Did God create the universe only a few thousand years ago, or is the universe billions of years old? When we couple the Creation account in Genesis with biblical genealogies, we find that God created all things in six days a few thousand years ago. The universe is young. But you might be surprised to learn the Creation account also reveals that the universe is old. Let me explain how the Bible reveals the universe is both young and old.
In Part One, we saw that the events of 2020 exposed the immense apostasy of American Conservative Christianity and how easy it was for professing Christians to fall into the apostasy through politics. Now, let’s look at some more ways that God used 2020 to expose the apostasy.
We’ve all heard the expression, “Hindsight is 2020.” The past year was unquestionably one of the most alarming and catastrophic years in memory, so it would seem to be a good thing to look back on the year and see what God has been showing us. That’s right, God, who “declare[s] the end from the beginning” (Isaiah 46:10), and, who in the Person of the Son, upholds “all things by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3), perfectly determined and controlled 2020 to be exactly what it was. And you can be sure that He did it all with purposes in mind. One of those purposes is particularly important for Christians, and that’s what I’m going to focus on in this article.
There’s no escaping the fact that we’ve entered troubled and troubling times. How should we respond to this year’s salvo of calamities and bad news? Christians rightly turn to God and ask whether He’s causing the trials we’ve had this year. If He has, Why? Why is God bringing calamity upon us? What is God doing in this trouble? I don’t claim to be a prophet, but I believe that the Bible gives us some possible answers to these questions.
I have to admit that I’m surprised. I didn’t expect churches would continue to meet as the COVID-19 pandemic spread. But the issue has even grown and become very divisive. I wrote my opinion on the subject here: “Love Your Neighbor in the Coronavirus Pandemic.” Briefly, my position is that, because of the high risk for spreading a deadly contagion, showing love to our neighbor means that we must not meet. We are also to obey the civil authorities (Romans 13:1; Titus 3:1), and these authorities are telling us to stay home. Yet, some pastors stubbornly refuse to close their churches. So, I want to briefly give a rebuttal to the churches that continue to meet during the pandemic.
I’m confident that all of you know that, as the born-again children of God, we’re to display the love of God to our brethren, to our neighbors, and even to our enemies. Love should be the hallmark of our lives. That’s beyond question. I don’t need to list the myriad Bible passages that tell us this. But what is questionable is this: During this coronavirus, COVID-19, pandemic—circumstances that most of us have never before encountered—how can we best show love to others? When things change so radically and so quickly, there may be things that we’ve been doing all along that may now be blunders; they may even be harmful. And there may be ways to show love that we wouldn’t normally think of.
There’s a good chance that, if Christian humanism isn’t already playing at your neighborhood church, it soon will be. Christian humanism isn’t just one in a long list of heresies that have been bombarding Christianity lately; its doctrines are central to many of the others. Knowing how Christian humanism differs from the true Gospel will help us to root it out and “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).
We’re probably familiar with the secular brand of humanism for its rejection of God and faith, and its emphasis on finding truth, defining morality, and wanting to build a better world entirely through human effort. Secular humanism is easy to mark as an enemy of the Gospel. But Christian humanism, because it does not outright reject God and faith, makes itself harder to discern. This brands Christian humanism a more dangerous adversary than its secular cousin. But the two are linked.
I want to warn you against neo-Marcionism. Some preachers and writers either now promote or are just on the verge of blindly rushing into this dangerous belief. Around the middle of the second century AD, Marcion of Sinope began spreading his belief system that came to be known as Marcionism. One of his central teachings was the claim that the God of the Old Testament couldn’t be the God of the New Testament. The God of the New Testament sent His Son Jesus to be our Savior. The Old Testament God was a legalistic God of retribution. Marcion’s solution to this seeming contradiction was to reject the Old Testament from the Christian canon.
A. Years ago, if a Christian never married, his or her spiritual brethren might consider it mildly unfortunate, but they usually remained polite enough to stay out of the person’s personal life. Now, however, “celebrating singleness” has become so trendy that many Christian writers and preachers are advocating staying single. Whether someone marries or not is that person’s private business, but false teaching is potentially damaging and ought to be exposed.
You’ve heard the precepts: “Only make decisions that support your self-image, self-esteem, and self-worth” (Oprah Winfrey), “Of all things God created, what He is most proud of is me. I am His masterpiece, his most prized possession” (Joel Osteen, part of a self-declaration), “Sin is any act or thought that robs myself or another human being of his or her self-esteem” (Robert H. Schuller). Such thinking is becoming so commonplace that it’s influence can be found practically everywhere from popular magazine articles to public school educational objectives to the pulpits of neighborhood churches. As Christians, we need to determine whether elevating our self-esteem is a valuable part of our Christian lives or whether it is harmful. How does God want us to see ourselves?