Ahaz, King of Judah

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, November 28, 2022 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

King Ahaz became king of Judah after his father King Jotham, but he was definitely not like his father. Jotham was a king who obeyed God and was generally considered to be good, and King Ahaz was the complete opposite of that. His story is recorded in 2 Kings 16.

If the evil ways of Kind Ahaz sound like a king of Israel rather than a king of Judah, Scripture agrees with that; “Unlike David his father, he did not do what was right in the eyes of the LORD his God. He followed the ways of the kings of Israel” (verses 2b-3a). What led King Ahaz to depart from the ways of his father? The reigns of King Uzziah and King Jotham had brought much prosperity to the nation, which made the people become lazy and complacent in their spirituality.

So, how evil was King Ahaz? He imitated the pagan idol worship of Israel, even including sacrificing his own son to idols (verse 3)! Scholars dispute whether that idol was Molech or Baal depending on which ancient artifacts you look at, but regardless, this act was evil to its core, completely going against the ways of God. As verse 4 tells us, King Ahaz “offered sacrifices and burned incense at the high places, on the hilltops and under every spreading tree.” These were all places of idol worship, not places where a person went to worship the one true God.

One of the main events of King Ahaz’s 16-year reign was the war between Judah, Israel, and Aram (later known as Syria). Scholars believe there were 4 causes of this war. First, King Rezin of Aram and King Pekah of Israel would have wanted Judah’s support to go against the nation of Assyria. If Aram and Israel conquered Judah, then they’d have Judah’s forces combined with their own. Second, some historians believe the other two kings simply disliked King Ahaz.

Third, from a spiritual perspective, this looks to be the enemy’s attempt to take the line of David off the throne in Judah. But according to Isaiah 7:5-7, God made sure that would not happen: “Aram, Ephraim and Remaliah’s son have plotted your ruin, saying, ‘Let us invade Judah; let us tear it apart and divide it among ourselves, and make the son of Tabeel king over it.’ Yet this is what the Sovereign LORD says: ‘It will not take place, it will not happen.’”

Finally, we know that God is sovereign over everything, so God was orchestrating this war to punish those who needed to be punished. God would use this to bring defeat to the Arameans and the Israelites, and he would deal with King Ahaz and Judah as well in His own way.

All the details of this war can be found both in 2 Kings 16 and 2 Chronicles 28. During it, the prophet Isaiah came to King Ahaz and spoke the words of God to him. Isaiah told King Ahaz that Judah would not be defeated in this war, and that King Ahaz should ask for a sign to confirm this. King Ahaz refused to ask for a sign and preferred instead to rely on his own skills rather than depending on God (Isaiah 7:10-12).

King Ahaz contacted the king of Assyria and asked for their help in defeating Aram and Israel. Once Assyria was paid off with the gold and silver from Judah’s temple treasury, they happily obliged and killed the king of Aram and captured Damascus, which was in Israel’s territory. When King Ahaz went to Damascus, he saw an altar that he liked, so he arranged for that same style of an altar to be built back in Jerusalem.

When King Ahaz returned, he presented offerings on it – a burnt offering, a grain offering, a drink offering, and a fellowship offering. These offerings symbolize dedication, peace, joy, and fellowship with God, none of which King Ahaz had ever embodied! His attempt at piety toward God on an altar other than the one God desired in the temple were like a smack in the face to God. Not only that but he moved the bronze altar away from its position in the front of the temple, and the new altar was used for future offerings and sacrifices.

King Ahaz further desecrated the temple of the Lord by dismantling the stands holding the altar and various other parts of the temple, so he could honor the king of Assyria rather than God (2 Kings 16:13-18). According to 2 Chronicles 28:24-25, he even cut up the furniture of the temple, closed up the temple, and set up altars on every corner in Jerusalem instead. He also made sure that every town in Judah had high places to sacrifice to idols rather than to worship the one true God.

As you can see, King Ahaz’s reign was one of complete and utter evil. Some of the kings were more passively disobedient to God, simply letting idolatry happen. King Ahaz, however, actively pursued all forms of idol worship and actively discouraged the worship of God. King Ahaz took Judah into a very evil time period.

What can we learn from King Ahaz? During his reign, we don’t see any direct punishment for King Ahaz’s evil acts. But all this was more fuel for the fire of God’s wrath that would eventually lead the nation into exile. Not everyone who does great evil is punished in this life, but we can be certain that King Ahaz did receive his punishment from God for all eternity because of his complete disobedience to God. We may or may not receive negative consequences in this lifetime for going against God, but we can be certain that they will come.

Our motivation for honoring God with our lives should not simply be an avoidance of negative consequences, but we should strive to be the opposite of King Ahaz – love and honor God because of who He is, rather than doing everything we can to go against God.

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How to Read the Bible

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, November 25, 2022 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

We live in times with the information superhighway, and most access to commentaries and study guides and sermons of all time, and yet we have to actually teach people how to read again. It is no exaggeration when I say that while we have the most access to information of all time, we are also the most illiterate of all time. Not only do so few people actually read books anymore (they read blog posts or hear commentaries on social media, but few actually read), it’s left a generation that is truly the dumbest of all time. Don’t believe me? Watch Jeopardy! Why have we had several excessively strong winners all in a row? Look at the questions. They are getting easier. The reason we have three of the top winners all in the last few years is because they have little competition. I’m not taking away anything from them academically. They did their job. But so few can rival them because we have an illiterate generation.

There is a saying: as goes the family, so goes the Church. As goes the Church, so goes society. Yes, I will put a big chunk of this problem on the Church from the past 50-some years. When Barna released their latest polls last year, 6% of professing Christians have a Biblical worldview and 34% of pastors (and I think that’s being generous). Where are you going to find a pastor actually preaching from the Bible? Hardly anywhere on TV today. Where are you going to find a pastor who strives to teach his congregation how to read the Bible? I’m glad I am part of a church that wants to do that. My previous church touched on it, but overall, there is an assumption that those in the congregation are reading the Bible regularly and know how. We know that is not true because of how many false teachings pastors are letting through their doors and proclaiming themselves. And we have to ask as well: how many pastors are actually reading the Bible besides to find something for a sermon? What is going on here?

The only solution for any of this is to get back to reading the Bible and actually believing it. For this post, I am going to give you tools and tips on how to read the Bible, and these are not magical formulas by any means. It is simply putting to words what should be practiced in normal reading. This is about what the Bible says; what the Bible means is a separate topic that I will address next week.

The first tip is to identify the genre. We do this naturally and subconsciously with nearly anything else we read. We know what a historical document is, what a poem is, what a metaphor is, what a myth is, what legal document is, what fiction is, etc. After all, I do assume we passed basic English or literature classes here. The Bible is written in multiple genres and the only ones it does not have are myth and fiction. Even if you don’t agree with it, at least be honest about what genre it is. Genesis (for example) is a historical document. Despite many scholars trying to say otherwise, there is no legitimacy to any such argument. Each argument boils down to, “I know what the text says, I don’t believe it, but I want to show I believe the Bible, so it must not actually mean what it says.” And these are people we have deemed to be good preachers saying this, not just your average academic. The language, the grammar, the syntax, and the verb conjugations all speak of plain, simple, historical narrative, just as much of the rest of the Bible is. But many try to make Genesis anything other than this so they can be justified in holding positions that are directly contrary to what it actually says.

The next thing to learn is called exegesis. Don’t panic over this theological term; it simply means to let the text speak for itself. We do this with every other document. Yet why is it so hard with the Bible? When the Bible says “the first day,” it MEANS “the first day.” When the Bible says, “The waters parted and Israel crossed on dry land,” it means that waters parted and Israel crossed on dry land. When the Bible says Jesus rose on the 3rd day, it means He rose on the third day. When the Bible says that Jesus is the ONLY way into heaven, it means Jesus is the ONLY way. That is what it says. That is what the words say. “But how do we account for modern science?” We don’t try to account for modern science. Not at this stage. The first stage is: “What does the Bible say?” Once we get that straightened out, THEN we can go try to figure out how it all works.

My friend Bobby Maddox is a business lawyer and to help address this topic, he came up with a list of ten principles that we all normally do anyway. If we keep these principles in mind, we’ll avoid the traps and errors that so many have fallen into. In this video, he explains his structure, so take the time to listen for more details. Here are just a few of the ten principles.

• The plain meaning is to be the intended meaning unless the context demands something different. The adage goes: “Adding more sense to the plain sense leaves you with nonsense.”

• Stay within the four corners of the document. In other words, get as much out of the document as you can from within the document itself. The phrase preachers use is “Scripture interprets Scripture.” Follow this and most confusions will clear up.

• Use of other sources should be limited and only used for help to clarify what the document is saying, never for interpreting and making it say something it didn’t. These outside sources are only to be used after all other internal sources have pretty well been exhausted.

• Keep it simple. Don’t try to overthink it. The mental gymnastics people do in order to try to keep track of their misinterpretations is simply mind-boggling. God did not write a book that takes a super genius and 80 years of scholarship to figure out. He made it simple so even a child and the uneducated can get at least the basic message.

One final tool is the acronym OIA, which stands for Observation, Interpretation, Application.

Observation: What does the text say? Get all the data you can before you start putting the facts together. Don’t read a single verse and lift it out of context. Keep it in context.

Interpretation: I’ll emphasis this more next week, but only put together your interpretation after you gather all the facts. Don’t be like those CSI teams that quickly jump to a conclusion too early and then a new piece of evidence reveals the actual truth. Get all the facts as much as you can. And please, test your interpretation against the whole message of Scripture.

Application: The purpose of the Bible is first to be believed then obeyed. It is not meant to be academically scrutinized (though there is great truth to be found in unpacking Scripture, which I will address in a couple weeks). You cannot obey the truth that you don’t know. And if you misinterpret it because you left out some of the facts, how can you obey the truth?

Read the Bible – all of it. It pretty well clears itself up. There will be some things that are harder to understand than others; I get that. But the whole message is pretty clear. It is clear enough that Jesus’ audience understood perfectly what He was saying, and they hated Him for it. Please do not confuse unbelief with “it’s hard to understand.” That’s just a cop-out to cover for unbelief. Next week, I’ll address how to understand the Bible, rather than “interpreting” it according to our own understanding.

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There's Something About Mary Schweitzer, Part 4

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, November 24, 2022 2 comments

by Steve Risner

In 2005, a paleontologist from North Carolina State University found soft, flexible tissue in a Tyrannosaurus rex leg bone that was supposedly 68 million years old. Dr. Mary Schweitzer rocked the scientific world with this find, at first not believing it herself. This is because scientific research has shown that the degradation of soft organic matter is very quick, relatively speaking. In ideal conditions, it has been determined that soft tissue may last tens of thousands of years or, in extreme cases, maybe one hundred thousand years. This is not even close to 68 million years. But that’s not even the biggest deal in the story. Dr. Schweitzer also found soft tissue in fossils allegedly almost 200 million years old. Other have found soft tissue from tube worms that they believe are over 500 million years old! And we’re supposed to not think this creates an issue for deep time proponents?

I’ve been looking through things Dr. Schweitzer has said on the subject in interviews and the like. She seems like a very nice person and is a believer. In her interviews, she seems genuine and kind-hearted. She says that she grew up as a “conservative Christian” but turned to being a theistic evolutionist while in college. The story basically looks like she wasn’t prepared. Her parents didn’t talk to her about what the secular world was going to try to convince her of before she went to school. They probably should have. I hope to make sure my children are well prepared for whatever might be out there to challenge their faith. Not that I want my children to be brainwashed; of course, no one wants that. But I want them to know how to analyze data and how to look at arguments and be capable of seeing what the data might say and how those arguments may be either strong or weak and what they’re based on.

The previous thing we looked at that Dr. Schweitzer said was, “[God] is under no obligation to meet our expectations. He is bigger than that.” This is in response to her believing that God did not create in six days as His Word says but did so as fallen human beings have determined He must have—over eons of time. What I find ironic here is that this statement doesn’t really apply to Biblical creationists at all, or not much anyway, but it does apply to those who come to His Word believing that what the humanist origins myth says as they force it to fit their preconceived ideas. It’s bizarre, really, that she would try to apply this to people who read the Bible and believe God is big enough to do exactly what He said and that He’s capable of explaining it to us. Coming to the Bible believing things that are clearly contrary to it and then trying to force the Bible to be in line with those contrary teachings is exactly what it seems like she’s talking about. They force God to mean what they want Him to mean and say what they want Him to say. That’s not how Biblical interpretation works at all.

However, Dr. Schweitzer says some things I very much appreciate and agree with. Things like “God is so multidimensional,” she says. “I see a sense of humor. I see His compassion in the world around me. It makes me curious, because the creator is revealed in the creation.” I think this is beautiful and right on. I believe God is far more complex than most of us give Him credit for. In fact, I don’t think we can accurately understand His character and all His complexities. He’s way too big for a human brain to process. That God is revealed in His creation is awesome! Paul says in Romans 1:19-20, “What may be known of God is manifest in them for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world his invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.” As previously discussed, this passage is a reminder to us that the fact that there is a Creator is clear to us all. There are many who are hostile toward God that reject Him and claim there is no evidence for His existence. They deny what we all know to be true.

Psalm 19 also beautifully explains God’s revelation in nature this way: “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world. In the heavens he has pitched a tent for the sun, which is like a bridegroom coming forth from his pavilion, like a champion rejoicing to run his course. It rises at one end of the heavens and makes its circuit to the other; nothing is hidden from its heat.” This is another passage we recently looked at because someone informed me that this passage was either supportive of theistic evolution or difficult for Biblical creationists. Neither was true, but I was told this nonetheless. David, the writer of this psalm, was a great worshipper of the Lord and this psalm is a great reflection of that. Nature does reflect the greatness and character of God. But let’s not confuse the humanist origins myth and its version of how to interpret data with what nature is showing us.

Nature doesn’t say these fossils are millions of years old. Nature says these animals were alive once and are now dead. Nature says there is a detectable amount of certain radioisotopes within the fossils. What that means is completely up in the air. We don’t know if these findings necessarily indicate that a sample is millions of years old. All we know is if we apply a principle to the data, the fossil should be a certain age. But we have no idea if that principle, which cannot be calibrated or verified at all, is correct or not. So, nature doesn’t say life developed over millions of years from simple to more complex organisms. Nature doesn’t say fossils are millions of years old. Nature doesn’t say the earth is 4.5 billion years old. Nature tells us that a certain fossil was found in a certain layer in a certain area. What we gather beyond that is imagined by the observer; it’s not what nature tells us. The philosophical or religious beliefs of the person looking at it might say these things. This is not the same as nature saying them. Interpretation of the data is a big piece in this puzzle. But the greatest piece to the puzzle of origins is the Bible. A solid understanding of what it says on origins is critical in understanding anything we see in nature.

We’ll cover a little more next time. Thank you for reading. Keep the faith, my friends.

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Zechariah, Shallum, and Menahem, Kings of Israel

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, November 21, 2022 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

Just as we encountered previously with kings of Israel Elah, Zimri, Tibni, and Omri, sometimes we get to a section in the nation’s history where there are a few kings who all had relatively short reigns that we don’t know much about, though their stories do intertwine with one another. Today we’ll look at the next 3 kings of Israel – Zechariah, Shallum, and Menahem. The narratives about these three kings are all found in 2 Kings 15:8-22.

While Uzziah was the king of Judah, Zechariah became king after his father King Jeroboam II died. Zechariah only reigned for 6 months! But, in those 6 months, he continued the evil that all previous kings of Israel before him had done. He did not turn away from idolatry, and neither did the people of the nation of Israel.

The only other piece of information that is recorded about King Zechariah is that he was assassinated. His assassin, Shallum, then became the next king. But one other additional item is that when King Zechariah died, God’s promise to King Jehu back in 2 Kings 10:30 was fulfilled: “Because you have done well in accomplishing what is right in my eyes and have done to the house of Ahab all I had in mind to do, your descendants will sit on the throne of Israel to the fourth generation.”

After King Jehu, the first generation was his son King Jehoahaz, then King Jehoash, then King Jeroboam II, then finally King Zechariah – all of those reigns were handed down along biological lines from father to son. King Zechariah was the fourth generation, and he was the last descendent of that family line to sit on the throne, just as God had promised.

So, King Shallum became the next king after assassinating King Zechariah. He was from a different family line, and he was the only one in his family to serve as king. While King Zechariah had a very short reign of only 6 months, King Shallum broke that record – his reign was only one month long! King Shallum was identified as “son of Jabesh,” which may be his family name, or it may be that he was a leader of a group of Gileadites that were protesting the previous line of kings.

There is a note in verse 15 that King Shallum led a conspiracy of some sort, but we do not have any additional details of what that was. There is no reference to Kings Zechariah, Shallum, or Menahem in the book of 2 Chronicles, so wherever that was implied to have been written down has been lost to time.

King Shallum is a great example that what you do to others will be done to you. He assassinated the king before him, and a man named Menahem assassinated King Shallum and then succeeded him as king.

It is believed that Menahem was a military commander under King Zechariah. Menahem and his forces went from Tirzah to Samaria where King Shallum was reigning to perform the assassination. Then, Menahem went on a rampage to the city of Tiphsah. He attacked everyone there and in the surrounding area, and Scripture also records that he “ripped open all the pregnant women” (verse 16).

King Menahem did have longer reigns than both King Zechariah and King Shallum; he reigned for 10 years. But, not surprisingly, “he did evil in the eyes of the Lord” and he did not turn away from the evil that all the kings before him committed (verse 18). Not only did King Menahem continue to disobey God by worshiping idols, but he also sold out to the Assyrians.

King Pul of Assyria invaded Israel. Rather than accepting defeat, King Menahem did some bargaining with the Assyrians to form an alliance. He did not do this out of pride or out of concern for his nation’s welfare, but so that he personally could stay on the throne longer. Israel gave Assyria a thousand talents of silver (which equates to around 38 tons!). Where did that money come from? The king made the people pay up through a tax system; every wealthy person was forced to give what equates to 1.25 pounds of silver.

The king of Assyria was successfully bought by this offer, and they withdrew their troops and did not continue to occupy the land. King Menahem therefore successfully bought more time on the throne for himself, and it kept the nation from being occupied by the Assyrians, at least for now. He bought Israel some time, but this moment is considered by scholars to be the beginning of the end for Israel’s independence as a nation.

King Menahem is believed to have died by natural causes, as there is no record in Scripture of him being killed in any other way. But his legacy lived on in that King Menahem’s name is even recorded in the histories of the Assyrians.

What can we learn from these three kings? First, God’s promises will always come true. We don’t know if King Zechariah remembered the promise from God to King Jehu that he would be the last generation of his family line to reign on the throne, but that is exactly how things always worked out. Whether God’s promises are for good or for ill, they will always come true.

Second, evil is often repaid for evil, such as how King Shallum was the assassin and then was assassinated himself. Any evil deeds that we do deserve evil as punishment. That is why the grace that we receive through the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus Christ is so amazing! We all deserve death because of all the ways we disobey God (even if they don’t seem as extreme as physically killing another person). But unlike King Shallum, we do not receive the punishment that we deserve, all because of our faith in Jesus and what He did for us.

Finally, decisions that may seem good at the moment may end up having long-term negative consequences. King Menahem thought he was doing the right thing (though for selfish motives) by paying off the Assyrians, but generations later, that ended up coming back to haunt the nation of Israel when Assyria would invade again and decimate the land, basically destroying Israel as a nation.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.


The Simplicity of the Bible

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, November 18, 2022 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

To be dead honest, I think to have to write a post about “how to read the Bible” shows just how far we have fallen both academically and intellectually. I will save the details for next week because I need to use this post to explain why such a post needs to be written. The way people try to read the Bible to get it to say something other than what it says really demonstrates both the pride of humanity and the determination to look religious while disbelieving the very text these people proclaim to believe. Intellectualism has truly become the prime idol of our nation today. It is in the universities and the churches. The liberals in secular schools of thought profess all this science and knowledge that is direct rebellion against God. And in the intellectual reformed circles, there is a level of pride that has not been seen in years. I am wired intellectually, yet what I am seeing around us today in the name of education is truly insulting to an actual education.

Mixed with all the hubris and pride of education, theories, ideas, etc. is a New Age mystic approach where everything is about feelings, emotions, and personal opinions. The deception we have going on today is actually a mix of these. But keep in mind, it’s not new. It’s the same recycled theories of Epicureans, Stoics, and other philosophies of ancient Greece/Rome. Different flavors and different colorings, but same core meal.

Along with this is an ever-present teaching that, “You cannot understand anything unless you have been properly educated.” In today’s world, you cannot understand “Evolution” unless you have been thoroughly trained in Evolution by universities and embrace it. Go online and present an argument against Evolution and someone, PhD or not, will give you the standard reply of, “You don’t understand Evolution.” I hear that so often I seriously have to wonder how many of them understand Evolution. I suspect the answer is few because they can only parrot what they were taught.

This is a problem with the Bible today, too. Some believe that no one can be a pastor unless he’s been to seminary and learned all the theories and man’s ideas about the Bible. No one can actually understand the Bible unless you speak fluent ancient Greek and Hebrew. No one can actually understand the Bible because it wasn’t written to a 21st century audience, but to a dumb, uneducated Ancient Near East audience, so in order to understand the Bible, you have to understand all the pagan cultures around Israel. While knowing your Greek and Hebrew and knowing the context in which the books were original written is very useful, can you not hear the pride in such arguments? I can.

In his book The Lost World of Genesis One, John Walton tries to paint a picture that Genesis 1 is a “temple inauguration text,” not a description of the creation of the natural world. When asked why no one else had seen that before, he defends his position by saying that the rest of church history didn’t have access to all the Ancient Near East documents we have today. There is such pride in thinking, “No one else understood this, but because of my education, I do.” I am immediately turned off by such thinking, and I hope you are too.

So let me make this simple: you don’t need ANY of that to be able to read the Bible, to understand the Bible, or to believe the Bible. God wrote the Bible to be timeless and simple enough that the uneducated layman can understand its primary messages. Yes, there are passages that are hard to understand. They do exist. But most of it is not difficult. Jesus does not require an “educated” faith; He calls for a child-like faith. The simplest and best approach to any passage we do not understand should be: “Father, this is your word. I don’t get it, but because it is your word, I receive and believe it. Help me in my unbelief.” Instead, what many do is come up with their intellectual theories and systems to try to explain both God and the passage to audiences to make them look smart. We have to get rid of such ideas.

The Bible is a very complex book because no scholar is ever going to exhaust the depths of it. But it is also a very simple book. A child can read it and get the main message. “But a child doesn’t have all the knowledge that we have,” says the skeptic. Yes, but a child also doesn’t have his brain washed with man’s ideologies either and is able to believe it with simple child-like faith. While I am an intellectual type, and while many people praise my ability to write and my ability to explain things, really what I have is that child-like faith. The Bible says it; I believe it. There’s nothing more to it. All I seek to do is showcase what is there for all to see. I don’t need anyone looking at me as some guru. I’m not a guru or an expert; I’m simply a proclaimer. I have no special knowledge that is not accessible to anyone else who simply believes God at His word.

But that said, the Bible is also a living document in the sense that its Author is still alive and still around. The Bible’s openness is towards believers with that childlike faith. To the intellectually proud and to the unbeliever, God is going to shut off understanding of His word and to them the Bible is just dead text. The real power and the life of Scripture comes from those who believe it and submit to it. Leonard Ravenhill said this:

One of these days some simple soul will pick up the Book of God, read it, and believe it. Then the rest of us will be embarrassed...
The fact beats ceaselessly into my brain these days that there is a world of difference between knowing the Word of God and knowing the God of the Word. Is it not true that with the coming round of Bible conferences we hear only old things repeated, and most likely come away without any increase of faith? Perhaps God never had such a set of unbelieving believers as this present crop of Christians. How humiliating!
~Leonard Ravenhill, Why Revival Tarries, page 71

While God can use the intellectual, He does not require them. Only one of the Apostles was an intellectual – Paul, and he was the last one chosen. Paul also knew where academia belonged – to be subservient to simply preaching the Word, if not discarded. Paul never came with eloquence of speech but through the foolish method of preaching. Today, we have apologists who are very eloquent, and some have declared that their mission is to “remove any intellectual barriers between an unbeliever and the Gospel.” There is a valuable place for that, but what it has become is a pure intellectual game that ultimately has no power. I love apologetics and I love being able to defend and proclaim the faith in a rational way, but something is drastically missing and a lot of it is a total lack of belief in the power of God to actually do the work through His word and instead relying on man’s wisdom and man’s intellect. Do we really believe the Bible or not? And how can we believe it if we have forgotten how to read? Next week, I’ll go into how to read the Bible. It will be simple, straightforward, and easy to understand.

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There's Something About Mary Schweitzer, Part 3

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, November 17, 2022 2 comments

by Steve Risner

Recently, we’ve been exploring some very interesting findings by Dr. Mary Schweitzer and several others since. Dr. Schweitzer is a Christian and a paleontologist. In interviews she’s done, she has said she started college as a “YEC” (which should be labeled a Biblical creationist rather than a young-earth creationist) but later chose to reject that and became, I believe, a theistic evolutionist. This means she is a Christian that does not believe what the Bible says about creation but accepts what the secular version of creation says—that a pinpoint of all matter and energy rapidly began expanding 14 billion years ago and out of it came all the things we see in the universe including life on earth.

What findings of hers are we so excited to read about? About 20 years ago, she published that she had found soft tissue in a Tyrannosaurus rex leg bone. This was remarkable because scientific studies have shown fairly conclusively that soft tissue might be able, under ideal conditions, to last a hundred thousand years or so but most likely much less. This Tyrannosaurus was allegedly 68 million years old. So, either the science that seemed fairly conclusive was off by nearly one thousand times or the leg bone of this dinosaur was not nearly 68 million years old. Later discoveries would mean the research on soft tissue breakdown was nearly ten thousand times off. That, or the fossils weren’t nearly as old as they believed. Unfortunately, when faced with a challenge brought by real science, evolutionists will often make up something out of thin air to explain the problem. That’s what has happened here.

Let’s continue to look at some of the things Dr. Schweitzer said about this topic. Last time we ended with this statement: “If you step back a little bit and let God be God, I don’t think there’s any contradiction at all between the Bible and what we see in nature. He is under no obligation to meet our expectations. He is bigger than that.”

As I stated, I think she’s right here. The Bible, which clearly teaches us that God made everything in a week in a mature form and He did this about 6000 or so years ago, and what we see in nature do not contradict each other. But when she says this, she means the Bible doesn’t say what it clearly says about creation. She means that her interpretation of the data, which coincides with the humanist origins myth, fits nicely with the Bible not saying God created everything maturely about 6000 years ago.

I find it interesting that she says that God is not obligated to meet our expectations when that is what evolutionists and Big Bang proponents do—they force God and His Word to squeeze into their tiny little box of human understanding. God is not obligated to do anything, but He is truthful and righteous. When He speaks, He speaks truth. The God of the Bible is unimaginably bigger than the god of theistic evolution. I agree with the prophet in Jeremiah 32:17 when he says, “Ah, Lord God! It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm! Nothing is too hard for you.”

I believe God is big enough to create all that there is from nothing. They believe He took billions of years to figure out how to fashion the universe for life and that He had little if anything to do with life forming on earth. I find Him absolutely essential to the universe’s existence and for life to exist. They find Him to be a bystander—watching but not really doing much with it; He sort of wound up the universe like a watch and has just let it go to do its thing.

Dr. Schweitzer goes on to say in this interview: “Finding soft tissues that responded to our tests like modern materials in many ways suggested that after three hundred years of looking at this stuff, we don’t know as much as we thought.”

I like this and think it’s something lost on many today on both sides but more so on the side of deep time and universal common descent. What I’m talking about is our knowledge—what we actually know about any of this. It’s miniscule in reality. Sure, we know much more now than we did a decade ago or a century ago or 300 years ago. But I feel the comparison is like saying we had 4 drops of the ocean in a bucket and now we have a quart. Compared to the size of the ocean, while that quart is enormous compared to the first few drops, it’s nothing in reality. But man’s hubris makes him believe he’s gotten a lot figured out. Truly, we’ve figured some things out, at least partially. But in reality, we know so very little about the universe and about life and physics and chemistry. We know more all the time, but sometimes that means we know less—the old saying the more you learn the less you know applies here very well. We know so little about the universe that we employ a “fudge factor” into our calculations for things we see in deep space because without it, nothing adds up—literally. That “fudge factor” is dark matter and dark energy which, for the calculations to work, comprises over 95% of the universe! That’s right: we know about 5% of what’s going on out there, but we act like we’ve got it all figured out. Amazing, isn’t it?

Dr. Schweitzer then goes on, to finish this question of the interview, to say something that pains me to read. She said, “But I have no agenda, except to produce data.” This hurts because that’s not what she’s doing at all. Not even close. If she was just going to “produce data,” she wouldn’t be offended by people who interpret that data in a way that is different than hers. However, she is. A couple sentences before this she says, “…being a Christian evolutionary biologist…” We see that she does have an agenda, and she admits it while simultaneously saying she does not. Now, I’m okay with her having an agenda. All honest people will say they do in most cases. I have one. You do. We all do. But if she really thinks she’s just producing data with no agenda, it seems her understanding of how science works is a little lacking. Collecting data is one thing. Making that data tell a story is a completely different thing, and Dr. Schweitzer is apparently unaware of the difference. But this is extremely common in this discussion.

It’s almost ironic, I suppose, that some people in this debate will look at me and point at how I see the Scriptures telling us about creation and the Flood and they’ll say, “That’s just your interpretation!” Which is weird because my “interpretation” is exactly what the Biblical text actually says—literally. But then I’ll look at data, which is not a clear communication from a Divine Being but is just information collected and interpret it in way that makes sense and flows well but is contrary to their way of doing the same. While they scream “That’s your interpretation!” when it comes to a clear communication from God, they will simultaneously yell, “Liar! Stop lying!” when I choose to interpret the information differently than they do. It’s quite bizarre and a little silly, but it’s what they do around the clock.

We’ve gone over it a hundred times, but if we have a clear communication from the Lord and we have fallen man’s skewed interpretation of a cursed creation (keeping in mind that man has been at war with God since shortly after creation) and the two do not coincide, I’m going to have to choose to accept the clear written Word of God over a rebellious man’s view of nature which will likely change tomorrow after more information is gathered.

To wrap up this week, we’ll end with this statement from Dr. Schweitzer concerning how she felt about publishing her discovery. She waited a year to do so because she was “terrified” of the consequences. But she goes on to say, “…a scientist’s job is not to prove things but to question them.” While I agree that this should be true, we find even in her own experience that it is not. She questioned the status quo and received a great deal of backlash for it. And she’s not truly questioning the consensus because she forced her data to fit into the preconceived ideas that were popular at the time. Rather than really question the consensus and say, “Maybe these fossils aren’t as old as we all thought,” she said, “Hmm. This data doesn’t reflect what everyone else thinks, so I’ll have to create a rescuing device to find a solution to this problem.” The data was in stark contrast to the well-established scientific research that says soft tissue can last, if conditions are perfect, for maybe a hundred thousand years. This sample was believed to be 68 million years old. Other samples have been taken of soft tissue from finds believed to be 200 million years old and even 550 million years old. I feel like she didn’t really question much at all.

We’ll continue this saga next time. Thank you for reading.

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Jotham, King of Judah

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, November 14, 2022 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

The reign of King Jotham in Judah is an interesting one. Although he was technically king for 16 years, his reign was overlapped fairly significantly by his father King Uzziah before him.

King Uzziah stopped serving as king of Judah before he actually died because he was suddenly afflicted with leprosy after directly disobeying God. While he was forced to quarantine due to his disease, his son Jotham took over to fulfill the duties of the king. It’s debated whether Jotham was actually considered to be the king while Uzziah was still alive. In 2 Chronicles 26:21, we read that “Jotham his son had charge of the palace and governed the people of the land.” Then in verse 23, we read, “Uzziah rested with his ancestors and was buried near them in a cemetery that belonged to the kings, for people said, ‘He had leprosy.’ And Jotham his son succeeded him as king.”

So, the first years of Jotham’s reign as king were overshadowed by the fact that his father was still alive. There is little significant written about him in his account in 2 Kings 15:32-38, so we’ll look at the passage about him in 2 Chronicles 27:1-9 for a few more details.

King Jotham was considered a good thing in that he followed God. The first part of 2 Chronicles 27:2 tells us, “He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father Uzziah had done, but unlike him he did not enter the temple of the LORD.” The author clearly notes the distinction between King Uzziah and his son King Jotham. While King Uzziah’s reign started out good and obeying God, it ended in great disobedience to God; King Jotham’s reign was good and he mostly obeyed God throughout.

But, the second half of verse 2 notes that, “The people, however, continued their corrupt practices.” Second Kings 15:35 elaborates on that a bit more: “The high places, however, were not removed; the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there.” Even though King Jotham himself did not worship idols, he still allowed idolatry and the worship of pagan gods to happen among the people by not getting rid of the high places where they would conduct such sacrifices.

Overall, King Jotham’s reign was a good and prosperous time for the people of Israel. King Jotham rebuilt one of the gates of the temple and he also worked on the wall of Jerusalem that needed repairs. He also built towns, forts, and towers in various areas of Judah, all of which demonstrated the nation’s prosperity during this time (verses 3-4).

The other main thing that King Jotham is known for was the war with the Ammonites, as described in verse 5: “Jotham waged war against the king of the Ammonites and conquered them. That year the Ammonites paid him a hundred talents of silver, ten thousand cors of wheat and ten thousand cors of barley. The Ammonites brought him the same amount also in the second and third years.” King Jotham and the nation of Judah had victory over the Ammonites because the king was following God, and because of that, Judah was rewarded with material wealth from the Ammonites.

There are references in other historical works outside of the Bible to other wars that King Jotham fought while leading the nation of Judah. But King Jotham’s reign is summarized in verse 6: “Jotham grew powerful because he walked steadfastly before the LORD his God.” Everything he did, whether mentioned in the Bible or not, was because he was obedient to God.

It is unclear from Scripture exactly when King Jotham’s reign ended. There are historical references that indicate that his son King Ahaz actually took over reigning before King Jotham died, though the language of verse 9 indicates that it was the usual progression of his death, then his son succeeded him. However, the cause of death is unknown; we know from verse 8 that he was 25 when he became king and he reigned for 16 years, so he would have only been 41 years old at the time when he stopped being king, whether by death or because he appointed his son to take over.

What can we learn from King Jotham of Judah? King Jotham was not remembered for much significance in Judah’s history, as evidenced by the fact that little was recorded about him. But it is clear that God blessed King Jotham and the nation of Judah because of the king’s obedience to God, even if the people were still worshiping idols at the high places.

When God calls us to follow Him in obedience and we do, that’s not always something that gets noticed or even remembered. We don’t follow God for the intent of being remembered for the amazing things we’ve done; we follow God and are obedient to Him simply for the sake of following the God who created us, redeemed us, and sustains us. King Jotham followed God and wasn’t remembered for much; we, too, may not be remembered for much by following God, and we need to be okay with that. The point of following God is not to receive recognition from others but to give glory to God.

What’s your motivation for following God? Are you looking for recognition for the things you do to follow God, or are you following God because of who He is?

Just released today!! Check out this new resource by Katie Erickson:

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The Bible’s Authority

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, November 11, 2022 1 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

I have written about the topic of the Bible’s authority in multiple posts over the years, and one can never emphasize this point enough. The Bible has authority, and everyone knows it, believer or not. Whether people recognize it or not, nearly every decision must go through the Bible and God’s revealed moral statutes. Those who believe and follow the Bible will make their decision based on a particular command or principle established in Scripture. Those who reject the Bible may not think about it actively as they make their decision, but they categorically rejected the Bible a while back. To this day, I have never met a person who can truly demonstrate that he rejects the Bible for intellectual reasons. He hides behind such reasons, but that is not why they reject it. It is because of the moral standards and the ever-present condemnation that it brings to men who are not of Christ.

The Bible has authority. One thing I find fascinating is that everyone who holds to some teaching that goes against what the Bible said, even if they proclaim to be Christians, are constantly arguing and debating against people who do believe what the Bible says. Why would they? The answer is very simple: they need approval from those who know God to justify their own unbelief. They are very clever in their approach, but they are constantly looking for acceptance and approval from the genuine believer. They would not do this unless they knew the Bible actually has the authority on the matter and they knew that the believer was at the watch tower to let them in or not. If they really believed the Bible didn’t have such authority, they would not even bother with us and they would not seek to get us involved in their choices. But they can’t escape it. God won’t let them live in rebellion against Him that easily. So they come to us for the purpose of seeking to suppress the truth and justify their unbelief and sin.

The Bible has authority. If you pay attention to any of the creeds or confessions of the faith of church history, the Bible is always what they start with, because the Bible is the source of all their information and their statements. It is imperative that we give the Bible the position that God gave it. There are three positions of authority I am going to address in this post.

1) The Bible is our first authority. Many people tend to forget this one and leave the Bible as the last resort. However, the Bible should actually be our first authority. It should be the first authority that we turn to. The Bible should be our first filter to determine what we should do. Any time we are confronted with a decision our first question should be “What does the Bible say?” (Katie Erickson’s book is a good primer on this issue.) The Bible may not explicitly state what we should do in every situation. It does not tell us whether we should go to that football game or not, or whether we can watch that show or not, or which school we should go to. But it does give us the framework we should use in making said decisions. One question we should use in such cases is: “How will doing this thing or going to this place help me give glory to God?”

The Bible teaches us that our primary purpose is to glorify God and to worship and enjoy Him. When God rescued Israel from slavery in Egypt, He didn’t want to just get them out of slavery; He wanted them to be a people unto Him, to serve Him and to glorify Him. The same is true when Jesus delivers us from the slavery of sin. Our saved life is about glorifying and serving Christ. So, when we decide what job to take or what school to go to or whatever, our first authority should be to see what God says about such things.

2) The Bible is our final authority. Now, don’t get the wrong idea here; I am not talking about the Bible being our last authority after we have exhausted all others. There are severe dangers in that because we’ll start getting ideas from the bad sources and intentionally or not, we’ll start comparing the Bible to what we heard from the world or start mixing and matching what the world says with what the Bible says.

What I mean by the Bible should be our final authority is that we should start with the Bible, do our study and analysis, and then check our conclusion with the Bible. We build our framework for our question with the Bible, and then we confirm that our answer, our models, and our conclusions still agree with the Bible in case we got off track. Many people will build their models and ideas and they’ll use pieces of Scripture to build them, but they never check to see if their models actually agree with what the Bible says. That is why we must check our ideas out with the Bible as our final authority.

3) The Bible is our ultimate authority. This is not popular today because this means that the Bible is above every other authority out there; yes, that includes all academics and modern “science” which has become its own religion. It does not matter how many physicists, geologists, astronomers, paleontologists, biologists, chemists, theologians, or whatnot support whatever model; if it does not agree with the framework of the Bible, namely the historical context of events it describes (6000 years of history, a global flood, and people dispersion from Babel), then it is not an accurate study. The skeptics hate the “statement of faith” that groups like Answers in Genesis or the Institute for Creation Research have in which any scientific statement that disagrees with the Bible must be wrong. At least AiG and ICR are up front about it. The same skeptics automatically dismiss any science that might agree with the Bible, so they are guilty of the same thing. But what many Christians have done, including some who are very good preachers otherwise, is surrendered the Bible in light of “modern science.” All the “old earth creation” models actively reject the authority of Scripture on this topic, whether anyone recognizes it or not, because in order to get “millions of years” into the picture, you have to reject Genesis’ account, even if you support pieces of it. It’s all or nothing.

A common argument I get is that “The Bible is silent on this issue; therefore, we are free to look to other sources.” Actually, no you are not. And you will find that the people who say the Bible is silent on the “age of the earth” have the exact same argument structure and style as those who say the Bible is silent on “loving, committed, homosexual relationships.” In fact, the Bible is quite clear on both of those topics. If old earthers had not brought such arguments into the Church, the Church would not be listening to it from the sexual immoral people trying to justify their lusts. Yet they are, because they no longer believe in the Bible as the ultimate authority, the supreme authority, and the superior authority. They didn’t go to it first. They went to their own models and own ideas. They did pull from some Scripture, attempting to justify their models by twisting Scriptures totally out of context. And they never went back to verify their models to compare them with what Scripture says.

If we are to actually believe the Bible as the inspired Word of God, as actually coming from God, we cannot allow any other authority to have a say. If we do allow them say, then they must be completely subservient to Scripture. Rank them. If the Bible is at authority #1, then science should actually be about #10 if not lower. In between with a full visible gap between the Bible and the next ranked authorities, pastors and commentaries should be next around authority #5 or 6. There should be no #2-4 in this case to just to showcase how far above and beyond the Bible is over any man and his sayings or writing. Even the man who fully believes the Bible should be put far below Scripture itself. Please, friends, don’t ever think that what I am writing here is actually remotely on par with Scripture itself. All I can do is point to it.

When we have the Bible in its rightful place with authority over all matters in which it speaks (hint: it speaks on every type of topic so there is no thing you can address in which the Bible does not have some say on the matter in concept, overview, or specifically), then we can make the wise and correct decision in any matter or situation. Over the next few weeks, we’ll look at how people are reading the Bible wrongly today and how it should be read instead.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.


There's Something About Mary Schweitzer, Part 2

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, November 10, 2022 1 comments

by Steve Risner

Last week, we introduced Dr. Mary Schweitzer and her discovery that gained her a great deal of notoriety. Some 20 years ago, Dr. Schweitzer had found very well-preserved soft tissue remnants in a Tyrannosaurus leg bone. She and many others of the day refused to believe it due to the common understanding and scientifically verified reality that soft tissue will degrade into an unrecognizable form in several thousand or, in ideal conditions, perhaps a few hundred thousand years. These fossils were believed to be 68 million years old. Since that time, Dr. Schweitzer has discovered more soft tissue remains in fossils that are allegedly nearly 200 million years old. Others have found similar things in tube worm fossils that are believed to be over 500 million years old. Studies have confirmed that soft tissue will generally break down over a relatively short period of time, so these findings shocked the scientific community.

As I stated last time, Dr. Schweitzer is a believer. I’m happy that she has found her Savior and believe her sincere desire is to serve Him. I just believe, when it comes to her beliefs on origins, that she is wrong. This belief comes from my knowledge of the Bible which clearly teaches what she believes on origins is incorrect. I’d like to delve into some interviews she’s done to explore more of what she thought about what she had found.

In an interview, Dr. Schweitzer spoke with Emily Ruppel. I quoted her in my last blog post and wanted to finish discussing that before we moved on to her next statement. She said, “I think the thing that surprised me most about that class was that I had no idea, coming from a conservative Christian background, that scientists are not all trying to disprove God in whatever way they can.” I thought it was strange she was insinuating that conservative Christians are ignorant about things related to science. Some are, of course. Many different groups of people have smaller subsets within their groups that are not versed on a variety of topics. But to suggest that it’s normal for conservative Christians to be in the dark about science is preposterous, especially when we consider many of the greatest minds science has ever known were Bible believing Christians. I wrote briefly on that in this blog post. It’s a common misconception.

I stated last time that I was prepared to hear the humanist origins myth when I went to school. I had read a variety of books on it, had teachers who loved to push it, and mused over it quite a lot. I tried to see if I could fit what I was being told in my college and doctorate level science courses (that were related in some way) with what I knew the Bible said. I tried for some time to do this. It doesn’t work. Anyone that tells you it does is fooling themselves and/or trying to fool you.

Immediately after the above statement in her interview, Dr. Schweitzer says, “What we were not told growing up is that there’s a lot of very rigorous, hard science that allows us to interpret the lives of organisms we’ve never seen—and knowing this made me rethink a few things, because I know God and God is not a deceiver.”

This is important for two reasons. The first reason is it goes back to exactly what I said earlier—that she wasn’t prepared. She admits she wasn’t told about how science works and what scientists do. Scripture tells us in Proverbs 22:6 and Ephesians 6:4 that we are to raise our children in the fear and knowledge of the Lord and when that child grows, he will not depart from the path he was set on. I think a proper education in this manner would include knowing what the world says and why it’s wrong. But the last thing she says is very important: “…I know God and God is not a deceiver.” This is profound and the implication is exactly the opposite she wants it to be.

God has clearly stated how and when He created in His Word. There could hardly be a more plainly given communication on the matter. Fallen man, who has been in rebellion against God since shortly after his creation, has invented a story based loosely on some data as he looks at a cursed creation. That story is told by many to replace the Creator—this is a fact. Many who adhere to the Big Bang and universal common descent do so because they want to explain existence without God. It’s the whole point for some of them! Far too many believers have decided it’s okay to follow these God-denying rebels down that path. They claim “God is not a deceiver” but fail to recognize that, while this is true, they make Him into a liar with their beliefs in the humanist origins myth. If I have to choose between accepting the clear teaching of the Bible on a topic or the ever-changing, currently popular story told by humans who know very little in reality, I’m going to choose the Word of God every time. How could you be a believer and not choose this way? Man is so arrogant to think he knows better than the Lord—the one who created it all. The hubris is astounding.

There is a long list of things where God says one thing and humans say another. I choose to believe God in those matters. The world says life is a just a chemical reaction and has no real meaning. God says humans are created in the image of God and He has a purpose for each of us. The world says a baby in the womb can be slaughtered up to the moment of birth; it’s just a glob of cells. God says He knew us before we developed in the womb and, again, humans are created special in His image. The world says do whatever you need to get ahead. God says don’t lie or cheat, and work hard. The world says men can have babies. God says that He created them male and female, and I find no other genders mentioned. The list goes on and on. I choose to accept and believe what God has told us rather than what humans have decided. Dr. Schweitzer was forced to choose between believing God Almighty and the creation narrative or believing humans and the humanist origins myth. I believe she chose poorly.

The good doctor goes on to say, “If you step back a little bit and let God be God, I don’t think there’s any contradiction at all between the Bible and what we see in nature. He is under no obligation to meet our expectations. He is bigger than that.”

How someone can read the Bible and say there is no contradiction between Genesis and universal common descent, I have no idea. I’ve been a student of the Bible my entire life. I’ve taken more science courses than I care to recall. I find the tale woven by evolutionists about abiogenesis and universal common descent has no place in the Word of God. There isn’t a single Scriptural reference to support it. Deep time is similar. There is a very clear timeline outlined in Scripture as to when God made Adam – day 6 of creation. Genesis says God called life out of the earth and seas and it was so—animals after their kind were there. There is no mention of universal common descent over eons of time.

A person who claims there is no contradiction between the Bible and universal common descent has no idea what they’re talking about, or they do know and are lying. No rational and honest person can read Genesis and make such a crazy claim. I don’t mean to be so harsh, but it’s preposterous to say such a thing. She’s right—there is nothing in nature that contradicts the Word of God. But the way humanists have chosen to interpret the data is in stark contrast to the Bible. We don’t see universal common descent in nature. We simply do not. We see life. We don’t see evolution (meaning universal common descent from single common ancestor). She’s swapped what we see—life coming from life and small changes taking place do to a variety of reasons—for what we’ve never seen either in real time or the fossil record—life slowly morphing from one type of organism into something different.

It's very common—far too common—for people to say “science” when they mean their interpretation of the data. Sometimes, I suppose, this works but in the case of universal common descent, it clearly does not. Universal common descent is something that cannot be confirmed and has never been observed either in real time or the fossil record. The common saying by evolutionists is, “Evolution (meaning universal common descent and not just change) happens too slowly for us to see here and now but too quickly for the fossil record to capture it.” If this isn’t special pleading, there is no such thing.

We’ll continue looking at Dr. Schweitzer’s findings and what she thinks about her discoveries and how others view them in our next blog post.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.


Uzziah, King of Judah

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Monday, November 7, 2022 0 comments

by Katie Erickson

If you’ve been following along in this series, do you ever feel like all the names of these kings of Israel and Judah tend to run together and get confusing? This week’s king definitely does not help that situation; he’s known as Uzziah in 2 Chronicles 26, but he’s known as Azariah in 2 Kings 15:1-7. The names are different in Hebrew as well as English, but we know it’s the same person because both are recorded as the son of Amaziah, and the chronology of the texts around them fits the timeline. Since there are more details provided about him in the 2 Chronicles passage, we’ll refer to him as Uzziah.

After Uzziah’s father Amaziah was assassinated, Uzziah was made king of Judah at the age of 16 years old. He reigned for 52 years. It’s interesting that 2 Chronicles 26:4 reports that, “He did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, just as his father Amaziah had done.” Amaziah started out his reign following God, but his downfall happened when he did not listen to God nor the advisors God had placed in his life regarding the battle with Israel. Would Uzziah follow that same pattern? The key to that comes in the second half of verse 5: “As long as he sought the LORD, God gave him success.”

King Uzziah gained a great deal of political and military power during his reign. He and the army of Judah conquered three main cities that were occupied by the Philistines. They also fought some nomadic Arab tribes that were inhabiting the southeastern part of Judah. Along with all of that, he built additional towers in Jerusalem and in various places in Judah. He was wealthy, with much livestock and many people working in the fields and vineyards for him.

During King Uzziah’s reign, Judah had a very strong army of more than 307,000 men that was also well-trained and ready for battle. They also incorporated the technology of the day into the towers that King Uzziah built in Jerusalem – shields were built into them so the soldiers could safely shoot arrows at incoming troops, and they also had mechanisms that sound similar to catapults, able to “hurl large stones from the walls” (verse 15).

Because of all this, King Uzziah became very powerful – and also very prideful, which was his downfall as a king. Verse 16 tells us that, “He was unfaithful to the Lord his God.” He went into the temple to burn some incense, but more than 80 priests followed him in and told him he should not do that. The duty of burning incense is only supposed to be completed by the priests who had descended from Aaron, not the king. They warned King Uzziah to leave; he had been unfaithful and God would punish him for that.

King Uzziah already had the censer in his hand to burn the incense, and he became angry at all these priests telling him to leave. Who were they to tell him, the mighty king of Judah, to leave when he wanted to stay and burn incense? While he was expressing his anger to the priests, leprosy suddenly broke out on his forehead! When everyone realized that, they quickly got King Uzziah out of the temple.

“King Uzziah had leprosy until the day he died. He lived in a separate house — leprous, and banned from the temple of the LORD. Jotham his son had charge of the palace and governed the people of the land” (verse 21).

Isaiah the prophet was alive during King Uzziah’s reign in Judah. As reported in Isaiah 6, it was around the time of King Uzziah’s death that Isaiah had a vision and was commissioned by God to be a prophet. Isaiah was a prophet during the reign of the 3 kings of Judah who followed Uzziah, and we know from his prophecies and from the historical accounts that even though King Uzziah started out doing what was right in the eyes of the Lord, he did not remove all of the idol worship from Judah.

Uzziah did great things for the nation of Judah – as long as he followed God. He captured cities and drove out enemies. He strengthened the army and therefore the nation as a whole. But then he got too big for his britches and thought he was invincible and could do whatever he wanted. Even when the priests warned him not to burn the incense since that would go against God’s rules for the temple and the people, Uzziah got mad and did not make any motions to stop proceeding with burning the incense.

Sometimes, God’s judgment can take a while to show up in our lives. Other times, like King Uzziah, it can be immediate. He was afflicted with leprosy right on the spot as punishment for starting the process to burn incense that was only for the priests. The leprosy never went away for him, and he lived the rest of his life with it. He had to give up ruling as king, even while he was still alive. The time period for that is debated, but some scholars believe it was about 14 years!

As punishment for his prideful actions, King Uzziah not only had to deal with leprosy and all of its symptoms, but he had to watch his son take over and be king instead of him. God saw that King Uzziah had too much pride, and dealing with all of that would definitely have to increase his humility!

Pride is a great sin before God, and it’s an easy one for us to fall into when things are going well for us. We gain confidence in ourselves and take our focus off of God and what He has done and is doing for us. We think it’s through our own skills or talents that we are prosperous, rather than realizing that it is all God’s doing – and God can take it all away in a moment if He chooses to do so. As Proverbs 16:18 says, “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.”

Watch out for pride in your life, or be prepared for God to humble you!

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What Is the Bible?

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, November 4, 2022 3 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

One of the greatest unfortunate side-effects of modern academia is that because it is based on man’s ideas and man’s interpretations, even the most elite scholars have actually forgotten the most fundamental thing behind academics: reading. Now, I am not saying that these people do not read at all, but that they do not know how to read. They know how to make ideas fit with their ideals, but do not know how to actually let a text say what it actually says. This is especially true when it comes to the Bible and Christianity. And I am not merely talking about the world “out there” either. I am talking about professing Christians and defenders of the faith in our apologetic communities. When I hear some of these people talk about the Bible, I seriously have to ask, “Do you even know how to read anymore?” Because what they say the Bible says is nothing like what the Bible says. People want to boast about the salvation and sanctification of Christianity, but for the life of them they cannot figure out what the word “day” means in Genesis.

This has compelled me to write a series about how to read and understand the Bible. God’s timing is perfect, because I just completed a series about returning our homes to a Biblical structure and format, to be a place that God directs and owns and where it is a place of production and value, rather than a place of consumption and about self. How can we return to the old paths, how can we go back in order to go forward, unless we know what God is actually saying through Scripture? We need to get back to the basics, return to the foundations. There is nothing wrong with studying things academically, but there is something dreadfully wrong with how academia is done today.

This post will start a series about the fundamentals of how to read and understand the Bible. While I will at times throw in some “academic” terms, those are merely fancy words for things we normally do anyway. The Bible is a simple book in that even a child can read and understand; but it is also a deep book that the most learned scholar will have only scratched the depths of its richness. And one thing I will make clear: if the “deep” meaning contradicts in any way the “simple” meaning, it is not a “deep” meaning at all but a perversion. I will not be as some of the academics that talk down to the non-scholars and say “you have to know the original Greek and Hebrew” to understand the Bible (which is useful, but not necessary), but I want to re-open the Bible to people. It is a book that is to be cherished, loved, and respected, but it is primarily meant to be understood, believed, and obeyed. If people want to reject the Bible, that’s their call, but they had better accurately represent it when they do so if they want to be known as an academic.

So, what is the Bible? What is this book? First off, it is not one book. It is a collection of 66 books written by 40 authors from all sorts of walks of life, in all different political and religious contexts, different locations, different languages, different primary audiences, different genres, all over a 1600-year span, and yet it all says the same message. It is not an anthology either, but it actually reads as though it is a single book with a single mind. There is no other book that is like it. No anthology compares. No academic text compares. No historical document compares. No religious text compares either. It is unique among all other books. You can get more details about this in my book Ten Reasons to Believe the Bible.

The Bible is not just a book of Jewish writings about the Jewish people, but rather a book by Jewish authors through whom God is sending a message to the whole world. The primary audience of the Bible is not Jews, but rather the Church throughout the ages. While many academics often look at the Bible from the lens of the Ancient Near Eastern culture, that is not an appropriate way to interpret it. Even though Israel was geographically in the Ancient Near East, culturally they were vastly different. God set up their culture to be different from the rest. This was to be a physical demonstration for the church age to come.

The Bible’s historical writings have a two-fold purpose. First, to give an accurate history. That history was primarily as a test to prove who the Messiah would be. Jesus had to come from Adam, Noah, Shem, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, and then David. The historical records are not only the most accurate accounts of history ever written, but their accuracy is part of what enables us to know that Jesus is indeed the Messiah. Second, to give all its readers examples of every type of situation we could face. These are not myths nor fables but records of actual events. They actually happened as described. They were not mythicized. There are countless examples where I have seen the exact same tactics and moves used by the people recorded in the Bible today.

The Bible has laws, teachings, wisdom writings, songs, prophecies, parables, group and personal letters, apocalyptic literature, and even metaphors and allegories. The primary genre is history or historical narratives – giving an account of what happened. Unless the text demonstrates to be otherwise, this should be the default. I’ll deal with this more as the series progresses.

The Bible is unique from every other book in that it is inspired by God. While God did indeed use human authors to physically pen the text, each were moved and carried along by the Holy Spirit. In some cases, it was direct dictation such as the prophecy books. In other cases, the Holy Spirit utilized the author’s personality and writing style and yet still carried on the divine spirit in the text. Not just any book or author could claim this, though many tried. Moses and the Apostles in particular were validated as divine authors because they were given power to perform miracles that showed they were from God. The prophets were authors were tested by the tests of a prophet which included a death sentence for prophesying wrongly. So not only were these books written under the direct influence of the Holy Spirit, but they were publicly recognized as such at the time they were written. It is this inspiration that gives the Bible its position as the first, final, and ultimate authority over every matter it speaks on.

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There's Something About Mary Schweitzer

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Thursday, November 3, 2022 10 comments

by Steve Risner

I’d like to look at interviews done by Dr. Mary Schweitzer, the famed paleontologist who received notoriety when she published her observations that she had found soft tissue in dinosaur fossils. She was not the first person to find soft tissue, but she was the first one to receive a great deal of attention for doing so.

In 2005 (or 2004 depending on the source), Dr. Mary Schweitzer published work on how she looked inside a fractured thigh bone of a Tyrannosaurus rex and discovered soft tissue still inside. Now, to be fair, the tissue wasn’t wet and spongy at the time, but it was intact. This is how Discover Magazine describes it: “…Schweitzer gazed through a microscope in her laboratory at North Carolina State University and saw lifelike tissue that had no business inhabiting a fossilized dinosaur skeleton: fibrous matrix, stretchy like a wet scab on human skin; what appeared to be supple bone cells, their three-dimensional shapes intact; and translucent blood vessels that looked as if they could have come straight from an ostrich at the zoo.” This sample was dated by secular scientists to be about 68 million years old. Since then, Dr. Schweitzer has discovered soft tissue in samples alleged to be 145.5 to 199.6 million years old!

This created a variety of responses. Even Dr. Schweitzer’s initial response was one of denial. She said, in that same article in Discover about her first thoughts, “Uh-uh. This isn’t happening. This is just not happening.” Much of the world of paleontology rejected Dr. Schweitzer’s claims. This was because, in her own words, "If you take a blood sample and you stick it on a shelf, you have nothing recognizable in about a week. So why would there be anything left in dinosaurs?" Soft tissue cannot remain after such long periods. Some scientists at the time rejected the find outright, saying she must have had contamination in the sample. Some said she rushed too quickly to get her findings published and should have taken more time. While she agreed she was in a hurry to get her findings out there, in response to this she said, “That's the saddest part about doing science in America: You are totally driven by what gets you funding.” This is all too true in the world of science today. Money and notoriety drive many scientists. Obviously, a research team needs funding to do their work, but a scientist working for money or to please a donor is less likely to be objective or to allow the facts to lead them wherever they may, in my opinion. Politics dictates truth for us, I guess. But the point is many rejected Dr. Schweitzer’s findings and some even called into question her credibility. But over time, it became undeniable. Others found similar things and, while being denounced initially, her findings have been confirmed by several other labs.

This is all very interesting in the origins debate because we know—actual science has demonstrated very well—that soft tissue cannot remain intact for even a million years, let alone tens or hundreds of millions of years. It could easily remain for the 4400 or so years since the Flood. But research published in Science and Antiqua both suggest that soft tissue—mostly collagen—can possibly survive intact for tens of thousands of years. They have even suggested it might last for a hundred thousand years, but it cannot survive for millions of years. Sixty-eight million is absurd and the almost 200 million years in one find is outrageous. Even more unbelievable is the discovery of soft, still flexible tube worms found in rock layers said to be over half a billion years old! That’s approaching the “laugh out loud” level of crazy, in my humble opinion. There are many other studies out there that confirm this. So, the publishing of this discovery was quite the thing.

A short list of other soft tissue discoveries since Dr. Schweitzer’s that cast doubt on the belief in deep time are: a 10 million year old frog that is still soft and has blood in its marrow, whole salamander muscle tissue that is allegedly 18 million years old, live bacteria from 30 million years, DNA nearly 30 million years old, pigment structures from 36 million years ago, lizard skin from 40 million years, hadrosaur nucleic acids and skin cells dated at 65 million years, mosasaur blood supposedly 67 million years old, connective tissue in a Triceratops dated at 68 million years, blood vessels in a hadrosaur believed to be 80 million years old, live bacteria in amber dated at 100 million years, skin pigment dated to 125 million years, amino acids in insects dated at 130 million years, squid ink thought to be 150 million years old, ichthyosaur skin dated to be 190 million years, live bacteria in salt 250 million years old, crinoid pigment believed to be 350 million years old, shrimp soft tissue dated to be 360 million years old, and finally tube worm chitin claimed to be 551 million years old. Research suggests these structures may be able to last for possibly hundreds of thousands of years under very good and consistent conditions. A million years would be a major stretch. We’re talking about 10 to 500 times that! You can probably see why the evolutionary believers made such a stink over her findings.

Dr. Schweitzer is a believer, and I appreciate this about her. I do find her beliefs on origins to be at odds with the written Word of God, but I cannot make any argument with her salvation. That is between her and the Lord, and I find no reason to doubt it. I think her beliefs on origins are incorrect simply because she makes claims that are clearly contradictory to the Bible—especially the Genesis narrative. I wanted to explore her stated beliefs on this and how she explains her findings. I also wanted to note how she disparages those who have taken her work and used it to support the Word of God. We disagree, but I don’t think this makes her a bad person. I don’t think this makes her a bad Christian. I don’t think this makes her a bad scientist. I just think she’s wrong on this issue. I base this on the clear teaching of the Bible. You don’t need to be a scientist to understand this. Many, including Dr. Schweitzer, mistakenly equate science with their interpretation of their findings. A discovery doesn’t come with all the facts and how it should be viewed. Scientific data and a person’s interpretation of that data are two very different things. I’ve written on that quite a lot. Long ago. And also here. And maybe here. I wrote several posts on that between 2014 and 2016 among other times.

So, while I believe it’s fair to say that Dr. Schweitzer seems to be a fine person and she holds sincere beliefs, some of those beliefs are not in accordance with the very plainly and clearly written Word of God. Let’s take a look at a couple of interviews she did trying to explain why her discoveries of soft tissue that should have long been rotted away are in line with deep time and universal common descent. She does not believe these findings support the Bible and, in fact, she thinks people who are using her work to support their belief in the Bible are being dishonest.

Dr. Schweitzer says she grew up in a conservative Christian home. When she took certain classes in college, she was blown away by the contrast between what she believed at the time and what she was taught in those classes. She said in a 2014 interviews, “I think the thing that surprised me most about that class was that I had no idea, coming from a conservative Christian background, that scientists are not all trying to disprove God in whatever way they can.” What surprises me the most about this statement is she believes that being a conservative Christian means you’re completely ignorant on things related to science. This is basically a slap in the face to Christians who have put their faith and hope in the Word of God, in my opinion.

I grew up in a conservative Christian home. While I tried to reconcile my belief in the Bible with what I was taught in college and graduate level biology courses, what they told me never struck me as surprising. I was prepared. Apparently, Dr. Schweitzer was not prepared. I believe it’s very important to raise our children to understand what the Bible says and how we should look at it to understand it while also making them aware of the ideas the world has that may challenge our understanding of God’s Word. She seems to not have been made aware of these challenges. This is not an accusation at all, but it does mean that while she believes her experience was the “normal” one, it clearly is not the only option. There are many conservative Christians who have viewed the evidence for universal common descent and deep time and find it unappealing and unconvincing. Many of those hold degrees in biology, physics, astronomy, and other related fields. Her error stems from being misinformed or uninformed and being impressed with the secularist’s version of origins—the humanist origins myth.

I’ve just scratched the surface on these interviews related to the earthquake of a discovery published by Dr. Mary Schweitzer, and I’m out of space for this blog post. We will get much further into this next time. Thank you for reading, and I appreciate any comments you may have. Until next time, be blessed.

This forum is meant to foster discussion and allow for differing viewpoints to be explored with equal and respectful consideration.  All comments are moderated and any foul language or threatening/abusive comments will not be approved.  Users who engage in threatening or abusive comments which are physically harmful in nature will be reported to the authorities.