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Archive for May, 2010

In its May 18 issue, the New York Times reported that Richard Blumenthal, a candidate for the U.S. Senate, made a bogus claim about his prior military service.

At a ceremony honoring veterans and senior citizens who sent presents to soldiers overseas, Attorney General Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut rose and spoke of an earlier time in his life.

“We have learned something important since the days that I served in Vietnam,” Mr. Blumenthal said to the group gathered in Norwalk in March 2008. “And you exemplify it. Whatever we think about the war, whatever we call it — Afghanistan or Iraq — we owe our military men and women unconditional support.”

As is now widely known, Mr. Blumenthal never served in Vietnam, received several deferments to avoid the draft, and was able to get into the Marine Reserves in 1970 when his last deferment appeared to be in jeopardy. Confronted with the fact that his speech was betrayed by his record, Mr. Blumenthal responded like a politician.

“On a few occasions I have misspoken about my service, and I regret that and I take full responsibility,” Mr. Blumenthal said at a packed news conference at a Veterans of Foreign Wars post in West Hartford. “But I will not allow anyone to take a few misplaced words and impugn my record of service to our country.”

The bottom line is that Mr. Blumenthal has been put on public display as a liar, and he continues to lie. He claims to “take full responsibility” but characterizes his statements about service in Vietnam as “a few misplaced words.” And he says defiantly, “I will not allow anyone to take a few misplaced words and impugn my record of service to our country.”

Mr. Blumenthal encapsulates the fallen condition of humans. He is a sinner but fails fully to acknowledge he is a sinner. He makes mistakes, in his view, but does not intentionally lie. Yet there is no way around it—when what a person claims is contradicted by what he has done, he has lied. Taking full responsibility would be to admit the lie, repenting of it and seeking forgiveness.

This is a lesson in truth-telling for all of us, and the Bible warns us of eternal, not merely temporal, consequences of being a liar:

But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death (Revelation 21:8 [ESV]).

And the Bible shows us that Christ alone is the hope for repentant sinners:

And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God (1 Corinthians 6:11 [ESV]).

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I continue to be surprised at the number of conservative, evangelical theologians who view the earth as having existed for billions of years. Why do they believe what contradicts a clear reading of the opening chapters of Genesis? Many years ago I read A. W. Tozer’s comment that the great danger for evangelical academicians was the desire to achieve credibility in the eyes of the secular academic world. My suspicion is that desire accounts for some measure of the acceptance of evolutionary ages.

There is also something else going on, doubtlessly, and I speak from personal experience. There was a time when I was open to the earth’s being billions of years old, with the caveat being that Adam and Eve were specially created as the parents of humans, perhaps ten to fifteen thousand years ago. The more I studied the exegetical evidence from the Scriptures, however, the more untenable I found the belief that the earth is billions of years old. Likewise, the more I examined the evidence provided by supporters of an old earth view of origins and supporters of a young earth view of origins, the more certain I became that science supported the young earth view.

So what is this other reason that many conservative theologians, those who claim the Bible is the inerrant word of God, accept an old earth creationist view? I suspect that they do so because people they trust endorse such a view. That is where I was. Theologians whom I trusted often held to an old earth creationist view. Such theologians may have picked up an argument or two to give support for holding such a view, but now I really wonder how deeply they have examined the evidence. They are involved with other matters, other theological pursuits that they deem more important than the age of the earth. Origins is not their focus, so they leave the thinking to those whom they trust.

A recent article on the website of Creation Ministries International by Dr. Russell Humphreys put this issue into focus for me. In “Why Most Scientists Believe the Earth Is Old,” Dr. Humphreys makes the case that few scientists really study the origin of the earth and the universe. Their interests lie elsewhere, so they simply really upon the beliefs of those scientists whom they trust who lay claim to expertise in the area of origins.

Dr. Humphreys writes, “The majority of scientists—the evolutionists—rely on a minority of the relevant data. Yet a minority of scientists—the creationists—use the majority of the relevant data. Adding to the irony is the public’s wrong impression that it is the other way around. Therefore, many ask: ‘If the evidence is so strongly for a young earth, why do most scientists believe otherwise?’ The answer is simple: Most scientists believe the earth is old because they believe most other scientists believe the earth is old!”

Scientists are often portrayed as disinterested seekers of truth. If the evidence were to reveal that the earth is young, as in a few thousand years, then that is what they would teach. On the other hand, if the evidence were to reveal that the earth is old, as in billions of years, then that is what they would teach. Unfortunately, that is not the case. The implications for a young earth are too great for scientists who refuse to acknowledge God as creator. Necessarily, billions of years are required, in their mind, to get from their claim of a big bang to where we are today. One holds to evolution because of one’s belief system, not because of the evidence.

Theologians who realize that God is creator and the Word of God is inerrant need to recognize that a belief in evolutionary ages, even while maintaining that God interacted with evolution to specially create Adam and Eve, is essentially denying the clear teaching of the Scriptures. Accommodating evolution in order to gain the respect of a secular culture or because other trusted theologians possess such a belief compromises the Scriptures and denies God the glory that is his alone.

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