The origin of information … so much for science burying God.

This blog appears to have not been published back in 2009 when it was written for some reason — it’s a continuation of the review of Lennox’s book “God’s Undertaker”

 

In the past, the design arguments have been critiqued as valid because they essentially set up analogies and the strength of the argument depended on the similarity of what was compared (e.g., Paley’s watch compared to nature). The design argument for DNA is stronger than earlier arguments because it possesses the identical feature (information content) to intelligently designed human texts and computer languages. It’s not just an argument from analogy but an “inference to the best explanation”. It’s interesting that so much effort is being exerted to seek for extra-terrestrial intelligence. Lennox asks, “How does one scientifically recognize a message emanating from an intelligent source …? …  If we are prepared to look for scientific evidence of intelligent activity beyond our planet, why are we so hesitant about applying exactly the same thinking to what is on our planet? … What… should we deduce from the overwhelming amount of information… contained in even the simplest living system? … Could it not be the real evidence of extra-terrestrial intelligence?”

 

In this final chapter of his book, Lennox pounces on the relatively modern concept that “information and intelligence are fundamental to the existence of life… involved from the very beginning”. But this is not a new idea. “In the beginning was the Logos (Word) … all things were made by him” wrote the apostle John. The term ‘Word’ itself connotes “notions of command, meaning, code, communication – thus information; as well as creative power… The Word … is more fundamental than mass-energy. Mass-energy belongs to the category of the created. The Word does not.”

 

Lennox goes on to point out how striking it is that this concept at the heart of the biblical message has been “so cavalierly dismissed”, but we find in science nowadays showing it to be of paramount importance. How key this is to the Creator God of the Bible. In Genesis 1 it says “God said, let there be…”, not just that God created. Hebrews 11:3 states “By faith we understand that the universe was formed by God’s word, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.” The carriers of information may well be visible (e.g., paper, email, and DNA), but information itself is not visible. “How could purely material causes account satisfactorily for the immaterial?”

 

Is this just another “futile god of the gaps argument”? Lennox doesn’t think so. This is a ‘good’ gap. He calls it a gap of principle. For example, physics and chemistry can explain what is used to write or paint something. But they cannot fully explain what and why something is written. We postulate they must have an author. Chance and necessity cannot generate the complex information that occurs in biology. Lennox adds, “There is more than a whiff of suspicion that reluctance on the part of some scientists to make a design inference from the existence of information-rich biomolecules has less to do with science than it has to do with the implications of the design-inference as to the possible identity of the designer. It is, therefore, a worldview issue, and not simply a scientific one.”

 

What an amazing picture this is. The Logos, the Word Himself, made everything and gave life. Not only that, but He came and dwelt among us (even though we would not receive Him), only to give us life through His death. And we still want to reject Him?

 

There is one more point to be made from this book. Lennox addresses Dawkins complaint that the design inference is too complicated and “who made God”. But this will take one more blog.

 

Have you chosen wisely?

I just finished reading Mark Mittelberg’s “Choosing Your Faith: In a world of spiritual options” (Tyndale: 2008). Mark had spoke at Xenos Summer Institute two years ago (http://www.xenos.org/xsi/index.htm – look in the 2008 archives for Mittelberg’s teachings) and I figured, since this years XSI is right around the corner, that I better get this book finished (I’m only two years behind). I’m very glad I did. As implied in the title, this book is about how people choose their faith, what some of those choices are, and why choosing to trust Jesus Christ is the best and only real option. I found this book to be an excellent read and highly recommend it.

The first half of the book is about how people choose their faith. Mittelberg comes up with six approaches to the faith choice:

The relativistic faith path – belief that there are differing truths that are based on personal perception and experience… truth is perspectival (p. 22)
The traditional faith path – probably the most common, the passive reception of truth — a hand-me-down religion that has never been critically examined (p. 45)
The authoritarian faith path – similar to tradition, since it is passively received, however, here it is an issue of submission to a religious leader (p. 60)
The intuitive faith path – real perception resides in feelings and instinct (p. 83)
The mystical faith path – based on claims of an actual encounter with a supernatural entity (p. 102)
The evidential faith path – logic and experience — reasoning of the mind combined with real-world information that we gain through the five senses (p. 129)

It is important to realize your “faith path” because you may be deceived. Or you may believe things and even if there are true ( I’m using “true” in the absolute sense) you don’t really know the basis for your belief. This leaves you in the very precarious position of not really knowing what you are talking about and either being susceptible to being persuaded to believe or accept something wrong or at the very least just be a poor or unconvincing witness.

The second half of the book concentrated mostly on the evidences for belief in a personal God and in particular Jesus Christ. Mittelberg called the lines of evidence “arrows” because they point to Christ. He went through twenty of these arrows which included the design argument and other similar arguments to arguments for the Bible as reliable and the best source of truth to fulfilled prophecy to the change and testimony of the disciples and testimonies of many people throughout history. Though these were not exhaustive treatises, they did illustrate the main lines of evidence for belief in Jesus and he also provided references to many sources where you could dig deeper if you wanted to. Near the end of the book he dealt with some barriers people put up towards belief which I also appreciated. You often encounter these (e.g., “we don’t know enough”, “inconsistencies in the Bible”, “suffering in the world”) when talking to folks about God. Sometimes they are raised as actual issues, sometimes as a smoke screen.

What I found most enjoyable and intriguing was the way Mittelberg wrote about these approaches. It was very conversational and not weighed down with philosophical ramblings. Yet, he didn’t skimp on some of the tough issues or nonsensical beliefs some people have. He very straightforwardly, yet graciously, challenged various beliefs based on inaccuracies and/or false claims. He also introduced the reader to logic (something you don’t see every day) in a very practical way. For example, with respect to the tradition faith approach, “somebody’s parents and teachers have to be wrong”… “opposites cannot be true”… “law of noncontradiction is an inescapable reality” (p. 50).

There is much to learn from Mittelberg and you can tell that he’s conversed with many different types of people from Mormons to Muslims and New Agers to hard-core atheists. Also, I think he brings some degree of levity and much realism to the whole aspect of witnessing. The fact is that most people don’t really have a whole lot of basis for what they believe. Why should we operate out of fear when trying to witness? Why not show people what the basis or implications for their belief is in a non-threatening way? We have the truth – or at least we have the opportunity to get to know the truth if we choose to. Others need to know the truth, after all, that’s what we are here for.

My only real critique is that it had cost too much ($19.99 new). I understand that the guy has to make a living. But, I don’t understand why Christian book publishers charge so much for books that are excellent resources for Christians to get equipped with for the ministry of reconciliation. I see now that you can get used copies for about $5 plus shipping on amazon.com. I’d definitely do that if you are interested.

Are you or were you Already Gone?

I just read the book: Already Gone: Why your kids will quit church and what you can do to stop it by Ken Ham and Britt Beemer, (Master Books, Green Forest, AK: 2009). In it, Young-Earth Creationist Ken Ham and marketing researcher Britt Beemer seek to understand the plight  of American Christianity as we see more and more young people leaving the church, and in most cases, never returning. They do some exhaustive surveying of those who have left the church and discover some startling statistics. Of the 20-somethings raised in a Bible-based church interviewed who no longer attend church regularly, 95% attended through middle school, 55% attended through high school, and only 11% attended through college: i.e., 90% were Already Gone by the time of college. From their findings, much of this loss is due to doubts these students have about the Bible. In addition, about two-thirds of the youth leave the church by the time they are a young adult.  Their exhortation is for the church to wake up and be the church (body) it was intended to be, faithfully adhering to and teaching from the authoritative Scriptures in a way that is relevant (defensible) to culture and history.

There is much that I think is very true and that I agree with:

  • The dismal state of the church in America and how it is losing it’s youth
  • How the authority of the Word has disintegrated in the church today
  • The church really can’t change culture (105)
  • Music is a minor element to the church at best – truth is relevant and needs to be the emphasis (110). In fact, much of the emphasis and approach for music in the church has no Biblical basis at all (127).
  • Hypocrisy and the institutionalizing of church is a major reason why young people leave (110ff)
  • The need for more interactive ways of teaching the truths of Scripture and apologetics, e.g., small group settings (125ff), similar to the early church
  • Focus on youth and young adults (135) — in fact a major priority should be to equip and let them lead and reach out to their own generations (160-161)
  • The need for revolution (141)
  • The opportunity to win some of those back who have left the church

I applaud the authors for their uncompromising view of Scripture as authoritative and the need to quit being lame in the way it is presented or glossed over in favor of “worship”.  I also appreciate their candor and critique of the way we do church. Not only the worship service but also Sunday school — which is not getting the job done. The emphasis on Bible stories and entertainment as opposed to the Bible as real and historical undoubtedly plays into the doubts raised in the minds of teenagers and young adults who encounter the sophisticated arguments of the kosmos. In addition the reliance on Sunday school to be the source of Bible teaching as opposed to the home.

 

However, I do disagree with the Young Earth view advocated by the authors and a missing element to their view of reaching the younger generation.

First, their emphasis on a Young Earth apologetic overshadows much of the good things they have to say [1]. Undoubtedly they would probably counter that I am compromised and fail to uphold the historical truth of a six 24 hr day creation and have allowed “millions of years of evolution” to creep into my view of Scripture which results in the decline of Scriptural authority and relevance and eventual milk-toast Christianity.  However, I do not believe that Scripture mandates the Young Earth view at all. There are plenty of good arguments for the days of creation not referring to 24 hour periods [2].  It may be true that the advent of naturalism and evolution may have influenced some of the old-earth interpretations of Genesis 1. However, that does not mean that they are merely compromises. The fact is that Genesis 1 is a single chapter with few details compared to the enormity of what happened during creation (the few details in Genesis 1 about creation do compare relatively well with what little is known from science). The emphasis in Genesis is the creation and fall of humanity and how God did and will deal with it. I agree with the need for effective teaching and training in handling the truth accurately, knowing the arguments of the kosmos and the apologetics to counter those arguments which includes the historical reliability, inspiration and veracity of Scripture. My experience is that Genesis 1 is not the biggest stumbling block as the authors make out. Yes it is thrown out there but there are very reasonable answers and one typically finds other issues at the heart of people’s antagonism towards Scripture, God, and/or the church which are just as if not more important to defend as well. Some of this was addressed  in Chapter 6 of their book, but I think it needs a much bigger stage.  I’m curious if the age of the universe is something we could “agree to disagree” on. I could, but the Young-Earth apologetic appears to be so intricately tied to everything else in their view, I’m just not sure. 

Second, I feel the book is missing or underemphasizing a significant reason for the loss of young people to the kosmos which is that the church is not just here to teach and emphasize truth, but it is here for a purpose: the ministry of reconciliation to the world. We are God’s ambassadors we have purpose – when young people realize this things become much more relevant. The book lacks an outward focus to reach the lost. Speaking the truth in love is the combination that must be balanced and emphasized. The lost need to see and experience the love of God which lives in the church and which touches them as people share the gospel with them in a life-giving way and not just for the purpose of “winning converts”.  The authors touch on this at the end with the application that students can be equipped to reach out to their own generation, but it is really much more than that. They need to experience and be active parts of the living Body Of Christ in which Scripture is wielded (which is stifled by the institutionalizing, worship service-oriented practices of most modern churches). When those truthing-in-love relationships are seen by the world people are drawn to Christ and that age group can turn from  a declining population to one of vibrant growth.  It seems to me that is the hope for this generation. It’s also why I am so thankful to be part of  a fellowship where students are a vibrant part of the church and not only sticking around but leading their peers to Christ.

 

1. When trying to show how far things have gone astray, their examples overly emphasize the decay of a Young Earth view of the world with those who have left the church. For example, when listing the negative beliefs of those who attended Sunday school and now have left the church, six of the sixteen characteristics  (more than a third) dealt directly with a view contrary to the Young Earth position (39). 

2. The account of Genesis 2 where man is created followed bya the population of the garden with foliage, with animals, the naming of the animals, followed by the formation of woman out of man took longer than 24 hours of Day 6 in Genesis 1:24ff. Some claim that Eve was within Adam on the 6th Day (positionally or metaphorically) and was brought out later (on the Eighth day?), but this seems as much of a “reading into the text” as saying that the days of Genesis 1 could be very long periods of time. See Gleason Archer’s A Survey of Old Testament Introduction for different views of the interpretation of “day” in Genesis 1.

What’s in a Polity?

A Review of Perspectives on Church Government: Five Views of Church Polity. ed. C.O. Brand and R. S. Norman (Broadman and Holman, Nashville TN: 2004)

This book is about five different views of church polity written from proponents of each view who give an apologia for their views. In addition, which I really liked, each proponent critiques the other’s views in a section after each chapter. The five different polities are:

(1) The Single-Elder-Led Church (Congregational) – Daniel Akin

(2) The Presbyterian Church Government – Robert L. Reymond

(3) The Congregational-Led Church – James Leo Garret, Jr.

(4) The Bishop-Led Church (Episcopal or Anglican) – The Very Rev. Dr. Theol. Paul F. M. Zahl

(5) The Plural-Elder-Led Church (Congregational) – James R. White

 

The book is obviously heavily weighted with congregational models, where the congregation decides on some level what should be done in the church either by voting on everything or at least in selecting leaders. I suppose these different polities make up the bulk of protestant churches in America, but I don’t really know.

 

So, in reading through the book I was wondering how important is polity, how and why do some churches do things one way and others another, and what does the Bible emphasize in comparison?

 

How important is polity? I had just read Viola’s Reimaging Church prior to the Perspectives book and from Viola one gets the feeling that polity really isn’t that important at all, it’s about Christ working in and through the body in a relatively unstructured, organic way. In the Perspectives book, the importance of polity varies between the authors with some arguing that there really is no set polity doctrine in the Bible, just principles to follow (1, 3, and 4), and therefore is flexible and may be highly influenced by tradition (as in the case of the Bishop-Led model) and others argue it is much more clearly defined in Scripture (2 and 5) and therefore should be followed accordingly, if not rigidly. All the authors also seem to agree that Biblically “epsikopos” and “presbyteros” (terms for overseer or bishop and deacon in the Bible, respectively) are essentially referring to the same position, the former referring to the ministry (overseer or shepherd) and the latter referring to the position/character of the individual. Even Zahl (Bishop-Led) states that there are essentially two orders of ministry: deacons and presbyters, with the third level (episkopos) sounding more like an advanced presbyter rather than a Biblically based position.

 

Perhaps the best way to go about this report is to critique the views in what I believe to be their degree of being off-the-mark.

 

The view which I think is most off-the-mark is the Bishop-Led view of Zahl. His was probably the most readable and entertaining chapter of the whole book and I do appreciate is own critique of the foibles of Anglicanism and Episcopalians throughout history and even their bulky, stuffy, if not stuck form of polity. He argues that the BL view is good for the well-being (benne esse) of the church but does not define its essence (esse). I guess this is the case because it upholds tradition and enables people to have some form of humility because the service is “vertical” and not “horizontal”. Even if the teaching sucks you can get something out of the rest of the service. I was surprised that he didn’t make a greater appeal to apostolic authority (which the Catholics do). He did state that “In the bishops unique ordaining power lies the validity of the church: its “apostolic succession” going back in one unbroken line to the apostles…” (p. 228). Also, in the same section that the church’s catholicity is safeguarded in the three-fold order (Bishops – Prebyters – Deacons) through preaching the Word of God and administering the two Biblical sacraments (Baptism and Communion). However, it wasn’t a very big plea. It seems to me that this is the only argument for this position, albeit a bad one. Perhaps that is why he didn’t make much of it and focused on how the Bishop-Led is good for the well-being of the church and does not constitute its essence. But that doesn’t leave me with much. How is the church going to impact the world if this is all there is (Matt 16:18)? It seems like the BL church is just going to fade away. I thought it fascinating that Zahl, apparently worried about this too, ends his chapter by praying for a “new John Wesley” to emerge again and shake things up.

 

The next most off-the-mark approach in my view was the Presbyterian model. Reymond was the most authoritative and forceful in his arguments of all the authors. He absolutely feels like Scripture has laid out a definite pattern for church government in the form of different levels of presbyters (or courts of presbyters) from the local to the universal church. He claims this is clearly the Biblical position. He did make a big deal about the need for connection between different local churches based on the interconnectedness seen in the NT (e.g., visits and oversight exerted by Paul and others in Acts and epistles). His main argument for ruler ship by a court of presbyters only comes from Acts 15 and Gal 2, a single Biblical event. He spends over a quarter of his chapter on this event and its nuances as the prototype for all intra-church interaction. The Antioch presbytery sent Paul and Barnabas to the Jerusalem presbytery to sort out the Gentile/circumcision thing, the different presbyteries debated the issue, they came to consensus and drafted a letter to be sent to all the churches of which Paul capitulated in his 2nd Missionary Journey:

 

“In sum, Presbyterians believe that the New Testament teaches in a schematic way ecclesiastical “connectionalism” between local churches, presbyteries, and a general assembly because they see it being lived out by the church in Acts 15!” (p. 109)

 

Now, there is much to take issue with on this interpretation including what appears to be a formal importation of modern day Presbyterian-speak and polity into the early church as well as how much Paul capitulated to all that was laid out by the Jersualem church (at least the meat sacrificed to idols part). But I’m not going to get sidetracked. It seems to me that the most difficult aspect of this argument is that one is basing an entire doctrine on this one passage. He does argue that there needs to be a visible and universal unity in the church (Jn 17:20-21; 1 Cor 12; Eph 2:14-16; 4:3-6; Phil 2:2; Col 3:12-14 etc…); however, most of those passages are addressed to local churches and the basis for unity is not a formal polity structure but the fellowship of the indwelling Holy Spirit (Phil 2:1,2) and the unity within the Godhead itself (Eph 4). Yes it would be nice to have a more together and unified universal church, but is that the mandate from Scripture? Clearly not (at least I don’t see it anywhere)!  Also important and profound is the idea that human institutions could really bring about the unity expressed in the passages above. I guess one could argue that God could do it if He wanted to, but He certainly didn’t make it a big deal in the NT. From the NT, the reason connectionalism was maintained was because of how God orchestrated things through the apostles. They had the authority from Christ. How can we export that beyond the apostles? I don’t read that there were really bodies of presbyters holding court, it was the apostles who seemed to be the ones orchestrating what little formal order there was (e.g., Paul with the Ephesian elders in Acts 20:17ff). In this sense, I think the BL church has more elegant (but wrong) basis to argue for a universal paradigm by appealing to apostolic authority. The Presbyterian model doesn’t even do that but instead appeals to a structure that is void of both fictitious apostolic authority and Biblical grounding and was missing for 1500 years until the Reformers picked it up. 

 

The congregational models appear to be the closest to what the Bible speaks to polity; however, each view is not without its own issues. For all the congregational chapters there is the understanding that the Lordship of the church is from Christ alone and not from some higher human organization, i.e., a greater independence and self-sustaining character than the other two views.

  • The emphasis of Garret (Democratic Congregationalism = DC) was on the passages that demonstrated where the church decided things, e.g., church discipline (Matt 18:20, 1 Cor 5/2Cor 2), the selection of the first deacons in Acts 6, the sending of Paul and Barnabas by the Antioch church in 1 Cor 13 and Acts 15:22 where the “entire church” chose Judas and Silas to go with Paul and Barnabas. However, that is about as far as Garret goes. What of leaders? Is everything to be decided democratically? The NT certainly affirms the need for elders/overseers (1 Tim 3 and Titus 1). Aiken points out in his critique that Garret has “no mention, much less interaction, with the crucial text on pastoral leadership such as 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13; Hebrews 13:7, 17”, which I concur was severely lacking in this chapter.
  • White advocated for plural eldership which is the polity I would most agree with. He makes a case for the sufficiency of the local church and also a disclaimer that this does not mean that local churches should interact, seek council, etc… with other local churches. He argues that Acts 15 (contra Reymond) was a unique event. Plurality of elders is pretty clear in Scripture (Acts 14:21-23; Titus 1:5; Acts 20:17ff, Phil 1:1). Interestingly, he seems to ignore all the congregational passages brought out by Garret.
  • Akin argued for the Single Elder Congregational model. I appreciated his broad use of Scripture to argue for Congregationalism[1] and for the concept of Elder/Overseer[2]. His point that “… congregationalism undergirds the New Testament pattern of church government prevents churches past or present from being locked into some type of ecclesiastical strait-jacket.”(p. 40) was very insightful. Actually, his argument for the Single Elder position was based more on the idea that the Bible is flexible on this and that there are circumstances that warrant it… not that it is the way it should be all the time. He argues that it was probably necessary in some house church situations. That the “Pastor-teacher” role of Eph 4:11 is geared toward the local church, whereas apostle, prophet, and evangelists were not? The pastor-teacher being what many refer to as “senior pastor” today. This seems to be a case of importing today’s polity into the first century. He then goes on to discuss how a senior elder (pastor) among elders is similar or at least a variation of the single elder position and uses Moses (not in NT though), Peter (first among the three), and James (Jerusalem church) as examples of senior elder/pastor types in the Bible. Certainly there are probably cases where a one leader is all there is (e.g., a small body) and in plural leadership one or two leaders are more strategically gifted, knowledgeable, or mature and are more influential than others. So, I could agree with his flexibility point to some extent, but the clear example of Scriptures is for there to be plurality – which should be the norm and strived for in a church.

 

So in sum, I thought the book to be rather stuffy. I read through Acts recently noting anything that seemed to relate to polity. What struck me were the informal nature of the church and the rather spontaneous nature of church growth. Decisions and direction seemed to come from God’s leading through visions, open doors, closed doors and persecution. How else could God lead?

 

Human structure seems to get in the way of God’s leadership. When we establish many levels of organization or set in stone “this is the absolute way”, it’s probably the death of that church. At least that’s what seems to be the case especially for the Bishop Led and Presbyterian models. Even the congregational models can get pretty uptight about protocol. Have we replaced visions and revelations from God with structure?

 

It is also evident that churches did interact with one another in Acts. It is probably a very dangerous precedent to claim complete autonomy, but at the same time the interaction is hardly structured and formal (like Presbyterianism advocates for). Unity comes from Jesus (we are the BOC through the Holy Spirit) and His mission for us, not structure.  

 


[1] Evidence for Congregationalism: Mat 18:15-17, Acts 6:1-7, Acts 11:22, Acts 14:27, Acts 15, 1 Cor 5, 1 Cor 6, 1 Cor 7-12, 1 Cor 16, 2 Cor 2

[2] An Analysis of the Concept of Elder Elders in NT and OT, the equivalence of Elders and Overseers in the NT (e.g., Acts 20:28), Acts 20:17-38, 1 Tim 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-9, 1 Pet 5:1-4, 1 Cor 16:15-16, Gal 6:6, Eph 4:11, 1 Thess 5:12-13, 1 Tim 5:17-25, In addition: Heb 13:17; James 3:1

 

Additional Thoughts on Reaching the Campus Tribes

Joel turned us on the the e-book by Benson Hines entitled: Reaching the Campus Tribes (www.reachingthecampustribes.com) and has been blogging about it (http://jhughes.neoblogs.org/2009/07/reaching-the-campus-tribes-review-part-2/). I just finished reading the book and thought it very worthwhile. Thanks Joel for searching this stuff out!

As Benson went through his argument for the need to invest more in the college scene I was most struck with a sense of “that’s right”. It was more resonance, we’ve felt that for years and it’s so cool to hear someone else voice it as well. Here are a few…

  • “The practice of college ministry is far more like Missions than like Christian Education.” (p. 8 ) – Though not fully cross-cultural, it does have that missions feel and needs to be approached in that way since the church has so little presence in the college scene. This could be said of our post-Christian culture as well, but it is probably no where as desperate as in the universities (Joel has commented extensively on this: http://jhughes.neoblogs.org/).
  • College age is a “hinge moment” in a person’s life. “If American Christians ministered to college students really well for the next five years and then completely stopped, we would still change the world for the next fifty years. (p. 61) — I really like this point and I don’t understand at all why the Christian church ignores this. If we cannot reach students in college, what is the likelihood that they will come back to the church let alone develop a strong vital and impactful walk with the Lord? On the other hand, what is the percentage of older strong Christian workers who had a meaningful time of spiritual growth during college-aged years (either being saved in college or prior to college) — I would think very high. That certainly is the case in Xenos.
  • “Better college ministry, better youth ministry” (p. 71) — Isn’t that the truth. I feel that we are so blessed as a fellowship to have older students ministering in vital roles to younger-aged students. I feel personally blessed because some of those kids are my kids. But even more it is a beautiful testimony of the Body of Christ when you have older adults working together with high schoolers or college students to minister to junior high or younger students. In addition, the vision that the older groups give to the younger groups is awesome. The imagery of the parts of the body from 1 Cor 12 really come to life. 

After reading this and thinking about it, it really impresses upon me what an important opportunity we have to help build God’s Kingdom — do you appreciate what we are involved in? I know I don’t and easily get distracted by the day-to-day mundane. Like Paul says, we need to make “the most of your time, because the days are evil” (Eph 4:16). The time is now and we don’t want to waste it. We are entering the college scene this year with the strongest group in our history. About seven or eight years ago we entered with three guys and out of that we now have two home churches.  This year we have over twenty students in college ministry… talk about potential! Not only that, but we still have great waves in high school and junior high on their heals.

We need to be “devoted” in prayer over this (Col 4:2)! We need the Lord because we are in way over our heads and no doubt the devil will mount even greater persecution than we have experienced in the past as well as other forms of attack. But God has privileged us with this ministry and I trust He knows what He’s doing. 

Has Science Buried God… because if monkeys could type…?

In chapter 10, Lennox critiques Dawkins view that unguided natural processes can account for the origin of biological information. The idea put forward by Dawkins (a variant allegedly dating back to T.H. Huxley) is that a bunch of monkeys typing on type writers, if given enough time, paper, and energy, would eventually come up with a poem or even a whole book of Shakespeare’s. Now the odds of this happening randomly are astounding which is admitted by Dawkins as well. The solution for Dawkins is then to break the problem down into small manageable parts. The origin of life was not from purely chance processes, it must have started from something simple enough to arise by chance, but then there was a “cumulative sieving or selection process in which the results of one sieving process are fed into the next.” In other words, it is a combination of chance and necessity. In Dawkins example, there is a target phrase the monkeys are shooting for (“Methinks it is like a weasel” – from Hamlet), 28 monkeys in a row typing away, and one letter that each monkey has to get in the right sequence. When the monkey gets the required letter he’s done. Now if this were completely random (monkeys not knowing what letter they were shooting for) the odds of this happening are about 1 in 10 to the 31 power (1 followed by 31 zeros), i.e., extremely small. But with the qualifications that the monkeys know their target and stop, it would take about 43 tries to get the right answer.

 

Now remember that Dawkins is trying to prove that natural selection (a blind, mindless, unguided process) has the power to produce biological information. But what Dawkins introduces is a target phrase, a precise goal, and profoundly un-Darwinian as Dawkins admits. How could blind evolution see the target and compare what is generated with it? How could mindless evolution require inputs which bear all the marks of an intelligent mind? And Lennox concludes, “And ironically, the very information that the mechanisms are supposed to produce is apparently already contained somewhere within the organism, whose genesis he claims to be simulating by his process. The argument is entirely circular.”

 

Lennox astutely points out what is going on with Dawkins argument. Dawkins (and others) intelligently program their scenario “to remove the real problem they set out to solve”. There is no new information generated. All the information used to set up the problem dictates the outcome in a very simple and expected way. To increase the probability of getting the right answer (Methinks it is a weasel), Dawkins had to reduce the complexity of the problem. But evolution is supposed to be able to create greater complexity out of something less complex? Lennox is right, “Dawkins’ whole proposal thus turns out to be nothing but a further example of assuming what you claim to be proving”. Actually, the whole scenario put forward by Dawkins, as well as the others highlighted by Lennox, if anything, increases the “plausibility for intelligent design”.

 

 

Has Science Buried God… because it figured out the origin of the genetic code?

 

DNA, how important is it?

 

It dictates what we and every living thing become – but it is not life.

 

It is key to the formation of life out of non-life – but how did it become?

 

It holds perhaps the most foundational concept yet of our universe that has been discovered – information (knowledge) itself.

 

Lennox now moves into the genetic code and its origin in Chapter 8. I will not get into what DNA is, but at the heart of DNA are four chemicals that essentially form a code or a language (A, G, C, and T for Adenin, Guanine, Cytosine, and Thymine, respectively). Pairs of these chemicals (letters if you will – 3.5 billion for the human genome) form the rungs of a ladder (the double-helix structure) in a specific sequence that holds the information needed to form a living organism. The mechanism for how the information in DNA is communicated within in a living cell is so complicated that Lennox quotes evolutionary biologists John Maynard Smith and Eors Szathmary:

 

“The existing translational machinery is at the same time so complex, so universal, and so essential that it is hard to see how it could have come into existence, or how life could have existed without it.”

 

And Lennox goes into some detail on what is known of the interworking of DNA. However, what I’m fascinated with is how did DNA ever come about in the first place? The indication from what is known is that DNA is dependent on life more so than the other way around which implies an “irreducible symbiosis” not capable of being explained by simplistic models of origins.  The code is viewed as ancient and has not appeared to change for over 2 billion years. All living things use the same 64 word code. In addition, there does not appear to be a chemical cause for the ordering of the code (if so the information that was able to be communicated would be severely restricted).

 

Lennox then goes on in Chapter 9 to discuss different kinds of information, the complexity of information, and methods (e.g., algorithms) of simplifying information. You’ll have to read this if interested, but the bottom line is that “a DNA sequence… exhibits the specified complexity necessary for it to code that protein and is consequently algorithmically incompressible, and thus random from the mathematical point of view”. The significance of this is that “No law of nature could achieve this” (Paul Davies). We just have no category for how the information encoded in DNA is produced. Lennox goes on to say, “if chance and necessity, either separately or together, are not capable of biogenesis, then we must consider the possibility that a third factor was involved. That third factor is the input of information.”

 

Lennox admits this assertion raises many protests. It is an appeal to a ‘God of the gaps’-type solution. And admittedly this could be construed as lazy thinking … “we don’t know how it happened, therefore God did it”. However, as Lennox points out, “It is also very easy to say ‘evolution did it’ when one has not got the faintest idea how, or has simply cobbled up a speculative just-so story with no evidential basis… a materialist has to say that natural processes were solely responsible… As a result it is just as easy to end up with an ‘evolution of the gaps’ as with a ‘God of the gaps’… it is easier to end up with an ‘evolution of the gaps’… since the former solution is likely to attract far less criticism…”

 

 At the heart of this discussion is the question, “whether molecular machines (of whatever kind) can generate novel information”. Brillouin, an information theorist, says “A machine does not create any new information, but it performs a very valuable transformation of known information.” In other words, whatever produces the information has to be more complex than the information produced.

 

Has Science Buried God… because it can explain how life originated?

Lennox now moves from biological evolution to the origin of life itself, i.e., molecular evolution. The neo-Darwinists of course adhere to the idea that life evolved from ‘blind, mindless, unguided’ processes (Dawkins). Now, before I get into it, one thing that has puzzled me is how “Darwinian Evolution” is extended (backwards) to, involved in, or spoken of in the same breath as the origin of life? Darwin wrote the “Origin of the Species” right. He provided a mechanism for the formation of more complex life forms via mutation and natural selection – which absolutely necessitates life to begin with. As discussed in the first half of the book, though this mechanism is evident in microevolution, speciation (macroevolution) is really not substantiated with any verifiable scientific evidence. It is even more of a stretch to extend it backwards to how life “evolved”.

 

In Chapter 7, Lennox discusses the origin of life. He quotes Nobel Prize winner Jacques Monod who states that ‘the simplest cells available to us for study have nothing “primitive” about them… no vestiges of truly primitive structures are discernible’. One example of this would be the concept of ‘irreducible complexity’ (Behe) – that there exist parts (a drive shaft) of a single system (like a motor) that are integral to its function and which cannot evolve in a progressive fashion. Darwin himself admitted that ‘If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down’. Behe argues that there are many irreducibly complex machines in nature and that ‘molecular evolution is not based on scientific authority’ since there is not one publication in prestigious scientific journals or books that describes how molecular evolution of any real complex biochemical system either did occur or might have occurred. Behe’s taken quite a bit of heat for this, but it is true.

 

Lennox goes on to discuss the inadequacy (or perhaps futility) of the famous Stanley Miller experiment which was once heralded as a way that amino acids may have formed (the building blocks of the proteins that are the building blocks of DNA) to produce life. The biggest problem is the way in which proteins are built out of amino acids. The odds of this happening are staggering. The scientists answer is that there is some self-organizing principle at work to assemble the amino acids. What is hard to fathom is the complexity involved to assemble amino acids, not just in any order, but organizing them into a language-type of structure. As Paul Davies puts it, ‘Life is actually not an example of self-organization. Life is in fact specified, i.e. genetically directed, organization’. Something external has to act on it to get it to organize. What needs explaining according to Stephen Meyer is ‘the origin of information’.  

 

Perhaps Francis Crick said it best, ‘The origin of life seems almost to be a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going’.

 

Next time, we get into the genetic code itself.

 

Is Evolution God’s Undertaker?

That is the question that John Lennox addresses in his most recent book God’s Undertaker, Has Science Buried God? (Lion, Oxford: 2007). I’ve read about two-thirds of the book which is filled with so much excellent content I thought I better write some of it down before it goes in one end and out the other.

The beginning of the book discusses the question of whether naturalism (atheism – nature is all there is and explaining nature is all we can know) is demanded by science or was naturalism brought to science. Is naturalism itself a statement of faith? Or is naturalism something that will not hinder science compared to religion? Lennox does a good job of showing how modern science actually came into being because of practicing Christians (Whitehead’s thesis) such as Galileo, Kepler, Pascal, Boyle, Newton, Faraday, Babbage, Mendel, Pasteur, Kelvin, and Clerk Maxwell (p. 20). His point that theists do not hinder the scientific process at all.  However, the real conflict that exists is not between science and religion, it is between naturalism and theism; two diametrically opposed worldviews or philosophies (p. 27). He goes on to discuss the limits of science and really the faith that is inherent in the reductionistic thinking that science is all about ((The idea that we can understand things down at their smallest parts and then explain more complicated things (bottom up thinking) – for example one limitation is akin to the analogy that I may know all of the materials that are contained in my house, but with that knowledge alone, could I really predict how they would be put together to form my house? In fact, you really would have to start with the raw materials used to make the building materials, or the molecules used to make those raw materials, or the atoms… From just that knowledge could you predict how the building materials (the higher up process) would be fabricated? — It’s not that reducing things to their smallest parts is wrong. It is essential to science. But it does have it limitations in being able to explain higher level processes just from what is known of the smallest parts.)) as well as some arguments from design and the fine-tuning of the universe.

Evolution Confusion

What I found most useful so far was his chapter on “The nature and scope of evolution” (p. 98ff.). What actually is meant by evolution? Lennox gives five different variations:

  1. Change, Development, Variation – this just implies change without any implication as to mechanism or intelligent input. This is a very innocuous and uncontroversial use of the word. After all, things change.
  2. Microevolution – this is what Darwin observed himself on Galapagos which we see and measure everyday as bacteria become resistant to antibiotic drugs. One example used in many textbooks is that of the color of moths (light moths were more easily seen by predators, so darker moths were more fit survivors). This has been proven to be “wrong, innacurate, or at least incomplete”; however, it still is used in most modern textbooks. Microevolution though is a fact and can be demonstrated on many counts.
  3. Macroevolution – refers to large scale innovation (e.g., new organs, structures, body-plans, new genetic material) characterized by a marked increase in complexity. This is one of the areas where most of the controversy surrounding evolution exists. The gradualists (e.g., Dawkins and Dennet) would say that macroevolution is merely the extrapolation of microevolution.
  4. Artificial selection, for example, in plant and animal breeding – We of course see this in all our different doggies. There is considerable intelligent input here. Darwin would argue that what takes man a relatively short time would take nature a very long time. However, this provides no real evidence in and of itself for evolution by unguided processes.
  5. Molecular evolution – In reality, evolution presupposes the existence of self-replicating genetic material. Natural selection requires things to be living, prebiological natural selection is a contradiction. Molecular evolution is the term used to describe the living from the non-living. The fact that it uses the word evolution does obscure the fact that it is not Darwin’s evolution.

So the confusion comes in with what one actually means by evolution. If one says “I don’t believe in evolution”, then they would be taken as a fool, because 1, 2, and 4 clearly do occur and can be measured and verified. However, what typically happens is that people state that macroevolution occurs by natural selection, but the only real examples given are those of microevolution. What is interesting in all this is that for all of the examples of natural selection, nothing new was ever formed. What was selected was already there. There is nothing creative or innovative from what is known of natural selection. This flies in the face of the assertions made by Dawkins and other neo-Darwinists.

So really the question becomes,  how far can microevolution go? Lennox has many quotes from many scientists who admit that there is no evidence for large evolutionary innovations — none have been observed, we don’t know if any are in process now, there are no good fossil records of any, we can’t really effectively exrapolate from what is known (microevolution). One emenent scientist, Pierre Grasse from France, notes that “fruit flies remain fruit flies in spite of the thousands of generations that have been bred and all the mutations that have been induced in them”.  More recent work on E. coli bacteria has yielded no real innovative changes after 25,000 generations.

Clearly there are two clear reasons that negate the proposition by neo-Darwinists such as Dawkins, Lewontin, and Dennet that attribute macroevolution as fact similar to the fact that the earth orbits the sun:

  1. The earth is observed to orbit the sun – where birds or any other species actually came from has NEVER been observed
  2. The earth is observed REPEATEDLY to orbit the sun – as Lennox puts it, “to put an unobservable and unrepeatable phenomenon in the same category as an observable and  repeatable one would seem to be such an elementary blunder… one cannot help wondering if … materialistic prejudice is overriding common (scientific) sense” (p. 108)

The evidence of the fossil record is so against gradual evolution it isn’t even contested by paleontologists. All that is observed in the fossil records is stasis (no real change in a species during their existence on earth) and a sudden appearance — not by steady or gradual transformation from it’s ancestors, they appear “fully formed”. That is why Gould and Elderedge came up with the theory of “punctuated equilibrium” – the existence of sudden large macroevolutionary jumps (whatever that is).

The final discussion of this chapter was on “common descent”. This is actually a more powerful technique for determining common ancestry which is the structure of the DNA sequences in a collection of organisms. The similarities in the DNA sequences can be used as well an evidence for design. Stephen Meyer (quoted by Lennox) makes a good point, “postulating an unobserved designer is no more unscientific than postulating unobserved macroevolutionary steps.”

That is all for now. But knowing these different aspects of evolution and what is really known is essential in dialoguing with folks on this issue.

Law and Gospel: The Reformed View

I’ve been reading the book, Five Views on Law and Gospel, ed. S.N. Gundry (Zondervan: Grand Rapids, MI – 1996) which presents five different views of the Law and in some cases and to varying degrees it’s relation to the gospel. The authors and topics covered are:

* Willem A. VanGemeren – The Law is The Perfection of Righteousness in Jesus Christ: A Reformed Perspective
* Greg L. Bahnsen – The Theonomic Reformed Approach to Law and Gospel
* Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. – The Law as God’s Gracious Guidance for the Promotion of Holiness
* Wayne G. Strickland – The Inauguration of the Law of Christ with the Gospel of Christ: A Dispensational View
* Douglas J. Moo – The Law of Christ as the Fulfillment of the Law of Moses: A Modified Lutheran View

This book is part of the “Counterpoints” series put out by Zondervan. It compares, contrasts, and critiques the views of a certain theological issue, the Law and Gospel in this case, by having leaders of different views each submit their explanation and defense of their own view after which the other authors commend or critique the defense. This is done for all five of the above authors. I find this series to be very informative and enlightening as to different views on specific theological topics or issues. Kyle McCallum also recently blogged on a book from this Counterpoints series for his LTC book report on the topic of sanctification [http://kyle.neoblogs.org].

Up to this point I have read the first two sections dealing with two Reformed positions, the classical (VanGemeren) and the theonomic or reconstructionist (Bahnsen). The former espouses to be the traditional reformed view whereas the latter is more extreme in that the view of the Law is not merely applied in the personal moral sphere but also to the political (secular government) sphere as well.

Though these guys have much to say, it seems to me that the essential view of the reformed camp is that:

a. God is good,

b. His Law reflects His morality the best if not completely (at least for us), especially in the 10 Commandments (Ex 20:2-17) which is essentially viewed as general apodictic laws that are timeless (p. 30, 53),

c. His Law still is in force (continuity of Covenantal Theology), and

d. We should or must follow the Law in order to obey God and grow in a relationship with Him.

The classical reformed view applies this to the individual believer whereas the theonomist extends this to the civil sector, i.e., the Law should be the basis for secular government in a creation where the Creator God is Ruler of all. There certainly is no argument with (a).With regard to (b), Jesus definitely interprets and expounds on the Law in order to bring out that which is most important to God: love God and love your neighbor (Matt 22:37-39) and to go even further by giving a new commandment to “love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12). More will be said on this in a future blog as we explore the other views. However, I am going to focus on (c) and (d) in this little blog.

What Part of the Law Still Applies Today?

Now, no one believes the entire Law of Moses is directly applicable today. At the very least all accept that the ceremonial (e.g., sacrificial system) has been fulfilled in Christ. This leads to one of the more confusing aspects of the reformed argument, what part of the “the Law” is “the Law” when referred to in the New Testament? Typically, the Law is divided into three sections by the Reformed school: moral, civil, and ceremonial. The classical reformed view views the civil (that applying to the government of nation Israel) and the ceremonial (circumcision, temple, priestly service, & sacrificial system) as being abrogated (p. 53). The theonomic view holds that much of the civil still applies today (Bahnsen’s article). However, one can see the difficulty not only practically but theologically as well in trying to apply theocratic-based laws intended solely for God’s select nation Israel to a secular democracy (Kaiser does a good job of pointing this out in his critique of Bhansen).

It’s pretty obvious then that deciding on what part of the Law continues on and what ends in Old Testament times is largely arbitrary. I think Moo (p. 88) cleverly brought this out in his critique of VanGemeren’s article by bringing up the issue of the Sabbath commandment (number 4 of 10). VanGermemen never did mention the Sabbath commandment but was clear that the Ten Commandments (10C) are viewed as eternally moral and binding (p.53ff.). But what of the Sabbath? Traditional reformed teaching is that the Sabbath is celebrated on the first day of the week rather than the “seventh” (as prescribed in Ex 20:11) to commemorate the resurrection. But Moo astutely points out, “worshipping on the first day of the week is not what the fourth commandment requires: It explicitly requires cessation of work on the seventh day” which is certainly not being applied. Clearly then, either the 10C are not “the eternal moral law of God” or the “eternal moral law of God” is subject to revision. Obviously the former must be true. In other words, the 10C, in their Mosaic form, were not eternally binding on all people everywhere.

The role of the Law in the Believers life

According to the reformed camp, there are three uses of the Law: (1) as a pedagogue it instructs sinners concerning the will of God, usus elenchticus (2) power to restrain us by reminding us of the consequences of our disobedience (1 Tim 1:9-10), usus politicus and (3) an instrument of the HS to teach believers to understand and do God’s will, sometimes as a ‘rigorous enforcement officer’ to bring us into conformity w/God’s will, usus in renatis or usus normativus which is considered the most important use of the law (p. 52-53). Interestingly, very little Scripture reference is given for the latter use, the role of the Law in the Believer’s life. Most of the references in this section are to Calvin’s Institutes (CI), the Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF), or commentators on the two. For example here is a quote from page 52 of VanGemeren’s article in Five Views:

God is Spirit, and his law is by definition spiritual. His purpose was to lift the minds of the saints before Christ from the ceremonies and institutions to himself, because only “spiritual worship delights him” [CI 2.7.1]. Moreover, the Spirit of God is the “inner light”, who works in the believers to make the law a joy. The demands of the law are such that they require a love for God and the power of the Holy Spirit: “The love of the Law thus created in our hearts by the Holy Spirit is a sure sign of our regeneration and adoption.” [Wallace, Calvin’s Doctrine of the Christian Life, 1959 p. 121]. Otherwise the law becomes a burden and unprofitable.

What then is the power of the moral law since the outpouring of the Holy Spirit? … Positively, the law has the power to exhort believers to “shake off their sluggishness, by repeatedly urging them, and to pinch them awake to their imperfection,” [CI, 2.7.14]. As such the law remains inviolable. By its teachings, admonishments, reproofs, and corrections, the law is the instrument of growth in faith and sanctification (2 Tim 3:16-17). [CI 2.7.14]

The only Scriptural reference is 2Tim 3:16-17:

All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work. [NASB]

It doesn’t say “The Law” or “All Law”, it says “All Scripture”, i.e., all of the Bible, the revealed Word of God. This certainly includes the Law, but everything else as well. The Law certainly is good for teaching, reproof, correction and training, as is the rest of Scripture, since it contains God’s truths and eternal principles, but not as a code of ethics to be followed for the purpose of sanctification. In fact the passages in the New Testament concerning the Law focus on our getting out from under the Law and rather focusing on Christ. Consider Paul’s argument in Gal 3 through 5:

Gal 3:24-25 = “no longer under a tutor” (i.e., the Law)

Gal 4:8, “no longer a slave, but a son”

Gal 5:1-4 “It was freedom that Christ set us free… do not be subject to a yoke of slavery… if you receive Circumcision, Christ will be of no benefit to you… he is under obligation to keep the whole Law… severed from Christ you who are seeking to be justified by law … For in Christ neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but faith working through love”.

The focus we are to have is on faith in Christ and the working of His Holy Spirit in our lives to transform us (Gal 5:5, Rom 6-8 and 12:1,2) from the inside out, not an external code to follow. Now to be fair, the Reformed camp would say they are not saying that focusing on the Law is for justification and that Paul is arguing against the legalists of his day. But where in the New Testament are we ever called to follow the Law as a means of spiritual growth? We are called to focus on the New Commandment (e.g., Gal 5:13,14; 1 Thes 4:9; Heb 13:1; 1 Pet 1:22; 1 John 3:23, 4:7) and take part in the New Covenant (Hebrews 7-10), which replaces the Old Covenant (Hebrews 7:22, 8:6, 8:13, 9:15). More will be said on the “New Commandment” and the role of the Holy Spirit in future blogs as we get into the other views.

If we don’t follow the Law will we just plunge into immorality and worldliness?

This fear is mostly brought out in Bahnsen’s article. It seems that most of his focus is on doing good and not doing bad and how necessary and binding the Law is in order to show what good and bad is. Bahnsen seems to rely on many straw-man type arguments to portray potential extremes if we don’t follow the Law. His main point throughout is that the Law is binding today as it ever was to individuals (moral part of Law) and governments (civil part of Law).

Much of his argument is to show how Paul does not mean the whole Law when he refers to us not being under law or free from law, but merely the ceremonial part of the Law. It then follows that the law (moral + civil) continues in force today. Bahnsen’s arguments are really not very convincing. For example in Rom 6:14 Paul says we are “under law”, not “under the law”. He seems to think the technical reference to the Law of Moses requires the “the” (p. 106). The lack of a definite article in Rom 6:14 indicates Paul is not referring to the law of Moses. Instead he interprets it to mean being “under the dominion of sin” (p. 107), because Rom 6 teaches us not to be controlled by sin (vs. 1-2, 6, 11-13), that we know what sin is from the Law (Rom 7:7 – note the “the”), and therefore, Rom 6:14 teaches that believers should not transgress the law and thereby sin (p. 107). Christians have the mind of the Spirit, who leads and enables them to meet fully “the requirements of the law” (Rom 8:4).

There is much to be said about this goofy interpretation. First, the “the” is very arbitrary, in fact other passages that have the “the” (e.g., Gal 2:19, Gal 3:23,24, 1Cor 9:21-22) he argues as only referring to the ceremonial part of the Law due to context? Isn’t the focus of Romans 6 showing us how we have been freed from sin through Christ? The reason we are not controlled by sin is because we are identified with His death on the cross (Rom 6:3-6, we need to “know” this), our freedom which comes through Christ’s death and our new life in Christ now that He is raised (Rom 6:4-5, 7-11, we need to “consider” this), and our presenting ourselves to Christ in faith in order to trust in His power in our life rather than our own (Rom 6:13ff) as opposed to the old way we used to live prior to coming into a relationship with Christ (Rom 6:12). And am I wrong, but isn’t the phrase in Rom 8:4 “so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us” in reference to the prior verse: “For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh” and not those “who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit” in verse 4 which follows. Christ fulfilled the law in us, not us!

Another odd interpretation is that of Gal 2:19, “through the law I died to the law”, i.e., Paul died to legalism according to Bahnsen’s (p. 96). Both words in for law in Gal 2:19 are the same, nomos and both are without the definite article. Why is one one-way and the other the other-way? Moo points out this “illustrates the tendency evident in his essay: to give the word “law” a limited or nuanced meaning on the basis not of exegetical evidence but on the basis of the logic of his general position.” (p. 167)

Again, I think Moo critiqued this view well when he dissected Bahnsen’s argument into it’s simplest form (p. 170):

God’s moral law is found in the Law of Moses
God’s moral law is universally applicable
Therefore, the Mosaic Law is universally applicable.

Now it is clear that this argument works only if an “only” is supplied in the first line. For if God’s moral law is found in other than the Mosaic form, then the argument fails. Yet Bahnsen never tries to prove this “only”. And, in fact, the presence of God’s law in other than Mosaic forms seems clearly to be argued or assumed by Paul in texts such as Romans 2 and 1 Corinthians 9:21-22… This point is fundamental in my disagreement with Bahnsen. He assumes that “law of God” is equivalent to the Mosaic law; therefore to be without the Mosaic law is to be without any divine imperative and to fall into subjective and humanistic autonomy… but I see God’s moral imperatives for human beings coming in various forms: through the law of Moses, for the Jewish nation, through nature and the conscience for all human beings, and through “the law of Christ” for Christians. Theonomy is misnamed… A better name for Bahnsen’s position would be Mosonomy. (Moo in Five Views, pp. 170-171)

…. more to come on this topic as I finish the book.