Friday, August 14, 2009
From Enemies to Friends 1
From Enemies to Friends 2
From Enemies to Friends 3
The largest difference I have with Gallagher and Graham Maxwell is developed by their use of Ellen White. We can sum it up by a couple of quotes from Gallagher's sermon 2.
Here we see the bigger picture. For up to now we have been primarily concerned about ourselves, and our salvation—God changing us from enemies to friends. But there is much more than just our salvation at stake. The conflict between God and Satan has a cosmic aspect to it—for the war began in heaven (Rev. 12:7). Even those angels that remained loyal to God surely had many questions, and in God’s wisdom he chooses to work not from claims but through demonstration. So the Cross answers far more than just issues about our situation—it impacts the whole universe-wide controversy over God and his actions raised by Satan the Accuser. So God chooses to make his nature clear, and explain himself and his character through the gift of himself. In this way he reconciles the whole universe:
Through the Son, then, God decided to bring the whole universe back to himself. God made peace through his Son’s blood on the cross and so brought back to himself all things, both on earth and in heaven. Colossians 1:20 TEV.
In fact this might read better “both those on earth and those in heaven.” At which point some may object that those in heaven do not need the atonement—understood as paying some penalty or making amends. But that is not the original meaning—for the word was first used to describe true at-one-ment, and you cannot be truly at one until the controversy is settled and the questions answered. (The NIV uses the term “reconcile”—and in fact the word is actually “completely reconcile,” showing the total extent of the reconciliation needed).
This is why they often call their view the "Larger View" or the "Great Controversy view". It is based upon the assumption that loyal angels have questions about God. He phrases it as surely they had questions but of course we have no indication that they had or have questions, they may well have answers. The Bible of course is not written from the perspective of angels of which we know hardly anything. It is written about man and God, angels are the messengers of God. So when the verse talks about reconciling the things of earth with the things of heaven that is what it means the things of man's domain with the things of God's domain. That is the common interpretation, assuming that it is meant to answer angels questions about God is to use eisegesis placing that idea into the text rather than reading what the text is really trying to say. Clearly the holy angels...the messengers of God are not in need of reconciliation with God. From what the Bible says they live with God, they serve God and they are not in rebellion against God, those who did rebel got kicked out. You don't need to be reconciled if you are never separated.
I do have a theory as to why they feel the need to include these extra biblical ideas into their atonement theory. My theory is that they feel they have to include Ellen White into the mix to make it appear that they are good little Adventists. Good Adventists quote Ellen White so they seek areas that they can quote her because they know that they are also going against what Ellen White says in favor of the Penal Atonement and substitutionary atonement. So they reference the angels questions or as Graham Maxwell does he references the blood thirsty characteristics of the angels in his article addressed here; Response to Graham Maxwell's Great Controversy View The quote from Maxwell's interview article is:
Soon you come to the Flood, where God drowned all but eight. That would seem to be a pretty clear demonstration, and to loyal angels that was the thing to do. Amens (though surely, solemn ones) rang through heaven when he drowned that bunch. "That's the way to do it!" Except afterwards they found it hadn't won a soul. Instead, necessary as it was, it turned the human race against God more than ever, and they built a tower to escape him. "Not by might, nor by power" the angels learned as one thing from the Flood. Though they were at the moment rather satisfied, it appears, and waited for God to do it again.
At least I assume he arrives at this from Ellen White, I will not take the time to find her quote on the subject. But it demonstrates the difference between the moral influence view and the extra biblical view that is attached to the moral influence view to create the "larger view". It may be that many or most Adventists are not capable of advancing past their dependence upon Ellen White. Graham Maxwell and Gallagher are attempting to wean Adventists away from the more harmful elements of their traditional religious views. So I don't want to be too strenuous in my complaints. Because really what does it matter what they think that angels are saying in heaven through history or if they think that the atonement is directed at angels also. It does not really change anything in regard to the atonement for human beings. Maybe it will have the benefit of helping people to see that you can't take everything Ellen White says as true also. My personal preference is to simply leave her out of the whole atonement theory argument. Because frankly it makes no sense that God wanted us to wait 1800 years for someone to really explain the atonement to us.
Tuesday, August 04, 2009
The President of the
“Adventists have always shown a keen interest in science. After all, the God of the Bible is the God of creation. Unlike some other denominations, we have not promoted a separation between faith and science. In our view God uses true science and true faith to work together to reveal Himself to His children. From the revelation of Scripture we know that the world and nature have been heavily damaged by sin. Therefore, empirical evidence alone is not able to give us a clear picture of truth. So when there is a seeming contradiction between Scripture and science we have chosen to trust Scripture.”
When I read this article I was struck by the rather contradictory statements made throughout the article. As in the first paragraph the author says that we Adventists have not promoted a separation between faith and science and then saying since the world and nature are heavily damaged by sin empirical evidence can’t give a clear picture of truth. Instead of accepting the evidence we have chosen to trust Scripture. That is pretty much the definition of separation between faith and science, at least the way he is using it. It is certainly possible to trust Scripture as a revelation about God and man without the insistence that every story is literally true. But that is certainly not the author’s intention.
One has to wonder what the author thinks sin is that it so heavily damaged the world and nature. It almost sounds like it is some sort of physical presence that goes around stocking the plants, animals and minerals of the world. As if when I see a dike intrusion into Granite I can say, “sin did that!” If I see a dinosaur bone I can say “sin did that” it originally was an animal as cute as a bunny rabbit but sin made it huge and vicious.
The scary thing about this is that many in the Adventist church are allowing scientifically semi-illiterate church administrators to define what education should be. Because he uses undefined terms like “true science” and “true faith” some people believe that he knows what he is talking about. Of course if he can show that his science is true than the battle is over, but since he cannot. His truth is not literally truth it is his interpretation of truth. We see this a bit later in the article when he writes:
“No one is against academic freedom. Yet all academic freedom has a context. In secular universities it is “human reasoning.” In confessional universities it is “divine reasoning.” For the secular, “human reasoning” is the final court of appeal because that is what they trust. For confessional universities, “divine reasoning” is the last word because that is what we trust. This means academic freedom in a confessional university is viewed in the context of our faith in God and His divine revelation in Scripture. If we do not understand and support this criterion, then it is only a matter of time before our confessional schools of higher education will become secular like other universities that started out as institutions of other denominations.”
Gallimore here sets up a false dichotomy “human reasoning” versus “divine reasoning”. We all have a pretty good idea of what human reasoning is because we all do it, some of us more than others, but what is “divine reasoning”? It appears from his usage it means his interpretation of what the Bible says. But would not that be human reasoning? If divine reasoning is simply what the Genesis account says than it is hopelessly in conflict with itself as Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 do not agree with each other. In that case the divine reasoning seems to actually be traditional human interpretations used to combine the two accounts into one that seems reasonable. The fact is he can’t get away from “human reasoning” it is all we humans have after all. Faith in God is a far different subject than faith in some traditional Genesis interpretation but if one falsely calls their tradition “divine reasoning” they are intentionally fooling themselves and then placing themselves as the authority in all faith matters.
Gallimore continues his fictions by writing the following:
“It is my belief that, by and large, most of our science teachers are creationists, not evolutionists. Many are doing a great job of helping young adults understand arguments on both sides. Where there are appearances of contradictions between science and inspiration they are teaching students to trust divine revelation. This is wise because history is full of examples of how science ends up confirming facts of faith that it once denied. It is also reasonable in a world where science keeps changing its theories. Waiting on God has always brought large rewards. Unlike human reasoning in connection with science, God and Scripture never change.”
One has to wonder what all these examples of faith confirming facts that science once denied. What would those histories full of examples show us? The flood, no, science sees no evidence for a world wide flood. The pillars of the earth or maybe stars created after the earth…no. The necessity of a woman to be unclean for twice as long after having a girl instead of a boy baby? (Lev. 12:1-5)? About the only think I can think of would be that at one time there may have been people who because they did not have any evidence of Hittites did not believe there were Hittites, back in the infancy of the archeological science in the 1800’s. Do God and scripture never change? Well, when was the last time you attended the stoning of someone who broke the Sabbath? Does God still ask you to bring a sheep or dove or flour to be sacrificed, that once was the God proscribed way of worship. The whole progressive of the Old to New Testament is filled with changes in what Scripture is teaching about God and man. The written words certainly don’t change but the concepts continue to grow and expand at least if one allows their human reasoning to investigate things.
One final quote:
“Let me say again that I believe most of our colleges and universities are supportive of our fundamental beliefs. There are many blessings for our youth at these institutions. Nevertheless, parents and students should remain vigilant. I have been assured by Dr. Keith Mattingly, Dean of the
Saturday, August 01, 2009
But if Jesus' only mission was to show us how to live more moral lives, or even to show us how far love would go, there would have been no necessity for his death. It was just a stronger statement that way.
To me this explanation takes our understanding of the atonement out of the realm of the "Moral Influence Theory" because the MIT has no "necessity" for his death. He could have done it without the death but it was simply a stronger statement that way. In this understanding the death of Jesus was necessary. There is no other way in which this "double bind" could have been answered. Jesus had to die to deal with the claims of evil.
If the Moral Influence theory is true then God needed not become human at all. He could have come down as God or even sent an angel to accomplish telling men how to live. This would not require his death or resurrection.