Sunday, September 26, 2010

Pentecostal Perspectives on Creationism

By J. Paul Dill

I found an interesting article in "The Enrichment Journal," on the beliefs of the faculty and students at Assemblies of God institutions of higher learning. Having been involved with the Assemblies of God (A/G) most of my life, I know that there is quite a bit of liberty in the denomination for various points of view. Nevertheless, within A/G circles, the Bible has been accepted as an historical narrative, rather than legends and myths as proposed by liberal theologians of the "times." It is important to note, that the Pentecostal movement developed within the fundamentalist camp. Fundamentalists take the Biblical writings literally where they think they are supposed to be taken literally (as do Evangelicals). I know this seems obvious, but there are many skeptics who naively think that Christians believe it should all be taken literally. Truth be told, the Bible has a lot of symbolism in there too. At any rate, it would appear that the creation story in Genesis has proven to be a little less definite in how it should be interpreted in regards to science and what is deemed “science.” Of course, another question is, should we try to interpret this ancient text, in our twenty-first century understanding? While it may be easy to say that Jesus literally died on a cross and rose from the dead, the details of Genesis’ chapters 1 and 2 seem to be more complex.

According to the study:
35% hold to young earth creationism (YEC)
31% hold to old earth creationism (OEC)
16% hold to evolutionary creationism

Unfortunately, 18% are unaccounted for in the article. I tried to find the original report, to no avail. If someone has it, please post it. In the past, many have also adopted the Pre-Adamic theory. Traditionally the Assemblies of God has maintained the YEC position.
A Brief Overview Of Pentecostal Views on Origins, Mike Tenneson and Steve Badger

Friday, September 10, 2010

Torching The Quran

Torching The Quran
By J. Paul Dill

Pastor Terry Jones still plans to burn the Quran on the anniversary of 9/11. Can you imagine, poor "Rev" Fred Phelps feels left out. I am surprised by both the reactions and non-reactions. Apparently some are reconsidering the right of free speach, while others such as Sarah Palin condemn it on the basis of it being insensitive. I was a bit surprised as I gleaned a few minutes of Rush Limbaugh's Show, not sure if he was trying to defend Jones' idea or dismiss it as inconsequential. I remember something about a book burning years ago at a church, except it wasn't books, it was records and tapes. It was more of a symbolic gesture, connected to repentance and faith, as well as public condemnation in concern to its spiritual toxicity.

Of course book burning by churches goes all the way back to first century Ephesus where $50,000 worth of materials related to witchcraft were reduced to ashes. However, its implimentation has not been limited to churches but secular factions as well. Sadly, complete libraries have been destroyed, in an attempt to control the populace. Not confined to the former Soviet Union's atheist regime, astonishingly, even the US military has been guilty of burning the Bible as reported by CNN. Not to be outdone, Wikipedia holds a very lengthy entry on the entire subject.

What is interesting about the whole controversy that is storming around Jones is that while America's founders permenantly placed freedom of religion as the bedrock to our democratic republic, the basis for it was Scripture and reason. For them, the Truth as recorded in Scripture could withstand the test of multiculturalism and religious pluralism. Conversion could not be forced upon someone; it was a matter of personal conscience. They argued that the truth of the Gospel should be reasonably laid out as the method of delivery, rather than the force of the sword. Their basis for this was Scripture.

A pertinent question might be: How can a Christian talk to a Muslim reasonably, if the Muslim has no respect for the Christian? But wait a minute, aren't Muslims our enemy? I am quite frankly shocked at the attitude of some Christians toward Muslims. Jesus, quite emphatically taught us to love our enemies (even at that, many Muslims love America and highly respect Christians). Now that doesn't mean that we should also ignore the mandate to defend those who are defenseless in the case of "Just War" theory. But it at least means that we should love our neighbors as ourself. Isn't that at least one motivational factor for many Christians and patriots who have joined the military? I would hope that it is not out of sheer revenge.

If we who do claim the name Christian do not wish to see a renewed emphasis on burning churches and Bibles (which is already common in the Middle East), we need to consider the consequences of burning Qurans. Trading Bibles for Qurans perhaps would be a much more powerful statement. That would actually require reaching out to Muslims with the Gospel, imagine that. One has to wonder, where is this church getting these Qurans from anyway? From Muslims? Doubtful!

Freedom of speach or not, it takes more than a fire to convert a Muslim.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

The Appendectomy of Militant Atheism

By J. Paul Dill

The most fascinating factor in Christian conversion is the inner transformation that takes place. Many atheists doubt the veracity of miracles. If no other miracle was evident besides the resurrection, the rebirth would be enough. Murderers, drunks, homeless, hateful, vengeful people are instantly transformed by the power of the gospel. Some do indeed turn to AA and such for help, but an inner change begins to take place nonetheless. I have seen men's arms with needle marks up one side and down the other who today are in executive positions as a direct result of the Gospel. I have met former murderous drug addicted pimps who are now preaching hope to the seemingly insignificant of society. I know one man who upon his release from jail dragged a woman out of her house in front of her child and stuck the barrel of his gun down her throat for stealing his drugs while he was incarcerated. If you seen him praying for people in front of the church where he pastors today you would never believe it was him. I know two men who were millionaires at one time, who lost everything and literally became homeless. Today they are reconciling with their families as a direct result of Jesus changing them from the inside out. What is this thing about Jesus that has more power than all the green stuff that we are so obsessed with? Isn't money synonymous with success and fulfillment?

Now for some of you no matter how long I went on it would not faze you a bit. But for these people and millions of others, this transformation is not only real but it is evidence of a divine power that penetrates the heart, transforming us inside-out. This change that takes place seems to act on its own, sort of naturally. Of course it involves the will and desire, but often times this unearthly power supercedes the will in such a way that alcoholics are literally no longer riddled with a desire whatsoever. The sexually abused woman is no longer bitter and living in gilt driven grief, she is now not only wanting to forgive (often times to everyone's horror), but actually wants to help the abuser mend his soul. What would normally require years of therapy is resolved instantly with the Gospel. The power of the gospel can so infect a man that it causes him to do things that he would never do and stretch him well beyond what would be his breaking point. It is in reality a change in the person's very nature, it is what Jesus called being 'born again,' 'born from above'. This is not fueled by heaven, hell, a merit system or anything else that is self-serving. Of course heaven and hell have their place, often times they can motivate in one way or another. But there is something much deeper down affecting the psyche than fear could ever penetrate. This of course is something that atheism/naturalism cannot touch. Humanism and naturalism are powerless to transform street derelicts into bonafide saints. I have met humanistic philosophers who have made their bed out of a park bench. Others have spent their last days in the insane asylum.

Atheism literally means 'no god.' Complications with the defenseless nature of the traditional definition have given rise to a new definition of atheism 'absence of belief in God.' This allows the atheist to feel free to criticize belief in God supposedly without having to defend his own position (which is especially good for him considering it is impossible to prove there is no God).

The biggest problem that I see for the atheist view is that when pressed to explain itself realistically, it has little if any explaining power neither does it have anything to offer of any real value to the human predicament. The reality of Christian conversion, the miracle of the new birth is one of the many factors that naturalism has yet to adequately explain. Why are Christians happier and healthier than atheists? Why does atheism lead to more of a pessimistic view of life and Christianity more of a positive outlook? I find that atheism simply does not fit comfortably within the real world, it cannot make sense of our existence and it can only mock our affinities toward spirituality. Fact is we are spiritual beings. We hunger for something to worship. We long for fulfillment of our deepest needs. We create idols out of anything we can get our hands on: from money to mother earth. For naturalism the question of meaning is irrelevant, there is none. For humanism worship is meaningless because there is no god but self. What does atheism offer? Freedom! Freedom from morality, freedom from accountability.

Atheism's deficiency does not prove the Bible is true neither does it disprove atheism. It is my surmise that the view that the world is devoid of God is not practical or realistic. It was Francis Schaeffer who is accredited with 'taking the roof off' you do this by pushing an idea to its logical conclusion. It is my conclusion that atheistic humanism and naturalism are utterly bankrupt. Human experience points to something or someone beyond us. I think that the evidence points toward a someone and that someone has revealed Himself to the world in Jesus Christ. You might consider that a rather bodacious statement; I think you should want to ask yourself what if it’s true? Before you allow the doctor to remove your appendix you might want to find out what its function is, if you need it and what the alternatives are. Fact is God is far more critical to our survival than our appendix!

If you are an honest seeker and are interested in investigating Christ here are some scholarly resources to help you on your quest: