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Sola Scriptura and Cosmic Temples
In Defense of the Faith
Friday, December 18, 2015
Alf Cengia

Sola Scriptura and Cosmic Temples - can we trust a plain reading of the Bible?

Some time ago I saw a social media post linking to an article on a Christian geologist's website. It purported to provide 100 reasons why the earth is old. The poster also provided a link to Christian apologist and mathematics professor John Lennox's video about the seven days which divide the world.

As an aside, the fellow who posted the links believes that a strict study of the Olivet Discourse and associated eschatological Scriptures denies a pretribulational rapture. I thought it somewhat ironical.

Lennox and the geologist reinterpret creation passages in order to rescue them from scientific contradictions. This isn't necessary. They deny the Genesis creation account is literal. The geologist even admitted to having no qualms about evolution.

It turns out that Lennox is a preterist who believes that all of Israel's OT prophecies were fulfilled in the NT. To arrive at that conclusion, he must reinterpret all the OT (and NT) texts involving God's promises to Israel, and plain statements regarding the millennium - just as he does with the Genesis creation account.

Ironically Lennox's website is called Truth According To Scripture. If it's the truth then why reinterpret its face- value statements?

Over the last few days, people have contacted me regarding problems with the pretrib rapture. You know the deal - pretribulationism isn't true because the Bible doesn't teach it. It has always fascinated me how I can write on a variety of topics, yet anything to do with the pretribulationism draws the most attention and criticism.

Anyway, one of these people referred me to Dr. Michael Heiser. Apparently he does a great job of explaining eschatology and shows his readers how to study the Bible without presuppositional filters. Presumably, I read mine with filters in place.

Coincidentally I'd just finished reviewing Heiser's book The Unseen Realm. Heiser is a highly credentialed, popular scholar who doesn't think the creation account is history either. Based on "genetic data" he doubts that Adam and Eve were the first parents. You might even say that he views Genesis via the filter of science and other ANE creation stories. Either way, science doesn't disprove Adam and Eve.

My pretrib skeptic friend's blog links to a "thoughtful" BioLogos article on Evolutionary Creationism. The article may have been thoughtful but it provided no biblical answers at all.

Admittedly, it would take me some time to put together a defense of pretribulationism (as with a host of other doctrines). However, Genesis 2 is straight forward. God formed Adam out of the earth and Eve was formed from one of his ribs. The genealogies proceed from there and the Bible doesn't mention anyone else existing to Adam and Eve. Simple!

It's faddy for many Christian scholars to say that Genesis isn't meant to be science or history. They'd call people like me misinformed reductionists. But why would it detail such an unusual story if it didn't happen that way? Furthermore, if you're not going to believe the Genesis account then how do you justify believing other parts?

CMI responds to the BioLogos pelagian heresy HERE.

Last week I also came across the Cosmic Temple concept popularized by Greg K. Beale. The concept does have certain merits. However, according to Dr. Paul Henebury, the Cosmic Temple theme is used by many Covenant Theologians to force their "typological interpretation of the whole of Scripture." That's a red flag!

Another name which came up in connection with the Cosmic Temple idea was John Walton, who is a theistic evolutionist. Heiser often refers to him. He suggests that the cosmos is a temple. In this scheme passages such as Genesis 1, the Garden of Eden and the Ezekiel Temple vision symbolize the Cosmic Temple. They can be neatly handled using this typological fudge factor.

Walton wrote a book called The Lost World of Genesis One. You can read critical reviews by Leslie McFall and Creation Ministries International.

If you're anything like me, reading all these links will give you a migraine. Sometimes I feel like throwing my hands up in despair. I like to keep things simple. The Bible says tells me one thing and I believe it. But some scholars like to get into complex hermeneutical and textual arguments, and the higher criticism stuff. You know, the kinds of things taught in seminaries. And then, of course, science needs its dues paid.

Do you get the feeling that you're not qualified to read and understand significant portions of Scripture without scholarly help? Fortunately, other Ph.D. scholars understand the hermeneutical issues and still believe the Bible's essential message. Genesis says Eve came from Adam's rib, therefore she did. So there!

All this brings me back to eschatology.

Since taking an interest in prophecy, I've seen scathing criticisms of dispensationalism. But I believe the major grievance is against its distinction between Israel and the church, and the implications which follow. A significant part of the Bible deals with the restoration of Israel and its prominence in a future earthly kingdom.

This doesn't sit well with the Replacement Theology adopted by preterists, amillennialists and postmillennialists. The Reformed folk like to refer to the term Sola Scriptura (by Scripture alone). Too often they don't practice it. Like those who want to rescue the Bible from science, individuals allegorize texts to defend their theology.

Postmillennialists like Gary DeMar believe the church must usher in the kingdom for Christ before He returns. To that end, DeMar twists verses (such as Zech 14:2-4) to say something entirely different. However, he must also face the fact that, in two thousand years, the church has failed miserably to produce this kingdom.

As Dr. Michael Vlach has shown, "...the arrival of the kingdom of God is contingent on national Israel’s belief in God and Jesus the Messiah." Not the church.

Far from looking anything like God's kingdom our planet looks very much like the dying world of Charn as described by C. S. Lewis in The Magician's Nephew. We are likely staring at another World War in the making. Unlike the previous two World Wars, national Israel is in the center of the maelstrom.

Shouldn't we be paying attention? Shouldn't we get serious about believing the unfiltered message of Sola Scriptura? There may not be much more time left before the Lord returns.

Therefore, be on the alert - for you do not know when the master of the house is coming, whether in the evening, at midnight, at cockcrowing, or in the morning - lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. Mark13:35-36

Maranatha.

About Alf Cengia

Last week: Sensitivity Training for Victims



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