Gospel Gazette Online
Vol. 12 No. 12 December 2010
Page 16

Questions and Answers

Send your religious questions to rushmore@gospelgazette.com

Weddings and Funerals

Louis Rushmore, Editor

Louis Rushmore

Being a Christian, can we attend a non-Christian’s wedding or funeral…?

Biblically speaking, weddings and funerals are social and cultural events rather than religious observances with corresponding scriptural specifications pertaining to them or to the participants or attendees of them. Consequently, the Bible is silent respecting them aside from historical narratives. In particular, since everyone now living is amendable to the New Testament rather than to the Old Testament, the New Testament regulates neither weddings (though it does regulate marriage and the home) nor funerals.

However, contemporary people, as well as people for centuries before the present, often have draped weddings and funerals in religious observances. Furthermore, it is natural for even true Christians to extend Christianity into every facet of their lives (e.g., family, national, cultural), including weddings and funerals, though even Christians infrequently demonstrate Christianity thoroughly in daily Christian living.

The problem arises, of course, when religious error supplants New Testament Christianity and drapes contemporary weddings and funerals to which we are invited. What should we do, then? Frankly, weddings and funerals present no more of a dilemma than living in an ungodly world on a daily basis and interacting with non-Christians every day. The apostle Paul made a distinction between concourse with ungodly non-Christians and ungodly Christians.

I wrote to you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually immoral people. Yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters, since then you would need to go out of the world. But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner — not even to eat with such a person. (1 Corinthians 5:9-11 NKJV).

Christians have little opportunity to compel non-Christians to act or not to act in a certain way, but Christians have an obligation to compel fellow Christians to conform to the Gospel. Hence, we have that difference taught in 1 Corinthians 5:9-11. Yet, we should neither condone nor participate in biblically erroneous actions. The activities of weddings and funerals are not fundamentally in opposition to any facet of Christianity, though some of the specific actions attached to them by denominational people, for instance, may be sinful.

It was awkward for Bonnie and me to attend a niece’s Catholic wedding because the two of us were the only ones that day on that occasion who refrained from the congregational singing accompanied by instrumental music (Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16), the responsive readings and the rote, repetitious prayers (Matthew 6:7) and the redundant postural gymnastics of kneeling, standing and sitting. We appeared to be the only atheists there that day, when we were probably the only members of the Lord’s church in attendance. (Early Christians were tortured, killed or imprisoned, in part, because they were perceived to be atheists, since they refused to worship the Roman gods and the emperor. How ironic!)

Our Christian lives call for making some distinctions and some choices, based on our own best, personal judgment. Consider our Lord’s response to paying taxes or the use of a coin. “…Render therefore to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s” (Matthew 22:21 NKJV). Christians find themselves living in the world, to which world they are sent that by their Christian living as well as teaching the world, same wicked world may have an opportunity to inspect Christianity, and maybe become Christians.

I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth. As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. (John 17:15-18 NKJV)

The Age of the Earth

Louis Rushmore, Editor

What is the accurate Bible teaching on the age of the earth?

The Bible does not specifically cite the age of the earth. Furthermore, many people, including some Christians, contend that the Bible does not contain sufficient information to calculate the age of the earth. This opinion is especially that of persons influenced by geology and evolutionary theory. Yet, conservative religious people reject entirely organic evolution as both unscientific and anti-God, and geology is but the chum of evolution.

Nevertheless, over the years, several Bible scholars have attempted to organize information from the Scriptures to ascertain a relative age of the earth. Critics, though, have criticized each of these chronological outlines for some failing. “In modern times the systems of Biblical chronology that have been adopted are chiefly those of Ussher and Hales. The former follows the Hebrew, and the latter the Septuagint mainly” (Easton’s). “Dating the Creation has also generated endless speculation. Some 300 years ago an Irish bishop, Ussher, computed the date of Creation by studying the genealogies of Genesis. His conclusion? Creation took place in 4004 B.C. But by 1738 there had been over 200 known attempts to compute the date, with proposed times ranging from 3483 B.C. to 6984 B.C.” (Teacher’s).

International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia explains the methodology used by Ussher.

The literal interpretation, the best known advocate of which was Archbishop Ussher (d. 1656), whose literal arrangement was introduced into the margin of the King James Version after his death. This theory takes the birth- and death-numbers just as they are, and by addition of the time intervals between the birth of the various patriarchs, together with Adam’s age at the birth of Seth, shows that 1,656 years elapsed from the Creation to the Flood, and 290 years from the Flood to Abraham’s birth, according to the Massoretic Text.

Each of the explanations from chronological information in the Bible rests on the literal interpretation of the Bible’s creation week in Genesis and the utter dismissal of evolutionary and geological theories. We concur with taking God’s Word as Truth and at face value, and at the same time, wholly rejecting evolution and geological timetables. The chief differences between the explanations pertain to whether biblical chronologies are viewed as complete or missing some chronological data. Still, each of them argues for a relatively young earth from 6,000 to 10,000 years old.

Excluding evolutionary theory from the equation and liberal criticism respecting such things as the long lifespans of early mankind in Genesis, true science corroborates the notion that the earth is relatively young, not more than 10,000 years old. Not a part of this treatise, other articles and resources address the age of the earth from a true, scientific perspective.

Works Cited

Easton’s Bible Dictionary. CD-ROM. Seattle:  Biblesoft, 2006.

International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia. CD-ROM. Seattle:  Biblesoft, 2006.

Teacher’s Commentary. CD-ROM. Wheaton: Chariot Victor Publishing, 1987.

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