Friday, February 28, 2014

Bible Truths for Seventh-Day Adventists (SDA), part 2--Ellen White a False Prophet

Note: This composition has been moved to the FaithSaves website. The text from "Once you are saved ... Ellen White was not inerrant" was originally in the text of this post. 



Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Limitations of Government in Private Business and First Amendment Freedom of Religion

The below evaluation was completely my own, but my analysis is backed up by something I read tonight, which was written in 1996 in the American University Law Review -- his arguments are mine below -- entitled, DISCRIMINATION, AFFIRMATIVE ACTION, AND FREEDOM: SORTING OUT THE ISSUES.

**************

In 2013, the attorney general of the state of Washington filed a lawsuit against Barronelle Stutzman and Arlene’s Flowers after she refused to create flower arrangements for a same-sex wedding, citing her religious views.   This is well-known one of several similar cases now occurring across the country.  As a result, the governor of Arizona has a bill on her desk to sign that protects the rights of religious citizens like the florist.  Many well-known Republican politicians are urging her to strike down the legislation.  The Super Bowl is in her state next year and the NFL is making a subtle threat to move it if she doesn't veto.

In the name of equal rights and equal protection of the law, the government for awhile has been eroding the rights of private businesses.  I don't mean state operations, but private.  For awhile, the state has been forcing businesses to serve customers and hire employees they don't want.  In  a related matter, if you own a private home, you are also forced by the government to rent it to people whom you don't want either.  At one time, this wasn't so.  It wasn't that long ago that you could easily reject a customer, an employee, or a renter.  It was your property and your business and you had the right to serve or hire or rent to whomever you wanted.  This was a private property right and the power of the government was limited by that right.  The understanding was that we received that right from God and not from government, so the government should not have the power to take away that right, since it didn't have the power to give it.  It was a natural right.

Our God-given, inalienable rights are being lost as American citizens.    According to the Constitution, does anyone have a right to service or employment or housing from a private citizen or private enterprise?

The above described erosion of rights for private citizens began with the federal civil rights legislation passed by the government in the 1960s.  The point of that legislation and laws like it has been now to require private citizens, businesses, and property owners essentially give equal opportunity regardless of race or ethnicity.  This has expanded to gender and now what is called sexual orientation.

In 1954, in Brown versus Board of Education, the Supreme Court ended racial discrimination in state institutions based upon the 14th amendment.  State institutions.  This did not mean that private citizens, property, and business could not discriminate for any such reason.  I'm not arguing for discrimination.  I'm simply asking if there is a right in the Constitution to stop discrimination by a private citizen, property, or business.

The Supreme Court surely did not foresee where these decisions would progress.  Now enters the free practice of religion, an actual right in the actual United States Constitution.  Would even Thurgood Marshall see a private citizen being forced to arrange flowers for a same-sex wedding as guaranteed in the Constitution?  Can a private citizen who owns a private business be forced to provide a service for a same sex marriage, when that marriage is against his religious convictions?

I have read some pro arguments for Governor Jan Brewer to veto the Arizona bill.   Some are merely arguing for why Christians should serve anyone, no matter what their sin, because that's what Jesus would do.   If Jesus was a florist, does anyone really think that Jesus would do the flower arrangement for a same sex marriage? That's absurd.  If anyone thinks that, then he doesn't know Jesus Christ.  Private businessmen want business. They don't want to lose business.  If a Christian florist rejects a same-sex wedding job, he's losing money.  If there is a punishment, that's the punishment.  If he can be sued by the United States government, state or federal, then his own right to practice his own religion freely is being violated.  This is where the wrong turn with the government intervening in the rights of private citizens has come to conflict with the very first of the Bill of Rights.

What we are reading today are "gay rights."  These "gay rights" are being read into the United States Constitution.  Are there gay rights in the Constitution?  Really?  That brings us back to a decision in 1986, Lawrence vs Texas, a landmark case in which the United States Supreme Court overturned state of Texas sodomy law.  By doing so, the Supreme Court read into the Constitution gay rights.  Now an actual right, the freedom of religion in the first amendment, is being impinged by an only so-called "right," a "gay right," not actually found in the Constitution.  Does anyone really think there is a right in the Constitution that can directly contradict an already written right in the Constitution?

Many thresholds or barriers of rights have had to be abolished to create this new "gay right," starting with private property rights all the way to a right to the free practice of your religion.  What our government would be saying is that it is against the law for a Christian in practice to reject the law of sodomy.   For the sodomite to maintain his constitutional gay right, the Christian must forfeit the right of his personal conviction.

A private citizen or business or property owner can choose not to discriminate.  Many private businesses or companies advertise non-discrimination clauses.  Our church doesn't discriminate based upon race, but I'm sure that most would say we discriminate based upon gender.  We don't have women preach in our church.  Many others would say that our church discriminates based upon sexual orientation.  You can't join our church if you're a homosexual.  We're very clear about that in our documents.  Earlier this week, I wrote about how that a college like Swarthmore wants to discriminate against conservatives who reject same-sex marriage.  Does anyone think that you could right now obtain a job at any state college with open and public opposition to same-sex marriage?  Discrimination obviously goes the other direction in this country.  I argued against diversity.  If that's what a private college wants to do, I think it should be able to do it.  Our church teaches only one point of view.  We are not diverse in our theology.  We have that right.  Our government should protect that right.

What's the legal argument for the same-sex marriage side?  Eric Holder, the Attorney General of the US under President Obama, recently advocated for attorneys general disobeying unconstitutional laws, specifically referring to Democrat state attorneys not defending laws against same-sex marriage in red states.  This is an impetus for lawlessness.  The legal argument is something like the following, you were licensed by the state to run your business, and when you paid for that license, you agreed to serve all groups.  Not exactly though.  What if they have no shirts or no shoes?  The state can defend your right there.

What we have here are at least two issues.  We have an extension of "you didn't build that business."  In other words, every business, since it receives infrastructural state support, can be regulated by the state to serve or sell to groups defined by the state.  Democrats love groups by the way.  It's how they win elections -- is by dividing the country into groups.  The Republicans are now joining them.  The other is that our country has become fascist.  The state controls private business to the extent that it can force private business to act in its own interest against the rights of the business owner.  You may not like the fascist word, but I'd be happy to hear how this is wrong.

Religious punditry, including evanglical pastors, who are in the mold of Tim Keller (pastor of Kirsten Powers) and Andy Stanley, exhort Christians to forfeit their right here for the sake of Christianity.  They make the fallacious parallel that since Christians already serve sinners in their businesses -- fornicators, adulterers, thieves, murderers -- that this is the same thing.  Really.  At what point does this stop.  It stopped at state institutions not long ago.  It stopped at race.  Then it stopped at gender.  Will it stop at the churches themselves, the private Christian schools?  Will they be forced to ordain homosexuals and hire homosexuals to teach in their schools?  Some might say, "Of course not."

But I don't really like the slippery slope argument either.  Our rights are already being violated.  If by opening a bakery, I knew I had to bake wedding cakes for same-sex marriages, I wouldn't start that business.  I couldn't start a business, because I'm a Christian.  Someone said something like this:  "Moslem businesses wouldn't have to serve Christian women who were not wearing a burqa."  Ouch.  I say, more power to them.  I will never cry or protest or sue over not having their business.  A Moslem business owner should be able to provide a business for whatever constituency he desires.  If my wife wants his business and she must wear a burqa to receive it, then she'll need to buy a burqa to get it.   That's his right.  It's not my right.

Kirsten Powers (who wrote the USA Today articles, here and here) is advancing her own agenda, not the Lord's.   She's no better than the modern church growth advocates, attempting to be "seeker sensitive."  Exposing scripture on same-sex marriage won't hinder true conversion.  She reads a message into the Bible and into the Constitution that are not in either document. She's been a professing Christian for a few short years and she already thinks she's prepared to preach to all Christians everywhere about what the Bible says about how to treat homosexuals (not a novice?).  She is a shame to herself and to God.  She has the right to an opinion and to express it in the United States, but she's wrong.  True men of God will say so.

The Lord Jesus still rules in the midest of His enemies through His churches.  Someday He will rule with a rod of iron and make His enemies His footstool.  In the meantime, we should all listen to what Peter preached in Acts 5 when the government tried to stop him from practicing his faith, "We ought to obey God rather than men."


Sunday, February 23, 2014

How Much Diversity Should a Christian Allow and What Is His Responsibility to Error?

Before I get into this subject, I want you to know that I haven't forgotten two series that I never finished.  If you are a regular reader, you know that I have forgotten many series through the years -- it would be interesting to check out how many series stopped dead in their tracks, never to be begin again.  But the two that were rolling along to a sudden stop where these:

The Deceit and Tragedy of the Wrong Attribution of Success or a Wrong View of Success in Church Leadership (parts one, two, and three)

Proving the Music Issue in the Worship War: Is there Holy Hip Hop? (parts one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten)

I link to these for you and for me.  I want to be reminded that I want to continue them.  If I didn't or I won't, I'll let you know.

*****************

A few days ago, Robert George from Princeton and Cornell West, former Harvard professor and now at Union Theological Seminary, held a discussion on the importance of hearing opposing viewpoints in a liberal arts education at Swarthmore College, George a 1977 graduate.  George is a professing Christian and political conservative, while West is a theological liberal.  Apparently, the two are friends.  As they ended their talks, the session went to a question and answer period, and the first two questions both attacked the concept of even considering George's point of view.  The first student even confronted West for merely appearing with George.  Before the event, students organized in opposition against even hosting George on campus, and then afterwards, a student made this comment in a Swarthmore publication:

What really bothered me is, the whole idea is that at a liberal arts college, we need to be hearing a diversity of opinion. I don’t think we should be tolerating [George’s] conservative views because that dominant culture embeds these deep inequalities in our society. We should not be conceding to the dominant culture by saying that the so-called “progressive left” is marginalizing the conservative.

West and George argued for the allowance of a diversity of thought and belief in a liberal arts education.  "Diversity," of course, is rhetoric of tolerance, which most may think is the predominant ethic of modern university campuses.  They're wrong.  They are not quite Stalin's Gulags, but close.

After the Swarthmore discussion, several different commentators, bloggers, and pundits reacted to the interaction (here, here, here, and here).  There were more, but the one that got my attention first was a post titled, A Fundamentalist vs. Robbie George & Cornell West, by Denny Burk, an associate professor of biblical studies and ethics at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  Burk labeled the first questioner, who defended same-sex marriage and advocated the exclusion of George from any proceedings, a fundamentalist.  Interesting, huh?  Burk would get a lot of support from the comrades at SBTS for that backhanded slap at fundamentalists.  "You're a, you're a, you're a fundamentalist!  So there!"  Burk might just say that he meant it as a rhetorical device, but is it true that the first questioner at Swarthmore was very much like a fundamentalist?

Burk's comparison is absurd actually.  He tries to entertain his pals by throwing a wild pitch over the backstop, very similar to the questioner, and toward the reception of similar applause.  He doesn't have to be concerned about fundamentalist criticism from his colleagues, and he's got far more in common with the Swarthmore boy than do fundamentalists.  Now, I'm using Burk's post or thought as a jumping off point, but before I go there, it's worth pausing to consider the premise that this is what fundamentalism is like.  For his comparison to be true, fundamentalists (1) don't engage actual arguments because they assume a priori that they have no merit, (2) are willing to discredit their critics as bigots in order to do whatever it takes, and then (3) ignore academic qualifications and background.  The irony here is that with his broadbrush, Burk himself is guilty of all three.

I had to say something about Burk's post, but the subject itself is what interested me.  Liberal arts education has become understood as welcoming and tolerating many points of view, and these students of Swarthmore challenge the reigning educational dogma.  Do we really do well or better to settle for the status quo of toleration or do we leave Swarthmore to the end of their own intellectual inbreeding?  It seems that Robert George argues for the opportunity of a continued place at the table.  Maybe he thinks we can save the entity of the college or university.  Do we need it?  Should we fight for it?  Or should it be circumvented like Fox in modern television news or Hillsdale in colleges?

And then even further, how much diversity should a Christian allow?  Does the Bible teach some benefit to listening to error?  Isn't relativism the basis of diversity?  If there is absolute truth, do we argue to get there?  It seems to me that we have already surrendered, like Burk, by advocating for diversity.  I'm gathering that diversity describes education at a Southern Baptist seminary, a veritable buffet table of approaches from which you can pick and choose, and never be rejected for what ends on your platter.   So you can go to SBTS and differ with your other graduates on dozens of doctrines and practices and methods.  You could be a star, the next Billy Graham, with Roman Catholic nuns at the front to help with the personal work.  It is within that perspective that Burk does his chest thumping.  Not only does scripture not teach diversity, but it commands against it.  The Apostle Paul started 1 Timothy (1:3) by writing:

As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine.

Towards the end of the same book of basis instruction to a pastor, he wrote (6:3-5):

If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness. . . . from such withdraw thyself.

Paul wrote that he was not ignorant of Satan's devices (cf. 1 Cor 2:11).  He was not instructing 'not to be ignorant of Satan's devices' -- in other words, learn Satan's devices.  When you learn the Bible, you'll have all the Satanology you'll need.  The Bible nowhere says, "Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer." There are no published sources yet found which predate the use of that phrase by the fictional character "Michael Corleone" in The Godfather Part II (1974), written by Mario Puzo & Francis Ford Coppola.

The concept of diversity in education is not only unscriptural, but was totally debunked intellectually in the 1987 bestseller by Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind.   The diversity that Burk advocates is in fact a bow to relativism, an intellectual and spiritual quagmire, the sinking sand like that to which Jesus referred in His Sermon on the Mount.  This destination at which modern higher education has arrived perhaps originated from a metaphor, the "marketplace of ideas," representing a belief that holds that the truth will emerge from the competition of ideas in free, transparent public discourse.

In 1644, the English poet John Milton suggested in his Areopagitica that restricting speech was not necessary because "in a free and open encounter," truth would prevail.  We could all wish.  The Bible teaches and experience tells us the opposite.  I'm afraid I'm going to have to agree with Mark Twain, the atheist, on this, who wrote:  "Truth is mighty and will prevail. There is nothing the matter with this, except that it ain't so."  There is a sense that truth will prevail.  In the end, God will have destroyed all error.  But in the meantime, truth will prevail when we do what it takes to protect it.  That doesn't happen by giving equal standing to error.

George is very careful in his answer to the Swarthmore questioner by explaining that he has read Plato and Kinsey and Ghandi to come to his present position on homosexual marriage.  Perhaps we were to assume that he also read the Bible, but he didn't say it.  Why not?  If he said, "Plato, Kinsey, Ghandi, and, oh, God's Word," that would have been the end of the discussion, end of argument.  In other words, we already know that "diversity" doesn't exist at Swarthmore.  He couldn't bring the Bible into the discussion without totally discrediting himself, and he knew it.

Christians shouldn't expect diversity on state or even private college or university campuses that afford diversity.  It won't be there.  As far as the truth is concerned, it will never be preserved by diversity and accommodation.  It really is only preserved by separation.  As Christians we have a responsibility to teach only the truth about everything and eradicate and eliminate error.  That kind of vigilance is the only way to preserve the truth and it is all that the Bible teaches.

I'm of the same mindset as Booker T. Washington.  Washington didn't teach integration.  He taught, "Build a better brick."  Let's do a better job at training our own young people in the truth and stop worrying about whether they will find acceptance in the marketplace of ideas.  If they can build a better brick, people will buy it.

Friday, February 21, 2014

Bible Truths for Seventh-Day Adventists (SDA), part 1

I have written a new evangelistic pamphlet for Seventh-Day Adventists, which I have posted on my website here. I trust that the Lord will bless it to the conversion of the dear people deceived by the SDA cult. When I go out to preach the gospel, I will have with me, in addition to a standard gospel tract and my testimony tract, a variety of pamphlets for specific false religions, including Catholicism, Lutheranism, Islam, Judaism, Mormonism, the Watchtower Society, etc. so that I have specific resources to deal with the specific spiritual strongholds of unconverted people. I would encourage you to do the same, if you do not do so already. Some of the religions I have pamphlets for, including Presbyterianism, the charismatic movement, and evangelicalism, are not often the subject of gospel literature, and so historic Baptists are less effective in reaching these groups than they might be otherwise.  Feel free to print and use any or all of these works at your church.  The Seventh-Day Adventist pamphlet below is the newest one;  in addition to the fact that SDAs wil be able to read it on this blog, discovering what the specific false doctrines of the SDA religion are will, I believe, prove useful for the saints;  hence, I am planning to post it in a few parts, so that, if you are a believer in a NT Baptist church and are consequently the recipient of the Great Commisison of Matthew 28:18-20, you can know what the specific false teachings of the SDA religion are and how to combat them.  Part 1 below is the most general section of the pamphlet, giving a general gospel presentation, although with aspects that are keyed to SDA theology.

Note: This composition has been moved to the FaithSaves website. The text from "The Lord has given us" to "'what a day may bring forth' (Pr 27:1)." was originally in the text of this post. 




Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Toleration and Acceptance Therapy

This post will contain a story.  It is totally fictional.  I don't know of anyone in particular who this story represents.  It represents no one in order to represent many.  I chose a name that would protect anyone who I happened to hit or that even someone thought I was hitting, because I know no one named "Mack."  I wrote it like this because I think it is typical today.  I was actually thinking of something very different than this story and I chose this sin to avoid what I was actually thinking of, in case someone might think I was going after someone.  So, I chose a sin for which I know no one whom it represents.   I say all this previous in this paragraph because it is typical of many readers to try a guess'em game.  There is nothing or no one to guess.  Take it for what it is.

The story has a purpose you'll get toward the end, if you can't read it in the title.  Read the story and be patient to get the point.


**********************

Think about a typical scenario with me.  This isn't a thought experiment, because it is now the norm.  You don't or won't need to experiment -- just think about it with me.

Mack professes to be a Christian.  He grew up in a Christian home and was afforded almost every possible benefit and opportunity to be a good Christian.

(This is not a post about whether the Bible teaches if it's right or wrong to drink alcohol at all, but it is assuming that readers could at least agree that all drunkenness is sin.  I believe it's wrong to drink any alcoholic beverage, but that's not my point here, so let's resume the story.)

Mack is faithful to all the services of his Bible-believing and practicing church because he doesn't have an alternative.  His family and he attend church faithfully.  Mack doesn't complain.  It's his life.  He's always there and really grows up in the church too.

(This is not a post about what kind of church people attend.  It's not about whether it's consistent, harsh, authoritarian, loose, worldly, holy, or whatever.  That might cross your mind here, but it's not what it's about.  It is very possible that the kind of church in which someone is a member as he grows up will affect what I'm writing about; however, that's not my point.)

When Mack turns 18 he goes to college.

(This might be a Christian college or a secular college.  Again, that's not the point of the post -- about whether someone is more likely to do something wrong if he attends whichever.)

At college, he grows weary of the arduous schedule and regulations.  He doesn't like all the study.  He isn't thrilled with all the teachers.  He's around some people that are different than when he grew up.  They think it's great to get drunk.  The guys talk about it and laugh about it.  (The authority may or may not know.)  They ask him to drink with them, because it's so great and there are so many great drinks that will make him so happy and they'll have a better time together, if he does.  He says no at first, for awhile even.  It seems to Mack to affect his social life.  He's got less friends.  It seems to him that fewer guys like him very well and even that no one does.  He decides he will participate.

Mack goes to his first drinking occasion with these acquaintances and friends.  He drinks.  They drink.  They drink more.  He thinks he'll stop, but he keeps going and keeps drinking.  They all get drunk, including Mack.  On the way back to their place of residence, everyone is drunk and the one driving is the least drunk.  It isn't Mack.  This is the first case of drunkenness for him and he's out of his mind.  Mr. Least-Drunk drives home, and he weaves all over the road, driving drunk, and barely makes it back without crashing.

The next morning, Mack is sick.  He throws up again and again, and has a gigantic headache.  He goes to class, but he's definitely out of it physically and mentally.  He tells himself that he doesn't want to do this again.  The friends and acquaintances all talk about how great the night was.  They brag to Mack about it, and brag on him, stating how great it was.

Truth be told, there were people who saw Mack and his friends and acquaintances, who were not drunk, who didn't drink at all, and they were disgusted with them.  They were loud, obnoxious, and uncivil.  Mack and the others couldn't even see it -- the slurred speech, the crazy laughter, with others a short fuse and temper, staggering, smell, foul language, and other symptoms of drunkenness.  What they remembered was that they had a good time.

A little time passes and another occasion comes to go drink.  They invite Mack again, and with a little pressure, he goes again with them, and they repeat the same behavior together.   This time, however, a few people who know Mack, who know he is a Christian, call others who know him, who call others who know him, and it spreads to everyone at Mack's church, including his parents and the church leadership.

The next day, Mack has another headache and more vomiting, and more physical and mental disability, but with some coffee and time, it goes away.  He's back to his right mind.  He gets a call from his parents about the situation, and he denies it.  He lies about it.  His parents believe him.  They are concerned and feel anxious, but they try to believe him.  Sunday comes and everyone at church knows about it.  There is even more information about even the first occasion of drunkenness.  His parents now believe it is true that he was drunk. There are too many witnesses who couldn't be making this up.

Mack's parents know it's wrong to be drunk.  They assume that Mack knows it's wrong to be drunk, but they don't want to come down too hard on Mack, because they're afraid he might turn on them, that he might decide he doesn't want to  come back to church.  They decide to take it easy.   They'll include biblical aspects about drunkenness in future conversations and generally treat Mack the same, as if he never did it.

During this time, Mack shares some of his feelings with some other of his Christian friends, some who have been drunk and others who haven't, but who don't think it's right to confront others for such activity.  They are all supportive of Mack.  He is not going to lose their friendship for what he's done.  They're going still be fine with it.

Mack's parents generally shield him from personal criticism.  They know some people are talking, but they are not sure how many.  They think that this has hurt their own Christian testimony and standing for ministry in the church.  They are willing to suffer that, but they are afraid that if Mack is made to feel the same way, that he might not be willing to spend time with them.  He might get discouraged and fall out in school.  Worst case scenario, Mack might go off the deep end.  They aren't sure how strong he is.

Mack has a twitter account.  Sometimes he'll tweet his personal feelings.  He also has facebook and will communicate some of how he feels on there.  Lots of different followers and friends show their support with comments.  Some are telling him not to worry about what people say.   Some email him privately to tell him that his chief critics are all sinners too.  Nobody is perfect.  "Who are these people preaching against you, Mack?  Do they think they do no wrong?"  He agrees.  And he figures that these angry and bitter -- they are the ones who are the haters in all this.  He doesn't want the haters to get him down.

He starts writing about suffering in different ways, and how that he is taking in a lot of criticism and that it just doesn't seem Christian.   He's received comfort and help from certain evangelical authors.   He doesn't want to feel discouraged and he's trying to boost his feelings by thinking about forgiveness.  He says that Jesus is with him and is helping him hold up in the midst of the shots people are taking at him.  He thinks that, good for him, he's got these Christian friends who still accept him when he's down like a real Christian should.  On the other hand, there are those that are judging him, trying to heap guilt upon him.  He's just going to have to get through this, the pain of rejection from those who are looking down on him.

Mack has this sorted out.  The people saying he's wrong -- they aren't his friends.  Those supporting him, just telling him they'll be there, don't worry about his critics or those taking shots at him -- they are his friends.  That's how this all works.   A bad way to get over this is to hear about how bad you've been or that you've done wrong or to get around those kind of people who preach against what you've done, and just bring you down.  A good way to get over this is to avoid those people and not return their calls or emails.  After awhile, they'll give up.  Just avoid them.  Spend time with the affirming, the tolerant, the accepting.  Enjoy church leaders who don't get too nosy, who aren't investigating or wondering -- just giving affirmation and kind words.  Generally, it feels good to have behavior accepted and even if there is bad behavior, to have it ignored.  Time heals all wounds.  He'll get through this.  He'll get over the rejection he feels from those who disapprove of what he's done.  He's really grown through this, because now he knows how to get through times like these, when he's suffering.  Now he knows what a real trial is.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Mark 7:4 & the “washing [baptidzo] . . . of tables:” Baptism is still Immersion in the Baptizing of Tables or Dining Couches, part 2

A few months ago I wrote an article concerning Mark 7:4 and the biblical practice of baptism by immersion. I thought that the following excerpt from the book below also provided valuable additional insight; thus, I would consider it part two in relation to the previous post. 
baptism of couches.—mark 7:4
IN Carson’s polemical enginery we find this canon: “When a thing is proved by sufficient evidence, no objection from difficulties can be admitted as decisive, except they involve an impossibility.” And he brings this canon to bear against the idea of a supposed peculiar difficulty in the immersing of couches (rendered in our version “washing of tables,” or “beds,” as in the margin). Some have gone so far as to speak of the “impossibility” of the thing; but this has never been and never can be proved. Professor Shedd (quoting in Lange’s “Commentary,” from Professor J. A. Alexander) ventures only to say that this passage affords, “if not conclusive evidence, at least a strong presumption, that beds (to say’ no more) might be baptized without immersion.” So, under the shelter of Carson’s canon, we need not, as yet, feel greatly disturbed.


The word here used for couches sometimes refers to beds for sleeping, &c., which—often being but mats, quilts, or very light mattresses—could be easily carried about in one’s arms for quite a distance (Matt. 9:2–6; also Luke 5:18; Acts 5:15). De Wette, in the passage before us, regards these klinai as being beds in general. In the latest edition of Tischendorf the word is omitted altogether, and it will probably be omitted in our forthcoming revised version.1 We shall here, however, treat it as genuine; and, since the other vessels mentioned in the verse refer to eating utensils, we shall regard these klinai as referring to the couches on which people reclined for eating. There were generally three of them around a table (hence called triclinia); and each of them commonly was large enough for the occupancy of two, three, or more persons. These couches, according to Dr. John Lightfoot, the great rabbinical scholar, were rendered unclean by persons affected with leprosy, bloody issue, &c. The records do not state how often these were baptized; but it would seem that the occasions for this thorough cleansing were quite unfrequent. Heaton says, “It is incredible that the Jews should immerse their couches before each meal; “and we agree with him. Nor is any intimation of such frequency given in the gospel narrative. Still the scrupulosity of excessive Pharisaism would doubtless lead them to perform “incredibilities” and seeming impossibilities. In our ignorance of the construction of these couches we may suppose that they consisted of a frame-work, with its different coverings. Perhaps the klinē proper—consisting of a light and easily portable mat or coverlet, on which, with the aid of pillows, men were accustomed to recline for eating—itself constituted the principal covering, and this alone may have been baptized. Dr. Kitto goes so far as “to suggest that not the bed itself, but its covering, was washed.” This, we think, would be hardly enough to satisfy Pharisaic scrupulosity. According to the custom of the later Jews, even the whole frame-work had to be taken in pieces and dipped. Mark has not told us how these superstitious Pharisees accomplished their couch-dipping; he simply states that they baptized their couches,—i.e., immersed them in water: and no fancied difficulty connected with the operation should allow us to depart from the usual and established import of that word. Certainly these coaches might have been so constructed, that, if they could not be baptized whole, they might yet be taken to pieces, and so baptized. The Rabbi Maimonides says that “every vessel of wood which is made for the use of man, as a table or bed, receives defilement.… And these were washed by covering them in water.” He further says, “A bed that is wholly defiled, if a man dip it part by part, it is pure. If he dips the bed in the pool, although the feet are plunged in the thick clay at the bottom of the pool, it is clean.’ ” Dr. Dale “declines the offered intervention of a bedscrew to get them” (these couches) “to the dipping.” Perhaps, however, this instrument was not needed; but, if it were, excessive Pharisaism, so sternly rebuked by the Saviour, might gladly make use of it.

Clement of Alexandria, in his “Strōmata,” or Miscellanies (bk. iv. chap. 22), has, by Dr. Dale and some others, been supposed to refer to these couch-baptizings when he says, “This is a custom of the Jews that they should be often baptized (epi koitē) upon bed,”—an example, we believe, which is not noticed in Conant’s “Baptizein.” President Beecher renders this latter phrase, “baptized often upon their couches”! This, I doubt not, would be going far beyond any tradition ever received from the elders. Knowing that water-baptism, to the mind of Clement, as of the church fathers in general, involved an “intusposition” in water, we cannot believe that the Jews were often baptized “on their couches,” or that Clement intended to convey any such idea. They might thus be baptized upon “bed,” if bed be regarded as used euphemistically for sexual commerce (as in Rom. 9:10), or for “chambering,” or lewdness (as in Rom. 13:13). For such cases the Levitical rites provided ablutions, and it is to these that Clement evidently refers (see Lev. 15). Indeed, Clement interprets himself in another passage, where he explicitly affirms that “divine providence, through the Lord, does not now, as formerly, command to be baptized from the conjugal bed.” The phrase “upon bed” would then mean either on account of or after bed (post concubitum), as it is rendered in the Latin version of Clement’s works by Archbishop Potter of England, author of the once well-known “Antiquities of Greece.” With this accords the rendering which is given to this passage (by Rev. William Wilson of Musselburgh) in Clark’s “Ante-Nicene Christian Library;” to wit, “It was a custom of the Jews to wash frequently after being in bed.” We do not read of any customary baptizing or quasi-baptizing of persons on beds or couches, literally speaking, till we reach that period in early Christian history when baptism came to be regarded as indispensable to salvation (“Nemo adscendit in regnum cœlorum nisi per sacramentum baptismatis,” Ambrose), and “clinic baptisms,” so called, came into vogue. Then the sick and dying, if unbaptized, were frequently affused on their beds: and this “divine compend” or abridgment of baptism would in such a case, of necessity, and through special divine “indulgence,” answer for baptism, and insure their eternal salvation; though, in case of recovery, they were precluded from the office of the ministry.1

It would seem, however, that Athanasius, “the father of orthodoxy,” did not think much of these “clinic baptisms;” for, when asked his opinion on the common practice of death-bed baptisms, he replied, “An angel once said to my great predecessor, ‘Peter’ (a former bishop of Alexandria), ‘why do you send me those sacks (wind-bags) carefully sealed up, with nothing whatever inside?’ ” Yet not all the clinic or bed baptisms were by pouring; for where immersion was possible, as Dr. Brenner says (p. 15), “even clinics were immersed.” “For thirteen hundred years,” says this Roman-Catholic writer (p. 306), “was baptism generally and regularly an immersion of the person under water, and only in extraordinary cases a sprinkling or pouring with water: the latter was, moreover, disputed as a mode of baptism, nay, even: forbidden.” (See the German original in Conant’s “Baptizein,” p. 141.) Similar also is the testimony of Dean Stanley in his. “History of the Eastern Church” (p. 117): “There can be no question that the original form of baptism—the very meaning of the word—was complete immersion in the deep baptismal waters, and that, for at least four centuries, any other form was either unknown, or regarded, unless in the case of dangerous illness, as an exceptional, almost a monstrous case. To this form the Eastern Church still rigidly adheres; and the most illustrious and venerable portion of it, that of the Byzantine Empire, absolutely repudiates and ignores any other mode of administration as essentially invalid.” We conclude, therefore, that the customary baptizing of the Jews “upon bed,” spoken of by Clement, has no reference to any thing like these necessitous extraordinary Christian “clinic baptisms,” nor to the baptism of couches spoken of by Mark, but to something of an entirely different nature from either. Yet let us listen to President Beecher: “Our credulity has been sorely taxed by the demand to believe that couches were habitually (?) immersed by the Jews; yes, by all the Jews. Shall we go one step farther, and affirm that it was their custom frequently to be immersed upon their couches? Shall we believe that they had baptisteries below their couches, and an apparatus of ropes and pulleys for elevating and depressing men, couches and all? and that they were in the habit of doing this frequently in the course of one meal?” What a piling-up of difficulties is here!—enough, surely, to tax anybody’s credulity; and yet Beecher’s interpretation of Clement is followed by Dale and Stearns, even as they followed his more wonderful interpretation of Cyril, “baptized by the ashes of a heifer”!

Another false representation of Carson by Hutchings may here be noticed. Carson remarks on Mark 7:4, “Though it were proved that the couches could not be immersed” (so capitalized by Hutchings and Stearns), “I would not yield an inch of the ground I have occupied.” But he goes on to say, “There is no absolute necessity to suppose that the klinai were the couches at table.” He says they might have been beds such as one could take up from the street, and carry to his house (Matt. 9:6). And, on the fourth page preceding this quotation, he lays down the canon which heads this chapter: “No objection from difficulties can be admitted as decisive, except they involve an impossibility.” Carson was nobody’s fool; and yet Hutchings would make him say, “Such is the meaning of the word, even if it be impossible”! (See “Mode of Baptism,” p. 204.) Should such aspersion as this be cast upon the dead? and is this ad captandum style of argument naturally promotive of that “Christian union” for which this author so tenderly pleads?

Ford, D. B. (1879). Studies on the Baptismal Question (pp. 174–178). Boston; New York: H. A. Young & Co; Ward & Drummond. 

TDR



1 “It is omitted,” says Professor Abbot, “by Tischendorf in his last critical edition, and by Westcott and Hort; retained by Lachmann, Tregelles, Alford, Weiss, and the commentators generally. They suppose it to have been omitted by accident. On the other side, it is to be said that the authorities which omit it—B. L., the Codex Sinaiticus, and the Codex San Gallensis—are just those which generally preserve the true reading in this Gospel. Volkmar adopts Hitzig’s conjecture of klibanōn, ‘earthen pans’ or ‘pots,’ for klinōn.” Professor George R. Noyes, who in his translation follows the Greek text of Tischendorf, renders the baptizo of Mark 7:4, “unless they bathe;” and the baptismous, &c., of the same verse, “the dipping of cups and pitchers, and brazen vessels.” Professor Riddle, in Schaff’s Popular Commentary, likewise omits “couches” from his version.

1 We may well feel a little hurt that Dr. Dale should speak of our “impoverished condition as without any baptism,” when we, just to save ourselves from drowning, adopt the “compend” dipping for baptism. To some one who said in Dr. Johnson’s hearing that he must live, the doctor replied that he saw no necessity for it. And perhaps Dr. Dale does not deem the preservation of our lives a thing of necessity! But will Presbyterians hereafter admit us, though unbaptized, to church-fellowship and communion?

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Bill Nye's Disqualifying Ignorance or Lies about the Bible

Troubling.  Troubling.  Troubling.  Troubling.   Ken Ham's science is "troubling" to Bill Nye.  Remember how many times Nye said that, head wagging?  Bill Nye's talk about the Bible is troubling to God.  It should be troubling to you.  It should be troubling to the whole world.  But does anyone care?   I wish Bill Nye would start to care.

In that nationally televised debate between Ham and Nye, Nye ventured into the Bible a few times to lecture Ham.  Ham treated him respectfully and calmly.   I wouldn't have.  Nye needed a verbal comeuppance.  He required an annoyed or exasperating voice.  He should have been put down.  He was a joke.   He deserved a ROFL or LOL.  He was a less than Jeopardy level of Bible knowledge.  There should have been a loud buzzer that went off, and then a voice from the judges, telling him to stop.  Nope.  Stop.  No.  Noooo.

In this post I'm going to discuss everything that Nye said about the Bible for the heap of garbage that it was.  His major foray into biblical knowledge came after the following question in the last part of the debate:

Do you believe the entire bible is to be taken literally? For example, should people who touch pig's skin be stoned? Can men marry multiple women?

That was a question directed to Ham, and it is a typical kind of question from an atheist or just plain Bible ignoramus.  The question itself shows ignorance.  I'm not going to delve into what Ham said.  He gave a reasonable answer for the time he had.  But here is what Nye said:

So it sounds to me just listening to you during the last two minutes that there's certain parts of this document of the bible that you embrace literally and other parts you consider poetry. So it sounds to me in those last two minutes like you're gonna take what you like, interpret literally and other passages you're gonna interpret as poetic descriptions of human events. All that aside, I would say scientifically or as a reasonable man that it doesn't seem possible that all these things that contradict your literal interpretation of those first few passages. All those things that contradict that, I find unsettling when you want me to embrace the rest of it as literal. Now as I say I'm not a theologian. . . .

The SAT has a critical reading section.  It seems that the laws applied to critical reading are lost on secular Bible readers and no wonder.  Nye displays a woeful lack of understanding of even high school level literature.  Nye ends this comment with "I'm not a theologian."  It's worse than that.  He lacks in basic reading comprehension.

I guess you could say that he deserves a disclaimer because of beginning with "it sounds to me."  But you don't get that kind of mulligan in a debate.  Well, I should say that evolutionists do get those.  Pablum can pour out and they get a pass.  All the time.  They can say about anything wrong that they want with full disclaimer.  There's that much bias.  Let's think about it.

He says "document of the bible."  What?  Document of the Bible?  What's that?  Certain parts of the Bible, not certain parts of the document of the bible.  Ham wasn't talking about a document of the Bible, whatever that is.  It would be like referring to Disneyland like "certain parts of the amusement park of the Disneyland."  It's like a Bosnian, who doesn't know English, trying to explain an idiom.  Big laughs.  The fact that people didn't break out in laughter shows how much we accept imbecilic conversation about the Bible any more.

Ham explained a literal interpretation.  He explained that he takes the whole Bible literally, but a literal interpretation doesn't read every genre of scripture the same.  Ham could have done a better job explaining, but Nye opened his trap with a partial foot already sticking out.  A literal interpretation of poetry is not the same as a literal interpretation of a narrative or of law.  A literal interpretation requires historical context, and understanding of the meaning of the words in the day the book was written.  Poetry, for instance, uses figures of speech.  Some people think, when you say literal interpretation, that you take a metaphor literally.  If God's voice was like mighty rushing waters, that the language of God sounded like Niagra Falls.  No.  It's a poetic description, that when taken literally, considers a figure of speech.  That's all Ham was saying.  Literal interpretation of poetry takes into consideration figures of speech.

The question asked, which showed incredible ignorance on the part of the questioner, indicated that the person didn't know that a big chunk of the Old Testament law is in fact civil law that applied only to the nation Israel.  There is spiritual and moral value to the judicial laws of Israel, and we can make an application today, we are not required any longer, because of what the Bible says in other places, to obey the letter of those laws any more.  I don't have to obey the laws of Albania.  That's a point that Ham was making.  These laws were written to Israel.  Bill Nye doesn't know that.

The Bible part of Nye's brain is the near equivalent to juice in a blender.  It's like reading Klingon to him.  So when he speaks, just enjoy it for sheer entertainment value, like listening to Latka on Taxi.  It's humorous.  However, know this.  It should disqualify him.  When he speaks with such sheer nonsense, we should know that he has lost.  He doesn't know what he's talking about.  We don't want to follow his point of view.  Understand?  People who know what they're talking about, stop talking when they don't know what they're talking about.  Not only did Bill Nye not know what he was talking about, but he didn't know that he didn't know what he was talking about.  Sometimes at that point, medication might be offered.   Secularists nod like they get something.  That's a give away right there that you need to back out of the room and put your arms up to ward away possible sharp objects.

Then Nye, even worse, takes his Slurpee consistency bible knowledge and tries to lecture Ham about being consistent.  He moves into conspiracy theory.  Ham was following the parts he likes, and the parts he didn't like, that gave him trouble, he would just call it poetry.  (Mad scientist laugh here)  Yeah, Ham's got trouble with touching pig skin.  The Denver Broncos had trouble touching pig skin (rim shot), but I'm guessing someone named Ham (another rimshot) doesn't have trouble touching pig skin.

Right after this point in his comment, Nye calls himself a reasonable man.  He turns around and there is the "hit me" sign taped on the back of his coat.  This gives new meaning to reasonable.  I've been around that kind of reasonable before with the drool and leather restraints and everything.  Nye finds it "unsettling."  We take a moment to shine the mini flashlight into his eyes to see if the pupils are dilated.  Patting him on the shoulder, "You're going to be OK, Mr. Nye.  I understand that this is 'unsettling,' and we don't want you 'unsettled," so let's say we get you back to your room and we think everything will be OK.  We'll get that bow tie off, get some oxygen, a straw in a soothing beverage, and you'll settle right down.  Just come with us."

I'm not commenting right now on the science or so-called science of either Nye or Ham.  I'm talking about Nye's wandering into comments about the Bible.  He said all of the following in his five minute rebuttal, all of these about the Bible:

So I, uh, I, uh, understand that you take the Bible as written in English translated, eh, countless times, uh, not countless, but many, many times over the last three millennia.

Uh, I give you lions teeth, uh, you give me verses as translated into English over, uh, like thirty centuries?

If you've ever played telephone.  Uh, I did very well when I was in kindergarten, when you have a secret and you whisper it to the next person and to the next person and to the next person.  Things often go wrong.

If we accept Mr. Ham's point of view, that the Bible as translated into American English, is, serves as a science text.  And that he and his followers will interpret that for you.  Just.  I want you to consider what that means.  It means that Mr. Ham's word or his interpretation of these other words is somehow to be more respected than your, what you can observe in nature, what you can find literally in your back yard in Kentucky.

The Bible was written in English.  Is Nye a Ruckmanite?  And then it was translated countless times!!  Do you see how evolutionists get their statistics, their numbers?  Billions!!  Countless!!!   You don't want to believe Mr. Ham!!!  (Foaming at the mouth).

Nye gives us lions teeth (maybe for a lion's teeth necklace).   Something you can observe.  Like the teeth of fruit bats, razor sharp.  The Bible is like playing telephone.  Cutting edge stuff there, as sharp as lion's teeth.  You didn't know that, did you?  We got the Bible by someone whispering to someone, who then whispered to someone and finally someone wrote it down in American English.  We're very specific here, whispered in American English.  One person happened to whisper in Liverpool and was kicked out of the game.  No, I'm afraid it was Mr. Nye who got his view of the biblical text playing telephone, and things did go wrong.  Catastrophic wrongness.

And then Nye gives his very interesting view of hermeneutics.  No straw man here.  Christians wait for Ken Ham to tell them what the Bible means.  The entire history of Christianity waits for Ken Ham to appear to report to them their meaning in life.  People at home, reading their Bibles, clueless, except for Ken Ham sending them their signals, maybe by satellite, potentially intercepted by the NSA.  I would say that they get their signal through nano-technology, but it has to be smoke signals because Christians can't figure out technology.   Nye offers an alternative.  Thankfully.  Here goes.  The way to really understand is by yourself, you, looking in your back yard in Kentucky.  I learned everything I know in a backyard in Kentucky.

He stated the following chestnut also during the five minute rebuttal.  Pure gold.

And then about the disease thing.  Uh, were the, are the fish sinners?  Have they done something wrong?  To get diseases?  Uh, that's sort of an extraordinary claim, that, um, takes me just little past than I'm comfortable with.

This fish, the sinner, is a red herring.   Nye and his obsession with fish.  But, oh yes, Nye has the historic, biblical doctrine of sin down.  Yes sir.   You can tell he really understands what the Bible says and what Christians think about sin.  Very, very common view out there.  Thank you, Bill Nye.  Enlightening.

If you go back and watch Nye's five minute rebuttal, it really did add up to one rock sliding on top of another, lions having sharp teeth, a Bible written in American English.  American.  English.  And him being very, very, very unsettled, very troubled.  Hmmmmm.  Very.  Baaaad.

I don't think Nye was lying, so it really was disqualifying ignorance of the Bible.  It's a free country.  You don't have to like the Bible.  No one is coercing you to believe it.  But if you are going to represent it in a debate, you must be required to understand it better than that if you're going to talk about it.  Insanity should not be able to win.  No one should respect blithering idiocy.  Talk about unsettling, about being troubled. You are disqualified, Mr. Nye.   You lose by default.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Opposing Indifferentism: Why Now?

Two days ago, Phil Johnson tweeted this:


I draw you to the term "indifferentism" used by Johnson.  Here's the article to which he linked, a transcript of his session from the Strange Fire conference in October 2013.  In that post he writes these two sentences:

They have basically settled themselves into a kind of comfortable indifference. . . .  If someone thinks that attitude of indifferent passivity might be a helpful life-vest just in case there is a live baby somewhere in the turbid swamp of Charismatic sludge, think again.

I did a search at his blog and he hadn't used the term once.  The only find was in a quote of Gresham Machen, fundamentalist, himself, the one who used the term as applied to the doctrine of separation.  He used the term in a session defining evangelicalism in a reference to a usage by Lloyd Jones.  Why now?

Johnson wants Charismatic teacher Michael Brown to separate from Benny Hinn.   Brown says there is a baby, authentic Christianity, in the Charismatic bathwater.  Johnson says there is no baby.  Johnson is confronting Brown with the responsibility to separate.  Lately I have read no greater issue on the Strange Fire radar than Brown separating from Hinn, repeated articles and tweets.

The term indifferentism is rather foreign to Johnson and yet now he's pulling it out to use it on Brown.  Does it really matter if Brown separates from Hinn, as long as Brown believes the gospel?  Hinn himself, by the way, presents salvation by grace through faith.   Of course, I don't and wouldn't fellowship with Hinn and Brown.  I've never been in fellowship with them, so I remain separated from them.  But at what point does anyone separate from anyone?  When does someone stop being indifferent?

Certain Charismatics seem to merit separation for John MacArthur and Phil Johnson.  But how do they make that decision?  How would Michael Brown have ever known when and how to separate?  Is that a teaching we find from Johnson or MacArthur?  It seems that it really would have been news to Brown to have understood that.  It's just not the way of evangelicals.  They don't talk or write about separation.  They don't write books about it.  They normally mock and ridicule separation.

The Strange Fire group nibbled around separation at their conference, especially Phil Johnson and Justin Peters.  They didn't talk about it enough to give anyone any idea about what he was supposed to do.   Does someone separate from all Charismatics?   After all, there is no baby in the bathwater.  Johnson is obviously hinting at separation with his use of "indifferentism."  But who exactly should we separate from and how?  Obviously, Michael Brown was supposed to know he wasn't to go on Benny Hinn's show.  How was he to know that?

If we think about this in a principled way, the fundamentalist concept is to separate from someone who is apostate, who preaches a false gospel.  To not separate from someone who preaches a false gospel is to commit indifferentism.  So Johnson would be saying that Benny Hinn is an apostate and Michael Brown is to separate from him.  Johnson would say that T. D. Jakes is an apostate and James MacDonald and Mark Driscoll should separate from him, instead of appearing in the Elephant Room.   What about the Manhattan Declaration?  What about Billy Graham?

And then, when it comes to the Charismatics, which ones do we separate from and from which ones do we not?  MacArthur and Johnson say that John Piper is off limits (read Don Johnson's critique of this).  He's just an anomaly.  You can be together for the gospel with Piper and Mahaney.

It is my opinion that you don't hear about separation from MacArthur and Johnson usually because they don't want people to think they're fundamentalists.   This has become a tough situation.  Brown has to break fellowship with Hinn, and yet they don't want to be fundamentalists.  It results in a lot of confusion.  It muddies the bathwater, so to speak.

MacArthur and Johnson practice their own indifferentism.  They too are indifferent in principle the same as Michael Brown.  And if separation has been a Bible doctrine and if indifferentism has been wrong longer than Michael Brown has been around, then why are we just now hearing about it?  I would like to hear an announcement that explains this change in teaching and in emphasis.  Lay out how to separate.  Show men how not to be indifferentists.  And then be consistent.  Johnson mocks the fundamentalists for their inconsistency.  He might include himself in some of that mockery.

________________________
Here are some links to articles on indifferentism, I have written in the past (here, here, here, and here).

Friday, February 07, 2014

Learn Hebrew Online

Dear brethren,

I wanted to inform you that relatively soon, that is, within a few weeks, we are planning to offer a first year Hebrew class at Mukwonago Baptist Church/Mukwonago Baptist Bible Institute. It is probably going to be either three or four hours a session every second Saturday. By only having class every second Saturday, a person still has half of his Saturdays left to do other things (and, of course, the rest of the day on the Saturdays that there is class). Furthermore, I believe that having class at that frequency will prevent students from becoming overwhelmed, as we are not out to dumb down the language, but to make it so that one finishes the class will have a strong grasp of first-year Hebrew. People will be able to take the class via the Internet, and it will even be possible to take the course and watch the lectures later if one is tied up on Saturday and must view them at another time. Furthermore, the class will respect the biblical truth of the perfect preservation of Scripture, rather than seeking to undermine that biblical doctrine, as language courses taught by those who reject perfect preservation often do. I believe that the course should be accepted for credit if you wish to transfer it to somewhere else. Learning Hebrew is a noble endeavor for any Christian, and especially for those in ministry. After all, God wrote 75% of his word in Hebrew. If you would like more information, please contact:

Mukwonago Baptist Church
1610 Honeywell Rd.
Mukwonago, WI 53149
262-363-4197
mukwonagobaptist.org

The course outline for the last time I taught Hebrew is here. While the format will be different this time, as last time I taught it I did it in two nine-week blocks, the content should be just about the same.


Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Is Creation a Viable Model of Origins in Today’s Modern, Scientific Era? The Ham-Nye Debate

Last night I watched the entire Ken Ham-Bill Nye debate.  I haven't seen anything like it in awhile.  Tell me if I'm wrong.  It was the biggest creation-evolution debate since the Scopes Trial.  Millions watched on CNN, MSNBC, and various online sites.  No creationist has been given this type of forum in decades.  It's about time, and I hope it happens again.

I've debated two full fledged debates -- one a single night like this debate, and another in a four night, three hour per night session.  I've coached debate some in our school.  I've watched many debates.  I think I understand debating.  Who won the debate?  I'm going to give you my take on that.  I think that I'm willing to give it to the winner, even if I don't take his side.  From what I'm reading on the internet, most say that Bill Nye won the debate.  I understand that from the perspective that he was the more dynamic, aggressive communicator.  On sheer rhetoric, Bill Nye won the debate, but to judge the debate, we have to start with what they debated.

This was not a creation-evolution debate per se.  They were debating, "Is Creation a Viable Model of Origins in Today's Modern, Scientific Era?"  With that as the title, the burden of proof fell on Ken Ham, because he's the one who thinks that creation is a viable model of origins in today's modern, scientific era, so he argued the positive.  The negative, the one attempting to disprove or cast doubt upon that positive assertion, was Bill Nye.  Ham's positive was not a high bar to reach.  He didn't have to prove creationism.  He didn't have to disprove evolution.  He only needed to prove that creation was a viable model.  With that low requirement for Ham, it would be difficult for Nye to win the debate.

When thinking about this debate, think about a court room.  The defense only need prove reasonable doubt.  It doesn't need to prove innocence.   That's very much like this debate.  Creation didn't need to defeat evolution.  However, in a court of law, if someone were to prove innocence, he would definitely win the case.  Or even further, he could prove who actually did commit the crime.

All Ham had to do was show that creationism was a viable model of origins.  So if he were to prove that creation was more viable than evolution, he would be surpassing his burden of proof.  If he proved evolution false and creation true, that would be even more of a victory -- he wasn't being required to meet that burden.

If someone does not judge the debate, like I've laid it out, then he won't get the right decision for who won.  I understand that in a debate like this, there is the court of public opinion.  The public isn't always or even normally going to judge rightly the winner.  Sometimes the public will favor the person who it likes, or the one who was more interesting, even the one who has less evidence, but is more bombastic and emotional and in fact uses repeated logical fallacies.  Ridicule, for instance, can sway public opinion.

However, when judging evidence, like a jury, style or emotional appeal isn't supposed to enter into the decision.  Sometimes it will.  It's why you want a lawyer who does both:  brings the best evidence and then presents it in a convincing, winning way.

I listen for actual arguments that relate to the actual debate topic.  Everything else is just white noise or a distraction.  Let me give an example of that.   I estimate that over ten times Nye responded to Ham by saying that what he was saying was "troubling."  Ham didn't say anything like that to Nye.  All those times that Nye said "troubling" perhaps influenced listeners, especially those that went into the debate supporting Nye, but does it really make any difference at all that Nye is "troubled"?  And he never, ever explained why he was troubled.

You might have noticed that while Nye talked, that Ham stood or sat on the side and gave no reaction to him.  However, when Ham talked, Nye sometimes stayed up and made facial expressions about Ham, sometime to the audience, in a disrespectful way.  I would call that kind of practice "bush league."  But it can impact people's thinking about who won the debate.  It shouldn't, but it does.  It won't in my judgment, because that's not how a debate should be judged.  Points should be taken off for that kind of behavior.

Ham easily won the debate.  Why?  Or, How?  He met and surpassed the burden of proof necessary for their pre-agreed debate subject.  How can I make that judgment?  Nye hardly answered, or even attempted to answer, Ham's arguments.  Ham had little time to make many arguments, but when he did, and when he asked Nye questions, Nye didn't answer them.  On the other hand, Ham answered every one of Nye's arguments.  And he only needed to give a viable alternative to what evolution says.   He did.  It's certainly possible that Nye and others didn't like Ham's answers or responses, but he answered, and they were viable answers.  I believe that he actually went further than his burden of proof and showed creationism to be a more viable alternative than evolution.  Why do I think that?

I took no notes on the debate.  Maybe I'll go back and watch it again some time and take notes.  However, both men were clear enough that I can remember without notes their arguments.

*******************************

There was a coin flip and Ham started the main speech -- thirty minutes for both men.  In order to prove viability of creationism as a scientific explanation of origins, Ham explained the difference between what he titled observable science and historical science.  He showed how that even atheist scientists divide science like that.  Science technically is observation and then experimentation.  Ham asserted that he and Nye were the same in observational science, which is why creation scientists were involved in many useful inventions of technology, a point he came back later to say that modern science was founded by creationists.   Creationism wouldn't stifle any kind of technological growth and development.  He showed how that you can't treat historical science, which is the science of origins, the same way as observable science.  Ham explained at how that naturalistic and creationist science were based upon two presuppositions, two models.  Everything necessary to judge both was in the present, the here and now, and the two were both a matter of interpretation.

Then Ham gave the scientific bullet points in a creationist model.  He explained the most basic, that it's obvious that the present must come from the intelligent and complex, that fits the biblical model.   Everything starts with knowledge, including the debate itself, which must operate according to the laws of logic borrowed from a Christian worldview.  Everything in the universe comes from information, beginning with information, DNA, and genetic code.

Ham then spent time on the existence of kinds.  Observation evinces kinds.  He debunked the evolutionary tree for a creationist orchard.  He gave recent secular, scientific study of the dog that said that dogs come from dogs, which fits the biblical model of kinds.  This also explains how Noah got all of the animals on the ark -- two of each kind, not each species.  This point rings true with listeners.  They don't observe evolution.  They see kinds.  Evolutionists expect people to bow to the evolutionary tree, when it is not observable.  At all.  It is complete fiction invented out of sheer cloth.  I'll come back to this for Nye's presentation.

Ham went further than was necessary by showing how that evolution was less based upon observable science as it was a religious philosophy.  Ham asked two questions of Nye, printed on the powerpoint slides, Nye just completely ignored.

It was Nye's responsibility to convince that creationism was not a viable model for origins.  Ham was completely respectful of Nye.  Nye was fully demeaning, totally condescending, of the Bible, Ham, Christians, and citizens of Kentucky through the entire debate.   Nye had a less than Jeopardy understanding of the Bible, manifested by some of his forays into discussing it, as if the Bible was written in English.

Nye compared what Ham called "historical science" to crime scene investigations.  It is true that there is comparison, but only in that CSI looks at present evidence to piece together the past based on certain presuppositions, like someone has been murdered.  However, and this is something Ham didn't take the time to point out, the past is very recent and even in CSI, the investigation is dependent on a lack of spoilage of or tampering with the evidence at the crime scene.  There are a lot of environmental factors that must be considered in the interpretation of present evidence of millennia old history.  A lot of spoilage and tampering has been done.  It's basically not the same as CSI, because of that.

Nye attacked young earth creationism through various dating methods:  layers of snow ice in the Arctic and trees measured to older than the flood by their rings.  He challenged the flood account with the Grand Canyon and some story about a big wooden boat that sunk.  He spent quite awhile talking about the reproduction of minnows -- a red herring really, that proved nothing.  Besides that, he said that creationism couldn't make predictions, even though Ham's presentation was all about predictions, a slide Ham showed at least twice, on the top saying, "predictions."  Nye also said that creationism would hurt innovation, technology, and the American economy.   With the best possible view of Nye's attempt, he didn't create even reasonable doubt that creation was at least a viable model of origins.  I have to say that I'm always amazed at how little evolutionists have to say that is challenging at all to accept their viewpoint.  I'm even hopeful for something better.  I think it might be because of almost zero challenge that they get to their views in their places of employment.  That's what made this debate so exceptional.  They are not open to challenge, which one would think is an important and vital basis of scientific knowledge.

During the rebuttal period, which was way too short, Nye tried to answer a couple of Ham's points.  A few stuck out to me.  One was like the glove in the OJ Simpson trial.  Nye said that lions could not have begun as vegetarians because of their sharp teeth.  Ham answered with examples like the fruit bat with wickedly sharp, vicious teeth to sink into a piece of fruit.  Nye talked about that with great condescension and then received his comeuppance.  Another was Nye explaining the contradiction of dating a piece of wood inside a different aged piece of basalt, by saying that a better explanation is that the basalt slid on top of the wood at some point, completing ignoring that the wood was IN the basalt.  Ham corrected him very respectfully, even though it was a buffoon type of error.  There was nothing like these two on the side of Ham.  So much for Nye answering anything that Ham said.  Those were his attempts.

On the other hand, Ham tried to answer everything he could, sometimes with very short answers, but if you wanted more, he would send you to the website with its articles, giving in depth answers.

In the end, any honest observer, who knows anything about debate, would have given this debate to Ken Ham.