Biblical Interpretation and Credibility

The Historical Grammatical Method vs. The Historical Critical Method
By Sean Pitman

Protestant Christians are famous for the mantra, “The Bible and the Bible only.” Yet, as Seventh-day Adventist protestants in particular, how do we know that this phrase is true? How do we know that the Bible is the only valid rule of faith whereby all else must be judged? It is one thing to be able to correctly interpret the claims of the biblical authors (i.e., the science of hermeneutics). It is another thing entirely to determine that what the authors are saying is actually true (the science of epistemology). Yet, there are many within our church, and other churches as well, who suggest that if the Bible is in fact the very Word of God, that it should be accepted without question, without any effort to test its claims against empirical reality to judge if it is or is not actually true.

For some, this seems to fall in line with a statement on Bible study published in 1986 by the Seventh-day Adventist Church, a portion of which reads as follows:

In recent decades the most prominent method in biblical studies has been known as the historical-critical method. Scholars who use this method, as classically formulated, op¬erate on the basis of presuppositions which, prior to studying the biblical text, reject the reliability of accounts of miracles and other supernatural events narrated in the Bible. Even a modified use of this method that retains the principle of criticism which subordinates the Bible to human reason is unacceptable to Adventists.

The historical-critical method minimizes the need for faith in God and obedience to His commandments. In addition, because such a method de-emphasizes the divine element in the Bible as an inspired book (including its resultant unity) and depreciates or misunderstands apocalyptic prophecy and the eschatological portions of the Bible, we urge Adventist Bible students to avoid relying on the use of the presuppositions and the resultant deductions associated with the historical-critical method.

In contrast with the historical-critical method and presuppositions, we believe it to be helpful to set forth the principles of Bible study that are consistent with the teachings of the Scriptures themselves, that preserve their unity, and are based upon the premise that the Bible is the Word of God. Such an approach will lead us into a satisfying and rewarding experience with God.

Presuppositions Arising From the Claims of Scripture

Authority

  1. The sixty-six books of the Old and New Testaments are the clear, infallible revelation of God’s will and His salvation. The Bible is the Word of God, and it alone is the standard by which all teaching and experience must be tested (2Tim. 3:15, 17; Ps. 119:105; Prov. 30:5, 6; Isa. 8:20; John 17:17; 2Thess. 3:14; Heb. 4:12).
    Scripture is an authentic, reliable record of history and God’s acts in history. It provides the normative theological interpretation of those acts. The supernatural acts revealed in Scripture are historically true. For example, chapters 1-11 of Genesis are a factual account of historical events.
  2. The Bible is not like other books. It is an indivisible blend of the divine and the human. Its record of many details of secular history is integral to its overall purpose to convey salvation history. While at times there may be parallel procedures employed by Bible students to determine historical data, the usual techniques of historical research, based as they are on human presuppositions and focused on the human element, are inadequate for interpreting the Scriptures, which are a blend of the divine and human. Only a method that fully recognizes the indivisible nature of the Scriptures can avoid a distortion of its message.
  3. Human reason is subject to the Bible, not equal to or above it. Presuppositions regarding the Scriptures must be in harmony with the claims of the Scriptures and subject to correction by them (1Cor. 2:1-6). God intends that human reason be used to its fullest extent, but within the context and under the authority of His Word rather than independent of it.
  4. The revelation of God in all nature, when properly understood, is in harmony with the written Word, and is to be interpreted in the light of Scripture.

Bible Study: Presuppositions, Principles, and Methods
This statement was approved and voted by the General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists Executive Committee at the Annual Council Session in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, October 12, 1986
http://www.adventist.org/beliefs/other-documents/other-doc4.html

As already noted, this document seems to suggest, at least to some, that the claim of the Bible to be the Word of God by which everything else must be judged should be accepted at face value, a priori, without any effort to test the claims of the Bible against what seems to be empirical reality. For example, the truth of Biblical prophecies concerning historical events should not be dependent upon if those events were or were not actually fulfilled in real history. In other words, the Bible maintains credibility as the Word of God regardless of if any or all of its claims do or do not happen to match what appears to us to be empirical reality.

This argument is expanded by Phil Brantley, a lawyer who frequents various discussion blogs regarding issues within the Adventist church:

“Practitioners of the historical-grammatical hermeneutic do not object to documenting fulfillment of prophecy by reference to external data, because in so doing one is not necessarily putting Scripture to the test. This is because the prophecy is considered true and correct, irrespective of whether it has been fulfilled…

The authority of Scripture and its various authors is validated by numerous authorities within Scripture itself. [Some argue that] because Scripture is validated in this way, we can also put Scripture to the test by reference to extra-biblical empirical data.

Let me broaden my previous point. Not only science data (Gen. 3:17-18, Rom. 8: 20-21), but the counsel of other spirits (Is. 8:19; 1 John 4:1-3); tradition (Matt. 15: 3, 6); human philosophy (Col. 2:8); human knowledge (1 Tim. 6: 20), reason and emotions (Gen. 3: 1-6, Prov. 14:12), miracles and fantastical occurrences that we observe (Rev. 13:13, 16:13-14), the inspired writings of Ellen White (Matt. 7:15-23, 1 Thes. 5:20-21 and her own testimony), fulfillments of extra-biblical prophecies that we document and verify (Matt 7: 15-23), the voice of God as we perceive it (Is. 8:20), the counsel of the Holy Spirit as we perceive it (Is. 8:20), etc., all must be held subservient to the authority of the Word of God. We are not at liberty to put Scripture to the test by reference to any extra-biblical empirical data…

The sixteen evidentiary items that I list arise out of Scripture and are not dependent upon external data in such a way that such external data puts Scripture to the test…”

http://www.old.spectrummagazine.org/blog/2011/04/26/open-letter-educate-truth

 

So, according to Brantley, the Bible is true irrespective of if its prophecies or any other statements regarding the empirical world are or are not fulfilled in reality.  It is for this reason that Brantley and those who strongly agree with his perspective think that the promotion of the evolutionary views of mainstream scientists in our own schools, like La Sierra University, shouldn’t be a problem.  After all, regardless of what the “science” says about origins, we can have faith that the Bible is correct since it is, by definition, the Word of God.  The empirical evidence should not, therefore, have any real weight against anything that God had said – right?

My question is: How is this not the very definition of blind faith?  How do we know, among many competing options, which voice really is the voice of God?

If the Bible happened to claim, in no uncertain terms, that the Earth was a flat disk, not a sphere, or that the Sun rotated around the Earth or that the American Indians were really descendants of the “lost tribes of Israel” (as the Book of Mormon claims), would we accept such claims as literally true just because the Bible said so? If the Bible said that what looks like a circle is really a square, would that change the circle into a square? – or would it remain a circle and change one’s rational view of Biblical credibility? Is not the credibility of the Bible regarding its metaphysical claims dependent upon the established credibility of those various claims regarding the empirical world that can actually be investigated and tested in a potentially falsifiable manner? Does not the Bible itself invite us to test its claims to see if they are or are not true? (Malachi 3:10, Psalms 34:8).

Consider, as another relevant example, the case of Jesus and his healing of the paralytic (Mark 2:1-10). The first thing Jesus said to the paralytic was, “Your sins are forgiven”. This statement angered the teachers of the law who were there because a claim to be able to forgive sins was equivalent to claiming to be God. So, Jesus responded by asking a question:

“Which is easier: to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins…” He said to the paralytic, “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”

What would have happened to Jesus’ metaphysical claim to be able to forgive sins if his empirical claim to have the power to heal the paralyzed man had proved false? – if the man had just laid there paralyzed on his mat when Jesus gave the command to “get up and go home”? You see, Jesus himself tied in the credibility of his metaphysical claims to his empirical demonstrations of Divine power. If the empirical demonstrations failed, so would the credibility of his metaphysical claims.

I propose that the same is true for the credibility of the Bible. The credibility of the metaphysical claims of the Bible that cannot be directed investigated or tested (such as the Virgin Birth, the raising of the dead, or the future life in Heaven to come) is based on the demonstrated credibility of those claims of the Bible that can be investigated and tested against known empirical reality (such as historical prophecies, the Noachian Flood, and the recent arrival of all life on this planet). If Biblical prophecies concerning empirical reality can be shown to be false, not in line with what really happened, then the credibility of the Bible’s metaphysical claims would suffer as well – for most rational people anyway. The same is true for other Biblical statements concerning empirical reality, such as the recent formation of all life on Earth and a truly worldwide Noachian Flood. If such claims can be clearly falsified, Biblical credibility suffers. It is for this reason that many of those who have become convinced that the Bible has made many such errors no longer view the Bible as anything more than a moral fable.

In order to effectively support the claim that the Bible is truly superior to all others claiming to be the “Word of God” (like the Book of Mormon, the Hindu Vedas, or the Qur’an), the Bible must present superior evidence to support this fantastic claim to truly useful privileged information that really did come from God Himself – if it is to be believed by most people, especially young people, with intelligent, rational, candid minds who are at least open to this possibility.

Consider the comments of the well-known Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias along these lines.

Ravi was asked:   What do you say to a pastor who says, “Apologetics is just philosophy, and we do not need that. All we need is the Bible”?

I desperately wish it were that simple. When pastors believe and teach, “all we need is the Bible,” they equip their young people with the very line that gets them mocked in the universities and makes them unable and even terrified to relate to their friends. If pastors want their young people to do the work of evangelism — to reach their friends — that line will not get them anywhere. Even the Bible that Christ gave us is sustained by the miracle of the Resurrection.

The Resurrection gave the Early Church the argument that Christ is risen: We saw, we witnessed, we felt, and we touched. The apostle Paul defended this gospel. He went to Athens and planted a church there. In Ephesus he defended the faith in the school of Tyrannus. We also need to become all things to all people.

If a pastor says, “All we need is the Bible,” what does he say to a man who says, “All I need is the Quran”? It is a solipsistic method of arguing.

The pastor is saying, “All I need is my own point of reference and nothing more than that.” Even the gospel was verified by external references. The Bible is a book of history, a book of geography, not just a book of spiritual assertions.

The fact is the resurrection from the dead was the ultimate proof that in history — and in empirically verifiable means — the Word of God was made certain. Otherwise, the experience on the Mount of Transfiguration would have been good enough. But the apostle Peter says in 2 Peter 1:19: “We have the Word of the prophets made more certain … as to a light shining in a dark place.” He testified to the authority and person of Christ, and the resurrected person of Christ.

To believe, “All we need is the Bible and nothing more,” is what the monks believed in medieval times, and they resorted to monasteries. We all know the end of that story. This argument may be good enough for those who are convinced the Bible is authority. The Bible, however, is not authoritative in culture or in a world of counter-perspectives. To say that it is authoritative in these situations is to deny both how the Bible defends itself and how our young people need to defend the Bible’s sufficiency.

It is sad that some people think a person who asks, “Why the Bible?” is being dishonest. This is a legitimate question.

http://www.rzim.org/USA/USFV/tabid/436/ArticleID/10206/CBModuleId/881/Default.aspx

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63 thoughts on “Biblical Interpretation and Credibility

  1. Dr. Pitman,

    Your heterodox theology undermines the crystal clear statements from Ellen White (Great Controversy, p. 595), the corporate Seventh-day Adventist Church (the 1986 “Rio” document approved by the GC in session), and SDA Biblical Research Institute scholars (Richard Davidson, Edward Zinke), all of whom leave no room for doubt: the Church rejects higher criticism of Scripture and accepts only Sola Scriptura–God’s word at face value. You insist that we can rely on our reason and empirical evidence to judge the validity of God’s word, but we do so at the same peril that befell Eve and Adam. Satan exploited their reliance on reason and empirical evidence; after all, he (the speaking serpent) had eaten the forbidden fruit, could talk, appeared to be wise, and didn’t die. The test Adam and Eve failed was a very simple one: Could God’s word be trusted?

    You insist that credibility of the Bible regarding its metaphysical claims is dependent upon the established credibility of those claims regarding the empirical world that can actually be investigated and tested in a potentially falsifiable manner. If an honest person followed through with your approach, they would reject Scripture. Sure, Scripture does not claim the earth is flat, or that a circle is actually a square; these do fail the test of naturalistic reality, as you frequently point out. However, we also know from naturalistic reality that living humans cannot be manufactured from dirt; that a stick tossed in water cannot make an axe head float to the surface; that a virgin cannot give birth to a baby; and that a corpse several days old cannot be revived. Do we reject Scripture because its claims actually fail your test of empirical reality? NO! According to your test, the reliability of Scripture succeeds no better than a historical novel. Just because some portions of the book are true does not mean all parts are true.

    Your distinction between epistemiology and hermeneutics has little relevance to Seventh-day Adventist education and the controversy of teaching origins for one simple reason: Seventh-day Adventists, by profession, have already accepted Scripture to be valid. The issue of origins for Seventh-day Adventists is one of hermeneutics. Again, the official Church position is that Genesis must be interpreted on the basis of sola scriptura, although external sources, including science, may be used to better understand our position. Nevertheless, when the claims of Scripture and science depart, Seventh-day Adventists reject science and follow God’s word–which is why we believe that Jesus’ body truly was restored to life and science dismisses the account as folklore. Science rejects miracles; Seventh-day Adventists accept miracles.

    Many of us–conservatives and liberals alike–are disturbed that you elevate Ravi Zacharias’ theology ahead of that of our leading SDA scholars, including Richard Davidson, Ed Zinke, Leonard Brand, David Read, the Geoscience Research Institution scientists, Clifford Goldstein, and Mark Finley, all of whom encourage and applaud faith, rather than bash it.




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  2. @ Sean Pitman

    The credibility of the metaphysical claims of the Bible that cannot be directed investigated or tested (such as the Virgin Birth, the raising of the dead, or the future life in Heaven to come) is based on the demonstrated credibility of those claims of the Bible that can be investigated and tested against known empirical reality (such as historical prophecies, the Noachian Flood, and the recent arrival of all life on this planet).

    You have listed five supernatural events (virgin birth, resurrection of dead, future life in heaven, Noachian flood, and recent fiat creation of life) that cannot be validated empirically. Your distinction between what can and cannot be tested empirically is backward: there is more empirical evidence to reject the possibility of human virgin birth and resurrection of the dead than there is to support a single Noachian flood and recent fiat creation of life. All of these are miracles performed by God that can only be accepted by faith–much like nurturing a personal relationship with God, including communication with Him by prayer and meditation, is strictly an exercise in faith.




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  3. @Professor Kent:

    You insist that we can rely on our reason and empirical evidence to judge the validity of God’s word, but we do so at the same peril that befell Eve and Adam. Satan exploited their reliance on reason and empirical evidence; after all, he (the speaking serpent) had eaten the forbidden fruit, could talk, appeared to be wise, and didn’t die. The test Adam and Eve failed was a very simple one: Could God’s word be trusted?

    You make it sound as if the Serpent was the one who provided all the empirical evidence to Adam and Eve while God simply expected Adam and Eve to obey His naked word alone without offering any empirical evidence of His own for who He was and why his His word should be trusted and obeyed. Your picture is the reverse of the reality described in the Bible and in the writings of Mrs. White.

    It was God, not the Serpent, who offered the superior evidence to Adam and Eve regarding His own identity as their Creator, His personal interest and love for them, and the trustworthiness of His Word. God had provided abundant evidence, far beyond what the Serpent provided, to back up His claims.

    It was not, therefore, due to a lack of the clear weight of solid evidence in God’s favor that Adam and Eve fell. They fell because they were tempted by their own selfish desires to do that which they clearly knew was wrong. Their emotions clouded their judgment and they rebelled against the Truth that they knew to be true.

    God is not arbitrary. He does not expect blind obedience without first providing abundant evidence regarding the right path to take. It is only when we reject that which we know or could have known to be true, that we deliberately rebel against God and break off our relationship with Him.

    After all, anyone can claim to be God. Many different individuals have made this claim. Many different authors have made the claim to have written the very words of God. Rational people cannot be expected to simply accept such claims at face value. Such blind-faith acceptance of face-value claims to Divine authority will result in most people following the wrong voice.

    God does not desire this of us – blind obedience to face value claims without any empirical basis for belief. He wants us to make an intelligent decision for Him that is based on a rational understanding of the evidence that He has provided to us for His existence, character, and love for us… evidence that is calculated to appeal to the rational candid minds that He himself made for us and expects us to use.

    Is there a leap of faith involved? Sure, as is the case for any rational belief in anything. Even scientific conclusions require a leap of faith to one degree or another.

    This isn’t a “faith or evidence” situation. It’s a faith and evidence situation. Faith is not rational without the backing of evidence and evidence is powerless when it comes to deriving useful conclusions without a leap of faith.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  4. No SDAs or Christians advocate “blind” faith. It’s YOUR red herring to make YOUR deeply rooted confidence in evidence, human reason, and science look inviting. You have stated numerous times that if Scripture was refuted by modern evidence, you would choose the latter over God’s word. Your heterodox theology undermines the SDA fundamental beliefs.




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  5. Sean Pitman wrote:

    “I, personally, would have to go with what I saw as the weight of empirical evidence. This is why if I ever honestly became convinced that the weight of empirical evidence was on the side of life existing on this planet for hundreds of millions of years, I would leave not only the SDA Church, but Christianity as well…” [http://www.educatetruth.com/theological/the-credibility-of-faith/]

    “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto thine own understanding.” (Proverbs 3:5)




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  6. Professor Kent: You have listed five supernatural events (virgin birth, resurrection of dead, future life in heaven, Noachian flood, and recent fiat creation of life) that cannot be validated empirically.

    @Professor Kent,

    There is scientific evidence for the flood, although not for Christs’ Resurrection, or His resurrection of Lazarus, etc. The remains of fossilized fish have been found buried at the tops of the highest mountains on earth–which by far precludes fairly recent climbing expeditions eating the fish, and burying the remains which would leave no time for fossilization. Please see Dr. Vieth’s Lecture # 102, http://amazingdiscoveries.tv/c/9/Science/ And I quote from the site:

    “Science today denies a universal flood, as it would destroy the continuity of the fossil record in the geological column. In this video, evidence for precisely such a universal phenomenon is presented with fascinating video material from modern day catastrophes on a smaller scale.”

    Moreover, we need not make Bible study so convoluted by presenting this or that theory which has no bearing on truth, or that just muddies the waters on how we are to understand the Bible. God has granted to each person a measure of faith, and we know that without faith it is impossible to please Him. How do we increase our faith? It is not wholly by considering the scientific evidence or the lack thereof:

    Rom 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

    So it is by diligent Bible study that our faith increases. We come to God humbly asking Him for understanding–after all, He gave the Word. It is that longing after righteousness and the doing of His will that reveals truth to us:

    John 7:17 If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.

    By and large, a secular/scientific education even at some Adventist colleges tends to undermine true faith in the Bible. I know from my own experience as a junior now at the University of Nevada, Reno–that if my own Bible knowledge and faith had not been so strong, then academia would have naturally destroyed what little faith I might have had under different circumstances. Many times I have questioned my present course as to its wisdom (Social Work) but its far to late to turn back. Every semester I deal with un-Biblical teachings in my classes. I’ve seen how Satan has moved on faculty and admn. who know not Jesus to attack me in different ways assaulting my character.

    That aside, how can we presume to teach anyone how to understand the Bible without presenting a single Bible/EGW text as support in a comprehensive manner? Is this a denial of the Master? I believe so.

    Mat_10:33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven.

    We don’t need to guess–we don’t need to present speculations and theories, Christ tells us in John 7:17 (and elsewhere) precisely how we are to understand His Word.

    God gives light to guide those who honestly desire light and truth; but it is not His purpose to remove all cause for questioning and doubt. He gives sufficient evidence to found faith upon, and then requires men to accept that evidence and exercise faith. {5T 303.1}

    He who will study the Bible with a humble and teachable spirit will find it a sure guide, pointing out the way of life with unfailing accuracy. But what does your study of the Bible avail, brethren and sisters, unless you practice the truths it teaches? That holy book contains nothing that is nonessential; nothing is revealed that has not a bearing upon our actual lives. The deeper our love for Jesus, the more highly we shall regard that word as the voice of God directly to us. {5T 303.2}




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  7. Sean Pitman wrote:

    “I, personally, would have to go with what I saw as the weight of empirical evidence. This is why if I ever honestly became convinced that the weight of empirical evidence was on the side of life existing on this planet for hundreds of millions of years, I would leave not only the SDA Church, but Christianity as well…” [http://www.educatetruth.com/theological/the-credibility-of-faith/]

    Did you say this or not, Sean?

    Bill Sorensen




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  8. Check the link that I supplied, Bill. Here are more quotes from Sean Pitman:

    This is why, if I ever became convinced of Darwinism or long-ages for life on Earth, I would leave the SDA Church and probably Christianity as well.” [http://www.educatetruth.com/featured/a-big-reason-why-so-many-people-are-leaving-the-church/]

    “Personally, if I ever became convinced that there really is no scientific merit behind the literal seven-day creation week or the worldwide nature of Noah’s flood, or if Darwinian-style evolution one day made good sense to me, I would leave behind not only the SDA Church but Christianity as well.” [http://www.educatetruth.com/theological/dr-ervin-taylor-on-sean-pitmans-truly-heroic-crusade/]

    And another from Shane Hilde:

    If I ever became convinced the biblical creation was not true, not only would I leave the Seventh-day Adventist Church, but most likely leave Christianity altogether.” [http://spectrummagazine.org/blog/2011/04/26/open-letter-educate-truth]




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  9. And another from Shane Hilde:

    “If I ever became convinced the biblical creation was not true, not only would I leave the Seventh-day Adventist Church, but most likely leave Christianity altogether.” [http://spectrummagazine.org/blog/2011/04/26/open-letter-educate-truth]

    Professor Kent, Shane’s comment does not base his decision on science. It was simply a generic statement concerning the bible and what it teaches.

    I agree with Shane and make the same comment for myself.

    On the other hand, Sean said if he found scientific evidence to refute the bible, he would give up the bible.

    There is a world of difference between the two comments.

    Bill Sorensen




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  10. Sean said…..

    ““Personally, if I ever became convinced that there really is no scientific merit behind the literal seven-day creation week or the worldwide nature of Noah’s flood, or if Darwinian-style evolution one day made good sense to me, I would leave behind not only the SDA Church but Christianity as well.”

    The crux of this statement is the fact we have no proof or even evidence that God is who He says He is unless we appeal to prophecy.

    Even if you subscribe to ID, and are convinced it is the most rational explanation, you still don’t know who the intelligent being is who did the creating.

    Science can not and will not even give you a clue. So how can we identify this “creator”? The God of the bible self affirms and declares His acts and authority and then predicts the future as evidence of His self affirmation.

    So, first and foremost, we must identify God since there are “gods many, and lords many.”

    So, to affirm ID and not know who it is in the final analysis, worthless. And science would never acknowledge or agree to some miracle power that does not fit the scientific model. Such miracles throw science out the window.

    No one can “raise the dead”. or create by the “word of His power.” Science will never harmonize with this biblical affirmation.

    Science is a “means of grace” only after the fact. It can tell you what was created but not who did it.

    Bill Sorensen




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  11. @Bill Sorensen:

    Science is a “means of grace” only after the fact. It can tell you what was created but not who did it.

    There’s quite a lot one can learn from the works of an author about that author. The same is true about the works of God. Consider all the things that Paul describes about the power of nature to reveal God’s power and Divine nature.

    For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. – Romans 1:20 NIV

    Now, this isn’t to say, of course, that the Bible isn’t a clearer revelation of God’s character than is God’s “Second Book” of nature. The Bible most certainly is a clearer revelation of God. If it weren’t we wouldn’t have needed it in addition to God’s creative works of nature.

    This also isn’t to say that if the Bible happened to be completely inconsistent with empirical reality that it would still maintain credibility with rational candid minds. It is the fact that the Bible is empirically credible that I personally accept it’s claim to Divine origin and authority as valid; far superior to all others who make such a fantastic claim.

    In this sense, the Bible is dependent upon the quality of the match between its testable claims and the generally available empirical evidence to support the believability of its mataphysical claims to Divine origin and authority.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  12. Bill Sorensen: [Hilde said] “If I ever became convinced the biblical creation was not true… Shane’s comment does not base his decision on science. It was simply a generic statement concerning the bible and what it teaches.

    You think?




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  13. Peeves, tear-stained sleeves; believe it believe!
    From the left and right, from lectern and pew
    From three hundred sixty degrees, all this cry and hew.
    This new crusade’s enough to make our angels grieve.




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  14. Sean said…..

    “Now, this isn’t to say, of course, that the Bible isn’t a clearer revelation of God’s character than is God’s “Second Book” of nature. The Bible most certainly is a clearer revelation of God. If it weren’t we wouldn’t have needed it in addition to God’s creative works of nature.”

    And so we agree, Sean. Nature is helpful in some affirmation of the power of God. But even if nature and science do not affirm the reality of when the earth was created, but only gives us some evidence of this fact, we must accept the authority of the bible, even if and when nature and science do not confirm the biblical affirmation.

    That’s because some evidence points to the biblical testimony, and some evidence does not. Those who want to deny the bible will emphasize that evidence that apparently does not affirm the biblical declaration.

    Neither can you, or anyone else, build a falsifiable proof from science and nature that the biblical testimony is correct.

    I personally agree with those who point to prophecy and its fulfillment as a far more reliable “evidence” to affirm scripture.

    As SDA’s, our primary focus in evangelism to support the SDA faith are Daniel and Revelation. We don’t start with nature and science to prove the scriptures and then build on scientific evidence to affirm the rest of the bible.

    And the primary focus of the bible is “we have also a more sure word of prophecy.”

    This even trumps the raising of the dead. For, “If they believe not Moses and the prophets, neither will they believe, though one rose from the dead.”

    So it’s a little scary when you say if you find evidence by way of science that disagrees with the biblical testimony, you would give up bible Adventism and probably Christanity well.

    It sounds too much like Eve dialoguing with Satan who readily showed her massive evidence that what God said was not true.

    He appealed to reason and scientific evidence from nature to prove his point.

    I think we should defend Genesis and its declarations from the scripture itself. And I don’t object to some natural law evidence. But I do object when a person makes this the final test.

    Bill Sorensen




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  15. @Bill Sorensen:

    So it’s a little scary when you say if you find evidence by way of science that disagrees with the biblical testimony, you would give up bible Adventism and probably Christanity well.

    Your appeal to prophetic evidence is an appeal to empirically-based science Bill – the historical sciences.

    It sounds too much like Eve dialoguing with Satan who readily showed her massive evidence that what God said was not true.

    Oh please. The Serpent showed Eve a relative pittance of actual evidence compared to what God had already shown Eve. The empirical evidence provided by God to demonstrate His own identity, the fact that He was Eve’s Creator, and the fact that He loved and cared for her, far far surpassed that provided by the Serpent.

    The reason why Eve was tempted and fell is not because of a lack of empirical evidence favoring God’s claims, but because the Serpent appealed more to Eve’s vanity than to her intellectual mind. He appealed to her passion for selfish gain and ambition. She fell as we all fall – because of the insanity of wanting what we know, for a fact, is not ours.

    He appealed to reason and scientific evidence from nature to prove his point.

    Only in the most trivial sense of the word. God is really the one who appealed to reason and evidence in a far more decided and clear-cut manner to support His position… not Satan. Satan only used the tiniest bit of evidence, in comparison, to make what was otherwise an obvious appeal to vanity more palatable to a mind fixated on personal gain. Such a mind loses its ability to think rationally – to follow the true weight of evidence. It will grasp at any tiny straw or fragment of evidence, however unsubstantial in comparison to that which is in known to be in favor of the truth, in order to find any reason at all, however trivial, for continuing in the path of folly.

    Such is the power of deliberate self-deception. It is for this reason that sin is, by definition, irrational. If it could be argued that there is any valid excuse for sin, such as a lack of adequate empirical evidence, a given sin would cease to be sin. It is precisely because no valid excuse can actually be presented as a defense for one’s evil actions that sin remains a form of insanity for which there really is no reasonable defense.

    This can be recognized in the response of Eve to God’s question, “Why did you eat of the forbidden tree?” Eve followed Adam’s lead in trying to put the blame on God for creating the agent of temptation. Neither Adam nor Eve argued that God had not provided them with enough evidence to know better…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  16. Sean said…..

    “The reason why Eve was tempted and fell is not because of a lack of empirical evidence favoring God’s claims, but because the Serpent appealed more to Eve’s vanity than to her intellectual mind. He appealed to her passion for selfish gain and ambition.”

    Well, Sean, this is speculation on your part. Eve had no sinful nature to appeal to. The devil created a scenario that included a “God ego” for anyone who would accept his proposition. And as you pointed out, this is a kind of spiritual insanity.

    But to me, it seems apparent that his main focus was on the rational aspects of the human mind. He, himself, ate of the fruit and suggested such “evidence” was proof that she had misunderstood what God had meant.

    Satan would not call God a liar. That is far to crass to deceive many people.

    But he would suggest that we did not understand or interpret correctly what God had said or meant. And this is in harmony with the modern attack on creation even by some SDA’s.

    Eve had no inherent desire to dis-believe God like we do. She had to be persuaded by some reasoning that appealed to her intellect. And I don’t deny that Satan also used flattery, but it was primarily an appeal to her reasoning powers.

    And if he could create doubt concerning what God meant, he could substitute his own agenda and explanation on what God had said.

    So he said, “Ye shall not surely (really) die.” “You will just move on to a higher state of existence with a higher degree of understanding.”

    And in the end, we know what happened. He transferred Adam and Eve’s faith from God to himself. Now they have a sinful nature. (The sinful nature is spiritual, not physical.)

    In other words, what you would do naturally if you believe God, or what you would do naturally if you believe Satan.

    The purpose of salvation is to persuade people to transfer their faith from Satan back to God. And we are born, sinful by nature. God has to do the persuading. And the cross of calvary is His ultimate argument.

    The sinful nature is not the physical being of man. Even though our physical being is an avenue Satan can use to hold us in subjection to himself. Our physical needs are presented to us as more important than trusting in God to take care of us in any and all circumstances.

    Now I have given you a lesson on “original sin”. The original sin was the transfer of faith to Satan.

    Back to our original discussion. As Protestants, we confess “the bible is our only rule of faith and practice.”

    No scientific evidence transcends this confession of faith. And I think you agree with this as well, Sean.

    Bill Sorensen




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  17. Phil Brantley is unquestionably correct in his attitude toward Scripture. The problem is that Phil’s attitude toward science and science education in an Adventist setting do not build upon, and effectively conflict with, his stated attitude toward Scripture.

    Phil holds that naturalism is the indispensable ingredient in science, including origins science. But if, as Phil writes, science and indeed all human knowledge must be tested by, and held in subjection to, Scripture, then origins science should not be naturalistic but should assume the truth the Genesis narrative as a starting point. Instead, mainstream origins science assumes that there has never been any supernaturalistic intervention at any point in natural history.

    And yet Phil argues that creation science is “a farce,” and mainstream origins science should be taught at Seventh-day Adventist Universities, which is the exact opposite of placing all human knowledge in subjection to Scripture. It seems Phil is not practicing what he preaches. He preaches the superiority of Scripture to human reason and knowledge, but in practice regards mainstream science as sacrosanct and untouchable.

    I don’t disagree at all with Phil’s attitude toward Scripture, but I would REALLY put human science in subjection to Scripture by developing an origins science–i.e. “creation science”–that assumes the truth of the biblical narrative.




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  18. Sean, I think people ultimately have to accept Scripture on faith. There are several arguments to be made in support of the proposition that Scripture is the inspired word of God, and we should make those arguments. They include prophecies fulfilled, the spiritually elevating tone of Scripture, the elevating effect of Scripture on those who read it, the unity and consistency in the themes and truths of Scripture despite having been written by many different writers over the course of many centuries, the many geographical places mentioned in Scripture that have been verified by history and archeology, etc.

    But ultimately these arguments are not sufficient to coerce the skeptic; ultimately one must make a faith decision to believe that Scripture is the inspired word of God. So faith can never be replaced by sight. Faith is a necessary ingredient in the Christian walk, without which it is impossible to be saved.

    I’m also a little unclear about whether you regard the recent creation and the Genesis Flood as being verifiable or falsifiable. I don’t think they are of that character. The data that bear on these things are subject to interpretation, and how one interprets the data determines how one feels about the historicity of these events.

    For example, the data of the geological column and the fossil record can be interpreted as evidence of the Genesis Flood, or as evidence of the long, slow development of life across immense ages of time. The common genetic language can be interpreted as evidence of common descent or as evidence of common design. One can choose to interpret them either way, and the choice of interpretive filters is essentially a religious choice.

    Obviously, the faith choice comes before the interpretation of the data. So if one interprets the fossil record as being evidence of the Genesis Flood, and then uses the reality of the Genesis Flood as evidence of the inspiration of Scripture, one is reasoning in a circle. (Likewise, the skeptic who interprets the fossil record as evidence of slow development of life across long ages–in derogation of clear Bible teaching–and then says “see, evolution proves the Bible is wrong” is also reasoning in a circle; he began with an anti-biblical premise and ended with an anti-biblical conclusion.)

    There really is no substitute for faith, which I think is probably why faith is emphasized so frequently in Scripture. (See, e.g., Hebrews 11).




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  19. Bill Sorensen: [@ Sean Pitman] So it’s a little scary when you say if you find evidence by way of science that disagrees with the biblical testimony, you would give up bible Adventism and probably Christanity well.

    Unbelievable! Someone else actually gets it!

    Bill Sorensen: No scientific evidence transcends this confession of faith. And I think you agree with this as well, Sean.

    Just watch…Sean Pitman cannot and will not admit to this.




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  20. The like and dis-like buttons are interesting, although I have never punched one.

    I suspect the way many vote is based on who said it more than what is said in many cases.

    If it is for and in support of Sean, many will vote “yes”.

    And if it is against him, other will vote “yes”.

    I am not sure people read and understand the dialogue.

    Bill Sorensen




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  21. @David Read:

    Sean, I think people ultimately have to accept Scripture on faith.

    Ultimately people who come to any conclusion about the truth of anything that exists outside of their own imaginations must use some degree of faith. This includes the conclusions of scientists as to what is and is not most likely true.

    In short, one can’t avoid making leaps of faith when coming to conclusions as to what claims, among many competing claims and potential options, are most likely true.

    This isn’t to say, however, that leaps of faith must be entirely blind, without a basis in solid evidence. Without any evidentiary basis, blind leaps of faith are simply no more helpful than is wishful thinking.

    For me, the Christian faith can be so much more than mere wishful thinking or fanciful speculation. We aren’t simply peddling “cunningly devised fables” here… – 2 Peter 1:16

    But ultimately these arguments are not sufficient to coerce the skeptic; ultimately one must make a faith decision to believe that Scripture is the inspired word of God.

    No evidence is sufficient to force belief in anything. We are talking about what it would take to convince someone with a rational candid mind who really did want to know and follow the truth. We are not talking about those who will not accept the truth because they don’t want to accept the truth. These kinds of people are the ones Jesus talked about who wouldn’t believe “Even if someone were raised from the dead.” – Luke 16:31 NIV

    So faith can never be replaced by sight. Faith is a necessary ingredient in the Christian walk, without which it is impossible to be saved.

    The faith of all true seekers for truth is always increased by additional information in favor of the truth. It is not blind and cannot increase without evidence. It is for this reason that the faith of the disciples of Jesus increased when they were given empirical evidence by Jesus.

    I’m also a little unclear about whether you regard the recent creation and the Genesis Flood as being verifiable or falsifiable. I don’t think they are of that character. The data that bear on these things are subject to interpretation, and how one interprets the data determines how one feels about the historicity of these events.

    All data are subject to interpretation. No human ideas about the truth of anything that exists outside of the mind are absolutely or can be known with perfection.

    This doesn’t mean that the best available empirical evidence cannot be said to clearly favor the Biblical model of origins. I think that such a claim is perfectly valid – and true in my opinion.

    For example, the data of the geological column and the fossil record can be interpreted as evidence of the Genesis Flood, or as evidence of the long, slow development of life across immense ages of time.

    Indeed, but not with equal predictive power. The Biblical model of a universal Flood and the recent formation of life has significantly greater explanatory power and is more consistent with the totality of the evidence that is currently available.

    The common genetic language can be interpreted as evidence of common descent or as evidence of common design. One can choose to interpret them either way, and the choice of interpretive filters is essentially a religious choice.

    The choice for design isn’t just a religious choice, but the best scientific choice for the origin of various genetic features given the totality of genetic evidence – not just one particular feature that can easily be interpreted either way with equal rationality. While the nested pattern can be explained by either deliberate or mindless processes, the associated functionality cannot be equally explained – not even close. The hypothesis of intelligent design is far far superior when it comes to explaining such features.

    Obviously, the faith choice comes before the interpretation of the data.

    Not true for many many people who have been converted to Christianity, sometimes against their natural choice, because of the overwhelming nature of the evidence in its favor.

    The same thing can be said for the disciples of Jesus who were naturally skeptical people. They didn’t choose Jesus before they had good evidence that he was someone special and they didn’t become bold in faith until they saw the resurrection.

    Again, a useful faith doesn’t decrease with evidence, but is based on evidence and increases as the evidence in support of one’s faith increases.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  22. @Bill Sorensen:

    Well, Sean, this is speculation on your part. Eve had no sinful nature to appeal to. The devil created a scenario that included a “God ego” for anyone who would accept his proposition. And as you pointed out, this is a kind of spiritual insanity.

    Eve was given the ability to understand and appreciate the potential benefits of sin – of rebellion against what she knew was right. Sin is not without its rewards, rewards that Eve was naturally attracted to – even in her state of original perfection.

    But to me, it seems apparent that his main focus was on the rational aspects of the human mind. He, himself, ate of the fruit and suggested such “evidence” was proof that she had misunderstood what God had meant.

    Again, the Serpent offered even far far less evidence that God had already given her. It wasn’t because of a lack of evidence on God’s part that Eve was tricked. Otherwise, she could have honestly claimed ignorance of what path to take – which she didn’t.

    After all, we are told that Adam was not at all deceived as to the nature and purpose of the Serpent. So, clearly, the fall wasn’t due to a lack of evidence necessary to know right from wrong in this case.

    After all, let’s say that I just happened to be God. You’re arguing with me, not knowing that I’m really God. After all, I haven’t provided you with very good evidence that I am in fact God. Therefore, you could rightly claim that I’m being unfair when I smite you for your failure to recognize me as the true God.

    This is, of course, a silly example, but it proves my point. God would be just as silly to expect obedience if He gave Adam and Eve no more solid evidence than I’ve given you that I’m really the God you should obey…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  23. Sean said…..

    “Again, the Serpent offered even far far less evidence that God had already given her. It wasn’t because of a lack of evidence on God’s part that Eve was tricked. Otherwise, she could have honestly claimed ignorance of what path to take – which she didn’t.”

    Well, of course, you are wrong, Sean. She claimed it was not her fault and the snake deceived her. So, in her self defense, she claimed she was ignorant of the results of her decision and therefore, not culpable.

    Inherent in her self defense, she is blaming God for not giving her enough “evidence” to make an intelligent decision. So, she claimed she was innocent of any rebellion.

    Did she have “adequate” evidence? As Christians, we say “yes”. Did she have absolute evidence? The answer is “no”.

    As you have pointed out in your former posts, only God knows everything. And the final issue in the “great controversy” is not whether created beings have absolute knowledge to make a decision in favor of God and His truth. The only question to be decided is if created being have “adequate” evidence to make a decision in God’s favor.

    Those who are saved at last all say, “yes”. And the lost all say “no”.

    It is just that simple. And remember, Lucifer has always claimed he was never in rebellion against God. He claimed if God had always given them clear light, there never would be any rebellion and there never could be.

    So, he concludes with all his followers, that God alone is responsible for sin.

    And finally, sin always “self justifies”. And Eve claimed ignorance as the cause of her disobedience. And so did Adam when he placed the blame on Eve. And remember their final accusation is against God.

    God has given us adequate evidence based on prophecy and the written word. Science is secondary at best and worthless if it is appealed to as the final revelation.

    We need not downplay science. Only if it is given the role you have apparently given it. Then it can become a tool for Satan to use to deceive.

    By the way of nature, how can you justify animals that eat each other. Is this the “evidence” that explains God’s kingdom? Survival of the fittest is the evidence from nature that evolution appeals to for a validation of their theory.

    But for a Christian, it only explains sin and the results of transgression. Something evolution denies.

    Yes, there is evidence. But it is in the scriptural revelation. And I suggest that nothing transcends prophecy which is more than adequate to build a viable Christian faith.

    Bill Sorensen




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  24. @Bill Sorensen:

    Inherent in her self defense, she is blaming God for not giving her enough “evidence” to make an intelligent decision. So, she claimed she was innocent of any rebellion.

    This is like a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar blaming his parents for leaving the jar where he could reach it.

    Eve’s excuse was of the same character. She knew that she had been given plenty of evidence and warning. She really had no valid excuse – and she knew it. She was simply desperate at this point to point the finger anywhere but at herself where she knew the blame really belonged.

    Let me repeat, it was God who had provided the significant weight of evidence in this case – not the Serpent. Consider, the comments of Mrs. White in this regard:

    Our first parents chose to believe the words, as they thought, of a serpent; yet he had given them no tokens of his love. He had done nothing for their happiness and benefit, while God had given them everything that was good for food and pleasant to the sight. Everywhere the eye might rest was abundance and beauty; yet Eve was deceived by the serpent, to think that there was something withheld which would make them wise, even as God. Instead of believing and confiding in God, she basely distrusted His goodness and cherished the words of Satan.

    EGW, SR, p. 37-38.

    Note again that Eve’s trust of the words of the Serpent over those of God was sinful precisely because she was rejecting the one who had shown her real evidence of his love for her. If God had not done all of these things for her, she would not be guilty of deliberately severing a loving relationship that had been built on abundant evidence.

    Again, if any valid excuse or reason for sin could be presented, it would cease to be sin. It would no longer be a form of insanity – of deliberate rebellion against known truth.

    Did she have “adequate” evidence? As Christians, we say “yes”. Did she have absolute evidence? The answer is “no”.

    There is always room for a free moral agent to claim that he/she has honest doubts if he/she so chooses – however crazy that choice may be. That’s the very definition of moral freedom. However, only God knows if those doubts really are truly honest – if one has or has not deliberately rejected known truth or has deliberately turned down the opportunity to know the truth. God knows, with absolute perfection, what a person knows and to what degree.

    It is for this reason, of course, that only God can perfectly judge the heart of a person – their true moral character. You and I cannot judge in this manner because we do not know if another person is or is not being sincere with the same degree of perfection that God uses.

    The only question to be decided is if created being have “adequate” evidence to make a decision in God’s favor.

    Those who are saved at last all say, “yes”. And the lost all say “no”.

    You’re mistaken. The lost are not lost because they don’t have adequate evidence. Even they will readily admit, at the end of time, that all the evidence is in God’s favor and that they fully recognize the justice in God’s actions and in their exclusion from Heaven. They will all bow the knee before God, even Satan, and fully admit their own errors and God’s goodness. If it were just a matter of evidence, God would provide it. The problem is that it isn’t a matter of evidence, but of motive. That’s why the case of those who will be eternally lost is hopeless. There really is nothing God could have done to save them – to change their minds. It is also for this reason that sin is a form of insanity. It makes no rational sense. If it were just a matter of information or evidence, it would make rational sense. There would be a rational reason for its existence – i.e., a lack of enough evidence.

    Consider again the words of Mrs. White in this regard:

    In the day of final judgment, every lost soul will understand the nature of his own rejection of truth. The cross will be presented, and its real bearing will be seen by every mind that has been blinded by transgression. Before the vision of Calvary with its mysterious Victim, sinners will stand condemned. Every lying excuse will be swept away. Human apostasy will appear in its heinous character. Men will see what their choice has been. Every question of truth and error in the long-standing controversy will then have been made plain. In the judgment of the universe, God will stand clear of blame for the existence or continuance of evil. It will be demonstrated that the divine decrees are not accessory to sin. There was no defect in God’s government, no cause for disaffection. When the thoughts of all hearts shall be revealed, both the loyal and the rebellious will unite in declaring, “Just and true are Thy ways, Thou King of saints. Who shall not fear Thee, O Lord, and glorify Thy name? . . . for Thy judgments are made manifest.” Rev. 15:3, 4.

    EGW, DA, p. 58

    The only difference between the righteous and the wicked will be motive. Both will fully know and understand the truth and recognize it as the truth before God. However, the wicked will hate what they know is true while the righteous will love what they know is true.

    He claimed if God had always given them clear light, there never would be any rebellion and there never could be.

    This is also not true. Lucifer knew from the beginning that he was in the wrong. Yet, because of his pride, he refused to admit the error of his ways and come back into a loving relationship with God. It is for this reason that he is eternally lost.

    So, he concludes with all his followers, that God alone is responsible for sin.

    Nope. He concludes, as do his followers, that God was right all along. It is just that this conclusion of truth does not change their hearts to love the truth.

    Yes, there is evidence. But it is in the scriptural revelation. And I suggest that nothing transcends prophecy which is more than adequate to build a viable Christian faith.

    As I’ve already explained to you many times, even prophecy is dependent upon empirical evidence (i.e., empirical science) for its rational validity.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  25. Ellen White unmistakably supports what Bill Sorensen, David Read, Richard Davidson, Mark Finley, Phil Brantley, myself, and most faithful SDAs understand:

    “Everywhere the eye might rest was abundance and beauty; yet Eve was deceived by the serpent, to think that there was something withheld which would make them wise, even as God. Instead of believing and confiding in God, she basely distrusted His goodness and cherished the words of Satan.
    EGW, SR, p. 37-38

    Clearly, Eve trusted in her own judgment, having been deceived by the evidence presented to her by the serpent. She failed the simple test of trusting God’s word at face value. Ellen White could not have stated this more clearly. I repeat, Eve was DECEIVED and she DISTRUSTED.

    Likewise, we will err should we refuse, as Sean Pitman insists we must, to trust God’s word at face value. Yes, there is evidence that God’s word can be trusted; no one is denying this evidence except Sean for the sake of his petty argument, for which he erroneously equates implicit trust in God’s word with “blind faith.” Again, none of us are arguing there is no evidence, and we are deeply offended at being told over and over (and over and over), “your faith is blind and useless.”

    Because Satan can manipulate and take advantage of evidence, it’s clear that God’s word and physical evidence are not a harmonious match on this planet. When God’s word and the physical evidence (science) conflict, faithful SDAs follow God’s word–not their own reason, as Eve did and Sean Pitman boasts he will. Trusting God’s word ahead of the evidence and our own reason is not as useless as believing in Sean’s pasta strawman, the Flying Spaghetti Monster.

    You can believe Sean Pitman, and follow his advice to put your trust in evidence and your own reason, or you can believe God.

    Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5




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  26. Sean, the issue of Eve’s deception was not a matter of who provided more evidence: God or the serpent. It was a matter of which evidence she chose ultimately to believe before making her decision to act.




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  27. @Professor Kent:

    “Everywhere the eye might rest was abundance and beauty; yet Eve was deceived by the serpent, to think that there was something withheld which would make them wise, even as God. Instead of believing and confiding in God, she basely distrusted His goodness and cherished the words of Satan.
    EGW, SR, p. 37-38

    Clearly, Eve trusted in her own judgment, having been deceived by the evidence presented to her by the serpent. She failed the simple test of trusting God’s word at face value. Ellen White could not have stated this more clearly. I repeat, Eve was DECEIVED and she DISTRUSTED.

    You forgot to quote the first part of this passage that describes the fact that it was God who provided far superior evidence of who He was and His love and care for Eve than did the Serpent.

    Our first parents chose to believe the words, as they thought, of a serpent; yet he had given them no tokens of his love. He had done nothing for their happiness and benefit, while God had given them everything that was good for food and pleasant to the sight.

    EGW, SR, p. 37

    It wasn’t for a lack of adequate evidence that Eve was deceived. She was tricked because she wanted to believe what the Serpent said despite the weight of evidence that God had provided in his own behalf. It was a problem of motivation, not evidence. If there had been a problem with having adequate evidence, it would have been unfair for God to have punished Eve. The very fact that the evidence was clear and abundant is the reason why Eve was guilty of sin… of deliberately severing what she knew was a loving relationship with the One she knew created her and had demonstrated his love for her in numerous unmistakeable ways. That is why her act was so “base” and even evil.

    This isn’t God asking for obedience to his word at “face value”. This is God providing abundant evidence that his word can be trusted. He did and still does this by demonstrating who he is with abundant evidence before he asks us to trust him. He doesn’t simply show up and ask us to believe his naked claims devoid of any evidence for why we should believe that he is really God and that his word should be trusted.

    For example, if God had never shown himself to Adam and Eve, had never explained how they all of a sudden showed up in the Garden of Eden, it would have been unfair for Him to suddenly speak to them in some disembodied voice and say, “Don’t eat from that tree over there.”… and then punish them if they did it anyway when someone else (like the Serpent) told them that they should eat from this tree and gave them various evidences as to why it would be good for them to do so.

    Do you not see the difference between such an expectation to follow such a naked command at face value alone? – vs. a situation where abundant evidence is first provided?

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  28. Sean Pitman: Do you not see the difference between such an expectation to follow such a naked command at face value alone? – vs. a situation where abundant evidence is first provided?

    Stop it! No one but you is arguing about a “naked command.” I can say repeatedly YES, THERE WAS EVIDENCE, and your comeback is always, “you’re talking blind faith, dude.” You seriously need to stop this “blind faith” garbage.

    Taking God’s word “at face value” is not devoid of evidence. It certainly does take into consideration evidence, but it often goes beyond this, where no evidence may be available to guide one’s reason. Stop making it into something different. Yes, Eve had MORE evidence that should have backed God’s word, but this was not about who gave more or better evidence. It’s about the DECISION she made, in which she put more credence into the serpent’s word than God’s word. Big mistake. She failed to take God’s word at face value.

    When God says, “Jump,” no one but you is arguing that, at face value, there is no evidence of God’s authority and foreknowledge that should be taken into account. Rather than look for additional evidence to understand his command (perhaps a snake at your feet), you need to simply do as God commanded–jump. That is what we do when we take God’s word at face value. It’s not a blind or naked decision.




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  29. @Professor Kent:

    Stop it! No one but you is arguing about a “naked command.” I can say repeatedly YES, THERE WAS EVIDENCE, and your comeback is always, “you’re talking blind faith, dude.” You seriously need to stop this “blind faith” garbage.

    When you and Phil Brantley argue that the Bible’s credibility cannot be subjected to testing or potential falsification, you are actually saying that faith is not at all dependent, in any sense of the word, on the backing of evidence. That’s what Phil Brantley is in fact saying…

    Taking God’s word “at face value” is not devoid of evidence.

    The term “at face value” means that no other evidence is needed besides what is right there in front of you. That’s it. No other evidence. It means, “to accept something because of the way it first looks or seems, without thinking about what else it could mean.”

    It certainly does take into consideration evidence, but it often goes beyond this, where no evidence may be available to guide one’s reason.

    It is my position that faith must take into consideration evidence if it is to be rational. It is this evidence that always guides one’s reasoning abilities when one takes a leap of faith beyond what can be absolutely known. That doesn’t mean the such a leap of faith is blind. It isn’t.

    It also means that such a leap of faith has the potential to be wrong – to be falsified. But, of course, Phil Brantley doesn’t allow for this potentiality…

    Stop making it into something different. Yes, Eve had MORE evidence that should have backed God’s word, but this was not about who gave more or better evidence. It’s about the DECISION she made, in which she put more credence into the serpent’s word than God’s word. Big mistake. She failed to take God’s word at face value.

    It’s about why she believed the Serpent rather than God even though God had given her far far more evidence. Eve actually displayed greater blind faith in the Serpent’s word since the Serpent offered far less evidence that God had offered.

    That is why I said it was more about desire than about evidence for those who really don’t like what the evidence is telling them. This is why the wicked will be lost despite there being overwhelming evidence in God’s favor – because they don’t like what they know is true.

    In comparison, for those who are honestly searching for truth, additional evidence is the means for increasing one’s faith in the truth.

    When God says, “Jump,” no one but you is arguing that, at face value, there is no evidence of God’s authority and foreknowledge that should be taken into account. Rather than look for additional evidence to understand his command (perhaps a snake at your feet), you need to simply do as God commanded–jump. That is what we do when we take God’s word at face value. It’s not a blind or naked decision.

    All I said is that a rational leap of faith requires a basis in solid evidence that has proven itself reliable after careful investigation and testing. Once this evidence is established, obviously it can be quite rationally used as the basis for increased faith.

    Of course, this is directly contrary to what Phil Brantley proposes – that faith exists independent of the need for any evidentiary support – to include the fulfillment of prophecy in real history. That’s simply not a rational position in my book…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  30. Sean Pitman said “The term “at face value” means that no other evidence is needed besides what is right there in front of you. That’s it. No other evidence. It means, “to accept something because of the way it first looks or seems, without thinking about what else it could mean.””

    I totally disagree. When my wife says about my best friend, “Scott was offended by your remark last night”, I take her word at face value because of evidence I’ve had in the past that she has good judgment. I don’t need to ask about what kinds of evidence she used to reach her decision and I don’t need to seek additional evidence from my other friends who were present, and find out what they thought. I have good reason to accept my wife’s word AT FACE VALUE and I do so.

    Professor Kent’s argument is perfectly reasonable. I think you dislike the guy so much that you will disagree with anything he writes. Anything.

    And I also disagree with your portrayal of Kent and Brantley espousing “blind faith”. I don’t think they have done this. Kent is right, it’s your straw man argument.




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  31. Sean said…..

    “The lost are not lost because they don’t have adequate evidence.”

    Sean, listen, I did not say they did not have adequate evidence.

    I did say, “They claim they do not have adequate evidence.”

    And I am not talking about what they finally admit in the end. I am talking about their attitude during their probationary time.

    Have you ever read any of John Alfke’s comments on Spectrum? The man is a classic defender of sin.

    His whole argument is the bible is irrational and can not be understood. Who then is he blaming for his unbelief and sin? God, of course.

    He is simply an example in the raw of all of those who justify sin and blame God.

    I only use John because he is so obvious an illustration of the point I have made. I doubt he is worse than many others who are not so clear in what they say and what it finally means. As in the case of Elaine Nelson.

    Whether any of those people are saved in the end, I can’t say. But I can “judge” their theology and arguments against God and the bible. It is all the same, isn’t it? Some just more subtle than others.

    God speaks through His instrumentalities and Satan speaks through his. If people don’t think this controversy is intense, they don’t read their bible much, do they?

    Bill Sorensen




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  32. On my comments on the like and dislike buttons, I got 4 thumbs up and 4 down.

    I don’t have a clue of what that means, do you?

    Bill Sorensen




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  33. @James:

    And I also disagree with your portrayal of Kent and Brantley espousing “blind faith”. I don’t think they have done this. Kent is right, it’s your straw man argument.

    If you’re right here, and I hope that you are, why have both Prof. Kent and Phil Brantley jumped all over me whenever I suggest that evidence is needed to back up faith? that faith that is devoid of any backing by empirical evidence of any kind is blind and simply not helpful? Why have both of them argued that God’s Word should be trusted without question and that the Bible’s claim to be the Word of God cannot be subjected to empirical investigation or testing with the potential for falsification?

    You see, I’ve only been arguing that faith and evidence must go together hand in hand – that one is not helpful without the other. Faith without an evidentiary basis is blind while evidence without the ability to take a leap of faith beyond that which can be absolutely known is extremely limited in its usefulness.

    I’m glad you trust your wife and are now able to take her word “at face value”. I’m sure your experience is similar to my experience with my wife. I’m sure it took you a while to get to this point of a trusting relationship. It took a period of time of experiencing her trustworthiness, as evidenced by numerous empirical examples. And, I dare say that your faith in your wife would take a hit if you were shown solid empirical evidence that clearly demonstrated that she was lying to you about important matters.

    All I’m saying here is that the same thing is true of God and his Word, the Bible. God does not expect someone to automatically trust the Bible as his Word without first doing some extensive investigation of its claims as they compare to known empirical reality to see if the claims hold true.

    God does not expect blind trust or obedience without first providing very good evidence upon which to base a very high level of trust.

    If this is also Prof. Kent’s position, that’s great! Hopefully he’ll stop arguing with me if in fact he actually agrees with me on this…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  34. @Bill Sorensen:

    And I am not talking about what they finally admit in the end. I am talking about their attitude during their probationary time…

    His whole argument is the bible is irrational and can not be understood. Who then is he blaming for his unbelief and sin? God, of course.

    It’s fine to argue against people’s concept of God or various doctrinal errors. However, this is not the same thing as determining a person’s moral standing before God – a determination that only God can known with absolute perfection.

    God can deal with honest errors in knowledge. Such errors are not sinful. Sin is based on motive, not knowledge.

    God cannot deal with errors in motive where the person does not want to know or follow the truth that God has revealed. This is sin and sin separates us from God because sin cannot be solved by simply showing the sinful person the truth. The sinful person doesn’t care to know the truth and does not want to follow the truth. It is for this reason that the sinner must be “born again” to gain a new heart from God that is not inherently at war against the truth. Those who refuse to see even this basic need of rebirth cannot be saved because they simply hate what they know is true and will not ask God for help to overcome this hatred of the truth – because they love the lie too much.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  35. Sean said…..

    “It’s fine to argue against people’s concept of God or various doctrinal errors. However, this is not the same thing as determining a person’s moral standing before God – a determination that only God can known with absolute perfection.”

    On a human level, Sean, we are not discussing anything “absolute”. God commands us to judge on several levels. Moral law, civil law, family law…..etc.

    And we make the best judgment we can based on whatever information is available. Thus, a church judges its members worthiness to remain a member if a situation requires such a judgment. And in the same context, a church member must judge the church as being what it claims to be. And yes, we even judge people’s motive on a relative level by what they may say or do.

    So, your argument that no one can “judge” is not supported either by the bible or even common sense.

    You futher said…..

    “God can deal with honest errors in knowledge. Such errors are not sinful. Sin is based on motive, not knowledge.”

    Excuse me, Sean. How can you seperate knowledge from motive? You seem to make these off the wall statements that make no sense in a biblical context nor even based on simple human reason.

    And I assume your statement above is to continue to support the idea that no one is sinning who is ignorant of the law. According to your theory, sin is only related to motive. Meaning, if I don’t know better, I am not sinning.

    Again you seem to fail to understand how pardon is appropriated to those who are ignorantly breaking the law and sinning.

    If God does not hold them accountable, it is not because they are not sinning. It is because the atonement of the cross is appropriated to them and they are pardoned for two reasons. One, they are ignorant, and two, Jesus is pleading His blood in their behalf before the Father.

    They are not innocent as you suggest. Rather, they are pardoned. A total different picture from the bible than the one you defend and advocate.

    Bill Sorensen




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  36. @Bill Sorensen:

    And I assume your statement above is to continue to support the idea that no one is sinning who is ignorant of the law. According to your theory, sin is only related to motive. Meaning, if I don’t know better, I am not sinning.

    Again you seem to fail to understand how pardon is appropriated to those who are ignorantly breaking the law and sinning.

    Let’s say an angel in Heaven, like Gabriel, accidentally steps on the foot of another angel, who happened to be standing behind him, because he didn’t know the other angel was there. Due to his less than perfect knowledge, Gabriel has caused his friend some discomfort.

    Question: Did Gabriel “sin” against his friend? Sure, he might say, “I’m so sorry for stepping on your foot, please forgive me.” once he realizes what he did. But, did Gabriel commit a moral sin against his friend? – a sin for which something as costly as the blood of Jesus would be necessary for atonement in such a case?

    Remember, the “law” in question here is the Royal Law of Love. Think about it…

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  37. Let’s say, Sean, someone keeps Sunday holy instead of the bible Sabbath, but they don’t know about the bible Sabbath. Are they sinning?

    Did you read what EGW said about this issue in Early Writings? and finally, do you believe her?

    “As the ministration of Jesus closed in the holy place, and He passed into the holiest, and stood before the ark containing the law of God, He sent another mighty angel with a third message to the world. A parchment was placed in the angel’s hand, and as he descended to the earth in power and majesty, he proclaimed a fearful warning, with the most terrible threatening ever borne to man. This message was designed to put the children of God upon their guard, by showing them the hour of temptation and anguish that was before them. Said the angel, “They will be brought into close combat with the beast and his image. Their only hope of eternal life is to remain steadfast. Although their lives are at stake, they must hold fast the truth.” The third angel closes his message thus: “Here is the patience of the saints: here are they that keep the commandments of God, and the faith of Jesus.” As he repeated these words, he pointed to the heavenly sanctuary. The minds of all who embrace this message are directed to the most holy place, where Jesus stands before the ark, making His final intercession for all those for whom mercy still lingers and for those who have ignorantly broken the law of God. This atonement is made for the righteous dead as well as for the righteous living. It includes all who died trusting in Christ, but who, not having received the light upon God’s commandments, had sinned ignorantly in transgressing its precepts.” {EW 254.1}

    Notice especially……”It includes all who died trusting in Christ, but who, not having received the light upon God’s commandments, had sinned ignorantly in transgressing its precepts.”

    People are not condemned in this context, not because they are innocent or not guilty, no, it is because they are forgiven and pardoned.

    Even your angel in heaven illustration will not support the idea that Gabriel is innocent and/or not guilty. It just means forgiveness is a natural result of ignorance. It is a spiritual faux pau. Not unlike a simular incident in this world where you might bump into someone by accident and say, “Oh, excuse me, I didn’t see you there.”

    If they are gracious, they will simply say, “Hey, no problem, I see your attention was diverted elsewhere.”

    Now if they say, “You should have seen me coming and gotten out of my way and I have no need to ask pardon, I am not guilty of any infraction even on a social level. I didn’t see you there, it was your fault.”

    How would anyone who was object of the offense respond? The offender would be saying “I am too important to be concerned with your person or any rights you have to be in this world.”

    Certainly knowledge has a bearing on the situation and in the case of an offense against God and His law, pardon will not be a factor if and when ignorance is no longer a factor.

    The issue is pardon, or no pardon. Not, guilty or not guilty. People are pardoned because they are guilty, and we don’t plead innocence before God just because we didn’t know better.

    The scriptural teaching on sin and forgiveness is not obscure in its various applications. From wilfull rebellion to sins of ignorance they are all discussed and explained in the bible.

    At no time does the bible explain sins of ignorance as having no need of pardon. And the very implication of pardon is coupled with the reality of guilt.

    A judge never declares someone pardoned who is falsely accused of a crime. He declares the person innocent. Pardon is always guilt and forgiveness.

    I hope we all have a happy and blessed Sabbath. We have much to be thankful for and in some cases, we don’t even know all the times God has acted in our behalf to bless us and keep us in the faith.

    Bill Sorensen




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  38. @Bill Sorensen:

    Even your angel in heaven illustration will not support the idea that Gabriel is innocent and/or not guilty. It just means forgiveness is a natural result of ignorance. It is a spiritual faux pau. Not unlike a simular incident in this world where you might bump into someone by accident and say, “Oh, excuse me, I didn’t see you there.”

    Oh, but are such errors sinful? – in the same sense that they would require the blood of Jesus for atonement? Why wouldn’t such errors be classified in the same manner with the sin of eating the forbidden fruit? – which did require the blood of Jesus for atonement?

    The issue is pardon, or no pardon. Not, guilty or not guilty. People are pardoned because they are guilty, and we don’t plead innocence before God just because we didn’t know better.

    You’re mistaken. People have successfully used the argument of ignorance with God many times. – Gen. 20:3-7 NIV.

    Ignorance means that one has not sinned against one’s conscience. A deliberate sin against one’s own conscience, against what one knew to be right, is what demanded the blood of Jesus for atonement.

    According to your view, sin will always continue in Heaven for ever and ever. As long as we are subject to imperfect knowledge, accidents will happen – even in Heaven. While we will no doubt apologize for these accidence, they will not be classified as moral “sins”.

    Note that Mrs. White and the Bible both point out that moral sin will not arise a second time in God’s universe.

    Never will evil again be manifest. Says the word of God: “Affliction shall not rise up the second time.” Nahum 1:9.

    EGW, GC, p. 504

    This situation would be impossible given your view of sin and your misunderstanding as to what makes sin so evil.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  39. “In ourselves we are sinners, but in Christ we are righteous.” EGW

    This applies is much to the sinless angels who have never fallen as it does to us on this earth.

    Adam seperated us from God, and so no one is born “in Christ” and so all are condemned by God as sinners. It does not matter what you do or don’t do, it matter in what state and condition you are born in.

    Adam was created “in Christ” just like the sinless angels. But he chose to reject this position and as Paul says, “We are sold in sin.”

    Everything anyone does outside of Christ is sin. Even honest mistakes made by the angels of heaven are “forgiven” by virtue of their relationship with Christ.

    Yes, it could be called “sin” in a comprehensive and generic application. In the bible “sin” has many aspects and defined in application in many ways.

    “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” While this has a specific application to the fallen human race, it still can be applied to the unfallen angels who certainly “come short” of the glory of God. When sin is defined as “come short” or “missing the mark” then we can agree with Rev. 15:4 “…..for thou only art holy.”

    The sinless angels are in a continual state of forgiveness because they are “in Christ” and their “sins of ignorance” and mistakes are forgiven for Jesus sake.

    Just like any believer’s sins of ignorance and short comings are forgiven.

    The rebellion in heaven is between Christ and Satan. Satan resisted this principle of grace and contended if there were no law, there would be no need for grace. That the sinless angels were inherently sinless in themselves and did not need Christ and His intercession in their behalf.

    Christ is the mediator of redemption. And redemption is restoration to the original principles of God’s government for all created beings.

    Only Christ is equal to God and His law. If not, we have no hope, for the law requires such. Equality to God is what the law demands. The intercession of Christ goes beyond this fallen sinful world. And as EGW has so clearly stated…..

    “As through Jesus we enter into rest, heaven begins here. We respond to His invitation, Come, learn of Me, and in thus coming we begin the life eternal. Heaven is a ceaseless approaching to God through Christ. The longer we are in the heaven of bliss, the more and still more of glory will be opened to us; and the more we know of God, the more intense will be our happiness. As we walk with Jesus in this life, we may be filled with His love, satisfied with His presence.” DA 331

    No created being can approach God except by way of Jesus Christ. He is the mediator of creation and because of our fall, He is also a temporary mediator of redemption.

    And when sin is finally dealt with, His redemptive work will be complete and thus this mediation will cease. Sin will be no more. None the less, the eternal principle that “in ourselves we are sinners, but in Christ we are righteous” stands throughout all eternity and the experiment of trying to be sinless in ourselves and equal to God has fulfilled its purpose.

    To limit sin like you do, Sean, limits not only the value of the atonement for us in this life, it limits the true meaning that even comprehends the unfallen worlds and angels of heaven.

    The same truth that wins us back to God is the truth that keeps the unfallen worlds in harmony with God and His kingdom principles. “In themselves they are sinners, but in Christ they are righteous.”

    The cross is more of a revelation than an inovation. Until we “see” this reality, Jesus can not cease to mediate in heaven for this sinful ignorance on the part of man. Jesus pleads His merits for us until we are sufficiently enlightened to plead His merits in our own behalf. Then His work as a redeemer and sinbearer is done.

    Finally, you and I agree, the only sin that will shut people out of heaven is rebellion. But to rebel against what I have shared can only lead to presumption.

    Even ignorance can be considered rebellion if and when an individual resists the truth when the Holy Spirit is present and working to create enlightenment.

    By the way, the bible Sabbath is the outward illustration of what I have explained. We trust in grace by obeying the law and visa versa.

    Bill Sorensen




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  40. Sean and bill, I hate to say this, but, well, you both have a zeal on this topic that is quite worthy of a real cause. God has it figured out, so you can quit making a big deal about it.




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  41. @Professor Kent:

    Professor Kent August 25, 2011 at 6:49 am

    “Ellen White unmistakably supports what Bill Sorensen, David Read, Richard Davidson, Mark Finley, Phil Brantley, myself, and most faithful SDAs understand: …

    You can believe Sean Pitman, and follow his advice to put your trust in evidence and your own reason, or you can believe God.

    “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5”

    *********
    It seems to me that you are equating the inspiration of Bible writers with infallibility. Even Ellen White did admit that a few errors were introduced into the sacred text by copyists who altered the original text in their attempt to clarify its meaning.

    Suppose we stumbled with a statement in Scripture telling us that the moon is square instead of being round. Would we accept such assertion at “face value”? Well, in fact there are biblical texts which we need to reject on the basis of our correct understanding of God’s character.

    A classic example are the verses which tell us that the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh in order to show his power on him, or the other verse which states that God incited King David to count Israel and then punished David for doing it.

    Can we take those passages at face value? The Apostle Paul did use such biblical statements in his support of his doctrine of God’s sovereignty. These things are in the Bible, but my common sense tells me that I have a moral duty to reject them because they distort the true character of God.

    We need to remember that Ellen White told us that God is not represented in the Bible as the writer. God did not write the Bible, but merely inspired holy men to record for posterity certain events and messages from heaven to humanity. Those men did their best, but inspiration is not equivalent with dictation. The only portion of the Bible written directly by the Lord are the Ten Commandments, and we have two slightly divergent versions of this document.

    Likewise, what Jesus said came to us through human filters. The only thing he wrote was written on the sand instead of tables of stone, and the wind quickly erased what he had written before anybody had a chance to transcribe it onto parchment.

    Ellen White did assert more than once that only God is infallible. Let’s not claim for the Bible what it is not. Scripture was written for practical purposes: it was meant to lead us to Jesus Christ and the pardon he freely offers to sinners like us.

    The Bible is “infallible” in a general sense only, but not in the absolute sense of the word. It points to the way of salvation. The inspired authors of Scripture did not become infallible the moment they sat down to write Scripture.




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  42. JohnB August 27, 2011 at 3:24 pm “Sean and bill, I hate to say this, but, well, you both have a zeal on this topic that is quite worthy of a real cause. God has it figured out, so you can quit making a big deal about it.”

    Well, John, every bible scholar knows and understands that how you define sin will determine how you define the atonement and salvation. And there is no greater “cause” than this one.

    Yes, “God has it figured out” and He has communicated it to us in His word. Jesus did not consider it a small matter when He said, “Ye must be born again.”

    And Paul writes volumes on this issue as well as the rest of the bible. In one sense, the whole reformation was stimulated because of the misunderstanding of this issue of sin, how it is interpreted and finally, how it is applied in reference to the atonement.

    So, you may not consider it a “real cause” but apparently the bible writers do. And by the way, much of the split in Adventism is precisely based on this issue as well. More than a few books have been published by SDA scholars on this issue of sin and its application. Not to mention the 1888 fiasco was stimulated by how righteousness by faith is the answer to this ongoing sin problem.

    I suppose I could wonder what “cause” you consider more important? I personally can’t think of any.

    I may not agree with Sean on all his conclusions about creation and how to view the evidence. And I certainly don’t agree with what I consider his limited view of sin. None the less, I can see he has thought through some of the implications, even how God may deal with the sinless angels who obviously make mistakes in judgment. Like us, they make decisions and judgments based on a limited knowledge just like we do.

    And on the issue of rebellion, we agree the only sin that would shut someone out of heaven is the sin of rebellion.

    If you feel comfortable with your present knowledge and understanding, that’s fine. For me, there is one question in the bible that always remains dynamic and that is, “What must I do to be saved?”

    I hope everyone has a good week. I think many of us feel in reference to the final events, “It won’t be long now.” We must be on the verge of the little time of trouble.

    Have any of you read the dialogue on Spectrum about the “Great Controversy Project?” For some, and perhaps many, the conflict between Catholicism and bible Christanity is little to be concerned about. Read the dialogue. You will see prophecy being fulfilled before your very eyes and not by the world necessarily, but by some “so-called SDA’s”.

    Are we near the end, or what?

    Bill Sorensen




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  43. @Bill Sorensen:

    Everything anyone does outside of Christ is sin. Even honest mistakes made by the angels of heaven are “forgiven” by virtue of their relationship with Christ.

    Yes, it could be called “sin” in a comprehensive and generic application. In the bible “sin” has many aspects and defined in application in many ways.

    Don’t you think that Jesus may have accidentally stepped on someone’s foot, or accidentally bumped into someone, while on this Earth while subject to limited knowledge as we are subject? Did Jesus “sin” when making such honest mistakes?

    Your problem is that you define “sin” as any and all mistakes – even an angel accidentally stepping on his friend’s foot would be sinful or evil according to you. And, it seems, as if such “sins” will continue on for eternity in Heaven due to a lack of perfect knowledge.

    What then makes the sin of eating the forbidden fruit so different? Adam and Eve were created “in Christ”, just as unfallen angels are. Why then did their sin cause them to be removed from their garden home and place them in the need of the sacrificial suffering and death of Jesus on the cross? Why wouldn’t an angel accidentally stepping on his friend’s foot require the same actions on the part of God?

    What you don’t seem to understand is that there are different types of mistakes or “sins” if you want to call them all by the same word. Certain mistakes are not sins against one’s conscience and are therefore not moral wrongs and do not lead to a lost relationship with God – i.e., they do not lead to death.

    The difference between accidental mistakes and deliberate sins against one’s neighbor is that accidents are not sins against one’s conscience; against God. Therefore, they do not lead to a loss of one’s relationship with God. Deliberate sins against one’s neighbor, on the other hand, do lead to a loss of relationship with both one’s neighbor and with God.

    It is for this reason that sins against one’s conscience are in a whole different class altogether from truly honest accidental mistakes. The conscience is what defines the morality of an individual – what defines true obedience and/or rebellion against God or “sin” – i.e., true iniquity.

    You know, at this point I’m not sure if there is anything further I can share with you on this topic that will help you see the difference between honest mistakes and true moral sins? I think you’ve made your position look pretty silly by now. I don’t think very many people are going to find it very difficult to see the difference between accidentally stepping on someone’s foot vs. what Adam and Eve did in eating the forbidden fruit.

    For these reasons, comments regarding the supposed moral standing or “sinfulness” of those who hold to opposing doctrinal perspectives from me or you or anyone else contributing to comments in this forum will not be posted. While we disagree with what certain staff members have done and are doing at LSU, and think that these individuals should either resign or be removed from their positions as paid representatives of the Adventist Church within our schools, we do not judge their moral standing before God.

    There will be no further discussion along these lines.

    Sean Pitman
    http://www.DetectingDesign.com




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  44. Re Bill’s Quote

    “Are we near the end or what?”

    Hi Bill

    Well, according to Harold Camping that would occur on October 21, 2011. Should belief be based on fear?

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken




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  45. I know Sean can eliminate any thing he wants to since he “owns” and controls this forum.

    But, since this thread is called, “Biblical Interpretation and Credibility”, I could only wonder why he feels so sensitive about the discussion?

    I guess like some news and talk shows on TV, the man who does the interviewing can and does cut people off when ever he wants to.

    But I can say on this issue of sin, Sean has posted pretty much all I have to say on the subject anyway.

    And just a short comment to you Ken. As a self confessed agnostic, I would think you would already know that any forum professing bible Christanity would have people chide you for your confession.

    After all, Jesus said, “He that is not for me is against me.” And I can see that would include anyone claiming to be an agnostic.

    I certainly have no objection to your posting here. But it would seem that you would fit in far better on forums like A-today or Spectrum.

    None the less, all we would do as a Christian should be salvational in purpose and no one knows what a person will believe in the end. Not even ourselves.

    No one is “locked in”. We are all “on the bubble.” And perhaps you will learn some important things of value to create faith in bible Christanity. The whole Christian community hopes so.

    Regards,

    Bill Sorensen




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  46. Dear Bill

    Thanks for your comments below. I always enjoy them especially your biblical scholarship which I greatly respect.

    Yes I did expect you to answer the question regarding fear the way you did. The problem I have with that is that I don’t believe the search for truth or God should ever be based on fear but rather upon honest. free inquiry. Fear is a tool of intellectual oppression, not love.

    I agree with you: on this forum I should be chided as an agnostic. But Bill, I’m not trying to fit in. Did Daniel try to fit in, in the furnace? Did Martin Luther try to fit in with the Catholics? Did Jesus try to fit in with the Pharisees or his Roman captors? It’s easy to fit in or follow Bill.

    I think your might be the first person to suggest, politely I may add, I post somewhere else. I am hopeful the editors will not do so and that I have some value here. Nothing to fear about honest discussion my friend ,only intolerance.

    “And just a short comment to you Ken. As a self confessed agnostic, I would think you would already know that any forum professing bible Christanity would have people chide you for your confession.”

    Your agnostic friend
    Ken




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  47. I posted a comment to John Alfke on the Spectrum forum and this is how the editors responded……

    “BP is a person named Bill Sorensen, who has been banned in the past from this website. Consequently his posts will be deleted. If he continues to post we will again block his IP address. – website editor”

    Actually, I don’t really care because they ban me. What I do care about is the fact the SDA denomination that I am a member of supports this forum and allows these spiritual mutates to have a booth at the GC sessions.

    I have complained in the past, and if they don’t do something about it, I will. I am tired of financially supporting a church that allows such evil as the Spectrum ministry to influence church members on an offical basis at official church functions.

    What they don’t oppose, they condon. So they are supporting error and apostacy in the church. Leaders must be held accountable for what they allow that opposes God’s work and God’s kingdom.

    I hope others will likewise at least protest this breach of faith. And I would remind them, even if they think they can get by with it in this world, God will surely judge their duplicity and the outcome will be something they will regret and rue for eternity.

    Bill Sorensen




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  48. I would like to make another relevant comment to the ongoing present situation in modern Adventism.

    I don’t think people generally have a clue of the intensity of the issue confronting the church and the world in this Great Controvery war between Christ and Satan.

    Satan has managed to “dumb down” and even trivialize the issues by way of the false gospel being advocated by many.

    “I’m OK, you’re OK” has become the focus in the world and in Christanity in general. And, sad to say, even in Adventism. The movement God raised up to intensify the issues by way of the final judgment prior to the close of probation should put us all on edge in a spiritual sense.

    A false gospel of a non-biblical security has replaced the genuine article. All true believers have adequate assurance based on the biblical norm. Today, what we hear has a closer affinity to “once saved, always saved” than bible assurance coupled with fear.

    The human mind is easily deceived based on the fact we all desire some positive assurance of salvation. But when assurance is pressed beyond the biblical norm, the law is “dumb down” to a point that it has no dynamic function to motivate to obedience. “Fear God and give glory to Him” has been replaced with “love God and do as you please.”

    This happens when the human factor in salvation is played down or eliminated completely. “Faith alone” has been wrested far from its Reformation heritage, meaning, and application. It now carries an apostate Protestant interpretation and application.

    God will surely again intensify the truth connected with the law and the human family and the church will be brought to a final confrontation with God’s rule and kingdom vs. Satan’s. Today, many can not tell the difference. And they won’t accept the truth when presented because they have pre-determined that any dynamic presentation of the law is legalism. Once this mind set is locked in, the Holy Spirit has no avenue to convince them otherwise except the bible. And when the bible is rejected, there is only one final end, the unpardonable sin.

    We could wish more people in the SDA church felt the intensity necessary to create the atmosphere by way of the bible that would awaken those who are asleep to fear for their own safety and outcome in spiritual matters. Sad to say, according to prophecy, many will not, and never will.

    And some will truly wake up when it is too late for “The summer is ended, the harvest is past, and we are not saved.”

    Bill Sorensen




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  49. Bill Sorensen: I have complained in the past, and if they don’t do something about it, I will.

    Professor Kent. I guess I will have to consider the many options available to finance God’s cause.

    I know many people already do. There is 3ABN, Amazing Facts, Amazing Discoveries and there is always overseas ministries that need financial help.

    I know my influence is small, if any at all on the church level. I suspect some at least consider me a liability and not an asset anyway. They apparently feel that way about many if not most church members.

    We all have to answer to God for how we deal with our finances. But people are often convinced they have no obligation to consider any option except give their money to the church if and when they are members. So they abandon their responsibility to “the church”.

    I know patience is a virtue and we should be slow to make radical decisions. But when our church condons A-today and Spectrum by allowing them an influence in the General conference meetings it seems way above and beyond tolerance and academic freedom.

    These ministries are totally anti-Adventism. And they have been for years. If we believe we have a last day message, and people oppose it, why are they allowed this influence to corrupt and destroy faith in the final message?

    What a time to be living! Confusion on every hand. And the church God raised up seems to be more confused than the world.

    I attribute largely to the fact we have novices who know little but have considerable influence and authority in church leadership and administration.

    What do you think?

    Bill Sorensen




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  50. Have any of you read the dialogue on Spectrum about the “Great Controversy Project?” For some, and perhaps many, the conflict between Catholicism and bible Christanity is little to be concerned about. Read the dialogue. You will see prophecy being fulfilled before your very eyes and not by the world necessarily, but by some “so-called SDA’s”.Are we near the end, or what?Bill Sorensen

    I’ve read a lot of it, and you are correct. Who would have thought a few decades ago that our SDA Church would have some who say they believe in our last-day message, and would also oppose the distribution of one of Ellen White’s greatest books. In fact, the one she herself wanted distributed the most widely.




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  51. @ Bill: Spectrum and Adventist Today will give you what you are looking for. If you are looking for anti-SDA sentiment, you will find it (and it bothers me, too). If you are looking for a vibrant, Christ-centered message, you will find it as well (I find it). My question for you: what does Ellen White have to say about exercising your own opinion on where to send your tithe money?




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  52. @ Holly Pham: Surely the Church could use its money in better ways than distributing millions of hard copies of The Great Controversy to landfills (via mailboxes). The project would have been more successful about five decades ago, in my estimation. My question for you: what specific prophecy has the discussion at Spectrum fulfilled?




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  53. @Bill Sorensen:

    Bill Sorensen September 6, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    “Satan has managed to “dumb down” and even trivialize the issues by way of the false gospel being advocated by many.

    “I’m OK, you’re OK” has become the focus in the world and in Christanity in general. And, sad to say, even in Adventism. The movement God raised up to intensify the issues by way of the final judgment prior to the close of probation should put us all on edge in a spiritual sense.

    A false gospel of a non-biblical security has replaced the genuine article. All true believers have adequate assurance based on the biblical norm. Today, what we hear has a closer affinity to “once saved, always saved” than bible assurance coupled with fear.

    The human mind is easily deceived based on the fact we all desire some positive assurance of salvation. But when assurance is pressed beyond the biblical norm, the law is “dumb down” to a point that it has no dynamic function to motivate to obedience. “Fear God and give glory to Him” has been replaced with “love God and do as you please.” …”

    *********
    I have read many of your comments, but for some reason I can’t remember them; but this time what you wrote has made a deep impression on me, and I fully agree with your comments. We need a healthy balance between the Law and Grace.




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  54. Professor Kent, are you a SDA? I’ve seen you “amen” the Catholic priest on Spectrum. And now you doubt the validity of spreading the GC by way of the mail.

    As for how we consider our moral obligation in the context of giving, we must consider the condition of the church in EGW’s day and our own.

    The church was in a positive growth stage in both doctrine and membership. Any loyal SDA could see the wisdom of supporting the denomination as a whole. And I don’t suggest even today that anyone lightly choose to do otherwise.

    If EGW was alive today, she no doubt would have a totally different view of the spirituality of the church. If it was in a growing stage of development in her day, it certainly is not today.

    We “worship, we know not what” in more than a few declarations of faith in what the church supports and how it defines our message and mission.

    Thus, we have more than a few independent ministries who are aware of this reality and thus have their own ideas of how we can “finish the work”. They disagree on several issues the church supports.

    I have no objection to someone who feels comfortable in paying their tithe to the organized denomination. Especially if they have carefully considered all their options and choose to do what they do.

    Neither would I condemn anyone who felt otherwise if they have also carefully considered all the implications of their decision. We also know the EGW took tithe money and used it without feeling the need to send it through regular channels.

    And you asked Holly concerning the Spectrum ministry…..”My question for you: what specific prophecy has the discussion at Spectrum fulfilled?”

    If you don’t recognize the Spectrum ministry as a blatant anti-SDA ministry I could only wonder what you think the SDA ministry and mission should be?

    Surely you are aware if you have read very much of the EGW materials that she stated the worst enemies of truth would be apostate SDA’s. And if Spectrum does not fulfill that prophecy, I don’t know who will.

    So, again I wonder if you are really a SDA or not? May I ask, “Is your loyalty to the church a Roman Catholic type loyalty that blindly follows given orders and teachings by the leadership without a careful evaluation based on the bible?”

    “Is this the sole reason you challenge Sean in his views of how to defend creation?”

    Some have wondered what you do believe, Prof. Kent? I know I have at times. And when you think a mail out of the GC is a waste of time and money, I tend to doubt your “loyalty” to the historic SDA message.

    Perhaps you think there is a better way. And maybe there is. If so, then get on with it and tell us what you do that is more productive than a mail out.

    For myself, if one in one thousand actually looked the book over and even read a portion of it, I would consider it a great success. Even if 999 were thrown in the trash and never looked at.

    Personally, I don’t care much for the Madison Avenue approach of modern advertising that our church uses for evangelism. Even some of the independent ministries go to far in this direction in my opinion. But they are least trying to hold up the biblical standards we all should be supporting.

    Hope everyone has a great week.

    Keep the faith

    Bill Sorensen




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  55. To All,

    Please keep your comments relevant to the topic of this thread and this website. There are many hot potato issues within the Adventist Church. Other topics that are not directly related to the limited scope of this website will most likely not be posted or will be deleted. You are welcome to carry on such conversations privately via the chat group that is provided by this website.

    Thank you.

    Educate Truth Staff




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  56. Bill Sorensen: fessor Kent, are you a SDA? I’ve seen you “amen” the Catholic priest on Spectrum. And now you doubt the validity of spreading the GC by way of the mail.

    I said “amen” because the Catholic priest called out a former SDA for making decisions on which texts–cannonized and non-canonized–he accepted. In essence, the guy was making a Church of his own design.

    I think the Desire of Ages, Steps to Christ, or Sermon on the Mount are all better choices than the Great Controversy for effective witnessing in today’s climate. Why would this make me a non-SDA? I suspect the writings of George Vandeman, Mark Finley, and others are written in a more appealing and effective tone for modern readers. (And then, too, we have books by Sean Pitman and David Read that sell the single most important and vital doctrine of all–FB #6.) If we’re going to spend millions of dollars, why not first invest some money to figure out which strategy is most effective? Why is it you get to decide that a “true SDA” believes there is only one really effective marketing tool for the Church: mass mailing the Great Controversy?

    If you really want to go for something dramatic, Bill, why not invest in Great Controversy billboards all across the continent that proclaims the Pope to be anti-Christ. Make it a dramatic, apocolyptic scene. Put a phone number on it where people can order their copy. And be sure to put Seventh-day Adventist on it so that we can get lots of people so angry at us that we no longer have an opportunity to witness when people ask us, one on one, what SDAs believe.




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  57. Well, Professor Kent, I don’t know if billboards would be good, bad, or indifferent. No one knows exactly how someone else should witness. We could give some advice and make suggestions. But our wisdom may well be as faulty as theirs.

    I do know it seems like more and more as SDA’s we are far more interested in patronizing our neighbors and avoid confrontation at all cost.

    As we read the bible, we see that historically, truth goes more by confrontation than infiltration. Or, as one little ditty puts it…..

    “He who has a thing to sell,
    and goes and whispers in the well,
    Is not so apt to get the dollars,
    As he who climbs a tree and hollars.”

    Our message is characterized by an angel crying with a “loud voice”. I don’t know how to interpret this except to assume that our final message goes by confrontation.

    Not a popular idea around the SDA church of today. And of course, this does not mean we deliberately go about trying to see how many people we can offend and stir up against us.

    I think as a general rule, we are far more interested in being accepted and popular in the world than have the approval and approbation of God. Actually, we hope we can have both, but this is simply impossible. “For the friendship of the world is enmity against God.”

    And by the way, I am speaking from my own natural human nature as I can readily discern my own desire to be less confrontational and accepted. After all, we all like to be liked. Don’t we?

    In many cases, we gear our evangelism accordingly.

    Bill Sorensen




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  58. Kent said……

    “If you really want to go for something dramatic, Bill, why not invest in Great Controversy billboards all across the continent that proclaims the Pope to be anti-Christ. Make it a dramatic, apocolyptic scene. Put a phone number on it where people can order their copy. And be sure to put Seventh-day Adventist on it so that we can get lots of people so angry at us that we no longer have an opportunity to witness when people ask us, one on one, what SDAs believe.”

    Actually, Professor Kent, about every two years my wife and I mail out first Steps to Christ and then “On the Edge Time” sponsored by the Steps to Christ project to all our neighbors.

    I obviously don’t know the full and final effect of our efforts.

    I do know that one young mother asked for more information and I visited her. Today she is a member of a Spanish SDA church here in the local area.

    So, out of hundreds of mail outs, I know of at least one who had a real interest to know and find the truth.

    Do you think it was worth it?

    Bill Sorensen




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  59. @Professor Kent:

    Professor Kent September 11, 2011 at 5:32 pm

    “I think the Desire of Ages, Steps to Christ, or Sermon on the Mount are all better choices than the Great Controversy for effective witnessing in today’s climate. Why would this make me a non-SDA? …

    Why is it you get to decide that a “true SDA” believes there is only one really effective marketing tool for the Church: mass mailing the Great Controversy?

    If you really want to go for something dramatic, Bill, why not invest in Great Controversy billboards all across the continent that proclaims the Pope to be anti-Christ. Make it a dramatic, apocalyptic scene.

    Put a phone number on it where people can order their copy. And be sure to put Seventh-day Adventist on it so that we can get lots of people so angry at us that we no longer have an opportunity to witness when people ask us, one on one, what SDAs believe.”

    *********
    The Great Controversy book emphasizes the persecuting power of Rome. My question is: Who does Rome persecute today? What Rome did centuries ago might be relevant for what might take place in the future, but is this the best way to evangelize our Catholic brethren?

    Did Paul use such a strategy in his work? Didn’t he start by commending the people of Athens for worshiping the Unknown God?

    Is blaming Rome for its past sins the best way to share Christ with them? Did Jesus use such a method? Why not start by giving Rome credit for some of the good work the Popes have been doing?




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