Posted in Doctrine, Logic/Philosophy, Theology

It Shall Be More Tolerable

The biblical doctrine of hell has been part of the arsenal of skeptics for years. Along with the problem, as they see it, of reconciling an all powerful, all loving God with the reality of human suffering on this earth (and with the reality of animal suffering as well), skeptics have also used the biblical doctrine of hell as a justification for their rejection of the Bible as the word of God and of the existence of the God who is alleged to have written it. In Thomas B. Warren’s debates with Antony Flew, Wallace Matson, and Joe Barnhart, each of Warren’s opponents used the concept of hell against God’s existence and/or the ethic of Jesus Christ. In Flew’s fourth affirmative on Tuesday night, Flew said, “Suppose now, considering those alleged arrangement, someone says, as I would say, that it would be absolutely wrong to keep any conscious being, man or animal, in such torment forever; and, furthermore that it would be to the last degree monstrously unjust for a Creator Himself to punish His own creatures in that way” (Warren-Flew Debate, p. 69). In Matson’s second affirmative on Monday night, he referred to the New Testament teaching on hell (Warren-Matson Debate, p. 38). And while Warren defended God’s infinite love and justice, Matson denied that God’s love could be harmonized with God’s allowing a person to suffer punishment for even one moment in hell (p. 48). Matson inconsistently admitted that it would be right for mere humans to punish Hitler and wrong for God to do so (p. 76-77). And in his first rejoinder on Monday night of the debate, Matson in referring to Warren, said, “He did say that he loves his children and he has punished them. With a blowtorch in the face, Dr. Warren?” And if so, for one second, for one minute, for ten minutes, for an hour?” (p. 88).

In the Warren-Barnhart discussion, Joe Barnhart, in his first negative speech, said, “It is one thing to say that the vast majority of the human race of adults will be tortured and tormented endlessly because they did not subscribe to Tom’s (Thomas B. Warren, MD) ideological tenets. It is another thing to say more concretely that Tom’s grandfather or his brother is currently screaming in hell, and that Tom’s only word of comfort is, ‘Grandad (sic), you have what is coming to you. So take your torture and know that it is fully just’” (Warren- Barnhart Debate, p. 15).

Please note that both the Warren-Flew debate and the Warren-Matson debate were on the existence of God. The Warren-Barnhart debate was about ethics, and particularly it was a discussion of the ethical system proposed by Jesus Christ and that proposed by Jeremy Bentham as to which system was superior. Warren, of course, advocated the life prescribed by Jesus; Barnhart stood with Bentham. Barnhart’s position was completely exposed.

It is interesting that in each encounter, Warren’s opponents attempted to show that the concept of hell cannot cohere with God’s love and power (Flew and Matson) or with an ethical system that employs it (Barnhart). To Warren’s adversaries, any doctrine that entailed the concept of hell had to be false. Warren showed that any doctrine that denied hell had to be incomplete and was ascribing mere finite justice to God. Warren, of course, in my judgment did a masterful job in his effort to defend what the Bible claims about hell. Philosophically, he showed the justice of hell and the implications of denying the reality of hell. Furthermore, he pointed out the inconsistencies of philosophers who want to admit suffering as an objective concept and yet deny God who is necessary as a concept in making suffering objective in the first place. His defense of hell as an essential part of divine justice in the Matson affair was, in my judgment, extraordinary.

But, many people will never read those discussions, and I would think that many brethren have at times been bothered by what they read in scripture about hell as they reflect on the destiny of departed loved ones. During my lifetime, some preachers have even “opted” for a doctrine of a finite hell in their desire to find justice, but such effort is futile. I would suggest to all of them that they get the Warren-Matson Debate and devour it. This should help them immensely in becoming familiar with the intellectual concepts involved in the notion and necessity of divine punishment and with the eternality of it.

Let me just here present a few thoughts that I hope will be helpful to Bible believers, and perhaps even some skeptics, in trying to harmonize divine justice with our intellect and emotion as we experience suffering on earth and think about eternal suffering in hell. The doctrine of hell, it seems, can trigger human emotion somewhat like in our country the issue of abortion does. People can get awfully defensive or accusative very easily and very early. Let me mention and briefly elaborate on twelve fundamental facts that I hope will help us in putting the Bible’s doctrine of eternal punishment in perspective, thus seeing the doctrine of hell without intellectual and/or emotional distortion.

One, hell was originally made for the devil and his angels (Matt. 25:41; cf. 2 Pet. 2:4). However, it is the eternal destiny of men as well who die in their sin (Matt. 25:46; Rev. 20:11-15). Jesus used the reality of hell as a warning to mankind to live according to God’s will or to face divine punishment (Mark 9:42-50). Even God’s own people, according to the New Testament, must be careful to live righteously so as to avoid having to face hell (cf. Heb. 10:30-31; Jude 20-21; Matt. 25:46). But it is also the case that a Christian can become so mature in spiritual development that he no longer relies on hell as motivation to his righteousness (1 John 4:18). He now loves God so much that the fear earlier felt no longer constitutes a part of his motivation to continual righteousness.

Two, the nature of hell is punitive. That is, it is not for correction. It is pure punishment. Too, it is unending punishment. Whatever heaven is in its duration, hell is in its own duration also (Matt. 25:46). If one attempts to rid hell of its everlasting quality, he must also do the same with heaven. This shows the enormous significance of sin which is the violation of God’s will and which inevitably leads to hell if it remains unforgiven (1 John 3:4; Rom. 6:23). Furthermore, hell shows the shame involved anytime anyone enters eternity having rejected the means of deliverance from it. A man who dies in his sin has turned his back on God’s desire and plan for his own salvation which plan had included the death of Jesus Christ. And a Christian who apostatizes from the faith is said to have “trodden under foot the Son of God, and to have counted the blood of the covenant wherewith he was sanctified an unholy thing, and to have done despite unto the Spirit of grace” (Heb. 10:29-30). His final state is even worse than that of the alien sinner who never knew the gospel (2 Pet. 2:20-22). What a man, once having committed sin, does or fails to do with regard to the gospel is a central fact to consider in the analysis of his just punishment.

Three, the language of hell in scripture is, at times, extreme and at other times it is somewhat softened (Mark 9:47-48; Luke 12:47-48). That is, there are times when hell is described in extreme language as productive of much personal pain, and again there are times when the language is reduced to presenting a punishment with less pain. Luke’s reference to some who will receive “few stripes” indicates this use of language. Since God is always eternally and infinitely fair, hell would have to entail this characteristic (Gen. 18:25; Rom. 3:25-26; 11:32). Not everyone deserves the same amount or degree of punishment. In the law of Moses, God made it very clear that He is quite concerned about justice or fairness of treatment. His own nature is the background out of which the very precisely stated laws in Deuteronomy come. Consider Deuteronomy 22:22-29 which even entails the notion of granting the accused the benefit of the doubt (v. 24-25). The New Testament teaches that God is especially concerned with punishing (1) those who walk after the flesh in the lust of defilement, and (2) those who despise dominion (2 Pet. 2:9-10). Some sins are worse than others! Of course, neither heaven nor hell are physical places, and what they offer by way of reward or punishment cannot be physical as the spirits of men who enter these domains are not physical (Luke 16:19-31; 1 Cor. 15:50). But the language that God employs in describing both places is based on our acquaintance with physical pleasure and pain. Thus, we are able to make a comparison between human existence in time and in eternity.

Four, the concept of hell is intended to be a deterrent to wrong living. Both reward and punishment are utilized in the Bible as motivations to righteousness (2 Tim. 4:6-8; Rev. 20:11-15). Some would suggest that men do not need such, but the Author of the Bible knows human nature completely. And observant men know that children at times need incentives and even adults can find great motivation in rewards offered (cf. 1 Cor. 9:24-25). And those bent on violence at times are curbed by the fear of facing punishment or having committed crime, they are incarcerated. Even with the presence of the Bible in the world today, we do not have to search for ungodliness among men. It permeates the societies of men. Indeed, the whole world lies in the evil one (1 John 2:15-17; 5:19). If human society is this way with the Bible within it, what would human society be like without it?

Five, the basic shared condition of all men in hell will be separation. It is a separation from God forever. John would call it “the second death” (Rev. 20:6). The Greek word for “death” here is “thanatos.” According to Vine, it signifies (1) the separation of man’s soul from his body, and (2) the separation of man from God (Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, p. 276). Of course, when speaking of man’s separation from God, the scriptures describe the condition while the man is on earth as spiritual death or as a death in sin (John 8:24; Eph. 2:5). When a sinner becomes a Christian, he becomes dead to sin (Rom. 6:2, 11). A sinner who remains in his sin faces eternal death or the second death (Rom. 6:23; Matt. 25:46). So, just as a human body separated from its spirit is physically dead (Jas. 2:26), when a man is separated by sin from his God, he is spiritually dead. When that man is punished by God in hell, he is being separated from God forever. This is eternal death. And that is what all lost men face. And there is no remedy or relief from it once a person leaves this earth (Heb. 9:27). Thus, there is the necessity of obedience to the gospel of Christ. The gospel frees man from sin and prevents any entry into hell! All men should love God for making life possible and for making such fantastic delivery from sin available (cf. John 3:16; 1 John 4:19). Heaven is what earth is all about (Heb. 2:9-10; Eph. 3:10-11)! This is so because of God’s love and will. However, hell is what earth tends toward in the lives of those who die on it without God.

Six, the fact is that if a man enters hell he does so by his own choice. Given human free will, each man decides his own eternal destiny. Neither God nor the devil can make this determination for him. Each man decides his own destiny. No man will ever on earth unravel the complexities involved in human free will. But the fact is, each of us is free and thus the personal agent of his own thoughts and deeds. The doctrine of hell is involved in the doctrine of human responsibility and accountability. The New Testament warns all of us that we will give account of our lives on this earth. The doctrine of hell is intended to help man live on this earth before God and with his fellow man in a responsible way. He is under obligation to love God and his neighbor (Matt. 22:37-40). Whether he obeys his obligation or not, he will face God in judgment (2 Cor. 5:10; Rev. 20:11-15). If a man leaves this earth in his sin, he judges himself unworthy of eternal life (cf. Acts 13:46).

Seven, the Bible plainly teaches that God wants all men to be saved (Heb. 2:9-10; 2 Pet. 3:9; 1 Tim. 2:4). God has always had in mind the eternal purpose of saving man from the sin which God knew he would commit (Eph. 3:10-11). God does not want man to enter hell! If a man enters hell that implies that the man left this earth in his sin which God wanted removed. Remember, God so loved the world that he sent Jesus to die for all of mankind (John 3:16; Heb. 2:9-10). God finds no joy in the physical death of the wicked (Ezek. 18:23, 32). The death of the righteous, however, is “precious” to God (Psalm 116:15). The Bible is marvelous in its own description of the divine plan of salvation that God had in mind before the creation of the universe (Eph. 1:3-10). The plan of salvation is wonderful in its development throughout history down to the coming of Jesus and the establishment of His church. Romans 11 is a most excellent summation of how God used both Jews and Gentiles to make sure that the gospel of Christ eventually would go to all men throughout the world as God took men from Patriarchy (Moral Law-ism) and Judaism to amenability to the gospel. Indeed in about thirty years from around 33 A.D. to about 63 A.D. the gospel was preached in the whole creation (Col. 1:6, 23; Mark 16:19-20). God knew that when He created man that man would have to have help. It evidently was always God’s desire to bring many sons to glory (Heb. 2.10). When a man physically dies in his sin, his spiritual death having been self-inflicted, now means that his “second death” destiny has been self-determined.

Eight, men who leave this world in their sin today do so having rejected all of God’s help available to them for their salvation. They have refused all divine aid available to rescue them from their evil ways. In other articles I have discussed this vital point, but I repeat that the system of divine delivery is sufficient to the salvation of each person. God is not helpless to deliver from sin. God sent His Son for all of us (John 3:16). God made each one of us by personal constitution such that we could and should search for saving truth (Acts 17:27). Paul told that truth to heathen idolaters in Athens. We are made to look for God! And God will help us find Him (Luke 11:5-13). While the church is responsible to uphold the truth (1 Tim. 3:15), God is still and always has been responsible to make sure that every person on the earth who desires the truth will find the truth. That is not up to the church. That is between that soul and his Maker!

Unfortunately, in my lifetime, most preachers have attempted to put that responsibility of rescue on the church, but one cannot rightly place it there. The church can certainly cooperate with God in upholding and circulating truth, and we should do that in compliance with our obligation to love our brethren and to love all men. But the basic responsibility of rescue (as with the right of divine condemnation) has always been God’s. God made man so that he would look for his Maker (Acts 17:27). And all men have God’s promise that He will as a loving Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him (Luke 11:13). And that Spirit is given to one who finds the truth and who obeys it (Acts 2:38; Gal. 3:2). The program is God’s. God wants to be found! The church is composed of those who have found God and His truth (1 Tim. 2:4), and the church certainly is to live in and support that truth (John 8:32; 1 John 1:7; 1 Tim. 3:15).

The church should do what we can in supporting the gospel especially in areas where it seems to be currently welcomed. But God opens and closes the doors to gospel reception (Rev. 3:7). Consider that the brotherhood combined, if it lost all of its love for the gospel, could not possibly prevent one alien sinner with an honest and good heart from being saved by God! God saved people before the Lord’s church was even here (Matt. 8:11). Now that she is here, she certainly should love the saved and the lost and love the truth by which any man can be saved (1 Thess. 4:9-10; Rom. 12:9-10; 13:8-10; 2 Thess. 2:10-12). The priority of her efforts, however, puts her regard for her brethren above those who are not (Gal. 6:10). In my lifetime, most brethren seem to place the priority on the lost rather than on the saved. This wrong idea did not come from scripture! We misunderstood scripture regarding evangelism and applied our misunderstanding of it to ourselves as an obligation which is impossible to obey. The mistake we have made is that the “great commission” given to the apostles and only to the apostles, is now somehow an obligation perpetually bound on the church. But as I have shown, this is not even possible. (If you have not read it, please read “The Great Commission Has Been Fulfilled” at Divine salvation, as with divine condemnation, is fundamentally a responsibility of God Himself who will always do right by man whom He loves (Gen. 18:25). Surely, no Christian for a moment thinks that his own death will lessen the opportunity for a lost man to become a saved one by the grace of God. In the year that king Uzziah died, God remained on His lofty throne (Isaiah 6:1). With the passing of any man or many men, God remains on His throne and in complete control of affairs on earth. He still knows how to get a lost man who loves truth and desires salvation into contact with that truth! And Christians, to be like God, desire the salvation of all men.

Nine, the separation from God forever will be more tolerable for some than for others. Consider Romans 9:1-5. I have puzzled over this passage for years. For most of my life I took the passage to be hyperbolic. That is, I took Paul’s expression of potential sacrifice to be figurative. Read the passage very carefully. Paul desires the salvation of his fellow Jews. His desire is great. He bemoans their fate in hell because of their rejection of the gospel (as a nation). Consider Romans 10:1-2. He says that if his own damnation could be a guaranty of their salvation, he could bring himself to wish that he were anathema. In other words, if he could possibly trade his salvation for damnation in order to the Jews’ salvation, he could bring himself to make the trade. He doesn’t say he wished that, but we cannot escape the point that he claimed that if the situation which could not be actually could be, that by that actualization, he could bring himself to the point of wishing or willing his own loss for the salvation of his kinfolk!

I no longer consider his remarks as hyperbolic. Why? Notice that before Paul makes the extreme point regarding this proposed conceptual sacrifice that he introduces it by emphasizing what he is about to say by affirming the following: (1) I say the truth, (2) I say the truth in Christ, (3) I lie not, (4) my conscience is bearing witness with me, and (5) my conscience is bearing witness with me in the Holy Spirit. These four supports stand behind the truthfulness of what he is about to say, and what he is about to say is that he has great sorrow and unceasing pain in his heart for his kinfolk and that he could bring himself to wish himself anathema for their sake. I no longer think that he is presenting hyperbole. He would not have given the five points to support exaggeration for the sake of emphasis, which is what hyperbole is. Of course, a Christian who loves the souls of men as much as Paul could not possibly be involved in any such trade as Paul, in concept, is willing to entertain. But in saying what he does with regard to it, Paul gives us insight into a great truth regarding eternal punishment. While faithful Christians cannot be lost as long as they are faithful Christians, if they could be lost in that condition, their love of their fellow man would lessen their misery in hell! Otherwise, Paul could not possibly say that he could, in the given situation proposed, wish himself anathema. Hell is more tolerable for those who on earth loved their neighbor even though they didn’t love God and His truth (cf. John 15:13).

Ten, the separation from God forever must be eternal. But why couldn’t God simply “snuff out” the spirits of wicked men who leave earth unprepared to meet their God? The answer is that God cannot simply “snuff out” or annihilate the spirits of men. And this is true because the spirit of every man is of the essence of Holy Spirit. In a context where God through Malachi is rebuking His people for the way that they have treated marriage, Malachi points out that if the ideal marriage state had entailed more than one woman for a man, God could have given Adam more than Eve. How was that possible? He had the “residue of the spirit” (Mal. 2:15). Moses had told us that God had made man in His image (Gen. 1:26-27). And the Hebrews writer years later referred to God as “the Father of spirits” (Heb. 12:9). Men are in essence kin to God by our spirit which derives from Holy Spirit (cf. 1 Thess. 5:23). We are not related to God because of our dust (Gen. 2:7). None of us can know exactly “how” God can produce kinfolk to Himself, but the fact is, per plain Bible teaching, He has done it. And somehow by using Holy Spirit in our construction, He made us in His image without making us divine. We could not become God (since we are created beings) but we could share with God His essence. Somehow the distribution of Spirit essence via human conception weakens that essence by its connection to flesh (cf. Matt. 26:41). This is why God cannot be tempted, but Jesus in the flesh could (Jas. 1:13; Matt. 4:1-11). So, man cannot be God. In fact, we are not even given the status of angels (Heb. 2:7). And while man’s body and soul can be terminated, a man’s spirit cannot because it is of the same essence as God Himself! God is eternal “in both ways” from everlasting to everlasting (Psalm 90:2); man has a “one ended eternity.” That is, while man certainly had a beginning, he can know no end, unlike creatures whose nature is below that of the human level. Man’s body (dust) can and does come to an end. His spirit does not. And since man can know no end, then final divine punishment given him can know no end either if remaining apart from God is punishment, and it is. Man’s eternal punishment must exist as long as he does, and since he cannot cease from existence, hell cannot end.

Eleven, God’s nature doesn’t change (Mal. 3:6; Jas. 1:17). Among other things, He is love (1 John 4:8). But we are instructed to accept His love and once having entered into the grace that that love brings, to remain in that grace or what, we will call, the expression of God’s love. Notice the warnings given in scripture regarding a disciple’s remaining in the love of God. Consider John 15:9-10. Jesus encouraged His apostles to abide in His love just as Jesus had abided in the Father’s love. And He stated that remaining in God’s love was attached to keeping God’s commandments. Jude wrote to brethren, “keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life” (Jude 21). But now, given the fact that God doesn’t change His nature, what does it mean for a man to keep himself in God’s love? The answer lies in distinguishing between motive and methodology.

Paul exhorted the Corinthian church, “Let all that ye do be done in love” (1 Cor. 16:14). Earlier, however, he had asked the brethren with regard to a future visit that he himself hoped to make to them, “What will ye? Shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love and a spirit of gentleness?” (1 Cor. 4:21). The context shows us that Paul had been rebuking the brethren regarding many things. So much was wrong with the church in Corinth! And due to the sad and unfortunate situation, Paul was having to be quite frank. And he wanted the brethren to correct their errors and get things back in order lest when he come to them again personally, he would have to rebuke them further. He did not want this. But he shows that it is up to them. If they do not change their ways, he will bring a rod. If they do make the necessary changes, he will be able to face them in love and in a spirit of gentleness.

Now, since Paul in 1 Corinthians 16:14 by inspiration tells the brethren that all that they do is to be done in love, he cannot himself possibly be meaning in 1 Corinthians 4:21 that he has the right to do some things that are NOT “in love.” So, what can 1 Corinthians 4:21 mean? If he can bring “love and a spirit of gentleness” on the one hand if they repent, does bringing a rod as distinguished from “love and a spirit of gentleness” mean that he won’t bring the rod in love? The answer lies in making the distinction between Paul’s (1) condition of love and his motivation of love with (2) the expression of it. If he is compelled to bring a rod, while his heart remains one of love for them and his motivation in writing is prompted by love, the rod as an expression of that love will not be pleasant! So the key is in understanding condition and motivation as distinguished from the expression of that condition and motivation or intention (cf. Heb. 12:9-11; Prov. 13:24). God remains Himself and part of Him is the infinite trait of love (1 John 4:8). Man is His own creation (Gen. 1:26-27). God loves man (John 3:16). But He tells us that He will punish us eternally for our sins if we refuse to accept His deliverance from them. While His love remains constant as His infinite and eternal condition and motivation, the expression of that love will not in hell be pleasant at all! In Romans 11:22 Paul wrote, “Behold then the goodness and severity of God: toward them that fell, severity; but toward thee, God’s goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off.” God’s severity cannot cancel His goodness (as condition and motivation or intention), but it does eliminate the expression of that goodness as goodness (that which would be pleasant to receive). Rather, His personal goodness expresses itself to the lost finally in severity.

Jesus on one occasion was upbraiding some impenitent cities where He had performed miracles. The people had refused to repent. And so in speaking of Chorazin and Bethsaida, He said that if the mighty works that He had performed in them had been performed in Tyre and Sidon, that Tyre and Sidon would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. And then He compared the eternal destiny of Chorazin and Bethsaida with that of Tyre and Sidon. He said, “But I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the day of judgment than for you” (Matt. 11:22). Indeed, greater privilege brings greater responsibility, and failure with regard to greater privilege brings greater condemnation (Luke 12:48). Individual situations are not the same, but all men die either in sin or forgiven of it. And those who die in sin are told by God that they cannot be with Him in eternity. Jesus made this clear (John 5:28-29; Mark 16:15-16). And the apostle John in writing the last book of the New Testament describes the awful and eternal ruin of those whose names are not written in the book of life (Rev. 20:11-15).

Twelve, man is in no position to criticize God for telling us what to Him an unforgiven sinner finally deserves given his rejection of the divine offer of forgiveness. Warren stressed in public debate that man simply is in no position to criticize God! From what vantage point does an atheist present his criticism? He attempts to put himself above God in his critique of God’s character. Granted, man can know by pure reason that if God punishes man for sin, He must be fair in the doing of it. This we willingly and gladly admit. Man knows that God would have to be fair in all things, and he knows this, first of all, by his conscience. It is his conscience which provides man with the insight into the distinction between moral right and moral evil. Without conscience, man cannot distinguish between moral right and moral wrong. But in order for that moral information to be available for intuition (his immediate grasping of this distinction without having to reason about it), his conscience must be a product of God Himself. The intellectual CONCEPT of the distinction between moral right and wrong is not simply floating around in space. It is content. It is information insight. And as a moral conceptual fact, it has to have ultimate source in MIND. Also, remember that man’s own awareness of and the need for, at some level, JUSTICE ITSELF implies that the source of conscience is God HIMSELF. God is the ultimately fair or just PERSONALITY in existence. He cannot be otherwise (cf. Rom. 3:25-26).

The atheist is simply wrong in his conception of what ultimate “justice” would have to be. He wants to claim that if God punished man in hell, God would be unjust in that He would be the committer of moral evil Himself. But unfortunately for the atheist, objective moral evil requires the prior existence of objective moral good, and the existence of objective moral good has to reside in a person, and that Person must be God. In other words, the atheist attempts to ascribe objective moral wrong to such a hell-providing God without realizing that the very existence of objective moral wrong would demand the existence of an ultimate moral being—God! Without good there can be no evil, and without ultimate eternal Good, there can be no proper criticism of anyone for anything at anytime for any alleged moral wrong. God will always remain beyond the scope of righteous criticism. And instead of constantly attempting to justify oneself to oneself because he thinks hell would be unfair, a man should seek to glorify the God who made him and who assures him that He loves him. Indeed the skeptic needs to realize that the goodness of God is intended to lead him to repentance and obedience to the gospel of Christ (cf. Rom. 2:4; Heb. 5:8-9). And that skeptic should also know that if he remains impenitent he is simply treasuring up wrath for himself “in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God” (Rom. 2:5).

Posted in Apologetics, Logic/Philosophy, Metaphysics

Giving Up On Creation

Several months ago, I wrote an article entitled, “Could God Create (Ex Nihilo) On The First Day?” It appeared in the Warren Christian Apologetics Center periodical, Sufficient Evidence (Fall 2020). I did not know that anyone ever later attempted to respond to my article. But on January 25, 2022 a preacher friend of mine informed me that he had come across an article entitled, “God Was Not ‘Within Time’ When He Began Creation?” by a writer who works with Apologetics Press. The writer’s article was published on October 22, 2021. I am glad to know of the article to which I will now make a response.

As the title of our critic’s article indicates, he is quite willing to take the position that God was within time when He created. I am quite sure that my critic has no idea as to what he has implied in taking that position, but I will try to explain very carefully.

In my first article I pointed out that some of our brethren have for years tried to prove a young earth, thinking that such was necessary in order to meet the challenge of atheistic evolution. I pointed out, furthermore, that such is simply not the case. The notion of Darwinian evolution, even though it claims much time for its theory, is not based on time. As I suggested in my first article (as well as in my chapter in The Utterance Of God, a book published recently by the Warren Center), evolution cannot be established on the basis of time. It entails the idea of impossible chance. If we grant the evolutionist billions and billions of years for his theory, he still cannot prove it, for time is NOT the issue.

Furthermore, in my first article, I pointed out that three of our our most accomplished scholars in the church (Guy Woods, Roy Deaver, and Thomas Warren) took the position that no one can know how old the universe is. That is my view also.

But since Apologetics Press has invested so much effort over many years in the attempt to prove a young earth, it does not surprise me that some staff member should attempt to dismantle my evidence. Let us see if the staff member was successful in his recent effort.

Our critic refers to two different approaches at establishing an older earth, one of which he refers to as the “Gap Theory.” First of all, let me suggest that such language is prejudicial and dismissive. I could refer to his view as the “Non-Gap Theory.” Calling something a mere theory does not make it so. But my critic thinks that he can persuade the reader to dismiss my contention by referring to it as a mere theory.

Second, he suggests that every now and then someone comes along and tries to argue for an older universe even though he is sure that staff writers at Apologetics Press have already proved a young earth. Let me just here suggest to the reader that if the articles from these men offered no more proof for a young earth than our current critic offers in his current effort at answering my article, then neither those men nor he have proved a young earth. In fact, I firmly declare that my critic is assuming what he has not proved. I state categorically that no one at Apologetics Press or anywhere else has proved the age of the universe.

In my first article, I used six arguments. My critic refers to only two of them, and he does not falsify either one of these. He does not question the validity of the syllogisms, so that the only route to falsification is by disproving one of the premises in the arguments. This is what he tries to do, but he does not accomplish what he wishes the reader to believe that he has. The conclusion to the first argument of mine that he quotes is: “Therefore, He (God, MD) cannot be within the first day’s 24-hour period.” The conclusion to the second argument of mine that my reviewer quotes is: “Then, Exodus 20:11 excludes Genesis 1:1 in its reference to six days.”

My position, as stated, is that God cannot be in time at the initial point of creation, and since that is so, then Exodus 20:11 must exclude Genesis 1:1.

Now, what does my critic do? He writes, “Time begins at the exact point at which physical matter and space come into existence. The initial creative event is a simultaneous occurrence of both matter and time. All time starts with the first atom of matter that is created since time (as it relates to the physical Universe) is connected to the Universe.” I agree that time begins when matters first exists. However, I do not agree that “The initial creative event is a simultaneous occurrence of both matter and time.” In my first article I showed why such was impossible.

Now, please notice how my critic proceeds. “The simple response to the above argument is to recognize that, though the author of the argument focuses on the ‘location’ of God in relation to time, Genesis 1:1 and Exodus 20:11 are not addressing how God relates to the events before the creation of the physical Universe. These passages address the passing of time that is connected to the physical Universe.” Dear reader, please notice the expression “passing of time.” We’ll come back to that.

My friend continued, “God existed before time, is currently outside of time, and is from everlasting to everlasting, as Psalm 90:2 states. Thus, all of God’s activities before the creation of the physical world were ‘before’ time, but those activities would have no bearing on the time that has elapsed in the material Universe. They would not add billions of years to the age of the Universe. Time is an aspect of the physical creation and cannot be separated from it.” Notice, please, the words “time that has elapsed.”

My first article was not on the “passing of time” or the “elapsing” of time. It was all about the very INITIATION of time! My critic’s argumentation here is completely beside the point and quite inadequate to the two arguments of mine that he did quote. He quoted my final two arguments. I will now present again the first four arguments for the reader’s consideration to show what issue my antagonist is up against.

Argument #1

1. If God initiated creation within time, then time existed before the heavens and the Earth did.

2. But it is false that time existed before the heavens and the Earth did.

3. Therefore, it is false that God initiated creation within time.

Argument #2

1. If God was within time at the point of initial creation, then He was not inhabiting eternity.

2. But it is false that God was not inhabiting eternity at the point of initial creation (Psalm 90:2; Isaiah 57:15).

3. Therefore, it is false that God was within time at the point of initial creation.

Argument #3

1. If (1) God began creation from His habitation in eternity, and if (2) God made heavens and Earth for six days, and if (3) there is a conceptual pause between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:3 at Genesis 1:2 dividing the chaotic condition of the formless and void Earth from the initial orderliness beginning in verse 3, then the making of heavens and Earth for six days per Exodus 20:11 begins with Genesis 1:3.

2. (1) God began creation from His habitation in eternity (Psalm 90:2; Isaiah 57:15), and (2) God made heavens and Earth for six days (Exodus 20:11), and (3) there is a conceptual pause between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:3 at Genesis 1:2 dividing the chaotic condition of the formless and void Earth from the initial orderliness beginning in verse 3 (the text reveals this).

3. Then, the making of heavens and Earth for six days per Exodus 20:11 begins with Genesis 1:3.

Argument #4

1. If God creates time, then He is not within time at the initial point of time’s creation.

2. God created time (with the creation of heavens and Earth—Genesis 1:1).

3. Then, He is not within time at the initial point of time’s creation.

Now, dear reader, it is important to see that my opponent in this issue simply did not address these arguments except by way of redirecting the reader’s attention away from the initial point of creation to the “passing of time” and to the “elapsing” of time. But, this is no answer at all! I was not discussing the passing or elapsing of time. I was discussing the enormously important point of the initial moment of time (that is, when time began and what its relationship to God had to be at that initial making of the first moment).

Furthermore, my friend noted that I had admitted that time arrived simultaneously when matter first appeared. That is correct. But what I did not admit and what I do not and cannot believe is that the initial movement of God in creation was within time because time did not exist when that creative movement began. Again, my critic said, “The initial creative event is a simultaneous occurrence of both matter and time.” My response is: while matter and time must occur simultaneously, the initial creative movement must precede them. It cannot at all simply be simultaneous with them. Why not?

This is very, very important. I am sure that my critic did not mean to be doing this, but when he suggests that the initial creation event is completely simultaneous with matter and time (thus willingly placing God “within” time), he is eliminating the conceptual distinction between CAUSE and EFFECT. If “cause” takes place at the exact same moment as “effect,” then “cause” IS “effect,” and “effect” IS “cause”! Theologically that lands my critic in the position of pantheism. That is the view that God is the world, and the world is God. Furthermore, if pantheism is correct, creation is NOT an event at all. Creation simply does not occur. There is no creation! Now, as I said, I am quite sure that my critic was not trying to imply pantheism, but he did so in his futile effort to falsify my argumentation. If the young earth view implies pantheism, and if pantheism is false, then the young earth view is false since any doctrine that implies a false doctrine is itself false. I am not saying, however, that the young earth view does imply such, but I am saying that my critic’s argumentation regarding simultaneity does imply such.

Remember, I am not contending for a young earth or an old earth. I am contending for the position that we cannot know how old our universe is. Furthermore, if modern space exploration suggests or seems to suggest at the moment that an older earth is what we have, then when theists try to “prove” a young earth, these theists are rendered ridiculous in the eyes of informed scientists. Now, I know that the “scientific method” is based on an invalid logical procedure, and that because of that, science can present by that methodology no absolutely proved conclusion. However, scientists even with that invalid method continue to explore and suggest. And when their suggestion is based on their actual findings or discoveries, theists cannot simply dismiss discovered facts or alleged facts.

For example, Fred Heeren in his tremendous book, Show Me God, declares, “Looking at the discoveries of modern science, Robert Gange finds powerful evidence of a Supernatural Creator. But he doesn’t start his argument with the discovery that the universe must have had a beginning or with the evidence for design. He starts with the evidence that the universe is old (Fred Heeren, Show Me God, p. 318).

Now consider carefully this quotation from Robert Gange:

“The thing that argues for the existence of a Supernatural Creator is the fact that the universe has been in existence for between 14 and 17 billion years. Now that almost sounds contradictory. Most Christians who are trying to argue the Henry Morris line are trying to say that everything is very, very young. What they’re not realizing is the fact that scientists today accept ages of the order of 14 to 17 billion years is itself proof of a supernatural creation.” (Show Me God, p. 318)

If space exploration is, in fact, currently suggesting an older earth, so be it. If the information gathered is being wrongly reasoned about, so be it. It does not matter one bit as far as a Bible believer’s soul is concerned as to whether we have an old universe or a young one or a young one that looks like an old one. What we have is a magnificently created one!

God could have created the universe in an orderly fashion, but He chose not to do that. The initial condition of matter was originally chaotic (Gen. 1:2). The earth was without form, and it was void. Notice my father’s words in his commentary on Romans:

“In Isaiah 45:18 the record says, “For thus saith Jehovah that created the heavens, the God that formed the earth and made it, that established it and created it not a waste, that formed it to be inhabited.” The King James Version says: “He created it not in vain.” The word translated “in vain” in Isaiah 45:18 is the same as that translated “without form” in Genesis 1:2. The Revised Standard translates it “waste” in both places. Hence, God created the earth “not in vain,” not a “waste.” Referring to the original condition of the earth Job tells us that when God first laid “the foundations of the earth” that conditions were such that “the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy” (Job 38:6-7), thus indicating the perfection and completeness of the work of creation. Many have called attention to the point that the original word for “create” (bara) implies perfect work, perfect and beautiful order.” (Roy Deaver, Romans, God’s Plan For Man’s Righteousness, p. 168)

So, if God created the earth not in vain, and if the creation of the heavens and the earth was in vain in Genesis 1:1-2, then the creation of the heavens and the earth of which Isaiah speaks in Isaiah 45:18 excludes Genesis 1:1-2 and begins at Genesis 1:3.

Finally, God could have initially created an ordered universe, but He chose not to do that. He did create matter in chaos out of which order was brought. When did the initial creation take place? We do not know. The Bible does not say, and no one should be considered uninformed on the issue who refuses to submit to someone’s claim that he has found out how old our universe actually is.


This article is a response to Kyle Butt (2021), “God Was Not ‘Within Time’ When He Began Creation?”,, published by Apologetics Press on October 22, 2021.

Posted in Apologetics, Doctrine, Evolution, Logic/Philosophy, Metaphysics

Could God Create (ex nihilo) on the First Day?

[Note: This piece appeared in the Fall 2020 issue of “Sufficient Evidence,” the bi-annual apologetics journal of the Warren Christian Apologetics Center in Parkersburg, West Virginia. We appreciate the interest in the article by our good friends, Charles Pugh and Terry Varner, and their desire to publish it.]

In Genesis 1:1 we find these words, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Now we know that the Hebrew word used for “created” is “bara” and can entail ex nihilo creation. According to the Hebrew-Greek Key Study Bible, it is not always used that way, but the word itself does entail that possible use which, no doubt, it must have in Genesis 1:1. In Genesis 1:27 the word “bara” is used for the creation of man whose existence clearly came from already existing dust (Genesis 2:7) and rib (Genesis 2:21-22) and from Holy Spirit (Malachi 2:15; Hebrews 12:9). Now notice that in Genesis 2:3 the same word “bara” is used for something other than or in addition to what we face in Genesis 1:1. Consider Genesis 2:1-3: “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.”

Now, the word “created” in 2:3 covers all that is entailed in the finished work of God. Verse 2 shows that he ended his work that he had “made” (not the word “bara” but “asah”). While “asah” can refer to creation as such, “The basic meaning…is ‘do’ or ‘make’ in a general sense” (ibid., p. 1626). So, God finished the creation, at least as provided in the description given in Genesis 1:2ff.

Years ago, our brethren did not make an issue of the age or alleged age of the earth. In fact, there was a certain obscurity in Moses’ account that most of us realized from the way that Moses wrote. Some prominent preachers were quite clear in their definite conclusion that the Bible is indefinite regarding the age of the earth. In a most excellent article entitled “Questions of Chronology” that appeared in the February 22, 1962 issue of Gospel Advocate, Guy N. Woods affirmed, “(1) The inspired text contains no data on which the events of Genesis 1 may be dated” and “(2) It is not necessary to assume that the earth and man were created at or near the same time” (p. 122). Thirty years later (1992) my father (Roy C. Deaver) published his commentary, ROMANS—God’s Plan For Man’s Righteousness, and in it he wrote, “How much ‘time’ (as men view time) elapsed between the original creation and the renovation (the work of the six days) no one can say with certainty” (p. 167). Both Woods and my father gave elaboration that I will not here insert, but both of them were convinced that regarding the age of the earth, we simply do not know and cannot say because the Bible does not reveal that information to us. I can remember years ago hearing brother Woods saying to my father that these preachers that are trying to prove that the earth is a very young earth are painting themselves into a corner. And I can remember that my father received some criticism of his commentary for inserting the truth regarding the non-knowability of the time of the creation in Genesis 1:1.

And yet, with the passing of more time, it seems that some among us have become quite emboldened in their attempt to claim that a young earth can be proven, and that it must be proven, and that those of us who are informed must know and claim that the earth created in “the beginning” (Genesis 1:1) has only existed for a few thousand years.

Let me say just here that it is my opinion that much of this push among some preachers and other brethren in claiming certitude with regard to a young earth is an overreaction to a social condition or cultural situation. Some seem to think that since Darwinian evolution requires a tremendous amount of time in order to satisfy the requirements for the evolutionary theory, we must in response to that false theory whittle down the time. To me, it is comparable to what the church did years ago in its response to Pentecostalism. In order to react properly to the false claim of modern miracles, some brethren went to the extreme and equally false position that the Holy Spirit does nothing (other than what he does in his word). Now, to respond to a false view that seemingly requires billions of years for enough time support, some of us have gone to the other extreme and claim that the Bible teaches that there is not sufficient time for the evolutionary theory because it can be proven that the earth is, in fact, quite young. It needs to be understood that Darwinian evolution cannot be proven even if we were to allow the evolutionists trillions and trillions of years in which to weave their web. Evolution cannot be established by the allowance of a great amount of time or of more time in addition to the first amount allowed or by the addition of more time after that, etc., etc. Time is simply not the issue! Some things are not possible in the nature of things, and the theoretical creation of more time to allow possibility doesn’t help if possibility is not a possibility! Given all the time conceivable, absolutely nothing cannot give existence to something, a man cannot become God, and life cannot be derived from non-life.

Now, be that as it may, let us be clear about motivation and position. There is a difference between (1) the motivation for or the reason why someone takes a view and (2) the evidence used in support of the view. So, regardless why some of us believe we must stand for a young earth in order to meet the threat of evolution, the claim to prove a young earth must stand or fall on its own. Of course, both camps (those who favor an old earth and those who favor a young earth) are trying to be faithful to God. But we certainly do not need to judge the faithfulness of a brother on the basis of which view on this issue he takes. If Moses wrote so that we can know that a young earth is what we have, then so be it. And if Moses wrote so that we cannot know that a young earth is what we have, so be it. But if Moses did not reveal the approximate date of the earth, no one has the right to claim to know that alleged date, and he certainly has no right to impose that claimed date on his brethren. Furthermore, he certainly has no right to consider someone who disagrees with his claim as being simply uninformed on the issue. We do not advocate the truth, and we do not defend the faith when we attempt to prove what cannot be proven. Claiming to prove what cannot be proven is just as wrong as asserting that we cannot know what the Bible affirms that we must know.

Furthermore, it needs to be pointed out that the topic here discussed does not lend itself to scientific inquiry. Guy Woods, Roy Deaver, and Thomas Warren all understood that “origins” does not come within the scope of science. It falls within the scope of philosophy and theology. If one would study “the beginning” of our universe, he has to step outside the discipline of science in order to make the exploration. The “scientific method” applies to material things only in their material existence—not in how their material existence initially came into being. Science’s method applies to empirical things and not to how empirical things originally arrived. Science must consider material things as they now are.

A good friend of mine recently reminded me of something I had forgotten though I had marked it in my own book years ago. In Rubel Shelly’s 1975 book, What Shall We Do With The Bible?, Shelly affirmed, “The ‘beginning’ could have been millions or billions of years ago. Or it could have been only a few thousand years ago—with the earth having been ‘aged’ at the time God brought it into existence” (p. 91). Shelly’s onetime professor, Thomas B. Warren, wrote the “Introduction” to that book, and Warren’s publishing company, National Christian Press, published it and holds the copyright on it. Warren did not disavow the remark or edit it out of the book.

Now, let us begin to look seriously at the Genesis text. The KJV has, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved (ASV—was brooding) upon the face of the waters.” Notice that the original creation (v. 1) is separated from the literary account of additional creative work (v. 3) by verse 2 which entails a conceptual change and a pause in the creation account itself. Verse 2 indicates that God’s Spirit was surveying the scene of the formless and void earth; it was a chaotic, water-earth mixed mass. Verse 2 is a transition verse that ties verse 1 to verse 3.

Verse 3 follows the survey of the scene, and God then continues with creative effort: “And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.” Then “God divided the light from the darkness” (v. 4), and he “called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night” (v. 5). Then at the end of verse 5, we have, “And the evening and the morning were the first day.”

Now, in our Genesis 2:1-3, Moses wrote, “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God blessed the seventh day, and sanctified it: because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made.”

So, clearly there is a creation week of six days duration followed by a seventh day of rest. Now the question becomes: When did the first day begin? Did God create (ex nihilo) on the first day? Is Genesis 1:1 a part of what is described in Genesis 2:3? Or does Genesis 2:3 omit Genesis 1:1? Please notice that God rested “in” the seventh day (Genesis 2:3). So, did he initially create something out of nothing on or “in” the first day?

Now, we must remember that in Exodus 20:11 Moses recorded this: “For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.” So, we ask ourselves whether or not Exodus 20:11 includes Genesis 1:1, or does it begin with Genesis 1:3 following the Spirit’s survey of the chaotic scene. As we ponder that question, let us think about the extraordinary situation that it addresses. Let us think about the situation like this: before creation, during creation, after creation. Or we have—

God Before He Creates (Eternity Before Time)God As He Creates (Eternity With Time)God After He Creates (Time After Eternity)

Now, when does the first day in Genesis 1 actually begin? We can exclude the first category (God Before He Creates) because by definition Day One as described by Moses is a part of creation (Genesis 1:5). That leaves two categories to consider. And this is where the controversy has always been. Now let me ask, does the third category (God After He Creates) end with Genesis 1:1? Of course not. And no one claims this on either side of the issue. So, we then ask, does the third category (God After He Creates) end with the completion of the six days work? Or, is the creation finished completely by the time of the sixth day? Yes. Again, everyone agrees that it is. So the issue has always been: Where do the six days of creation as per Exodus 20:11 begin? Do the days begin in Genesis 1:1 or do they begin in Genesis 1:3? This is the essential question in settling the dispute as to whether or not the Bible provides information whereby we can know the approximate age of the earth.

Now, the advocates of the extremely young earth theory claim that Exodus 20:11 includes Genesis 1:1 so that God began the actual creation itself on the first day, and the first day is like all the others in that it is a 24 hour period. We do not disagree as to the time of each day, but we must explore whether or not Genesis 1:1 allows for such a description of God’s initial creative act. So, let us think about God and his relationship to time.

God Before TimeGod Making TimeGod After Time

Regarding the first category (God Before Time), we know from Scripture as well as from philosophy that God existed alone before time began. Of necessity he existed before his own creative work began, of course (cf. Psalm 90:2). The third category entails all of God’s personal history subsequent to his creation of the first thing that he created. Now the fascinating and crucial category regarding our issue is the middle one: God Making Time. When did time begin? The correct answer is that it began at the point at which the first thing came into existence. Since God didn’t “come” into existence, the point at which the first thing came into existence was the creation of the heaven and earth. Whether the heaven came first or the earth came first or they came simultaneously, Moses does not say. But time is simply the description of the duration of a created condition. Time is the “marking” or “passing” of moments or segments of duration. That is, time entails the existence of something that was created and which can only be maintained by something external to itself (God). So, time began when God created the heaven and the earth. But, of course, God did not make “time” in the same sense in which he made the heaven and the earth. Time was “made” by the creation of the heaven and the earth. Simultaneously time arrived at the same point at which the heaven and the earth arrived.

Now the question is: Did God create the heaven and the earth on the first day as Moses described that day? In Genesis 1:5 Moses wrote, “And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.” The boundaries or markers that defined the first day were an evening and a morning. Again, I would certainly agree that as with the other six days, we are discussing a 24 hour period.

So, the next question would be: Was the initial creation of the heaven and the earth WITHIN that 24 hour period? If the answer is “yes,” then the advocates of the extremely early earth must be correct. If the answer is “no,” then there is no biblical proof of an extremely early earth (nor of an old one either). Now, which answer is correct? The correct answer, as far as I can tell, is “no.” Why? Look at the following chart:

The First 24 Hours

Before The First 24 HoursWithin The First 24 HoursFollowing The First 24 Hours

God’s first creative act as recounted by Moses (Genesis 1:1) needs to be identified or classified in order to get at the truth with regard to whether or not Exodus 20:11 includes Genesis 1:1 in its six day reference. Consider the following:

T or F #1. God initially created before the first 24 hours began (True).

T or F #2. God initially created within the first 24 hours or after the first 24 hours began (False).

T or F #3. God created following the first 24 hours (False).

We would all say that #3 is false. So what about #1 and #2? Did God initially create before the first 24 hours began? If #2 is true, then God himself was within the 24 hour period at the time of creation. That means that time already was existing before creation was initiated! If #1 is true, then we face the situation that before time, God started his initial creative work. Either God was already “in” time at the initial point of creation, or he was “outside” of and “before” time. If Exodus 20:11 includes Genesis 1:1, then we must face the “fact” that God was already existing in time before he did his initial creative work! Consider the following possibilities:

T or F #1. When God created the heaven and the earth, God did so before time.

T or F #2. When God created the heaven and the earth, God did so during time.

T or F #3. When God created the heaven and the earth, God did so after time.

To consider these questions, let us think of initial creation (ex nihilo or “out of nothing” creation). But as we consider this, we must remember to distinguish the Creator from his own creation.


In order for God to precede creation, creation as an act of force must somehow precede what the force brings about. Does God exist before the heaven and the earth do? Of course. Well, that means that the creation category must exist subsequently to that of the first category (God). So, in the creative act itself, we still have to differentiate between God himself and the thing he is creating. If there is anything about the initial creative act that preceded the actual existence of the something that came to be, then that “anything” (power exerted by God) existed prior to the first day’s 24 hour period.

Creation is the transition from nothing to something. Now, when the nothing (ex nihilo creation) becomes something, the something must be marked by time since the something was, in fact, a created something (i.e. non-eternal). So, time begins with the initial existence of what is made if what is made is durative (i.e. something that has the capacity to go out of existence).

But now remember (as already explained), that God himself is not within time to make the initial something that he makes (the heaven and the earth). Before creation, the Bible plainly teaches that God was everlasting (Psalm 90:2). But, “everlastingness” (or eternity) is not time. There is no time to eternity. Eternity is outside the boundaries of time. Time began with something created. So, again, the question is: Was God within time when he created the first thing he created, or was he before time and, therefore, outside of time?

If we affirm that God was within time, we contradict Psalm 90:2 because we are told that before God formed the world he was before time (cf. Isaiah 57:15). But, in order to claim that Genesis 1:1 is a part of the six day creation per Exodus 20:11, we must say that God was “within” time (within the first 24 hour day of creation [Genesis 1:5]). In other words, to claim that Genesis 1:1 is a part of the creation referenced in Exodus 20:11 is to put God “inside” of his own creation rather than to allow him to remain “outside” and prior to and the cause of that creation. Furthermore, note that it is not enough to claim that the earth existed on the first 24 hour day of the creation week. Of course it did. The work that God does, beginning in verse 3, has to do with an already existing heaven and earth. But the point of controversy has to do with the “creation” of the earth. In our analysis we must remain clearheaded about this.

Now, let us revisit the three True-False statements already given regarding God and time:

T or F #1. When God created the heaven and the earth, God did so before time.

T or F #2. When God created the heaven and the earth, God did so during time.

T or F #3. When God created the heaven and the earth, God did so after time.

Applying each statement to Genesis 1:1, we would have the following answers:

The first True-False statement would be “true” in the sense that God’s initial creative act had to commence or begin before the heaven and earth actually appeared. Otherwise, God did not exist before his own creation did.

The second True-False statement would be “false” in the sense of the initial exertion of divine force because the initial exertion of that force would, by definition, have to be before time or there would have been no creation at all. That is, the cause has to be prior to the effect, but in the initial “creation” of something out of nothing, the exertion of the force must result in the thing God intended (heaven and formless and void earth) where the effect “triggers” time. When God’s initial exertion results in immediate effect (heaven and earth), the effect is now in time because it is empirical (subject to ruin and passing away). Where divine cause meets physical effect is where time began. But if the initial effort or divine exertion, in any sense, preceded the effect (heaven and earth), then God did not completely create the heaven and the earth within the first 24 hour day. There had to be a foundational or first exertion of divine power that constituted the initial act of creation, the force of which resulted in the coming into being of the heaven and the earth. So we would have:

Initial Divine Exertion (Cause)The Heaven And The Earth As Formless And Void (Effect)

The third True-False statement would be “false” in reference to God’s initial exertion of force in the creative act in Genesis 1:1, but it would be “true” with regard to the creation account as recorded in Genesis 1:2-31.

Now, in conclusion, I would offer the following arguments that proceed from the above analysis:

Argument #1

Remember: God either (1) initiated creation from “within” time, or (2) God initiated creation before time and, therefore, outside of time.

  1. If God initiated creation “within” time, then time existed before the heaven and the earth did.
  2. But it is false that time existed before the heaven and the earth did.
  3. Therefore, it is false that God initiated creation “within” time.

Argument #2

  1. If God was “within” time at the point of initial creation, then he was not inhabiting eternity.
  2. But it is false that God was not inhabiting eternity at the point of initial creation (Psalm 90:2; Isaiah 57:15).
  3. Therefore, it is false that God was “within” time at the point of initial creation.

Argument #3

  1. If (1) God began creation from his habitation in eternity, and if (2) God made heaven and earth for six days, and if (3) there is a conceptual pause between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:3 at Genesis 1:2 dividing the chaotic condition of the formless and void earth from the initial orderliness beginning in verse 3, then the making of heaven and earth for six days per Exodus 20:11 begins with Genesis 1:3.
  2. (1) God began creation from his habitation in eternity [Psalm 90:2; Isaiah 57:15], and (2) God made heaven and earth for six days [Exodus 20:11], and (3) there is a conceptual pause between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:3 at Genesis 1:2 dividing the chaotic condition of the formless and void earth from the initial orderliness beginning in verse 3 (the text reveals this).
  3. Then, the making of heaven and earth for six days per Exodus 20:11 begins with Genesis 1:3.

Argument #4

  1. If God created time, then he is not within time at the initial point of time’s creation.
  2. God created time (with the creation of heaven and earth [Genesis 1:1]).
  3. Then, he is not within time at the initial point of time’s creation.

Argument #5

  1. If God is not within time at the initial point of time’s creation, then he cannot be within the first day’s 24 hour period.
  2. God is not within time at the initial point of time’s creation (Psalm 90:2; Isaiah 57:15).
  3. Then, he cannot be within the first day’s 24 hour period.

Argument #6

  1. If God cannot be within the first day’s 24 hour period at the point of time’s initial creation, then Exodus 20:11 excludes Genesis 1:1 in its reference to six days.
  2. God cannot be within the first day’s 24 hour period at the point of time’s initial creation (Psalm 90:2; Isaiah 57:15; Genesis 1:1).
  3. Then, Exodus 20:11 excludes Genesis 1:1 in its reference to six days.
Posted in Epistemology, Logic/Philosophy

Can We Know What Happened?

We all think about the past. We can do this to a great degree because of memory. We remember things that occurred in our personal experience. However, much of what we think about and talk about regarding the past has to do with things that did not come within our range of personal experience. Most of history that we study is in this classification of information. We do not remember these facts or alleged facts because we were never exposed to them in the first place. But in studying history, we come to learn and to know of things that we could not know about otherwise. The study of history is an enormously important branch of inquiry. The study of history is the key to our contact with most of what has happened in the past, since our experience with what is now the “past” is very limited.

At times more information regarding claims made about the past leads to correction of the historical record. And this is as it must be. If historians make mistakes or assume things or allege things that were not supported by actual evidence, then when further search leads to a correction of mistakes earlier made, we have an improved account. This is progress in the acquiring of truth from the past or a coming to knowledge with regard to what actually happened.

But sometimes, men begin to “rewrite” history. That is, instead of researching material and recording “facts as they are,” they insert into their writing of “history” views that they have not actually found in the material that they are studying, but rather they insert an “angle of perspective” that they already hold for which they are in search of support. Some men in looking at the past even go so far as to claim that we cannot really have any objective view of the past. Their claim is that it is impossible for us to really “get to the truth” of something long ago done, so that it is impossible for any person to have an objective look or view of the past. I remember in one of our debates years ago saying to the audience regarding my opponent at the time that he had no literary past. The way that he was looking at history prohibited him from having knowledge of the past. You cannot use the past against or even in behalf of the present if there is no objective knowledge of the past.

Must a person be personally present in order to have knowledge of a certain thing or event? No. We know a lot of things without being personally present when these things occurred because others testify or provide evidence to us of these things. This is knowledge by the testimony of other persons. Too, we have “testimony” by empirical data. When non-literary items are discovered such as pictures or pottery, etc., these become useful “witnesses” to us of things gone by.

To benefit from the past, we must not “play games” with the past. I used to asked my students, “How long must I be dead before my having been here becomes a matter of mere probability?” In one sense, such a question may at first seem silly. But at times positions are taken with regard to the impossibility of knowledge of the past that imply that the passing of time does render knowledge of the past impossible. But, if the present can be known (and this article is not proof of knowledge as such, though we have provided that proof in other articles), is there something about the past that makes it impossible for us to know absolutely and certainly something about it? Does the passing of time make it impossible for information once current to be recovered? Think of these classifications of the relationship that can exist between past information and us:

  1. Possibility (knowledge that is possible to have now, but not yet discovered so that this information remains non-knowable).
  2. Impossibility (knowledge that it is impossible to have of the past because no record was left so that this information is also non-knowable).
  3. Probability (certain information found leads us to draw a tentative conclusion, a conclusion that is bolstered by some evidence but which is not definite or conclusive; as things stand, this is yet non-knowable).
  4. Improbability (certain information found leads us to draw a tentative conclusion, a conclusion that is bolstered by some evidence, but the evidence is not sufficient to lead to a definite conclusion, though it does suggest that something likely did not happen at all; this intellectual conclusion of “unlikeliness” or “improbability” remains yet non-knowable).
  5. Falsifiability (certain information makes it necessary to draw the conclusion that something did not happen or was not the case in the past, which would entail any information found that conclusively proves that something did not occur or was not the case; falsifiability, unlike the other categories already listed is a matter of knowability rather than non-knowability).
  6. Verifiability (enough information is gathered and is of such a content as to make certain positive knowledge claims possible and actual).

Let us think, for a moment, about the status of the claim that a man makes when he suggests to us that none of us can actually know for sure anything in the past. What is he saying? He is saying that the past is “off limits” to human cognition or understanding. It is a category of information that is simply not available to us for comprehension. But what has he himself done in making such a claim? He has attempted to declare that he knows for sure that there is one thing about the past that he knows! It is one grand, summation point that he seeks to make, to be sure, but it is something about the past, after all! Furthermore, he is either saying something about the past or he is saying nothing about the past. He is certainly trying to say something about the past as we see in the formulation of his claim. He is attempting to enlighten us about our relationship to the past. And if he is saying something about the past (and he is), then he contradicts his own claim in the making of the statement that he makes. And affirming a logical contradiction is, in effect, the making of an irrational claim. It makes no sense! The claimant refutes himself in his own claim by affirming and denying the same thing. It is like this regarding the claimant: I know one thing about the past, and that is that none of us can know anything about the past! But if none of us can know anything about the past, then the claimant cannot know that none of us can know anything about the past.

Furthermore, if none of us can know that none of us can know anything about the past, then it is at least possible that one of us can know something or at least one thing about the past. And if we can know one thing about the past, perhaps there are other things about the past that we can know as well. Who can possibly prove that only one thing about the past can be known for sure?

It also needs to be noted that the very concepts of “improvement” or “correction” or “modification” with regard to the past in the rewriting of historical accounts entail the idea of actual historical fact and objective and absolute truth. Something either happened or it did not happen. Something is either the case, or it is not the case. And in both situations, just as the “fact” is not affected by the historian’s own point of view (any subjective bias or preference), so the “truth” about it is not affected by his own point of view either. The historian may or may not yet understand the fact, but if the fact is somehow revealed from the past, there is then a “record” of it, and if the historian comes into intellectual contact with the record of it, he is getting to the “truth” regarding the fact. And when he reveals that “truth” to the rest of us in speech or in writing, he is testifying to us with regard to what he has come to know about the past.

But every time that an historian attempts to “improve” the historical record in further research, the very idea of doing so implies the assumption that there is known improvement to be made. But if it is understood that known improvement can currently be made by the historian in the writing of history (writing about the past), then it is being implied that there is absolute and objective truth about past facts that can be objectively and absolutely currently known before the writing of the “improved” history can be made.

Let us give an illustration that might help us here. Let me suggest that I now say: “I like horses.” Now, there. I said it. That claim is already a part of history (the past). Now let us in analyzing that claim note that (1) if I presently say something that is the truth, and if (2) the truth is the unchangeable truth unaffected by any subjective viewpoint, and if (3) the present in which the truth is spoken (assuming I told the truth about my liking horses) now becomes the past, I can now accurately say something in this present moment about what I just said in the past moment. The movement of time that “carried” my claim from present to past did not affect its status as a claim, and my current or present relationship to the claim earlier made is one that allows me to know something about what I earlier said. In this case, I remember what I said.

But, as earlier mentioned, most of what we learn from history is not like that. We are having to deal with facts found and statements made by others. This makes the discovering of truth with regard to claimed facts and claimed truths more complicated, but it does not make the effort impossible. I am simply further removed, intellectually speaking, from the facts and truths that I seek, and I cannot use memory to locate them. The situation as it is means that care, much care, must be taken in attempting to contact the past. I must rely on something found outside my own experience but now located.

This is all very important because the past or at least some of the past can be enormously important to people presently alive. In the preface to his insightful and extraordinarily sobering 1973 book, The Gulag Archipelago, the Russian author, Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, in revealing to the world the horror of communism, related the following:

By an unexpected turn of our history, a bit of the truth, an insignificant part of the whole, was allowed out in the open. But those same hands which once screwed tight our handcuffs now hold out their palms in reconciliation: “No, don’t! Don’t dig up the past! Dwell on the past and you’ll lose an eye.” But the proverb goes on to say: “Forget the past and you’ll lose both eyes.” (p. x)

There are too many Americans today who are completely out of touch with the cruelty and danger of communism. So many of our young people now have been indoctrinated with lies about our past and that of some other cultures. In her excellent and informative book, Debunking Howard Zinn, Mary Grabar has done a great service in showing how, or at least partially how, America is now being subverted by so many of our own citizens. Why is it that so many young people now hate their own country? The subtitle of the book is “Exposing the Fake History That Turned a Generation against America.” Howard Zinn wrote a book entitled A People’s History of the United States. And on page 25, Grabar in her own book writes, “According to Zinn, there’s no such thing as objective history, anyway: ‘the historian’s distortion is more than technical, it is ideological; it is released in a world of contending interests, where any chosen emphasis supports (whether the historian means to or not) some kind of interest, whether economic or political or racial or national or sexual.’” And by his own distortion of history, evidently Zinn has been successful in influencing thousands and thousands of our own young people whose current worldview entails a distorted view of America’s past that has now erupted even into violent destruction of the symbols of our past.

The Bible’s own view is that it is possible to know the past and to learn from it. Before leaving this earth, Moses told his people, “Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee” (Deut. 32:7). Over and over in the book of Judges, we read of the sad history of Israel who as a nation moved through repeated cycles entailing national tragedy and misery for over three hundred years because the people kept on neglecting to learn the lessons of history. May God have mercy on our own forgetful and troubled land.

Posted in Apologetics, Doctrine, Logic/Philosophy, Nature of Man

God’s Fairness and Man’s Free Will

Historically, controversy has raged with regard to the nature of man and his relationship to God. In Christian Apologetics, one would have to find a way to defend both God and man as to (1) God’s justice or fairness in making man in the first place (2) with a human will put to a purpose that would evoke divine justice in the form of punishment in the second place. This short piece cannot survey the total scene of all relevant aspects of the complete picture (even if we were capable of such a survey). However, we can identify and explore briefly some elements involved in this complex matter.

First, God knowingly and lovingly made man in His image, having in mind an eternal purpose to save him from sin, even before the first sin by Adam had been committed (Gen. 1:26-27; 1 John 4:8; John 3:16; Eph. 3:10-11). God desired to bring many sons to glory (Heb. 2:10). Giving man existence and giving him nature in the image of God made heaven a possible destiny.

Second, man was free from the beginning to choose obedience or disobedience. This is the significance of the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Gen. 2:17). This provided man an opportunity for definite pure positive law choice in the expression of his free will. The punishment for the violation of the prohibition regarding the tree shows us that God considered man responsible enough to understand the prohibition and accountable for the violation of it. The initial punishment for the man and the woman (Gen. 3:16-19) enacted for the violation was based on the fact that the violation of the prohibition entailed a will that was (1) independent, (2) free to exert itself, and (3) accountable before God for the consequences that would follow.

Third, there was nothing wrong or imperfect about the nature of man as God made him. He was innocent and mature from the beginning. Solomon tells us, “Lo, this only have I found, that God hath made man upright; but they have sought out many inventions” (Eccl. 7:29). Adam and Eve when made were certainly inexperienced, but they were not imperfect creatures. It is something essential to the creation of man. Of necessity a created man could have no past (experience). But he had to be mature by nature in order to be responsible from his initial moments of existence, and he had to come without experience if he was to come at all. While Adam was not deceived into sin, Eve was (1 Tim. 2:13-14), but neither one of them could sin without a good will that was his/hers to be expressed in the selection made.

Fourth, after sin entered the human domain, several things changed, one of which was that the human heart in every human being born (remember, Adam and Eve were not born) would be a heart that would choose evil early on in its personal history. This is what we learn in Genesis 9:21. After the flood, God said to Himself that He would never again curse the earth (cf. 3:17 and 4:12) or kill almost everything off as He had just done, because “the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” The exception, historically speaking, consisted of Adam and Eve who never had a youth. But beginning with Cain and Abel, this truth that God later has Moses record in Genesis 9 represented the things that were in place regarding all who came after Adam and Eve. The flood became necessary because “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Gen. 6:5). The “evil from youth” fact was cultivated by Noah’s contemporaries to the degree that they were no longer fit to live.

Now, while many people have over the years opted for the view that man is evil from his conception or birth, the Scriptures never declare that. They do say, however, that sin enters the heart of any given person during his youth. This was my experience and yours, too.

Fifth, this means that the universality of human sin following Adam was inevitable. Even now, none of us is waiting for an individual to arise who will never commit sin. One of the ways in which Jesus was and is so different from the rest of us is that by His divinity He kept His humanity under complete control. His sinlessness is a characteristic that proves His deity. When Paul wrote Romans around 57 or 58 A.D., the fact was then as it stands now: “for all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God” (3:23). Furthermore, he later affirmed that after Adam “all sinned” (5:12).

Sixth, given the point just discussed, there must be an inherent “weakness” involved when Holy Spirit is joined to flesh so as to produce a mere human being. God is the Father of our spirits (Heb. 12:9), so there is nothing inherently weak about our human spirit. Our spirit comes from Holy Spirit (Mal. 2:14-15). After all, we are in God’s image (Gen. 1:26-27). However, when combined with flesh, there is essentially a weakness that obtains because of the connection now initiated because spirit is now made vulnerable. The lust of the flesh is the spirit’s expressing desire via the flesh. So, the weakness of the flesh is because of the power of the flesh to weaken spirit. This sets up our freedom of will (Gal. 5:17). Consider: God cannot be tempted, but Jesus could be (Jas. 1:13; Heb. 4:15). We are not born in sin. But we are born with a nature that is now weak! This helps us to understand the “why” of Romans 3:23. Remember the Lord’s admonition to three apostles that they needed to watch and pray to avoid temptation, for “the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matt. 26:41). Every person born from Cain and Abel forward has been born with this weakness. That’s how it could be truthfully declared that Jesus tasted death for every one of us (Heb. 2:9).

Seventh, since God knew that all men would sin, there had to be a plan whereby all could be saved. That is, the solution had to be as large as the problem. In fact, in the language of Scripture, the solution was much larger than the problem, and so we read of such things as grace abounding “more exceedingly” than sin did (Rom. 5:20-21) or of “the riches of his grace” (Eph. 1:7). There has always been an “over supply” of divine blessing to deal with the sin of mankind.

Eighth, in Scripture we read of many sinners lost in sin and some who found salvation. The two categories rest on the free will of the men involved. Since God was always prepared to save any man from his sin, the finally lost condition of any individual bespoke what that man had decided in life to be on his own, and the salvation of any man bespoke the fact that he had decided to become what God would bless him to be. Man has never been finally lost because of his weakness; he has been finally lost because he has chosen weakness over strength. In other words, he chose flesh over spirit! And the spiritual law of kinds informs us that our crop can be no better than our seed (Gal. 6:7-8).

Ninth, this means that when Jesus spoke of the impossibility of people coming to Him unless the Father drew them to Him (John 6:44-45), He was referring to the two categories of people whom Paul later identified as (1) “vessels of honor” or “vessels of mercy” and (2) “vessels of dishonor” or “vessels of wrath” (Rom. 9:21-23). Furthermore, when Jesus referred to people who could not believe Him because they “were not of his sheep” and because of such could not hear His voice and follow Him (John 10:16-29), He was referring to those whom John would later identify as people who were characterized by the spirit of truth and the spirit of error (1 John 4:5-6). That is, the two classifications of people (regarding salvation and damnation) are: (1) those who are of the world, and (2) those who are of God. Christians and all those bound to become such today are in Scripture language “of God” (cf. 1 John 4:4; 5:19). They have an “honest and good heart” (Luke 8:15). Notice the possibilities and impossibilities just here:

T F 1. One can have an honest and good heart.
T F 2. One can have an honest and non-good heart.
T F 3. One can have a dishonest and good heart.
T F 4. One can have a dishonest and non-good heart.

The first statement is TRUE. In fact, this is the only class that can be saved or ever could be saved! The second statement might at first be considered “true” if picturing a man before he is willing to come to repentance and would seem to show the possibility of a man squarely facing sad facts about himself but yet unwilling to do the right thing about his sin (cf. Luke 15:17; 2 Cor. 7:10). But, on the other hand, if he is unwilling to do the “right” thing about his sin, he is not being honest about his sin. So, it would appear that this statement is itself FALSE. The third statement is FALSE. No one can be both dishonest and good at the same time. The fourth statement is TRUE. A person can have a non-good heart (evil heart) partly composed of his dishonesty.

Now regarding the third statement in the above list of True-False statements, consider again what Jesus said in John 6:44-45. No one can come to Jesus unless drawn by the Father, and he cannot be drawn by the Father unless he has an honest and good heart (Luke 8:15). Verse 45 shows that the “drawing” is done by Scripture. And those who are “drawn” are those who are taught of God, have heard from the Father, and have learned. These are the only ones that can come and do come to Jesus! The Father draws and the Father teaches, but all these students who are taught, who hear, who learn, are the ones who then come to Jesus.

So, all whom the Father draws to Jesus are those who are taught, who hear, who learn and who come. They all come! There is no class of those who learn, in this context, but who still do not come. My father used to refer to the word “learned” in verse 45 as a learning “in the sense of this passage.” What John said in 1 John 4:6 helps us with some clarification here. “We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he who is not of God heareth us not. By this we know the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.” Those who are “of God,” those characterized by “the spirit of truth,” those characterized by “an honest and good heart” upon hearing the truth are drawn by the truth. And they are the only ones drawn by it!

Tenth, if God wants all men to be saved, and He does (1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9), then whatever are the full complexities of features that contribute to a man’s damnation, they all rest on the rock bottom foundation of a man’s own free will which (1) was given as a blessing and which (2) turned out to be a curse because (3) the man himself failed to use it as it was designed to be used (Acts 17:27; Eccl. 12:13-14). He used his own will against himself! Jesus once said it like this: “If any man willeth to do his will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I speak from myself” (John 7:17). So, God can never be rightly criticized for the damnation of anyone or of everyone who is lost, but He can be and should be praised for the salvation that He has made possible (1 Tim. 4:10). And it is a wonderful thing that God is able and willing to use the evil purposed free will of men to His own glory and to the ultimate salvation of all those who love truth (Acts 2:23; 2 Thess. 2:10-12).

Posted in Epistemology, Logic/Philosophy

The Truth Is

All serious Bible students of the New Testament know that the concept of “truth” is of extremely high priority. Even in the Old Testament, Solomon once expressed that thought when he compared truth to something material that could be bought. He said, “Buy the truth, and sell it not; also wisdom, and instruction, and understanding” (Prov. 23:23). It remains something we all must have and must never discard. But in the history of mankind, many strange things have been uttered in conscious or unconscious attacks on the very idea of truth. In its defense, let us offer a few thoughts descriptive of truth as it is.

First, the truth is that truth is something thought or declared as a declaration. We can think in images or pictures. I can think of a flower. There are truths about flowers thought and/or stated, but flowers do not partake of truth. If there is an eternal Mind, however, then truth has always existed. Some things we cannot know but not because they have not been revealed, but because we cannot comprehend them (Psa. 139:6). God’s thoughts are precious and many (Psa. 139:17).

Second, the truth is that if truth exists, then no category of information is exempt from it as a characterization. If science or history or geometry or religion or philosophy, etc. are actual legitimate categories of inquiry, then any real findings in each one must be described, if at all, by truth. We cannot make mental progress and cultural progress unless such is so. When Adam and Eve were told to have dominion, the implications were multitudinous (Gen. 1:28). The world was flung wide open for exploration of truth.

Third, the truth is that truth can be distinguished from fact. Fact has to do with existing conditions, circumstances, states of affairs, etc. We observe facts such as a tree that is falling. It is a fact that it is falling. It is a truth stated when I, observing the fact, declare the truth of the fact, “The tree is falling.” Truth is sometimes told of past facts, present facts, and future facts. God’s word is salvation truth in proposition form (John 17:17). Jesus was the personification of that salvation truth in human form (John 14:6).

Fourth, the truth is that truth is, as a concept, ontologically prior to falsity. A false statement cannot at all be made unless it is in conflict with an already existent truth. To say that I am not human cannot be false unless it is true to say that I am human. This is a very fundamental feature of reality of tremendous implication in the discussion of the existence of God and human ethics. The idea of “good” is ontologically prior to the idea of “evil.” There can be no objective evil unless already there is an objective Good. This means that the existence of God cannot be attacked on moral grounds (using the so-called “problem of evil”) without invoking the very existence of God in the first place! The so-called “problem of evil” is a little late in arriving for the discussion!

Fifth, the truth is that truth is in conflict with falsity. John said that “no lie is of the truth” (1 John 2:21). This is a matter of definition. The “law of identity” would dictate in this regard that if something is true, then by definition, it cannot be false. If something is false, then by definition it cannot be true. At times because people do not know or do not want to bow to truth, they begin to play concept games with truth in an attempt to show that truth is not “fixed” as a characteristic of declarations. But it is!

Sixth, the truth is that truth fits facts as facts are. As non-facts become facts, the declaration of truth regarding those facts accurately depicts those facts. If I was not sick yesterday, then if someone says that I was sick yesterday, then he would be declaring a falsehood. However, if today I become sick, then the truth (if thought or spoken of my current condition) would state that I am sick. The facts “changed” in the sense that what was once not a fact now is one. Truth in describing the situation does not change. The facts may change, but truth correctly describing facts as facts remains the same. Truth is a constant whereas the facts are variables. Truth is consistently and permanently in harmony with the facts. Given the illustration, I can truthfully say that I was not sick yesterday. I can also truthfully say that I am sick today. The two statements could both be affirmed as truth because of the change in my condition. This is why I can say that while I was not sick yesterday, I am sick today without being at odds with myself. This would be a truthful declaration of a changed condition or circumstance. But it is not an admission that truth changed.

Seventh, the truth is that truth cannot be simply invented or imagined or “made up” so as now to exist. Truth must correspond to reality. If it does not, it attacks itself in concept because truth to be truth must be accurate. To be accurate is for it to have a relationship with what it attempts to represent. If I say that God exists, and if God exists, then my affirmation is true, but not because I invent the truth. The truth accurately or correctly represents the fact of God’s existence. Truth is the same for everyone. It is impossible for humans to have different “kinds” of truth that are in conflict with one another. If something is true, it is true for all humans. To say that something is true for every one is not a view that has always been popular, but when anyone attempts to defend the view of “partial” application of truth to humans, he is bound to go down in self-defeat since he must attempt to bolster his “partial” theory with a universal principle. In other words, when someone says that such and such may be “true” for you, but certainly is not “true” for me, the only way he can attempt to rationally justify his conclusion is to reach for a universal principle that what he just declared is true for ALL of us!

Eighth, the truth is that truth is information. This is so simple. It is so fundamental, and yet at times men fall over this truth. If God’s word is truth, then it is so because the information that God provides is correct. It is correct or accurate information, but it is information. Some brethren need to give further thought to this tremendous point. It is interesting that in 1 Corinthians 13, when Paul discussed the coming departure of the miraculous and the permanent arrival of “that which is perfect,” each of the three illustrations that he gave in verse 8 of the departing miraculous element had to do with information. God’s book is information (2 Tim. 3:16-17).

Ninth, the truth is susceptible to knowledge. Jesus declared that it is possible for us to know the truth (John 8:31-32). This is so because of the very nature of truth and because of the very nature of knowledge. Knowledge is not something floating around in the atmosphere. Knowledge exists, if it exists at all, in a mind.

Tenth, the truth is then that to deny truth as existent or as susceptible to knowledge is to engage in self-contradiction. The “law of contradiction” would govern this mistake. For someone to declare, “Truth does not exist,” is unintentionally affirming what he is seeking to deny. In effect, he is saying, “It is the truth that truth does not exist.” So, he is affirming explicitly that truth does not exist while implicitly affirming that it does. This is not rational behavior.

Eleventh, the truth is that truth is not abolished or eliminated by imprecise statements. Years ago brother Thomas Warren told of an experience he had once had in being invited to speak at a college. He was discussing “the laws of thought,” and particularly the “law of excluded middle.” He affirmed “Every precisely stated proposition is either true or false.” A professor objected, saying that such was not true. Brother Warren suggested that the professor give a proposition for consideration. The professor said that it would be easy to provide the illustration. He said, “What if I say that it is raining, when it is only sprinkling?” Brother Warren answered, “If it is raining when it is only sprinkling, your proposition is true. If it is not raining when it is only sprinkling, your proposition is false.” It is a matter of definition. The definition of “raining” would govern whether the statement was true or false. This is how extraordinarily fundamental the matter of “definition” is. This account also shows the absolute necessity of our being precise in our declarations. It is possible for a person to say, “It is raining,” when it is only sprinkling WITHOUT knowing how far the definition of “raining” extends. This is why we need to work on being precise in our own statements. The “law of excluded middle” as applied to propositions applies to “precisely stated” propositions and to none other!

Twelfth, the truth is that if anything exists, ultimately there is truth about that condition because for anything to exist, God must exist, and God is eternal Mind. And a mind thinks thoughts.

Thirteenth, the truth is that truth as obligation may be limited in time as to its application, but time itself cannot alter truth. This is why God can change his pure positive laws as contrasted in the Old and New Testaments. What some men were once obligated to do that we are not to do today shows the truth of what is here being affirmed. The fact that men today must do some things not earlier required of men again illustrates while (1) truth as accuracy does not change, (2) truth as obligation can and has. God doesn’t change (Mal. 3:6; Jas. 1:17). This is why moral law as such cannot change and remains constant throughout Scripture, but God’s pure positive law has changed (Col. 2:14; Heb. 10:9).

Fourteenth, the truth is that truth as statement of fact corresponds to fact (in accuracy), and if facts cease being facts, the statement declaring new facts is truth governing or applied to those new facts, but that statement declaring new facts is not falsification of the truth in its relationship to former facts. For instance, if a man told me yesterday that he lives at 222 Wildwood Street, and he tells me sometime later that he lives at 555 Brownwood Street, if he told me the truth both times, it was because, as earlier explained, the facts changed. The truth that he later declared regarding his new address does not attack or cancel or falsify what he earlier told me. Truth is incapable of attacking itself. Truth cannot be correctly used against itself. Truth is coherent in all its parts. No tension exists between any two truths—ever!