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November 1, 2016, 8:54 AM

Christian Evidentialism I Part 2

1)    Supposed Contradictions          
     The first issue that must be addressed, is do you deal with apparent discrepancies with eyes of faith, or do you acquiesce and say there are errors in the Bible.  Until 1881, when Charles Hodge and B. B. Warfield wrote an article for a Presbyterian magazine, basically all Bible believers everywhere defended the Bible to its most minute details.  This is a watershed moment in the history of Bible believers.  It is dealt with in very fine fashion by Jack McClroy  in “Which Bible Would Jesus Use?”.  After that point , it became increasingly ok to admit the Bible had several different types of errors, and the only perfect Bible was found in the conveniently lost Original Autographs.    
You can immediately see why this would be convenient.  The Christian can now say they are defending a Book that doesn’t exist.  So any errors, supposed contradictions or difficult passages can now be explained away be degrees.  So the spectrum gradually became for conservative Evangelicals that 98% of the Bible is confirmed true, while 2% is open to debate or question, all the way down to 75-80% of the Bible is true, but the overall message is true regardless of the existence of errors.  This is called neo-orthodoxy, and has had as its greatest proponents Karl Barth and Emil Brunner.  Different terms came to mean different things theologically.  Inerrant meant the Bible was without error.  Infallible meant the Bible had errors, but the message never failed.  Trustworthy meant it had a bunch of errors, failed a lot, but overall was still trustworthy.  

A little leaven leavens the whole lump.  But Jesus defended the Bible down to the smallest parts of letters.  Paul builds a doctrine on 1 letter in Galatians.  Everyone who studies Philology knows the importance of just 1 word.
So, unfortunately in our day, many defenses of the Bible readily admitted errors in the text, such as Gleason Archers’ “Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties” and “Hard Sayings of the Bible” by FF Bruce and Walter Kaiser among others.  This had some short term advantages, but the enemies of the Gospel quickly saw that capitulation and accommodation were the order of the day.  Push against the Bible, and the majority of Christians, in order not to be seen as dumb etc. would capitulate and say – your right, but most of it is true.  This viral contagion spread from College to Student to Minister to the Pew, and has had a deadening effect whenever allowed to set in.
The forgotten doctrine is “Preservation”, which all of the Biblical personages assumed.  The integrity of the Scriptures are never questioned.  As a matter of fact, whenever the Bible is found and acted upon, revival is the result.  Inspiration without Preservation is useless.  And we are seeing the fruit of it.
A remnant has continued to believe the Bible uncorrupted.  Those that would defend the Bible from this point of view against alleged errors and contradictions would be:  “Things Hard to be Understood” by David Cloud; “Handbook of Bible Problems” by Gerardus Bouw; “Problem Texts”  by Peter Ruckman; “Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible” by John W. Haley, and the Dake Study Bible by Finis Dake.  
Some of the more common alleged contradictions are:  2 Different Creation accounts in Genesis 1 and 2

-    Where did Cain get his wife
-    The Chronology of Kings
-    2 Different Genealogies of Jesus
-    Different Wordings and Details of Jesus Teachings, Miracles, Crucifixion and Resurrection (Jamison, Fausset, and Brown, and Finis Dake especially in these areas).

2)    Theodicy – The Problem of Evil and the Justice of God  
     Epicurus is credited with codifying this in his Epicurean Paradox.  If God is good, why does He allow evil?  If God wants to prevent evil, but is unable to, He must not be omnipotent.  Either way, God either does not exist, or He exists and is not truly God.  David Hume expounded on this much later, in the 18th century. 
So how does one answer this from a Biblical/Christian perspective?  First, there are some problems for someone asking this question many times?  Without the Bible, who and how is evil defined?  By what standard?  Utilitarianism?  The Categorical Imperative?  How can one say God did something evil, or someone else did and God allowed it, when one doesn’t even know what evil is and how to define it?  Would Lenin define evil the same way as Florence Nightengale?  Stalin and Hitler the same as William Booth?  Machiavelli as  George Washington?  So one must have a consistent standard of evil, and a justification for knowing it is so, before accusations can be hurled about.  This is no small task for the secularists, humanists, or naturalists. 
Secondly, he hath done all things well – Mark 7:37, speaking of Jesus.  As Christians, we understand that war, sickness, tragedy were not God’s will from the beginning.  Man was in a blissful state.  Satan is the destroyer, the corrupter.  So it was not God’s will from the beginning.
But this still leaves the 2nd part of the Epicurean Paradox:  Why doesn’t God stop evil and suffering now?  The answer is, He has.  All things work together for the good to those who love God, who are the called according to His purpose.  So a Christian suffers, it is for his good if handled properly.  
 But what about the child suffering overseas!!?? Well, if they die, they go to heaven, so they win, if under the age of accountability as seen by God.  If they suffer until their age of accountability, then their suffering may lead them to God, which brings them back to the state in the above paragraph.  
But what if they reject God, and go to hell?  This is where God’s grace comes in, and a Biblical understanding of it.
God was under no obligation to offer a plan of salvation.  The angels sin, 1/3 of them, and boom – no plan of salvation.  Ephesians 2:4-7 shows us that God devised the plan of salvation totally to show the riches of His kindness toward us in the ages to come.  Once Adam sinned, since we were in the loins of Adam according to Hebrews 7 so to speak, we deserved death.  The race was corrupted.  But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us, decided to make an incredible plan of salvation available to whosever will!   
     So vast evil is in the world.  God’s original intent was for there not to be.  And God has stopped it at the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Evil will be eternally stopped.  Evil will be eternally punished.  God’s justice remains supreme and unquestioned, as does His wisdom and love.
 But what about people before the Christian era, did they not have access to this grace?  Was God unjust then, as modern atheists would postulate?
Ephesians 1:10 seems to answer this, among other Scriptures.  It reads, “That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:”  God’s sacrifice on the cross was viable and efficacious for OT people also.  When they accepted God’s righteousness and graciousness by faith, their sins were rolled ahead to Calvary, to be dealt with then.  Since God is not limited by spatial deliniations, He could be the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world so to speak, and make in one all things in Christ.
So to conclude, God is just, and the justifier of them that believe in Him.  God’s original intentions for planet earth and mankind were good.  Once satan brought evil with its attendant sufferings into the world, God had a plan ready for evil’s eradication and punishment that would encompass every man and all of creation.  God is not evil.  God is not the problem.  God is the solution.

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