The Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity – “Christian Values”

The Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity

 

September 9, 2018

 

“Christian Values”

 

Matthew 6:24-34

 

Click here to listen to audio of this sermon.

 

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.” Matthew 6:24-34

 

The value of a commodity is determined by supply and demand.  If there is much of it and few people want it, it won’t be valued very highly.  On the other hand, if there is little of it and many people want it, its price will be high.  The wants of the people and the supply of what they want determine the value of land, houses, cars, food, education, hamburgers, and tacos.

 

People want good food.  They want nice clothes.  Their wants put a value on these things.  It makes sense that people will value necessities of life.  After all, you must eat to live.  You need clothes.  Before you know it, the mild weather will be gone and we’ll have to bundle up to go outside.  Food and clothing are a constant need.  No wonder people worry about them!

 

Jesus tells us not to.  He makes a simple but compelling argument.  Our Father in heaven knows that we need food and clothing.  Since he knows we need these things, we shouldn’t worry about getting them.  After all, if he feeds the birds, won’t he feed us?  We are more valuable than birds.  That’s what God says.  We’re the most valuable thing God created.  We didn’t arise from the slime, evolving over millions of years from some microscopic single-celled organism into a human being.  God created us in his own image.  He created us male and female.  He created us body and soul.  He treasures us so much that he chose to become one of us.

 

To be made in God’s image means that God made us to know him and to love him.  To know God isn’t just to know that he exists.  When we are on vacation up on Gunflint Lake on the border of northeastern Minnesota and northwestern Ontario, we often go for walks in the woods.  We see evidence of bears, sometimes martins, or even wolves.  I have never developed a friendship or personal relationship with a bear, a martin, or a wolf.  That’s the stuff of fairy-tails.  Animals can’t talk.  They are not persons.  People may humanize their dogs and cats, but that doesn’t make them into persons.  They’re animals.  We’re not.  We’re human beings.  We can know God.  They can’t.  God feeds the birds, but the birds don’t know it.  God cares for your dog and cat, but neither Spot nor Puff are capable of knowing God, loving God, or worshipping God.  They take from God what God gives.

 

But even while the birds and the cats and dogs, the bears, the martins, and the wolves do not know God or love God, they do rely on God, whether they know it or not.  The birds don’t worry about food.  They see the food and they eat it.  Where did the worm or the fish or the rabbit come from?  God put them there for the birds to eat.  God provides.  He feeds the birds.  They don’t make clothes.  They don’t build barns.  They rely on the God they cannot know or love.

 

We were made by God to know him and to love him.  So what are we doing then, when we worry about whether we will have enough food to eat and decent clothes to wear?  What are we doing when we worry about our future, the market, the bank account, the retirement fund, job security, decent prices, a decent salary, or any other thing?  We are worshipping a false god.  That’s what we are doing.

 

Jesus says:

 

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?

 

Pay attention to his words!  He’s not talking about pining after wealth.  He’s talking about worrying about your basic needs.  He’s talking about food, drink, and clothing.  These are necessities of life.  When you worry about the necessities of life you are saying that your Father in heaven isn’t your Father in heaven.  You are worshipping the false god of mammon.  You are a materialist.

 

Materialism and atheism go together.  Atheists living in small town and rural Montana or North Dakota don’t usually advertise themselves.  It’s not socially acceptable to deny the existence of God.  There are places where atheism is quite respectable.  But to worry about whether you are going to have the necessities of life when God has promised to provide them for you is to believe like an atheist.  To worry about whether God will take care of you is to deny God.  It’s to think as if he doesn’t really exist, or if he does, he doesn’t care about us.  Do any of us really think that we know better than God what we need?  Do we really think that we are more capable than God of taking care of ourselves?  To trust in stuff – even the necessities of life – is to not trust in God.  You cannot love and you cannot serve both God and your material possessions.

 

The love of our material possessions is the source of no end of trouble.  St. Paul writes in 1 Timothy 6,

 

Now godliness with contentment is great gain.  For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.  And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.  But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.  For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.

 

The love of money is idolatry.  We should be content with food and clothing.  Worry isn’t just a lack of faith in the God who will provide.  It is serving money.  Get more and more and more.  Then you won’t have to depend on God.  The reason Western Civilization is falling is because when God made the Europeans and Americans rich, they began to worship all their stuff instead of the God who gave it to them.  The God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is ignored.  What used to be known as Christendom has fallen from the faith, worshipping the creation rather than the Creator.

 

If you want to know why churches are shrinking all over America, it’s not so hard to understand.  More and more Americans – especially younger Americans – no longer believe in the God who created them in his image.  They no longer consider God as their Father.  Their notion of God has morphed into something alien and strange.  When he isn’t their Creator he isn’t their judge.  When he isn’t their judge, his law can be ignored.  So people make up their own gods, make up their own laws, and worship what they have made in their own image.  They project on their manmade deities their own ideas, and the number one idea of all humanly crafted religions is that we are good.  The denial of our sin means that there is no such thing as idolatry.  It means that we need not seek God or his rule over us, but that we are, for all practical purposes, our own gods.

 

To which Jesus replies, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.”  You must know God.  You must love him.  Until you know him and love him you are steeped in idolatry.  You worry about stuff you don’t have.  You worry about stuff you do have.  You have no peace, no true joy, and no knowledge of love until you know God as God reveals himself to you.  Where is that?  In his kingdom.

 

The kingdom of God isn’t a place.  It’s Christ ruling over you as King of kings and Lord of lords.  His rule over you is through his Word.  He speaks in the Bible, the book written about him.  He speaks in church through his ministers he sends to preach his word that is written down in the Bible.  By speaking to us he governs us.

 

What does he say?  He talks about his Father.  He says that he and the Father are one.  He reveals the intimate fellowship that exists between him and the Father – this was the topic of our Bible class last Wednesday – the fellowship or communion that exists between the Father and the Son.

 

But Jesus does more than talk.  He acts.  He establishes his kingdom by dying on the cross.  There we see the righteousness of the kingdom.  Now only a sinner who knows he’s a sinner and wants to be good but knows he’s not is going to care about the righteousness of God’s kingdom.  Jesus says this is the first thing we should seek!  The very first.  When you find yourself, a guilty sinner, an idolatrous, self-centered, and doubting sinner, standing in the nakedness of your guilt before God and your divine Judge does not judge you, but turns his eyes away from your shame and looks to his Son’s obedience and sacrifice, and clothes you in that righteousness, then you have found what is truly valuable in life.

 

The kingdom of God and his righteousness are more valuable than food, clothing, money, property, education, health, influence, or the cabin on the lake.  With Christ and his righteousness comes the Holy Spirit.  He persuades our doubting hearts of the faithfulness of our Father in heaven.  Surely if God gives us his only Son and justifies us freely by his grace in Christ, he will give us everything our bodies need.  The Holy Spirit persuades us of this.  He shows us the true treasure of having the forgiveness of sins, peace with God, and the guarantee of eternal life.  From knowing God in Christ, and knowing how much he loves us, we actually know him.  Not just stuff about him.  We know him as he really is.  And we love him.  In God’s kingdom his image is restored in us.

 

Amen.

 

Pastor Rolf Preus

About Pastor Rolf Preus

Pastor Rolf David Preus grew up on the campus of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, the fourth of ten children, where his father, Dr. Robert David Preus, taught for many years. Pastor Preus graduated from high school in 1971, from Concordia College, St. Paul, Minnesota in 1975 and from Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, Indiana in 1979. He was ordained on July 1, 1979, at Trinity Lutheran Church, in Clear Lake, Minnesota. He served Trinity Lutheran Church in Clear Lake (1979-1982), First Lutheran Church in East Grand Forks, Minnesota (1982-1989), St. John's Lutheran Church in Racine, Wisconsin (1989-1997), River Heights Lutheran Church in East Grand Forks, Minnesota (1997-2006), and First American Lutheran Church in Mayville, North Dakota and Grace Lutheran Church in Crookston, Minnesota from (2006-2015). On February 15, 2015 he was installed as Pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, Sidney, Montana and St. John Lutheran Church, Fairview, Montana. Pastor Preus received his Master of Sacred Theology degree from Concordia Theological Seminary in 1987. His thesis topic was, “An Evaluation of Lutheran/Roman Catholic Conversations on Justification." Pastor Preus has taught courses in theology for Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, Concordia University Wisconsin, and St. Sophia Lutheran Theological Seminary in Ternopil, Ukraine. Pastor Preus married Dorothy Jean Felts on May 27, 1975, in Coldwater, Michigan. God has blessed Pastor and Dort with twelve children: Daniel, David, Paul, John, Mark, Stephen, Christian, Andrew, James, Mary, Samuel, and Peter. David, Paul, John, Mark, Stephen, Christian, Andrew, and James are pastors in the LCMS. God has blessed Pastor and Mrs. Preus with sixty-three grandchildren so far.

Comments

The Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity – “Christian Values” — 66 Comments

  1. The consensus of experts is a very hard norm to challenge. When I was a freshman at the University of Missouri in the fall of 1971 I took a class on anthropology. The opening sentence of the textbook read: “Few educated men, and certainly no serious scholars, deny that man evolved from a primary organism.” Intimidating to an eighteen year old young man who wanted an education! The same contempt will be shown to anyone who denies that the world is billions of years old inasmuch as this old earth doctrine is necessary to support the doctrine that we evolved over billions of years from a single cell organism. What I would suggest to Mr. Gibbs is that the old earth teaching is inextricably joined to the macro-evolutionary dogma. As a Christian, you want to hold onto what is necessary to faith, but you also want to be able to understand Genesis in such a way as to accommodate an old earth theory. Well, the old earth theory exists as a theory to accommodate the doctrine of the evolution of all species including us human beings. You cannot get the old earth doctrine to jibe with the plain meaning of Genesis. It can’t be done.

    While I have read much over the years from creationists and advocates of intelligent design I am hardly an expert. One thing I do know, however, is that intellectual fads come and go and then come back again. As the Preacher says, “There is nothing new under the sun.” I suspect that the most persuasive element of the old earth doctrine is the sneer directed against those who deny it. The sneer is a powerful persuader! I’m pretty sure that most of my fellow students at the University of Missouri in Columbia bought into the doctrine set forth in our textbook. By the evidence presented? I doubt it. They didn’t want to be ostracized.

  2. @ Pastor Preus #51,

    Thank you for your poignant comments.

    What I would suggest to Mr. Gibbs is that the old earth teaching is inextricably joined to the macro-evolutionary dogma. As a Christian, you want to hold onto what is necessary to faith, but you also want to be able to understand Genesis in such a way as to accommodate an old earth theory. Well, the old earth theory exists as a theory to accommodate the doctrine of the evolution of all species including us human beings.You cannot get the old earth doctrine to jibe with the plain meaning of Genesis. It can’t be done.

    You are absolutely correct that the millions and billions of years of geology and biological evolutionary dogma are inextricably linked. They are two sides of the same coin. Darwin’s theory needed the millions and billions of years in the fossil record to make his natural selection + mutations + time to make any plausible sense.

    What I think we are missing is that James Gibbs buys into all of that. He’s an evolutionist, and an old universe/old earther. They both go together for him. Perhaps he prefers the term theistic-evolutionist, but he has demonstrated that he likes both sides of that same coin. Like founder Francis Collins of BioLogos; an organization heavily promoting and inculcating Darwinian evolution to Christians within the Church, James Gibbs follows lock, stock, and barrel.

  3. Pastor Preus claims “the most persuasive element of the old earth doctrine is the sneer directed against those who deny it.” Maybe for some, but not for me. I attend an LCMS congregation. I live in the Bible Belt. I have no connections to academia (I graduated from college 35 years ago) or the media. So there has been very little opportunity for anyone to sneer at me about the age issue. And I believed in a young earth until I was in my mid-50s.

    Reading about the EVIDENCE for an old earth (and universe) is what convinced me, not being sneered at. Actually, I only recall one time that anyone laughed at me for believing in a young earth (that was years ago), and that was a Christian co-worker. I’ve been sneered at countless times on this website for believing in an old earth, and all those folks were Christians, too. Something to think about!

    That an old earth and evolution are joined at the hip is a canard. Hugh Ross has made an entire career out of promoting an old earth while simultaneously denying macro-evolution. And there are many other prominent old-earth Christians who also reject Darwin.

    Turn it around–I think many creationists attack an ancient earth because a young earth would make evolution impossible.

    And another thought: if you say an old earth and evolution are inseparable, wouldn’t that just inspire someone convinced of an old earth to also embrace evolution? Considering some of the things people have called me here, I can see someone thinking, “Might as well be hung for a sheep as a lamb.”

    Pastor Preus is wrong to think “the old earth theory exists…to accommodate the doctrine of…evolution.” 18th- and 19th-century scientists–who were all creationists–had worked out the geologic column before Darwin ever published his theory.

    “You cannot get the old earth doctrine to jibe with the plain meaning of Genesis. It can’t be done.” Why not? The LCMS website says the Bible doesn’t give an age for the earth. Walter Roehrs said a nonliteral interpretation of the six days of creation couldn’t be ruled out. Paul Zimmerman said the Bible doesn’t tell us the length of the days, and that Christendom has never made it dogma that the days were 24 hours each. Fred Kramer said you shouldn’t use the genealogies of Genesis to date anything before Abraham. And all three men were young-earth creationists and pillars of the LCMS.

    As far as an old earth being an “intellectual fad,” you could make the same point about various interpretations of the Bible. Men as smart as Luther and Melanchthon thought Copernicus contradicted Joshua 10, and they were later proven wrong.

    After a point, scientific theories become accepted as truth, and rightly so. NASA and the military use Newton and Einstein’s “theories” when launching rockets safely and accurately, doctors use the germ “theory” of disease in treating and preventing illnesses, and so forth.

    The antiquity of the earth has been well-established for 200 years. Like all scientific explanations, it is “theoretically” possible it could be overturned by future discoveries–but I’m not holding my breath.

  4. Mr. Gibbs, I said that you cannot get the old earth doctrine to jibe with the plain meaning of Genesis. You took issue with me by referring to the LCMS, Walter Roehrs, Paul Zimmerman, and Fred Kramer. You then point out that these men were all young earth creationists. What’s your point? That the LCMS teaches a young earth? I don’t find that to be particularly helpful for us as we ask whether the Bible can accommodate an old earth doctrine. Besides, when asking what the Bible says we should go to the Bible, not to the LCMS or its theologians.

    Examining the biblical text you see that the days mentioned in Genesis 1 are ordinary days. How do we know? Because Exodus 20:8-11 says so. As Moses writes the requirements of the Third Commandment, he identifies the length of time in which God made the world with six ordinary days. To argue that the word “day” in Genesis 1 could refer to a period of time of millions or billions of years is therefore to argue against the plain sense of the text as set forth by its author. Moses in Exodus 20 is the definitive interpreter of Moses in Genesis 1. The plain meaning of Genesis 1 and Exodus 20 disallows an old earth doctrine.

    I would be interested in knowing the names of scientists of the 18th and 19th centuries who taught that the world is billions of years old. Can you give me sources I can consult for myself?

  5. @ James Gibbs #53,

    Reading about the EVIDENCE for an old earth (and universe) is what convinced me, not being sneered at.

    Believing the secularist instead of his Scriptures, Mr. Gibbs thinks that “EVIDENCE” comes to him from the secular scientist without interpretation and bias. Must be true, the scientist’s all say it so!

    I’ve been sneered at countless times on this website for believing in an old earth, and all those folks were Christians, too. Something to think about!

    I wonder why? Could the reason be that you are a false propagandist and discerning Christians can see that?

    That an old earth and evolution are joined at the hip is a canard. Hugh Ross has made an entire career out of promoting an old earth while simultaneously denying macro-evolution.

    And yet you’re not a Rossite, so what is your point? Ross’s problems are legion, yet you have staked your claim with the likes of Collins and BioLogos. You’re an evolutionist, do you deny it?

    Pastor Preus is wrong to think “the old earth theory exists…to accommodate the doctrine of…evolution.” 18th- and 19th-century scientists–who were all creationists–had worked out the geologic column before Darwin ever published his theory.

    Gibbs has the temerity to say that Pastor Preus is ‘wrong’. Eighteenth and Nineteenth scientists were of course not all creationists. Some were, most weren’t, but historically one must remember they were all coming out of the Enlightenment, where Scripture was spurned and reason reigned supreme. It was a shaking off of the “restraints” (wink, wink) of supposedly confining doctrines of the Church and the demands of God in Scripture.

    The antiquity of the earth has been well-established for 200 years.

    Well established in the minds of the secularists indeed. Our culture is permeated with reference to millions and billions of years; from grade school on up. The Scriptures speak to a different worldview however.

    Therein is one of the issues I believe. James Gibbs wants to hold on to the secularist worldview, even though claiming to be a Christian. He’s lukewarm, worshipping the idols of his secularist heroes, while rejecting the words of the Christ he claims to believe in.

  6. @Rolf Preus #54

    The point I was making in citing Roehrs et al. was simply that there IS room to interpret Genesis to allow for an old earth. If even young-earth LCMS guys admit there is room for an old-earth interpretation, then there must be room. Zealous young-earthers today want to “lock down” the age of the earth at around 6,000 years with a combination of a 144-hour creation week plus the Genesis genealogies, with no gaps anywhere. Some Christians believe in a young earth; others think it is old. There should be room for both views.

    As far as citing LCMS theologians—sorry, I thought you were LCMS, too. Am I wrong? People upset by the Jurchen article in 2017 sure seemed upset that he was supposedly contradicting the Brief Statement—an LCMS document. Or do we only care about “violating Synodical doctrine” when we agree with it?

    As far as getting doctrine from the Bible, not the Synod—isn’t that like asking why do we get doctrine from the Book of Concord? We call ourselves Lutherans because we agree with the BOC’s doctrine—its interpretation of Scripture. We call ourselves LCMS because…you get my point.

    On Exodus 20 defining the creation days as ordinary ones—see the Dr. Roehrs article I alluded to before at http://www.ctsfw.net/media/pdfs/RoehrsCreationAccountsGuidelines.pdf. One of the points he mentions is that the parallel passage, Exodus 31:17, says God “was refreshed,” a term which cannot apply literally to God, and is possible a clue that the “six days” may be figurative in some way as well.

    If you are interested in pre-Darwin geologists, check out the names at this link: http://www.talkorigins.org/indexcc/CD/CD103.html . Also, see the two links on that page—the first one is broken, but the second one will take you to another article with even more names you can look up.

    Did all of those guys believe in “billions of years”? Not literally, primarily because radiometric dating hadn’t been discovered yet. They did, however, all agree that Ussher’s chronology was completely unable to account for the observed geologic data.

    I hope this helps.

  7. @ James Gibbs #55,

    Wow, very eloquent James. Not like some of your other posts. Almost like you’re two different people, or a group-think from talkorigins working together.

    Some Christians believe in a young earth; others think it is old. There should be room for both views.

    Only one view is correct. Its not a binary decision. God doesn’t double-speak, and the evolutionary millions and billions of years view leads to the destruction of Christian theology. That you fail to see this is why you and those like you are so dangerous.

    Did all of those guys believe in “billions of years”? Not literally, primarily because radiometric dating hadn’t been discovered yet. They did, however, all agree that Ussher’s chronology was completely unable to account for the observed geologic data.

    Lets not be mistaken or fooled here. James Gibbs has an agenda here on BJS. His agenda is subterfuge, a cloaking of righteousness within the mask of concupiscence. Its an evil game with disastrous results.

  8. Mr. Gibbs, you write: “As far as getting doctrine from the Bible, not the Synod—isn’t that like asking why do we get doctrine from the Book of Concord? We call ourselves Lutherans because we agree with the BOC’s doctrine—its interpretation of Scripture. We call ourselves LCMS because…you get my point.” Yes, I think I do. Let’s review our brief exchange. I said that the old earth doctrine is incompatible with the clear teaching of the Scriptures. In response, you cited the writings of men but made no biblical argument. I pointed this out. Again, you cited the writings of men but made no biblical argument. My position is drawn from the clear Scriptures. I showed you above how the days in Genesis 1 and the days in Exodus 20 are the same. You don’t engage my biblical argument. Instead you cite the writings of men. I do get your point. I hear this quite often. Your point is that the writings of LCMS theologians are normative for LCMS Lutherans. My point is that this position contradicts our Lutheran Confessions. The Holy Scriptures are the only rule and norm by which we judge all teachings and teachers. Please explain to me how the days in Genesis 1 and the days in Exodus 20 are not the same when Moses says they are? These are God’s words. Let’s submit to what God says and not blow smoke over God’s clear word by appealing to the writings of men.

  9. Pastor Preus, you say I am not making a Biblical argument by citing LCMS theologians.

    Sure I am.

    The LCMS website, in saying the Bible does not assign an age to the earth, is simply stating the obvious: nowhere does the Bible say “God made the earth in X B.C.” or “God created the world X years before such-and-such an event.” That’s a Biblical argument.

    Why did Walter Roehrs say the “six days” may be interpreted figuratively? Because Exodus 31 says God “was refreshed”—something literally untrue about God, since the Almighty needs no rest and has no need to catch his breath. If the “refresh[ment]” of God was analogous to our rest yet unlike it, why not the “six days” in the same passage? That’s a Biblical argument.

    When Paul Zimmerman said the text of Genesis does not give us the length of the days, he meant just that—it does not say they were 24 hours each. That’s a Biblical argument.

    Fred Kramer used Biblical data to point out how there are gaps in the genealogies, so we shouldn’t use them to date events before Abraham. That’s a Biblical argument.

    I grant you that Zimmerman’s point about 24-hour days never being dogma is an historical argument, not a Biblical one—but it still speaks to the issue of “clear teaching.” The ancient creeds and councils never “laid down the law” about the length of the creation days. Several of the Fathers, including Augustine of Hippo, Clement of Alexandria, Origen Adamantius, Athanasius of Alexandria, Hilary of Poitiers, and Cyprian of Carthage, interpreted the days of Genesis to be something other than solar days. If 24-hour days is “the clear teaching of the Scriptures,” then why did so many Fathers get it wrong? Certainly, the Fathers weren’t influenced by modern science!

    On another note–many conservative Protestant leaders of the early 20th century (including many of the original “Fundamentalists”) held to the gap theory, which views the “six days” as six literal days of RE-creation AND allows for all the geologic ages of modern science. So six “literal” days don’t automatically rule out an ancient earth, either.

    And here’s another thought: I don’t think you can make a purely Biblical argument for heliocentrism. Luther certainly didn’t think so! Joshua 10:13 says the sun stood still, not the earth. A bunch of verses, including Psalm 93:1, say the earth cannot be moved. Based purely on Scripture, and without “appealing to the writings of men,” how can we believe in Copernicanism? Francis Pieper said we shouldn’t! But I doubt you believe in geocentrism. Like 99.9% of Lutherans, you accept a heliocentric interpretation of these passages. Why? Because the science became too strong to ignore.

    Likewise, the science supporting an ancient earth and cosmos is amazingly robust. If someone has a scientific education, and knows the evidence, we are going to have a really hard time convincing that person that he or she should completely turn off his or her brain and accept “the clear word of Scripture,” when there are other legitimate ways of reconciling the Bible and science that are also God-honoring.

    As far as “blow[ing] smoke over God’s clear word,” I don’t think having legitimate questions about whether the prima-facie meaning of a passage is the true meaning is “blow[ing] smoke.

    I don’t take the “weeks” of Daniel to be literal years. I don’t think Jesus spent three literal nights in the heart of the earth–he spent two nights there (Good Friday night and Holy Saturday night). I don’t think the saints will rule (or have ruled) with Christ for a literal 1,000 years (no more and no less). I don’t think the church in Smyrna suffered persecution for only one week and three days.

    Likewise, I don’t take the “six days” of Genesis to mean that Archbishop Ussher was right.

    I’ve enjoyed “conversing” with you, and I hope your 2020 is a good one. God bless you in your ministry.

  10. Incorrigible. You seminarians (not just Pastor Preus, where are the rest of you?) better step up to the plate. Figure it out, or you’ve lost the whole of Christianity. You might as well call this blogsite the Brothers of John the Un-steadfast.

    Counter it point by point, or give up; you’ve lost. Either eliminate him from posting his false teaching and bringing his TalkOrigins nonsense to this blogsite, or condemn him point by point and give it an airing for only so long to see if he conforms, otherwise restrict his posting here to shepherd the flock you are called to protect.

  11. The problem in countering point by point everything Mr. Gibbs says, is that few of us have the time. I just read over the Roehrs essay in the CTM from 1965. I learned that, contrary to Mr. Gibbs’s contention, Roehrs did not argue from the Lord being refreshed to a figurative interpretation of the days of creation. He cited this as an argument that others made. He did not make it his own argument. In my opinion, he was being too generous with them by not refuting them outright. The use of an anthropopathism does not mean that the days under discussion are to be taken figuratively. It simply doesn’t follow. Had Roehrs wanted to engage those who made that argument, he would have pointed this out. But he didn’t want to do that.

    I don’t have the time to investigate what Zimmermann said, but I know Zimmermann’s theology. He would not accept a figurative interpretation of the days of creation. The Lutheran fathers wouldn’t either. The reluctance of conservative Lutherans to state precisely the length of the days is not to open it up to a figurative interpretation, but to avoid getting bogged down in extraneous matters that obscure the main issue. Somebody will point out that a day isn’t necessarily 24 hours long. What do we know about such things? So we speak of ordinary days.

    Is Genesis 1-3 historical prose or is it not? Did it happen as written or did it not? The waw consecutive throughout (the repetition of the word “and”) is a feature of historical prose. There is nothing mythical about this. The author intends to convey what actually happened. Evening and morning are exactly that. The days are days. There is nothing in the text that suggests otherwise. Luther and heliocentrism and the meaning of weeks in Daniel are irrelevant to the discussion. The question is not whether one can erroneously attribute to the Bible a scientific theory or whether words are used figuratively in the Bible. The question is what did Moses write, and can these words, following sound biblical hermeneutical principles, be interpreted to mean that the days in Genesis 1 are millions and billions of years. The answer is no. They cannot. The old earth doctrine is incompatible with the plain sense of Genesis.

  12. @ Pastor Preus #61,

    The problem in countering point by point everything Mr. Gibbs says, is that few of us have the time.

    I understand that completely, and yet you did go back and read the Roehrs essay, and comment on Zimmermann, and I am thankful that you did so. Truly, these kind of comments are much needed, so thank you again.

    My journey to this blogsite began last year when I was researching the LCMS adoption of Resolution 5-09A “To Confess the Biblical Six-Day Creation.” It led me to the post here by Dr. Edmon “A Day is a Day is a Day”. “Wow”, I thought, “a blogsite that isn’t ashamed of claiming what was so clearly evident from Scripture.” “Fantastic”.

    I then asked for, and received, a meeting with my own LCMS pastor in his office (just he and I) to inquire what he thought about this recently passed resolution, and he told me in his own words, he thought, “It was an overreach.” “I mean, what is a Day, it can have several meanings.”

    Saddened, but fully expecting that response, as many of the men I call friends at church are followers of Hugh Ross and promote Ross’ teachings, I told him I respectfully disagreed and gave him a paper to read if he was so inclined to do so. (I fully understand as Pastors you have many, many things to read, study, and prepare for, and are probably asked by congregants quite frequently, “Hey Pastor, can you read this?”).

    So, it was with much encouragement that I saw here on BJS the willingness to defend the Biblical Doctrine of Creation in its entirety, in six days, and all very good, and a rejection of the millions and billions of years promoted by our pagan culture.

    That said, how would you encourage lay people, here and elsewhere, to defend this doctrine against the false and pernicious attacks by some, especially if you seminarians don’t have the time to defend it in the comment section? I’m not trying to be sarcastic, I’m asking you respectfully as a Pastor what you think and your counseled advice. Thank you.

  13. @ Pastor Preus #54,

    I would be interested in knowing the names of scientists of the 18th and 19th centuries who taught that the world is billions of years old. Can you give me sources I can consult for myself?

    I ran across this article by Andrew Sibley “Deep Time in 18th Century France” which you may find helpful. It can be found here:

    https://creation.com/images/pdfs/tj/j33_1/j33_1_85-92.pdf

  14. Mr. Drake, in response to your question above about what the laity can do to defend the pure teaching on creation, I suggest three things:

    1) Talk to your pastor and express to him your concern about errorists among us who are challenging what the Bible says about creation. Believe me, your pastor cares what you think.

    2) Buy and give away easy to read material from reputable creationist sources. We live an hour north of Glendive, Montana where there is a creationist dinosaur museum. It’s very interesting. We’ve taken the youth down there and a bunch of LCMS pastors have also done the tour. Get good stuff and pass it on.

    3) Argue the biblical argument. The scientific creationist argument is good to refute bogus evolutionary claims, but we don’t base what we believe on science. Argue the plain meaning of the text. It’s the written Word of God that will be the most persuasive. Show how the text won’t permit a figurative interpretation of Genesis 1.

    Thanks for the link you provided above!

  15. Pastor Preus #64,

    Great advice. Thanks for your answers, and hope the link to the article by Andrew Sibley, Deep Time in 18th-Century France-part 1: a developing belief will be of help. Sibley continues his thought in a second article, Deep Time in 18th-century France-part 2: influence upon geology and evolution in 18th and 19th century Britain. Both articles were published in the Journal of Creation Vol. 33 (1) 2019.

    As to your point #3 above, I would agree, especially to those who claim the name of Christ, and should know better, and to that end I most heavily focus, although our kids and grandkids must understand the nature of scientific discovery, its methods and analysis, and how facts or evidence from and about the natural world are promulgated into our culture from the scientific establishment.

    They must be able to understand that facts are neutral and must be interpreted within some framework. Which framework to use in interpreting these facts is the operative question. Otherwise, we are left with some form of scientism as the sole arbiter of truth. I believe this is crucial for our children and grandchildren to understand, especially as it relates to historical/forensic science versus operational/experimental science. They must be able to understand the difference between the two, and the “interpretations” of facts/evidence and discernment of the framework in which those interpretations result in conclusions of truth.

    That said, I agree wholeheartedly, that Scripture speaks for itself, and we should argue the Biblical argument. God’s words are true; all of them; He cannot lie (Tit. 1:2, Num. 23:19). Your question in #58 about the days of Gen. 1 and the days of Ex. 20 being the same is a case in point, although it is still on the table and remains unanswered. The TalkOrigins and BioLogos people realize this is their weak point and just won’t answer. They typically refuse to engage the Biblical argument, effectively showing the weakness of their position.

    Again, thanks.

  16. Best if I had said above in #64 that ‘facts are not neutral’. They must be interpreted within a framework. Sorry for the confusion.

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