Friday, October 29, 2010

Some More Answers

Here are some more answers to questions posed on my wife’s blog. By strictures of time and space these answers will not be exhaustive, but will hopefully give some thought and head the questioner in the right direction.

Question: God is all-knowing, so why did He put the tree in the garden?

Answer: This question presupposes that God not only wants us free from sin, but that He would make it impossible for us to sin. It’s the heart of the old free will controversy. We were the point of that exercise concerning the tree. It was a part of our moral development.

There’s no way to know what would have happened if Eve hadn’t taken the fruit. C. S. Lewis speculated a bit on that issue in his novel, Perelandra, but he made no pretense to knowledge on what would have actually occurred in the Garden Of Eden.

Even though God knew, we had to act. Foreknowledge does not equal foreordination as so many would have it. As an example, I could take a person to a movie which I had seen which they had not, and I could tell them everything that was going to happen, but my knowledge wouldn’t make it happen.

Further, every parent knows that a child is going to fall many times in learning to walk, but they have to let that be a possibility or the child will never learn to walk.

Question: Why do good people suffer?

Answer: It is true that some diseases, for example, are brought about by sin or unhealthy activities. This is because we live in a world of consequences, and I suppose in a sense that if “good” people do those things they cease to be in the category of good and are open to such consequences. The fact of the matter is that there is no one good but God. Our problem is mostly about those who suffer for no visible connection to a consequence producing act of their own?

Goodness is not a shield from the consequences of other’s evil actions or of the slings and arrows sent their way willy-nilly in our world. There is no way to be inoculated from these. The book of Job is very clear that in his case the suffering came about as a devil-provoked test. (This is not universally true of all suffering.) God allowed it, but the devil did all the work. God was not the source of it. His permission was not his ordination of the happening.

Ultimately, good people suffer, not because of some fault in them or because they are a special target of evil, but because such things come to all people in our universe. The only exemption comes at the judgment throne of God where no people who are in Jesus Christ will be made to suffer.

The real question is why do we have to wait to see the evil ones get their just deserts. The answer to that one is that God is not willing that anyone should perish, but gives as much time as possible for repentance.

Question: Where was Adam when Eve was talking with the serpent? What was he doing?

Answer: The simple answer is that no one knows. I would assume that each of them had separate duties in tending to the garden. We know that this was Adams purpose as stated in Genesis 2:15, although there is no similar work purpose statement connected with Eve prior to her temptation other than the fact that she was intended to be Adam’s helper as is implied from 2:20.

Several years ago someone wrote a whole book on the subject (I only heard a few passages read from it once at a preacher’s meeting and don’t know the title or author) in which the author’s premise was that Adam was right there when Eve was tempted, and he didn’t stop her and was thus culpable. There is no evidence of such a theory in the Genesis account, and that is the only one we have to go by. When in 3:6 she gives to her husband who is with her, that was at the time of the eating, not at the time of the tempting. The woman saw and took and ate. It was only later that Adam entered the story. In his blaming in verse 12 he makes no mention of the serpent, only of the woman. I conclude that he didn’t see the serpent or he would have blamed him. We don’t even know that she told him about the serpent. All we know is that she gave him the fruit.

I Timothy 2:14 tells us that Adam was not deceived. If he had been there with Eve, he would have been open to deception. He took the fruit knowing what it was. We can psychoanalyze his decision to eat, but all that is speculation. It is the deliberate, non-deceived nature of his act that makes the scriptures later say that through one man sin entered the world (Romans 5:12) and that in Adam all die (I Corinthians 15:22). There is no such mention made of Eve in the New Testament.

That’s all for now. I still have a few more for next time.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


On my wife’s blog, Audience Of One, she spoke of a “gimmick” I use from time to time in preaching. I call it “You Asked For It” after the old t.v. show. People put Bible questions or topics or passages on a slip. We draw one out each Sunday evening and then I preach on that the next week.

After she mentioned this to her readers she started getting a lot of questions from them. While time won’t permit individual responses, I thought I would post some of them here along with my answers, as they may be some of your questions, too.

Question: Why did one book say there was only one guy filled with the legion of demons and the other book says there were two? Why the discrepancy?

Answer: Matthew says two, Mark and Luke each say one. Matthew was probably there, the other two had the story by testimony. Two people describing the same event today might well differ in such details. The important fact is that none of the accounts differs on WHAT JESUS DID. There is no discrepancy there.

Question: Someone wanted to know more about the talking donkey.

Answer: So do we all. This was an historical event for it was so referred to in II Peter 2:15,16. It is an example of God using something normally inarticulate to articulate His will. If God could take an articulate being, such as a prophet, and reveal to him things totally undiscoverable by human reasoning or ingenuity, then He could certainly do so through a donkey and then give him the momentary power to express himself to the prophet who should have known in the first place. The fact that this is an unduplicated event in the scriptures or history does not make it untrue. Most historical facts are unrepeated.

Question: Did people really live 200 years in the early Bible days?

Answer: I would say yes, but there is no way of documenting this from independent sources. Some people have tried to explain around it by saying that they weren’t using the same years we are, but this is a case where we have to either accept or reject the testimony. I can well imagine in a world with fewer man produced carcinogens, for example, that people would live longer. Also the food base would have been more pure and free of the additives that are so damaging today. Whenever there are reports of people living long lives of 100+ years in our era it is always in a remote area where they are free of modern foods and drugs.

Question: I am curious about the fish that swallowed Jonah.

Answer: It was a fish, not a whale as in popular theology. The best guess of what fish this was, if it were a fish existing in the world today, would be a whale shark. Whale refers to size not mammalian status. There have been records of people being swallowed by such and surviving. It tells us that God appointed this fish. It could be either picking one out of the oceans or it could be creating a new one for this purpose alone. I have no problem with the latter, although I cannot prove it. We should never put the miraculous out of court. This is a miracle and it is an inept way of handling the scriptures to treat it as though it were some mere natural phenomenon which could be understood or duplicated if only we could plumb the depths of the “trick” of it.

That’s all for now. We’ll do some more later.

Thursday, October 14, 2010


Last night we had a forum of candidates from both parties for local offices in our community. The opportunity to present questions to the candidates was given, but I didn’t turn one in. Why? Because they said they weren’t going to read any controversial questions.

What’s the matter with controversy? If there were no controversies, there would be no politics at all. Has political correctness gotten so out of hand that we can only bring certain things to the table in an election? There is no such hands-off attitude by politicians after they are elected. Once in government they legislate with regard to every area of our lives and finances, but we are not to probe into the thinking of our candidates before we give them a license to make or enforce laws?

Such meetings are something in the nature of a job interview. Since when was an employer kept back from asking the questions of an applicant pertinent to ascertaining whether the applicant is in synch with what his company was doing? We are electing people, not platforms. Our government officials are doing our business. It is only right that we see if they are qualified to do it the way we want it done. Not only that, but I think it would be a good idea if there would be an open mike at such a meeting where the citizens could express themselves on their thoughts and preferences to the candidates rather than just letting the candidates speak. Government has become too unilateral. It’s time to get it back to being a two way street.

Let us not shy from controversy. Euphemisms destroy perception and never touch reality. The issues don’t ever stop being controversial. We don’t really know what people think if we don’t force the controversy into the open. If a candidate is in the public arena, he or she has, in a sense, a responsibility, as if they had taken an oath, to tell the whole truth about not only their skills and experience, but also about their thinking.