Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Christianity Is Based On Science and History

Everything about the Bible is scientific and historical.  What I grew up very often hearing is that the Bible is not a book about science, but where it speaks it is scientific.  That little homily stuck with me, but it undercuts the truth about the nature of the Bible and Christianity.  There is a lot to unpack here, but I want to explain enough for someone to get started.

Before I unpack, I would say that I believe more than the point of my title in that I also believe and think that Christianity itself is science and history.  I say the latter because the Bible is the final authority on scientific matters and it is the true story, what actually happened in history.  It brings in more elements than what mere human historians can do and in those historians not doing so, miss a lot of the point.

The Bible wants us to know that Christianity is scientific and historical by the way that it speaks or reads.  Right now I'm preaching through three books of the Bible, Acts on Sunday morning, Genesis on Wednesday night, and Matthew on two Sunday nights per month.  In my Bible class in school, 7th to twelfth grades, I'm teaching through Ephesians.  In home room, to start the day with the same 7th to twelfth graders, I'm going through the book of Revelation.   Following along with so many different books in a lot of detail, major themes of scripture impact.

We cut the Bible short when we remove the scientific and historical nature of the biblical message, and, therefore, cut Christianity short.  It is what I now understand as the bifurcation of truth.  The truth of Christianity and the Bible, one and the same, are diminished by separating those two from science and history.  It also changes the perception of truth itself, dividing truth into theology as separate from science and history.  State colleges have made a heyday over pushing the Bible to the arts side of the campus.

Everything in the present in scripture relates to the past.  If the past to which it speaks isn't true, that is, it isn't historical, then it doesn't make any sense.  It is also very often tied into the operation or function of the physical world, which some would categorize in the field of science.  I want to give you an example from every one of the books I'm teaching.  I'll go in the order of the English Bible.

Everything in Genesis 1-7, and I'm presently in chapter 7 of Genesis, relates to something before and after.  Genesis 1 lays out the universe and the earth from the beginning.  Genesis 2 elaborates on it, but also differentiates the world that was then from that which was after the curse.  After the curse, a whole new world emerges, different than the one of Adam and Eve, that brought an entirely different lifestyle.  It is hard to say whether the biggest scientific changes in the world occurred after the curse of sin or after the flood.  One would have to conclude after the curse, because that brought in death.  Death is still a scientific reality.

Agriculture changed in a drastic way after the curse.  Even though everything that God expected of man from the beginning continued after the curse, new responsibilities emerged as seen in the work of those in Genesis 4 and 5.  The flood dramatically changed the topography of the earth, the hydrologic cycle, the climate, and the weather.  Man's lifespan decreased in a drastic way.  All of this was theological as well, because God in both cases was judging sin.  He also revealed His grace in the salvation of Adam and Eve, the promise of the Messiah, and the deliverance of Noah and his family.

For a period of time, the world in its condition of Genesis 1:2 became the world again when water covered the earth after the flood.  God used the elements of the first created world to reform it into a second one, or perhaps better, a third one.  We still live in the third iteration of this planet, where the life spans have shrunk to what they are.  How we live directly relates to that historical event.  It gives us a perspective with that of the anger and justice and mercy and grace of God.  It all comes together, not in separate ways, but in a cohesive package.  Man proceeded from no death, to 969 years, to the present 70 to 100, the digression of the second law of thermodynamics.

The genealogy of Matthew 1 goes into history, the chronology, to reveal the fulfillment of the Old Covenant with the New.  Among several other details, certain specific women are highlighted to make a point from the historical record.  The virgin birth traces back to Genesis 3 and Genesis 12 and Isaiah 7.  The wise men, the kingmakers arose in the East, oracles of the divine plan, traceable to former and present historical events, especially as seen in the consternation of Herod.

Four different cities or regions weave into the story all with their separate and necessary histories, Bethlehem, Egypt, Ramah, and Nazareth.  Just Egypt alone brings in the Greek empire of Alexander the Great, resulting in a Jew friendly nation or region, welcoming of Joseph, Mary, and Jesus.  Caesar Augustus had sent the young couple to Bethlehem for a census or to pay a tax.  All of this and more proves Jesus as King.

Pontius Pilate, a Roman governor, defended the innocents of Jesus six different times, leaving the people guilty of murdering their Messiah.  They desired a murderer to be granted unto them.  However, this same Jesus, who they killed, God raised up, and in His name and through His power, a man lame from birth, who was sitting at a remaining Solomonic section of Herod's temple, was healed. It wasn't Peter's power that did this, but a living Savior in Acts 3.  There are these among other history.  These events must be believed.  The physiological condition of a man provides a basis for receiving a future King of an eternal kingdom.

Real Gentiles were relegated to the outer court of the temple, unwelcome into the inner court, the holy place, or the holy of holies.  They were far off.  They were the uncircumcised, lacking in an actual physical, medical procedure.  They could come near without the same proximity or surgery by the true, real historical blood of Jesus Christ in Ephesians 2.  Even if they didn't get access to certain Jewish places or even churches, they would have access to God through Jesus and by the Spirit.

The church of the Laodiceans located in a city with warm, sulfuric springs that were undrinkable.  The apostate membership of this church is pictured as the lukewarm tepid Laodicean water that Jesus would spew out of His mouth.  Real true, historical conditions on the ground portrayed their real, true present spiritual condition.

Everything in the Bible is history and science.  This world is not going to end with the freezing temperatures of a polar vortex, but the judgment of God by fire more devastating than the worldwide flood.

Monday, January 28, 2019

Understanding 1 John and Also Its Misuse, Misinterpretation, and Perversion

The first book of the Bible that I ever studied on my own in depth in an exegetical manner was John's first epistle, 1 John.  I was a senior in high school, seventeen and then eighteen years of age.  I had also translated all of 1 John in the Greek in my second year Greek class that year. I read it every day for a month early in 1980.  Then I wrote a commentary on it, handwritten on 8 1/2 x 11 college ruled paper, verse by verse to prepare for a summer of devotions with a group of teenagers.

As much as churches, and rightly so, offer 1 John as an early book of the Bible for a new Christian to read, it is actually a very difficult book.  I don't think it is too difficult to understand.  The teaching itself is hard.  It is extreme for the world in which we live.  Most people just reject the actual teaching of the book because it clashes with how most think about almost everything.  The book is intended to cause a division, to set certain people apart from others, in particular because of the purpose of the book, which John writes in 1 John 5:13:
These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.
Whether someone is saved or unsaved doesn't come with a label attached.  How does someone "know" that he is saved, or as John puts it, 'know that he has eternal life.'  According to 1 John 5:13, God wants us to know, but the way that we know is not by having the date of a profession written in the fly leaf of a Bible or by having mom tell us that we're saved, because she remembers when we "prayed the prayer."

What accompanies a truly or genuinely saved person, a true Christian, are certain inevitable results of the light of God, the life of God, and the love of God.  Those three provide tests to enable a person to know that he has eternal life.  To mix the metaphor a bit, someone can look for these markers that indicate biblical faith.  The same tests or markers that show someone is saved will also, however, manifest when someone is not saved.  This is the division to which I was referring above in the second paragraph.

If there is anything I wouldn't want to happen with 1 John is that it doesn't do what it's supposed to do because someone has misused it, misinterpreted it, or perverted it.  Then someone can't judge as to whether he is saved, because he has twisted the book or parts of it to fit something that either he wants it to say or that someone has taught him that it says.  The latter would be a false teacher.

1 John is a commonly perverted book.  One could understand why.  Satan doesn't want people either to know they are saved or he doesn't want people who are not saved to know that they are not.  False doctrines taught from a book by conforming the book to either conventional thinking or someone's fleshly or worldly desires, Paul informs to Timothy, doctrines of demons (1 Tim 4:1-3).  This is a major way that Satan fools people is by using deceit, even by misappropriating scripture to provide the false teaching.

I've noticed the distortion of 1 John comes in at least two different major, categorical ways.  First, there are those that say 1 John is not about proving whether someone is truly saved, but rather written to Christians to help them to grow, to be better Christians.  Teachers will start with that presupposition and then force the book into it.  Second, some will allegorize or spiritualize 1 John and other biblical books to turn them into a self-help book that enlarges the audience to make 1 John a book also for unbelievers.

The first above category of false teaching relates to Keswick, second blessing, or revivalistic theology.  1 John says that people who do not live in a continuous righteous manner are not saved, which doesn't fit with this false theology, which says it is then how to live the Christian life.  To them, somebody might be saved and not live like a Christian for a decade or more, or in certain cases never live it, and yet still be saved.

It is bad to misconstrue what God says.  It is God's Word.  Men should be careful with God's Word.  In a very practical way too though, many eventually go to Hell because of the misconstruing and even in the short term become twice they child they once were.

The ones doing the false teaching very often portray themselves as having some kind of superior love to be saying things that are more likely to cause people to feel good, to give them a false sense of security.  The ones telling the truth about 1 John are presented as unloving, missing out on something that could be helping Christians to grow or everyone to get self-help.  Instead what's happening is that people are left deceived about the condition of their souls.  The irony here is that the unloving ones are actually the loving ones, and the loving ones are really hateful through their deceit.

For the purpose of revealing what I'm saying here in a specific way, I want to focus on one verse, 1 John 1:7:
But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
This verse starts with "But" because it contrasts with verse six:
If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:
John presents this kind of scenario all through the book, where a person or people 'say that they have fellowship with God,' when they really don't.  They just say that they do.  It would be good to find out that they don't have fellowship so that they can really have fellowship with God.  "Him" in verse six is "God" from verse five:
This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
The basis for fellowship is light.  Light is doctrinal and practical.  A person who walks in the light, believes and does what God says.  When someone does not or will not believe or do what God says, that affects fellowship.  God doesn't fellowship with darkness.

John is presenting a doctrinal and practical test for salvation.  People who are saved walk in the light, that is, as a practice, a habit, or lifestyle they believe right and practice right.  I say, as a practice, habit, or lifestyle because the verb "walk" in 1 John 1:7 is a present tense verb.  1 John 1:6 says that they who walk in darkness may say that they have fellowship with him, but they are lying.  I recently read someone doesn't even have to be a Christian to learn from 1 John 1:7.

What would someone who is not a Christian learn from 1 John 1:7?  He would learn that he is not saved, because he walks in darkness.  It wouldn't teach him how to be a better person though.  It is unclear what the author of this statement was even saying.  He followed it by essentially saying that "light" is something that someone can shed on painful memories or current struggles he might be experiencing.

"Light" shed on painful memories or current struggles has nothing to do with 1 John 1:7.  1 John 1:7 is not there to help you be a better person or to grow as a Christian.  It is to expose you as either a saved person or an unsaved person.  People who are not saved cannot walk in the light.  The blood of Jesus Christ is not cleansing their sin.  People who do walk in the light can do that because Jesus' blood is cleansing them of their sin in a continuous, practical way.  This is then when the following context comes in.

In the following context, verses eight to ten and the beginning of chapter two of the epistle, someone who knows God and consequently walks in the light does not attempt to hide his sin.  He doesn't cover his sin.  He confesses it, because he can't hide it; he's walking in the light.  He is confident to confess his sin, because he has an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ.  An unsaved person doesn't have an advocate.  This doesn't mean he has to confess his sin to the whole world or even in public.  Unless it is a public sin, I don't think he should confess it to the world.  He should keep it to himself and protect his reputation.  Instead, he confesses it to God, like 1 John 1:9 shows.

1 John 1:7 is not about help with painful memories, whatever those are.  There are numerous, almost innumerable, possibilities of what "painful memories" might be.

Let me give you an example of what someone might call a "painful memory."  In the past, he did something wrong, was judged to have done wrong, and then punished for doing it.  He didn't like being judged and punished  and it is painful to think about.  The pain and even the memory could be alleviated by believing in Jesus Christ, so the blood of Jesus Christ could take away that sin.  He would know that God is faithful and just to forgive that sin, because it is under the blood and he has confessed it as sin.  He now has peace because he knows the sin is gone.  He can and will walk in the light without guilt.

Walking in the light is not opening up about ways that we feel aggrieved because someone judged us and punished us.  That isn't light.  That's actually darkness.  Light admits sin, confesses it, and gets forgiveness.

Someone isn't receiving love by being excused from sin.  God doesn't do that.  God loves us by forgiving our confessed sin, because we know we can't hide it from God.  If we love God, then we love the light and those who walk in the light.  Those are who we fellowship with.  1 John 1 is not about excusing darkness, but about embracing light, the doctrine and practice of scripture.  Excusing sin is a form of hiding in the darkness.

Let me take this a different direction.  Someone feels pain because he has been judged wrongfully about a sin.  He's been slandered.  He can't and doesn't receive forgiveness from the people who think he's done wrong, when he hasn't done anything wrong.  Scripture is full of examples of believers who have faced that kind of situation. They walk in the light so they know they aren't guilty of anything, so they don't have anything to confess, even though they are willing to confess it.

Life and love operate along with light in 1 John.  They all proceed from the same source, God, Who is the author of our salvation, our eternal life.  God loves the slandered person.  Other believers love him too.  They know he's repented of sin and is walking in the light.  He can function in obedience with the slander because a loving God and loving believers help him through.

Sunday, January 27, 2019

Kent Brandenburg and Frank Turk Debate on the Preservation of Scripture -- Part One

by Kent Brandenburg

On day one God spoke and there was light.  When God spoke, whatever He said would come to pass.  After creating Adam, God made a covenant with him (Gen. 2:16-17):
Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.
Then God created for Adam the perfect companion, his wife Eve.  Shortly thereafter, in his first act Satan tempts her to doubt God’s Word (Gen. 3:1), “Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden?”  And then, “Ye shall not surely die.”

He changed a few of God’s Words, caused uncertainty in Eve, so that what God said wasn’t authoritative to her any longer—you know the rest of the story.

Satan continues using the same strategy.  Modern agnostic, Bart Ehrman, illustrates this by testifying of his apostasy in his Misquoting Jesus:
This was a compelling problem. It was the words of scripture themselves that God had inspired. Surely we have to know what those words were if we want to know how he had communicated to us. . . . I kept reverting to my basic question: how does it help us to say that the Bible is the inerrant word of God if in fact we don't have the words that God inerrantly inspired, but only the words copied by scribes---sometimes correctly but sometimes (many times!) incorrectly? What good is it to say that the autographs . . . were inspired? We don't have the originals! . . . This became a problem for my view of inspiration, for I came to realize that it would have been no more difficult for God to preserve the words of scripture than it would have been for him to inspire them in the first place.
Satan wants us to think that God’s Word has errors, so that we don’t trust it.  Should we or can we juxtapose a perfect, holy, majestic, non-contingent, immutable God with an errant Word?   Yet, that is the position that Mr. Turk takes in opposition to my affirmation.  And if we have a Bible with errors, what authority does Scripture have?  These present some great difficulties to the orthodoxy of my opponent.

John Feinberg writes:
[I’m not] able to understand how one can be justified in claiming absolute authority for the Scriptures and at the same time deny their inerrancy. This seems to be the height of epistemological nonsense and confusion. . . .  Suppose that I have an Amtrak railroad schedule. In describing its use to you, I tell you that it is filled with numerous errors but that it is absolutely authoritative and trustworthy. I think you would be extremely dubious. At least the schedule would have one thing going for it; it declares itself to be subject to change without notice.
If God’s Word supported the doctrine of errant Scripture we should believe and expect it.  However, Scripture does not espouse that.  The Bible advocates first its verbal, plenary inspiration and then its own perfect, Divine preservation and general accessibility to every generation of God’s people.   Only the textus receptus of the Greek NT fulfills this Scriptural pattern.  The text behind the modern versions we know wasn’t always available and it is still, according to its own proponents, a work in progress.

Professing believers have historically held to perfect preservation and general accessibility.  Not only will I show this in the debate,  but Mr. Turk already has on his own blog with links just to the right, when he references the Westminster Confession (1646) and the London Baptist Confession (1689), which both state:
The Old Testament in Hebrew . . . , and the New Testament in Greek . . . , being immediately inspired by God, and by his singular care and providence kept pure in all ages, are therefore authentical.
I ask, why not just believe his own posted statement?  The debate would be over.  The confessors were convinced that God’s promises were true, as should Mr. Turk.  I am confident that my opponent will reveal greater trust in merely human statements of history and science than he does what God’s Word says about its own preservation.  I anticipate that he will eagerly lean upon works by or about Erasmus as sufficiently infallible and proclaim that not one Greek manuscript of the NT is identical without himself or even the ones who make that claim possibly being able to see the manuscripts relied upon for the printed editions of the textus receptus.

Mr. Turk might say, “But the confessions don’t say which words were God’s perfect ones.”  Yet the writings of the confessors themselves reveal that they believed a text identical to the original manuscripts was accessible to them.  In the NT, those words were the textus receptus.  Why do professing believers now reject a position of perfect preservation and general accessibility of God’s Word?  Rather than the Bible as sufficient, sole authority, they depend on their history and external evidence.  In short, toward God’s promises of preservation and accessibility, they aren’t like Abraham, who “staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God” (Rom. 4:20).  Instead, they are Thomas in John 20:25: “Except I see . . . , I will not believe.”  They’ll use terms like epistemology, but what they mean is that they don’t believe what God said He would do.

I expect many to come to aid Mr. Turk in rebuttal of my affirmation to give him more history and supposed examples of errors in Scripture.  And when they are finished, what will be their result? More certainty?  No.  No, the consequence will be more doubt about God’s Word.  Does that sound like the product of God?  Of the Holy Spirit?  Of course not.

Question:  Does God in the Bible promise His people the preservation and general accessibility of every Word of God to every generation of believers in the language in which He gave them?


by Frank Turk

Kent --

Through your opening statement, you have made a series of logical leaps which aren't warranted, but we have 10 questions and answers through which to uncover the worst of them. Let me answer your question with two assertions, and I'm sure they'll give you some room to run.

[1] It's a false assumption to link "inerrancy" with one eclectic text. I wholly reject the idea that God's word has any errors in it, but I think that means something other than what you intend here.

[2] I reject the claim that God has promised to preserve a singular text of all the books of the NT down to matters like scribal spelling errors and emendations. God didn't make any grammatical promises to anyone in the Bible.

So God's word has no theological and no historical errors in it, but that does not imply any kind of promise to make sure every scribe always copies every word perfectly.

Let me apologize that I haven't been available to answer your first post in a more timely fashion. I am travelling for work this week, and I have limited internet access.

Many people have never read the KJV Translators' 1611 preface to their work. I link to it here for everyone's information.

Does this preface say anywhere that the Textus Receptus -- the volume produces by Erasmus from a small variety of dissimilar texts -- is without any differences from the original text of the books it represents?

Saturday, January 26, 2019

Kent Brandenburg and Frank Turk Debate on the Preservation of Scripture

In April of 2008, I wrote this:
I thought you might want to know about the debate occurring at the debate blog of one of the Pyromaniacs, Frank Turk. He challenged me to a debate on the issue of the preservation of God's Word. I'm arguing for the perfect preservation of the NT in the textus receptus. He's arguing against that. We're about half way through. The format is ten questions each with no more than 1000 words for each answer. I'll leave it up to you to decide what you see occurring in the debate. Debates like this can be informative and interesting reading. I believe you'll see that the Scriptural and historic position of perfect preservation of Scripture holds up nicely under the scrutiny of others who doubt what God said He would do. The right position does more than hold up, but, again, that will be for you to decide.
There were links in the original debate.  I saved the debate in Wordperfect, my word processor, without saving the links.  I'll at least do the best I can do to present it like it originally appeared.

Since that was published at one of his blogs, then called, it no longer exists online.  It was a lot of work at the time and it's worth staying online.  This introduces the debate again, and the next post will start publishing it.  With Turk's format, I did the opening statement and could then ask a question.  He answered, and then asked a question.  It was to go back and forth like that through ten questions.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Preparation for the Lord's Supper, part 1 of 6, from Wilhelmus a Brakel's The Christian's Reasonable Service

Wilhelmus a Brakel was a Dutch 2nd Reformation preacher--that is, essentially, a Dutch Puritan.  He wrote a great 4 volume systematic theology called The Christian's Reasonable Service, which has been made available in an indexed form online.  Unlike the large majority of systematic theologies, The Christian's Reasonable Service makes extensive application of Biblical doctrines, instead of just expounding them without making application.  Brakel's Calvinism is unbiblical, and the Reformed had serious problems on both baptism and the Lord's Supper, but if one watches out for standard problems with Reformed theology--including the very dangerous denial that everyone must be personally and consciously converted, even from Reformed homes-- his systematic theology can be very helpful and beneficial.  Wilhelmus a Brakel did not just set out to explain a theological system--he extensively applied the doctrines that he expounded. Thus, for example, his discussion of soteriology does not merely discuss the doctrinal aspects of that great subject, but also includes the following chapters about the life that adorns genuine salvation:

44. Sanctification and Holiness
45. The Law of God: General Considerations
46. The First Commandment
47. The Second Commandment
48. The Third Commandment
49. The Fourth Commandment
50. The Fifth Commandment
51. The Sixth Commandment
52. The Seventh Commandment
53. The Eighth Commandment
54. The Ninth Commandment
55. The Tenth Commandment
56. The Glorification of God
57. Love Toward God
58. Love Toward the Lord Jesus
59. The Fear of God
60. Obedience Toward God
61. The Exercise of Hope in God
62. Spiritual Strength or Courage
63. The Profession of Christ and His Truth
64. Contentment
65. Self-denial
66. Patience
67. Sincerity (or Uprightness)
68. Prayer
69. The Lord’s Prayer Explained and Applied; The Address and the First Petition: Hallowed Be Thy Name
70. The Second Petition: Thy Kingdom Come
71. The Third Petition: Thy Will be Done
72. The Fourth Petition: Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread
73. The Fifth Petition: Forgive Us Our Debts as We Forgive Our Debtors
74. The Sixth Petition: Lead Us not into Temptation, but Deliver Us from Evil
75. Fasting
76. Watchfulness
77. Secret Prayer
78. Spiritual Meditation
79. Singing Spiritual Songs
80. Vows
81. The Practice of Reflecting upon Previous Experiences
82. Love Toward Our Neighbor
83. Humility
84. Meekness
85. Peaceableness
86. Diligence
87. Compassion
88. Prudence
89. Spiritual Growth
90. Regression of Spiritual Life in the Godly
91. Spiritual Desertion
92. The Temptation Toward Atheism or the Denial of God’s Existence
93. The Temptation Whether God’s Word Is True
94. Unbelief Concerning One’s Spiritual State
95. The Assaults of Satan
96. The Power of Indwelling Corruption
97. Spiritual Darkness
98. Spiritual Deadness
99. The Perseverance of the Saints

 Wilhelmus à Brakel, The Christian’s Reasonable Service, ed. Joel R. Beeke, trans. Bartel Elshout, vol. 1 (Grand Rapids, MI: Reformation Heritage Books, 1992), viii–x.

A consideration of such subjects is fantastic, and systematic theology should not be expounded apart from the practice of life that accompanies it.

In addition to Brakel's The Christian's Reasonable Service making such applications in general, he has a very helpful discussion of the believer's preparation for the Lord's Supper.  Lord willing, we will be examining that material in future posts.


Tuesday, January 22, 2019

God and Boxes: Does God Still Speak Audibly to Men?

On January 2, 2019, the Gospel Coalition posted a video of J. D. Greear, the present president of the Southern Baptist Convention, on which he answers the question, whether God still speaks audibly to men.  It is a good, basic question a pastor or any other Christian needs to and should be able to answer.  It also should be an easy question, and especially in recent days, it has become difficult for even those who might claim to be conservative.

Greear started his answer with these words:
I’ve never been comfortable putting God in a lot of boxes that he doesn’t put himself in. And I don’t know of anywhere in the Bible that says, “No he will absolutely never speak audibly again to men on the earth.” That said, I guess the answer has to be “no.”
His first two sentences don't answer the question.  The question wasn't whether God would ever speak audibly to men again, but whether God is still doing that now.

The question posed requires a good, bold answer.  It doesn't help to allow ambiguity where there is none.  Anyone reading the answer can tell he leaves at least a window open.  As an illustration, Charisma News reported two days later:
J.D. Greear, the new president of the Southern Baptist Convention, said God and the Holy Spirit can still audibly speak to believers today and are not limited to speaking through Scripture.
"No," should have been the first word out of Greear's mouth.  If you read his whole answer, you'll find a "no" in there, even in the last sentence of the first paragraph, he says, "That said, I guess the answer has to be "no."  He guesses.  You don't have to guess. No one has to guess.

With scripture, God puts boxes around Himself.  You or I or Greear can't put a box around God, but we should agree when God puts boxes around Himself.  God cannot lie (Titus 1:2).  That's a box.  "God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man" (James 1:13).  That's another box.

God has brought a box to what should be judged to be His own speaking.  God is still speaking through scripture, but He has restricted Himself to the completed, written Word of God (Jude 1:3, Revelations 22:18-19, 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Hebrews 1:1, 2:3-4).  He still speaks through that, but that alone.

The people who use the "put God in a box" kind of language very often espouse the idea that God doesn't show up unless it is in a miraculous type of way.  God either causes or allows everything, so He is always showing up, but that doesn't mean He is still speaking any other way except through His Word.

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Revivalism and the Prayer That "the Word of the Lord May Have Free Course"

While sitting in preaching conferences on many occasions over decades I have heard leadership ask that the preaching in the conference would have "free course."  "Free course" is exact verbiage from the King James Version in 2 Thessalonians 3:1.  Does the leader mean the same thing for the conference as Paul did in 2 Thessalonians 3:1?  Paul writes in that verse:
Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may have free course, and be glorified, even as it is with you:
Praying for "free course" is scriptural, obviously.  It's in 2 Thessalonians 3:1.  But does it mean there in that very text how people are using it, when they talk about praying for free course?  Should people be encouraged to pray like they are being encouraged to pray?

Revivalist John Van Gelderen talks about "free course" in his book, The Revived Life.  In the midst of describing an evangelistic situation with a lady, he writes:
Recognizing the enemy built up in this dear lady's mind, I suggested we all get down on our knees to pray.  Through exercising throne seat authority, the scale of blindness fell off this lady's eyes.  Then she could see the glorious light of the gospel.  When again pointed to Jesus' offer of salvation, she gladly responded to the invitation to trust in Jesus to save her, and she rejoiced with joy unspeakable. 
The same dynamic is needed for multitudes without Christ.  The prayer meeting of Acts 1 accessed the outpouring of the Spirit of Acts 2.  This is an example of greater works -- the powers of darkness dispelled and the power of the Spirit displayed -- so that many have the opportunity to hear "the word of the Lord" in a setting where it has "free course"  and "is glorified" or given its full weight (2 Thess 3:1).
Upon quoting John 14:12-14, Van Gelderen continues:
Whether individually or corporately, whether defensively or offensively, learn to claim the Name -- the name of Jesus!  This is not a mere mantra of words.  When the Spirit convinces you of the truth of the enthroned Christ, you can claim the Name and experience throne seat authority!
Van Gelderen shows his revivalist understanding of a "free course" prayer.  This type of belief and teaching is rampant among Charismatics, evangelicals, fundamentalists, independent and even unaffiliated Baptists.  One reads this language from the revivalist Charles Finney, as in his autobiography (p. 469):
But although I am sure that large numbers of persons were converted, for I saw and conversed with a great number myself that were powerfully convicted, and to all appearance converted; yet the barriers did not break down so as to give the word of the Lord, and the Spirit of the Lord, free course among the people.
Revivalist A. T. Pierson wrote:
From the day of Pentecost, there has been not one great spiritual awakening in any land which has not begun in a union of prayer, though only among two or three. And no such outward, upward movement has continued after such prayer meetings have declined. It is in exact proportion to the maintenance of such joint and believing supplication and intercession that the Word of the Lord in any land or locality has had free course and been glorified.
Revivalist Jack Hyles wrote in his book, Meet the Holy Spirit:
The Holy Spirit must be invited to help. He must be invited every day. He must be invited for every task. He must have free course to do His work alone.
You can find other examples than these, since the onset of second blessing theology in the middle of the 19th century.  On the other hand, here's what John Gill wrote:
The particular petitions he would have put up follow, that the word of the Lord may have free course. By "the word of the Lord". . . is meant the Gospel; which is of God, and not of man, comes by the Lord Jesus Christ, and is concerning him, his person and offices, and concerning peace, pardon, righteousness, life, and salvation by him, as the subject matter of it: and the request is, that this might "have free course": or "might run": be propagated and spread far and near: the ministry of the word is a course or race, and ministers are runners in it, having their feet shod with the preparation of the Gospel of peace; which is the message they are sent with, and the errand they run upon: which comes from heaven, and is to be carried into all the world, and spread: Satan and his emissaries do all they can to hinder the progress of it; God only can remove all obstructions and impediments; when he works none can let; all mountains become a plain before Zerubbabel.
I want to focus on "free course."  These words come from the King James Version, and the translators provided an italicized "free" to indicate that this was supplied, not in the original.  A lot of the mileage of revivalists comes from a word the translators say isn't in the Bible.  Maybe there is something to "free" course, but the translators said there wasn't -- thus, the italics.

Gill gets the gist of it.  The one Greek word is trecho, which BDAG, the foremost lexicon gives three nuances of meaning:
1. to make rapid linear movement, run, rush, advance. . . 2. to make an effort to advance spiritually or intellectually, exert oneself. . . 3. to proceed quickly and without restraint, progress.
I believe Gill is right about "word of the Lord" being "the Gospel," for the reasons he says.  What does Paul want with the gospel?  He wants rapid linear movement, advancement, movement, progress.  He wants it to get to more places.  Trecho was used for racing and for battle movements.

The "free course" part of the prayer is about the gospel getting to more places and more people.  Albert Barnes wrote:
The margin is "run." So also the Greek. The idea is, that it might meet with no obstruction, but that it might be carried abroad with the rapidity of a racer out of whose way every hindrance was removed.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown reports:
may have free course—literally, "may run"; spread rapidly without a drag on the wheels of its course. . . . the apostle referring here to the external course of the word, rather than its inward efficacy in the soul, as also Christ seems chiefly to do in those parables. There are many things that hinder the course of the gospel; sometimes wicked rulers make laws against it, sometimes great persecutions have been raised, sometimes false teachers oppose it, sometimes professors prove apostates and scandalize the world against it, sometimes reproaches are thrown in the way of it.
Paul could only stay in Thessalonica two weeks when he went there.  He had to leave because of threat of death and intense, physical persecution.  In a number of the means that God uses to allow for the furtherance of the gospel, praying would advance that.

Revivalists bring something else to "free course" in the way of some overcoming power toward transforming results.  In the doctrine of revivalism, this prayer will translate to numerous conversions.  God will then enact the cause for an abundance of new people to be coerced.  In my experience, free course for a preaching conference has meant a certain enthusiastic feeling in the meeting.  The attendees are fired up or moved emotionally.  This free course means stirring oration, powerful sentiment, and very often intense physical exertion.  The answer to the prayer is a crisis through which someone enters a higher life. Barriers inhibiting the emergence into this spiritual experience are weakened or diminished.  "Free course" is a form of second blessing or continuationism.

We should pray for the free course of the gospel as Paul said it in 2 Thessalonians 3:1.  Think about your church.  You want to gain ground.  You want to move to the next town and the next and then the next, like Philip in Acts 8.  When he was done, he preached the gospel up the coast.  Churches need to have this urgency to push outward.  Each church.  We should be praying this would happen.  A related prayer exhorted by the Lord Jesus was for laborers.  More laborers will increase the speed at which the gospel gets further than what it has already.

Once the gospel arrives, it will do what is necessary in a persons life.  Contrary to Van Gelderen, the spiritual weapon, scripture, is used to pull down the strongholds.  The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God.  This is not the free course.  The free course is the gospel getting to more people.  They may not even get saved when it gets there.  They won't be overcome by some kind of domineering, invincible sway, name-it and claim-it.  Paul, like we should, had a concern for further spread, attempting to see as many people hear a true gospel as possible.

Let us heed Paul's admonition.  The actual one.

What's Coming Up Here?

Tomorrow I will publish my first post since November.  I will write regular posts Monday and Wednesday with Thomas Ross on his usual Friday.  The outlier here comes on late Saturdays or Sundays.  Something will be published those days on alternating weeks.  I will republish my debate with Frank Turk on the preservation of scripture.  He once had it published at his website and then eliminated his debate blog.  That debate didn't get much publicity.  If Turk had won, you would be ensured that you would have never stopped hearing about it.  It is very informative for the biblical and historical position.

On the alternating weeks, I will likely continue writing about our trip to Europe last summer.  I'm writing that essentially for my family and I, just to chronicle the trip for posterity.  We'll be able to go back and read. Some have already told me that it's helped them plan for their own trips.  I never finished that before I stopped writing and I don't want to leave it half done, if I can keep from it.

When I created the index, I saw everything I had written.  I categorized everything.  I don't think I would write any more on certain subjects.  I've covered them.  You can find my position in the index.  However, I might still write on those topics if it's in answer to what someone else has written.  In other words, every topic and passage is still admissible.  If I've covered it a lot, I won't write on it unless it's an answer to something else that I've read.

Usually here I'm going to write about what I see needs to be addressed in this world.  I'm not doing series of exposition of scripture.  That's how I preach at our church, but that isn't the purpose here.  I'll do some.  I might do more, especially if I'm not sure what to write.   The only work that I've done like that, I noticed in doing the index, was something at Jackhammer that we did for a couple of months on Colossians.  As I linked to those posts, I was happy those were available on that New Testament epistle.

I wouldn't be writing here if I didn't think it was needed.  People are going to read about subjects elsewhere on the internet.  The church is the pillar and ground of the truth.  People need the truth. This represents the teaching of our church, which is separatist, unaffiliated Baptist.  This is where people can read that.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Bart D. Ehrman's Did Jesus Exist? Useful Quotes for Christians, part 2 of 4

As I mentioned in part 1, Bart Ehrman is one of the most widely-known agnostic/atheist scholars today.  Despite his extreme skepticism, he effectively destroys the idea, widely promulgated by non-scholarly atheists and agnostics today, that Jesus of Nazareth did not exist, that Christ was a myth copied from pagan gods, and so on.  This second part contains more quotes from Bark Ehrman's Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth (New York, NY:  HarperCollins, 2012) that are very useful for Christians dealing with popular-level Biblical skeptics.

Kersey Graves utterly unscholarly:

A terrific example of an exaggerated set of mythicist claims comes in a classic in the field, the 1875 book of Kersey Graves, The World’s Sixteen Crucified Saviors:  Christianity Before Christ. . . . Graves . . . sets out . . . fantastic (not to say fantastical) parallels [to Christ from] . . . thirty-five such [allegedly divine] figures, naming them as Chrisna of Hindostan, Budha Sakia of India, Baal of Phenicia, Thammuz of Syria, Mithra of Persia, Cadmus of Greece, Mohamud of Arabia, and son on.  Already the modern, informed reader sees that there are going to be problems.  Buddha, Cadmus, and Muhammed?  Their lives were remarkably like that of Jesus, down to the details? . . . Possibly the most striking thing about all of these [allegedly] amazing parallels to the Christian claims about Jesus is the equally amazing fact that Graves provides not a single piece of documentation for any of them.  They are all asserted, on his own authority.  If a reader wants to look up the stories about Buddha or Mithra or Cadmus, there is no place to turn.  Graves does not name the sources of his information. . . . Even so, these are the kinds of claims one can find throughout the writings of the mythicists, even those writing today, 140 years later.  And as with Graves, in almost every instance the claims are unsubstantiated.[1]

Earl Doherty very problematic:

One of the staunchest defenders of a mythicist view of Christ, Earl Doherty, maintains that the apostle Paul thinks that Jesus was crucified, not here on earth by the Romans, but in the spiritual realm by demonic powers. . . . He quotes professional scholars at length when their views prove useful for developing aspects of his argument, but he fails to point out that not a single one of these scholars agrees with his overarching thesis.  The idea that Jesus was crucified in the spiritual realm is not a view set forth by Paul.  It is a view invented by Doherty. . . . In the first edition of Doherty’s book, he claimed that it was in this higher realm that the key divine events of the [pagan] mysteries transpired[.] . . . In his second edition he admits that in fact we do not know if that is true and that we do not have any reflections on such things by any of the cult devotees themselves since we don’t have a single writing from any of the adherents of the ancient mystery cults. . . . Doherty refuses to allow that 1 Thessalonians—which explicitly says that the Jews (or the Judeans) were the ones responsible for the death of Jesus—can be used as evidence of Paul’s view. . . . What evidence does Doherty cite to show that mystery religions were at heart Platonic?  Precisely none. . . . Among all our archaeological findings, there is none that suggests that pagan mystery cults exerted any influence on Aramaic-speaking rural Palestinian Judaism in the 20s and 30s of the first century.  And this is the milieu out of which faith in Jesus the crucified messiah, as persecuted and then embraced by Paul, emerged. . . . These mystery cults are never mentioned by Paul or by any other Christian author of the first hundred years of the church.  There is not a stitch of evidence to suggest that mystery cults played any role whatever in the views of the Pharisees, or, for that matter, in the views of any Jewish group of the first century:  the Sadducees, the Essenes . . . the revolutionaries who wanted to overthrow the Romans, the apocalyptic prophets like John the Baptist (and their followers), or the common people. . . . [T]here is not a shred of evidence to suggest that these cults played the least role in the development of early views of Jesus.  Rather we have plenty of reasons, based on our early Jewish sources, that just the opposite was the case.
            That in no small part is why not a single early Christian source supports Doherty’s claim that Paul and those before him thought of Jesus as a spiritual, not a human, being who was executed in the spiritual, not the human, sphere.[2]

Ancient docetists not Jesus mythicists:

These [docetic] opponents of Ignatius were not ancient equivalents of our modern-day mythicists.  They certainly did not believe that Jesus had ben made up or invented based on the dying and rising gods supposedly worshipped by pagans.  For them, Jesus had a real, historical existence. He lived in this world and delivered inspired teachings.  But he was God on earth, not made of the same flesh as the rest of us.[3]

In relation to mythicist questioning of the canonical gospels and the other New Testament books:

Mark was everywhere accepted as canonical; in fact, every surviving Christian document that refers to it accepts its canonicity. . . . The original version of Mark . . . is completely unambiguous that Jesus has been raised from the dead. See, for example, Mark 16:6 . . . [V]irtually everyone who mentions . . . 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus . . . accepts them as canonical, including Eusebius, who quotes them repeatedly in his writings.[4]

In relation to the claim that the narrative about Jesus Christ was copied from Mithraism:

What evidence . . . [is there] that the Mithraists moved their religion to Palestine to help them find the king of the Jews?  None at all. And so we might ask:  what evidence could . . . have [been cited?] . . . It’s the same answer.  There is no evidence.  This is made up. . . . Mithraists left no books behind to explain what they did in their religion and what they believed. . . . [W]ed do not have Mithraic texts that explain it all to us, let alone texts that indicate that Mithras was born of a virgin on December 25 and that he died to atone for sins only to be raised on a Sunday.[5]

Concerning patristic claims of parallels between Christianity and pagan mystery religions:

Christian sources who claim that there were similarities between their own religion and the mystery religions . . . were often simply speculating. . . . These later authors, such as the church father Tertullian, started making such claims for very specific reasons.  It was not that they had done research and interviewed followers of these religions.  It was because they wanted pagans to realize that Christianity was not all that different from what other pagans said and did in their religions so that there would be no grounds for singling out Christians and persecuting them.  The Christian sources that claim to know something about these mysteries, in other words, had a vested interest in making others think that the pagan religions were in many ways like Christianity.  For that reason—plus the fact that they would not have had reliable sources of information—they generally cannot be trusted.
            Many mythicists, however, take what these later sources say at face value and stress the obvious:  Christian claims about Jesus were a lot like those of other cult figures, down to the details.  But they have derived the details from sources that—in the judgment of scholars who are actually experts in this material—simply cannot be relied upon.[6]

Alleged pagan parallels to the New Testament narratives are invalid:

In many instances, the alleged parallels between the stories of Jesus and those of pagan gods or divine men are not actually close.  When Christians said that Jesus was born of a virgin, for instance, they came to mean that Jesus’s mother had never had sex.  In most of the cases of the divine men, when the father is a god and the mother is a mortal, sex is definitely involved.  The child is literally part human and part deity.  The mortal woman is no virgin; she has had divine sex.
            In other cases the parallels are simply made up.  Where do any of the ancient sources speak of a divine man who was crucified as an atonement for sin?  So far as I know, there are no parallels to this central Christian claim.  What has been invented here is not the Christian Jesus but the mythicist claims about Jesus . . . Christian claims about Jesus’s atoning sacrifice were not lifted from pagan claims about divine men.  Dying to atone for sin was not part of the ancient mythology.  Mythicists who claim that it was are simply imagining things. . . . [P]arallels are not as close and as precise as most mythicists claim.  Nowhere near as close.[7]

It simply is not true that all the stories in the Gospels, and all the details of the stories, promote the mythological interests of the early Christians.  The claim that Jesus had brothers named James, Joses, Judas, and Simon, along with several sisters, is scarcely a mythological motif; neither is the statement that he came from the tiny hamlet of Nazareth or that he often talked about seeds.[8]

No dying-rising pagan gods that are parallel to the narratives about Jesus Christ:

[T]here are serious doubts about whether there were in fact dying-rising gods in the pagan world, and if there were, whether they were anything like the dying-rising Jesus. . . . Even though most mythicists do not appear to know it, the . . . view that dying-rising gods were widespread in pagan antiquity has fallen on hard times among scholars. . . . [S]uch views about pagan gods . . . met with devastating critique near the end of the twentieth century.  There are, to be sure, scholars here or there who continue to think that there is some evidence of dying and rising gods.  But even these scholars, who appear to be in the minority, do not think that the category is of any relevance for understanding the traditions about Jesus. . . .  [T]he vocabulary of resurrection (that is, of a dead person being revived to live again) is used in only one known case:  Melqart (or Hercules). . . . [N]ot . . . a shred of evidence . . . [has been] provided[ed] . . . that . . . pagan dying and rising gods . . . were known in Palestine around the time of the New Testament[.] . . . Can anyone cite a single source of any kind that clearly indicates that people in rural Palestine, say, in the days of Peter and James, worshipped a pagan god who died and rose again?  You can trust me, if there was a source like that, it would be talked about by everyone interested in early Christianity.  It doesn’t exist. . . . [E]ven [the minority of modern scholars who think there is some ambiguous evidence for dying and rising pagan gods] d[o] not think that . . . [such] sparse findings are pertinent to the early Christian claims about Jesus as one who died and rose again.  The ancient Near Eastern figures [that might be pagan gods who might have been dying and rising]  were closely connected with the seasonal cycle and occurred year in and year out.  Jesus’s death and resurrection, by contrast, were considered a onetime event.  Moreover . . . Jesus’s death was seen as being a vicarious atonement for sins.  Nothing like that occurs in the case of the ancient Near Eastern deities.
            But there is an even larger problem.  Even if—a very big if—there was an idea among some pre-Christian peoples of a god who died and arose, there is nothing like the Christian belief in Jesus’s resurrection. . . . [T]he pagan gods . . . [are] not really what the early teachings about Jesus were all about.  It was not simply that his corpse was restored to the living.  It is that he experienced a resurrection . . . [within the] worldview that scholars have labeled Jewish apocalypticism. . . . That’s not the same thing. . . . The idea of Jesus’s resurrection did not derive from pagan notions of a god simply being reanimated.  It derived from Jewish notions of resurrection as an eschatological event in which God would reassert his control over the world. . . . [Even the minority of scholars who believe that there is some evidence for dying and rising gods connected to the cycles of nature recognize:] “There is . . . no prima facie evidence that the death and resurrection of Jesus is a mythological construct, drawing on the myths and rites of the dying and rising gods of the surrounding world.”
            More common among scholars, however, is the view that there is scarcely any—or in fact virtually no—evidence that such gods were worshipped at all. . . . [T]he influential Encyclopedia of Religion, originally edited by Mircea Eliade . . . state[s] categorically:

The category of dying and rising gods . . . must be understood to have been largely a misnomer based on imaginative reconstructions and exceedingly late or highly ambiguous texts. . . . All the deities that have been identified as belonging to the class of dying and rising deities can be subsumed under the two larger classes of disappearing deities or dying deities.  In the first case the deities return but have not died; in the second class the gods die but do not return.  There is no unambiguous instance in the history of religions of a dying and rising deity. [Jonathan Z. Smith, “Dying and Rising Gods,” Encyclopedia of Religion, 2nd ed., Lindsay Jones (Detroit:  MacMillan, 2005), 4:2535-40] . . .

[For example,] Adonis definitely dies. But there is nothing to suggest that he was raised from the dead.  It is only in later texts, long after Ovid and after the rise of Christianity, that one finds any suggestion that Adonis came back to life after his death . . . this later form of the tradition may in fact have been influenced by Christianity and its claim that a human had been raised from the dead.  In other words, the Adonis myth did not influence Christian views of Jesus but rather the other way around.  Yet even here . . . there is no evidence anywhere of some kind of mystery cult where Adonis was worshipped as a dying-rising god or in which worshippers were identified with him and his fate of death and resurrection, as happens, of course, in Christian religions built on Jesus.
            Or take the instance of Osiris, commonly cited by mythicists as a pagan parallel to Jesus.  Osiris was an Egyptian god about whom a good deal was written in the ancient world.  We have texts discussing Osiris that span a thousand years. . . . According to the myths, Osiris was murdered and his body was dismembered and scattered.  But his wife, Isis, went on a search to recover and reassemble them, leading to Osiris’s rejuvenation.  The key point to stress, however, is that Osiris does not—decidedly does not—return to life.  Instead he becomes the powerful ruler of the dead in the underworld.  And so for Osiris there is no rising from the dead. . . . [T]he entire tradition about Osiris may derive from the processes of mummification in Egypt, were bodies were prepared for ongoing life in the realm of the dead (not as resuscitated corpses here on earth). . . . In no sense can the dramatic myth of [Osiris’s] death and reanimation be harmonized to the pattern of dying and rising gods[.] . . . The same can be said . . . of all the other divine beings often pointed to as pagan forerunners of Jesus.  Some die but don’t return; some disappear without dying and do return; but none of them die and return. . . . [W]hen [the] theory about dying and rising gods [was formulated, it] . . . was heavily influenced by [an] understanding of Christianity and Christian claims about Christ.  But when one looks at the actual data about the pagan deities, without the lenses provided by later Christian views, there is nothing to make one consider them as gods who die and rise again. . . . [S]uch views are deeply problematical for Osiris, Dumuzi, Melqart, Heracles, Adonis, and Baal. . . . . [T]he methodological problem that afflicted [the person who popularized the idea that there were pagan dying and rising gods] was that he took data about various divine beings, spanning more than a millennium, from a wide range of cultures, and smashed all the data all together into a synthesis that never existed.  This would be like taking the views of Jesus from a French monk of the twelfth century, a Calvinist of the seventeenth century, a Mormon of the late nineteenth century, and a Pentecostal preacher of today, combining them all together into one overall picture and saying, “That’s who Jesus was understood to be.”  We would never do that with Jesus.  Why should we do it with Osiris, Heracles, or Baal? Moreover . . . a good deal of our information about these other gods comes from sources that date from a period after the rise of Christianity, writers who were themselves influenced by Christian views of Jesus and [w]ho often received their information second-hand[.]  In other words, they probably do not tell us what pagans themselves, before Christianity, were saying about the gods they worshipped.
            The majority of scholars agree . . . there is no unambiguous evidence that any pagans prior to Christianity believed in dying and rising gods, let alone that it was a widespread view held by lots of pagans in lots of times and places.  [E]vidence for such gods is at best sparse, scattered, and ambiguous, not abundant, ubiquitous, and clear.  If there were any such beliefs about dying and rising gods, they were clearly not widespread and available for all to see.  Such gods were definitely not widely known and widely discussed among religious people of antiquity, as is obvious from the fact that they are not clearly discussed in any of our sources.  On this everyone should be able to agree.  Even more important, there is no evidence that such gods were known or worshipped in rural Palestine, or even in Jerusalem, in the 20s CE.  Anyone who thinks that Jesus was modeled on such deities needs to cite some evidence—any evidence at all—that Jews in Palestine at the alleged time of Jesus’s life were influenced by anyone who held such views.  One reason that scholars do not think that Jesus was invented as one of these deities is precisely that we have no evidence that any of his followers knew of such deities in the time and place where Jesus was allegedly invented.  Moreover . . . the differences between the dying and rising gods (which . . . [may be] reconstructed on slim evidence [in the view of the minority that advocate “slim” rather than “none” for the evidence]) and Jesus show that Jesus was not modeled on them, even if such gods were talked about during Jesus’s time. . . .
            And so Jesus was not invented as a Jewish version of the pagan dying and rising god.  There are very serious doubts over whether any pagans believed in such gods.  Few scholars wonder if Jews believed in them, however.  There is no evidence to locate such beliefs among Palestinian Jews of the first century.[9]

[1]           Bart D. Ehrman, Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth (New York, NY:  HarperCollins, 2012) 210-212.
[2]           Bart D. Ehrman, Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth (New York, NY:  HarperCollins, 2012) 252-257.
[3]           Bart D. Ehrman, Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth (New York, NY:  HarperCollins, 2012) 102.
[4]           Bart D. Ehrman, Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth (New York, NY:  HarperCollins, 2012) 29.
[5]           Bart D. Ehrman, Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth (New York, NY:  HarperCollins, 2012) 213.
[6]           Bart D. Ehrman, Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth (New York, NY:  HarperCollins, 2012) 214.
[7]           Bart D. Ehrman, Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth (New York, NY:  HarperCollins, 2012) 214-215.
[8]           Bart D. Ehrman, Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth (New York, NY:  HarperCollins, 2012) 217.
[9]           Bart D. Ehrman, Did Jesus Exist? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth (New York, NY:  HarperCollins, 2012) 222-230, 240.

Wednesday, January 16, 2019

The "What Is Truth" Index Is Complete

Some of you have seen a number of posts appear that were nothing more than lists of links to posts or articles.  All of that is the completed index.  It is up to date.  I am preparing also to keep it up to date, perhaps working on it once a month or so on average.  You should be able to find things here much easier, making this blog way more useful.  I will like it more myself too.

First, as of right now every post or article is found in the general index which is at the top of the right sidebar.  It is found again lower in the sidebar on two windows that contain two aspects of the index.  You see the overall index.  Then you see that index divided up alphabetically into six sections.  There is a topical index for every five or six next letters in alphabetical order.  Then is just the scriptural index, indexing only those articles which focus primarily on a passage.  You can see it is a mainly topical blog.  That's not how I preach, but it is the nature of writing here.

The second window provides separate indices of topics I have addressed many times.  This replaces all the links to separate articles on the side.  I have many more topics than these.  For instance, for those interested, I have a whole personal section of the topics and then one with posts and articles on politics.  However, these are the theological topics for which I've done the most writing here at What Is Truth.

I've also cleaned up a lot of the mess in the right sidebar.  I've removed what I don't want and left what I do, making a shorter and more useful list there.  Doing that has motivated another project for me.  I want to accumulate a list of churches that would like to fellowship with our church, because they believe and practice just like our church does.  People could then find churches like ours all over the country to attend.  It would serve as a church directory.  We could keep adding churches and stay in touch.  People may visit your church if you are a part.

To start the church directory project, at some time soon, I'm going to remove almost every church from the present church directory and start over.  I'm going to put the ball in your court to see if you wish to be on the list.  This is not a fellowship, convention, or association, but it will be useful to mark those with certain scriptural distinctives, so that people will know where those types of churches are.  I'm asked all the time for this type of information.

I've got some other announcements I want to make in this new year as we move along.  I've got some right now though too.  One, I'm going to start writing again, probably next week.  I'll still function the same way I did, writing most Mondays and Wednesdays with Thomas Ross on Friday.  Two, our church is going to do a regular podcast and we will probably post those podcasts here at What Is Truth.  It will be a separate site that will hopefully be mobile, so you could watch or listen on your mobile device.  Three, my wife and I are likely going to Israel in 2020.  I wanted you all to know that.  We'll probably go something like 10 days.  You might want to go with us.  I'll be planning that early in this year and letting you know the details.  Perhaps you've never gone, and you'd like this to be your first.

More announcements will be forthcoming as we make our way into 2019, Lord-willing of course.


All Articles and Essays Written by Kent Brandenburg unless otherwise Noted
(J) for Jackhammer article [all of my articles from Aug 2006 to Feb 2011]
(T) for Thomas Ross article


Scripture:  Preservation
Jon Gleason's Series on Preservation of Scripture:  part 1part 2part 3part 4part 5part 6part 7, part 8

Scripture:  Textual Criticism

Scripture:  Versions