One of the more recent forms of this philosophy has taken the name of the Hebrew Roots movement. One of the foundational tenet of this philosophy is the claim that everyone who becomes a Christian actually does so because he is a descendant of one of the lost ten tribes of Israel, and his salvation is a fulfillment of God's promise to reunite all of the tribes. Thus, according to the Hebrew Roots movement, everyone who is a Christian is also an Israelite and, therefore, should submit to the Law of Moses.
I have had the opportunity to debate several followers of the Hebrew Roots movement, and this debate is the result of one of my most interesting, and entertaining, encounters. My opponent in this debate is Mr. Ted Weiland who maintains a very active online presence criticizing the American Constitution as a pagan law. His writings can be found on his website: bibleversusconstitution.org. Ted began this particular debate by challenging me to read his book The Mystery of the Gentiles and offering to pay me $100 if I could prove him wrong. Of course, he never did send me the promised $100, but the debate itself was still worth the effort.
Click here to read the full debate.
As I've shared my research on Franklin's faith with more and more people, one particular quotation has consistently been presented as evidence that Franklin never became a Christian. This quotation is taken from Franklin's Autobiography in which he made the following statement about George Whitefield:
"He us’d indeed sometimes to pray for my Conversion, but never had the Satisfaction of believing that his Prayers were heard."
Here is what I have written about this quote in my upcoming book Franklin on Faith:
I was listening to Dr. James White’s podcast the other day and heard him defending the Calvinist TULIP and criticizing other floral acrostics attempting to provide a contrasting view of salvation. I’ve always disagreed with the doctrines of Calvinism, but I’ve never attempted to organize my disagreement into a simple acrostic which could stand toe-to-toe with the TULIP. That is, I’ve never done so before now. While listening to Dr. White’s podcast, I came up with a simple acrostic that I think defeats the TULIP with ease.
The idea that the lost will suffer eternal punishment has often been questioned by Christians who doubt that a God of mercy would condone such cruelty. Instead, they often come up with other ideas about the punishment of the lost such as the idea that they will simply be annihilated or that they will only suffer for a period of time before being given another opportunity to turn to God. There are several logical problems with attempting to reconcile either of these views to the accounts of Scripture, but in order to see that, we must actually know what the Scripture says about the punishment of the lost. Unfortunately, I have discovered that very few Christians have ever actually studied this aspect of God’s Word.
Over the years, I have had at least as many disagreements with other Christians as I have had with non-Christians, and it is disappointing to look back and see how often those disagreements have become disagreeable. I've been cursed, ridiculed, smeared and dismissed in far more Christian forums than in non-Christian forums. In fact, I was recently banned from two apologetics associations because my personal view of the Scriptural teaching on a particular issue was more conservative than they were willing to contemplate.
According to Genesis 11, Abraham was born approximately 250 years after the flood. However, the accounts which are recorded in chapters 10 through 25 of the book of Genesis seem to describe a region that is heavily populated. There are dozens of cities or nations mentioned by name in these accounts, and many of them are described as having their own cultures, governments and infrastructures. I have had several skeptics point out to me that it is not possible for a population to increase from just 8 individuals to a size large enough to support so many separate cultures. In fact, at the current average growth rate of 1.14%, there would only have been 136 people on earth at the time that Abraham was born. That’s certainly not enough to account for all the cities mentioned in these chapters of Genesis, and this is often cited as evidence against the biblical account.
The solution to this contradiction involves two simple observations of the record given in the book of Genesis. First, the generations close to the flood had longer lifespans than we do today. And second, these generations had higher birth rates than we do today. When we combine these two observations, we can easily see the possibility that the population at the time of Abraham would be significantly higher than just 136 individuals, but the Bible actually gives us enough information to make some very reasonable estimates of just how much larger.
If you want the local church to engage in apologetics, then you have to make it both affordable and accessible. That has been my experience over the past several years. If I tell the average Christian layman that he should attend a particular apologetics conference or purchase a DVD set from one of the various apologetics ministries, I usually get some sort of half-hearted promise that he will "look into it." But if I invite that same Christian layman to a free Saturday conference, then he becomes very interested.
Bill Fortenberry is a Christian philosopher and historian in Birmingham, AL. Bill's work has been cited in several legal journals, and he has appeared as a guest on shows including The Dr. Gina Show, The Michael Hart Show, and Real Science Radio.
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"Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning." (Proverbs 9:9)