"...but try the spirits whether they are of God..." (1 Jno. 4:1)
|Volume Five, Number One||Spring 1997|
Jerry D. McDonald
Mr. Till prides himself on being a great intellectual, and refuter of the Bible inerrancy doctrine. He always has the answer for everything, or at least so he seems to think. In his article "The Wisdom of the World" which you have just read, he begins by telling us that Adam's and Eve's sin was "the acquisition of knowledge." According to this great intellectual, their sin was, "so great that the petulant Yahweh not only banished them from the garden but pronounced an everlasting curse on them and all their descendants.
If Mr. Till was one fraction of the intellectual that he wishes to make his readers believe he is, he would know that Adam and Eve's sin had nothing to do with the acquisition of knowledge. Their sin was, they disobeyed God. Since the scriptures is our main authoritative source, about Adam and Eve's sin, we should take what they say as fact concerning the matter. The scriptures tell us what the command was that God gave: "And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Gen. 2:15,16). The scriptures also tell us what command they violated: "And the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit therefore, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat" (Gen. 3:6). When God questioned them about what they had done, he asked Adam: "Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat?" (Gen. 3:11). So their sin was not the "acquisition of knowledge" as Mr. Till contends, but rather a disobedience to the command of God: "thou shalt not eat of it." That was their sin, in part and in whole.
Well, is it possible that, "the acquisition of knowledge" was a consequence of their sin? No! The consequence of their sin was the "acquisition of knowledge between good and evil." Before they partook of the forbidden fruit, they were in a pure state, having no knowledge of the difference between good and evil. They could have had all the of knowledge they wanted, in their pure state. They could have had scientific knowledge, without knowing the difference between good and evil. They could have had knowledge of botany without knowing the difference between good and evil. They could have had knowledge of their origin without knowing the difference between good and evil. They could have had the knowledge of that which is good, without knowing the difference between good and evil. They could have had knowledge of many things this world has to offer without knowing the difference between good and evil. The only thing that they could not have had knowledge of without knowing the difference between good and evil, is the knowledge of what evil is. That (the knowledge of what evil is) was the consequence of their sin. Because they allowed evil to come into their lives, they not only suffered for it, but every human who has ever lived and reached the age of accountability, since then, has had to suffer the consequence of their actions. They opened the door for sin to come into the world, and the world has had to suffer for it ever since. And if Mr. Till was even a fraction of the intellect that he wants us to believe that he is, he would have known that.
Mr. Till tells us that, "(t)he condemnation of knowledge implied in this story established a policy that was generally but not always followed by the other biblical writers. That policy was to discourage and even sometimes to condemn the acquisition of knowledge." There never was any policy set forth by any inspired writer of the Bible to condemn or discourage knowledge. The scriptures are replete with passages that condemn a lack of knowledge and encourage one to gain knowledge. Hosea wrote: "my people are destroyed for a lack of KNOWLEDGE" (Hos. 4:6). Paul wrote: "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not be ashamed, but rightly dividing the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15). He also wrote: "Till I come, give attendance to READING, to exhortation and to doctrine" (1 Tim. 4:13). These are just three of the many passages where the Bible upholds knowledge while condemning a lack of it.
There is no policy that condemns every kind of knowledge. The Bible gives us historical knowledge, scientific knowledge, knowledge about our origin, spiritual knowledge, and even human relation knowledge. The only kind of knowledge that the Bible condemns is the knowledge of evil. Man would he able to get along fine in this world if we did not have the knowledge of evil. Adam and Eve, before they partook of the fruit, had no knowledge of evil, and judging from the things that have happened since, they would have been better off had they not acquired it.
Paul's statement to the Corinthian church does not condemn all knowledge, but knowledge of evil. The wisdom of the world is that the preaching of the cross is foolishness. However this socalled foolishness is wiser than the wisdom of man. The wisdom of the world cannot even begin to comprehend God's wisdom, which man calls foolishness. That is why the infidel does not understand why Christ had to die on the cross. Infidels understand little about the Word of God. Joseph Wheless, for example, falsely accused Jesus, in Mk. 9:1 and Mt. 16:28, of saying that some of those who he was speaking to would not die until they had seen his return (Is It God's Word ?, p.361). He said that since Christ has not returned, that he had taught false doctrine in those two instances. However, because he did not think spiritually, he did not take the time to understand those passages. Thus, he never did pick up on the true meaning; that Jesus said that some of those who stood there that day would not taste death until they had seen the coming in of the church of our Lord. The phrase "the son of man coming in his kingdom" in Mt. 16:28 has reference to the establishment of the kingdom on Pentecost. Jesus said that the comforter (the Holy spirit) would not come of himself, but he would be there as a representative of Christ. He would come in Jesus' name or by his authority (Jno. 14:26). So when the church came into its established state Christ was there because the Holy Spirit was there in his name, or by his authority. Now, Farrell can complain about our telling him that he does not understand the scriptures all he wants, but the plain truth is, he doesn't understand them. His thinking is carnal and the carnally minded cannot comprehend spiritual things (1 Cor. 2:14). The statement from Wheless' book is but one example of the many blunders that infidels make in falsely accusing God and his word. Their worldly wisdom does not allow them to see what God really had to say on the matter. So why should we apologize for telling Till, and others of his faith, that they do not understand the wisdom of God because they seek after worldly wisdom? It's the truth!
They do not understand why Christ had to die on the cross because they do not understand that God cannot allow sin into heaven. Sin found its way into heaven once, and look at all the problems it caused. There was war in heaven, Satan and his band of followers were dispelled. Satan came to earth and because of Adam and Eve giving in to the temptation he put before them, sin came into the world. If man is to enter heaven, he must be cleansed of his sin. The only thing that will take care of sin is the blood of Christ (1 Pet. 1:18,19). Man had sin in his life and therefore had nothing to offer God to have his sins removed.. Man could not do it himself. Therefore, Christ came down to earth, lived a sinless life (Heb. 4:15) and died upon the cross for man's sins. He could redeem man with his own blood, his own life because he lived sinlessly. He had something to offer. Thus, it was the only way that man could come to God. God loved man so much that he allowed Jesus to do that so that man could have eternal life (Jno. 3:16).
You know, I find it difficult to believe that I would have to lecture to a former church of Christ preacher on this simple topic. It makes me wonder if the man was ever truly converted to Christ. O, he says he was, but when I read statements like what he made in the article, "The Wisdom of the World" it makes me wonder. He is on record as saying that he never understood how there could be three distinct personalities in the Godhead and yet there be only one God. Well, if he never understood that simple concept, how can he claim that he ever truly converted to Christ? It's as simple as saying that a husband and wife are two people but they are one flesh (Eph. 5:31). It's as simple as saying that there are many members of the church, but there is only one body (1 Cor. 12:20). The members of the church are to be one (united) as Jesus and the Father are one (united), and they are even to be one (united) in God (Jno. 17:2021). Why is that so difficult to understand? Yet, somehow Farrell Till, in all his worldly wisdom, does not understand simple concepts like what we have mentioned.
Farrell talks about how if we could ever recognize circular reasoning, we would see the foolishness of our own wisdom. He really needs to lecture us on begging the question (circular reasoning) doesn't he? The man does not even understand what constitutes the fallacy of begging the question. I have been dealing with him for more than six years and he begs the question more than any man I have ever met. For example, in our written debate I charged him with teaching that the Bible has contradictions in it because it was written solely by humans. He replied with: "I believe that there are contradictions in the Bible, because there are contradictions in the Bible. I have seen them many times." You talk about circular reasoning, that one takes the cake. He believes that there are contradictions in the Bible because there are contradictions in the Bible? This proves nothing, it reasons in a circle. It's like saying I believe that there is a God because there is a God! Now how long do you figure it would take Farrell to accuse me of circular reasoning if I were to say that? He would no doubt point out the fact that my statement did not prove that there is a God, it rather assumed the existence of God. Nor would the statement prove why one should believe in God's existence. It simply asks the hearer to accept that assumption, as fact, with no proof. Well, if it works for him, it works for us. His statement does not prove that there are contradictions in the Bible. His statement does not show why one should believe that there are contradictions in the Bible. It simply assumes that there are and then asks the hearer to accept that assumption as fact without his having to give any proof. So he should not be lecturing on circular reasoning. He has no room to talk.
He says when we tell him that he doesn't understand the wisdom of God because he doesn't understand the crucifixion, it is the same as flatearthers dismissing scientific evidence for the rotundity of the earth as "the wisdom of the world." Well, maybe the flatearthers do make such an argument, but the Bible talks about the rotundity of the earth in Isa. 40:22 where it says that God sits "above the circle of the earth." The word for circle is the word "Khoog" which when it is in the masculine gender, means a "circle, a sphere" (The Analytical Hebrew And Chaldee Lexicon, p.249). I made this argument in the very first issue of this publication and invited Farrell to respond to it. His response was that it did not matter what the word "Khoog" meant ("Khoog, SchmoogIt Does Not Matter, Challenge, Vol. 1, No.1, pp. 3,4). He tried to pit Strong and Young against Davidson to make his case. He also went to several liberal translations to make his case. However, he never proved that the word "Khoog" when in the masculine gender did not mean: "a circle, a sphere." Flatearthers cannot logically say that the evidence for the rotundity of the earth is the wisdom of the world because Isaiah wrote about the world being round centuries before modern man came to the conclusion.
Then he tells us that those of us who believe in the Bible teach that the socalled scientific evidence for evolution is just the wisdom of the world. What scientific evidence has determined that evolution is a reality? By definition the word science means: "knowledge covering general truths or the operation of general laws esp. as obtained and tested through scientific method" (Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, p.1026). Scientific method is defined as: "principles and procedures for the systematic pursuit of knowledge involving the recognition and formulation of a problem, the collection of data through observation and experiment, and the formulation and testing of hypotheses" (Ibid). Have I missed something somewhere? Have scientists been able to observe and experiment with evolution? Have they tested their hypotheses' on evolution? What data have they collected through observation and experiment to prove that evolution is fact? Unless I am misreading Webster, science has to be observed through one or more of the empirical senses. Since there is no empirical evidence for evolution, it cannot be called a science. What category does evolution fall into? Philosophynot science.
Why do we call evolution the "wisdom of the world"? Simply because there is no truth in it. Christians do not consider true science as the wisdom of the world. We only consider false science as the wisdom of the world. The wisdom of the world is always that which is false. The true Christian has no problem with the shape of the earth (Isa. 40:22), or the paths of the sea (Psa. 8:8), or that there is life in the blood (Gen. 9:4) or anything else that is truly science. What we do have problems with is when men call evolution a science though it cannot be proven scientifically (tested by the five empirical senses). Why is it, then, that evolutionists argue that evolution has been proven scientifically? They look at changes taking place within a species and they argue for evolution on that basis. However, what they need to understand is that they are not seeing changes in one species becoming another (i.e., monkey becoming a man), but rather changes within their own species.
Mr. Till informs us that Jesus attacked human illnesses by casting out devils. However, he says that the wisdom of the world "invented microscopes, discovered microbes, and viruses, and then conquered diseases with vaccines and drugs." I would like for him to show one place where the Bible claims that Jesus healed diseases by casting out devils. He healed plenty of people, and he casted out devils, but he did not heal by casting out devils. If he thinks he can show where the Bible makes such a claim, let him produce it. Perhaps he refers to Matthew 17:1518 where the Bible says that a man brought his son to Jesus to be healed and Jesus casted out a devil. Verse 16 says that the boy was a lunatic. Some versions mistranslate and say that he was epileptic. However, the word there is "selaniadzetai" which comes from "selainai" and simply means: "to be lunatic" (The Analytical Greek Lexicon Revised, p.365). The word "lunatic" means: "...insane..." (Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, p.678). There is nothing here about epilepsy. Don't you think that if a devil entered your body that you might become a lunatic? Well, I am sure that Mr. Till has other passages to bring up, so we will allow him the space to do that if he wishes.
Till tells us that "the wisdom of God rebuked Galileo, but the wisdom of the world has long confirmed that he was right about the heliocentric nature of our solar system." Question: "Where does the Bible ever teach that the sun is not the center of our solar system?" Maybe he is talking about where the scriptures talk about the sun rising and setting. Genesis 15:17 is one such place: "And it came to pass, that, when the sun went down...." Another place is Mark 16:2: "And very early in the morning the first day of the week, they came unto the sepulchre at the rising of the sun." Mr. Till doesn't seem to realize that we use the same terminology today when we talk about sunrise and sunset. The weather forecasters use those phrases every time they give the weather. Are they ignorant of science? In answer to the question: "Why do we say that the sun rises and sets?" the answer was given: "The sun only appears to rise in the east, climb higher into the sky, then sets in the west. (Astronomers call this apparent motion.) (The Book Of Knowledge, Vol. 1&2, p.44). So when the Bible talks about the sun rising and setting, it is not using prescientific terminology any more than our weather forecasters do when they use the same terms.
The scriptures have never taught that diseases such a smallpox came about by witchcraft or as the work of Satan. Preachers may have taught this, but preachers have been known to teach all sorts of things. Some preachers taught, centuries ago, that the Bible taught that the world was flat, but we have already seen that the Bible teaches no such thing. Some preachers teach that the Bible teaches the "faith only" doctrine and that baptism is not essential to man's salvation. However, even Mr. Till knows that this is not the case. Even he knows that preachers teaching the "faith only" doctrine does not make the Bible teach such. Why, then, will he contend that the Bible teaches the flatearth concept simply because preachers (past and present) say that it teaches such? Simply because he needs the argument on the "flatearth" concept to shore up his flimsy position that the Bible is not inspired by God.
He says that Bible fundamentalists are right "when they say that the Bible teaches that life on the earth resulted from acts of special creation that God performed over a period of six days about 6000 years ago...." We do not know exactly how long ago God created the earth; conservative scholars speculate that it was done somewhere around ten thousand years ago. However, we do know that evolution geologists have not proven that the earth is billions of years old. There is simply no way that they can possibly know that. There are too many problems with the evolutionary theory to accept it as fact. While it is not our intention to discuss the evolutionary theory, in this article, I would like to invite Mr. Till to prove Dr. Dawkin's statement in debate on the subject of creation vs. evolution. I will gladly run it in Challenge if he will just agree to debate me. However, I deny that all available relevant evidence proves Darwin's theory. For a comprehensive discussion on Darwin's theory read Bill Carrell's article "Natural Selection" beginning on page 13 of this issue. Maybe Mr. Till would like to respond to it.
Mr. Till tells us that the more educated people are the less likely they are to practice orthodox religion. He tells us that religion orthodoxy depends upon ignorance. I beg to differ with him on both accounts. There are many very educated people who continue to be strong Christians. Men such as Thomas B. Warren who holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy, Dr. Bert Thompson who is a scientist in the field of Biology and many others seem to trust the Bible more with every bit of education that they get. Orthodox religion is nothing more than established religion. Christianity depends upon knowledge of God's word. As earlier pointed out, the Bible does not condemn knowledge, but it does condemn knowledge of evil. Worldly knowledge is not medical knowledge, nor is it scientific knowledge. Worldly knowledge is fleshly knowledge, the knowledge of evil.
Till quoted Paul in 1 Cor. 1:26: "For you see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh...are called" in an attempt to show that men who are educated in medical and scientific knowledge will not be believers in God and his word. However, Paul said that "not many wise men after the flesh...are called." The words "after the flesh" comes from the Greek words "Kata sarka." The word "Kata" simply means "according to." The word "sarka" means: "flesh, mere humanity, human fashion" (The Analytical Greek Lexicon Revised, p.362). This passage has absolutely nothing to do with medical or scientific knowledge. It simply means that those who are wise in mere humanity or human fashion (because they are so devoted to doing for themselves that they) will not be interested in doing for God. When Farrell says that this has reference to scientific or even medical wisdom he is doing nothing more than taking the passage out of its context to shore up his flimsy position that the Bible is not the inspired word of God. Yet, what can we expect from a man who contends that we cannot go to the context of a passage to find out what it says; who contends that every verse must stand upon its own merits?
He tells us that "(m)any beliefs of today's most radical Bible fundamentalists would have been considered rank heresy by the most educated Christians of a thousand years ago." I'm not very sure of the truthfulness of that statement. Agreed there were many who called themselves Christians who held many false beliefs concerning science, but they did not get this knowledge from the Bible. The Bible has always taught that the earth is round. The Bible has always taught that life is in the blood. The Bible has always taught that the sea has paths. The Bible is not a science text book, but where it has spoken concerning science it has spoken correctly. How did religious people of a thousand years ago get their false scientific and medical views? Probably because those were the popular views of the day, and they adapted the popular views. The Bible surely has not changed. It says the same thing today that it said a thousand years ago.
Till says that preachers (because our paychecks come from the church) know the threat that atheism poses on us, so we suppress knowledge and teach ignorance. Right! That is why I put both sides of the issue in Challenge, because I am afraid to give atheism a fair hearing. I want my readers to be ignorant, so I put both sides in my paper for all to see. Give me just a small break. Till thinks that preachers are so ill equipped as far as knowledge of other things to make a living at, that we would do anything to protect our jobs. Myself, I can be a machinist and make far more money than what I make here. I worked for TRW for several years as a machinist and set up man. For four years I was a boiler technician in the Navy and could, by far, make more money than what I make as a preacher. I made a very good liv- ing selling Life, Accident, Homeowners Auto and Health insurance, and could easily go back to that if I suddenly found myself without a place to preach. I am certified by the State of Missouri as a police officer and work as a (Reserve) deputy sheriff for the county Sheriff's department where I live. I worked as a manager trainee for Radio Shack in Kansas City. I only need one more year of schooling to become an electronic technician. Man I have so many things that I could do, other than being a preacher, I would not have to worry one bit about what would happen to me financially if I suddenly found myself without a place to preach. Every one of those, except maybe being a policeman, would pay me far more than what I make as a preacher. I make a good living, but I do not do it for the money. I am sure that most preachers are in the same position I am in. They had to come from somewhere, but Till makes us sound like that we could not do anything else if we suddenly were without a place to preach. So, according to him, we work hard to keep people in ignorance so we can keep our paychecks coming in.
I preach, so that souls can be saved. If I warn people about atheism it is, not, because of my fear of losing a job, I am afraid of people being eternally lost. So do not impugn the motives of every preacher in the world. But that, too, is the wisdom of infidels. They speak without ever looking to see if their statements will hold water.
The wisdom of infidels vs. the wisdom of God. Paul rightly asked: "Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world...God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise" (1 Cor. 1:20,27). The world calls the word of God foolishness, but it cannot overcome the word of God. The disputers of this world can ridicule the word of God, they can weaken people's faith, but they will never destroy the word. They cannot understand the word of God because they have the wisdom of infidels and the word of God is the wisdom of God.
CHALLENGE is published quarterly by Challenge Publications.
Jerry D. McDonald, Editor; Michael P. Hughes, Associate Editor.