Rather than reading the Bible through the eyes of modern secularism, this provocative six-part course teaches you to read the Bible through its own eyes—as a record of God’s dealing with the human race. When you read it at this level, you will discover reasons to worship God in areas of life you probably never before associated with “religion.”
© Charles A. Clough 2005
Charles A. Clough
Biblical Framework Series 1995–2003
Part 1: The Bible Framework Strategy
A Biblical Framework for Facing the Intellectual, Moral, and Spiritual Challenges of the 21st Century - Part 1
January 21, 2005
West Houston Bible Church, Houston, TX
Transcribed by Ellen Kelso
Robby asked me to come and explain a little bit more about the Framework and so I thought it would be interesting to kind of go into the background for this Framework.
Some of you have heard about what we call Biblical Framework and I want to give a little introduction to that and tonight we’ll go into some of the background of why I chose that particular way to teach the Word of God. Tomorrow night we’ll do a little bit more; my point in saying this is I’m not going to actually go into the Framework itself so much as I’m going to talk about its design and what we’re trying to do with this approach to Scripture. I think that would be more beneficial, I couldn’t cover it anyway in three nights, so we’re going to talk about its structure rather than talk about all the details, though I’m going to open it up for questions and answers so hopefully I’ll have some answers to your questions; if you have questions about the content of the Framework from what you’ve been able to listen to or hear about.
I have to apologize for some of the background of the Framework in the sense that it was designed for a small local church; I never dreamed that it would be going out on the Internet but Tommy Ice’s son decided that would be a good project and I said go for it if you want to do that, and so people all over the place are getting it and I apologize for the fact that it’s not edited, there are refinements in the presentation that need to be made, I have about 15-16 more months left before I retire and that’s on my “to do” list, when I retire to put it in sort of a publishable more finished, more polished form. But we have to kind of put up with it for now the way it is.
Let me give a little background as to why I decided that I wanted to teach the Word of God in that particular mode. I ministered in a college environment for a while and it was in the 70s. It was in the time of the anti Vietnam protests; it was when we had very few tools available. Today we have worldview summit conferences and so on in evangelicalism, but in the 70s we didn’t have any of that. Yet we had and we faced a rising tide of young people who were so far away from the Word of God in their thinking, in even their terminology, in the way they’d been trained to think or not to think, that there was this big chasm between trying to teach the Word of God and addressing people who were miles and miles away culturally from the Word of God.
Evangelism, up until maybe ten years, ago has largely followed what we have inherited from the 19th century. Dwight L. Moody, Charles Spurgeon and the men of the 19th century we forget sometimes ministered in cultures that knew a little bit about Scripture. It’s been said that bartenders in the 19th century knew more Christian theology than Christians do in the 20th century. That may not be true but the point is that that kind of evangelism worked well because people understood there were truths that were absolute. It worked well because people understood there was a God who was the Creator.
But since that time we have generations that have been trained in the public school system to think in Darwinian terms, to really almost get into a mental state where it becomes very difficult to communicate the word G-o-d and have it mean what the Bible means by it. So I’m sure if you worked out in the work place you feel what I’m saying. But the point is that as our culture and our country become more and more controlled by the powers of unbelief we’re going to find ourselves the way missionaries find themselves when they go into a pagan nation, a pagan culture. I have a friend who has been involved with New Tribes Mission for a number of years and he tells a story that one of the wake-up calls that this particular mission agency, and I might say that New Tribes Missions is probably one of the better mission boards that are out there. They had a problem and that was they noticed in villages where they thought they had evangelized, where they thought they had taught the Word of God that when a crisis would hit, when an epidemic would occur in these people groups that what they would do is they would revert back to their spiritism, revert back to their animism; they would even take Scripture promises and use them like they would the amulets in the days when they had animism prior to the point where they became Christians.
So New Tribes did an analysis all during the 80s, the mid-80s, they sent teams in here to figure out what did we do wrong? Is our methodology somehow unscriptural? What can we do to prevent this from happening, this syncretism? And what they found out was that the way to properly communicate the gospel is that you’ve got to properly communicate who God is right from the start. And when you realize that this book, two-thirds of it is Old Testament, and you go around the country and you will probably hear one out of fifty sermons that come from the Old Testament, something’s out of kilter, when two-thirds of the Bible, written by the Holy Spirit, was designed to build doctrine upon doctrine upon doctrine, through a narration of history, so that all of history is pedagogical. God sets up history one century after another to teach doctrine upon doctrine upon doctrine. The Bible doesn’t start in Genesis 1 with a Jesus story.
But in the 40s and 50s and 60s what was happening on the mission field. What were the translators translating first for the natives? The Gospel of Mark. Was that the first book in the Scripture? No; Genesis. Well there’s a reason why there’s a sequence in Scripture, and so what New Tribes found out was that in order to get a clear gospel they had to go all the way back, not necessarily touching every detail, but go back and follow the historical sequence from creation, who God is, the fall, what sin is, it’s rebellion against that God, God’s standards, the necessity of blood atonement, and why you have to be saved by faith. Those all come in a sequence.
So in the 80s New Tribes went through this and as I talked with my friend in New Tribes I said well isn’t that interesting because in the 70s I came to the same conclusion. I mean, Lubbock, Texas is not exactly Austin as far as advanced dialogues go, but here we have a University campus in West Texas infected with the same kind of thinking you can find in the University of Texas, or Harvard, or Yale or anybody else. The reason is that academia is all interconnected; same text books, same PhDs, same schools to get the PhDs, and the same kind of teaching that goes on. So I came to the conclusion in the 70s that we had to take the Word of God and respect the historical sequence that God used to reveal His doctrine. And that was the lead-in, that was the curriculum, that was the lesson plan in order to make it clear.
I extended the doctrines of the Framework so that it includes all the major doctrines. What New Tribes did in the 80s, they confined it to just soteriology, the doctrine of salvation, Christology, that sort of stuff. But in their view they had to get that gospel clear; missionaries, that was their term. So they have a framework that they created in the 80s that emphasizes and I believe Robby has, with the foundation series in your Sunday school, that came out of that big discussion in the 80s. So that’s some history, that’s some historical background.
And what I’d like to do now is tie this in, this Framework into the faith rest drill. For years and years Bob faithfully taught the faith rest drill. And you look at it and there’s three steps in there. I’m going to go back to those three steps because it’s step number two that is the connection with the Framework. The first step in the faith rest drill is you go back to some known Scriptural principle, you may be facing a certain problem in life, it may be a certain situation, certain circumstances, you may have some Scripture memorized, you may have a verse that comes to mind, you may have a doctrine that you have got some notes on, but some fragment of Scripture, be it a verse, it can be a doctrine, it can be some notes that you’ve taken, you start there because that’s the authoritative Word of God. And to use the faith rest drill as a problem solving device you have to start with the authority of Scripture. So the first step always has been go back to the promise; go back to something that you can get your hands on, which is a reminder of how important Bible teaching is on a systematic basis because you never can predict what’s going to happen tomorrow so you have to have Scripture loaded today to handle tomorrow.
So the first thing is to go back to the Scripture. The second thing, you go through that faith rest drill, is to develop a rationale. Col. Thieme uses the term “rationale,” and he uses it for a very good reason, because a rationale is a development, it’s a logical development of a theme, and what I will show you some diagrams here that I hope will make that rationale generation clearer. But the idea is, if I have a situation here and I’m going to walk by faith, the filling of the Holy Spirit, I’ve got to have a rationale so that I see that God’s Word gives me the tools to handle that situation. And that sometimes can come quickly and sometimes it takes days and even weeks to grapple with this thing until the point comes where I cam convinced the Word of God has the answer to this area of discussion, whatever it may be.
And then the third thing of course is that once that happens and we can walk by faith, we experience the faith rest, just resting, the peace. But my contention is that that second step is where we face problems; problems not of our own, problems fed to us by a culture that is hostile to the Scripture, and it becomes particularly important for a new Christian, young people to realize that to go from the first to the third you can’t go from the Scripture to peace automatically in many cases; you have to go through a reasoning process. And that’s where the Framework comes into power, so to speak.
Now I want to go here if all the technology works; this is a slide that I originally created for a debate that I had in a Unitarian Church in Columbia, Maryland. Myself and a Christian cardiologist went up against a NASA scientist and a Unitarian female pastor. We were discussing the issue of what is the gospel, can we trust the Scripture. And one of the things that we want to learn and I think it’s important that whenever you learn a doctrine, that you think in your mind that you’re learning something that collides with its opposite, with its denial. And when you look at the Scripture you’re looking at God’s coherent revelation and He did this because the world is a fallen world, hostile to Him, the carnal mind is “enmity against God, and cannot be subject to Him,” and there are two and only two ways of thinking.
That may seem kind of radical because you can say well I know of four or five different kinds of thinking, I mean, there’s a dozen cults out there, there’s all kinds of philosophy and so on, but we can’t get into all those details and most of us don’t have to, but I think it is important to go back to the fact that there are only two basic world views. There is the view, I should have put it on the right side but it’s on the left side; it starts out with this fundamental background of Scripture. It says the Creator can be seen in the Bible, in ancient Israel, ancient monotheism and fundamentalism. You say well, am I diluting the authority of Scripture? No. I’m using the Bible as the authority but I’m also pointing out that if you go back in the archeological evidences you will see that very early in many people groups they remembered God. Later their culture degenerated into a polytheism. This is opposite to what you often get, the idea of evolution and monotheism came from polytheism. No! We, as Christians, should understand that from the Scripture, where do all the people groups come from? They all came from Noah and his family. Well, doesn’t that argue that every peoples group further and further back, at least at one time knew Genesis 1-10? All people groups came from the same boat. We all got off the same boat. And that means, that has powerful implications because it means in analyzing any group of people, in any area, that ultimately their fathers, their grandfathers, their great-grandfathers, if you take them back, they at one time knew the story of the flood, they knew the story of Genesis 1. So if they write mythologies, and if they write these things today, those are a demonstration of what happen when people turn from the authority of Scripture.
So ancient monotheism is an historical fact that corroborates the Scripture. Ancient Israel is a historical fact; nobody can deny that Israel existed, and there’s a feature about Israel that you want to remember. It may be a good conversation piece. There has been only one nation in all of human history that ever made a contract with God, or was involved in a contract; actually we would say God made the contract with Israel of course, but they are the only people. Now isn’t that remarkable; you can’t find a contract with God in China; you can’t find it in South America, you can’t find it in our ancestors in Europe. The idea of a nation in a contract with God only comes from Israel. And so we have the Bible and down through fundamentalism and the conservative theology today.
Now what do we mean by all the Biblical tradition. We say the Creator/creature distinction, that is the heart of Scripture. And what is that opposite to? The right side of this slide is the dark, this is what the world system tries to substitute for Scripture: ancient myths, eastern religions, western philosophy, modern theology, it’s all the same in that they believe in this continuity of being. What is “continuity of being?” It means denying the Creator/creature distinction. Everything is on the same level, it’s just the universe, the cosmos just exists and there isn’t such a thing as a God who created the universe out of nothing, there are gods and goddesses but they’re inside the cosmos. This is why you read mythology and you have Zeus and Mount Olympus and those gods are all inside the creation; there’s nothing outside the creation. So we say that is the continuity of being. And that’s true of modern theology, that is true of modern philosophy as it was true of the Canaanites in the land where Israel went in the ancient Old Testament.
And finally down on the bottom we get down to the nub of this. This is where the spiritual agenda shows up. There’s a reason for all this; behind it all is the fact that God is omnipotent, we all know the attributes of God, go through the essence box, that God is sovereign and He is omnipotent and He is the Creator. Now the corollary to that, and this is what’s offensive to the sin nature and this is what unbelief doesn’t like to hear. The corollary to a personal sovereign omnipotent Creator is that you’re responsible to Him and I’m responsible to Him. We’re not just responsible to the State, our parents or someone else, we are ultimately responsible to Him, and it’s to Him that we will answer. Now that puts a burden, that puts a moral obligation on every person, that we are ultimately responsible. So we can hide all our little things from different people but we can’t hide from Him.
On the right side what is substituted for that kind of God? Ultimately what is substituted is either faith or chance. Now I grant you there are a hundred variations of this in actual practice but boiled down to the essence this is what we face. It is either the God of Scripture who reveals or we are left with Fate and Chance. Now the Bible, let’s turn to Ecclesiastes 3; we’re going to just briefly talk about a Biblical label for all that black stuff and what comes out of it. You probably know it under the term human viewpoint, that’s we’re talking about: divine viewpoint, human viewpoint. But there’s some technical terminology that is used in the Scriptures and in the Old Testament the book of Ecclesiastes is an expose of the vulnerability of human viewpoint. It is a statement, by Solomon under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, that I’ve tested this…Solomon, if you want to think of Solomon in cultural terms that makes sense in history think of Leonardo Da Vinci; he drew pictures of helicopters in his day, the guy was a futurist if there ever was one. He was a Renaissance man; he could paint, he could sculpture, he could write textbooks on mathematics and science, the guy did everything. Well Solomon would have outdone Leonardo Da Vinci; that’s the kind of guy Solomon was. Now granted, Solomon had tremendous brilliance that kind of got loose after a while, but the Holy Spirit used that and the book of Ecclesiastes is a very, very important book to expose the fallacies that are involved in this seductive, tempting way of thinking, called human viewpoint or unbelief or paganism.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 places the dilemma in focus; this penetrates to the heart of the problem and the problem is…and one of the things that should come out of this as an encouragement for us is that you know people can laugh at us because we believe the Bible but you know, really, they are pathetic. The skeptics are the ones who…we really shouldn’t laugh at them, we should cry about these people because they are so blinded they don’t understand the self-deception and the deep level of self-deception that they are involved in.
In Ecclesiastes 3:11 Solomon says this, I’m using the New King James translation: “He has made everything beautiful in its time. Also” and this is the key, “Also He has put eternity” or holam “in their hearts, except that no one can find out the work that God does from beginning to end.” Now let’s unpack that verse a minute. God has put a holam or a sense of eternity into the heart of every man, woman and child. There is no such thing, as Paul says in Romans 1, as a real atheist. He is fooling himself; all men and women know that God exists and spend a great deal of time trying to avoid it. But in Ecclesiastes 3:11, “He has put holam in their hearts;” this is God-consciousness, this is the sense that there from childhood, you don’t have to teach a kid that God is there. Read the biography of Helen Keller, a girl that grew up blind and mute and deaf, and I forgot the lady who was her teacher, but she got to that point one day when she was going to teach Helen Keller about God and she went through the sign language and everything else and Helen Keller said I already know that. How did Helen Keller know that? Because all children come programmed by God; they know this is there.
“He’s put holam in their heats, but,” and here’s the big but here, this is the adversative clause, although we know that God is there, and all children know that God is there the problem is that we don’t have the power in our souls, because we’re created finite, limited creatures, to understand the comprehensive plan of God; we can only understand a piece here and a piece there. All our doctrine, we understand some doctrines, we understand something about the plan of God but we don’t have total control over the plan of God, there’s surprises that are going to happen. There are things that He hasn’t in mind He hasn’t told us. What did Moses say? The secret things of the Lord belong onto Him but those things which are revealed belong unto us and our children. Moses knew this.
So right here Solomon is drawing the noose around unbelief by saying that no…once you start the premise here of trying to stop relying on the authority of revelation and you step over to rely upon your own human intellect, immediately you run into a buzz saw, and what you run into is this verse 11; you cannot develop total answers. You say well so what? Here’s so what: if you’re going to make a moral judgment you’ve got to make it on the basis of something. You can’t just say well, I think it’s wrong or I think it’s right. Well bully for you; who cares about your moral opinion? Give a justification for the reason why you say that.
In fact back in Robby’s home church in Connecticut they’re having a big debate because the State of Connecticut, after twenty years is going to execute this fellow that’s murdered and raped about 8 or 9 women. And everybody is in a stir because the Governor of Connecticut is going to do it; she refuses to grant clemency. And you should see this stuff that comes out on the papers that oh, the Bible says “Thou shalt not kill,” and we go into all this and I think that’s horrible that the United States does this. Of course if they had read the Constitution of the United States there’s two places in the Constitution that talk about capital punishment: Amendment V and Amendment XIV talk about due process of law and no man shall be deprived of his life or liberty. So it shows clearly the Constitution recognizes capital punishment. Capital punishment is recognized in Romans 13; there’s a justification for capital punishment but it’s a judgment in our generation, we have the media out there, we have the person next door that just don’t get it that moral judgments require absolute truth. And you can’t generate absolute truths out from the soul, only God can do that. That’s Ecclesiastes 3:11, no man can know the plan of God, no man has the capability of an infinite understanding.
Let’s go now to Ecclesiastes 12:13, he concludes this book, going through all these agonizing trials and tests that he did, he tried the wealth test, he tried all kinds of things that we’re tempted to [can’t understand word] save yourself hard knocks, learn from Solomon. He went through and he had all the assets to try everything. But in Eccl 12:13 we come down to the end. “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter,” after all the experiments, “Fear God, and keep His commandments, for this is man’s all.  For God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil.” The idea is what? Step one of the faith rest drill, “Fear God and keep His commandments.” We go back to the authority of revelation. Why? Well he fills out in the rest of the verse, because we’re going to be accountable. What does the rest of the verse say? We’re going to have to answer for the details in our life. So it probably is smart to find out what the guidelines are in the first place so you know how you wind up in the end. That is the essence of the argument of Solomon.
Now let’s come over to the New Testament because what we’re studying is the weaknesses of human viewpoint, so we’re going to try to undercut its seductiveness. Turn to James 4. The word, by the way, that Solomon uses for vanity, it’s a Hebrew word called habel, and in the New Testament it’s mataiotes in the Greek, Paul uses it, but the principle, the word picture that you want to see behind the term is found in James 4:13-15. This was written to Jewish businessmen, so it’s in a business context but you can generalize this to all of life. What James is doing is he’s talking to believers who, in their businesses, their everyday calling, they’re operating as though the Scriptures really are irrelevant to their business. So he says,  “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, by and sell, and make a profit.’” Now that’s a business plan; that’s a business model, and he’s saying when you make your business model…he’s not arguing don’t make a business model, he’s just saying that when you make a business model be aware of something, and that’s the next verse.  “Whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away.  Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.’” So James is quick to point out he’s not against planning, what he’s against is planning as though God is not sovereign, as though He is not omnipotent, as though He is not going to be involved in your life tomorrow.
Now I’m a weather forecaster so when I see that “you not what shall happen tomorrow,” I’ve had a lot of experience with that. But we could go on and enlarge that a little bit. Think of people investing in the stock market; if you could really know, if you could really know what’s going to happen tomorrow you’d be a billionaire; there are ways of playing the market, all you would need would be perfect knowledge of tomorrow. It’d only take a couple of days and you could make a pile and retire for the rest of your life. But no man can do that because we don’t know for sure what’s going to happen tomorrow and why don’t we know for sure what’s going to happen tomorrow? Because ultimately it’s in God’s hands. There’s nothing inside, as Solomon says, that we can get a handle on through which we can perfectly predict the future. It can’t be done, no matter how big your computer is.
So let me summarize before we go any further the three weaknesses of human viewpoint or unbelief. Now I’m going to refer to it in this series as paganism. And I know that kind of bothers people sometimes but I’m using the word “pagan” to refer, as the dictionary says, to anyone who does not believe in the God of the Bible. It’s not a term that means people are bad; it’s a term that’s describing their belief system. So America, our country, is rapidly becoming a pagan nation. We started off with a Christian influence that was very powerful; as a country we were extremely blessed. Some countries don’t have one or two people like we had when this country was founded. You don’t get a George Washington every generation. You don’t get a Ben Franklin, you don’t get a Thomas Jefferson, you don’t get a Witherspoon, you don’t get these guys every generation, but God it seems like just dropped a cluster of these guys right in one generation when this country was founded and we have progressively learned to not listen to them, expressed in the Constitution and other means.
But as paganism tries to develop it is a seductive program and it comes out of the experience in the Garden. But before we go to the Garden I want to summarize three points. One is ultimately unbelief tries to attempt the impossible, Ecclesiastes 3. It tries to substitute for the authority of the Word of God which gives us absolute truth to create the absolute truth out of the resources of the finite human soul. And it just falls apart every time. Think of what James just said; it can be seen in a normal every day business plan; you can’t plan perfectly for the future because we’re creatures. So the first thing about unbelief is that it attempts the impossible.
The second thing is that it’s built on a deliberate choice to become deceived. I’m going to come back to that. Unbelief is a deliberate choice by which I choose to be deceived. It’s a conscious choice to be deceived.
Finally, the third thing is that there are three basic expressions. These are the extreme forms of unbelief. At Berachah, years ago Bob used to mention this: rationalism, empiricism, and more recently there is selfism or existentialism or as Robby points out, mysticism. So there’s three ways and they all have their little weaknesses and their flavors of unbelief.
But one of the things to think about as we go into this, I’m going to take you to empiricism for a moment in the chart here but before I get there I want to stress the second principle I just gave you, that unbelief is a deliberate choice to be deceived. Turn to Genesis 3. You know, back in the beginning of the 20th century there was a very famous psychiatrist in Vienna by the name of Sigmund Freud, and if you’ve taken courses in psychology of course you know about Sigmund Freud, and you know in particular why Sigmund Freud was so crucial in the history of psychology and psychiatry is that he made people realize that our minds are very complicated. There’s levels down here in the depths, depth psychology and times we’re even unconscious of what’s going on down there. But we’re like a super computer, we’ve got a program deep down and sometimes we’re conscious of it, sometimes we’re not. And it was Freud who drew the world’s attention to this. Now we disagree with what he says abides there, but the idea of digging down into the human mind and seeing that it has a profound level of depth underneath, that’s Biblical.
Let’s go to Genesis 3 and see what happens. We’ve gone through the fall, and in Genesis 3:7 we have that moment when Adam and Eve chose to disobey the Word of God. And it says, “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.” So right away you have an awareness that something’s wrong. Fundamentally every person knows that this reality we live in is abnormal. You can’t look at the tsunami, you can’t look at the guys that are coming home from Iraq with their legs blown off and say this is normal life. This is not the way God created the universe. There’s something wrong with everything; we live in an abnormal world, so we have coping mechanisms. And Adam and Eve knew they were naked, so they’re going to sew fig leaves together, and of course we know the story, God provides the clothing which…of imputed righteousness. There’s something deep, it’s not just talking about clothing styles here. This is talking about a sense that they were naked before God, and they were sinful before God and they were exposed before God. So they have this sense that you know, gee, all of a sudden I’m aware that God is holy and just and I’m aware that I don’t meet the standard, I’ve got a problem. So I’m going to solve the problem, so immediately they start trying to solve the problem. This is not a problem solving problem; it doesn’t work because God comes along and says that’s not the problem, you need imputed righteousness and I’m going to give it to you but you need that and your fig leaves aren’t going to solve the problem.
Well then it goes further, and this one is I think the clearest way to see what I mean by being deceived. Genesis 3:8, “And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.” Now would you say, if you look at verse 8 and consider what verse 8 really says, would you say yes or no to the question, did Adam and Eve lose their sense of God-consciousness? Well not really, why did they flee His presence? Because they knew God was there. See, God-consciousness wasn’t lost at the fall, there’s no such thing as an atheist. What we have are people who are trying to flee His presence and it’s the word of grace that pulls us out of that deal; that’s the call of God and the gospel, the grace. But if we aren’t going to listen to God and His grace, then we’re going to do what verse 8 says. And what I’m suggesting to you is that verse 8 is a picture, easy to see picture, a child can see the picture of fleeing. They don’t flee from somebody they don’t believe in; they flee precisely because they know He’s there and they know they’re abnormal and they know the relationship is fractured. So they know all that. Then what they do is they hide.
Now let’s advance one step further. If you and I try to hide from God… think of the essence box, what attributes of God have we already denied, right there? The idea that we can hide violates His omnipresence, doesn’t it. If we really believe God is omnipresent we’re not going to hide because you can’t hide from omnipresence. But isn’t it interesting that within moments of the fall theological doctrine changed. Look how rapidly Adam and his wife alter their theological belief system to accommodate themselves to their new situation of animosity to God. We have a massive doctrinal shift here that denies the attributes of God, and what does a later passage of the Old Testament say? That is called idolatry. What is an idol? An idol is a God-substitute made by me so I can control it; if I make the god, if I carve it, then I control it. I want a God I can control because I don’t like this idea that this is His universe and I’m kind of the guy that really can’t speak up here; this is His turf, not mine.
So back in this little simple story of Genesis, this true history, a child can read this, a child can see it. New Tribes Mission when they go in this is one of the stories they emphasize; the natives can sit there and they can enter into the story and they can learn doctrine from this story. Well what do they learn? They learn that at the bottom, the depth of the human soul is in rebellion against God and the manifestation is falsehood, deception, perversion of truth. There is an agenda behind human viewpoint, it is a moral agenda and in the Framework series the way I summarized this is the agenda is this: we want to make the world safe for sinners. It’s an attempt to make the world and insulate it from interference. We don’t want God to interfere. That’s the agenda and you have to kind of learn to see this, and when you talk to non-Christian, maybe people in your family or someone, just listen to them; listen to how they talk to you in conversation; just pay attention and listen and you’ll hear this if you look for it. What you’re seeing is somebody comes in and five minutes ago they told you they don’t believe in God; something bad happens and who do they curse? Now what has popped loose in five minutes? Their God-consciousness has been exposed, meaning that what they told you five minutes ago was a big lie. All along they knew God exists; it’s just that it popped loose here because in response to something they got morally indignant over something and the moment they did that, all the fig leaves fell off, and you were there, you were witness to the fact that [can’t understand words], now you’re mad and you’re mad at God; that’s interesting, five minutes ago you were telling me He didn’t exist.
So learn to watch for these pop-ups, when someone who often times will tell you oh, they’re an unbeliever, they don’t believe the Bible and all the rest of this, just watch…just watch, there will come times in their lives when it just pops up, they can’t help it. The fig leaves fall off and the whole façade is exposed. It is a choice to be deceived… a choice to be deceived because I want to make the world safe from His interference in my life; that’s the agenda. So when we talk philosophy we could go off into all these intellectual issues but we won’t do that because we know deep down we want the agenda issue, that’s what spawns all this other stuff that goes a smoking mirror. Well I want to just show you how the smoking mirror works out.
In the Framework I’ve used this diagram. This is not my diagram actually. Years ago a Spanish biologist who was a Bible-believing Christian made this up to…he had to sort through in his own research how as a Christian he should look at science. Now here we deal with… remember I said that unbelief comes in three brands, rationalism, empiricism or existentialism. Well, this is empiricism. Now here’s what you get in school. I’ve never been in any school classroom, be it university, high school, grammar school, your kids if they’re going to public school they’re going to get this, I mean, that’s just the way it is, grandchildren are getting it. They get presented in the classroom this naïve idea that science is purely objective, that it’s just looking at the facts, making hypothesis, testing the hypothesis and seeing that it’s true. Does that sound familiar? You see it on the Discovery channel; you read about it in National Geographic, it’s all over the place. All that is is naïve empiricism and does not come seriously to grips with this problem.
Here’s the problem: if you look at the graph we have a situation, the bottom line of this graph is time, the y axis, the vertical one is space, and it’s scale, logarithmically but we won’t get into that, that center box that you see with the vertical line is the area in time and space that you can personally observe. And you can’t observe anything outside of the box. Now let’s think about that for a minute. The right side of the box, if you go out in longer and longer time period you’re not going to live long enough to make an observation, and you haven’t lived long enough to make observation. So you’re cut off, you’re chopped on the right side of that box. The bottom part of the box, as you try to look at smaller and smaller and smaller things, you can use tools like a microscope but finally that gives out, and there are things you can’t see. And we don’t know what they are because we haven’t seen them. But the point is that instruments somewhat increase your ability to see but they’re limited.
On the left side of the box, that’s high speed, that’s smaller and smaller increments of time. I work at Aberdeen Proving Ground and one of the things we have to do is set up high speed cameras to study what happens to a tank bullet when it’s emitted from the gun because the point is today the modern tank warfare doesn’t use explosive charges, they use steel on steel. That may come as a surprise but there’s no charge in any of those weapons, they’re just a rod that goes so fast that penetrates steel. And the idea is it has to be accelerated very fast out of that short barrel and there’s all kinds of aerodynamic problems with that, and so to test it we have these cameras that are amazingly fast and they actually, you can see that bullet come out, you can see it start to turn and do all the neat things it’s supposed to do. Well, that’s high speed photography. But there are some things that happen so fast you can’t film them, so we’re limited there. And of course we could go with the telescope.
Now the box with the vertical lines is what is directly observable. Nothing else is directly observable, everything you hear about atoms, molecules, what happened 3,000 years prior to Abraham or 10,000 years or 3,000,000 years a billion years, all that is not directly observable. What did God say to Job in Job 38? Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, were you there Job? Let’s have a discussion about what went on; you tell Me, you were there, eyewitness, right, scientific observer so you know everything, you tell Me what went on? Job 38, 39 and 40 are [can’t understand word] about a 75 question quiz that is aimed to humble the would-be intellectual, not that using your intellect is wrong, it’s just using it the wrong way.
I want to add something about that hashed area, see the square with the vertical lines is direct observation; the hashed area, telescope, unprocessed film, microscope, all that, that’s instrumentation. Now let me tell you a story about instrumentation. Whenever you look at something through an instrument you are having to apply a theory to the interpretation of what you’re looking at. I want to give you an example; about ten or fifteen years ago an airplane, one of the commercial planes, I don’t know if it was Delta or who, was flying into an approach at Atlanta airport. That plane pancaked in the middle of thunderstorm and killed everybody aboard. Upon investigation of what went wrong with that pilot’s approach was that he had what we call three centimeter radar in the nose of that plane. That particular radar is looking out to see what people see on the weather channel and other things, oh that’s rain coming, see that big streak. No, what that is is radar return, it may be rain or it might not be rain. And there may be rain going on out there that the radar doesn’t report. You’ve got to interpret that image and there are rules of interpreting that image that depend on theory. So here’s this pilot, he’s flying an approach to Atlanta airport, he looks on his chart, he sees there’s a big line of thunderstorms out ahead so like a good pilot he says okay, I’ve got to penetrate this line, where am I going to penetrate the line? I’m going to penetrate the line where it’s the weakest. So he looks at his radar and he sees the line is very thin right here, and then it gets big and fat over here, thin, gets big fat over here. So where do you suppose he flies? He flies right here where it’s thin because you know, hey, [can’t understand words] looking at rain. He made a fatal mistake; the reason the line was thin there was because it was raining so hard it attenuated the radar return. What he did, unintentionally, was fly the plane into the worst possible place in that line of thunderstorms. The engines ingested water, they flamed out, he had little lift on the wing because of the amount of water vapor wrecking the airfoil and he crashed, killed everybody including himself.
Now that’s a classic illustration of instrumentation, symbols, images, signals, all have to be interpreted. You have to have theory upon theory and when you hear scientists say oh… you’ll see a headline oftentimes in the paper, out in galaxy XYZ 253 we saw a planet. That’s the headline, but if you read the story of what went on, it’ll go something like this, but no editor would write it this way. Scientists have looked at the particular kind of radiative pattern that’s emanating from this area of the sky and they’ve interpreted the oscillation and the signals to be that of a rotating body in a circle according to their particular theory. Now would that make a big headline? Wouldn’t that turn you on, you’d love to read that kind of a story. But see, the editors, because they have to sell newspapers, try to make it simple but in making it simple they’ve destroyed the layers of theory that went into interpreting that, and it becomes a headline: Science says! And so remember this diagram.
And by the way, something else to remember about the diagram and that is you can’t go to the right. There’s never been a time machine made, so we have then the problem of conjecturing and what we are told in our classrooms that science is a subjective thing. No it isn’t; every time you theorize you’re picking out from a possibility of thirty or forty theories one that you like. And there’s a spiritual agenda about what you like. Don’t tell me it’s objective, there’s no such thing as theory neutrality. But all of our public education is built on the idea there’s something out there that’s perfectly objective. The only thing objective is the Word of God; God Himself is objective and He gives us objective revelation and that’s the only thing that we can find it in, revelation.
Now let’s go to Paul’s writings in Colossians. There’s an excellent passage in Colossians 2. Paul, in Colossians is dealing with Gnosticism, he’s dealing with problems that are pretty deeply rooted in the pagan mind, and he makes a pronouncement in Colossians 2:8 that is a sobering warning about how easy it is to be intellectually seduced. “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit,” notice the word “cheat,” beware that anybody cheat you, what do you do when you cheat somebody. You give them something that has a false value to it and it really doesn’t… it isn’t as valuable as the price tag, it’s cheating. So he says some one’s going to come to you and they’re going to sell you on this big deal, this is a good deal, this is very valuable, you should spend $10,000 a year for letting me teach you this in some court somewhere, and it’s just bare. “Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.”
I want to comment on two things about that verse: “the world,” and “according to Christ,” adversative clauses here; okay. One on one side is he’s saying not according to the elements of this world. If you were to take a Greek lexicon and look up the word that Paul uses here for “principles,” some of your translations have “elements,” but if you look up that word, stoicheion, and you go back into the lexicon and say what does this word mean; how was it used in Paul’s day, do you know what you’d find? You’d find that this was a word that the Greek philosopher used to describe that from which the universe came. And if you’ve read in mythology you know that some of the people believe that the universe came out of fire, some believe out of earth, some believe out of water, and so on. And if you think about it, solid, liquid and gas is what they’re talking about. The idea was the whole universe came out of this substance; no it came out of that substance; no I believe it came out of this substance. That’s the word Paul uses here, and he’s saying that philosophy and vain deceit is based according to these basic principles, these Greek categories of thinking and not according to Christ.
Now if you look up the way he uses the word Christos in this epistle, he’s talking about more than just Jesus stories; he’s talking about who Christ is, the God-man, the incarnate God; Jesus has true humanity, He has undiminished deity, He has one personality, He is the Second Person of the Trinity. See the Greeks always had this problem of how do you know the absolutes. And what Paul is saying, what we have to do as Christians is think; look, God walked the face of this planet. Don’t tell me that we can’t come to know Him; we can’t come to know Him totally but we can certainly know Him. I met Him on the Damascus road, He talked to Peter, He talked to John, they ate with this guy for three years, they know God because they saw Him. He became incarnate. I won’t go into all the details here but this is a sobering warning in Colossians 2; there’s something tragically wrong in depth, at a very deep level, where all thoughts originate outside of the Scripture.
Now I want to take you to one more slide, this is my amoeba slide. As I said in my Framework series I got this from my dentist. In order to promote among his patients the idea that you should keep your mouth clean he would stick a camera with a magnifying…it’s kind of a TV camera you put on a microscope, and he’d go in there and he’d take a sample out of your mouth and then he’d say what kind of germs have you got in your mouth, and one time he showed me this slide, thankfully it didn’t come out of my mouth, he showed me this slide and here was this amoeba crawling across the screen. And it reminded me of my high school biology of amoebas, watching them eat things. An amoeba kind of assimilates things around it. Now why I’m showing you this picture of the amoeba is to stimulate your imagination a little bit. What happens, and this is the game that’s being played all the time out there, this is Colossians 2:8 and other passages, if we put forward a truth from God’s Word, let’s say that’s the circle; what unbelief tries to do is surround it and reinterpret it so that it makes it safe. Remember the Word of God is truth, it’s high voltage and what unbelief tries to do is ground it; unbelief tries to disarm the Word of God so to relieve the pressure. It’s always that way.
You can think of it this way; imagine a neighbor who has become a Christian, and you’re down the street and you talk to another neighbor and you’re talking about this…Mary, Mary became a Christian last night, she trusted in Jesus Christ, the gospel was clear and she became a Christian. The unbeliever says oh, no, Mary, you don’t know Mary, Mary has a lot of psychological problems, this is just a way she has for a while, you know, it’s true for her but it’s not really true for me or anyone, it’s just a psychological thing that Mary’s going through right now, she’ll get over it in a little bit. Now what’s that conversation trying to do? It’s trying to take a true truth and weave a network around it that disarms it, that makes someone who doesn’t want to confront the truth of the gospel comfortable so they invent all kinds of stories in a web, so the idea is that we’ve got to figure out how the Word of God can go forward in such a way that it becomes extremely difficult to surround, and I call this strategic envelopment, using a military term. There’s a strategy of unbelief, forwarded by Satan, the god of this world, to disarm the Word of God everywhere he can find it, to cause it to be unbelieved. And this agenda of encirclement or strategic envelopment is a strategy that has been used since Eden’s time.
So therefore the issue is how do we approach this. I’m going to suggest that the Framework can be shown…the idea is that the Framework is a way of strategically enveloping unbelief. One will triumph over the other, but they’ll never be neutrality; either the Word of God will control the interpretation of an event or unbelief will control the interpretation of the Word of God; one or the other, whatever area of life you’re involved with; two ultimate principles in collision, so it’s one or the other. In the Christological controversy this was a time in Church history, and I’m going to this as an example, I’m going to go back to the Christological controversy because this is a chance for us to see how the Holy Spirit taught the body of Christ in a previous generation. I’m going to show you another slide that it shows that the Holy Spirit from century after century after century, every time there’s been a doctrinal conflict in the development of the doctrine of Christianity, the Holy Spirit has always followed the strategy of enveloping the unbelieving heresy.
In the early centuries Church fathers debated who Jesus Christ was. They knew He was the Messiah, but because they had a lot of Greek stuff in their minds, they kept thinking in terms of solitary monotheism. In other words, they didn’t believe in the Trinity. Well if you believe in solitary monotheism you’ve got a problem with Jesus. Who’s He talking with in the Garden if there’s only solitary monotheism, if there’s only one person in the Godhead, which one was talking to whom in the Garden; was it Jesus’ humanity talking to His deity? Well, if this is going on then Jesus in the Garden wasn’t truly God. And they had a number of these puzzles that they went through, and this took centuries. I mean, this is three or four hundred years that they debated, how do we state the doctrine of Jesus Christ so it fits all the Scripture. And finally they came out with the Chalcedon statement which says Jesus Christ is true humanity, one point; united with undiminished deity, undiminished deity, in one person, forever, without confusion. There are five or six basic parts to that doctrine of who Jesus Christ is. The point I want to make is, I’m not teaching Christology here tonight, the point I want to make is that the Holy Spirit had to eliminate solitary monotheism and replace it with the Trinity, which challenged Aristotelian logic; it challenged all kinds of things.
What is the lesson that we learn from this? That when you look at the Scripture and you ask yourself, what is the truth, how do I formulate all the doctrine, all the Scriptures so I don’t neglect this verse and I don’t neglect that verse, and I properly interpret this and I pull it all together in a doctrine, I find when I do that I go against some pretty deep heavy stuff out there, and in Church history that happened.
In summary I want you show you…we’ll bring this up again tomorrow but here’s the sequence of the great debates down through Church history. The first one was what was the canon, what was the Scripture? How do you tell the Gospel of Matthew from the Gospel of Thomas? There’s lots of gospels, a whole bunch of gospels, we only have four in the Scriptures. Well what about the other gospels, how come they weren’t involved. The reason they weren’t involved is because they taught heresy. This is why if you come out of a Roman Catholic background your Bible doesn’t look like this one; you look at a Roman Catholic Bible, there are some extra books in there between the Old and the New Testament, called the Apocrypha, because they don’t accept the same canon of Scripture. Protestants don’t accept those books. Why? Because they’re talking about praying for the dead and all kinds of stuff in the Apocrypha, false doctrine, so we recognize what’s scriptural and what isn’t. But in debating that they had to deal with who God was as the revealing God, the Creator who made language and he could talk to men. So there was a whole strategic envelopment about what is language; too bad people in the 20th century don’t read that because they wouldn’t have got into all this positivism and so forth.
Then we come to the Trinity and the person of Christ, and what had to happen there? They had to abandon Aristotelians logic to handle the Trinity; God is three and God is one and threeness doesn’t apply the same way to the Creator as it does to the [can’t understand word]. We don’t know all the details but we know that God is not three the way we think of three; He’s three in His person but not in His essence and all that’s involved there. And the choice was made to go with Scripture over against the Aristotelian logical categories.
And then we came down to the Middle Ages and the answer there was Anselm, he dealt with this issue of what was accomplished on the cross. Now if you go to a liberal church they’re still debating this. This was handled in 1000 AD, ten centuries ago they debated this, and there were two schools of thought, one by Abelard, the liberal, who said Jesus Christ died on the cross a martyrs death to inspire us to live godly lives. Anselm said Jesus died on the cross because of the transaction that was going on, He died to make us saved, He died to make atonement for sin. Now those are two questions that came up ten centuries ago and you can read people in the New York Times now that doesn’t know the difference.
And by the way, you know the battle that had to happen there? Anselm had to defend what Jesus Christ did on the cross for us by defining what justice was, that God is the standard of justice and there has to be restitution to correct broken justice, and that’s the substitution. The Father isn’t looking down saying oh well, I forgive you. That’s arbitrary; God can’t arbitrarily forgive because the moment God arbitrarily forgives what happens to the standard of justice? It goes down the drain. See, this is the problem Islam has today; how does Allah forgive sin if there’s no blood atonement? Well, you know, if I’ve killed five American soldiers he lets me in heaven, that’s a good work. But see, that’s merit, and back here they had to define that justice can’t be arbitrary, it is rooted in who and what God is, and therefore that’s the standard; see, debate all you want to, but if we’re going to be right with God then we have to meet perfectly His perfect justice and righteousness. So there was a whole discussion of what justice was about; too bad it’s not studied in law school any more.
And then there was a discussion of human merit, what is the role of human merit. What’s that? That’s the Reformation. Well, I know Jesus died for my sin but you know, I’ve got 80 plus, I’ve good works and so on and this and that, sola fide, only by faith. My human good doesn’t amount to a hill of beans against God’s righteousness and justice, so get it through our heads. This was debated in the 1500s, five centuries ago and we have evangelicals still messing around with this. What’s the matter with us here?
Then we have the doctrine of ecclesiology and eschatology that’s debated now in dispensational theology; that started in the early 1800s, and that dealt with what is the State. You see, after the Reformation the Protestants attacked the Catholics and then turned around and made State churches. What was the State church in Germany? Lutheran. What was the State church in England? Anglican. So if you belonged to the community and wanted to vote or wanted to participate what did you have to do? You had to be baptized. In what church? That church, because whereas the Vatican is a State, has an ambassador, the Vatican is not just a church, it is a State, it is a nation, and so you have this nation State, then you have the Protestants generating the church State. And we come finally to dispensationalism, the Church isn’t the State, the Church is made up of those people who are born again, who trust in Jesus Christ, and that is a separate thing from the divine institution of human government. Those are two distinct things, you can’t mix these; these are different. That came out…we’re still debating that one, that’s gone on for 150 years.
And today it’s where history is going, where it’s come from, the whole idea of what history is. So this is the background of what happens when we allow the Word of God to be practically and strategically enveloped. Now we’re going to close with a passage from the Old Testament that is a picturesque idea, it’s easy to carry this picture away. 1 Samuel 5, this is what we try to do with the Framework, or prevent from happening, syncretism, joining the Word of God to unbelief and mixing the two together. This is a passage that deals with the ark of God in the Old Testament. The Philistines captured this ark and they took it back to Philistia, down the road from the highlands where the Jews were, where Israel was. They captured it, and they thought boy, we’ve got them now, we’ve got Israel now, we’ve got their God, let’s bring him down here.
So watch what happens. 1 Samuel 5:1, “Then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod.  When the Philistines took the ark of God,” look what they did with it, “they brought it into the house of Dagon,” Dagon was the god of the Philistines, “and set it by Dagon.” Now that’s what a lot of people do with the Bible, we’re going to have Jesus join all our other gods and goddesses; we’ll add the Bible to our other literature on equal basis. So now the Philistines in good ecumenical spirit say let’s all join together now, can’t Jews and Canaanites be at peace, why we all worship the same god, let’s all bring them all together now in one big ecumenical lovie love-in. So they bring it into the house of Dagon and set it by Dagon.  And when the people of Ashdod arose early in the morning, there was Dagon, fallen on its face to the earth before the ark of the LORD. So they took Dagon and set it in its place again.  And when they arose early the next morning, there was Dagon, fallen on its face to the ground before the ark of the LORD.” This time “The head of Dagon and both the palms of his hands were broken off,” now some of the angels had a party there one night, see. That’s what took care of Dagon all right.
What’s the lesson we learn here? God doesn’t share His throne with anybody. He isn’t going to be absorbed into some system of unbelief. He doesn’t share divine rights with idolatrous gods and goddesses. So when we approach the Framework and we get into the methodology of it it’s designed to try to avoid syncretism.
We’re going to end now but I will be here for some Q and A for those of you who would like some give and take.
…interesting book, called Our Legacy, it’s a thin book, it’s a very readable book on Church history. I would recommend it because in there he goes back and reviews Church history and toward the end of the book he makes a stunning statement that there is such doctrinal confusion in the Church fathers that many of them would not be accepted as Christians by our present Bible churches. It’s just that the Church in the early centuries was an infant, and we always have to be careful in our sentimentalism, often times we hear Christians say, oh let’s get back to the early Church and do things like they did. It’s the childhood of the Church; the Church really didn’t know what it was doing, and when the apostles died, remember that they never even thought about collecting their writings in the New Testament until after the apostles died and then the thinking that gosh, you know, we don’t have Paul around any more, we don’t have John any more, we’d better go back and get those writings. So there was a period of time when just about anything percolated in Christian circles.
So when you ask, what was their view of faith, I think most of the Church fathers would hold that people were saved by faith, but I don’t think there was a clarity of understanding that you’re saved by faith in Christ’s finished work alone. That probably would have been true of the Jewish Christians, because remember the Jewish Christians had centuries of training on blood sacrifices. And so when you go to preach the gospel that Jesus Christ is the Lamb of God, they would have grasped that truth. But I think for the Greeks that came into the Church and the other Gentiles, it must have been a [can’t understand word], and I don’t think it really was until God had to blow the lid off in the Middle Ages to make that fundamental issue that no, human merit contributes zero to your salvation.
It’s a wonderful example of why we have to respect the fact it takes centuries, in the big scheme of the Church Age it takes centuries to grow the body of Christ, and I believe that when you get to the book of Revelation 4 and 5, when Jesus Christ is qualified to take the scrolls and begin to tear them, it’s interesting that the hymn that is sung in heaven prior to Him coming up and taking that scroll and tearing open the seal, the hymn says “Worthy are You to take the scrolls, because You have redeemed us unto the Father by Your blood” and so on and so forth, and you have the accomplishments of the entire Church Age there, the body of Christ is completed and Christ now acts as the judge. This is why I think the pretrib rapture is the only solution to this problem, that the rapture has to occur to complete the body of Christ; Jesus Himself is not fully qualified in His humanity to do the work of judging; that’s got to be done after the body of Christ is finished. There are a lot of dynamics there; I think the bottom line is that the Church Age, something is happening. I know we kind of wonder, what is God doing in our Church Age? I believe that He is developing the body of Christ, as the spiritual leaders in eternity that will have in their lives corporately, the Church corporately, who have lived through every possible deception that could ever be suggested against the throne of God…every possible heresy has to… like waves crashing on a rock, has to come against the Church and the Church has to respond by being driven deeper into the Scriptures each time that wave, the tsunami of unbelief crushes against us.
That’s what’s going on today, what you see in evangelical circles. We have a big debate on eschatology still, and that’s a debate that will shake out, finally, when people realize that the dispensational literal approach to Scripture is the only one that works. But as Robby will be quick to tell you in the Revelation series that he’s going through with you, which by the way is a very important series and Robby has done some tremendous work there, we have people, and it’s a growing theme in our evangelical circles that the Second Coming of Christ has already happened. The book of Revelation is all symbols that deal with AD 70. so here we go again, with a non-literal hermeneutic, a non-literal wave interpreting the text, and now we read anything into it we want to read, and if you think about the logic of that kind of thing…see, you know in wrestling and the martial arts the idea in jujitsu is your opponent throws you a punch and you always pull it further than he wants to pull it and you pull him off balance. And that’s a technique you want to learn to use, that when you hear these crazy ideas, ask yourself, if I follow that, where does that lead, and you’ll see very quickly where it leads because if you think about it if the Second Advent of Christ has already happened in AD 70 and you read through the epistles that say live your life in the light of the Second Advent, what happens to all the exhortations to live the Christian life now? See, if the Second Advent has happened then all the exhortations based on the Second Advent and all the [can’t understand word/s] go right down the drain, so where are we left? Nothing. Now who do you suppose is the architect of that theology? See, always look where it leads and you can just smell it because it starts to stink as you work down the road, this agenda coming up again, here we go, here’s the agenda, let’s get God as far away from our personal lives as possible here.
Church history is a very fascinating area of study.
Anyone else? [Someone says something about the printing of the Bible more people began to see the truths than… they were finally able to get it out to more people…and be discussed, what impact did that have] Clough: Oh, the impact of the printed Bible was enormous, and one of the exercises I had my sons do while they were in social studies in high school, because my oldest son used to have this Unitarian guy that got infuriated that my son was his top student and he was a Bible thumping fundy, and it just irritated the jeebers out of him and so what he would do, he would call my son in after school and start trying to undermine his faith is what happened. And so I said well, this is interesting, so Jonathan would come home and we’d sit at the supper table and he’d say well, Mr. so and so said this today and what do I say back. And so I’d tell him what to say back, and a few more days, he’d say that, and then this guy would throw something else out. And so then I’d teach him and go back, and out of this, of my four boys he’s the strongest one spiritually because he went through combat actively dealing with this. And one of the exercises I gave to him, to get back to the question here, I said take a map of Europe with two different colored crayons and color the areas where the Protestant Reformation first impacted. Then take the second colored crayon and color the areas that have had political freedom, that had the first republican type of government, by republican I mean a constitution with by-laws and stability to it. Isn’t it intriguing that the political freedom came out of northern Europe; Italy wasn’t the first political freedom, Yugoslavia wasn’t, the Balkans down there, they weren’t, Spain wasn’t. Where was the fresh air of freedom? It was in northern Germany and England and where did the Reformation go? Northern Germany and England.
Then ask yourself another question, who financed the industrial revolution? That’s a question we don’t think… I’d never thought about that, you know you just learn in school, well there was an industrial revolution and you know, that was the time people built factories and so on. Well, wait a minute, if you’re a businessman, how do you get money to build a factory? Where did those businessmen get their money to invest to build the industrial revolution? Think about it. Savings! Well, where did the savings come from? It was the Puritan work ethic in where of Europe? North Europe or southern Europe? Northern Europe. So once again you see the economic impact of the Reformation, the political impact of the Reformation was enormous. And America, our country, what is so pathetically sad about… you know you see what the New York times does and you think gosh, Ann Coulter was right when they were talking about the…when Mel Gibson’s, The Passion came out and the New York Times just had hysteria on their pages, and I never forgot what Ann Coulter said, she said you know what? She said I think the New York Times ought to put up some money and finance a little expedition by their investigative reporters to go to the nearest Christian church on Easter and learn what Christianity is all about, because here you have the intelligentsia of this country, the people that control thought of millions of people, and these poor people literally don’t have a clue about American history, the impact Christianity has had on this country, they don’t have a clue. And the problem is, they’re trying to revise…we call it revisionism; they’re trying to rewrite American history to exclude that. California, a teacher wanted the Declaration of Independence in the classroom and he wasn’t permitted to do it, God’s mentioned there. No kidding!
When my son was in these discussions with this Unitarian guy he gave a quiz one day, I’ll never forget this one, this is cute. He gave a quiz, he said this: identify the document from which this statement was taken—all men are endowed dot, dot, dot, with certain inalienable rights. Now what do you suppose the dot dot dot’s about? Endowed by their Creator with certain…how can a right be unalienable, meaning the State can’t give and the State can’t take it away, that’s what unalienable right means, it’s an absolute right, and the founding fathers knew their theology, they knew their politics and they wed the two. You can’t have an inalienable right unless it’s given by God. So the concept, even in our country, of a republic, not a democracy, where you have a constitution and then you have voting within the framework of the constitution.
Now if you think about it and think about it in America, where did people go to church that were instrumental in writing that? Well, they were people that came out of Virginia, it was somewhat Anglican in Virginia, some Roman Catholics in Virginia but mostly it was the congregational influence in New England. Well, think, what’s the way a congregational church works? They have a doctrinal statement and you have voting under this, and this is church is congregational in that sense. So you have a congregation, you have a voting within the structure of that constitution. Well, guess where the idea of a Constitution came from? It came out of Christian influence. Did you ever see a Constitution in any other country? I mean, when we were going through the last election one of my employees on my team at Aberdeen, he’s a big guy on the internet and he has a business on the internet, he gets into these political discussions with people and he was talking to somebody in England and this guy was incensed about the electoral college, couldn’t understand why you Americans have this electoral college, why don’t you just throw out the Constitution. He wrote back, why don’t you mind your own business, you know, we helped you people out in two world wars because you’re so screwed up so don’t tell us how to run our Constitution thing.
But the Constitution acts as a flywheel; it acts like a doctrinal statement, and if you want to read a book that’s sort of contemporary, but it’s an expose of what’s going on here, and you’ll quickly see the parallels if you follow my logic, what you see the lawyers and the legal community doing today to the Constitution is exactly what the theologians are doing to the Bible text. And by that what I mean is that the argument that the Supreme Court has used for the last hundred years is that the text of the United States Federal Constitution is an expression of centuries old ideas that have to be modernized; have to be adopted to the present culture, and we want to look on the Constitution not as real law, but as a living document that adapts to the changing culture. Well, that’s exactly what theologians are doing with the text of the Bible. See, there’s a very close knit thing going on here, and if you want to see an expose of this read the book by Robert Bork, who was Reagan’s nominee to the Supreme Court, called Tempting of America. And in that Bork takes you through the whole history of the country and shows you the debate over how do you interpret the text of the Constitution; if you don’t like what the Constitution says, it’s not the judges that change it. Who changes it? The amendment process changes it, but what we have in effect is the judges change it because the judges now become the law. And he had this wonderful antidote, about halfway through the book he has this neat thing; he says I hope this isn’t just antidotal material, but he says you know, one day at a polit party of a social gathering a State Supreme Court justice was introduced to one of the Supreme Court justices, and he said, oh, I’m so glad to meet you because I’ve just taken an oath to support and defend whatever comes into your mind.
And that is a complete accurate summation of where we’re at. You have no longer the rule of law but the rule of lawyers; it’s whatever the judge said yesterday or Tuesday afternoon. That’s the law, and that’s the destruction of freedom because now you don’t now and I don’t know what the real law is until after the courts make a decision, so everything is arbitrary.
Now the same thing is happening in the Word of God, and that’s why the debate over dispensationalism and prophecy, that’s why that debate right now, going on with preterism and all the rest of it that Robby’s talking about in the Revelation series, that’s why that’s so important, because a lot of these guys will give you lip service to a literal interpretation of Genesis maybe, maybe not there even, the Old Testament and we believe in… they go through the motions of accepting the inerrancy of the text until after we get over now into the book of Revelation, now it’s all symbols. Well if it’s all symbols now we’ve lost control of the meaning. You can’t have meaning if you don’t have an anchor in how you interpret it. The way I’ve put it and I wrote a paper for Chafer Seminary, I was just thinking about this one day when I… [tape ends]