Saturday, August 24, 2013

Quote of the Day

"I also adduced another passage in which Isaiah exclaims: “‘Hear My words, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. Behold, I have given Him for a witness to the people: nations which know not Thee shall call on Thee; peoples who know not Thee shall escape to Thee, because of thy God, the Holy One of Israel; for He has glorified Thee.’ This same law you have despised, and His new holy covenant you have slighted; and now you neither receive it, nor repent of your evil deeds. ‘For your ears are closed, your eyes are blinded, and the heart is hardened,’ Jeremiah has cried; yet not even then do you listen. The Lawgiver is present, yet you do not see Him; to the poor the Gospel is preached, the blind see, yet you do not understand. You have now need of a second circumcision, though you glory greatly in the flesh. The new law requires you to keep perpetual sabbath, and you, because you are idle for one day, suppose you are pious, not discerning why this has been commanded you: and if you eat unleavened bread, you say the will of God has been fulfilled. The Lord our God does not take pleasure in such observances: if there is any perjured person or a thief among you, let him cease to be so; if any adulterer, let him repent; then he has kept the sweet and true sabbaths of God. If any one has impure hands, let him wash and be pure."

—Justin Martyr, Dialogue With Trypho the Jew, ch. 12.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Quote of the Day

"SALVATION through Jesus Christ, is according to "the determinate counsel, and foreknowledge of God’1 He was pleased to make known to the fathers, his purposes in this behalf, in the form of covenants, which were of different characters, and revealed at various times. These covenants enter into the very nature, and pervade with their peculiar qualities, the whole system of divine grace. A perfect knowledge of the Gospel therefore, involves necessarily, a correct comprehension of the covenants. But by whom among us, are these covenants clearly understood? To most men, you need only to speak on this subject, and you at once perceive that "Even unto this day, the vail is upon their heart."2 They fail to perceive what the covenants are in themselves, in their relations to each other, and consequently in their bearings upon the designs of God in the Redeemer! This darkness is lamentable in all its aspects, since falling short of the knowledge of these, — "the rudiments of the doctrine of Christ," — obscurity must necessarily rest upon the whole Gospel system. How can he who does not perceive "the first principles" of any specified science, ever become a master of that science?" -RBC Howell

For a complete read of RBC Howell's teaching on Covenant Theology click here.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Quote of the Day

He ['Christ'] suffered these things, not for His own sake but for ours. ‘Thou has made Thy wrath to rest upon me’ [Psalm 88:7, 16] . . . He suffered for us, and bore in Himself the wrath that was
the penalty of our transgression”

—Athanasius, “Letter to Marcellinus on the Interpretation of the Psalms”

Saturday, August 17, 2013

The Vision of James P. Boyce and the Abstract of Principles by Trey Moss

The Vision of James P. Boyce and the Abstract of Principles

Trey Moss
August 13, 2013

Every professor at Southern Seminary, as indicated by its original charter, is required to teach in alignment with the Abstract of Principles, the doctrinal statement of our institution. The existence of this document comes from the foresight and conviction of founding president, James Petigru Boyce.

Boyce believed that the Baptist seminary he desired to establish must be two things: conformed to scriptural truth and faithful to serve its denomination.[1] The way he planned to ensure the seminary’s conformation to scriptural truth was to ground the institution in a confessional document.

At the time of the debate among 19th century Southern Baptists for a central denominational seminary, neither the state conventions nor the convention itself held binding doctrinal statements.[2] Many in the Southern Baptist Convention in Greenville, S.C., believed that the charge of accepting and enforcing of confessional statements should be a duty entrusted solely to one’s local church. Boyce disagreed.

Friday, August 16, 2013

New Research Shows Lap Top Use In Class Decreases Testing Grades

A study on the effects of computers in the class room demonstrated a decrease in test scores not only by the computer user but by those located in close proximity taking notes with pen and paper.  Apparently the distractions are too great.  I always knew this was a problem but what does this say for Church people in Bible studies with their ipads, iphones, tablets, etc.  The problem could relate to literacy levels

PS. Couldn't finish distracted by Twitter

Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Six Types of Atheists

Sociologist George Yancy discusses new research that categorizes atheists in to six categories:

1. The Intellectual Atheist/Agnostic: Sees his/herself as intellectually too advanced for religion and seeks to engage with other likeminded individuals through writings, YouTube videos and talks.
2. The Activist: Proactively works for issues connected to naturalist or humanist causes.
3. The Seeker-Agnostic: Considers the metaphysical a possibility but is comfortable with uncertainty as it concerns the interaction of science and the metaphysical.
4. The Anti-Theist: Believes religion to be evil, thus actively works against religion and religious influences.
5. The Non-Theist: Does not have much interest in religious concepts.
6. The Ritual Atheist/Agnostic: Does not have otherworldly beliefs but regularly attends a religious ceremony, finding that this meets some social or psychological need.

The research data can be found here.  This is good data to help us understand what drives this way of thinking, breaking up the one size fits all misconception.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Quote of the Day

"The writers of the Bible held that truth is to be intellectually considered in the broad daylight of history, or it is nothing. To Paul the resurrection of Christ was physical, testable in history and coherently stable, or the Christian faith was to be declared vain, not true. We must hold this firmly, or we feed the rushing river of the [exclusively] functional and relative concept of religion. We should worship the living God because the Bible has stable answers to man's bone-crushing, ruthless, intellectual questions." ~ Francis Schaeffer, Article: The Modern Drift: Is Nobody Home in this World? Christianity Today, 1960 (Clarification added to indicate words in article context.)

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

The Wrath of God Was Satisfied: Substitutionary Atonement and the Conservative Resurgence in the Southern Baptist Convention

I came across this article by Al Mohler this evening and found it very interesting. I think the atonement is one of those teaching that often gets taken for granted but was the center of much controversy not only in Southern Baptist circles but in the main line denominations influenced by modern theology many of whom surrendered their belief in the atonement in exchange for a moral theory. I think this serves as a sober reminder even in our own day that while we do desire to build bridges we must always keep in mind there are places that we don't want to go to. As always, tell me what you think.

Current controversy over the nature of Christ’s atonement for sin points to a truth many younger evangelicals may not know, i.e., the substitutionary nature of Christ’s death on the cross was a major issue in the Conservative Resurgence that took place within the Southern Baptist Convention in the last quarter of the twentieth century.

The issue of biblical inerrancy stood at the forefront of Southern Baptist debates during those years of conflict and controversy, but other issues drew major concern. Moderates and conservatives in the Southern Baptist Convention were divided over controversial issues, including abortion rights, the exclusivity of the Gospel, and the nature of the atonement. As might be expected, most of these debates followed the same or very similar lines of division. As in the Reformation of the sixteenth century, to be divided over the formal principle of the authority of the Bible was, inevitably, to be divided over the material principles of doctrine as well.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Gerald Bray on NT Wright's Justification

Here is something to look at.  Gerald Bray wrote an editorial on NT Wright's book on justification.  I think it was pretty well written.  Tell me your thoughts on it:

The Wrighteousness Of God

Is Reza Aslan's New Book Giving History A Bad Name?

"For a brief moment, Reza Aslan will be heralded as a breakthrough author. In a month or so, some other theory, equally unsubstantiated and certainly contradictory, will get the same kind of airtime. Such works are generally ignored by working scholars, who tend to be suspicious of anything that bypasses the peer review process."  -John Dickson

Recently I posted about Reza Aslan's new book Zealot expressing some of the concerns I had about the author over stating his credentials here.  There are many that are weighing in on Aslan's book but I found one review particularly interesting by John Dickson which can be read here.  Dickson offers up a lengthy discussion of Aslan's book and if you have the time I highly recommend you read it, but I found the quote above interesting.  Dickson mentions that works like Aslan's are generally ignored by working scholars.  The reason he gives is that scholars tend to be suspicious of anything that bypasses the peer review process.  One of the questions I asked in my original post is why would someone of Aslan's self proclaimed scholarly motives not submit his work to an academic publisher to follow the peer review process.

Moving on, I have listed some of John Dickson's criticisms of Aslan's book below:

Aslan repeatedly calls revolutionary leaders of the first century "claimed messiahs," when this crucial term hardly ever appears in our sources and certainly not in the contexts he is claiming.
Aslan pontificates on questions such as Jesus's literacy (or illiteracy, in his judgment) with a cavalier style that does not represent the complexities involved.
He rushes to dismiss some Gospel passages as "fabulous concoctions" while accepting others as "beyond dispute" - and the only rhyme or reason I can detect is whether a passage fits with the story he wishes to tell.
He informs us that Mark's Gospel says "nothing at all about Jesus's resurrection," overlooking the plain narrative signals of Mark 14:28 and 16:7.
He declares that Mark's portrayal of Pilate's prevarication over the execution of Jesus was "concocted" and "patently fictitious." We are told that this Roman governor never baulked at dispatching Jewish rabble-rousers. This overlooks the widely-discussed evidence that Pilate did precisely this just a few years earlier with some Jewish leaders from Jerusalem.
Weirdly, Aslan says in passing that the letters of Paul make up "the bulk of the New Testament." In fact, they represent only a quarter.
He dates the destruction of Sepphoris near Nazareth to the period of the tax rebellion of AD 6, when in fact this city was destroyed by Varus a decade earlier in the troubles following Herod's death in 4BC.
He says that the traditions of John the Baptist were passed around in writing in Hebrew and Aramaic throughout the villages of Judea and Galilee. This is baseless.
He claims that Stephen, the first Christian martyr, was from the Hellenistic diaspora (and was therefore liable to fall for the un-Jewish perversion of Jesus's message he heard in Jerusalem). This is pure invention, and overlooks the fact that many Greek-speaking Jews like Stephen lived in Jerusalem for generations. They even had their own Greek-speaking synagogues.
Aslan's claim that "the disciples were themselves fugitives in Jerusalem, complicit in the sedition that led to Jesus's execution" is disproven by the complete absence of evidence for any Roman attempt to arrest the followers of Jesus. Indeed, this is one of the reasons specialists remain confident Jesus was never viewed as the leader of a rebel movement.
He says a certain Jesus son of Ananias, a prophetic figure who appeared in Jerusalem in the early 60s AD, spoke about the appearance of the "Messiah." Our sole source (Josephus) says nothing of the sort.
Aslan avers that even Luke, a Pauline "sycophant," avoids calling Paul an "apostle" since only the twelve bear the title that Paul so desperately tried to claim for himself. In fact, Luke happily calls Paul and his colleague Barnabas "apostles" (Acts 14:14). Almost everything Aslan says about Paul and his place in ancient Judaism and Christianity is either wildly exaggerated or plainly false.

To read the review in its entirety click here

Monday, August 5, 2013

Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing Debate

Details found here.

Reza Aslan New Book on the Historic Jesus

The new book Zealot by Reza Aslan (another attempt at revealing the "historic Jesus" that contradicts the Biblical account) has gained much attention in popular media.  I watched the Fox interview here and became suspicious about the books legitimacy without even having read the book.  I know we have been told not to judge a book by its cover but is it ok to judge a book by its author?

Immediately the author became defensive when asked the question why a Muslim would be interested in Jesus.  Call this a red flag but when a person responds to a question by misdirection some thing is up.  It is like a criminal who was asked where he was while the crime was taking place.  Instead of providing an explanation that would clear him he engages in misdirection and opens a discussion about something irrelevant to the question.  In this case Aslan goes right to protecting his credentials as a "Ph.D" as a "scholar" etc.  In my opinion this question could have been a great opportunity to do two things: first, he could have provided an answer to win ligitimacy for the work and secondly, if done well he could have dismissed any suspecion about his motives as a Muslim writing about the historic Jesus.

Repeatedly through the interview Reza restates his credentials over and over like a montra.  Maybe he is impressed by them but for most of us outside of the ivory towers we want something like compelling substance before we run right out and buy.  It doesn't matter how many abbreviations one has in front of his name if he isn't making sense.  Moreover, academia also functions in this same way.  Interestingly in spite of his admiration for his academic credentials his book wasn't published by an academic publisher.  Why not?  If this is truly a piece of unbiased scholarly inquiry why not share it among is peers?

After watching the interview with Fox News I attempted to look up Reza Aslan to give him the benefit of the doubt in my mind.  What I found was it was difficult to learn anything about his credintials.  I went to his web site then to his faculty web site at the University of California Riverside and found nothing.  I was expecting to find his four degrees in New Testament, Biblical Greek, maybe a PhD. in History that he boasted about or maybe a Curriculem Vitae.  No such luck.  However, I did find a post  
Snickering at FoxNews while getting duped by ‘Zealot’ author that explains the author overstated his claims.  This actually explains quite a bit about why the interview was so strange.  So the question is if he is willing to overstate his claims about his credentials is he also willing to overstate his claims in his book about the historical Jesus?  I think i'll pass on this one.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Can Crazy Be Logical?

Here is a fun way of evaluating logical relations between propositions.
We were driving in the car the other day and my son Collin asks the following "I'm crazy aren't I dad?"  Wanting to be a game player I went along with it "Yes Collin you are crazy."  Collin then gloats and said to his older brother "See Harrison I told you I was crazy" (I don't know when he began to view crazy as a virtue).  To which Harrison replied "Thats only because you asked dad, he will go along with anything you ask him."  Without skipping a beat Collin immediately says "Dad give me a hundred dollars."

In the square of opposition you have four propositions:
A = Universal Affirmative
E = Universal Negative
I = Particular Affirmative
O = Particular Negative

Chalk one up for the little guy!  He realized in order to win the debate he didn't necessarily have to refute his big brothers argument (that Dad will go along with anything he asks).  Collin knew that he just needed to come up with one example where dad wouldn't go along with anything by taking the argument from an A proposition to an O.  And that is how the square of opposition is used.  A better question is what does it mean when crazy is logical?

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Moore On The Wrath Of God

Talk about the wrath of God has fallen on hard times to the point where professing conservative evangelicals blush at the notion.  Part of this is because of a misappropriation of God's wrath depicting God as being angry much like the way you and I would be angry.  This in other words is an exercise in self projecting our fallibility on God.  Either way I recently posted about the PCUSA rejecting the popular song In Christ Alone because the song claims that God's wrath was satisfied on the cross of Christ.  Just prior to that post I posted about Russell Moore the new head of Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission for the SBC.  Moore has recently published an article in the Washing Post that can be read here.  Give me your thoughts below.

Monday, July 29, 2013

PCUSA Rejecting God's Wrath "In Christ Alone"

The Presbyterian Church USA (not to be confused with other Presbyterian bodies) has voted to remove the popular hymn "In Christ Alone" by Keith Getty from its new hymnal.  Their problem was with song proclaiming with Christ's death God's wrath was satisfied.  I found this article by Timothy George in First Things where he offers some explanation below.
No Squishy Love
July 29, 2013
Timothy George
Wrath of God

In his 1934 book, The Kingdom of God in America, H. Richard Niebuhr depicted the creed of liberal Protestant theology, which was called “modernism” in those days, in these famous words: "A God without wrath brought man without sin into a kingdom without judgment through the ministrations of a Christ without a cross." Niebuhr was no fundamentalist, but he knew what he was talking about. So did Dietrich Bonhoeffer when he named the kind of mainline religion he encountered in 1930s America: Protestantismus ohne Reformation, “Protestantism without the Reformation.”

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Quote of the Day

We divide this Word into two principal parts or kinds: the one is called the ‘Law,’ the other the ‘Gospel.’ For all the rest can be gathered under the one or other of these two headings…Ignorance of this distinction between Law and Gospel is one of the principal sources of the abuses which corrupted and still corrupt Christianity

—Theodore Beza, The Christian Faith, 1558.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Quote of the Day

"The basic principle in application is to know whether the passage is a statement of the law or of the gospel. For when the Word is preached, the law and the gospel operate differently. The law exposes the disease of sin, and as a side-effect, stimulates and stirs it up. But it provides no remedy for it. However the gospel not only teaches us what is to be done, it also has the power of the Holy Spirit joined to it…. A statement of the law indicates the need for a perfect inherent righteousness, of eternal life given through the works of the law, of the sins which are contrary to the law and of the curse that is due them…. By contrast, a statement of the gospel speaks of Christ and his benefits, and of faith being fruitful in good works."

—William Perkins, The Art of Prophesying (1592; repr. Banner of Truth Trust, 1996), 54–55.

Russell Moore New Head of the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission

Russell Moore (recent appointee to the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the SBC) was recently interviewed by Michelle Boorstein from the Washington Post.  I thought his comments were insightful and definitely not the usual conservative talking points.  Here is a sample of that interview:
Many Americans are turning away from institutional religion. Why?
When it comes to [people who say they have “no religion”], in some ways that is the collapse of Bible Belt America, of this sense of Christianity as being something that is part of a normal American life. [In some areas of the country], it meant someone was a good citizen by being part of a church. That is collapsing, and as an evangelical Christian, I say good riddance to that.
I don’t think that sort of American dream plus Jesus represented biblical Christianity at all and in many ways hindered it and the advance of the Gospel, which is dependent upon . . . the freakishness of Christianity. We’re saying some things that are extraordinary — that a dead man has come back to life! That reconciliation with God is possible through forgiveness of sins. Those things aren’t just the application of moral American life. The “Veggie Tales” phenomenon in evangelicalism, the taking Bible characters and making cartoons out of them and teaching moral lessons from those things really represented a lot of what was happening in Bible Belt Christianity that I think was bloodless and Gospel-free in many ways. That’s changing, so you don’t have nominal young Christian church members who are going to church because they think this is what’s good for their families or their businesses or to find a spouse or to make partner at the law firm. Those days are over.
Where is the abortion debate going? Public-opinion polls show Americans want abortion available in the early stages. And yet these measures are passing in the states to limit it in the later stages.
One thing I try and do with our constituency on this issue is to warn against extreme triumphalism [or] pessimism. Because some of our people see those polls that young people are increasingly pro-life and see it as “We’re winning.” I’m not sure that’s the case. But the fact that this is a real debate in American culture is in one sense a success of pro-life movement.

Friday, July 12, 2013