Skip to main content

Go with the flow, (pun intended).  Church order is a guide and ought to be followed.  Of course, there will be exceptions.  When consultation with council can happen, great, if not then go with the plain reading of scripture.  

I'm thankful to God for having had the recent opportunity to baptise a new member of our church by immersion.  He came from a Mennonite church which teaches believers baptism.  He was not baptised in that church, so he professed his faith and was baptised in ours!  We held the baptism on the last Sunday of September around 1:30 in the afternoon in the McLeod river, north of Peers AB.  Thankfully, we were blessed by an unusually warm fall.  It is not unusual to have snow in September (we've had snow every month of the year).  Though the water was cold, the air was warm, and a majority of members came out to witness the baptism!  It was a great experience.

Posted in: The 2 Judgements

I've come across this as well I think from the folks at The White Horse Inn, Alistair Begg, John Piper, Mark Driscoll et al.  I don't remember it being spoken much of in the CRC or college and seminary--it might have, but if so, I missed it. 

I like what everyone has written, these are good things to think through, I resonate with John on this, worried about wrong motivations.  Then again, as people living in the already but not yet, we'll always be struggling with right and wrong motivations.  Isaiah said that all our good deeds are as filthy rags (menstrual cloths).  So, of course, as to salvation, we're saved by grace through faith, which is a gift, so that no one can boast.  However, good deeds, works, are expected of us, and because of the Holy Spirit's residing in us, we're promised to be able to do greater things than Christ.  Paul also teaches that the good things he was able to do was through God at work in him.  So, even the rewards we receive from God are on account of God working in us, and God will always receive the glory.  Still, as Romans 7 teaches, we can still chose to not do right, but God promises to do good in us, he's the faithful one, who begins and finishes.  Yes, we can grieve the Holy Spirit, but the Holy Spirit convicts us when that happens, and He works in us to pursue righteousness.

I find that in myself, as a pastor, I'm always trying to be worthy of the calling, always failing, never ever coming close to living up to it.  Many times I get in the pulpit and think, "What am I doing here?  Who am I to be here?"  But those are the wrong questions, that's the wrong thing to think.  I'm here because God chose me for this.  I can't be good enough, I can't earn it.  Rather, God appointed me to it.  So rather than worrying about how good or not good I am, I simply have to do what I can do, trusting that God is working in me to will and to do.  Does that make sense?  As you can imagine, I'm still thinking through these things!

We're looking at this too.  What about people who marry into the church, but for whatever reason are unable to attend pastor's classes and so fail to meet the criteria for doing a profession of faith?  Is there a mechanism whereby we as council can see that they're committed Christians, participating in Bible studies, and growing in their faith, so that we can encourage them to make profession of faith without having to first jump through some of the hoops?  Sometimes it seems there's some ambiguous level of knowledge that somehow has to be attained before membership can happen.  Was the early church in Acts more accepting?  Was it a special and unique period in the church whereby the Ethiopian eunuch could receive the sacrament of baptism at the conclusion of one pastoral visit?  Was the church somehow more trusting?

Steve, there are many resources out there.  Biblicaltraining.org is a great place, full of information, I believes it offers courses for credit as well.  It was started by William (Bill) Mounce who wrote the textbook "Basics of Biblical Greek".  I do think the seminary will be making more courses available, but perhaps you can contact the seminary directly and tell them which course you would be interested in taking.  The seminary was incredibly accommodating to me when I was trying to finish my MDiv. while pastoring a church in Alberta.  They allowed me to finish my 3 year course work via a combination of in-class (for 3 months at a time, back then they still had the quarter system) and online courses where I was able to listen to the recordings of the lectures and participate in online chats and posts.  Unfortunately, I'm not disciplined enough for distance education to work for me, I function much better in a classroom setting.  God bless you in your studies and in your service!

Posted in: Genesis - Again!

Professor Davis Young once said in a lecture something along these lines, "I think the earth is old, the geological record looks old.  That's based on my understanding of geology right now.  Granted, 500 years ago scientists believed the sun revolved around the earth.  They were proven wrong, 500 years from now, today's scientific knowledge might be proven wrong."

While I agree that science can study and observe, such studies and observations need to be interpreted.  Interpretations and understandings change over time.  Therefore, the church must be very cautious in using scientific theory to interpret scripture.  While scientific discovery may inform us about things contained in scripture, it is a very dangerous thing to suggest that scientific knowledge trumps the special creation of humanity by God, as described in Genesis.

If you haven't watched "Privileged Planet" yet, I encourage everyone to do so.  In the movie/documentary, the filmmakers/scientists challenge Carl Sagan's premise in "The Late, Great, Planet Earth."  By examining all the factors needed for life on a planet orbiting a star, in a solar system, in a galaxy, they conclude that the earth is extremely privileged.  The mathematical probability of one planet having all the requirements for life, all at the right time, is a crazy number.  The chances of having all the needed factors (20 factors are mentioned in the movie) in more than one planet is extremely unlikely.  After watching the movie, I was convinced that it is much more likely that God created the entire universe in a very short period.  And though it looks like God created an old universe, the conclusion is not that it is necessary for the universe to be old, but to be the size and diversity it is for the creation of life, and human life in particular.  Could God have done it over a long period?  Sure, but that is not the only conclusion to draw from scientific evidence.

Furthermore, evolution or change over time, while observable in short periods, such as the changes in the automobile over the last 100 years, does not explain changes in species.  Scientists have tried to demonstrate the changes proposed by Darwinian Evolution, but have not been able to do so.  Scientific knowledge regarding cells, let alone DNA, cannot explain it.  And, if it were possible, the length of time needed for changes resulting in what we can observe now, would require a universe far, far older than what old earth/universe theorists hypothesise. 

And that's not even dealing with the impossibility of abiogenesis, the creation of life from non-life.  It just doesn't happen.  Even accounting for God's activity and intervention, there are still other obstacles to overcome.

Finally, I agree with Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, who said, as soon as you move away from the special creation of humanity, Adam and Eve in the garden that's when you get rid of the saviour.  For without special creation, without the innocence with the ability to sin, then there is no fall, and no need for a saviour.

Let's be careful with science and theology, respecting each discipline, but keeping the general revelation subject to the special revelation.  Thinking about the article, thinking about the questions, I was reminded of the question put to Eve, "Did God really say...?"  One can almost hear him ask, "Did God really create humanity specially, in his image?"

Posted in: Genesis - Again!

Hi Allen!

Of course God is the God of science and God, by definition, being all powerful, all knowing, etc. can do whatever he wants to do.  On the one hand (the Bible) we have evidence of a process of creation.  On the other hand, (empirical observation) we have evidence of the result of that process of creation.  Being stuck in the present, we're only ever able to hypothesise about the past.  Something to ponder, if you believe that God created Adam as it is described in Genesis, forming him out of the dust of the earth, breathing life into him, did God create Adam as a mature human being?  If so, why?  You can hypothesise that Adam had to be mature in order to be able to reason, obey, function and survive apart from other human interaction.  Genesis seems to indicate that Adam was formed quickly, and fully mature, for the purpose of survival, to fulfil God's commands (tend the garden, name the animals, not eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil), etc.  If Adam had to be fully mature in order to function and survive, then one could hypothesise that the universe also had to be created fully mature in order to support Adam's life.  So, it is not as though God lacks the ability to create over a great period, or that he's trying to play a trick on us, rather, for life to exist on planet earth, the universe has to be exactly the way it is, as old as it is.  He created it mature, in an instant, just as he created Adam mature, in an instant.  Nor should we be put off by the suggestion that God somehow limits his power.  We know he chooses to do so, as Christ chose to humble himself and take on human flesh.

Science and theology are complementary disciplines, for sure.  We've seen the error of using the scriptures to define or limit science (Jesus said the sun rises and sets, therefore the sun moves around the earth!).  Thus, we also must be careful to use science to define or limit theology.  At the end of the day, science is the attempt to understand the empirical evidence.  That understanding is limited and therefore should be placed under the authority of special revelation, for the same reasons we place the teachings of the church (creeds, 3 forms of unity, etc.) under the authority of scripture.

Posted in: Genesis - Again!

Yes, that's exactly right!  I'd forgotten that.  Evolution assumes a blind watchmaker hypothesis (in this case the big bang is the watchmaker), there is no outside influence.  God has revealed himself as being very influential in creation, not only in the beginning, but throughout, history (the plagues, the water from the rock, Jonah and the storm, Jonah and the fish, Jesus walking on water, healing, raising the dead etc.)

Posted in: Genesis - Again!

Allen,

I really appreciated that class, especially the Polkinghorne book.  I understood the evidence presented in the "Origins" book, but I disagree with their conclusions. 

Yes, God could have taken as long as he wanted.  But did he?  Is Genesis 1-2 simply telling us that God did it, in contrast with the creation stories of other religions?  The repetitive "And God said..." supports this hypothesis.  But what of the "and there was an evening and a morning the x day."  Is it simply a stylistic device?

Unfortunately, we lack the ability to know.  Our conclusions of the past through geology, fossil record, etc. are a bit like looking at a photograph of a person and determining from it his personality.

Since we cannot speak with certainty, that all our conclusions are simply hypothetical statements or theories, let us be very careful to use science to contradict what God has said.  Let us humbly live in mystery, all the while keeping our eyes and minds open to new understanding.

Posted in: Genesis - Again!

Allen, it is interesting that some scientists can look at the evidence and conclude it is an old earth/universe.  Others view the same evidence and conclude it is a young earth. 

Concerning the fossil record, the most logical explanation is a worldwide flood.  When I worked as a farmhand, we would occasionally discard the carcasses of the bulls and heifers that didn't survive after birth.  I remember going back to the dumping ground a week later and there was hardly anything left!  The few bones that remained were scattered over a wide area.  This indicated to me that the animals found in the fossil record died cataclysmically when they were buried under mud, or water with high concentrations of sediment, which as the water receded turned into sedimentary rock.  Demonstrations show that fossils can form in very short periods of time, a matter of decades or less.

We have to keep in mind also that until Darwin's evolution theory, the age of the earth was considered young.  The age of the earth was extended to be older and older in order to account for all the changes in species according to natural selection.  As knowledge of species complexity increased, so did the age of the earth.  Now we're at a point mathematically where the earth is simply not old enough to account for the complexity of life.  This is why some people are promoting the idea of panspermia—that life was brought to earth by aliens or some other means.

Did you listen to the White Horse Inn last Sunday?  The podcast is available via iTunes.  On it, Michael Horton interviews Michael Shermer, a skeptic.  Close to the conclusion of the program, there's another guest who refutes the evolutionary hypothesis based on mathematical probability.  It is well worth a listen, as I know you also reject the theory of macroevolution.

I wonder, if a young earth was still the operational framework, how astronomers would interpret the data concerning starlight and the constancy of light speed (which we know is affected by gravity; also, it is slowing down over time).  I wonder what future exploration and knowledge will bring! 

One last consideration: I wonder how long science will be queen.  I think the discipline will be dethroned, though still important.  Right now, scientific method is the definition of truth discovery despite its limitations to only natural observations.  Some of the hypotheses and claims of science will be understood to be as accurate as Harold Camping was last Saturday.

Posted in: Genesis - Again!

Paul Van Stralen on June 15, 2011

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Stephanie, I'm impressed by your intellect, but dismayed at how quickly you dismiss Behe and others who disagree with your point of view.  Rather than denigrating their conclusions, it would be most helpful if you explained why you disagreed with them rather than characterising their points of view as "not having done research, sloppy, inconsistent, cherry-picking."

Evolution is an attempt to explain a series of observations.  In this case it is quite different from the natural law of gravity.  Ironic that you mention dog breeding for these reasons: dog breeding is human directed--argument for intelligent design.  Evolution within dog breeds are still within one species.  Attempts to breed different species fails.  When farmers breed horses and donkeys, the result is a mule, which, being sterile, cannot continue to reproduce, thus it fails.

Further, macroevolution has never, ever been proven.  The fossil record shows no transitionary animals.  We would expect this.  Mathematically, the complexity of life, even in the simplest living thing, indicates that macroevolution is impossible.  There simply isn't enough time in a 15 billion year old universe to account for all the changes necessary to produce life as we know it.

Science is limited by human understanding.  Solomon was right, there is nothing new under the sun.  The most dangerous situation facing science right now is what C.S. Lewis coined "Chronological Snobbery."  It is the belief that humans today are so much smarter than any humans who have ever lived before.  The ancient Greeks possessed great knowledge and technological ability (running water, sewer systems, knowledge that the earth was round, knowledge of the magnetic polar fields, heliocentrism, etc.).  But we like to think that we're so much smarter than they were.  

Stephanie, please be careful, not only how you write, but in how you interact with others.  On your blog, "Casting Off" you show great concern for the marginalised in society, but not so great concern for those who are willing to disagree and not accept your point of view, I'd be disappointed to consider you a hypocrite.

Facts are not the same as theory.  Evolotion is one theory attempting to explain the facts.  Creationism is another theory attempting to explain the facts.  Evolutionary theory is antagonistic toward God, it begins with the assumption there is no God, selection happens naturally and randomly.  The Bible speaks otherwise, God began creation and he is continually involved in creation, not only in the lives of people, but also in the beings of creatures.  If you consider Genesis a metaphor, do you also consider the plagues as metaphor?  Is it all metaphor?  Did Jesus really become conceived of a virgin woman by the Holy Spirit?  Wouldn't an evolutionary theory say it is impossible?

Respectfully, it seems you want to have your cake and eat it too.

Paul Van Stralen on October 16, 2010

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Nick, in short, no, the proclamation of God's word must happen all the time, everywhere.  A worship service ought to contain the pure preaching of the Word, where God's people are equipped with the true teaching/expository preaching of God's Word so that they can share it with others.  Sometimes what people want from a sermon is a x-step method to better finances, better relationships, better whatever.  What God's Word does is transform hearts, so that everyone can be better ambassadors, better at doing the great commission.

Certainly, we need to model grace, mercy and love in our community.  However, we are not books that can be read.  Though people ought to be able to see Christ in us, unless we explain with words, they will not understand.  Unless we explain how Christ has transformed us, unless we explain who Christ is, we will look no different from loving, accepting, merciful and gracious Muslims, Buddhists, Mormons etc.  What makes us different from other faithful followers of other religions?  The God we worship--the Trinity, revealed in the Word.

Respectfully, we aren't seeking to be counter-cultural; we're seeking to equip the saints.  If the old adage is true, "You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make him drink", then we can offer all kinds of training and equipping, but it won't guarantee people will come.  We've even offered courses and seminars because that's what people said they wanted, but so few come.  Ironically, the ones who come to the special events also come to the second service.

Perhaps we simply need to remind people that we're in a war.  This is not peacetime.  We are not living for ourselves, we're living for Christ, and that requires sacrifices.

Just a side note, I was listening to a lecture and the speaker made the following comment.  "Search for the word love in the book of Acts.  In all the sermons that are recorded in that book, the love of God is not mentioned once!"

Paul Van Stralen on November 10, 2010

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Hi Ken,

I wasn't very clear in my previous post.  God's love for us is often what gets preached in evangelistic sermons today.  It is interesting then that of all the evangelistic sermons recorded in Acts, not a single one mentions God's love for us.  Maybe people don't need to hear about God's love so much as they need to hear about God's holiness and humanity's sinfulness and dire need of a Saviour.  Greg Koukl (www.str.org) puts it this way.  People need the truth.  Society says religion is like ice cream, just pick your favourite.  Christianity is not like ice cream, it is like insulin and all humanity are diabetics.  Without Christ, we die.

Paul

We want to hear from you.

Connect to The Network and add your own question, blog, resource, or job.

Add Your Post