Christmas Vacation (January 6, 2016) Podcast Transcription

Greg: Well, hello friends. Welcome to the show. This first show of 2016, glad to have you on board. It seems a little bit odd right now. I just signed off some thank you notes to folks and I had to date it for the 2016 and that was just a little bit unusual. I'll get used to it and I am tempted in this first show of 2016 to wish you Happy New Year. I was there right there, ready to go. 

I thought, I don't know if that's what I want to wish you. It's okay for people passing by, I guess. It's just a social amenity; it's the kind of thing that you say to be polite. Since I'm talking to you, I don't want to talk to you to be polite. I'm thinking, do I really want you to have a happy new year? It strikes me a lot of it depends on how you characterize it, but it strikes me that wishing you happiness is wishing you a shallow enjoyment for the year.

Maybe happy isn't, when I think for myself, I think New Year. Do I want a happy new year? Well, I don't know. I think happiness is one of those things if you try to pursue it too aggressively, you're not going to find it. Happiness is rather the byproduct of pursuing something meaningful. How about that? Who is it? The president of – what's that college in Michigan that has the wonderful message they sent out every month – Hillsdale College. 

Larry Arnn, his girls when they were younger said something about wanting to be happy, and he said, “you're not old enough to be happy” or “she has to be good.” Something like that. I like that. Happiness is not something you pursue directly. It is the byproduct of pursuing something else that is meaningful. Of course, Larry Arnn is working from a more classical understanding of happiness that is fulfilling the purpose for which you are created. 

When I say purpose, I don't mean your individual purpose or my individual purpose. The one with my name written on it. Being what human beings were meant to be by their creator. I'm thinking now, gee, maybe wishing you a meaningful New Year or a New Year filled with meaningful activity or substantive activity or a year in which you are actually spending your life doing something significant or living in an honorable way or maybe being responsible. 

Maybe you're a young person listening to this, 18, 19 and now it's time for you to launch. Take responsibility for your own life. Some of you are thinking, 19, I'm just a kid. 19 is when I left and whole generations left even before that in their own lives and took on meaningful occupation supporting themselves, I don't know. Maybe this is the year to start really being responsible. That is making a commitment to living your life in a way that makes a difference. 

I almost said meaningful difference but I didn't want to be redundant. That makes a difference in a way that matters. Now that will look different for different people but that's what I wish for you. Not a happy new year but a prosperous, meaningful, significant, honorable, responsible year of activity. How about that? 

Just coming off of holidays. Had a break. Last week as the whole Stand to Reason staff took the week –it's a bonus week, we don't count it as their vacation. We just say look at it, between Christmas and New Years, you need to stay home. Be with your family. Make this time count for them. I guess that's part of being meaningful, honorable, significant and responsible. 

I was able to do that and glad to spend the time, much of it, sitting in front of the fireplace because we had an exceptionally cold Christmas time. I like that by the way; I like it when things get pretty cold. I like it when we can crank the fireplace up and sit there and – I don't want to say veg, because that's not quite the verb that I'm looking for – be thoughtful and have meaningful significant moments in front of the fire with my family. 

It's interesting when you turn the TV off, and you just plan to spend time together. Sitting around the table, whatever, what things come up, what you can talk about. It just seems we have too little of that in our family time together. We did have some outings and one of those that stood out for me was January 2nd. On the first, of course, the kids watch the rose parade. I pottered around my shop, I did some things but as I glanced at the parade, it occurred to me, hey, I think you can visit these floats the next day, next couple days. And in fact that's the case. We checked out the details. At six in the morning, I was up on the 2nd and within an hour or so, we were heading for Pasadena. 

The deal is if you want to see the float, you’ve got to get there early because by 10:00, it's a mob scene. We got there fairly early and senior citizens they let in earlier than the rest, and I qualify, so as it turns out, we pretty much got there after we parked and took the shuttle and paid our $10 to get in for each person that everybody else was coming in at the same time too.

We did get there early enough to check up the floats. I got to tell you something. TV does not do these things justice. When I first mentioned it to the girls on January 1st, let's go see the floats tomorrow morning, early. “No, I don't want to do that.” We got them up and got them out and they were really happy we did because these floats are magnificent. It's about a two and a half mile walk and you get to look at all the floats up close and personal. 

The TV just does not do it justice. That the craftsmanship, the workmanship, the flowers, everything is natural. There's got to be some kind of wood or back or seeds or leaves or something, but mostly it's flowers and it's magnificent so we had a great time doing that. That was my best moment probably of that week, from a family perspective.

Here's the best quote from the week. As when we are watching this magnificent movie, The Nativity which I've told you about in the past. This is the best movie for Christmas. The single best individual Christmas movie to help you feel closer to Christ, that's the way I characterize it. The Nativity. Incidentally we did see some films. Actually we saw two, Star Wars and Creed, liked them both. 

It turns out the guy who played Joseph in the nativity was the Jedi Knight in Star Wars, The Force Awakens. I saw him, I said this guy looked familiar. I know I know this guy. I just saw him a couple of days ago on a different movie he made 10 years earlier, same guy. Totally different approach. From humble Joseph to Jedi Knight and he, I don't know who the guy is, but he did, he acquitted himself quite well in both roles, let's put it that way. That's one thing that makes the nativity so wonderful as a film to see. 

Of course at the end of the nativity, you have Jesus being born and then Joseph holds Jesus up and that's when Eva, my eight year old caught the mistake. There was the baby Jesus, just having entered the world, and as she pointed out, no “biblical cord” is what she said. That would be an umbilical cord, but that is what she said. She made the right observation, where's the umbilical cord, but she called it the biblical cord, it was a quotable moment, pretty funny. 

Told you I saw Star Wars, I also saw Creed, much more enjoyable than Star Wars for me, just to let you know. It's pretty much out of the theaters now but it's a worthwhile watch. It was the most enjoyable movie I've seen in a long time. Yes, it's another Rocky film but every ... What is it? Number six or whatever, so to speak. Every single one of those movies worked as far as I'm concerned from the first to the last. This was again significantly different and just see it if you can. 

From a spiritual perspective, I think I was most ... Well, I don't know, most, but I had a touching moment at church on Sunday as we were worshiping and I pretty much am partial to the old hymns. The reason why I'm partial to the old hymns and not the new things and I'm not going to get on a rant on this and you've heard me before. The new things have banal lyrics and no melody. 

All right. I look around when they sing these flat songs with no melody and uninspiring lyrics and other people aren't singing. They don't know what to sing. The worship leader is having a good time. The people aren't singing. All right. If they're not singing, they're not worshiping and if they're not worshiping, then the worship leader is not leading. That's all I say about that. 

One of the songs – in our church we have a mixture – they did “Rock of Ages.” Now I have a suspicion, I know what you're thinking about “Rock of Ages.” Rock of ages, cleft for me, let me hide myself in thee… you know the tune because when do you hear that, you hear it in old westerns. That's how I know it and to be honest with you, I got so sick of hearing those lines in old westerns. I had no interest in the song at all because whenever you see an old western, that's a song they're singing down by the river. 

You see two lines. You know how films depict Christians; it's just not always a fair ruble scene and that's the song it seems. Then I heard it at my church, well, it was the same tune that I'd heard on TV, but this time, we sang the whole thing and there were the lyrics right there in front of me and the lyrics were magnificent. Now I want you ... I'm just going to recite them, I'm not going to sing the song. 

I'll read them to you. Then I want you to think about the lyrics of a lot of our modern pop songs, okay? They don't have to be archaic sounding but golly gee. Can they be more than just plain old shallow? Most of the lyrics that I hear I think my eight year old could write. Listen to this:

“Rock of ages, cleft that would be the cleft in the rock, cleft for me. My cleft, the place I hide. Let me hide myself in thee, let the water and the blood from thy wounded side which flowed be of sin the double cure, save from wrath and make me pure. Not the labor of my hands can fulfill thy law's demands. Could my zeal no respite know, Could my tears forever flow. All for sin could not atone. Thou must save and thou alone. Nothing in my hand I bring. Simply to thy cross I cling, naked, come to thee for dress, helpless, look to thee for grace. Foul, I to the fountain fly. Wash me, savior, or I die. The final stanza while I draw this fleeting breath. When my eyes shall close in death. When I rise to worlds unknown and behold thee on thy throne, rock of ages, cleft for me. Let me hide myself in thee.”

Wow. That's good writing. David said, “I will not give to the Lord that which cost me nothing.” Can you see the craft expressed in the lyrics here of this wonderful song by Augustus Toplady? Yes. That songwriter worked at those lyrics. Doesn't seem that a lot of the songs today reflect that effort but this one does and it paid off. You don't even have to sing it if you don't like the tune because you heard it in old western. Just listening to the words are themselves tremendously moving. 

Well I have some things to say about my mother who passed away few weeks ago but I have a lot of people on the line here so I think what I'm going to do is go to break quickly and then take your calls and maybe in the next hour’s show, talk a little bit about mom. Some reflections on that. You're listening to stand to reason. I'm Greg Koukl. I'll be back in just a moment. 

Greg: Greg Koukl back at you here. Giving you a piece of my mind as I usually do on Tuesday evenings here. Los Angeles time 4 to 6 are the hours of the show. The live show now, and I tell you that because all of our callers virtually are podcast listeners. You’ve got to do the math wherever you happen to be when you make your call. 855-243-9975. Call us during our live show hours, 4 to 6 Los Angeles time, and we'll be glad to chat with you. 

As these have done, and so let's go to our first caller, anonymous in this particular case. Hey, welcome to the show. Mister Anonymous, hello? Still there? I'd love to talk to you because your topic is a really really important one but I'm not having. Shall I just put this on hold for a minute and that's the top button, right? Okay. Let's see. Yeah. I'd love to take that. Let's take, let's go to. Shall I go back now? Okay, let me try it. Hi, this is Greg Koukl. 

Caller: Hey, sorry about that.

Greg: Okay. Welcome to the show. What, do you have mute on?

Caller: I think I had you on mute. Yes. 

Greg: Yeah. Okay. Well, it's nice to chat with you. What's on your mind? 

Caller: Yeah. This one hits home, normally my questions will be somewhat theological or abstract but this one is really trying to figure out the moral high road to take here. My brother in law is recently separated from his current wife. From everything that I can tell, it's an unjustified biblical divorce. They have all intention of getting divorced. They do have a teenage daughter. 

In any event, he's having a baby with another woman and a baby shower is coming up, and trying to figure out if this is on par or parallel to, let's say, attending a same-sex wedding or something like that. 

Greg: You said it's not a divorce for which there are some biblical reasons, is that what you're saying?

Caller: Not that I can tell, and they're technically still married. 

Greg: Well, actually his wife has a reason now because, from what you just told me, he's committed adultery. 

Caller: Correct. Well then ... Before that there was no reason. 

Greg: No, right. Correct, I understand. I'm trying to sanitize this in some way for his wife but, well, this is, it's like you sow to the wind and you reap the whirlwind and this is what's happening. Is your brother claiming to be a Christian? 

Caller: He does. Yeah. He's gone for a long time to what most will understand a seeker-sensitive church. 

Greg: Have you talked to him about his conduct? Both his marriage, divorce, and this girlfriend situation in light of his professed Christianity? 

Caller: Yeah. He seems to think that since his current daughter is a lot happier now that that somehow justifies the separation and there were some trouble in their home, some control issues and things like that, but he's somewhat justified it with, this is a better environment for his older daughter, and since then it's now produced another child. 

Greg: Yeah. That's a whole another thing. It's one thing to say the greater good here, all things considered, is to get a separation because of the problems that's causing in my teenage daughter's life, that's one issue. Whether that's an adequate justification for the divorce is another matter. I actually think when it comes to issues like this, there are couple of clear examples of justifiable divorce and then there are other circumstances where you have to wade the greater good.

Sometimes, it is right to do something that would be wrong, but in this set of circumstances, it's justified in virtue of greater good. I'm not saying that that's the case here with the daughter, the teenage daughter, but now we've got another issue. The other issues is, so he is still married and even though he thinks he's better, we're separated. Now he's going out with another girl while he's still married. He's not just going out with her, he's sleeping with her and he's claiming he's a Christian. Am I getting this right? Does that sound right?

Caller: Yeah. Absolutely. 

Greg: Well, this is where ... It's… in a way it's a bit frustrating for me to talk about these circumstances. I do have an opinion about your question, proper, but I just want to talk about the circumstances first. That is, and it's pandemic, it seems that there is a very cavalier attitude about extramarital sex among people who claim to be Christians. 

When I say cavalier, I'm not talking about the individual who, “alright I know this is wrong, but I fell into an error, and I'm trying not to do it again” kind of thing. There just doesn't seem to be any restraints. It's we live like the rest of the world lives in this. They determine what's right or wrong sexually. 

For those people, I want to go over right away to First Corinthians, chapter 6, verse 9, and among other things, it says fornicators will not inherit the kingdom of God. I'm just going to say it like this, and emotionally this is probably hard for you to countenance, and it's a rough situation because you're in the midst of it, but for your brother, according to what scripture says, he cannot consider himself a Christian while he is living the way he is living. 

The fornication is just one thing. It seems this generally cavalier attitude about morality has influenced a lot of different areas of his life – his marriage, for example – such that he can justify the divorce. “Okay, now I'm still married but that's no big deal because technically I'm married, but I'm not really married in my eyes while you are in God's eyes so now I can have a girlfriend, and not only can I have a girlfriend, I can sleep with her, and now she's pregnant.” Anyway, it's the domino effect. 

Caller: I think it's First Corinthians 5, it's talking about disciplining those inside the church versus outside the church.

Greg: Well, that certainly does apply. 

Caller: Right. I'm wondering, should I just somewhat treat him as a non-Christian then go to call it baby shower like we're not judging the world or?

Greg: Well, yes. Well, a couple of things here. First Corinthians 5 does talk about discipline in the church. First Corinthians 6 has the verse I was referring to, and that's verse 9. That is the one that states explicitly the fornicators will not inherit the kingdom. Dealing with a person who's living in this situation as claiming to be a Christian requires then that we address as a body this immorality. 

That's the Matthew 18 series basically, and if they don't listen or they are not won over, well that's when you treat them like a non-believer. I think First Corinthians 5 needs to be understood along with Matthew 18. You have now another situation what do you do with the baby shower? The purpose of a wedding is to celebrate the union and so when you have a wedding that is not consistent with God's purpose, like a same-sex union or a Christian marrying a non-Christian then I think it's appropriate not to go and celebrate that. 

A baby shower is a little different. It is a celebration, there's no question, but it also serves a practical purpose and that is to provide things that are needed for a child and first time parents don't have all those things and so this is where the community gets together and helps provide for them. It's like a barn raising of sorts. 

Let's everybody get together and pitch in and make build the bar, well, in this case, everybody is pitching together and building in a wardrobe and a [inaudible 00:25:38] for the baby. It fulfills a separate purpose. I have mixed feelings about this. My wife actually dealt with a lot of single moms and this was something that was troublesome for her. These baby showers that were celebrations when the baby is being born out of wedlock and nobody's acting like anything is out of the ordinary. 

Everything is just fine. This is the way 21st century people will live. What's the big deal? Here's what my wife, her policy was: not to attend the shower, but to purchase a gift, and send a gift, for the child's sake. That might be a way of ... A middle of the road way. 

Caller: Yeah. The reason why it's weird too is because even though practically speaking, yeah, it is to provide things for them but in reality and practically. It's almost like it feels like an acceptance party for their situation. They came over for Christmas and his new girlfriend and stuff. It's just so awkward to act like everything is fine but inside you're totally disagreeing with what's going on. 

Greg: I personally think it would have been entirely appropriate to say, brother, you are welcome to come over, you can't bring your girlfriend. You can't bring the girl that you're sleeping with while you're still married to somebody else. This is water under the bridge right now, so we're not going to worry about that. Just by way of putting things in perspective, it would have been appropriate to do that, it seems to me. 

I don't know what kind of relationship you have with your brother, but I don't see anything wrong with you confronting your brother on this. If it were my brother, I would be saying, “what are you doing?” You're walking away from your marriage for the wrong reasons and you think it's going to help your daughter, and maybe in terms of the living environment that does makes things a little bit easier, but it's also sending a message. 

What are you doing then to counteract that message? Nothing. What you're doing is, you got a girlfriend while you're still married to her mother and you're sleeping with her and now she's going to have a baby and everybody is celebrating, are you kidding me? You should be hanging your head in shame. That's the talking I think he needs. 

Caller: Yeah. One other thing, I'll have to call back to this one but this counts on the tail end and the piggyback of me, actually his brother, my other brother-in-law is sleeping with somebody, both allegedly dedicated Christians but since they've had sex, they're now proclaiming that they're married in the eyes of God, and they're actually getting married and I said there's no way I can do that. 

Greg: Hold on just a second. I'm confused about something. I don't think if you get into bed with somebody, that means you're married in the eyes of God. I don't hold to that view at all. No, not at all. The wedding band is the consummation of the marriage but it's the substance of the marriage. It's another issue. What was the circumstance though? 

He was a single person, the other brother is a single person, who also claims to be a Christian, but still is sleeping around, or at least sleeping with his girlfriend. Is that what you're saying or did I lose him? Nuts. Well, we had some…I don't know what happened there. Okay, maybe he'll call back but he's gone now. 

Let me just ... Of course I don't have the details precisely, there's calling back, is that him? It's hard to respond. Okay. Yeah. Okay, we got him back. Okay, sorry I lost you, I don't know what happened. 

Caller: I'm sorry. 

Greg: Were you saying that... 

Caller: Something like this, the very bad news to the whole family because it comes on the tail-end and piggyback. His brother, my other brother-in-law is, they're dedicated Christians, but they're sleeping together and living together and they asked me to marry them, and I said no. 

Greg: Are you a pastor?

Caller: No. There was a whole ... I gave them a 10 page letter that said all the reasons why I can't marry you. Yeah. Every reason in the book. Some kind of film, like the guy who's putting the foot down all over the place. 

Greg: Sure, well, that may be necessary, certainly in somebody's cases. With this second brother now, look, and I'm glad as they used to say in the old days, that's he's willing to make an honest woman out of her, that's a good thing. All things being equal. I remember when I was a fairly new Christian and there was a couple that came out of the world, they became Christians. 

They were living together and they realized, now I'm a Christian and we want to get married. What the pastor said to them is “Fine. You get in separate residences, you quit sleeping together, and you live as single people until you're married. You make it right now. You want to follow Jesus, then you start right now.”

If your friend who's living with his girlfriend – if your relative here is living with his girlfriend – wants any kind of blessing like that then they've got to straighten up and fly right. That's the least that can be required of a person who claims to be a serious Christian. I just want to say that and I'll let you work that out with them. 

I just have absolutely no patience for people who claim to be serious Christians and are living in flagrant violation of God's law. Jesus put it this way, why do you call me Lord and you will not do what I say? I'm not talking about moral perfection here because I am far from that. I know for me when I first became a Christian, it took me about a year and a half to get things, that my whole sexual life under proper control, but I was working at it. 

I was living with my girlfriend as if it was no big deal, and then claim that I'm a committed Christian. Those two things don't belong in the same sentence. I understand this is the way everybody else is living right now, that means nothing to me, and it means nothing to God. Go to Romans 8 and just look at the beginning of Romans 8 and you could talk to your brothers or brother-in-law or whoever they are about Romans 8. 

As Romans 8 talks about those who are in the flesh and those who are in the spirit. Then those who are in the spirit are those who belong to Christ, they have the holy spirit in them and those who are in the flesh are living like everybody else is living. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God, it's impossible to do so, they are under the wrath of God, it's just that simple. 

If they are living like everybody else is living and they look just like everybody else, then they are going where everybody else is going, it's just that simple. God says come out and be separate from them, that's in Corinthians chapter 5, a quotation of the Old Testament. Anyway, I've given you a lot to think about. 

Caller: Thank you, Greg. 

Greg: Yeah. You're in a tough spot but I'm glad you called, and may God give you wisdom in dealing with these foolish people. 

Caller: Appreciate it. Thank you. 

Greg: All right. Yeah. Appreciate the call. What a rough situation. People make it harder by the foolish decisions they make. Now some of you might think that Koukl is getting a little bit intense there. Yes and for good reason. There is too much of a cavalier attitude about certain types of egregious sin in the body. 

Listen, last year, there was a wedding of one of the pastoral staff at my church, and it was on Saturday, so the Saturday evening service, the pastor couldn't do the teaching and teach all on the Sunday. But Saturday, he said just can you fill in for me? You can do anything you want. I said okay, well, I'm going to teach the bible, how about that? I went to the gospel of Matthew and I did the parable of the tares and I read the parable of the tares. Is that Matthew 9 or something like that? 

I told the audience, there are a whole bunch of people in churches all over this country who think they are Christians and they are not. They think they are wheat but they are tares. Nowadays, the biggest indicator that they are tares is that when it comes to their sexual life, they are living like everyone else. When it is God himself who says and I'm going to turn to it, so there's no confusion. First Corinthians chapter 6 and verse 9. 

I've cited this so many times, I know I didn't get it wrong. “For do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?” Who's that? All right. Next phrase. 

“Do not be deceived. Neither, first on the list, fornicators” – the fornicator is somebody who's having sex outside of marriage. It's a broad term – “nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.” Lots of things on that list, well, this isn't my opinion. I'm just reading you what Paul said. If you're a Christian, you ought to care about what Paul said. “For do you not know, do not be deceived.” It's like he's underscoring it. 

Fornicators will not inherit the kingdom of God. Here it is. If you are living like everyone else, you are probably going where everyone else is going. Okay, this isn't salvation by works; it's indicative. It indicates where your heart truly is. I'm not going to preach morality at you because I'm the last one to do that. Just like that wonderful song, I just read the words to Rock of Ages: “nothing in my hand I bring, simply to the cross I cling. Naked, come to thee for dress. Helpless, look to thee for grace. Foul I to the fountain fly, wash me, savior where I die.” Notice in the lyrics, it's wash me. I need forgiveness. That isn't the attitude of somebody sleeping around, living with their girlfriend, with their boyfriend, no big deal, wash me of what? I'm doing the same thing everybody else, it's just fine. 

It's not work salvation but it is a message, it's a good one to give you, the first to the year. If you're messing around with God, he will not be trifled with. He will not be trifled with. Do not fool with God. It will not end well for you. All right, enough said. Quick break, more calls on stand to reason. 

Greg: Greg Koukl with you here. Just a reminder, Stand to Reason Cruise Conference coming up August 6th through 13th, that's an Alaska Cruise. Fabulous Cruise, departing from Seattle, Juneau, Sitka, Ketchikan, Victoria BC. We've always had a great time when we've done this cruise. This will be our third time around. My fourth time making this particular trip. 

On board with us and our cruise conference will be Jay Warner Wallace from Cold Case Christianity. John Stonestreet from the Chuck Colson Center for Christian Worldview. We'll round out our threesome with me as we spend our time training you. One of the great thing about cruises is that we're all together the whole time. 

You can get your own time off by yourself and take your little tours when you're in port, that's fine. We're all together. It isn't hit and miss and passing in the hall. We have opportunity to be together to build relationships, to get to know each other and create a really really benefit. If you want to think about participating, get the information from Inspiration Cruises. Their number is 800-247-1899. 

You can also go to inspirationcruises.com/str for all the information. Once again, August 6th through 13th, our STR Alaska Cruise Conference. All right, let's go to Chris in Orange County here in Southern Cal. Hi, Chris. 

Chris: Hey, Greg. 

Greg: Hey, how you handling all the rain here in Southern Cal? It's weird. 

Chris: I guess it's a warm welcome. We've been here after a long time, and we've been under the drought, so we need it. 

Greg: Yeah. Yeah. We do. It's always weird though because so much sunshine. Anyway, what's on your mind today, Chris?

Chris: Well, before we start, I just want to let you know that there is actually a contemporary arrangement to “Rock of Ages” by a worship team called Enfield and our church has started adopting that. That contemporary arrangement to that song and it's creating a brand new generation of people who appreciate such an old and wonderful thing. 

Greg: Okay but it's different music, is that it? A different melody?

Chris: Yeah. It is a different melody but I think in that they ... Yeah, it is a little bit of a different melody but finishes off in I think the familiar tone. 

Greg: Yeah. Those lyrics are so fabulous, so they really make it. I'm glad it's getting a new lease on life. When I first looked it up on Google, by the way, I got a song by what Def Leppard or something, what they call “Rock of Ages”, radical rock, I don't know. 

Chris: Yeah. That is also an old song from them. If you look up Enfield on YouTube, it's E-N-F-I-E-L-D and look up “Rock of Ages”, you'll find that, you might like it or you might just appreciate the old one. 

Greg: Yeah. Well, thanks for the tip. 

Chris: Just a little background before I ask you my question. Last year, my church sponsored an event with Ken Ham, and he gave a couple of presentations both from the perspective of a young earth creationist view. I thought it was compelling actually and reasonable, so it piqued my interest in younger creationism. I looked up something by Albert Mohler, where he gave a presentation at a Ligonier Conference a couple of years ago. 

The title of the presentation was “why does the earth look so old?” The answers to that question that he gave was that the reason why the earth looks so old was because the creator made it home. That got me thinking a little bit more. I listen to you often and I do believe that you believe in the literal Adam and Eve. 

Greg: I do. 

Chris: I also ... From what I understand, you're an Old Earther or an old universe creationist person. The question follows that if God was able to create fully developed male and female human beings that have the presence of age in the creation account then why couldn't he have created the universe and the earth in the same fashion. Why isn't that accessible on that sense? To borrow a phrase that you've used quite often on your shows, what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

Greg: Yeah. Right. The question is whether there's a parallel here, is what I'd ask. Let me ask you a question. A person, let's just say Adam was an adult, so maybe 20 years old or 25, by our reckoning. Okay, would a 20 year old adult who is actually 20 years old, would he have memories of his childhood?

Chris: No, he wouldn't. 

Greg: Wait, a 20 year old person would have… Would he have memories of his childhood? A regular 20 year old would be because part of age is history. Not only that, would he have any carboning of arteries at some level?

Chris: Sure. 

Greg: Heart disease, some collection of plague. Yeah. Because that's what happen when one has aged. If he was a person who worked out of doors, would he have a work with his hands, would he have evidence of that, maybe nicks or scars or callouses or that kind of stuff, would that be ordinary?

Chris: Sure. Sure, all the presence of aging effects. 

Greg: Okay. Now you've just made an important distinction in the way you phrase this. Appearance of age is when there are the appearances that something is aged. That is different from creating something with functional maturity. There is a difference between age or appearance of age and functional maturity. Okay. Did Adam, now I've switched it to Adam. Did Adam have memories of his childhood, of course you already answered that. 

No, he wouldn't because he didn't have a childhood to remember. Strictly speaking Adam doesn't have the appearance of age because none of the things that indicate age, proper, are characteristics of him. He simply is created with functional maturity because in his particular case, functional maturity was necessary for his survival. What I'm making is a distinction. 

I don't think the appearance of age argument is going to work and the reason it's not going to work because strictly speaking we don't have appearance ... If there were genuine appearance of age, this would indicate that things have been around for a long time. If all that's necessary is functional maturity, then there would be no evidence of age. 

When we look at these circumstances. What we see is human beings created in the mature form because that was necessary, but we don't see any evidence of aging of them. We just see them created instantly, fresh and clean as adults. We don't have that kind of circumstance with the rest of the universe, though, because with the rest of the universe, you see genuine evidences of things that’ve been here for a long long time. One example of this is starlight.

To step you through this, let me ask you another question. It's not to trap you or anything it's just trying to lay the foundation. Do you think that if Adam did have memories of a childhood that he did not go through, that this would be deceptive? 

Chris: Yes. 

Greg: Yeah. I agree. I think that would be because he's remembering something that never took place. Okay. Now I want you to think about starlight for a second. The temptation with starlight is to think of starlight as just a light, a glow. God could put lights in the sky really easily, but you see light isn't just a glow, what light is is a record of things that happen. If you're in an airplane flying at night and you see a glow in a distance, when you get closer, that glow is differentiated now into particular events that are taking place, that lose their definition from a distance, but when you see when you're closer, these are things happening. Right?

Chris: Yeah. I'm tracking you. 

Greg: Okay. Now let's just say something like a supernova. You know what a supernova is? 

Chris: Is it an explosion?

Greg: It's an exploding star. Okay. Now if the universe is as young as young earth creationists think it is, then none of the supernovas that we have witnessed in the sky – and there had been quite a number of them – ever took place because, by our reckoning, this thing would have taken place a million years or more, or millions, of years ago and it has taken that much time for the light of the event to reach us here. 

Now if the universe is not millions of years old, then none of the lights that we see in the sky are lights from stars that actually exist. Supernovas that we see are records of events that never took place. The light would had been created out some distance 5,000, 6,000 years ago and then manufactured there to travel to our eyes now and see it now. There was nothing out there a million light years away that exploded a million years ago which created a visual event that our eyes see at the moment. Does that makes sense to you?

Chris: Yeah. 

Greg: Okay. That to me – since we have many supernovas on record, that to me is the same as giving Adam memories of a childhood he did not experience. Now I know somebody young earth is going to say well, God can do anything. Well, yeah, he can do anything but that thing that you're saying he did is a deception and I don't know how anybody can get around it. 

Here's the remarkable circumstance that we face. Even if there are stars way way out there, we will never see those stars because we won't be around for a million years to see stars that are a million light years away. The things that we do see are not stars. The things that we see are light shows created in transit for our eyes but they reflect nothing that exists. 

Here's another way of putting it. That which we see does not exist. Not as itself, only as a light and that which exists we will never see. That's what you're stuck with, I think. If you accept the appearance of age approach to the universe. In particular as it deals with starlight, now you could look at geology and a whole bunch of other things too and reason in the same fashion, but the starlight one is a fairly handy example of this kind of thing. 

If the universe actually does look old, and I think it does, and in fact implicitly that's the admission by Al Mohler and other young earthers, the universe looks old. Then you have to explain away the appearances, and the way you explain it is, well, God made it look that way, but why does the universe have to look old? Some parts of it have to look mature, Adam and Eve, but that doesn't mean all the rest of the universe has to look old, as if history has passed when it hasn't passed. I think that's the death knell to that explanation. I think a better explanation of why the universe looks old is that it is old. That makes perfect sense. Now this doesn't fit some people's theology or some people's reading of Genesis, but maybe that's a good indication that they have to change the reading. 

I am not compelled by this particular argument for the reason that I've offered. I actually wrote an article about this in 1999, that's on our website, it's called “Starlight”. I think it's called “Starlight and the Age of the Universe”. If you go to str.org, you can look it up. 

Chris: Okay. 

Greg: Then all of what I just described to you, I play out in a little bit more accessible, pardon me, accessible manner. I'm shooting from the hip here but it's better organized in the article, and then you can draw your own conclusions about it. The key here is when it comes to starlight, light is a record of events. If the light is created in transit then that means evidence of events that never took place are created for our viewing. 

It would mean that no supernova ever happened. No star ever exploded. What happened was an image of an exploding star created somewhere out in space for us to see at the appropriate time, but there was no physical thing that that image ever corresponded to on that way of looking at it. I think that's a fatal liability. What do you think?

Chris: Yeah. No, that's definitely giving me more to chew on. I was just wondering whether or not that deception would be okay if it meant some sort of intended purpose. Because – and this is going to sound like a crude example, it’s not a sophisticated example like starlight – but I was thinking about designer jeans. I was thinking that a lot of times, those are made in acid wash, stonewash. They're done in different ways to give the appearance of age, for an intended purpose. That purpose is aesthetic appeal. For that, they're created and for that they served their purpose. It's not a deception, but that's the way that it's understood. [crosstalk 00:55:40]. 

Greg: Yes. It's not a deception because people understand it, they know immediately that this has been – what do they call it? – distressed. Things are distressed artificially to make them look older. There's no deception there because it's made to look that way. We know that they made it to look that way, but when it comes to the universe, and God, it's a very different circumstance. 

Again I don't see any – I can see the need for Adam and Eve – I don't see any need for creating starlight of things that never took place. Think of this: Hebrews ... I'm sorry, Genesis chapter 12 or maybe it's Genesis 15. “Look at the stars, Abraham, and see if you can count them because so shall your descendants be.” God is telling Abraham to look at stars. 

Now when we look at the sun, we see the sun. We don't see it in real time, but we see the real sun. Strictly speaking, we don't see anything in real time because it takes time for the light to get to our eyeballs. In the case of our sun, we see the real sun, we just don't see it in real time. We could say there is the sun, okay, fair enough. 

What we can't do is we can't see the stars because those are not stars. That light are not stars, those are lights and nothing else on that view. In a certain sense, I'm trying to take the Bible at face value, literally, however you want to call it, to when I look at these other passages, and they're not spots of light. They're stars that God identifies for Abraham and if they are stars and he's actually seeing stars that are a long way away whose light took a long long time to travel to earth. That's the way I see it. 

I hope that helps, Chris. I sure appreciate your call and I'm glad for the spirit that you're pursuing this. It's great. All the best to you. All right, friends. Thank you for joining us today. Go on, give them Heaven this week. I'm Greg Koukl for Stand to Reason.

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