The Doctrines of Dispensational Premillennialism

The Doctrines of Dispensational Premillennialism

We have had many articles in our journal and on this website about the doctrines of dispensational premillennialism. Not only does this doctrine create conflict with scientific evidence, but it presents political claims that threaten peace and harmony. Many people who call themselves “creationists” have adopted this human doctrine that conflicts with the Bible, common sense, and scientific evidence. We have discussed the scientific issues in our booklet “God’s Revelation in His Rocks and His Word,” available free on doesgodexist.org.

Here is an example of the political aspect from a recent Google advertisement that showed up on various websites:

“The Bible says in Revelation Chapters 9 & 16 that during end times a 200 million man army from the East will come to make war against Israel & Her Allies (Armageddon). They will come from China & Her allies (Russia, Iran, Iraq, Taliban, etc.) and will come through the Kyber Pass into and through Afghanistan and follow the dried up Euphrates River Valley across Iran and Iraq into the Middle East! A third of mankind will die! Jesus will come back to earth physically to fight for His people and establish His earthly kingdom.”

I would encourage you to read Revelation chapters 9 and 16 to see how much imagination the ad’s author used to present the doctrines of dispensational premillennialism as fact. This ad warning is a human fabrication, and those two chapters mention none of those countries. In the first verse of Revelation, the apostle John wrote that the purpose is “to show to the servants of Christ things which must shortly come to pass.” However, twisting the Bible to fit a human doctrine that embraces the 21st-century situation puts Christianity at odds with science and makes a political statement about war, hatred, militarism, and physical conflict.

Jesus confronted worldly political thinking as people tried to portray Him as a political figure opposed to Caesar. In Matthew 22:17-21 and Luke 20:22-25, Jesus made it clear that giving to God and giving to Caesar are two different things and should not be mixed or confused. In John 18:36, Jesus says, “My kingdom is not of this world: If my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but my kingdom is not of this world.”

Before accepting the interpretations of those preaching the doctrines of dispensational premillennialism, examine what the Bible actually says.

— John N. Clayton ©

An excellent commentary on Revelation is Revelation’s Rhapsody by Robert A. Lowery, published by College Press.

The Irrationality of Hell

The Irrationality of Hell

Atheists and skeptics often refer to “the irrationality of hell.” The main problem with this challenge is that they fail to study what the Bible actually says and take it literally. The simple truth is that hell is not a physical place but a condition. Therefore, we must understand the biblical descriptions as showing us what hell is like but not understanding it in physical terms. Furthermore, the description should convince us that we want to avoid hell’s “eternal punishment.”

Much of the biblical language concerning hell is a metaphor of the Valley of Ben Hinnomben hinnom in Hebrew and gehenna in Greek. It was a deep and narrow ravine south of Jerusalem that had a long and sordid history. In that valley, parents sacrificed their children as burnt offerings to the pagan god Molech (2 Kings 23:10). It was also known as “the valley of slaughter” because of human sacrifice carried on there (Jeremiah 7:31-32; 19:2,6; 32:35). The valley became the Jerusalem garbage dump where people incinerated waste materials and dead animals, and the fires continually smoldered. The New Testament refers to it 12 times as a place of wickedness. That includes eleven times by Jesus and once by James. Modern translations render it as “hell.” (See Matthew 5:22, Mark 9:43-47, Luke 12:5, and James 3:6.)

The biblical references describing hell use the worst descriptions humans can imagine. It is called “eternal fire” (Matthew 25:41), “a lake of fire burning with brimstone” (Revelation 19:20; 20:10-15; 21:8), and “outer darkness” (Matthew 8:12; 22:13). Brimstone is sulfur that produces toxic “rotten egg” fumes as it burns. In Mark 9:46-48, Jesus said that in hell, “their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” The word used for worm here refers to a maggot that feeds on dead things. When Jesus described hell, He said that those in hell will be “gnashing their teeth” (Matthew 13:42 and 50). This is not a reference to pain but an expression of anger. (See Acts 7:54 and Job 16:9.)

Hell is essentially God’s garbage dump, and like any garbage dump, it is a place of destruction. The destruction in hell is eternal and everlasting, as you can see in passages such as Matthew 10:28 and 2 Thessalonians 1:9. The irrationality of hell is why anyone would choose to go there.

–John N. Clayton © 2021

For more see “A Traveler’s Guide to the Afterlife” by Dr. Timothy Gordon pages 109-122. ISBN 9781082882593. Read our review HERE.

Difficult Genesis Issues – Where Did Cain Get His Wife? 

Difficult Genesis Issues - Where Did Cain Get His Wife? 

Several Genesis verses contain some issues that have bothered many people. For example, are we supposed to understand the ages of the people chronologically? If so, how did they live so long? Who was Cain afraid of, and where did those people come from? Where did Cain get his wife? Those are some of the difficult Genesis issues people have tried to resolve. 

The Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation is the product of scientists who believe in God and accept the Bible as His Word. They have advanced academic degrees, and their articles are very scholarly. Recent issues have carried some interesting discussions of difficult Genesis issues, including the account of Adam and Eve. The September issue contains an article by Dr. Roy Clouser. He contends that we have ignored the Jewish understanding of Genesis, causing credibility issues with the biblical account. Clouser maintains that the ages of biblical characters were not intended to be understood as chronological but symbolic of their character or accomplishments. For example, Methuselah living 969 years would indicate higher qualities than Adam’s 600 years. 

That is an interesting explanation. I am now 83 years old chronologically, and I cannot fathom living for 600 years. The physical weakness that comes from age seems to be built into humans as it is in the rest of the world. When Adam and Eve were in the Garden, they had access to the Tree of Life that would allow them to live forever. The traditional explanation that the human fall into sin brought physical death into the world for the first time has credibility issues with most people. 

Clouser makes an interesting comparison between Genesis 2:7, where God breathed into Adam the breath of life, and John 20:22, where Jesus breathed on His disciples. Genesis tells us that “God formed man of the dust of the ground,” clearly referring to man’s body. Then the verse says, “and man became a living soul.” Genesis 1:26-27 describes the man and woman as created in the image of God. That, of course, refers to the spiritual image because God is a Spirit and not a limited physical being. When humans sinned, God’s spirit departed from them. However, John 20:22 tells us that Jesus “breathed on them (His disciples) and said, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.’” 

Other difficult Genesis issues include when Cain says, “Everyone who finds me will try to kill me” (Genesis 4:14). Who are those who would try to kill Cain, and where did they come from? Where did Cain get his wife? Cain also builds a city, and that requires large numbers of humans. My response has always been that Adam and Eve had many children in the Garden of Eden. Therefore, all of humanity rebelled against God and were forced out of the Garden and lost a relationship with God. Clouser presents a different interpretation that warrants more study. 

The fact is that the biblical account is accurate and deals with salvation through Jesus Christ. However, understanding how we got to where we are is very complex and will always leave some questions for further study. It is our understanding of the difficult Genesis issues that is in question–not the accuracy of the biblical record

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible

Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible and the Book of Mormon

Most of us have had two young Mormon evangelists show up at our door. They claim that the Bible was translated inaccurately, and an angel gave Joseph Smith visions to correct the errors. In the Mormon Latter Day Saints Articles of Faith, Joseph Smith wrote, “We believe the Bible to be the word of God as far as it is translated correctly; we also believe the Book of Mormon to be the Word of God.” Joseph Smith attacked the “corrupted Bible” by producing his own version known as the Joseph Smith Translation (JST).

Smith quoted Genesis 6:52-53 as saying that Adam was baptized in the name of Jesus Christ and was given the gift of the Holy Ghost by that process. He changed John 1:1 to say that “the gospel was preached through the Son. And the gospel was the word …” Smith did not go back to the original languages and had no access to ancient manuscripts for his translation. He claimed that God gave him the revisions for the Joseph Smith Translation.

Mormon writings contain many scientific and historical errors, some of which later Mormon leaders have removed by editing Joseph Smith’s original books. Examples include God cursing Indians (native Americans) with dark skin (2 Nephi 5:21&23, Jacob 3:3-9, Mormon 5:15-17, and Alma 3:6-109). Furthermore, if they accepted Mormon teachings, they would “become a white and delightsome people” (2 Nephi 30:5-7 and 3 Nephi 2:15). Sin causes baldness, according to 2 Nephi 13:24.

Our correspondence course contains an appendix with four pages of errors in the Book of Mormon. It is available on our doesgodexist.org website in the correspondence course section. You will also find that list of errors in appendix A (pages 164 to 167) of our book The Source: Eternal Design or Infinite Accident, available from the PowerVine Store.

For more information and materials showing the errors in Mormonism, read The Salt Lake City Messenger. It is published by the Utah Lighthouse Ministry, 1358 S. West Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah 84115. You will find their website HERE.

We repeatedly make our arguments about the credibility of the Bible by going back to the original languages. Our Beyond Reasonable Doubt video series goes deeply into archaeological support and historical facts to back up our claims about the Bible. We wrote about it in our second quarter Does God Exist journal, which you can read HERE. You can watch the series on our Does Does God Exist? Media website. It is available for purchase from the PowerVine Store.

The Latter-Day Saints (LDS) conversion rate has dropped, and their growth rate has slowed from 4% in the 1980s to 1.5% in 2020. Their efforts toward children have grown to overcome this decrease, and we can expect a more aggressive approach from their missionaries as well. Before listening to the Mormon missionaries, we should know the errors of the Joseph Smith Translation and the Book of Mormon, and other false Mormon teachings.

Conspiracy Theories are Dangerous

Conspiracy Theories are Dangerous

“There is nothing new under the sun” is an ancient saying found in Ecclesiastes 1:9. King Solomon shows the great wisdom God gave him in the truth that humans keep making the same mistakes. One of the repeated mistakes is devising conspiracy theories.

The pandemic that we have just endured is not new and not as severe as what humans have experienced in the past. In 1347, a contagious disease killed between 30 and 40 percent of the European population at its outset. In some places, the death toll reached 70%, and in a few locations, the toll was very close to 100%. What response did people make to this pandemic, referred to as “The Black Death?” A popular view was that it was a Jewish conspiracy designed to destroy Christians.

There was no evidence to support the claim, and Jews were also dying. Regardless of facts, the fringe community promoted a genocidal plot to kill every Jew in Europe over age seven. Those promoting this conspiracy theory conducted raids in which they rounded up and killed Jews and burned their homes and businesses. The church did not inspire this anti-Jewish movement because Pope Clement VI ordered Catholics “not to dare…to capture, strike, wound or kill any Jew.” Anyone who did so would be excommunicated.

There have been other fringe conspiracy theories through the centuries.
When the polio vaccine came out, some people claimed that someone had laced the vaccine with anti-fertility drugs or that it would kill children. The list of conspiracy theories goes on and on up to today. QAnon, the Flat Earth Society, and the Tulsa Massacre illustrate how people on the fringe saturate the public with conspiracy theories and convince people to act badly.

All of this is not new to students of the Bible. In the time of Jesus and the early Church, there were fringe people, including Pharisees, Sadducees, Essenes, the Stoics, Epicureans, and worshipers of a variety of pagan gods and goddesses. Read Matthew chapters 5 to 7, and see how Jesus dealt with all of this. Our Lord taught people to be helpful and loving rather than hateful and destructive.

The message to us is clear, and it is that the only thing you can rely on is God’s Word. Don’t blindly follow politicians, conspiracy theories, or religious fanatics teaching things the Bible doesn’t support. Paul said it well in 1 Corinthians 1:18-25: “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God…”

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Science Supports Faith in God

Science Supports Faith in God

This ministry is designed to show that science and the Bible are friends and not enemies. Because of human-devised theologies and a poor understanding of science, some people claim that the Bible and scientific evidence are at odds. The fact is that all valid scientific evidence agrees 100% with what the Bible actually says in the original language. We say that science supports faith in God.

The word “science” means knowledge. Science arrives at knowledge by a methodology that involves making a theory about a question and then designing experiments to determine whether that theory is true. The media, and even some in the scientific establishment, will make a proposal, accept it as fact and not allow it to be tested. The result is that people attribute things to science, of which true science is not guilty.

A scientific discipline that has drawn much attention in Christian circles is geology. This has developed because of the invention of a theology that draws attention to physical theories and ignores the spiritual. This theological approach is called dispensationalism, and it has a restrictive way of interpreting the events in the Old Testament. It regards Jesus as a military figure who will return to engage in a physical war with human political entities on Earth, such as Russia and China. Jesus spent a large amount of time attempting to lead people away from this kind of thinking. He told them, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36).

So how can we say science supports faith in God? Proverbs 8 finds personified wisdom speaking about God’s actions. Verses 22-29 tell us that God established clouds (verse 28), brought forth the mountains (verse 25), and made the fields (verse 26). It does not tell us how He did it. Scientific studies have found that water, dust (condensation nuclei), and cool temperatures make a cloud. Geologic studies show plate tectonics and volcanism are processes that God used to make the mountains. Geology also tells us that fields are carefully crafted from sand, organic material, and various minerals that growing plants need. In Job chapters 38 to 41, God challenged Job to explain many things he could see around him. Today, science supports faith in God by helping us understand the wisdom required for God to do many of those things.

Genesis 1:1 tells us that God created the Earth. Creating a planet on which living things can survive and a place where humans can grow and prosper requires massive complexity. The passage is not dated or timed, nor does it tell us how God did the creating. Geology has helped us understand how God formed the minerals required for life. Science helps us understand the processes that formed the various soils on which life depends. We know about nutrients and the processes needed to create them, most of which are included in that brief verse of Genesis 1:1. The fact that science has learned how God formed these resources allows us to locate them. Our search for oil, coal, phosphate, sulfur, iron, and other minerals has been successful because we know how God created those vital substances.

The Bible tells us that God created time and that one day to Him is like a thousand years and a thousand years like one day (2 Peter 3:8). Quantum mechanics is now helping us understand the nature of time as a created entity that has not always existed. We must not allow our thinking to restrict God’s actions to what we mortal humans can do or understand. Isaiah 55:8-9 finds God pointing out that His thoughts and methods are superior to ours. Science supports faith in God because He has left a trail of evidence that we are slowly learning to understand.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Christian Compassion and Doing Good in Christ’s Name

Christian Compassion and Doing Good in Christ's Name

One thing that happens to you when you become a Christians is that you grow in compassion for needy people. That is generally not true of other belief systems that tend to view people’s problems as retribution for their wrong actions or as a natural product of the survival of the fittest. Christian compassion and doing good in Christ’s name are unique to Christ-followers.

Since becoming a Christian, I have had many opportunities to be involved in Christian responses to needs. I have supported the drilling of water wells in places where people have inadequate or contaminated water. Another area has been funding medical outreaches to people who have little or no medical care available. Christian compassion involves helping needy people regardless of the cause.

Are the people benefiting from this help Christians? In most cases, they are not. So how do we justify spending large amounts of money on people who may not be believers and who may have caused their own problems by how they have lived? The classic response to this question is to look at what Jesus Christ did.

In Matthew 14 and 15 and Mark 6, we see situations in which Jesus fed thousands of people. You might say that the purpose of these miracles was to demonstrate to the people that Jesus had the power of God. But we should not overlook the words telling us that Jesus had compassion on the people and addressed their hunger. Were all of the people Jesus fed perfect people? I would suggest that many of those people had come to hear Jesus out of curiosity and skepticism. Some were motivated by wanting a solution to a problem they had. They were not people wanting to become disciples. In all probability, many of them were people steeped in sin.

Jesus doesn’t ask any questions. He didn’t refuse food to anyone because they were bad or had evil motives. Jesus addressed a need because He has compassion for all humans. So we today express Christian compassion as we address human needs because we care about people. Unlike other human belief systems, Christianity overflows with caring and compassion. We express it by massive humanitarian aid to people on every continent and in every situation.

Many people are Christians today because they saw what Christianity does and how it overflows with compassion and caring. Galatians 6:10 tells all Christians to do good to everyone. The opportunities to do that are greater today than at any time in human history.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Everyone Has Faith – But In What?

Everyone Has Faith - But In What?

I recently had a discussion with an atheist who said, “I have no faith.” I pointed out that his statement was simply not true because things in his life radiated a faith. He has faith in America, even though there are things going on in this country that might try to destroy that faith. He has faith in gravity. He doesn’t walk around worrying that gravity will fail, and he will float off into space. He has faith in the political party that he supports and even faith in a professional sports team. Everyone has faith. The question is not whether we have faith but what we have faith in.

What does your faith do for you, and is your faith growing or dying? Everyone has faith, but is your faith in any way dependent on another human being? If so, you are setting yourself up to be disappointed in that faith. People die. Politicians lie. Sports figures lose their ability. Philosophical beliefs radiate the inability of humans to think rationally.

I am an old man, and sometimes I make contact with atheistic people I knew years ago when I was an atheist. If they are still atheists, they cannot give me any evidence to support their atheistic faith. They are opposed to belief in God, but their atheism has not blessed them. They are getting ready to die with nothing but frustration, anger, disappointment, and disillusionment.

My atheist friend admitted that being an atheist had not improved his life. He then challenged me to show him how my faith had improved my life. That was easy. My faith led me to a wife who was a blessing to me. There was never any evidence in our 49 years of marriage that she even thought about being unfaithful. When death took her from me, my faith sustained me and led me to a second wonderful woman who has blessed my life. My faith has caused me to have an excellent relationship with my children. It has helped me find joy in a son who has sustained multiple birth defects.

My faith has also given me friends I can trust. I know they would never let me down, and I can rely on them for help in all circumstances. My faith led me to a career in teaching instead of the one my father picked out for me, which primarily involved making money. My teaching experience was rewarding and full of joy. My faith took me into a ministry that makes my life pregnant with purpose and full of value.

My faith causes me not to fear death. My faith is in Jesus Christ and His word, not in humans. I have received hatred and abuse from people who claimed to be Christians, but my faith in Christ has sustained me. I have not listened to the humans who have their own set of problems and refuse to follow the love and compassion that Jesus taught.

Everyone has faith, but in what? I want to share my faith with others because I want the world to be saturated with a belief based on love, service, and peace. God has given us all kinds of evidence for faith in Him. Life teaches us that not having faith in God and His Word brings misery and frustration. When Thomas had a faith problem, Jesus gave him evidence (John 20:24-29). Today we have more evidence than ever to believe and live by faith in God.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

God In the Flesh

God In the Flesh - The Rational God

Several years ago, I spoke at Ohio State University when a leading atheist maintained that God was an old Chinese woman. I pointed out that he should at the very least attack God on the level that God claims to be and not some straw horse god he had just described. He responded by quoting my old atheist friend Madalyn Murray O’Hair who said, “No God ever gave anything to man nor appeared in any way to man nor ever will.” Then I pointed out that God did precisely what Madalyn said He would not do when He came to Earth in the form of a human. Jesus Christ was God in the flesh.

Put yourself in the role of God for a moment. You have created humans, and you desire to lead them to a better way of living. How would you do it? You could make a violent entry to Earth, displaying all of your power and strength. What would that do? It might create a power struggle among humans to be your right-hand person.

That power struggle actually happened in the life of Christ. Matthew 20:20-23 tells about a mother bringing her two sons to Jesus and asking Him to make them His assistants in His kingdom. Another negative to this approach is that people would give service and obedience to God out of fear, not love. There have been those world rulers who tried to rule by power and force. People knuckled down to the ruler, but they hated him, and they rebelled at the first opportunity.

You can enslave a people for a short time, but ultimately they will revolt. The power struggle that always results brings out the worst in humanity. We see that happening in many places on Earth today. The kind of service that will last is one based on love, not enslavement. Jesus Christ, as God in the flesh, brought that kind of love.

It is also a fact that when a ruler lives a radically different lifestyle from that of his subjects, he has no way to relate to them. In today’s world, people try to imagine what it would be like to live the wealthy and opulent Hollywood lifestyle. Movies such as Camelot have had a theme that revolved around royalty trying to comprehend what it is like to live as “common” folk.

In Jesus, we see God in the flesh avoiding the show of force and the opulence. Hebrews 4:15 reminds us that in Christ, we do not see one who lived a lavish lifestyle, but rather one who could “be touched with our infirmities, but was in all points tempted as we are.” Psalms 22:1 describes God in the flesh crying out at the frustrations of life, as we do. Christ repeated those words in Matthew 27:46. Isaiah 53:3-6 describes the suffering of Christ for us. God coming to Earth makes perfect sense if you understand that God wants a relationship with His creation. The Bible makes this clear in passages like John 1:1-3,14 and Philippians 2:6-8.

The tragedy is that people today have gotten so far away from understanding real love that they think of God as they would a dictator, a slave owner, or a military general. The kind of love that the Bible speaks of has a special name – “agape.” It is so far removed from the mindset of our culture that John 3:16 is a cliché without meaning to most people.

Even religious people have trouble with the concept of grace because they can’t comprehend that God is love. In the verses following John 3:16, we read the observation that men love darkness and reject God. God gave us a choice because He wants us to believe in Him and love Him as a Father, not an abusive dictator.

We have a book titled The Rational God that explores this subject in greater detail. It’s available from us for purchase or on loan. You will find our catalog of materials at doesgodexist.org. You can also purchase the book from the powervine.store.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Animals Seem to Demonstrate Altruism

Animals Seem to Demonstrate Altruism

Are animals willing to sacrifice their well-being to benefit another animal? Altruism is a human characteristic thought to be missing in animals. As scientists study animal behavior more deeply, they see many cases where animals seem to demonstrate altruism. Those include jumping into a fight to save another animal when there is no direct benefit to the intervening animal. In one case, killer whales were hunting a sea lion. Suddenly two humpback whales charged in and pushed the killer whales away, allowing the sea lion to escape. People observed that happening three times in the same area.

There are also situations where animals seem to demonstrate altruism by giving food away. Vampire bats need a constant supply of blood because they can’t survive more than 70 hours without it. Researchers have seen vampire bats regurgitate blood when an individual misses a meal. In one case, a vampire bat gave away so much blood that it starved to death. Studies of meerkats, a species of mongoose in southern Africa, have shown that one couple will breed the offspring and other adults raise the babies. Studies of bonobo primates have demonstrated that they share food both in captivity and in the wild.

Are those the behaviors we thought that only humans exhibited? One constant danger in studying animals is our tendency to anthropomorphize animal behavior. In other words, we interpret animal behavior in light of human behavior rather than looking at the possible reasons for the animal’s actions. You can see this by looking at how people treat and talk to their dogs. The reality is that the dog has learned where it gets its food, its sensual pleasure, and its security. No matter how much support the dog receives, it will still chase the cat, eat the feces of another dog, and bark at a time that displeases the owner. Dog owners tend to overlook those animal instincts and behaviors, and they may even put clothing on the dog.

Researchers can see that all animal behavior in the wild has some kind of survival benefit. In the cases above, the whales don’t have sympathy for the seal. Killer whales attack humpback whale babies, and the best defense the humpbacks have is to drive the killer whales out of the area. Vampire bats are not successful in getting blood every time they go out, so sharing benefits all of the bats because the next night might be their time to be unsuccessful. A similar scenario is present with monkeys sharing.

These animals seem to demonstrate altruism but still resort to survival behavior when under stress.
Chimps raised in human homes do not become humans. When a human invades their territory, they resort to violent behavior. At the same time, pure altruism is a trait available to humans, but not all humans demonstrate it at all times. There is a saying that humans can act like animals, but animals cannot act like humans. The death of Christ on the cross is the classic example of sacrificing one’s self to benefit even those who reject you.

— John N. Clayton © 2021

Reference: National Wildlife, June-July 2021 pages 30-35.