God creates all things naturally

Drawing a distinction between natural processes and God’s activities is a modern approach rather than a scriptural one.  Scripturally, natural processes are owned and operated by God.  They are simultaneously “mechanical” and divine.  Psalm 139 is a classic example of a divine creative act and a natural process being combined.  The criticism of creationists that evolution takes God out of the picture ain’t necessarily so.

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Admitting to an Adam based faith – wow

“Theistic evolution would encourage us to read the early chapters of Genesis ‘in a figurative, non-literal way’ and to have a Christ based faith, not an Adam based faith. This is simply not how the rest of Scripture views early Genesis.” Bro Bernard Burt. We are happy to plead guilty to a Christ based faith every day of the week. Thank you.

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Phenomenological language (Creation Day 2020)

This mouthful means language describing how things appear to be.  It’s a complicated idea used by creationists to avoid uncomfortable truths.  Eg the Bible says the sun rises.  They will claim the Bible is using phenomenological language – it is correctly recording what is relatively right only in the ill-informed & limited perspective of a human observer who is unfortunately technically wrong.  How do they know it is phenomenological?  Because science has shown the earth rotates.  The Bible never teaches the actual facts about the planet and sun.  But that’s ok – it’s phenomenologically absolutely accurate in it’s inaccuracy.

Traditionally Christadelphians accepted Scripture used the language and ideas of the day.  Modern creationists reject this because of the implications for Genesis 1-3.  So they turn to more complicated solutions like phenomenological language.  It is conveniently unfalsifiable.  You can’t prove if something is phenomenological (presumably it’s just the vibe of the thing).  Of course creationists are unlikely to be happy if this tool is used too widely.  The Bible only observes Adam & Eve so ECs could, phenomenologically, agree that they were the only two humans alive….

You see the phenomenological language tool can be deployed widely.  There is no absolute facts just the perspective of the observer.  Very post modern from a group which rails against the dilution of absolute truth.

The critical weakness of the phenomenological language move is that it suffers the same issue as the culture context conservative creationists wish to reject.  Reading the Bible through cultural context says God communicates in a time and place and that limits the communication.  This rankles conservatives.  To them it limits inspiration to use incorrect ideas.  But the phenomenological language position has the same issue.  Inspiration is limited by the perspective and experience of the narrator/observer.  Hence the Bible will talk about the sun rising and the conservative cannot avoid the simple fact that God as author has chosen to communicate through a flawed perspective – one which He must have known would mislead humanity about science even if the doctrinal/moral teaching was spot on.

Bro Palmer at the recent Creation Day 2020 (sponsored by Book Road Ecclesia) tried to explain the sun rising with this trick [Study 1 21min:12 sec].  He later returned to a similar idea criticising “divine accommodation” around the 50 minute mark.  Again this divine accommodation is traditional Christadelphian teaching.  But anyway….

On Jesus referring to demons bro Palmer claims Jesus was using the medical terminology of the day (we think medical is a stretch since religion and health were connected but whatever) and that doesn’t mean he accepted the premise.  He was literally casting out disordered thoughts/malfunctions.  He concludes that “It [the creation account] is God’s account not mans and therefore is not comparable to the descriptions of demon possession in the Gospels”.  Wait what?  Is bro Palmer saying the gospels are not God’s account?  Both Genesis and the Gospels were penned by inspired humans.  Discussion of demon possession doesn’t occur exclusively with Jesus and the sufferer either.  Jesus talks about it with his disciples using the same demon language.  Jesus never gives a word to dispel the notion of demons to anyone.  And the gospel writers who add narrator asides frequently for their readers also say nothing in their divine account.  A simple “as they thought” or similar would maintain historical accuracy while clearly delineating human error.  Earlier bro Palmer criticises evolutionary creationists (EC) because God never hinted at EC.  Palmer applies a different standard/expectation when he addresses demon possession.

Phenomenological language is a blanket excuse for anything.  Any requirement or expectation of accuracy is dismissed while at the same time demanding a tight literal reading of Genesis 1-3 free of the taint of accommodation or cultural context.  The broader implications of relative everything appear to have not occurred to its supporters.

Do you want an Adam based faith for Xmas? We don’t.

“If the Genesis account is metaphorical there is no literal serpent, no tree of knowledge of good and evil, no lie, no fruit, no sin, no sentence of death; Jesus Christ, our Saviour and his Gospel of salvation have no rationale or basis, as set forward by the Apostle Paul in Romans etc.” According to The Lampstand Magazine no Adam = no Jesus. Which one is more important in this equation???

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Job – notes on the readings

Job had to fine tune his theology when the facts of life challenged his previous view.  His three friends – stalwarts of the establishment – castigated him increasingly brutally.  The elders insist their traditional understanding is valid.  They had the truth and they would defend it regardless.  Job’s factual observations are angrily discounted.  He became a social outcast, partly due to his condition and then due to his unwelcome new opinions.  Ultimately Job wasn’t exactly right – but he was closer than the elders.  While we thankfully haven’t experienced the suffering of Job we see other echoes in human behaviour.

Roberts on the bounds of salvation

In the Blood of Christ Robert Roberts made a surprisingly broad comment about the reach of salvation. Not super relevant to the creation debate but found it liked it so shared it.

It is impossible not to respect the spirit and intent of many who do not share these views. There are men with almost agonizing sincerity of purpose who cannot see through the fogs that envelop the truth in an age when there is no living voice of authoritative guidance, and when the power of correctly interpreting the written Word is the only rule of conviction. It is natural to wish to think that in such a situation of divine truth on the earth, the same consideration will at the last be shown towards those who earnestly do their best in the dimness, that was shown, on the intercession of Hezekiah, towards the multitude in Israel who “had not cleansed themselves, and yet did eat the Passover otherwise than it was written” (2 Chron. 30:18). God is not unrighteous or unreasonable. At the same time, in such a situation, when the truth can with difficulty be kept alive at all, it is not for those who know the truth to work by a may be. We must be governed by what is revealed, leaving the Lord to revoke the present rule of probation, or make His own allowances in its application. [1]

[1] Quoted in Mansfield, GE (1990). Atonement: Salvation Through the Blood of Christ (pp. 174–175).

Acts 17:26 and Greek thought

Acts 17:26 doesn’t teach Adam was the progenitor of humanity. It was taking the Athenians down a few pegs. God made all humans alike, one family which He was now calling to obedience. This sense of Greek uniqueness is described by deSilva/Aristotle:

Greeks also recognized their essential kinship with one another—their likeness and solidarity—in opposition to every barbarian race, concerning which Aristotle could say that “they are a community of slaves, male and female. Wherefore the poets say—‘It is meet that Hellenes should rule over barbarians’; as if they thought that the barbarian and the slave were by nature one” (Pol. 1.2 [1252b7-10]).

deSilva, D. A. (2012). Honor, patronage, kinship & purity: unlocking new testament culture (p. 164). Westmont, IL: InterVarsity Press.

John Thomas on fellowship in 1 John 2:19

“The apostles did not chase them out, but they went out of their own accord, not being able to endure sound doctrine (2 Tim. 4:3). Then preach the word, etc., and exhort with all long-suffering and teaching. This is the purifying agent. Ignore brother this and brother that in said teaching; for personalities do not help the argument. Declare what you as a body believe to be the apostles’ doctrines. Invite fellowship upon that basis alone. If upon that declaration any take the bread and wine, not being offered by you, they do so upon their own responsibility, and not on yours. If they help themselves to the elements, they endorse your declaration of doctrine, and eat condemnation to themselves.”

John Thomas in 1870 as quoted by George Booker in “Biblical Fellowship”