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Here’s just a few things I found of interest.

Roger Olson suggests “Leaving Behind ‘Left Behind’” He writes, “Seeds of doubt about the rapture were planted in my mind by a book that was supposed to offer biblical and theological support for it—Things to Come by dispensationalist theologian Dwight Pentecost. I read it when I was nineteen or twenty and sensed something was wrong. Why would it take hundreds of pages of convoluted exegesis and argument to establish something so simple? I thought the book’s case for the “secret rapture” was weak and yet it was supposed to be the most scholarly case for it yet published!”

Tim Gombis has an excellent post on Exegetes at Church. “Biblical exegesis is all about critical analysis of the details of a text and critical scrutiny of other exegetes’ work.  Several times after intense and involved class discussions, someone has commented that it must be tough to go to church.  If you’re analyzing the nitty-gritty of a text so closely, emphasizing each feature as crucial, how do you put up with sloppy preaching?” (Emphasis mine.)

Fr. Stephen Freeman asks “Has Your Bible Become a Quran?” “Thus, at the outset I will state:

  1. The Bible is not the Christian Holy Book.
  2. Christians (and Jews) are not People of the Book.
  3. Submission to God is not a proper way to describe the Christian faith

Further, any and all of these claims, once accepted, lead to fundamental distortions of Christianity. An extreme way of saying this is that much of modern Christianity has been ‘Islamified.’ Thinking critically about this is important – particularly in an era of renewed contact with Islam.”

With all the hoopla over the Catholic Church’s Synod on the Family Fr. Barron says “everyone should take a deep breath.” “John Thavis, a veteran Vatican reporter who should know better, has declared this statement ‘an earthquake, the big one that hit after months of smaller tremors.’ Certain  commentators on the right have been wringing their hands and bewailing a deep betrayal of the Church’s teaching. One even opined that this report is the ‘silliest document ever issued by the Catholic Church,’ and some have said that the interim document flaunts the teaching of St. John Paul II. Meanwhile the New York Times confidently announced that the Church has moved from ‘condemnation of unconventional family situations and toward understanding, openness, and mercy.’ I think everyone should take a deep breath.”

Around the Web

Just a few items of interest I’ve found while browsing the web.

Do Arminians Really Pray Like Calvinists?

Roger Olson on “‘God’s Will’ in Calvinism and Arminianism”

Sam Storms answers “What Does it Mean to say Jesus was ‘Made Perfect’?”

Nick Norelli asks “What Did I Ever Do to Amazon?” His complaint is legitimate.

We Need More than Liturgy (HT: Koinonia)

My friend Paul Adams told me about a website which is chuck full of good information and resources. It’s Bible Odyssey.

Fr. Barron has significantly updated his website Word on Fire.

 

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Just a few things I found interesting. Enjoy!

Larry Hurtado has an interesting post on “Paul: The Second-Temple Jewish Apostle to the Gentiles.” His opening paragraph quickly got my attention.

“I returned last night from a very enjoyable trip to Rome to take part in the Nangeroni Seminar on “Paul as a Second-Temple Jew.”  For more information on the Nangeroni Seminars click here.  This encouraging and demanding event brought together about 35 scholars from various countries who are specialists on second-temple Judaism and/or the Apostle Paul.  The premise and the broad conclusion to which all assented is that Paul was and remained in his ministry as apostle to gentiles a Jew.  He did not renounce his identity as a member of the Jewish people.  He did not demonize his ancestral religion.  He did not reject the Torah (“Law”) as false.  He did not regard his Jewish past as one of frustration, failure, inability to observe Torah, or as something to escape.  He did not play off the particularity of his Jewishness in favour of some kind of universalism.”

Sam Storms asks (following a Christianity Today article): “Would Jesus Hang Out at a Strip Club?”

Terrance Thiessen asks “Why Did the 5 ‘solas’ of the Reformation Arise?” His last line was a money quote for me. “Interestingly, many Catholic theologians affirm these principles these days, but we Protestants are still not satisfied with the way they unpack them in detail and in practice. Nonetheless, it seems to me that the Reformation, though not over, is not complete failure.”

Peter Enns has a provocative post entitled “The Apostle Paul’s Clear Inerrant Teaching on Government and Why We Don’t Need to Follow it.”  In part he writes, “The truth is, I don’t know many Christians who take Paul at his word here. They may try to deftly extract themselves by saying that Paul is merely giving an ideal principle, or that only legitimate authorities are instituted by God. But again, that’s just “adding” something to God’s word, which clearly makes a pretty cut and dried case for human governmental authorities as instituted by God. But a proper understanding of these words of Paul’s, as with most other things in Scripture, requires some sensitivity to their historical/cultural or literary context (or both).”

Bill Mounce asks “What is a Kandake? (Acts 8:27)” “’Kandake’ is a lot harder to translate than first meets the eye. First of all, what does it mean? The NASB and ESV read, “a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians” (similar is the HCSB and NET). What does “Candace” sound like to you? Sounds like a personal name to me. If the qualifying “queen of the Ethiopians” were not there, it might sound like a place, but with the qualifying “queen of the Ethiopians” it can’t be a place.”

 

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What’s the least popular book of the Bible? Find out here and look here for 6 motives to study that book. (HT: Scripture Zealot)

Could Jesus have made mistakes? Roger Olson offers some valuable insights. “I think this claim and the controversy surrounding it makes a good “teachable moment” about theology. Rather than react, why not step back and calmly consider all the angles? What’s at stake? What evidence do we have? What data might point toward an answer? Can we know an answer or must we suspend judgment?”

Larry Hurtado reviews Bart Ehrman’s new book. Then after some emails from Dr. Ehrman he makes a few amendments.

Are there “Some Troubling Trends in in America’s ‘Calvinist Revival?’

Kevin DeYoung talks about “Why the Ascension Matters” He writes, “I’m not convinced the church must have a special day to commemorate Christ’s ascent into heaven. But I am absolutely convinced that we need to do more to think theologically about the magnificent importance of this key event in redemptive history.”

Scot McKnight asks “Who is a heretic?” Terrance Tiessen adds “why this should matter to Baptists.” He says, “It would do Baptists much good to recite the Formula of Chalcedon occasionally, as well as the Nicene Creed, not simply because these were the product of church councils, but because they express so clearly the faith we share with other Christians, in spite of the doctrines which divide us. If we all grew up with this as part of our worship, the songs we write for the congregation to sing, and the prayers we pray, would often be much better expressions of Christian truth.”

Should C.S. Lewis be among the “6 Heretics Who Should be Banned from Evangelicalism.”?  Michael Wittmer responds.

Rumors of Nicea III? Look here. Unfortunately, my planner doesn’t go to 2025!

 

 

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Roger Olson responds to Al Mohler’s defense of limited atonement. In part he writes, “Again, let me be clear, I do not reject five point Calvinists as heretics or non-Christians or even as non-evangelicals. I simply could not preach the gospel alongside someone who cannot say with me to any group of people that God loves them, wants them to be saved, and has provided for their redemption by means of Christ’s death on the cross. That is what a five point Calvinist cannot say and, in my opinion, it is part and parcel of the whole gospel.”

Could you be a Gnostic and not even know it? Look here to find out.

A new website devoted to inerrancy.

Larry Hurtado questions a common assumption in critical scholarship on whether Jesus thought of himself as divine. He starts his post, “First, a quote:  “The Church cannot indefinitely continue to believe about Jesus what he did not know to be true about himself,” J. W. Bowman, The Intention of Jesus (London:  SCM, 1945), p. 108.

This  is not really a historical claim but a theological one, and it reflects a common assumption:  The assumption that the theological/religious validity of claims about Jesus rest upon what Jesus  believed and taught about himself.  In my book, Lord Jesus Christ (pp. 5-9), I’ve noted the irony of how this assumption has been shared by critics and advocates of Christian faith, and also how it has worked mischief in the historical investigation of Christian origins.”

Sam Storms asks, “Can the ‘Prosperity Gospel’ Really Be That Bad?”

Terrance Tiessen offers some intriguing thoughts on “The Righteousness of Christ: Imputed, Infused, Incorporated.”

Around the Web

Just a few items of interest I’ve noted.

John Blake asks “Church Dress: Has it Become to Casual?”

Roger Olsen offers his thoughts on the Heaven if For Real movie. He writes, “So here comes my main critique of the book and movie. I believe in the “intermediate state”—the technical theological term for conscious life after death before resurrection. But I fear the book and movie will reinforce the popular idea that the intermediate state is actually the fullness of heaven (and therefore not an intermediate state!). It isn’t. In fact, we are told very little about it in Scripture. Jesus called it (for the saved) “Paradise.” Paul referred to it as the “third heaven.” But Jesus told his disciples he would go away and prepare a place for them, then return and take them there—to his “Father’s house” with many rooms. So the fullness of heaven is after Christ returns. The “blessed hope” of believers in Christ has always been not the intermediate state, a bodiless existence of being with Christ, but the resurrection and the new heaven and new earth—liberated from bondage to decay (Romans 8).”

Sam Storms wonders why another Protestant has converted to Catholocism.

Tim Challies declares the Pope a false teacher and Francis Beckwith responds.

The Scripture Zealot takes a close look at what it means to say “I can do everything” (Phil. 4:13) He says, But, isn’t “I can do everything through Him who gives me strength” in the Bible? Yes, that would be Philippians 4:13. However, many people make it into a motto that means something other than what the Bible means. What’s so bad about that?”

Larry Hurtado offers some observations on the Jesus’ Wife Fragment.

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For you reading pleasure:

Thomas Kidd asks where did the phrase “ask Jesus into your heart” come from? Very interesting

He writes, “It turns out that Anglo-American Puritans and evangelicals in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries used the phrase “receive Christ into your heart,” or something like it, with some regularity. . . . Then there was a major uptick in the use of the actual phrase “ask Jesus into your heart” in the 1970s, perhaps as children’s ministry became more formalized and leaders looked for very simple ways to explain to children what a decision for Christ would entail. (And it may be in children’s ministries and vacation Bible schools that one most commonly sees suspect “decisions” for Christ.)

We’re in the middle of Lent so it is interesting to see a point/counterpoint on whether Christians should observe Lent. See Todd A. Peperkorn’s post on Why Lent Should Matter to Everyone. Todd is a Lutheran pastor. For the counterpoint side see Brian Lee’s post Repent of Lent: How Spiritual Disciplines Can Be Bad for Your Soul. Brian is a reformed pastor.

Roger Olson has one of the best discussions of the “emerging churches” emphasis on “Belong, Believe, Behave” as opposed to “Believe, Behave, Belong.” In part he says,

“While I sympathize with the impulse behind “belong, believe, behave,” which is, I assume, inclusion over exclusion, I also have some qualms about the policy. I fear it can and often does lead to one of two problems. First, the church may drop belief altogether and permit doctrinal pluralism so that everyone believes differently and there is no real cognitive content to the church’s Christianity. In that case, the church would seem to be little more than a cozy club of people who like each other or, at the most, together look fondly upon a cross without any agreement about what it stands for. Second, insofar as the church holds onto some semblance of orthodox doctrine (however defined), it may relegate full belonging to a small coterie of leaders who must believe and behave first and then belong.”

Who hasn’t heard about World Vision’s decision to hire same-sex married couples. Kevin DeYoung offers some of his thoughts. He writes,

“Before we get embroiled in a throw down about whether Jesus would love to take coffee breaks with World Vision employees, before we allow the issue to be reframed as ‘Jesus was nice; the Pharisees were mean; you are mean and not nice; so you are a Pharisee and not like Jesus,’ before we accept that calling someone a bigot is the same as making an argument, before we write off every opponent of this policy as a Calvinist fundie inhabiting a hermetically sealed little house on a Christian prairie somewhere in flyover country, let us establish if the following is true . . .”

And, just like that World Vision changes their decision! See here.

The field of physics is reeling from observations by a telescope at the South Pole (BICEP2) which detected “faint echoes of the so-called ‘Big Bang.'” According to an article by Steve Bradt this “provides the first strong evidence of ‘cosmic inflation’ at the birth of the universe.” See his interview with Alan Guth here. Guth says the “significance of these new findings is enormous.” William Lane Craig chimes in here with his thoughts.

Craig opens with these words: “The recent news from the BICEP collaboration is reminiscent of the news last year concerning the discovery of the Higgs boson: the evidence confirmed what almost everyone already believed. The story is once again a wonderful illustration of the experimentalists’ discovering what the theorists had hypothesized. So there’s nothing revolutionary about this discovery (which is not to diminish in any way its significance!).”