A Second Look at John 3:16

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”  — John 3:16 (KJV)

The above verse is one of the most familiar and often memorized Bible verses in the English language, whether among orthodox or heterodox, Christian believers and non-believers alike. (The only rival I can think of is Genesis 1:1, the first verse of the Old Testament (aka Hebrew Scriptures).) The above wording from the King James translation is arguably the most well-known version, too. It is fairly easy to memorize and is essentially a summary of the Gospel message, which is why it is so popular.

Recent linguistic studies coupled with careful exegesis, however, indicate that not only has the phrasing not been the most accurate, but most of us probably misunderstand what a few key words/phrases mean. There are four sections I would like to address. (Note: The proper, contextual understanding of the Greek word often translated “perish” (<apollumi>) is a potential fifth area for (re)consideration and discussion, but I’m not prepared to dig into that particular subject at this time.) I only present this information for educational purposes and am *not* looking for a debate. I am tempted to address the four in sequential order, but I think it best if I do the two less controversial ones first.

1) “so loved”: Ever since I was a kid, I always thought that it was talking about how much God loved the world. This was reinforced in sermons, poems, and quotes like the one pictured above. But, as you may have noticed, some Bibles these days state it differently (e.g., “For God loved the world in this way” (HCSB); “For this is the way God loved the world” (NET); “For this is how God loved the world” (ISV)), indicating that the proper connotation is not “how much” but “how” or “in what way”. Many other translations still keep it “so loved the world” (e.g., NKJV, NASB, NIV), but at least the ESV includes a footnote about the alternate phrasing.

Why have some translations opted for this change? As per the HCSB footnote (at Biblegateway.com),

“The Gk word <houtos>, commonly translated in Jn 3:16 as “so” or “so much” occurs over 200 times in the NT. Almost without exception it is an adverb of manner, not degree (for example, see Mt 1:18). It only means “so much” when modifying an adjective (see Gl 3:3; Rv 16:18). Manner seems primarily in view in Jn 3:16, which explains the HCSB’s rendering.”

The NET translation note is a bit more involved, including references to academic works, but it concludes thusly:

“With this in mind, then, it is likely that John is emphasizing both the degree to which God loved the world as well as the manner in which He chose to express that love. This is in keeping with John’s style of using double entendre or double meaning. Thus, the focus of the Greek construction here is on the nature of God’s love, addressing its mode, intensity, and extent.”

2) “only begotten”: This phrase trips up a lot of people, since the act of “begetting” elsewhere in the KJV (and other older translations) usually refers to producing physical offspring. While the God-Man, Jesus of Nazareth, was indeed birthed in a biological manner, the Second Person of the Trinity was not. So, our understanding of this verse may impact our understanding of the Trinitarian nature of God.

As with the previous phrase, you may have noticed that some newer Bible translations use — or, at the very least, footnote — variations like “one and only Son” (NIV, NET) or “One and Only Son” (HCSB) or “uniquely existing Son” (ISV) or even “[One and] [a]only begotten Son” (AMP w/ footnote). Others keep “only begotten”, but even the NASB has an appropriate footnote (i.e., “Or unique, only one of His kind”).

Why? First, allow me to throw a little Greek at you by way of James White’s The King James Only Controversy, 2nd ed. (2009):

“The translation only-begotten is inferior to unique. It was thought that the term came from <monos>, meaning “only” and <gennao>, meaning “begotten.” However, further research has determined that it derives not from <gennao> but from <genos>, meaning “kind” or “type.” Hence the better translation unique or one of a kind. [White then lists three books, which titles, etc., I’d be happy to provide upon request.]”

I will also cite the translation note from the NET, which I think is helpful:

“Although this word is often translated “only begotten,” such a translation is misleading, since in English it appears to express a metaphysical relationship. The word in Greek was used of an only child (a son [Luke 7:12, 9:38] or a daughter [Luke 8:42]). It was also used of something unique (only one of its kind) such as the mythological Phoenix (1 Clement 25:2). From here it passes easily to a description of Isaac (Heb 11:17 and Josephus, Ant. 1.13.1 [1.222]) who was not Abraham’s only son, but was one-of-a-kind because he was the child of the promise. Thus the word means “one-of-a-kind” and is reserved for Jesus in the Johannine literature of the NT. While all Christians are children of God (<tekna theou>), Jesus is God’s Son in a unique, one-of-a-kind sense. The word is used in this way in all its uses in the Gospel of John (1:14, 1:18, 3:16, and 3:18).”

Discussion of the next two phrases can be a bit more heated, since they touch on the doctrines of election and predestination and, therefore, impact the question of who is / can be saved.

3) “the world”: When writing on matters of Creation and the Flood, I have pointed out the wide range of uses of “world” in biblical and extra-biblical texts. Just by himself, John is known for using <kosmos> (the Greek word) in several ways. So, how do we know what definition is meant in this passage?

In Debating Calvinism, White points out that it can’t be “the ‘world’ that Jesus says He does not pray for in John 17:9, a ‘world’ that is differentiated from those the Father has given Him…. Neither is it the ‘world’ that is arrayed as an enemy against God’s will and truth, as seen in I John 2:15.” Exegetically, then, the most we can say is that “the world is shown love through the giving of the Son so that a specific, particular people receive eternal life through faith in Him. Since we know that not all are saved by faith in Christ, it is utterly unwarranted to read into <kosmos> some universal view of humanity.”

At this point, White digresses into the second part of verse 17. “[M]any see ‘but that the world might be saved’ as some kind of weak affirmation, when in fact the idea is, ‘God did not send the Son for purpose X but, instead, to fulfill purpose Y.’… While the subjunctive can be used in conditional sentences, it is also used in purpose/result clauses without the insertion of the idea of doubt or hesitant affirmation. The word might, then, is not to be read as ‘maybe,’ ‘hopefully,’ or ‘only if other things happen’ but as in ‘I turned on the printer so that I might print out this letter.’ The idea here is purpose, not lack of certainty.”

So, will the “world” truly be saved through Christ? “When we see the world as the entirety of the kinds of men (Jew and Gentile, or as John expresses it in Revelation 5:9, where every ‘tribe, tongue, people, and nation’ means world) the passage makes perfect sense. God’s love is demonstrated toward Jew and Gentile in providing a single means of salvation for both.”

4) “whosoever believeth” (or “whoever believes” in NKJV, NASB, ESV, NIV, TLV, etc.): Given the above, what are we to make of this phrase? Doesn’t it make it clear that ANYone who puts his/her trust in Christ will receive eternal life? Not necessarily.

“In the Greek, the phrase ‘whoever believes’ is <hina pas ho pisteuwn>. In the English translation the term whoever is meant to communicate ‘all without distinction in a particular group’; specifically, ‘those who believe.’ <Pas> means ‘all’ and <ho pisteuwn> means ‘the one(s) believing’; hence, ‘every one believing,’ leading to ‘whoever believes.’ The point is that all the ones believing have eternal life. There is no such thing as a believing person who will not receive the promised benefit; hence, ‘whosoever.’ This is a common form in John’s writings…. All the passage is saying is that all the ones who believe will have eternal life. It does not even attempt to address who will believe or any of the related issues like human ability or inability and the nature of saving faith.”

Thus, I prefer the phrase “everyone who believes”, as found in some translations (e.g., HCSB, NET, ISV, LEB). In fact, for comparison’s sake, here is the full verse as found in three of my favorites:

“For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.” (HCSB)

“For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life.” (NET)

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his uniquely existing Son so that everyone who believes in him would not be lost but have eternal life.” (ISV)

There ya go. That’s the rationale, anyway, for why the beloved John 3:16 is partially misunderstood. Whether you agree with all, some, or none of these arguments, the end result should be, at the very least, an increased familiarity with the text and possibly a more precise understanding of what God was communicating via the Apostle John and, hopefully, of the Gospel message.

P.S.  Again, comments are welcome, but I am *not* looking for a big theological debate here.

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A Few Ideas Re DACA Replacement

While mulling over what to write on this week, I kept thinking about last week’s post. So, I decided to follow it up with a few thoughts — not entirely original, of course — on what I’d like to see in the imminent DACA/DREAMer-oriented legislation. Nothing profound, just my two cents.

Knowing that I am rather conservative in my socio-political leanings, you may be surprised at some of what I suggest. A hard-line “justice” position might say to “throw ’em all out!”, no exceptions. But, believe it or not, I do have a heart and am sympathetic to the plight of many DACA beneficiaries. As I said at the end of my last post, any legislation on this needs to somehow balance compassion, wisdom, and justice. I think the “wisdom” component must take into account things like short-term vs. long-term expenses, public sentiment, and other practical concerns.

Unlike House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, I do not believe that all DREAMers are “lovely” or that we “owe a debt to [their] parents for bringing [them] here….” This is just foolishness. On the other hand, I do not believe that those who were brought over illegally as minors are guilty of breaking immigration law. It is their parents who committed the crime. It is sometimes argued that these DREAMers — many/most of whom are in their 20s and 30s, now — are equally guilty for not having turned themselves in to immigration authorities as soon as they became aware of their illegal status or became of age. If they are legally responsible, I think it is for a lesser crime. All else being equal, I can certainly understand such a person wanting to lay low and hope that they are granted amnesty or, at least, legal status.

Nor do I believe that DREAMers are all or equally “ugly” or unwanted. Some are indeed “living the American Dream” as responsible, law-abiding residents, while others are guilty of rape, murder, fraud, larceny, drug-trafficking/dealing, and/or any number of other serious crimes. Many others are struggling somewhere in the middle. In other words, they run the gamut, just like all immigrants, both legal and illegal. So, I don’t think it is fair or just to treat them all the same.

What would I like to see in the new bill? Well, I’d start with what Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ) said,

“Build the wall, secure that border, internal enforcement, and then eliminate the incentives people have to enter this country illegally.”

I can understand if the matter of The Wall might be delayed to a later date, but it mustn’t be taken totally off the table. I’m still in favor of it and of making Mexico pay for it. (See my “Mr. Peña Nieto, Pay For That Wall!” post from last year.) The hiring of thousands of new border agents and upgrading the E-Verify system for hiring new employees, which Townhall’s Guy Benson pointed out already got the approval of a Democratic Senate, are eminently commonsensical. Other “tough border security measures” should also be discussed.

That last measure mentioned by Biggs needs to be done immediately. Like a virtual wall, a law must be implemented that makes it clear going forward that no more “illegal minors” will be given even deferred status but will be detained and deported. (Kindly and humanely, of course.) Obviously, that should cover unaccompanied children (UACs), which were such a problem 3 or so years ago. Similarly, no more “chain migration” or “anchor baby” benefits to the parents or extended families of such children. Nothing should encourage people to bring/send more minors over the border illegally.

No automatic amnesties or citizenships should be granted. After extensive background checks, the current DACA enrollees should be split into three groups:

1) Those with violent criminal histories.
2) Law-abiding residents who are currently in school or gainfully employed.
3) Everyone in between.

The first group should be immediately deported or imprisoned, as should any other illegal immigrants who are guilty of serious crimes. The second group should be immediately given the option of applying for a green card, which when granted would give them lawful permanent resident status in the United States. There might also be some sort of fees they would have to pay (via payment plan) to compensate for any minor violations while an adult and/or to partially offset certain benefits they have enjoyed at taxpayer expense. After a minimum 5(?) years in good standing with a green card, they can apply for naturalized citizenship like anyone else (i.e., with no “special” consideration, either good or bad). Or, maybe citizenship shouldn’t be an option — I haven’t quite decided.

The third group would immediately be put on a sort of probation, taken on a case-by-case basis, with their future status dependent on circumstances and what they do (or not) in the near future. (For example, a teen or 20-something who “needs direction” but hasn’t done anything really bad might be given an option of taking school seriously, getting/maintaining an above-board job, maybe pursuing a degree or joining the military.) Assuming they become responsible, law-abiding residents, they can apply for permanent residence (i.e., green card), but the option for citizenship might be off the table.

In other words, something like the SUCCEED Act, but with more security measures attached. I realize that there would need to be many more details ironed out (e.g., where do you deport someone, when their country of origin cannot be determined?). But, the above seems reasonable to me. As Benson has pointed out, polls indicate:

“Americans overwhelmingly [86%] support an equitable resolution for DREAMers, and by nearly a 40-point margin, they’re willing to couple that legislative goal with ‘more border security.'”

Keep in mind, I am only holding out the possibility of citizenship for those who were brought to the U.S. illegally as minors and who have subsequently become productive, law-abiding residents. Even so, they would not get it right away, nor would they get any other special treatment. (Except, of course, for not being deported first.) Those who immigrated here illegally as adults are another matter (and possibly the subject of another blogpost in the future).

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Dream On!

“DEFERRED, adj.: put off; postponed; delayed; withheld for or until a stated time”  — definition consolidated from Merriam-Webster and American Heritage

Before we look at this week’s topic, perhaps we should clarify a few terms….

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA): a program implemented via President Obama’s Dept. of Homeland Security on June 15, 2012, which granted temporary legal status to illegal immigrants who came to the U.S. as minors; sometimes referred to disparagingly as Obama’s “executive amnesty”

DACA supporters at rally

As summarized by The Heritage Foundation’s Hans von Spakovsky, “It applied to aliens who illegally entered the U.S. before the age of 16, were under the age of 31, had “continuously” resided in the U.S. since June 15, 2007, and were in school, graduated, or honorably discharged from the military. DACA provided a period of deferred action (a promise that the alien would not be deported) as well as access to certain government benefits. Illegal aliens were considered eligible even if they had been convicted of two misdemeanor crimes…. The period of deferred action was initially for two years, but that period was extended to three years by a second Homeland Security memorandum on Nov. 14, 2014.”

Fortunately, a similar program for parents of the childhood arrivals — Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) — failed in 2014.

Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors (DREAM) Act: proposed legislation to provide legal status and a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants who entered the U.S. as children; a version of the bill passed the House in Dec. 2010 but not the Senate

“Dreamers/DREAMers”: current DACA beneficiaries and other undocumented immigrants who would benefit from the DREAM Act

On Sept. 5, 2017, President Trump (via A.G. Jeff Sessions) announced the beginning of a 6-month phase-out, or winding down, of DACA, a program which constitutionality has been suspect from its start. This caused much consternation among the 800,000 DACA enrollees, their families, liberals in general, and a few right-leaning moderates. In fact, Trump himself is not unsympathetic to their plight, but he is trying to force Congress to get on the ball and legislate on the matter, since it’s really their responsibility.

Of course, the president’s meeting with Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi and his apparent willingness to work with Democrats has many Republicans and conservatives concerned, as well. To make things worse, there have been unclear and conflicting reports from both Pelosi and the White House as to what exactly has been agreed to so far. (Will there be a DREAM Act that creates a path to citizenship for “Dreamers”? What about border security? Will Trump still build “the Wall”?) For example, Pelosi said:

“We insisted that the bipartisan DREAM Act would be the basis for that protection and that we would review border security measures that didn’t include building a wall.”

But, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders responded with a tweet that “DACA and border security were discussed,” but “excluding the wall was certainly not agreed to.” Trump and Pelosi both independently confirmed, “We’re not looking at amnesty.” But, while Trump insists he is talking about DACA (which is good, because it doesn’t imply acceptance of the failed DREAM Act), Pelosi uses DREAM(er) language and has even seemingly attempted to conflate the two.

Then, last week (9/25/2017), Republican Senators introduced the SUCCEED Act, a “conservative alternative” to the DREAM Act. Proposed by Sens. Thom Tillis (R-NC), James Lankford (R-OK), and Orrin Hatch (R-UT), the bill proposes three rounds of extensive background checks that look for disqualifying gang and/or other criminal activity and requires beneficiaries to “either maintain a job, serve in the military or earn a post-secondary or vocational degree to keep their legal status as adults.” Such would then qualify for a naturalized citizenship, once they have 15 years of legal status behind them, including a minimum five years as a green card holder.

“[This] is not a standalone bill and would require companion legislation, particularly around border security.”  — Sen. James Lankford (R-OK)

A few House Freedom Caucus members

Meanwhile, back in the House, the Freedom Caucus is ready to play hardball. Reps. Mo Brooks (R-AL) and Tom Garrett (R-VA) warn of repeating the mistakes of the Reagan-era Immigration Reform and Control Act (1986), an amnesty bill which encouraged more illegal immigration and grew the 2-3 million illegals at the time into the 10-20 million we now have. Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA) fears that DACA legislation could allow for “chain migration”, bringing the extended families of current DACA beneficiaries over regardless of merit. These and other caucus members raise the necessity of tough border security measures, and they will not even consider voting for any DACA-based legislation unless and until these and related concerns are adequately addressed.

“Build the wall, secure that border, internal enforcement, and then eliminate the incentives people have to enter this country illegally.”  — Rep. Andy Biggs (R-AZ)

So, while the President has been pushing for a codification of DACA into law, these conservative lawmakers are going to be very hard to sell on it, as well they should.

Speaker Paul Ryan is also on record saying that a standalone DREAM Act without any immigration enforcement provisions attached (as “demanded” by Sen. Chuck Schumer and other Democrats) is not an option.

“[I]t’s just reasonable and natural that we should address the root cause of this problem, lack of control of our borders, and get border security, interior enforcement, the things that you need to do to secure your borders so that you don’t have a DACA problem 10 years from now. So we want to address the cause and the effect, the symptom and the root cause of the problem…. [T]here is a compromise to be had here, and that’s what this compromise looks like, in my mind.”

For the past couple months or so, Townhall/Fox’s Guy Benson has been touting his suggestion to reintroduce parts of the ‘Gang of Eight’ immigration bill that “passed a Democratic Senate handily, but died in the GOP-held House in 2013”.

“[This would] identify immigration enforcement proposals that have already gotten unanimous stamps of approval from Senate Democrats. Among them are the hiring of thousands of new border agents, the construction of 700 miles of new fencing, and upgrading the e-verify system for hiring new employees.

The idea, therefore, would be pretty straightforward: Law-abiding DREAMers’ non-deportable status would be formalized and stabilized, while Americans concerned about border and internal immigration enforcement would see tangible progress on the security front. I argued that would be a fair deal, and would be broadly popular.”

Guy Benson

He then lays out reasons based on polling numbers for why a majority of Americans would support these measures, and he makes good points. I’d like to see more, of course, including an actual, “big, beautiful” wall and not just fencing. But, it’s an acceptable minimum, fallback position, and it would still be a win-win-win-win (for Dems, Reps, Trump, and American citizens).

What encourages me in this whole thing is that, not only are Republicans and the President taking this whole issue seriously, but (as Benson puts it) “some key Democrats [are] signaling that they might be open to a compromise.” Just how much compromise remains to be seen, of course. But — and this is the hard part –, as long as Trump and the Republicans in Congress agree and hold firm to certain conservative essentials and negotiate shrewdly (which the GOP, unfortunately, do not have a strong history of doing), then we may get at least a half-way decent agreement. Plus, as long as Republicans continue to hold majorities in Congress and the White House, they might be able to strengthen or add additional measures later.

We really need to get control of our borders, while also implementing a program for dealing with those currently living here illegally that combines compassion, wisdom, and justice. The sooner we can get down to business, the better.

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Dear Trump Supporters

Now that we’ve all survived the Sept. 23rd “apocalypse” (or whatever it was supposed to be), I would like to share a post I saw yesterday from a very sharp young man that I “follow” on Facebook, Tim Dukeman. He is quite prolific with his posts/comments on political, socio-cultural, and theological matters. On those occasions when I understand what he’s talking about, I mostly agree. Case in point would be the following, which he kindly said I could share with my readers:

Dear Trump supporters,

Yes, the media spends literally 90% of their time running anti-Trump propaganda. Yes, the Democrats are literal mass murderers. Yes, Trump gets attacked unfairly all the time. Yes, yes, yes.

None of these things make it ok for you to be tribal. None of these things make Trump’s crude, crass manner acceptable. None of the above can erase the bad things Trump has done before and after taking office.

It’s obviously unfair to say that Trump supporters are all cult members or unthinking drones who blindly follow the Dear Leader. That isn’t true, and people should stop saying it.

But come on, guys. Don’t make it easy for them. When Trump says something dumb, don’t act like a wounded animal. When Trump makes a bad call, just admit it. When Trump degrades our discourse with vulgar personal attacks, don’t pretend that it’s good for our country for the President to act that way.

You don’t have to stop supporting Trump. You don’t have to apologize for voting for him. You don’t have to support impeaching him, or anything else. You can just say “that was wrong.” You can just concede the point and move on. You can say that Trump messed up today, but you’re confident he’ll do better tomorrow.

If you’re not a cult member, don’t act like one.

That is all.

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Southern Poverty Law Center: Self-Appointed Arbiter of Hatred and Hate Speech

“Morris and I… shared the overriding purpose of making a pile of money. We were not particular about how we did it. We just wanted to be independently rich.”  — Millard Fuller, speaking to Harper’s of his early business partnership with Morris Dees

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) pops up again and again in the news as a champion of civil rights, decrying white supremacists and accusing various people and groups of being “haters”. Of course, the SPLC’s judgment seems rather biased itself, so I got to wondering how they became the recognized authority on bigotry and “hate”.

Let’s be clear, “poverty” has little-to-nothing to do with the center’s activities. Its supposed focus is on fighting for civil rights and “tolerance” and against “hate groups” and racism. But, that’s just a means to an end. What it really is is an extremely well-funded Leftist attack machine,… but, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Morris Dees

Back in the 1960s, successful businessman and lawyer Morris Dees defended Ku Klux Klansmen — who, granted, deserve competent counsel under the law — and raised money for the likes of George Wallace and George McGovern. But, following a victory in a desegregation case against the YMCA, Dees was reportedly “emboldened” to take up the fight against racial injustice in America. Cynics might say he saw a “golden opportunity”. Dees then sold his book publishing venture — his partner, Fuller, having already sold him his shares — and founded (with Joseph J. Levin Jr.) the Southern Poverty Law Center as a civil rights law firm in Montgomery, AL, in 1971. As far as I can tell, Dees remains the center’s chief trial attorney.

“Dees was one of the principal architects of an innovative strategy that entailed using civil lawsuits in order to secure a court judgment for monetary damages against an organization for a wrongful act and then using the courts to seize its assets (money, land, buildings, other property) to pay the judgment.” (Wikipedia entry on Dees)

They were quite successful, with notable judgments including those against United Klans of America (1981, $7 million), the White Aryan Resistance (1991, $12 million), and the Aryan Nations (2001, $6.5 million). “Dees’s most famous cases have involved landmark damage awards that have driven several prominent neo-Nazi groups into bankruptcy, effectively causing them to disband and re-organize under different names and different leaders.”

Now, I have no problem with bankrupting white supremacist groups, as long as it’s done legally and ethically. (I don’t know enough about the cases to comment on that aspect.) But, Dees and the SPLC have broadened their reach into defending/promoting the LGBT agenda, as well as taking quite liberal stances on illegal immigrants and “the unconstitutional mixing of church and state.” They have become “social activists” who smear and demonize those who are not ideologically in agreement with them. This means that conservative Christians and others of a socio-politically conservative bent often find themselves in the SPLC’s crosshairs.

Back in the early 1980s, the SPLC began publishing its quarterly Intelligence Report, which provides information on the “organizational efforts and tactics” of those the center considers “radical right hate groups and extremists” in the U.S. They also produce a HateWatch Weekly newsletter with associated blog, as well as the annual Year in Hate edition of the Intelligence Report. Apparently, some scholars (though I don’t have any names to give you) have cited the SPLC’s publications as “a reliable and comprehensive source”, and even the F.B.I. started using them. Indeed, some of the people and groups on the “hate list” are genuinely deplorable, radical, bigots and racists.

“[O]ur aim in life is to destroy these groups, to completely destroy them.”  — Mark Potok, SPLC senior fellow

But, over the years (particularly since an organizational shake-up in 1986) their lists have expanded to include groups like the American Family Association (AFA), the Traditional Values Coalition, the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), and the Family Research Council (FRC). These groups hold to traditional, conservative values and disapprove of things like homosexual behavior and same-sex marriage, making them guilty of a hate crime, according to the SPLC and those likeminded. While disagreeing with much of the FRC’s position, even noted liberal columnist Dana Milbank has called it “absurd to put the [FRC], as the law center does, in the same category as Aryan Nations, Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, Stormfront and the Westboro Baptist Church.” Yet, it was the FRC’s inclusion on the SPLC’s anti-gay hate group list that led domestic terrorist Floyd Corkins II to carry out a shooting attack on the FRC’s D.C. headquarters.

As Capital Research Center’s Matthew Vadum noted in Frontpagemag,

“SPLC is selective in singling out anti-gay “hate” groups. The Center ignores many Muslim organizations that are violently opposed to homosexuality. Instead the group attacks people like David Horowitz, Pamela Geller, and Robert Spencer who worry about the threat that radical Islamists pose to America, accusing them of anti-Muslim bigotry for daring to speak out.”

Vadum quotes Mark Potok as saying, “[W]e have strongly criticized all those who endorse such violence, whether on the political left or the political right.” Yet, they “habitually” overlook labor violence. Vadum also points out that Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV), a high-ranking Klansman, “got a free pass from the SPLC.”

Townhall.com’s Star Parker points out that the SPLC’s “Hate Map” includes “101 anti-Muslim hate groups, but somehow not a single anti-Christian hate group is identified. Actually, Christian groups, in their map, turn out to be the haters.”

This is all in line with what Personal Liberty‘s Sam Rolley observed back in 2013:

“[A] visit to the organization’s website to conduct a few searches of published material offers a cursory view: White, conservative, small government, Constitutionalist, Christian and fearful of Federal authority are all present. The organization does include a handful of write-ups and examinations of black separatist groups and even extremist Muslims (though most of the Muslim-related stories are about discrimination against Muslims by the greater American public); but those topics are approached with nowhere near the bravado of stories about Christian groups and small-government advocates.

For conservatives, the problem is that SPLC is accepted widely as an authority on discrimination, hate and extremist dangers by all manner of mainstream media organizations and is quoted widely in stories covering these topics. Meanwhile, SPLC routinely lists conservative politicians and benign religious organizations whose only real goals are to proselytize and influence public opinion in a way that furthers the Christian religious agenda alongside groups with dangerous and inflammatory radical histories like the Aryan Brotherhood, Ku Klux Klan (which, by all accounts is pretty powerless in modern America) and the joke that is Westboro Baptist Church.

By allowing political motivation to trump its stated mission of seeking justice and equality for society’s most vulnerable, SPLC has become no better than the most hateful of hate groups it has historically rallied against in the eyes of people who don’t adhere to leftist ideology.”

Townhall.com’s Ken Blackwell noted,

“While there are no clearly stated criteria for groups being on this “hate” list, the SPLC’s specialty is the targeting and slandering of conservatives and conservative groups. As Laird Wilcox, an expert on extremist groups, has pointed out, “What they [the SPLC] do is a kind of bullying and stalking. They pick people who are vulnerable in terms of public opinion and simply destroy them. Their victims are usually ordinary people expressing their values, opinions, and beliefs – and they’re up against a very talented and articulate defamation machine.””

The SPLC accuses their ideological opponents of inciting hatred and violence, but listening to the SPLC’s rhetoric and viewing their propaganda show them guilty of exactly what they are supposedly against. Indeed, the SPLC’s hypocrisy and ideological prejudice became so obvious, along with their influence on Corkins, that the F.B.I. eventually (in early 2014) became disgusted enough to sever ties (including web-links) with them.

Side note: I wonder how the Black Lives Matter people feel about the SPLC providing training to law-enforcement groups. Well, as long as BLM doesn’t end of on the “dangerous” list, I guess….

As Vadum wrote back in 2012, the SPLC’s behavior is “far worse” than reckless.

“It is calculated and malicious, intended to foment hatred and raise oceans of cash by bamboozling gullible liberals into giving money to what is one of the wealthiest nonprofit groups in the history of the United States.”

Dees himself doesn’t do too bad, either. As per The Washington Times editorial (2014):

“Morris Dees stayed in Alabama and built a 200-acre estate with tennis courts, a swimming pool and stables for his horses, and instead of doing good, did well. [Note: To be fair, he was already a multi-millionaire from his direct-mail marketing company’s success. He has used those talents to write multi-page alarmist fundraising letters to potential SPLC donors.]

“Poverty” quickly became enormously profitable. He was soon collecting millions and paying himself a salary far in excess of those paid to the heads of such advocacy groups as the ACLU, the Children’s Defense Fund and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.”

How wealthy is the SPLC, you ask?

SPLC Headquarters

According to their 2016 financial statements, they have a hefty endowment fund with net assets exceeding $319 million, plus a total operating fund valued at nearly $34 million. A couple weeks ago, Jeryl Bier at The Weekly Standard reported that a chunk of that endowment — over $69 million in “non-U.S. equity funds” — is in offshore equities and other investments in places including the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands, and Bermuda. Beryl also mentions that “2016 contributions topped $45 million”. Where does this come from? There are a few big names, like George Soros. But, as SPLC president Richard Cohen once told The Weekly Standard‘s Charlotte Allen, many of their donors are “aging Northern-state “1960s liberals” who continue to associate “Southern” and “poverty” with lynchings, white-hooded Klansmen, and sitting at the back of the bus, and thanks also to what can only be described as the sheer genius at direct-mail marketing of Dees….”

One might assume the center provides a *lot* of legal assistance. But, as Greg Gutfield said recently on “The Five”:

“The Center paid out $20 million in salaries in 2015, but provided just $61K in legal assistance. So the Southern Poverty Law Center appears to have no poverty – and do virtually no law. It’s the most misleading name since the Democratic Party.”

(Looks closer to $3-4 million to me, but I’m not sure what Gutfield was including in “legal assistance”.)

Ironically, the SPLC’s harshest critics are on the progressive left — from The Progressive and Harper’s to the late Alexander Cockburn, columnist for The Nation and webzine CounterPunch, to the director of the Southern Center for Human Rights, who called Dees “a [shamelessly self-promoting] fraud and a con man” who spends a lot but accomplishes little.

So, there you have it. The Southern Poverty Law Center is a self-appointed watchdog group that has increasingly become a sham. While it has taken out some nasty people in the past, it now uses identity politics activism to further its goal of destroying the lives and careers of as many as it can on the right side of the ideological spectrum, while making as much money as possible doing it.

Footnote:  After ending his partnership with Dees, Millard Fuller and his family became Christian missionaries and he later founded Habitat for Humanity International, followed by a similar organization, The Fuller Center for Housing. Fuller received various humanitarian awards & honors, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, before his death in 2009.

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No New Post This Week, Sorry

If you are reading this (pre-scheduled) message, then I didn’t get a post written this week, due to dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Irma. I’ll return to my regular weekly schedule as soon as possible. Meanwhile, why not find an older post or two to hold you over? 🙂 Take care!

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Snippets of True Reason, part 3

Previous installments of the “Snippets” series covered four chapters each. This one covers the six chapters that make up the (sort of) middle of the True Reason book. Simply put, they “offer arguments for the rational strength of the Christian worldview.” See any familiar names among the authors?

Nine: “Reason in a Christian Context” (Peter Grice)

“The biblical pattern of coming to faith always begins with evidence. The first stage of evidence is the pervasive work of God discernible in creation (Rom. 1:20). Sometimes the evidence is the experience of personally encountering God. (To automatically dismiss this evidence as psychic malfunction is to beg the question.) Sometimes the evidence is in the fulfillment of prophecy or in a miracle one observes. Following these experiences of God and his work, the believer rightly and reasonably continues to trust in God’s existence and good plan through other, more ambiguous, circumstances. There is always a moral, rational step to be taken in responding to God by trusting him, but no absurd leap is ever implied.” (p.126)

Ten: “The Marriage of Faith and Reason” (David Marshall)

“[G]iven these pervasive patterns [in the Bible] of historical evidence, honest representation of difficult facts, and critical questioning, why did Jesus tell Doubting Thomas that those who have not seen, yet believe, are blessed?

First, notice that Jesus gave Thomas the evidence he asked for. Three senses (sight, sound, and touch) provided independent witness to an event that he naturally found hard to believe, but that would change his life…. Second, by not trusting his close friends, Thomas became less reasonable, not more so. He was retreating from the third level of faith (the testimony of others) to faith in only his senses and mind…. Third, John gave this and many other testimonies ‘that you may know.’ What else could he do? He didn’t have a video recorder to record the stone rolling away. He couldn’t carbon-14 test the shroud. Human testimony was the only way to establish the truth of historical claims…. Scientists incessantly appeal to human testimony: read Dawkins or Darwin and underline their citations of scientific work other people have done…. Fourth, miracles continued. Acts of the Apostles might well be called The Acts of God — including miracles Luke seems to have witnessed firsthand. Augustine recounts ongoing miracles in the late fourth century. One reason I am a Christian is that, serving as a missionary in Asia, I found good reason to believe God continues to support the spread of the gospel by giving people direct reasons to believe.” (pp.145-7)

Eleven: “Faith and Reason in Historical Perspective” (David Marshall and Timothy McGrew)

“Skeptics often claim that when push comes to shove, when crowded into a corner by the evidence, Christians whip out the ‘get out of jail free’ faith card. Of all the ninety-nine reasons she claims to be mad at religion, for instance (like the ninety-nine names of Allah), Greta Christina singles out this item as the poison pill that makes religion intolerable:

I get angry when believers glorify religious faith — i.e., believing in a supernatural world with no good evidence supporting that belief — as a positive virtue, a character trait that makes people good and noble….

To get the discussion started, we need to put a definition on the table; then we will argue that it has broad historical support. By faith, then, as a first approximation, we mean trusting, holding to, and acting on what one has good reason to believe is true, in the face of difficulties.” (p.149)

Twelve: “A Sun to See By — Christianity, Meaning, and Morality” (Samuel J. Youngs)

“Time and again in my experience both as a student and a teacher I’ve seen that thinking people eventually tire of abstractions. Big ideas, fundamental conceptual canopies, the sort of thing that Dawkins is getting at when he talks about the rock-bottom indifference of the universe, only hold our gaze for so long. Sooner or later, we rest our head on our hands or sigh heavily or lean across the table and ask, ‘What does all this mean for me? What do these big ideas have to do with my life?’…

An indifferent universe, an ‘accidental collocation of atoms,’ is by definition a world without any significance, a world where the ships of reasoning and consideration have no stars by which to plot their course; and where hearts moved by concern for their fellow man have no higher sun to warm their virtue.

As we’ve been asking, what do our conceptions of our universe mean for the lives we lead, for the people we love, for the questions we ask? The confession of the naturalist, when faced with honesty, is forthrightly barren in what it offers. It asks us to accept a universe with indifference at its heart, where no ultimate meaning can be ascribed to anything.” (pp.167,170)

Thirteen: “Are Science and Christianity at Odds?” (Sean McDowell)

“What can we conclude about the Galileo incident? The popular claim that the church persecuted Galileo for advancing science is a caricature. As Dinesh D’Souza points out in What’s So Great About Christianity?, the Galileo episode is a blip on the radar of an otherwise harmonious relationship between scientists and the church. ‘Indeed,’ says D’Souza, ‘there is no other example in history of the Catholic Church condemning a scientific theory.’ This myth persists because it’s consistently presented as fact in textbooks, history programs, and, most recently, in the writings of the New Atheists. It’s time to put it to rest.” (p.194)

Fourteen: “God and Science Do Mix” (Tom Gilson)

“Echoing Haldane, Krauss’s point in this piece is that Christianity is all about miracles and other such interfering-God nonsense. Science could never make sense under conditions like that.

Lawrence Krauss

He is right, of course, that science depends on nature generally behaving itself. But he is wrong to think the regular order and design of Creation is incompatible with Christianity. In fact, there are at least three major reasons why science fits squarely and comfortably within a Christian view of reality. These three reasons are related to God’s nature (what is ultimate), human nature (who we are), and the nature of the universe (what science studies)….

Significantly, the Judeo-Christian view of creation is unique among the world’s religions and philosophies…. Only in the first chapters of Genesis do we have an account of a creation that is fully ruled by its Creator’s mind, yet remains separate from it: rationally ordered, but not animized. It’s ironic, isn’t it, that this all-important basis on which science was planted comes from the same biblical passage that scientists today love so much to scorn?” (pp.201-202,204)

A lot of good stuff, there, as the contributors address various aspects of the faith/reason dialogue, clarifying the Christian position and hopefully putting to rest (as McDowell said) some misconceptions and misrepresentations. Any of you buy the book, yet?

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Cyberattack Risk Assessment

“[I]n 1945 we were the protagonists with the new weapon. Now, we are the ones who are likely to be on the receiving end. If the Trump administration doesn’t act quickly and decisively, it may be a very cold winter.”  — Steve King, COO of Netswitch Technology Management

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about hackable vehicles. Serious as that is, the potential dangers are minuscule compared to this week’s topic.

With all of the hullaballoo of late regarding who at the White House is quitting, getting fired or reassigned, an important report from the National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC) has been overlooked by many. This task force, commissioned by the National Security Council (NSC), has “review[ed] and evaluate[d] a long list of ways the federal government determines how to secure critical infrastructure — such as dams, bridges, power grids, and airports — against targeted cyberattacks.” As per Steve King at Lifezette,

“They have assessed our national risk and have declared it real, present and high….

The task force recognizes that most critical national infrastructure (CNI) in the U.S. is privately owned and poorly defended, and it is particularly vulnerable to cyberattack because it relies on outdated software, third-party utilities, and interconnected networks.

The ability to run their systems remotely, as well as update software via the web, gives hackers all the access they need. These interconnected networks are even more tempting because they usually control operations as well, magnifying the impact of an attack.

Attacks against operations technology (OT)… can easily produce kinetic effects — such as opening flood gates, shutting down grids, and destroying control circuitry.

The report confirms the contention that while the government and the private sector may have lots of appropriate technologies to defend critical systems, they have not been applied in a way that can be effective against an adversary in cyberspace. This conclusion has been demonstrated in study after study and shared by most cybersecurity professionals in the private sector.”

Outrageous! It is absolutely inexcusable that the various government offices that deal with these systems (sometimes via contractors) and owners/administrators in the private sector have allowed the situation to get this bad.

“The task force recommends establishing separate, secure networks for critical infrastructure; information-sharing through automated threat intelligence distribution; and the use of modern scanning tools and processes for periodic threat assessments. This is all solid Cyberthreat 101 stuff that should have been in place years ago.

The task force has gone so far as to recommend outcome-based market incentives (aka bribes) to encourage CNI owners to invest in state-of-the-art technologies, as though the threat of a cyberattack that will shut down a large section of the electrical grid is not sufficient incentive in itself.”

This is some scary stuff, folks! Whether by cyber-anarchist hacks or state-sponsored attacks, the threat is all too real. (This isn’t the first time I’ve touched on the subject, either. See my “Chinese Sabotage U.S. Military” and “Security Concerns for U.S. Power Grid” posts from years past.)

King also reminds his readers of the Stuxnet malware, which in 2009 “silently accelerated a few hundred Iranian nuclear centrifuges into self-destruction.” More recently, last month’s “Petya virus took down Eastern Europe’s national banks, state power companies, and airports in a demonstration of the effects of a relatively unsophisticated cyberattack on key elements of government infrastructure.” Those are just tastes of what is not only possible but, according to the NIAC and others, looming on the horizon for the U.S.

We have a “narrow and fleeting window of opportunity before a watershed, 9/11-level cyberattack to organize effectively and take bold action”. President Trump has been talking about a national program to improve our infrastructure for a while now, and I hope he takes this report to heart. (Btw, I’m guessing this would fall under the purview of the proposed DoD Chief Information Warfare Officer.) Same goes for Congress, of course, ‘cuz they need to fund it. This should be a bipartisan issue and a “no-brainer” — in other words, perfect for Congress!

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Amos 8 and a Total Eclipse of the Sun

“Usually there’s a big ball of light in the sky
But now on this Day of the Mon
Nothing I can see
A total eclipse of the Sun”
(with apologies to Bonnie Tyler and James Richard Steinman)

I admit, I’m just not that into it.

Chasing Monday’s eclipse, that is. I’m a science apologetics geek, but for some reason, I just can’t get excited about this astronomical event. I mean, it’s cool and all. It’s the first total solar eclipse to be visible across the contiguous United States since June 8, 1918. The “path of totality” (i.e., those areas where one can see the Moon totally eclipsing the Sun) will cross 14 states, though all 50 will see at least a partial eclipse at some point. Et cetera. Still, I’ll be content to check it out later on TV or YouTube.

A lot of other people, however, are certainly talking about it a lot — some just thrilled with the science of it all, some talk about astrological implications, while others go on and on about end-times prophecy, messages from God, and general doom-n-gloom. That last group just needs to give it a rest, if ya ask me. (Well, so does the second group, but that’s a different discussion.) The amount of unwarranted speculation and scriptural misapplication is appalling.

A Facebook friend of mine by the name of Robert Hawes is similarly concerned, and he graciously gave me permission to share a FB post he wrote about those concerns.

I’m hearing a teaching now that Amos chapter 8, where God speaks of the sun going dark at noon and judgment falling on the land, is more than likely a reference to the upcoming solar eclipse in the United States, and is a harbinger of imminent judgment. [Ed. Note: My daily Bible-reading schedule has me reading Amos this weekend. I’m also reading a sci-fi novel titled Dark Is the Sun. Signs from above?!]

In response, let me first point out that the prophecy itself in Amos chapter 8 specifically references Israel:

“The end has come for my people Israel. I will spare them no longer.” – Amos 8:2

Those I heard expounding on this supposed prophecy of Doom for America tried to get around this obvious reference to Israel by arguing that the United States of America is really the Lost Ten Tribes of Israel. They make some elaborate biblical connections in an attempt to prove this assertion. And while I’m not going to try to get into this exhaustively, I will say that the Lost Ten Tribes is an extra-biblical concept. The ten Northern tribes of Israel did not vanish entirely after they were taken into captivity by Assyria; they ended up being scattered throughout the Middle East, Asia Minor, and Eastern Europe. The Jews of Jesus’s time knew exactly where they were:

“Where does this man intend to go where we will not find him? He is not intending to go to the Dispersion among the Greeks, and teach the Greeks, is he?” – John 7:35

Also see Acts 2:5-11.

Also of alleged significance in the teaching I heard was that Amos chapter 8 refers to the new moon at the time the sun goes dark, and it will also be new moon when our solar eclipse happens in a few more days. But there is nothing surprising or significant about this, given that total solar eclipses ONLY happen when the moon is new. The two events go together by necessity.

Yes, it’s true that God uses celestial bodies as signs and for seasons, but not every such event carries special significance. Lunar and solar eclipses occur in predictable cycles. Even some ancient civilizations worked out the math for predicting them. Furthermore, there is no particular significance in eclipses that happen near Jewish holidays, given that the Jewish calendar is lunar based.

It’s true that there are several Bible passages that state that the sun and the moon will both go dark before the Lord returns, but it is also clear from those passages that those events are particular events that will happen in conjunction with other events that are spelled out for us in some detail. The purpose of those details is because the God who created these objects and set these cycles into motion didn’t want us to go out of our minds with dread every time they happen, as many people did for thousands of years in the past, especially in civilizations where they hadn’t worked out the ability to predict these events.

1999 solar eclipse

Some are also pointing to various numerical relationships that seem to occur and repeat with relationship to the eclipse and various upcoming days this fall. But I would remind you again here that eclipses can be predicted because they happen in accordance with laws that are very precise and mathematically based. Math is basically the language of the creation, so it should be no great surprise to us that we find events like this happening with a certain regularity. Our calendars are solar and lunar based, after all.

I agree that trouble seems to be looming on the horizon for this country and could break upon it at any time, given a number of factors; however, where Bible prophecy is concerned, we have to be vigilant that we not go beyond what the text lays out for us in relation to signs that will accompany future events. Bible teachers in certain circles have fallen into the unfortunate habit of spiritualizing everything in what seems like an almost desperate attempt to be continuously relevant to the headlines. The result has been an endless stream of predictions that have gone nowhere and have done nothing but embarrass the Church of Jesus Christ. Let’s avoid that tendency and save ourselves a lot of grief by sticking close to what the word says.

Well said!

Now, for those planning to view the eclipse (using the appropriate method/equipment, of course), have fun and enjoy God’s amazing design in nature!

Also, for a little more info and good advice, here is an article about the eclipse from my go-to source on this sort of thing, Reasons to Believe: “The Great 2017 Eclipse”. (Astrophysicist Dr. Jeff Zweerink is the author.)

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Three Questions on Creation, Angels, and Satan’s Fall

The other day, someone shared an interesting post in a Facebook group that I belong to. It posed some questions from someone named “Dr. Sherlin”, who I am unfamiliar with, but no one in our group commented on it. Sort of surprising, since the subject matter was pretty much on topic for the group. Well, I copied down the original post and decided to attempt a response in a blogpost, so… ta-daa! It has been very slightly edited and reformatted with my answers following each question.

Sherlin begins with an unfortunate observation:

“I see in many places very rough conversations among very devout and godly people over the issues of creation and the age of the earth. For both sides of those in this conversation I want to ask you three questions that both sides must wrestle with and seek to answer with reasonable answers rooted in the various texts of Scripture. Would love your thoughts.

SPECIFIC REVELATION ON AGE OF THE EARTH
1. If the age of the earth is essential or a fundamental doctrine (defined as on the same level as affirming the deity and humanity of Christ or the truth of salvation in Christ alone) then why does Scripture itself not give us the specific age of the earth? All of the doctrines fundamental to the core faith are specifically stated in a direct way. Why would God not have specifically stated how old the earth is if he meant for us to know that?”

Fair question; great one, in fact. I suppose one might appeal to Proverbs 25:2 (“It is the glory of God to conceal things, but the glory of kings is to search things out.” (ESV)) Of course, it isn’t just kings that enjoy (or get accolades for) investigating things. But, as an Old Earth Creationist, I don’t believe that the age of the earth is an essential/fundamental doctrine, so I don’t have a problem with this particular detail being unaddressed in Scripture. I’d rank the whole topic of the specifics of Creation (as distinct from the historic Doctrine of Creation) as of tertiary importance at best.

“LITERAL HERMENEUTIC ON WHAT WAS CREATED
2. In Genesis 1 & 2 we have very detailed and specific statements as to what God created. He created “light,” “the expanse of the heavens,” “dry land,” “vegetation, plants, & seed,” “lights in the heavens” which included “two great lights” along with “the stars,” “creatures” of the water, “birds,” “livestock & creeping things and beasts of the earth,” and then in the capstone the creation of male and female, “man in our image.” In all of that God never listed anything about angels. Why did he not if these were part of this creation period? If we use a literal hermeneutic and take this text as is with nothing else added to it where would it teach that God created angels or the sons of God, a common OT term for angels, in these six days?”

I would preface my answer by pointing out that a) different Hebrew words are used in these chapters that are sometimes translated “create”, but they don’t always refer to de novo creation; and, b) there is at least one place (Day 4) in which the verb form refers not to action being taken right then but to something already completed in the past (i.e., prior to Day 4). Now, re the angels…

Taking Gen. 1 & 2 in isolation as stipulated, there is indeed nothing that teaches when the angels/sons of God were created. They aren’t mentioned. The Genesis account may have been intentionally limited to the physical creation, thus the creatures in the “heavenly realms” would be off-topic, so to speak. Depending on how one reads the first few verses, many recognize that if Day 1 begins in 1:3, there may have been some time between the initial creation and the start of Day 1. So, creation of the angels may have occurred during this earlier period.

Another thing to consider is that many scholars believe the phrase “the heavens and the earth” from 1:1 to be a Hebrew merism used to refer to all matter, energy, space, and time. Thus, if the angels were not created during the 6-day period OR time preceding it, it is possible that they were created outside this larger creation period but within a separate time dimension. (Though, of course, we know that they are able to act within our time dimension.)

St. Michael Expelling Lucifer and the Rebel Angels, by Peter Paul Rubens

“THE TIME OF SATAN’S FALL
3. We discover that Adam and Eve in the Garden meet Satan, who is already seeking to turn them away from God. He displays his evil character in the Genesis 1-3. Where would you place the fall of Satan if he is already evil in the first scene of history? Certainly we know he was created by God (see Ezek 28 & Isa. 14) and as such he could not have been evil from the beginning. So for him to fall into sin and then appear in the Genesis account leads us to ask when did this happen?”

Technically, Satan (aka “the serpent”) only appears in chapter 3. Despite inferences made by some Gap Theorists, he does not appear before that.

In Eph. 2:2, Paul refers to Satan by one of his titles, “prince of the power of the air” (ESV). This “air” may refer to the Earth’s atmosphere either literally or metaphorically. Of course, his God-given authority allows him to affect much more than the air, nor is he limited to hovering over the Earth. Regardless, Satan’s rebellion may have occurred after Earth’s atmosphere formed (Day 2?); on the other hand, he may have rebelled long before that (see answer to #2 above) and only received the “title” much later. There is really not enough information to do anything more than speculate. Since there is nothing in Scripture to narrow down the time of Satan’s rebellion, we can only say it was sometime in the ages preceding the events in Gen. 3, which I would date to roughly 100,000 years ago, give or take a few thousand years.

There ya go! If you’d like, feel free to chime in below. I’m particularly curious how a Young Earth Creationist might respond to Sherlin. Just keep it respectful and on-topic….

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