A Review Of “A Survey Of The New Testament” By Robert Gundry

As God’s revelation to mankind, the Bible is complete in itself and capable of equipping the believer for every good work. Thus, with it alone, the Christian has everything that is necessary to learn the essentials of salvation and the wisdom necessary to sail the turbulent seas of life. Yet, unlike many other theological and religious texts, the Bible presents numerous universal truths by addressing concrete historical situations rather than by presenting a set of detached philosophical postulates.

As such, an understanding of the backdrop against which certain Biblical texts were written can provide the believer with a deeper appreciation of and greater insight into the Word of God. That said, to the average believer, that has not already acquired an extensive background knowledge of the Ancient Near East, such a task can seem quite daunting. Fortunately, “A Survey Of The New Testament” by Robert Gundry makes such a goal much more manageable.

“A Survey Of The New Testament” accomplishes this in part by grouping various New Testament books together in relation to when they were written or by thematic topic. For example, Galatians, I Thessalonians and II Thessalonians are classified together as the early epistles of Paul; I Corinthians, II Corinthians, and Romans are categorized as the Major Epistles of Paul. Philemon, Colossians, Ephesians, Philippians, I Timothy, II Timothy, and Titus are lumped together as the Pastoral Epistles of Paul because they were written specifically for young pastors (409). The books of James, I Peter, II Peter, I John, II John, III John and Jude are classified as Catholic or General Epistles because these texts were not targeted towards a specific locality. Hebrews and Revelation are each assigned their own individual chapters.

From this system of classification, Gundry proceeds to analyze each of these New Testament books. He accomplishes this by first outlining the major themes of the book under consideration for quick reference and then proceeds to a more in depth analysis of the text under consideration. For example, in the outline for I Corinthians, the student will see that marriage is discussed in I Corinthians 7:1-40 (361). Flipping ahead a few pages, the reader will find, thanks to the convenient subsection headings, where Gundry provides a more detailed examination into the Biblical teaching prohibiting divorce on the part of believers married to unbelievers and where he delves in an evenhanded manner into the debate whether the Christian abandoned by an unbelieving spouse is permitted to remarry.

Though Gundry does highlight the wisdom found in the pages of the New Testament epistles most are accustomed to discussing in Sunday school, his “Survey Of The New Testament” is no mere devotional and will keep the attention of those seeking deeper academic understanding of the sacred documents. For example, in his examination of the Book of Galatians, Gundry goes into considerable detail as to whether the epistle was addressed towards either North or South Galatia.

Such an academic conjecture has bearing upon as to when the book was written. Gundry points out that, if the text was addressed to the area of Northern Galatia which Paul did not visit until his second missionary journey, this means the epistle was not written until after the Jerusalem Council detailed in Acts 15. If the epistle was addressed towards Southern Galatia, then it is believed to have been written after Paul’s first missionary journey and thus prior to the Jerusalem Church Council (346).

If one is not particularly inspired by such academic technicalities, one might find the chapters regarding the cultural settings of the New Testament world much more interesting. One may even find considerable similarity with our own era.

Religiously and philosophically, Gundry describes a world of considerable variation. Permeating the non-Jewish population of the Mediterranean was the official state religion of Rome combining Greco-Roman mythology along with emperor worship to which the population was expected to grant tacit consent.

However, it must be pointed out to the reader that this belief served more as a backdrop rather than the sum total of religious expression. For it is from the assorted esoteric sects and various philosophies that many drew inspiration and centered their lives around.

It is at this point where Gundry lists some of the various philosophies popular at that time that the reader can see similarities with those prevalent in our own era. For example, Epicureans taught pleasure as the chief end of life, Stoicism taught dutiful acceptance of one’s fate, and the skeptics are described as relativists who abandoned belief in the absolute. As the Apostle to the Gentiles, Paul would have confronted these philosophies on a regular basis as exemplified by his encounter on Mars Hill in Acts 20.

In light of the popularity of works such as “The Da Vinci Code” and “The Gospel Of Judas”, it can be easy for the faith of the Christian to be shaken by those claiming to have attained higher levels of academic expertise. Written from a solidly Evangelical perspective, “A Survey Of The New Testament” by Robert Gundry is a trustworthy defense against these pervasive heresies that have stalked the Church from its earliest days.

It is often assumed that Christianity appropriated the ideas of the immortality of the soul, resurrection of the dead, and ceremonial washing such as baptism from the so-called mystery religions. However, Gundry points out, “On the other hand, not until the second, third, and fourth centuries of the Christian era do we get detailed information concerning the beliefs held by the devotees of the mysteries…Where their later beliefs look slightly similar to Christian beliefs, the direction of borrowing may have gone from Christianity to the mystery religions rather than vice versa (58).”

It has been said that the Scriptures are simple enough for a child to understand yet deep enough for a theologian to drown in. “A Survey Of The New Testament” by Robert Gundry will serve as a sufficient life preserver as the believer heads out into doctrinally deep waters.

By Frederick Meekins

The Superiority Of Theism Part 6: Generic Theism Is Not Enough

From external evidences such as the cosmological and teleological arguments and evidence of a more internal or sociological nature, we see that there is likely some kind of a God that has established the material world and ordered the affairs of men. However, if this is the route through which the skeptic is being brought to God, major hurdles have been surmounted; but we still have a significant journey ahead of us before the seeker arrives on the other side of Heaven’s door.

Even if the atheist is convinced as to the insufficiency of their unbelief, there still exists a dizzying array of theistic options available to select from that would end up sending the individual down the same road to Hell if the apologetic task is botched or mishandled. Thus it is imperative to guide the nascent theist into the arms of Christ before they are gobbled up by competing heresies, cults, and world religions.

Since man is a sentient creature that lives amidst the flow of time, the primary revelation and outreach of this Deity would therefore need to consist of some pivotal event occurring in what we know as history. As one of the world’s foremost texts detailing the earliest eras of mankind’s religious experience, the Bible ought to be one of the first sources considered.

The Bible is perhaps the best-known book in the world and contains within its pages the account of the most widely known person in the world, namely Jesus Christ. Love Him or hate Him, no other figure from ancient times has elicited as much of a response down to this very day. For though many distort His very nature and the claims made by this Nazarene carpenter, scores hoping to sway hearts and minds have often presented themselves as if they had the endorsement of what should have been a figure otherwise forgotten centuries ago.

One of the first objections the atheist that does not want to consider the claims of Christ raises is that the Bible cannot be trusted as an objective factual account. At best, all the Bible can provide is a chronicle of the biases of the early Church and these assumptions not even necessarily from the time when Jesus was supposed to have walked the earth.

In this era of instantaneous global communications, any event that does not have a CNN crew there on the ground to Twitter about it is hardly even considered newsworthy. Thus, it is only natural that, given the nature of the documentary evidence that has come down to us, that the unreflective would cast a leery eye towards it.

According to Geisler and Turek, the gap between the original autographs and the earliest surviving copies is about twenty-five years (226). To put this into perspective, one needs to compare it with other texts coming down to us from the Classical Mediterranean.

For example, there is a gap of 1200 years between the earliest surviving copies of Plato and the originals. Likewise, there is a gap of 1000 years between the earliest surviving works of Julius Caesar and the originals. Yet one does not find many scholars attempting to make careers of respectable renown and adulation by discrediting and throwing into doubt these Greco-Roman pillars of the Western tradition.

The skeptically inclined will likely still not be impressed as to the small gap in time between the earliest surviving copies of a text and the time when the document was believed to have been written if what was written about occurred decades and even centuries before the time in which it was written down. On this point also, however, the New Testament Scriptures in general and the Gospels in particular remain in good standing.

For example, it is believed that most of these works were likely written down in a time frame no later than between AD 62 to 70. Such an assertion is conjectured along the following lines of argumentation.

In Mark 13, Jesus predicts that the Jerusalem Temple will be destroyed before the generation He was speaking to at that time passed away. That prophesy was fulfilled by the Romans in AD 70 in what the historian Josephus categorized as “the greatest war of all time”, a conflict in which the Jews not only lost the focal point of their religious material culture but also tens of thousands of their fellow countrymen (238). Yet not a word of this fulfillment is mentioned in the pages of Scripture even though it could have been one of the greatest “see I told you so” moments in all of history. This causes conservative scholars to conclude that most of the New Testament had likely been written by the time of that event.

Even if the apologist is able to martial a number of these historical technicalities to blunt this particular variety of skepticism, the unbeliever is likely to respond that such details do not validate the content. After all, numerous works can be authenticated to the era in which they are believed to describe and been written in, but are filled either with mild distortions, shushed-over omissions, or even outright lies.

For example, the works of Julius Caesar no doubt cast events in a way to put him in the best possible light and scholars to this day speculate as to what Plato was actually doing during the trial of his beloved Socrates. It is simply an aspect of human nature to obfuscate when we are embarrassed by our responses to certain situations whether we take pen to paper for publication or merely try to get out of a speeding ticket.

The Bible, on the other hand, is one of the few books where the warts of its protagonists and even those overseeing the compilation of its documents are put out there for all the world to see. For example, it is believed that Mark penned his Gospel under the oversight of the Apostle Peter. Yet in that very document, Christ chastised Peter as Satan, the very embodiment of evil, and elsewhere in the New Testament this rock upon which Christ is said to have built His church comes across like any other human being as a loudmouth coward that often fails to live up to his bellicose promises.

It is at this level of detail that the Christian is able to present the case that the Gospels are an actual historical account rather than a mythological legend. Geisler and Turek write, “Now think about this: If you were a New Testament writer, would you include these embarrassing details if you were making up a story…Would you depict yourselves as uncaring, bumbling cowards, and the women — whose testimony wasn’t even admissible in court — as the brave ones who stood by Jesus and later discovered the empty tomb? Of course not (277).”

Once the credibility of the New Testament eyewitnesses is established, the unbeliever is forced to confront the underlying claims of the Gospel narrative and ultimately of Scripture. Those happen to be nothing less than what happened to Jesus and whom did Jesus claim Himself to be.

The central event in the life of Jesus was nothing less than His resurrection from the dead. No one living in the contemporary technocratic world — be they devout or atheist alike — believes that rising from the dead is a common occurrence. Where opinion diverges is on the issue of whether such an event is an impossibility or rather one requiring divine intervention in order to be orchestrated.

Skeptics not wanting to accept the account at face value have over the decades concocted a number of theories as to why the orthodox understanding as to what happened is not entirely accurate. These accuse the parties involved of a variety of shortcomings from a naive innocence, to incompetence, to outright criminality.

The first attempt to explain away the Resurrection is the Swoon Theory. This theory posits that Jesus did not really die on the cross but rather merely lost consciousness. It really does take more faith to believe in this particular explanation than the one provided in the Gospels.

This theory, in fact, does not take the facts into account. For starters, to say Jesus merely passed out or even went into a temporary coma is to seriously underestimate the brutality the Romans had perfected as an art of terror. Even from non-Christian disciplines such as contemporary archaeology and ancient sources such as Quintilian, we learn about practices such as plunging a spear into the heart to make sure that the victim was really dead (304).

Even if the Romans had botched the job in failing to kill Jesus (as we all know of instances where government employees have been less than dutiful), Jesus would have been in no physical shape to accomplish what the Gospels said He did following the Crucifixion. Even Jack Bauer could not have pulled it off as it must be remembered anyone in such a condition would have had their body broken beyond repair.

The following makes the Swoon Theory downright impossible. Jesus would have been embalmed with nearly 75 pounds of spices and bandages (305). To affect an escape, a man critically injured would have not only had to remove these, but also to remove the two-ton stone closing the tomb as well as take on the Roman soldiers. Had such a scenario transpired, Geisler and Turek humorously quip, “Even if he could get out of the tomb and past the Roman guards, Jesus would have been a battered…man whom the disciples would pity, not worship They’d say, ‘You may be alive, but you’re certainly not risen. Let’s get you to a doctor’ (305).”

For starters, to accuse the Disciples of stealing the body is to ignore that all but one of Christ’s most loyal Apostles were believed to have died violent martyrs’ deaths and the one that did not was essentially exiled on a desolate island. While history and the evening news is replete with examples of those that give their lives for things that are ultimately proven to be falsehoods, seldom will someone give their life willingly for what they themselves know to be a lie. For example, would someone like Peter, whose survival instinct was so strong that he ended up denying his beloved Jesus multiple times, have willingly allowed himself to be crucified upside down, if legends are to be believed, if he knew that the account of the Resurrection was merely a fabrication?

Ironically, as scholars eager to tear down the traditional intellectual structures of Western civilization in favor of ones more socialistic in orientation are often fond of pointing out in their preferred narrative of Jesus as a merely human Apocalyptic revolutionary, the Jerusalem and Greater Palestine of that day were powder kegs set to go off in terms of violence at any moment. No on in authority — be they Jewish religious leaders, the Herodians holding tenuous political power, or the occupying Roman military forces — would have allowed news of a Resurrected Jesus to continue to spread if they could have found a plausible grave robber on which to pin the blame.

One theory that seeks to deny the truth of the Resurrection while upholding the good but somewhat naive natures of Christ’s disciples is the Hallucination Theory (302). According to this hypothesis, those that loved Jesus were so distraught with grief that Jesus merely appeared to them in their own minds as part of a mental breakdown.

While this might be a valid line of argumentation if there were only one or two followers stepping forward to claim they had seen the risen Christ, such was not the case. Bible scholars and theologians such as Norman Geisler point out that not only did 500 see Christ after the Resurrection took place but some of these interactions were tactilely tangible such as when Thomas touched our Lord’s wounds. Hallucinations would not be a communal experience but rather something highly individualized.

Once the unbeliever has been presented with evidence attesting to Christ’s resurrection, they will have to pay attention to his claims and the claims made about Him for no other reason than that someone having been risen from the dead needs to be considered seriously because of having accomplished something so outside the historical norm. In the attempt to accommodate a place for Jesus somewhere in their worldview, many people as well as most religions will concede that Jesus was a very good man but certainly not God or God’s only Begotten Son. Such a position may be even more intellectually disingenuous and self-deluding than the brand of atheism espoused by the likes of Friedrich Nietzsche. To his credit, at least this crazed syphilitic was consistent in heaping condemnation on both God and Christ.

One must either embrace Jesus as Savior, Lord, and God or one cannot embrace Him at all. Perhaps the greatest summation of this idea was formulated by C.S. Lewis in Mere Christianity when he said, “That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the things that Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would be a lunatic — on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell (Geisler, 346).”

The astute unbeliever then might point out that what was it exactly that Jesus said since the elaborate Christologies that developed could be accretions that attached themselves to the narrative at a later date and might not be actual components of the original texts. After all, it is common for Christians in this hypersensitive era to point out that not everything done throughout history in the name of Jesus would necessarily be approved of by Jesus. Dan Brown, because of his blockbuster The Da Vinci Code, will never have to work another day in his life, having capitalized on the assumption in the popular culture that the Jesus of orthodoxy presented to the ecclesiastical world might not exactly be the Jesus of raw history.

The idea that Jesus never claimed to be deity is clearly refuted by His own words recorded in the pages of Scripture. There are numerous instances where Jesus clearly addresses the matter to both the accepting and critical alike.

For example, in John 8, Jesus says, “before Abraham was, I AM.” This is in fact a name of God the Lord first reveals to Moses when He imparted to Moses instructions as to what Moses was supposed to say on behalf of the Israelites. The title attests to God being self-existent and dependent on no one; in other words, the Unmoved Mover to formulate the concept in a manner preferable to those more familiar with the terminology of Aristotle and Aquinas.

In accounts of those that already believed in Jesus or would come to believe in Jesus, Jesus asked them whom they thought He was. For example, after Thomas examined the scars of the resurrected Jesus, upon resolving his initial skepticism, Thomas declared Jesus to be his Lord and his God. And when Peter was asked by Jesus who he thought Jesus was, Peter responded in Mark 16:16, “Thou art the Christ.”

In neither of these instances did Jesus refute the claims. And in the case of Peter, Jesus said, “thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church.” Though theologians might debate as to whether Jesus meant the faith and devotion of Peter or rather the divinity of Christ upon which all other assumptions of the faith flow, that is not the point of this particular exposition.

The road to embracing the Christian faith can be a long and arduous journey. The climate in which we find ourselves is of little assistance in alleviating the doubts that arise within ourselves as fallen creatures wanting to embrace our own sinful desires as well as elaborate systems of thought external to ourselves that have been crafted in the attempt to justify refusal to accept the one solution capable of rescuing man from his Hell-bound situation. It is, thus, the purpose of Apologetics to assure the skeptic that Christianity is a faith founded on fact and that it is atheism which stretches the bounds of reason beyond belief.

By Frederick Meekins

The Superiority Of Theism Part 5: The Incredulous Nature Of Scientism

Yet despite the complexities and intricacies of both the biological and physical realms, atheistic naturalists continue on in their faith despite all the evidence to the contrary. Whereas Christians and other forms of theism look to deity to smooth over or bridge these aspects of reality that the finite mind struggles with comprehending, unbelievers look to other sources as to the origins of things.

These are none other than time and chance. With no conscious hand guiding the cosmos as posited in theism, everything we see around us today is the result of fortuitous confluences; in other words, by blind random luck over vast eons of time.

Even with vast amounts of time, the atheistic evolutionist must account for how everything is just so to sustain the universe as demonstrated by the Anthropic Constants. Theists point out it defies probability for the universe we experience today to have arisen on its own since such a vast number of fortuitous coincidences to occur in such a manner is not likely.

Rather than admit the need for a God, a number of atheists reach into the conceptual “black hole” and pull out what has to be a last ditch explanation. According to the Multiple Universe Theory, the probability of something happening should not be viewed as a statistical barrier to it occurring since parallel realities have formed where everything that could possibly happen has happened (107-108).

It is time to invoke the Geisler/Turek doctrine of “I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist”. Isn’t it just easier to admit that God exists?

Admittedly, over the years, Multiple Universe Theory has led to some interesting science fiction such as the episode of Star Trek where Captain Kirk met an evil version of the Enterprise crew with a Mr. Spock that Dr. McCoy admitted looked like a pirate. However, in the end even DC Comics found the concept of divergent parallel realities very confusing with multiplying Batmen, for instance, that writers often yanked readers around by the chain in terms of plotlines by invoking as a defense as to whether or not the Caped Crusader’s famed insignia had a yellow oval around it at the time or not. Editors finally put a stop to the implausibility over two decades ago through the monumental “Crisis On Infinite Earths” miniseries. Its about time those claiming to be grounded in the real world did the same.

Though they attempt to pass themselves off as detached and dispassionate seekers of truth, the proponents of scientism often have less than scientific reasons for undermining the credibility of theism. For example, it has been claimed that when he was asked by Merv Griffin why he believed in Darwinism, famed evolutionist Julian Huxley is said to have responded, “The reason we accepted Darwinism even without proof is because we didn’t want God to interfere with our sexual mores (163).”

I will be the first to admit that more than one Evangelical scholar has cited the recall of D. James Kennedy as the source of this quote (including Geisler and Turek) rather than a more irrefutable reference such as a transcript of the broadcast. As such, academic nitpickers will likely snip at it with their feigned sophistication and pretension as if their own claims don’t already rest on a house of cards.

However, Huxley’s alleged mindset is just as pervasive among evolution’s lesser luminaries as well. Ron Carlson, author of classic apologetics texts such as “Fast Facts On False Teaching”, relates an incident where at an after-lecture dinner a biology professor admitted that, while what Carlson had to say made considerable sense, he himself held a position disturbingly similar to what Huxley is said to have revealed on national TV. The professor said, “I mean if Darwinism is true — there is no God and we all evolved from slimy green algae — then I can sleep with whomever I want. In Darwinism, there is no moral accountability (163).”

Many will no doubt be shocked by this claim since most academics look like they can barely get dates much less be chronic bed-hoppers though Bertand Russell certainly went through a number of marriages and liaisons for someone looking so disheveled. However, its bluntness is absolutely honest. For if atheism was true and God did not exist, then nothing is right and nothing ultimately wrong.

Geisler and Turek tackle this unsettling reality in the chapter titled “Mother Teressa vs. Hitler” since these two figures epitomize the dichotomies of good and evil to the contemporary popular mind. The authors make the following argument: “(1) Every law has a law giver. (2) There is a Moral Law. (3) Therefore, there is a Moral Law Giver (171).”

Concepts such as justice, fairness, and rights are ultimately predicated on the foundation of there being a Law Giver unchanging in His nature. For if there is no consciousness existing above mankind and the institutions of the species, whatever those institutions decide becomes by definition the good and the right. As has been said, democracy with no higher check placed upon it is a group of 100 where 51 men vote to rape 49 women.

The sensitivities of the delicate in this culture that just about goes to ridiculous extremes to curry favor with the self-appointed mouthpieces of certain favored demographics might be shocked by such a statement. However, it is an honest assessment if the world described by atheism was the most accurate.

If there is no intelligence existing above and transcendent to the physio-social realm, the right or rather the operationally convenient becomes whatever those holding power over a given territory say it is. Geisler and Turek highlight a few of these startling implications.

For starters, if there is no divine moral law existing about men and nations, there would be no human rights. In an atheistic world, no authority exists above the government; and since it is the final word, whatever it says is by definition proper. If its leaders want the consent of the governed, that is fine and so is rounding up all the Jews and putting them in gas ovens if that is what authorities think is necessary to secure the survival and prosperity of the nation.

The fact that a wide array of individuals from Rosa Parks to Gandhi to Alexander Solzhenitsyn have spoken out against the shortcomings of the nations and times in which lived they is itself proof that a moral law exists. Figures such as these are remembered largely in history for marshaling reason and and argumentation on behalf of their respective causes rather than armed force.

Geisler and Turek write, “Without a Moral Law, there would be nothing objectively wrong with Christians…forcibly imposing their religion on atheists. There would be nothing wrong with outlawing atheism, confiscating the property of atheists, and giving it to Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell (181).” These authors conclude, “Unless atheists claim that there is a moral law [that] condones or condemns…then their positions are nothing more than their own subjective preferences (181).”

by Frederick Meekins

Bibliography: Norman Geisler and Frank Turek. “I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist.”

The Superiority Of Theism Part 4: Precarious Exacting Complexity

Once the more-thoroughgoing theist establishes the need for a God to get the universe rolling, the conclusions of the teleological argument should be introduced. The argument contends that God not only set the universe in motion but also designed the cosmos in such a way that on average its systems and components function with a degree of efficiently not statistically likely if reality was the product of random chance. Known more commonly as the design argument, the Teleological Proof can be stated formally in the following manner: “1. Every design has a designer. 2. The universe has a highly complex design. 3. Therefore the universe had a Designer (95).”

This complexity is evident in the environment in which we find ourselves as well as within ourselves and the creatures we share this environment with as biological organisms. Despite pride in his accomplishments that can veer into arrogance if not kept in check, man is ultimately a delicate creature that can exist only within a narrow continuum of conditions and thrive along only an even smaller range along that scale. The idea that the world was specifically suited so that me might even be able live in such an environment is known as the Anthropic Principle.

In The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, the elder demon Screwtape in dispensing advice to his nephew Wormwood on how to delude his human charge counsels the young devil to dupe his victim into perceiving the ordinariness of the world around him and to avoid using real science. Such knowledge could very easily end up encouraging the lost soul into embracing the Christian faith (110).

The first Anthropic Constant examined by Geisler and Turek is that of oxygen level. Contrary to what is probably popularly believed, though it is what our lungs primarily extract for the purposes of respiration when we breath, the Earth’s atmosphere is only 21% oxygen. If the percentage was a mere four points higher, fires would erupt spontaneously; and if a mere six points lower, human beings would suffocate (98).

To our perceptions, the world seems as broad as the horizon. However, we actually live in a manner not all that different than a fish in a bowl or upon “spaceship earth” as Ray Bradbury termed the globe we travel upon as we careen through space. For the content of the atmosphere is but only one of the constants that must be relatively precise for both life and advanced civilization to exist upon this planet as we know them. Though they are often invoked to frighten the population into embracing policies resting more on assumptions rather than definitive experimental conclusions, the concepts of nuclear winter and global warming help us better comprehend the consequences if the nature of the world were even slightly different.

According to the theory of nuclear winter, the Earth’s temperatures would significantly decrease following a nuclear exchange since so much debris would be hurled into the atmosphere. Thus, another Anthropic Constant is atmospheric transparency. Geisler and Turek point out that, if the atmosphere was less transparent, not enough solar radiation would reach the earth as this warmth would be reflected back into space. However, if the atmosphere was more transparent, too much solar radiation would make it through, heating things to a level deleterious to life here now as well as bombard us with assorted dangerous forms of energy.

Yet another Anthropic Constant the average person seldom gives thought to is that of the carbon dioxide level. As anyone that follows news and politics knows, former Vice President Al Gore has accumulated a fortune for himself since leaving office warning of the dangers theoretically associated with the gas.

It is conjectured that, should too much carbon dioxide accumulate in the atmosphere, excess heat would not be able to radiate back into space, causing all life on the planet to burn up. But before one goes too far and long for the abolition of all manmade and naturally occurring carbon dioxide, if there was not enough carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, too much heat world flow back into space without enough being retained to sustain life.

Even if the majesty and precision of the world in which we find ourselves is not enough to melt the coldness of the atheist’s heart, perhaps their awe for the human creature the humanists among their number are so enamored with may move them to reconsider their hostility towards the Creator. The unbeliever needs to be confronted with nothing less than life itself.

When we gaze out across the vast domains of biology, one of the first things that strikes the thinking individual is the vast variety of life ranging from the tiniest of viruses and bacteria all the way to the most gigantic of whales. In considering the attributes and abilities of each, it is easy to think of some as simple and others as complex. For no matter how much radical zoological egalitarians might want to convince otherwise, there is a vast difference in scope and scale between what the cold virus and a human being are capable of doing.

Since relativism is a beloved philosophy of those that think the universe came about through a hodge-podge, helter-skelter process, it must be pointed out that the categorization of something as a “simple life form” is in reality nothing of the sort. For even the tiniest of microbes and even the most miniscule components that make up our own bodies (both single cells) consist of a complexity that baffles the human imagination that even the most intelligent of scientists are yet to replicate them.

The so-called building block of life is deoxyribonucleic acid, known more commonly as DNA. Of these molecules, Geisler and Turek write, “DNA has a helical structure that looks like a twisted ladder. The sides of the ladder are formed by alternating deoxyribose and phosphate molecules, and the rungs of the ladder consist of a specific order of four nitrogen bases (116).”

However, there is more to this compound than simply being the atomic concrete upon which our scaffolding rests. Contained within the connected nitrogen bases is the genetic blueprint for the particular life form under consideration. Even for an organism as “lowly” as the single-celled amoeba, it is estimated that the information contained within it is the equivalent of 1,000 sets of the Encyclopedia Britannica (116). As Geisler and Turek point out, “For Darwinists…then life can be nothing more than chemicals. Life contains a message — DNA — that is expressed in chemicals…but those chemicals cannot cause the message anymore than the chemicals in ink and paper can cause the sentence on this page (122).”

Philosophical atheism must not only account for the so-called “simple” cell whose ironically named “genesis” still befuddles mankind’s brightest intellectuals but rather also the more “complex” such as primates, ungulates and cetaceans. This they do through the process that has come to be referred to as evolution.

According to atheistic naturalists, the plethora of life forms in the world today can be traced back to those early amino acid strains and bacteria. These primitive organisms began to accumulate adaptations through interactions with their environment that were passed on largely by the process of natural selection. By natural selection, organisms with the changes granting them an advantage over their less fortuitous counterparts were the ones most likely to reproduce. Eventually, so many mutations and variations would accumulate that various phyla, kingdoms, and species would diverge from biology’s original trunk and even the assorted branches of this theoretical “tree of life” (to borrow a term ironically Biblical in its origins).

As evidence for their theory, evolutionists often point to a number of observable changes that seem to indicate that change in organisms is indeed possible over time. For example, any one that has followed medical news over the past few years knows of the dangers of misusing antibiotics in that drug resistant strains of bacteria can result.

In response to this, proponents of creationism will grant that microevolution can occur within a species that can result in an organism’s varying characteristics. However, what one ends up with is simply a bacteria with a characteristic that one could argue was already inherent in a certain number of microbes to begin with. Addressing such a reality, Geisler and Turek write, “Unfortunately for Darwinists, genetic limits seem to be built into basic types…Likewise, despite the best efforts of intelligent scientists to manipulate fruit flies, their experiments have never turned out anything but more fruit flies (and usually crippled ones at that) (142).”

by Frederick Meekins

Bibliography: Norman Geisler and Frank Turek. “I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist.”

Congregation Pitches Tent Towards Gomorrah Instead Of Heavenly Jerusalem

Calvary Baptist Church in Washington DC has selected a “married” lesbian couple to co-pastor the congregation.

Yet this is not the first time this particular church has deliberately violated with enthusiastic forethought what has traditionally been categorized as the theology of the body..

In 2014, the congregation appointed an interim pastor that was transgender, apparently to lead the church from bad to worse.

In defense of surrendering the congregation’s pulpit to a transgendered pastor, the chair of the Calvary Baptist personnel committee told the Associate Baptist Press, “Quite simply, this is who we — Calvary Baptist Church, specifically, and Christians more generally — are called to be a place that reflects God’s love and recognizes, affirms, and nurtures God’s call in each of our lives.”

By such a statement, the reader is to assume that whatever warped inclinations an individual might feel are to be understood as the divine calling in our lives.

So if a pastor expressed a desire to and actually touched buxom teen girls inappropriately, does that mean that a church is obligated to celebrate such a ministerial candidate by granting the individual a position of leadership?

The advocates of progressivism will respond but the pedophile psychologically damages the underaged minor.

But what do you think “Pastor” Robinson is doing to his own children since he did not spring his desire to live in this manner on anyone until after becoming a father?

For now, it seems his wife is standing by him.

But will she continue to do so once his distinctively male appendage is hacked off like a whithered garden weed?

What those falling over the edge of rank apostasy and the vilest manifestations of paganism really mean when they invoke terms like “love”, “affirmation” and “nurturing” is that they will only support those plunging along with them into the depths of libertinism and licentiousness.

For would this sort of “church” stand by someone that admitted to uttering the “N-word” under their breath some thirty years ago?

Better yet, as a more revealing test of their sincerity, perhaps this congregation should welcome into its pulpit a fire and brimstone pastor that would expose these kinds of sheol-spawned delusions for what they really are.

By Frederick Meekins

Baptist Functionary Sides Against Common Christians In Christmas War

In “The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe” by C.S. Lewis, one of the deprivations the White Witch imposed upon Narnia was that, under her rule, it was always winter but never Christmas. Through this literary device, Lewis was able to emphasize how the profound truths of existence are often reflected and even pointed to by the simplest pleasures of life.

It is ashame Southern Baptist cultural functionary Russell Moore has failed to grasp this particular axiom. In what amounts to a column posted at his website titled “Is There A ‘War’ On Christmas?” (the word “War” placed in quotations to no doubt undermine the seriousness of this concern), this particular theologian astutely analyzes and exegetes the seriousness of Christmas as the celebration of God incarnating in human form and how the flippancy in which that mystery is often approached is itself a symptom of the degree to which Western civilization has strayed from the straight and narrow.

However, Dr. Moore doesn’t seem to grasp that these incidental slights that Moore seems to dismiss also point to the degree to which the culture has been deChristianized. For example, Moore writes, “But the huffing and puffing that we tend to do when marketers don’t get our Christian commitments is, I think, a little bit off base.” Moore goes on to conclude, “…when we think about this war on Christmas, we shouldn’t turn this into a fight for our right to party…And we need to remember that the darkness isn’t overcome by sarcasm, or personal offense, or retaliatory insults, or boycotts of Wal-Mart or whatever it is.”

As part of his public persona, Russell Moore has positioned or branded himself as a minister sensitive to the concerns of particular favored aggrieved constituencies . For example, Dr. Moore serves as a token Anglo on the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference and has released public statements that just about blame White people for the upheaval perpetrated during Black Lives Matter protests rather than the rampaging activists themselves.

These days linguistic tensions are so taunt with many of those in the majoritarian demographic walking around on egg shells for fear of a misconstrued verbal inflection resulting in a lost job or even threats of physical retaliation. As an historical reference one only need recall the outcry over Ross Perot’s articulation of the phrase “You people”.

Therefore, if Christians in general and Evangelicals in particular see those in positions of leadership that don’t mind instructing we mere dimwits of the congregation how we are to be in submission to them and to follow their example getting worked up into a froth over things considerable removed from the average American’s daily purview of concern, why shouldn’t it be expected for people to react vocally for the small yet existentially substantial things that they actually care about. For example, if we are expected to get worked up over someone manhandled by the police that deliberately decided to disobey la enforcement’s perfectly justifiable instructions, shouldn’t professional religionists such as Dr. Moore ought to express a little more sympathy for the common Christian feeling insulted that the holiday displays at the local mall or “big box retailer” don’t seem sufficiently Christmasy?

Dr. Moore further observes, “…I think we need to keep in mind most of these issues that we take offense at are done by corporations …[that] are trying to sell products. They are really not trying to offend constituencies…That’s not good economics at all for anybody.”

Would Rev. Moore as dismissively let the actions of government he found questionable slide by without comment? After all, one of the purposes of bureaucracy (which it somehow never seems to achieve by the way) is to as efficiently as possible weigh, process, and prioritize the interests of the numerous factions that constitute an incomprehensibly complex technologically advanced society.

For example, if the average believer is to be persuaded that merchants harbor no nefarious intent by instructing that the greeting “Happy Holidays” be articulated rather than “Merry Christmas”, why shouldn’t we believe that the misunderstanding is as simple in regards to something that the professional religionists might care about such as the effort to eliminate the tax exemption of the clergy housing allowance? It might, after all, merely be an attempt to raise revenue rather than as part of an orchestrated conspiracy to shackle ministers by undermining their freedom of religious expression to speak out on issues of moral importance (though it is never explained how authors and journalists are not similarly hindered by not being extended the same protection in the tax code).

Moore further observes, “…many, especially in the culture-making …sectors in American life, see Christmas kind of in the same way that most Americans see Hanukkah. One knows about [it]…[But] They don’t know the background story.” As such, Moore suggests that, instead of getting angry, we ought to instead teach those around us about the miracle of the incarnation and the blood atonement.

Always a good idea. But if these things aren’t being taught, whose fault is that?

Perhaps the average pewfiller zooms in on retail establishments that blatantly thumb their noses at what Dr. Moore seems to dismiss as holiday trivialities rather than those that might appropriate the veneer of the devotional in pursuit of more trivial ends because deep down these believers have might have an inclination that something is askew but cannot hone in on something more specific. Many times they have not been taught much better than their secular non-churchgoing counterparts.

For example, as someone on the Southern Baptist payroll, does Russell Moore spend much time emphasizing and teaching what C.S. Lewis categorized as “Mere Christianity”? For it seems for much of the past year or so the theologian has spent an inordinate amount of time bashing Christians that got behind the Trump candidacy because, despite his faults, Trump was about the only presidential contender willing to admit that drastic action needed to be taken at the boarder.

Some might respond that it is not the place of a pastor or minister to co-opt the sanctified solemnity of the pulpit or even the clerical collar to wallow in the banalities of political affairs. However, that has not prevented Russell Moore and those of a similar mindset infiltrating the Southern Baptist Convention from speaking out on issues regarding immigration and related minority concerns.

These exegetical activists insist Scripture is inherently pro-immigrant as evidenced by the protections extended to the strangers dwelling in the midst of Israel. Yet seldom do these homilists point out that these outsiders were also compelled to live in respect of Israel’s culture and the importance both the Old and New Testaments place upon abiding by the duly constituted laws of the nation’s in which one happens to reside.

Dear reader, don’t fall for the delusion that what Russell Moore and allied malcontents are simply calling for is the humane treatment of those that have no right or permission to be here as they are escorted from the premises of the United States as part of the deportation process. What they are in fact calling for is the elevation of deadbeats and agitators to a place of superiority over the average taxpaying pewfillers and citizens.

For among a list of ultimatums issued by Evangelical progressives posted on the Huffington Post was one demanding that White Christians DEFER to their counterparts of color. Will there be similar pleas from the authors published by that font of leftwing propaganda for protesters to DEFER to the instructions articulated by law enforcement during roadside encounters or to the rulings handed down by the judicial system? So much for assessing individual by the content of their character rather than by the color of their skin.

Given the nature of the public pronouncements that he has become increasingly known for, it would be easy to assume that Russell Moore is transitioning from being a minster of the Gospel to something more of a COMMUNITY organizer not all that different than Barack Obama in his early days. Perhaps the best thing any Christian might do next holiday season is to direct their charitable dollars towards institutions other than those affiliated with Moore’s wing of the Southern Baptist Convention.

By Frederick Meekins

The Superiority Of Theism Part 3: Unbelief’s Defiance Of Common Sense

According to Geisler and Turek, a number of scientific discoveries come down on the side of the cosmological proof rather than the steady state hypothesis. To assist in remembering what these are, the authors have provided the acronym SURGE.

“S” stands for the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The Laws of Thermodynamics stipulate that, within the universe, there is only a finite amount of energy and that over time this energy is dissipated into disorder or entropy.

From this, both the scientist and the theologian must come to similar conclusions. If there is only a finite amount of energy in the universe, by definition there had to have been some kind of starting point or things would have already reached maximum entropy in ages past. Yet we find that we are still here.

This alone is enough to cause the Steady State house of cards to come crashing down. However, from the remainder of their acronym, Geisler and Turek provide the apologist with additional lines of scientific evidence attesting to a moment of creation.

The letter “U” stands for universal expansion. In 1920, Astronomer Edwin Hubble deduced from the red shift in light that the universe is expanding outward from one particular point.

Traditionally, those embracing the idea of God creating the universe have held the notion of the Big Bang at arm’s length. The concept must be handled with caution because if one is not careful one can end up with a less than Biblical cosmology where matter is as eternally existent as God and not dependent upon Him for its existence. However, the expansion of the universe is itself a confirmation of the laws of thermodynamics as it points to a definitive point of creation because, if the cosmos was infinitely old, the universe would have collapsed back on itself by now.

The “R” in SURGE stands for “radiation” from the Big Bang. Discovered in 1965 by Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson, cosmic background radiation was left over from the moment of creation and has not yet dissipated (81).

Yet another aspect of the cosmic background radiation attesting to a deliberate intelligence at work in the universe is the concept of “galactic seeds”, which serve as the “G” in SURGE. According to the theory of cosmic background radiation, this energy signature would not be uniform across the backdrop of space but instead be scattered about in concentrated pockets.

Geisler and Turek write, “These temperature ripples enabled matter to congregate by gravitational attraction into galaxies (82).” These seeds themselves attest to deliberation, as Geisler and Turek further elaborate, “The ripples show that…the universe was precisely tweaked to cause just enough matter to congregate to allow galaxy formation but not enough to cause the universe to collapse back on itself (83).”

The “E” in SURGE stands for Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity. According to Geisler and Turek, the theory posits a need for an absolute beginning for space, time and matter since these are interdependent with one not being able to exist without the others. It was because of the theory of relativity that scientists were able to discover the expanding universe, cosmic background radiation and galactic seeds (84).

Despite the marvels of nature, a number of those most familiar with its technicalities and implications continue on in their unbelief. For example, some such as Robert Atkins attempt to evade the matter of how matter came about. In his “Creation Revisited”, Atkins postulated origins derived from mathematical points swirling about in nothingness which Ravi Zacharias pointed out to him after a debate moderated by William F. Buckley were actually something (80).

Others such as Robert Jastrow admit, “Astronomers now find they have painted themselves into a corner because they have proved by their own methods that the world began abruptly in an act of creation…That there are what I or anyone would call supernatural forces at work is now, I think, a scientifically proven fact.” Yet according to Geisler, these minds continue on in their agnosticism despite the evidence. Hence the name of Giesler’s book “I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist”.

The theist might be ready to let his guard down to rest thinking a decisive victory has been scored in the apologetic encounter. However, the battle is far from over.

For while the cosmological argument brings the unbeliever into a more theistic orbit, it hardly brings him to the embrace of a creator that cares about His creation or even relates to it on a personal level. The reluctant theist might even attempt to save face by countering that, even if some force or entity we have come to refer to as God set the universe in motion, what we see around us including ourselves is the result of random chance and deterministic consequences spanning back millennia.

By Frederick Meekins

Bibliography:
Norman Geisler and Frank Turek. “I Don’t Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist.”