Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Must the Sun Set on the West?

We’re often times told in our educational system that with the fall of the Roman Empire Western civilization devolved into the darkest of all ages. In fact, various versions of Webster’s Dictionary describe the millennium that ensued as a time of intellectual stagnation and widespread ignorance.[1]

Some say that the superlative rationality of Classical Greek thinkers was snuffed out by superstitious irrationality of Medieval Christian churchmen. In fact, if you look at Edward Gibbon, as a historian he elucidates the tragedy with supposed eloquence and eradiation in a massive six volume series The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. In his work, he points out that Christianity was not only the cause of the decay of the Empire, but it was primary cause of the Dark Ages that ensued.

Many of you may have heard this in academic settings that Rome was forged on the anvil of Classical Greek thought, then you have the fall of Rome, then the Dark Ages and it isn’t until the Italian Renaissance and the Enlightenment that finally we are in touch again with great Classical Greek thought. The shackles of Christian superstition are once again broken, and we see the light of human reason shining through. We’re finally free from the superstition of Christianity, but what a guest of mine recently told us in real eloquence and eradiation is that this is a myth.

My guest Dr. Vishal Mangalwadi argues that Western Civilization was built on the back of Western Christianity, which was built on the DNA of the Bible. This great resource entitled Must the Sun Set on the West? is available at our Website of or by calling us at 1-888-700-0274. Also look for my interviews with Dr. Mangalwadi at our Website on July 28th and July 29th, 2009.


[1] As noted in Rodney Stark’s book, For the Glory of God: How Monotheism Led to Reformations, Science, Witch Hunts and the End of Slavery (Princeton University Press; illustrated edition 2003), 129.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Are Some People Drunk on the Millenium?

Have you ever noticed how many people seem to be metaphorically drunk on the millennium? You go back to the early 1800s and you have a broad range of people that are seeking to time the approaching terror and the turmoil of the tribulation correlated with the Second Coming by correlating current events with biblical prophecy. They’re forever trying to “pin the tail on the Anti-Christ.” [1]

On the cultic fringe you have people like Mormon founder Joseph Smith, who was propagating that notion that his generation was living in the very shadow of Christ’s return. Joseph Smith alleged that God told him the return of Christ would take place before he—Joseph Smith—was 85 years of age. Of course, that didn’t happen.

In more main stream millennial circles, the gifted Baptist orator William Miller was circulating the conclusion that his generation was living on the very edge of the millennium. In fact, in 1831 he publicly identified the year of Christ return as 1843. How did he do it? Well, he used millennial mathematics. He calculated a day in prophetic parlance as equivalent to year in prophetic history, and so according to Daniel 8, exactly 2,300 days after Artaxerxes’ decree the millennium would commence. Does this sound a little bit like Jack Van Impe today?

Nineteenth-century Historic Premillennialists used millennial mathematics not only to date the time of Christ’s descent but to determine details like the time of Anti-Christ’s demise. Then in 1831 you have [John Nelson] Darby, who adds a unique twist to the dating game by introducing the concept of a secret coming, seven years prior to a second coming. He said that one can determine the time of Christ’s Second Coming after the time of Christ’s secret coming.

Later dispensationalists like [Tim] LaHaye found a variety of new rules to ensure that the dating game could be played on and on. He demonstrated this idea of forwarding the notion that the “generation” who heard the Austrian Declaration of World War I in 1914 would not pass away before Christ’s Second Coming. [2]

So you have the people in the past content to be spectators to unfolding events and timing the events, but today’s brand bent on ensuring that these events become a self-fulfilling prophecy. The problem is if the evangelical death march toward the end time of Armageddon can be subverted, it’s going to be because believers recommit themselves to faithful illumination.

In other words, what I’m saying is, it will be because believers recommit themselves to faithful exegesis—which is to mine what the Spirit has breathed into Scripture as opposed to reading our own predilections into the text. Look, sudden flashes of intuition or inspiration are poor substitutes for the scrupulous study of the Word of God.

We must pray that the Holy Spirit gives us clear minds and open hearts as we dig into his Word. That means a willingness to sacrifice treasured traditions on the altar of biblical fidelity. It means learning to read the Bible for all its worth. Ultimately, it means turning away for sensationalism and marching undeterred toward reading the Bible, studying the Bible, and being intoxicated with the Word of God again, instead of turning on the television and being titillated by the sensationalists. We are dragging Christ’s name through the mud and we need to get back to the Bible, it is critical.


[1] Principles sources for the following discussion of Smith, Miller, and Darby are Timothy P. Weber, Living in the Shadow of the Second Coming: American Premillennialsim, 1875-1982 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983, ed), Timothy P. Weber, On the Road to Armageddon: How Evangelicals Became Israel’s Best Friend (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2004), Ernest R. Sandeen The Roots of Fundamentalism: British and American Millenarianism 1800-1930 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1970), and George Eldon Ladd, The Blessed Hope (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1956).

[2] Tim Lahaye, The Beginning of the End (Wheaton: Tyndale, 1972), 38-39; also see the whole of chapter 3, “The First Sign of the End,” and Chapter 15, “Is This the Last Generation?” LaHaye argued that World War 1 uniquely fulfilled the prophecy of Matthew 24:7, which in his mind was the sign to indicate “the beginning of the end.” In 1999 Lahaye coauthored with Jerry B Jenkins Are We Living in the End Times? (Wheaton: Tyndale, 1999) in which he had not yet ruled out the possibility that the generation that saw World War 1 would not pass away until the Lord returns, saying that scenario, “should not be ruled out for another five years or so” (59).

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Did Abraham know God as Yahweh?

One of the things we’ve been talking about on the Bible Answer Man broadcast of late is Bart Ehrman and his attempt to cause people to doubt the veracity of Scripture. He is the chair of the Religious Studies department at University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, but suffers from simplistic, close-minded, black/white stereotypical fundamentalism. He is now, unfortunately, receiving a wide audience in the media, and shaking the faith of Christians—as he claims too and he’s proud of it. He does this though with very simplistic reasoning that might sound good on the surface, but after a little probing, demonstrates that the supposed conundrums that he raises are not problems at all.

For example, an alleged contradiction that he brings up involves God’s progressive revelation of all that is imbued in His name. Ehrman says, “In the book of Exodus, God tell Moses, ‘I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as God Almighty, but by my name the LORD [=Yahweh] I did not make myself known to them’ (Ex. 6:3) How does this square with what is found earlier in Genesis, where God does make himself known to Abraham as the LORD (Gen. 15:7)?”[1] So Ehrman is asking, did Abraham know God as Yahweh or not?

Now what Ehrman considers a problem, I would submit is a profound and glorious truth, because implicit in the name of “Yahweh” is the profundity that we as mere mortals perceive God progressively in the performance of His promises. Abraham caught a glimmer of that reality when the infinite I AM brought him from Ur of the Chaldeans. For Abraham, God was indeed the Almighty provider and sustainer (the meaning of El Shaddai in Gen. 17:1), though the promises God made to Abraham remained largely unfulfilled. Moses experienced the glorious revelation of Yahweh, the eternal “I AM that I AM” in a progressively greater and I would say more intimate way which culminates in the literal awesome exodus out of the land of Egypt. Yahweh’s deliverance of His people manifested ever more clearly His enabling power and enduring presence.

As those of Ehrman’s students who have grappled with Jewish law know full well, the words of the Torah are at once deceptively simple, yet deeply profound. Because of that, a wooden literalist is rendered impotent to grasp its profundities. Contra Ehmran a subtle and sublime sophistication is at work in the Torah and certainly with respect to the divine name.

Let me make one more point—I want to say this as forthrightly as I can—there’s an unsettling lesson to be learned in the questions that Bart Ehrman raises ad nauseum ad infinitum. If we harden our hearts against divine revelation, the very words of Yahweh will become to us an indecipherable parable that can’t be understood. Jesus put it this way, “They may be ever seeing but never perceiving and ever hearing but never understanding; otherwise, they might turn and be forgiven!” (Mark 4:12, NIV).

God’s revelation, bottom line, is either an occasion to receive and be healed, or to reject and be hardened. No one remains unaffected. But make no mistake about it, Bart Ehrman has not uncovered some alleged inconsistencies in the Bible that other people haven’t been able to find before. These are the same old problems regurgitated now by Professor Ehrman in the popular media and people who are not easily conversant with how to read the Bible for all it’s worth, who are not equipped to answer the objections he throws at their feet.

For further information on alleged Bible inconsistencies, please check out The Complete Bible Answer Book and The Bible Under Siege both available at our website of or by calling 1-888-275-4265.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Is Eugenics Just a Thing of the Past?

Virtually every single morning I do exactly the same thing, I get out of bed, I do my devotions, I memorize, I exercise, I get a cup of coffee, and I read USA Today. The Life section in the “D” section in USA Today led on June 24, 2009 with a story on the terrible legacy of the United States eugenics program. It tells the story of Carrie Buck, who was sterilized by the state of Virginia in 1920, because she was considered feeble-minded. What’s interesting about the story is that the Supreme Court ruling that allowed the sterilization still stands today. In fact, Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, “Three generations of imbeciles are enough.” In all, more than 30 States passed legislation supporting sterilization and that in the name of eugenics. These were Blue States mind you ranging from New York to California. Even more interesting from this story is that the Nazis on trial at Nuremberg after World War II cited American eugenics as a significant influence for gassing the feeble minded, and of course in the Nazi’s view Jews were considered to be feeble minded.[1]

Bioethicists today fear that as genetics plays an increasingly significant role in science, we are about to revisit all of the ethical conundrums inherent in the eugenics movement, and that in the present day as you are reading this.

Eugenics of course hypothesized that the gene pool was being corrupted by the less fit genes of inferior people and the solution was isolation in institutions or sterilization. What’s really fascinating and perhaps morbid is that supporters of this baseless theory included Margaret Sanger, who was the founder of Planned Parenthood, as well as “Teddy” Roosevelt, a much loved President of the United States. Funding was provided for through the Carnegie and Rockefeller foundations, and research was conducted at Stanford, Harvard, Yale, and Princeton. It was backed by the National Academy of Sciences and the American Medical Association.

Those who resisted eugenics were considered to be backward and ignorant, and it wasn’t until eugenics came into full bloom in the Nazi concentration camps that people recognized that ideas have consequences and these consequences were too much, so it faded into the shadowy recesses of history.

This story from USA Today was significant in that we just developed a new book entitled Whose Ethics? Whose Morals? Ethics should be at the forefront of our thinking as we live in a post-Christian culture, and that view of reality is that there isn’t an objective Law Giver. Truth in this culture is determined by the size and scope of the latest lobby group. In this type of milieu, you need a resource that will give you the principles for thinking Christianly about morals and ethics. More than that, you need to know that we are in a moral tsunami and cannot simply sit by idly and do nothing at the very base we need to be informed.


[1] “U.S. eugenics legacy: Ruling on Buck sterilization still stands” by Andrea Pitzer , USA Today, 6/24/09, ( Accessed 6/25/09