Some Closing Thoughts 2

From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”                                                                                      (Heb. 11:1)

To close out the book, as I read the biblical narrative stories of faith in both the Old and New Testaments…I see basically two things happening in terms of journey of faith life-scripts, direction in the lives of Christians, eternal purpose and meaning, and God speaking to us.

The first is the calling of people like Abraham, Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Samuel, David, Ezra, Nehemiah, Peter, and Paul…who had major promises of God…or very clear missions, goals, or final outcomes to aim for…given to them by God as guidance and hope-filled inspiration at the very beginning of their difficult and challenging journeys of faith.

We naturally tend to write-off these spectacular callings as if they only apply to the superstars of the Bible…too far above our experience to be a viable pattern to apply to our own lives…on a much lesser scale.

Becoming the “father of faith,” becoming the governor of Egypt, liberating the Israelite slaves from Egypt, conquering militarily the Promised Land, becoming king in Israel, rebuilding the walls and the temple in Jerusalem, and becoming the premier Christian evangelists to the Greco-Roman world in the first-century…these are things that seem too big for most of us…and therefore the concept of the displacement of our ways by God’s higher ways in conformity to the cross of Christ…and the gap that is created in a God-composed adventure of faith life-script having a humanistically unattainable goal according to the definition of faith described so brilliantly in Hebrews 11:1…can both be lost in the magnitude and grandeur of the callings of the storylines of these biblical characters.

These displacement and gap elements in the biblical narrative stories of faith could hypothetically seem to raise the bar…the standard…too high for the average Jew in Old Testament times…and the Christian (Jewish Christian or Gentile) in New Testament times.

The recognition of the displacement of our ways with God’s higher ways and thoughts…and the gap in a journey of faith that separates what we can do from what we cannot do…setting up the context for genuine biblical faith to actualize…this could potentially cause an anticipation and expectation problem for many Christians who are faithfully following God and going about their normal Christian practices of prayer, reading and studying the Bible, being active in fellowship with other Christians, and sharing their faith with others…simply because God has not spoken directly to them regarding a specific calling upfront like the examples of the major biblical characters listed above.

But the second thing that I see that is happening in the Bible…probably more often…is that God also works unseen in people’s lives who are trying to be faithful and do the right things…even though God does not at first reveal directly to them…by speaking to them in the Spirit…a major promise, mission, or goal upfront at the very beginning of their journey of faith.

This second type of biblical character can see God’s hand at work over time in hindsight…part-way through their journey of faith…or looking backwards after it has finished and all the dust has settled.

Examples of this type of experience with God…in the biblical narrative stories of faith…might include Ruth, Hannah, Esther and Mordecai, the three Hebrew young men in the fiery furnace of King Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel, and the ten apostles other than Peter and Judas Iscariot.

Ruth is interesting in this regard…in that she does not even know that by marrying Boaz, she has become part of the royal line that produces the future King David in direct line to Jesus Christ the Son of God…born far ahead in the future in the first-century A.D.  How could God…in this case…reveal more information to Ruth in-the-moment…without possibly jeopardizing giving away the future plans of God for mankind in the kingship of David and the royal line leading to Jesus the Son of God and eternal King in heaven?

In fact, I think that every positive biblical character did not have a full and complete understanding of the unique and critical role they played in the unfolding saga of God’s eternal plans and destiny for mankind.

It is safe to say that there is not a single person on the planet today that has a complete macro and micro grasp of the higher ways and thoughts of God.

The point I want to make here…as has been repeated many times throughout this book…is that as Abraham gets his calling from God to go from the city of Haran to the Promised Land of Canaan…with each step that Abraham takes God is displacing whatever normative plans Abraham might have otherwise had back in Haran…with a new life-script beyond anything Abraham could or would have dreamed up…beyond anything Abraham could self-compose, contrive, or self-orchestrate.

This worldly unconventional element of displacement of our ways with God’s higher ways…illustrated in the biblical narrative stories of faith according to the two general patterns described above…contained within God-composed journey of faith life-scripts starting with the detailed and highly specific life-story calling of Abraham and continuing throughout the Bible all the way through to the New Testament first-century…down to our current “church age”…is in my view as big as anything else in the history of mankind.

This is as big as the discovery by Copernicus that the earth revolves around the Sun, or Einstein’s theory of general relativity, or the discovery of Edwin Hubble of the Big Bang expansion of the universe, or the discovery of antibiotic medicines to combat disease, or our discovery and understanding of DNA…the “language of life.”

This biblical concept is as big as the American Declaration of Independence…the American Constitution…the Emancipation Proclamation abolishing slavery…the women’s suffrage movement…and the victory over despotic tyranny during World War II.

This biblical concept of the displacement of our ways with God’s ways…and the gap we see in genuine biblical faith between what we can do and what we cannot do on our own…integral and fundamental to a journey of faith following Jehovah in the Old Testament and Jesus Christ in the New Testament…is as big as the discovery by Martin Luther that “the just shall live by faith” rather than works-salvation through pilgrimages, relics, and indulgences…and the monumental realization that common people should have access to the Bible translated into their own languages…that started the Protestant Reformation.

The concept that the living God…the brilliant Creator of the universe…can play a pivotal role…indeed take the lead in crafting and shaping a journey of faith for each one of us…that bears the stamp of divine imagination and innovative creativity in being one-hundred percent contrary to the opposite worldview of pursuing…on our own…our self-validation and acceptance according to worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…entirely outside of the zone of human literary invention…how can this eternally valuable and applicable biblical concept not be as large or larger than any other concept or event in the history of mankind?

1 John 2:17 reads: “And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.”

Some Closing Thoughts 1

From A Popular Defense of the Bible and Christianity

“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”                                                                                                                                    (Rom. 8:18)

A part of me wishes there was a smoother coordination and integration of the perfection of God’s plan for my life…with the very real question of the fallibility of my half of the performance…in a current crisis.  A part of me wishes it was not necessary to exercise overcoming faith in God’s ability to help close the gap…the remaining distance to cover…while the particular current life challenge is still up in the air and in doubt.

A part of me unrealistically wishes that in a biblical-quality adventure of faith there was a much lower risk of failure…with all of its negative consequences…and that a journey of faith incorporated less faith and a greater reliance upon the safe and more familiar route of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…that the leap across the gap from worldly conventional self-reliance…to unconventional risky faith in God…was not so great.

A part of me wishes that the reality of the Christian life in the dangerous zone of faith…did not from time-to-time bring me again to the seemingly impassable banks of the expanse of the Red Sea, being hotly pursued by Pharaoh’s chariot army, needing God’s divine deliverance to part the waters and to create a safe passage forward…to surrender all…to let go of my ways…to drift freely in the waters of the present uncertain circumstances…trusting in the promises of God to see me across and safely out the other side.

Every Spirit-born Christian today…every foreign missionary, every pastor, every street evangelist, every called-out person engaged in one form or another of Christian outreach ministry…can relate to this on some level (2 Cor. 4:7).

But the reality is that there has to be the profound test of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ before there can be the glorious triumph of the resurrection.  There has to be the component of a deep despair in the seemingly catastrophic failure in the death and burial of Jesus Christ…before there can be a God-engineered outcome of colossal, world-shaking proportions in the resurrection three days later.

The enormous contrast between the death on the cross and the LIFE in the resurrection…like that between the darkest starless night and the brightest summer day…creates the separation…the gap…between the low-level of mediocrity of worldly conventional aspirations, and the elevated ways of God leading to life-transforming salvation in the highest and broadest sense…beyond human imagination (Isa. 55:8-9; 1 Pet. 1:3; Jn. 8:24).

The resurrection of Christ…and the Day of Pentecost…radically changed the disciples from being fearful and defeated by the appearance of negative circumstances…to becoming courageously uninhibited, roaring lions of the new Christian faith.  This powerful transformation that “turned the world upside down” (Acts 17:6) comes from a divinely created territory of experience…an elevated domain of reality…that is far, far above the life of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking.

The better half of me does not want my God-composed journey of faith life-script to be merely about God automatically coming through to successfully provide me with the secure mediocrity of worldly conventional normalcy.  The better and more courageous half of me wants my biblical-quality adventure of faith following Jesus Christ…to reveal to me a living God who is brilliantly smart enough to channel the events of my life towards a meaningful purpose and outcome that has the power of the resurrection and the triumph of the premeditated foresight of God written all over it.

The better half of me does not want my life to be a throw-away life…a disposable life…does not my life to go according to my limited and shortsighted will and way…controlled by the strong desire for comfort and security rather than adventure and discovery.

This then involves an information-rich journey of faith…an infusion of complex and highly specific information into my life-script…and thus requires that my own plans and schemes must get out of the way.

No one could or would make this up.  It is beyond human imagination or invention.  If fiction…if false…it would not even get to “first base” in baseball.  If an airplane, it would “crash and burn” on take-off…falling apart before it can get off the ground…if it did not in truth have the corresponding participation of the living God.

Without divine foresight and premeditated planning…a journey of faith would be like trying to assembly an airplane while in flight.  A journey of faith following God must be perfect at its inception…before take-off and the perils and adventure of flight.

Without divine participation…a journey of faith simply does not work.  A journey of faith with a fictional God who does not exist…is a nonsensical literary impossibility…a non-starter.

More than anything the better half of me (Rom. 7:15-25) wants to discover that God knows what He is doing…and I am willing (keeping in mind the lesson of Peter’s statement of Matthew 26:33) to pay any price in my journey of faith now to obtain this priceless discovery (Mt. 13:44-46).

I think this may become the universal, motivating theme of every Spirit-born Christian in the challenging events of the upcoming end-times (Acts 2:17-21).

Abraham’s adventure of faith is not about staying comfortably behind in worldly conventional complacency in the city of Haran.

Moses is not sent to Egypt with the mission to merely procure better living and working conditions for the Israelites there.  Moses is commissioned with the monumental task of delivering an entire nation of peoples out from under the despotic control of a worldly-savvy and tyrannical Pharaoh…a wholly complete salvation out of the horizontally mediocre existence the Egyptians had incorrectly determined for the Israelite slaves.

This salvation deliverance is as worldly unconventional as is imaginable…on a colossal scale…and fore-glimpses the equally complete and thorough salvation deliverance from the bondage in sin (Mk. 15:38)…that the cross and the resurrection of Jesus Christ provides through faith in Him.

The difficult and challenging training regime set-up by God for Joseph…for Joseph at the time puzzlingly contrary to his two earlier prophetic dreams back in Canaan…culminates in an unanticipated “resurrection” from Pharaoh’s prison to instantly becoming the governor over the land of Egypt during the great famine.

When all of the pieces of Joseph’s life finally come into clear focus as his half-brothers stand before him in Egypt, the realization of God’s guiding hand even amidst all of the many heartbreaks and set-backs…causes Joseph to publically break down into uncontrollable weeping (Gen. 45:1-2).

The discovery that God knew what He was doing all along…that it all made sense in hindsight towards a brilliantly conceived outcome…meant everything to Joseph within his adventure of faith.

The biblical pattern is always first the confronting of a seemingly overwhelming crisis requiring picking up our cross…followed by a divinely crafted resolution of the crisis by God…making a narrow way…opening up an unseen door…best described in New Testament terms as a life-transforming “resurrection” that builds faith, confidence in God, and renewed determination to carry on.

The cross and the resurrection skillfully interwoven into these ancient biblical stories of faith…not only serve as a model for hope as we press forward in our own unique adventures of faith…but also serve as a powerful apologetic argument for the authenticity of the divine origin of these stories that contain cross-of-Christ themes that are beyond human contrivance to manipulate…or even beyond human literary imagination to invent.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ was beyond the hopeful and faith-filled contemplation of the early Christian disciples between Passover Friday evening and the following Easter Sunday morning three days later…for a very good reason.  God’s thoughts are not our thoughts and God’s ways are higher than our ways.

If it were not so…if God is incapable of opening up the Red Sea or of raising Jesus from the dead…then there is no hope of salvation, deliverance, and redemption in this fallen world…we are then doomed to the foibles and caprice of self-sovereign self-rulership.

In our heart-of-hearts we would not want salvation to be any other way…any less powerful…any less real…even when it comes with the high cost of setting aside worldly conventional normalcy in favor of a risk-filled adventure of faith…in order to obtain all of the benefits of salvation (Col. 3:1-3).

The calling of the first-century Christian was not to settle into a complacent, conventional normalcy in Jerusalem after Pentecost.  The calling of the early Christian church was to boldly proclaim the utterly unconventional gospel message of salvation, energized by the spectacular, paradigm-shifting resurrection of Jesus from the dead…a momentous event of such transforming power that it enabled the first Christians to essentially change the world…from that time going forward.

A resurrection is the God-engineered epiphany that energizes all Christian callings and missions.  A resurrection requires the painful and disruptive reality of the cross…not worldly conventional normalcy.  The power of the resurrection in our lives…that only God can perform…adds the meaning, purpose, direction, and fulfillment to our lives that will climb any mountain, cross any sea, endure any hardship, and overcome all obstacles as we follow Jesus Christ.

This is the ingenious record of the narrative stories of faith in the Bible from beginning to end…supernatural to the core.

Thoughts on Apologetics 2

Finally, when atheists and skeptics assert that scientific investigation cannot include any mention or reference to the supernatural…they are not saying anything new, insightful, or profound.

The modern Scientific Revolution started about 450 years ago…generally credited to Francis Bacon…with the express goal to dispel and refute the errors of folklore, superstition, old-wives tales, and witchcraft…using an entirely new and novel concept of obtaining empirical facts about the natural world through observation…and the testing of hypotheses through repeatable experimentation.

The unimaginable and unexpected irony in the twenty-first century is that modern science has not only scrubbed away unsubstantiated folklore and superstition…but it has also scrubbed away Scientism…the crown jewel of the atheistic philosophies of naturalism and materialism.

The current Age of Information has added information as a third fundamental property in nature alongside matter and energy…thus raising the question of where did complex, highly specified, and coherently integrated programs of information come from.

The pursuit of answers to this question have basically eliminated as a plausible consideration the gradualism of successive, incremental, trial-and-error, unguided, random chance search strategies as an explanation to produce complex functional systems…in the non-living and living natural world.

By discovering in recent decades the massive amounts of coherently integrated systems of information in every area of the natural world…science has come full-circle in re-introducing the need for an intelligent designer God to explain the origin of all of this information.

In the process of attempting to explain the origin, existence, and functional coherence of this complex information…this search automatically refutes the concept of Scientism…that “nature” is all that there is…the basis for the atheistic philosophies of naturalism and materialism.

Scientism is too simplistic in this Age of Information to “hold water.”  A plausible explanation for the origin of information…like the ink that is intelligently arranged on paper to create the headlines for the New York Times newspaper each day…to convey information…falls outside of the materialistic explanation of how ink chemically bonds to paper.

Likewise, when atheists and skeptics assert that the Old and New Testament stories of faith in the Bible are imaginary myth…are the creation of human literary invention…this requires a defense of these biblical narrative stories based on the parallel to our Christian experience today.

If after closer scrutiny, these biblical narrative stories of faith demonstrate a radically divergent contrast with the normalcy of worldly conventional thinking…in contrast with the autonomous nature of going our own way as junior gods sitting atop the thrones of our lives…then the notion that these Bible stories of faith are myth is also eliminated as a plausible consideration to explain their origin.

This realization that the biblical narrative stories of faith are too complex, too sophisticated, too brilliantly unusual and original, and too contrary to worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…to be the product of human literary invention…has enormous implications for answering the fundamental questions of why we are here…and what is the meaning and purpose of our existence.

If commonsense Christian apologetics discovers within the biblical narrative stories of faith the necessity of the script-writer God as the only plausible explanation for their composition…to compliment the scientific discovery of the necessity of an intelligent designer God as the only plausible explanation for the existence of complex systems of information in the natural world…these two realities of rational thinking coalesce into a positive force for truth…that in the humble opinion of this Christian author…is making a compelling case for the existence of God, the truth of the Bible, and Jesus Christ in fact being “the way, the truth, and the life” (Jn. 14:6).

Thoughts on Apologetics 1

“Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”            (2 Tim. 2:15)

I would like to expand further on this idea that the Christian apologetics program is incomplete without an appeal to the divine, supernatural element of the displacement of our ways with God’s higher ways…contained within the biblical narrative story of faith life-scripts.

The Christian apologetics debate…as brilliant as each topic is argued back-and-forth…when broken down into greater supportive detail on each side of each argument…naturally, expectantly, and invariably lands within the realm of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking.

For example, all of the arguments pro and con for the existence of God that use evidences from the natural sciences…such as the Big Bang, the Anthropic Principle, the complexity of the information content in DNA, the mathematical improbability of the folding of amino acids into functional proteins within living cells…on the one side…and Darwinian evolution and anti-supernatural philosophy on the opposing other side…and a host of similarly important and applicable topics for debate…use evidences from the natural sciences and not the supernatural sciences.

Human scientific investigative techniques are strictly limited to the confines of natural science.

We currently have no investigative access to the workings of supernatural science…which exists probably at the outside boundaries of absolute physics, chemistry, and mathematics…and possibly overlaps into the zone of the divine spiritual capacity to create out-of-nothing according to the biblical formula: “and God said…” with whatever it was that He spoke…coming into being.

This creation ex-nihilo may be outside the current boundaries of the orderliness and intelligibility of our natural world…both these elements being the two foundational pillars necessary for modern scientific investigation to function.

Similarly, debatable apologetic topics in history, archaeology, anthropology, sociology, biology, paleontology, philosophy, and theology…when reduced down to their detailed, individual evidences…as expected…fall within arguments that can be made coming from the natural world and those things common to human experience…information and evidences within the zone of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking.

Setting aside the full, deeper context of the parable recorded in Luke 19:12-27…the statement to his household servants and outside groundskeepers of the departing nobleman before leaving on a foreign business trip to: “Occupy till I come”…describes a large portion of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking that is commendable, admirable, and completely within our normal abilities and capacities to perform.

Servants capably “occupying” until the return of the nobleman…already and naturally know how to dust, sweep, and clean the interior of the manor house, and to trim the bushes, tend the vegetable garden, pick fruit from the trees, and care for the domesticated animals on the exterior grounds…all within their normally routine, assigned duties…without a supernaturally composed life-script game-plan…from God.

The unique and innovative main theme of the biblical narrative stories of faith…not found anywhere else in human literature or experience…is that the storylines take people to unimaginable scenarios…outside of conventionally normal experience…to pursue humanistically unreachable goals that require divine participation to actualize into being and fulfillment.

                This is what elevates the biblical journeys of faith experience to the pinnacle of human thought, reason, and purpose.  This is the apologetics aspect of biblical journeys of faith that places them above and outside of the reach of the standard, skeptical criticism…coming from the realm of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking.

When atheist and skeptics attack Christianity alongside other religions…they are sometimes attacking…and sometimes accurately…that portion of Christianity that entails the “occupy till I come” activities of “dusting, sweeping, cleaning, and trimming shrubbery” whenever and wherever Christian practices overlap into the zone of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…practices that are not being done very well…are not Christ-like…that do not pass the “white glove” critical inspection of perfect performance..

They are attacking practices, techniques, and beliefs that by their location within worldly conventionality…within “occupy till I come”…are susceptible to human corruption and deterioration, and therefore “fair game” to conventional analysis and legitimate criticism.

The parts about Old Testament Judaic and New Testament Christian experience that are above and outside of such criticism…are the perfect life-scripts composed by a perfect God for imperfect people…that have the all-important component of God displacing our ways with His higher ways…but that also anticipates and factors into account our many mistakes along our journey of faith…from the perspective of the timeless dimension of the Scriptwriter God (Ps. 32:1-2).

Our performance as flawed and imperfect people as recorded in the narrative stories of faith…and in our Christian journeys of faith today…does not take away from the perfection of God-composed life-scripts…each containing uniquely individual game-plans designed to get every Spirit-born Christian today to the finish line.

Here also I am responding in the reactive mode to criticisms coming from atheistic and skeptical philosophy…but I am responding with a rebuttal argument that falls above and outside of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking.

This response falls higher up on the vertical spectrum-line of goodness and light…involving God-composed journey of faith life-scripts…because the components of these life-scripts do not contain universally typical elements coming from within the zone of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking.

This is the great divide between God-sovereignty and self-sovereignty…between belief and unbelief.

God takes people of faith…who will pick up their cross to follow God within their God-composed life-scripts in the Old and New Testaments…to a zone of experience that is incomprehensible and unfathomable to people committed to self-autonomous rulership sitting atop the thrones of their lives…awash in worldly conventional thinking.

Some Thoughts in the Predestination vs. Free-Will Question

I believe that born-again Christians have the full assurance of the eternal security of their salvation (1 Jn. 5:13; Phil. 1:6; Jn. 10:28-29)…through their free-will choice (Mk. 8:34-38; Jn. 4:14; Rev. 22:17) to accept Christ through faith (Eph. 2:8-9).  This certainty is based upon their knowing (1 Cor. 3:16; Eph. 1:18) that they have accepted Jesus Christ by faith.

I believe that faith precedes salvation (Rom. 5:1; Acts 16:31; Eph. 1:13)…that upon hearing the gospel message (1 Cor. 15:1-4)…if we believe and accept Christ…then we are saved…and can never lose our salvation (Jn. 3:16).

I believe that the blood that Jesus Christ shed on the cross is the perfect atonement for the sins of mankind (Col. 2:10)…and that this atonement is offered freely to every person for them to either choose to accept or to reject (2 Cor. 5:14; 1 Tim. 2:4; 2 Pet. 3:9; Jn. 1:11).

I believe that the concepts of predestination, election, divinely timeless foreknowledge, free-will choice, the capacity to believe, and the universal outreach of salvation are all derived directly from scripture…and are brilliantly interwoven, adjudicated, balanced, and resolved…interpreted by God Himself…within the biblical narrative stories of faith.

God is the only person who could blend seeming inconsistent concepts together within the life-scripts of journeys of faith…bringing together the unmixable ingredients of God’s will, our free-will choice, God’s timeless foresight, and our four dimensions of space and time.

As I will argue in upcoming sections throughout this book, this is a compelling, commonsense, stand-alone, Christian apologetic evidence for the existence of God and the truth of the Bible.

This biblical interpretation has a direct bearing upon the actualizing within our lives of the type and quality of a journey of faith described in the Bible…due to the high risks involved…if our salvation was not secure.

As a practical matter…no one in their right mind would take the risk to venture out into a journey of faith following a God-composed life-script…in which we cannot always see around the next bend in the upcoming corner or over the top of the next hill …as to how steep, perilous, or narrow the way may become…if by following this life-script our eternal salvation was placed in jeopardy.

God knows that no one would or should accept the risk of a biblical-style walk of faith…if our salvation was in the slightest way dependent upon our often flawed human performance over the course of our lives…dependent upon faith plus some additional measure of our good-works.

No ancient or modern Christian would step into their risk-filled, God-composed life-script…crafted after the biblical pattern of an Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, Peter, or Paul…without the upfront assurance of the eternal security of their salvation.

This all-important issue illuminates a critical, commonsense apologetic argument for the divine origin of the Bible…simply…that a God-composed journey of faith life-script is so foreign to worldly conventional thinking…and therefore risk-filled in its reliance upon the good faith and character of God…that God is wisely offering us a safe-conduct upfront…through the blood of Jesus Christ…securing our eternal salvation…before we willingly agree to accompany Him out into the newness and novelty of a walk of biblical faith.

This is precisely why God invented time in conjunction with the material particles, energy, and the laws of science at the Big Bang…so that we could experience the biblical faith of Hebrews 11:1…spread-out over time.

In this uniquely biblical reality, we maintain our free-will choice, but the program of salvation and the journey of faith life-scripts are entirely of God…as logically they must be…if godliness is to come into our lives.

Ephesians 2:8-9 reads: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:  Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

That not of yourselves…not of works…because human good-works cannot get us from one end of the spectrum-line…self-sovereignty…all the way over to the other end of the spectrum…God-sovereignty.

A functionally effective program for salvation that includes a God-composed journey of faith life-script…like that of Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, Peter, and Paul…to name only a few…must have these components of eternal security, free-will choice, the universal atonement of Christ, the innate capacity of people to be able to exercise faith or to reject God, and the all-important grace of God…to not only forgive our sins through the blood of Jesus shed on the cross…but to make allowances for our flawed performance within our individually scripted journeys of faith…thus removing out-of-the-picture entirely the concept of self-works earning our way to salvation.

Everyone can visualize a young father kneeling on the living room carpet…a few feet away from a chair upon which is standing their two-year old son or daughter…saying unto them: “jump into my arms, and I will catch you.”  After the son or daughter jumps the short distance and is caught into the outstretched arms of their father…laughing and gleefully shouting “do it again, Dad, do it again!”…not only has a fun new game been invented but a bond of trust has been strengthened between father and son or daughter…that Dad will catch me each time in this game when he says “jump” from the chair into his arms.

One important point here is that it is the father who invents this game.  The two-year old does not say: “Dad…I am going to stand at the front edge of this chair and jump…and you are going to catch me.”  All of the logistics and outcomes of this new game…of having fun but also building a relationship of trust…are premeditated within the creative mind of the loving father.

I cannot speak for Abraham as he journeys from Haran to Canaan…or Joseph as he works through his unofficial MBA training in Potiphar’s house and Pharaoh’s prison…or Moses as he walks with his brother Aaron toward Egypt to deliver the Israelites…or David when he approaches Goliath with his sling and stone…or Peter at his personal interview with Jesus on resurrection day…or Paul after he discovers on the road to Damascus that Jesus is the Messiah.

Anyone who has heard the voice of God in the Spirit in their calling…in some way or another senses an authority, a confidence, an assurance of certainty that God is someone I can trust and follow…even more importantly someone I can love…unlike anything else in all of human experience…as we should expect.

This is what see observe in the biblical narrative stories of faith…and it does not make accurate, human literary fiction.

Good fiction is based upon conventional human experience.   God inserting life-scripts having His higher ways and thoughts…displacing our ways in the process…cannot be found anywhere in human literary fiction or anywhere in human experience…outside of the Bible.

The biblical narrative stories of faith are too complex, too sophisticated, too functionally integrated, and too creatively outside of the boundaries of normally conventional thinking to be the product of human literary imagination.

Finally, since this topic will not come up until later in the book…split-second, instantaneous revelations and pronouncements by God…spanning the duration of a micro-second within the timeless environment of God (Isa. 46:9-10)…will not allow for the first-hand experiences of the biblical faith of Hebrews 11:1…spread-out over the time intervals of “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”

My mother used to say at breakfast on a cold winter morning before we headed off to school that “oatmeal will stick to your ribs.”

This is why God invented time.

This is why God invented journey of faith life-scripts…for every believer (Jer. 31:31-34).

The lessons learned first-hand through a journey of faith spread-out over time…will stick to our ribs for all eternity.

This is why a timeless God gives us the assurance of the eternal security of our salvation…before we enter into the risk of an adventure of faith.

This is why a timeless God has already factored-in our mistakes and shortcomings into our adventure of faith…covered by God’s grace not just at our initial acceptance of Christ and becoming spiritually born-again (Jn. 3:3-5)…but throughout our journey of faith…come what may (Eph. 2:8-10).

The Improbability of Mount Improbable

In his 1996 book entitled Climbing Mount Improbable, Richard Dawkins uses the analogy to the geological contour of a hypothetical mountain to explain how gradual development could produce complex life-forms…over long periods of time…like a falcon or a grey whale.

This mountain…in profile view…has a vertically steep, impregnatable rock face on one side…too high to climb in one naturalistic upward leap.  The highest peak of the mountain represents all of the combined features needed in any specific living organism to produce functional survival…or to bring to functional utility any specific single feature of a living organism…such as a leg, an arm, a wing, or a tail, for example.

The vertical rock face of the mountain represents the improbability…according to a purely naturalistic explanation…of producing any complex living creature in whole…or any complex part of a living creature…in one single step.

For every living thing…the assemblage of functioning parts is too complex to put together in a single leap…from the base of the mountain rock face up to the top…in scientific terms called a saltation or macro-mutation…in theistic, biblical terms called fiat creation or creation ex nihilo (creation out of nothing).

In his ground-breaking 1859 book The Origin of Species, Charles Darwin recognized this problem in differentiating philosophical naturalism from theistic creation…when he wrote in Latin: Natura non facit saltum…”Nature makes no sudden leaps.”

If new creatures were to suddenly appear in the fossil record…fully formed and functioning…this would be evidence against gradualism and a counter-argument for what Darwin called “miracle”…or fiat creation out of nothing.

Enter Richard Dawkin’s 1996 metaphor to explain how gradual genetic improvements over time could produce complex living things according to natural means alone.

This explanatory Mount Improbable has another slope…up the backside of the vertically steep rock face…that has a long, gradual upward incline…that can be scaled in comparative ease using random, naturally selected, incrementally small steps that take us by an alternate route to the top of the mountain…the analogy to reaching the high altitude of the complex features that make up each and every living thing…that otherwise logically would have to be ascribed to the premeditated design of a divine, intelligent agency…God.

On the surface…literally the upper contour profile of the mountain…this sounds like a plausible program…worthy of our deepest thought and critical analysis.

But upon further reflection the fundamental problem…well-known to modern science in this Age of Information understanding of the vast molecular complexity of all living things…is that the elevation at the base of Mount Improbable does not start at zero feet sea-level.

The diversity and variability of species that Charles Darwin observed in the middle 1830’s on the Galapagos Islands…to use this Mount Improbable analogy…was only the visible top 100 feet of 25,100-foot high, molecular mountains of DNA, proteins, amino acids, and architectural body-plans unknown to Darwin in the 1850’s…and unknown to us until the 1950’s with the discovery of DNA by James Watson and Francis Crick.

Natural selection…operating upon genetic mutations…the core principle of the Darwinian evolutionary framework…needs an already functioning organism “up and running” to enable the opportunity for natural selections to improve upon and “create” the astounding diversity of life we see today.

Natural selection must already have an existing baseline of living things functioning and surviving at a minimum level…before any creature-altering diversification can occur.

A person does not have to have a PhD in the natural sciences to see the commonsense logical error in the metaphor of Mount Improbable as an explanation for the argument for gradual, trial-and-error development in the living world.

Nature makes no sudden leaps also applies to this metaphor of Mount Improbable.

There must be some backstory explanation…recorded in the fossil record or observable today as an explanatory mechanism…for the underlying complexity of information and integrated functionality…the bottom 25,000 feet…that gets the baseline prototypical living organism up to the starting elevation of Mount Improbable…that would then enable a gradual final ascent through natural selection…up the remaining 100 feet to the summit of “the survival of the fittest” variability and functionality that Darwin observed on the Galapagos Islands…and that modern science today more accurately labels as micro-evolution…small adaptive changes over time.

Within the foundational mass of the 25,000 feet of mountain…there must be a nearly infinite number of individual dots and gradually upward sloping developmental lines…that creates the underlying structure of function that at some elevation in the “mountain” then enables natural selection to operate.

This is a classic case of which came first…the cart or the horse…the chicken or the egg.

Genetic mutation acted upon by natural selection needs living organisms up and running…at some elevation in the growing mountain…before genetic mutation acted upon by natural selection…can begin.

And this requires some explanation of the near infinite number of dots and upward sloping lines of progressing improvements…that would have to come together…to form the mass of the mountain…to get us to this higher elevation where the Mount Improbable explanation makes sense within the definition of microevolution…not macroevolution.

In other words…it is not just the uppermost contour line of a gradually upward sloping line going up the backside of Mount Improbable…at the top-most elevation…that offers an explanation for the diversity of life.   This explanation must also include all of the innumerable sloping lines and individual dots that fall underneath this uppermost contour line…the gray-shaded area below the contour graph-line.

This Mount Improbable explanation for the diversity of life is way too simplistic.

Without going into the discontinuities…the gaps…between the phyla groups in the living world, or the current impasse in the origins-of-life research, or the lack of transitional nodes in Darwin’s tree of life…not only in the fossil record…but in many cases not even being able to imaginatively conceive of the sequential anatomical changes required in the gradual transitions needed to go from running on the ground to sustained flight…or from a respiratory system of lungs like ours to the totally different respiratory system of the lungs of birds…avian lungs…that require a sudden leap of functionality…or death ensues in minutes in the case of a dysfunctional respiratory system.

The fundamental problem inherent in unguided, trial-and-error gradualism…this challenge and difficulty in the purely naturalistic explanation of the origin and the mechanics for the diversity of life…applies to the divergence of each of the brilliantly original body-plan architectures and unique life-style habits of every living thing.

The huge block of factual disclosure that is missing in the analogy to Mount Improbable…as an explanation for the diversity of life…is that the mass of molecular information that gets us from non-living matter…from zero elevation at sea level to 10,000 or 15,000 elevation where diversification could begin to create the branching nodes of Darwin’s hypothetical “tree of life”…is entirely missing.  It is missing in the fossil record.  It is missing in our current observation of the living world.  And it is missing as hypothetical constructions out of our creative imagination.

Darwinists want us to apply what we see at the uppermost 100 feet of microevolutionary change at the top of the mountain…to explain the origin of the underlying large mass of mountain from zero elevation at sea level…up to the start of the gradual upward incline of Mount Improbable at 25,000 feet…the top 100 feet of change we can actually see in the fossil record and in the natural world today.

This requires an assumption as a “given”…a philosophical extrapolation…a hypothetical leap…that is not scientifically reasonable.

The nature makes no sudden leaps…requires an unbridgeable leap from non-living matter containing zero DNA…to the simplest living forms such as bacteria that gets life started on earth about three-and-one-half billion years ago…living bacterial cells that have an enormous amount of complex and functionally integrated DNA information.

Darwinian evolution has always been an effort to establish macroevolution through an expansion of microevolution…to take the top 100 feet of the 25,100-foot high mountain of information that makes up living creatures…and apply what we see and know about the top 100 feet…down into the underlying 25,000 feet of what we do not know and are ignorant about…which conceivably would have to be made up of a nearly infinite number of crisscrossing, gradually inclined slope-lines and individual dots…of progressively creative genetic improvements…producing ever-changing uppermost contours of the gradually rising Mount Improbable…to reach the 25,000-foot elevation where we can actually observe change.

The metaphor of Mount Improbable is therefore a misleading explanation for the diversity of life…because it ignores the vital fact that the baseline diversity of living things is built upon multiple divergences at some elevation above “sea level” in information content and functional organization…and natural selection is inoperable as an explanation for this underlying development to reach the beginning height of 10,000 or 15,000 feet…when natural selection could conceivably take-over and start producing diversity.

The correct answer here is that it takes divine creation to take each living thing up to its unique 25,000-foot high elevation…where the built-in genetic variation allows each creature to diversify within different habitats…as Darwin observed in the variations of finches on the Galapagos Islands…finches named after him.

The interesting feature in making the case for gradualism to explain the diversity of life…is that when it fails…each time it falls short as a plausible explanation…it then actually makes an argument in the opposite direction…that adds to the growing evidences in science that are slowly bringing down the edifice of modern Neo-Darwinism…logically and empirically piece-by-piece.

If gradualism does not exist in reality as a plausible causation method to explain the huge diversity in the living world…leaving fiat creation ex nihilo…sudden creation out of nothing as the only remaining option…this then sheds light on the divine origin of the biblical narrative stories of faith…the theme of this book.

Like the Mount Improbable metaphor that is unsatisfactory because the base of the gradual incline slope up its backside does not start at zero elevation sea-level…but rather at the top of 25,000 feet of underlying genetic information such as DNA, proteins, amino acids, and a body-plan architecture displaying creative foresight…similarly the stories of Abraham, Joseph, Moses, David, Ruth, Esther and Mordecai, Daniel, Peter, John, James, and Paul…also do not start at zero elevation sea-level.

The life-story of Abraham does not start from scratch at zero-information…at zero elevation sea-level…with God and Abraham improvising the events leading toward Abraham becoming the “father of faith”…making the whole thing up as they go along gradually up the slope of Mount Improbable.

This would be the biblical equivalent of Mount Improbable…of nature blindly selecting the next beneficial genetic mutation one-by-one while traversing up the gradual incline of the mountain…without plan, foresight, or premeditation as to where it is going and how it will end-up as a functionally perfected, living organism.

The biblical narrative stories of faith do not start from scratch.  They exist above 25,000 feet of the mountain of moral DNA…of righteousness and goodness and truth that makes up the character and person of God…in the same way that there is a mountain of complex information coherently integrated within every living thing…beneath what Darwin observed in the variety of finches on the Galapagos Islands in the 1830’s…and below what we can visually observe in the varied body-plan architectures and life-style habits of the billions of living organisms we see today.

The biblical narrative stories of faith do have variation and diversity…but again this diversification is built upon the base of 25,000 feet of the knowledge of good and evil…which is opened up for us to explore through a God-composed journey of faith life-script…the Holy Spirit leading us into the “all truth” of John 16:13.

The Counter-Argument

Some skeptical scholars in literature or linguistics may object here and say: “wait a minute…real-life history and human-generated fictional literature are filled with countless stories that have people leaving worldly conventional normalcy behind to go off to fight for years in foreign wars, or to go on adventures of discovery around the world, and all other imaginable varieties of missions and escapades large and small…motivated by duty, peer pressure, the high moral value of doing the right thing, or the bald self-interest of pursuing gold and glory.

All of these stories…literary fiction and real-life non-fiction…contain the concept that one course of action will necessitate the displacement of another course of action.  Obviously, no one can be in two places at once…and this is a commonplace, taken-for-granted reality in the development of real-life and fictional stories.

The skeptical scholar in the fields of the history of literature and linguistics…covering the span of human storytelling…might correctly observe that the displacement of what we might ordinarily want in life…what I call in this book worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…often occurs in real-life as a result of exterior forces outside our control…such as invading armies, economic recessions, technological progress and change, disease epidemics, or natural disasters, for example…or in literary fiction as an inventive, artistic plot-twist of unexpected suspense or humor…that is integral to telling an interesting story.

The problem with this line of reasoning is that it does not reach far enough outward to encompass a reasonable explanation for the novelty of biblical narrative stories of faith…that have the singular uniqueness of God being the intelligent artistic source of the displacement of our worldly conventional normalcy and thinking.

God-composed journeys of faith involve a divinely creative artist in residence…in lieu of…in place of the naturalistic, universally normal response in the reactive mode to what would appear to be random outside occurrences and changing fortunes…combined with our autonomous free-will capacity to make choices and decisions.

The word that best describes the secular genres of literature compared to the biblical narrative stories of faith…is discontinuous.

The unique concept in the biblical narrative stories of faith…that God displaces our ways with His higher ways and thoughts (Isa. 55:8-9) as demonstrated through the life-stories of Enoch, Noah, and Abraham all the way through to Paul, Silas, and Timothy…is a supernatural ingredient that will not mix with the pride-filled hubris of self-autonomous self-sovereignty that is the hallmark of humanism.

Going our own way versus going God’s way is discontinuous…having as large a gap in thinking and in action as is imaginable.

This is why in university Religious Studies programs…the biblical faith of Hebrews 11:1 is never discussed…because it is discontinuous with worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…and therefore outside the critical analysis and purview of man-made and invented religion…the only possible realm of inquiry acceptable to humanism.

The fact that the biblical narrative stories of faith…that have the common theme of God displacing our ways with His higher ways…must be studied apart from other religions and outside of the accepted tenets of worldly conventional normalcy and thinking…should again be a red-flag jolt in the contemporary Christian apologetics debate…as to where and how this contrasting dichotomy would and could originate from.