The headline of this article seems to elicit an immediate responce of, “WELL DUH!!”

Since the outset the intelligence of the American populous to see through the initial explanation associating these actions with a YouTube video has been underestimated, and though this may say something reflective of the view of the “masses” in the White House, that concept shall be set aside for a moment.

Of course I am not the first to point this out, but if this had been in response to a YouTube video, one is compelled to question if this was being offered as an excuse or simply what was viewed as an inciting cause.  Perhaps some may be lost in the semantics of those two words (excuse vs. cause), nonetheless, and in either case, the YouTube video in question was offered upon the alter of American media propaganda as an atonement intended to appease the indignation and outrage of Americans, and indeed those around the world, who have from God received the testimony of what is good and what is inherently evil.  Surely most would not honor God and put it in such terms, but the common grace of God extended to all, that makes the sun to shine and the rain to fall and the plants to grow for both the good and the evil, is evident in the response of the peoples of all nations with a resounding gasp of horror.

We are also left with a stark contrast of Muslim sensibilities if this was indeed about a YouTube video.  Do Christians riot when video after video lambaste the very doctrines and historical figures central to our faith?  The answer is no.  Did Mormons riot and lute theaters, killing the cast and crew of The Book of Mormon the broadway play upon publishing of the script?  Once again, the answer is no.  This could be applied to most any religious group, however the point is clear: if this was about a youTube video, then Muslims have demonstrated not a religion of peace and honor, but one of immaturity and prideful impulsiveness.  I doubt this was the message trying to be sent by our government officials, however the reality of the situation brings us to no other conclusion if Muslims can be incited to such gross violence by a YouTube video.

Many weeks later, we are seeing the media finally admit to the picture emerging from the dots being connected on the page.  A picture anyone with a morsel’s worth of intuition could point out from the start.

Bringing this back to American soil, those who share my experience and/or understanding of Islam (limited though it may be) will likely join with me in saying that our government’s statement regarding “hurting the religious feelings of Muslims” is alarming.  Islam is a Religio-political system.  That being necessarily the case, if our government is to grant asylum to Islam and allow the system to thrive within sovereign US territories, then the US ceases to remain sovereign in its own right.  This brings up conflicts between the ideals this country was based on and the ideals of our national security, the likes of which I am not versed enough to comment.  However, I would wager a guess that neither is hardly anyone in this current administration well versed enough and/or knowledgeable enough to effectively subvert the coming reality of Sharia Law within sovereign US territories.

This is evinced by the continual capitulation of our government to Islam.  Certainly our foreign policy toward Muslim nations and groups such as The Muslim Brotherhood is lacking in foresight.  In fact, if we go back a few steps in the chain that lead to these most recent attacks we find that our own President’s hands are stained as he assisted in The Muslim Brotherhood’s rise to power as outlined in many many news articles from all sources (though strangely not in the mainstream media…I wonder why that is).  My dear friend Len Flack put this into perspective when, in a recent phone conversation he said regarding Obama’s role in The Muslim Brotherhood’s power grab, “you know, we have a standing order that all who aid al-Qaeda will be detained indefinitely with no chance of release.”  Indeed that lack of discernment in this administration is astonishing, and according to the laws of our land, damnable.

One is left wondering how this will be written in the history books and what view will be preserved as fact.

And now, because of the links I provided and the searches I did for this post, I shall take my leave as “The Man” surely is descending upon me to keep in check a radical such as myself.  TO THE HATE CAVE ROBIN!

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Aside  —  Posted: September 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

Same Old Game

Posted: September 23, 2012 in Uncategorized

Well here we are.  Another update.  This marks two since starting the blog just before going to Iraq.  Funny…I can still remember sitting up until roughly 0100 putting the final touches on the blog the night before I was to ship off.  So what brings the change this time?

In my dealings on Facebook I have noticed slowly but surely, as I explore ideas of truth, apply them to reality and scripture and post about them, that I have lost a fair amount of contact with many and have driven a wedge between myself and some of my family.

In realizing that some people are not exactly suited to such discussions, realizing that no matter how I say what I say someone is going to read malice into my discourse, and realizing that I am not of the sort who can simply stop talking about theology, I have followed Sandy’s lead and moved my blog to WordPress, though taking her leading one step further and discontinuing my Facebook account.  This was not a “cry for attention,” but a strategic move to minimize discomfort between my family and I.  Suffice it to say that face to face meetings will be interesting if the same sort of discussions are broached.

The blog format has been far more controllable for me and gives a welcome err of inaccessibility, counterintuitive though that may seem.  So what you will find here other than an archive of my Blogspot posts, is my most recent research, devotional writings, exegetical analysis of scripture, and cultural world-view interactions with the more major issues in our society such as same sex marriage and homosexuality, abortion, and certainly gobs and GOBS of apologetically oriented information.  Throughout all of it, you will likely find reference to, or outright statement of the Christian Gospel.  No punches will be pulled and lines will be drawn in the sand. So fair warning…

Thanks for reading, doing your own homework, and maintaining a sense of decorum, propriety, and maturity.

Thesis

            The Second Great Awakening was a time of religious fervor that instigated many to reconnect with or join for the first time a church.  However in the wake of this spiritual stirring, a young man of simple means named Joseph Smith founded Mormonism.  Claiming to have experienced heavenly visions providing guidance and wisdom to found a new religious system, the records of this time, as well as Joseph Smith’s own writings provide for the modern reader satisfactory evidence to determine the validity of Joseph Smith’s prophet-hood based on the requirements of Deuteronomy 18:22 as compared to the unambiguous happenings of history.  Historical records indisputably testify that Joseph Smith was wrong about his account of history (which is written in a book attributed by Mormons with the authority of scripture) on many points and therefore is disqualified as a true prophet of God, consequently and necessarily qualifying himself as a false prophet.  This paper will not address why these errors occur, as that is out of the scope of this writing.  Sufficient for our purpose will be to show that these errors do in fact occur.  The implications will thus be self-evident.
Critical Interaction
            Starting off with a clear determination of time frame of the Second Great Awakening is necessary if one is to have a foundational knowledge of the events of this time.  To remain focused on our task, we will not discuss any of the surrounding influences, effects, theology, etc. of the Second Great Awakening.
            Marking the traits of this second awakening as “a sudden increase in Christian devotion and living,” Justo L. Gonzalez places the Second Great Awakening at the close of the eighteenth century into the beginning of the nineteenth century.[1]  Gonzalez goes on to explain the traits of this widespread movement, “Attendance at worship increased markedly, and many spoke of having had an experience of conversion.”[2]  The effects of this movement are felt throughout New England for decades, as Gonzalez attributes the founding of several Christian societies to the influence of the Second Great Awakening, some founded even as late as 1826.[3]  Jonathan Hill is far more tolerant in his assessment of how long the Second Great Awakening lasted, attributing its influence to the founding of the Seventh-day Adventists in 1863, as well as the teachings of Joseph Smith.[4]
            Within the time frame of the Second Great Awakening, which we now know encompasses at least 1800-1863, it must also be established when a local revival within the vicinity of Manchester, NY took place.  This is referent to Joseph Smith’s claim that “Some time in the second year after our removal to Manchester, there was in the place where we lived an unusual excitement on the subject of religion.”[5]  Since this does not outright refer to a date, there is some reconstruction that must be done.  From Joseph Smith, in a record of what is said to be inspired, inerrant scripture, we read:
I was born in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and five, on the twenty-third day of December, in the town of Sharon, Windsor county, State of Vermont . . . My father, Joseph Smith, Sen., left the State of Vermont, and moved to Palmyra, Ontario (now Wayne) county, in the State of New York, when I was in my tenth year, or thereabouts. In about four years after my father’s arrival in Palmyra, he moved with his family into Manchester in the same county of Ontario[6]
From this section of Mormon scripture one may deduce that Joseph Smith was born December 25, 1805, his father (Joseph Smith Sr.) left Vermont in young Joseph’s tenth year (or thereabouts).  Assuming exactly ten years, this would yield Joseph Smith Sr.’s arrival in Palmyra, NY in roughly spring 1815/1816.  Joseph Smith honestly indicates here the non-exact nature of his recollection (e.g. or thereabouts).  From this point it is another 4 years until Joseph Smith Sr. once again moves his family out of Palmyra, to Manchester, NY, beginning with nearly the entire year of 1815 yields a date presumably around the 1818/1819 timeframe.  In verse 5 of the Joseph Smith History presented in The Pearl of Great Price, Joseph Smith references “the second year after our removal to Manchester.”  This would indicated that the “unusual excitement on the subject of religion” experienced by Smith in Manchester, according to these scriptures, and his own testimony, takes place in 1820 at the latest.
            This is troubling because the overwhelming consensus of the facts from all other sources testifies to the falsehood of the historical recitation from Joseph Smith’s own pen regarding not only his own history, but the date of the “unusual excitement.”  James R. White catalogs a long list of governmental records from varying sources countering the dates of the Joseph Smith history found in The Pearl of Great Price.  First he cites a record of “warning out” from Norwich, Vermont dated March 15 , 1816.[7]  This “warning out” typically happened extremely quickly if a family was not of “obvious means,” so that the town wouldn’t be overburdened by the responsibility of care for too many needy families.[8]  Already this presents a slight problem, for it shows that the Smiths were in Vermont until at least March of 1816.  Allowing that to be subsumed under “thereabouts” we move on to the Palmyra road tax records White cites, indicating road usage by individuals over the age of 21 in Palmyra.  Joseph Smith Sr.’s name appears in these records 1817 to 1822, as does Joseph’s brother Alvin’s name appear in 1820 (Alvin turned 21 in 1819).[9]  This irrefutably shows that Joseph Smith’s reconstruction of these dates is in error by virtue of the fact that for one to appear on the road tax record one must have been a resident of that community.  However, Smith does accurately communicate when the revival broke out in relation to his family moving to Manchester (i.e. two years), as we will now see the date of the local revival firmly established to be 1824/1825.
            Wesley P. Walters in his 1969 article, New Light on Mormon Origins From the Palmyra Revival firmly establishes through multiple sources and public records that the revival spoken of by Joseph Smith could have happened at no other date than 1824/1825.  In support of this thesis he levels several historical facts against the claim in the Pearl of Great Price that, according to Joseph Smith, this revival took place in 1820.  He cites testimony from a Mormon insider, Oliver Cowdery, who says, “…revival broke out under the preaching of a Mr. Lane, a presiding elder of the Methodist church.”[10]  This is significant because Mr. Lane was the minister who presided over the Methodist church in the time of the revival in question, and is the one Cowdery admits was the instigator of the revival.  Historical church records show that Rev. Lane was not assigned to the Ontario district where Palmyra is located until July of 1824.[11]  Also, another church leader by the name of Reverend Stockton is historically connected not only to the events of the revival, but also to the writings of William Smith.  Walters recounts William Smith’s testimony that Joseph Smith Sr. did not like Rev. Stockton because it was him who presided over the death of their son/brother Alvin and suggested that he might have gone to hell for having never been a member of a church.[12]  The familiarity of this man to the Smith family, as has been evidenced, presents a problem because he too was not assigned as Pastor to the Presbyterian Church in Palmyra until February 18, 1824.[13]  His presence at this funeral and a wedding November 26, 1823 were during visits he paid to the area, and are cataloged in newspapers that refer to him as Rev. Stockton of Skaneateles,” referring to the town where he was a Presbyterian elder.[14]
            So any revival that included both of these men (Lane and Stockton) who are so intimately associated with the events described in the Pearl of Great Price could be none other than the 1824/1825 revival in Ontario county.  Further support of this date is evidenced by the fact that the churches in this area saw no significant gain in new converts during 1820, when Joseph Smith suggests a revival was taking place.  In point of fact, a revival without perceivable and commensurate increase in church attendance via conversion could not rightly be called a revival.  This much is admitted by Joseph Smith in his classification of “great multitudes united themselves to the different religious parties.”[15]  Walters reports that by September 1825 the Presbyterian church had seen 99 converts, the Baptists had seen 94, and the Methodists, from whose influence the revival is reported to have broken out, saw 208.[16]  In 1820 the Presbyterians reported no significant increase, the Baptists gained 6 by way of Baptism, and the Methodists reported a loss of 6.[17]  One is forced by the evidence to conclude that nothing noteworthy regarding revival happened in 1820 and instead admit that the events attributed by Joseph Smith in Mormon scripture to 1820 truly happened in the latter part of 1824 and into 1825.
            What does that leave one to conclude about the revival tale in the Pearl of Great Price?  Remembering that we are not seeking to answer the question of “why,” we must conclude that the account of this event as Joseph Smith tells it is indeed false.  Since Joseph Smith’s false account is part of canonized Mormon scripture, one is forced to impute the same false assessment to at least the Pearl of Great Price. 
            The situation becomes more dire if it is realized that, as White describes, “if the revivals do not take place until [winter] 1824, and the first “spring day” that Smith can go into the woods to pray is in the spring of 1825, what happens to the “second vision” that supposedly takes place on September 21, 1823?”[18]  If this most foundational account of Mormon faith is wrong, and is based on a prophetic vision claimed by Joseph Smith, then wouldn’t this impute the totality of Mormon “revelation?”  Perhaps one could extent Smith some leeway, crediting this error to a simple lapse in memory regarding the date.  This would seem fair, but is one’s willingness to make this allowance in agreement with Biblical texts whose authority and historical coherence has been maintained and demonstrated for centuries?
            In Deuteronomy 18:22 we read, “when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.”  The meaning of this is plain in the terms of the future (e.g. “see if what he says comes true”).  One also may observe the implication of this passage for the accurate recollection of events being described as past.  It is certain that one who did not accurately reconstruct historical events would not have been acknowledged as a prophet of God.  Indeed Deuteronomy 18:22 tells us, “You need not be afraid of him.”  Or in today’s vernacular, “don’t believe him.”
            Even with the consideration of the Biblical criteria for prophetic testing, if allowance is still to be extended to Smith in permitting these errors, perhaps the following further evidence of Joseph Smith’s error will be adequate to relieve further doubt of his prophetic inadequacy.
            Given the sequence of events described in The Pearl of Great Price where Smith claims that his father “moved with his family into Manchester in the same county of Ontario” around 1818 or 1819, it would be safe to assume that Joseph Smith’s sister Lucy Smith was with them in this move.  And Smith admits as much by the statement “with his family” and then the proceeding qualification of “his family including eleven souls,” the listing of which includes young Lucy.  The problem with this is that Lucy was not born until July 18, 1821.[19]  So here, in revered Mormon scripture we have a blatant contradiction of historical facts, such as cannot be reconciled with any version of reality.
Conclusion
            As I stated in the beginning of this paper, the implications of this are self-evident.  First it is evident that Joseph Smith recorded his dates wrong, or perhaps changed them at a later date of editing.  This fundamentally denies him access to the scriptural office of prophet.  From this it is therefore deduced that because Joseph Smith does not fulfill the requirements to hold the office of prophet, nothing he wrote or taught should be considered authoritative.  Furthermore, what he wrote and taught should be examined on the basis of true scripture (Genesis-Revelation) to determine its validity, and in the spirit of Deuteronomy 13:1-3 should be examined as to the identity, nature, and character of God.  From such examination the totality of Mormon scriptures must be either accepted or rejected on that grounds.  The evidence shows that they must be rejected as false, just as Joseph Smith’s status as prophet must be rejected as false.
            Though Joseph Smith’s recollection of some of the events of the Second Great Awakening are accurate and history has secured the significant influence of the Mormon people, this does not translate to a determination of truth.  Indeed, truth speaks when the actual turn of events is accurately reconstructed, as we have done here.  The end has come to this: if Joseph Smith was any type of prophet at all, he was a false one.  This is not to comment on his intensions or sincerity, but nonetheless carries real and far-reaching consequences for the modern Mormon Church.  Whether or not pride and devotion will allow Mormons to weigh the evidence will only be decided one Mormon at a time.


[1]                 Justo L. Gonzalez, The Story of Christianity: The Reformation to the Present Day, (NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 2010), 326.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid.
[4]                   Jonathan Hill, Handbook to the History of Christianity: A Comprehensive Global Survey of the Growth, Spread, and Development of Christianity, (Oxford, England: Lion Publishing, 2006), 344.
[5]                 Pearl of Great Price: Joseph Smith – History. Extracts From the History of Joseph Smith the Prophet, History of the Church Vol. 1, Ch. 1-5, Verse 5. http://scriptures.lds.org/en/js_h/1

[6]           Pearl of Great Price: Joseph Smith – History. Extracts From the History of Joseph Smith the Prophet, History of the Church Vol. 1, Ch. 1-5, Verse 3. http://scriptures.lds.org/en/js_h/1

[7]           James R. White, Letters to a Mormon Elder, (AL, Solid Ground Christian Books, 1993), 102.
[8] Ibid.
[9] Ibid.
[10]               Wesley P. Walters, “New Light on Mormon Origins From the Palmyra Revival,” Dialogue, Vol. 4, No. 1, (1969), 61.
[11] Ibid., 63.
[12] Ibid.
[13] Ibid.
[14] Ibid.
[15]               Pearl of Great Price: Joseph Smith – History. Extracts From the History of Joseph Smith the Prophet, History of the Church Vol. 1, Ch. 1-5, Verse 5. http://scriptures.lds.org/en/js_h/1

[16]               Wesley P. Walters, “New Light on Mormon Origins From the Palmyra Revival,” Dialogue, Vol. 4, No. 1, (1969), 66.
[17] Ibid.
[18]               James R. White, Letters to a Mormon Elder, (AL, Solid Ground Christian Books, 1993), 104.
[19]                   “Family of Joseph Smith Sr. and Lucy Mack Smith: The First Family of the Restoration,” Ensign, (December, 2005) http://www.lds.org/ensign/2005/12/family-of-joseph-smith-sr-and-lucy-mack-smith-the-first-family-of-the-restoration?lang=eng#footnoteSTAR2-25912_000_003 (accessed March 7, 2012).

​The historicity of the prophecy in Daniel 11 is well established and could hardly be associated with any other time than that of the Maccabean revolt. So specific is this prophecy, describing in detail the conflicts of the Ptolemies and Seleucids, the Persians and the Syrians, that at the point where it diverts from prophecy now considered history to prophecy still future, the reader is challenged to understand not only where that distinction takes place but also what the still-future meaning could be.  Even so, one is not left without sufficient evidence and Biblical cross-reference to make an accurate and thorough appraisal of the data.  Indeed, by imposition of Biblical and historical data, I hope to show why Antiochus IV Epiphanes can not be considered the king referred to in verses 36-45.  Instead only the Antichrist fits the totality of the description foretold at the end of Daniel 11, as other scripture and history supports.

Exegetical/Critical Interaction

​Since the preceding verses (Dan 11:1-20) do not specifically deal with Antiochus IV Epiphanes, but do provide meaningful context, they will not be a primary focus and will only be used referentially.
​After a long lineage, we first come across Antiochus in Dan 11:21 as the most likely candidate fitting within the interpretive context.  The one here described as “contemptible” is also referent to the little horn of Dan 8.  These two descriptions alone do not undeniably identify the successor in v.21 as Antiochus IV Epiphanes, ruling immediately after Antiochus III of 11:9-19 and Seleuvuc IV Philopator of 11:20, but it would be decidedly difficult to fit another person or real world series of events into the prophecy without serious difficulty, especially considering the lack of difficulty in interpreting these verses in light of the Ptolemaic and Seleucid conflicts.  Consequently, Antiochus IV is most obviously the “contemptible person” of v.21.  As J. Dwight Pentecost says in his commentary on Daniel in The Bible Knowledge Commentary, “He took to himself the name Epiphanes which means ‘the Illustrious One.’ But he was considered so untrustworthy that he was nicknamed Epimanes which means ‘the Madman.'”  Miller agrees with Pentecost on this point as he cites the same testimony from Polybius’ Histories (26.1.1).
​Antiochus IV’s interpretive identification is further secured by the fact that he “has not been given the honor of royalty.”  By right of birth, Antiochus IV’s brother, Demetrius I Soter was entitled to the throne.  Antiochus IV was able to seize power because his brother was being held captive in Rome, and was only able to keep the throne by virtue of his success routing an invasion from a foe whose identity is unknown, and by influencing key political powers in Syria.  By this it is evident that even the manner of Antiochus’ assumption of the throne is accounted for, being described as “through flatteries.”  Other evidence of Antiochus’ identity in these verses is of the same nature: (11:22) he destroyed (deposed) “the prince of the covenant”, presumably Onias III; (11:25-27) he warred against Egypt (king of the south) in 169, (11:23) defeating them by deception and with few people, (11:28) and returned to his country with the wealth of his defeated foes via Palestine where he looted the temple (heart set against the holy covenant);  (11:29-30a) in 168 B.C. unsuccessfully engaged in a second campaign against Egypt; and indeed desecrated the temple by not only “abolish[ing] the daily sacrifice” and all other quintessential Jewish rituals but also by setting up an Idol to Zeus on 15 Chislev (December) 167 B.C. while sacrifices to this pagan god were offered before the idol on the temple alter, as described in Dan 11:31 as “the abomination the causes desolation.”  The overwhelming nature of the correspondence between the Dan. 11 prophecy and the historical data surrounding Antiochus IV Epiphanes asserts itself to be as close as anything may come to indisputable.
​With Antiochus IV Epiphanes now positively identified, the next task is to determine the significance he plays within the Biblical context.  To answer this question we must determine where, if at all, Antiochus ceases to be referred to and if so, who is spoken of after Antiochus departs from the scene.  Some like Paul Niskanen in his article Daniel’s Portrait of Antiochus IV: Echoes of a Persian King base their argument upon a presupposition that Antiochus is referred to throughout the rest of Daniel 11, beginning in v.21 and on through v.45.  Niskanen does not interact with the relevant scripture (i.e. whether another person is in view starting with v.36 or if this continues to be Antiochus, and why) to positively show that Antiochus is indeed the one who continues to be addressed in verses 36-45.  Namely, this treatment does not suffice to satisfy evident reason as Antiochus is seen immediately prior to v.36 honoring Zues in v.31.  This much at least is admitted by Mercer in his article The benefactions of Antiochus IV Epiphanes and Dan 11:37-38: an exegetical note according to the same observation.  So Niskanen recognizes that both scripture and history agree that Antiochus cannot be the one to whom v.36-45 refer, and yet for decidedly different reasons than Mercer.  
​Niskanen desires to attribute the entire latter portion of Daniel 11 to a Persian called Cambyses, the account of whom is recorded by Heredotus of Halicarnasses.  This becomes a rather difficult position to maintain if Dan. 11:41 and other such verses that don’t lend themselves to an Egyptian context are taken into account.  In the case of Cambyses, the “Beautiful Land” would be made to refer to Egypt as that land where Cambyses desecrated temples and massacred many people.  This is cumbersome since it is the temple associated with Yahweh and the worship therein which makes the land “beautiful.”  The beauty spoken of in v.41 is solely dispensed by Yahweh upon His people in the land He had chosen, which could in no way be confused with Egypt.  Neither does Niskanen take into account that both “the king of the north,” and “the king of the south,” are referred to in those terms throughout v.36-45, and that there seems to be an introduction of a third character, against whom both the king of the north and the king of the south resist in battle (Dan. 11:40).
​Since Niskanen does not allow for the possibility that the king in Dan. 11:36-45 is by design of God, and communicated as such by prophetic utterance, not Antiochus, his argument becomes labored and largely irrelevant.  However what Niskanen and Mercer do help us to establish is that Antiochus IV Epiphanes exits the context of our passage by v.36.
​More than establishing that Antiochus is not the king referred to in v.36 and on, J. Paul Tanner unpacks the details of the “three king theory” in his article Daniels “King of the North:” Do we Owe Russia an Apology?  As I alluded to while interacting with Niskanen’s work, there seems to be a third king introduced in v.36 described as “the King.”  This is significant because until v.36 both the northern and southern king have always been referred to by association with their geographic location (i.e. north/south).  The realization of this third king becomes increasingly important to the meaning of v.40 where the king of the north and the king of the south both war against “the king” of v.36.
​Considering any interpretation of Dan. 11:36-45 as lacking where only two kings are recognized based on Tanner’s thorough exegetical interaction of the relevant texts, the strengths of a three-kings approach are self-evident as the only plausible or critically allowable assertion derived from Dan. 11:36-39.  The only criticism raised against this approach is that the king of the north and the king of the south until v.36 were seen incessantly warring against one another.  However a plausible and likely solution is given by Tanner in the fact that though these two kings indeed are adversaries, history routinely reports of violent adversaries uniting for a brief period in opposition of a mutual threat.  This situation is not represented in the text, though it is an apt explanation why two otherwise vicious adversaries are seen in v.40 united against a common foe.
​So by imposition of the Hebrew based syntax, and the lack of counter evidence disallowing the existence of only three kings within Dan. 11:36-45, it is also undeniably established that there is certainly another character being referred to in the context of the latter portion of Dan. 11 and that Niskanen’s desire to find Antiochus in these verses while rejecting the section’s historicity,represents a failure to meaningfully engage with the Hebrew syntax and so the context.  Indeed it is not necessary to find Antiochus in these verses because the evidence bares out that an entirely different person is here described.
​Still endeavoring to answer the question of Antiochus’ significance, the question is now: who is it that is being described in Dan. 11:36-45?  Starting from what has already been disproven, it must not be Antiochus IV Epiphanes, nor can it be Cambyses.  Pentecost and Miller, whose commentaries have been cited in this paper, as well as the majority of Biblical scholars agree that the one in view here is none other than the Antichrist himself.  Allowing the explicit statements in scripture determine the application of implicit statements in support of this assertion, it is appropriate to look back to the “little horn” of Dan. 7:8 and “the ruler” of Dan. 9:26.  Here, the context is instructive in the identification of “the king” of v.36.  In chapters 7-9 reference is consistently made to end times and the things that come immediately before that time, and then again in chapter 12.  Dan. 10 and 11 are sandwiched between descriptions of end time events.  Furthermore, George M. Harton in his article An Interpretation of Daniel 11:36-45 agrees that Dan. 12:1 is an indication of the temporal setting that influences the context of both chapter 11 and 12, while he also appropriately points out that v.35, by its reference to “the time of the end” effectively brings to an end the previous flow of dealings with the gentiles and opens a new sequence within the context of the end times in v.36.  This places the over-arching context within the framework of the last days and so the identification of Antichrist in Dan. 11:36 is at least allowable, if not preferable.  The antichrist is the only feasible identification of one who fits within this context; even so, this does not positively identify Antichrist but makes him a likely candidate.  Among the ones who have been associated by scholarship with this label (Antichrist) are ones such as Herod, Constantine, the Pope, and Napoleon.  And though the demeanor of these rulers would correspond with some of the aspects of the king of v.36-45, Harton points out, “none but the Antichrist can measure up to the temporal qualifications of livving ‘at that time’ in the ‘time of distress such as never occurred since there was a nation at that time’ (12:1).”
​Due to the inadequacy of the counter exegesis and thus the impossibility of the contrary, v.36-45 must refer to none other than the Antichrist, within an eschatological framework as Dan. 12:1 and the natural break at Dan. 11:35 require.  By deduction this also answers the question of the identity of the king of the north in 11:36-45.  It is not needed that we positively identify who this is, nor can we, though it is necessary to point out that because this section is embedded within an eschatological context, the king of the north at this point is most certainly not Antiochus IV Epiphanes.  This is supported by the understanding that there is necessarily a large break in time between v.35 and v.36.
​Left with the somewhat subjective question of Antiochus Epiphanes’ significance, one is driven outside of the immediate context of Dan. 11 to other eschatological texts such as Dan. 7-9 in search of answers.
​In the angelic interpretation (Dan. 8:15-26) of Daniel’s vision (Dan. 8:1-14) we see the distinction made between Antiochus and the one to “take his stand against the Prince of princes,” this passage lending itself in support of the three kings scenario I described above.  Additionally this helps to establish the role (significance) of the “stern-faced king” of Dan. 8:23.  Pentecost comments as to the significance of Antiochus as he is referred to in Dan. 8:15-26 and 11:21-35, “There is no question among expositors that Antiochus is in view in this prophecy. What was prophesied was fulfilled literally through him.  However, the prophecy looks beyond Antiochus to a future person (the Antichrist) of whom Antiochus is only a foreshadowing. ”  Pentecost goes on to further accentuate the correspondence between Antichrist and Antiochus’s foreshadowing:
“From Antiochus certain facts can be learned about the forthcoming desecrator: (1) He will achieve great power by subduing others (v. 24).  (2) He will rise to power by promising false security (v. 25).  (3) He will be intelligent and persuasive (v. 23).  (4) He will be controlled by another (v. 24), that is, Satan.  (5) He will be an adversary of Israel and subjugate Israel to his authority (vv. 24-25).  (6) He will rise up in opposition to the Prince of princes, the Lord Jesus Christ (v. 25).  (7) His rule will be terminated by divine judgement (v. 25).  So it may be concluded that there is a dual reference in this striking prophecy.  It reveals Israel’s history under the Seleucids and particularly under Antiochus during the time of Greek domination, but it also looks forward to Israel’s experiences under Antichrist, whom Antiochus foreshadows.”
​It is important to note that Pentecost’s position assumes an eschatological context and so upon the justifiable basis we have established here in this paper Pentecost’s application of Antiochus’s significance is acceptable.  For an application that is more local to the second century B.C., Miller writes, “God disclosed this historical summary to the prophet to prepare the Jewish people for the coming crisis – Antiochus’s persecution.  Biblical revelations of the future are given by the Lord to his people to exhort faithfulness, to encourage during difficult days, and to comfort in suffering.”  While this indeed is couched more in the second century B.C., there is necessarily a sense in which God’s preparing of His people uses the Aorist tense.  Through consideration of the eschatological context one sees God’s preparing to be taking place in time, yet with ongoing implications referent to the future.  This is what Miller was suggesting in the above quote.  That is to say that God’s is now (then, B.C.) and continually preparing His people for times of crisis, both in temporal and eschatological senses.  This is witnessed in Dan. 11 as Antiochus foreshadows the Antichrist, the coming of whom was a distant event but also a current allegorical reality for the second century B.C. Jew.

Conclusion

​The idea that Dan 11 is eschatological, which is inherently prophetic and thus a supernatural work of God to tell history before it happens, is one that causes within many a desire to intellectually war against an equitable assessment of relevant material.  Evidence of this tendency can perhaps be seen in Niskanen’s interaction with this passage of scripture.  There are unfounded presuppositions in statements such as, “The account in Daniel is therefore unhistorical in spite of Porphyry’s best attempts to rehabilitate it,” an assumption Niskanen comes to by assuming, though never defending, that Antiochus is the one described in Dan. 11:36-45.  The evidence has shown this to be false, and so it is necessarily a false conclusion that Daniel is therefore unhistorical.  Niskanen admits that Antiochus never engaged in, or at least there is no record of  a third campaign to Egypt.  But instead of considering that another king could be present in Dan. 11:36-45 he continues to conclude prematurely that at this point Daniel departs from historical record.  
​Upon calling Dr. Niskanen, I found that though it superficially seems that this position is in conflict with a positive view of Biblical inerrancy, he assures that the sense in which this statement was intended is such that Dan. 11:40-45 is not historical in that it refers to future events.  Even so, one is left confused as to why this was not blatantly and in no uncertain terms spelled out for the reader.  At first glance this statement, and the deductions it supports, lends itself as ammunition, giving the illusion of authoritative evidence in the attempt to refute the principle of Biblical inerrancy.  All one could accurately fault Dr. Niskanen with is that perhaps his position could have been stated more clearly.  However the implications of such a statement are clear.
​Be that as it may, the premise still stands that Antiochus cannot be any of the kings in view in Dan. 11:36-45 because the section is necessarily eschatological.  As such, neither can Cambyses be any of the kings referred to based on the same evidence.  Clearly there is only one person who fulfills the prophecy in vv.21-35 and that is Antiochus IV Epiphanes, and an entirely different one for the fulfillment of vv.36-45 who is the Antichrist.  The significance of these two is that the former foreshadows the latter in both nature and deed, though not to the same degree, nor in the same temporal setting.
​The more theocentric significance to this passage stretching in meaning and context from Dan. 8 to the end of the book and indeed throughout the Bible is that God has ordained for certain things to happen, and to glorify Himself by means of those events.  Apart from being exegetically unfounded, one is also hard pressed to associate such a suitably God-centered significance to any of the other views mentioned in this paper.  Saying this does not prove the untruthfulness of those views for each does contain elements of truth, but rather seeks to subordinate them in credibility to that view scripture seems to clearly indicate, and what an accurate and thorough survey of the evidence and meaning produces.  The two (the Bible, and evidence) are in concert with each other, as always.
 
 
 

Bibliography
 
1.  Mercer, Mark K. “The benefactions of Antiochus IV Epiphanes and Dan 11:37-38: an exegetical note.” Master’s Seminary Journal 12, no. 1 (March 1, 2001): 89-93. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed February 12, 2012).
 
2.  Tanner, J Paul. “Daniel’s “king of the north” : do we owe Russia an apology?.” Journal Of The Evangelical Theological Society 35, no. 3 (September 1, 1992): 315-328. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed February 12, 2012).
 
3.  Harton, George M. “An interpretation of Daniel 11:36-45.” Grace Theological Journal 4, no. 2 (September 1, 1983): 205-231. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed February 12, 2012).
 
4.  Niskanen, Paul. “Daniel’s portrait of Antiochus IV: echoes of a Persian king.” Catholic Biblical Quarterly 66, no. 3 (July 1, 2004): 378-386. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed February 12, 2012).
 
5.  Miller, Stephen R. “Daniel.” The New American Commentary Vol. 18. Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994.

6.  Pentecost, J. Dwight. “Daniel.” The Bible Knowledge Commentary: Old Testament. Colorado Springs, CO: Cook Communications Ministries, 2000.

The Apostles’ Creed: Theologically Acute

            Councils and creeds are an undeniably critical part of Christian history.  For centuries they have shaped the church and the faith, to the point that they even pronounced the terms of what could rightly be considered within the realm of orthodoxy, though never so as to replace scripture.
            The Apostles’ Creed, as I will show herein, is one of the most acute and theologically dense creeds left for the church from antiquity.  It also happens to be the oldest.  Through an exploration of its history and theology I will show why this creed is the foundation for so many others that came later.  I also hope to show why other creeds founded on this one earliest creed, though meaningful in their own right and context, are superfluous at best.

History

            The legend goes something like this: on the day of Pentecost, the Apostles sat around the table, and after being endowed by the Spirit with the knowledge of all tongues, Peter said, “I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of Heaven and Earth;” then Andrew said, “and in Jesus Christ his only Son, our Lord;” James said, “who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of Mary the Virgin;” John said, “suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried;” Thomas said, “descended into Hades, on the third day rose from the dead;” James said, “ascended into Heaven, sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty;” Phillip said, “thence He is about to come to judge the quick and the dead;” Bartholomew said, “I believe in the Holy Spirit;” Matthew said, “the Holy Church, communion of the saints;” Simon said, “remission of sins;” Thaddaeus said, “resurrection of the flesh;” and finally Matthias said, “life everlasting.”
            As endearing as this legend might be, it is just that. There is no evidence to support this story of the creed’s origin.  One must go to historical writings and documents of the early church (first, second, and third century) only to find mere morsels indicating the origins of the Apostles’ Creed.
            Amongst tales of its use by the Roman church for baptismal candidates (a use that repeatedly appears) we find the earliest indication of the creed’s origin.  Most likely, the Apostles’ Creed developed from this tradition where many early church presbyters record the ceremony of baptism, including creeds of similar form used in a question and answer format.  It is accurate then to perceive from the evidence not a single writer nor date of writing, but a gradual development from a simple “do you believe in Jesus Christ…?” progressing gradually to add other statements of doctrine as the desire and/or need arose.  This is as plausible a scenario as any since the facts of the matter do not lead us to an author.  Neither does the creed lead us to any specific time period, though there are indications of the Apostles’ Creed as early as c. 215 A.D. in the Interragotory Creed of Hyppolitus, which is basically a transcript of a typical baptism ceremony.  The baptismal candidate would answer, “I believe” to each set of questions and be submerged three times.  Use at this date would necessitate an earlier date for composition (though as we’ve seen, speaking of a single date of composition is not very accurate), prior to 200 A.D. at least, if reasonable time were allowed for distribution.[1]  15 years would prove rather speedy for distribution and so an even earlier date could be asserted.
            Arnold Ehrhardt analyzes the need for this creed in his 1962 article Christianity Before the Apostles’ Creed.[2]  Ehrhardt deals with the ideas that this and other creeds were used to combat heresy, as a “test” of orthodoxy, and as a confession immediately prior to baptism.  He shows logical evidence for the first two reasons (combating heresy, testing orthodoxy) to be rejected.  It’s not that fighting heresy and testing orthodoxy didn’t happen and/or were not important, they certainly were as evidenced by the many ecumenical councils gathered to do just that, but that there is no evidence supporting the idea that the creed was ever used in this way.  In support of this premise Ehrhardt enters into an exploration of scholarly research investigating how churches in other regions outside of Rome dealt with heresy, if at all.  Surely, these churches confronted heresy according to the “rule of faith” embodied by the Apostles’ Creed, but this could hardly be said to be the creed itself.  The Apostles’ Creed later proved to be useful in such things but was not used in this capacity right away.
            What is certain is that the Apostles’ Creed was used for baptismal candidates in question and answer form prior to immersion.  This use does not preclude the creed’s use in other forms, as nearly all of its statements can be attributed to early apostolic teachings from scripture itself.
            At no time in the life of the Apostles’ Creed was it ever denounced as heretical, or rejected outright.  It has, since its creation (however it was created), been a valuable tool first used as a means to interrogate baptismal candidates.  Later it most certainly was used to guide the theological understanding of catechumens under such early church fathers as Augustine and others.[3]  There are also reasons to believe that the Apostles’ Creed was not necessarily the mother of the large number of creeds we see today but was instead a sibling and influenced other creeds as such.

Theological Analysis

            Since it is my assertion that the Apostles’ Creed represents all aspects of saving faith and, if interpreted in light of scripture which the authors most certainly had in mind, the defensive value of this creed regarding heresy does not require further refining nor revision, it would only be proper to enter into an exegetical analysis of not only the creed, but the source scriptures as well.  I will not spend equal time with all points, as I am sure there are a great many points with which all Christians who reside within orthodoxy would agree.  Instead I will deal at length only with those articles of the creed that have caused the most conflict over its life.
            The Apostles’ Creed has taken a few forms over the centuries.  There have never been large variations in its content either.  For this reason I will be referring to the form cited below:
I believe in God, the Father Almighty, the Maker of heaven and earth,
And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord:
Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin Mary,
Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried;
He descended into hell.
The third day He arose again from the dead;
He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty;
From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Ghost;
The holy Catholic Church;
The communion of saints;
The forgiveness of sins;
The resurrection of the body;
And the life everlasting.
            In this form, the creed has every piece of agreeable and controversial doctrine that has ever appeared in it.  Similar creeds surely have parts in common or perhaps missing, but this is inconsequential for the purpose of our study.
            Among the more agreeable portions, we begin with the first line: I believe in God, the Father Almighty, the Maker of heaven and earth.  Referent to such passages as Isaiah 44:6 and 45:5 where God defines himself as entirely one, and verses such as Genesis 1:1, John 1:1-3, and Acts 14:15 (this last verse is in a divergent context, though the implication is still the same: God created everything) dealing with the creation account, here it is presented that there is only one who is over the entire universe, who created all things and appropriately reigns over His creation with implied authority and power.  Though Christians through the ages have disagreed with the nature of this claim, finding division over the question of “how,” there is still unity in the idea that as Christians we worship the one God who is.  That is, Christians have always asserted with no confusion or deviation that they worship the one true God who actually exists and who calls all things into existence.  He is the self-existent one called “I AM” who has no beginning or end.  Surely this first article of the creed would have called the Shema (Deuteronomy 6:4) to recollection for the classically educated Christian of the first and second century.
            To say that this first simple line of the Apostles’ Creed would remind the faithful believer of so many passages of scripture is not to presume too much.  Students at all levels, upon exposure to this creed, were most likely in one of the most intensive learning programs of their life.  Whether the student was a layperson or catechumen, certain supporting scriptures would have been immediately called to memory as the words flowed from his/her mouth.  In fact this was entirely the point of this creed.  New converts as well as ecclesiastical trainees would memorize such things, not to simply recall the creed, but to be reminded of the words of sacred scripture from which the creedal profession flowed.
            Later, the fight against heresy would bring this article of the creed to bear surely on Hellenism just as we may use it against postmodernism today, as well as any other belief system that fundamentally denied God’s sovereign authority and consuming creative power over the entire universe.  In a modern context this first article could be effectively brought against Mormonism, specific to the claim that we may all attain to Godhood someday, if the proper criteria is met.
            And in Jesus Christ, His only Son, our Lord.  Jesus Christ (Luke 1:31, 2:11); His only Son (John 3:16, Proverbs 30:4); our Lord (John 20:28, Matthew 7:21, Revelation 17:14).  Not only does this line of the creed remind us of the name that is the focus of our adoration, but also the role He plays in the heavenly trinity, and the office He holds on earth.  He is Jesus Christ, as that name given him by the angels, according to the Heavenly Father’s decree.  He is the Son, only begotten of the Father.  He is Lord of all, legally, by lawful purchase according to the now settled debt of all mankind.  Lordship more expressly stated ensures that the Son owns those ones for whom He has paid in full.
            This line is connected to the previous, realizing that the God of the universe, who is the cause of all things, has determined the just price, not according to justice as if it stood as something separate from himself, but according to the council of His own will as the one who defines Justice.  He has determined the price, provided the wage, and determined its efficacy, in order that he might be just and the justifier or those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 3:26).
            Who was conceived by the Holy Ghost, born of the virgin Mary.  Conceived by the Holy Ghost (or Spirit) (Luke 1:35); born of the virgin Mary (Luke 1:26-27).  Preserving the mystery of the incarnation, the Spirit of God overshadowed Mary, and she was pregnant having never experiencing intercourse.  Specificity is tantamount to the theological implications of this article.  Jesus Christ was conceived specifically by the power of the Holy Spirit, not the Son or the Father.  Understanding this line of the creed in the context of Luke 1:35 asserts the Trinitarian activity in the incarnation.  If this verse were to be understood any other way than in a Trinitarian framework, any number of heresies could be dreamt up.  Arianism is one example.
            Mormons once again serve as a target of opportunity.  Mormon doctrine says that God actually had physical sex with Mary.  Specificity in the creed in this point corrects a multitude of errors.  Mary was a virgin even at the birth of Jesus.  Even if God had laid with her, she would not have remained a virgin, as the scripture is clear to repeatedly point out that she had not yet laid with a man and Joseph did not lay with her until after the pregnancy.  Could God have had sex with Mary and miraculously preserved her virginity?  Certainly, but since the text deals with both the miraculous mystery of the incarnation and the physical act of sex as two distinctly different things, there is no reason to assume one is the other or vice verse.
            Suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, dead, and buried.  Suffered under Pontius Pilate (Matthew 27:24-26, Mark 15:15, Luke 23:23-25, John 19:15-16); was crucified (Matthew 27:33-37, Mark 15:22-26, Luke 23:33-34, John 19:17-27); dead (Matthew 27:45-54, Mark 15:33-39, Luke 23:44-48, John 19:28-30); and buried (Matthew 27:57-61, Mark 15:42-47, Luke 23:50-56, John 19:38-42).  The fact that Pontius Pilate was governor at the time of Christ’s crucifixion seems to be some what of a minor point, but it does provide key dating information and so testifies to the historical accuracy of the gospel accounts.  That is to say the gospel stories actually happened within the context of the reality of first century Judaism and the Roman occupation of Jerusalem.
            The essence of the gospel message revolves around these passages in scripture having to do with Jesus’ crucifixion, seen in scripture as the payment exacted against the innocent, for the sake of the guilty, presided over by the just judge of the universe.  Understanding the former lines of the creed is indispensable to understanding this one line, and its strength when used against heresy.  To progress from this into probably the most controversial line of the creed, one must understand that it was the punishment dealt by God that Christ agonized over in the garden, not the torture the Romans could dish out.  God was the one doing the punishing, not the Romans.  If this point is fully grasped, the cross is understood to be far more disastrous toward Christ than mere whips, nails, and spears could ever be.  How could Jesus, the God-man, agonize over the same punishment later martyrs would endure while singing hymns?  The answer is that Christ was subject to the wrath of the father, not the wrath of the Romans, on behalf of those whom He intended to purchase with His blood.[4]  I realize I have repeated myself several times, but understanding this is ever so important if the discussion we are about to enter into is to make any sense at all.  Once again, the Father damned Christ, the only one worthy of salvation, on the cross, turning His back upon Jesus as he cried out “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”  Surely the words of Hebrews 10:31 (which hadn’t been written yet, but surely the Lord knew these words) were never more alive to Jesus than on that day.
            He descended into hell.  From this we may take up the space of several books, so for brevity’s sake I will represent the arguments of old and new, respectively pro and con.
            Wayne Grudem takes up issue with this phrase and does not repeat it when reciting this creed in church.[5]  First on his list of objections is the sketchy lineage of this one phrase.  It is true, as Grudem points out, that this phrase was not part of the oldest form of this creed “The Roman Symbol.” [6] He accurately asserts that this phrase was added later.  There are inherent problems with this view though.  There is a logical flaw imbedded within his argument.  Just because something is old does not necessarily mean it is right, and vice verse.  Something must be tested according to truth, not age, if righteousness and doctrinal correctness are to be determined.  The argument is entirely invalid in regards to determining doctrinal correctness.  Bringing this point up seems to be merely an attempt to cast doubt in the minds of those who have not caught Grudem’s blunder.  At the end of his article addressing this statement of the Apostles’ Creed he even admits that age does not determine correctness, not realizing the irony of his own argumentation.[7]  This is not the totality of his argument, but it is an unhealthy beginning.
Grudem continues in his denunciation of this doctrinal phrase, adding analysis of scriptures such as Acts 2:27, Romans 10:6-7, Ephesians 4:8-9, 1 Peter 3:18-20, and 1 Peter 4:6.  In dealing with the first of these verses (Acts 2:27) he acknowledges the fact that the term “hell” (hades in the Greek) is often used to describe the grave or death in general.[8]  He seems to be convinced by the implications of this to the verse at hand.  This to meets with problems when one considers the preceding verses of the creed already pronounced Christ’s decent into the grave.  To say this again would be a useless repetition.  Grudem certainly assesses Acts 2:27 correctly, but fails to apply such scrutiny to his assessment of the creed.  Acts 2:27, at the completion of his analysis, is rightly seen to have to baring on Christ’s supposed decent into hell.
            The same accuracy is displayed by Grudem in his analysis of Romans 10:6-7, Ephesians 4:8-9, 1 Peter 3:18-20, and 1 Peter 4:6. [9] So convincing is Grudem’s treatment of these verses, one is left wondering if perhaps there is any blatant statement in favor of this doctrine in the whole of scripture.  After consideration of these verses, Grudem cites verses he perceives to oppose the idea that Jesus descended into hell.  Luke 23:43 seems to suggest that Christ’s spirit when immediately to the Father, the very same day as His death.  This is perhaps a presumptuous statement, as understanding this verse in that way largely depends on the placement of the comma by the translator; the comma is not in the Greek text.  Changing the placement of the comma would change the meaning from Christ promising paradise that very day(e.g. I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise) , to Christ uttering these words to the thief crucified with him within the confines of that day (e.g. I say to you today, you will be with me in paradise). 
Grudem’s interaction with John 19:30 also leaves much to be desired as well.  He relates Christ’s cry “It is finished,” to mean that Christ’s suffering and alienation from the father was finished.  Likewise, Luke 23:46 where Christ commits His spirit into the hands of the Father is said by Grudem to show that Christ immediately went to heaven.  In these few points it would be helpful to first point out that Grudem assumes to know what “it” means in the context of John 19:30.  What is finished, and why should we accept the idea that it was the bearing of our sin that was finished?  Likewise, though it is agreeable and most likely given the context that Jesus’ suffering was finished as He uttered those words, “it is finished,” why can John 19:30 only mean that Jesus went at once into the Father’s presence?  I am inclined to agree with a few of these statements, but it still remains that Grudem’s arguments are not convincing enough to alleviate difficulty.  Does the opposite view, where Christ descends into hell, relieve such difficulty?  Grudem’s assertion is not and it is clear that he would have this statement stricken from the creed; Calvin came to a decidedly different conclusion in his Institutes of the Christian Religion, 16.8-12.
Most all of the arguments I have shared thus far, I have repeated from Calvin’s own assessment of this evidence many years before Grudem.[10]  Besides the logical and evidential arguments we have just been through, Calvin brings yet others of more profound relevance to the table.  As I am surely not able to do justice to Calvin’s ability to expound upon scripture and doctrine in such an ageless fashion as he was, I will here summarize what is worthy of careful scrutiny within Calvin’s work.  Namely, the gravity of the act of which we speak must be discussed if we are to find any meaning in this statement of the Apostles’ Creed.  I described this premise just prior to dealing with the views on this article of our creed.  Calvin presents the cross in terms of the punishment that was justly ours, that we have earned, and grace from which we have in no way merited.
One striking feature of Calvin’s scriptural interaction with this idea is that one does not see a single one of the verses outlined by Grudem.  No, Calvin does not look for a verse that says, “He descended to hell,” as Grudem seems to want to find.  Calvin’s method here is to understand the meaning of verses, use the meaning to develop understanding of function, and progressively build understanding upon understanding to form doctrine.  From this Calvin considers questions, though not expressly asked, like, “what was the cause of Jesus’ trembling in Matthew 26:37?”  “Was it human death that troubled Jesus’ spirit in John 13:21?”  What does it mean to be forsaken by God, as Jesus questioned of the Father in Matthew 27:46?”  There are many more questions like this that could be extrapolated from Calvin’s work.  I would encourage my readers to examine for themselves both Calvin’s and Grudem’s treatment of this topic to see for themselves which one comes up lacking in potency according to understanding of scripture and logical consideration.
Once again for the sake of brevity, and to pay honor to the lakes of ink that have been spilled on this topic, I will leave this article of the creed with one last statement for consideration that will show where my thoughts fall in this debate.  If we as Christians understand that “…upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace,” (Isaiah 53:5), if we understand that his punishment should have been ours, yet through his grace and mercy our debt was satisfied by the payment of another on our behalf, we must maintain that He descended into hell.  If we don’t, then we are saying that hell is not the punishment for wickedness.
From this point in the creed, there is not much in the way of doctrinal disagreement.  I will cover the rest of the creed rather quickly, showing my thesis to be intact in the totality of the creed.
The third day He arose again from the dead.  (1 Corinthians 15:4).  There is not much disagreement on this point.  Even dissenting groups like Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons still agree with those within orthodoxy on this point.  This in fact is a pivotal point for all belief systems related to Christ that affirm His deity.  Verses such as Acts 2:24 assert for us the fact of Christ’s deity and great power over even death, to the extent that physical death could not keep Him from accomplishing the Father’s will.  This point is so important, that had it not happened, Christians would have forever been left with nothing to preach.  Truly, there would be no Christianity, nor Christians of which to speak.
He ascended into heaven, and sitteth on the right hand of God the Father Almighty.  He ascended into heaven (Mark 16:19, Luke 24:51, Acts 1:11); and sitteth at the right hand of God the Father Almighty (Mark 16:19, Hebrews 1:3).  Christ’s ascension into heaven marks the acceptance of the sacrifice, confirmed by Christ’s placement at the right hand of God in the position of honor.  Scripture says that he engages in prayer, interceding for believers before the Father.  How this happens and what it means is handled differently by some of the groups I have mentioned previously, like Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons.  The ways these groups interpreter these verses does not correspond to the rest of the creed, nor scripture, and though one view may seem plausible at one point, the ways in which they treat this verse usually seem to betray a proper understanding of the Trinitarian relationship between the Father, Son, and Spirit.
From thence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead.  (1 Peter 4:5, John 5:22).  At this point, once again we see that few disagree, but many differ as to the function of this scriptural truth.  Indeed Jesus will return.  It seems that none who assert the heavenly worth of Christ disagree on this.  Within orthodoxy there are wildly differing ideas of when, how, where, etc.  Pre, post, and mid-tribulation views have strengths within scripture, as well as weaknesses.  Though disagreement abounds regarding the specifics, orthodoxy maintains, according to scripture, that Christ will return to judge all people, to include peoples of every nation, language, region; indeed not one person will be left out of His judgment, not even the dead.  This article stresses the scriptural reality that Jesus’ righteous judgment transcends even death.  The only exception I can think of is once again the Mormon view.  They insist that the judgment is not for people, but is that time when God will finally cast Satan and his fallen angels into the pit; judgment is not and never was for humans according to Mormonism.
I believe in the Holy Ghost. (John 15:26, John 16:7-8). 
The holy Catholic Church.  (Galatians 3:26-29).
The communion of saints. (Hebrews 10:25).
The forgiveness of sins. (Luke 5:23, Matthew 9:5).
The resurrection of the body. (John 11:43-44, Matthew 28:6).
And the life everlasting. (John 10:28, John 17:2-3).
These articles I have gathered together because of their close proximity to each other in the context of our creed and also because they represent the things Christians must do or experience.  Not to do or experience any of these is to be decisively not Christian.  Some are more obvious than others (e.g. forgiveness of sins, resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting).  Without these, there is no claimed benefit to Christ’s sacrifice.  These three have to do with the merit of Christ’s work, not our own.  This is why, as expressed in Romans 3:27, boasting is excluded from the reality of the Christian.  For if we boast then we do so on behalf of another’s work and our boasting is therefore not prideful, but proper worship of God.  Because of Christ’s righteousness and sacrificial forgiveness, we are compelled to forgive.  For as much righteous condemnation as we hold against another, Christ holds more towards us yet He forgave.  Because of the authority inherent in Christ’s identity, we will be resurrected, according to the faith he caused in us.  It is Christ’s work alone, finding no cause what so ever in us for honor, which guarantees these things.  Ultimately, the believer would be considered a saint, cleansed by the blood of Christ, in which case this title ceases to be earned, and becomes a gift awarded to the faithful, who God chooses.  This is no the consenting view of the Roman Catholic Church, but that is thankfully the exception.[11]
The Christian, irresistibly compelled by the Spirit, will always be gathered with other believers (communion of the saints).  This was called the “Catholic” church.  In the context of our creed, Catholic simply means universal.  The idea of a universal church is truly the embodiment of the formation of this creed.  The universal church would gather under these doctrines as outlined in the creed and expounded in scripture, as reassurance that all those within the “walls” of the church were brothers and sisters under the one provision of Christ.  This universal church was not a call to open the floodgates to all creeds, but to sift the waters so to speak.  Belief in the universal (Catholic) church assumes a gathering of people who find no disagreement in these fundamental doctrines.
Conclusion
            It is clear that all parts of this creed work together to support each other.  No article stands alone on its own merit, but is evident in scripture, in light of the implications of other doctrines emphasized throughout the creed.  I have shown how many areas of this creed have been used to combat heresies of every sort, though this does not seem to be its original intent.  Used in baptism, historically the creed functionally gathers under the eighth and ninth articles in its use to preserve the purity of the church as it is understood though scripture.
            I believe that the reason this particular creed has survived the test of time with so few revisions is due to its doctrinal purity.  The beginning of the creed gathers steam and energetically drives the reader’s focus to the central portion where Christ is discussed.  Christ is presented in truth and represented as powerful to save those who had not the capacity to save themselves.  Ramping down into the last six articles, the result of Christ’s work is briefly, yet meaningfully stated if these last statements are understood in context of what the creed previously dealt with.
            In light of the enigmatic history surrounding the Apostles’ Creed, it is ironic that not a single Apostle probably ever had a hand in authoring any part of the creed.  In light of this, and understanding that the legend of its origin is merely anecdotal, I think it would be more appropriate to maintain that this creed accurately represents apostolic teaching.  This would make it acceptable for the name to remain while also giving due honor to the timeless theology found within its lines.  My conclusion then is this: all elements of Biblical orthodoxy were adequately and sufficiently stated in the Apostle’s Creed and therefore subsequent creeds, though useful to observe historic creedal development, are not theologically viable over and above this earliest of creeds.  This is not to say that other creeds are useless or wrong, as much as it is to say that they owe much, if not all, to the Apostles’ Creed.
Bibliography
1. Augustine, Aurelius. “The Creed: A Sermen to the Catchumens,” trans. Rev. C.L. Cornish, M.A.
2. Berthoud, Alex L. “The Apostles’ Creed: the Holy Catholic Church, the communion of             saints.” International Review of Missions 45 (1956): 429-435.
3. Calvin, John. “Institutes of the Christian Religion.” vol. 2; (16.8-12)
4. Ehrhardt, Arnold. “Christianity before the Apostles’ Creed.” Harvard Theological Review 55 (1962): 74-119.
5. Grudem, Wayne A. “He did not descend into hell: a plea for following Scripture instead of the Apostles’ Creed.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 34 (1991): 103-113.
6. Holland, David Larrimore. “The earliest text of the Old Roman Symbol : a debate with Hans Lietzmann and J N D Kelly.” Church History 34, no. 3 (September 1, 1965): 262-281.
7. Lake, Kirsopp. “The Apostles’ Creed.” Harvard Theological Review 17 (1924) 173-183.
8. Miller, Patrick D. “Rethinking the first Article of the creed.” Theology Today 61 (2005): 499-508.
9. Scaer, David P. “He did descend to hell: in defense of the Apostles’ Creed.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 35 (1991): 91-99.


[1]           David Larrimore Holland, “The earliest text of the Old Roman Symbol : a debate with Hans Lietzmann and J N D Kelly,” Church History 34, no. 3 (September 1, 1965): 262-281.
[2]           Arnold Ehrhardt, “Christianity Before the Apostles’ Creed,” Harvard Theological Review 55 (1962): 74-119.
[3]             Aurelius Augustine, The Creed: A Sermen to the Catchumens, trans. Rev. C.L. Cornish, M.A.
[4]           David P. Scaer, “He did descend to hell: in defense of the Apostles’ Creed,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 35 (1991): 92-93.
[5]           Wayne A. Grudem , “He did not descend into hell: a plea for following Scripture instead of the Apostles’ Creed,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 35 (1991): 103.
[6] Ibid, 103.
[7] Ibid, 113
[8] Ibid, 107
[9] Ibid, 107-112
[10]         John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, vol. 2; (16.8-12)
[11]         David P. Scaer, “He did descend to hell: in defense of the Apostles’ Creed,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 35 (1991): 91.

Driscoll: Creation Sorts…

Posted: September 11, 2011 in Uncategorized

The scriptural data on creation has several views described by Mark Driscoll in his book Doctrine.[1]  This is a critical analysis of those views within the framework of what I hold to be true regarding the testimony of scripture.  I hope to show not only what I believe is in accord with scripture, but also why it is the most reliable position, and to demonstrate a mature and well-considered analysis of the text.
            If I am to be honest to my convictions and transparent regarding my beliefs, I testify here that I am an adherent to “young-earth creationism”.  I hold this belief because of the clear evidence of scripture taken in context with consideration for the possibility of other interpretations.  Other interpretations have failed to sway me for various reasons.  For example, Historic creationism falls on it’s face when we consider that the text certainly may allow it, but the author most likely did not mean for a breadth of time to be considered when he wrote “beginning.”  Why?  No I do not read or speak Hebrew, but if we look at the word re’shyth (translated beginning) we see that its semantic domain contains beginning, first, chief, choice part.  If we look at the flow of thought and realize that even though “it does not connote any specific length of time, nor does it necessarily mean that the next thing stated follows immediately”[2], the narrative does.  This is most likely why the translator used “beginning” for this occurrence of this word, knowing that the word “beginning” for the western mind connotes a sequence.  The narrative here is sequenced and therefore re’shyth here is aptly used as the beginning of said sequence, where the next occurrence is God commanding light into existence.  There are places where one could impose a lengthened period of time on the text, but this is only allowed by what the text does not say.  This is the same approach espoused by William Lane Craig[3] and the adherents to his form of philosophical molinism where God looks down the corridors of time and foreordains only that reality which has the potential to yield the most people restored to God, as God chooses not to impose His will upon a supposed form of human libertarian free will.  That is a mouth-full, but it is in the same predicament as historical creationism.  Scripture never states anything remotely close to molinism, but the text doesn’t deny it either.  What the adherent to these axioms finds themselves doing is playing a dangerous game of dancing in the areas where scripture is silent, and somehow verifiably defining them.  That is one example of my objection to one of the listed positions on creation posited by Mark Driscoll; my objections to the others are similar and based on the same sort of scriptural analysis.
            What of the “biblical difficulties” Driscoll projects onto the young earth view?  There are some distinctions that must be made, which Driscoll seems to gloss over.  This first difficulty is Driscolls treatment of the creation of light as synonymous with the creation of the sun.  These two are separated intentionally in the text.  Driscoll imposes “Biblical difficulty” by assuming that the sun was the only thing having the ability to emit light and therefore no light could have existed before the creation of the sun on the fourth day.  Further “difficulty” is enumerated in the related error that morning and evening couldn’t have existed without the sun and moon.  If we allow the sequencing of the text to speak for itself it becomes clear that evening and morning where descriptive of the waxing and waning of light and dark, and not so much the heavenly bodies called sun and moon as of yet, for they hadn’t yet been created.  If anyone is able to separate the sun and moon from the light and the dark, it is our God who is the One who causes them to shine, who gives source to their light.  As is evident by my examples of how I interpret these texts, my approach is more literal than Driscoll is prepared to accept.
            One issue I had not yet considered is the treatment of re’shyth as an extended period, thereby allowing for an old earth and young humanity.  I have not been persuaded by this view of the creation account, as I have already explained.  This brings itself to bear on the topic of the age of the universe in the same manner as molinism relates to the text of scripture: scripture merely allows it.  Scripture far from intends it.  It is more reliable and scripturally sound to assert that “the heavens” effectively means “all else outside of the earth.  This is supported later in scripture when “the Heavens” are enumerated, including the entire universe.  This too is not outside of the semantic domain of shamayim (the heavens) and in fact is a more likely treatment of the word in context.
That being said, I also find issue with the suggestion that all of this must be reconciled with an old-earth view.  An old-earth view is certainly not the measure of relevance and meaningful commentary on creation.  To the contrary, an old-earth view is an adaptation for supporting an evolutionary view.  A discussion on this topic should rightly address what God’s creating “every creature according to its kind” means, as well as an analysis of the opposing data regarding micro/macroevolution and the effective limitations and realms of observable operation of each.[4]
As can be seen by my stated position, the issue of Biblical authority in this debate is one that is manifest throughout but hardly addressed in an adequate fashion.  Or perhaps it seems that we never hear from the folks who can adequately handle the scriptures in such a capacity as to display the foolishness of any other position besides the Biblical one.  This is the true power of scripture.  Not that every word is true.  To be sure it is!  But the power of the text is in the fact that a learned approach, with insight into the subject at hand fundamentally asserts the impossibility of the contrary and leaves the one asserting the negative to be grasping for proof, while the word is found to be a never-ending well spring.
 

 

Bibliography

1.     Driscoll, Mark Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe
Wheaton Ill.,: Crossway 2010
2.     Lane Craig, William Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics
[S.I.]: Pearl Pub. 1995
3.     Alpha and Omega Ministries. “Evidence for Special Creation From Scientific Evidence.”


[1]           Mark Driscoll, Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe
(Wheaton Ill.,: Crossway 2010)
[2] Ibid, 90
[3]             William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics
([S.I.]: Pearl Pub. 1995)
[4]           Alpha and Omega Ministries, “Evidence for Special Creation From Scientific Evidence,”

        In his article “Applying the Old Testament Law Today” J. Daniel Hays presents what I would assert is the most profoundly revealing method of Bible analysis academia has ever produced.[1]  Founded not upon what one may arbitrarily think a verse is saying, nor upon what is keenly new from an old text, but from a well informed position of history, literary analysis, and contextual consideration.  Presented here is no “new” method, and neither is this rightly called “principlising”, as the author terms it.  What this is called is no less than sound exegesis of the text, where one reads from the text and not into it (eisegesis) seeking to uncover that which is hidden by the expanse of time, that which is separated from us by the rift of culture: the author’s (both earthly and heavenly) intended meaning.  Only from this stand point can we come to the proper, and same conclusion Hays does when we find a universal principle, bridging the old and new testaments, which Hays rightly points out, “These universal principles will often be related directly to the character of God and His holiness, the nature of sin, the issue of obedience, or concern for other people.”  Truly the only weakness in this method is from that of the one using it, as we all have presuppositions to which we are sometimes blind, or those by which we are blinded. This method effectively gives the user the best chance at neutralizing their bias, and least chance of emotionalizing or misinterpreting scripture.  Why?  Because the “universal concepts” are inductively revealed by word meaning, sentence structure, history, culture of the time, etc. in the best and most consistent manner, the author’s message is thereby preserved and honored while the reader’s own ideas of what the text is saying are thereby minimized and he/she is brought into submission to the true meaning of the text.[2]
            So, bringing all of that to bear on the subject of the Old Testament’s validity today for the New Testament Christian; it is evident that the text is not in contradiction but harmony.  When the text says that the law shall not pass away (Matt 5:17) and then seems to contradict itself when it says that believers are no longer under the law (Romans 7:1 – 6; Galatians 3 – 4), and given the well exegeted treatment of the text by Hays, it is clear that what the law displays of God’s character and holiness will never pass away.  That is how the law itself can be no longer valid and yet we turn to it to understand who God is in His immortal qualities; not seeking to obey laws, but seeking to know and love God as we are empowered to do so by the spirit.
            This method put to task on Leviticus 26:1-11 brings us into a conditional covenant between God and the people He has freed from slavery, whom He provided for in the desert, a people known by God’s own name.  In nationally bearing the name of God there are requirements placed on this nation which may have seemed odd to others, but the Lord merely explains them here by saying “I am the LORD your God.”  This is to say that the universal principle is one of God’s decree and righteousness.  Merely by virtue of who He is, He is able to command in righteousness that His people do “xyz” no matter how ludicrous it seemed on the surface.  He is God, and what He decrees to be pleasing unto him is what will ultimately please Him, and what He decrees to be an abomination is exactly that.  These things exist as either good or bad by virtue of God’s decree to make them so.  So God expressly states here, do what I tell you because I say so and I am righteous and holy, or you will not reap my blessing.
This is expressly stated by God to be a conditional covenant, so the conditional clause “if” is the portion of this that no longer applies.  For later, as in the past, we see that Israel at no time lives out the terms of the covenant.  However, God is merciful and later extends a Royal grant to a people who have no other hope and who merit only destruction, a covenant where His own character is at stake if this covenant is to be broken.
This is where the personal application is found; in realizing that any one of us, at any time, according to our own covenants, would be found damnable, and God by virtue of His holiness wields such mercy as to provide a way of restoration for those who could not otherwise survive His righteous judgment.  I realize this in my own life as I am unable to live a day without sin, and yet God has cast my sin upon the kipper that I may live and glorify my father in heaven.[3]
  

 

Bibliography

1.  J. Daniel Hays, “Applying the Old Testament Law Today” Biblical Studies.org.uk
2.  Duvall, J. Scott and J. Daniel Hays. Grasping God’s Word. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2005.
3. LaSor, William Sanford, David Allan Hubbard, Frederic Wm. Bush. Old Testament Survey. Grand Rapids, Michigan/Cambridge, UK: Willian B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1996.


[1]           J. Daniel Hays, “Applying the Old Testament Law Today” Biblical Studies.org.uk
[2]           J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays, Grasping God’s Word (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan, 2005), 87-96
[3]             William Sanford Lasor et al., Old Testament Survey (Grand Rapids, Michigan/Cambridge, UK: Willian B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1996), 96-97.