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Does the Bible have authority?

We love to be our own authority. And in a time where personal autonomy is most important, all forms of authority are being thrown out. This creates a problem because most people understand that authority is actually good. There are legitimate forms of authority that are necessary. So, is the Bible a legitimate authority in our life?

This podcast looks at the view of authority in our culture. It then presents three reasons why the Bible really does have authority over our lives. Check it out!

You can follow the Coffeehouse Questions Podcast and have it automatically downloaded to your device by subscribing on iTunes. If you don’t have iTunes, find the podcast and follow on SoundCloud or search “Coffeehouse Questions with Ryan Pauly” on your Android podcast player. Finally, if you’d rather stick to the radio, you can listen to the show on 100.1 KGBA every Saturday night from 9-9:30 PT.

Like the Facebook page or follow on Instagram to interact with Ryan and his guests on future shows. Your questions and comments help to make the show more interactive. So, send in those questions at contact@coffeehousequestions.com, FacebookTwitterInstagram, or by text at (714) 989-6927 (Google Voice number for texts only).

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Is it wrong to reinterpret Scripture?

How should we interpret Scripture and what should we use to do it? Should we use science to help better understand the Bible or should theology help us better understand science?

I think it is necessary to start with a very important point. There is a difference between data and interpretations. God has revealed two “books” to us. He has given us the book of nature and the book of the Bible. The words of the Bible and the record of nature is the data. This data does not change. However, our interpretation of this data, which is theology and science, might change and may be wrong.

So I want to suggest that it is possible to reinterpret Scripture without changing the words of the Bible. Instead of reinterpretation changing the Bible, it is us correcting our theology and something we misunderstood about Scripture.

But isn’t science man’s knowledge and the Bible is God’s word? Doesn’t this mean that God’s word is always right and science is the one that is wrong?

It is common for people to raise objections to the record of nature and the words of the Bible being in agreement. They say that these two records are contradictory because at the surface we see two different messages. Two reasons are generally given as to why these two records seem to contradict. First is the fact that Genesis 3:17-19 and Romans 8:20-22 teach that the ground has been cursed. Since the fall of man in Genesis 3, the world has been broken, groaning, and corrupted. The second reason is that man is fallen. Jeremiah 17:9 says that the heart is deceitful and wicked. We also see in Ecclesiastes 7:20 that there is no righteous man who never sins and always does good. So, the argument is made that sinful, deceitful, and fallen men cannot correctly understand a broken world. The Bible is the uncorrupted, true, and eternal word of God. Therefore, the record of nature cannot compare to the perfect, inspired word of God.

3 Ways Science and Theology Relate

The first view called compartmentalism. This view teaches that science and theology are completely different areas of knowledge and that they need to stay separate.

A second view is called Biblicism. This view teaches that the only source of reliable knowledge is the Bible. This is usually argued for based on what I mentioned before about the world being broken and man being corrupt. In this view, we have to study the world through the lens of the Bible.

The third view is dual revelationsim. This view teaches that both God’s word and God’s world are consistent and complementary revelations when properly interpreted. These two revelations are also referred to as general and special revelation.

Image result for dual revelationWhen we recognize that both nature and the Bible are revelations from God, then we need to understand that each one should be taken with equal weight. By equal I mean
that we have to recognize that the two revelations are different and that we have to understand each one the best that we can. Both revelations are used to understand God more because they are two different ways that God has revealed himself to us.

There are many things about nature that the Bible doesn’t speak about and there are theological issues that we could never discover in nature. We will never learn that Jesus is the Messiah or the doctrine of sanctification from nature. Also, the Bible doesn’t speak about other planets or scientific discoveries like atoms. God didn’t reveal everything to us in the Bible. Therefore, it is important to understand where each revelations is limited.  So if general revelation gives us insight into special revelation, then it should be considered and inform our interpretation Scripture. The Bible doesn’t tell us a lot about how creation took place. So if we know things from general revelation that align with Scripture, then we should be able to us it to correct our interpretation.

Understand that we are not changing God’s word with general revelation but only our interpretation of God’s word. If fallen man can get correct interpretations of Scripture, then we should be able to get correct interpretations of nature.

Which view do you hold to when it comes to God’s revelations and our interpretations?

Homosexuality: Truth and Compassion with Alan Shlemon (Part 1)

What does the Bible say about homosexuality? Are people born gay? Is it a choice? When should we bring up the topic of homosexuality with a gay affirming friend or family member?

Listen to Alan Shlemon, speaker at Stand to Reason, as he shares how Christians can respond to these questions with both truth and compassion.

Did you want to review some of the points Alan made in our discussion? Check out his article “Homosexuality: Know the Truth and Speak It with Compassion” at STR.org or get your own copy of Apologetics for a New Generation by Dr. Sean McDowell.

You can follow the Coffeehouse Questions Podcast and have it automatically downloaded to your device by subscribing on iTunes. If you don’t have iTunes, find the podcast and follow on SoundCloud or search “Coffeehouse Questions with Ryan Pauly” on your Android podcast player. Finally, if you’d rather stick to the radio, you can listen to the show on 100.1 KGBA every Saturday night from 9-9:30 PT.

Like the Facebook page or follow on Instagram to interact with Ryan and his guests on future shows. Your questions and comments help to make the show more interactive. So, send in those questions at contact@coffeehousequestions.com, FacebookTwitterInstagram, or by text at (714) 989-6927 (Google Voice number for texts only).

Were Adam and Eve Historical Figures?

Just yesterday I finished reading The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief. It was writing by Dr. Francis Collins, who holds a PhD in Physical Chemistry from Yale University. Dr. Collins is most famous for his work as the head of the Human Genome Project. As one of the leading scientists in the field of DNA and a believer, it was very interesting to hear Dr. Collins’ approach to the topic of science and faith. He understood that many Americans have trouble reconciling their faith and science and this leads many believers to become agnostic or atheist.  It was his journey in science that actually took him from being an atheist to a Christian.

The main reason for writing The Language of God was to help believers understand that they can hold to both science and faith. Dr. Collins approach however can be a bit confrontational. Instead of aligning science and faith like many Old Earth Creationist do, Dr. Collins instead hold to Theistic Evolution. In his view, God was the cause behind the Big Bang and got everything into motion, and then Darwinian evolution took over and explains the complexity of life. In Dr. Collins’ view, God did not create Adam and Eve. Instead, humans evolved as a result of natural selection. It is for this reason that I wanted to do a deeper study of the importance of a historical Adam and Eve.

What connection do the New Testament authors draw between Adam and Christ?

One of the major problems with theistic evolution and Christian doctrines is the doctrine of man. Those that hold to theistic evolution generally take issue with the Bible’s teaching of Adam and Eve. It is normally believed that Adam and Eve either didn’t exist, or they weren’t created like Genesis 1 and 2 explain. It is for this reason that it is important to understand what the Bible says about the importance of Adam and Eve.

We first have to understand that it isn’t only Genesis that talks about Adam and Eve. Even if we concluded that Genesis 1 and 2 are not strict scientific accounts, we still need to be careful with how we view the first Man. Adam is referred to throughout the Bible. And each time the Bible mentions him, it does so in a way that points to him being a historical figure. We first see this in the genealogy in Luke 3. The genealogy of Jesus is traced back all the way to the beginning where it begins with Adam.

We even see Jesus refer to Adam and Eve in Matthew 19 when he is speaking about divorce. Jesus says in verse 4, “Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female.” Jesus is very clear here on the fact that God created Adam and Eve in the very beginning. They did not evolve from a prior species. Jesus then references Genesis 2 in that a man will leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife. For these two reasons, it seems like even Jesus believed and taught that Adam was a historical figure. If Jesus believed it, then we can bank on it.

Other than Jesus and the Gospels, Adam is referred to by Paul in Romans and 1 Corinthians. Each of these references refers to how sin came into the world through Adam and that Jesus came to restore the world. 1 Corinthians 15:45-47 says, “’The first man Adam became a living being’; the last Adam became a life-giving spirit…. The first man was from the earth, a man of dust; the second man is from heaven.” This also seems to show that Paul believed in the biblical Adam as a historical figure.

Romans 5:17 talks about original sin and how death came through one man. This is speaking about the fall of Adam in the beginning. Paul then goes on to say that as death came through one man (Adam), righteousness will also come through one man (Jesus). Paul repeats this in 1 Corinthians 15:22 when he says, “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive.” It is clear here that Paul makes a very strong connection between Adam and Jesus.

What level of importance should we place on a literal historical Adam and Eve?

If Jesus believed in Adam as a historical figure, and Paul making the connection between Jesus and Adam, then it is important for us to believe as well. If theistic evolution is true, and Adam never existed, then a serious problem is created with it comes to original sin. Scripture is clear that Jesus came as the second Adam to forgive humans from their sins. Without the original sin of Adam, it doesn’t make sense to have Christ be the second Adam. If common decent is true, and Adam never existed, then there are some serious problems with the doctrine of man and salvation. If Jesus referred to Adam as historical, then I’m convinced he was historical.

Can you tell me about Jesus?

Do you really know Jesus? Do you know more than saying, “Jesus died for my sins” or “I have a personal relationship with him”? Most students aren’t able to get past a few Christian clichés if you ask them who Jesus is and what He has done. It’s time to reTHINK our worldview. At reTHINK this year, some of the best speakers are going to help students know Jesus better. Students will leave with a greater knowledge and experience of Him. Watch the videos below and check out this amazing student conference in two locations this fall.

Southern California: September 23rd and 24th

Dallas, TX: October 21st and 22nd

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RHF Questions Class (Week 2)

I hope you enjoyed the first Questions Class I did at Rock Harbor Fullerton. If you missed it, you can listen to the whole class on iTunes or check out the blog post here. The first week was the first part from the I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist presentation. This week, I covered part two and finished the presentation from CrossExamined.org.

Part 1: Review from week 1. Does truth exist? Does God exist?

Part 2: Are miracles possible?

Are miracles possible? Video of William Lane Craig

Nabeel Qureshi’s Testimony Check out his book here.

Part 3: Is the New Testament true?

Is the New Testament reliable? Article by Greg Koukl from Stand to Reason

Part 4: Open Q&A

What happens to those who have never heard the Gospel? Article by Ryan Pauly

What about those who have never heard? Article by Claudia Kalmikov

Is the God of the Old Testament different from the God of the New? Article by Lenny Esposito from Come Reason Ministries

Apologetics Resource: Responding to the Problem of Evil

The problem of evil is one of the most difficult objections a Christian can receive. It is easy for a skeptic throw out challenges as to why God would allow pain and suffering if He is all-powerful and all-loving. The hard part is for the Christian to be prepared to respond correctly and convincingly to these challenges when put on the spot. For this reason I have compiled the last ten post on responding to the problem of evil in one location. I hope these posts prepare you so you are ready to defend your Christian convictions the next time you are put on the spot. Enjoy!

1. Answer the Christian: Why do people suffer for a sin Adam committed long ago?

Short answer: We suffer from Adam’s sin because we were intimately connected with Adam in the beginning.

2. Answer the skeptic: Why does God let a child die?

Short answer: Children die because they are born into a fallen world where there is disease and where people sin and make mistakes.

3. Answer the skeptic: How might it be fair that God ordered the killing of Canaanite children?

Short answer: It is fair that God ordered the killing of Canaanite children because it kept them from further harm.

4. Answer the skeptic: Why do bad things happen to good people?

Short answer: There are no good people.

5. Answer the skeptic: Why is eternal punishment fair?

Short Answer: Eternal punishment is fitting for the eternally unrepentant.

6. Answer the skeptic: If conscious belief is required for salvation, how is that fair to those who have never heard the gospel?

Short answer: God will make sure that those who would repent will have the opportunity.

7. Answer the skeptic: Free will isn’t so valuable for God to permit so much suffering.

Short answer: Life as we know it is all about free will and good is only possible if evil is possible as well.

8. Answer the Christian: What good is the suffering I endure?

Short Answer: God uses suffering to teach us, refine us, and help us be more like Jesus.

9. Answer the Christian: How will Heaven mitigate our suffering on earth?

Short Answer: Heaven will dwarf our suffering into insignificance.

10. Answer the Christian: Why does God allow evil?

Short answer: God allows evil in order to keep our free will intact.

You may also find “10 Reasons Why God May Allow Suffering” useful as well.

I hope you enjoy this resource and find that it helps you as you defend your faith. Don’t forget that you can follow me on Twitter (@ryanpauly3) for daily articles from many different blogs, subscribe to the new Coffeehouse Question podcast that will be posted every Saturday on iTunes, and send in your questions to questions@coffeehousequestions.com. Thank you for your support and God bless!

Why does God allow evil?

Answer the Christian: Why does God allow evil?

Short Answer: God allows evil in order to keep our free will intact.

In order to stop evil on this earth God would have to destroy our free will. Without free will, we would become robots and be unable to freely love God.  Even though God made evil possible by giving us free will, it is humans that made evil actual by choosing to rebel against God. It is because of evil that humans learn the horror of rebellion. Dr. Jones says, “They also learn to overcome evil with good. This knowledge prepares them to be fit inheritors of God’s kingdom where they will use their free will rightly in their reigning with Jesus forever and ever.” Since we have seen the effect of using free will poorly, we will be able to use our free will rightly in Heaven. We will not want to sin because we have seen the devastating effects of it.

Now one may wonder, couldn’t God give us free will yet not allow evil? Well, in order to not allow evil, God would have to intervene and stop those who use their free will poorly. “And, it seems rather odd for God to bother to give us free will only to have to spend so much time counteracting it.”[1] I used an analogy in my classroom that helped my students understand this concept. Imagine if I told my students that they could sit wherever they liked as they entered my classroom. Then, when they began to choose seats I said, “No, not that one. Not that one. Nope. Next. Next. Okay you can sit there.” And then I did that with every student. Did my students really have the freedom to choose their own seats? No. I told them they had freedom then stopped them from doing something until they did the exact thing I wanted them to do. That is not true freedom.

Instead of limiting our freedom, God has decided to keep our free will intact even though He knows people will misuse it. There will always be people that reject God and use their free will in negative ways. These people will be judged one day, but God has not stopped evil because He desires more people to come to a saving knowledge of Him. Our hope can rest in the knowledge that there will be a day when God steps in and puts an end to all pain and suffering. We don’t have to live with this forever.

Along with this keeping our free will intact, I have written 10 reasons why God allows suffering.

This is one part in a series of posts on why God allows evil.  Look below to read previous posts that you missed and see what is coming up. Each section will be posted weekly in the order they appear below.

  1. Why do people suffer for a sin Adam committed long ago?
  2. Why does God let a child die?
  3. How might it be fair that God ordered the killing of Canaanite children?
  4. Why do bad things happen to good people?
  5. Why is eternal punishment fair?
  6. If conscious belief in Jesus is required for salvation, how is that fair to those who have never heard the gospel?
  7. Free will isn’t so valuable for God to permit so much suffering.
  8. What good is the suffering I endure?
  9. How will Heaven mitigate our suffering on earth?
  10. Why does God allow evil?

[1] Feinberg, The Many Faces of Evil, 98.

Who is the ultimate authority in your life?

This is a question that was the topic of three of my lectures today and two more lectures tomorrow. Who is the ultimate authority in your life? I asked my students to think of different areas of their lives where they have a set of rules they have to follow, and the authority that enforces those rules. They thought about rules in their house where their parents are the ultimate authority. They thought about driving where police enforce rules created by the government. There are also rules in the schools enforced by the teachers and administration.

They saw that the rules/laws that they named are only applied in certain circumstances or areas. School rules only apply while you are at school. House rules only apply while you are living at home with your parents. Driving laws only apply while living in the state or country that enforces them. I then asked a followup question. Are there laws that govern the entire world? They agreed that murder without justification is wrong. They also mentioned racism, torturing children for fun, and rape. So who is the authority that created and enforces these rules that are above all people? What are the options?

I am the ultimate authority.

Our culture tells us that morality is decided by your happiness. Whatever makes you happy is good. But is this really how we live? It would make me happy to go to work in shorts and a t-shirt but that is not possible. What if someone loves robbing banks and that is what makes them happy? Does that become morally acceptable for that person? Of course not. The belief that morality is only dependent on our love or happiness creates relative morality that cannot account for the objective morality we see governing the whole world.

Government is the ultimate authority.

If government is the ultimate authority, we would see different laws and morality from government to government. What one government deems morally good would have to be accepted by all other governments. This leads me to believe that when our government approved of slavery, then slavery was morally good. That is just crazy! Just because something is legal doesn’t mean it is morally good.

People are the ultimate authority.

If people are the ultimate authority, who gets to choose the moral standard by which we all live? Is it based on the majority? I don’t think so. If the majority of people decided that genocide was a good thing, would it then become morally good? No, this does not explain the objective morality that we see in the world. This type of morality would be based on opinions, not objective.

God is the ultimate authority.

This is the explanation that best answers what we see in the world. In order for there to be an objective morality for all people, we need an objective authority that is over all people. That is God.

So how does this apply to our lives? Society is telling us that morality is relative and depending on your personal feelings. I see students being influenced by what society says is normal. It is normal to have sex with your boyfriend/girlfriend and it is normal to get drunk, do drugs, and get an abortion if you are pregnant. It’s LEGAL, what’s the problem? Just because something is normal, it doesn’t mean that it should be accepted. When we allow society to influence our behavior, we are saying that society has authority in our lives instead of God. Allow God to be the ultimate authority in your life and make your decisions based on His moral standard, not society’s.

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