The Image of God – what does it mean?

26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” (Genesis 1:26-28, ESV)

What does it mean for mankind to be made “in the image of God”? I’ve heard lots of ideas about this, and probably the one I thought was best was that it relates to dominion. That relied on the principle that if you don’t know what a verse means, look at the verses around it. Dominion is mentioned around the “image” stuff above, so maybe that’s it.

I just listened to a sermon by Paul Blackham here (listen from 37’38), which bowled me over (as is not uncommon from him). In this sermon, he presented his view of what the image of God means. I hadn’t heard it before but I think he might just be on to something. He does a great job, but in case you can’t be bothered to listen, here’s my attempted summary of the position:

Instead of only looking at what’s around the verses for context, there is a clue actually within verse 27:

27 So God created man in his own image,
in the image of God he created him;
male and female he created them.

Could it be that the creation of them as ‘male and female’ was the way in which they were created in God’s image?

“But God isn’t male and female!”, I hear you cry. Well yes, but there are some remarkable parallels between the creation of Adam and Eve and God’s divine nature, in particular of the Father and the Son. Let’s take a look at Genesis 2:

21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bones
and flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.”

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:21-24, ESV)

  • Eve is a human and was made from a human. She is “human from human”, like how the Son is “God from God” (Nicene Creed).
  • Eve was made out of exactly the stuff that Adam was made of, so one might say that Eve was of one substance with Adam, like how the Son is of one substance with the Father (Nicene Creed).
  • Eve came out of Adam, like how the Son is (eternally) begotten of the Father (Nicene Creed).
  • Adam and Eve are equally human, because they are of the same substance, like how the Father and the Son are equally God.
  • Although they are equally human, Adam and Eve have different roles, like how the Father and the Son have different roles.
  • Adam is the head of Eve, like how the Father is the head of the Son (1 Cor 11:3)
  • Eve is the glory of Adam (1 Cor 11:7, Proverbs 12:4), like how the Son is the glory of the Father (John 1:14, 8:54, 17:5, 17:22, 17:24)
  • Adam and Eve are “one flesh”, like the Son and the Father are “one” (John 10:30) (apparently the word for “one” in “one flesh” is the same word that says that God is “one” in the OT – a picture of his triune nature)

Cool eh! What do you reckon? That explanation of God’s “image” certainly seems to have more to say and to be more rooted in biblical truth than the other explanations, which all tend to be a bit woolly, in my view.

The sermon also has some amazing things to say about marriage – check it out! “A husband and wife may reveal the life of the eternal God”.

Bible (Gangnam) Style

A while ago I wrote a Bible parody of Gangnam Style and I thought I’d post the lyrics on here, as I haven’t done that yet.

First though, a brief summary of what I did. One day, while Gangnam Style was at its peak of general worldwide mentalness, I thought, “hmm, I wonder if anyone’s done a Christian Gangnam Style parody yet”. I looked on YouTube and sadly discovered that all attempts I’d found were pretty lame. I thought I’d found a niche for a rare burst of linguistic creativity, so I got to work.

I wrote the lyrics over just a few days (mostly when I should have been asleep or at random points during the day when something popped into my head). I went for four sections telling the whole of history:

  1. Creation and Fall
  2. Old Testament promises of Jesus and Jesus’ birth
  3. Jesus’ life, death and resurrection
  4. Jesus’ return and the new creation

After writing the lyrics, I set myself the additional challenge of finding a Bible reference for every single line, to make sure it was all legit and to improve my knowledge of key Bible passages.

I then wanted to put it online, and thus Anselm Hart was born.

So without further ado, here are the lyrics (with Bible references in brackets – I challenge you to look them all up!).

Bible Style (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
Bible style (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

The beginning of history starts with the creation (Genesis 1:1)
God created mankind to grow into a nation (Genesis 1:28)
He made the plants and animals and then made the man Adam (Genesis 1:11,24,26)
And he put him in a garden (Genesis 2:15)

It was awesome there (Genesis 1:31)
God made Eve as Adam’s wife (Genesis 2:22)
It was awesome there (Genesis 1:31)
They had no trouble and no strife (Genesis 1:28)
It was awesome there (Genesis 1:31)
To serve God was their life (Genesis 2:15,18)
It was awesome there (Genesis 1:31)
It was awesome there (Genesis 1:31)

But the serpent made them want to be like God (Genesis 3:5)
Sold them a lie (Genesis 3:4)
Then they ate fruit God had forbidden (Genesis 3:6)
The first sin changed everything (Genesis 3:14-19)
The whole world was cursed and they were going to die (Genesis 3:17-19)

We’re sinners Adam style (Romans 5:12)
Adam style (Romans 5:12)
Sinners Adam style (Romans 5:12)
Adam style (Romans 5:12)

Hey everybody (Romans 5:12)
Death is our penalty (Romans 6:23)

Though the sinners kept sinning, God had made a plan (Genesis 6:5,12:1)
He made a covenant with a man called Abraham (Genesis 12:2-3)
He offered peace to all through the promise of a seed (Genesis 12:3,7)
So that through him we can be freed (Galatians 3:29, Romans 6:22)

He’s the son and heir
Of God’s promise made to Eve (Genesis 3:15, Hebrews 2:14)
and he’s the son and heir
Of God’s promise made to Moses (Deuteronomy 18:15, John 1:45)
He’s the son and heir
Of God’s promise to Isaiah (Isaiah 7:14, Matthew 1:20-23)
He’s the son and heir
He’s the son and heir

Of God’s promise made to David (2 Samuel 7:12-13, Luke 1:30-33)
Israel’s king (good with a sling) (2 Samuel 5:3, 1 Samuel 17:49)
They were waiting for a saviour – all of them, yes all of them (Matthew 13:17)
and he came and he was born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2, Luke 2:4-6)

Baby Jesus style (Luke 2:7)
Jesus style (Luke 1:31)
Baby Jesus style (Luke 2:7)
Jesus style (Luke 1:31)

Hey son of Mary (Luke 1:30-31)
God born as a baby (Matthew 1:20-23)

Jesus lived a perfect life, he never once did sin (1 Peter 2:22)
He healed the lame and cured the sick and many followed him (Matthew 4:24-25)
He preached a message of forgiveness and of love for all (Matthew 6:14,5:44)
But religious leaders couldn’t stand him (Matthew 12:14)

He was crucified (Matthew 27:35)
God himself hung on a cross (John 1:1, Hebrews 1:1-4)
He was crucified (Mark 15:24)
Paid our penalty for us (Isaiah 53:5, 1 Peter 2:24)
He was crucified (Luke 23:33)
Offered a free gift to the lost (Ephesians 2:4-9)
He was crucified (John 19:23)
He was crucified (Acts 2:23)

Though his dead body had been buried (Mark 15:45-46)
he wasn’t done – over death he’d won (1 Corinthians 54-57)
He rose victorious proving to us he’s the one – God’s promised son (John 20:24-31)
And he offers salvation to everyone (Matthew 11:28, Romans 10:13)

Who put their trust in him (John 3:16)
Salvation style (John 3:17)
Salvation style (Romans 1:16)
Salvation style (Acts 4:12)

Hey to my neighbour (Mark 12:31)
Trust in the saviour (Isaiah 12:2)

Jesus will return and in glory will be seen (Matthew 25:31)
We’ll all be raised and he will judge all evil there has been (Revelation 20:11-15)
But those who put their trust in him have had their slate wiped clean (John 3:16, Colossians 2:13-14)
And will join his new creation (Matthew 25:34)

It’s gonna be perfect there (Revelation 21:1-22:5)
All God’s people in his presence (Revelation 21:3)
Gonna be perfect there (Revelation 21:1-22:5)
There’ll be no more death or violence (Revelation 21:4)
Gonna be perfect there (Revelation 21:1-22:5)
All together for God’s glory (Ephesians 1:10,14)
Gonna be perfect there (Revelation 21:1-22:5)
Gonna be perfect there (Revelation 21:1-22:5)

And this new world will last forever (Revelation 22:5)
No way for us to mess it up (Revelation 22:1-3)
So we look forward, and we know that Jesus is king, we’ll reign with him (Revelation 3:21, 2 Timothy 2:12)
And we’ll get new hearts so we no longer sin (Ezekiel 36:26-27)

New creation style (Isaiah 65:17-25)
New creation style (Revelation 21:1-22:5)
New creation style (Isaiah 65:17-25)
New creation style (Revelation 21:1-22:5)

Hey new creation (Revelation 21:1-22:5)
God’s holy nation (1 Peter 2:9)

There you have it. I hope your view of the history of everything matches that one!

If you haven’t seen it yet, here is the original video I made for this (up to a non-embarrassing 255 views as of 19 August 2013!). I’m well aware of the fact that I’m not good at singing in this style! If anyone wants to do a better video with these lyrics, please contact me.

Lyrics are © 2013 to me and cannot be used without permission (but please ask if you’re thinking of doing something and you’ll find I’m nice).

The song is a parody of Gangnam Style, which can be seen here and is © YG Entertainment Inc.

A New look at the Old Testament

It’s been a while! Here are some ramblings of thoughts I’ve been having recently.

I once heard a well-educated Christian telling a new Christian that “you won’t understand the Old Testament until you understand the New Testament”. He was saying that the Old Testament has shadows of things and only with the light of the New Testament can we understand these shadows.

I don’t think I agree with this. In fact, if anything, I think a better statement would be “you won’t understand the New Testament until you understand the Old Testament”! I wouldn’t make the point that strongly, but to say that we need the New Testament to understand the Old Testament strikes me as rather odd.

First, for hundreds of years God’s people had the Old Testament but the New Testament hadn’t been written yet. Did these people have no idea what was going on? Did they have no anticipation of what the promised Messiah would be like based on what they had of the Bible? Did God decide for the Bible to be written the wrong way around? Chronologically it makes no sense that God would first give his people something that they wouldn’t be able to understand until hundreds of years later.

Also, the way the New Testament is written shows that a lot of it assumes that the reader understands the Old Testament. The New Testament isn’t usually saying “let me explain those things in the Old Testament that you didn’t understand”. More often it is saying “you know that stuff in the Old Testament that you do understand, well Jesus is the person that it’s about – he’s the one you’ve been expecting”.

In Acts 26:22-23, Paul says

“I stand here testifying both to small and great, saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles”.

Paul was simply repeating what the Old Testament said about Jesus.

In Acts 13:26-27, Paul says

“Brothers, sons of the family of Abraham, and those among you who fear God, to us has been sent the message of this salvation. For those who live in Jerusalem and their rulers, because they did not recognize him nor understand the utterances of the prophets, which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them by condemning him.”

Those who rejected Jesus were those who didn’t understand the Old Testament. Those who did understand the Old Testament knew who to expect and were able to recognise Jesus as being that person when they saw him.

Some parts of the New Testament explain the significance of Old Testament things and how they tell us about Jesus. However, some parts of the New Testament don’t come with an explanation, and it is expected that the reader will understand the significance already.

For example, Matthew (27:51), Mark (15:38) and Luke (23:45) all report that during Jesus’ crucifixion the curtain of the temple was torn in two. However, none of them explain the significance of this. They must have thought that the readers would already know what the curtain and the temple were about already. They assume Old Testament knowledge and don’t feel the need to explain it.

Therefore, if we read the Old Testament overly cautiously, only doing so through things that the New Testament explicitly confirms, there will be some things we miss because the New Testament authors thought it too obvious to explain!

For another example, let’s look at Matthew 16:5-12:

“When the disciples reached the other side, they had forgotten to bring any bread. Jesus said to them, “Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” And they began discussing it among themselves, saying, “We brought no bread.” But Jesus, aware of this, said, “O you of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? How is it that you fail to understand that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.”

The number of baskets gathered after the feeding of the five thousand was twelve (14:20) and the number of baskets gathered after the feeding of the four thousand was seven (15:36). Jesus, talking to his Old-Testament believer disciples, couldn’t believe that the disciples hadn’t picked up on the significance of the number of baskets that were left over. He expects them already to know the significance of these numbers without him having to explain it to them. Matthew (or the rest of the New Testament) doesn’t say “ok, so here’s the significance of the numbers seven and twelve so that now you can understand their use in the Old Testament” – instead the knowledge is assumed of the reader.

So how can we get this knowledge today? I find it quite frustrating as most of the good Bible teachers out there are too conservative to go into aspects of Old Testament symbolism that aren’t explicitly stated in the New Testament, even though there are clearly aspects of this that the New Testament authors thought were too obvious to have to explain! On the other hand, if you search on the internet for an explanation of the significance of the numbers seven and twelve in the Bible, you will almost invariably find some crackpot website coming out with all sorts of rubbish. It would be great to see some more conservative Bible scholars stepping out of their comfort zone a bit so we can recapture some of the “obvious” stuff that’s become a little less obvious to folk like us in this day and age.

Romans 9 – what’s it about?

I’ve been thinking and learning about Romans 9 recently. It’s been a while since I did this. Last time was while doing a year-long small-group study of Romans at St. Helen’s, Bishopsgate, which included a weekend away on the topic of God’s sovereignty. That weekend preceded our Romans 9 studies, and when we read Romans 9 it seemed to be saying what we were taught, which was Calvinism.

In my recent readings on this chapter, I decided to read a bit about what non-Calvinists think about this chapter. I was quite surprised to find that the view of others isn’t that this chapter supports their non-Calvinist view instead, but that this chapter isn’t about Calvinism (and such things) at all.

I have to say I think they might be onto something (I’m thinking just about Romans 9 for the moment, rather than whether Calvinism is true or not – I’ll save that for another day).

The “it’s not even about Calvinist stuff” interpretation of Romans 9 is basically that it’s all about Jew/Gentile, faith/works stuff and doesn’t go into topics that would be involved in a discussion about Calvinism. This interpretation does seem to fit well with chapters 10 and 11, as well as with Romans as a whole. Rather than try to explain it myself, I’ll let people who know more than me about this sort of thing make the case:

I’ve just read a nice summary by William Lane Craig of how Romans 9 fits into the whole of the letter, which is here, and seems very reasonable (the last paragraph is beyond the scope of what I’m thinking about at the moment, though!).

Craig’s summary doesn’t go into the details of Romans 9, but for that I would point you towards a talk from All Souls, Langham Place, by Paul Blackham, who I’ve only recently discovered but am becoming a big fan of (he trained at Oak Hill, no less!). The talk on Romans 9 (including the end of 8) can (hopefully) be downloaded here, and the whole series can be found here, by searching for “Romansfest”. The Romans 9 talk is number 13. There’s some really great stuff in there that I hadn’t picked up on before. All quite exciting.

So, the questions I have for my knowledgeable readers are:

1. Are the people above right that Romans 9 isn’t about Calvinist stuff? If not why not?

2. If they are right, where does that leave Calvinism? Isn’t Romans 9 supposed to be its best text?

Campaign to lift the government ban on evolutionism from school Religious Education classes

Dear Sir,

The religion of evolutionism has been discriminated against across the UK and much of the world for decades. Currently the UK government’s guidelines allow creationism to be taught in Religious Education (RE) classes but evolutionism is banned from such classes, due to claims that it is “unreligious”. This discrimination prevents evolutionism from being taught in its proper forum amongst the other major origins belief systems of this age.

Despite this discrimination, we evolutionists have had some success in getting our religion into schools “through the back door” by having evolutionism taught in science classes. However, this can only be done when evolutionism is taught together with scientific observations such as variation within a kind and natural selection. The teaching of evolutionism only in science classes creates a blur between these scientific observations and the religious aspects of evolutionism, such as the belief that all life forms share a common ancestor and that natural processes can turn chemicals into complex information systems. This blurring leaves students at risk of seeing all aspects of evolutionism merely as scientific, rather than seeing that it is primarily a belief system rooted in naturalistic philosophy.

It’s only fair that the faith position of evolutionism should be allowed to be taught alongside creationism. It’s time that the government stopped giving creationism a privileged position and instead allowed all religious beliefs to be taught and discussed in the RE class, including deistic and/or atheistic religions such as evolutionism. The teaching of evolutionism alongside creationism will give students the freedom to make up their own minds regarding which philosophical belief system about the past to believe in. Children shouldn’t be brainwashed by the state to believe in creationism when evolutionism is at least as much of a faith position itself.

If those lobbying the government to maintain this false classroom divide between evolutionistic religion and creationism are so confident that creationistic beliefs are more philosophically viable than the belief that all living things, the DNA code system and the complete works of Mozart are unplanned by-products of an explosion that happened billions of years ago, then they shouldn’t be so scared of allowing the religion of evolutionism to be taught to students in the same forum as creationism. After all, if a theory has popular support but is intellectually so weak, surely it is better for it to be explained to the students than for its teaching to be suppressed and confined to being taught as part of an academic subject which doesn’t do justice to all aspects of the theory. Teaching the two belief systems together within the same academic subject will enable the students to critically evaluate both theories and reach their own conclusions, which is surely the most philosophically sensible and honest position.

For these reasons we are launching a petition on the government to lift the ban on evolutionism from being taught in RE classes.

Yours,

Ivo Lutionist

S. Aght (Eire)

P.S. feel free to sign the petition by using the comment section below

A new Bible reading plan

After recently coming to the end of reading through the whole Old Testament in my regular Bible readings, I found that a disadvantage with doing that is that you go a long time without reading anything from the New Testament! I decided to look at various Bible reading plans that have been made (including the many on the YouVersion Bible app), but was disappointed to find that most of them seem, shall we say, rather silly.

One common flaw is that many plans involve reading more than one book at a time (for example the widely used M’Cheyne plan). I can’t think of any other situation in life where this would be seen as a good idea. If I gave you four books to read, would you say “ok, I’ll read pages 1-2 of each book, then pages 3-4 of each book, and so on”? That would be absolute madness, yet most Bible reading plans do that! This makes it very difficult to see a book as a whole, so you miss out on being able to determine the author’s overall purpose of the book. As the Bible was written as a series of separate books by different authors, it seems to me to be very important to read it one book at a time. So:

Priority 1: One book at a time.

As I’ve mentioned already, there are some ways in which reading the Bible from cover to cover isn’t ideal, even though it does give you one book at a time, because of the long period of time spent away from the New Testament. It would seem that the only way to fix this is to:

Priority 2: Mix between Old and New Testaments.

Also, given a plan to read the whole Bible, I don’t think the best thing to do is to read all four gospels consecutively and then go the rest of the time not reading them, partly due to the high level of repetition between them. Similarly, reading Chronicles straight after Kings can become a bit of a drag as there is a lot of repetition of events. Reading consecutively books that describe the same events can lead the reader to focus on spotting the differences between the books, rather than on more important matters like what each book is about on its own. So:

Priority 3: Separate books that cover the same events.

The traditional order of the Old Testament books isn’t chronological, especially in the later parts, which results in quite a lot of hopping around in time. I think that with the Old Testament, there is a benefit to a chronological reading, given the developments over the centuries in how God interacted with his people in preparing them for the coming Messiah. Some Bible reading plans I think take this too far, with constant hopping around between books to read accounts of the same event from different books, so I wouldn’t want this to be higher up the priority list. This means that perfect chronology won’t be possible, as many books cover a timespan that overlaps with other books, and some books cannot be precisely dated. There therefore isn’t a single correct chronological arrangement of the Old Testament books, but I’ve had a go at making one, also taking into account Priority 3 to do a bit of separating. (The idea is that, in the event of a conflict between two priorities, the earlier priority should win.) So:

Priority 4: Chronological Old Testament

Regarding the New Testament, I don’t see as much of a benefit to a chronological reading, so have elected instead to choose an order with other benefits. What I did was, after deciding the Old Testament order, I inserted the New Testament books into this framework in what I thought was a beneficial way. I split the Old Testament into four parts, and had the first New Testament book in each part being a gospel. For some NT books, I put them near associated NT books (e.g. Acts after Luke). I also tried to put some NT books in places that are theologically linked with nearby OT books. The nerds among you might want to see if you can spot any such clever linking between adjacent books (some of which I’m quite pleased with!). I’ll admit that the last few NT books I put in were just filling in the remaining gaps, so not every NT book has a clever link, but maybe I inadvertently included a profound link without realising it! Another factor I considered was to apply a bit of NT “refuelling” before and/or after some of the more hard-to-read parts of the OT, so these OT books could be read more joyfully in the light of their NT significance.

Nerd section: The book of Psalms is actually five books in one, so I decided to split these into five given the massive length of Psalms as a whole and do a bit of spreading out of the books. 1+2 Samuel, 1+2 Kings, 1+2 Chronicles and Ezra+Nehemiah are, so I’m told, not separate books but were originally single books, so I’ve kept them together as single books.

I think that after Priority 4, there is quite a bit of freedom in how to specifically arrange the books, so my proposal is just one particular way of doing it, and there might be other ways that work even better (challenge!). I’m going to read through this plan myself; do add a comment if you plan to as well or if you have any suggestions for improvements or alternative plans. Do you think the four priorities are good and in the best order?

So here it is, as a picture file, with New Testament books highlighted in yellow:

Bible reading plan picture

Here it is as a text list:

Genesis

Matthew

Exodus

Hebrews

Leviticus

Galatians

Numbers

1 Thessalonians

Deuteronomy

2 Thessalonians

Joshua

Philippians

Job

Colossians

 

Judges

Ruth

Mark

1+2 Samuel

1 Peter

Psalms 1-41

2 Peter

1+2 Kings

1 Timothy

Psalms 42-72

Song of Solomon

2 Timothy

Proverbs

Philemon

Psalms 73-89

Ecclesiastes

Psalms 90-106

Romans

1+2 Chronicles

Titus

Psalms 107-150

 

Jonah

Luke

Amos

Hosea

Acts

Isaiah

Ephesians

Micah

Nahum

Zephaniah

Habakkuk

1 Corinthians

Jeremiah

Lamentations

2 Corinthians

Ezekiel

James

Daniel

Obadiah

 

Haggai

John

Zechariah

1 John

Joel

2 John

Esther

3 John

Ezra+Nehemiah

Jude

Malachi

Revelation

Time to get reading God’s word!

Kermit Gosnell – why the media silence?

Arguably the worst murderer in US history is over one month into his trial, yet most people only started to hear about it a few days ago. For those who haven’t heard yet, Dr. Kermit Gosnell ran an abortion clinic in the US that was “dodgy” to the highest extreme, including apparently routinely carrying out illegal late-term abortions and killing babies that survived the procedure after they had been taken from their mother, were breathing and could quite easily have survived. The conditions in his clinic were appalling, and he was apparently making over $1m per year from it.

All highly shocking, and the report I’m about to link gives a fuller analysis as to what happened, but I warn you it includes images of killed babies for which he is apparently responsible, and which are clearly well developed. Here’s the link.

I’m going to focus here on only one question: why has the mainstream media in the US and throughout much of the world not been making this front page news since the trial started two months ago? Why is the story only now finding prominence thanks largely to Twitter?

I give here three potential answers:

  1. Fear of the pro-abortion lobby – It will be quite difficult to report on this case without sounding anti-abortion. After all, the main element of it is a man carrying out abortions. There are various aspects to it that would be criticised even by the pro-abortion lobby, of course, but if you don’t want to come across as being anti-abortion, it’s best not to touch this one. In particular, to criticise late-term abortion as being wrong raises the question of how far back you have to go for it to start being right, and if you don’t want to touch that issue you’d be better off not touching this one.
  2. The press is (in general) pro-abortion itself and knows that this doesn’t help their case – they’re suppressing it deliberately as the shocking facts would make most people seriously consider their views on abortion. It’s very difficult to look at the images of the babies aborted (i.e. killed) after leaving the womb and to maintain the view that as long as they are killed while still inside the womb that is ok.
  3. A genuine belief that this isn’t really big news – If one already holds the belief that a developing baby isn’t really a person in its own right, and that a woman has the right to choose to terminate it as it’s part of her body, then consistently there isn’t much of a difference as to whether the abortion is carried out while the baby is inside the body or just after it’s been taken out. Therefore, the news story is reduced to simply being about a man who had an unhygienic clinic, which is understandably not as big a story as others would claim it is.

I think it’s likely that more than only one of these is at play (and maybe I missed some other factors?) but I would speculate that the most relevant reason is 3., with a bit of 1. thrown in to make it not worth the risk of reporting the “dirty clinic” story. If that’s true, it really is very sad as it means our culture has largely bought the lie that a developing baby is just a part of the woman’s body and not a person in its own right.

If any good is to come from this it would be a realisation among people about that lie, and a return to a situation in which the rights of the developing baby to survive outweigh the rights of the woman who would prefer not to keep it.

What do you think of the media quietness? Comments appreciated.

Genesis 1-3: Myth-Busting?

This article sets out three possible interpretations of Genesis 1-3: ‘mythical, miscommunication or myth-busting’. I agree that the mythical and miscommunication options are wrong, but is myth-busting the only other option? This is based on a view that, because Genesis was written by Moses, and because there are creation myths dated from before the time of Moses, Moses was writing with a view to debunking the false creation myths around at his time.

This could be the case, but it seems to assume that before Moses came along, God’s people had no idea how God made the world. They didn’t yet have the book of Genesis, but does this mean they didn’t know anything about what this book would eventually describe about events before Moses, stretching back to creation?

Did they have no idea about the global flood either? It is often noted by creationists that there are flood legends all over the world. People don’t tend to say that Moses wrote the Genesis flood account with a view to debunking these flood myths. Moses wouldn’t have known about many of them anyway because of the great distances separating these people groups.

Rather, I think it makes more sense that, with the flood and with creation, Moses was simply writing an account of what his people generally already knew. This could have been known through oral tradition and/or written records predating Genesis.

Any similarities between Genesis and creation/flood myths of other cultures is I think better explained in that Noah and his family will have known the true accounts of both of these. As people separated after Babel, the accounts would have been distorted by cultures adapting the stories as they were passed on.

I’m not aware of any culture on the planet today that doesn’t have a story about how the world began or how they came to be where they are. The stories vary a lot, from fantastical creation myths to beliefs of Darwinian evolution, but it seems to be an inherent property of humanity that we want to know such things. That’s why I find it so surprising to think that, before Genesis was written, the people of Israel had no knowledge of such things or didn’t ask such questions themselves.

The Bible (TV Series)

I just watched the first double episode of the 10 episode series “The Bible”, which has recently been aired in the US. My overall reaction is very positive! It’s very professionally made, but the best thing is that it takes the Bible at face value and presents all of it as history. There is no worrying about whether things really happened or not, and no watering-down of stories to reflect modern liberal interpretations.

Right from the beginning we have Noah in a proper-sized ark telling the creation account to his family, with visuals showing as he narrates through (in case you were wondering, Noah had a Scottish accent!). The flood was shown as a global event, with footage of the whole earth covered by water. The fall of Adam and Eve is explained, and the reason for the flood is explained as well, setting up the rest of the Bible.

Then we have Abraham, who is also well represented. The story takes a very human aspect, particularly with the rivalry between Sarah and Hagar, and the emotions of Abraham and Isaac in the near-sacrifice of Isaac were also done very well.

The show is very much American, as best shown by the scene where Abraham and his men creep up on Lot and his people to try to rescue them from capture. Abraham makes SWAT team hand-gestures to coordinate his troops, just like something out of 24. Also, at the beginning of the later episodes of the show (which I haven’t watched in full yet) we get the narrator saying “Previously, on The Bible”, which is hilarious.

Another example of this is the three angels who meet Abraham and then go to Sodom. They are depicted as cool action heroes, one of whom is Chinese and skilled in martial arts.

We then move on to Moses, who again is depicted well and the crossing of the Red Sea is again shown to be a miraculous event, with walls of water on each side.

Watching The Bible on TV was in many ways a lot like watching any other film adaptation of a well-loved book. You find yourself saying “nooo, why did they leave [insert favourite part here] out!”, but in practice they are cramming the whole Bible into about 7 hours so this is to be expected. Similarly, as with most film adaptations there are some minor alterations made from the text to simplify the stories. Most of these I found to be not too bad, in that it didn’t spoil the main focus of the story.

I’m definitely going to watch the rest of the series, and I think it would be wonderful if this were to be shown on terrestrial TV in the UK. I find it unlikely that any of the major UK networks will want to show it though, given that it presents the Bible as true history, and the networks will probably fear a backlash from other religious groups in the country complaining that their religious text hasn’t been given the same airtime. It’s shown on the History channel in the US and I expect it will probably stay there for the UK, meaning only about 3 people will watch it. Perhaps the DVD will fare better, though.

I’m not going to rant about any minor details that they got wrong. The overwhelming truth is that this was a production of the highest quality expressing the Bible as real history, and I pray that many will come to faith through it and will be inspired to read the real thing.