"THE BOOK OF PROVERBS" The Folly Of The Fool INTRODUCTION 1. The goal of Proverbs is to impart wisdom... a. To know wisdom and instruction - Pr 1:1-2 b. To receive the instruction of wisdom - Pr 1:3 2. One way to learn about something is to consider its opposite... a. Want to understand what is wisdom? Then know what is folly! b. Want to be wise? Then don't be a fool! [In studying the wisdom of Proverbs, then, we learn much about "The Folly Of The Fool." Exactly what is a fool...?] I. THE FOOL DEFINED A. THE HEBREW WORD... 1. 'eviyl; it appears primarily in wisdom literature - Vine's 2. An adjective meaning foolish in the sense of one who hates wisdom and walks in folly, despising wisdom and morality - TCWD -- A fool thus despises wisdom and walks in folly B. DEFINED FURTHER... 1. The word is used in Scripture with respect to moral more than to intellectual deficiencies - Unger's Bible Dictionary, p. 375 2. The 'fool' is not so much lacking in mental powers, as one who misuses them... - ibid. 3. In Scripture the 'fool'...is the person who casts off the fear of God, and thinks and acts as if he could safely disregard the eternal principles of God's righteousness - ibid. -- A fool thus chooses to disregard God and His wisdom [To help us to further understand "The Folly Of The Fool," let's now consider...] II. THE FOOL DESCRIBED A. ONE WHO TRUSTS IN HIMSELF... 1. In his own eyes, he can do no wrong - Pr 12:15 2. Foolishly, he trusts in his own heart - Pr 28:26 -- Conversely, we should trust in the Lord, not lean on our own understanding - Pr 3:5-6 B. ONE WHO IS DEAF TO INSTRUCTION... 1. Fools despise wisdom and instruction - Pr 1:7 2. Even the instruction from one's father - Pr 15:5 3. Thus fools die for lack of wisdom - Pr 10:21 4. A fool cares only to tell others what he knows - Pr 18:2 5. For a fool thinks he knows every thing - Pr 18:13 6. What fools know is soon known by all - Pr 14:33 7. Their foolishness becomes apparent to all - Pr 12:23; 13:16 -- Therefore we waste energy in trying to share wisdom with a fool - Pr 23:9 C. ONE WHO CANNOT BE DISCIPLINED... 1. Fools are destined for much punishment - Pr 19:29, 26:3 2. Yet they are unlikely to learn from attempts to correct them - Pr 17:10 3. Such hatred of correction is the height of folly - Pr 12:1 -- Trying to correct a fool is folly within itself - Pr 16:22 D. ONE WHO IS IMPULSIVE... 1. A fool is one who vents all his feelings - Pr 29:11 2. His wrath is soon known - Pr 12:16 -- His impulsiveness makes his folly worse - Pr 14:29 E. ONE WHO COMMITS EVIL... 1. Evil is like sport to a fool - Pr 10:23 2. They even make fun of sin - Pr 14:9 -- Thus it is difficult to get fools to depart from evil - Pro 14:16 F. ONE WHO IS VIRTUALLY UNCHANGEABLE... 1. Despite the most extreme efforts to rehabilitate him - Pro 27:22 2. Because he considers it an abomination to depart from evil - Pr 13:19 -- Truly a fool is like a dog that returns to his own vomit - Pro 26:11 CONCLUSION 1. In summary, then, a fool is a person who... a. Trusts in himself b. Is deaf to instruction c. Cannot be disciplined d. Is impulsive e. Commits evil f. Is virtually unchangeable 2. Reinforcing these qualities of a fool... a. Let's now read Pr 26:1-12 b. Where we find several observations about fools and their folly Hopefully, such observations and warnings about "The Folly Of The Fool" will encourage us to choose an alternative path in life; especially when we consider the final contrast between the wise and the fools: "The wise shall inherit glory, But shame shall be the legacy of fools." - Pr 3:35 What shall we inherit? What shall be our legacy? It depends on our willingness to listen to God...
"THE BOOK OF PROVERBS" The Fear Of The Lord INTRODUCTION 1. We now change our approach to studying the book to the book of Proverbs... a. Using a topical rather than textual approach b. Noting recurring themes dispersed throughout the proverbs 2. A good topic to begin with is "the fear of the Lord"... a. Described as "the beginning of knowledge" - Pr 1:7 b. Also as "the beginning of wisdom" - Pr 9:10 [Yes, we examined "the fear of the Lord" in an earlier lesson. But it's importance to living wisely justifies another look. So let's begin with...] I. UNDERSTANDING THE FEAR OF THE LORD A. THE MEANING OF THE WORD "FEAR"... 1. In Hebrew, the word is yara' 2. In the Old Testament, it has a three-fold range of meaning: a. Dread, terror - Deut 1:29; Jon 1:10 b. To stand in awe (in reference to a king) - 1Ki 3:28 c. To revere, to respect (in regards to parents) - Lev 19:3 3. Notice when God descended upon Sinai amid geophysical convulsions - cf. Exo 20:18-20 a. Moses encouraged the Israelites to not be afraid of God arbitrarily striking them dead for no reason ("Do not fear!") b. He informed them that the Lord revealed Himself in such a terrifying manner to scare them from sinning ("God has come to test you, and that His fear may be before you, so that you may not sin.") -- The proper kind of fear is that which causes one to stand in awe, to revere, to respect B. ITS ROLE IN THE LIFE OF THE CHRISTIAN... 1. We are to fear God, not man - Mt 10:28 2. The early church walked in the fear of the Lord - Ac 9:31 3. We are to work out our salvation with fear and trembling - Ph 2:12 4. We should be fearful of apostasy, serving God with godly fear - He 10:26-31; 12:28-29 -- The fear of the LORD is expressed in reverential submission to his will - NET Bible [With a proper understanding of the fear of the Lord, we are more likely to appreciate the value of the fear of Lord as revealed in the Proverbs...] II. APPRECIATING THE FEAR OF THE LORD A. WITH THE FEAR OF THE LORD... 1. We will hate evil - Pr 8:13 2. We will prolong life - Pr 10:27 3. We have strong confidence and a fountain of life - Pr 14:26-27 4. We will be prompted to depart from evil - Pr 16:6 5. We will have a satisfying life, spared from much evil - Pro 19:23 6. We will enjoy riches, honor, and life! - Pr 22:4 -- Sounds wonderful, doesn't it? B. WITHOUT THE FEAR OF THE LORD... 1. We deprive ourselves of the treasures of God's wisdom and knowledge 2. We will flirt with evil and be corrupted by it 3. Our lives are likely to be shortened by our refusal to heed God's word (e.g., suffering sexually transmitted diseases if we do not heed His Word on sexual relationships) 4. We will not come to know the love of God that gives assurance and confidence of salvation 5. When fallen into sin, we will not be motivated to repent and turn to God! 6. We will not be motivated to truly "work out our own salvation" -- Sounds dreadful, doesn't it? [The fear of the Lord should be a highly regarded and sought after trait, one that we desire to develop in our lives. With that in mind, here are some suggestions on...] III. DEVELOPING THE FEAR OF THE LORD A. THROUGH THE WORD OF GOD... 1. Just as faith comes by hearing the word of God - cf. Ro 10:17 2. The same can be said for the fear of the Lord - cf. Deut 31: 10-13 a. Israel was to gather every seven years to read and hear the Word b. The purpose? "...that they may learn to fear the Lord" 3. As one reads the Word of God, they should gain a healthy degree of the fear of the Lord a. For example, consider the words of Paul - Ro 2:4-11 b. Or how about the words of Peter? - cf. 2Pe 3:7-14 -- Do we allow the Word to develop a proper reverence for the Lord? B. PROPERLY USED TO MAINTAIN BALANCE... 1. To avoid extremes we must read all of God's Word a. Some read only about God's love, and have no fear of the Lord b. Others read only about God's judgment, and know nothing of His loving kindness c. The one develops an attitude of permissiveness that belittles God's holiness and justice d. The other develops a psychosis of terror that forgets His grace and compassion 2. Even in the passages noted above, the context of each speaks much of God's grace and forgiveness for those who will repent - cf. Ro 2:4-11; 2Pe 3:7-14 -- We must be careful how we use the Word of God, but use it we must! CONCLUSION 1. If we desire to be truly wise, then let us begin with the fear of the Lord 2. Understanding it, appreciating it, and developing it in our lives as children of God! "Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied." - Ac 9:31
The Quran and the Flood
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.|
The Quran’s depictions of the great Flood of Noah’s day contain oddities that cause one who is familiar with the Bible to question the Quran’s reliability. For example, in Surah 11:36-40 the Quran describes Noah’s conflict with his contemporaries and, in the process, makes a puzzling remark pertaining to the condition of the Flood waters:
And it was inspired in Noah, (saying): No one of thy folk will believe save him who hath believed already. Be not distressed because of what they do. Build the ship under Our Eyes and by Our inspiration, and speak not unto Me on behalf of those who do wrong. Lo! they will be drowned. And he was building the ship, and every time that chieftains of his people passed him, they made mock of him. He said: Though ye make mock of us, yet we mock at you even as ye mock; And ye shall know to whom a punishment that will confound him cometh, and upon whom a lasting doom will fall. (Thus it was) till, when Our commandment came to pass and the oven gushed forth water (Surah 11:36-40, emp. added).This peculiar allusion to the waters of the Flood coming from an oven is repeated in Surah 23:
And We verily sent Noah unto his folk, and he said: O my people! Serve Allah. Ye have no other god save Him. Will ye not ward off (evil)? But the chieftains of his folk, who disbelieved, said: This is only a mortal like you who would make himself superior to you. Had Allah willed, He surely could have sent down angels. We heard not of this in the case of our fathers of old. He is only a man in whom is a madness, so watch him for a while. He said: My Lord! Help me because they deny me. Then We inspired in him, saying: Make the ship under Our eyes and Our inspiration. Then, when Our command cometh and the oven gusheth water, introduce therein of every (kind) two spouses, and thy household save him thereof against whom the Word hath already gone forth. And plead not with Me on behalf of those who have done wrong. Lo! they will be drowned. And when thou art on board the ship, thou and who so is with thee, then say: Praise be to Allah Who hath saved us from the wrongdoing folk! (Surah 23:23-28, emp. added).The above renderings of the Quran are taken from the celebrated translation by Muslim scholar Muhammad Pickthall. In contrast to Pickthall’s rendering, Abdullah Yusuf Ali translated the phrase “the oven gusheth water” with the words “the fountains of the earth gushed forth.” Observe that these two renderings are significantly different translations of the Arabic. Ali offers the following explanation for his rendering: “Far al tannur. Two interpretations have been given: (1) the fountains or the springs on the surface of the earth bubbled over or gushed forth; or (2) the oven (of Allah’s Wrath) boiled over. The former has the weight of the best authority behind it and I prefer it” (2001, p. 520). But this “explanation” offers no rationale for accepting his preference, and it fails to provide linguistic proof to justify the preference.
In stark contrast, consider the discussion posed by Sayyid Abul A’la Maududi, Sunni Pakistani Muslim scholar, revivalist leader, political philosopher, and prominent 20th century Islamist thinker. His ancestry on his paternal side was traced back to Muhammad. In 1974, the title of Imam-ul-Muslimeen was bestowed upon him in the annual meeting of Raabta-e-Aalam-e-Islami in Saudi Arabia (“Sayyid Abul…,” 2009). From 1942-1972, Maududi produced the Tafhim-ul-Quran (تفہيم القرآن)—a six-volume translation and explanation of the Quran. Here is a Muslim scholar, well-qualified to provide assistance in making sense of the text of the Quran. In his insightful discussion of Surah 11:40, Maududi explained:
Commentators on the Qur’an have offered different explanations of this incident. In our view, the place from which the Flood began was a particular oven. It is from beneath it that a spring of water burst forth. This was followed by both a heavy downpour and by a very large number of springs which gushed forth. Surah al-Qamar provides relevant information in some detail: So We opened the gates of the heaven, with water intermittently pouring forth, and We caused the earth to be cleaved and the springs to flow out everywhere. Then the water (from both the sources—the heaven and the earth) converged to bring about that which had been decreed (al-Qamar, 54: 11-12).
In the present verse, the word tannur has been preceded by the article al: According to Arabic grammar, this indicates that the reference is to a particular tannur (oven). Thus, it is evident that God had determined that the Flood should commence from a particular oven. As soon as the appointed moment came, and as soon as God so ordained, water burst forth from that oven. Subsequently, it became known as the Flood-Oven. The fact that God had earmarked a certain oven to serve as the starting-point of the Flood is borne out by al-Mu’minun 23:27 (n.d., endnote 42, emp. added).In his commentary on the parallel passage in Surah 23:27, Maududi further explained:
In view of the context, we see no reason why one should take a farfetched figurative meaning of a clear word of the Qur’an. It appears that a particular oven (tannur) had been ear-marked for the deluge to start from, which was to all appearances an unexpected origin of the doom of the wretched people (n.d., endnote 29, emp. added).Of course, the Bible makes no reference to any oven or the temperature of the Flood waters. However, Jewish legends codified in the Talmud do. Jewish rabbinical sources (Midrash Tanchuma 5; Rosh Hashanah 12a; Sanhedrin 108b; Zebahim 113b; Yerushalmi Sanhedrin 10,29b; et al.) provide the basis for the Quran’s allusion:
The crowd of sinners tried to take the entrance to the ark by storm, but the wild beasts keeping watch around the ark set upon them, and many were slain, while the rest escaped, only to meet death in the waters of the flood. The water alone could not have made an end of them, for they were giants in stature and strength. When Noah threatened them with the scourge of God, they would make reply: “If the waters of the flood come from above, they will never reach up to our necks; and if they come from below, the soles of our feet are large enough to dam up the springs.” But God bade each drop pass through Gehenna before it fell to earth, and the hot rain scalded the skin of the sinners. The punishment that overtook them was befitting their crime. As their sensual desires had made them hot, and inflamed them to immoral excesses, so they were chastised by means of heated water (Ginzberg, 1909, 1:106, emp. added).Keep in mind that these Jewish legends are just that—legends. The rabbis that formulated them recognized that their renditions were not to be confused with actual Scripture. The brand of Judaism to which the author of the Quran was exposed, like Christianity at the time, was a corrupt one. Literally centuries of legend, myth, and fanciful folklore had accumulated among the Jews, reported in the Talmud, the Midrash, and the Targumim. These three Jewish sources were replete with rabbinical commentary and speculation—admitted to be uninspired. These tales and fables would have existed in Arabia in oral form as they were told and retold at Bedouin campfires, among the traveling trade caravans that crisscrossed the desert, and in the towns, villages, and centers of social interaction from Yemen in the southern Arabian Peninsula, to Abyssinia to the west, and Palestine, Syria, and Persia to the north. The allegedly hot waters of the Flood are one example among many of the Quran’s reliance on uninspired Jewish sources. Indeed, the Quran is literally riddled with such allusions. The evidence that the Quran contains a considerable amount of borrowed material from uninspired Talmudic sources, rabbinical oral traditions, and Jewish legends—stories that abound in puerile, apocryphal, absurd, outlandish pablum—is self-evident and unmistakable. [For more discussion on this point, see Miller, 2005, pp. 73ff.]
REFERENCESAli, Abdullah Yusuf (2001), The Meaning of the Holy Quran (Beltsville, MD: Amana Productions), tenth edition.
Ginzberg, Louis (1909), The Legends of the Jews (Charleston, SC: Forgotten Books, 2008 reprint).
Maududi, Sayyid Abul Ala (no date), Tafhim al-Qur’an (The Meaning of the Qur’an), englishtafsir.com.
Miller, Dave (2005), The Quran Unveiled (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
Pickthall, Mohammed M. (no date), The Meaning of the Glorious Koran (New York: Mentor).
“Sayyid Abul A’la Maududi” (2009), English Islam Times, May 16, http://www.islamtimes.org/vdca.onyk49nomgt14.html.
Did Moses Make a Scientific Mistake?
|by||Wayne Jackson, M.A.|
Q.The Bible speaks of two animals, the coney and the hare, as “chewing the cud.” Isn't the Bible mistaken on this point? These animals do not actually chew the cud, do they?
A.An infidel once wrote: “Something that has long perplexed me is the way that inerrancy proponents can so easily find ‘scientific foreknowledge’ in obscurely worded Bible passages but seem completely unable to see scientific error in statements that were rather plainly written.” This skeptic then cited Leviticus 11:5-6, where the coney and the hare are said to chew the cud, and boasted that since these animals do not have compartmentalized stomachs like those in ruminants (e.g., the cow), Moses clearly made a mistake. What shall we say to this charge?
First, no scientific mistake can be attributed to the Bible unless all of the facts are fully known. In such an alleged case, the biblical assertion must be unambiguous. The scientific information must be factual. And an indisputable conflict must prevent any harmonization of the two. Do these criteria obtain in this matter? They do not.
Second, we must note that the words “coney” (Hebrew shaphan) and “hare” (arnebeth) are rare and difficult words in the Old Testament. The former is found but four times, and the latter only twice. The etymology of the terms is obscure. In the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament), shaphan is rendered by dasupoda, meaning “rough foot,” and arnebeth becomes choirogrullion, literally, “swine-pig.” Hence, identification becomes a factor. It is commonly believed, however, that the arnebeth is some species of hare, and that shaphan denotes the Syrian hyrax.
But, so it is claimed, neither of these chews the cud. A number of scholars have noted that both of these animals, even when at rest, masticate, much like the cow or sheep, and that Moses thus employed phenomenal language (i.e., describing something as it appears), for the purpose of ready identification, inasmuch as these creatures were ceremonially unclean and thus prohibited for use as food (Archer, 1982, p. 126).
That is not an impossible solution. Bats, for example, are listed along with birds in Leviticus 11, not because both are mammals, but simply because both fly. The Scriptures do not necessarily follow the arbitrary classification systems of man. When Christ said that the mustard seed is “less than all seeds,” (Matthew 13:33), He was speaking from the vantage point of the Palestinian citizen—not that of a modern botanist. We today employ phenomenal jargon when we speak of the Sun “rising and setting.” Technically, it is not correct to refer to a woman’s amniotic fluid as “water,” and yet doctors employ this language frequently. Why do we not allow the biblical writers as much literary license as we ourselves employ? The bias of agnosticism is utterly incredible.
There is, however, another factor that must be taken into consideration. Rumination does not necessarily involve a compartmentalized stomach system. One definition of “ruminate” is simply “to chew again that which has been swallowed” (Webster’s Dictionary). And oddly enough, that is precisely what the hare does. Though the hare does not have a multi-chambered stomach—which is characteristic of most ruminants—it does chew its food a second time. It has been learned rather recently that hares pass two types of fecal material.
In addition to normal waste, they pass a second type of pellet known as a caecotroph. The very instant the caecotroph is passed, it is grabbed and chewed again.... As soon as the caecotroph is chewed thoroughly and swallowed, it aggregates in the cardiac region of the stomach where it undergoes a second digestion (Morton, 1978, pp. 179-181).This complicated process provides the rabbit with 100% more riboflavin, 80% more niacin, 160% more pantothenic acid, and a little in excess of 40% more vitamin B12 (Harrison, 1980, p. 121). In a comparative study of cows and rabbits, Jules Carles concluded that rumination should not be defined from an anatomical point of view (e.g., the presence of a four-part stomach); rather, it should be viewed from the standpoint of a mechanism for breeding bacteria to improve food. Cows and rabbits are similar in that both possess a fermentation chamber with microorganisms that digest otherwise indigestible plant material, converting it into nutrients. Some of the microorganisms in these two animals are the same, or very similar. Carles has stated that on this basis “it is difficult to deny that rabbits are ruminants” (as quoted in Brand, 1977, p. 104). Dr. Bernard Grzimek, Director of the Frankfurt Zoological Gardens in Germany, likewise has classified the hare as a ruminant (1975, pp. 421-422).
On the other hand, the hyrax also is considered by some to be a ruminant, based upon the fact that it has a multiple digestive process.
The hyrax has a very long protrusion, a caecum, and two additional caeca near the colon. At least one of these protrusions participates in decomposition of cellulose. It contributes certain enzymes necessary for breakdown of the cellulose (Morton, 1978, p. 184).Grzimek’s Animal Life Encyclopedia (1975) considers the hyrax as a ruminant. Professor Joseph Fischel of the University of California has suggested that the biblical allusion to the coney as a cud-chewer probably was due “to the structure of its digestive system, the protuberances in its large stomach together with its appendix and maw possibly being regarded as analogous to a ruminant’s four stomachs” (1971, p. 1144). In his significant study of the intestinal microflora in herbivores, scientist Richard McBee observed that the hyrax has a fermentation chamber for the digestion of grass by microorganisms (as quoted in Brand, 1977, p. 103).
Finally, the precise meaning of gerah, rendered “chewing the cud” in most versions, is uncertain. Many orthodox Jews consider it simply to mean a second mastication, or the semblance of chewing. Samuel Clark stated that the meaning of gerah “became expanded, and the rodents and pachyderms, which have a habit of grinding with their jaws, were familiarly spoken of as ruminating animals” (1981, 1:546).
In view of the foregoing facts, it is extremely presumptuous to suggest that the Mosaic account contains an error relative to these creatures. A sensible interpretive procedure and/or an acquaintance with accurate information would have eliminated such a rash and unwarranted conclusion.
REFERENCESArcher, Gleason (1982), Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Brand, Leonard R. (1977), “Do Rabbits Chew the Cud?,” Origins, 4(2):102-104.
Clark, Samuel (1981), “Leviticus,” The Bible Commentary, ed. F.C. Cook (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Fischel, Joseph W. (1971), “Hyrax,” Encyclopedia Judaica (New York: Macmillan).
Grzimek, Bernard, ed. (1975), Grzimek’s Animal Life Encyclopedia (New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold).
Harrison, R.K. (1980), Leviticus (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press).
Morton, Jean Sloat (1978), Science in the Bible (Chicago, IL: Moody).
Blind, Biased Failure to See God
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.|
The flagellum that propels bacteria has long been recognized as a marvel of engineering. Scientists know that this rotating wonder, and the assembly to which it is attached, is a tiny but powerful molecular engine. One of nature’s smallest, and yet most powerful, motors rotates at over 200 revolutions per second, driven by incredible torque. Researchers have also long been puzzled by what enables the flagellum to come to a stop, and even reverse its rotation. In recent years they have discovered that it does so using a “clutch.” The bacterium can disconnect from the flagellum by releasing a protein that disengages the clutch (“‘Clutch’ Stops...,” 2008).
In the presence of such sophistication and intelligent design, one would think that researchers would recognize divine design when they see it. Sadly, however, the massive propaganda campaign that has inundated the science departments of American schools for a half century has blinded its victims to glaring evidence. Consider the lead researcher’s analysis of the clutch discovery: “We think it’s pretty cool that evolving bacteria and human engineers arrived at a similar solution to the same problem” (“‘Clutch’ Stops...”). Really? Nonsentient, uncoordinated, chance forces of nature somehow designed and created a technologically advanced device long before sentient, intelligent human engineers designed their own version? The same researcher also observed:
“This makes a lot of sense as far as the cell is concerned.... The flagellum is a giant, very expensive structure. Often when a cell no longer needs something, it might destroy it and recycle the parts. But here, because the flagellum is so big and complex, doing that is not very cost-effective. We think the clutch prevents the flagellum from rotating when constrained by the sticky matrix of the biofilm” (“‘Clutch’ Stops...”).Wait a minute. “Makes a lot of sense”? “Very expensive”? “Big and complex”? The verbal gymnastics that evolutionists engage in would be humorous if not so sadly serious. These are terms that demand intelligence and sentience. The evolutionists constantly allow themselves the luxury of speaking as if the myriad organisms that display incredible design and purpose somehow created themselves and then consciously tweaked themselves over millions of years to become more efficient. They regularly cut themselves slack by speaking as if a mind—a conscious, intelligent being—were orchestrating the endless stream of biological marvels that grace the planet.
So blinded by irrational commitment to an outlandish theory, evolutionists are unable to hear the evidence screaming in their ears and flashing before their eyes, and come to the only logical conclusion: such intricate, complex design demands an intelligent, superior Designer. To deny it is bias of the first order.
“Thus says the LORD.... ‘I am the LORD, who makes all things…Who turns wise men backward, and makes their knowledge foolishness” (Isaiah 44:24-25).
“‘Clutch’ Stops Flagella” (2008), Photonics Media, June 23, http://www.photonics.com/Article.aspx?AID=34236.
Can Humans Become Gods?
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.|
One of the more eye-opening beliefs of Mormonism is the polytheistic notion that humans can become gods. Standard Mormon theology maintains that even God (the Father) and Jesus Christ were once human. They were preceded by other humans who themselves progressed to the status of gods.
Of course, this doctrine was not presented initially by Joseph Smith, but was developed after the production of the Book of Mormon. The Book of Mormon actually contradicts later Mormon revelation, in that it affirmed in 1830 the biblical doctrine of the oneness of God in three persons, i.e., the historic Christian doctrine of the Trinity. Observe the conversation between Ammon and King Lamoni:
And then Ammon said: “Believest thou that there is a Great Spirit?” And he said, “Yea.” And Ammon said: “This is God.” And Ammon said unto him again: “Believest thou that this Great Spirit, who is God, created all things which are in heaven and in the earth?” And he said: “Yea, I believe that he created all things which are in the earth; but I do not know the heavens.” And Ammon said unto him: “The heavens is a place where God dwells and all his holy angels.… I am called by his Holy Spirit to teach these things unto this people” (Alma 18:26-30).Nephi declared: “And now, behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and the only and true doctrine of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, which is one God, without end” (2 Nephi 31:21, emp. added). Amulek contended with the diabolical Zeezrom: “And Zeezrom said unto him: ‘Thou sayest there is a true and living God?’ And Amulek said: ‘Yea, there is a true and living God.’ Now Zeezrom said: ‘Is there more than one God?’ And he answered, ‘No’ ” (Alma 11:26-29, emp. added).
The Book of Mormon also affirmed that Jesus was God in the flesh:
And now Abinadi said unto them: “I would that ye should understand that God himself shall come down among the children of men, and shall redeem his people. And because he dwelleth in flesh he shall be called the Son of God, and having subjected the flesh to the will of the Father, being the Father and the Son—the Father, because he was conceived by the power of God; and the Son, because of the flesh; thus becoming the Father and Son—And they are one God, yea, the very Eternal Father of heaven and of earth” (Mosiah 15:1-4, emp. added).Even the “three witnesses” to the Book of Mormon, Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris, affirmed monotheism and the oneness of God: “And the honor be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, which is one God” (“The Testimony,” 1981, emp. added). Joseph Smith affirmed the same thing in the Articles of Faith: “We believe in God, the Eternal Father, and in His Son, Jesus Christ, and in the Holy Ghost” (Pearl, 1981, p. 60).
These teachings certainly are in harmony with the Bible. The Bible repeatedly and frequently affirms the doctrine of monotheism and the unity of God: Deuteronomy 4:35,39; 6:4; Isaiah 43:10-11; 44:6,8; 45:5; 46:9; Mark 12:29; Romans 3:30; 1 Corinthians 8:4,6; 1 Timothy 2:5. These and many other passages indicate “there is but one infinite Spirit Being, and that within that one Spirit essence there are three personal distinctions, each of which may be, and is, called God” (Lanier, 1974, p. 46). There is only one divine essence (ousia) or nature (phusis)—a solidaric unity—one divine substance in (not and) three persons (prosopa or persona), with each “person” being the subsistence (hupostaseis) of the divine Essence [NOTE: for discussions of the concept of Trinity and its treatment in church history, see Archer, 1982, pp. 357-361; Bickersteth, n.d.; Boles, 1942, pp. 19ff.; Chadwick, 1967, pp. 84ff.; Schaff, 1910, 3:670ff.; Walker, 1970, pp. 106ff.; Warfield, 1939a, 5:3012-3022].
But by 1844, Joseph Smith had begun to advocate a very different understanding of deity—in direct contradiction to the Book of Mormon. He began to promulgate the idea that God had, in fact, previously been a man Himself Who had become exalted, and that all men were capable of the same progression (see Tanner, 1972, p. 163). This shift was expressed formally in the Pearl of Great Price where, in the Book of Moses, God is spoken of in the singular throughout. For example: “I am the Beginning and the End, the Almighty God; by mine Only Begotten I created these things; yea, in the beginning I created the heaven and the earth upon which thou standest” (2:1). In stark contrast, however, in the Book of Abraham, in a section discussing the same creation event, God is spoken of as “Gods.” For example:
And then the Lord said: “Let us go down.” And they went down at the beginning, and they, that is the Gods, organized and formed the heavens and the earth.... And the Gods called the light Day, and the darkness they called Night....And the Gods watched those things which they had ordered until they obeyed.... And the Gods took counsel among themselves and said: Let us go down and form man in our image, after our likeness....And the Gods planted a garden, eastward in Eden, and there they put the man, whose spirit they had put into the body which they had formed (4:1,5,18; 5:8, emp. added).Anyone who is familiar with the King James Version cannot help but be struck with the fact that the author of the Book of Abraham had before him a copy of a KJV and merely paraphrased the text. It is equally apparent that the author “had an axe to grind” in adjusting the text to foist upon the reader the notion of multiple “gods.” In fact, in the thirty-one verses of chapter four, the term “Gods” is used thirty-two times! It is used sixteen times in chapter five! Polytheism now so thoroughly permeates Mormonism that one Mormon apostle asserted that humans are the offspring of the union between an Eternal Father and an Eternal Mother (McConkie, 1979, p. 516)!
“LET US MAKE MAN”Separate and apart from the issue of the inspiration of the Book of Mormon (see Miller, 2003), the question must be asked: Does the Bible give credence to the notion of multiple gods? Certainly not! However, various verses have been marshaled in an effort to defend the Mormon viewpoint. For example, on the sixth day of Creation, God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness” (Genesis 1:26). It is alleged by Mormons that the use of the plural in this verse implies a multiplicity of “gods.” However, an examination of the context reveals that the doctrine of the Trinity is being conveyed (see Leupold, 1942, 1:86ff.).
The Holy Spirit was active at the Creation, “hovering over the face of the waters” (1:2). “Hovering” refers to attentive participation (cf. Deuteronomy 32:11). Elsewhere, the Bible makes clear that Jesus also was present at the Creation, in active participation with Deity’s creative activity (John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2; 2:10). Hence, when God spoke of “Us,” He was referring to Himself and the other two members of the divine Essence [cf. “Godhead” (theotes) in Colossians 2:9, “divine” nature (theios) in Acts 17:29 and 2 Peter 1:3-4, and “divinity” (theioteis) in Romans 1:20. The first term (theotes) differs from the third term (theioteis) “as essence differs from quality or attribute” (Thayer, 1901, p. 288; cf. Vine, 1966, pp. 328-329; Warfield, 1939b, 2:1268-1270)]. Some (e.g., Archer, 1982, p. 74) have suggested that God was including the angels in the “us,” since “sons of God” sometimes can refer to the angels (e.g., Job 1:6; 2:1; 38:7; cf. Psalms 29:1; 89:6), and “sons of God” can be shortened to “God” while still referring to angels (e.g., compare Psalm 97:7 with Hebrews 1:6, and Psalm 8:5 with Hebrews 2:7,9). In either case, the fact remains that the Bible presents a consistent picture that there is only one God, and that this divine essence includes three—and only three—persons.
“YE SHALL BE AS GODS”Another verse that has been brought forward to substantiate Mormon polytheism is the comment made on the occasion of Adam and Eve being tempted to eat the forbidden fruit: “For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:5—NKJV). The King James Version says, “ye shall be as gods.” Four points of clarification are in order on this verse. In the first place, Satan made this statement—not God. Satan’s declarations are never to be trusted, since he is “a liar and the father of it” (John 8:44).
In the second place, the uncertainty conveyed by the various English translations in their differing treatment of the verse (i.e., whether “God” or “gods”) is the result of the underlying Hebrew term elohim. This word is not to be confused with Yahweh, the formal name for God throughout the Old Testament. Elohim is a generic term used some 2,570 times in Scripture, and generally refers to the one true God, but also is used to refer to pagan gods, and even can refer to judges or rulers and, as noted previously, to angels (Harris, et al., 1980, 1:44-45). Though the word is plural in form, it is used in both the plural and singular sense [cf. “face” (panim)—Genesis 50:1; Exodus 34:35 and “image” (teraphim)—1 Samuel 19:13]. English shares a similar phenomenon with its plural nouns like “deer,” “seed,” “sheep,” and “moose.” The same form is used, whether referring to one or to many. Hebrew, like most other languages, matched the number (whether singular or plural) of verbs and adjectives with the noun. In the case of elohim, with only rare exception, the verbs and adjectives used with it are either singular or plural in conformity with the intended meaning (Ringgren, 1974, p. 272). Fretheim noted that its use in the Old Testament for Israel’s God is “always with singular verbs” (1997, 1:405; cf. Archer, 1982, p. 74).
Some Hebrew scholars maintain that the plural form used to designate the one true God is the pluralis majestatis or excellentiae—the plural of majesty—or the plural of intensification, absolutization, or exclusivity (e.g., Fretheim, 1:405; Gesenius, 1847, p. 49; Harris, et al., p. 44; Mack, 1939, 2:1265; Reeve, 1939, 2:1270), although others question this usage (e.g., Grudem, 1994, p. 227; Jenni and Westermann, 1997, p. 116). In the case at hand, Satan was tempting Eve with the prospect of being like God—Whom she knew, and from Whom she (or at least her husband) had received previous communication (Genesis 2:16-17; 3:3). She knew nothing of other “gods”—pagan or otherwise. Since the term elohim occurs 58 times in the first three chapters of Genesis and is consistently rendered “God,” and since Satan himself used the term earlier in the same verse as well as four verses earlier (vs. 1) to refer to the one God, no contextual, grammatical, or lexical reason exists for rendering it “gods” in verse five. In fact, most of the major English translations properly render it “God” (e.g., NKJV, ASV, NASB, NIV, RSV). [See also the discussion in Clarke, n.d., 1:50, who noted that the ancient Syriac version rendered the term correctly].
Third, elohim in this verse has an attached prefix (Biblia Hebraica, 1967/77, p. 4)—what Hebrew scholars call an “inseparable preposition” (Weingreen, 1959, p. 26). In this case, the prepositional prefix is the eleventh letter of the Hebrew alphabet, the kaph, and means “like” or “as.” Satan was not saying that Eve would become God or a god; He was saying she would become like God. This realization brings us to a fourth point: the context stipulates in what way Eve would become like God. In the very verse under consideration, an explanatory phrase clarifies what Satan meant: “You will be like God, knowing good and evil” (emp. added). This meaning is evident from subsequent references in the same chapter. When they disobeyed God and ate the forbidden fruit, “the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew…” (verse 7, emp. added). God commented: “Behold, the man has become like one of Us, to know good and evil” (verse 22, emp. added). In other words, Adam and Eve became like God in the sense that they now were privy to a greater breadth of awareness, understanding, and insight: “They now had a sufficient discovery of their sin and folly in disobeying the command of God; they could discern between good and evil; and what was the consequence? Confusion and shame were engendered, because innocence was lost and guilt contracted” (Clarke, p. 51). As Keil and Delitzsch summarized: “By eating the fruit, man did obtain the knowledge of good and evil, and in this respect became like God” (1976, 1:95, emp. added).
GOD OF GODSA third attempt to substantiate the Mormon doctrine of plural gods is the use of various verses from the Bible that speak of God being a “God of gods.” For example, on the occasion of the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt, the “Song of Moses” declared: “Who is like You, O Lord, among the gods” (Exodus 15:11, emp. added). Forty years later, in his stirring challenge to the Israelites to be firm in their future commitment to God, he reminded them: “For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome” (Deuteronomy 10:17, emp. added). During the days of Joshua, some of the Israelites exclaimed: “The Lord God of gods, the Lord God of gods, He knows” (Joshua 22:22, emp. added). These verses, and many more in the Bible, speak of “gods” in such a way that a cursory reading might leave one with the impression that the Bible teaches that “gods” actually existed. However, one cannot really study the Bible and come away with that conclusion. The Bible presents a thoroughgoing monotheistic view of reality. It repeatedly conveys the fact that “gods” are merely the figment of human imagination, invented by humans to provide themselves with exemption from following the one true God by living up to the higher standard of deity. Humans throughout history have conjured up their own imaginary gods to justify freedom from restriction and to excuse relaxed moral behavior.
Consequently, all verses in the Bible that use the term “gods” to refer to deity (with the exception of the one God) are referring to nonexistent deities that humans have invented. When God gave the Ten Commandments to the Israelites, the very first one said: “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3). Liberal higher critics of the Bible (like Wellhausen) have alleged that this dictum advocated only monolatry (exclusive worship of Yahweh) rather than actually denying the existence of other gods. Distinguished professor of Old Testament languages, Gleason Archer, has maintained, however, that “this construction of the words is quite unwarranted” (1974, p. 235). Many additional passages clarify the point. For example, the psalmist declared: “For the Lord is great and greatly to be praised; He is to be feared above all gods” (Psalm 96:4, emp. added). One might get the impression from this verse by itself that the psalmist thought that “gods” actually existed. However, the next verse sets the record straight: “For all the gods of the peoples are idols, but the Lord made the heavens” (vs. 5, emp. added). The Hebrew word for “idols” (elilim) means “of nothing, of nought, empty, vain” (Gesenius, p. 51). Notice carefully the contrast the psalmist was making. The people made their gods; but the one true God made the heavens (i.e., the Universe). The genuineness, reality, and greatness of God are placed in contrast to the people’s fake, nonexistent gods who could not make anything. Archer concluded: “This passage alone…demonstrates conclusively that the mention of ‘gods’ in the plural implied no admission of the actual existence of heathen gods in the first commandment” (1974, p. 236). As God Himself announced: “They have provoked Me to jealousy by what is not God” (Deuteronomy 32:21, emp. added).
The denunciation of the Israelites for conjuring up false gods—pretending that such actually existed, rather than devoting themselves exclusively to the one and only God—reached its zenith in the eloquent preaching pronouncements of the Old Testament prophets. Elijah treated the notion of the existence of gods in addition to the one God with sarcasm and forthright ridicule (1 Kings 18:27-29). The idea of multiple gods would have been laughable, if it were not so spiritually serious (cf. Psalm 115:2-8). The people on that occasion finally got the point, for they shouted: “The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!” (vs. 39).
Likewise, the reality of monotheism was pure, well defined, and single minded for Jeremiah. He frequently chastised the people by accusing them of following gods that were, in fact, “not gods” (2:11; 5:7; 16:20). Isaiah was equally adamant and explicit:
You are My witnesses, says the Lord, and My servant whom I have chosen, that you may know and believe Me, and understand that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, nor shall there be after Me. I, even I, am the Lord, and besides Me there is no savior. I have declared and saved, I have proclaimed, and there was no foreign god among you; therefore you are My witnesses, says the Lord, that I am God. Indeed, before the day was, I am He; and there is no one who can deliver out of My hand; I work, and who will reverse it? (43:10-13, emp. added; cf. 37: 19; 40:18-20; 41; 44:8-24).Over and over, Isaiah recorded the exclusivity of the one true God: “I am the Lord, and there is no other; there is no God besides Me” (45:5, emp. added); “There is no other God” (45:14, emp. added); “I am the Lord, and there is no other” (45:18, emp. added).
The New Testament continues the same recognition of the nonexistence of deities beyond the one God Who exists in three persons. Paul reminded the Galatian Christians of their pre-Christian foolish belief in other deities: “But then, indeed, when you did not know God, you served those which by nature are not gods” (4:8, emp. added). By definition, the “gods” that people claim actually exist are not gods! In his lengthy discussion of whether Christians were permitted to eat foods that had been sacrificed to pagan deities, Paul clarified succinctly the Bible position on the existence of so-called gods:
Therefore concerning the eating of things offered to idols, we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is no other God but one. For even if there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords), yet for us there is only one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we for Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and through whom we live (1 Corinthians 8:4-6, emp. added).In this passage, Paul declared very forthrightly that idols, and the gods they represent, are, in fact, nonentities. The RSV renders the meaning even more clearly: “We know that an idol has no real existence, and that there is no God but one” (emp. added).
Of course, Paul recognized and acknowledged that humans have worshipped imaginary, nonexistent gods in heaven (like Greek mythology advocated) and on Earth (in the form of idols). He used the figure of speech known as “metonymy of the adjunct,” where “things are spoken of according to appearance, opinions formed respecting them, or the claims made for them” (Bullinger, 1898, p. 597; Dungan, 1888, p. 295; cf. 2 Corinthians 4:4). He spoke of “gods” as if they existed, simply because many people of his day had that opinion. But Paul knew “there is no God but one.” As Allen observed: “The gods (i.e., the so-called divine beings contemplated by the pagans) represented by the images did not exist. …[T]hey were nothing as far as representing the deities envisioned by the heathen” (1975, p. 98, emp. added; cf. Kelcy, 1967, p. 38; Thomas, 1984, p. 30).
Paul continued his discussion of idols two chapters later, and again affirmed the nonexistence of any deities besides God: “What am I saying then? That an idol is anything, or what is offered to idols is anything?” (1 Corinthians 10:19). For Paul, it was technically permissible for a Christian to eat food that had previously been used in a pagan ceremony as an offering to a “god.” Why? Because such “gods” did not, and do not, actually exist—except in the mind of the worshipper (cf. 8:7-8)! Thus, the food used in such ceremonies was unaffected. However, the person who really thinks there are “gods,” and who then worships these imaginary “gods,” is, in actuality, worshipping demons (10:20)! Paul said there are only two possibilities: “But I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons” (10:20-21). Paul envisioned no class of beings known as “gods.” There is only the one true God, and then there are the demons and forces of Satan (cf. 2 Corinthians 6:15-16). This bifurcation of the spiritual realm (i.e., God versus Satan and his forces) is the consistent portrait presented throughout the Bible. The Bible simply admits no knowledge or possibility of “gods.”
YE ARE GODSA final passage that is alleged to support the notion of “gods” is the statement made by Jesus when the Jews wanted to stone Him because He claimed divinity for Himself:
The Jews answered Him, saying, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.” Jesus answered them, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, “You are gods”?’ If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came…do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, “You are blaspheming,” because I said, “I am the Son of God”? (John 10:33-36).Mormons allege that Jesus here endorsed the notion that men can become “gods.” But, of course, Jesus did no such thing. On this occasion, He appealed to an Old Testament context to deflect the barb of His critics. Psalm 82 is a passage that issued a scathing indictment of the unjust judges who had been assigned the responsibility of executing God’s justice among the people (cf. Deuteronomy 1:16; 19:17-18; Psalm 58). Such a magistrate was “God’s minister” (Romans 13:4) who acted in the place of God, wielding His authority, and who was responsible for mediating God’s help and justice (cf. Exodus 7:1). In this sense, they were “gods” (elohim)—acting as God to men (Barclay, 1956, 2:89). Hebrew parallelism clarifies this sense: “I said, ‘You are gods, and all of you are children of the Most High’” (Psalm 82:6, emp. added). They did not share divinity with God—but merely delegated jurisdiction. They still were mere humans—although invested with divine authority, and permitted to act in God’s behalf.
This point is apparent throughout the Torah, where the term translated “judges” or “ruler” is often elohim (e.g., Exodus 21:6; 22:9,28). Take Moses as an example. Moses was not a “god.” Yet God told Moses that when he went to Egypt to achieve the release of the Israelites, he would be “God” to his brother Aaron and to Pharaoh (Exodus 4:16; 7:1). He meant that Moses would supply both his brother and Pharaoh with the words that came from God. Though admittedly a rather rare use of elohim, nevertheless “it shows that the word translated ‘god’ in that place might be applied to man” (Barnes, 1949, p. 294, emp. in orig.). Clarke summarized this point: “Ye are my representatives, and are clothed with my power and authority to dispense judgment and justice, therefore all of them are said to be children of the Most High” (3:479, emp. in orig.). But because they had shirked their awesome responsibility to represent God’s will fairly and accurately, and because they had betrayed the sacred trust bestowed upon them by God Himself, He decreed death upon them (vs. 7). Obviously, they were not “gods,” since God could and would execute them!
Jesus marshaled this Old Testament psalm to thwart His opponents’ attack, while simultaneously reaffirming His deity (which is the central feature of the book of John—20:30-31). He made shrewd use of syllogistic argumentation by reasoning a minori ad majus (see Lenski, 1943, pp. 765-770; cf. Fishbane, 1985, p. 420). “Jesus is here arguing like a rabbi from a lesser position to a greater position, a ‘how much more’ argument very popular among the rabbis” (Pack, 1975, 1:178). In fact, “it is an argument which to a Jewish Rabbi would have been entirely convincing. It was just the kind of argument, an argument founded on a word of scripture, which the Rabbis loved to use and found most unanswerable” (Barclay, 1956, p. 90).
Jesus identified the unjust judges of Israel as persons “to whom the word of God came” (John 10:35). That is, they had been “appointed judges by Divine commission” (Butler, 1961, p. 127)—by “the command of God; his commission to them to do justice” (Barnes, 1949, p. 294, emp. in orig.; cf. Jeremiah 1:2; Ezekiel 1:3; Luke 3:2). McGarvey summarized the ensuing argument of Jesus: “If it was not blasphemy to call those gods who so remotely represented the Deity, how much less did Christ blaspheme in taking unto himself a title to which he had a better right than they, even in the subordinate sense of being a mere messenger” (n.d., p. 487). Charles Erdman observed:
By his defense Jesus does not renounce his claim to deity; but he argues that if the judges, who represented Jehovah in their appointed office, could be called “gods,” in the Hebrew scriptures, it could not be blasphemy for him, who was the final and complete revelation of God, to call himself “the Son of God (1922, pp. 95-96; cf. Morris, 1971, pp. 527-528).This verse teaches the exact opposite of what Mormons would like for it to teach! It brings into stark contrast the deity—the Godhood—of Christ (and His Father Who “sanctified and sent” Him—vs. 36) with the absence of deity for all others! There are no other “gods” in the sense of deity, i.e., eternality and infinitude in all attributes. Jesus verified this very conclusion by directing the attention of His accusers to the “works” that He performed (vs. 37-38). These “works” (i.e., miraculous signs) proved the divine identity of Jesus to the exclusion of all other alleged deities. Archer concluded: “By no means, then, does our Lord imply here that we are sons of God just as He is—except for a lower level of holiness and virtue. No misunderstanding could be more wrongheaded than that” (1982, p. 374). Indeed, the Mormon notion of a plurality of gods is “wrongheaded,” as is the accompanying claim that humans can become gods.
CONCLUSIONIt is unthinkable that the consistent prohibition of polytheism and idolatry throughout the Bible would or could give way to the completely contrary notion that, as a matter of fact, many gods do exist, and that these gods are merely exalted humans who now rule over their own worlds even as God and Christ rule over theirs. It is likewise outlandish—and contradictory—that humans would be required to worship God and Christ—while being banned from worshipping these other gods. The fact of the matter is that “historic Hebrew is unquestionably and uniformly monotheistic” (Mack, 1939, 2:1265). The same may be said of historic Christianity. To think otherwise is pure pagan hocus-pocus—“a mere creation of the imagination, a mere matter of superstition” (Erdman, 1928, p. 78, emp. added).
REFERENCESAllen, Jimmy (1975), Survey of 1 Corinthians (Searcy, AR: Privately published by author).
Archer, Gleason L. (1974), A Survey of Old Testament Introduction (Chicago, IL: Moody), revised edition.
Archer, Gleason L. (1982), An Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Barclay, William (1956), The Gospel of John (Philadelphia, PA: The Westminster Press), second edition.
Barnes, Albert (1949 reprint), Notes on the New Testament: Luke and John (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Bickersteth, Edward (no date), The Trinity (MacDill AFB, FL: MacDonald Publishing).
Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (1967/77), (Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelstiftung).
Boles, H. Leo (1942), The Holy Spirit: His Personality, Nature, Works (Nashville, TN: Gospel Advocate, 1971 reprint).
Book of Mormon (1981 reprint), (Salt Lake City, UT: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).
Bullinger, E.W. (1898), Figures of Speech Used in the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1968 reprint).
Butler, Paul (1961), The Gospel of John (Joplin, MO: College Press).
Chadwick, Henry (1967), The Early Church (New York: Penguin Books).
Clarke, Adam (no date), Clarke’s Commentary: Genesis-Deuteronomy (New York: Abingdon-Cokesbury).
Dungan, D.R. (1888), Hermeneutics (Delight, AR: Gospel Light).
Erdman, Charles (1922), The Gospel of John (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster).
Erdman, Charles (1928), The First Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians (Philadelphia, PA: Westminster).
Fishbane, Michael (1985), Biblical Interpretation in Ancient Israel (Oxford: Clarendon Press).
Fretheim, Terence (1997), “elohim,” The New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis, ed. Willem VanGemeren (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Gesenius, William (1847), Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker), 1979 reprint.
Grudem, Wayne (1994), Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Harris, R. Laird, Gleason Archer, Jr. and Bruce Waltke, eds. (1980), Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago, IL: Moody).
Jenni, Ernst and Claus Westermann (1997), Theological Lexicon of the Old Testament (Peabody, MS: Hendrickson).
Keil, C.F. and F. Delitzsch (1976 reprint), Commentary on the Old Testament: The Pentateuch (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Kelcy, Raymond C. (1967), First Corinthians (Austin, TX: Sweet).
Lanier, Roy H., Sr. (1974), The Timeless Trinity for the Ceaseless Centuries (Denver, CO: Roy H. Lanier, Sr.).
Lenski, R.C.H. (1943), The Interpretation of St. John’s Gospel (Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg).
Leupold, Herbert C. (1942), Exposition of Genesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1950 reprint).
Mack, Edward (1939), “Names of God,” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. James Orr (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1974 reprint).
McConkie, Bruce (1979), Mormon Doctrine (Salt Lake City, UT: Bookcraft).
McGarvey, J.W. (n.d.), The Fourfold Gospel (Cincinnati, OH: Standard).
Miller, Dave (2003), “Is the Book of Mormon From God?” [On-line], URL: http://www.apologeticspress.org/articles/2243
Morris, Leon (1971), The Gospel According to John (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Pack, Frank (1975), The Gospel According to John (Austin, TX: Sweet).
Pearl of Great Price (1981 reprint), (Salt Lake City, UT: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).
Reeve, J.J. (1939), “Gods,” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. James Orr (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans), 1974 reprint.
Ringgren, Helmer (1974), “elohim,” Theological Dictionary of the Old Testament, ed. G. Johannes Botterweck and Helmer Ringgren (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Schaff, Philip (1910), History of the Christian Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1979 reprint).
Tanner, Jerald and Sandra (1972), Mormonism: Shadow or Reality? (Salt Lake City, UT: Modern Microfilm).
Thayer, Joseph H. (1901), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1977 reprint).
“The Testimony of Three Witnesses” (1981 reprint), Introduction to the Book of Mormon (Salt Lake City, UT: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints).
Thomas, J.D. (1984), The Message of the New Testament: First Corinthians (Abilene, TX: Biblical Research Press).
Vine, W.E. (1966 reprint), An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words (Old Tappan, NJ: Revell).
Walker, Williston (1970), A History of the Christian Church (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons).
Warfield, Benjamin (1939a), “Trinity,” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. James Orr (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1974 reprint).
Warfield, Benjamin (1939b), “Godhead,” International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. James Orr (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1974 reprint).
Weingreen, J. (1959), A Practical Grammar for Classical Hebrew (Oxford: Oxford University Press), second edition.
Question and Answer: What is “The Beast”?
|by||Eric Lyons, M.Min.|
Q.Are you aware of the movie that is scheduled for release next summer called The Beast? I heard it was filmed in an effort to convince people that Jesus never lived. Is that true?
A.According to the movie’s Web site (www.thebeastmovie.com), The Beast is scheduled to be released in theaters worldwide on June 6, 2006 (or 6/6/06—which I can assure you is no accident). And, yes, it does appear that the movie’s main focus will be to persuade audiences of the alleged “fact” that “Jesus Christ never existed.” It is a story about a young person named Danielle whose father mysteriously disappears after stumbling across “a cover-up of Christianity’s best-kept secret: That Jesus Christ never existed.” Brian Flemming, the movie’s director, supposedly dives “into factual territory” that is “well-explored by scholars but largely hidden from the view of the public” (http://www.thebeastmovie.com/about/index.html). Although The Beast is listed as “fictional,” based upon the movie’s Web site, the director’s aim will be to persuade his audiences that Jesus is equally fictional.
While I have not seen the movie (and certainly do not encourage Christians who are simply seeking to be entertained to view and support such an anti-Christian film, which will simply poke more fun at “fundamentalist Christians”), I can only imagine how the many sources that do testify to Jesus’ historicity will be critiqued. The historically reliable (not to mention inspired) New Testament documents likely will be dismissed with the slightest of ease. Even though every one of the New Testament writers testified to the reality of Christ, they must be rejected as liars or lunatics. Similarly, statements about Jesus from such reputable first and early second-century historians as Josephus, Tacitus, and Seutonius will also have to be explained away somehow (if even mentioned at all).
Who knows if this movie will even make it into theaters next summer? (My prayer is that it will not.) But, if it does, Christians do not have to be alarmed about some new piece of evidence that supposedly proves Jesus never lived. When all of the facts are gathered, the honest individual will come to the same conclusion that the French humanist Ernest Renan came to more than 100 years ago: “[A]ll history is incomprehensible without him [Jesus—EL]” (http://www.lexilogos.com/document/renan/life_jesus.htm).
By the way, Apologetics Press is scheduled to release a new book on the historicity and deity of Christ in the spring of 2006—sometime before the release of The Beast.
A Sponge with Fiber Optics
|by||Kyle Butt, M.Div.|
The last time you picked up a phone to call your business partner about a work project, you might have been using fiber optics. The last time you logged onto the World Wide Web from your home computer, you might have been using fiber optics. We hear much about fiber optics these days, but what, exactly, is meant by the term “fiber optics”? In simple terms, a fiber-optic cable has a core (center) made of very thin glass. Light can travel through the glass and relay light signals that can reproduce sound and other information. Fiber-optic cables stretch thousands of miles all across the world, and can send information quickly and efficiently.
But there are some problems with these cables. First, since they are glass, they can be brittle, which means they can crack and break. Digging up the cables and replacing them is very expensive. Second, in order to produce the cables, factories must use very high heat, which also is very expensive. Fiber optics are amazing, but they could use some improvement.
Interestingly, scientists have found an amazing sponge that has wonderful fiber-optic “cables.” The sponge, called the Venus Flower Basket, lives in the deep waters of the ocean. This sponge produces several fiber-optic cables that grow out of its base. These tiny cables are about as wide as a single human hair, and grow to be anywhere from 2 to 7 inches long.
The fibers produced by the Venus Flower Basket have several advantages over the manmade ones. First, they are produced in cool temperatures. If we humans could learn to copy this, we could save millions of dollars. Second, the fibers from the sponge are very strong and flexible, and do not crack and break like the ones humans produce. In fact, the fibers from the sponge are so flexible they can be tied into a knot. If scientists could learn to make such strong, flexible fibers, we would not have to spend as much time and money repairing our current fiber-optic cables.
Dan Vergano, in an article for USA Today, wrote about the Venus Flower Basket. He quoted several researchers who had been working with the fiber-optic cables of the sponge, or some other facet of biomimetics (the science of copying nature). George Matsumoto, a marine researcher of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in Moss Landing, California, said: “Nature often provides us with a better way of doing thing [sic].” He went on to comment that sponges have evolved varied traits over more than 400 million years (2003).
It is amazing that many scientists who are working in the field of biomimicry do not acknowledge the implications of their work. It is a self-evident truth that where there is design, there must of necessity, be a designer; where there is a painting, there must be a painter. Those who study biomimicry freely acknowledge design in nature. For example, what seems to be the official Web site on biomimicry offers a course from its home page titled “Biologists at the Design Table.” In the course summary, under the heading of “Workshop Logistics,” the site describes the participants in the course as those who are “biologists and naturalists with a passion for the natural world, an understanding of sustainability and an interest in applying nature’s elegant design strategies to human challenges” (n.d., “Biomimicry,” emp. added).
Supposedly, then, over a period of billions of years, nature developed “elegant design strategies”—the likes of which even our most educated, brilliant minds have yet to plumb the depths. And yet we are to believe that this “design” somehow originated by a process of blind, evolutionary chance. Such a conclusion steps beyond bounds of logic.
Intelligent scientists have been working on fiber-optic cables for many years, just to get them to work as well as they do now. Yet, the Venus Flower Basket has strong, flexible fibers that are produced in cool temperatures. If there is design, which is even more intricate and efficient than that produced by highly intelligent humans, then the designer of such must have an intellect equal to or greater than the humans themselves. The writer of Hebrews accurately noted: “For every house is built by someone, but he who built all things is God” (3:4). God’s design in the sponge’s fiber-optic “cables” proves that animals like the Venus Flower Basket did not evolve. Design demands a Designer.
REFERENCES“Biomimicry,” (n.d.) [On-line], URL: http://www.biomimicry.org/intro.html.
Vergano, Dan (2003), “Sponge Goes Man-made Fiber Optics One Better,” USA Today, [On-line], URL: http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/techinnovations/2003-08-20-sponge-fibers_x.htm.
Are You Not Much More Valuable than an Animal?
|by||Dave Miller, Ph.D.|
Holding up signs that included “All Animal Lives Matter” and “RIP Harambe,” animal rights protestors expressed their dismay at the killing of a gorilla at the Cincinnati Zoo.1 Momentarily distracted by three other children, a mother failed to notice her three-year-old son fall into the gorilla exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo.2 The child was dragged violently around the enclosure in a foot or so of water by Harambe, the 450 pound gorilla that occupied the pen. Due to the gorilla’s agitated state, and the delay inherent in the use of a tranquilizer gun, authorities felt it necessary to kill the gorilla, sparking nationwide outrage.3
One on-line petition which seeks “Justice for Harambe,” calling for an investigation of the parents, has already received more than 500,000 signatures.4 Princeton University bioethics professor Peter Singer and animal rights activist Karen Dawn insist: “As animal advocates, we don’t automatically deem the life of a boy as exponentially more important than that of a fellow primate.”5 PETA was quick to scold the zoo even for having gorillas and other animals in captivity,6 where they are “exploited” and “gunned down.”7 PETA Primatologist, Julia Gallucci, chided: “This tragedy is exactly why PETA urges families to stay away from any facility that displays animals as sideshows for humans to gawk at.”8
For those whose minds have been shaped by the perspective of divine truth—as most American minds, for most of American history, once were—the confusion regarding the value of human beings in contrast with the animal kingdom are shocking, disturbing, and depressing. How can a civilization slump so far into outright animism, paganism, and atheism? Such should not be surprising since, once the Christian worldview is jettisoned from any society, the ideologies that will quickly fill the vacuum will inevitably be humanistic, heathen, irreligious, depraved, and idolatrous. Indeed, the half-century long descent into the abyss of moral and spiritual confusion that has characterized America is strongly reminiscent of the societal circumstances that prevailed in the Roman Empire during the first century:
[A]lthough they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God into an image made like corruptible man--and birds and four-footed animals and creeping things. Therefore God also gave them up to uncleanness, in the lusts of their hearts, to dishonor their bodies among themselves, who exchanged the truth of God for the lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen (Romans 1:22-25).The passage proceeds to delineate the moral filth that ensues for such a people—a portrait of America’s own moral decline, including the acceptance and practice of homosexuality and other forms of sexual immorality, covetousness, and haters of God, to name a few (vss. 26-32).
The substantial infiltration of academia by evolution and atheism has resulted in precisely the social conditions that now prevail in America with regard to the nonsensical and inflated sense of importance assigned to animals and the physical environment. Any individual, who would have even a split second of hesitation to kill a gorilla (or any other animal) to save a human child, has unwittingly become a victim to the massive inundation of humanist propaganda that fails to assign the proper value to animals.
For those who believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, that He literally left the heavenly realm and came to Earth to atone for sin, and that He now reigns in heaven itself, and will one day bring the entire physical Universe to a fiery conclusion (2 Peter 3:1-11), the value of Harambe the gorilla is a settled matter. Jesus spoke directly and definitively—several times—to the issue.
In Matthew 6, Jesus reassured His disciples that God’s care for them meant that they need not worry unnecessarily about acquiring food and clothes. His reasoning included this admonition: “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (vs. 26, emp. added; cf. Luke 12:25—“Of how much more value are you than the birds?”).
On another occasion, Jesus challenged the disciples not to fear the hatred, intimidation, and opposition of those who would seek to deter their efforts to teach and preach His message. Why? He explained: “Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:29-31, emp. added; cf. Luke 12:7). Observe that animals have some value in this world. God created them for specific purposes. However, there is literally no comparison when it comes to evaluating their status and their worth in relation to humans. Animals are expendable. But Jesus adamantly insisted that humans are much more valuable than even many animals.
On yet another occasion, Jesus answered those who sought to condemn Him for healing—on the Sabbath—a man whose hand was shriveled and deformed. The Lord’s logical prowess was piercing and penetrating: “He said to them, ‘What man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out?’” This question was a reflection of Deuteronomy 22:1-4. It was part of the Law of Moses designed to promote care and concern for one’s fellow man. In an agrarian society, the preservation of farm animals was a serious matter. A family’s survival was dependent on its animals for food and clothes. So Jesus reasoned, if it is proper to intervene to save the life of a farm animal so that human beings might be provided for, “of how much more value then is a man than a sheep?” (Matthew 12:11-12). Do sheep have some value? Certainly—they are vital to providing the basic necessities of humans. But they are mere animals—they do not have souls like humans, nor were they made in God’s image like humans (Genesis 1:26).9 Jesus’ point was poignant. He was, in essence, stressing an important contrast between animals and humans. He was essentially saying, “If you see the value of preserving the life of a dumb, soulless animal for the good of humans, why in the world would you question My action which will improve the life and well-being of a human?” Indeed, Jesus demonstrated that even His religious enemies were clear thinking enough to know that animals are not even to be compared to the value of human beings.
Whatever might be said about parental responsibility to discipline their children and train them to be obedient when parents warn children of the potential dangers that exist at zoos, and whatever might be said about the value of animals—from zebras and gorillas to tarantulas and boa constrictors—nevertheless, according to Deity, human beings are of much more value. As a nation, our depraved moral sensibilities are on display when our citizens show more concern for a 17-year-old gorilla than for the 56 million innocent human babies that have been slaughtered by abortion since 1973.10
1 Natalie Angier (2016), “Do Gorillas Even Belong in Zoos? Harambe’s Death Spurs Debate,” The New York Times, June 6, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/06/07/science/gorilla-shot-harambe-zoo.html.
2 Police have decided she will not face criminal charges. See Madison Park and Holly Yan (2016), “Gorilla Killing: 3-Year-Old Boy’s Mother Won’t Be Charged,” CNN, June 6, http://www.cnn.com/2016/06/06/us/harambe-gorilla-death-investigation/.
3 “Outrage After Gorilla Killed at Cincinnati Zoo to Save Child” (2016), CBS News, June 1, http://www.cbsnews.com/news/outrage-after-gorilla-harambe-killed-at-cincinnati-zoo-to-save-child/; Barbara Goldberg (2016), “Killing of Gorilla to Save Boy at Ohio Zoo Sparks Outrage,” MSN News, May 30, http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/killing-of-gorilla-to-save-boy-at-ohio-zoo-sparks-outrage/ar-BBtCunM?li=BBnb7Kz&ocid=U270DHP; Kimberly Ricci (2016), “People Are Furious Over The Death Of Harambe The Gorilla And Want Justice,” Uproxx, May 30, http://uproxx.com/webculture/cincinnati-outrage-harambe-gorilla-death/.
4 Sheila Hurt (2016), “Justice for Harambe,” https://www.change.org/p/cincinnati-zoo-justice-for-harambe.
5 By Peter Singer and Karen Dawn (2016), “Op-Ed: Harambe the Gorilla Dies, Meat-Eaters Grieve,” Los Angeles Times, June 5, http://www.latimes.com/opinion/op-ed/la-oe-singer-dawn-harambe-death-zoo-20160605-snap-story.html.
6 Jennifer O’Connor (2016), “Gorilla Pays With His Life for Others’ Negligence,” PETA, May 29, http://www.peta.org/blog/gorilla-pays-with-life-for-others-negligence/.
7 Angela Henderson (2016), "From Marius to Harambe: Zoos Teach That Wild Animals Are Expendable,” PETA, June 1, http://www.peta.org/blog/marius-to-harambe-zoos-teach-wild-animals-expendable/.
8 “PETA Responds to Gorilla Shooting at Cincinnati Zoo” (2016), WDRB, May 29, http://www.wdrb.com/story/32092202/peta-responds-to-gorilla-shooting-at-cincinnati-zoo.
9 Bert Thompson (1999), “Do Animals Have Souls?” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=11&article=582.10 Matt Walsh (2016), “While You Were Crying Over a Dead Ape, 125,000 Babies Were Just Murdered,” The Blaze, http://www.theblaze.com/contributions/while-you-were-crying-over-a-dead-ape-125-thousand-babies-were-just-murdered/.