Four Reasons the Gospels Could Not Be Legends

“The most popular theory today against the Bible is that the gospels are a bunch of myths and legends. As the theory goes, Jesus was a great guy with some commendable teachings, but the stories we have about him in the four gospels are made-up legends intended to beef up Christianity’s claims.

Entire books have been written on this, but here are 4 brief reasons the gospels simply could not be fabricated legends:…”

Read more from J. D. Greear here: http://www.jdgreear.com/my_weblog/2013/10/four-reasons-the-gospels-could-not-be-legends.html

Why We Lie

“We like to believe that a few bad apples spoil the virtuous bunch. But research shows that everyone cheats a little—right up to the point where they lose their sense of integrity.”

“Not too long ago, one of my students, named Peter, told me a story that captures rather nicely our society’s misguided efforts to deal with dishonesty. One day, Peter locked himself out of his house. After a spell, the locksmith pulled up in his truck and picked the lock in about a minute.

“I was amazed at how quickly and easily this guy was able to open the door,” Peter said. The locksmith told him that locks are on doors only to keep honest people honest. One percent of people will always be honest and never steal. Another 1% will always be dishonest and always try to pick your lock and steal your television; locks won’t do much to protect you from the hardened thieves, who can get into your house if they really want to. The purpose of locks, the locksmith said, is to protect you from the 98% of mostly honest people who might be tempted to try your door if it had no lock.

We tend to think that people are either honest or dishonest. In the age of Bernie Madoff and Mark McGwire, James Frey and John Edwards, we like to believe that most people are virtuous, but a few bad apples spoil the bunch. If this were true, society might easily remedy its problems with cheating and dishonesty. Human-resources departments could screen for cheaters when hiring. Dishonest financial advisers or building contractors could be flagged quickly and shunned. Cheaters in sports and other arenas would be easy to spot before they rose to the tops of their professions.

But that is not how dishonesty works. Over the past decade or so, my colleagues and I have taken a close look at why people cheat, using a variety of experiments and looking at a panoply of unique data sets—from insurance claims to employment histories to the treatment records of doctors and dentists. What we have found, in a nutshell: Everybody has the capacity to be dishonest, and almost everybody cheats—just by a little. Except for a few outliers at the top and bottom, the behavior of almost everyone is driven by two opposing motivations. On the one hand, we want to benefit from cheating and get as much money and glory as possible; on the other hand, we want to view ourselves as honest, honorable people. Sadly, it is this kind of small-scale mass cheating, not the high-profile cases, that is most corrosive to society….”

By Dan Ariely

Keep Reading: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304840904577422090013997320.html

Achu’s Hope Part II

-continued from yesterday-

“Dr. Dan Galat, orthopedic surgeon at Tenwek Hospital who has overseen Achu’s care, picks up the story:

As our orthopedic team evaluated Achu, the foul smell of necrotic flesh was strong, and our first thought was “there is no way to save her leg.” The piece of protruding bone was too large and after removing it, we were concerned that the remaining defect could never fill in with new and healthy bone. However, we were encouraged, as x-rays showed a surprisingly large bridge of new bone posteriorly, which explained why Achu, despite her condition, was still able to walk, bearing weight on her leg. In addition, we had the sense that God was at work and we were just along for the ride. So that same day, we took Achu to theatre, and removed this piece (approx. 3 inches) of dead sequestrum. Indeed, the hole it left in her leg was cavernous, but we could feel the bridge of bone posteriorly, and the leg miraculously felt very stable.

Achu is currently still in the hospital undergoing daily “whirlpool” therapy in a Jacuzzi-like tub to clear up any remaining signs of infection, and soon, we hope to continue wound VAC therapy which utilizes a sponge and suction to encourage formation of granulation tissue that will slowly fill in this defect. What is most striking to us now about Achu is her beautiful and continual smile, which, I believe, is the reflection of new-found hope. She knows there is a God who has seen her condition and is loving her with a perfect love.

Her story reminds me of Hagar, who when she met God, called him El Roi, “the God who sees me” (Genesis 16:13). God is answering her prayers (and the prayers of many others) and we are privileged to be a small part of this process, seeing yet another one of God’s miracles on behalf of the poor at Tenwek. I am humbled and moved to worship the Father who sees the neglected, the abused, and the hopeless.”

“Dr. Galat shared some specific prayer requests: that the new bone continues to strengthen and remodel so that it is healthy; that the defect would fill quickly with healthy granulation tissue; and that Achu’s time at Tenwek would allow her to experience how much God loves her.

As Nanci and I have read these various reports and articles about Achu, we have wept together. God’s hand upon this girl’s life is remarkable. What a privilege for EPM to help her live and walk and, we hope, to love Jesus with all her heart.

And thanks to those who kindly support EPM with your financial gifts. You had had a major role in the life of this little girl, and countless others.

-Randy Alcorn,  http://www.epm.org/blog/2012/Mar/23/god-who-sees-me-achus-hope

The God Who Sees Me: Achu’s Hope

“Can you remember what it was like to be a kid between Thanksgiving and Christmas? For most of us, the anticipation of Christmas coming was all we could talk about. Some things are like that—they’re so good we can’t get them off our minds. That’s definitely the case with the story of a Sudanese orphan named Achu.

Even though the New Republic of Sudan seceded fromSudanin 2011, after five decades of Islamic invasion, slavery, and genocide, there is still no infrastructure within the fledgling country. In fact, much of it is still under attack and bombed on a daily basis.

Since there is no other medical care available, thousands of people walk for hours, and even days, in the unbearable heat to visit the small Make Way Partners open-air clinic. With our extremely limited staff and resources, each sunrise delivers two to three times more patients piled and waiting around our door than those we can actually treat in one day.

So, each morning the clinic staff passes out vouchers—first come, first serve—to the waiting number of patients which the medical team deems they can treat that day. As hard as it is to do, all others are mercifully sent away so that they do not wait all day—in vain—under the unforgiving sun.

Dr. Matt Mooreland, MWP mission-team member, was finishing his second day of serving in 130 degree heat on the border of Darfur, Sudan when his eyes fell upon a frail child sitting in the door way. She had no life-saving voucher to wave before Dr. Matt. Early in the morning Achu had been told that she could not be seen that day…no room in the inn…she was sent away.

Persistent as the woman in Mark 7, who begged Jesus to treat her like a dog who ate the crumbs falling from his plate, Achu didn’t leave. She curled into a fetal position on the sidelines, where MWP indigenous director Lual Atak found her, and helped her toward the front of the clinic.

The miracle happened. Dr. Matt met Achu.

Bad news accompanied the miracle, however. As Dr. Matt unwound the filthy cloth tied around Achu’s twig-thin leg, he found that three to four inches of Achu’s bone protruded through her skin just below her knee. Pus poured out of the swollen wound, and the foul stench of decaying flesh quickly filled the room, forcing most of the nonmedical staff to leave.

Dr. Matt learned that the injury had occurred a year earlier: “Achu stated that a little over a year ago she was wrestling with a friend by the borehole in her village and her leg got twisted up.  Unable to bear weight, she crawled back home and stayed on the ground for almost two months straight. Her mother was dead, her father was a drunk, and the stepmother was refused any money for aid because all Achu’s father would do is drink it away. Because of her leg injury, Achu was not able to work, and her family blamed her for the loss of two otherwise healthy hands… After two months, she forced herself to start walking and moving around, and over time developed a way to function day to day, while completing her chores.”

But the story grew worse. Dr. Matt realized that the infection was so severe, that even with excellent medical care—which was not possible from our scantily-supplied-open-air clinic—Achu would surely lose her leg, if not her life.

In the words of Dr. Matt, “It was my duty to tell her there are no amount of medications to keep a dying piece of bone from eventually infecting her entire frail body. It was a devastating prognosis. Achu, who was without a smile already, dropped her head and stopped making eye contact with anyone. As medical professionals, we are taught to deliver bad news with honest, straight talk followed by a sincere attempt to show sympathy and hope. However, in this case, my response was long on sympathy and very short on hope. The facts are simply that the average citizen in this area of the world has no access to surgical services and no means to travel the hundreds of miles to obtain those services. I had just handed down Achu’s death sentence.”

The entire team remained in constant prayer for Achu. I’ve always been sort of a dragee when it came to social media, but I’d read a convincing article by John Piper a few months earlier about God using 140-character tweets just as powerfully as 30-minute sermons. We just have to work harder on getting them down to size! So I called on thousands of others to join in prayer, and realized John was right—God can indeed move through social media.

Thousand filled (and continue to fill) the no-man’s-land between Heaven and earth with prayer. Then, another miracle: Eternal Perspective Ministries wrote offering to cover Achu’s medical expenses, if Make Way Partners could coordinate it.

I called my friend Dr. Carol Spears at Tenwek Hospital inKenya and asked her if Tenwek would be able to treat Achu. Dr. Carol informed me that not only would they treat her, but also that Dr. Dan Galat, on staff, was a Mayo Clinic-trained orthopedic surgeon.

Miracle number too-many-to-count—a Mayo-trained orthopedic surgeon in the next country over, who was willing to operate on Achu! But we would need the stream of miracles to flow with whitewater power; getting Achu out ofSudanwould be no small task.

In order to justify not giving up any of his booze money, Achu’s father denied Achu needed help. So, even though we offered to cover all expenses from the private charter to get her out of war-tornSudan, to medical expenses inKenya, to food and lodging for her big sister to accompany her along the scary journey, Achu’s father refused. Drunken Sudanese men do not easily or usually change their minds, nor admit they are wrong.

Even if her father agreed to let us take Achu to Tenwek, we still only had a few days to create and file for approval the necessary travel and immigration documents to legally transport her across international borders. Achu is from a land where there are no birth certificates, identification papers, educational records, or immunization vaccines. She had never ridden in a car, much less flown on a plane.

Slowly-by-slowly, as they say inSudan, I kept making plans through Dr. Carol inKenya, and believers fromAlabamatoSwitzerlandandSudantoAustraliakept filling up that no-man’s-land with prayers. The stream of miracles raged on against the gates of evil, and Achu’s father suddenly agreed to let her go even as the local commissioner rushed together all the required travel documents.

This emaciated, abandoned orphan had every reason in the world to not trust anything we said. Yet, she boarded our plane in childlike faith, spreading her lips in a smile that lit all our hearts for the next eight hours of fly-time.

My seat sat backwards, like the old trains used to do, so that I was facing Achu. I studied her face as our World-War-II-era DC3 bounced down the trench-riddled dirt airstrip and rattled into ascension. I expected fear. I saw nothing but the pure unadulterated Hope that the One True Christmas is surely coming.

Achu had told Dr. Matt that a month before coming to the Make Way Partners clinic, she had started going into the local church and praying to God that she could find a way to get her leg fixed.  When she and her sister heard about the clinic, they traveled in faith, hoping that someone there could help her. Achu then stated that God had answered her prayer and that now—for the first time—she had hope.

Hebrews chapter 13 comes to me. With passionate exhortation the author exhorts us to stop trying to live the privileged life, and to go outside the camp—where Jesus lived and died, where the action is. I have lived on four different continents and traveled to many others. I know of no other place farther “outside the camp” thanSudan.

Thank you for joining Achu—and many other unadoptable orphans “outside the gate” in prayer, financial support, and sharing her story so that others might join her, too. Miraculous stories of Hope are like experiencing a childlike Christmas all over again; you just can’t stop talking about them and sharing the hope with others!

Love, your sister along the journey,

Kimberly L. Smith”

For the rest of the story, read here: http://www.epm.org/blog/2012/Mar/23/god-who-sees-me-achus-hope

Is It Ever Right to Disobey the Government?

Excellent post from the Gospel Coalition by Mark Coppenger:

“Recently, Representative Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) heaped contempt upon five ministers called to testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The men were there to raise religious liberty concerns over the Health and Human Services Department’s policy of forcing institutions to provide contraception, sterilization, and abortifacients to their employees, even when the institutions found these options morally objectionable. Though Romans Catholics were particularly stung by this policy, four other members of the clergy—two Baptists, a Lutheran, and a Jew—came as co-belligerents for the cause of freedom of conscience.

Connolly’s fulminations included the charge that they were being used for “shameful” acts of political demagoguery. He mocked their speaking “as if people are going to jail over this. Shame! Everybody knows that’s not true.”

Actually, a lot of people know that it may well be true, and American Christians are preparing for the day when the state will no longer tolerate their “obstructionism,” their “phobias,” and their “offensive utterances.” Thus a half million believers have already signed the 2009 Manhattan Declaration, which says, in part,

Because we honor justice and the common good, we will not comply with any edict that purports to compel our institutions to participate in abortions, embryo-destructive research, assisted suicide and euthanasia, or any other anti-life act; nor will we bend to any rule purporting to force us to bless immoral sexual partnerships, treat them as marriages or the equivalent, or refrain from proclaiming the truth, as we know it, about morality and immorality and marriage and the family. We will fully and ungrudgingly render to Caesar what is Caesar’s. But under no circumstances will we render to Caesar what is God’s.

If this means jail time over refusal to pay fines, so be it. Of course, the specter of thousands of esteemed ministers in holding cells, getting rap sheets, may cause the commissars to go wobbly and back off for fear of the political repercussions.

Fuss Over Nothing?

Could Connolly be right about this being an overheated tempest in a teapot? After all,Americais noIranorSaudi Arabia, where Christian conversion and gospel preaching land you in prison, and even the grave. We’re a liberal democracy, a pillar of Western civilization, with its constitutive freedom of conscience.

But that status is tenuous. Classic liberalism (following Adam Smith and Edmund Burke, not Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid) is dying in the mainline Western nations as paternalists, cultural relativists, sensitivity police, and decadence-normalizers move in with their speech and tax codes to cow the faithful.

Åke Green and Daniel Scot are two cases in point. Green, a Swedish Pentecostal pastor on the littleislandofOland, was sentenced to a month in jail for “hate speech” and “agitation against an ethnic group” for preaching a sermon against homosexuality. Fortunately, the Swedish Supreme Court overturned the lower court’s ruling.

Scot, a math professor and Assembly of God minister, had fled Pakistan for the safety of Australia, only to be convicted of “vilifying” Islam when he spoke in churches, explaining the roots of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He was ordered to purchase tens of thousands of dollars in ads inMelbournepapers, apologizing to Muslims. He refused, at great legal expense, and the case went to the Australian Supreme Court, which ruled in his favor. And Americans of biblical conviction are also beginning to feel the heat. For instance, a Methodist retreat center inNew Jerseylost its tax-exempt status for excluding same-sex marriage ceremonies from its grounds.

When Should We Take a Stand?

Of course, this raises the question of when it is appropriate to take a stand, and when it is better to simply retire from the field, as did Catholic Charities in Massachusetts, when it stopped its adoption ministry because the law said it could not discriminate against same-sex households. After all, obedience to the law is the default position for Christians. That’s the teaching of Romans 13:1-7, which Paul wrote when the government was in many ways unsavory. But this is not an absolute duty, for we rightly celebrate the stand of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Daniel 3 and Peter and John’s defiance in Acts 4:1-21, where they ignored an order to stop preaching and teaching in Jesus’ name.

Still, we have to avoid the temptation to become hypersensitive to every affront to our scruples. I may be incensed over where some of my tax money is going, but I shouldn’t turn my back on the IRS in protest. And I may dislike the order to move my abortion protest across the street from a “clinic,” but I don’t need to provoke a trip in the paddy wagon by ignoring the mandated buffer zone.

So where do we draw the line?

We can certainly follow Peter and Andrew in insisting that our gospel preaching is inviolate. And there are moral outrages that no men of conscience could countenance, such as an order by Nazis to turn in Jews for transport to the death camps. But sometimes, the outrage is more particularly anti-Christian, as when 17th-century Japanese were required to show their disrespect for the faith by stepping on a tile bearing the image of Jesus (fumi-e) or face torture and death.

In contrast, in the modern West, speech codes and their supporting humiliations and fines are the bludgeons of choice. But in either case, believers must not flinch from speaking the truth in love, whatever the cost.

What shall we say, then, of that gray area where we’re not murdered or muzzled but merely mugged? I suggest we consider our witness, whether we might be bringing glory or embarrassment to God. For comparison, we might consider our take on other faiths’ possible complaints of ill treatment. For instance, I think we would rally to the side of Muslims forced to serve pork in their rescue mission. Government pressure at this point would be gratuitously offensive, whatever the rationale—whether a recent study placing pork at the base of the food-guide pyramid or the need to sustain the nation’s pork farmers by broad purchase and distribution of their product.

But when an American Muslim woman (or her husband) insists that she wear a niqab for her driver’s license photo (not an issue inSaudi Arabia), then popular sentiment rightly shifts to the government’s side, which counts an ID showing only the eyes an absurdity. By extension, we should reflect on how reasonable or absurd our own complaint might be.

Should Even Unreasonable Religious Beliefs Be Protected?

Of course, the public may not “get it” the first time through. We may need to strive mightily to make our point that a certain religious conviction or principle is crucial to us and that when the state slights our conscience, it behaves badly. Such was the burden on the Miami-area Santeria, the cult sacrificing chickens in their worship. Defenders did well to note that their killings were humane and that there was already a lot of bird “sacrifice” in the land, whether by KFC or the members of Ducks Unlimited.

Some beliefs, though, are not only curious, but dangerous: a Jehovah’s Witness refusing a C-section meant to save her unborn child because she objects to the accompanying blood transfusion; a Christian Science couple declining treatment for their son’s bowel obstruction that could rupture and cause death from peritonitis; a Christian school proudly declaring itself exempt from the general fire code. But the government can be just as unreasonable in pressing its will upon the faithful.

As we make our case for liberty, we need to show our logic, expose the illogicality of our foes, link arms with co-belligerents, exhibit dignity in the face of indignities, and make it very clear that there are limits to our flexibility.

The five ministers who testified before the House committee—Meir Soloveichik, Matthew Harrison, Craig Mitchell, William Lori, and Ben Mitchell—served us well in this regard. But the public debate continues, and it may well happen that Representative Connolly and his ilk will not grasp the gravity of the situation until the jail doors slam on dozens, hundreds, and even thousands of clergy.”

-Mark Coppenger is professor of Christian apologetics at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and director of the seminary’s Nashville extension. He also serves on the editorial team for two online resources, Kairos Journal and BibleMesh. He has a PhD in philosophy from Vanderbilt and an MDiv from Southwestern. His third book, Moral Apologetics, was published in October 2011.
Posted here: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/03/14/when-should-christians-engage-in-civil-disobedience/
italics added

10 Reasons to Believe in a Historical Adam

Great post by Kevin De Young: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/kevindeyoung/2012/02/07/reasons-to-believe-in-a-historical-adam/

“In recent years, several self-proclaimed evangelicals, or those associated with evangelical institutions, have called into question the historicity of Adam and Eve. It is said that because of genomic research we can no longer believe in a first man called Adam from whom the entire human race has descended.

I’ll point to some books at the end which deal with the science end of the question, but the most important question is what does the Bible teach. Without detailing a complete answer to that question, let me suggest ten reasons why we should believe that Adam was a true historical person and the first human being.

1. The Bible does not put an artificial wedge between history and theology.

Of course, Genesis is not a history textbook or a science textbook, but that is far from saying we ought to separate the theological wheat from the historical chaff. Such a division owes to the Enlightenment more than the Bible.

2. The biblical story of creation is meant to supplant other ancient creation stories more than imitate them.

Moses wants to show God’s people “this is how things really happened.” The Pentateuch is full of warnings against compromise with the pagan culture. It would be surprising, then, for Genesis to start with one more mythical account of creation like the rest of the ANE.

3. The opening chapters of Genesis are stylized, but they show no signs of being poetry.

Compare Genesis 1 with Psalm 104, for example, and you’ll see how different these texts are. It’s simply not accurate to call Genesis poetry. And even if it were, who says poetry has to be less historically accurate?

4. There is a seamless strand of history from Adam in Genesis 2 to Abraham in Genesis 12.

You can’t set Genesis 1-11 aside as prehistory, not in the sense of being less than historically true as we normally understand those terms. Moses deliberately connects Abram with all the history that comes before him, all the way back to Adam and Eve in the garden.

5. The genealogies in 1 Chronicles 1 and Luke 3 treat Adam as historical.

 6. Paul believed in a historical Adam.

(Rom. 5:12-211 Cor. 15:21-2245-49). Even some revisionists are honest enough to admit this; they simply maintain that Paul (and Luke) were wrong.

7. The weight of the history of interpretation points to the historicity of Adam.

The literature of secondtempleJudaismaffirmed an historical Adam. The history of the church’s interpretation also assumes it.

8. Without a common descent we lose any firm basis for believing that all people regardless of race or ethnicity have the same nature, the same inherent dignity, the same image of God, the same sin problem, and that despite our divisions we are all part of the same family coming from the same parents.

9. Without a historical Adam, Paul’s doctrine of original sin and guilt does not hold together.

10. Without a historical Adam, Paul’s doctrine of the second Adam does not hold together.

Christians may disagree on the age of the earth, but whether Adam ever existed is a gospel issue. Tim Keller is right:

[Paul] most definitely wanted to teach us that Adam and Eve were real historical figures. When you refuse to take a biblical author literally when he clearly wants you to do so, you have moved away from the traditional understanding of the biblical authority. . . .If Adam doesn’t exist, Paul’s whole argument—that both sin and grace work ‘covenantally’—falls apart. You can’t say that ‘Paul was a man of his time’ but we can accept his basic teaching about Adam. If you don’t believe what he believes about Adam, you are denying the core of Paul’s teaching. (Christianity Today June 2011)

If you want to read more about the historical Adam debate, check out Did Adam and Eve Really Exist? by C. John Collins.”

-Kevin DeYoung, 02-07-2012

Do We Dare Defend Our Rights?

Awesome post from Collin Hansen on the Christian and political involvement. Very timely as we see politics dominating the American public forum as we approach the fall elections. Full post here:   http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/03/01/we-dare-not-defend-our-rights/.

Here’s an excerpt:

“…Those of us who live in democracies give thanks that we can be involved in the political process and shape policies out of love for our neighbors.

But we seem to be fighting a losing cause of late, at least in theUnited States. Our vision for the common good is being eclipsed by a new order that seems not to understand Western culture’s debt to the Christian vision for humanity.

Contrary to appearances, this new vision does not support a “live and let live” ethic. Religion continues its centuries-long retreat into the private sphere. Christians replace gays in the closet. Our future feels tenuous, so we appeal to help from the state. But we haven’t yet determined if the state is friend or foe.

“For democracies, like all governments, are based on affirming and supporting certain values and visions of reality, and proscribing others,” D. A. Carson writes in his new bookThe Intolerance of Tolerance. “But when the values and visions of reality that sustained such democracies in the past shrivel away, in the domains where the shriveling takes place the only über-value is the new tolerance, backed up by the coercive power of the state.”

We may have only a few reasons for optimism about the difference we can make in coming days. But neither should we fall prey to faithless pessimism. Though embattled, thousands of evangelical churches thrive across the country. We can learn from the example of congregations worldwide that maintain a vigorous witness where Christian rights have been restricted most severely.

Or we can look back to the body of beleaguered believers encouraged thus by the apostle Peter: “Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:12).

Though slandered and scattered, these believers trusted that God would glorify himself among unbelievers through their good deeds and patient endurance. That’s the ethic captured in The Gospel Coalition’s Theological Vision for Ministry. Notably, this document says nothing about our rights. But it does hold out hope for significant cultural influence if we seek service rather than power. And it warns, “But if we seek direct power and social control, we will, ironically, be assimilated into the very idolatries of wealth, status, and power we seek to change.”

We dare not defend our rights if this defense assimilates us into the culture of ressentiment [sic]. State-sanctioned persecution would be a better fate.

But there is a better way, laid out by Carsonat the end of The Intolerance of Tolerance. Let us practice civility toward our neighbors, believers or not. Preach the gospel and watch seeds of faith sprout. Be prepared to suffer—“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph. 6:12).

All the while, trust and delight in God. No one can snatch your joy from the Father’s hand. But you can squander divine delight and squelch the witness of the Spirit by fighting for your rights while forgetting the sovereign Creator who endows them.”

-Collin Hansen, 03-01-2012

The Christian & Evolution: Requiring Adam

Highlights of a post by D.A. Carson at: http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/02/29/if-the-apostle-paul-believed-in-the-historical-adam-must-we/

Carson…offers five reflections on Paul’s understanding of Adam:

1. The necessity of the cross requires a literal Adam                                      (1 Corinthians 15:20-27, 45-49)

[N]ot only must we conclude that Paul himself believed in the historicity of Adam, but that the structure of his argument requires the historicity of Adam. In other words, for Paul Adam is more than an optional extra, a mythological accretion which may be excised without loss. Far from it; Paul so tightly relates the saving cross-work of Christ to the significance of historical Adam that it is difficult to see how one can preserve the former if the latter is jettisoned.

2. Human history has a definitive start                                                       (Romans 5:13-14)

 Paul’s reference to the time period from Adam to Moses (5:13-14) certainly presupposes a historical figure (i.e. Adam) at the beginning of the period, corresponding to a historical figure at the end of the period (Moses). Moreover, this period in world history is not simply an abstract, bounded, temporal entity—we are not dealing with a “time” in the abstract; rather, this period is portrayed as a time during which (a) the “law” (of Moses) had not yet been given; (b) sin was in the world; and (c) death reigned. This threefold description can only refer to the Old Testament period stretching from the fall of Adam to the giving of the law to Moses; and it treats the period as real history inasmuch as all die within it.

3. One act of disobedience brought sin                                               (Romans 5:12-14)

Not only does Rom. 5:12-14 lay considerable emphasis on the one sin, one trespass, or one act of disobedience which brought ruin to the race; but implicitly the argument depends on the notion that before that one act of disobedience there was no sin in the race. This accords very well with Gen. 1-3; it cannot be made to cohere with any evolutionary perspective which denies the centrality of a fall in space-time history.

4. Adam was a flesh and blood type of Christ                               (Romans 5:14)

 Adam is portrayed as the “type” (tupos, NIV “pattern,” 5:14) of one to come. The relationship between type and antitype in the Scriptures is complex; but Ellis correctly insists that New Testament typology cannot be thought of apart from God’s saving activity in redemptive history, as determined by God’s definite plan of redemption which is moving toward a predetermined goal from a specific point of beginning. As Versteeg comments, “Thus a type always stands at a particular moment in the history of redemption and points away to another (later) moment in the same history. . . . To speak about a type is to speak about the fulfillment of the old dispensation through the new.”

5. Adam’s particular sin makes each person a sinner                           (Romans 5:15-19)

Adam is not portrayed as the first sinner, of which other sinners are later copies; but as the representative sinner, whose first sin affected the race. This distinction is crucial if the parallel between Adam and Jesus is to be maintained; for Jesus is certainly not portrayed as the first man to perform some definitive righteous act, but as the representative man whose definitive righteous act affects those who are in him. Preserve this parallel between Adam and Christ, and the historicity of Adam cannot simply be pro forma, as far as Paul is concerned.

-D.A. Carson

Evaluating Movies in Light of Scripture

Great article on discernment at the movies by Randy Alcorn.   http://www.epm.org/blog/2012/Feb/27/evaluating-movies-light-scripture

“On my Facebook page, someone asked: “Randy, you often mention that you and Nanci have been to a movie. I’m curious about what kind and rating of movies you attend. I’m interested in how you regard the type of movie (violence, sexual overtones, etc.). Should Christians knowingly attend such films? This of course also applies to TV programs.”

Good movies are hard to find. I know, we’re supposed to pretend that movies have no influence on us, or our children. That way we can be cool and go with the popular drift of culture and prove that not all Christians are uptight and moralistic.

But sexually explicit—and even suggestive—movies, TV, books, etc. are unacceptable according to Ephesians 4-5. Non-gratuitous violence can be acceptable for adults, I think, as long as it neither tempts us to do violence nor desensitizes us to true violence. Figuring that out will vary from person to person. But certainly our general Christian tolerance for sexual immorality is way too excessive. Remembering that Jesus is always with us, and asking ourselves what He thinks, should make a big difference.

Some Christians might say, “But it’s almost impossible to rent a movie without sex and offensive language.” There are Christian movie-review sites that can help you make good selections for family viewing. (Check out www.christiananswers.net/spotlight/movies;  www.movieguide.org; o rwww.pluggedin.com.) There are also services which offer edited movies, television adaptors which edit profanity, and DVD software that cuts offensive scenes from movies.

Even then, we need to make sure that we are evaluating what we are watching in light of Scripture. Instead of His Word simply being one more influence on us, God intends it to be authoritative over all other influences. I read it not simply as one more source of input but as the Source and the authoritative standard by which I judge all other input.

I evaluate Seinfeld or Friends in light of Scripture. Then, if I’m discerning, in my opinion, I stop watching Seinfeld or Friends. Why? Because the themes, while amusingly handled, are often (not always, of course) immoral and tempt me to think in those terms. I evaluate Gladiator in light of Scripture and realize that the themes of courage, the quest for human rights and liberty, and standing up with comrades in making principled sacrifice is biblical. I also discern that the movie’s theology of people without Christ going to Heaven and reuniting with unbelieving family members is false. Using biblical discernment, I glean the true things from the movie, while screening out the bad. Only then is my mind protected from the subtle or not-so-subtle undermining of truth.

Bottom line, suppose there were no decent movies—what then? I enjoy good movies, but the Bible never commands us “Watch movies.” It does command us to “Guard your heart.”

-Randy Alcorn, 02-27-2012

8 Ways to Pray in Preparing to Lead Worship

1.    Lord, please help me to understand the meaning of the lyrics we sing and ensure they point to Christ.

2.    Lord, please increase my love for the people I will lead in worship.

3.    Lord, please give me wisdom to apply what I sing first to my own pursuit of truth, and call people to the same end.

4.    Lord, please use these songs to help me grasp and love the gospel more so that I might help our congregation do the same.

5.    Lord, please help me to see how the content of our songs and prayers confront the unbelief of my hearers.

6.    Lord, please help me enter into leading worship having submitted my life to the truths I sing.

7.    Lord, by your Spirit please help me to lead your church in worship with the necessary power and with appropriate affections.

8.    Lord, please use these songs to bring glory to your name, joy to your people, and salvation to the lost.

Matt Boswell, pastor of worship at Providence Church in Frisco, TX and the director of the Doxology & Theology blog. Follow Matt on Twitter @mattboswell. Posted here: http://www.doxologyandtheology.com/2012/02/25/8-ways-to-pray-in-preparing-to-lead-worship/