is that we believe the simplest and most obvious meaning of a word--the meaning that occurs to us at first blush--must be the correct and only interpretation of that word. But interpreting the Bible in this way will often lead us astray...
by David and Tim Bayly on March 21, 2007 - 11:52am
Several verses gave me pause in recent Bible reading:
Nehemiah 1:11 "O Lord, I beseech you, may Your ear be attentive to the prayer of Your servant and the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name...."
True fear of the Lord is joyful rather than craven. His servants delight to fear Him. Imagine the fear of soldiers in pitched battle who hear the approach of bombers. This is the terror of those who do not know God. The fear of God's servants is the fear of those who look up to see markings of their own air force on the approaching bombers. God's children delight to fear Him.
Nehemiah 4:14 "When I saw their fear, I rose and spoke to the nobles, the officials and the rest of the people: 'Do not be afraid of them; remember the Lord who is great and awesome, and fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives and your houses.'"
Several thoughts spring from this rallying cry by Nehemiah. First, the command to fight: imagine a Christian leader saying, "In the name of God, fight," today. Second, the implicit assumption that (grown) men fight for their wives, daughters and sons. Third, the command to fight for "your houses." For our wives? Maybe. For our children? Probably But for our houses? At the command of God? Pacifism runs up against a powerful foe in this verse.
by David and Tim Bayly on April 30, 2008 - 12:53pm
(Tim, w/thanks to Jeff) Have I ever said anything about commentaries? Sure, but I'll have another hack at it.
When I left seminary, we had no money, so book purchases were mostly from used bookstores and resale shops. But I felt the need to have something "substantial" on at least one of the Gospels, so I took everyone's advice and spent about 40 of our limited dollars on I. Howard Marshall's commentary on Luke. "Stupendous example of evangelical scholarship at its very best" they all said, and I took the bait.
We moved to Pardeeville and I began preaching. Immediately, I looked for an occasion to use my most-excellent new tool and it wasn't long in coming. Choosing a text in Luke, I opened Marshall and...
(Tim, w/thanks to Carol) The international Synod of (Roman) Catholic Bishops will meet this coming October around the theme, "The Word of God." In preparation, an international survey on biblical literacy was taken in the United States, the United Kingdom, Holland, Germany, Spain, France,
Italy, Poland and Russia. (Soon, other countries in the Southern Hemisphere will be added, including Argentina, South
Africa, the Philippines, and Australia.)
Italian sociologist Luca Diotallevi says the study is “the most systematic scientific undertaking yet attempted to
compare, on an international scale, levels and forms of familiarity
with the Scriptures.”
The survey's findings indicate even secularized nations and people are quite interested in the Bible, but find it very hard to understand. This is a wonderful opening for the people of God--evangelistic Bible studies continue to be one of the most effective tools we have for bringing men and women to the preaching of the Word and faith.
Other survey results show the decline of Bible knowledge among American Protestants as it grows among Roman Catholics...
(Tim) After twenty-five years of listening to, and reading, feminists who purport both to be Christians and to honor Scripture, a few years ago I stopped. Their scholarship was so bad, non-sequiturs so constant, lies so bald-faced, and impiety so obvious, I couldn't bear it any more--keeping up with them was too caustic to my heart.
A few minutes ago, though, one of our readers mentioned some faithless comments being made by a certain feminist (who will remain unnamed) under a post she had made on her blog, and I was curious. A few minutes later I found the blog and the comments my friend had mentioned. They were awful.
Before leaving, I clipped this text to show the sort of arguments these people make...
(Tim, w/thanks to James) Friends, here's one to keep your eyes on. David and I believe the training of pastors is best done in the context of the local church, but if we were asked which seminaries we believe hold true to biblical faith, Westminster Theological Seminary would make the short list.
Now, though, they have a professor who has written things that call his commitment to the authority and plenary verbal inspiration of Scripture into question. After suspending him from teaching, they're investigating the matter formally.
Lots of sheep think the seminary's action is scandalous. You know, criticisms of the "Don't you idiots know that the church has repented of heresy trials?" sort. Well, there you have it: "No heresy any more," say the sheep, "so don't bother guarding us--we don't need your care." How David and I thank God for allowing us to serve congregations who love us precisely because we seek to guard them as the Apostle Paul exhorted the elders of Ephesus to guard their own congregation, warning them: "From among your own selves men will arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them" (Acts 20:30). Further, our congregations have chosen elders who share in that work with us, rather than seeking to silence this aspect of our (and their) calling. What joy!
This past week, I finished Calvin's letter to Cardinal Sadoleto. Let me end the post with this excerpt:
...the miserable condition into which the Church had fallen was owing to nothing more than to its enervation by luxury and indulgence. For the body of the Church, to cohere well, must be bound together by discipline as with sinews.
(Tim) Really, this article is precious. What a perfect demonstration of a journalist's muddle-headed misunderstanding compounded by some who are playing to the masses and others who are seeking to limit any possible legal liability.
The Inquirer reports Enn's book, Inspiration and Incarnation, is a problem because it "encourages Bible-believing Christians to accept that the Bible was the work of both humans and God."
Well, first; not to put too fine a point on it, but have you all noticed that we can't call the race by the name God gave it any more? It's not "adam" or "man," but "humans." In this case it's particularly funny because we're talking about the Bible, the book "holy men wrote as they were moved by the Holy Spirit."
And second, is the journalist really so ignorant as to think that anyone in history, let alone the good souls of Westminster, actually deny the Bible is the work of both God and man?
by David and Tim Bayly on November 27, 2008 - 8:05am
(Tim) On Facebook, a friend and former CGSer has been discussing sodomy, marriage, divorce and the civil law with several friends who have said things like: "semantics is a cheap reason to deny a minority their civil rights. None
of the many gay folk I know agree with the "semantics justification"
for denial of marriage. Also, such a social mandate (YOU live by OUR
rules) has nothing to do with the teachings of Jesus Christ--and
everything to do with the teachings of the Pharisees."
Wanting to say a couple things, I pointed the conversationalists to this page and here's my own contribution to their dialog. Sorry I haven't linked things, but I wanted to get this up before all our guests arrive for Thanksgiving Dinner. If any of you want to add links, just post them in the comments.
* * *
Sam, Scripture isn't just dogma; it's narrative. Descriptive isn't necessarily prescriptive. It can be, but with divorce, incest, polygamy, concubinage, etc. Scripture reveals both where it was that every culture got marriage and also the laws to which God bound all sexual intimacy.
So, for instance, when Jesus was asked a question similar to yours (but this one concerning divorce), He responded saying it wasn't that way from the beginning (Creation) and that God made male and female for each other for life with the two becoming one--not three, four, or a thousand (Matthew 19:3 ff.). So there's no inconsistency between the Old and New Testaments on this matter. The two, male and female, shall become one until, by God's decree, death parts us. (My dear wife and I are on our thirty-third year, now, and still chugging away in harmony and love, praise God!)
All Christians through all time have always spoken this truth...
by David and Tim Bayly on December 8, 2008 - 11:43am
(Tim) Readers may have noted that I've changed our index titles at a number of points, One of them is that 'sodomy' has changed to 'homosexuality.' This is for ease of use, knowing almost no one ever says "sodomy" or "sodomite" any more. How would they find the category, then?
But I'm not ceding the point. While arguing for the continued use of 'sodomy' by Christians, I've also used the words 'homosexuality' and 'gay' all along. Right now, I won't go into why I use different words at different times, but I want to let our readers into a discussion with two men I respect who wrote me over two years ago, taking me to task for my continued use of 'sodomy.' Both are faithful brothers in the Lord--one a former prof of mine at Gordon-Conwell and the other a Christian rocker who's been a longtime friend of ours. The both wrote in mid-2006 and today I finally responded. (Yes, my e-mail queue is now hoevering around 1,200.)
Here, then, is a compilation of their e-mails, along with a few of my responses...
by David and Tim Bayly on January 30, 2009 - 9:10am
(Tim) Before we get too far removed from the attack upon God's Word carried out by Micah serving as an advocate for self-affirming sodomites while claiming Scripture was the foundation of his advocacy, I'd like to direct our readers' attention to the work of Robert Gagnon as a resource against such men.
Prof. Gagnon's a mainliner and would not share the doctrinal commitments of most of us concerning Scripture, but no one has come close to doing the careful historical and exegetical work he's done exposing these men's lies. You might start with his web site, but if you're a pastor or church officer who believes in standing in the gap and sounding a clear note, sooner or later you'll want to buy and keep close at hand for reading and loan his definitive, The Bible and Homosexual Practice.
Professor Gagnon is a friend of David's and my cousin, John DeWalt. They both attend Pittsburgh's Bellefield Presbyterian Church.
(Tim) Going through old e-mails, I found the following request from David Scholer dated April 10, 2008:
You are probably surprised to hear from me. I am currently teaching my course “Women, the Bible and the Church” for the 30th time in my career. In my introduction to the course, I was reviewing some of my experience and included a brief report on the debate you and I had in Lancaster now about ten years ago (I did not use your name).
If you are willing to write 100-300 words in an email which I could read to my class on what you would like most to say to my students, I would be pleased. I am having them read 400+ pages of works by Complementarian authors.
Blessings on your ministry in Indiana,
David M. Scholer Professor of New Testament, School of Theology, Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena CA
Following a long battle with cancer, this past August my friend David Scholer went from death to everlasting life, by grace through faith in the shed blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. May he rest in peace.
by David and Tim Bayly on December 31, 2009 - 9:01am
Therefore the woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels. (1 Corinthians 11:10)
(Tim) We were reading R. C. Sproul's Now, That's a Good Question! during family devotions (excellent, by the way) and came across the fact that his wife, Vesta, wears a head-covering in corporate worship. Despite Calvin recognizing the cultural aspects of this command, I'd always felt the absence of head-coverings in our worship services was something like an Achille's heel as we contended for Biblical sexuality. As my mother once said, "If not wearing head-coverings gives people an excuse to disobey God's ordering of the sexes, we should start wearing them."
So now we have a smattering of women wearing head-coverings in worship, including my dear wife. But the practice doesn't solve the question how best to interpret and obey 1Corinthians 11:1-16 and 14:34,35. Anyone inclined to be dismissive of the matter may want to go back and read and meditate on that earthshaking phrase, "because of the angels."
One of the more Twilight Zoney, na na na na, na na na na experiences of my life was a decade ago when I was debating the late David Scholer in front of around 750 Mennonites, about half of them women wearing head-coverings...
by David and Tim Bayly on January 9, 2010 - 9:47am
(Tim) We're now up to 85 or so comments under the post Because of the Angels, and those comments contain the only helpful discussion of headcoverings, and the visual cue they present within the corporate worship of the People of God of the submission of women, generally, to the authority of men, generally (Calvin's way of expressing it), that I've heard or read. So despite the length and (sometimes) heat of the discussion, I encourage everyone to go and read the comments.
Still, I must admit I've been wholly unsuccessful in getting anyone to read Calvin's doctrine of headcoverings, despite repeated attempts. So now, here is a compilation of Calvin's doctrine considerably shortened from what was put into the prior post. I do hope you'll all take the time to read this condensed version. There's really no substitude for Calvin's explanation of Scripture in any place, let alone one of the most controverted texts and themes in all of Scripture....
by David and Tim Bayly on August 26, 2010 - 7:25am
For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain. One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” This testimony is true. For this reason reprove them severely so that they may be sound in the faith, not paying attention to Jewish myths and commandments of men who turn away from the truth. (Titus 1:10-14)
(Tim) For an indication of what passes for guarding the good deposit in the PCA's Metro New York Presbytery, scan this stuff from PCA Teaching Elder Ron Choong who denies the Biblical doctrine of Adam. In response to the question, "Was Adam the first human?", Mr. Choong writes:
...there is no scientific consensus for the definition of being human. We have no certain idea how such a creature as ourselves came about from preexisting ones. All we can say at this point is that some 6 mya [million years ago], a common ancestor to all primates evolved. Our best guess is that full-time bipedal hominids began to walk around 1.8 mya and compositional language evolved around 170 tya. The earliest trace of symbolic linguistic use and self-consciousness came with the emergence of Homo sapiens sapiens (sic) about 100 tya. The modern mind, with cognitive fluidity arose some 80-60 tya.
Conclusion: Adam was probably not the first human being but he was most certainly the first one being human.
In the past, Mr. Choong's had some association with Redeemer Presbyterian Church, but currently he's a teaching elder in good standing on the roll of the PCA's Metro New York Presbytery. As with all pastors in the PCA, Mr. Choong's church membership and accountability is with his presbytery and they are the ones responsible for Mr. Choong's doctrine. Here we see the deep thoughts undergirding Pastor Choong's doctrine of Adam's federal headship...
by David and Tim Bayly on September 6, 2010 - 12:41pm
(Tim) If erudition's your thing, the late Donald Bloesch was your man. Seminary professor, denominational prophet to his own and President Barack Obama's United Church of Christ (which he referred to as "Unitarians Considering Christ"); and theologian; Don was bonkers prolific. He never seemed to stop writing. Speaking personally, though, Don was a dear friend who taught me much about how to work for reform within the church and how to apply the truths of God's Word to this present evil day.
Which is ironic when you stop to consider Bloesch held to classic Neo-Orthodoxy--particularly its denial of the plenary verbal inspiration of Scripture. Once I tried to talk Don into delaying writing the volume of his systematic theology dealing with revelation until he'd gotten older and thought better of his commitments. Of course, I failed, but the disagreement didn't end our friendship. Don understood my concern and didn't resent my attempt to keep him from the publication of his errors. (And of course, it was IVP that printed those errors. IVP has long been in thrall to the Academy, leaving far behind its earlier foundation on the plenary verbal inspiration of Scripture.)
Speaking of his view of Scripture, one night Mary Lee and I were having dinner with about five other guests at Don and Brenda's home in Dubuque. Brenda had served a wonderful meal and we were gathered in their living room for conversation, afterward. There were books here, there, and everywhere. Don sat in the middle of the couch and on the coffee table at his knees was Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood which at the time was a runner-up to Clark's Man and Woman in Christ for the best book in print on the Biblical doctrine of sexuality.
Pointing to the book I asked Don if he'd read it? He said it was on his list but he hadn't gotten to it, yet. Brenda inserted that she'd been trying to get him to read it for some time, but failed. (She held the Ph.D. in French Lit and, given their childlessness, served as Don's full-time assistant in all his writing and speaking endeavors.)
With the subject broached, I asked Don what he thought of woman officers in the church?
by David and Tim Bayly on October 29, 2010 - 7:37am
(Tim) Under the post about Wheaton's quarter-billion capital campaign, a reader asked, "(If a man) wants to prepare to be an Old or New Testament Professor... (w)here would you recommend him to study for a Ph.D. and why is this a better place to go than Wheaton?" Taking this as a jumping-off point for some related thoughts, I commented:
The academy has taken over the Reformed church and needs to be pushed back to being a servant, rather than a master. And its service needs to be circumscribed to the end that, once its overreaching has been disciplined, it doesn't have an easy time taking back lost ground.
The first necessary act of discipline is to reclaim for the church the training of shepherds. The academic model has utterly failed. It turns out men whose basic orientation is to avoid conflict. Not to be too hard on seminaries, though; this is only what academic institutions are ordered to produce. We shouldn't be harsh on them for doing what they're made to do.
The academy in its current manifestation is set up to manufacture men committed to being good disciples (of their profs) who will be hired by good colleges and universities...
This biography is a parable of the dangers of seeking the approval of the world. Didn’t our Lord say, “For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?” (Mk 8:36). Yet this is what Ladd sought, and along the way he lost his soul. He was one of the most respected evangelical Bible teachers of the mid-twentieth century. Nobody from my generation can teach on the kingdom of God and not quote George Ladd. Yet he craved the acceptance of the world and, when he did not attain it, his life fell apart. Didn’t the Apostle write, “The mind set on the flesh is hostile toward God; for it does not subject itself to the law of God, for it is not even able to do so” (Rom 8:7). The world will never accept us. It can’t.
Ladd became a Christian as a young man, sensed a call to the Christian ministry, trained at Gordon College and then entered the pastorate. Somewhere along the way, he changed direction and began to pursue further education so that he could do scholarly work on the Bible...
by David and Tim Bayly on January 21, 2011 - 1:30pm
(David) Tim's and my father, Joe Bayly, used to say (in private and only to family members) that the price of inerrancy's doctrinal defeat of liberalism in the battle for the Bible of the 60s and 70s was the loss of the authority of God's Word.
Today I'm as firmly convinced that Dad was right as I am that the Word is without error. It is inerrant, but the battle to prove inerrancy transformed the Word from the roaring lion of Amos into a patient needing the care of experts, from public glory and present power into the private realm of reflection.
Evangelical scholars were happy to come to the Word's defense. They put the Word under their microscopes in the search for vaccines against liberalism. Scholarly reputations were forged. And preachers all too willingly deferred--they were the students of these scholars, how could they tread confidently where their masters trod mincingly?
The result is a post-Reformation Protestant Church in which scholars and preachers illuminate the Word and usher people into the glories of the Word rather than preach the Word as a lamp for the illumination of glorious earthly paths. (If you doubt this, just take any of the most-recommended modern commentaries from an Evangelical or Reformed background and compare it to Calvin's commentary on the same book. Calvin respects and applies the Word while modern commentators explain, justify and generally try to support the Word.)
Thus, the modern Evangelical/Reformed world which is Bible rich but Spirit poor. The Word has become a walled garden, a magical mystery tour Christians enter into--BibleLand--rather than a map, a guide, a light for real life.
by David and Tim Bayly on February 22, 2011 - 10:11am
(Tim) From a January 3, 2011 New Yorker article titled, "God's Librarians: the Vatican Library enters the twenty-first century," here's an explanation of Rome's many-century opposition to laymen reading the Bible that strikes me as pertinent to the scientific exegetes who write books and teach in reformed and evangelical seminaries and colleges, today:
(The Vatican Library) may possess some of the most ancient manuscripts of Scripture in existence, but for centuries the (Roman) Catholic church held that ordinary people shouldn't be able to read the Bible--that the Old and New Testaments themselves should be a kind of "secret history" for everyone but the scholar-priests trained to decipher the arcane tongues in which they were written.
The modern scientific exegete has done the medieval equivalent of denying Scripture to the layman by...
(Tim) It's central to our chronological conceit to reassure ourselves the Middle Ages were the Dark Ages crammed full of religious bloodshed, religious oppression of scientific progress, and the Plague. So we've all learned the lesson to keep church and state separate to the end that we won't have as many wars or as many people die in those wars.
Doing well are we? Paganism is the state religion almost everywhere and more people were sacrificed on the altars of paganism's idols (Communism, Zionism, Feminism, etc.) this past century than ever died from all the religious wars of the Medieval world combined.
But what of science? Our modern morality play smugly assures us the Enlightenment busted truth loose from the religious ignoramuses who had oppressed the great minds across many centuries. Finally we know it's not wrong to take the Pill, unborn babies aren't persons and can't feel the knives, the iPhone is cool, washing hands saves lives, you can make babies in the lab, you can end the war by blowing up the women and children of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and Earth isn't the center of the Universe.
"Poor Galileo! If only he'd lived today when every man finally knows religion has nothing to say to the state or the high priests of Science. The Bible's true when it talks about spiritual things--not political or sexual or scientific things. It's no history book or textbook on cosmology. It tells you how to feel--not what to think. Poor Galileo! He had it right and the church tried to shut him up. Stupid ignorant church. Stupid Dark Ages...
Here is a helpful and wise autobiographical account of one man's life of sexual perversion prior to repentance, along with a warning against the tactics of the sodomy lobby that are taking Emergents like Tony Campolo and Rob Bell by storm today. The article isn't for the faint of heart, but this piece does such a good job of smashing all the pro-sodomy propaganda to smithereens that every pastor and elder and deacon or deaconess should read it carefully.
Note particularly how gays and egalitarians share identical hermeneutical strategies. Following the sodomites' hermeneutical technique outlined below, for decades now egalitarians have checkmated the Pollyannas of the Evangelical Theological Society. Mr. Lee records how all the debates over the meaning of this or that Biblical verse or word have born the fruit of "the gay rights apologists (earning) a place at the table from which they will never be dislodged." This is precisely the way the egalitarians have won their battle, also. When kaphale and authentein have been parsed into oblivion, the egalitarians walk home chortling over their victory--and rightly so...
by David and Tim Bayly on February 12, 2012 - 1:48pm
This is a post showing how (it seems to me) shame over the Bible's history of Creation has led to the (maybe) decline of Covenant Theological Seminary. But first, a short back-story...
Some time back I had a man in my congregation who had grown up Baptist and was pursuing graduate studies in science. One weekend he was home visiting his childhood church and he came under the influence of John Armstrong who--whether through preaching or conversation, I don't know--convinced him to stop graduate studies in science and begin graduate studies in theology. Being PCA at the time, I encouraged him to go to the PCA's Covenant Seminary over in St. Louis and he matriculated there a year or so later.
Watching him across the years is part of the reason I've warned people to avoid Covenant. There's more to say than this, but two things are worth highlighting...
by David and Tim Bayly on February 18, 2012 - 5:05pm
For it is written, “He is the One Who catches the wise in their craftiness"; and again, “the Lord knows the reasonings of the wise, that they are useless.” (1 Corinthians 3:19b-20)
Could it be that "myth" is the right category for the kind of stories we find in the ancient world, whether from the Egyptians, Mesopotamians, or even the Hebrews?
- Jack Collins, Professor of Old Testament, Covenant Theological Seminary
One liberal reviews another liberal's book and tells us the second liberal is going to get in trouble with his constituency when they figure out what he's selling. Several members of the second liberal's constituency read Baylyblog and write in to dismiss the first liberal's comments as sour grapes, and they tell the Baylys that they only need read Jack to see what a gift he is to the Church.
So why does the first liberal say the second liberal is too liberal for his constituents?
Well, you see, the first liberal's constituency group already wised up to him and fired him so he's blowing the whistle on the second liberal because misery loves company.
by David and Tim Bayly on February 27, 2012 - 6:28am
You guys all noticed there hasn't been any response to appeals for the Grace to You men to admit their unfaithfulness to Scripture and repent of it, right? The discussion of money and its corruption of decisions caused Grace to You to express their utter rejection of such considerations. But when it came to the infinitely more serious matter of amending and deleting and gagging Scripture, no response at all. (They may still be considering an admission of their failure; time will tell.)
Listen brothers, responses are significant and should be studied closely. And a non-response is a response...
Concerning the preaching of the Church Fathers, in one of his lectures Princeton biographer and Covenant Seminary church history prof David Calhoun says this:
The Church Fathers are difficult to read, not only because they are long-winded, but also because they tend to go into all kinds of digressions. They really do not stick to the point. Gregory the Great, toward the end of the period of the Church Fathers, said:
“This is how a preacher should preach. A preacher of the sacred Word should imitate the manner of a river. For if a river as it flows through its channels comes upon valleys upon its banks it immediately flows with full force into them, and when it has filled them up it at once returns to its course. This is exactly the way the preacher of the divine Word should be so that when he is discussing something, if perhaps he finds an occasion near at hand to be edifying, he should, as it were, force the streams of his tongue to the neighboring valley, and when he has filled up the plain with his instruction he may return to the course of his main topic.”
Now, you will not be taught that manner of preaching at Covenant Seminary--or any place else, as far as I know. Homileticians tell us to have a point and stick to it. But the Church Fathers did not like to do that. One topic will raise another topic and they will follow all those ideas.
If a man's preaching is bad in the sense of being timid and suggestive, only rarely moving out to the bold frontier of the indicative (and never to the imperative), then two or three points and you're done is a kindness and should be cultivated. And if that's the sort of preaching you want, Professor Calhoun says that Covenant Theological Seminary is the sort of academic institution that will work for you.
(Note from DB: This post is by David Wegener, a teaching elder in Central Indiana Presbytery of the PCA.)
I’ve lived and worked in Zambia for the last decade. One of the delightful things about Zambian life is the importance of the non-verbal. Body language is carefully observed. My students watch me for cues as to what I’m really saying, regardless of my words.
We’ve all seen a rebellious teen-ager or wife. Wise pastors and elders have learned to pick up the non-verbal cues that show this rebellion. Usually you can see it in the eyes or the expression on the lips. God made us this way and it is only through a cultivated ignorance that officers of the church are unaware of the obvious signs. I wish I could pick up the cues as easily as my African students do.
Many blog posts and emails document the culture of rebellion that exists today in the PCA. Only a carefully cultivated ignorance will miss the signs. And they’re not simply non-verbal. They’re written down and clear for all to see. Sam Wheatley’s paper is only the most recent example.
Vast sections of our denomination are in rebellion against what our Book of Church Order says about the ordination of women as deacons.
How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so, But they are like chaff which the wind drives away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous. For the LORD knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the wicked will perish. (Psalm 1)
Everyone who knows anything will tell you global warming is true; or at least likely enough to be true to justify a plate-tectonic shift in all the world's economies. Everyone agrees. Science doesn't lie.
Everyone who knows anything will tell you literalists are embarrassing to the young, restless, and Reformed entrepreneurial enterprise. It's time to climb on Jack Collins' and Tim Keller's bandwagon. It's time to join all the brilliant genomists and brilliant exegetes and embrace evolution. Everyone agrees. The high priests of the Human Genome Project and scientific exegetes don't lie.
Everyone who knows anything will tell you Scripture is stupid--an ancient collection of myths. Take, for instance, that very old myth that man was created first, then woman; and that the meaning of this fact is that woman is not to teach or exercise authority over man. Also, that same-sex intimacy is an abomination before God and that God abandons men and women to receive in their own bodies the fair or just penalty of their perversion. Everyone agrees this is not true. God's Word is a lie.
Everyone who knows anything will tell you gay parenthood is good for the children; or at least good enough to justify a plate-tectonic shift in artificial insemination, adoption, and family law. Everyone agrees. Science doesn't lie.
Then a social scientist does a study of the emotional and mental health of adult children of same-sex parents...
He recently assured us of this, despite previously suggesting on his blog that disagreement over the Biblically-ordained roles of men and women is no basis for separation in ministry and despite holding the opinion that many complementarians embrace complementarianism "less because of the Bible and more because they apparently watched Conan the Barbarian a few too many times in their early teenage years."
Unfortunately, he's accurate in claiming to be complementarian. Professor Trueman is straight down the middle of that broad and squishy theological avenue.
(NOTE FROM TB: When I first published this post, I was remiss in not thanking Kamilla for pointing me to Kathy Keller's piece. Quite a few of our sources come from Kamilla and I am delighted to publicly acknowledge her for her faithful work that's been so helpful to us for years, now. Thank you, Kamilla! Here is some of Kamilla's good work opposing Rachel Held Evan's very public hissy fits, but everything Kamilla writes is worth reading.)
* * *
Mrs. Tim (Kathy) Keller just did a post on the heretic Ms. Rachel Held Evans that her husband's friends put up on their web site. It's never good to provide a wider forum to a heretic, but if someone was going to give Held Evans more media coverage than she's already arranged for herself by her public fainting spells, I suppose Mrs. Keller is as good a person to look to as anyone else.
And her review is good. Read it. Now that you've read it, though, here are a couple things worth pointing out about Mrs. Keller's own words and arguments.
Mrs. Tim Keller writes:
...recording the relentlessly sinful behavior of his people (in the Old Testament) was God’s way of demonstrating how desperately in need of a savior they really were.
One commenter points out that in this review Mrs. Keller is employing faddish redemptive-historical techniques. So then, look at the above quote and ask yourself where this leaves us with redemptive-historical preaching? If the good things done in Old Testament narratives are not to be taken as lessons of spiritual virtues of men like David when he slays Goliath, what gives us permission to take the bad things done by David when he commits adultery and murders the adulteress's husband as a lesson of moral turpitude?
In other words, moralism is moralism whether pointing to the bad or the good. If the bad is to be read as pointing the reader toward how hopelessly lustful and bloodthirsty David is because of his faithlessness, and how he needs a Savior; why are we not allowed to read the good as pointing the reader toward how wonderfully courageous David is because of His faithfulness, because he has a Savior?
Do you have a Bible you hold and open and read and write notes in? Not a Bible app, but a real printed Bible? You ought to and here's a post giving some recommendations for choosing and using your Bible, as well as some recommendations for a few books you should have on hand as helps in your Bible reading.
As you read, always keep in mind that the Bible is the only book without error:
But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. - 2Peter 1:20,21
No other book is so worthy of our delight and constant meditation:
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. - 2Timothy 3:16,17
In Scripture we come to know the character, the perfections, of the Only True God—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Here we have revealed to us the origin and nature of man, unique among all creation. Man alone (both men and women) bears the Image of God, although by virtue of the federal headship of Adam he is wracked by sin. Here joyfully we meet Jesus our beloved Savior. Here we read of His love for lost and sinful man. Here we are brought to His Cross and promised eternal life if we believe on Him. Here we find everything we need to lead a godly life in Christ Jesus.
Read this book as close to once a year as you can. And never ever excluding the Old Testament. And as you read, don't hesitate to mark up your Bible...
It's the first rule of journalism to "follow the numbers." C. John "Jack" Collins is a prof at the Presbyterian Church in America's Covenant Theological Seminary, and recently Jack published a book and article purporting to defend the historicity of Adam. Both are dangerous pieces of work because both are carefully wrong in a very soft and seductive way. But the numbers don't lie.
The story of Adam and Eve, and their first disobedience, explains how sin, the alien intruder, first came into human experience, though it hardly pretends to explain how rebellion against God (as expressed in the serpent’s speech) originated to begin with.
Note that Collins speaks of the Fall as the responsibility of both "Adam and Eve." He uses the plural: "their first disobedience." This is directly contrary to the Word of God which explicitly declares the Fall and Original Sin to be solely the responsibility of...
Evangelical historians have chronicled “the Evangelical resurgence in Biblical Studies” during the twentieth century, and in that history F.F. Bruce played a central role. Several of the really good things from that “resurgence,” as well as some of the not-so-good things, go back to him. This biography speaks to these issues, but gently; probably too gently because, after all, who wants to violate the rules of collegiality and criticize a fellow scholar who is so congenial?
Bruce wrote a “sort of” autobiography in 1980 entitled, In Retrospect: Remembrance of Things Past. Unfortunately, it’s not a very personal book and this new biography tells me that others had the same complaint. Yet in that work, Bruce tells us he has always found it difficult to write or speak publicly about the things ...