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A Study of Last Things

April 14, 2009

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The New Testament was written in Koine Greek, the common language of the Mediterranean world. It was a tongue spoken in Rome, Alexandria, Jerusalem, etc., just as it was in Athens. That Providence chose this language for the composition of the New Testament is beyond doubt to any serious investigator. It is the most colorful, expressive form of communication ever known to man.

A study of the original words, even by the novice, can be one of the most thrilling endeavors of the Bible student. This procedure depends, of course, upon the student’s recognition that the very words of Scripture are sacred, and thus intended to convey a divine message (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Let us consider the word eschatos. It is the basis of our English word “eschatology,” a term theologians use of Bible teaching about last things, e.g., the return of Christ and the end of the world.

Eschatos is found fifty-two times in the Greek Testament. Mostly it is rendered as “last,” with but a few minor variations, e.g., “uttermost.” The New Testament writers employed the word in a variety of ways and there are some very interesting lessons derived from a study of this term.

The word could be used in a territorial sense. The gospel was to be spread to the “uttermost” part of the earth (Acts 1:8; 13:47), or as one might express it colloquially, to the “last place of the earth.”

Occasionally eschatos referred to the final portion of a quantity. When Jesus spoke of a man being thrown in prison and not being released until he had paid the “last” penny he owed, the Lord was suggesting an eternal punishment for the wicked (Matthew 5:26; cf. 18:34).

The most common use of the term has to do with the final thing of a preceding sequence. For example, it was on the “last day” of the Feast of Tabernacles (a seven-day celebration) that Christ extended the invitation for men to come and quench their spiritual thirst with the “water” he could provide (John 7:37).

In this article, I would like to illustrate how this New Testament word teaches some wonderful truths that instruct the serious soul.

Last Days
Several centuries before the birth of Christ, the prophet Joel foretold that the Spirit of God would be “poured forth” in the “last days” (2:28-29; cf. Isaiah 2:2-4). There is no question about when this prophecy commenced its fulfillment. Peter, on the day of Pentecost, quoted the text and announced, “[T]his is that which has been spoken through the prophet Joel” (Acts 2:16). He was, of course, referring to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles on that occasion.

Many people labor under the illusion that the expression “last days” is a special signal indicating a time period just before the return of Christ. Would-be modern prophets point to certain “signs” they think they identify within the Scriptures and frantically declare, “The end is near; we are in the last days.” Of course we are in the last days. This era has already spanned two thousand years.

In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, he spoke of certain “grievous times” that would characterize the “last days.” And then, to his young co-worker, he urged: “[F]rom these also turn away.” The verb is a present tense, middle voice, imperative form—a command to this effect, “Be turning yourself away from,” thus demonstrating that Timothy himself was living in the last days (cf. Hebrews 1:1; 1 Peter 1:20).

The truth of the matter is, the expression “last days” refers to the final dispensation of history—in contrast to the Patriarchal period (from Adam to Moses) and the Mosaic age (from Moses to Christ). If the world continues yet for thousands of years, it still will be the last days. Incidentally, if we are now in the last days, that leaves no room for a millennial period.

The First and the Last One
In an Old Testament context in which the Lord asserted his everlasting nature in contrast to the passing use of idols, Isaiah exclaimed: “Thus says Jehovah, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, Jehovah of hosts: I am the first, and I am the last; and besides me there is no God” (44:6). Note the two persons referred to as “Jehovah” in this text.

In his appearance to the apostle John on the island of Patmos, Christ lifted a phrase from that text and made application to himself: “I am the first and the last, and the Living one” (Revelation 1:17-18; cf. 2:8; 22:13).

What is the significance of the expression “first and the last”? “It is the well-known attribute of God, the Eternal” (Alford n.d., 1790; cf. Thayer 1958, 253). The utterance is a firm affirmation of deity on the part of the Lord Jesus Christ. Compare the similar expression applied to the Father in Revelation 1:8: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, says the Lord God.” Compare that with the description Christ in Revelation 22:13: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last.” The same expression is used of both the God and Jesus.

The Last Offer
In the week prior to his crucifixion, Christ gave several warnings of doom to those who were on the verge of killing him. In a parable commonly known as that of the wicked husbandmen, a man planted a vineyard, furnished it lavishly, and rented it out to husbandmen—or, as we might style it, sharecroppers. When harvest drew near, he sent a series of servants to collect his fruits. These were treated shamefully, some even killed. Finally, the landlord sent a “beloved son,” who was to be the “last” (eschatos) offer (Mark 12:6).

That is a significant announcement. The beloved son, of course, represents Jesus, and the clear implication is that Christ “is the last and crowning effort of divine mercy” (Trench 1877, 209). And if he is rejected, as the writer of Hebrews later observes, “there remains no more a sacrifice for sins” (10:26). There is no hope of salvation apart from Jesus Christ (cf. John 14:6).

The Last Shall Be First
Several times in his teaching, Jesus employed the statement, “The last shall be first, and the first last,” or some equivalent.

The rich young ruler, because of his unwillingness to follow Christ, had gone away sorrowfully (Matthew 19:16-30). Subsequently Peter, perhaps somewhat boastfully, said, “Lo, we have left all.” Then, in an almost bargaining disposition, he asked, “What then shall we have?” (v. 27). The Lord promised ample blessings; however he cautioned, “But many shall be last that are first; and first that are last” (v. 30).

The Savior then told the parable of the laborers in the vineyard (Matthew 20:1-16). A man hired workers for his vineyard. They were employed, however, at different hours of the day—from early morning all the way to the eleventh hour (note the twelve-hour work day). When time for payment came, amazingly those who had worked the least were paid the same wages! The other laborers complained that such was unfair. But the lord of the vineyard explained that the grumbling was inappropriate; as lord, he had the authority to do as he pleased, and such was entirely “lawful” (v. 15).

Jesus thus concluded with the statement, “The last shall be first, and the first last” (v. 16). Several important truths are implied. As sovereign, God may do as he pleases, and it always will be right (Genesis 18:25). Human assessments of his operations are far from perfect. The disciples were constantly making poor judgments and they needed to be taught better. They quarreled about who would be the greatest (Luke 22:24), and some petitioned for places of prominence (Mark 10:37). They down played Mary’s generous gift bestowed upon her Lord not long before his death (Matthew 26:8). They needed to learn the principle that God will exalt the humble (Matthew 26:13; cf. Mark 12:42; 1 Peter 5:5-6), and humble the exalted (cf. Daniel 4:28-37). There is much for all of us to learn from the last-first principle.

The Last Adam
In one of his Corinthian letters Paul characterized Jesus as the “last Adam.”

bq. So also it is written, The first man Adam became a living soul. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. But it is not the spiritual that is first, but that which is natural; then that which is spiritual. The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is of heaven. As was the earthy, such also are they who are of the earth: and as is the heavenly, such also are they that are heavenly. And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly (1 Corinthians 15:45-49).

What is the significance of this declaration? It is a rather complicated statement. But briefly: As man’s earthly life was derived from Adam (whose origin was out of the earth), we partake of the nature of the earth (Genesis 2:7). However, for those who yield to him as Savior, Christ becomes a giver of life.

First, there is the life that results from his incarnate role as an offering for sin, which brings a living fellowship with God. Ultimately though, in view of this context pertaining to the bodily resurrection, by virtue of his own resurrection (as “firstfruits” [vv. 20, 23]) Christ will bestow upon his people a new, living body in the final resurrection of the dead (Clandish 1989, 238ff). As the apostle wrote elsewhere, the Lord Jesus “shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of his glory, according to the working whereby he is able even to subject all things unto himself” (Philippians 3:20-21).

The Last State
Three times the expression “last state” (or an equivalent) is found in the New Testament. Each of these has an interesting application.

The Pending Fate of Judaism
In an unusual illustration, Christ told of a man who was possessed of a demon. The unclean spirit left the unfortunate man but presently returned with seven other spirits, more evil than itself. The “last state” of the man was worse than the first.

What was the Lord’s application? “Even so shall it be also with this evil generation” (Matthew 12:45), i.e., the generation alive when Christ spoke these words. Clearly the reference is to those events that led to the complete destruction of Jerusalem and the fall of the nation (cf. Matthew 23:36; 24:1-34). The tribulation suffered at the hands of the Romans in A.D. 70 was worse than anything the Hebrew nation had ever known (cf. Matthew 24:21). More than a million Jews were slaughtered and thousands were taken captive.

Some have suggested that this could not possibly refer to the destruction of Jerusalem. But Carson responds:

There have been greater numbers of deaths—six million in the Nazi death camps, mostly Jews, and an estimated twenty million under Stalin—but never so high a percentage of a great city’s population so thoroughly and painfully exterminated and enslaved as during the Fall of Jerusalem (1984, 501).

The Impact of Jesus’ Resurrection
Immediately after Christ died and was buried, the chief priests approached Pilate and informed him that Jesus had foretold his own resurrection—“after three days” he would rise from the dead (Matthew 27:63). They urged the governor to secure the tomb, lest the disciples come, steal the body, and proclaim a resurrection. Should that occur, they frantically exclaimed, the “last error” (deception) would be worse than the first (v. 64). The Jews were mortified at the thought that the body might disappear. And it did! And for twenty centuries they have struggled with trying to explain what happened; but neither they, nor anyone else, has been able to provide a logical explanation for the empty tomb—other than the resurrection.

The Horror of Apostasy
Peter wrote regarding certain Christians who had escaped the defilements of the world through their knowledge of the Lord Jesus. But he warned that should any apostatize, the “last state” for them would be worse than the former. It would be far better never to have known the gospel than, having embraced it, to then turn away (2 Peter 2:20ff). This text reveals that: (a) a child of God can fall from grace and ultimately be lost, and (b) there will be a greater level of culpability at the judgment for apostates than for those who never obeyed the truth (cf. Matthew 11:20ff; Luke 12:47-48; Hebrews 10:28-29).

The Last Enemy
In Paul’s marvelous chapter in defense of the bodily resurrection of the dead, the apostle proclaims, “The last enemy that shall be abolished is death” (1 Corinthians 15:26). Several truths may be extracted from this compact text.

Death is personified as an enemy. In Greek, the terms “hate” and “enemy” derive from the same root. Death is the result of Satan’s malicious hatred of both God and man (cf. Matthew 13:39). This enemy is the “murderer” of the human family (John 8:44).

Death is an enemy that ravages our mortal bodies. It robs of beauty, strength, and dignity. It immerses humanity in suffering. It steals our loved ones from us. It saps the strength of nations. It takes but never gives. Its monstrous appetite is never satiated.

The verb rendered “shall be abolished” (katargeitai) is present, passive form—literally, is being destroyed. This generally is regarded as a form that expresses “certain futurity,” conveying a tone of confidence; it does not merely predict—it affirms (Lenski 1963, 679). Some suggest it may also hint of a “process now being conducted” (Green 1907, 298). Death is “swallowed up in victory” (1 Corinthians 15:54), and Christ is the Victor! And his people share in the fruits of that victory.

The Last Day
Five times in the Gospel of John there is a record of Jesus speaking of the last day of human history (see John 6:39, 40, 44, 54; 12:48), together with an additional reference to the last day by Martha (11:24). Some important truths can be extracted from this collection of texts.

Both the resurrected righteous (John 6:39-40) and the resurrected wicked (John 12:48) will be brought forth on the last day. Accordingly, the dogma of premillennialism is false, for it asserts that there is one resurrection for the righteous and another (one thousand years later) for the wicked. Logically, there cannot be two last days. This theory is also contradicted by Jesus’ affirmation that all of the dead will be raised in the same “hour” (John 5:28-29). Likewise there is Paul’s declaration that there is but a “resurrection” (singular) for both the just and the unjust (Acts 24:15).

Since both the resurrection of the body and the day of judgment are to occur on the last day (John 11:24; 12:48), and as the last day has not yet occurred, the doctrine of radical preterism is demonstrated to be false. (This is the idea, alleged by a few misguided souls, that the second coming of Christ, the resurrection of the dead, the judgment day, and the end of the world all occurred in A.D. 70 at the time of Jerusalem’s destruction. The proponents of this view, of course, redefine these events to conform to their own theological agenda.)

A simple study of the term “last” is rewarding indeed, and this is but a sampling of the treasures that lie beneath the surface of the English Testament.

For further information see our books, The A.D. 70 Theory – A Review of the Max King Doctrine, and Treasures from the Greek New Testament. Both are available from Christian Courier Publications. Call toll free: 1-888-818-2463.

Alford, Henry. n.d.. The New Testament for English Readers. Chicago, IL: Moody.

Carson, D. A. 1984. Matthew. The Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Vol. 8. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Clandish, Robert S. 1989. Studies in First Corinthians 15. Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel.

Green, Samuel. 1907. Handbook to the Grammar of the Greek Testament. London, England: Religious Tract Society.

Lenski, R. C. H. 1963. The Interpretation of First and Second Corinthians. Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg.

Thayer, J. H. 1958. Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. Edinburgh, Scotland: T. & T. Clark.

Trench, R. C. 1877. Notes on the Parables of Our Lord. London, England: Macmillan.

A Confirming Evidence of Bible Inspiration

Brevity – A Confirming Evidence of Bible Inspiration

October 6, 2006

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It is almost in the genetic nature of biographers and popular journalists to string together miles of words in the depiction of significant historical events. This particularly is true when tragedy is involved. The word flow is extrapolated even more when brutal conduct is under consideration. Man’s inhumanity to his fellows has stained millions of pages of literature — both ancient and modern. A single example should suffice to illustrate the point.

President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas at 12:30 p.m. CST on Friday, November 22, 1963. This incident, of but a few seconds, has been called a defining moment in history. Tons of paper have been utilized in newspaper accounts, magazine articles, and books describing the details of this day of horror in American history. Examples of this sort of journalistic fervor could be multiplied countless times. I mention this to establish the background for a very important point I wish to make.

The Trials of Paul
Aside from the Lord Jesus Christ himself, Paul is the most prominent character adorning the pages of the New Testament. Tracing the apostle’s movements throughout the book of Acts is a fascinating investigation. The more one studies the matter, however, the more apparent it becomes that Luke’s record in Acts is extremely abbreviated — and that, quite obviously, by divine design.

The chronology of the New Testament is by no means a precise science. Following the systems set forth by Thompson (823ff), McRay (73ff), Williams (299), and others (with some slight variation among them), Paul’s conversion has been dated at c. A.D. 34 (some four years after the death of Christ). Finegan puts the crucifixion of Jesus at A.D. 33, and the conversion of Paul at 36 (395).

During the apostle’s second missionary journey, he established the church at Corinth and remained with that congregation for eighteen months (c. 49-51; Acts 18:1-11). While on his third campaign (18:23ff), Paul wrote a letter to the church in Corinth, commonly called First Corinthians (c. early 53). Finally, later that year, the tireless traveler dispatches another epistle to this church — Second Corinthians.

Thus, between the time of Paul’s conversion, and the date of Second Corinthians, there is a span of some 20 to 23 years (allowing for some flexibility in the dating). Remember this; it will be important as we develop our argument.

Baffling Brevity
In his monumental work, Evidences of Christianity, completed in 1886, J.W. McGarvey, who served as Professor of Sacred History at Kentucky University, contended that one of the “confirmatory” evidences of the credibility of the New Testament, is the “brevity” that characterizes the records (219ff). He focused especially upon the four Gospel Accounts.

In this article, our focus will be a small section in Second Corinthians.

As noted above, the approximate time between Paul’s conversion, and the penning of Second Corinthians, was about 20 years or slightly more. This period of time begins with Acts 9:1, and concludes at 20:1, with Paul’s arrival in Macedonia (cf. 2 Corinthians 2:13b; 7:5). This segment embraces a total of 411 verses that span the two decades.

When one considers that a considerable portion of this material involves single events (cf., for example, the episode relating to Cornelius – 10:1-11:18 — 66 verses; and the Judaizing problem in chapter 15 – 29 verses), it is a startling revelation to contemplate how much historical information in this span has been excluded from the sacred record purposefully. Luke was extremely selective! Let me illustrate this.

Paul’s Defense of His Apostleship
In Second Corinthians 10:1 through13:10, the renowned apostle defends his apostolic authority against certain critics. These people obviously claimed superiority over Paul. As a portion of his argument, the tireless missionary is willing to lay his credentials of dedication down by the side of his agitators! He thus writes:

“Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as one beside himself) I more; in labors more abundantly, in prisons more abundantly, in stripes above measure, in deaths often. Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day have I been in the deep; in travels often, in perils of rivers, in perils of robbers, in perils from my countrymen, in perils from the Gentiles, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; in labor and travail, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness” (11:23-27).

In these four verses (only 78 words in the Greek text), there is far more not said, than said. Let us, therefore, give consideration to a few of these phrases, as chronicled by God’s messenger to the Gentiles.

In Prisons
Paul declares that he was “in prisons more abundantly” than his opponents. Note the plural form, “prisons.” The term rendered “more abundantly” signifies more in number and greater in intensity.

In the life of Paul up to this point, however, there is only one recorded imprisonment — that in Philippi (Acts 16:23ff). The imprisonments at Jerusalem, Caesarea, and Rome will not come until later (Acts 21-28).

When and where, then, were these imprisonments? How long were they? What were the horrors connected with them? The Spirit of God chose not to detail them, though we might long to know. Apparently, the case in Acts 16 is sufficient to make the point.

Stripes are marks or wounds left by blows (cf. Acts 16:23). These could be implemented by “rods” or by the lash. With reference to the latter, some authorities suggest that the offender was laid on the ground and beaten in the presence of a judge (McClintock, 789). At a later period the, Jewish Mishnah provides another picture:

“The minister of the synagogue was to stand on a raised stone inflicting the blows ‘with all his might,’ using a redoubled calf strap, to which two other straps were attached. Thirteen blows were delivered to the chest and twenty-six to the back. The severity of this beating can be inferred from the provisions made in the event the offender defecated, urinated, or even died as a result of their blows” (Barnett, 542).

Paul declares he had received “stripes above measure.” He then is more specific: “Of the Jews five times I received forty stripes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods.” The expression “in deaths often,” in addition to many harrowing episodes, probably denotes how close to death he came during these beatings.

Back to our main point: on not a single page of the New Testament is there mention of Paul’s five floggings by the Jews (a total of 195 stripes). In this connection we should mention that the Jews did not always require the full complement of forty stripes. The authorities could not go over forty (Deuteronomy 25:3), but they were not required to go that far. Nonetheless, in each case, Paul received the full measure — a commentary on the intensity of Jewish hate for the man of God.

Paul mentions that three times he was beaten with rods. This was the Roman method of punishment, and it was not limited to a prescribed number of stripes. The incident at Philippi (Acts 16) accounts for one of these episodes, but what of the other two. When were they inflicted, and for what reason? The record is completely silent — an exceedingly strange circumstance — from a biographer’s viewpoint.

How could Luke possibly restrain himself in providing some of the details of these bloody occasions? Did Christian brothers rush in to retrieve the unconscious warrior? Did gentle sisters minister to his emaciated frame? Was Luke, the beloved physician (Colossians 4:14), present at any of these beatings — aside from the time at Philippi (cf. the use of first person pronouns, beginning at Acts 16:10)? We clamor for the facts but the Spirit was mute! How very unlikely if the narrative was solely human in composition.

As the apostle continues his list of hardships in the Master’s service, he briefly mentions that once he was “stoned.” Doubtless this alludes to the incident at Lystra on the first missionary campaign (Acts 14:19). But in this letter to Corinth he provides no details whatever. The next reference is even stranger.

Paul declares: “three times I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day in the deep.” We know of the shipwreck that occurred when the apostle was en route to Rome, appealing his legal case to Caesar (Acts 27:1-28:16), but this came several years later.

As observed earlier, these three incidents had to have occurred between the time of his conversion (Acts 9), and the writing of Second Corinthians from Macedonia (Acts 20:1-2). One can easily trace Paul’s known sea travels by consulting maps of the apostle’s three missionary journeys, involving the Mediterranean and Aegean seas. But in the book of Acts there is not a trace of these calamities. It is as if the sea itself consigned the terrifying events into the depths of oblivion.

What historian, left to his personal passions, would have omitted these dramatic incidents? And what of that “night and day in the deep”? How could one possibly fail to set forth the circumstances of that life-threatening danger? Were there other survivors? Were any of the apostle’s companions with him? How was he rescued?

Our souls agonize for the details! Why were they not provided? The answer is a simple one — the minute details of these incidents were not essential to the glorious plan of human redemption being revealed!

If one cannot see the restraint that shrouded the sacred narratives, and acknowledge the calm hand of the Spirit of God in the composition of the New Testament documents, he lacks considerable perception — both of the feverish impulses of journalists, and of the nature of sacred literature.

Barnett, Paul (1997), The Second Epistle to the Corinthians (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans).

Finegan, Jack (1998), Handbook of Biblical Chronology (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson).

McClintock, John & James Strong (1970 edition), Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature (Grand Rapids: Baker), Vol. VIII.

McGarvey, J.W. (1956 edition), Evidences of Christianity (Nashville: Gospel Advocate), Vol. IV.

McRay, John (2003), Paul – His Life and Teaching (Grand Rapids: Baker).

Thompson, W.R. (1975), The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible, Merrill C. Tenney, Ed. (Grand Rapids: Zondervan), Vol. 1.

Williams, David (1999), Paul’s Metaphors – Their Context and Character (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson).


False Charges Against Creationism

June 16, 2009

When one encounters an ideological position with which he disagrees, there are several possible reactions. He could reflect honestly upon the new idea, carefully research it, and give it an honest evaluation. That certainly would be the noble thing to do. Then again he might, if the viewpoint makes him uncomfortable, simply ignore it, hoping it will go away.

On the other hand he may, as a result of intense philosophical bias, immediately reject it with a vengeance. In such a case, it is possible that one may so despise a teaching that he will caricature it. That is, he will present it in an absurd light so that, hopefully, he can deter others from even giving it consideration.

Unfortunately, this latter approach has been demonstrated repeatedly in the modern creation-evolution controversy. Evolutionists (and religionists who have been influenced significantly by them) constantly misrepresent biblical creationism in the effort to bolster their own faltering cause. In this article, I propose to highlight some of these spurious attempts to discredit the biblical teaching regarding the doctrine of creation.

Charge: Creationists believe that the world was created in 4004 B.C.
Response: John Lightfoot (1602-1675), a Hebraist of Cambridge University, once suggested that the creation events of Genesis 1 transpired the week of October 18-24, 4004 B.C., with Adam being made on October 23 at 9:00 in the morning (Ramm 1954, 174). For this speculation, of course, there is absolutely no support. Nevertheless, this incident has been resurrected repeatedly by evolutionists (both atheistic and theistic) in an attempt to discredit modern creationism. There simply is no validity to this charge or tactic. What creationists do contend is this:

First, the Bible clearly indicates that both the earth and the human family came into existence during the same week. The earth, in its rudimentary form, was created on the first day of the creation week (Genesis 1:1), and man and woman were fashioned on the sixth day of the same week (1:26ff).

Second, that initial week was a literal week of seven normal days. This is demonstrated by a consideration of Exodus 20:11 where it is apparent from the context that the days of the creation week were of the same type as the sabbath day, which every Hebrew was required to observe weekly.

Third, there are chronological data in the Scriptures which indicate that the human family, back to Adam (the first man [1 Corinthians 15:45]), has been in existence only several thousand years—certainly not millions of years, as evolutionists claim. While there may be some minor elasticity in the genealogical records (cf. Genesis 11:12; Luke 3:35-36), attempts to accommodate the biblical genealogies to evolutionary anthropology result in gross textual distortion. As J. Barton Payne noted, this concept “leaves the Bible’s detailed lists of figures as generally pointless” (1975, 831).

Charge: The creationist concept of a relatively young earth is the result of a millennialist theology.
Response: This argument generally is employed to intimidate those who reject the notion of premillennialism (as well they should), but who are inclined to accept the Genesis record at face value, thus accepting the fact that all living kinds were made within the same creation week. An example of this ploy is seen in the following allegation: In referring to “scientific creationism,” one compromising writer alleged that “the theological basis of most” of this type of teaching is the result of “the close association with millennial tradition” (Clayton 1993, 20; see Sears 1983, 415, for the same charge). Of course, not a word of proof was offered for this baseless charge, because there is none.

There is absolutely no intrinsic connection between the affirmation that the entire creation was accomplished in six literal days—a truth clearly set forth in the Scriptures—and the theological speculation (with no semblance of scriptural support) that Christ will return to the earth and reign for one thousand years on David’s throne in Jerusalem. I have dealt with this matter more specifically elsewhere (Jackson 1985, 17-20). We are gratified that agnostic writer Ronald Numbers, in his book, The Creationists, has noted correctly that the writings issuing from Apologetics Press—of which I was co-founder and board president for many years—have not been associated with any type of premillennial assumptions (1992, 315).

Charge: Creationists believe that God specifically made each individual species of plant and animal life.
Response: While some writers of the past argued for the fixity of species, modern creationist scholars do not. Those who have given ample study to the biblical text and who have confidence in its reliability simply affirm, in the language of Scripture, that God made all biological organisms “after their kind”’ (Genesis 1:11ff). The term “kind” (Hebrew, min) is employed thirty-one times in the Old Testament (ten times in the initial chapter of the Bible). It is a generic word that certainly allows for considerable biological modification. As professor W. H. Rusch has observed: “There is absolutely no justification for equating this Genesis ‘kind’ with the species of the biologist” (1959, 14).

In Leviticus 11:16, Moses referred to “the owl . . . after his kind,” and yet there are more than 250 known species of owls. The original dog family probably included the potential for producing the more than two hundred different breeds of domestic dogs, the Australian dingoes, coyotes, wolves, jackals, foxes, and maybe even hyenas (though these animals now are classified as different species). Walter Kaiser has commented:

God created the basic forms of life called min which can be classified according to modern biologists and zoologists as sometimes species, sometimes genus, sometimes family or order. This gives no support to the classical evolutionist view which requires developments across kingdom, phyla, and classes (1980, 503-504).

What creationists insist is this: the Bible does not allow for the notion that all biological life forms have descended from a common ancestor (or even a few initial forms). Invertebrates do not produce vertebrates; fish do not evolve into reptiles; reptiles do not become birds; birds are not transformed into mammals, etc. Creationists believe that both Scripture and science support horizontal variation within basic kinds, not vertical evolution. There is a vast difference between the two.

Charge: Creationists are anti-science.
Response: There is no truth to this charge. The fact of the matter is, creationists recognize that science deals with present phenomena; this discipline, by the very nature of its methodology, is incapable of determining events-processes that transpired thousands of years ago. Paul Weiss expressed it like this:

All science begins with observation, the first step of the scientific method. At once this delimits the scientific domain; something that cannot be observed cannot be investigated by science (1965, 411).

It is a scientific fact that water freezes at 32°F. It is not a scientific fact that biological life was spontaneously generated a few billion years ago. Such a notion is evolutionary speculation. Self-confessed agnostic Robert Jastrow has addressed this very point:

Perhaps the appearance of life on the earth is a miracle. Scientists are reluctant to accept that view, but their choices are limited; either life was created on the earth by the will of a being outside the grasp of scientific understanding, or it evolved on our planet spontaneously, through chemical reactions occurring in nonliving matter lying on the surface of the planet.

The first theory places the question of the origin of life beyond the reach of scientific inquiry. It is a statement of faith in the power of a Supreme Being not subject to the laws of science.

The second theory is also an act of faith. The act of faith consists in assuming that the scientific view of the origin of life is correct, without having concrete evidence to support that belief (1977, 52).

Creationists do not reject genuine (proven) facts of science. What they do dispute are unsupported theories that have been designed to explain those facts. For instance, it is a fact that there are certain similarities between the bone structures of animals and men. However, it is an unsubstantiated speculation to suggest that this indicates that humans evolved from animals. Creationists are not opposed to true science.

Additionally, it is worthy of mention that many of the greatest minds in the history of science have been committed firmly to the idea of supernatural creation. Men like Newton, Pasteur, Kepler, Lister, Boyle, Pascal, and others—household names in science—were not atheists; they believed that science and the concept of creation were quite compatible. It is the worst form of misrepresentation to suggest that those who believe in creation are anti-science (see Jackson 1993, 25-27).

Charge: Creationists take the Bible literally.
Response: When the charge is made that creationists take the Bible literally, the aim is to leave a negative impression. It is implied subtly that a literal perception of the biblical text reflects an antiquated, uneducated viewpoint. The truth is, such an allegation hints of the inclination to interpret the Genesis record in a symbolic (mythological) way. The real motive behind such an ambition is to accommodate the Mosaic record to Darwin’s evolutionary ideology. Two observations need to be made regarding this criticism:

First, there are no negative connotations per se associated with literalism. When the Declaration of Independence affirms that “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights,” it is a valid assumption that the term “men” denotes real human beings, and that the authors of this document believed that there is a literal Creator. It is quite reasonable to view this reference in a literal way. In fact, a basic rule of literature interpretation is this: a statement ought to be viewed as literal unless there are compelling reasons for rejecting a literal concept and assigning figurative meaning to the language. There is no reason to view the creation narrative as a figurative treatise. There is a solid body of evidence which indicates that a literal God literally created the entire literal universe in six literal days. Again, we insist there is nothing, except anti-supernatural bias, that searches for symbolism in Genesis 1.

Second, even literal and historical events can be depicted with figurative terminology without any sacrifice of genuine historicity. When the Old Testament affirms that the Ten Commandments were written with the “finger of God,” even though we acknowledge that Jehovah is not physical, and thus anthropomorphism was employed to describe him, we still must conclude that God himself actually gave the Decalogue in a miraculous fashion. When Jesus foretold that he had a dreaded “cup” to drink, we recognize the symbolism, yet we are aware that the Savior literally was going to be subjected to the bitter pangs of Calvary. Thus, the charge of literalism against creationists is meaningless.

Charge: Creationists attempt to make the Bible a textbook on science.
Response: Again, the accusation is completely false, and, in reality, is a thinly-veiled suggestion that the Scriptures are not trustworthy in scientific matters. In logic, there is an invalid form of reasoning known as false obversion. Such a fallacy obtains when one attempts to draw a negative conclusion from a positive statement (or vice versa). For example, a salesman in New England had difficulty selling white eggs, because people were used to buying brown eggs. So, he inserted in his store window a sign that read: “Our eggs are guaranteed not to turn brown.” Of course, white eggs can be kept under refrigeration for six months without turning brown. But he wanted people to draw the inference that the brown eggs people were purchasing were once white eggs that had turned brown. He committed the fallacy of false obversion. Similarly, when critics charge: “The Bible is not a textbook on science,” they generally are suggesting that it is factually flawed in areas of science. They then have committed the same fallacy (see Dillow 1981, 1).

While it certainly is true that the Scriptures never were intended to be a textbook on biology, geology, chemistry, mathematics, etc., it is not the case that they contain blunders in these disciplines. For example, in its use of figurative language characteristic of apocalyptic literature, the book of Revelation suggests that twelve thousand people were “sealed” unto God from twelve different tribes of Israel. The reader has every right to expect that the total number of this symbolic company would be 144,000—which is exactly the figure given by the inspired writer (7:4).

The Bible is not a textbook on physics, but when it contends that the creation process is “finished” (Genesis 2:1), and thus by implication that nothing is being created currently, we are gratified to note that this is precisely what the first law of thermodynamics suggests.

And when the Scriptures affirm that the universe is “growing old” (Hebrews 1:11), we can expect that to be a statement of fact, as indeed the second law of thermodynamics confirms. Just because creationists contend that the Scriptures are accurate, even when touching on incidental matters of science, does not mean that they are attempting to make the Bible into a science textbook.

Charge: Creationists believe that dinosaurs never existed.
Response: A charge occasionally made against creationists, in an attempt to make them look ridiculous, is the assertion that these simple folk believe that dinosaurs never existed in the past. It is alleged that creationists contend that God merely placed dinosaur bones in the earth’s strata to make it appear that these huge creatures once roamed this planet. Can this accusation be documented from a solitary publication distributed by scholars of the creationist movement? It cannot.

While it may be true that a rare, uninformed religious person, who does not know how to deal with the issues surrounding the dinosaurs, will advance this uneducated opinion, it certainly is not representative of those who are well informed in Bible-science matters. The truth is, creationists have published a considerable body of excellent material dealing with dinosaurs. Actually, we teach a more balanced and correct view of the dinosaur phenomenon than do the evolutionists.

True creationists—and we refer to those who have not yielded to the compromises of theistic evolution—not only argue that dinosaurs lived upon the ancient earth, but also contend that these marvelous examples of God’s wisdom and power were contemporary with ancient humanity, and that very likely there are allusions to dinosaurs and other extinct reptiles in the Bible. The book of Job (40:15ff) very well may contain references to these creatures (see Jackson 1983, 85).

In conclusion we confidently affirm that the creationist case is quite strong and is not weakened by the misrepresentations of those who have no confidence in the Scriptures.

Clayton, John N. 1993. Book Reviews. Does God Exist? 209(2).

Dillow, Joseph C. 1981. The Waters Above. Chicago, IL: Moody.

Jackson, Wayne. 1983. The Book of Job. Abilene, TX: Quality Publishing.

Jackson, Wayne. 1985. Premillennialism and Biblical Creationism. Reason & Revelation, 5.

Jackson, Wayne. 1993. Are Faith and Science Compatible? Christian Courier, 29.

Jastrow, Robert. 1977. Until the Sun Dies. New York, NY: Warner.

Kaiser, Walter C. 1980. Kind. Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. Vol. 1. R. L. Harris, C. L. Archer, B. K. Waltke, eds. Chicago, IL: Moody.

Numbers, Ronald. 1992. The Creationists. New York, NY: Knopf.

Payne, J. Barton. 1975. Chronology of the Old Testament. Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible. Vol. 1. Merrill C. Tenney, ed. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

Ramm, Bernard. 1954. The Christian View of Science and Scripture. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans.

Rusch, Wilbert H. 1959. Darwinism, Science and the Bible. Darwin, Evolution, and Creation. Paul A. Zimmerman, ed. St. Louis, MO: Concordia.

Sears, Jack Wood. 1983. How The Worlds Were Framed. Studies in Hebrews. Dub McClish, ed. Denton, TX: Valid Publications.

Weiss, Paul. 1965. Elements of Biology New York, NY: McGraw Hill.

Thursday, June 04, 2009

The New Face of Heresy

The “Emerging Church”—The New Face of Heresy

May 5, 2009

Bookmark and Share Recently, Charles Colson, a leading evangelical writer, pointed out:

Last June a Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life survey found rampant doctrinal ignorance among American Christians. Fifty-seven percent of evangelicals believed people who follow religions other than their own can enjoy eternal life. The results were so unexpected that Pew repeated the survey, asking more specific questions. The answers were virtually unchanged. Astonishingly, about half believed that everyone, atheists included, was going to end up in heaven. Heaven for the godless? That’s the old heresy of universalism (2009).

The thinking of many who profess an identification with some form of “Christianity” has become mushy indeed. Here is a typical comment from a student of the so-called neo-evangelical community.

It is not now, nor was it at the time of the reformation, the correct teaching or doctrine which brought the reformation. It was being willing to challenge the Church with living out the doctrine which mattered most. Today we need a reformation of less teaching and more living (emphasis added).

This statement is senseless. How about more teaching and better living? How can there be correct living without proper teaching?

If we may borrow an expression from Solomon, “there is no new thing under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9); the same old heresies just undergo superficial theological cosmetic surgery—or to use another metaphor, they are recycled. Let us reflect upon several old ideas with new faces.

Universalism asserts that there will be the final and complete salvation of all beings. The dogma was taught by some of the early church writers, e.g., Clement and Origen of Alexandria, who lived in the mid-second to mid-third centuries A.D. There is no biblical basis for this dogma (see The Growing Trend Toward Universalism). Yet most folks seem to be inclining to the notion that almost everyone—if not literally everyone—will be saved ultimately.

The expression “postmodernism” is not found in Van Harvey’s book, A Handbook of Theological Terms, published in 1968. It is a relatively new designation. Postmodernism denies universal truth. Supposedly, truth is how each individual feels about things, not how they really are. Hence, supposedly there is no exclusive, true gospel. The facts of Christianity must be redefined by a new vocabulary in preaching, writing, and worship. This is a wrong-headed ideology.

The Emerging Church
The so-called “emerging church” is the stepchild of postmodernism. This ideology contends it is arrogant to believe that one knows the truth; instead the “truth” is that truth is only determined subjectively, being fashioned by culture, not Scripture. Is this concept even remotely associated with a logical thought process?

It is contended that each person must find his own way to God, and not be addicted to “bibliolatry.” This sounds like the philosophy of those rebels who lived in the dark ages of Israel’s history (Judges 21:25). The “emergist” believes all are arrogant who do not subscribe to his elastic view of truth. He absolutely knows one cannot know absolute truth.

Several of these aberrant ideas have found their way into churches that once were conservative. For example, it is argued by an increasing number that we cannot declare as gospel truth that those are wrong who disagree with our “traditional” teaching. All teaching is now declared to be mere tradition.

What difference does it make whether one believes that baptism is “*for* [unto, to obtain] the remission of sins,” or whether it is “*because of* remission of sins.” It is alleged that gospel preachers of bygone years who debated with the sectarians on the design of baptism were misguided. Some are contending that the mode of baptism is irrelevant; sprinkling is as valid as immersion, and those baptized as infants must not be excluded from Christian fellowship. To speak of a "non-immersion baptism” is an oxymoron, because “baptize” by definition signifies “to immerse.”

“Emerging” churches are restructuring the worship format. The Lord’s supper is being offered in conjunction with special events, e.g., weddings. The communion memorial is not restricted to the Lord’s day; instead groups step beyond the biblical pattern and provide it on weekdays, ignoring a New Testament that is undergirded with historical truth, namely the Lord’s resurrection on Sunday.

The music issue is wide open among a growing number of churches. A prominent church in Dallas (that once hosted a respected school of preaching) recently advertised for a “minister of music.” One of the stipulations was that he must be able to play the guitar or the electronic keyboard. Choirs, praise teams, clapping to accompany singing, etc., are becoming standard fare in a number of churches. Performance is rapidly supplementing congregational worship. Biblical authority yields to emotionalism. It is the new “will-worship” (Colossians 2:23).

These are trying times for the body of Christ. But it is not a time for despair. Instead, courageous men and women must keep the ship of Zion on a straight (and strait) course within the boundaries of divine truth. Truth will prevail in spite of the winds of change—and irrelevant statistics.

Colson, Charles and Anne Morse. 2009. Doctrine Bears Repeating. http://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2009/april/10.72.html.

One Sick Animal----or is it an Animal!

California Supreme Court Upholds “Marriage” Constitutional Amendment
by Kevin Cain, M.Min, J.D.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: The following article was written by one of A.P.’s auxiliary staff writers who holds a M.Min from Freed-Hardeman University and a J.D. from the South Texas College of Law.]

In Strauss v. Horton, a controversial and highly publicized case, the California Supreme Court recently handed down a surprising decision upholding a California constitutional amendment that states, “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California.” This case involved a constitutional challenge to California’s Proposition 8, the subject of considerable news coverage during the election in November 2008. The 6-1 decision written by Chief Justice Ron George was issued on Tuesday, May 26, 2009. However, upon closer examination of the court’s opinion, the purported victory may be a victory only in semantics.

This high-profile case is the product of legal wrangling and posturing that has been going on in California for some time now. In 2004, the California Supreme Court ruled in Lockyer v. City and County of San Francisco that public officials in San Francisco acted unlawfully when they issued marriage licenses to homosexual couples. However, the court emphasized that the question of the constitutional validity of California’s current marriage statutes (which limited marriage to a man and a woman) was not before the court at that time (Lockyer v. City..., 2004). In other words, the court was politely soliciting a constitutional challenge to the California statute limiting marriage to a union between a man and woman.

Not surprisingly, the issue of the constitutionality of California’s marriage law was addressed in In re Marriage Cases in 2008. In that case, the court held that homosexual couples are entitled to the protection of the constitutional right to marry contained in the privacy and due process provisions of the Constitution of California. The California Supreme Court reasoned that by granting access to the designation or title of “marriage” to opposite-sex couples and denying such access to same-sex couples, the California marriage statutes violated the privacy and due process rights of same-sex couples and violated their right to the equal protection guaranteed by the Constitution of California (In re Marriage Cases, 2008).

In response to the Marriage Cases, Proposition 8 was passed by a majority of California voters (52.3%) on November 4, 2008 (Strauss v. Horton, 2009). This proposition, which is now a part of the Constitution of California, states in its entirety, “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California” (Article I, Section7.5). There is no doubt but that Proposition 8 was a legitimate attempt to constitutionally overturn the holding in the Marriage Cases. However, the reach of that effort was significantly curtailed by the court’s recent holding in Strauss v. Horton.

In the March 2000 California election, the California Family Code was revised by Proposition 22 to include the following limitation on marriage: “Only marriage between a man and a woman is valid or recognized in California” (Section 308.5). This is the identical language adopted in Proposition 8. The difference between Proposition 22 in 2000 and Proposition 8 in 2008 is that Proposition 22 amended a California statute, while Proposition 8 amended the Constitution of California. The California Supreme Court held in the Marriage Cases that the California Family Code (amended by Proposition 22), which granted access to the designation “marriage” to only heterosexual couples, but not homosexual couples, was unconstitutional as it violated homosexual couples’ state constitutional rights of privacy, due process, and equal protection (In re Marriage Cases, 2008). The table was now set for Proposition 8, which upon being passed on November 4, 2008, was challenged in court the following day, November 5, 2008, in Strauss v. Horton (2009).

In Strauss v. Horton, the California Supreme Court went to great lengths to reaffirm its holding in the Marriage Cases, and described its holding in the present case as a mere narrow exception to the rule in the Marriage Cases that it is unconstitutional to limit marriage to heterosexual couples. The court went to great lengths to emphasize that the new constitutional amendment “refers only to ‘marriage’ and does not address the right to establish an officially recognized family relationship, which may bear a name or designation other than ‘marriage.’” This was based on the conclusion that “the language of [Proposition 8], on its face, does not purport to alter or affect the more general holding in the Marriage Cases that same-sex couples, enjoy the constitutional right, under the privacy and due process clauses of the California Constitution, to establish an officially recognized family relationship” (Strauss v. Horton). Simply put, Proposition 8 only eliminated the right of homosexual couples to the designation of “marriage” without “otherwise affecting the constitutional right of those couples to establish an officially recognized family relationship” (Strauss v. Horton).

The issue then remained as to what to do with those homosexual “marriages” that took place in California after Proposition 8 was passed. The court estimated that 18,000 “marriages” were entered into by homosexual couples after Proposition 8 was passed until this court’s opinion was released on May 26, 2009. The court held that the amendment, without explicit language to the contrary, must be applied prospectively and not retroactively. That is, the amendment would only be applied as of May 26, 2009, and all homosexual “marriages” after November 4, 2008 and before May 26, 2009 would be recognized as “marriages” in the state of California.

To say that Proposition 8 was a controversial and high-profile matter in California is putting it lightly. The violence that stemmed from this election over Proposition 8 was a matter of public record, although it was somewhat difficult for some to discover these facts due to the limited and biased media coverage. The legal interest in this case was overwhelming. First, the opinion generated by the California Supreme Court was 185 pages. The list of attorneys, special-interest groups, and law firms representing the pro-homosexual agenda in this suit was remarkable (373 attorneys, 153 organizations, and 33 law firms representing the pro-homosexual position; compared with 40 attorneys, 20 organizations, and 5 law firms representing the pro-Proposition 8 position). In other words, this was a highly anticipated and hard-fought legal battle, although somewhat lopsided.

The problem here is not that this purported “victory” for conservative groups appears to be a matter of semantics over the use of the term “marriage.” The problem here is not that the attorneys, special interest groups, and law firms representing the homosexual agenda far outnumber their opponents. The real problem is the fundamental way this battle is being fought. There are numerous legal arguments over the constitutionality of statutes, propositions, equal rights, due process, strict scrutiny, and other terms of legalese. For the moment, the majority of the people support the biblical definition of marriage. History shows that the majority may soon dwindle and marriage laws could be reversed. So the pressing question is where is the call to morality, ethics, godliness, Christianity, and Scripture? In the midst of all this debate about a homosexual lifestyle, there appears to be little to no attention given to these spiritual matters that really count—the very matters that the Framers of the Constitution shared and defended (cf. Miller, 2003). If we continue to fight worldly battles with worldly weapons, worldly arguments, and worldly wisdom, we may occasionally win a battle, but we will ultimately lose the war. “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh, but divinely powerful for the destruction of fortresses. We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:4-5, NASB). Paul did not use the enticing words of man’s wisdom, but preached Jesus Christ and Him crucified so that the Corinthians’ faith would not rest in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God (1 Corinthians 2:1-5).

This lawsuit is evidence of the culture war that is escalating around us. It is taking place in our capitals, in our legislatures, in our courts, in our schools, in our neighborhoods, and in our homes and churches. A Christian has four choices: (1) fight on the wrong side; (2) remain neutral (which means you are lending unwitting support to the wrong side whether you realize it or not [Matthew 27:24]); (3) fight with the wrong weapons; or (4) fight with the right weapons. I have often heard the phrase, “Don’t bring a knife to a gun fight.” If you are fighting in the culture war that is raging, are you fighting with a proverbial knife when those around you wield superior fire-power?

We must fight, but not physically. Those who resort to physical violence when purportedly taking the “Christian” perspective are clearly in error and do great harm to the cause of Christ. The Bible teaches us not only to correct those in error, but to do so lovingly (Ephesians 4:15). Jesus told Peter to put up his sword because Christ’s kingdom is not of this world, and because those who live by the sword will die by the sword (Matthew 26:52; John 18:36). Moreover, we are commanded to love and pray for our enemies (Matthew 5:44; Romans 12: 17-21). In light of these admonitions, are you fighting in the battle, and are you fighting with the right weapons?

It is time to rally the troops and prepare for war. So, love your enemies and pray for them. Pray for their souls; pray for their hearts to be softened; pray for doors of opportunity to be opened so that God may be glorified. Therefore...

Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, take up the full armor of God, that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming missiles of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. With all prayer and petition pray at all times in the Spirit, and with this in view, be on the alert with all perseverance and petition for all the saints, and pray on my behalf, that utterance may be given to me in the opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains; that in proclaiming it I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak (Ephesians 6:11-20, NASB).

May we use these weapons boldly and fearlessly, use them with love, but most important, use them.

California Family Code, [On-line], URL: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=fam&group=00001-01000&file=300-310.

Constitution of California, [On-line], URL: http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/.const/.article_1.

In re Marriage Cases, 43 Cal.4th 757 (Cal. 2008).

Lockyer v. City and County of San Francisco, 33 Cal.4th 1055 (Cal. 2004).

Miller, Dave (2003), “The Founders on Homosexuality,” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/3769.

Strauss v. Horton, (Cal. May 26, 2009), [On-line], URL: http://www.courtinfo.ca.gov/opinions/documents/S168047.PDF.


Ida—A Missing Link?
by Eric Lyons, M.Min. and Kyle Butt, M.A.

It has been called, not just “a discovery of great significance” (“The Link,” 2009), but the “most significant scientific discovery of recent times” (Leonard, 2009, emp. added). Some scientists claim “it will finally confirm irrefutably Sir Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution” (Leonard, 2009, emp. added). Dr. Jens Lorenz Franzen of Senckenberg Research Institute in Germany referred to it as “the eighth wonder of the world” (as quoted in Scally, 2009), and confidently proclaimed: “When our results are published, it will be just like an asteroid hitting the Earth” (“The Link”). Apparently, Google was so enamored with the find that on May 20 the search engine mogul incorporated an illustration of the animal into its logo. So what’s all the hoopla about? “Our earliest ancestor,” of course (“The Link”). At least, that is what some evolutionists and their friends in the media are telling everyone.
Dubbed Ida (pronounced Ē-da), this 23-inch, lemur-like fossil found in a quarry near Frankfurt, Germany is reportedly the “most complete fossil primate ever discovered” (“Did a Strangely...,” 2009). That, in and of itself, is noteworthy. And, if that was all that was being reported about the fossil, there would be no controversy. Unfortunately, however, some evolutionists have placed the fossil on the Darwinian pedestal.

What can be said about all of Ida’s fanfare? First, no concrete proof has been given (nor can logically be given) for dating the fossil at “47 million years old.” [All evolutionary dating is based upon circular reasoning and/or built-in assumptions (see “The Geologic...,” 2003; DeYoung, 2005; Woodmorappe, 1999).] Second, the “proof” that the animal is an ancient ancestor of humans is nothing more than evolutionists’ speculation about the fossil. Obviously, since evolutionists believe that all humans evolved from fish, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals over multiplied millions of years, any number of fossil finds could be served up as “evidence” for evolution, when in fact, the fossils are simply the remains of once-living animals—nothing more, nothing less.

In truth, scientific laws such as the Law of Biogenesis preclude the possibility of Darwinian evolution. The DNA molecule and the mind-boggling complexity of the information it contains defy a naturalistic origin. In addition, the problem of human consciousness evolving from inorganic chemicals has never been adequately answered by the Darwinian camp. The fact is, Darwinians cannot prove that humans (or any other organisms) evolved from lower life forms, much less prove that Ida is our ancient ancestor. [NOTE: For a thorough refutation of alleged human evolution, see Harrub and Thompson, 2003).

Third, and perhaps most telling, is the fact that many in the evolutionists own camp have “questioned the conclusions of Hurum and his colleagues about how closely it [Ida—EL/KB] is related to ancestors of monkeys and humans” (Ritter, 2009). John Fleagle, distinguished professor at the State University in New York, referred to the scientists’ analysis of Ida as “‘a pretty weak link’ between the new creature and higher primates” (as quoted in Ritter). “Quite frankly,” Fleagle said, “It doesn’t really tell us much about anthropoid origins” (as quoted in Ritter). In an article appearing in New Scientist titled “Why Ida Fossil is not the Missing Link” (emp. added), Chris Beard, curator of vertebrate paleontology at the Carnegie Museum of Natural History, wrote:

In order to establish that connection [between Ida and anthropoids—EL/KB], Ida would have to have anthropoid-like features that evolved after anthropoids split away from lemurs and early primates. Here, alas, Ida fails miserably. So, Ida is not a “missing link”—at least not between anthropoids and more primitive primates. Further study may reveal her to be a missing link between other species of Eocene adapiforms, but this hardly solidifies her status as the “eighth wonder of the world” (2009, emp. added).
Beard added: “I actually don’t think it’s terribly close to the common ancestral line of monkeys, apes and people.... I would say it’s about as far away as you can get from that line and still be a primate” (as quoted in Ritter). He further stated that rather than a primate “aunt,” this creature is “more like a third cousin twice removed” (as quoted in Ritter). In his article that is favorable toward the find being an evolutionary link, Tom Leonard conceded: “She is not a direct ancestor of humans and monkeys but it provides a good indication of what such an animal may have looked like” (2009, emp. added). Chris Beard concluded his article by saying: “Instead, Ida is a remarkably complete specimen that promises to teach us a great deal about the biology of some of the earliest and least human-like of all known primates, the Eocene adapiforms” (2009, emp. added).
So, if Ida is not an evolutionary link between anything, what is “she”? Philip Gingerich, president elect of the Paleontological Society in the U.S., described the creature as “a young female adapid” (Naik, 2009). What are adapids? The Princeton University Web site WordNet defines the term as: “extinct small mostly diurnal lower primates that fed on leaves and fruit; abundant in North America and Europe 30 to 50 million years ago” (“Adapid,” n.d.). Notice that adapids are simply “lower primates.” Basically, Ida looks like a lemur that does not have a tooth comb or a grooming claw (Naik, 2009). Some have suggested that the creature did not have “a wet nose,” but Dr. Gingerich is on record as saying: “We can’t say whether it had a wet nose or not” (as quoted in Naik, 2009).

Creationists have long contended that you can divide all of the supposed links of human evolution into two easily identifiable groups—humans and non-humans. Ida is nothing more than a young primate, that happens to be the “least human-like of all known primates.” In truth, one of the most effective ways to assess this find is to simply look at a picture of it. It is easily identified as a cat-sized primate almost identical to a lemur. Any person who has not been indoctrinated with Darwinian teaching would never connect the creature to anything remotely human. We shudder to think what future generations who have shed the false Darwinian assumptions will say when they look back on such unscientific propaganda that so many in our society have embraced. “Ida” certainly did not give rise to humans, but it sure has made a monkey out of the media.

“Adapid” (no date), WordNet, [On-line], URL: http://wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn?s=adapid.

Beard, Chris (2009), “Why Ida Fossil is not the Missing Link,” New Scientist, May 21, [On-line], URL: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn17173-why-ida-fossil-is-not-the-missing-link.html.

DeYoung, Don (2005), Thousands...Not Billions (Green Forest, AR: Master Books).

“Did a Strangely Human-Like Primate Give Rise to Monkeys, Apes, and Us?” (2009), Discover, May 18, [On-line], URL: http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/2009/05/18/did-a-strangely-human-like-primate-give-rise-to-monkeys-apes-and-us/.

“The Geologic Timetable and the Age of the Earth” (2003), Apologetics Press, [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/pdfs/courses_pdf/hsc0304.pdf.

Harrub, Brad and Bert Thompson (2003), The Truth About Human Origins (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).

Leonard, Tom (2009), “Scientists Unveil Stunning Fossil,” Telegraph, [On-line], URL: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/5351315/Scientists-unveil-stunning-fossil.html.

“The Link” (2009), [On-line], URL: http://www.revealingthelink.com/.

Naik, Gautam (2009) “Fossil Discovery is Heralded,” The Wall Street Journal, [On-line], URL: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB124235632936122739.html.

Ritter, Malcolm (2009), “Early Skeleton Sheds Light on Primate Evolution,” Yahoo! News, May 20, [On-line], URL: http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090520/ap_on_sc/ancient_primate.

Scally, Derek (2009), “Fossil Ida a Crucial Finding for the Understanding of Early Human Evolution,” Irish Times, May 21, [On-line], URL: http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/world/2009/0521/1224247034331.html.

Woodmorappe, John (1999), The Mythology of Modern Dating Methods (El Cajon, CA: Institute for Creation Research).