Following the Disciple's Trail

Following the Disciple's Trail

Monday, March 25, 2013

Defending Genesis

The Question of Authorship and Dates of Writing

It has been traditionally believed that the first five Books of the Bible are the Torah (or Pentateuch) of the Jewish Faith which were written by Moses. The belief is that Moses was the Author of the Book of Genesis, as well as all of the Books of the Law, that was at least, until the Enlightenment period (from approximately 1650-1800). This period saw a number of criticism about Biblical text, as to whether or not they were factual accounts and could be taken as truth. One of the criticism's was that the Book of Genesis was not written by Moses, but was the creation of a number of scribes the critics have identified as J=Jahwist, E=Elohist, D=Deuteronomistic, History, P=Priestly Code. 

Here is the problem with J.E.D.P. Theory.

There has never been any kind of evidence given or provided to prove the theory true. The critics main argument is based on literary analysis, that the style of writing does not match with the other Books of the Pentateuch, but no one can say without a doubt that Moses did not write the book of Genesis or the entire Pentateuch. More traditional scribes believe Moses likely used records handed down from previous Patriarchs, such as Abraham and others. This would account for some of the difference in the writing style and scholarship of the Book of Genesis in comparison to other books of the Pentateuch. Again, no one has been able to dispute, without a doubt, that Moses was not the author of Genesis. Until proof can be provided to say otherwise, the traditionally held view of Moses authorship stands.

Another argument of the Book of Genesis is that it has been rewritten numerous times, losing its original textual structure and meaning. With the finding of the Dead Sea Scrolls, we now only have to look to them to prove this argument completely invalid. When the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered, we found they were hundreds of years older than any text we had available to us at the time of their discovery. When the books of the Bible found in those clay jars were laid side by side with the scripture we had on hand, they read word for word, almost identical except for a few grammatical errors. This attests to the practice of the Jewish scribes who were meticulous in their work in copying manuscripts throughout the centuries. They prove that the Genesis of antiquity, we believe to be written by Moses, is the Genesis we have today.

Not far behind the
criticism of the authorship of Genesis by Moses is the argument that earlier followers of God, such as Abraham, could not have left written records for Moses because they did not the ability to read or write. They say writing had not been invented at the time of Abraham. What was believed, until very recently, is that writing was not developed by ancient man until the Sumerians in Mesopotamia around 3100 BC.

A newer discovery, however, makes this old news, and the critics haven't keep track of recent developments and discoveries in Archeology. That, or else they knowingly ignore the facts because they don't want to believe the Bible could be true...or both.

The first known examples of writing may have been unearthed in Pakistan in 1999. Fragments of pottery were found with markings that could be a much older language than that of the Sumerians. The symbols and writing discovered dated back 5500 years, or 400 to 500 years, before the Sumerians. It should be noted that a year before the finding in Pakistan, another discovery was made in Egypt, which was shown to be from around the same time period, or just slightly before the time of the Sumerian writings, by about 200 years.

I bring this to light because of the creation and flood story that the Sumerians wrote about. Many critics of the Bible have tried say the writers of Biblical scripture copied, and took for their own records and beliefs, the stories of the Sumerians. They say the Sumerian writings prove the book of Genesis is a copied story. But now, with the writings found in Pakistan and Egypt, we know that earlier man did have systems of writing and it is very possible that the Sumerians copied their story from another source and not the other way around. Perhaps the Sumerians got their story from Biblical sources. With these new discoveries, that isn't a far fetched theory.

Even if those findings just mentioned do not change the mind of those who believe the Sumerian theory, even older writings have been discovered called the Tartaria Tablets. These tablets were found in Romania and may be up to 1,000 years older than the Sumerian and Egyptian writings. To make it even more impressive, they were found in a location of the world where it was believed writing did not come into existence until around 1,000 B.C.

Accurately knowing when ancient man had the ability to read or write, or even pass on written history, is not really possible. So much of what was known in the ancient world has been lost through the centuries. This is because much of the materials used for writing at that time was made on natural substances that may not have survived to present day to be found, such as wood, leaves, etc. The Tartaria Tablets were found inscribed on stone, and the findings in Pakistan were in pottery. This may be the only reason those writings now survive.

No matter what they were written on, these findings clearly shows the Sumerians were not the first to read or write or to even have a written record. The Biblical Patriarchs could have kept written records of their history, and these discoveries in Pakistan, Egypt and Romania prove it. Until proven otherwise, I choose to believe Moses wrote Genesis and may have possibly used older manuscripts himself, from men such as Abraham, to write the record of the beginning of time, that was given to them from the God of Heaven Himself.

BBC News "Earliest Writing Found"

Tataria Tablets, The Possibility of Neolithic Writing

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Calvinsim Vs. Wesleyanism

While I was studying Scriptural Counseling in Colorado, we had a class on Calvinism vs. Wesleyanism. The differences are not complete polar opposites on some points, but other points have some stark contrast between them.

Calvinism uses the Acronym TULIP to describe their doctrine.

Total Depravity (also known as Total Inability and Original Sin) -  Human beings are so affected by the negative consequences of original sin that they are incapable of being righteous, and are always and unchangeable sinful; human freedom is totally enslaved by sin so we can only choose evil.

Unconditional Election - Since human beings cannot choose for themselves, God by His eternal decree has chosen or elected some to be counted as righteous, without any conditions being placed on that election.

Limited Atonement (also known as Particular Atonement) -  The effects of the Atonement, by which God forgave sinful humanity, are limited only to those whom He has chosen.

Irresistible Grace - The grace that God extends to human beings to effect their election cannot be refused, since it has been decreed by God.

Perseverance of the Saints (also known as Once Saved Always Saved) - Since God has decreed the elect, and they cannot resist grace, they are unconditionally and eternally secure in that election.

What troubled me about the doctrine of Calvinism is that many take this doctrine to mean that once saved, always saved allows a person to become a Christian and then continue to live life as they choose with no thought of repercussion spiritually. While Calvinist would tell you that is not the case, and there are spiritual consequences to our actions, they will still tell you that if you are saved, you will not be turned away from Heaven in the end because of your eternal salvation.

The most troubling part, for me, was that Calvinist had found a 5 point acronym to use to explain their doctrine clearly, while I felt that Wesleyan doctrine was left without a clear and easily understood acronym of their own...So I created one.

As far as I know, I am the only one to have made this acronym applicable to Wesleyan Doctrine. I do not say that as some boastful statement, but just a statement of fact. I have not seen this used in any number of articles I have read pointing out the differences in the two theologies. Not only is the acronym I developed a good way to remember the 5 fundamental points of Wesleyanism, but it also runs parallel with Calvinism's 5 points as well.

I offer to you the Wesleyan PEARL.

Prevenient Grace (Depraved with Freewill) - Human beings are sinful and without God, incapable (deprived) on their own of being righteous; however, they are not irredeemably sinful and can be transformed by God’s grace; God's prevenient grace restores to humanity the freedom of will.

Election By Freewill - God has chosen that all humanity be righteous by His grace, yet has called us to respond to that grace by exercising our God-restored human freedom as a condition of fulfilling election.

Atonement For All - The effects of the Atonement are freely available to all those whom He has chosen, which includes all humanity, "whosoever will."

Resistible Grace - God’s grace is free and offered without merit; however, human beings have been granted freedom by God and can refuse His grace.

Limited Security - There is security in God’s grace that allows assurance of salvation, but that security is in relation to continued faithfulness; we can still defiantly reject God.

I pray that this will help people who are in study of these two theologies understand the foundational points better, not for my own gain or pride, but towards the glory of God the Father.