Fifty Years since the Publication of the Genesis Flood

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Though I did not become familiar with The Genesis Flood until the early 1970s when Dr. John Whitcomb lectured at Temple Baptist Theological Seminary (the above picture of Dr. Whitcomb, on the left, and Dr. Morris is taken from Acts & Facts), it is hard to believe that it has been almost forty years since his lecture and fifty years since the original publication of this profound book. I am thankful for the effect that this book has had upon me as well as many others. Further, I consider it a privilege to consider Dr. Whitcomb not only as a former mentor but also as a friend. As a result, I attempt to keep track of his ministry and publications by him and about him.

As it turns out, last night I read an intriguing article about Dr. Whitcomb and Dr. Henry Morris, co-authors of The Genesis Flood. This article appears in the latest issue of Acts & Facts, published by the Institute for Creation Research. The article, “The Creation Movement’s Firm Foundation,” is written by Dr. John Morris, son of Dr. Henry Morris. In this article Dr. Morris, a teen ager in 1961, recounts some of the details surrounding the publication of this book as well as the impact that the book had on the lives of Drs. Whitcomb and Morris and the evangelical world. In the words of Dr. John Morris, “The 50th anniversary of the publication of The Genesis Flood, co-authored by Dr. John Whitcomb and my father, Dr. Henry Morris, brings back poignant memories. A teenager when it was being written, I can testify to the concerted effort that went into it, from focused study to diligent prayer. God blessed that effort and answered those prayers with lasting fruit. Almost every day’s mail and every public meeting bring unsolicited testimonies from individuals who read the book. Many say the information within removed roadblocks in their path to salvation. God used this rather technical book on science and theology in numerous ways, not just to catalyze the creation movement, but to launch a new era of concern for biblical inerrancy and authority.” To continue reading, go here.

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Old Testament Poetic Books, 1

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This semester I am teaching a class entitled “Old Testament Poetic Books.” In order to give you a glimpse of what an entry level course is like at DBTS, I wanted to do a series of blog posts summarizing most of my lectures. With this post, I provide the course requirements, a few sources and a link to the complete bibliography.

Here are the course requirements.

Course Descriptions: A study of the key elements of Hebrew poetry, the argument of the book of Job, key Psalms as they relate to their literary genre, the book of Proverbs as it relates to skillful living, the message of Ecclesiastes, an interpretation of the Song of Solomon, and the book of Lamentations.

Objectives: In this course the student should

1. understand the basic nature and expression of Hebrew poetry in its setting;

2. have an understanding of the basic message of Job, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, Lamentations, and the key Psalms studied;

3. acquire a basic knowledge of the figures of speech employed in the poetic books;

4. have an understanding of the historical background for each book; and

5. gain an appreciation of the richness of the theology and practicality contained in the Poetic Books.

Assignments:

1. Tests: There will be three major tests. The first exam will cover pp. 1–49 of the syllabus, the second exam, pp. 50–106, and third pp. 107–154-—90% of grade.

2. Reading Requirement: If the student completes all the assigned reading in accordance with the reading schedule, he will receive a 98%-—10% of grade.

4 Key Sources

Berry, Donald K. An Introduction to Wisdom and Poetry of the Old Testament. Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 1995.

Bullock, C. Hassell. HAn Introduction to the Old Testament Poetic Books: The Wisdom and Songs of Israel. Rev. ed. Chicago: Moody Press, 1988.

Estes, Daniel J. Handbook on the Wisdom Books and Psalms. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2005.

McCabe, Robert V. “Old Testament Poetic Books.” Unpublished syllabus, Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary, 2011.

To download the complete bibliography for OT Poetic Books, go here.

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2011 Rice Lectures

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On Wednesday, March 2, Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary will host its annual William R. Rice Lectures. This year we will be privileged to have Dr. Terry Mortenson from Answers in Genesis. His lecture relates to the compromise theologians have used to reinterpret biblical texts to support an old-earth.

Dr. Mortenson has earned an M.Div. from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School and a PhD in the history of geology from the University of Coventry in England. He has used his dissertation to write a helpful book entitled The Great Turning Point: The Church’s Catastrophic Mistake on Geology–Before Darwin.

Here is an announcement that Dr. Claude Wiggins sent out to friends of DBTS.

The Seminary is hosting the 2011 William R. Rice Lectures on Wednesday, March 2nd. We would love to have you join us for the morning (8:30 a.m.-12:00 p.m.). Feel free to bring with you staff members, other church leaders, and college students. The lectures will be followed by a luncheon fellowship.

This year’s theme is “Millions of Years and the Compromise of the Theologians.” Our speaker will be Dr. Terry Mortenson, a researcher and lecturer with Answers in Genesis.

A special chapel session will be held on Thursday, March 3rd (10:30-11:20 a.m.). At that time, Dr. Mortenson will speak on “Ape-men and the Compromise of the Theologians.”

Additional information about the 2011 Rice Lectures, and Dr. Terry Mortenson, can be found on the Seminary website. Media resources will be available on the website following the lectures. There is no cost to attend the lectures or the luncheon. However, advance registration is requested.

I am looking forward to Dr. Mortenson’s lecture and can highly recommend that you will profit from his lecture. To sign up for the lecture, contact the Seminary at (313) 381-0111, or by email at info@dbtsedu.

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Abortion and the Bible

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Yesterday, January 22, marked the 38th year since the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade. This day grieves me. Based on statistics from 2005 to 2008, 1,206,200 unborn babies are annually murdered. While this enormous number of abortions is alarming, we are equally alarmed because many Bible-believing Christians are surprisingly uninformed, in some cases apathetic, about the Bible’s teaching on this subject. My goal in this post is to present a biblical understanding of abortion. To fully understand what the Bible has to say on this subject, we will examine three issues: the reason why the Bible never explicitly discusses abortion, the Bible’s teaching concerning the value of human life, and its teaching about the inception of human life. Before we examine these issues, we will initially define abortion and define some of the issues associated with it (I wrote this brief article a number of years ago but decided to resurrect it because this gross sin continues; for a post that I did last year, go here).

An abortion may be defined as the expulsion of an embryo or fetus from the womb of its mother before it is capable of independently sustaining life. An abortion which happens naturally is called a spontaneous or involuntary abortion. A miscarriage is a spontaneous abortion. An induced or voluntary abortion is medically induced for therapeutic or nontherapeutic reasons. This type of abortion results in the termination of a pregnancy by killing the embryo or fetus. The induced abortion is the focal point of the modern abortion debate.

Most informed, Bible-believing Christians would maintain that an induced abortion is a moral atrocity. However, if this is truly such an atrocity, then why does the Bible never explicitly address the issue? The answer to this is found in the Israelite view of children. God was responsible for opening the womb (Gen 30:22; 1 Sam 1:19–20). Consequently, children were viewed as a gift from God (Gen 33:5; Ps 127:3). An Israelite expected proliferation in childbearing as an aspect of the prosperity that God had promised them in the Mosaic Covenant (Deut 7:13; 28:4). The abundance of children was a blessing, but the lack of children was often considered a curse. Therefore, a voluntary abortion was unthinkable for an Israelite and, consequently, was not an issue to them. To understand the moral ramifications of this, we must approach the issue of medically induced abortion in light of other biblical material.

What does the Bible teach about the value of human life? To determine this, we must briefly examine the Bible’s teaching about man. Moses wrote in Genesis 1:26–28 that man was created in the image and likeness of God. The divine image refers to those personal, rational, moral, and spiritual qualities of man that make him like God. Though it was marred at the Fall, the divine image in man was not lost (Jas 3:9). This is cogently demonstrated in Genesis 9:5–6 with God’s institution of capital punishment for murder. The motivation for this command is God’s creation of man in his image (v. 6). Whatever else Genesis 9:5–6 may affirm, it clearly emphasizes the sanctity of human life. This is reinforced by the sixth commandment of the Decalogue, “Thou shalt not murder” (Exod 20:13; Deut 5:17), and is reaffirmed by our Lord in the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5:21–22). Though this data clearly asserts the sanctity of human life, it does not deal with when genuine human life begins.

What does the Bible teach concerning the inception of human life? A key passage is Psalm 51. This is a record of David’s confession of sin after having committed adultery with Bathsheba. In v. 5 David traces his moral culpability back to the time of conception by asserting that he was sinful from the time when his mother conceived him. Another significant passage is Psalm 139:13–16. Having dealt with God’s omniscience (vv. 1–6) and omnipresence (vv. 7–12), David then gives an exposition on God’s providential involvement with his prenatal development. God created David’s inmost being (v. 13) and his body (v. 15). David asserts in v. 16 that his “substance,” his embryo, as well as the course of his life, was part of God’s plan. David’s personal identity extends back to his prenatal state. In addition, Luke 1:41, 44 has a bearing on this subject. After an angel had announced to the virgin Mary that she would carry the Messiah, she went to the home of Elizabeth, who was six months pregnant with her son John. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, her unborn son leaped for joy. This demonstrates that John the Baptist had rational and spiritual capacities in his prenatal state. These passages indicate that a child in his prenatal state has personal, rational, moral, and spiritual qualities, and, therefore, is fully human.

This understanding of a child being fully in the image of God from the time of conception is further supported by two other biblical items. The first is the biblical teaching concerning the origin of the human soul. God created the human race immediately in Adam. Adam and Eve transferred their spiritual and physical characteristics to their children through the process of procreation (Gen 5:3; Acts 17:26). When an ovum and sperm unite, a new person containing the hereditary characteristics of one’s father and mother is brought into existence. This should lend further support that a prenatal child is a genuine person.

The second item supporting an unborn child as being fully human relates to how we interpret Exodus 21:22–25. This passage has been used by some to support the legitimacy of having a medically induced abortion. The passage reads as follows: “22If men strive, and hurt a woman with child, so that her fruit depart from her, and yet no mischief follow: he shall be surely punished, according as the woman’s husband will lay upon him; and he shall pay as the judges determine. 23And if any mischief follow, then thou shalt give life for life, 24eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25burning for burning, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.” There are two principal views of this passage: the miscarriage view and the premature birth view.

Many holding the miscarriage view take this passage as a reference to a situation where two men are fighting and one of them happens to hit a pregnant woman who suffers a miscarriage (“so that her fruit depart”) but she herself is not harmed; the offender then must pay a fine (v. 22). However, if something subsequently happens to the woman, then the offender was to suffer punishment in proportion to the damage that he has inflicted upon the woman (vv. 23–25). Since the law of retaliation is applied to the woman and only a monetary compensation for the aborted fetus, it is implied that the woman had a higher value that the unborn child. This is then used to infer that under some difficult circumstances, a voluntary abortion is justifiable, because the mother’s life has more value than the unborn child. This is the view of some commentators and translations. For example, some translate the clause “so that her fruit depart” as “so that she has a miscarriage.” Against this view, it should be observed that the Hebrew verb translated as “depart,” when used in the context of childbirth, is never used for a miscarriage. Furthermore, the noun “fruit” is normally translated as “child,” “son,” or “boy.”

When the noun “fruit” or “child” is used with the verb “depart,” this can only be understood as a reference to a premature birth. This view correctly sets forth that Moses was describing a situation where two men were fighting and one of them hits a pregnant woman causing her to prematurely give birth. However, there is no “harm” (“mischief” in vv. 22 and 23 may also be taken as “harm”) but because of the potential danger for the mother and her child, a fine was to be enacted (v. 22). If, however, there was harm, a penalty corresponding to the crime was to be enacted (vv. 23–25). For example, if either the mother or her child died, then a capital punishment would have been in order. Rather than being a justification for voluntary abortion, this is actually a solid text to suggest that the life of a child in its prenatal state is of equal value to its mother. Consequently, the unborn child is fully human.

As Bible-believing Christians, our responsibility is to understand what God has affirmed about His moral will on the issue of abortion and, consequently, to regulate our lives and spheres of influence according to a correct biblical understanding. In light of the biblical material examined here, we must emphatically maintain that a medically induced abortion violates God’s moral standard against taking another person’s life, and, as such, falls under the divine prohibition in the Decalogue: “Thou shalt not murder!”

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The Beginning of a New Semester

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I had a busy and enjoyable hiatus from the academic rush of DBTS‘s fall semester. As well as preparing for classes and working on some other academic projects, it was great to relax with my wife, family, and friends. However, I am looking forward to the start of a new semester with our first full day of classes starting tomorrow.

This spring semester I am teaching three classes: Old Testament Poetic Books, second semester of Elementary Hebrew Grammar, and Old Testament Introduction. I have uploaded the course requirements for each of these classes. If you are signed up for any of my classes, or just want to see what these classes look like, you may get a concise overview for each class and then download the complete set of requirements by clicking any of the following links.

Old Testament Poetic Books

Elementary Hebrew Grammar 2

Old Testament Introduction

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A Few Thought about our Creation Consultation Meeting at ETS

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Because I have been overwhelmed with some domestic, ministry and academic issues, I have been impeded from posting much on my blog. In any event, I have been planning to do a post about my participation with a creation fellowship at the Evangelical Theological Society this past November and figured that I should upload this post before the spring semester begins at DBTS.

For the past three years, I have been a part of a Creation Consultation group at the annual meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society. The format of these meetings involves the presentation of three papers with differing views on creation (30 minutes for a paper plus 10 minutes for questions) followed by a panel discussion (40 minutes). The panel discussion is comprised of three biblical scholars who present a paper along with another who does not present a paper but has done writing on creation and a moderator for the panel discussion.

When we met for the first year, I presented a paper and this past year I was part of a panel discussion as the one who did not present a paper. The theme of this year’s meeting was “Intertextual Issues Relating to the Exegesis of Genesis 1″ (to see the program for last year’s ETS meeting, click here). The three papers presented this year were “The Role of Genesis 2-4 in our Understanding of Genesis 1″ by Dr. C. John Collins, “The Role of Psalm 104 in our Understanding of Genesis 1″ by Dr. Richard E. Averbeck, and “The Role of Proverbs 8, Job 38-40, and John 1 in our Understanding of Genesis 1″ by Dr. Bruce K. Waltke. Since I was a participant on the panel discussion, I prepared a response for each paper. Dr. Bill Barrick was the moderator of the panel discussion.

As it turned out, my responses turned out to be for my own personal edification since I only had time to state what I believe about literal days in the creation week. When our panel discussion started, it was opened up for questions from the floor and all attention and the majority of time focused on Dr. Waltke because of all the issues surrounding his involvement with the Biologos blog and his resignation from Reformed Theological Seminary. The focus on Waltke in the panel discussion was unfortunate. I suspect the format for next year’s panel discussion will change so that this type of thing does not happen again.

Though I had various reservations with each paper, my strongest disagreement was with Dr. Waltke’s paper defending theistic evolution. The thesis of his paper was that the biblical cosmogony found in Proverbs 8, Job 38-40, and John 1:1-5 as they relate to Genesis 1 allow for God’s creation by natural selection. While Waltke clearly affirms that Adam and Eve are historical figures, distinct from animals, and directly created by God (to see his statement on this, go here), his support of theistic evolution undermines the traditional, literal reading of the early chapters of Genesis and the overall theological message of Scripture (for an earlier critical and beneficial assessment of Waltke’s paper, see Dr. Terry Mortenson’s blog entry).

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Origins Breakthroughs about Astronomy

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Often new scientific discoveries elucidate the past. The Institute for Creation Research goal focuses on studying cosmogony with Scripture as its foundation. Brian Thomas, Science Writer for ICR, discusses a 2010 discovery that contradicts a prediction of the Big Bang hypothesis “that galaxies should look younger the farther out into space they appear from earth. The ‘mature’ galactic clusters are only supposed to exist close-in, but more were discovered in the far distance this past year, adding to similar observations from prior years.” To continue reading his article “Origins Breakthroughs of 2010: Astronomy,” go here.

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Defending Biblical Origins

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Since I began doing research and teaching on biblical creationism, I have at times been disappointed because of the seeming evangelical indifference toward the subject of origins. However, I have been pleased to see a few evangelical voices speak with clarity about the importance of this biblical issue. The winter edition of Southern Seminary Magazine addresses the topic of cosmogony and its foundational significance for a Christian worldview. This tenet is that our Triune God created the heavens and earth ex nihilo, “out of nothing.”

The following articles in this magazine relate to this basic tenet.

“The New Shape of the Debate” by R. Albert Mohler Jr.

“The New Atheism and the Dogma of Darwinism” by R. Albert Mohler Jr.

“All Things Dark and Terrible: Our Fearful Fascination With Wild Things and Other Monsters of God” by Russell D. Moore

“Evolution and Creation in Higher Education” by Mark T. Coppenger

“Creation and American Christianity” by Greg A. Wills

To read this issue of the Southern Seminary Magazine, click here.

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Geologists and Biblical Creationism

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Since the 19th century secular geologists have argued for an old earth. Unfortunately, this old-earth a priori has become an assumption of many professing evangelical geologists, as well as theologians. According to current “scientific thinking” the earth is 4.6 billion years old. In effect, this assumption is considered by many to to be the same as “general revelation.” As a result, the “general revelation” of an earth that is 4.6 billion years old has motivated many influential evangelicals to reinterpret the early chapters of Genesis. This recently surfaced in the May/June 2010 issue of Modern Reformation when eight PCA geologists wrote an article, “PCA Geologists on the Antiquity of the Earth,” that minimizes biblical revelation on the basis of a naturalistic worldview.

In response to this, Dr. John K. Reed wrote an outstanding article refuting the eight old-earth PCA geologists. Since Dr. Reed holds a PhD in geology and is committed to the primacy of Scripture, I highly recommend that you read his article “A Response to the Old-Earth Advocacy of Campbell et al., PCA Geologists on the Antiquity of the Earth.”

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The Conclusion of PhD Seminar on Biblical Creationism

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I lead a seminar on Biblical Creationism (see this post) at Central Baptist Seminary that finished earlier this month with our final classroom meeting. However, I did not complete grading their papers until last evening. I am glad to wrap up this profitable seminar.

The three students in my class turned in their required papers for the class on October 4 and profitably interacted with each required subject and their fellow students (to see course requirements, go here). The three PhD students pictured above (from left to right, Brett Williams, Mark Bruffey, and Christopher Watson) did a good job in meeting the requirements for this seminar. The work of each man made this a profitable seminar on biblical creationism. I am thankful that Central Baptist Seminary, like Detroit Baptist Theological Seminary, takes a solid position on the biblical doctrine of creation that is foundational for other major biblical doctrines.

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