I first starting blogging in 2006. My first effort was entitled Yinkadene and it was on Xanga — anyone remember Xanga? I soon discovered that many people didn’t know how to pronounce the name, so in 2007 I stayed on Xanga, but switched the name to what I thought would be a more intuitive orthography, Yinkahdinay. As it turned out, heaps of people continued to call it “Yinky Dinky” or some other bastardization. I forgive you — all of you. And in case you’re still in the dark, the original name came from my time as a missionary in Fort Babine. It comes from the Babine language and it means “Native language.” I used it as a circumlocution for just speaking as myself.
In 2009, I moved to Hamilton to become the pastor of the Providence Canadian Reformed Church. Around the same time, I moved my blogging over to WordPress, but kept the Yinkahdinay name. That was over 12 years ago now.
Today I’m letting you know that the era of Yinkahdinay is over. This will be the last post on this website.
For a while now I’ve been working with web developer Rosalyn Poort to put together a new site. It’s just been launched. A big thank you to Rosalyn for the fine work she did on it. You can now find me online here. At the new site, I’ll continue my blogging journey and I hope you’ll join me!
Keeping Faith in an Age of Reason: Refuting Alleged Bible Contradictions, Jason Lisle. Green Forest: Master Books, 2017. Softcover, 254 pages.
Spend any time discussing Christianity with unbelievers and eventually you’ll hear how the Bible is unbelievable because of its countless contradictions. I’ve noticed that even ex-Reformed unbelievers will trot out this claim. Unbelievers will Google “Bible contradictions” and they’ll come up with lists and lists of them. They’ll bombard you with them and expect you’ll have no way to respond. More than likely, you’ll feel overwhelmed at the volume of unbelieving fire that seems to be raining down on you.
Jason Lisle’s Keeping Faith in an Age of Reason is the resource you need for moments like that. Lisle has catalogued 420 supposed Bible contradictions. He puts them into six categories:
Names, Places, and Genealogies
Timing of Events
Cause and Effect
Differences in Details
Yes or No?
Dr. Lisle also helpfully points out the mistaken reasoning used by Bible critics. At the beginning of the book he outlines some common fallacies. With most of the contradictions he’ll then indicate which fallacy is being used.
Here’s an example from the fifth category (Differences in Details):
Was Jonah swallowed by a fish or a whale? Jonah 1:17 says fish, but Matthew 12:40 says whale.
Semantic anachronism fallacy. The Linnaean classification system by which whales are classified as “mammals” and not as “fish” was not invented until the 1700s. So, obviously the Bible isn’t going to use that system.
The Greek word translated as “whale in Matthew 12:40 in the KJV is ketos, which includes both whales and large fish. Likewise, the Hebrew word for “fish” in Jonah 1:17 is dag and is not exactly the same as our modern Linnaean category. So, there is no inconsistency in the original Hebrew and Greek languages. (p.162)
Like this one, some of the “contradictions” only need a short response, while others span over several pages.
Since this book spans so much biblical interpretation, there are a few places at which I differ from Dr. Lisle. Most of those instances remain within the pale of orthodoxy. The only exception might be Lisle’s apparent concession that baptism could validly be done in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit OR in the name of Jesus (p.108). However, I didn’t detect anything else that might contradict what Reformed believers confess. This is happily different from at least one other book of this genre: Gleason Archer’s Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties.
Keeping Faith in Age of Reason helpfully concludes with an explanation for how only the Christian worldview can provide the necessary foundations for the law of non-contradiction. Unbelievers can’t justify their concerns about contradictions from within their own worldview. Therefore, in order to argue against Christianity, they have to steal from the Christian worldview – thus illustrating how unsound their reasoning really is.
Perhaps a young person you know could benefit from this book, especially if they’re in an environment where the Christian faith is always under attack. Bible teachers would be well-served by it too – maybe do a unit on alleged Bible contradictions and use Lisle as a text. Whoever uses it will find their confidence in the trustworthiness of God’s Word bolstered. You’ll soon find Jason Lisle’s words verified:
The critic did not perform a fair and objective analysis of the text. Rather, he relentlessly pulled the verses out of context, drawing unwarranted and incorrect inferences. Clearly, the critic is not interested in the truth. He has an ax to grind. He doesn’t like the Bible. And he is not above distorting the text of Scripture in an attempt to persuade others that the problem is in the text. But this really shows that the problem lies with the critic. (p.241)
Australia is famous for its diverse wildlife wanting to kill you. Even the birds get in on the action. In certain regions the Australian magpie (no relation to the Canadian bird) will swoop at humans, at times with deadly consequences. A five-month old baby recently died when her mother stumbled while trying to avoid a swooping magpie in Brisbane. Thankfully, the magpies here in Tasmania are much milder mannered – they don’t swoop. However, things are quite different when it comes to our plovers.
Ornithologists call them masked lapwings, but most Aussies just call them plovers. For North American readers, just imagine a large killdeer with a bad temper at certain times of the year. In our Launceston neighbourhood they’re prolific. You can’t avoid them, even though at times you desperately want to.
I’d nominate them as Tasmania’s most dangerous bird. Though they’re sometimes hard to see from a distance…
In my corner of Reformed Christianity we’re not particularly adept at expressing our emotions. Perhaps it can be chalked up to our Dutch immigrant roots; maybe to our ecclesiastical sub-culture. Whatever the case may be, we’re not given to putting ourselves out there emotionally. This certainly guards us against the sentimental excesses seen in some circles. But does this steely stoicism line us up completely with Scripture?
Job 19:25-27 is one passage which might suggest otherwise. Many people are familiar with this passage because it’s used in Handel’s Messiah. Oftentimes you’ll hear it at funerals. I always read it at graveside services and it provides a lot of comfort. It does so because it confidently speaks of the hope of the resurrection:
As you believe this resurrection gospel, which is fulfilled in Jesus, it shouldn’t leave you unaffected. It deeply impacted Job and that’s evident from the last line: “My heart faints within me!” Those words are pregnant with emotion. Job had a deep yearning to see God with his own eyes in his glorified resurrection body.
Can you relate to that? Does your heart “faint within you” when you hear about what the gospel promises in the resurrection of the dead? One could reasonably expect such a response, because of the nature of these truths. God gives us profoundly encouraging news here. But what if you can’t relate? What if these kinds of truths don’t touch your heart like they did Job? I have more good news for you.
First, our salvation doesn’t depend on our emotions and what the gospel does to us emotionally. Our salvation entirely depends on God’s free grace in Christ. So don’t be discouraged if for whatever reason you have a hard time relating to the type of heart-felt longing expressed by Job. The most important thing is: do you believe what God is promising us in Christ? Do you believe you have a Redeemer whom you will see with your own eyes after having been raised up from the dead?
Second, you can and should pray for the Holy Spirit to help you grow in your emotional response to the gospel. What we see with Job is an emotionally rich hope. Where does the believer’s hope come from? Here I’m not asking about the objective basis in the gospel, but how it is subjectively worked in the believer. Romans 15:13 tells us that we abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit comes to believers and he works this deeply felt hope in their hearts.
It’s Paul’s prayer in Romans 15:13 that the Holy Spirit would help believers to abound in that hope. There are at least two important things to take from that. Abounding in hope is desirable – it’s something worth praying for. You shouldn’t be content with a flagging heart. The other thing is in the fact that Paul had to pray about it. That tells us that believers don’t always abound in hope. Just look at Job again. As you read further beyond chapter 19, you see Job struggling again. He’s lamenting, wondering, and doubting. Job vacillates wildly. Here he’s on the peak; soon he’s again in the sodden valley. We’re no different. So abounding in hope is something for which we need to pray. We can and we should pray for the Holy Spirit to help us abound in the hope of the resurrection that we have in Jesus Christ.
But why does all this matter? Why give any attention to our emotional response to the gospel? You could simply answer: because Scripture does. But that just changes the question: why does Scripture give attention to this? Because the positive emotions we’re talking about show the worth of God. When a believer has the profound, heart-felt desire to see God, like Job did, it demonstrates how valuable God is. People and things that matter to us make an emotional impression on us. And who is of more worth, objectively speaking, than God? What is of more worth, objectively speaking, than the gospel?
This is, to me it seems, a distinctly North American discussion. Halloween is a thing here in Australia, but not a big thing. It’s certainly not anywhere near as big as in the US and Canada. That suits me just fine.
Chris Gordon: “Too often when people critique confessional Protestants, who affirm the abiding validity of the Ten Commandments, as “legalistic,” they are really advocating antinomianism, rejection of God’s moral law. What they are saying is this: we won’t require anything of you if you come to us. This is all an escape tactic for people who are running. God’s law is totally disregarded, and the consequences of this are evidenced in the way people approach him in worship.”
While this is a deplorable development, I can’t help but wonder if the real problems are being missed here: churches which don’t practice church discipline, and then Christian schools which don’t make biblical church membership a requirement for employment.
The case of Keira Bell (Bell v Tavistock) has received a lot of attention from Christians concerned about so-called conversion therapy legislation. This is a set-back, however an appeal to the UK Supreme Court is in the works.
Perhaps a better title: Majority of Self-Identified Christians Don’t Really Believe Christian Doctrine.
Christian vs. Atheist Debate
I didn’t post this one on Facebook, but last week I did show it to participants at a Reformed Apologetics course I taught in Western Australia. Brace yourself — one unhinged atheist makes it a wild ride.