There’s a bit of a problem that we face when we speak of an absolute standard of knowledge, however. The problem is that we must be able to know the standard. Being that the

English: a Venn diagram-like symbol for the Ch...

English: a Venn diagram-like symbol for the Christian Trinity (God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Spirit) Deutsch: Symbol der Dreifaltigkeit/Dreieinigkeit (blau: Dreifaltigkeit, türkis: Dreieinigkeit, grün: Monotheismus) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

standard is a person (after all, knowledge is a personal thing, thus the standard must be an absolute person), that person must be knowable.

If that standard is in every way one, we face a huge problem:

1. That person is unknowable, because He is wholly other than we are.

or

2. That person is just like everything and everyone else.

The former presents us with a distant and unknowable god.

The latter presents us with a god who is just as we are, and which permeates everything. That is pantheism. In the end, that god is unknowable, too.

If this standard- this absolute person- is to be knowable, and the standard of knowledge, the problem of the diversity of knowledge enters into the picture. After all, knowledge is a multi-faceted thing.

We are faced with a body of knowledge that is both one and yet many.

Only the Holy Scriptures of the Christians- the Bible- can deal with this issue. Therein is found the Creator-God who is both one, and yet plural in His oneness.

Not only is He one, but plural: He is triune. God is a tri-unity. There is one God who is three persons. Not three gods in one body. Not three distinct gods. Not one god in three manifestations or disguises. One God who is by nature and in being one, and yet He is three in persons. Those persons are distinct, but not separate. They are one, yet distinct.

This is the glorious truth of the Trinity.

It is only in this epistemology that we can actually know anything with certainty; because it is only in Scripture that God is revealed as Triune and as a revealer of Himself.

God is knowable. God is the God of relationships and revelation, because He is the epitome of relationships in His triune being. He also reveals Himself to Himself at all times, and He has condescended to reveal Himself to us in His Son, His Spirit, His Word, and His world.

Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:26-28 shows us that God is both singular and plural. This doctrine is developed and further revealed throughout the Scriptures. Had it not been revealed, we could know next to nothing of Him. And if we had not the Scriptures to guide us, we would have no way to fashion a true theory of knowledge. Yet, having the truth of God revealed to us in the Scriptures, we know that He is the absolute person who is the standard of truth, and we have the ability to know through Him who is the One God in three persons.

Any attempt to look at this world apart from this understanding of knowledge is destined to go wrong. It is the fear of the LORD that is the beginning of knowledge ( Proverbs 1:7 ).

 

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For the earth will be filled with the Knowledg...

For the earth will be filled with the Knowledge of GOD (Photo credit: jubileelewis)

Knowledge.

Is it possible? If not, how do you know that it isn’t? Hmmm…self-defeating isn’t it?

Certainty in knowledge? Is that possible? If not, are you certain of that? Self-defeating again, isn’t it?

If knowledge is possible, how? From where does it come? How can we have certainty?

Only Scripture gives us the answer.

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Genesis 1:1

There was a beginning. Before the beginning was God. He is the eternal Creator. There is none before Him or greater than He is.

This God must also be the source of knowledge, if He is the Creator of all things.

This God, being Creator of all, is also ruler of all. He is the Sovereign to whom we should all bow.

This means that He is also the arbiter of truth. He is truth. Truth and knowledge have no existence apart from Him.

This Creator God is the source of all human predication and knowledge. He is the sole arbiter of truth.

It is in the Bible that we find Him revealed. We find Him in the very first verse of Genesis.

Now, friend, you tell me whether I should take that verse as literal truth or not. If you are prepared to tell me that I need not take it literally, I must ask you how you think that you can know anything. How can you believe this very book, if you don’t take seriously and literally what is said by God Himself about Himself in this passage?

Without God as the absolute source of knowledge and sole arbiter of truth there would be no way to have truth at all. All would be relative. It would all be in flux. The result of that flux would be that someone (or group of people) would step in to make themselves the arbiter(s) of truth. There would be intellectual tyranny.

Interestingly enough that is what we see happening today. Why? Because man has, by and large, abandoned the understanding that God and His Word are the grounds of knowledge and truth. Having done so, there are those who have decided to play God and attempt to rule over our minds and consciences.

That sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge.” Proverbs 1:7

They also know God, yet suppress the truth in unrighteousness. ( Romans 1:18 )

 

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This is post number one in what will probably be a long series. This series is “The Big Picture In Little Bytes: God, Genesis, And All Of Life.”

What is it all about?

It is about God, first and foremost.

It is about the story of origin and how it fits in the grand scheme of Scripture.

It is about knowledge; where it comes from, the reality of absolute truth, and how that truth is revealed to mankind.

It is about life, morals, and law.

It is especially about the Gospel story of redemption and the coming Kingdom.

This series is about the Big Picture, and it will be in little bytes.

 

Knowledge and Truth

How do we know anything?

From whence knowledge?

Does truth exist?

Can we truly know anything? ( It is impossible to coherently argue the contrary. )

Where does it all begin?

It begins with, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” ( Genesis 1:1 )

God is the beginning of it all. He is the source of all. He is the Master and King of all. He is the judge and arbiter of all.

That means that this is primarily theological.

Yet, being theological does not mean that it is not immensely practical. We will deal with epistemology, theology, truth and morality, origins, bibliology, Christology, and origins.

“In the beginning God…”

The Alpha and Omega… there is none other. Revelation 22:13

A book inscribed with the Greek letters alpha ...

A book inscribed with the Greek letters alpha and omega. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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What Is the Meaning of Sex?What Is the Meaning of Sex? by Denny Burk

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Denny Burk has done the church a service in writing “What Is The Meaning Of Sex?”
The book is founded upon the understanding that we should give glory to God in all that we do.
Thus, Burk titles the chapters:
1. Glorify God With Your Body
2. Glorify God With Your Hermeneutic
3. Glorify God With Your Marriage
4. Glorify God With Your Conjugal Union
5. Glorify God With Your Family Planning
6. Glorify God With Your Gender
7. Glorify God With Your Sexuality
8. Glorify God With Your Singleness
Burk writes simply so that anyone can read and understand this book.
Burk also takes the Biblical stance concerning sexuality and upholds Biblical morals. That is what I expected, and I was not disappointed.
Burk seems to have been by no means afraid to take on the hard questions. Among those is the issue of how to understand the Scriptures. One’s hermeneutic certainly determines how he understands the Scriptures on sexuality. In “Glorify God With Your Hermeneutic” Burk contends for the complementarian’s approach to understanding the Scriptures regarding sexuality as opposed to the liberal and feminist approaches. I applaud him for doing so, as I believe that is most faithful to the whole of the Bible.
Burk also took on the hard question of gender. That does indeed get quite involved. I believe he handled the issue well, and I know he brought up some points that I had never considered.
I believe this book was written with a desire to give God glory and be of help to His people. I feel confident that it will accomplish that purpose. Burk is firm in his convictions, yet compassionate in his application of them.
The only negative that I find is the fact that the chapter on family planning seemed somewhat deficient in its approach to the issue of pill and large families. There seemed to be a bit of hesitance on Burk’s part in that chapter about the pill and whether or not it is acceptable. Furthermore, though Genesis chapter 38 is mentioned in at least two other places in the book, I cannot recall finding a mention of Onanism in this particular chapter.
On the whole, however, this book is a worthwhile read that I heartily recommend.
Thanks to Angela Cheatham of Crossway, who provided this review copy freely with no expectation or demand of a positive review.

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God creating the Sun, Moon and Earth, Michelan...

God creating the Sun, Moon and Earth, Michelangelo, from the Ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One would think there was a need for integrating our thoughts on various disciplines of study.

Being deemed a specialist seems to be the trend today. Ask yourself, however, if you were in Montana and had been drug by a horse, whether or not you would like to be attended to by a gastric specialist instead of an old fashioned general practitioner. I’d take the old family style doctor any day in that particular situation. In fact, I think I would do so in most situations.

Sadly we are faced with many specialists and few who have a generally good knowledge of many things.

There are those who specialize in science, languages, Old Testament, New Testament, mathematics, Bible, law, biology, and so on.

On the other hand, how many people actually have a broad knowledge of many fields in general?

I do not.

That, however, would be quite helpful.

I do try to read widely, but there is so much out there that I cannot possibly attain as much knowledge as I need.

Yet, in general, I have a need for a wide range of knowledge rather than a specialized knowledge. After all, a pastor is a general practitioner rather than one who specializes in a narrow field.

Now all of this rambling has  a point: we need to be a little more generalized in our studies. Our specialists need to have a broader base of knowledge, too.

Why?

This is so because people need to establish their worldview first of all. They need to know why they believe something. They also need to know a little about the effects of what they believe. They need to know the results of what they believe and how they affect things in fields beyond their specialty. If the specialist doesn’t do this, he is either selfish, ignorant, or simply careless. Either way, he is not being responsible.

Today there are many in academic and religious circles who circle the wagons around their specialties and do not consider the broader impact of what they present.

You say that you don’t think so? What about the so-called specialists in Ancient Near Eastern literature, or Old Testament who take the course that the Genesis account of Creation is a myth? There’s too little consideration of the effect that this has upon ethics, law, morals, epistemology, or even upon the reality of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Oh, there are answers that say this, or that, or the other. I have seen no serious accounting for the problems that are caused by their dismissal of the Creation Narrative as a historical narrative.

Furthermore, their reasoning is circular. They decide that modern science is correct, and proceed to deal with the Bible based upon the views of modern science. ( They seldom take into consideration that there is even a wide range of opinions on many things within the scientific community. That in itself makes the idea of the almost infallible nature of science an invalid idea. ) They never stop to realize that they are saying that something is so because science said it was so; and, because science said it was so, it is so.

The bigger failure is that they don’t take the time to consider the worldview that led to so much of the consensus that exists today. Consensus isn’t always correct. After all, when has truth been legislated into existence by majority vote? No, the great failure is that there is a refusal to see that there cannot be any way of knowing anything were it not for a sovereign Creator who is the source and arbiter of truth.

Sadly once we discard the narrative in which He creates all things, we are on a trail that logically ( though not inevitably, thankfully ) leads to our denial of the Creator, the denial of His moral standards, and the denial of absolute truth.

It is time that academia and the church return to considering the consequences of their ideas.

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Stepping Out in Faith: Former Catholics Tell Their StoriesStepping Out in Faith: Former Catholics Tell Their Stories by Mark Gilbert

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was an interesting and surprising book.
As former Roman Catholics tell their stories, we learn much about the effects of the theology of Catholicism.
Many of the contributors were raised Catholic. While there seems to have been some nominalism, others seem to have been quite devoted to the church of their childhood. All have one thing in common: that church did not satisfy them, nor did it lead them to Jesus Christ.
I had the misguided notion that the stories would speak of people who found that the theology of Roman Catholicism was lacking, so that they then left.
What I found was that they found that Catholicism left them empty. In other words, the issue was not first cerebral, but was a matter of heart.
Over and over the refrain is that the contributors wanted a relationship with God, but could not find it in Catholicism.
Over and over the contributors speak of reaching out to try to find a way to fill the emptiness, but never found it.
Each story tells of how that the contributor was blessed to be found of Christ and enjoy the relationship with Him that comes by God’s free grace.
The stories were quite moving at times. I was moved to tears more than once as I contemplated the struggles these people faced. It was a joy to read of their journeys that led them to faith in Jesus Christ alone.
The greatest lesson that I learned is that there is a need for all of us to recognize the needs of people. We cannot satisfy ourselves with rote “worship” services. Neither can we be satisfied with cold intellectualism. We certainly cannot rest upon our practices, principles, and religion. We must reach out to people’s hearts with Christ, who is the only one who can fill those empty places that we all have within us.

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Fundamentalism gets a bad rap.

To be honest, much that is called Fundamentalism is not historical Fundamentalism.

Fundamentalism was a broad movement that was essentially Reformed in theology and Trinitarian as well.

This means that much that is called Fundamentalism today is excluded.

Fundamentalism is Christian by nature.

That brings us to another issue. The issue that is missed in the discussion of Fundamentalism. That issue is why the historic Fundamentalists believed what they did.

Honestly, this is the major failing of “The Fundamentals”, the series of books. They, too fail to address this.

The Fundamental of Fundamentalism is the issue of worldview. Not only is it one formed by Scripture, but it is formed by Scripture because we cannot expect to be able to communicate and reason if Scripture were not true.

Stop and think about that, would you?

Without a sovereign, unchanging, Creator God who is true, from whence knowledge?

Without this God being one and yet Triune, how do we deal with the issue of the body of knowledge being both one body, yet many faceted?

Only the Triune God of Scripture, the Christian God, fits our need. He alone is the ground of predication.

In Scripture alone do we have an infallible record of Him.

Once depart from this worldview, and all hell breaks loose in academia and in the world.

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Old Testament and Ethics, The: A Book-by-Book SurveyOld Testament and Ethics, The: A Book-by-Book Survey by Joel B. Green

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Book info:
From the Back Cover
The acclaimed Dictionary of Scripture and Ethics (DSE), written to respond to the movement among biblical scholars and ethicists to recover the Bible for moral formation, offered needed orientation and perspective on the vital relationship between Scripture and ethics. The Old Testament and Ethics utilizes material from the DSE to introduce students to the use of the Old Testament for moral formation. This handy book-by-book survey of the Old Testament contains key articles written by leading scholars and targeted to the needs of the classroom. It will serve as an excellent supplementary text in Old Testament courses.

Contributors
Samuel L. Adams
Bruce C. Birch
Mark J. Boda
William P. Brown
M. Daniel Carroll R.
Stephen B. Chapman
Linda Day
David A. deSilva
Chip Dobbs-Allsopp
Michael W. Duggan
Barbara Green
Joel B. Green
Daniel J. Harrington
L. Daniel Hawk
Else K. Holt
Brad E. Kelle
Micah D. Kiel
Ralph W. Klein
Jacqueline E. Lapsley
Eunny P. Lee
Joel M. LeMon
Robin C. McCall
Andrew Mein
Dennis T. Olson
Leo G. Perdue
Anathea Portier-Young
D. N. Premnath
Timothy J. Sandoval
Choon-Leong Seow
Daniel Smith-Christopher
Allen Verhey
Craig Vondergeest
Amy C. Willis
About the Author
Joel B. Green (PhD, University of Aberdeen) is professor of New Testament interpretation and associate dean for the Center for Advanced Theological Studies at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California. Jacqueline E. Lapsley (PhD, Emory University) is associate professor of Old Testament at Princeton Theological Seminary in Princeton, New Jersey.

Review:
Have you ever had great hopes and anticipated enjoying something greatly only to be sorely disappointed? That is how I felt about this book.
I was expecting a book on Old Testament ethics; that is, ethics from the Old Testament. Instead I found a book that actually located ethics somewhat outside of the Old Testament. I guess that’s what the title is “Old Testament And Ethics” instead of “Old Testament Ethics.”
The contributors tend to present the Bible as the product of men who were the product of their times, with little room for Divine revelation and inspiration.
What happens when such a view is presented is that ethics are located within people and communities. That leaves us somewhat adrift. In fact, there is a strong tendency at times to lean toward what seems to me to be a relativistic ethic instead of an absolute.
What can one expect, however, when the absolute is denied its position as the ultimate authority? If the Bible is not truly the infallible Word of God (And it seems as if many of the contributors don’t even value the Bible as the Word of God in any fashion.), then where is the standard for our ethics? By what do we measure right and wrong, appropriate and inappropriate?
It is this approach that allows one to stand outside of the Scripture and look in as a judge and critic. It allows one to view the conquest of Canaan as genocide instead of the proclaimed judgment of God upon sinner whose time had come to be judged.
It is this approach that allows one to view the Scriptures, not as a united, coherent book of books, but as a group of relatively isolated books that often contradict one another.
It is this approach that allows one to look into Scripture and say that one can use a particular text to speak to the issue of feminism and God as mother. After all, if the ethic is located somewhere other than Scripture, perhaps our ethic will allow us to use the Scripture to say something that it doesn’t. That certainly seems to be the case in this book.
When one comes to the Scripture as one whose presupposition is that it is just another group of books, he will then judge the Scripture as being no different than any other book. The problem is that Scripture will not allow us to do that. Not at all.
When we look at Scripture as if it is just another book, we can say that the OT people didn’t recognize that homosexuals were born that way, or made thus by God. It will allow us to leave the door open to deviant behavior by imposing our ethic upon the Bible instead of the Bible forming our ethics.
In the end, this book isn’t about Old Testament ethics. It is about the “Old Testament And Ethics”, and the ethic that is brought to the discussion is faulty, sinful, and destructive.
The only bright spot that I found in all of the book is that there were a couple of times that it was mentioned that Israel was told to live their lives in view of their being in a covenant with God. Other than that, there is little positive to say.
I’ve never written such a strongly negative review before. I hope I never do again. Honesty will not let me write anything else. I am giving the book two stars, and I’m feeling that to be very generous in light of the impoverished view of God and Scripture.

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Monday Meanderings

Posted: 13th January 2014 by Pastoral Musings in devotional, misc
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Today is Monday.

I am entitled to meander on Monday.

After all, what pastor can stay long on any subject on a Monday? (Of course, too many refuse to stay on subject on Sunday; but that is a post for a different time.)

Life is busy.

I’ll bet that revelation hit you like a ton of bricks, right?

No. You and I both know that is the truth.

Life is too busy.

Today I’ve been working on listing a few books on my Amazon marketplace account. I’m selling books.

It has been a long time since I sold any books.

I despise discarding books, no matter how bad they are.

Even worse, I hate to discard a good book.

I don’t mind giving some away, but I usually find it hard to part with a book.

The truth is that I have slimmed down my library by a few hundred volumes, though a glance at my shelves will not show that.

What does that have to do with the busy nature of life? Much, because I’m trying to simplify so that I can live with a little less busy-ness in some aspects.

One way that I can simplify is to slim down: well, in my library, anyway 8-)

Less things can lead to less stress.

I’m actually taking a stack of books to our local thrift store this evening. Not only will I be simplifying, hopefully adding a few dollars back by selling a few, but I’ll also be doing a little bit to support a ministry to battered women when I take these books to the thrift store.

Simple? Yes. Blessed, also.

Too many of our spiritual lives are like my library: too busy.

That should not be.

Jesus didn’t call us to busy work.

In fact, He told us that His yoke is easy and His burden is light. ( Matthew 11:28 )

Do you struggle trying to measure up to what you think you should be? Perhaps it is time to simplify and take on the easy yoke and light burden of Jesus.

He doesn’t make it hard. In fact, He doesn’t truly make it easy. He lives in us.

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness come by the law, then Christ is dead in vain.” (Galatians 2:20–21)

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I hope that today will be the start of a relatively regular posting that I’ll call “Watering Wednesdays.”

Why “Watering Wednesdays?” Because our souls so often get thirsty.

David said,

“O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: My soul thirsteth for thee, My flesh longeth for thee, In a dry and thirsty land, where no water is; To see thy power and thy glory, So as I have seen thee in the sanctuary. Because thy lovingkindness is better than life, My lips shall praise thee. Thus will I bless thee while I live: I will lift up my hands in thy name. My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness; And my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips: When I remember thee upon my bed, And meditate on thee in the night watches. Because thou hast been my help, Therefore in the shadow of thy wings will I rejoice.” (Psalm 63:1–7)

(Note: I post the Scriptures in KJV, but a mouseover of the reference within any post will bring up the ESV from Logos’ Biblia.com.)

So often our souls get so very, very thirsty.

This land is barren.

It is dry.

We are thirsty.

We are bombarded with so many things that threaten to destroy us.

They sap us of strength.

They distract and discourage us.

They leave us looking for answers.

Even more, they leave us needing strength.

There is one place to find strength.

There is one place to find satisfaction.

We must go to the One Who has the ability to feed us, cause us to feast, and Who can quench our thirst.

We must go to our Savior.

Friend, don’t let discouragement drive you away from God.

Let discouragement propel you toward God with great force.

Run to Him.

Flee to Him.

Realize that Christ alone is the bread of life who satisfies the hunger and thirst of all who believe in Him. ( John 6:35 )