Nip ‘Em in the Bud

What a silly sounding phrase. What does it mean?

Wikidictionary gives:

  1. To remove a bud from a plant to prevent flower and fruit from forming.
  2. (idiomatic) To stop something at an early stage. says the idiom originated in 1607 and gives a definition:

Put a stop to something while it is still in its early development.

I think Wikidictionary definition one has been happening to my lilac bush for the past few years. But, let’s nip this silliness in the bud. What real importance does this idiomatic phrase hold for us?

It’s the usual approach used to discredit and cast doubt on the bible’s veracity. Why bother reading the Gospel of John when you can’t trust the very first book, Genesis, or so goes the argument. Really, the argument centers on the first two chapters of that first book. The bud, so to speak.

Wikipedia expounds on the controversy over the first two chapters of Genesis in their entry: Genesis creation narrative. The issues raised are: use of names of God, the uniqueness and mutability of man’s soul, and an issue with naming the animals and their creation. These discrepancies are attributed to different authorship and traditions. Also, the Wikipedia entry authors introduce the concept of borrowed mythology altered to represent monotheism.

Our go to reference, John Calvin’s Commentary on Genesis, discusses most of these points.

As to names of God, Calvin says:

Genesis, Chap. 2, Vs. 4. These are the generations… Some of the Hebrews think that the essential name of God is here at length expressed by Moses, because his majesty shines forth more clearly in the completed world.

To this, the Commentary translator, John King, adds:

A new section of the history of Moses commences at this point; and, from the repetition which occurs of some facts — such as the creation of man — which had been recorded in the preceding chapter, as well as from certain peculiarities of phraseology, many learned men have inferred, that the early portion of the Mosaic history is older than the time of Moses, and that he, under the infallible direction of the Spirit of God, collected and arranged the several fragments of primeval annals in one consistent narrative.

One chief argument on which such a conclusion rests is, that from the commencement of the first chapter to the end of the third verse of the second chapter, God is spoken of only under the name of Elohim [Spirit of God]; from the fourth verse of the second to the end of the third chapter, he is uniformly styled Jehovah Elohim [Self existent one, Spirit of God]; and in the fourth and fifth chapters, the name of Elohim or of Jehovah stands alone.

This, it is argued, could scarcely have occurred without some cause; and the inference has been drawn, that different records had different forms of expression, which Moses did not alter, unless truth required him to do so.

Against this view, however, [another commentator] argues with considerable force, in his Dissertation “on the Names of God in the Pentateuch;”… that these names are intended to present the Divine character under different aspects to our view.

As to uniqueness of man, Calvin says:

Chap. 1, Vs. 26, Let us make man…In our image… Therefore by this word the perfection of our whole nature is designated, as it appeared when Adam was endued with a right judgment, had affections in harmony with reason, had all his senses sound and well-regulated, and truly excelled in everything good.

Thus the chief seat of the Divine image was in his mind and heart, where it was eminent: yet was there no part of him in which some scintillations of it did not shine forth. …In the mind perfect intelligence flourished and reigned, uprightness attended as its companion, and all the senses were prepared and molded for due obedience to reason; and in the body there was a suitable correspondence with this internal order.

As to uniqueness of man’s soul as opposed to those of the animals, Calvin says:

Chap. 2, Vs. 7, And the Lord God formed man… Nevertheless, he, at the same time, designed to distinguish man by some mark of excellence from brute animals: for these arose out of the earth in a moment; but the peculiar dignity of man is shown in this, that he was gradually formed. For why did not God command him immediately to spring alive out of the earth, unless that, by a special privilege, he might outshine all the creatures which the earth produced?

And breathed into his nostrils… Three gradations, indeed, are to be noted in the creation of man; that his dead body was formed out of the dust of the earth; that it was endued with a soul, whence it should receive vital motion; and that on this soul God engraved his own image, to which immortality is annexed.

Man became a living soul I take nepesh for the very essence of the soul: but the epithet living suits only the present place, and does not embrace generally the powers of the soul. For Moses intended nothing more than to explain the animating of the clayey figure, whereby it came to pass that man began to live…

As to changeability of man’s condition, Calvin says:

Chap. 1, Vs. 26, Let us make man…In our image… But now, although some obscure lineaments of that image are found remaining in us; yet are they so vitiated and maimed, that they may truly be said to be destroyed. For besides the deformity which everywhere appears unsightly, this evil also is added, that no part is free from the infection of sin.

Chap. 3, Vs. 6, And gave also unto her husband with her… Pride was the beginning of all evils, and that by pride the human race was ruined. Yet a fuller definition of the sin may be drawn from the kind of temptation which Moses describes. For first the woman is led away from the word of God by the wiles of Satan, through unbelief.  Wherefore, the commencement of the ruin by which the human race was overthrown was a defection from the command of God.

…At length, having despised the command of God, they not only indulge their own lust, but enslave themselves to the devil. If anyone prefers a shorter explanation, we may say unbelief has opened the door to ambition, but ambition has proved the parent of rebellion, to the end that men, having cast aside the fear of God, might shake off his yoke.

Chap. 3, Vs. 7, And the eyes of them both were opened… God created man flexible; and not only permitted, but willed that he should be tempted. …Therefore, whatever sin and fault there is in the fall of our first parents remains with themselves; but there is sufficient reason why the eternal counsel of God preceded it, though that reason is concealed from us.

As to the creation act, Calvin says:

Chap. 1, Vs. 3, And God said… Moses now, for the first time, introduces God in the act of speaking, as if he had created the mass of heaven and earth without the Word. Yet John testifies that ‘without him nothing was made of the things which were made,’ (John 1:3). And it is certain that the world had been begun by the same efficacy of the Word by which it was completed. God, however, did not put forth his Word until he proceeded to originate light; because in the act of distinguishing, his wisdom begins to be conspicuous.

Chap. 1, Vs. 5, The first day… Here the error of those is manifestly refuted, who maintain that the world was made in a moment. For it is too violent a cavil to contend that Moses distributes the work which God perfected at once into six days, for the mere purpose of conveying instruction.

Let us rather conclude that God himself took the space of six days, for the purpose of accommodating his works to the capacity of men. We slightingly pass over the infinite glory of God, which here shines forth; whence arises this but from our excessive dullness in considering his greatness? In the meantime, the vanity of our minds carries us away elsewhere.

For the correction of this fault, God applied the most suitable remedy when he distributed the creation of the world into successive portions that he might fix our attention, and compel us, as if he had laid his hand upon us, to pause and to reflect.

As to the first and second accounts of creation, he says:

Chap. 2, Vs. 4, These are the generations… The design of Moses was deeply to impress upon our minds the origin of the heaven and the earth, which he designates by the word generation… Wherefore, it is not a superfluous repetition which inculcates the necessary fact that the world existed only from the time when it was created since such knowledge directs us to its Architect and Author.

Chap. 2, Vs. 7, And the Lord God formed man… He now explains what he had before omitted in the creation of man that his body was taken out of the earth. He had said that he was formed after the image of God…

As to other creation accounts, he says:

Chap. 1, Vs. 1, In the beginning…  [Moses] moreover teaches by the word “created,” that what before did not exist was now made; for he has not used the term yatsar, which signifies to frame or forms but bara which signifies to create. Therefore his meaning is that the world was made out of nothing.

Hence the folly of those is refuted who imagine that unformed matter existed from eternity; and who gather nothing else from the narration of Moses than that the world was furnished with new ornaments, and received a form of which it was before destitute.

This indeed was formerly a common fable among heathens, who had received only an obscure report of the creation, and who, according to custom, adulterated the truth of God with strange figments; but for Christian men to labor …in maintaining this gross error is absurd and intolerable. Let this, then be maintained in the first place, that the world is not eternal but was created by God.

On an interesting point to note about God’s all–encompassing sovereignty, Calvin expounds:

Chap. 1, Vs. 3, Let there be light… It was proper that the light, by means of which the world was to be adorned with such excellent beauty, should be first created; …It did not, however, happen from inconsideration or by accident, that the light preceded the [creation of] sun and the moon.

To nothing are we more prone than to tie down the power of God to those instruments the agency of which he employs. The sun and moon supply us with light: And, according to our notions we so include this power to give light in them, that if they were taken away from the world, it would seem impossible for any light to remain.

Therefore the Lord, by the very order of the creation, bears witness that he holds in his hand the light, which he is able to impart to us without the sun and moon.

Roughly three hundred forty years later, B. B. Warfield, Princeton Theological Seminary’s last Calvinist Presbyterian Principal (equivalent to President), wrote the following in his 1915 article Calvin’s Doctrine of Creation.

“It should scarcely be passed without remark that Calvin’s doctrine of creation is, if we have understood it aright, for all except the souls of men, an evolutionary one. The ‘indigested mass,’ including the ‘promise and potency’ of all that was yet to be, was called into being by the simple fiat of God. But all that has come into being since — except the souls of men alone — has arisen as a modification of this original world-stuff by means of the interaction of its intrinsic forces. Not these forces apart from God, of course…”

Warfield’s incorrect attempt to reconcile Calvin’s Commentary with Darwin’s evolution theory through old earth creationism sounds very much like this dawn of man scene from 2001 space odyssey.

Dawn of Man Scene from 2001 Space Odyssey

You can’t have it both ways. As was said above, God is free to create in ways, timing, and manner as He sees fit ex-nihilo. He has graciously accommodated us in how He structured creation. Dorothy L. Sayers put forward an idea for us to understand the creation of man in the context of the fossil record as a unique act of creation with a perfect backstory (see Every Good Story – Thysdor Ya’Rosel).

If you attack the trustworthiness of the very first chapters, then have you not undermined the foundations and left entry for utter destruction of the rest? This can be seen in the split from Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) after Warfield’s tenure by Westminster Theological Seminary (WTS) under Machen in 1929. PTS abandoned the veracity of God’s word. WTS was formed to uphold it. The attack was successful then and it will be so again if we don’t hold on to the truth of the word of God.

Evolutionist propagandists are not concerned with the proper order of sediments, transitionary evidence, or aeons. Their concern is not for truth. Their concern is like those of their ancient compatriots, to throw off the yoke of the Lord who made them. For what purpose but that they may go their own way. And so they shall. Will you, however, follow them?

Expulsion from the Garden of Eden, by Thomas Cole (

Expulsion from the Garden of Eden, 1828, by Thomas Cole (1801–1848), public domain – US

Whose Side is He On?

We use the phrase: “With God on Our Side,” to justify our deadly decisions as morally right, especially when they’re not. Bob Dylan sings a song recounting how this phrase is used ignominiously in history.

Dylan Sings “With God On Our Side”

Before we go any further, let’s be clear, God gives the sword to rulers so that they act as His servant avenging wrong and carrying out His wrath. He will judge whether they have done this rightly. It is apparent that no government has yet lasted long.

In this context, CNN recently quoted a Ukrainian Priest: “We know how to fight a partisan (guerrilla) war. We know these forests and swamps like the back of our hand and it will be very hard to fight us. Truth will win. Truth is where God is and God is on our side.”

Nearer to home but longer ago, Lincoln said: “Sir, my concern is not whether God is on our side; my greatest concern is to be on God’s side, for God is always right.” In his second inaugural, Lincoln said in part:

…Both [i.e., North and South] read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and each invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men should dare to ask a just God’s assistance in wringing their bread from the sweat of other men’s faces; but let us judge not that we be not judged. The prayers of both could not be answered; that of neither has been answered fully. The Almighty has His own purposes. “Woe unto the world because of offences! for it must needs be that offences come; but woe to that man by whom the offence cometh!”

If we shall suppose that American Slavery is one of those offences which, in the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having continued through His appointed time, He now wills to remove, and that He gives to both North and South, this terrible war, as the woe due to those by whom the offence came, shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers in a Living God always ascribe to Him? Fondly do we hope — fervently do we pray — that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away.

Yet, if God wills that it continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond–man’s two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said “the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether”

Lincoln on east portico of U.S. Capitol

The second inaugural address of Abraham Lincoln, given on 4 March 1865 on the east portico of the U.S. Capitol, photographed by Alexander Gardner (1821 – 1882), Image created between 1910 and 1920, from photograph taken in 1865, in the public domain in the US.

But where does this sentiment we write about come from and in what context was it said? For the answer, we look to the book of psalms:

The Lord is on my side; I will not fear.
What can man do to me?

The Lord is on my side as my helper;
I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.

It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in man.

It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to trust in princes.

Clearly, this is not a justification for princes to use. But, rather, it is an admission of their futility as protection and an admonition for fealty to the Lord of all.

But, is He really on one nation’s side versus that of another? In the following passage, He declares to us No (or Neither) in no uncertain terms. And this took place just prior to a key battle He Himself would use in conquering territory for Israel.

When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the LORD. Now I have come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped and said to him, “What does my lord say to his servant?” And the commander of the LORD’s army said to Joshua, “Take off your sandals from your feet, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.

So, whether or not the Lord is on our side, nationally, is not a significant question with which to be occupied. The answer is: “Neither.” The most important question we must ask ourselves is: whose side am I on? We choose to serve the Lord.

I Wonder What Else Is Not So?

A new book just came out debunking the link between heart disease and saturated fats. Here’s a quote from the author’s Wall Street Journal Saturday essay:

The fact is, there has never been solid evidence for the idea that these fats cause disease. We only believe this to be the case because nutrition policy has been derailed over the past half-century by a mixture of personal ambition, bad science, politics and bias.

Isn’t that the problem, we jockey for money, power, and fame and look what happens: kale. Quoting from the essay again:

This shift [from animal fat to vegetable oils] seemed like a good idea at the time, but it brought many potential health problems in its wake. In those early clinical trials, people on diets high in vegetable oil were found to suffer higher rates not only of cancer but also of gallstones. And, strikingly, they were more likely to die from violent accidents and suicides.

Who knew that Butter, Meat and Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet.

What about brute Neandertals? Certainly we got that right. Here’s a recent admission from Scientific American:

Ironically, the original La Chapelle-aux-Saints discovery in the early 20th century gave rise to the Neandertals’ unfortunate reputation as dumb brutes. Shortly after the find, French paleontologist Marcellin Boule reconstructed the skeleton to show a stooped, slouching individual with bent knees, a short neck and a low, sloping skull. Thus, the image of the oafish caveman was born. Scientists later determined that the skeleton was in fact that of an aged male who suffered from severe arthritis.

Quoting from the abstract of a PLOS ONE article titled: Neandertal Demise: An Archaeological Analysis of the Modern Human Superiority Complex:

Modern humans are usually seen as superior in a wide range of domains, including weaponry and subsistence strategies, which would have led to the demise of Neandertals. This systematic review of the archaeological records of Neandertals and their modern human contemporaries finds no support for such interpretations, as the Neandertal archaeological record is not different enough to explain the demise in terms of inferiority in archaeologically visible domains.

The paper goes on to suggest interbreeding and assimilation may be responsible for the disappearance of specific Neandertal morphology from the fossil record.

Certainly there can’t be fountains of the deep as described in Genesis and made popular by the recent film Noah? Well, yeah.

All these discrepancies in our science point toward a specific worldview. This worldview encompasses what to think (i.e., modern man is the pinnacle of evolution) and how to think (i.e., power and money rule the prevailing culture, deviate from it at your peril). Holding this worldview ultimately results in downright fraudulence in the quest to dominate all that is thought and believed.

One such fraud recently perpetrated concerned delegitimizing a religion that originated in the Middle East. No one but the skeptical would take the attack seriously. Now–a–days, everyone expects scoffers to scoff, but how many others were hindered or shaken from a true understanding?

A recent WSJ article, How the ‘Jesus’ Wife’ Hoax Fell Apart, comments on the fraud and its resolution.

“Two factors immediately indicated that this was a forgery,” Mr. Askeland tells me. “First, the fragment shared the same line breaks as the 1924 publication. Second, the fragment contained a peculiar dialect of Coptic called Lycopolitan, which fell out of use during or before the sixth century.” Ms. King [the original researcher involved in the September 2012 announcement] had done two radiometric tests, he noted, and “concluded that the papyrus plants used for this fragment had been harvested in the seventh to ninth centuries.” In other words, the fragment that came from the same material as the “Jesus’ wife” fragment was written in a dialect that didn’t exist when the papyrus it appears on was made.

The article author continues:

It is perhaps understandable that Ms. King would have been taken in when an anonymous owner presented her with some papyrus fragments for research. What is harder to understand was the rush by the media and others to embrace the idea that Jesus had a wife and that Christian beliefs have been mistaken for centuries.

Papyrus fragment

Gospel of Jesus’ Wife by Unknown (Public Domain-US)

I have to ask. Why go to so much trouble? Heart disease, kindred Neandertals, deep fountains, and forged papyri, oh my. If the interpretation of facts and worldviews supported by them are unimportant, then leave it alone and walk away. But they are important. It’s life or death and everyone knows it.

Consider the following. What would happen if we would de-politicize and de-conflict science? Maybe funding wouldn’t be so hard to come by. Maybe folks wouldn’t be so pressured to tow the party line (at any cost). Maybe we’d see some viewpoints, other than our own, are not as crazy as they sound and are just as scientific. Maybe they’d be even more scientific. Just maybe.

You Thought I Was Like You

This IS a new blog post. We rehearse again the same opening statement from an Aeon article on the possibility and ethics of a human imposed artificial hell as we did in a previous post:

Even in my most religious moments, I have never been able to take the idea of hell seriously. Prevailing Christian theology asks us to believe that an all-powerful, all-knowing being would do what no human parent could ever do: create tens of billions of flawed and fragile creatures, pluck out a few favourites to shower in transcendent love, and send the rest to an eternity of unrelenting torment.

However, this time we explore a different facet of the Aeon article argument. Is God like us doing what no human parent would? Although we could spend time expounding on human parenting, both good and bad, I think all of us know those stories either through the media or through our experience. In our age, it’s God’s declarations we’ve forgotten.
The obvious place to start is Psalm 50:21:

These things you have done, and I have been silent; you thought that I was one like yourself. But now I rebuke you and lay the charge before you.

The psalmist describes God calling His people to hear Him speak. He rebukes His faithful, not for being delinquent in ritual sacrifice of bulls and goats which are His anyway, but for not offering sacrifices of thanksgiving, performing their vows to the Most High, and calling upon Him in the day of trouble. And He promises in response:

“I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me.”

To the wicked He says that they have no right to recite His statutes or covenant because they hate discipline and reject His words. He goes on to say that they are pleased with thieves, keep company with adulterers, speak evil and deceit, and condemn and slander even their own kin.

These are the charges over which He kept silent. But not for the reason they might have thought, that He didn’t notice or care, but for them to have time to repent.

Finally, He calls those thus condemned to repentance, even warning them of the penalty if they do not:

“Mark this, then, you who forget God, lest I tear you apart, and there be none to deliver! The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies Me; to one who orders his way rightly I will show the salvation of God!”

Reiterating this theme, He says through His prophet, Isaiah:

Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the LORD, that He may have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.

For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.

He calls yet again, through His prophet Ezekiel:

“I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live.”

And through His prophet Paul, He states that He: desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.

This God gave His own Son as a sacrifice for us, His enemies, that whoever believes in Him should not die but live, eternally. What human parent ever did that?

Ecce homo! (Behold the man!), by Antonio Ciseri, 1871

Pontius Pilate presenting a scourged Christ to the people Ecce homo! (Behold the man!), by Antonio Ciseri, 1871, in the public domain.

Earn Your Place In Heaven?

Recently, two prominent personalities implied one could earn one’s way to heaven. I’ll let them say it in their own words. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is quoted as saying:

“I am telling you if there is a God, when I get to Heaven I’m not stopping to be interviewed,” he told the New York Times, citing his work on gun control, obesity, and anti-smoking laws. “I am heading straight in. I have earned my place in Heaven. It’s not even close.”

On April 15, 2014, in a Back of Book Segment: Life After Death with guest Pastor Robert Jeffers, Bill O’Reilly opined:

“I’ve always felt there is a battle between good and evil and if there is a heaven you have to earn your way in through your actions on Earth.”

Pastor Jeffers corrected the statement by quoting from the book of James.

And, of course, for those who are old enough to remember or are well–schooled in the classics, there’s Led Zeppelin’s Stairway to Heaven:

There’s a lady who’s sure all that glitters is gold And she’s buying a stairway to heaven.

These things they say make me wonder…

But then I remember that He saved us, not because of good works we have done, but according to His own mercy.

I recall that entrance to heaven depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.

Finally, I know that we were ransomed from our futile ways, not with perishable silver or gold, but with Christ’s precious blood.

And, lest we think these assurances are merely cherry picked scriptures, He states, through His prophet, in a single passage excerpted here:

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins…

But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

The dead are incapable of earning anything. Only by His mercy does He raise us to life that we might repent of our pride and circumspectly follow Him. And only His way leads to life eternal.

Heaven’s Peak by Greg Willis

Heaven’s Peak by Greg Willis (Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic)