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 1995
Charles A. Clough
Biblical Framework Series 1995–2003
Part 2: Buried Truths of Origins
Chapter 1: Biblical Creation vs. Pagan Origin Myths
Lesson 1 – Introduction: Objectives and Three Features of the Framework;
Apologetic Strategy of Presuppositions
05 Oct 1995
Fellowship Chapel, Jarrettsville, MD
On the website, on the CD, and on the DVD is a very useful tool—a set of course notes for every lesson, for every part of the Framework. On the website you can download the course notes under the Bible Framework Course tab. If you have either the CDs or the DVD, you already have the Course Notes on there as a PDF file.
You will get notes each week, so read through those. On the last page is a set of exercises and these are assignments, thought questions, to get you into the Scripture and into some of the application of what we’re talking about, so be sure you do those before next week and that will probably precipitate questions and thoughts in your mind.
Let me start with the objectives of what we’re trying to do. It’s my prayer that this course will strengthen you spiritually, that’s the whole point. We’re going to deal with some things you may think are a little far out. Some of you may think why do we cover pieces of geology, astronomy, history, archeology, why are we doing all that? The answer is quite simple: it’s because that’s the way God created the universe, and those things deal with aspects of His universe. The problem we have as Christians is that we read our Bibles and then we go off and live in the world as God created it, and sometimes the two don’t go together too well. In other words, we tend to compartmentalize, we tend to think of the Bible as just truth for our religious life and that the Bible really doesn’t have much to contribute in other areas. I hope that we’ll undermine that thought, if you have it, before too many weeks go by. The Bible is God’s Word, and as the Word of the living God, He doesn’t give us textbooks on these areas, He’s relegated man to learn those things. However, when He has revealed His Word and where it touches on these areas, it’s true, because God is a God of truth.
The Bible has a lot to say and in our own generation we have several problems, one of which is that we tend to think of God as being too small. We tend to think small; our whole culture teaches us that God is sort of a nice topic if it’s a non-threatening environment, but otherwise let’s keep God kind of in the background of things. What that habit does is to start to shape you intellectually; it starts to create habits of thinking, so now God becomes unrelated to many, many different areas of your life, and that way God becomes quite small in your view.
Another objective of the course is that I am trying to say that Jesus Christ is Lord over all, including the intellect. A lot of Christians give lip service to the idea that Jesus is Lord, then they go about intellectually, particularly in their own area of specialization, as though it didn’t matter, that He has nothing to say in this area. So we don’t pay any attention to that, and our thoughts, the content, the way we look at life and the conclusions we come to mirror the unbelieving world. Now we have a problem—does this mean that the revelation that God has given in Scripture is utterly irrelevant to these areas, does it make a difference? I’m here to say it does make a difference. That’s why we’ve designed the course the way we have.
Features of this course to try to attain this goal: there are three basic parts and you’ll see these interwoven. I’ve woven together three perspectives in this particular approach to Scripture. One is because that in the last 150 years the attacks on the Scripture have largely come in the form of denying that the Scriptural events actually took place as recorded. In other words, creation is a nice, sweet little story; it tells us great things to tell little kids. Or, stories in the Old Testament were made up centuries later by people who wanted to create a new interpretation of history, etc. So there’s been a downgrading of the validity of the events of Scripture. Therefore, we’re going to teach against that. We are going to emphasize the historicity of the events of Scripture. We’re going to concentrate as we go through key event to key event to key event. That’s why this course is not a substitute for regular Bible study. We go to a little different perspective than your regular Bible study. Here we go from the event of creation to the event of the fall, to the event of the flood of Noah, to the event of the Noahic covenant and what that has to do with the origin of what we now call civilization. Those are four key events, and we will start by concentrating on creation. We’re going to emphasize the historically valid events which Scripture claims occurred.
The second feature is that when God speaks and acts in history He reveals things about Himself. We call that doctrine, truth about God, things that He has revealed to us. But we often learn this as though the pieces of truth are like marbles, they’re just rolling around. We don’t see that they are a web work, that they are interconnected, that they are not just loose marbles. The Bible has a systematic approach. If you start altering a truth over here, you’re going to quickly find you’ve messed up over there, and there, and there, etc. You can’t manhandle one area of Scripture and not have rather serious implications all across the board.
So the second emphasis we want to put on the course is that ALL Scriptural truth is interrelated. What does that tell us about God? It tells us that He’s infinitely profound. God is a very highly rational God and when He speaks His mind He speaks very coherently. What He told Isaiah in the sixth and seventh centuries, in that period of the prophets, He had on His mind when He spoke to Abraham. And what His thoughts were to the prophets are the same and interrelated thoughts that He had to Abraham. It’s all part of a grand scheme, all the way to the future when Jesus Christ returns to the planet and we have this climax of history that the Bible says we are heading towards. At that point we’re going to see that a lot of those little features, those “marbles,” those disconnected pieces of truth, that they are all connected to what’s yet to take place. So there’s an inner coherence of Scripture, and besides the validity of the historic event it’s the coherence of Scripture that gives us the assurance of faith. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God, and this is a tool to help you strengthen your faith.
Finally, the apologetic strategy: we’re going to teach the Bible against its opposite. The Bible was not given into a vacuum; the Bible was given into a world hostile to it. All men are sinners and fall short of the glory of God. It is to us as sinners that God speaks. That means He’s speaking to a potentially hostile group. Frankly, He’s speaking to a group of very messed up people. The Bible always has to be seen against its environment. Years ago there was a famous professor at Harvard, G. Ernest Wright, who was one of the founders that did a lot of work in the United States on Old Testament archeology, and he wrote a book called The Old Testament Against Its Environment. When we look at Genesis 1 we’re going to also look at a pagan text, written by pagans, in the same time in which Genesis was written. And we’re going to say okay, here’s the Word of God, here’s the pagan text, they were both written at approximately the same time in history, let’s sit down and compare.
Let’s not buy the idea that “the Bible is just an ancient book and it was written by these old people years ago that didn’t really have it together,” etc. We will look at actual texts from the period to see what people contemporary to the time the Bible was written were thinking. When you start to see the difference between what was written in Scripture and what was thought about in the centuries in which Scripture was written you see there’s a tremendous difference. That difference is the difference of the Holy Spirit working in history. When a scientist does an experiment he likes to have a control, when you’re testing medicine you have a control group, and then you administer the medicine to another group and check the differences. We have a control. We have the ancient texts. That’s the control in the sense that that is what people would have thought about had God not interfered in their thinking. The Scripture is what man thinks about when God interferes. By measuring and contrasting the Scripture with its environment, we have a grand experiment that validates and shows the effect of the Holy Spirit on our intellect and in our hearts.
We’re going to look at three things: the Bible as historic events, the Bible as truth interrelated, and apologetic strategy. For the rest of the evening I’m going to take a quick tour of part one because that’s the prelude to part two and understanding why we all of a sudden start the way we do.
Open your Bibles to 1 Peter 3:15, a classic reference to what we call apologetics. Apologetics doesn’t mean you “apologize.” The Greek word is apologia (apologia), the word from which we get the English word apologize, unfortunately. But the original Greek form, here apologian, (apologian) had a lot more powerful connotation. That’s the word Peter is using in verse 15 when he says “be ready to give an answer to every person that asks a reason of the hope that is in you.” That word here is translated “give an answer” or in some translations “to make a defense.” So now you can see what apologia means. What it actually refers to is, when you are accused in court, how do you defend yourself? What is your defense against prosecution? Apologia. So what Peter is saying to normal, everyday Christians is, you’ve got to be ready to make a defense to everyone that asks “a reason of the hope that is in you.” That’s not optional. In other words, it was expected of early Christians that they could give some account of themselves when asked.
Some cautionary statements about verse 15, let’s look at all of verse 15. For many years I concentrated so much on the second part that I forgot the first part. Why would people come with a question? It’s because they see something in your life, or something’s happened. “Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, always being ready to make an answer,” and the context of 1 Peter 3 is the context of suffering. People see Christians, and Christians don’t react to suffering the same way that the non-Christian does, so the unbeliever says “How come you handle your life this way? That doesn’t work for me. How do you do it, do you take pills, are you on drugs, what makes you different?” So apologia comes about after there’s been some event, something has happened that causes people to question you about your faith. This is not ramming an answer down somebody’s throat whether they asked for it or not. It’s not being rude, it’s not being impolite, it is just being ready to give an answer. That’s not saying people are going to like the answer you give. We’ll see what happened when Paul tried to give an answer. Jesus gave an answer and they didn’t like that, so we’re not saying people are going to like the answer. We’re not saying people are going to be totally convinced by your defense. All the Scripture is asking us to do is to at least be ready to give some defense of our faith, and take advantage of the opportunities when we’re asked.
That’s for the believer, but apologia is used in the Bible for the non-Christian because the non-Christian comes to a point where he’s going to be challenged, and he’s going to have to come up with an answer. To see the “apology,” or the “apologetic” of the unbeliever, turn to Romans 1:20 where the word is used again. This is a case where the non-Christian is asked to give an answer, except in this case God is the One that asks. Notice what it says toward the end of verse 20, “so that they are without excuse.” That is the word apologia, they are without a defense … without a defense in what? When the non-Christian is finally judged, one of his key defenses is going to be, “Well, I never had enough information, God’s existence wasn’t clear enough, how unfair of You, God, to hold me accountable when You never gave me clarity of information, I never knew, I plead ignorance.” That’s apparently the key defense that will be used, the plea of ignorance, innocent ignorance. Paul is saying in Romans 1:20 that because God’s creation inevitably shows His existence, whether people think so or not (the statement here is clear), that all men have sufficient revelation to be held accountable. Use all the arguments you want to! “Gee, Thomas Aquinas’ medieval version of the ontological argument does not convince me!” Too bad! Creation is still there, your heart is still structured the way it is, we still have conscience, and Paul insists that we all have sufficient information, whether we can intellectually construct 100% persuasive arguments or not. So all men are without a defense.
In Romans 2:1 Paul deals with people who are judging, always going around judging other people. These are more the self-righteous people, and even with them Paul says (the Holy Spirit working through him), you are without excuse, you people who go around judging other people. So all men have no defense before the bar of justice at the Great White Throne where Jesus Christ will hold court. There is no apologia at that moment in history, none! Everything is off at that point because we’ll come face to face with a God who knows our heart. He’s not going to be snowed; we can’t use “smoke and mirrors” as the expression goes, to deflect His attentions.
That’s apologia; that’s the background for what we are trying to do, study how as Christians we’re to construct our faith, or construct our explanations to the non-Christian. Really what we’re talking about is evangelism. Apologetics and evangelism are not two different things; they’re basically the same thing. Let me show you why. Turn to Acts and we’ll see three or four times when Paul had to give an explanation of the faith. I picked places where Paul had pagan audiences. I am deliberately not going to those passages where Paul had to face Jewish audiences because that’s not fair for what the point is; Jewish audiences already knew about God, so we’re going to talk about the pagans, i.e. the Gentiles who knew nothing about the Old Testament.
In Acts 14:11 Paul has done some ministry. We saw in 1 Peter 3 that something, some event, had set off the apologia. In Acts 14:11 what set off the situation was Paul’s missionary ministry. “And when the multitudes saw what Paul had done, they raised their voice, saying in the Lycaonian language, ‘The gods have become like men and have come down to us.’” Paul’s got a real problem. Missionaries face this problem all the time, and I’m convinced that we face it and don’t even know we’re facing it. Here’s the problem: we think we’ve communicated well but the reception came in totally backwards. You think, I finally communicated to this person and then they come out with a remark and you wonder if they are in the same room, if we are speaking the same language! That’s Paul’s problem here. He’s gone through it, and he must have been a very clear preacher, but look what they’ve done. In verse 11 they have totally interpreted their analysis of the events. What’s wrong with that analysis? Do you see the word g-o-d-s in there? What had the pagans done? Had they truly reexamined their fundamental beliefs? No, they hadn’t. This is what we have to watch, we project the gospel out, and we’ve got this little package and we say boy, I’ve really communicated.
Here’s what happens. Unbelief, just like a big amoeba, slurps around the message, absorbs it and reconstructs it, and misunderstands it. That’s what we’re faced with throughout this course as we deal with event after event, you’ll see how truth gets slurped up with this big sloppy, slimy amoeba of unbelief, and it reinterprets everything. The best of intentions, the clearest messages, get totally reinterpreted. Of course, we know somebody is behind that. But it happens. Paul had this problem. The people began calling Paul and Barnabas by the gods’ names, so they had reinterpreted Paul’s ministry inside of their framework. The framework didn’t change. All they learned from the Christians was a few vocabulary words. The problem Paul faces is, how do I communicate so they don’t keep reinterpreting wrongly what I’m saying? So Paul strikes a blow at their whole framework, and we see him doing this several times in the New Testament.
What Paul does to the pagan mind is like the following scenario. Imagine a person saying “I’ve invited the Apostle Paul in and he’s going to help my life, he’s going to teach me the good message about how to live a better life.” Make the analogy of your house. Mentally what this person is really thinking is that Paul is an interior designer, he’s going to come into one of the worst rooms in your house, and redecorate it for you, wallpaper it, paint, new furniture, etc. So the great day comes when Paul arrives at the house, but instead of walking up to the house with a ladder and wallpaper, they hear this big noise in the front yard, they look out the window and there’s a big bulldozer! Paul’s not coming to redecorate rooms but to destroy the house and rebuild it! That’s what he’s doing here. He can no longer communicate pieces of the gospel until he erases this thinking. We have to deal apologetically with a strategy, how do we frontally assault the problem of the framework of unbelief? How do we shatter that? If we can’t shatter the framework of unbelief, it will rise up again and again and immunize the person against whatever you say. It’s like putting wax on a car and water will just run right off of it.
You have to strike at the very framework of paganism; if that isn’t dislodged then all the rest of the work is wasted. How does Paul approach this? Now, we believe that many of these sermons are abbreviations. Luke probably gave us just a summary of what Paul did, but these are true excerpts that the Holy Spirit has chosen to depict the thought of his heart as he spoke to these people. Paul said in verse 15, “Men, why are you doing these things? We are also men of the same nature as you are,” he denies this deification. He says, the trouble with you pagans is that you reconstruct gods after men. Ever read the mythologies? What are the gods always doing? Fornicating, stealing and fighting each other. What do men do? Fornicate, steal and fight each other. So what has happened? We have made gods after our own image. He cuts into that right away, he says we’re not gods, we’re the same nature as you, “we preach the good news to you in order that you should turn aside from these vain things to a living God,” notice something in that sentence. Observation! What’s the big verb? Paul isn’t on an educational mission, ultimately, he is on is a repentance mission. He is asking for repentance or turning.
I want to look at the word “repentance.” The Biblical word for repentance, from the standpoint of apologetics here, means more than just something emotional. The word “repentance” here means he’s reaching so far down in the depths of the mind that he is altering the framework of everything. It’s deep, profound alteration because it comes from the heart. It’s not a surface, intellectual thing. Paul says you have to turn from these vain things. Notice he’s giving them truth and he’s kind of nasty here. The word “vain” is a technical word, it’s used in Ecclesiastes, “Vanity, all is vanity,” etc. James uses it. The word “vain” has the image of breath on a cold morning, there it is, supersaturated air, and it dissipates very rapidly and it’s gone. It seems to have substance but it really doesn’t have. That’s the word the Bible universally uses to describe the pagan mind. The pagan mind is vain. Unfortunately in English we use the word vanity as a piece of furniture! If you’ve read Pilgrim’s Progress you read about Vanity Fair. The word Vanity Fair was used in a technical meaning, in a very precise way. Vanity Fair was the beautiful vanity, it’s fair, it’s beautiful, and it’s attractive. Paul’s not saying it’s not attractive, that’s what makes it so effective. It is attractive. The problem with it is it has no substance, it doesn’t last, and in particular it doesn’t last before God at the Great White Throne judgment. In particular it really doesn’t last through the trials and tribulations of life, it falls apart, and so if you put all your eggs in that basket you lose your eggs. He says you should turn from these vain things to a living God, and by putting that adjective there he is saying their gods are fake, they’re phonies. A living God is one who “moved the furniture” in history.
There’s a gender difference in the way men and women approach Scripture. I think one of the things men like to see is a God who flexes His muscles once in a while and it’s exciting for a man to read, for example when all the people get out of the Exodus, they’ve gone through the sea, and they sing this song in Exodus 15, everybody’s rejoicing at Pharaoh getting smashed in the sea, and its kind of bloodthirsty, very full of violence, etc. That’s the kind of thing that attracts men, not that men like violence all the time, but it’s a good kind of violence, not violence for violence sake, but violence to show the strength of Almighty God. In other words, we have a big God and when He moves He moves in a BIG way and nothing stops Him. So what Paul says, we have a living God, a God who interferes with history. What is it the one thing that more than anything else identifies the God of the Bible? He is the One “who made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that is in them,” the event of creation.
If Paul were living today and said something like this I can just see it: Paul goes home and gets a phone call from some dear Christian academic, and this man with his three PhDs says, “Paul, I think you messed up, you really shouldn’t have raised those controversial topics, like creation, in that context; you got people all excited over the wrong issue, you should have started with Jesus.” Now nobody was a bigger fan of Jesus than Paul. Where do you see Jesus in the context of this passage? He’s not there. Why? Because there’s a logical progression to get to Jesus, and you have to follow that progression or when you get to Jesus you get the wrong Jesus. Jesus in the New Testament is the God-man united in one person forever, and we haven’t a clue as to what that means if we don’t first know who God is and who man is, and the Creator-creature distinction.
We’ve got to know who the Creator is, who the creature is, and after that we’ll discuss who Jesus is, because Jesus is God the Creator becoming incarnate inside a creature, and that’s tough stuff. That’s why if you look at your Bible, look how many pages are devoted to pre-Jesus orientation; two-thirds of the Bible is pre-Jesus. Doesn’t that register a hint that when the Holy Spirit is going to present Jesus in history there’s a little preparation involved? Yet what happens? On the mission field again and again, less so in these last decades, but 30-40 years ago translators would go out into these tribes and the first text of Scripture they’d translate was the Gospel of Mark. Wait a minute, Mark is four fifths of the way through the Bible, what are you translating Mark for, why don’t you start in Genesis? Then there were some missionaries in New Tribes Mission who finally got it together and in the villages found a tremendous response. Why? Because they started at creation and worked forward, just like the Holy Spirit did. It wasn’t a new curriculum that New Tribes Missions figured out; they just went back to the Bible. So you don’t start with Jesus, you start with who and what God is. And it’s that event, the creation of all things, that starts to eat away at this amoeba, this slurpy little slimy amoeba that is the energizer of pagan thought. If you don’t strike at the framework you will never get the message across.
Let’s see how Paul follows that. In Acts 14:16 he says “in the generations gone by He permitted all nations to go their own [ways].” Notice in verse 17 he gives more information. He says “yet He did not leave Himself without witness,” notice the word “witness.” It’s interesting that again the non-Christian could say, “Well God, your existence really wasn’t clear to me, I wasn’t persuaded by those Christians who always came up with those arguments for God.” It’s too bad, but what does it say here? He’s not talking about an argument, it just simply says God “did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons.” In other words, not only is God the Creator, but He is the preserver and sustainer of creation. And the way Paul is talking here, he insists that the pagan, down in his heart, knows that. He knows that! He realizes that the pagan in his heart of hearts is aware of these truths.
What do I mean by pagan? We have a connotation of immoral or something, that’s not true. There have been many moral pagans that have written very moral literature. The word “pagan” doesn’t refer to morality or a lack of it; the word “pagan” simply says that it’s someone who stands outside the culture of the Bible. It’s a demarcation of the human race, not into culture as such, but those who at least give lip service to the God of the Scripture, e.g., Hindu, Buddhists, etc. and those who don’t. The pagan mind is nothing other than the carnal mind, and we all share the pagan mind so we can’t get prideful about this. What does Paul say about the carnal mind? The carnal mind is at “enmity” with God. Not only is the carnal mind at enmity with God, it can’t be subject to His authority. We know some features about this pagan mind, brilliant mind, moral mind, but it is at enmity with God. So at the deepest level, if you can structure it like levels, down at the lowest basement level of the pagan mind there is an awareness that God sustains. We’ll say this is the fact that the pagan has God-consciousness. You know why we have to say that? If he didn’t, he wouldn’t be held accountable. What is God going to do at the Great White Throne judgment if somebody argues from ignorance? He’s going to say, “Sorry, I know and you know that you knew I was there, but you turned away from Me, you deliberately put Me aside, it was a conscious choice on your part. Sorry!”
On top of that we have a negative response and a rejection of that. It can be cloaked in a very moral cloak, but the rejection is a rejection of this, it’s a cover-up of that, its war with that principle, that I will tolerate you talking about God, but the God of the Scripture, that kind of living God I cannot tolerate. And in order to do that, further stories of material are added to this structure, and that’s the amoeba that swallows up truth. It’s a special framework that is developed to insulate the pagan mind or carnal mind from the pain of the guilt of knowing they are in rebellion against God. That’s the structure of what’s going on and that’s why confrontations like we’re seeing in this text are not pretty. Let’s see what happens.
In verse 17 Paul asserts that God had witnessed all the time, and then in verse 19, look how quickly “Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having won over the multitudes, they stoned Paul, and dragged him out of the city, supposing him to be dead.” Boy, that was a successful sermon! Is that what we’re going to follow? Possibly, we may see that thing in our civilization in our time. The battle is heating up, in case you haven’t noticed. There are no more gray areas, it’s Christian or non-Christian and the wheat and the tares are growing side by side. So we have God-consciousness, we have the rejection, we have this framework, and Paul’s assaulting this framework and at the same time he’s saying you are aware of God and you’re going to be convicted of this rejection. That’s how he answers, that’s how to give an apologetic. It’s hard to do that, it gets personal so fast. But notice Paul is not afraid of touching what we would call the secular things of life. Look again what he says in verse 15, “God created the heaven, the earth and the sea,” and you say why did He have to put the sea in there? Fish was on their mind, why didn’t He put that in there? Because that’s part of the universe around us. All things God created. He’s talking about the weather, verse 17, that “He gave you rains from heaven,” and that’s a meteorological process. Why did that suddenly get into a religious discussion? Because “all things” come from God. I think you get the point of how Paul handled himself. Acts 17 is another case; Acts 26 is another case where he had similar parallel conflicts with people.
In conclusion I want to go to Genesis 3 and look at how God handles an apologetic. I hope you’ll have a renewed appreciation for these simple stories of the Old Testament. I’ve always been helped spiritually by these stories. They’re so simple you can tell them to a child, but you can spend your life thinking about them, mulling them over, praying about the applications and letting the Lord give you insights into this. In Genesis 3 you have God in the first counseling session. This is a counseling session, a confrontation session. We see in verse 8 how it all started, God faces a carnal mind, all of a sudden Adam’s got one, Eve’s got one, and they’re all messed up, so now God has to start dealing with this thing. He doesn’t come to them and say “I’ve got three proofs for My existence, Adam.” Notice that God takes it for granted that His existence is not an issue, that all men deep down in their hearts know very well. Think about that.
If we admit that we have to prove that God exists (we have a way of doing this indirectly, I’m not knocking it), but if you personally agree too fast that this person you’re talking to really needs high powered proof that God exists, you’ve bought into the wrong question; you’ve just bought the question and you shouldn’t have. Don’t agree to get deflected off to a wrong strategy somewhere. Don’t get faked out. I get faked out all the time, but our goal is not to get faked out by having the other person’s agenda rival yours. If we sit here and, say, Mr. Unbeliever says “Oh, Mr. Christian I’m sorry, I’d like to become a Christian but it’s just not at all clear to me that God is even there.” At this point it may not be clear to him because of what he’s done to his mind. But to presume that we have to have proofs for God’s existence is to accept the fact that the carnal mind says evidences of His existence is so weak, are so impotent, so unclear. We can’t agree to that. Notice when Paul went to that pagan audience he didn’t agree that they couldn’t know God; He’s all around you, you’ve got the problem, God’s existence is not the problem.
In Genesis 3 God never stops to prove His existence. Verse 8, “They heard the voice of LORD God walking in the garden,” now think of this diagram of the carnal mind; let’s look at that and compare it to Adam’s behavior. “They heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves.” Start making inferences here. If they’re running just from the sound of God, what does that tell you about what they already know? Do they have any question that He exists? No, they don’t have any question that He exists. Why are they hiding? You don’t run from something unless you’re pretty sure that it’s there. See the God-consciousness? Adam and Eve didn’t lose their God-consciousness when they fell, they kept it, and it was so real to them that it caused terror, because now they knew He existed and now they had short accounts. That was the problem, not His existence.
So the Lord said, notice in verse 9, [“Then the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, Where are you?”] again that’s sort of a model for us in apologetics, He’s gracious. He could have just walked in and said oh, you screwed up huh, well phooey, bye, see you ‘round. But rather He works with them, and He’s indirect too; this is part of grace and being polite and gracious to people, “Where are you?” That’s a double-edged question. It could be interpreted as God didn’t know where he was, but we know that can’t be the interpretation. He might be calling out where are you, hoping that they’d raise their hand, admitting they were there. Or He could be asking where are you, Adam, think about it? Where are you, where’s your life now, think about what you just did? He says I heard the sound. Look what Adam does, this is classic, we all do this, this is the carnal mind at work.
Adam comes out, and the carnal mind will always admit pieces of truth. Look at the first piece, verse 10, “I heard the sound of Thee in the garden,” is that true? Yes, that’s a piece of truth. “And I was afraid because I was naked,” the first part of that sentence is true, but the last part is not in verse 8, they were naked before, why should nakedness be a problem; it wasn’t before, why now? That’s an implication of something else. If Adam fears God because he’s naked, who made him naked? God did. Already the pagan mind is at work. The problem is that you made me this way, God; I’m afraid because I’m naked and You made me this way, just that little thread of “don’t blame me, I’m a victim” thing coming in, the carnal mind. What is it that the carnal mind is rejecting, even in a face to face standoff with God Himself, where His existence can’t be denied? The carnal mind is still trying to get around this problem of God’s holiness, so it comes up with excuses, sort of an invented state-of-the-minute theology to get around a little problem we’ve got, so I’m going to start shifting the blame ever so slightly over to Him. It starts in verse 10.
In verse 11 God comes back to that. Notice God doesn’t come back to “the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden” part of the sentence; He doesn’t come back to the verb “afraid.” God, as He always does, goes right to the part that’s wrong in verse 10, “Who told you that you were naked?” Evidently that was a signal that the awareness of their nakedness is they had gone from the Garden. He says “Did you eat from the tree? i.e., did you disobey Me? “ Adam comes back in verse 12, well, “The woman that You gave…” so now the carnal mind takes one step further, not only did You make me naked, but You gave that creature to me and I wasn’t able to control her, so she misled me, it’s not my fault, hey, no problem here, the problem’s over there. Blame shifting!
It’s a little story, but it’s a very profound story that you can meditate on; do you realize that you can develop counseling theories just out of this passage alone? There are things said in these short few verses that outdo anything Sigmund Freud ever thought of! Yet we have people, Christians included (this is not to knock the areas of psychology), devoting thousands of hours to the study of these things, therapies, this and that, and never paying attention to the God of the universe who created man, modeling the first time there was a counseling session in history, and you had the One who made everything doing the counseling. Talk about a model, how about doing a little study here to improve counseling theory and therapies, but no, don’t bother with the Bible, that’s an ancient book….
Verse 13, “Then the LORD God said to the woman, ‘What is this you have done?” Notice the buck passes again, Oh well, it was the serpent that did it. We all smile because we all know that’s our heart, we all know, intuitively know, that there but for the grace of God go I. And anything we have in our hearts as Christians that doesn’t fit this is there by the grace of God, it’s there by the Holy Spirit taking His Word and cutting this stuff out, pieces of it yes, but that’s the sort of problem we face in apologetics; we face a situation where all this is embedded in a person’s mind. We’re trying to feed gospel pieces and the problem is, unless the Holy Spirit guides us in how to do that, to disable and knock out this framework, we’ll always be unsuccessful.
That’s why we want to follow a strategy. The strategy is a strategy of presuppositions. I want to explain the word because people sometimes have misconceptions about it. Frances Schaeffer used the word presuppositions often in his writings. This can be misinterpreted. There’s a bona fide discussion going on in Christian circles for the last 30-40 years about which strategy works best. This is not a theology class, I’m not going to bore you with all the details and controversy except I want to identify where I’m coming from. Basically in the 20th century some Christian scholars in Philadelphia at Westminster Theological Seminary, people who had left Princeton as it started going liberal and the fundamentalist faculty resigned from Princeton Theological Seminary back around WWI and left that seminary. They had no seminary, they lost libraries and everything, so they went to Philadelphia and set up what was then called (and still is) Westminster Theological Seminary. Those scholars began to reevaluate what went wrong at Princeton, why did we lose it, why did the non-Christians ace us, why did they win? And several of the men on the faculty came to the conclusion that we Christians were not Scriptural enough in the way we were defending the faith. The liberals had argued that there’s a genuine area of neutral ground, that the Christian can be over here, the non-Christian over there, and this neutrality exists in between the battle lines. It was thought that, like a railroad track, that by a series of arguments that you could divert the non-Christian from his railroad track to come over here and join the Christian, and there would be a continuous railroad track, there was no break in the rails, so the railroad cars could come across in a continuous fashion. In other words, there was no big gap. And what they found out was that these ploys didn’t work very well, and the reason is because they inherit non-Christian ideas, then try to defend the Christian gospel on the basis of non-Christian ideas.
Let me give an example that’s easy to see. Take Adam and Eve. After Satan talked to Eve, what had he talked the woman into doing? Here’s Eve, over here she has one claim, that if she eats of the tree, she’s going to die. Over here Eve has another claim, that if she eats of the tree she will live, she will not die. Satan has very cleverly gotten her to buy the question, because what has the woman done? She’s immediately gotten herself in, at least she thinks, a position of neutrality, so now Eve is going to have to test; I’ve got one statement here, the opposite here, how do I tell which one is true? How did Eve try to tell which one was true? She ate of the tree. Did she find which one was true? Yes. Did she disobey when she did it? Yes. What was wrong with Eve’s approach? What was wrong with her methodology? What was wrong was that she presumed that she was the final authority, she had elevated her decider, and SHE would decide whether or not God was correct. Once a person moves into that position, this neutral ground, they become the ultimate presupposition, in other words, you have the ultimate presupposition that “I will decide.”
Presuppositionalism said, no, we made a mistake; as the Christian church we really made a mistake here, we messed up but let’s learn from it, let’s never do this again. So there came out of this a presuppositional apologetic which says if there are two railroad tracks, here’s the non-Christian going down his railroad track and here’s the Christian on his railroad track, there’s no connecting track between the two. In other words, to get a train that is on that track over to this track, we have to derail the train and move it over car by car. That’s a diagram of what repentance is all about. There’s no smooth track, there’s just a sudden catastrophe where the train is derailed, then it’s bodily picked up and moved to the other set of rails. That’s presuppositionalism. There has to be a ground shift of presuppositions from one thing to the other, a deep decision in the heart that, unlike Eve, I am not going to relocate to myself the authority to decide whether or not God is true. I must say that He is the authority and He decides what is true and what is false. So the only presupposition as a Christian is the fact that God’s Word is the standard. The ultimate presupposition in the neutral zone is that man is the ultimate standard. There isn’t any continuity between the two positions. Try as you might you can’t get these two together and that’s what’s been wrong, with a lot of the work even in evangelical circles, that it doesn’t see clearly enough that you can’t inherit pagan baggage and then throw it off at the last minute, it eats you up from the inside.
We hope you read through the notes because the first set of notes illustrates the principle in the area of origins. I don’t make apologies, some of this is reading that you don’t find in religious literature, I have a first degree algebraic equation on one of the pages, but I put it there because if you read Time Magazine that’s the level they write. We Christians ought to at least be able to handle that sort of stuff. I urge you to read through the material and pay particular attention to the Scripture that we’ll cover in those exercises because there are some key questions there on origins, why they’re very important, why Jesus Christ and Paul started with origins.