Ellision research is a full-service marketing research firm in Phoenix, AZ. They research all kinds of things, but recently, I saw their report entitled, America’s Definition: What Is an Evangelical? This study polled just over 1,000 Americans (age 18 or older) and asked a very simple question:
The phrase “evangelical Christian” is used in the media a lot. In your own words, how would you define exactly what an “evangelical Christian” is? Please be as specific and complete as you can in your answer.
In my previous post, I quoted Clement of Alexandria. He said that the days of Genesis 1 were not 24-hour days. Instead, they were simply used to indicate priority. In the end, he said:
And how could creation take place in time, seeing time was born along with things which exist. 1
I find this statement intriguing, because even though it was written in the early third century, it indicates a modern understanding of time.
As I said in my previous post, young-earth creationists (I am one, by the way) often distort church history. They try to make you think that the early church was unanimous in its interpretation of Genesis 1. For example, Answers in Genesis claims:
What did the early church believe about creation? In its first 16 centuries the church held to a young earth. Earth was several thousand years old, was created quickly in six 24-hour days, and was later submerged under a worldwide flood.1
Of course, the same article from which I just quoted immediately contradicts itself by then admitting that three very influential church fathers (Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and Augustine) did not see the Genesis days as 24-hour days. In fact, they were not the only ones. There were many very influential people in the early church who did not believe that the Genesis days were 24-hour days. Of course, this view was probably a minority view, but nevertheless, it was not something held to by just a handful of early church leaders. It was a view that has existed from the earliest writings of Christianity.
Even though I am a young-earth creationist, I get weary of reading a lot of young-earth creationist literature. Why? Because such literature often promotes poor theology as well as a distorted view of church history. The young-earth organization Answers in Genesis, for example, is one of the most reliable sources of information when it comes to the scientific data that relate to the creation/evolution debate and the age of the earth. One reason they are so reliable is that they have a team of scientists reviewing their materials, which helps to ensure a reasonable level of scientific accuracy. Unfortunately, when it comes to theology and early church history, they don’t seem to have much of a clue.
I hope to write a lot on this topic, as I find it fascinating. For my first entry, I thought I would outline one of the main reasons I have a hard time believing the earth is billions of years old. Essentially, my scientific training makes it very hard for me to take the idea of a billions-of-years-old earth seriously.
Many well-meaning individuals really think that vaccines are bad for you. These people are predisposed to distrust the government (as am I), and they have been (incorrectly) taught that the government is manipulating the scientific data to make vaccines seem more effective or safer than they actually are. Of course, anyone who understands how scientific research is done and the processes by which it gets published knows that such nonsense isn’t true. However, most people are mystified by the scientific process, so these kinds of “conspiracy theories” sound believable.
In an attempt to help people from being misled about vaccines, I have decided to gather together what I consider the most relevant information related to the scientific research regarding vaccines. If you are interesting in learning the REAL FACTS regarding vaccines, you will read through what is posted here. Please understand, however, that you must have the courage to actually face the truth. If you have been deceived by the lies of the anti-vaccination movement, you might be upset by what you read. I do pray that you have the fortitude to proceed, however, as your children’s lives might depend on it. Make no mistake, the facts are crystal clear: children and adults die or are permanently injured because of the lies of the anti-vaccination movement. If you care about your children and your loved ones, you will carefully investigate this issue.
I do not like the Calvinist view of God’s omnipotence and omniscience. To believe that God knows everything because He has predestined it all requires us to dismiss many accounts in the Bible (such as God changing His mind and not destroying Ninevah) as “anthropomorphisms,” even though there is no textual evidence to do so. Not only that, a God who would arbitrarily decide who will be saved from eternal damnation and who will not be saved is capricious and not worthy of worship. Thus, I have always discounted the Calvinist view of God as unbiblical and incoherent.
Nevertheless, I have also always had a problem with the idea that God might not know something about the future. As a result, I have reluctantly conformed to the “traditional evangelical” view of God. In this view, God exists outside of time. As a result, he sees the entire history and future of the universe as if He is looking at the film of a movie. Each “frame” is an instant in the lifetime of the universe, and God sees all “frames” at the same time. Like a film editor, he can adjust specific frames in order to make the “movie” just what He wants it to be. Those are the instants in which God interacts with His creation.
Open Theism offers an alternative to both views of God. Because of that, it is worth considering. A Christian whom I respect a great deal suggested that I read The Openness of God by Richard Rice, Clark Pinnock, John Sanders, William Hasker, and David Basinger. Because I respect her as a Christian, and because I think that Clark Pinnock is one of the greatest theologians/thinkers of our time, I decided to read the book, and I am glad that I did. While I was familiar with the concept of open theism, I had never read a thorough, systematic description of it. Instead, I had just read what those who thought it was “heresy” said about it. As is typical, those who think it is heresy paint it in the worst possible light. As a result, I didn’t really understand open theism until I read this book. If you really want to know what open theism is, don’t read the propaganda from the National Association of Evangelicals or other such outlets. Instead, read this book.
This book is filled with an enormous amount of insight and truth. It contains some nonsense as well, but overall, it is well worth the read. The author’s thesis is that it is IMPOSSIBLE for ANY nation to be a “Christian” nation, as worldly governments cannot possibly work the way the Kingdom of God works. Essentially, the author says, the Kingdom of God is simple – Love the Lord, and love others more than yourself. That’s it. No compromise. The Kingdom of the World, however, is exceedingly complex, with all sorts of compromises and tradeoffs. Because of that, you simply cannot say that ANY nation operates as a “Christian” nation. In addition, because the Kingdom of the World is so complex, Christians who use their Christianity to inform their politics can end up falling along all parts of the political spectrum. On these two points, the author is absolutely correct.
The Proslogion (English title: Discourse on the Existence of God) was written by Anselm of Canterbury in AD 1077-1078. It represented his finest attempt at presenting a rationale for his Christian faith. It is probably best known for laying down the ontological argument, which essentially states that since we can conceive of God, He must therefore exist. While typically only convincing to those who already believe, it has nevertheless fostered spirited philosophical debate throughout the centuries.
This Blog might represent my “Proslogion,” as it will be a discourse on my views regarding God and things of interest to the people of God. As a scientist, it is hard for me to fathom anyone who has scientific training and does not believe in God. The natural world, in my opinion, screams out His existence to anyone who examines it even in a cursory way. Indeed, it was science that brought me not only to a belief in God, but also to faith in Christianity. Unlike the Proslogion, however, I am not trying to convince you (the reader) of anything. I am simply hoping that you enjoy the discourse, and I hope to enjoy (and learn from) your comments.