Around the Web

Today I will be at Baker Publishing Group’s sales conference. It’s always exciting to see the forthcoming titles and to catch up with some of the editors as well as meet a few authors. I’ll certainly give you a heads up on books I think you’ll be interested in. Till then here’s a few items I found on the web

Justin Taylor started a new series called “A Crash Course on Influencers of Unbelief” see the first one here on Sigmund Freud and the second one here on Karl Marx.

Bill Mounce offers clarification on Heb. 11:29. Did the Israelites Walk or Swim? He writes, “The ESV reads, ‘By faith the people crossed the Red Sea as on dry land.’ Was it dry land, or was it ‘as if’ it were dry ground? How do you hear it? I can only hear ‘as if it were.’ Several translations use ‘as’ (NIV). The NRSV and NET are even more confusing; they say ‘as if.’ As if it were dry? What does that mean? Was it really wet, and the people pretended it was dry?”

Kevin DeYoung offers a gentle push back to N.T. Wright and others who see an over emphasis on the believer going to heaven when they die. He says, “I wholeheartedly agree that salvation is about more than being beamed up into the clouds. And yet, the whole heaven thing is pretty critical to folks when they come to their last breath. Dying saints may find it encouraging to know that the whole cosmos is going to be renewed at the end of the age, but they also can’t help but wonder what the next moment will be like when they reach the end of their days.”

Mike Wittmer offers a push back to DeYoung. He enumerates two concerns. The first is this: “Is heaven a ‘better place’? This is a complex question that belies a simple yes or no answer. In the most important way heaven is better than earth, but only because Jesus is there. If heaven by itself were superior, then Jesus would not have raised Lazarus from the dead. Earth is the best place for humans, because this is where God made us to live. The problem of ‘better place’ will not be resolved until Jesus returns and unites heaven and earth. Until then, we should be careful not to unequivocally call heaven ‘a better place,’ as it isn’t better in every way and saying so promotes the Platonic idea that heaven is our final home. Who would want to leave the better place to come back here? (This is not merely a hypothetical problem, as Irenaeus makes this mistake in Against Heresies 5.31-32).”

Here’s one I found funny as a worker in a Christian bookstore. “Things You Should Never Say to a Catholic Bookstore Employee.” I could make a list of my own but couldn’t we all regarding our place of work.

Tim Gombis has an interesting post on Preachers Behaving Like Brian Williams. He says, “How should Christians regard pastors and preachers who embellish their personal narratives in sermons? This phenomenon isn’t rare. When I was in college, I heard a speaker in chapel relate a very interesting anecdote about an interchange in a pre-marital counseling session. About a month later, another preacher used the very same anecdote with reference to himself!”

Here’s a fascinating critique of Tim Keller and D.A. Carson (among others). The post cites them as Prime Examples of the Gumby Theology of Calvinism. (FYI, it is a fairly long post.) The author is appreciative of both authors but nonetheless offers some very strong criticisms. Consider this paragraph:

“Carson attempts to prop up his own Calvinistic position by drawing our attention to the death of Christ in a manner that completely subverts the historically recognized position of his Arminian brothers and sisters. He attempts to argue that only the Calvinist position can speak of God’s sovereign plan in the predetermined death of Christ, and that ‘any other alternative destroys the fabric of the Christian faith.’ He is of course speaking of Arminianism. He then goes on to define what alternatives to Calvinistic theology would have to say in the most fraudulent manner possible, declaring they must ‘conclude that the cross was a kind of after thought in the mind of God,’ and that, because ‘rebels fouled up his plan,’ God had to make the most of it and ‘did the best he could.’ Words fail to convey how utterly unfair and underhanded his mischaracterization of the alternative, Arminian position is.”




Around the Web

Years ago I stole the tag line “around the web” from fellow blogger Jeff at Scripture Zealot. Other bloggers of course do the same in highlighting items of interest on the web using various titles to describe their posts. I liked the simplicity and clarity of Jeff’s line. He does it more often than I do but I always find his selection intriguing. If you’ve never visited Jeff’s blog you should. There is a kind of transparency and humility that I find appealing. I say this just to give another “thank you” to Jeff for his continuted efforts in blogging and pointing me to some very interesting links from the web. Here’s a round up of some items I’ve found (yes, some I found from Jeff’s blog).

Jeff provides four links to those who are gave their selection of the best books of 2014. Among those are selections from Desiring God, Monergism, Grace for Sinners, and Tim Challies. I had been thinking of doing something similar. Jeff saved me a lot of time. Thank you.

Kevin DeYoung talks about 10 books that shaped him as a Christian. He writes, “Not surprisingly, given the way God often works, I read all of these books for the first time (except for the last one) between the ages of 18 and 22. Pastors, campus ministers, professors, publishers, parents, take note: get good books in the hands of college students.”

Roger Olsen has some compelling thoughts on Terrorism is wrong; So is Ridiculing People’s Faiths. He says, “Ridicule has no place in religious discourse except in the rare instances where a religion is simply invented for profit and/or engages in abuse (sexual, physical or spiritual). But in those cases it is the leaders, not the poor, benighted followers, who ought to be ridiculed.”

Timothy from Catholic Bibles offers a first look at the Didache Bible complete with pictures.

Tim Gombis offers a quote from Beverly Roberts Gaventa regarding the sheer length of N.T. Wright’s  Paul and the Faithfulness of God. She encourages young scholars not to make this their model. She cites a couple of other works which have had enormous impact on scholars while still being rather brief. See his post “In Praise of Brevity.” This brought back memories when I was writing my master’s thesis. My first reader, Bruce Ware, kept encouraging me to cut back, abbreviate, summarize this argument here, etc. My thesis was far better, and shorter, because of this advice.

Justin Taylor has a nice chart showing the difference between the telephone game and the transmission of the New Testament manuscripts. You hear this objection often from skeptics who attempt to question the reliability of the New Testament.

There is a new website dedicated to explaining and defending Amillennialism. It is full of articles, charts, recommended books and loads of other helpful resources for those who want to know more or better defend amillennialism. Check it out here.

Around the Web

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.


Around the Web

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.”


Around the Web

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!



Around the Web

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.”