Old-Earth Creationism (Creationism part 3)

Old-Earth

 Is there unity among those who hold to this view?

There is in regards to what has been spoken in the following questions; however, there is greater variance within this camp when compared to young-Earth. Some common names that appear include:

Progressive creationism

Gap theory

Day-age theory

Framework Hypothesis

Some would also try to include theistic evolution here which I addressed in part 1 of Creationism as to why it makes no sense. Day-age theory tends to have many of the same issues as theistic evolution. What’s more, not everyone uses all of these terms consistently which makes things all the more murky to understand &/or keep straight.

How is the creation week in Genesis 1 to be read?

In general, those who take an old-Earth view do not take the Genesis account of creation completely literal. Differing angles will go about this each in their own way. Even so, they often claim the text is to be taken as symbolic in some form or another and to varying extent.

What is the time-scale for all history in this position?

Irrespective of the particular variant subscribed, old-Earth views are called such because they have accepted the extensive amount of time commonly seen in secular science. There is no issue, in old-Earth positions, in accepting the evidence given that point to an ancient planet and even cosmos. This would include accepting Earth to be some 4.5 billion years old.

What is the time-frame for the creation week?

It is not composed of six literal, 24-hour days – at least not six days alone anyway. Progressive creationism and day-age theory treat the days as long periods of time. Gap theory still has days but puts in a gap of time between the first and second day. Framework has “days” that are considered “artistic literary devices” and thus are not literal, allowing for large amounts of time in the creation week.

Any other particular points of note?

Progressive creationism, gap theory, and framework hypothesis consistently treat human creation separate from the naturalistic development of other life.

Day-age theory often falls into the same trappings of theistic evolution because it is often used as an explanation to validate those who claim theistic evolution. Its overuse of naturalism makes most that would espouse it to even deny the specific creation of man – relegating man to being no different from the rest of creation (subject to a single-celled beginning, macro-evolutionary path).

Among all the variants commonly associated with the old-earth camp, the framework hypothesis is the only one that seems to truly deal with the text. The other variants tend to assume or force a more symbolic/figurative approach on the text whether it makes sense to or not. Framework actually allows for literal interpretation as it sees Genesis 1 as a combination of historical narrative and poetry. The result is more of a historical “drama” that can be taken literally at points and metaphorical at others.


That was part 3 in a mini-series on Creationism within the -ologies & Key Terms series. There is a 4th and final part to come in this mini-series next week.

Have any questions? Need something clarified? Please leave a comment!

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The Trinity

Dictionary.com

nounplural Trinities for 2, 4.
1. Also called Blessed Trinity, Holy Trinitythe union of three persons (Father, Son, and Holy Ghost) in one Godhead, or the
three-fold personality of the one Divine Being.
2. a representation of this in art.
4. (lowercasea group of three; triad.
5. (lowercasethe state of being threefold or triple.

Etymonline.com

early 13c., “the Father, Son and Holy Spirit,” constituting one God in prevailing Christian doctrine, from Old French trinite “Holy Trinity” (11c.), from Late Latin trinitatem (nominative trinitas) “Trinity, triad” (Tertullian), from Latin trinus “threefold, triple,” from plural of trini “three at a time, threefold,” related to tres (neuter tria) “three” (see three).

The Latin word was widely borrowed in European languages with the spread of Christianity (Irish trionnoid, Welsh trindod, German trinität). Old English used þrines as a loan-translation of Latin trinitas. Related: Trinitarian.


Discussion/Explanation

The Trinity – an extra-biblical term (from outside the Bible) to describe truth involving God that we see in the Scriptures (the Bible).

The Trinity, though, is more than just a term; it is a doctrine involving the nature of God. It is considered a key element in assessing the beliefs of any group that would call themselves Christian.

Why is the Trinity so important? As you could probably guess from the above definitions, it has everything to do with who is God. God is one, not three. Any who would proclaim a “trinity” of gods would not be holding to the same as the one god we commonly call God in Christianity. Changing the nature of God, in any way, thereby makes the “new” natured “God” different from the original; therefore, it is a different god from the God of Christianity.

This is another topic in which many books exist that discuss the topic alone. There are also many online materials as well. I recommend using the included links to read further.

Even so, I don’t want to stop there as I want to direct your attention to why this term is used. The definitions above show one of the reasons – it fits what is described in Scripture. More reasons are tied up into the “persons” of the Holy Trinity.

  1. God the Father – the governing “head” that has no physical form.
  2. God the Son – Son of God and Son of Man, the God-Man. He is God in human flesh – God in human form. Fully God and fully man.
    1. Present from the beginning (even before born into flesh) – (John 1:1-18)
      1. With the Father before creation
      2. The one through which all creation came into being
    2. One with God
      1. Every “I am” reference in the Scriptures refers to this. (Ex. 3:14; Lev. 18:2 – 19:37; Matthew 27:43; Mark 14:61-63; John 8:12, 23, 58, 10:38,… for starters)
    3. Sinless – a trait held in common with the other two persons.
    4. Conqueror of death
      1. Not even death could bind the Son of God as is evident in His resurrection.
      2. Was seen physically before His ascension to Heaven and continues in that physical form to this day. He will also return physically.
  3. God the Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost) – the spirit of God in the created world and in God’s followers. Often depicted as light or “like a dove” but has no true physical form.
    1. Only the Holy Spirit indwells believers. The Holy Spirit is distinct from the believer and a person of God.

What’s more, there is perfect unity between each of the persons of God. There is no disagreement, no disunity, no division – and yet it is clearly revealed that God makes Himself known to us through these three persons.

I spent more time on the Son of God, who we know as Jesus Christ, as He is the person people try to argue/debate the most about. The list is not a comprehensive list but should give you a great start as to the Trinity and what is involved.


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Missiology

Missiology is a sort of forced word for the study of missions. The word started to come into use between 1920 and 1925. Combine its “forced” quality and the fairly recent appearance and you get a reason why I couldn’t find it on etymonline for this post.

Nevertheless, here’s the dictionary.com entry:

noun, Christianity.
1. the theological study of the mission of the church, especially the character and purpose of missionary work.

It is the result of forcing the word “mission” to be married to o-logy for “study of”.

The mission of the church is to go out and spread the news of Christ and His truth. Don’t believe me? Read Matthew 28:16-20. Actually, I’ll just put the entire text below. Your welcome!

Matthew 28:16-20 – The Great Commission

“16 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. 17 When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

The very first to be charged with what we call missions today were those we call the Apostles. They were told to go out and make more people like them, disciples of Christ. This is where missions is most clearly given to believers to carry out (though there be other verses).

Today, in many Christian universities and seminaries you can study missiology. A common element to this area of study is in how we consider the target peoples’ culture in our approach to reaching them. History has shown us missionaries with a variety of approaches, each with varying success/failure. A common element in many of the failures is in failing to recognize and consider the culture of the people trying to be reached as it can have powerful impacts on the receiving of God’s truth. Sadly, history has also shown individuals who went with entirely wrong purposes as well.

Nevertheless, culture is not a magic bullet by any means as history also shows us missionaries who acted quite respectfully toward the people they sought (even by that peoples’ standards) but found themselves chased out or even killed. Even in these incidents, we can look back and often see God’s guiding hand as such early events proved to set the stage for later attempts to succeed. It was not uncommon in the past or even recently for the death of a Christian to prick the consciences of the people they were trying to reach, making them more receptive when more Christians appeared with the gospel message.

 


I will leave this post here. My mind wants to go on dozens of rabbit-tracks with this topic which isn’t any good for a simple defining/introduction article. If you find yourself interested in this topic, I do recommend you research it further as there is much to get into. People even get PhD’s in this are of study so have at it!

 

 

Apologetics

At the root of the term “apologetics” is “apology”. NO, we are not talking about saying “I’m sorry” here. Let’s take a closer look as to its actual meaning & origin.

Dictionary.com

noun, ( used with a singular verb)
1. the branch of theology concerned with the defense or proof of Christianity.

Etymonline.com

apologetics

“branch of theology which defends Christian belief,” 1733, from apologetic (which is attested from early 15c. as a noun meaning “formal defense”); also see -ics.

apology

“early 15c., “defense, justification,” from Late Latin apologia, from Greek apologia “a speech in defense,” from apologeisthai “to speak in one’s defense,” from apologos “an account, story,” from apo “away from, off” (see apo-) + logos “speech” (see Logos).

In classical Greek, “a well-reasoned reply; a ‘thought-out response’ to the accusations made,” as that of Socrates. The original English sense of “self-justification” yielded a meaning “frank expression of regret for wrong done,” first recorded 1590s, but this was not the main sense until 18c. Johnson’s dictionary defines it as “Defence; excuse,” and adds, “Apology generally signifies rather excuse than vindication, and tends rather to extenuate the fault, than prove innocence,” which might indicate the path of the sense shift. The old sense has tended to shift to the Latin form apologia (1784), known from early Christian writings in defense of the faith.”


Discussion/Explanation

In Christianity we mean “apology” in the older sense of the word as is seen above from etymonline. As such, it is entirely focused on giving not only an accurate representation of the Christian faith, as seen in the Scriptures, but also communicating that message to those in and out of the faith. It can be easy to think that giving a defense is only against those easily seen as outside the faith, but it just as much includes defending against those who claim the faith (but are actually in heresy) or are simply in error and still in the faith (thereby simply receiving correction).

Within apologetics includes two predominant schools of thought – presuppositionalism and classical apologetics – which define effectively two different approaches to apologetics. Of course, there are various other named areas of apologetics (like moral apologetics) but these can easily be connected to the two approaches or describe “giving a defense” that isn’t connected to Christianity exclusively.

Apologetics, as you may have guessed, gets into the realm of philosophy despite its heavy use of the Scriptures. As such, it could be argued that there are other positions besides the two mentioned – and that’s fine. I’m not here to debate. I would say though that presuppositional & classical are the two I see most in my circles and what I hear debated most (a.k.a. whether to use one over the other).

You may be saying, well that’s all well and good – what are those positions? How/Where do they stand?

A good question. I would direct you to the following site. Here you will see presuppositional, classical, and a couple others. If you are looking for further reading on this topic, start there.

Soteriology

The study of salvation or, more specifically, the doctrine of salvation from our sins.

Etymology: (from etymonline)

“1847, in reference to health; 1864 in reference to salvation, from German soteriologie, from Greek soteria “preservation, salvation,” from soizein “save, preserve,” related to sos “safe, healthy,” of uncertain origin (perhaps from PIE root *teue- “to swell”). With -ology.”

Studying salvation helps us to understand our faith more deeply as well as enables us to give an account of it to those outside the faith (aka witnessing).

Key questions discussed in this area of study today include:

Is baptism required for salvation?

What does it mean to be a born-again Christian?

Once saved are you then always saved? (Can you lose your salvation?)

…and more.

It ultimately helps us understand other related doctrines such as redemption, sanctification, justification, propitiation, and substitutionary atonement. Many of these doctrines will appear in later posts.

This should at least give you an idea of what this area of study covers as well as provide you some material to begin digging into the doctrines of salvation.


Until next time!

 

Along Martin Luther and Beyond

Now we go to some of Martin Luther’s counterparts and those who came after.

They are:

Desiderus Erasmus (~1467 to 1536), born in Rotterdam (Netherlands), Christian Humanist

John Calvin (1509 to 1564), born in France – didn’t stay there, considered Martin’s successor by many

Huldrych (Ulrich) Zwingli (1484 to 1530), Swiss Reformer

As you can see, all three of these mean were technically contemporaries of Martin Luther though John Calvin was certainly one that came in the later.

All three were writers and influential in their own right. What’s more, they were not in isolation as there are more men that could be listed from these times but I am only focusing on these.

Desiderus Erasmus was primarily an influence through his writings and there is evidence his work influenced Zwingli who had interactions with Luther.

Martin Luther and Zwingli’s most notable interaction involved mass. Zwingli advocated the removal of the Catholic mass and replaced it with a simply communion as well as changed a few other liturgical traditions. However, this wasn’t the key point of their interaction. Luther and Zwingli sparred over their interpretation of the elements in the Eucharist (communion). You can find more details on this particular debate here in the section titled “Relations with Luther”.

Despite a disagreement, Ulrich Zwingli and Martin Luther agreed quite a bit in the focus of the Protestant Reformation  – Scripture has the highest authority. A few things of note from Zwingli that we see in much of Protestantism today include the simple communion, the removal of images in the church & other liturgical changes, put forth some theses of his own, as well as completed some influential writings of his own.

In order to have them for comparison later, here is a summation of Zwingli’s main theses:

  1. The Church is born of the Word of God. Also, Christ is the only head of the Church.
  2. Church “laws” are only binding so long as they agree with Scripture.
  3. Christ alone is man’s righteousness.
  4. Mass is a gross offense to the sacrifice and death of Christ.
  5. There is no biblical argument for mediation for the dead involving purgatory. This would include the use of images in this.
  6. That marriage is lawful for all.

With the above theses, you can imagine then the church changes he then sought to bring about in Switzerland. These are changes still widely observed in churches today across the world that stand in the Protestant tradition.

What about John Calvin?

Ok. We’re getting to him now.

John Calvin came into all this with the other men and their influence as the backdrop. As can be seen at the start by the time-frames of each of their lives, John was a young man when the others began to pass away.

Born in France, John would later end up in Geneva, Switzerland where he would later die. John started his career as a law student – much as Martin was supposed to have become originally – and during his studies he was influenced by the humanist Desiderus Erasmus as well as others. Key components from this drove John to seek to understand the Scriptures in their original languages (something continued to this very day). As such, he went on to study Greek, Hebrew, and Latin.

Among Calvin’s first essays there was an emphasis on salvation by grace alone (one of the 5 Solas) rather than to focus on works and ceremonies.

I don’t intend to get into every detail here as there are great resources for further reading in the links below. Even so, key contributions made by Calvin were in his Institutes of the Christian Religion, commentaries, and influence that gave direction to Protestants elsewhere in Europe including those who would later go to America and start the Presbyterian and Congregationalist churches. There are many churches today that would consider John Calvin to be their founding father.

Hope this proved informative to you! I challenge you to read more on each of these influential men of the Protestant Reformation period and would suggest the links below are a great place to start.

 

Resources for further reading:

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Huldrych-Zwingli

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/erasmus/

https://www.biography.com/people/john-calvin-9235788?_escaped_fragment_=

https://www.britannica.com/biography/John-Calvin

 

Before Martin Luther

As we come up on this year’s 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, I want to highlight 2 “pre-reformers” and their impacts.

This two people would be John Wyclif and Jan Hus.

John Wyclif (there is some variant use of spelling on his last name) – his name is still known to this day in the Christian community in large part because of his last name, Wyclif. An organization of Bible translators is named after him.

He was born before 1330 near Richmond (Yorkshire) and later came to Oxford where he began to be an influence. He questioned some of the excesses of the Catholic Church at the time and found others who agreed with him. It was his stance on the sacraments (particularly Communion) that became the last straw for the Church. What’s more, he wrote in Latin and English making his works all the more available.

Nevertheless, when looking at John’s work it is clear Martin wasn’t the first to make the same claims about the authority of Scripture and God. What’s more John Wyclif translated the Bible into English. What isn’t widely known is that he put forth two translation, one being more idiomatic than the other. Translating the Bible was a no-no according to the Church.

John Wyclif, despite being declared a heretic, was not killed by the Catholic Church in the end but died of a second stroke in 1384.  Even so, he was already under fire before he passed.

Jan Hus (or Huss) – he was born about 1370 in what is now the Czech Republic. Jans paid the ultimate price and died at the stake but not before making his own impact.

Jan was influenced by John Wyclif works which was easy as Jan was also working in academia in philosophy.

Jan became embroiled in the Czech Reform Movement and took to preaching in the local tongue (Czech) rather than Latin (the Church’s typical m.o.).

An interesting element that flavored the environment of Jan’s time was the Western Schism in which there were two popes trying to lead the Roman Catholic Church (which lead to some reforms in attempt to prevent this from recurring).  It was a messy time that ultimately proved to catch Jan Hus leading to his eventual death.

Some of the things leveled at him included his refusal to stop preaching (when one of the popes tried to have preaching in chapels stop), his public denouncing of indulgences (Martin was no the first the refute these), and his writings that directly refuted his enemies.

He was arrested and tried as a “Wycliffe heretic” (despite not being in 100% agreement with Wyclif’s works) before the Council of Constance after being promised safe-conduct. After refusing to recant, he was burned at the stake on July 6, 1415.

 

Sources & additional information:

https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/wyclif/

https://www.britannica.com/biography/John-Wycliffe

https://www.britannica.com/biography/Jan-Hus

https://www.britannica.com/event/Western-Schism