Biblical Literalism

Are we to read the Bible literally?  That is, are we to literally read all of Scripture literally?

Taking a strictly literal approach to Scripture reading is problematic. Jesus said, “I am the gate for the sheep” (John 10:7, 9); so, does this mean Jesus was the unique Word made flesh, while simultaneously a flat wooden object with hinges in order to allow woolly, bleating animals to enter? Even more troubling are the Apostle Paul’s words to the Galatians: “My dear children, for whom I am again in the pains of childbirth until Christ is formed in you…” (Gal 4:19, NIV). So, not only was Paul in labor to birth the Galatians, he had already birthed them previously! Talk about a miraculous conception!! Today’s varied and many successful attempts at conception have nothing on Paul, a man who self-conceived his many Galatian offspring – simultaneously. 

Obviously, Jesus as a gate is a metaphor, just as “sheep” represents true followers of Jesus Christ.  And Paul was only metaphorically ‘birthing’ the Galatians. The meaning of the verses in John can be easily gleaned by the context.  The Galatians passage is based on a Jewish idiom: “If one teaches the son of his neighbor the law, the Scripture reckons this the same as though he had begotten him”1 (cf. 1 Cor 4:15; Philemon 10).  Therefore, Paul was making the point that he had previously taught the Galatians the Gospel, yet, as they were being influenced by Judaizers, he had to steer them back to the purity of the Gospel message, away from the Law (Gal 5:1-6).  Paul used an apparently well-known metaphorical expression, while adding some hyperbole (“again in the pains of childbirth”) to drive the point home.

Another good example of hyperbole is in the Sermon on the Mount: …If your right eye causes you to sin, gouge it out and throw it away…And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away (Matthew 5:29, 30; NIV 1984).  Certainly, Jesus is not advocating self-mutilation!  He’s illustrating the seriousness of the sin of lust.

There’s also a metaphorical component to these verses: the “right eye” and “right hand”.  Craig Blomberg notes, “[A]s is characteristic of Jesus’ figurative and hyperbolic style, he commands us to take drastic measures to avoid temptations to sexual sin – to remove from ourselves anyone or anything that could lead us into scandal (‘causes you to sin’).”2  The right eye and right hand were viewed as more valuable3 and the right side more powerful than the left.4  Charles H. Talbert adds a bit more:

These two illustrations are hyperbole; they are not to be taken literally.  Together they call for a radical integration of the self.  Whatever does not fit into the self’s integration around God’s will is to be jettisoned, whether it be eye (intent) or hand (action).  The sentiment is reflected in Philo, Planting 36-38, where he says the soul needs to be cultivated, protected, pruned, and even have parts cut off if necessary in pursuit of moral development.  “The maiming that moral life requires will be a thousandfold repaid with the wholeness of selfhood and the life of God that comes with amputation.”5

The “maiming” and “amputation” are, once again, metaphorical, not literal.  This “pruning” is done with God’s help, as illustrated in the Gospel of John (15:2).

As evidenced by the three examples above, Christians cannot interpret all of Scripture literally.  Yet, this is a charge that comes from some liberals who try to demean “Christian Fundamentalism” – a term used pejoratively – by portraying all (or most all) orthodox Christians as foolishly reading and interpreting Scripture in an unsophisticated and anti-scholarly manner, thereby distorting the ‘real’ meaning.6  Of course, it’s these same liberals who distort Scripture by literalizing metaphors and interpreting texts meant to be taken literally as metaphorical instead.

True Biblical Literalism

On the other hand, conservative, orthodox Christianity adheres to a doctrine known as Biblical Literalism for Scripture reading.  So, what is Biblical Literalism if not reading the Bible literally? 

In the best application of the term, Biblical Literalism “Generally…seeks to discover the author’s intent by focusing upon his words in their plain, most obvious sense.”7  This means, among other things, that literal passages are taken literally, metaphors are interpreted as metaphors, and hyperbole is understood as exaggeration for rhetorical effect.

The following excerpt is from the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy with Exposition:

 Article XVIII.

WE AFFIRM that the text of Scripture is to be interpreted by grammatico-historical exegesis, taking account of its literary forms and devices, and that Scripture is to interpret Scripture.

WE DENY the legitimacy of any treatment of the text or quest for sources lying behind it that leads to relativizing, dehistoricizing, or discounting its teaching, or rejecting its claims to authorship.8

The grammatico-historical method seeks to uncover the author’s intent by studying the grammar, syntax (sentence structure), literary type (narrative, poetry, etc.), literary devices (metaphor, hyperbole, etc.) and historical context.  Here’s more from the Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy with Exposition, this time from the Exposition section:

…[H]istory must be treated as history, poetry as poetry, hyperbole and metaphor as hyperbole and metaphor, generalization and approximation as what they are, and so forth. Differences between literary conventions in Bible times and in ours must also be observed: since, for instance, non-chronological narration and imprecise citation were conventional and acceptable and violated no expectations in those days, we must not regard these things as faults when we find them in Bible writers. When total precision of a particular kind was not expected nor aimed at, it is no error not to have achieved it. Scripture is inerrant, not in the sense of being absolutely precise by modern standards, but in the sense of making good its claims and achieving that measure of focused truth at which its authors aimed.

The truthfulness of Scripture is not negated by the appearance in it of irregularities of grammar or spelling, phenomenal descriptions of nature, reports of false statements (e.g., the lies of Satan), or seeming discrepancies between one passage and another. It is not right to set the so-called “phenomena” of Scripture against the teaching of Scripture about itself. Apparent inconsistencies should not be ignored. Solution of them, where this can be convincingly achieved, will encourage our faith, and where for the present no convincing solution is at hand we shall significantly honor God by trusting His assurance that His Word is true, despite these appearances, and by maintaining our confidence that one day they will be seen to have been illusions.9

How Many Meanings?

An important aspect of the grammatico-historical method is that there is only one correct reading of any passage of Scripture.  This does not preclude a passage, or even a whole book, from being literal yet also encompassing an allegorical understanding when the context makes this clear, such as the book of Hosea in which the relationship of Hosea to his wayward wife Gomer is analogous to God’s relationship with Israel.10  There are also NT fulfillments of OT types such as Jesus as the manna from Heaven (John 6 / Exodus 16).  Moreover, this does not preclude the Biblical author from using double entendre (double meaning) as in Jesus’ discourse with Nicodemus, in which John records Jesus using γεννηθῇ ἄνωθεν, which means is born from above/again (John 3:3).11

Yet, historically, there have been those who have claimed there are multiple meanings, or levels, of Scripture.  Origen (ca. 185-ca. 254) was one such individual. 

It’s important to understand that Origen was influenced by Middle Platonism,12 teaching on the preexistence of souls (and some, as I, construe transmigration of souls / reincarnation as well).  Attendant with this belief was his doctrine of universal reconciliation (all will be saved – including the devil!)13.  Some of Origen’s works were later burned, and he may have been posthumously branded a heretic at the Second Council of Constantinople (553AD) for these beliefs, though scholars are divided on this issue.14

With Origen’s penchant for mysticism, resulting from his affinity for the philosophy of Plato, came his threefold interpretation of Scripture, with a preference for the allegorical, though he sometimes departed from his own triadic formula:

…According to Origen, the biblical texts have a literal meaning, another which is moral, and another which is intellectual.  This is parallel to the presence in humans of body, soul, and spirit, based on what Philo had previously said and done.  But Origen did not always follow this triple scheme; instead he frequently included only the allegorical sense, and at times found a multitude of different senses in the same text….15

In effect, Origen’s belief system created a two-tiered structure of Christians – the unenlightened and the enlightened: “For Origen, those who stayed only with the literal meaning of the text were unenlightened souls who had not realized that Jesus gave some of his teaching in the valleys and some on mountaintops.  Only to the latter disciples, those who could ascend the mountains, did Jesus reveal himself transfigured.”16

Origen was quite influential, even into Medieval times, as his method of extracting meaning from the texts (or variations thereof) continued, expanding to a fourfold (quadriga) sense: literal, moral, allegorical, and anagogical (personal foreshadowings, prophetic).17  However, some sought ‘only’ two meanings, while still others reached for seven.  The literal sense was typically viewed as the least important, while the allegorical retained its preeminence,18 a la Origen.

While most rejected or downplayed the literal sense, there were a limited few who gave priority to the literal:

…[Thomas] Aquinas made the other meanings of Scripture dependent upon the literal meaning and thus elevated it above them.  He said, “…all the senses [of Scripture] are found on one – the literal – from which alone can any argument be drawn, and not from those intended in allegory…” (Summa Theologiae, i.1.10)19

However, it wasn’t until the Reformation that Scripture was afforded the opportunity to speak for itself.  Quoting Martin Luther, “When I was a monk, I was an expert at allegorizing Scripture, but now my best skill is only to give the literal, simple sense of Scripture, from which comes power, life, comfort, and instruction.”20

Protestantism continued with this “literal, simple sense” of the Biblical text amidst a myriad of challenges in the ensuing centuries from Pietism, Hegelian historicism, Liberalism, the “Historical Jesus” movement, Form Criticism, Bultmann’s demythologizing the Bible, Structuralism (Biblical books as literature only), etc.21

Current Trends in Christendom

It seems that in the past 100 or so years, there’s been a shift in some of Protestantism (loosely defined) away from the literal, plain meaning of Scripture back to the allegorical.  Postmodern (or is it now post-postmodern?) thinking has provided an ‘anything goes’ method of understanding Scripture, with one’s own intuition or experience dictating meaning.  In some quarters, there’s a dichotomy between those who dismiss orthodoxy and scholasticism over against those who adhere to the more traditional form of Christianity, such that some in the hyper-charismatic and Emergent wings of Christendom (again, loosely defined) seem to be of the opinion that “my feelings and/or experiences trump your dogma”.  Mystical experiences and/or one’s own thoughts are shoe-horned into Scripture – a practice known as eisegesis (reading meaning into the text).

Sadly, those better equipped to deal with these problems – those who teach at seminaries or Bible Colleges – are mostly deaf to the issues, either by ignorance of these problems, or seeming apathy.  Of those at least somewhat aware of the issues, their silence may render them complicit.  This leaves the task of correction to informed laypersons, many of whom have been and are frantically trying to learn orthodoxy and proper methods themselves, most not having the financial wherewithal, or time, to attend Bible College or seminary, in order to instruct others.  As I see it, properly instructing new converts is the second part of Jesus’ command to make disciples:

18 And Jesus came up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” [Matthew 28:18-20, NASB]

Just getting them in the door (like the so-called “seeker friendly” churches) is not enough; we must teach them to observe all that Christ commanded.  How can the average church-goer know what Christ commanded if they’ve not been given the teachings?  How can the hyper-charismatic or Emergent church attendee know what Christ commanded if they’re merely reading their own intuitions and experiences into the Bible?

The Way Ahead

What can we do now that instead of one wayward sheep out of a flock of 100 (Matthew 18:10-14; Luke 15:4-7), there seem to be 99?  (Assuming these are really sheep to begin with.)  Desperately needed is leadership that can properly instruct in order to correct these negative trends.  Basic interpretive principles must be taught, so that the average church goer can be truly made into a disciple of Christ, thereby becoming less likely to stray as a wayward sheep.

Before going further it needs to be mentioned that the true Holy Spirit indwelt Christian can read Scripture on his/her own, without external aids, by the leading of the Holy Spirit.  Nevertheless, proper instruction can help to enhance one’s reading and promote good reading habits.

It needs to be stressed that the initial step in understanding any Scripture (or any literary work) is to begin by extracting meaning from the text (exegesis).  Proper exegesis comes from reading a given passage in its larger context (rather than simply ‘proof-texting’ one verse or clause), taking note of metaphors and hyperbole, to include reading the entire book. 

For example, if one wishes to understand what Paul means by some preaching a “different gospel” in Galatians 1:6-7, one needs to read the rest of the epistle to see what Paul is referring to.  To make his case, Paul goes on to explain his position as an authority called by God (1:11-24), that he was accepted as an Apostle (2:1-10), and that he scolded Peter for preferring Jews over Gentiles out of fear, attempting to impose Mosaic Law upon the Gentiles (2:11-21).  The meat of this epistle then is an admonition to continue in the faith and not become slaves again to the Law.  This reverting back to the Law of Moses is the “different gospel” of which Paul speaks in the beginning of this letter.

Once the reader understands the point of Paul’s letter to the Galatians, the reader is less apt to proof-text individual verses into meaning something entirely contrary to that which the writer had intended.  One who listens to Bill Johnson, for example, would dismiss Johnson’s teaching that Paul’s “another gospel” was one that would negate an ‘all must be healed’ gospel, for Paul’s message instead is clearly about the Judaizers who were trying to bring back the Law.  In fact, Paul himself speaks of an illness he endured in 4:13-14:

13 As you know, it was because of an illness that I first preached the gospel to you, 14 and even though my illness was a trial to you, you did not treat me with contempt or scorn. Instead, you welcomed me as if I were an angel of God, as if I were Christ Jesus himself. [NIV]

This obviously shows that Paul was not preaching an ‘all will be healed’ gospel, as Paul’s illness brought a trial to the Galatians of whom Paul states “you would have torn out your eyes and given them to me” (v 15).  Surely, this would have provided a very bad example for the kind of “gospel” Bill Johnson is claiming.  That is, unless Bill Johnson wishes to claim that the Apostle Paul himself was preaching “another gospel” – a quite absurd notion.

Knowing a bit about the societal and cultural background in NT times is also quite helpful towards good exegesis.  Bible dictionaries, commentaries, and even some study Bibles, can provide this information.  For more on getting the most from your Bible reading, I recommend the Gordon Fee/Douglas Stuart How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth.22 

It’s time the Church, most especially the Emergent and hyper-charismatic wings, came back to true Biblical Literalism  –  instead of engaging in eisegesis, thereby taking Scripture out of proper context in order to fit one’s own interpretation.  Teaching congregants how to apply proper exegetical principles will alleviate this sort of thing and bring forth Biblical literacy.  Any subjective experience or thought must be measured against the literal, plain sense of the Bible, and, if not found to be congruent with Scripture, it must be rejected as not of God.

     [1] Marvin R. Vincent Vincent’s Word Studies in the New Testament, Volume IV, 2009 (5th Ed, August 2009), Hendrickson Publishers, Inc, USA, p 147.  This is taken from the Babylonian Talmud: Tractate Sanhedrin, folia 19b as found here: <http://www.come-and-hear.com/sanhedrin/sanhedrin_19.html>, Rabbi, Dr. I. Epstein (Gen. Ed.), n d, Soncino Press, London, as accessed 05/01/13.  While the Babylonian Talmud was not written until well after the Apostle Paul penned the Epistle to the Galatians, it seems very possible that this idiom was in the oral Tradition of the Jews at the time of Paul’s writing of the letter.  Cf. F. F. Bruce New International Greek New Testament Commentary: Commentary on Galatians, 1982, William B. Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, MI, pp 212-213, though Bruce does not mention the Jewish idiom. 
     [2] Craig L. Blomberg The New American Commentary: Vol. 22; Matthew, 1992, B&H Publishing Group, Nashville, TN, p 109. Emphasis in original.  The Greek word rendered ‘cause to sin’ is (transliterated) skandalov, from which we obviously get the word “scandal”.  Donald Hagner renders this “cause to stumble” [Word Biblical Commentary, 33A: Matthew 1-13, 1993, Word, Dallas, TX, p 119].
     [3] Blomberg Matthew, p 109
     [4] Grant R. Osborne, (Clinton E. Arnold, Gen. Ed.) Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament, Volume 1: Matthew, 2010, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, p 196
     [5] Charles H. Talbert Reading the Sermon on the Mount: Character Formation and Decision Making in Matthew 5-7, 2004 (2nd pr. 2007) Baker, Grand Rapids, MI, p 76.  The portion in quotes at the end of the selected text is from Frederick Dale Bruner [The Christbook, A Historical/Theological Commentary: Matthew 1-12, 1987, Word, Dallas, TX, p 186] as cited in Talbert.  While this may seem like Talbert is stating that we do this through self-effort, the point is to submit to the indwelt Holy Spirit.
     [6] See G. K. Beale The Erosion of Inerrancy in Evangelicalism: Responding to New Challenges to Biblical Authority, 2008, Crossway, Wheaton, IL, p 21, for a brief mention of fundamentalism.  Cf. C. T. McIntire “Fundamentalism” in Walter A. Elwel, ed. Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, 1984 (10th pr. 1994), Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI, pp 433-435.
     [7] J. J. Scott “Literalism” in Elwel, ed. Evangelical Dictionary, p 643
     [8] Currently available online at <http://www.bible-researcher.com/chicago1.html>, © 2001-2012 Michael D. Marlowe, as accessed 04/28/13.  Also available as Appendix 2 in Beale Erosion of Inerrancy [pp 267-279].  Article XVIII is on p 273.
     [9] Beale Erosion of Inerrancy, p 277.  While Beale generally agrees with the Chicago Statement [p 24], he states in a footnote that he takes minor issue with some of the wording.  In the section as quoted above beginning with “Differences between literary conventions in Bible times…” and ending with “…that measure of focused truth at which its authors aimed” he explains: This statement does not take into consideration that even some modern literary genres use non-chronological narration or nonprecise [sic] time or geographical measurements or approximations as an acceptable style.  Also, I would prefer not to speak of “apparent inconsistencies” in Scripture as “illusions” [ED: see last sentence in above quote]…but rather as phenomena that will one day be understood at the end of history, when we shall ‘know fully’ (cf. 1 Cor. 14:12).  This underscores the partial knowledge that we have in the inaugurated eschatological era in contrast to the ‘full knowledge’ that we will have in the consummated eschatological period (see 1 Cor. 14:9-12) [from footnote on p 267].  I would have to agree with Beale.
     [10] Leon J. Wood “Hosea” in Frank E. Gaebelein (Gen. Ed.) The Expositor’s Bible Commentary with the New International Version, Volume 7: Daniel and the Minor Prophets, 1985, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, pp 164-167.  Cf. Donald E. Gowan Theology of the Prophetic Books: The Death and Resurrection of Israel, 1998, Westminster John Knox, Louisville/London, pp 47, 37-47, in which the moderately liberal Gowan seems unwilling to recognize that it’s Gomer referenced in both chapter 3 and chapter 1 of Hosea, though he sees chapter 3 as allegory: That it was intended to be symbolic, that is, representing in the prophet’s life what was happening in the relationship between God and Israel, is made evident by the comparison: “Go, love a woman who has a lover and is an adulteress, just as the LORD loves the people of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes” (3:1).  Israel has been promiscuous, so the prophet must deal with some promiscuous woman the same way God deals with Israel…[p 47].
     [11] BDAG [Walter Bauer, F. W. Danker, et. al. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 2000 (3rd ed.), University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL] defines the term as “at a subsequent point of time involving repetition, again, anew”, also noting that in the context of John 3:13 ανωθεν “is designedly ambiguous and suggests also a transcendent experience born from above” [p 92].
     [12] Andrew Louth The Origins of Christian Mysticism: From Plato to Denys, 1981 (1983, 1st pprbk), Oxford University Press, Oxford/New York/Toronto, pp 52-53
     [13] Justo L. Gonzalez “Origen” in Justo L. Gonzalez, Gen. Ed. (transl. Suzanne E. Hoeferkamp Segovia) The Westminster Dictionary of Theologians, Westminster John Knox, Louisville, KY, p 267; Chas S. Clifton “Origen” Encyclopedia of Heresies and Heretics, 1992, Barnes & Nobles, New York, 105.
     [14] Clifton, Encyclopedia, a rather abbreviated source, states so definitively [p 105]; Gonzalez [Westminster Dictionary] is less straight-forward, though leaning in the same direction: Such theories were never accepted by Christians in general, and they were soon officially rejected by the church [p 267].  Contra John A. McGuckin “The Council of Constantinople II” in The SCM Press A-Z of Patristic Theology, 2005 (2nd ed.), SCM Press, London: In Anathema 11 the name of Origen himself appears as a heretic.  Modern scholarship has since argued that the name was inserted as a later interpolation into the conciliar acts to justify the burning of his books (though many propositions from Evagrius and the Origenist monks of the desert were certainly condemned here) [p 84; bold in original].  Lavinia Cohn-Sherbok “Origen” in Who’s Who in Christianity, 1998, Routledge, London/New York, is confusing in that the phraseology could be construed as though Origen is branded a heretic at Constantinople II for his teachings on the Trinity; nothing at all is mentioned about his views on the preexistence of souls [p 227].
     [15] Gonzalez Westminster Dictionary, p 266
     [16] McGuckin “Origen” A-Z of Patristic Theology, p 244
     [17] J. J. Scott “Literalism” in Elwel, ed. Evangelical Dictionary, p 643; D. P. Fuller “History of Interpretation” in G. W. Bromiley, Gen. Ed. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (Fully Revised), 1982 (July ’88 reprint), William B. Eerdmans Publishing, Grand Rapids, MI, p ii.865.  Hereafter ISBE.
     [18] D. P. Fuller “History of Interpretation” in ISBE, p ii.865;  J. J. Scott “Literalism” in Elwel, ed. Evangelical Dictionary, p 643
     [19] D. P. Fuller “History of Interpretation” in ISBE, p ii.865
     [20] D. P. Fuller “History of Interpretation” in ISBE, p ii.865; from Tischreden, 5285, Oct. 1540.  Cf. J. J. Scott “Literalism” in Elwel, ed. Evangelical Dictionary, p 643
     [21] D. P. Fuller “History of Interpretation” in ISBE, p ii.865-874
     [22] Gordon Fee, Douglas Stuart How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI

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68 Responses to Biblical Literalism

  1. Onesimus says:

    I think many have been taught to expect scripture to be too difficult to understand and that we need to rely on specialised people to “interpet” what scripture means. As a result believers have been led along many strange paths through trusting those “specialists”.

    Followers of Jesus need to start trusting Him and the Teacher He sent (the Holy Spirit) FIRST, referring LATER to other teachers mostly to give additional perspective to what we believe the Spirit has shown us.

    I have found that any new understanding I think I have received will always be confirmed or corrected in some way through interaction with other believers. This is different to the old way I followed (that got me into a lot of trouble) where I would first follow a human teacher only to later have the teaching undermined by a discovery in scripture. Sometimes the discovery would come too late to save me from a regrettable situation.

    How things have changed since I reversed the order – putting man’s teaching towards the end of the process instead of the beginning.

  2. Craig says:

    I think that most new Christians start by relying on the words behind the pulpit. The preacher would certainly check before he preaches to be sure his words line up with The Word, wouldn’t he?

    Also, I think most new Christians begin by using a bit of proof-texting, rather than putting things in proper context.

  3. Onesimus says:

    Hi Craig,
    Mostly new Christians have little choice than to start out relying on others – sadly those “behind the pulpit” are often still doing the same. Those who should be making sure their teaching lines up with the Word are instead makjng sure their teaching lines up with what THEY were taught – often by a denominational Bible college/seminary.

    There comes a stage when all Christians need to step out and take responsibility for what they believe, especially when in a position of teaching others, like those dependant new believers.

    Tim

  4. linda62 says:

    Amen and AMEN, Craig. This is such a good summary of what is needed. Sadly even conservative and trusted Bible schools are being infiltrated with liberal teaching. It seems to come along with seeking accreditation (in order to be able to draw more students). Professors with lots of letters behind their name have so often been led away from the simplicity of interpreting Scripture literally themselves. We are seeing this happen to our own beloved alma mater. It’s insidious! So much depends on taking the Word at face value. Thankfully, we have the Spirit to ‘teach us all things’. Keep up the good work here! And Thank-you!

  5. Craig Bridgforth says:

    As always, I’m truly impressed with your well thought out, plain commonsense explanation of biblical issues. Thank you for all you are doing, dear brother in Christ, keep up the good work!!

  6. Arwen4CJ says:

    What an excellent article! :) I want to say something about what you said about seminaries not caring. What I found was actually the opposite. My school actually promoted liberal theology. While the professors also taught what orthodoxy was, many of them simultaneously tried to undermine it.

    For example, my NT professor taught that the Bible does not really support Jesus deity or the trinity. These were just things that the church decided on later, but cannot be backed up from Scripture. In fact, the more “correct” way of reading Scripture is to deny that Jesus’ deity is taught in Scripture. He said that Jesus was close to being God in Scripture, but not quite God. :(

    Or, they invited professors who had been on the Jesus Seminar to come and teach students. Some of these individuals claimed that Jesus never existed.

    Another thing that the professors would do would be to “help” students to pass their ministry candidacy process by teaching the students to say the right words, etc. Even if the students didn’t actually believe these things, they would teach the students to lie.

    Well, actually….even in their choice of admitting students into the seminary, they showed how flexible and open they were. They invited Unitarian Universalists and atheists, and the like to come to the school and learn how to become pastors. Since they were a private school, they wouldn’t have had to admit everyone who had the money.

    Also, they discredited conservative theology by their choice of what kinds of sources were allowed to be quoted from. They were generally against sources that used Zondervan as a publisher, calling Zondervan “too conservative.” You are correct that many liberals consider conservative theology to be = to not scholarly or anti-scholarly. Only certain scholars were considered respectable. (Liberal ones only).

    And their choice of speakers to bring to the seminary also spoke volumes. For example, they only invited liberal scholars. They never invited conservative ones. The most liberal they invited to speak was John Shelby Spong.

    As far as seminaries go, mine is considered by many to be about in the middle as far as conservative vs. liberal seminaries. Iliff, a seminary in Colorado is much more liberal. One of my friends knew someone who was a student there, and apparently the seminary had the students participating in pagan ceremonies on Halloween.

    There are many other examples I could use….but yes……while some seminaries might be compliant because they don’t say anything, many others are outrightly promoting liberal theology.

    I agree with you that many Christians are taught that they do not have enough understanding on their own to read the Bible, and that they must listen to pastors or religious leaders to learn how to think correctly.

    In some ways, I think pastors often promote this kind of thinking. For example, my former neighbor owned her own Bible. She was half Roman Catholic and half Protestant, although at that time she was going to a Roman Catholic Church. Her priest learned that she had a Bible, and he told her to throw it away because she didn’t need it. So she did. That’s maybe and extreme example, but that seems to be the attitude of many pastors.

    They might think it’s good that people are reading the Bible, but they want to have influence on how people are reading their Bibles. Thus, in some churches, if there is a Bible study, the pastor wants to be the one teaching it. Pastors might not mind if people read Bibles on their own, but they might prefer it if the person only learned the Scriptures in sermons that are given in church, just to make sure that the people don’t have a false understanding of Scripture.

    If pastors want to make sure that false theology isn’t being promoted, discouraging members from reading their Bibles isn’t the answer. Neither is making people reliant on their pastors for understanding. As you said in this article, Craig, the average Christian needs to learn how to read the Bible. And, yes, the Holy Spirit helps us in this. Christians need to get rid of the idea that they are completely incapable of understanding Scripture on their own.

    Perhaps pastors at theologically orthodox churches could teach a class in biblical interpretation, or could moderate a Bible study that is led by a member of the congregation….or could start a Bible study and then hand it over to the members. The pastor could still attend, making sure that things are headed in the right direction. After the pastor is sure that the member is comfortable leading it, and that it is going in the right direction, then the pastor could train someone else to do the same thing. The pastor could then visit the Bible studies from time to time to make sure that everything is still theologically sound, etc.

    I don’t know…just my thoughts.

  7. BJ (the 3rd ;) says:

    Good stuff Craig.
    I also think a lot of the problem is also that the english language has moved on a lot since 1611 (ie the KJV version). We accept that charity no longer means what it did in those days, but words like “tabernacle” (which just means plain old “tent”) have taken on bazarre spiritual connotations in Christianese to the extent that whole theologies are formed around them (cf IHOP).

    Here’s a classic example:
    I had been trying to figure our why this (very weird) song was so popular at IHOP a while back:

    The chorus repeats over and over “Heaven’s not a vapor and God’s not a cloud, He’s in a physical temple on top of a Mount.”

    I found the song very interesting because the false dichotomy between spiritual and physical is reversed from the normal way Christian gnosticism is expressed these days (they usually emphasize the spiritual). I was wondering if this guy is expressing his struggle against what he has been taught somehow…

    “Heaven’s not a vapour and God’s not a cloud….” Like, who is this guy arguing with? Is anyone saying they are? As I looked into this weirdness a bit more and found this in the Scofield commentary of Gen 1:6-8 (note the word “vapour” and “heaven”):

    6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.The second day: vapor above, water below

    (Margin Note: firmament: Lit. expanse (i.e. of waters beneath, of vapour above).)

    7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. 8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

    (Margin note: firmament: i.e. the expanse above, the “heaven” of the clouds. Gen 7:11 8:2.)

    9 And God said, Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear: and it was so.

    So I started to think perhaps this song is trying to deal with Scofields interpretation of these verses? A lot of the mindset behind IHOP etc is heavily influenced by this 1917 commentary in its end-times teaching. So maybe the writer is trying to grapple with Scofield being used there authoritatively and yet struggling to match that with the random switching between literal and mystical (anything but contextual!) interpretation of the bible that IHOP also encourages.

    See that Scofield is using the word “heaven” here literally for example. However it seems clear that in Gen 1:8 the meaning is “sky” as indeed the NIV translates it: “God called the expanse “sky.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the second day.” So why deny something that was never taught?

    Eventually, I got to the bottom of where this particular weirdness comes from. It is a guy called stephen venable who teaches the foundational course of the IHOP university. Heres the notes: http://www.beholdingjesus.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/ACTS-11-S01-Heavens.doc

    So this is an interesting case of someone trying to take the bible literally but as it seems is so often the case, the allegorical parts (or old english words) are taken literally and then used to make other parts of the bible allegorical when they should be taken literally…

    go figure….
    BJ

  8. Craig says:

    BJ (the 3rd):

    Undoubtedly, part of the confusion comes from the fact that the Greek word (transliterated) ouranos can mean the heavens, sky, etc., but also simply heaven – as in the place where God dwells. With the definite article (the) and in the singular it means heaven, i.e. God’s abode. Without the article, it can mean either everything seen by the Hubbell microscope, er, uh, telescope, or just the evening (or morning) sky we see with the naked eye.

    In any case, the Venable teaching is ‘out there’. Isn’t God “spirit” (John 4:24)? You’re quite correct that inverts gnostic thinking. I can’t figure out where this would come from and what the point is.

  9. BJ (the 3rd ;) says:

    I think somehow they mess up “physical” and “real”… Are they reacting to the secular dichotomy where some think “spiritual” is not real, but in doing so show they are victims of the same dichotomy because they try to make God more “real” by saying He is “physical”??? at first I hoped it was cracks forming in their gnosticism, but the fact everyone goes into raptures over this bizarre logic makes me wonder if they are just kissing goodbye to their minds totally.

  10. BJ (the 3rd ;) says:

    Craig, as I re-read venable again (its even weirder this time) I notice that he is also criticising Origen..and using some of the same arguments you use.. for example he says “Although there is absolutely no justification for it exegetically, Origen arrives at the conclusion that both the prophets of old and Jesus Himself were not actually encountering anything real in their experiences of heavenly things”

    yet he goes off in a very strange direction… what do you make of his teaching here? It is very allogorical because he is saying the whole bible needs to be reinterpreted based on a super-real literal understanding of heaven. everything else is a shadow of heaven. we find “convergence by replication” as in heaven so on earth….etc… Yet he appears to be against platonism and the physical-spiritual dichotomy which he blames on the greeks.

    (hope its ok to bring up a practical example after your excellent introduction to this problem)

  11. Craig says:

    hope its ok to bring up a practical example after your excellent introduction to this problem

    Absolutely! It’s all relevant. I skimmed through a bit of the Venable and saw what you pointed out. I’ll have to look at further in order to wrap my mind around it. Yet, I’m not 100% sure he’s explaining Origen exactly right. He’s no doubt correct that Origen was influenced by Plato, as in Middle Platonism (a furtherance of Platonism); however, I don’t think that the statement that they “were not actually encountering anything real in their experiences of heavenly things” accurately reflects Origen. In fact, off the top of my head, it seems Origen refers to this particular realm as the real as opposed to the “not real” physical realm in which we dwell. If I’m correct on this, it seems Venable has switched definitions, with the “real” meaning the spiritual – just like you questioned in your previous comment.

    [Added]: What I’m getting at is that it seems possible (again, from just a cursory look over) that Venable, while stating that Origen was wrong, is actually agreeing with Origen by redefining terms and concepts. This sort of thing was noted by D.R. McConnell as something that E.W. Kenyon would do. If I’m correct, this would make better sense overall, because, from my studies, I’m of the notion that most of hyper-charismaticism is really Platonism in a slightly different guise.

  12. Craig says:

    Arwen4CJ,

    I wanted to be sure to address your post. First, I want to state that my inspiration for this article came initially when I came across a liberal blogger who, after attending what he implied was a conservative seminary/Bible College, claimed he was taught that Scripture must be interpreted literally. Therefore, when he came to Philippians 2:6-7 he concluded that the Word literally emptied Himself when He became flesh, construing this to mean that He no longer possessed any of the ‘omni’ attributes. Yet, according to him, those ‘fundamentalists’ who tried to ‘get around’ the “truth” of this as a LITERAL self-emptying, were kidding themselves or worse. When I pointed out other obvious metaphorical passages in Scripture, thereby rendering his argument a logical fallacy, he chose not to comment (I was surprised he released my comment, actually), even though he ‘yes and amen-ed’ those who supported his view.

    From this starting point, I was led to the other areas discussed in the article.

    I’m disgusted, though not surprised, at your experience at seminary. I wasn’t unaware that many seminaries are promoting liberal theology. Of course, as you note, some are worse than others. Dallas Theological Seminary is noted for being more towards the conservative end, yet Jack Deere, an OT professor, taught there before he was essentially asked to leave for his views which were at odds with DTS (I have this on good authority – though this is not well-known – as the official account is that Deere resigned of his own accord). After Deere left he join up with John Wimber; and, after being over-awed by Paul Cain, convinced Wimber that Cain was a ‘prophet of God’. The rest, as they say, is history.

    You wrote, “He said that Jesus was close to being God in Scripture, but not quite God“. This is essentially the view of Philo – Jesus was an ‘almost-God’, acting as mediator for us.

    My hope is that readers of this article will come away with the understanding that 1) the Holy Spirit really can guide them in all Truth; 2) but, that it’s OK to consult other material to gain a better understanding of the cultural and societal norms of the NT times, & to consult other trustworthy commentaries to gain additional insight. One of the reasons I chose the Galatians 4:19 of Paul ‘birthing’ the Galatians ‘again’ is to illustrate that there are things that the average person would not know without consulting other material.

  13. YesNaSpanishTown says:

    I found this to be succinctly helpful at http://teampyro.blogspot.com/2011/08/folly-of-treating-christology-like-diy.html

    The Confession of Chalcedon:

    We, then, following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach men to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, perfect in Godhead and also perfect in manhood; very God and very man, of a rational soul and body; coessential [homoousion—identical in essence] with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial [homoousion—identical in essence] with us according to the Manhood; in all things like unto us, without sin; begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the Virgin Mary, the God-bearer [Theotokos], according to the Manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures without confusion, without change, without division, and without separation; the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and one Subsistence, not parted or divided into two persons, but one and the same Son, and only begotten, God the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ, as the prophets from the beginning have spoken of him, and the Lord Jesus Christ himself has taught us, and the Creed of the holy Fathers has handed down to us.

  14. Craig says:

    YesNa,

    Yes! The Chalcedon Definition (Creed) is the most succinct Christological statement in all of Christendom. It was designed that way, as it was meant to refute Christological heresies of its day. Chalcedon has stood the test of time. To deny the Confession of Chalcedon is to place oneself outside of Christianity.

    I’ve referenced this earlier here:

    http://notunlikelee.wordpress.com/2011/06/16/kenosis-christology-and-bill-johnson-part-ii/

    …under the Credence for Ecumenical Creeds as Basis for Christology section.

  15. Arwen4CJ says:

    Craig,

    Yes, I would imagine that someone who is more theologically liberal who attended a theologically conservative seminary/Bible College would try to find things to use against conservatives. It is interesting — the same arguments that atheists use against Christianity are some of the same ones that theologically liberal ones use against theologically conservatives, and it is with a very similar attitude. They want to pick it apart and poke holes in it, if they think they have found something.

    So I can see how a liberal reader might come to that conclusion :( Although, I’m surprised that he started with the premise that Jesus had deity to begin with. Many liberals outrightly deny that. I wonder how my NT professor would have responded to that kind of interpretation of Philippians 2:6-7. That was one of the passages that I wrote on for my final exam, actually. At the time that I wrote the paper, I hadn’t really considered the emptying part in a literal sense, so it wasn’t even a possibility in my mind. In general, my professor liked what I wrote — he did have a problem with me using a passage from Isaiah to show that Jesus was Yahweh, as he was so convinced that the Trinity couldn’t be supported by the Bible. He wrote some message on my exam like: “how is this possible? The Father and Jesus can’t both be Yahweh, or there would be two gods.” His anti-trinity bias didn’t even allow for the possibility…..Thankfully he thought my response was interesting, and didn’t take too much off for that. He’d never heard anyone compare Isaiah with that passage, and he ended up giving me a B+ on that part, which was nice.

    The way he graded, though….if he had thought that the self-emptying was essential to the understanding of the text, he would have docked me a lot for it, and he would have made a note of it. So I don’t think it is a common liberal rendering of that passage. I wonder how others in my class who chose to write on that passage understood it…..perhaps he would have thought it was an incorrect view, and would have graded people really down for it. I don’t know.

    It sounds to me that the guy whose blog you found just wanted to find something with which to tear down conservative Christianity with. He thought he found something, and so he posted it. I haven’t heard too many liberal scholars (actually any) who suggested that Jesus had deity before, and then emptied Himself completely of it, etc. The only people who I know of who have done this are not biblical scholars in any sense, Bill Johnson included.

    That’s another problem with many of these hyper-charismatic churches — they get pastors in the pulpit who do not have any theological training whatsoever…or very little. Most have not gone to seminary or Bible College, and so they’ve never taken any real courses in biblical interpretation. Then they spout their views, and people eat it up. Then they write books and talk to all their friends, and they speak at conferences, and they are accepted within these circles.

    Yes, Dallas Theological Seminary is known for being conservative. As far as Jack Deere is concerned, I’m guessing that when he was hired, he held the same view as the school on most of his theology. I don’t think that he was exposing any heretical views or anything, or they probably would not have hired him. It’s always tricky to get to the truth of why someone leaves a position. What were his views at the time that he left? How much was he speaking his views? Had he heard rumors he might be fired? Was their hostility? Etc. I don’t know the information surrounding the case, so I can’t really fault the school for not firing him first — but for having Deere resign. Maybe they would have fired him if he hadn’t left. Who knows.

    Yes, I hope that the readers who come here will be encouraged that the Holy Spirit can guide them into all Truth, and that it is OK to consult other material to gain a better understanding of the cultural and societal norms of the NT times, etc.

  16. Shawn says:

    Fantastic post and one that I hope many will read.

  17. Craig says:

    I went to a couple used books stores here and found a copy of Craig Keener’s one-volume IVP Bible Background Commentary: New Testament:

    In it, Keener provides cultural background on most verses in the NT, necessarily combining some verses into one comment. Given its aim (the layperson) and size (one volume), it’s by no means comprehensive, but it does very well indeed as a supplement. Certainly, one can find more information in decent individual commentaries on single NT books; yet, given Keener’s scholarly focus on NT cultural norms (and abnorms), socio-economic background, religious and philosophical beliefs, etc. (just see his two-volume commentary on the Gospel of John containing 359 pages of “Preliminary Introduction” to get an idea), this book may well have info not found in at least some of these other commentaries.

    Choosing just some verses referenced in this particular article, first, here’s part of his comment on Matthew 5:29-30:

    …Some Jewish thinkers believed that one would be resurrected in exactly the form in which one had died (e.g., with limbs missing, as in the case of many martyrs) before being made whole, and Jesus employs this image.

    From Galatians 4:15:

    Sacrificing one’s eyes for someone else was a figure of speech for a great sacrifice…Thus Paul’s statement that the Galatians “would have dug out your own eyes to give them to me” need not mean that his infirmity (4:13-14) was an oozing eye sore, as many commentators have suggested…

    From Galatians 4:19:

    Teachers were often viewed as “fathers.” Galatians well understood the Roman custom of the ruling father, whose authority over his childern was absolute. But, Paul appeals to a different aspect of ancient parenthood: that of affection and intimacy. Although the image of affection was also applied to the father, Paul here takes the role of the mother as well. Labor pains were regarded as the severest pains humans experienced, and even with skilled midwives, mothers often died in childbirth. Paul’s image of his love and sacrifice – and of their apostasy – could not be more graphic.

    To help those who may wish to procure additional resources but have no idea where to begin, I recommend one of the following commentary surveys. In each one, the compilers make suggestions of commentaries, OT & NT background, Bible dictionaries, study aids (including Greek, Hebrew, Latin), maps, atlases, etc., by comparing with each other. I have the Glynn.

    Either of the above are excellent tools to find the tools for additional insight into your Bible reading.

    Another book I like (though I don’t consult as often as I should) is the Beale/Carson Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, which has a self-explanatory title:

  18. Craig says:

    One other work I recommend is Gregg Allison’s Historical Theology. I should have checked this before I finished this particular article. There’s a section titled The Interpretation of Scripture containing a bit on Origen’s three-tiered system of interpretation. The following quote illustrates well his reliance upon neoplatonism [p 164]:

    …Those, again, who are perfect [mature]…may be edified by the spiritual law [ED: mystical, allegorical interpretation] itself…as if by the Spirit. For as man is said to consist of body, and soul, and spirit, so also does sacred Scripture, which has been granted by the divine bounty for the salvation of man.

    Origen was from Alexandria, Egypt. Over in Antioch (modern day Turkey) was a different approach [p 165], and Theodore of Mopsuestia sums up their thoughts of Origen’s approach:

    Countless students of scripture have played tricks with the plain sense of the Bible and want to rob it of any meaning it contains. In fact, they make up inept fables and call their inanities “allegories”….

    And I thought some of the current apologists were uncharitable in their descriptions of other’s methods. The Antiochenes, in reaction to Origen’s allegorizing method, used both a literal and a typological approach only if the literal bore this out. This was known as theoria, or insight [pp 165-166]:

    …For theoria to operate they considered it necessary (a) that the literal sense of the sacred narrative should not be abolished, (b) that there should be a real correspondence between the historical fact and the further spiritual object discerned, and (c) that these two objects should be apprehended together, though of course in different ways.

  19. As always, a thoroughly good article, Craig – thank you! this is timely and much-needed.

  20. Carolyn says:

    As Scripture instructs, we will find Biblical literalism when we search for Christ, for truth, with all our heart and soul and strength. Only then will we find the simple, literal, powerful one-way-to-God-only gospel. The only path to Biblical literalism is Biblical literacy. When we walk in the light of the Word, we will find all we need in Him.

    Our hearts are deceptive above all things. The Scripture tells us so. On the pathway to freedom in Christ via an honest heart and Biblical literalism, we must guard against searching for something for ourselves in that pursuit…for example, approval from our peers, acknowledgement of our prowess, a sense of belonging, denominational pride, historical accuracy, pride of rational thought or we will be defeated. The true over comers are we that accept our human incongruities and put to death our misdeeds by admitting that we are broken humanity in need of a saviour. Other than that kind of repentance and self realization in coming to the Light, we are only fooling ourselves and everyone else.

    In the past year I have been faced with a situation that was beyond a stretch for me…one that had no solutions. One that brought me to the brink of hope..I have had many occasions to experience humiliation in my life, so nothing new…but at the same time this was new.

    The closest I can come to an description is this:
    Psalm 31
    9 Have mercy upon me, O Lord, for I am in trouble: mine eye is consumed with grief, yea, my soul and my belly.

    10 For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing: my strength faileth because of mine iniquity, and my bones are consumed.

    11 I was a reproach among all mine enemies, but especially among my neighbours, and a fear to mine acquaintance: they that did see me without fled from me.

    12 I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind: I am like a broken vessel.

    13 For I have heard the slander of many: fear was on every side: while they took counsel together against me, they devised to take away my life.

    14 But I trusted in thee, O Lord: I said, Thou art my God.

    15 My times are in thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me.

    16 Make thy face to shine upon thy servant: save me for thy mercies’ sake.

    Everyone has an opinion. Every avenue was explored. If there was a solution, it would have been found. But there was none. It forced me to abandon all else and accept that Christ was alone my hope and defence. That may sound religious, but it is not. The opposite, really. I have no illusions of my own legal or earthly ambitions or provisions left. I know I am unable to attain to anything except the life of Christ. That has left me with the one thing that the rich man in Jesus’ parable was unable to procure…eternal life on the narrow pathway which is Christ, the only hope of salvation. It has left me with pain, poverty, persecution, perils and …….death to my life on this earth. Sound dramatic? It is. But that’s where God has met me. The true Christ meets us in death.

    Biblical literalism is undaunted allegiance to the truth of his Word, until the truth of it comes home, till we understand it and know it. Until we want nothing less, nothing more, until the cross becomes how we live our daily lives, we will not know true Biblical literalism. Love you all….keep on the path of love and life….

  21. YesNaSpanishTown says:

    May your Shepherd lead you beside the still waters and restore your soul. May His rod and staff comfort you as you walk through the valley of the shadow of death. May you fear no evil, and may goodness and mercy follow you all the days of your life.

  22. Carolyn says:

    Thanks YesNaSpanishTown…I pray the same for you.

    As I suggested in my previous comment, Biblical literalism is searching out the truth behind what is said. Even the metaphors, parables, allegories, etc. have a literal meaning once you search them out. The purpose being that we search for God himself. As Job persevered through the fires of affliction, as Abraham persevered through the testing of his faith…we find the reward which is above and beyond what we could ever imagine in our minds through just mental agreement. Paul came to the death experience where he lost everything in his search for Christ. He had an enviable knowledge of the law, he had a respectable reputation…but he suffered the loss of all things that he might experience the powers of the coming age and gain eternal life in Christ.

    That’s where true regeneration begins…where we not only learn things about God but he opens our eyes to “see” him. That is the beginning of a literal knowing…no mythical or mystical application, case in point with Paul.

    First he had a conversion…where he took the first steps into Christianity. He was drawn by the Holy Spirit to believe the gospel. Just so, when we decide to follow Jesus we have now been called to follow Christ. We now enter the broad road of Christian doctrine.

    If we then choose to enter through the narrow door of Christ’s teaching, we search and we learn, we seek, we ask, we knock and we obey. And then the Father and the Son come to dwell in us. Now comes “operation regeneration”. I think many confuse conversion with regeneration. One is a work of man, such that conversion is the beginnings of faith and knowledge of God; the other is a work of God where the actual life of God is imparted into us, not just the Holy Spirit leading us into truth, but the actual, literal Christ coming to abide in us.

    Even though we mix faith with hearing the word, the actual life of God does not abide in us until we are regenerated, which is a supernatural work of God himself. For instance, Paul was externally influenced and worshipped God in the way he thought of him until he was regenerated and experienced the life of God in reality, in truth. Then he had something more than just head knowledge.

    Thinking of the H-Charismatics and the Emergents; in their quest for a thoroughly modern and effective Christianity brimming with results and relationships, I have this to say: We either settle or we keep searching till we find. God said, “you will seek for me and find me when you search for me with all your heart”. The H-Charismatics settle for mystical distraction on the broad road of Christian doctrine. The Emergents settle for everything liberal and contemporary, also on the broad road. They never push on to search for God’s literal truth, the meaning behind what he said…the place, the destination, the reward….where God wants to take them if they would press on.

    How sad that such a great salvation has been neglected. Christ came to give us life…literal, abundant life, but so many Christians stop short of the actual experience of the literal. They stop short, distracted by Satan’s counterfeits of abundant “earthly” prosperity, of demonstrative signs and wonders and angelic encounters, or ecstatic highs of visiting tombs of dead saints, praying to Mary (and other lifeless images) and contemplating success through mystical rituals and on-purpose dogmas. These will hear Christ say, “I never knew you.”

    Hey…there IS life after death….literally. It’s not just Biblical head knowledge. It’s a literal regeneration to be experienced while still on earth. It’s the born again, life changing, agape-imparting, God-glorifying literal life that we can search out by reading the Word and not settling until we reach God’s best…not Joel Osteen’s “best life now”, but God’s best life for us. We don’t get to decide when he imparts his life. That’s his decision. We do the searching. We push past the distraction. He does the imparting…but the result of His impartation is a LOVE that won’t die out when things get tough, when people hate or despise us, when we are rejected…it just keeps going because it’s not our finite love, it’s his eternal, unending love…

    He imparts his love to us, not just his gifts but Himself…for God is Love.

  23. Carolyn says:

    Since I’m on a roll, I have something on my heart so I’ll just keep going.

    Speaking of the death experience of our flesh, what is coming to mind is: “He learned obedience through the things that he suffered.”

    Hebrews 5:7-9
    King James Version (KJV)
    7 Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;
    8 Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;
    9 And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;

    When we really don’t want to do what God wants us to do, he just waits, doesn’t he? And his command stays in the forefront of our mind (since we have the mind of Christ) until we either obey or keep on running (the Jonah syndrome). Trouble is, when God has set his life inside of you, he’s now so close that it’s like trying to run from yourself. You can run, but y’can’t hide.

    I don’t really know where I’m going with this…but I was just thinking about how I have learned obedience through what I have suffered. Wish I would have learned sooner, but I have a bit of a stubborn streak. And he just waits. He has the decided advantage and I’ve told him so…but he is unfazed. He waits. And when all the steam has ceased coming from my ears, when my lower lip pulls back into place and my breathing returns to normal…we talk again…he makes a way…

    Just a side note. Have you noticed that just as the Count on Sesame Street loves to count, I love to list things…it’s sort of my signature writing style…a habit. There’s a few other Carolyn s blogging online, but if there are no lists, it’s probably not me. So when you read my lists you can just picture the Count in his black cape and pointy collar…but I digress…

    now where was i?

    ah yes, I was telling you about how the Lord dealt with my anger…One day, a long time ago, I was newly turned on to the Word and experiencing a great deal of joy in the Spirit, when I decided to take a literal stand on “all things are permissible but all things are not expedient”…I took the Word to heart and decided to celebrate Easter without the eggs and bunnies. My mother-in-law had other ideas. She wanted the bunnies. Well…here we were fighting it out when suddenly I was aware that my joy was gone. It’s been like that for me. Just when I want to serve the Lord, some nasty little imp brings on some trouble for me through a human. And I try to resolve it in my own little, ineffective way or I retreat into the belly of the whale to sulk for awhile.

    Well…I still don’t have the answer for the cultural wars. It was a weary and futile pursuit to battle the in laws on such issues, but I did manage to instil in my children a interest in the Word and God will deal with their hearts on matters of importance.

    As for my anger…the tiger is being tamed…and God is working in spite of the imps.

  24. Carolyn says:

    One of my favourite questions is “Why?” So here I am asking the same thing about Biblical literalism. Why is Biblical literalism so important? Why take what is said about creation literally? Because if we don’t, it undermines the integrity of God himself. If we change a literal six day, “evening and morning is one day” and a literal disobedience of Adam and Eve to God’s command, the whole premise of sin and salvation is altered as well as the whole reason why Christ came. If evolution is correct in any form, then it puts the whole authority of God’s revelation to man in question. But it doesn’t read like that…it is just stated as fact.

    The literalism of the Nephilim is another challenging question of the day that seems to matter more than the average person is willing to admit. It is a matter that I have continued to search out. I feel a little bit triumphant today…at last… I have found something that argues the fact from Biblical literalism rather than extra biblical sourcing or a weak reasoning that doesn’t make good sense. And I found a solid answer here:
    http://bible.org/seriespage/sons-god-and-daughters-men-genesis-61-8.

    This is the kind of Biblical literalism that casts no shadows but brings clarity, simplicity and understanding. In this article, the conclusion of the matter for the Nephilim…the reason “why?” is answered satisfactorily for me. In the process, it lines up with the rest of Scripture and aligns perfectly with the plans and purposes of God for mankind such that Christ would come through a purely human bloodline fulfilling his prophetic promise that his salvation would be in truth, a sacrificial lamb(human) without defect.

    His plan hasn’t changed since time began. Every question we have should answer “why” the same way. It’s all about the eternal plan of God…not about us except as it relates to Him.

    1 John 5:19 We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. 20 And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.

    It’s just so easy for us as humans to create something that isn’t there…to be caught up in explanations or discernments that follow a human path to reason and relativity.

    Many times even if we have sincere questions, we are manipulated by Christian political answers…translation…. “snow job” as I have seen in my encounters with the teachings on the Nephilim.

    From the urban dictionary comes one explanation of a snow job:
    “as of the last week of April, 2006, “snow job” can refer to the lies, distortions and evasive non-answers given to members of the press at daily White House press briefings. (The new WH Press Secretary is Tony Snow, formerly of FOX News.)
    When the White House correspondents were told that the president was “concerned” about high gas prices, they knew they were getting the usual Snow Job.
    Press: “Hey Tony – why does the President think he’s above the law and can do anything he wants to?”
    TS: “It’s White House policy not to comment on an ongoing investigation.”
    Press, muttering: “What a Snow Job.””

    That’s a bit of humour to point out the fact that we as Christians are experiencing a “snow job” by those who are pretending Biblical literalism. Honesty is not the goal…but instead politics….or peer pressure, men pleasers, pride of those who can’t be wrong or pundits who wish to sell books and expertise.

    But for those of us who crave honesty…there is truth to be found, if we ask the right question “why?” and if we believe the right person (the Lord). God has an absolute answer..truth. I always find that when I persevere to find God’s truth, and (most importantly) I have an attitude of belief, the answer comes with a breath of fresh air and a breakthrough of freedom…the soul soars and God is glorified; the soul is restored and praise returns to the heart.

  25. Craig says:

    Sadly, we have folks like Tom Horn claiming these so-called tainted bloodlines are with us today; but, didn’t the Flood wipe out all of humankind except Noah and his family thereby eliminating this purported tainted bloodline? I had recently read in an Amazon review that in his book Apollyon Rising Horn confuses the Greek god Apollo with Apollyon, which is the Greek word for the Hebrew Abaddon meaning “destroyer” used in Revelation 9:11, indicating, if true (and I’ve no reason to doubt it), Horn’s substandard scholarship.

    From the Beale/Carson Commentary of The New Testament Use of the Old Testament, Carson notes that there are three main understandings of Gen 6:1-4:

    1) the “sons of God” really were fallen angels who mated with human women

    2) the “sons of God” were kings, judges, etc. who indulged in polygamy, taking many women as they wanted, abusing their power

    3) they were from the line of Seth who married ungodly women [p 1070]

    There is no doubt much support for #1; however, Jesus Himself said that angels do not marry. And while angels are certainly portrayed as males in Scripture, this does not mean they are actually sexual beings:

    http://www.gotquestions.org/angels-male-female.html

    I think a better explanation, though this is admittedly relatively new and in the minority at present, follows:

    A few scholars have suggested the possibility that the first and second interpretations might be combined; that is, human rulers (the second interpretation) who claimed some sort of divine status [ED: even Scripture called rulers “gods” cf. John 10:34-35; Psalm 82:6] might still fit the requirement of some kind of “angelic” encroachment (the first interpretation) if they were viewed as somehow demon possessed… [p 1071; emphasis added].

    Carson notes that the understanding of the Nephilim of Gen 6:1-4 as the mating of fallen angels with humankind ends up shifting the blame for the Flood from humans to demonic entities [p 1072]. With that in mind, it seems to make more sense that certain men willingly allowed themselves to be demon possessed.

  26. Carolyn says:

    Ah good try Craig, but this is speculation at its finest…the Scripture says nothing about demon possession. (I’m trying to be funny)…but seriously, I have heard just about every argument going and the literal interpretation makes the most sense. I was just stumbled by the Seth/Cain argument momentarily.

    It says, “sons of God” saw the daughters of men. I found it interesting in the article presented by bible.org that Christ did not say that the angels are without sexuality or an interest in such. True there are no female angels to procreate with, but what he does say is: Matthew 22:30
    “For in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven.”

    They may have used a different form of procreation, but their offspring were hybrids of themselves (angel beings) and women, resulting IMHO, as I read it, the Nephilim (giants).
    And the angels, not men, received damnation for their actions…they did not die, they are reserved for punishment.
    2 Peter 2:4
    For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment;
    Jude 1:6
    And the angels which kept not their first estate, but left their own habitation, he hath reserved in everlasting chains under darkness unto the judgment of the great day.

    Of course we could get into it, but that was not my intention…to distract from the main point.

    This is like any argument. The Scriptures can be manipulated to suit one’s bias. Just like your original purpose for writing this piece, Craig…Philippians 2. Everyone thinks they are taking the Scripture literally…even false teachers. What they don’t realize is that they are men without the Spirit and any agenda besides God’s agenda distorts their clarity. The simple question of why did Christ have to be God, fits with the rest of Scripture perfectly…a perfect, sinless sacrifice was needed…not a hybrid or a human, but God becoming flesh.

    Unless we approach the Scripture with an honest heart, a heart that believes God, is changed and brought to life by the Spirit of God, we will be people without the Spirit. Flesh cannot understand spiritual things. If you read the word without the Spirit of God, there are contradictions and more contractions. You have brought our attention to a few of them. I could find you some more. And they remain contradictions unless we approach God with a believing heart and have his spirit to enlighten us and speak to us.

    The Word of God is not for unbelievers. It is for believers.

    Anyhow, thanks for the reply. I’ll look up some of those references and get back to you if I have any new thoughts.

  27. Craig says:

    Carolyn,

    Since I’ve already been through this particular discussion on another site, I’ll just cut and paste once again from the Beale/Carson work. If you look closely at the contexts of both the 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 1:6 you’ll see that there is no explicit reference to Gen 6:1-4.

    Here’s Carson:

    Crossing the species line is central to Jub. 5 [book of Jubilees]; that is not explicit in either Jude or 2 Peter. Jude is interested in the inevitability of the judgment of these “angels,” whoever they are, rather than in the precise nature of their sin. [p 1072]

    In addition, as you note, Scripture mentions no female angels with which the ‘male’ angels could procreate. And, if there’s no marriage in heaven, and we assume as per the rest of Scripture that there is no sex apart from marriage, then there is no sex in heaven as well. So, given that fallen angels were once like the other angels, how would fallen angels have the ability to procreate with the “daughters of men”? To construe that there must be “a different form of procreation” is to go beyond the bounds of both Scripture and science.

  28. just1ofhis says:

    My take:

    We know from Paul that people have actually entertained angels without knowing it. So, we know that they are able to take human form; indistinguishable in our eyes from any other people. We are encouraged to show hospitality to strangers for this very reason.

    We know from Jude that these “fallen” angels did not keep their heavenly station and rebelled against God; in contrast, we know that Jesus was referring to those angels still serving God in heaven (not those who had fallen, by choosing to leave their assigned habitation). Of course there is no sex in heaven, but those “fallen” angels did not remain in heaven. I don’t think you can apply the words of Jesus regarding “angels” to those who fell.

    I have to agree with Carolyn on this one. The literal reading is the most simple and straightforward. It is an interesting discussion, however.

  29. Carolyn says:

    There are other ways to procreate, especially if you have a superior intelligence as the angels have. What comes to mind just off the top of my head, is artificial insemination. genetic engineering and DNA recombination. I’m not a scientist but let’s say, I’ve heard things….

    I know that there is no specific connection from Genesis 6 to Jude and 2 Peter but the implications are extraordinary IMO. I have cross referenced and cross referenced and (cheated with extra-biblical sources a wee bit)…and I get 2 plus 2 equals 4 every time.

    I’m a believer…if you would rather believe in demon possession, that’s a bigger stretch for me…

    As for shifting the blame…no…it’s a shared blame. All have sinned…angels and men…there was much violence and evil on the earth, but would God completely destroy all mankind for disobedience and unbelief since the whole world has been on that course since the beginning of time? No, to me there was something a bit more sinister that God was dealing with. But apparently we are working up to the same conditions that created the need for judgement back then. I believe it. All you have to do is watch one evening of TV and…oh… the shock and horror…the occult, the immorality, the dirty and the disgusting is all there in plain sight. Sometimes I can’t find the channel changer fast enough and I have some half woman, half demon woman materializing in front of me in a commercial..shiver…

    It’s hard to imagine how the world could get much worse but everything is in place for a tidal wave of deranged evil. Whether it comes through human evil, demonic evil, angelic deceptions, “paperclip conspiracy” alien ships coming to earth, or a flood of a new rise in the Golden Dawn, etc. etc. etc….we know it’s coming.

    Also, I meant to touch on your reference to Tom Horn’s substandard scholarship. Frankly, the guy doesn’t do everything right. No doubt. But do any of us? He’s trying to expose the darkness. My only caution would be that we cannot rely on demons to predict the future. If we do, we could get a few things wrong. As with everything, if we listen to his ideas, we can glean a few things, but we compare everything with Scripture. That’s our bottom line. If you disagree, I’m listening…

  30. Carolyn says:

    BTW, I’m not suggesting that the teachings of people like Thomas Horn and Cris Putnam and all other eschatological teachers should not be subjected to careful scrutiny because they should. David James has done some excellent articles on them. He also gives them credit where credit is due.

    I was just meaning that it’s easy enough to dismiss everything they say, when much effort has gone into their research and a lot of the material is credible. They have made mistakes in their researching and writing, they’ve made bold statements that don’t have good foundations, but they have boldly gone where other feared to tread. That’s got to count for something.

  31. Craig says:

    Herescope has had a series of articles on this sort of thing. Of course, they’re refuting the notion that there are currently (post-Flood) cross-bred “Nephilim”. Here’s the most recent:

    http://herescope.blogspot.com/2013/05/homo-nephilus_6651.html

    In the footnotes is a link to an article which covers most of the issues associated with the Gen 6:1-8 text:

    http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/aid/v2/n1/who-were-the-nephilim

    The author/s of the above have this to say:

    In Genesis 6:4, the phrase “men of renown” uses the Hebrew word iysh. This term is used consistently as “man” or descendants of Adam—even Adam used it of himself in Genesis 2:23, yet it is never used of fallen angel, demons, or of Satan. It was used for some unfallen angels when they took the form of a man, though. If the Nephilim were crossbreeds between men and fallen angels, then why did the Bible use the term men (iysh) as opposed to something that would lead us to believe they were not fully men?

    If we follow the context of iysh into the following verses in Genesis 6, we find:
    ◾Verse 4: Nephilim are men of renown
    ◾Verse 5: wickedness of man great
    ◾Verse 6: God sorry He made man on earth
    ◾Verse 7: Blot out man from earth
    ◾Verse 8/9: Noah found favor with God and was a righteous man

    The context reveals that Noah was compared with and amongst the men being discussed in Genesis 6, yet unlike them he was righteous (Genesis 6:9). There is no mention of Noah being fully human and other men being half-breeds, but merely that he was righteous among them. Having Noah be righteous among his generations is slight support for the view that sees the sons of God as human.

    One early argument against this angelic view was that angels didn’t marry in heaven according to Jesus (Matthew 22:30). This has been responded to many times and it is rightly pointed out that this is referring to angels in heaven, not fallen angels. So, the option was left open that fallen angels may very well do this. However, a new problem now arises. Moses points out that the sons of God took wives (ishshah wife/women) (Genesis 6:2). Never once have I found a verse in the Bible where wife, wives, husband, husbands, or marriage was anything other than between a human male and female. If these were marriages between fallen angels and women, then it opens up the possibility of marriages that are not limited to man and woman, when the Bible is clear on this subject.

    An argument in response is that ishshah could merely be used for women, not wives, and doesn’t necessarily mean they were married, but rather taken for sexual purposes outside of marriage, possibly forcibly. In light of some of these criticisms, this popular view may not be the best one, though many great scholars hold to it and it should be at least respected. I encourage deeper study in both the view and the responses as I am only touching the surface.

    Perhaps the most devastating argument against this view came from Jesus Himself, though. We have no instance in Scripture where fallen angels ever materialized as previously stated. This is significant because Christ offered proof of His resurrection when the disciples questioned Him:

    Luke 24:37–43
    But they were startled and frightened and thought that they were seeing a spirit. And He said to them, “Why are you troubled, and why do doubts arise in your hearts? See My hands and My feet, that it is I Myself; touch Me and see, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have.” And when He had said this, He showed them His hands and His feet. While they still could not believe it because of their joy and amazement, He said to them, “Have you anything here to eat?” They gave Him a piece of a broiled fish; and He took it and ate it before them. (emphasis added)

    If fallen angels or demons, which are spirit, could materialize, then this calls into question the entire resurrection of Christ. Christ says spirits do not have flesh and bones, so it would seem these entities can’t make physical bodies for themselves.

    And, even if fallen angels were to materialize as men (as angels have appeared in “human form”), would we think they’d be complete with the ability to procreate with women? Once again, how can we think that any angel, fallen or otherwise, have the ability to procreate when we consider that there are no female angels in Scripture? If we were to make the leap that fallen angels can so become man that they also possess the ability to procreate with women – a position not supported anywhere in Scripture – how would this semen be anything but human? Why not stop a bit short of this and consider demonic possession, a position which is certainly Biblical. Of course, this stance requires a bit of reading into this particular context (though not much and certainly not allowing it to fall into incoherence); however, it at least aligns with the rest of the context as men rather than some sort of half-breed.

    And the artificial insemination idea still requires that the fallen angels somehow have semen, a position not supportable by Scripture.

  32. Craig says:

    The problem with Horn, as from the criticisms I’ve read as I’ve not actually read much of his stuff, is that he fails to interact with serious scholarship. That is, he doesn’t find others of agreement (though I believe he cites 1 Enoch, a very shaky source as it’s, of course, extra-Biblical) to support his views, and he doesn’t cite views against his in order to counter them affectively.

    My impression is that he just wants to sell books.

  33. Craig says:

    Carolyn,

    You wrote, I know that there is no specific connection from Genesis 6 to Jude and 2 Peter but the implications are extraordinary IMO. I have cross referenced and cross referenced and (cheated with extra-biblical sources a wee bit)…and I get 2 plus 2 equals 4 every time.

    Yes, there are sources which state outright, or state the possibility, that 2 Peter and Jude refer to Gen 6:1-4. This may or may not be true; however, it’s not explicit, and the specific sin is not addressed in either case.

    Here’s the NIV Study Bible note to 2 Peter 2:4 (it doesn’t even reference Genesis at all in Jude):

    Some believe this sin was the one referred to in Ge 6:2, where the sons of God are said to have intermarried with the daughters of men, meaning (according to this view) that angels married human women. The offspring of those marriages are said to have been the Nephilim (Ge 6:4…). But since it appears impossible for angels, who are spirits, to have sexual relations with women, the sin referred to in this verse probably occurred before the fall of Adam and Eve. The angels who fell became the devil and evil angels (probably the demons and evil spirits referred to in the NT)…

    Carson mentions this possibility as well [p 1071], though not with much confidence. However, this is the view of R.C. Sproul in his commentary on 1 & 2 Peter [p 249]. Sproul addresses the Gen 6 view, denounces it as being referenced in 2 Peter, and claims Gen 6 is the Sethian view instead [p 248].

    However, I recall last year hearing a teacher whom I generally respect support the fallen angels marrying women view in Gen 6. By memory, I thought it was Sproul, until I checked his work.

    In any case, Genesis 6 is one of the more difficult of all Scripture passages to exegete – and hardly one I’d build a doctrine around, as Tom Horn has.

  34. just1ofhis says:

    Craig, you said, “In any case, Genesis 6 is one of the more difficult of all Scripture passages to exegete – and hardly one I’d build a doctrine around, as Tom Horn has.”

    I think that is a very good point.

    It is interesting to study these things, but they certainly aren’t a matter of salvation. I worry about folks (like Tom Horn) who take obscure passages and build large narratives from them (and pass it off packaged as gifted insight). Someday we will all understand these things in full, for now we strive to know nothing among them but Jesus Christ and Him crucified.

    I’ll take the foolishness of God over the greatest ‘wisdom’ of men anyday.

  35. Carolyn says:

    Here is a list of speakers at the 2012 conference taken from Dave James’ concluding remarks http://www.biblicalintegrity.org/blog/2013/03/22/pope-final-2/

    excerpt: In July of this year, Horn will be addressing the Pike’s Peak Prophecy Summit, which is already sold out of tickets. The list of other speakers includes Cris Putnam, Jonathan Cahn, Joseph Farah, Gary Stearman, Chuck Missler, L.A. Marzulli, Mark Biltz, Lennart Moller, Bill Koenig, Ken Johnson, Paul McGuire, Jerry Robinson, Stan Monteith, Doug Woodward, Bob Cornuke, Barrie Schwortz, Doug Hamp, Bill Salus, David Olander, Samuel Hoyt, Doc Marquis, Derek Gilbert and David Brennan.

    Worthy of note I think is the fact that in this particular network, the gospel is correct with a few exceptions…but with most of these guys, their starting point is orthodox belief. I don’t want to be the one to weigh the motives of their heart (Proverbs 16:2). I’ve learned many things by listening and haven’t had the cashola to buy their books, but I’ve heard much informative discussion, particularly on Gary’s video updates. While I disagree with political connections for the sake of buying and selling, merchandising the gospel and creating alliances that open doors to false teachers and wolves…still, the gospel is going forth.

    Philippians 1:15-19
    New International Version (NIV)
    15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice. Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.

  36. Carolyn says:

    I was just reading (well skimming actually) a scholarly document: http://www.apologeticspress.org/rr/reprints/Sons-of-God-in-Genesis-6.pdf by Trevor J. Major, M.Sc., M.A. who is of the belief that the sons of God in Genesis 6 are human.

    I’m still going with the Sons of God “bene-ha ‘elohim” as being angels because throughout the OT the “sons of god”/angels are called bene-ha ‘elohim. Let me put it this way. After reading this paper, and other documents, I am AWARE that there are other possibilities. But still I’m not convinced because it’s hard to shake me from my original view. Perhaps I don’t want to be shaken from it, (if I’m honest). But I am aware, not adamant on any single position. That might bother the person who feels a need to have all their theological ducks in a row, but I’m not bothered by seemingly disconsonant conclusions. The closer I get to eternity, the more I know I don’t know and the more I stabilize on the really important issues of Christendom. Although it’s fun to think about some of these things, in-fighting and hatred are the wrong spirit to take up. Not saying that anyone on this site does, but heated debates have turned ugly. Just sayin.

    Also, artificial insemination was not the best example for an angel since they probably don’t have the same equipment as humans. Perhaps we should rather consider genetic engineering or DNA recombination. Since the secret societies link the third strand of DNA to future syncretism, this might be something worth watching.

    Scriptural hypotheses for unknowns are difficult. Demon possession is a possibility with Biblical precedent but not resulting in a hybrid race. Spiritual overshadowing…some possibility, although no precedent except Mary being overshadowed by the Holy Spirit. Genetic manipulation? Entirely possible in my opinion, but hard to impossible find Biblical support.

    Sometimes it seems easier to see the humans as Nephillim argument. But then again, why were there giants on the earth? And if the hybrids/humans weren’t the giants then where did the giants come from? The Anakim were in Canaan and Goliath was an example as well. Were the giants possibly a product of angel interference? teaching methods of genetic manipulation back there already? Just thinking outside the box.

  37. Craig says:

    Carolyn,

    Regarding the upcoming conference you cite, a number of those folks were specifically mentioned in the Herescope article (Horn, Putnam, Stearman, Marzulli, Hamp, Missler), and at least one of those has other known problems (Missler). Cahn’s book The Harbinger has been the source of much criticism. I don’t know the other names with the exception of Monteith whom I generally respect in that he’s supported Constance Cumbey’s fight of New Age encroachment.

    The ‘hybrid race’ view is still the most popular view of Gen 6, though that hardly means it’s correct, of course. But, this stance has the inherent problem of the explanation of “how?”. Even IF one accepts the crossbreeding view, one must concede that they were destroyed in the Flood – something Horn et al refuse to see. Goliath was certainly portrayed as a giant, but he was not at all associated with Gen 6.

    To consider any sort of genetic manipulation is to go WAY beyond Scripture. But, this argument becomes circular: one must first believe there were in fact hybrids and then work backwards to an explanation. Yet, there’s nothing in the text to suggest any sort of thing beyond a ‘normal’ “marriage” (v 2) and normal procreation (v 4); again, one has to really read much into the text to believe in any sort of genetic manipulation.

    Certainly, there are those today who are advocating transhumanism – very dangerous territory, in my book. But, this has nothing to do with Gen 6; it’s more in line with Gen 3 – men succumbing to Satan’s temptation to become immortal/god-like.

  38. Carolyn says:

    Craig…Yes transhumanism is a dangerous game. But this is where our world is headed today. It’s ok to take an honest look at who is doing what and why they are doing it, in the light of Scripture. As a Christian we can play the pious fraud who is religious on Sundays and watches football/hockey and drinks beer or searches for porn on the computer during the week. The alternative is that we can wake up and get some passion going. Whatever it takes….warnings from end times prophets or researching for answers to troubling events. Judgement is coming. It’s in our faces right now. These shakings should be giving us reasons to wake up and fill our spiritual lamps with oil, to be ready, to be watchful.

    Actually the conference mentioned was for 2012, but there is another one this year.

    Each of these men have taken the issues of the day and shone the light of the Scripture on them. For instance David Brenner has written a book called the Israel Omen http://israelomen.com/ that looks at the abundance of catastrophes in the light of coming judgement (curses) for ill treatment of God’s chosen people Israel. He has some insights that are worth consideration. Doug Woodward is also an eschatological scholar worthy of mention. He has a few books out: http://faith-happens.com/ …. his latest being Power Quest.

    Yes, these people are selling books, but so are Craig Keener and D. A. Carson, etc. They all have something to say. And I say, that’s not a bad thing. If we aren’t reading these books, we’ll be reading something else, probably with much less positive spiritual impact.

    As for Tom Horn. He has a publishing company so of course publishing books is a passion for him. He has helped many others to get published. He’s taken a lot of heat but just keeps going because he believes in what he’s doing. Sometimes you really can’t blame them for getting tired of the nit pickers who are just out to do what they do best…nit pick. He’s very knowledgeable in transhumanism and was the voice that first made me aware of this unsavoury development. Can we become too informed on one particular subject? Obsessed is not a good thing. It’s like food…eat too much of one thing and the system breaks down.

    Anyhow, Tom’s latest books have caused an awakening to all things Catholic. While the rest of us are living our mundane lives, Cris and Tom are up there on the top of Mount Graham inspecting the Catholic Telescope named Lucifer. Who knew??? It’s a bit of news that the rest of us find interesting as it seems that the Catholic Church has a significant part in the end time Babylonian portrait that is being put together by a daily flood of Satanic intrigue.

    I do have a bit of a problem with some discernment sites who sit in judgement of those who are at least trying to wake up the church. Some make a point of negative criticism(thank God, not you Craig) to build up their own religious bias. Biblically speaking, we should be on the same narrow path…watching for the return of our Lord, preaching the word in season and out of season, encouraging one another daily and obeying Christ’s commands, especially to discern the times we are living in. So I make it my goal to build up the things I see that are good and true and honest.

    Keepin it literal…

  39. Arwen4CJ says:

    I would suggest using a bit of caution in regard to fighting biblical literalism battles. I’ve seen people err when they dissect Scripture too much, maintaining a narrow interpretation of something that may not be spelled out or explained in detail in Scripture on non-essential doctrine. If we’re not careful, we can misunderstand something (reading something literally that may not have been intended to be read that way, or making the opposite mistake, etc), and then turning it into a test for whether or not someone is a true Christian.

    That’s not to say that every single passage of Scripture is not important or that it has value. However, as Christians, we have to pick our battles, I think. For instance, spending time fighting for the deity of Jesus is very important. Spending time fighting for the correct understanding of the gospel is essential.

    I tend to view the literal 24 hour days in creation as a non-essential. What I mean by that is that I think that a person can be an orthodox Christian whether they hold to the view that each day of creation was literally 24 hours as we see it, or whether or not a “day” might have stood for a longer period of time, in God’s time. I think the main point is that God created the universe, not exactly how long it took Him, according to our view of time.

    I think that God had the power to create everything in as short or long a time period as He wanted to.

    Having literal 24 hour days or not having literal 24 hour days of creation does not affect the gospel account, our faith, or undermine the reliability or validity of the Bible. As long as God is still viewed as the Creator, having designed each and everything in creation….then I think it is fine.

    What I would find to be problematic would be if someone claimed that God didn’t create the world, that He had no hand in anything, that He did not fashion each and every thing…..etc. So denying that He is the Creator would be undermining the gospel and the Bible.

    This is my view.

    As for Adam and Eve — I agree that a literal understanding is important to the gospel. I have never understood how people can claim that that whole account was metaphorical, or that there was not a first human named Adam, and a first woman named Eve who disobeyed God. If there wasn’t a real Adam and a real Eve, then that would undermine the gospel. Also, why would Paul write about Jesus as being the second Adam, and about how the sin of one man put all under condemnation, and the righteous act of Jesus brought salvation. Yeah, I think the gospel would be wrecked without a real Adam and a real Eve.

    Somehow, though, some people claim they don’t believe in a real garden of Eden, or a real Adam or Eve, etc, and they claim that they still believe in the gospel. But maybe their understanding of the gospel is different? I don’t know. In my understanding of the gospel, I think it is necessary to have a fall in real history. Otherwise the person would have to come up with an explanation about why we need to be saved — would they say that we were created with the tendency toward sin? But then why would God punish us and call it a sin if He created us that way? Plus it would go against Scripture that says He created us good. It’s very unhelpful to our faith to not believe in a literal Adam and Eve.

    As for Genesis 6 and the whole demons mating with humans — I definitely that it is possible and the likely interpretation. However, again, whether or not someone holds to a literal view of this is a non-essential. Whether or not we believe this doesn’t really affect the gospel message itself. We can get too far into explaining how it was literal or how it was metaphorical, and miss the point of the whole account and the fact that people were sinful, and God was not happy.

    I guess if a person believes strongly enough about a view of a non-essential, it’s fine to argue it as long as it isn’t made into a litmus test over whether or not someone is a Christian, or as long as it doesn’t replace the essentials/gospel.

    For example, I had an Internet friend a while ago who was really into people’s interpretations about Revelation and the end times. He made his views to be essential doctrines. He spent all his time when he was witnessing to people explaining how such and such was a fulfillment of some end times prophecy. So instead of preaching Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection, he was telling the people about prophecy and fulfillment.

    This particular individual would listen to the radio or listen to other Christian speakers in other ways, attending conferences or whatever, and he would put these people on pedestals, being completely convinced that they were right, and so he would evangelize them and their teachings. I got tired of it because he kept on switching his loyalties, and these people would have contradictory views about things, and his view was no longer on Jesus Christ. Finally, he got into Graham Cooke.

    He told me all the “wonderful” things that Graham Cooke taught about prophecy, and I told him that it sounded to me like Graham Cooke was off, just from what he was saying about the teachings. He got really mad at me and said that I was being spiritually blinded and whatnot. I stopped reading his e-mails. Later I found out that my discernment about Graham Cooke was correct, as he travels around hyper-charismatic circles and is loved by hyper-charismatics. It was his booklet that I read in which he said something like, “empty your mind and try to hear from God. If the message that you hear contradicts Scripture, then you need to change your understanding of Scripture to make it line up with the word that you heard from God/angels.”

  40. Carolyn says:

    Just had a few more thoughts as I’ve had a rush of blood to the brain followed by a streak of cognizance,

    The statement I made about not caring about whether all my theological ducks were in a row is not giving myself licence to be lazy. I plan to keep digging and researching but still leaving room for differences of opinion and most importantly the aha you get when the Holy Spirit shows you something that you hadn’t seen before, pulling all the chips and bits together for you in a way human intelligence can’t quite manage.

    Some things you can’t understand so there’s no use obsessing over them. Just let it rest. Meanwhile you add a few more info bites to your theological repertoire and share what you can with those who will listen. Presently, the chaos is so magnificent, something new every night on the news, there is endless discussion going on, but strangely, God is still just a swear word with most.

    I’ve been thinking about the scenario of demon possession…certainly, I can see some real possibilities for that. The army of locusts, the 3 spirits like frogs to name a couple of instances. But transhumanism and chip technology is not out of the question. Right now we can’t see clearly how it fits Scripture, except in economic control of “no man being able to buy or sell” but the fact that once the mark is taken, there is no way back suggests, I say suggests, some kind of change in the human genre to make him unredeemable.

    As for the 24 hour day, Arwen…the problem is…one thing leads to another. One careless attitude of not taking God at his literal word when it is so plain in Genesis 1 is that it leads to greater unbelief and blurring of the lines which you outlined here:
    “What I would find to be problematic would be if someone claimed that God didn’t create the world, that He had no hand in anything, that He did not fashion each and every thing…..etc. So denying that He is the Creator would be undermining the gospel and the Bible.”

    For some reason, it’s the sin problem of just plain old unbelief. If one lie can be passed off as unimportant…then the second lie of evolution and/or Garden of Eden allegory is easier to swallow. If we buy into evolution in part, what’s stopping someone going all the way?

  41. Carolyn says:

    Arwen…I’ll play Miss Manners today. Well…your internet friend sounds like a fanatic. If you couldn’t get him talking about anything you were interested in, then you did the right thing by walking away.

    You said,
    “This particular individual would listen to the radio or listen to other Christian speakers in other ways, attending conferences or whatever, and he would put these people on pedestals, being completely convinced that they were right, and so he would evangelize them and their teachings.”

    It’s called idolatry. We all have it to some degree and God deals with it in each of us if we are willing. We can’t see it in ourselves, until we attempt to come near to God and find out we have some big obstacles keeping us apart. But if we are willing, God will bring us to the point (through suffering) of smashing our idols and turning our hearts without reservation to Christ.

    As for your caution on literalism, I don’t think we need to be afraid of it as much as we need to understand it. Paranoia on any front is a life killer. If we believe God is the God of his word, then we can jump in with both feet, read it and trust God to give us the increase…he teaches us and leads us into all truth. That’s his promise.

  42. Arwen4CJ says:

    All I’m saying is that I know people that I would consider to be orthodox Christians who do not hold to a literal 24 hour days of creation, while still maintaining that God is the Creator. I also know of others who even say that they think God could have used evolution in His creating, directing every step of it.

    I realize that this might sound heretical to some, but I don’t honestly have a problem with these ideas, so long as they maintain that God could have still created the universe in literal 24 hour days.

    Yes, there can be a slippery slope with this kind of thing, but these views are not uncommon among theologically conservative Christian evangelicals. They are able to maintain their faith in God, the Bible, Jesus Christ, the gospel, etc.

    And also, please not that I don’t mean that calling something non-essentials means that it is not an important doctrine. Rather, I think that non-essentials are still important, but I don’t think that being wrong about them means that they are heretics or any less of a Christian than others.

    I might also suggest that those who go with the “to God one day could be a thousand of our years” interpretation of the length of the creation believe that they are still taking God at His word. Why? Because they still value the creation accounts. They just have a different interpretation of what “day” means there. The Bible doesn’t actually say that these days are 24 hour days. It just calls them days. So, in my opinion, both literal 24 hour days and metaphorical days could be correct.

    The people who hold to the “one creation day could be a thousand years” view do not necessarily hold to unbelief in what the Bible says. They also do not necessarily deny that God could create the universe in a matter of mere 24 hour days. They simply seem to be allowing for the possibility that “day” there could be on God’s timetable and not necessarily Earth’s timetable.

    It is true that picking apart the events of the Bible may be easier if we do not take everything absolutely literally, but I think that there are boundaries. Once a person strays outside of those orthodox boundaries, then they are in real trouble.

    So I think that orthodoxy has some very clear boundaries, but that within those boundaries there can be Christians who may hold to slightly different views about some of the non-essentials, and yet still be considered orthodox Christians. Disagreeing about the things within the boundaries doesn’t have to lead to compromise outside of those boundaries.

    What stops a person from going all the way — from straying outside of the boundaries — is faith. Faith in the God of the Bible, faith in the gospel, etc.

  43. Arwen4CJ says:

    Carolyn,

    Yes, I had to walk away from him as a friend. I did what I could to try to show him that the people he was listening to, and their beliefs were off. He wouldn’t listen. He then started insulting me because I didn’t like Graham Cooke, saying that I had a horrible problem, saying I had all these horrible sins (based on the fact I was opposed to some of the doctrine he kept spewing out), and that I would suffer physical illness for them. He had followed after some teacher that claimed that every single sin produces a unique medical problem — so if you had a sin, you would have that medical problem….and also that if you had a medical problem, then it meant you had a particular sin.

    I just couldn’t reason with him, and there was no where that we could go. He tried telling me that Christians cannot sin anymore because there is no law for us, and that there never was a law for us. He was just way out in left field. He slept with his girlfriend before he married her, having convinced himself that sex outside of marriage was not a sin. I had to just give up on reaching him.

    Yes, we all do have our own idols, and yes, God does deal with each of us if we are willing.

    It’s not so much that I’m afraid of literalism….it’s just that I’ve seen some people take the concept too far, and there have been some very negative consequences. We can all be distracted from Jesus Christ. Even some of our doctrines and theology and other good things can become our focus, taking Jesus’ places.

    We might all consider different things to be non-essentials. So…it is somewhat subjective, so I will have to appeal to the creeds. The things contained in the creeds should be seen as the essentials.

    Yes, if we believe God is the God of his word, then we can jump in with both feet. The only thing is that we all might have different understandings of what taking God at his word means. That’s why I think it’s useful to sort out the essentials from the non-essentials. Each of us may be able to know what taking God at His word means for us….but it may not fit another person’s definition of that.

    I do not deny that God teaches us and leads us into all truth. The problem is that sometimes we blind ourselves to what that truth is.

    For example, there are those who are KJV Only Christians. Some within this group claim that those who read other translations are going to hell. They claim that God’s true word is only the KJV, and that those who don’t read it are lost.

    I have no problem with someone preferring the KJV for their own personal reasons. If someone likes it, great. I would strongly disagree with someone who believes that the KJV is the only legitimate Bible translation out there, and whatever. I would find their standpoint problematic, but I could still accept them having that viewpoint.

    However, I really, really have a problem if someone claims that unless someone reads the KJV, they are not saved. In my view, making that kind of statement has crossed the boundary line. Why? Because they are talking about an essential doctrine — and that is the doctrine of salvation. They are adding to the gospel by saying a person must read the KJV Bible, and that if they do not read it, they are going to hell. God never says a person has to read the Bible in order to be saved. We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ and what He has done.

    So those in the KJV Only salvation camp have taken the non-essential issue (Bible translation) and made it an essential belief, and their focus is off of Jesus Christ and off of the real gospel. I know that not all KJV Only Christians have made it a salvation issue. However, there are some who have.

    So I think there are different definitions of what it means to take the Bible literally , and it there is a wide variation in what that might mean, even among orthodox Christians.

    I have an online friend right now who is really into technology. He is a Christian, but he has trouble seeing how some advancements in technology could be sinful. For at if humans were able to achieve immortality. He sees it as the same thing as curing diseases. I see it as an ethical/spiritual problem. I think to try to achieve immortality would be humanity rebelling against God. God decreed that we would only live about 120 years maximum.

    So then he asked me if I would lose my faith in God if someone lived 121 years. I said no, because my faith is in God, not in how long any one person lives. So he showed me a link about a woman who lived to be 122 or 123 or something. I said fine…God allowed it, but I don’t think it’s something God wants us to try to break.

    Now, if we were too literal about the 120 years thing, then we would deny that this individual that he showed me would exist. I see it as a general limit that God placed on our lifespan, but not necessarily God not allowing someone to live a day beyond 120 years.

    I still think it would be sinful for humanity to try to break the 120 year limit for everyone — because it is something that God decreed. To try to go beyond that, especially if we were to try to achieve immortality would mean that we (humanity) would be setting itself up as our own god. That is evil. To claim that we are on god’s level is wrong.

    If humanity were to achieve immortality, then what use would eternal life be? What use would getting a resurrected body be? I suppose people would still be able to die in accidents maybe…but the minute that humanity says that it no longer needs God, that humanity has no limits….that’s just dangerous.

    My friend talked awhile ago about uploading our minds, our souls, our everything to some computer and living in some virtual world forever. He thought that would be wonderful. I think it would be awful and go against God.

    We can all be so easily sucked into the worldly ways. And yes, all of us are blind to some of the ways we have been deceived. And that is one reason why we need each other — why there needs to be a community of believers. We need to hold one another accountable.

  44. Carolyn says:

    Craig…you said, “To consider any sort of genetic manipulation is to go WAY beyond Scripture. But, this argument becomes circular: one must first believe there were in fact hybrids and then work backwards to an explanation. Yet, there’s nothing in the text to suggest any sort of thing beyond a ‘normal’ “marriage” (v 2) and normal procreation (v 4); again, one has to really read much into the text to believe in any sort of genetic manipulation.”

    Actually, going in circles is no problem for me.
    Secondly, I’m already backwards so I don’t have far to go.
    Thirdly, to suggest that any marriage is normal is going beyond believable. *smile*

    And…I’m still processing your point about the word “lysh” aka “men of renown”.

    I’m also processing your comment: “Even IF one accepts the crossbreeding view, one must concede that they were destroyed in the Flood – something Horn et al refuse to see.” Ouch, I have felt that sarcasm before somewhere…on another site I think…it has a familiar feel.

    My thought is…yes the hybrids were destroyed, but the angels were not destroyed in the flood. So did they mate with women again after the flood? It doesn’t say WHEN God bound up the angels that sinned putting them in chains. He may have allowed their sin to continue for a season once again after the flood for the purpose of testing the faith of the Israelites entering Canaan. They were told to completely wipe out certain communities. Would they obey? Their future depended on it. Once they did obey and wiped the hybrid population from the earth, God would have followed through on his judgement of the angels. Does that make any sense to you?

    I know it’s speculation, but it’s still hard for me to believe that the Sons of God were purely human. Maybe I’ll get there but so far my mind cannot wrap itself around the concept.

    Arwen…good point about immortality. Yes, but that’s the temptation for mankind today, including the Christian Dominionists who want a literal earthly kingdom.

    Your comment: “My friend talked awhile ago about uploading our minds, our souls, our everything to some computer and living in some virtual world forever. He thought that would be wonderful.”

    Hey, tell him I’m in…as long as I can bring my virtual peanut butter, toast and coffee.

    Seriously, if he’s a Christian talking like that…he’s either putting you on or he needs to buy himself a virtual Bible and start reading it….and soon.

    Say…here’s a question. What’s the opposite of literalism…is it liberalism??

  45. Carolyn says:

    Craig, thanks for the links to the two articles. I thought I had read the one on Herescope, but it was an older one. Have bookmarked that one and the one on answersingenesis. Definitely looking forward to reading them.

  46. Craig says:

    Carolyn:

    I’m also processing your comment: “Even IF one accepts the crossbreeding view, one must concede that they were destroyed in the Flood – something Horn et al refuse to see.” Ouch, I have felt that sarcasm before somewhere…on another site I think…it has a familiar feel.

    It wasn’t intended as sarcasm at all. Horn, Stearman and others, as per the Herescope link, believe the hybrids somehow continued to exist post-Flood. This is a logical fallacy, as that would entail assuming at least one hybrid on the Ark to perpetuate them.

    You wrote, My thought is…yes the hybrids were destroyed, but the angels were not destroyed in the flood.

    If this is your stance, then it would seem you cannot use 2 Peter 2:4 and Jude 1:6 to bolster the argument (as, unless I’m incorrect, Horn, Stearman et al have done):

    4 For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell, putting them in chains of darkness to be held for judgment; [NIV]

    6 And the angels who did not keep their positions of authority but abandoned their proper dwelling—these he has kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day. [NIV]

    Otherwise, one has to posit that there are other fallen angels who have done / are doing a similar thing, thus pure speculation going beyond the bounds of Scripture.

    … It doesn’t say WHEN God bound up the angels that sinned putting them in chains. He may have allowed their sin to continue for a season once again after the flood for the purpose of testing the faith of the Israelites entering Canaan…

    So, per your (Horn’s?) theory, God used the Flood to wipe out man (except Moses and his family), yet God didn’t bind these angels who were co-conspirators in this sin for which God destroyed mankind (save Moses et al) until some point after, so that this sin which God wiped out man for can yet be perpetuated, in order to test mankind. So, why would God allow even the possibility for these hybrids to return given that He was so grieved the first time about this particular sin that He flooded the earth (Gen 6:5-7)? Where is any Biblical support for “sons of God” mating with “daughters of men” post-Flood?

    This all hinges on holding to one particular definition of Nephilim, a word not used enough in Scripture to ascertain exactly what it means, while disregarding the fact that iysh clearly means man. As the article referenced below states, “If the Nephilim were crossbreeds between men and fallen angels, then why did the Bible use the term men (iysh) [ED: as "men (iysh) of renown" in Gen 6:4, as but one example] as opposed to something that would lead us to believe they were not fully men?”

    We’ve already gone too far down this rabbit trail. Let’s turn around.

    Yes, Keener and Carson write books with the hopeful intention that they be sold; but, these are scholarly works with a decidedly limited audience (Carson, though, has written some other layman-friendly books, e.g., one on the Emergent/Emerging church, which has infinitely more value than one built on speculation, upon speculation, upon speculation, etc.). These works are published by well-known and respected publishing houses. And, they hardly make much money given their limited audience.

    And Horn et al are definitely not the first to write about the RCC, not by a long shot. And, given the Amazon reviews, I’m not too sure about their scholarship in doing so.

  47. Arwen4CJ says:

    Carolyn,

    Yes….there is always the same lies of “you can be like God, you will not die, etc.” People keep on being deceived by those same lies, and thus, I think we have a tendency in our sinful nature to be deceived by them.

    And so this takes on different forms — New Agers and people who are into The Secret believe that they are gods and co-creators. Word of Faith “Christians” basically believe the same thing, only they use different terminology. The Dominionists are close to the other two, many of them also being Word of Faith “believers.” Then we have different religions teaching about reincarnation. Then you have the gnostics…..but really all of these things come from the same source, and just repeat the same lies in different packages.

    For those who deny God’s existence — they see nothing wrong with trying to make humanity immortal. They may or may not realize that they are replacing God with themselves, making themselves into little gods. Some might be doing this consciously. Others do it because they are arrogant enough to think that there is no god.

    My friend is really into technology, and he sees nothing wrong with human advancement in any technology….he does, however, see a problem with making what he calls “abominations,” which would be crossing humans with other species — like giving humans claws, or giving humans wings, or giving humans any characteristic that we were not created with. That’s what I thought the article that was posed here called transhuman was talking about. Then I saw that that wasn’t what they were after. My friend is also rightly repulsed at the idea of human cloning. So he does have limits on what he thinks is right…..and he admits that he might be too loose on what he thinks is acceptable for technology.

    Technology and science are neutral in and of themselves, but when we start using them to change the very definition of human, I think that it is way too far. It’s something that Christians have always been struggling with, I think. How far is too far? Hmmm….I also think we go too far when we go beyond the bounds of Scripture by trying to accomplish for ourselves something that God Himself says He will do — such as give us eternal life.

    I’m not exactly sure when my friend thinks we have gone too far, and he’s asked me hold him accountable with it, even if he doesn’t accept what I say at the time that I say it.

    We all tend to compartmentalize our lives. He is a computer programmer, and he is really big on finding out the latest technological advancements and inventions. He sees human progress as being just about the best thing out there. But he doesn’t always filter this part of life through the lens of Scripture or ask theological questions. So he needs other believers to challenge him.

    I don’t know exactly how he thinks about things, but I do know that ethical questions regarding technology and human advancements is a weak point for him. If we are not careful, we can turn these things into our gods. We can start looking to God less and less, and to humanity as our savior more and more.

    I know him well enough to know that he does have a strong faith in Jesus Christ. This is just a blind spot for him, and is an area that he could be easily lead astray on. So that is why he needs a community of believers who can stand and tell him that something doesn’t line up with Scripture.

    You asked me what the opposite of literalism is…and whether or not it is liberalism. My answer to that would be that it isn’t necessarily liberalism, unless we are talking about a continuum. If we are talking about a continuum, then certainly would could say that one position is more liberal than another position, without assuming that the person is completely on the other side of the scale. I don’t see it as an either or.

    There are many Christians who are more conservative about things than me. I would include those who are KJV Only to be in that more conservative than me group. However, there are many, many, many more people who are more liberal than me. It’s all a matter of degree. I think we are all a little conservative and all a little liberal — there is always going to be someone more conservative than us, and there is always going to be someone more liberal than us.

    The opposite of literalism, in my mind, would be to read the whole Bible metaphorically, taking nothing literal at all, as Marcus Borg tends to do. This is a way that many people who are towards the very liberal end of things do read the Bible. Borg wrote a book called, “Reading the Bible For the First Time Again,” or something like that – in which he advocates for almost a complete metaphorical rendering of Scripture. :(

  48. Carolyn says:

    Ok, Craig. I guess it’s just me and the “Horn” on the rabbit trail for now. I’ll give you and the discussion a rest. Having read the article from answers in genesis, nothing too convincing there.
    I think the French Vanilla coffee I had this afternoon has timed out and my irritation is turning toward the Nephillim…better them than you….

    Arwen, yes, technology can become a god for sure, especially for this generation. The dependence on technology starts from infancy with the baby turning the pages on the ipad instead of a real book. It’s an amazing age we live in. But, as you say, we need to keep the truth of God before us so that we don’t become a follower of something else such as humanism via technology.

    Good thoughts on liberalism. And don’t forget the differences in degrees in Fundamentalism versus Evangelicalism.

    Your comment about the 120 years kept coming back to me today: “I still think it would be sinful for humanity to try to break the 120 year limit for everyone — because it is something that God decreed. To try to go beyond that, especially if we were to try to achieve immortality would mean that we (humanity) would be setting itself up as our own god. That is evil. To claim that we are on god’s level is wrong.”

    I was thinking that I’m glad we’re down to less than 120 years on this earth as a matter of practicality. Psalm 90:10 New International Version (©2011)
    Our days may come to seventy years, or eighty, if our strength endures; yet the best of them are but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away.

    I said to a friend today…”I’m in my 50s…I can’t imagine getting to age 60, thinking I’m almost at the end and hearing God say, “sorry Pet, you’re only half way…you still have another 60 years to go”……I don’t know how Methuselah made it to 969 years old…curious thing….

  49. Arwen4CJ says:

    Back to Genesis 6 because that is where the 120 years comes from (NASB):
    2 that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose. 3 Then the Lord said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” 4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown.

    But this must be an approximate figure because later on in Genesis we find this, in Genesis chapter 23::
    “23 Now Sarah lived one hundred and twenty-seven years; these were the years of the life of Sarah. 2 Sarah died in Kiriath-arba (that is, Hebron) in the land of Canaan; and Abraham went in to mourn for Sarah and to weep for her. 3 Then Abraham rose from before his dead, and spoke to the sons of Heth, saying,

    Hmmm, and Methuselah was in chapter 5, so apparently before God made that decree.

    You know, I’ve wondered about whether or not the earth might have spun faster in the earliest days of the Bible, which would make years go by faster. But then, maybe the length of a year was the same as it is now, and God just allowed people to live longer, and didn’t have them age as quickly. I don’t know. That’s all speculation.

    But anyway, God allowing Methuselah and others to live really, really long lives was something that God decided, not humanity. If God decides to extend someone’s life, or lets them live to be over 120, then so be it. That is God’s decision. However, it is quite another thing for humanity to make the claim, “let’s become immortal. Then we don’t need the eternal life that God offers because we can achieve it ourselves.”

    I think that if humanity goes ahead and tries it that we’re going to have some serious judgment coming.

  50. Carolyn says:

    Arwen, we’re all allowed a little speculation, as long as we understand it is speculation. It’s when we start believing our own speculation as reality that strange and eerie problems arise.

    We are mortal. The Bible is very clear on that. And there is no ambiguity in God’s expression of his plan for our redemption. Belief or unbelief in approaching God’s own revelation to us is key.

    Craig, just finished reading the article by Herescope…that whole Nephillim Mounds Conference, going to Peru on the Trail of the Nephillum, etc. has never sat right with me. I brought it up on another blog a few months ago as an exclamation mark of speculation gone awry…

    As for Tom Horn, I have had regard for what he says while giving much higher regard Biblical literalism. While I’m researching the Nephillim, I’m cautious and aware of the dangers of over-stepping all things occult and mythical leading from a wearing away of my faith to a complete break down in faith. If my foundation turns out to be false, then the house built on it caves in.

    As with any study, be it science, technology, philosophy or theology, it can take on a life of its own and the Life of God which was the goal in the beginning, loses out heading straight down the path of anti-Biblical liberalism. The passion turns to these temporal, yet tangible elements and away from the Living God. These days, no matter who you listen to, if you aren’t giving credence to the Word of God as the final and highest authority, you’re in big trouble.

    Colossians 2:8 KJV
    Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

    Colossians 2:8 NRSV
    See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ.

    The thing I take away from this discussion is my own propensity to believe the thing I want to. And I humbly admit that it takes work and prayer to remain committed to truth rather than allowing a little fictional hype to cloud one’s worldview. Thanks for taking the time to discuss….really appreciate it.

  51. Carolyn says:

    Not to continue the discussion…just something interesting that I came across. In this short clip, I was wondering if this would be classified as demon possession or grandiose delusion…

  52. Staci says:

    Hey guys :) I know it’s been a while since I’ve shown my face :) I know this is COMPLETELY off this subject, but this was the best place I could think of to go to for help. (I promise to make this up to you Craig, so sorry). I’ve come across a website called “hannahs cupboard” the woman’s name is Barbara Lardinais, I’m actually looking up something on her website and she seems legit . but I just wanted to know if anybody has heard of her or knows anything about her, is she legit? I don’t feel the need to run from the website but nowadays I’m very weary of teachers I don’t know so just being careful. Any help would be awesome. Craig again, so sorry for using your forum for this, serious apologies, I promise I will make it up to you :)

    http://hannahscupboard.com/index.html

  53. Craig says:

    Staci,

    I don’t have much time at present, but the “Dream Interpretation” tab raised my suspicions. Based on the author’s reliance upon Jim and (the late) Michal Ann Goll, I’d be very wary:

    http://hannahscupboard.com/dream-dictionary.html

    Most any book (if not all) on the Destiny Image imprint is highly suspect.

    Additionally, the concept of “prayer walking” is not Biblical. The concepts are right out of C. Peter Wagner’s unscriptural “spiritual warfare” (prayer/spiritual mapping).

  54. Staci says:

    The reason I came across it is because my husband has been having very strange dreams about the end times or with end time symbolism in them. Not every night but enough to make me think that perhaps the Lord is trying to speak to Him. And if that is the case the last I’m going to do is ignore Him. So I’ve been looking around the internet for something or someone to point me int he right direction and I came across this.

  55. Arwen4CJ says:

    Hi Staci — I have never heard of this person either. However, when I looked at her website, my suspicions were also raised.

    Look at this:
    http://hannahscupboard.com/how-to-pray.html

    I clicked on the I Declare link and got this:
    http://hannahscupboard.com/prayer-declare.html

    “Now here’s a loose paraphrase of the same thing: whatever you say will produce results in your life—real results just like food that goes from your mouth to your stomach to be digested and absorbed for the good of all your body systems. Your words have power to nourish, sustain and satisfy OR they can act like poison. Those who love life will use the power of their tongue to produce life.

    With that in mind I can hardly think of a better way to pray than to SAY! That’s why I decided to implement declarations from God’s Word for use in my personal daily prayer time. These declarations are not just miscellaneous scriptures; every one of them is a handpicked treasure God has given me personally over the years. If you are like me, your Bible is all marked up with them just like mine.”

    Sounds very much like Word of Faith/Positive Confession/The Secret/The Law Of Attraction to me.

    http://hannahscupboard.com/prayer-deliver-evil.html
    Sounds a lot like witchcraft and Pleading the Blood type stuff.

    http://hannahscupboard.com/prayer-mapping1.html
    http://hannahscupboard.com/prayer-mapping2.html
    http://hannahscupboard.com/beginning-prayer-walking.html
    http://hannahscupboard.com/beginning-prayer-walking2.html
    http://hannahscupboard.com/pray-spiritual-authority.html
    http://hannahscupboard.com/pray-spiritual-authorityll.html
    http://hannahscupboard.com/pray-walk-in-bible.html

    Yeah, that’s very much Prayer Walking and Dominionism spiritual warfare type stuff.

    And Craig is right — this woman recommends a book by Ann and Jim Goll, both of which are heavily involved in the hyper-charismatic, including the worship of angels. I saw a youtube video of Jim Goll yelling, “Angels, angels, angels all around,” or something like that. He was trying to get the angels to come, and to get the people to look to the angels.

    As far as your husband having dreams…..here is what I think on the subject. If the dreams are truly from God, then God is able to provide the interpretation Himself. Ask Him for it. I think you could get into dangerous territory if you look for some system by which to interpret the dreams, such as reading books about dream interpretation, listening to speakers, etc. It could be a snare — as many New Age, pagan, and hyper-charismatics are all over the subject.

    None of the people in the Bible, who were loyal followers of God, had to go and ask someone else for dream interpretation. Nor did they try to find a system on how to interpret dreams. Instead, God gave them the understanding.

    Genesis 40:7-8
    7 He asked Pharaoh’s officials who were with him in confinement in his master’s house, “Why are your faces so sad today?” 8 Then they said to him, “We have had a dream and there is no one to interpret it.” Then Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell it to me, please.”

    Genesis 41:14-16
    14 Then Pharaoh sent and called for Joseph, and they hurriedly brought him out of the dungeon; and when he had shaved himself and changed his clothes, he came to Pharaoh. 15 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I have had a dream, but no one can interpret it; and I have heard it said about you, that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.” 16 Joseph then answered Pharaoh, saying, “It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer.”

    So I believe that God alone can give you and your husband the interpretation of the dream, if it is from Him, and not a website, a dream dictionary, or a book.

    Also, if you brought the dream before other Christians, perhaps they could look at it and tell you what we thought — whether or not we thought it was from God. I don’t know how comfortable you would be with it, but I would be willing to look at it, and I’m sure other Christians would, too.

    And if it is from God, then you and your husband, and any other Christians that you tell the dream to, could all be praying about it, asking for God’s wisdom on the proper response. I think this would be better then going to random websites online :)

  56. Arwen4CJ says:

    Oh….real quick…I looked at the woman’s links and :(

    http://hannahscupboard.com/resources.html

    Encounters Network-Jim Goll
    Global Harvest Ministries

  57. Shawn says:

    Staci, have you tried prayer? Why go ask someone else for help on interpreting a dream, why not just ask God?

  58. Staci says:

    Shawn…I have prayed about it and do all the time. See my husband is in a lot of ways a new Christian and because of his past and his religious upbringing etc this type of thing is new to him. So he relies on me with things of this nature that he doesn’t understand etc. Now I also know that if it is in fact the Lord trying to speak to him there is no way I am going to ignore Him, but it is also a very big responsibility on me, because my husband relies on my knowledge and he trusts me to show him right. And in trying to find out the best course of finding out what the Lord wants to say to him, I’m very nervous of getting it wrong. So in an instance like this I would rather bring in the help of people that I feel may know better than I do or more mature Christians , than to try and go it alone and mess it up and in the process do damage to my husband. Yes, I am relying on the Lord for answers and to show us what He wants to show us, but also there’s the fear I have of getting it wrong. And to me it’s not a trivial thing, my husband seems to be having these dreams quite regularly, so that tells me it’s big, obviously the Lord wants to get through to him and its important and I can’t brush that off :)

  59. Staci says:

    Arwen in answer to your question, I have no problem telling you guys about the dreams, its quite simple they are based on end times. All the symbolism that my husband describes to me is based around the end times and the book of revelation and end time prophecy etc. The last dream he had he saw people walking into a room in a line like a procession, the room was lit by a bright white light and he said somehow he knew the people were going forward for Judgement and he described falling down a tunnel of bright colourful lights. He says in his dreams he feels no sense of anxiety, or fear or discomfort at all, he feels calm and at peace and safe. Except one where he dreamt of their being no food in the world and he saw people eating lead, he said he remembered the lead because it was really strange to him. And he said he did feel a bit anxious and a bit uncomfortable but nothing drastic. One of his earlier dreams he saw me and him walking into a room he didn’t recognize also bright and white and he saw people he didn’t recognize grab each of us and separate us and pull us into opposite corners of the room so we couldn’t get to each other. But he also said he felt safe, no anxiety or fear or anything that you would feel if somebody had to grab your wife and pull her away. He said somehow he just knew we were safe and he felt peace. But he says these dreams have a different feel to them, like he knows he’s dreaming but it doesn’t feel like a dream. And it was only the one with me and him in a room, the rest have been based around end time prophecy, all the symbolism you could probably find in the book of revelation, its all centered around end times.

  60. Carolyn says:

    Staci,

    I’ve had quite a bit of experience with dreams during my years in Charismania. Many people, including myself, tried to figure out the dreams and run our lives by them. When I was leaving, I had friends having dreams for me, directing me to return to the fold. One of them was us sitting in church and someone saying to me, “Carolyn, stop being so anorexic.” In other words, I was to start listening to the preacher (and them) and stop thinking on my own.

    I continued having them after leaving Charismania. I happened to read Johanna Michaelson’s book “The Beautiful Side of Evil”…she said, as I remember, that she thought she could use her psychic powers for good after becoming a Christian. But how could she tell if they were really now from God? The answer is, she couldn’t. She had to completely stop moving in that realm and get into the Word and forget about the supernatural. I did the same with my dreams. I just denied them for I felt they were distractions from the truth and teaching of the Word.

    My advice would be since he is a new Christian, he should rather get reading the Word of God and pay no further attention to the dreams. They sound like distractions.

    If you fill your mind with the Word and you surround yourself with good teachers, the Holy Spirit will lead you and guide you into all truth. So then why do you need dreams? If we have a dream here or there, it should back up the Word, not the other way around.

    I did have a dream in the last year that was meant to warn me because I was walking a thin line with obedience to God in hard circumstances. I didn’t have the entire interpretation until I was talking with a Christian friend over lunch. The interpretation was without doubt. I obeyed.

    Hope that helps.

  61. Arwen4CJ says:

    Staci,

    I guess with dreams like that, you and your husband need to ask a few questions while praying about it:
    1.) You need to determine whether or not the dreams are consistent with what Scripture already says. Do they go against Scripture? Maybe there are things in them that are not against Scripture, but not specifically mentioned in Scripture either. In that case, you really need to pray about it. If they go against Scripture, then you can know that they are not from God.

    2.) Ask God if these dreams are really from Him. Don’t assume that they are just because they have to do with biblical themes. Remember that we have to be really careful about Revelation — that we do not add or subtract anything from it. That’s not to say that God can’t give people a dream about Revelation, but you and your husband, and other Christians need to look at it carefully.

    3.) Perhaps some of the dreams are from God, and some of them are not. So you should probably ask if all of them are from God, some of them, or none of them. You need to test everything.

    4.) Be very careful that you and your husband do not place more importance on the dreams than you do on Scripture and your relationship with God, and the gospel message. Are these dreams leading you or your husband away from God? Are they distracting your relationship with Him? Or, are they pointing you to the Jesus of the Bible, to Scripture. The bottom line is do you trust God for who He is and what He has said about Himself in the Bible, or because of these dreams? All of us can fall into deception here.

    I’ll tell you want the lead dream reminds me of. Please note I’m not claiming to interpret it…just what the first thing that came to my mind when I read that was.

    When I read about the end times in the Bible, I learn that there is going to be a lot of false teachings, a lot of deception, people losing their connection with the real Jesus, having gone after lies, signs, wonders, and the like.

    Revelation does suggest that there will be a shortage of food, and that the prices will be steep. However, when I read all of the NT passages about the end, I also see that there is also going to be a shortage of real spiritual food that nourishes. There is going to be rampant false teaching, deception, people believing lies, people not believing the Truth, sound doctrine will not be taught, there will be a great apostasy in the church, etc. People will turn away from the real Bread of Life, Jesus Christ, and go after whatever their itching ears want. The deception will be so bad that Jesus said that if it were possible, even the elect would be deceived.

    People will be spiritually eating things that do not provide true nourishment spiritually. They’ll be deceived into thinking that it is true spiritual food, but it cannot sustain them. They will have exchanged the truth of God for a lie.

    If people actually ate lead, then obviously they would get lead poisoning, just like people who follow false teachers and Satanic doctrines get spiritually poisoned.

    Note again — I’m not claiming to interpret the dream. I’m just telling you what came to my mind when I read that, which may have nothing to do with the actual dream, and doesn’t tell you whether or not it was from God, or whether or not you should be listening to these dreams.

    The other stuff — I have no thoughts about. Yes, we know there we will all have to appear before the Judgment Seat of Christ…..but we don’t know exactly what this will look like, and I’m not sure that it would be beneficial for us to know. If it makes you or your husband want to honor Christ more, great. However, I wouldn’t put too must stock into the actual events of the dream unless you know without a doubt that God wants you to pay attention to it.

    The room full of people separating you — no idea about that unless God is specifically trying to warn the two of you about something, some social setting or some Christian setting that feels “safe” on the surface, but spiritually dangerous? I don’t see anything in Scripture that would support such an event happening. It just seems weird. But that doesn’t mean that it is or isn’t from God.

    Again, seek His guidance.

    We all get dreams at night, and most of them are not from God. Most of them are just random things that our brain decides to come up with. For us Christians, this might include Christian themed dreams. Assuming that these dreams are from God could be a snare for us.

    At the same time, God does sometimes speak to people in dreams. We have biblical examples of this, but I don’t think it is the norm. If we become obsessed with dream interpretation, then I think that is good reason to suspect the source of it.

    Then there are dreams people get from demonic sources — snares for people. We could be easily lead astray with this.

    I’ve had a couple dreams that I really felt were from God. Two of them involved me kneeling before God, honoring Him as the King. One of those dreams was a final judgment/end times type dream. I dreamed a lot of people were in a line, and the line I was in was full of believers. We all fell down before God and worshiped Him as Lord. That was powerful for me. Other stuff happened in the dream, but none of it mattered in comparison to worshiping God. I can sort of picture the setting of it, but I don’t think that it is important. What is important is that Christ is Lord of my life, and the object of my worship. I do want Him to be first in my life. Nothing else matters. He is my Lord and King and Savior.

    The other dream was also about the end times, and I believe that God was trying to warn me about the deception in the last days, and how I could easily be deceived. I dreamed that people I knew in college and I were all invited to a Bible Study. And the guy speaking was reading things right out of the Bible, and those in the audience really took to heart what this guy was saying. However, there were things that sounded off to me. And I told my friends that I thought something was off with the Bible Study and the guy leading it.

    I felt like God was speaking to me directly in the dream, and basically telling me that not all things Christian are actually of Him. There are Bible Studies and churches and Christian events and Christian groups that look good on the surface, but that are actually false teachings. And that I needed to know Scripture and test things with it.

    So in the dream I spoke up to my friends, and we left the Bible Study because it was theologically unsound. And then there were people chasing us, but we got away. And there might have been more Bible studies or Christian things, and we had to test those, and we had to escape those, too. I don’t remember all that happened in the dream…but I do remember the message in it.

    And I would say that God used that dream to bring to my attention something that I hadn’t really thought of before — that not everything that appeared Christian actually was. And passages that spoke on this subject jumped out to me later, and I became passionate about this. I can’t really explain what happened, but I do know that God showed me an important truth there.

    And I have to say that it is good that God, in His infinite wisdom, showed me that when He did. I’ve had to face a lot of false teaching since then in real life, and I try to warn others about false teaching when God shows me that something is off.

    That’s also why this was the first thing that came to my mind when I read about the eating lead stuff, and also about the people separating you in the room that you somehow trusted. But this could just be my bias, and it might have nothing to do with whatever God (if it was from God) wanted to tell you or your husband.

  62. Carolyn says:

    Staci…here is an incredible expose of where the spirits of darkness would like to lead us. They seem so benign, so loving, but in the end they asked for his life. Here’s one of the best examples of mysticism on a pathway from witchcraft rituals and mantras (using Christian related phrases) to full blown anti-christ replacement of the gospel. It’s an incredible journey through error. It shows where we end up if we choose to follow mystical dreams and visions and words of angels rather than the clear teaching of the Word. It can sound so right and be so wrong.

    Arwen, I think you would really like this style of analysis. Debs did a great job of taking the book apart sentence by sentence and phrase by phrase and comparing it against the truth of Scripture.

    http://www.discerningtheworld.com/2013/05/22/retha-and-aldo-mcphersons-message-from-another-god-part-1/

  63. Staci says:

    Thank you very much Carolyn i appreciate that i’m gonna sit and read it now. perhaps it’ll give me some info to add to the article i’m currently researching and writing.

  64. Arwen4CJ says:

    Carolyn,

    Thanks for the link. I read the article, and found it interesting. While I think the author is correct about much of what went on in those people’s lives as being unbiblical and probably of demonic origin, it seemed to me that some of the conclusions were stretching things a bit. I also noticed that the author has a particular theological view, and seems to hold that some of the non-essential beliefs are essentials for her (such as her end times theology.

    However, it is good for us as Christians to examine these testimonies and books that people write about experiences they have had. It is very dangerous to start following angels, to rely on prophets, and other means.

    That poor woman and her son are deceived. :(

  65. Carolyn says:

    Arwen, glad you found it interesting, as did I. Yes, I am becoming less disenchanted and more discerning. No one has everything right on ANY discernment site. That’s a fact. But she captured the essence of the error of mysticism in the light of Scripture!

  66. Arwen4CJ says:

    Yes, mysticism is very dangerous. That is for sure. One reason that imagining God in your mind — what He would do or say, as in the case of guided imagery, is that you very likely will come up with a fake version of God — and then you start to believe that this fake image is God, and you are thus practicing idolatry. You are creating a god in the way that you imagine Him to be. That’s the very least of the problems.

    Secondly, you may actually start to interact with something in the spirit realm that isn’t God. So not only do you have a false view of God now, but you begin to hear from a demon, turning the demon into your god. The demon is all too happy to take on the appearance of whatever the person has imagined.

    So, closing your eyes and imaging some scene where Jesus comes up to you and whispers sweet nothings into your ear puts you in a very vulnerable state spiritually. The pleasures and the emotions that the person gets from this spirit being can become addictive. Being convinced that this being is of God (or is God), the person lets his or her guard down.

    At first the beings probably say things that seem to be consistent with Scripture, and then they introduce a little error. The person ignores the error and gets sucked in deeper.

    Something that seems to occur in all the occult is that these spirits puff people up. They tell the person how wonderful they are, how loved they are, how special and unique, and they are promised that great things will happen in their lives. This might include doing great things for God. All of these things are interlaced with false too, but the person just feels how loved they are.

    Pretty soon the person stops reading the Bible at all. Instead of trust in God, they trust in these spiritual beings that they meet.

  67. Carolyn says:

    Arwen, somehow missed reading this comment until now. These are good thoughts aptly depicting mysticism. Mysticism is a perversion of coming to Jesus to have your thirst satisfied. We get our thirst satisfied by coming to Christ, the Living Word of Life, not through imaginations coming into our mind via psychic spirits or occult metaphysical apparitions like doves and angels.

    I posted this over at the site where I directed you for the example of mysticism (above) a few days ago. It hasn’t yet been released. I have struggled with the Once Saved Always Saved Doctrine and Eternal Security…but this is where I am on that topic at the moment.

    “…here’s my take on Eternal Security. We’re all on this big broad road of Christianized distraction. But then we start reading the Bible for ourselves and we enter the Narrow Road where there’s nothing else but Christ and him crucified that is of any consequence. We are learning wisdom and knowledge of God our Saviour. At some point on that road, there is a spiritual transaction that takes place between us and our Saviour where our faith becomes genuine and we are regenerated (made alive/born from above) and sealed with the Holy Spirit.

    If we were to wilfully sin and deny our Saviour after that transaction, there would be no way back for us. But on the other hand, why would we turn back as we have come to know the greatest gift to mankind…Christ. Why would we reject his offer of eternal life when we have tasted the reality of it? We know him and he knows us. If we sin (and we will), why would we not repent when we are convicted? Why would we resist discipline, since we have already realized how much peace it has brought to our lives?

    In a nutshell, as I understand it, Eternal Security is a step further than just believing we are saved. It is KNOWING we are saved. That’s where I and a “FEW” others are today. Keeping on the Narrow Path will bring you to genuine faith, assurance of salvation, peace with God and the abundant life that many seek on the broad road of Christian culture but few are actually finding. Christ said it would be so.”

    I’m thinking of the MANY Christians on the broad road of Christianity that are interacting with each other and Christ is calling them toward the narrow road. A few are responding. The others, sadly are still looking for eternal life in other venues, other strategic endeavours, in churches, in denominational structures, mysticism, etc. But they won’t find it there, because Christ alone has the words of eternal life.

    Not meaning the perverted Jesus of Bill Johnson’s church or of the NAR apostles or of the mystical experiential norms, or the entertainment oriented churches of today, but the Jesus who said, “If you are thirsty, come to me” and “I am the Bread of Life” The Jesus who said MANY are called to Christ but FEW are chosen(because they refuse to come to him).

    John 6:66 From this time many of his disciples turned back and no longer followed him.
    67 “You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve.
    68 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. 69 We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.”

    I have said, in previous comments on that site, that if believing their version of OSAS is a requirement for posting there, then I would bow out gracefully. At the time, they accepted me on those terms. I prefer not to label myself as OSAS or the alternative, but just as a Bible believing Christian who takes the Bible literally and doesn’t read into it a preconceived agenda.

  68. Carolyn says:

    The previous comment was made in response to Arwen’s comment that DTW was a bit too strong on certain unessential doctrines. I would now have to agree that OSAS (Once Saved Always Saved) seems to be regarded by them on par as an “essential doctrine” and I have returned to say that the links that I created to DTW should be viewed with that in mind.

    I also extend my apologies to Moderator Craig for being off topic on more than one occasion. Concern for delinquency has been noted. Subject will comply.

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