Theology for the Long Haul

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Grand Design

Here is the link to a review article of Stephen Hawking's newest volume written by Dr. Edgar Andrews (Emeritus Professor of Materials at the University of London).

Telephone Game Gospels?

Here is the link to an interesting critique of Bart Ehrman's telephone game analogy.

I Want One !

Monday, September 27, 2010

Doubt vs Faith: What You Talkin' About, Willis?

One of my favorite shows as a boy was Diff’rent Strokes, most remembered by it’s star Gary Coleman (who died this year) and that iconic phrase, “What you talkin’ about, Willis?”. This phrase worked its way into our house years ago and it conveys the same basic message that it did on Diff’rent Strokes: Whatever you are trying to say, I’m not following you. Recently, while reading and blogging, I have found this phrase echoing through my head. As an ultra-opinionated guy, it’s often because I don’t happen to agree with the author. Sometimes it’s because writers put forth ideas that are so nebulous, ideas so layered in double-meanings, that I find myself wanting to post “sp-sp-spit it out junior” in the comments section. An idea that tends to fit into the first category is what’s being put forth as the new litmus test of faith for many Christian thinkers: Doubt.

That’s right, faith equals doubt. Sound confusing? No longer is doubt to be considered an obstacle to faith, but rather the legitimizer of faith. Some seem bent on the idea that because the testimony of the Bible is sometimes doubt-worthy (it's not), our doubts should be embraced as the new beginning of a more realistic faith. Under this new definition, the Bible is no longer to be considered a primary, rather Christians must look to Jesus for an example of how to live (or journey if you prefer). I have two concerns with this way of thinking. First, as I have stated before, if we cannot trust the account given to us by the gospel writers, than we cannot reasonably know or assert anything about Jesus’ life and character. Second, without a trustworthy Biblical account of the life and teaching of Jesus, adherents to this strange new doubt/faith are forced (or inclined) to follow a Jesus created in their own image; which in reality, turns out to be no Jesus at all.

While I agree that there is a sanctifying work in doubt, I do not believe, as some, that it should be celebrated as privileged spirituality. Writers like Brian McLaren have infused his readers with ideas that equate doubt with humility and accuse clarity of being dishonest (or unexamined). Within this paradigm, one might conclude that confusion is the new acumen (intellect).

Let me clarify (because I think clarity is important) that I too believe that spiritual honesty is paramount, and that doubts are part of the human condition. I do not think that doubt is a sin. What I do think is that God desires to (like Thomas the apostle) move us past our doubts, not build a religion out of it. Thomas doubted, but he later learned that God was who He said He was (clarity). This kind of humility was exhibited by the father of a demon tormented child and his willingness to cry out, “help my unbelief” (Mk 9:24). Throughout my life and ministry I have been drawn to “good questions”. Sometimes these questions have led me to a submissive heart and then good answers. At other times my questions have led me to unhealthy thoughts and misguided understandings. In these times it has often taken a friend who cares enough to ask, “What you talkin’ about Willis?” to restore in me a heart that humbly cries, “my Lord and my God.”

“Then He said to Thomas, “Reach here with your finger, and see My hands; and reach here your hand and put it into My side; and do not be unbelieving, but believing.”
(John 20:27)

An Argument Discredited

Posted By Kevin DeYoung on his blog Restless and Reformed (Link below)

Of all the bad arguments against inerrancy, the most frequent is also one of the worst: namely, that the idea of error-less autographs was an invention of Old Princeton.

The once (and briefly) credible idea that Charles Hodge and B. B. Warfield invented inerrancy has been shown to be resoundingly false. Scholars like John Woodbridge and Richard Muller have demonstrated convincingly that the doctrine of complete biblical truthfulness is not a Princetonian invention. Clement of Rome (30-100) described “the Sacred Scriptures” as “the true utterance of the Holy Spirit.” Polycarp (65-155) called them “the oracles of the Lord.” Irenaeus (120-202) claimed that the biblical writers “were incapable of a false statement.” Origen (185-254) stated, “The sacred volumes are fully inspired by the Holy Spirit, and there is no passage either in the Law or the Gospel, or the writings of an Apostle, which does not proceed from the inspired source of Divine Truth.” Augustine (354-430) explained in a letter to Jerome, “I have learnt to ascribe to those Books which are of the Canonical rank, and only to them, such reverence and honour, that I firmly believe that no single error due to the author is found in any of them.” It was not modernism that invented inerrancy. It was modernism that undermined inerrancy. (Why We’re Not Emergent, 76-77)

In other words, while inerrancy may be a relatively recent addition to the theological lexicon, the truth it means to protect is as old as Christianity.

An Argument Discredited

Friday, September 24, 2010

Who’s Afraid of Inerrancy?

Here is a great post from Kevin DeYoung's blog concerning a conversation between Tim Keller, Alister McGrath, and Brian McLaren on inerrancy.

Who’s Afraid of Inerrancy?

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Generous Unorthodoxy

Brian McLaren's new book "A new kind of Christianity" asserts 19th century liberalism and ignores the creeds of historical Christianity." Here are the links to a couple solid review articles posted earlier this year by Scot McKnight and Tim Challies.

And/or, watch a panel discussion between Albert Mohler, Jim Hamilton, Bruce Ware, Stephen Wellum, and Gregory Wills

Friday, September 17, 2010

What Is Salvation?

Growing up, I was told that salvation is believing that Jesus died for me, and asking Him to come and live in my heart. I still believe that this is true, but as I have matured in my faith I've come to learn much more about what it means to be saved. In order to gain a better perspective on salvation, I think one needs to go back to the story of the first human persons, Adam and Eve.

We have all heard or read Adam and Eve's story, but if you’re like me you have walked away from a reading of it with a very shallow understanding of what actually transpired in the Garden of Eden on that dark, but glorious day. Was Adam and Eve's sin that they ate from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil? Yes, but that's not the most significant part of it. Remember what the serpent said to Eve when He was tempting her to disobey the Lord's command;

"The serpent said to the woman, 'You surely will not die!
“For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.'” (vv. 4-5)

The temptation wasn't to the eat fruit, so much as to gain the knowledge. Indeed, this knowledge would make her like God. No longer would Adam and Eve need to seek God about what was right or wrong; with this knowledge, they could decide for themselves. No longer would Adam and Eve have to be dependant on God for the revelation of what they should and should not do; now they could be the masters of their own destinies. Isn't it obvious that humanity has battled God for control ever since. Isn't it the battle that you and I fight everyday? Who is going to be in control of my life and destiny? Herein lies the big questions, which more often leads to our greatest rebellion.

So back to our initial question, what is Salvation? Salvation is surrendering your life and destiny to the one who should have control of it in the first place. This is the significance of baptism, my death and Christ's life becoming realized in my human body. Salvation is realizing that Life is not about me, and that I am not at a place to rightly judge my own destiny, because without Christ I am not at a place to judge what is best from what is evil. Salvation is surrender. Salvation is my death. Salvation is the exchanging of my life, for the life of another, my glorious and victorious Savior Jesus Christ.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Thursday, September 2, 2010

"Scholars and Snake-Handlers"

An interesting article in this months Christianity Today about evangelicals and the SBL (Society of Biblical Literature). Here is the link