Former President Jimmy Carter and His New Bible

I don’t post on my blog every day like others do, sometimes I wish I had the time others do to be more faithful in my writing. I simply have too much going on that I think is more important then telling the public every thought I have on a daily basis. That being said, sometimes I run across things and feel that it is important that something be said about them in a public way and today is one of those days.

Former President Jimmy Carter is promoting a new book called NIV Lessons from Life Bible: Personal Reflections with Jimmy Carter. He recently gave an interview to that can be read and listened to at the following link

Jimmy Carters New Bible

President Carter covers a lot of ground in this interview, but the purpose for him writing the book I think speaks volumes to the conclusions he draws.

The overall purpose of the overall project is to bring ancient scriptures into modern applicability. When I speak at my local church, which I try to do 35 to 40 times a year, I try in every lesson to take the Old Testament text or New Testament text and apply them to what is happening to me or how that applies to the audience that I’m teaching in a modern, fast-changing, technological world. I use headlines, interfaith and that sort of thing.

You see according to Carter, the Bible is written for him to reason what it says and apply it to his own life in the way that he sees fit. I am currently writing my third paper on apologetics for my Masters of Arts in Theology and I comment on this interview in the section I wrote on Postmodernism and Reason. In our culture we can reason within ourselves whatever we want, and since there is no absolute truth, there really is no right and wrong. The former President can now add being written about in my blog to his list of accomplishments along with being elected President and winning the Nobel Peace Prize. I am sure he will be honored when he hears of this..:)

I should make everyone aware, in case they do not already know, that former President Carter is not a pagan, nor is he an atheist or even an agnostic for that matter. He is a self professing Christian that has been a deacon in his Church and a teacher as well. This is what makes his views on Christianity and the Bible even more alarming. Postmodernism is even more of a problem within the Church then without.

So let’s break down some of the points in his book that I found most alarming.

Carter: I believe strongly that in the eyes of God women and men should be the same and they should be given the same authority in the church, women should as men. For instance, my wife is a deacon now. She’s one of the leaders in our church. I have been in the past. And we have two pastors, one of them is a man and his wife is a woman, of course. I believe there is complete equality between men and women. And I believe those passages in the New Testament, not by Jesus, but by Paul, that say women should not adorn themselves, they should always wear hats or color their hair in church – things like that – I think they are signs of the times and should not apply to modern-day life. When Paul also says, I think the third chapter of Galatians, Paul says that there is no distinction between men and women, or between Jew and Greek, or between slaves and masters even, that all people are the same in the eyes of God. That’s what I used as a guiding light in that sort of argument.

So we have President Carter proclaiming that the Bible says men and women are equal. Not because Jesus said it, but because Paul says it in Galatians chapter 3. Obviously Carter is taking the passage in Galatians, that is focused on salvation, completely out of context. Paul is saying that there is no distinction between male or female, Jew or Greek, master or slave when it comes to being one in Christ. This has nothing to do with the roll of women in the church. Obviously Paul does not obliterate the lines between gender completely and is quite clear on the role of women in Church. Even if Carter was not taking Galatians completely out of context, to believe that Paul actually meant male and female played equal roles in the church we would have to discount Paul’s own direct teaching on the issue found in 1 Corinthians 14:33-35, 1 Corinthians 11:3.

If one wants to discount this teaching as cultural and not applicable to today then, even thought that would be disputed in the context of other passages, that is one thing by itself, however to site Galatians as Paul promoting equality in the Church out of context and then disregard 1 Corinthians that is actually in context is wrong. Paul shows the same distinctions in regard to the family and God as well in Ephesians 5. It is not that men are better then women, but that they serve different purposes and functions and Carter is obliterating those functions in order to mesh with a culture that agrees with him. The overall point that Paul makes is that men and women are equal as people in salvation in God’s eyes and they have equal rights as human beings created in God’s image, however their function in the Church and the home is not the same, not less important, but not the same. Carter shows his lack of understanding of the topic when he later says

Paul said that women should be subservient to their husbands but if you
read a couple of verses down it says husbands should treat their wives as equals

Once again Carter is confusing the issue. Women being subservient in no way means that they are of less value or “beneath” men. They are equal as people but their function is not the same. Carter then wraps this all up by saying

So you have to use your own modern-day beliefs and basic Christianity to select
which of those conflicting statements of Paul you want to observe that says we
should treat women as equals and says we should not discriminate against people.

No, we just need to read the Bible in proper context and then do what it says regardless of where the culture is. But this is just the tip of the Carter iceberg. Later in the conversation Carter decides what parts of the Bible are inerrant and what parts are not.

Carter: Yes, I think the Bible is completely inspired by God in it’s overall messages. But, for the people of those days to know what was going to happen 4,000 years later in a world of astronomy or subatomic particles. They didn’t have access to the knowledge that we presently have about geology. So, we know now that the world was created many of billions of years ago, 13 or 14 billion years ago. As far as they knew, the earth was the center of the universe. They thought that stars were little twinkling things in the sky where as now we know stars are very distant and much larger than the earth. For them to say that stars fall on the earth like they fell off a Christmas tree, that means it’s human fallibility. It doesn’t mean it was ordained by God who created everything. So I think that those matters of those lack of knowledge about science and technology that come along later are understandable.

I happen to be a scientist. My background is in nuclear physics. I was a nuclear engineer. But I don’t see any incompatibility at all with my religious faith and God the creator of everything and the incompatibility between when the earth was created as specified in the Bible. I don’t see any incompatibility there because those that were interpreting God’s overall message didn’t know anything about modern-day science.

So Carter is saying that overall the Bible is inspired but the writers obviously got some things wrong along the way so their writing was not completely inspired. How does he know this? Well because he was a scientist, and in his view science says that the earth and the universe are billions of years old. Since Moses could not have known this he was obviously wrong when he wrote the creation account of Genesis. Carter isn’t going to hold his ignorance against him though, I mean, how could he have known right?

Later Carter admits that God is omniscient so I guess what Carter means is that God knew how the Universe was created and tried to tell Moses but Moses was too ignorant about science to write it down correctly. This is obviously absurd, you either believe the Bible is infallible or you don’t. If you don’t then find the nearest waist can and throw it away, if you do then everything in it must be true and it is Jimmy Carter that is misinterpreting the meaning of the text.

When people thought that certain passages explained a flat earth centered Universe it wasn’t because the Biblical writers got it wrong, it was because human beings interpreted the infallible passages wrong. It is quite pious of Carter to think that IQ and scientific intelligence trumps inspiration, but once again this is a cultural idea that Carter is buying into and at the same time trying to harmonize the scripture with culture instead of gaining new insight to the world we live in and understanding how it works with scripture. We can be just as wrong about science as we are Bible interpretation and we continue to learn more about both the Universe and the Bible each day. The scientist and the theologian should be working together not against each other.

Then Carter decides whether or not Homosexuality is a sin. Of course he says it isn’t but his reasoning is interesting. He says that it isn’t a sin, not because Paul is wrong or because it was a cultural thing primarily, but because Jesus was silent on the issue.

Carter: Well, homosexuality was massively practiced in some of the conflicting religions at the time of Christ and even at the time of Christ, in Roman times show that homosexuality was widely prevalent. I think it’s quite significant that Jesus never did mention it.

When Paul mentions the verse, it can be interpreted homosexually critical. He also says that selfishness is sinful. He also goes through a whole gamut of things that are sinful. On Saint Paul, he’s probably one of the best theologians of all time, but I don’t believe that some of his teachings are appropriate today.

When I have a conflict like that in my interpretation of scripture, I go back and see what Jesus said about that.

Once again, with Carter the Bible is culturally insignificant and uninspired when it comes to these issues so he can make it say whatever he wants in regard to the culture of today. However Paul is not referring to the culture in Romans at all, in fact he is talking about men suppressing their truth in their sin and the act of homosexuality is included with the sins that men do because God gave them up due to their idolatry. They became futile in their thinking and their foolish hearts were darkened. This is not talking about cultural norms at all, but instead Paul is explaining why men think the way they do and how it leads to these sins. He speaks of many sins but spends extra time defining homosexuality specifically. Paul then wraps up the chapter by saying “Though they know these things deserve death, they not only do them but give approval to those who do.”

Of course then we have to also discount the teachings of Timothy who learned under Paul, as well as Jude who is believed to be the brother of James the half brother of Jesus. They all spoke out against these things. However Carter just dismissed all of this out of hand because of our current cultural acceptance of homosexuality. His main argument though that seems to be more important then Paul’s error is that Jesus is silent. Well of course we know that God condemned this act in the Old Testament and I don’t think that Carter would deny Christ’s deity so Christ is not entirely silent. Just because Jesus doesn’t directly condemn the act in the N.T. Does not follow that it is condoned. Christ said that he came to fulfill the law, and Paul never says the law is void.

Dewey Hodges sums this up better then I could.

When proper hermeneutic principles are applied to the relevant passages, and when we rid those passages of preconceived beliefs, it becomes clear that such behavior is condemned without qualification in Leviticus, and this condemnation is assumed to be valid by Paul when he discusses the depravity as well as the end result of homosexual behavior. The entire Bible, in fact, presupposes that homosexual relationships are illegitimate. The creation of mankind was distinctly heterosexual, Christ’s relationship to the church is like that of a man and his wife, and the marriage union and the dominion mandate are distinctly heterosexual such that a homosexual version would make no sense.

In the end, Carter’s Bible is nothing more then the actual Bible changed to fit the culture of today. It does not follow an accurate hermeneutic, takes passages out of context, and only sees the scriptures as inerrant on a “high level” which doesn’t even make any sense. I would instead recommend the Reformation Study Bible if you are in the market for one.

Traditions and Biblical Truth…”What about” it? (Book Review)

There is a new book out by a Pastor friend of mine named John Samson called Twelve What Abouts: Answering Common Objections Concerning God’s Sovereignty in Election. Now I don’t review a lot of books here, only the books that I have read and thought others can benefit from. The mature Christian reader who may be a Calvinist or Arminian might be asking themselves, “Why do I need to read another book on this topic when there are many out there that I have already read, and so many that I haven’t”? Likewise there might be others that feel they don’t understand a lot of the deep teachings of the Bible and shy away from what they see as complicated issues. Still others might say that this issue is not important in my walk with God and I will leave topics like this to the Theologians to fight over. Finally, you might just be someone who goes to church on Sunday and takes what is said on issues like these and doesn’t question it, or sadly, maybe you go to church and topics like this are not even brought up. Well if this fits you, or if there are other reason why you think you don’t want to read a book on this topic such as you don’t have time etc. I encourage you to pick this one up and read it.

Let me tell you a little about the book and myself, then I will make the case for the above statement. Pastor Samson comes from a background much like mine although he is from England and I was born here in America. He was raised in church as was I and our early church experiences were very similar. We even both dreamed of becoming professional soccer players. Yes I call it soccer, and even John does now, leaving the language of his mother country behind where they call it “football”, which seems like a much better term for the game myself, but I digress.

Being raised in church John and I were subjected to many church traditions. We had a good understanding of the Bible and like many others thought that what was presented was not only the truth, but that there was no other interpretation or truth that was a Biblical option. Personally, I had questions about things such as premillennial dispensationalism back then, even though I didn’t know those terms, as well as the creation account and others. Most of the people in my church had no idea what to say about these issues, and they were rarely talked about. In my own mind I thought I knew the basics but was confused on many items that there seemed to be no answers to and this did not sit well with me.

One day, as John explains, he was challenged with Biblical truth that for the first time in years made him question his traditions and gave answers to some of the more difficult questions. For me there was a time I backed away from my set of traditions and went on a journey to find the truth and the answers that had evaded me up to that point. Both of us ended up in the same place after years of searching and study.

From that perspective, John has written a book confronting some of these question regarding election. Sure they are common topics that have been dealt with before such as free will, predestination, the foreknowledge of God, and reprobation, but typically they are found in difficult to read theologically based books with hundreds of pages and big words. The motivation behind the other books also differs in that they might be technical in nature, or simply written to prove that one side is right while the other is wrong. This is a very concise book with very short chapters, and while there might be some words the reader is not familiar with from time to time, Pastor Samson tries to explain them so they can be understood. He drives right at the verses in question and attempts to use sound exegesis in a fair and Biblical manner without getting too lengthy or theologically deep.

The best thing about the book though is the motivation behind it. Pastor Samson explains his personal story and how he arrived at the place where he was sent on a “surprising journey”. Unlike me, John didn’t purposely set out on his journey because of problems he had with his traditions and questions about his beliefs. In fact he was a preacher and felt quite comfortable with where he was. However once he understood the truth of scripture clearly the Bible blossomed like never before, and he saw just how much he had missed given the box of traditions that had in a way put up barriers to his knowledge and understanding of scripture.

Now he wants to share some of those things with you. Not because he wants to win an argument, but because he wants you to experience the power of the Gospel and God’s word in a more powerful way that he, by God’s grace, has been able to. The best part is that he does it in a way that is easy to read and has a personal touch where he reaches out to the reader in a way that is not found in other books on the topic. However, just because it is easy to read and short does not mean that it is short on doctrine and Biblical passages. These are found on nearly every page as John attempts to stay as close to the original languages as he can and interpret scripture with scripture.

I challenge and encourage you to take a short time and read this book while trying your best to put your traditional views aside and keep an open mind. You may be surprised at where it takes you, and be careful, you might find yourself starting down a journey that John and I have been on for many years that regardless of where you ultimately end up, will most definitely result in you growing in the grace and knowledge of the Lord which is what all of us are to do.

For those of you that like this book, or actually prefer a more in depth study of issues like these I recommend The Potters Freedom by Dr. James White from which Pastor Samson quotes from time to time in this book.

You can purchase the book electronically here or paperback here.

God Bless

If Calvinism is true then Roger Olson would not worship God

I was going to review Roger Olson’s book Against Calvinism but what could I say that James White has not. In this first video We hear Dr. White respond to the main idea in Olson’s Book that he could not worship the God of Calvinism. Dr. White shows how the arguments of Olson and others with the Arminian view against Calvinism in this regard are the same as Atheists.

Rob Bell’s new book “Love Wins” Loses the Gospel

Rob Bell is a guy that I am sure means well. He is also a guy that says a lot of wonderful things. However in this new book he exposes himself for having a view of God that is simply not supported by the Biblical text.

In the first interview he is called out by Martin Bashir on a theological and philosophical level. In the second video you have a proper Biblical response correcting Bell. In the third video you have another error from Bell’s own video refuted from way back in 2007.

Recently Rob Bell called on his congregation of thousands at Mars Hill to not allow others to take him out of context, and issued a warning to others not to condemn him because the Spirit might be working. Read the book for yourself and listen to his own words, then hold it up to scripture and the words of Jesus himself, then ask yourself if Rob Bell’s idea of God and Hell measure up.

In fact first, just listen to his own words in his own marketing for the book

Then listen to Martin Bashir ask him basic questions that he simply can’t answer. As far as I know this is in no way edited to take him out of context. Martin explains his questioning on Paul Edward’s program here Brashir explains Bell\'s seeker sensative approach and the problem with truth

Then see what Bell says about faith back a few years ago, and listen to someone critique him against the Bible.

Like I said, Rob Bell seems passionate about what he does, and I am sure he has the best of intentions. But he is loaded with error and bad Theology and to make matters worse teaches this to thousands every Sunday. One day he will have to give an answer for this, I wonder what that answer will be

A study on The Death of Death in the Death of Christ by John Owen

Part 1 – The role of the Father in redemption

When we think of redemption we immediately think of the work of Christ on the cross. Jesus taking our place and providing atonement for our sins. However, there is so much more to this sacrificial act then we hear from the pulpits of most churches today. In this study using John Owen’s classic book and the Bible as our guide we will explore the whole work of redemption focusing on the Trinity and the roles, relationships, and actions between them. When we are finished I think it will bring into view the amazing work of redemption as well as bring depth to the readers understanding of this topic that we unfortunately only scratch the surface of in most cases. All verses will be from the ESV translation unless otherwise noted.

Briefly, we look at the Trinity and understand that God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are one God revealed in three persons that are eternally distinct. We will not get into an explanation on the Trinity here except to set it as a basis for what the Bible says it is so we can move forward. What is important to understand is that the Trinity was involved in redemption from before the foundations of the world. Acts 4:28 says For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done (KJV). This is Peter and John before the Sanhedrin explaining how every person and thing involved in the death of Christ was predetermined by the entire counsel and hand of God. Pilate, Herod, the people and many other things can be talked about within the context of Christ’s death, but none of these things took place outside of the predetermined will of God. You can’t take any aspect of the Trinity out of the death of Christ or you have no Gospel.

First we will look at the acts of the Father in redemption. God the Father sends his Son into the world. We don’t want to overlook the importance of this first point. The Father loves the world and he loves his Son, so he sends the Son he loves to save the world he loves. Most people know the verses in John 3:16 and 17 which states twice that God gave his Son to the world, and did not send him to condemn the world but to save it. There is over 20 instances in the Bible alone that talk about this sending of the Father, as well as more instances where the Son says that the Father sent Him (John 10:36, and 5:37). God the Father promised this act in the Old Testament and established this act before the creation of the world. He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you (1 Peter 1:20).

Because of this act of the Father there are parts of scripture that refer to the Father as the Savior as well, like in the opening line of 1 Timothy and Titus 1:3 to name just a few. This is done to honor the fact that God loved the world and predetermined that the Son would be sent to be our Savior. In sending the Son we see the Son willingly and humbly condescending to us to be our Savior because of his love for the Father and creation. He also does this because of what the Father promises to him in the eternal covenant between them, mainly that he will give the nations and all things as inheritance and enemies as a footstool. He appointed the Son, once again before the foundations of the world, to be Judge of the “living and dead”.

The sending of the Son by the Father is also shown in the promise made to bring the Son back to the right hand of the Father and exalt the Son back to his glorious state. In the end, all will be handed to the Son for judgment and glorification. We see the how the Father gives his Son to the world, and then gives the world back to his Son in the end out of his eternal love for both. This conclusion is determined as the outcome and the Son takes this assurance with Him to the cross. Peter gives comfort by referring to this in 1 Peter 5:10 “And after you have suffered for a while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, and establish you”. On the road to Emmaus Jesus, after his resurrection, says to the men “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken. Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into His glory? With glory assured on the other side of the cross Jesus took his place at the behest of the Father willingly to save those who the Father would give. John 6:39 says “ And this is the Father’s will that hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day

This eternal covenant between the Father and Son also gives comfort to the Son knowing that the Father will comfort Him and watch over Him during His greatest times of trial while on earth. Isaiah 49:3 says He made my mouth like a sharp sword, in the shadow of his hand he hid me. Again in Isaiah chapter 50:6 we read “I gave my back to those who strike, and my cheeks to those that pull out the beard; I hid not my face from disgrace and spitting. But the Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I should not be put to shame. He who vindicates me is near. Who will contend with me? Who is my adversary? Let him come near to me. Behold the Lord God helps me, who will declare me guilty?” The Father sent the Son to the cross with His blessing and promise that he would never leave Him, and it was within this promise that the Son took comfort and humbled himself to perform the task of redemption for us.

But love is only half of this act as we explore the second act of God the Father in redemption which is to deliver punishment to the Son for the sins of the world in his eternal justice. Isaiah 53 is the most direct on this issue stating that “it was the will of the Lord to crush him” and “the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand”. 2 Corinthians 5:21 also concurs saying “For our sake he (God the Father) made him (The Son) to be sin, who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. This of course does not mean that Jesus became sin, but that the Father made him responsible for sin so that his sacrifice would be valid in our place. God’s eternal wrath for His people was in the cup that Christ asked that the responsibility for might pass if there be any other way. But of course there wasn’t any other way but for the only perfect man to take responsibility for the sins of His people. At this point some would say God loves the world that he gave his son for the entire world, however based on what we know in this study it can’t be the case. God loved the world and sent his Son to redeem a people out of the world that He would give to his Son in the end out of His eternal love. The rest of people, or whosoever “do not” believe if we take the inverse of that famous passage in John 3:16, will fall under the judgment of the Son and eternal justice or wrath of the Father.

In part 2 of this study we will look primarily at the role and acts of the Son in redemption.