Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Behold the Morning Sun - Issac Watts

Behold, the morning sun
Begins his glorious way;

His beams through all the nations run,

And life and light convey.

But where the Gospel comes

It spreads diviner light;

It calls dead sinners from their tombs,
And gives the blind their sight.

How perfect is Thy Word!

And all Thy judgments just!

For ever sure Thy promise, Lord,
And men securely trust.

My gracious God, how plain

Are Thy directions giv’n!

O may I never read in vain,
But find the path to Heav’n!

I hear Thy word with love,

And I would fain obey:

Send Thy good Spirit from above
To guide me, lest I stray.

O who can ever find

The errors of his ways?

Yet with a bold, presumptuous mind
I would not dare transgress.

Warn me of every sin,

Forgive my secret faults,

And cleanse this guilty soul of mine,

Whose crimes exceed my thoughts.

While with my heart and tongue

I spread Thy praise abroad,

Accept the worship and the song,

My Savior and my God.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Review (Part 4 of 8)

Continuing my review of John H. Walton's book...

C.  Death.

An additional major problem I found with Walton's view is the issue of death and the effects of the entry of sin. In Walton's section on death (p.98-100), he takes a lot of liberties with the text of Romans 5:12. He says Paul is speaking only "about how death came to people." Really? The text says: "...just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned." The Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul repeats this truth in 1 Corinthians: "For as by a man came death, by a man has come also the resurrection of the dead." One could sum up and paraphrase by saying, "Death entered the world through sin through a man, one man; likewise, death spread also to all men because they all sinned in Adam." Does the reader see the fullness of this - that the sin of this one man also affected all of God's creation? Did not God tell Adam clearly, "...cursed is the ground because of you" (Gen. 3:17)Christ's work, as the last Adam, conversely renews all things; and when He returns, it will be consummated! But this is one reason why nature, the world itself, all of creation, "...has been groaning together..." (Rom. 8:22), awaiting Christ to fully restore all things (see Jer. 12:4; Acts 3:21). 

Walton's appeal to logic in the next paragraph (p.99) may initially seem legitimate because the only thing we are familiar with is a fallen world in which sin has entered, and death through sin. However, death is NOT part of the natural order of things as God originally made them. (Shall the just live by faith, or by sight?) My devotional booklet last month reads, "Death is an invader. One of the reasons death causes so much grief is because we know it is not supposed to be this way." And 1 Corintians 15:26says, "The last enemy to be destroyed is death." If we could go back in time, to "Walton's world before Genesis 1," death would still have been grievous, man or beast. As Spurgeon says, man's conscience "tells them that it is the child of their sin." I think it could be rightly said that this is yet another reason why we who have been granted eternal life are called "pilgrims" and "sojourners" in this world, for death is a foreign thing to the people of God. For Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die..." (John 11:25,26)Christ defeated sin and death, not just "our natural mortality." So death for the saint is in one sense simply a departing; a shedding of one garment for another; a shifting of the weight from our back foot, on earth, to our front foot, in heaven already.

God pronounced all things "good" until sin entered through Adam. "For the wages of sin is death..." (Romans 6:23). But how might it be if there was no sin? Like... Heaven? Is it so hard to fathom an unfallen world, or a restored world, where there are animals and no death, where "the wolf shall dwell with the lamb" (see Isaiah 11)? I think it is interesting that the first hint of an actual death in Scripture is by the hand of God Himself - to provide a covering for our original parents' nakedness (see Gen. 3:21), which of course is a foreshadowing of Christ's atoning work. Isn't it also interesting that initially God gave all creatures only the plants for food (see Gen. 1:29,30)? Won't the new heaven and new earth have plants and animals, yet "...death shall be no more"Doesn't the Holy Spirit also say that "...death reigned from Adam to Moses"? Would Adam actually have died had he not sinned? "The soul who sins shall die" (Ezek. 18:20)

And lastly, Walton's understanding of the purpose of the "tree of life," to simply be "an antidote" for "our natural mortality," is warped, confused, and unbiblical. Much more could be said, but regretfully I assert that, for any who would affirm this teaching, it reveals possibly a poor understanding of the fullness of the gospel.

"The Genesis 1 of the Bible gives us a surer and better, a more satisfying and useful, knowledge of the origin of the universe, than all the volumes of the philosophers. The lively faith of humble Christians understands this matter better than the elevated fancy of the greatest wits... These things we understand by faith. The Bible gives us the truest and most exact account of the origin of all things, and we are to believe it, and not to wrest or run down the scripture-account of the creation, because it does not suit with some fantastic hypotheses of our own, which has been in some learned but conceited men the first remarkable step towards infidelity, and has led them into many more."
 - Matthew Henry (from his commentary on Genesis 1 and Hebrew 11)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Review (Part 3 of 8)

B.  Humanity.

One topic that troubled my soul was Walton's take on man - on humanity. With relatively scant attention given, he proposes that man was not specially formed originally; that man was little different than any other beast of the earth. Over time, this creature evolved, and then one week God made everything "functional." Before that, "pre-man," I would call him - with this body that was "fearfully and wonderfully made" (or maybe it wasn't yet), with a mind that surely was no different materially before Genesis 1 - was just perhaps a "prehuman hominid" evolving. That did not set well at all with my spirit, especially considering all the other passages of Scripture that deal with us, our bodies, our being, and how we were originally fashioned in the image of God. "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them" (Gen.1:27).

Please contemplate the consequences of such claims, and some of the unanswerable questions such propositions raise. Considering God and His justice that He loves, how could He justly judge Adam and Eve, but yet their parents or siblings or neighbors were not "assessed morally" (p.168)? Is God not eternally just? So were our pre-Genesis 1 ancestral creatures without souls? If so, how did Adam and Eve relate to these beings? Would Adam share what God had done for them? Why are these others not mentioned in the Scriptures? Though Walton never states his position clearly, doesn't his view logically demand that Adam and Eve were not historical individuals? Consider the ramifications of affirming such teaching, for much Christian doctrine crumbles if Adam and Eve were not the first two created human beings and/or they never truly existed as individuals. Maybe that is the hope of some?

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Review (Part 2 of 8)


A.  Ancient Literature. 

For one, I do not think he made a compelling argument from his Near East ancient literature references. I looked at his examples, and I did not draw the same conclusions. Could he be guilty of eisegesis in his interpretations? I think so, and the conclusions he draws from these texts provide the foundational support for his propositions. Were the Bereans commended for such methods in Acts 17? Do the Scriptures themselves teach us anywhere that we must use Walton's techniques to really understand what the Scriptures appears to make plain? "Every word of God proves true..." (Prov. 30:5).

He also claims his view is new because others simply have never considered the text of Genesis 1 in light of ancient cultural beliefs deduced (fallibly) from these new literary discoveries, but I doubt that is factually accurate. For example, Louis Berkhoff references some of the same Babylonian texts in his Systematic Theology published in 1958! His conclusions are also much different than Walton's. And to use Walton's own words, "It is far too easy to let our own ideas creep in and subtly (or at times not so subtly) bend or twist the material to fit our own context" (Introduction, p.8). I would propose, considering his associations (mentioned later in this review), that Walton is guilty of this very thing when "translating" this foreign culture.

Monday, May 12, 2014


A local youth pastor and I continue to discuss the faith. (You can read my emails to him in my older posts.) But I was asked to read John H. Walton's book, because the youth pastor considers the historical Christian teaching of the creation account in Genesis 1 to be questionable.

Lord willing, I will share my review of the book in its entirety in the next eight posts. It reads a little more like a sermon, or a response, I guess. And I wish I could have shortened it. But I could not.

Below is the preface...


A review by Marty L. Smith

"Come now, let us reason together, says the LORD..." (Isaiah 1:18)


The book, THE LOST WORLD OF GENESIS 1, by John H. Walton, was a challenging read; not because it was extremely difficult to understand, but because a scholar who is a professing Christian proposes brand new interpretations of the very beginnings; which, if accepted, would shake (and in time remove) much of the framework of the orthodox Christian faith for an individual. But let us be grateful, dear saint,"...for receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken" (Heb. 12:28)

There are many professing Christians who do not believe in the prevailing view of a young earth and a literal six days of creation. Others believe in an old earth where the days were not 24-hour periods. Still others believe it was all formed in a moment. But John H. Walton's view is definitely different, and disturbing. It reminded me of the serpent's words: "Did God actually say...?" Walton proposes that Genesis 1 is an account of functional origins rather than an account of material origins - a position which he says, "...may be designated the cosmic temple inauguration view...the cosmos is being given its functions as God's temple, where he has taken up his residence and from where he runs the cosmos. This world is his headquarters."

True science and true learning approves, confirms, and gives consent to the gospel. It is often rightly said that "all truth is God's truth," and the Lord certainly would have us love Him with all our minds. But "human learning" often opposes the truth of God because of our fallen nature. The Apostle John wrote: "Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth" (1 John 3:18). To love "in truth," we must surely keep close to the written Word of God - all of it. It is committed to our trust. We must live for it, and die for it. The blood of the martyrs, such as William Tyndale, has been shed that we might have good translations in our hands. However, it appears that John H. Walton would have us doubt their trustworthiness by appealing to texts outside the Holy Writ, all the while proposing a "reading" that he says "enhances the vitality of the text."

In my review, I will discuss the following:
A. The problem of Walton's dependence on extra-Biblical ancient literature.
B. The problem of Walton's view as it concerns humanity.
C. The problem of Walton's view as it concerns death.
D. The problem of Walton's proposal of material existence long before functionality.
E. Other statements and reviews which corroborate my conclusions.
F. Reflections on some of Walton's troubling statements.
G. Conclusions, looking to Jesus.

Most Christians already know and affirm most of what I proclaim here. If the reader considers this review verbose, please accept my humble apologies. I would politely ask for consideration of the weight of this issue, and for patient reception of the contents as a reminder and an encouragement, if nothing more. But my hope is that the Holy Spirit will convince through these arguments - that Walton's propositions supporting theistic evolution are unsatisfactory - that his methods are unacceptable and overreaching - and that this teaching could be a destructive heresy. His propositions, if affirmed, would undoubtedly undermine our faith and weaken our trust in God and the overall clarity of His Word.

"Theistic evolution is not tenable in the light of Scripture... it is a theory that is absolutely subversive of Scripture truth."

"...theistic evolution destroys the Bible as the inspired book of authority as effectively as does atheistic evolution."
- Dr. Alfred Fairhurst, THEISTIC EVOLUTION

"... aspects of an old heresy relating to the creation account are increasingly infiltrating the Church. This is the falsehood known as Pelagianism."

I am inspired by my love for the reader, my adoration of Jesus, my trust in His Word, my desire to defend the Bible for the sake of the gospel, and my earnest belief that a good English translation such as the ESV is both trustworthy and perspicuous; because, simply put, my God is like that. I believe the gracious hand of Providence has supplied us with reliable translations in our own languages (though I freely admit that some translations are better than others).

I will confess: I was initially tempted to consider his propositions acceptable. He makes a compelling argument from a human standpoint, according to the flesh, drawing from what some call "knowledge." If the Bible was just another book, to be read much like any other book, his arguments might be more palatable. 

However, many things troubled me. This review does not exhaustively list them.

Church leaders, as watchmen, shepherds, and overseers, who are commanded to "...hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught" (Titus 1:9), potentially will have great influence upon the faith and practice of hundreds of people in their care over their years of ministry. As one author has stated, I believe Walton's view is a "sinful compromise." We, whose souls are being kept watch over, should be taught that we can trust that our loving Triune God has not communicated with us deceitfully. These proposals teach us otherwise. And I would assert that those leaders who affirm these proposals relinquish the power to preach God's Word authoritatively. For they would cast doubt upon the apparent clarity and dependability of the Holy Writ, allowing an open door for the entry of many fierce wolves.

Therefore, I speak. By what faith shall we walk?

Thursday, May 1, 2014

"Free" Will

"The greatest judgment which God Himself can, in this present life, inflict upon a man is, to leave him in the hand of his own boasted free-will."