Last week I wrote a post about the inspiration of Scripture and the inspiration of other religious books which struck a cord with a lot of people.
One blog reader, Jake Yaniak, left a comment that he had written something similar just a week or so earlier. I read Jake’s blog, but somehow I missed that post of his… When I went and read it, I was impressed at some of the ideas he was expressing. So I decided to post some of it here for you to read:
What do I believe concerning the Holy Bible?
Well, I must say that I am very much in agreement with the Westminster Confession, though with this difference: I also believe in a sovereign God.
This might sound strange considering the fact that it is often to the Westminster Confession that men appeal when they speak of God’s sovereignty. The confession states, powerfully:
“God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass; yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established.”
But they do not apply this belief to the Scriptures – or rather, they do not apply it to non-Scripture.
They state under the category of the Holy Scriptures that, “The books commonly called Apocrypha, not being of divine inspiration, are no part of the canon of the Scripture, and therefore are of no authority in the Church of God, nor to be any otherwise approved, or made use of, than other human writings.”
How can this be when they affirm that God is sovereign?
They speak like Calvinists when they write about God’s sovereignty; and they dodge the moral implications of Calvinism with the empty statement ‘neither is God the author of sin, nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures,’ ignoring the logical consequences of determinism like men who plant rhubarb and then hope to grow apples.
(And please do not plead “paradox” with me – it is only those who lack the “ground of truth,” as Hans Denck put it, who retain both thesis and antithesis without resolving them.)
But suddenly they speak like Arminians when they wish to cast off the Apocrypha, calling them “human writings” as if there could be such a thing in determinism.
If God, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordained the precise wording of Bel and the Dragon, the action-packed sequel to the Book of Daniel, then how is this different from inspiration, where he is said to have ‘out-breathed’ or ‘spoken’ his Word to the prophets and apostles?
ALL things are created by his Word.
That includes the Apocrypha.
That includes the Bible in its original manuscripts.
That includes the manifold corrections, glosses, errors, typos, alterations and duplications it has seen since its writing.
That includes the NIV.
That includes both the long and short endings of Mark, as well as the original, lost ending.
That includes the Zend Avesta, the Mahabharata and its vampires, the Quran and the Lord of the Rings.
God is existence, and he speaks in all things, for all things are made by his Word and according to his irresistible, omnipotent will.
“The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork.
Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.
There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard.”
This is just part of Jake’s post. The rest of it goes on to lay out this idea in more detail and defend it. I invite you to go read the whole post here and interact with Jake on it.
Jeff Stewart says
Jeremy – You’re just gonna wad some panties again. Some can’t handle the truth that all truth is God’s truth. Standby for belching cows with proof-texting cud.
Brett Blair says
No proof texting needed: I don’t grant the premise “God ordained all things” (at least not as you seem to be defining it), therefore the conclusion is wrong. The cow’s digestive system is undisturbed.
Brett Blair says
Understood and I edited the “your” to “the” but you do seem to have some affinity with the premise of the argument here and not purely an academic pursuit, which would be fine of course. But perhaps I am reading that in to it though.
Jeremy Myers says
Note that this is an excerpt from another blogger, Jake Yankiak.
Jeremy Myers says
No, you are right. I do have some affinity to the argument in the article. Regardless, I am glad that you don’t understand God’s ordination of all things the way the article implies. But do you think there are lots of people who do understand God’s ordination as implied in the article?
Brett Blair says
I think many people naively hold to this position but once they do a bit of thinking move away from it. We could of course do the Arminian/Calvin dance all day here but that would be redundant. Simply put, I hold to a position that our imago dei consists of such nature as to reflect God’s sovereign creative abilities, most thoroughly expressed through procreation but not limited to it. The difference for me is that while God creates ex nihilo we create ex materia. The one exception again is that mystery of procreation where I think the creative human process approaches most closely to the divine (classically understood) in all of us; viz., in birth there is an extant element of ex nihilo gifted to us by God
Jeff Stewart says
No “inventions” – just discoveries.
Dennis Wilson says
This is silly….it is Calvinist and makes the Lord the author or sin which he clearly states he is not. God did not ordain Bundy to attack women…God did not ordain Mengele to experiment with children…God did not ordain two aircraft to fly into the Twin Towers…such come from the sinful rebellion of man.
Jake Yaniak says
I apologize in advance if this is too long a response. I do tend to have trouble keeping my thoughts concise.
It would perhaps help if I clarified that I am not a Calvinist. I find that the Arminian/Calvin debate often centers around the question of whether God reprobates because of human sin or whether human’s sin because God reprobates them. The way I understand God, however, it is not an either/or issue, or even an ‘and’ issue. The two acts (reprobation and rebellion) are identical, just from two different perspectives. So I would distinguish my view from Calvinism because it is equally compatible with absolute libertarian free will, which Calvinists typically either deny or claim is a paradox (as Spurgeon does in his Defense of Calvinism for instance). There is no question in my view of whether God determines our behavior or whether we determine our behavior. The two acts of will are identical. God is not a force acting against our will, conforming it to what he wants it to be in opposition to what we might otherwise have chosen.
Does this mean that God is the author of our sin? Does God make us sin?
Well, that would be an incorrect way for me to phrase the question, as it implies a duality that I do not believe exists in God (God vs. man).
Hans Denck wrote, and I am in complete agreement with him, that ‘Sin is whatever rebels against God, which in truth is “nothing.”‘
I believe that God is the Truth, and insofar as he is the truth he is irresistible and without opposition. Error is the opposite of truth, but it is not a thing – it is not a separate category to which truth is opposed. It is precisely nothing.
I believe sin originates, not in any fact about objects and their locations, but within the human heart (and ONLY within the human heart).
What is horrifying about Ted Bundy is the darkness (the ignorance of God in other words) in his heart that made him do what he did. The deed is just the visible manifestation of his evil, just as the bad fruit is the visible proof of a bad tree.
The fact of the matter is that we cannot completely control whether our deeds turn out the way we want them to or not. A man might drive drunk and, upon running a red light, intercept a terrorist en route to bomb a building. Is he a hero? He saved countless lives, but the question is not what he did, but what was in his heart (truth vs. unbelief/sin). For all we know a serial killer may inadvertently rid the world of the next potential Adolph Hitler. Would that make it right? If his murders would rid the world of a man who would in turn kill billions perhaps? No, none of those justifications changes the fact that his heart is in darkness, which is the real issue – his deeds are a symptom, not the disease.
A man might also wish to design a medicine to cure cancer, but which in the end turns out itself to be lethal. Is he a murderer?
For all we know a scientist with nothing in his heart but the desire to end disease may bring about a chain of events that leads to incredible devastation. He may save the life of the next potential Hitler, for instance.
The sin issue does not lie in the outward deeds (not in the fruit), but in our ignorance of the truth. But since sin is essentially blindness to the truth (to God in other words), it is precisely NOT ordained by God and NOT authored by him and NOT part of him.
He is Existence, and sin is nothing.
You cannot be the author of nothing, and since sin is rooted in error or deception, it does not and cannot have its root in God. Howbeit, until we receive the truth and turn away from our sins, it rules us, though it is nothing and has no part of God’s nature.
But in my understanding the real tragedy in all these circumstances is never the historical course of events in and of itself, but the sickness of soul that is merely evidenced in the events. So when something dreadful is done by one person against another I do not think any accusation can be raised against God (the Truth).
He is the truth. He is in everything and he is everywhere. Sin, properly so called, is rooted in our failure to see him.
Dan Pedersen says
I wouldn’t say that God ordained those things, but neither can we say that he is separate from them. God did not only create the universe and everything in it, he IS it and everything in it.
Your first reaction might be to say that that statement sounds like New Age heresy or something else, but how else should we interpret Paul’s statement that “Christ is all and is in all”?
I’d also add that through Christ, God has taken responsibility for everything that every “sinful rebel” has ever done. This doesn’t mean that he approves of unloving acts, but we shouldn’t be too quick to try to separate ourselves and world events from God.
Clive Clifton says
Jesus said “I Am the way the truth and the life and no one can come to the Father except through The Son”.
Luke 6 verse 20 to the end of the chapter in verses 43. to 45, These again are Jesus words.
“A good tree can’t produce bad fruit, and a bad tree can’t produce good fruit. A tree is identified by the kind of fruit it produces. Figs never grow on thorn bushes or grapes on bramble bushes. A good person produces good deeds from a good heart, and an evil produces evil deed from an evil heart, Whatever is in your heart determines what you say”.
A lady came to our Bible study group a couple of weeks ago by invitation of one of the group and proclaimed that God is in all religions and even in no religions, as he made us all and we all have a piece of the puzzle and as we come together to sort out all our differences eventually we will be complete.
I said to her that I understood what she was saying and that all mankind are on a journey which we all hope and pray will lead us in all truth to the one and only truth.
The difficulty and the concerns I have for this subject is that instead of people being led to God through His only Son Jesus they will sit back instead of continuing on their life’s journey thinking that all roads lead to God. It’s a deception from the evil one and the pride in mens hearts that tells them that they are all knowledgeable whether religious or not.
Jesus is the consummation of all of creation, in Him there is no evil as evil does not come from God and was Not created by Him. There are many other Bible scriptures that attest to that.
The apocrypha has not been included in the Bible scriptures because there was uncertainty as to who had written them. The Roman Catholic Church includes them as separate texts so they may be read and may be of interest.
There are millions of ideas and philosophies about life with all it’s many facets which are good but there is only One Truth and as then as is now The Truth is being killed by every non believer in the whole world.
In North Korea, Communist states, Muslim countries, etc etc even in so called christian lands. In the UK Christians are not allowed to offer prayer in a hospital to the sick, on airlines wearing a Christian symbol of a cross is not allowed, Christian teaching in school must not be taught as the only truth, and a blind eye is turned to extreme religious life styles. At the present our parliament reluctantly are bringing in laws forbidding forced marriage.
God said “I Am The Lord thy God thou shalt have no other Gods but Me”. Why did he say that because all others are false and lead to death spiritually and physically. God is life and gives life to all those who accept Him. Does He want anyone to live a rubbish life, walking round like living corpses and then to die to nothing?
There is no life in anything that takes the place of God. God calls continually and weeps buckets when we ignore Him. Why do we do it? far from being intelligent we are all crazy. What does God say Jeremiah 17 v 9 “the heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure, who can understand it?” Can man understand it? I think not. Clive
Jake Yaniak says
Believe me, I do share your concerns about other religions and their teachings. I believe we all have a tendency to go further than what our perceptions allow. One example would be in the case of non-Christian writings. I believe that God created them through his Word, just as he creates all things through his Word. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the ideas they contain are, in and of themselves, the truth. That would be to go beyond what we are actually perceiving, which is paper, ink, the thoughts of our fellow human beings etc. If we were to say that the Quran and the Bible BOTH teach the truth, we would run into absurdities immediately. But in my understanding, God DOES speak in and through all things (even an empty page).
One of the mistakes I think many modern Christians make is seeing God as something far off. They try to prove him through arguments, and to show that some 13 billion years ago, there had to be a God to kick-off the universe. But if you don’t see him now, in the blank pages before you, or in the Quran or in the prophet Mohammed’s beard, how can you see him 13 billion years ago in a desperate causal inference?
God is omnipresent.
Kierkegaard pointed out that trying to prove the existence of someone who is present is mockery. The proper reaction to the presence of God is worship. The fact that we go about trying to prove him, I think, shows that we misunderstand him. If we do not see an omnipresent God in the effect (the current world), how can we hope to see him in the cause?
The point I am trying to make is that the hand of God, if it is visible at all, is visible in all things, even in the ramblings of madmen and the prophets of other religions. If we simply imbibe their teachings without thought, we will run into errors. But the same can be said concerning the Scriptures, which are only of use to us through God’s enlightening Spirit.
One might think of Scriptures as mirrors.
The writings of a false religion are like a funhouse mirror (some more than others), which is as it ought to be – a distortion. But if you understand the perspective it takes – if you understand how the light is bent – you can see the truth in it. My face might not be as skinny as it appears in the mirror, but if I know that the light is being bent then I can understand the truth from it, and fix my hair or wipe the mustard out of my beard.
But if I take it to be a true representation, as the followers of false religions do, I will be led astray. The Bible, I believe, is a much closer reflection of the truth than other writings, and Jesus is a perfect reflection of God.
While I acknowledge the existence of the truth in all things, I fully recognize the need for Spiritual discernment. In truth, without Spiritual discernment there are a thousand and one ways to misinterpret the truth even in the Bible.
For this reason I am very much in agreement with much of what Jeremy has stated concerning using Jesus as the focal point of our hermeneutical endeavors. I think perhaps this is what the Apostle Paul did in Galatians when he interpreted the historical narrative of Sarah and Hagar as an allegory of the two covenants. By God’s Spirit, Paul saw in the story a truth that is contained in Jesus, not necessarily in the text of Genesis by itself, which only recounts historical data.
Jeff Stewart says
…and some women.
Clive Clifton says
Hi Jake I do agree with what your saying but the interpretation of scripture (hermeneutic) is only through the power of Holy Spirit. We mankind oops and womankind, sorry Jeff, think we are soo clever that we understand the mind of God, the ultimate deception.
Dan Pedersen says
I would encourage you not to be too quick to say that human beings don’t understand the mind of God,
Paul said “we have the mind of Christ,” and Christ himself said “if you have seen me you have seen the Father.”
There is certainly room to believe that we can understand the mind of God.
Dan Pedersen says
You are right Jake, Christ is all, and is in all.