Coming November 2014 – “Hidden But Now Revealed” by Beale and Gland

G.K. Beale is one of my favorite authors. This fall IVP Academic will release a new book he co-authored with Benjamin L. Gladd called Hidden But Now Revealed. Here’s the catalog description:

“When reading through the Bible, it is impossible to ignore the troubling fact that Israel and its leaders—and even Jesus’ own disciples—seem unable to fully grasp the messianic identity and climactic mission of Jesus. If his true deity, his death and resurrection and his role in the establishment of God’s eternal kingdom were predicted in the Old Testament and in his own teachings, how could the leading biblical scholars of their time miss it?

This book explores the biblical conception of mystery as an initial, partially hidden revelation that is subsequently more fully revealed, shedding light not only on the richness of the concept itself, but also on the broader relationship between the Old and New Testaments. Exploring all the occurrences of the term mystery in the New Testament and the topics found in conjunction with them, this work unpacks how the New Testament writers understood the issue of continuity and discontinuity. This investigation of the notion of mystery sharpens our understanding of how the Old Testament relates to the New and explores topics such as kingdom, crucifixion, the relationship between Jews and Gentiles and more. As such, it is a model for attentive and faithful biblical theology intended for students, scholars, pastors and lay people who wish to seriously engage the Scriptures.”

Nicholas Perrin says:

“In the realm of lay readers, I can hardly think of an area that is more misunderstood than the area of prophecy; in the realm of biblical scholars, I can hardly think of a topic more controverted than the relationship between the Old and the New. At the crosshairs of both discussions is Daniel’s term ‘mystery.’ For the sake of both readerships, I’m grateful that we finally now have a book that reduces the mystery behind ‘mystery.’ Many others will be grateful as well, and will want a copy for their own library.”

G.K. Beale (PhD, University of Cambridge) holds the J. Gresham Machen Chair of New Testament and is professor of New Testament and biblical theology at Westminster Theological Seminary.

Benjamin L. Gladd (PhD, Wheaton College) is assistant professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi, and previously taught New Testament and Greek at Wheaton College.

Put this on your Christmas list. It’s due out this November. It will be a hardcover with 384 pages and sell for $27.00.

Hidden but now Revealed

 

2014 Annual Youth Pastors’ Breakfast

This Thursday we will be hosting our annual Youth Pastors’ Breakfast. See below for details. It’s not too late to RSVP but time is running out so call soon.  Our speaker this year is Jolene DeHeer. Come for a delicious breakfast, a great speaker and a bunch of free stuff to take home. For $5.00 that’s a great deal! Note: the event is not here in the store but will be at Thornapple Covenant Church.

Your Pastor Breakfast

Book Give Away

This week’s give away is Dangerous Passions, Deadly Sins: Learning from the Psychology of Ancient Monks by Dennis Okholm. Here’s the catalog description:

“This volume unpacks the psychological insights found in the writings of three early monks–Evagrius Ponticus (fourth century), John Cassian (fifth century), and Gregory the Great (sixth century)–to help us appreciate the relevance of these monastic writers and apply their wisdom to our own spiritual and psychological well-being. The book addresses each of the seven deadly sins, offering practical guidance from the early monastic tradition for overcoming these dangerous passions.

As Dennis Okholm introduces key monastic figures, literature, and thought of the early church, he relates early Christian writings to modern studies in psychology. He shows how ancient monks often anticipated the insights of contemporary psychology and sociology, exploring, for example, how their discussions of gluttony compare with current discussions regarding eating disorders. This book will appeal to readers interested in spirituality, early monastic resources, and ancient wisdom for human flourishing, as well as students of spirituality and spiritual formation.”

Leave your name in the comments section by NLT Friday, Aug. 22nd, 6:00 am EST. International entries are welcome. I’ll draw the winning name that Friday. If I don’t hear back from the winner within seven days the book will go to another entry.

Dangerous Passions

Reflections on Walter Martin, Zondervan and a Little Bit of Publishing History

There will always be a warm spot in my heart for Walter Martin. Shortly after I became a Christian I encountered my first Jehovah’s Witness while doing door-to-door evangelism with Campus Crusade for Christ. She was a very kind lady and gave me lots of material to read. When I brought the literature back the leaders of my team encouraged me to throw the material away (which I did). No explanation offered—“just throw it away.” Now I was intrigued. I picked up a copy of The Kingdom of the Cults and read through the chapter on Jehovah’s Witnesses. While I was somewhat interested in what they believed I found myself more fascinated with the exposition of Christian doctrine. My introduction to Christian doctrine was under the tutelage of Martin and to this day I appreciate that.

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As I was browsing through a book on the history of Zondervan I saw Martin’s name on a page and it immediately arrested my attention. I knew that Zondervan first published the now classic The Kingdom of the Cults but as with everything there was a little more to the story.

In 1956 Martin was appointed as head of the new “Cult Apologetics Division” at Zondervan. But this was short lived. “Despite this happy development, dealings between Martin and his publishers were becoming strained as the writer invested more and more of his time and resources in magazine publishing and research projects. Although his most significant work, The Kingdom of the Cults, was published by Zondervan as late as 1965, Martin had let pass opportunities to produce some promised textbooks on contemporary theology that Zondervan very much wanted to publish. Through no fault of Zondervan’s, the Cult Apologetics Division had a short life; yet what Zondervan was able to publish on the cults during that time was well worthwhile.” (The House of Zondervan, pp. 62-63)

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The Kingdom of the Cults was eventually sold to Bethany Fellowship. The first copy I bought is a fifteenth printing (January, 1974). I had the privilege to meet Martin at one of his speaking events in Lubbock, Texas. I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to hear him and to try to get him to sign my book. When I asked him if I could have his autograph he beamed and said, “Sure. Authors love to give their autographs.” In 2003 Baker Book House (now Baker Publishing Group) bought Bethany House Publishers and so inherited The Kingdom of the Cults. Baker continues to publish this classic and I consider myself very fortunate to work with the publisher that continues to give life to this book that has such a history in my own spiritual growth.

On another note. Did you know that the original title for The Late Great Planet Earth was to be Behold a White Horse? After Zondervan accepted the manuscript they had already contracted a book by the name of Behold a Pale Horse. “Lindsey came up with the intriguing title The Late Great Planet Earth, inspired by a non-Zondervan book, The Late Great State of California.” (The House of Zondervan, p. 124)

Did Thomas Aquinas Believe that Sin Affected the Intellect?

Without question one of the greatest Christian minds of the church was Thomas Aquinas. Unfortunately, his thought is often misunderstood and misrepresented. In Chip Ingram’s new book, Culture Shock, he makes the following statement about Aquinas:

“At its core, the Enlightenment was deeply influenced by philosopher and theologian Thomas Aquinas, who taught that all aspects of man were fallen (affected by sin) except the intellect. Man’s ability to reason now became the focus. If given enough time, education, and resources, man can fix the world on his own.” (Emphasis his. 31-32)

In his acknowledgments Ingram expresses appreciation to Francis Schaeffer. I’m willing to guess that Ingram’s opinion of Aquinas is influenced by Schaeffer. In his popular book on Aquinas Norman Geisler made this observation:

“Francis Schaeffer blames Aquinas for the rise of modern humanism. He charges that Aquinas bifurcates faith and reason, giving autonomy to the latter. Further, Schaeffer claims that Aquinas denies the depravity of humankind, thus making perfectibility possible apart from God. In this way the stage was set for later humanists to affirm that reason alone is sufficient to resolve our dilemma, Aquinas’s separation of faith and reason is an ‘incipient humanism’ where ‘reason is made an absolute rather than a tool.’ Due to his wide influence in conservative Protestant circles, Schaeffer’s position is taken as gospel by much of evangelicalism.” (Thomas Aquinas, Baker Publishing Group, 1991. p. 12)

Geisler says it is a “mistaken view that Aquinas believes the mind is finite but not fallen.” (Thomas Aquinas, 65) He clarifies Aquinas’s position as saying that “sin cannot destroy man’s rationality altogether, for then he would no longer be capable of sin.” (66) Here are a couple of quotes from Aquinas.

“For human reason is very deficient in things concerning God. A sign of this is that philosophers in their researches, by natural investigation, into human affairs, have fallen into many errors, and have disagreed among themselves. And consequently, in order than men might have knowledge of God, free of doubt and uncertainty, it was necessary for Divine matters to be delivered to them by way of faith, being told to them, as it were, by God Himself Who cannot lie.” (II-II Q2.A4)

“Unbelievers cannot be said to believe in God as we understand it in relation to the act of faith. For they do not believe that God exists under the conditions that faith determines; hence they do not truly believe in a God, since as the Philosopher observes to know simple things defectively is not to know them at all.” (II-II Q2.A2)

Aquinas was clear that faith must come from God. He says the work of faith requires an external cause and an internal cause. The external cause may be seeing a miracle or hearing an argument. He says this is insufficient in itself since someone may see the same miracle or hear the same argument and not believe. An internal cause is required. “The Pelagians held that this cause was nothing else than man’s free-will: and consequently they said that the beginning of faith is from ourselves, inasmuch as, to wit, it is in our power to be ready to assent to things which are of faith, but that the consummation of faith is from God, Who proposes to us the things we have to believe. But this is false, for, since man, by assenting to matters of faith, is raised above his nature, this must needs accrue to him from some supernatural principle moving him inwardly; and this is God. Therefore faith, as regards the assent which is the chief act of faith, is from God moving man inwardly by grace.” (II-II Q6.A1)

Fianlly, he writes that “As a result of original justice, the reason had perfect hold over the lower parts of the soul, while reason itself was perfected by God and was subject to Him. Now this same original justice was forfeited through the sin of our first parent, as already stated; so that all the powers of the soul are left, as it were, destitiute of their proper order, whereby they are naturally directed to virtue; which destitution is called a wounding of nature.” (I-II Q85.A3)

I Want to Be Like the Pharisees

In the past couple of years I’ve been reading about first-century Judaism(s). Part of what I’ve learned is that the reputation of the Pharisees has been sorely misunderstood. In fact, the reputation has become so bad that Dictionary.com has as the second entry for the definition as “a sanctimonious, self-righteous, or hypocritical person.” If you were to tell anyone in a church today that you’d like to be more like the Pharisees they might look at you like you had two heads. Brad Young, in Jesus the Jewish Theologian, notes how the Pharisees are primarily seen as hypocritical but this was not their reputation during the first century. On the contrary he notes “[t]he Pharisee represents piety and holiness and not self-righteous hypocrisy.” (188) He notes that “[t]he theology of Jesus was actually almost identical to that of the Pharisees. . . While Jesus criticized the hypocritical practices of some Pharisees, he never uttered a negative word about the teachings of the Pharisees. . . Like an insider, Jesus said that their teachings were good, but they did not always practice what they preached (Matt 23:1-2). His sharp criticism of the hypocrisy of some Pharisees is far different from an attack against the theology of Pharisaism.” (228)

In a new book by Rabbi David Zaslow, Jesus: First-Century Rabbi, he makes the same observations only from a Jewish perspective. Like all groups there are good and bad representatives. “Among the Pharisees”, he says, “were saints, geniuses, scholars, and hypocrites too.” (51) “Jesus seems to have challenged the Pharisees as an insider with a kind of healthy self-criticism of the movement he was so close to. His words against some Pharisees are in line with what other Pharisees later wrote, which were collected and published in the Talmud.” (52) “Jesus, along with many of his rabbinical colleagues, was critical of those Pharisees who did not practice what they preached. For example, Talmudic rabbis such as Yehoshua used to say, ‘A foolish pietist . . .and the plague of the Pharisees bring destruction upon the world’ (Sotah 20a). Another passage in the Jerusalem Talmud (Sotah 3:4) declares, ‘What is the plague Pharisee? He who gives advice to orphans in order to benefit from the widow.'” (52-53) “One Talmudic source was very specific indeed regarding different types of Pharisees. The Talmud (Sotah 22b) reports that there were Pharisees who looked over their shoulders to see whether anyone was observing the good deeds they were about to perform. Such internal criticism still goes on today between various sects in all religions.” (53)

“Jesus and Paul ought to be seen as active members of the Jewish community. Otherwise, inaccurate information will continue to be perpetuated about what was really said about the Pharisees.” (Zaslow, 54)

Jesus

Did the Israelites “Utterly Destroy” the Nations in the Promised Land?

Deuteronomy 7:1-5 reads

When the Lord your God brings you into the land that you are about to enter and occupy, and he clears away many nations before you—the Hittites, the Girgashites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations mightier and more numerous than you— 2 and when the Lord your God gives them over to you and you defeat them, then you must utterly destroy them. Make no covenant with them and show them no mercy. 3 Do not intermarry with them, giving your daughters to their sons or taking their daughters for your sons, 4 for that would turn away your children from following me, to serve other gods. Then the anger of the Lord would be kindled against you, and he would destroy you quickly. 5 But this is how you must deal with them: break down their altars, smash their pillars, hew down their sacred poles,[a] and burn their idols with fire.

The key phrase here is “utterly destroy.” In spite of various attempts to ameliorate this passage many are not satisfied and insist it represents a sub-Christian ethic. Stop making excuses and simply call it what it is—mass murder. I was reading Old Testament Theology by R.W.L. Moberly and thought he had an interesting take on this passage. At least it was one I hadn’t heard before. Below is an abridgment of his discussion.

“It is important initially to recognize the rhetorical nature of the text and to take this rhetoric seriously without taking it woodenly. On the one hand, the seven nations of 7:1 can hardly be placed on a map of Canaan in terms of historical geography. ‘Seven’ in Hebrew idiom often functions to indicate ‘many’ rather than a precise number (as in ‘Your enemies . . . shall come out against you one way, and flee before you seven ways’ [Deut. 28:7]). Moreover, comparable lists of the peoples of the Canaan in other contexts (e.g., Gen. 15:20-21; Exod. 3:8, 17; 13:5), lists that vary both in the number and identity of those mentioned, suggests that the function of the lists is more rhetorical than geographical. In other words, the seven nations are probably symbolic opponents who represent a threat to Israel within its home territory. On the other hand, the strongly rhetorical character of Deuteronomy 7 as a whole is evident in its depiction of the seven nations as ‘mightier and more numerous than Israel, such that they make Israel afraid as to how they can succeed against them (7:1, 17).”

Moberly says the key term here translated “destroy” (ḥērem) can be translated other than as “destroy.” “Deuteronomy has two other verbs to express a straightforward sense of ‘destroy.’” ḥērem could be also be translated as “put under the ban,” or simply “ban.” Moberly astutely asks, “If the seven nations are to be ‘destroyed’ (v. 2), why should intermarriage need to be prohibited (vv. 3-4)? Since, to put it bluntly, corpses present no temptation to intermarriage, the text surely envisages the continuance of living non-Israelites in close proximity to Israel. . . .Thus when Israel comes into contact with the seven nations in the promised land and YHWH enables Israel to overcome them, then the requirement is that Israel should practice ḥērem with regard to them (7:1-2a). This means refusing normal practices of treaty making or being moved to pity for the vanquished (7:2b). The content of this ḥērem is then given in what immediately follows, in terms of two specific practices. Negatively, Israel is to avoid intermarriage (7:3-4), for this would entail religious compromise, since intermarriage as a rule entails acceptance and incorporation of the religious culture of the non-Israelite and thus could lead to a dilution of Israel’s allegiance to YHWH. Positively, Israel is indeed to carry out destruction—but the specified destruction is not of people but solely of those objects that symbolize and enable allegiances to deities other than YHWH. In other words, ḥērem is being presented as a metaphor for unqualified allegiance to YHWH. On this reading ḥērem is not a ‘mere’ metaphor, for it envisages specific and demanding practices. These practices, however, do not entail the taking of life on the battlefield, but rather the rejection, the absolute non-use, of that which could compromise Israel’s covenantal allegiance to YHWH: intermarriage and the presence of alien religious symbols within Israel’s promised land.” (Emphasis his. pp. 59-62)

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