Friday, January 22, 2016

Are Scientists Always Honest?

How much do you trust used car salesmen to tell you the truth? How about politicians running for office? How about door-to-door salesmen? How about top management of the company you work for? How about false ministers?

How about scientists?

I am not just talking about honest mistakes. I am talking about outright lies.

Some of us might trust scientists more than the others I have mentioned. We should not. They have the same human nature as used car salesmen and politicians. A scientist can lie about scientific evidence. He can falsify evidence. He can lie in his research papers. Some have done so - I have read accounts of scientific dishonesty in their research and papers.

Don't make the mistake of thinking that well-educated people are somehow more honest and less likely to lie than poorly educated people. Science and college or university based education does not make men righteous and honest. Righteousness and honesty are matters of individual choice and are also affected by how a person is raised in the home from childhood. Before a person enters higher education, his basic character is formed. If he built the habit of lying as a child and carried that habit into adulthood, he is likely to lie as an adult no matter how great his later "education" may be. He could win the Nobel Prize in science, but he may still be a liar.

Scientists like money and prestige the same as people in other occupations. Their reputation with other scientists is their life-blood. If they can "get ahead" by lying and if they think they can get away with it, some of them probably will.

So why should we trust them more than what God says in His word, the Bible?

God says He cannot lie. " hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began" (Titus 1:2). "...that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us" (Hebrews 6:18).

The Bible is inspired by God. "...knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (2 Peter 1:20-21).

Since God inspired the Bible and He cannot lie, that means that every word of God is true and the Bible cannot be broken. "If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken)..." (John 10:35).

Moreover, believing God is a test. God requires that we believe what He says. Obedience is not enough.

Faith without works is dead (James 2:20). But what about works without faith? Is that not dead also?

We are to obey God, that much is clear, and the Church of God has taught this and emphasized it very much over the years and decades. But we must also believe what God says. Faith must be a motivation for our obedience.

Faith, that is, believing what God says and trusting God, what we may call "faith in God", is commanded and is therefore part of the law. So to obey God, we must believe Him, for if we do not have faith, we are not obeying the law. The law COMMANDS faith.

Want proof that faith is a matter of law, that the law requires faith in God and His word? Jesus said that faith is one of the three weightier matters of the law, along with justice and mercy. "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith. These you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone" (Matthew 23:23).

And since sin is the transgression of the law (1 John 3:4), to disbelieve what God says is sin.

It is a sin for you or I to read God's word and decide about some verse or passage, "that is not true". It is a sin for us to willingly doubt God's word, the Bible, or any part of it. Doubts may enter our minds because we are human, but we are to fight those doubts and strive to put doubt out just as we are to put other wrong thoughts out of our minds such as thoughts of revenge or thoughts of sexual lust.

We must be committed to God to believe everything He says.

God did not count Abraham righteous because of his obedience only. He counted Abraham as righteous because Abraham believed God when God told him his descendents would be as numerous as the stars of heaven.

"Then He brought him outside and said, 'Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them.' And He said to him, 'So shall your descendants be.' And he believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness" (Genesis 15:5-6).

"For what does the Scripture say? 'Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness' " (Romans 4:3).

"And the Scripture was fulfilled which says, 'Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness.' And he was called the friend of God" (James 2:23).

"Listen to Me, you who follow after righteousness, you who seek the Lord: Look to the rock from which you were hewn, and to the hole of the pit from which you were dug. Look to Abraham your father, and to Sarah who bore you; For I called him alone, and blessed him and increased him" (Isaiah 51:1-2).

And just as we can lose our salvation through lack of mercy and justice (the other two weightier matters of the law), so we can lose our salvation through unbelief.

"Now with whom was He angry forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose corpses fell in the wilderness? And to whom did He swear that they would not enter His rest, but to those who did not obey? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief" (Hebrews 3:17-19).

"You will say then, 'Branches were broken off that I might be grafted in.' Well said. Because of unbelief they were broken off, and you stand by faith. Do not be haughty, but fear. For if God did not spare the natural branches, He may not spare you either. Therefore consider the goodness and severity of God: on those who fell, severity; but toward you, goodness, if you continue in His goodness. Otherwise you also will be cut off. And they also, if they do not continue in unbelief, will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again" (Romans 11:19-23).

Can you see how important it is to God that we believe what He says?

Science, that is, the scientific community, culture, and tradition, is secular and atheistic. Secular science teaches evolution, which is the theory that all species came into existence through random, natural causes only. The scientific method does not allow consideration of supernatural causes as explanations of any evidence. The idea that God created the species of life on this earth is not acceptable to science.

Not all scientists are atheists. But the scientific community as a whole and the scientific method they use in their work is, in general, atheistic. It has an atheistic viewpoint. It looks at the world as if there is no God.

Any scientist who rejects evolution in his work as a scientist is likely to lose his job. Would a scientist be motivated, or tempted, to publicly lie in his work and scientific papers about physical evidence he has found that might support creation or intelligent design in order to protect his job and his reputation with other scientists? Yes, I think if he found evidence for creation, he would be tempted to lie about it, to omit it, to cover it up. Would he yield to the temptation to lie under such circumstances? I think that is very possible. It would take self-sacrifice and courage to tell the truth in such a situation, and if he did, it would be very likely his work would not be published by established scientific journals, nor would he find it easy to get a teaching job in the main colleges and universities.

I do not say that all scientists are liars, nor do I say that all their false statements about evolution are deliberate lies. Probably, most scientists are sincere, and most of the false statements they make regarding evidence or the interpretation of evidence are mistakes, not necessarily deliberate lies.

But we should not assume that scientists never lie about the evidence they uncover or their interpretation of the evidence.

Anyone who has read the Bible and who strives to live by every word of God and who also is informed and well read on science will notice many cases where the secular, atheistic scientific community directly contradicts what God says in His word. And when he finds that, what does he conclude? Does he believe the Bible or secular science? Does he trust God or man to tell the truth?

God knows our thoughts. We better trust God more than man.

What a tragedy for any Church of God member to lose his salvation because he believed and trusted men more than God.

"Indeed, let God be true but every man a liar" (Romans 3:4).

Here is a link to a related post in this blog:
"Theory of Evolution vs. Faith in God's Word", dated December 25, 2015, link:

Here are links to related chapters or sections in Preaching the Gospel:

Evolution versus the Creation Account in Genesis, Chapter 1

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Was Acts 15 an Example of Unanimous Decision Making?

Was the conference of apostles and elders in Acts 15 an example of unanimous decision making and a model of governance for the Church of God?


First of all, they did not gather for the purpose of making a decision. They gathered for discussion, to consider the matter. A decision resulted, but that was not the stated purpose of the conference according to the biblical text. Here is what the Bible says. "And certain men came down from Judea and taught the brethren, 'Unless you are circumcised according to the custom of Moses, you cannot be saved.' Therefore, when Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and dispute with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas and certain others of them should go up to Jerusalem, to the apostles and elders, about this question" (Acts 15:1-2). "Now the apostles and elders came together to consider this matter" (Acts 15:6).

Notice, they came together to consider the matter, to discuss it in other words, not necessarily for the purpose of making a decision. Peter and Paul could have made the decision - they had authority, and Peter's authority was actually greater than Paul's. But Peter, being wise, did not want to make the decision without counsel and advice. He wanted to hear what many others had to say, not just Paul. "Where there is no counsel, the people fall; But in the multitude of counselors there is safety" (Proverbs 11:14). "Without counsel, plans go awry, but in the multitude of counselors they are established" (Proverbs 15:22). "For by wise counsel you will wage your own war, and in a multitude of counselors there is safety" (Proverbs 24:6).

Perhaps they hoped to also reach a decision after discussing it. Probably they did. But the way God inspired the text of Acts, the purpose according to God's word was to "consider" the matter. God does not say, "the apostles and elders came together to decide this matter".

You can read the whole story in Acts 15:1-29. There was "much dispute" (verse 7), so they certainly did not start out from a position of agreement. Then Peter spoke, and after that, the discussion stopped. "And when there had been much dispute, Peter rose up and said to them: 'Men and brethren, you know that a good while ago God chose among us, that by my mouth the Gentiles should hear the word of the gospel and believe. So God, who knows the heart, acknowledged them by giving them the Holy Spirit, just as He did to us, and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore, why do you test God by putting a yoke on the neck of the disciples which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved in the same manner as they.' Then all the multitude kept silent and listened to Barnabas and Paul declaring how many miracles and wonders God had worked through them among the Gentiles" (Acts 15:7, 12).

Notice, there was no more "much dispute" after Peter spoke giving his decision. This gives the impression that after a point when Peter felt he had enough input to make a decision and the "much dispute" had gone on long enough, he gave a decision and everyone else shut up. Once he made the decision, there was no more need for dispute. This was not a group decision.

Paul and Barnabas spoke, expounding on the reasons for Peter's decision and supporting it (verse 12). Again, the multitude was silent. Then James formalized the decision and added that they would write to the Gentiles informing them of the decision (verses 13 through 21).

Did the multitude agree with the decision? They supported it. Once Peter, who had authority, made the decision and James confirmed it, they supported it. They did not rebel against the decision made by those who had authority.

But that doesn't mean that God led them to agree with it in their minds apart from the decision of those who had authority, mainly Peter. The multitude did not make the decision.

And there is no statement in this account that everyone agreed with it unanimously. The closest you can find is this: "Then it pleased the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas, namely, Judas who was also named Barsabas, and Silas, leading men among the brethren. They wrote this letter by them: The apostles, the elders, and the brethren, To the brethren who are of the Gentiles in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia: Greetings" (Acts 15:22-23). The letter goes on to explain and announce the decision (Acts 15:24-29).

Does the fact that it "pleased" the whole Church to send chosen men to Antioch with Paul and that they wrote a letter explaining the decision mean they agreed with it and consented to the making of the decision? No. It does not mean that everyone was persuaded that the decision was best. But they supported it. They understood government in the Church. They submitted to top-down government, and once the decision was made, they got behind it and supported it.

Perhaps they all were persuaded. But whether they were or not, it is evident that their unanimous consent was not required for Peter to make a decision and for James to back up that decision.

There was no unanimous decision making in Acts 15. This was an example of a leader getting free discussion from a multitude of viewpoints before making a decision, then making the decision and the multitude submitting to that decision, supporting it, and backing it up. Why did they back it up? They understood top-down government. They knew it would be wrong to rebel against the authority God has placed in the Church.

This was a policy decision as much as a doctrinal decision, maybe more. It was a decision about what to require of the Gentiles.

There are many analogies to teach the principle of support for authority among those under authority. In a football team, the quarterback calls the play. Other members of the team may not agree with the call that it is the best call, but once the quarterback calls the play, the whole teams tries to make it work. They support the call.

Mr. Armstrong no doubt asked advice of the evangelists and ministers who were under his authority about various decisions Mr. Armstrong had to make, and they may have had various opinions, but once Mr. Armstrong made the decision, they were expected to support it, back it up, and try to make it work.

Is Acts 15 a model of governance in the Church of God by unanimous decision making? No. The whole Bible, teaches top-down governance. There is example after example after example of God appointing a man to lead from the top down and that man making decisions without necessarily the consent of those under him.

There is a problem with group decision making. Not everyone in the group will necessarily obey God.

Suppose you set up a Church of God organization with four leading ministers to make decisions. Every decision they make must be unanimous.

But each man is a free moral agent. Christ is the head of the Church, but He will not force anyone to submit to His lead. So Christ might lead the leader of the group, the chairman, to make the right decision. He might lead that man through the Bible and through the Holy Spirit. But all it takes is one other man in the four to exercise his free moral agency to make a bad decision, not following Christ and the Bible, but following the dictates of his own heart, maybe even deceiving himself, and by withholding his consent render a unanimous decision impossible, thus preventing the leader from following Christ.

For such a leader to consent to an organization that only allows him to make decisions as three other men agree with him is putting more trust in those three men than he puts in God and Christ. He trusts those men to follow Christ, but by doing so he puts limitations on his own ability to follow where Christ leads.

"Thus says the Lord: 'Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart departs from the Lord. For he shall be like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see when good comes, but shall inhabit the parched places in the wilderness, in a salt land which is not inhabited. Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit' " (Jeremiah 17:5).

What if the leader, the chairman of the group, decides not to follow Christ? Is it not better to have three other men to moderate his error, to prevent him from making the bad decision, to restrain him in other words? No. That is not God's way. They can advise him to do the right thing, but the decision must be his, because only in that way can his fruits be fully known not only to God but to the Church.

If he is not following God, then other Church members will see his bad fruits and will not follow him. In this way, he will become known.

Setting up an organization that requires unanimous consent of a group of people for decision making weakens the group, tends to promote compromise between the right way and the wrong way, and confuses the whole issue of who is following God and who is not.

That is not the structure of governance in the Church of God that the Father and Christ teach in the Bible.

Acts 15 does not justify a handful of ministers breaking away from a fellowship that practices top-down governance because they are unable or unwilling to get along with the leader. It does not justify trashing two major, biblical, and successful doctrines of Herbert W. Armstrong - top-down governance and preaching the gospel to the world - and trying to build a new model of governance according to their own opinions, imagination, and dictates of their human hearts but not according to the Bible. It does not justify ministers keeping almost all the tithes and offerings of the members for their own salaries while spending comparatively nothing to bring the gospel and the Ezekiel warning to the world that needs it.

It does not justify members who support such a fellowship by sending all their tithes and offerings to such a fellowship, knowing that they are not doing anything to warn the Israelite nations of the tribulation to come. It does not justify the ministry of such a fellowship from bringing blood-guilt, the sin of murder in God's sight, upon their own members according to God's warnings to the Church for our time today in Ezekiel 3:17-21.

There can be legitimate reasons why ministers must leave a fellowship. The failure of the fellowship they leave to preach the gospel to the world and the Ezekiel warning to Israel can itself be sufficient reason. Unfaithfulness in doctrine can be another reason.

But not Acts 15 used against top-down governance. If anything, Acts 15 supports top-down governance, for it shows the authority of Peter to make a decision. And there was no unanimous voting in Acts 15, and any Church of God fellowship that builds a corporate structure to collect and disburse the tithes of the people with unanimous voting as a structure of governance that controls that corporation is mistaken if it tries to justify this by Acts 15.

Here is a link to a related post in this blog:

"Incorporation of Church of God, The Father's Call", dated December 21, 2015, link:

Here are links to related chapters or sections in Preaching the Gospel: