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Showing posts from July, 2010

Paul's Argument in Galatians 3:1-5

1 You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? Before your very eyes Jesus Christ was clearly portrayed as crucified. 2 I would like to learn just one thing from you: Did you receive the Spirit by observing the law, or by believing what you heard? 3 Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now trying to finish by human effort? 4 Have you experienced so much in vain—if it really was in vain? 5 Does God give you his Spirit and work miracles among you by your observing the law, or by your believing what you heard? (TNIV)Paul finally begins directly addressing the situation in Galatia. This section contains the first of three major arguments, this one being an argument from experience.

Paul comes out strong, calling the Galatians foolish. This rhetoric may seem over the top to us, but it was not unusual in its day. There's more to verse 1 than reprimand, though. Paul is also expressing how perplexed he is that they could follow the false teachers when both Paul&…

What's the Big Deal?

J.R. Daniel Kirk has an interesting post on why he doesn't believe the pastoral epistles were written by Paul [HT: Michael Bird]. In the post he discusses one of the common reasons why some Evangelicals vigorously demand Pauline authorship: the doctrine of inerrancy. Reflecting on this strong commitment to the historic undestanding of inerrancy that many have Kirk makes the following statement: '...no theology worth holding is going to so exert its control over our reading of the Bible that it will forbid us from saying what good exegesis of the passage demands that we say.'

I think that Kirk is exactly right here and this expresses one of my chief concerns for the continued intellectual viability of Evangelicalism. Why do some so strongly insist that an inerrant Bible must look like 'X?' The 'Xs' are manifold, they may be single authorship of Isaiah, Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, or a literal 7 day material creation within the last 10,000 years to na…

Sophia Ha-Won Maher

Yesterday, at 11:36 AM, Sophia Ha-Won Maher entered the world weighing in at 7 lb. 4 oz. and measuring 20"!


Everyone is doing well and we are so grateful that God would give us such a precious blessing.

Galatians 2:15-21 and the Time of Justification

15 "We who are Jews by birth and not sinful Gentiles 16 know that a person is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified. 17 "But if, in seeking to be justified in Christ, we Jews find ourselves also among the sinners, doesn't that mean that Christ promotes sin? Absolutely not! 18 If I rebuild what I destroyed, then I really would be a lawbreaker. 19 "For through the law I died to the law so that I might live for God. 20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. 21 I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing! (TNIV)
There are many things that could be said abo…

Does 'the Word of God' = 'the Word of God'?

Lately on Jesus Creed, blogger RJS has been doing a series somewhat in response to Al Mohler's talk titled 'Why does the universe look so old?' at the recent Ligonier conference. In a post today, RJS made a very interesting statement that wasn't the main point of her argument, but I believe needs the attention of further discussion. I quote it below:
On the issue of authority I find it helpful to remain focused on Christ as the foundation of our faith. Scripture is a lamp; it provides reliable illumination, but is not the foundation. This change of focus helps me wrestle with the issues because it emphasizes an understanding where other information, tested against the whole, will shape our interpretation of scripture - but will not weaken the foundation of our faith. How we understand scripture as revelation inspired by God changes in subtle but important ways.Traditionally Christianity has affirmed both that the second member of the Trinity is the word of God and that …

Judgment and Justification Part 5

One of the stickiest debates in all of New Testament scholarship is the debate over the Mosaic law. When Paul opposes works of law or Jesus opposes the Pharisees, what ae they opposing? We won't attempt a comprehensive answer to this question, but we do need to address it to some degree if we want to have a proper understanding of both justification and judgment. On questions of the law I would favor an approach probably within the New Perspective on Paul family, although my stance is a more mediating approach between perspectives old and new.

I do not believe that the term 'legalistic' is the best term to describe the approach of most first century Jews to the law (though that term may apply to the Essenes). One point at which I think this becomes clear is reading the Sermon on the Mount. If anything, at points it seems as if Jesus is opposing laxness and/or hypocrisy. With, that said, of course, any Jew in the first century would claim that one needed to keep the law to p…

Book Review: The Lost World of Genesis One

I know that I am fairly late to the party in reviewing The Lost World of Genesis One: Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate. It's been out for nearly a year now, but I think that it's an important enough work that I can't resist. However, I'll deviate a bit from my typical pattern of rehashing the argument in detail. Instead I will offer five reactions/opinions (you can find a decent, brief review of the contents here if you are unfamiliar with them).

First, I have to say that I believe that, if nothing else, methodologically, Walton is on the right track. A concordant approach which attempts to draw on Genesis 1 for scientific theory is grossly anachronistic and (in my opinion) ironically about as far from a literal reading of Scripture as one can get. If we want to read Scripture literally we need to understand it within its cultural context and not import the meaning of English words (specifically 'create') into our understanding of Hebrew words.

Second, I …

It's Over

I get it. While I don't think that Cleveland fans are justified in burning LeBron's jersey, I get it. In the words of Bill Simmons,
Cleveland fans will never forgive LeBron, nor should they. He knows better than anyone what kind of sports anguish they have suffered over the years. Losing LeBron on a contrived one-hour show would be worse than Byner's fumble, Jose Mesa, the Game 5 meltdown against Boston, The Drive, The Shot and everything else. At least those stomach-punch moments weren't preordained, unless you believe God hates Cleveland (entirely possible, by the way [My note: Michael Wittmersure thinks so]). This stomach-punch moment? Calculated. By a local kid they loved, defended and revered.With that said, I don't think that LeBron is a bad guy or that he had to stay in Cleveland (although I think one could make a decent argument for his moral obligation to remain a Cav). Cleveland wasn't a place where he could win a title, so I understand his desi…

Good Lectures by Witherington (from 2007)

Today I listened to 3 very good lectures by Ben Witherington delivered at Truett [HT: Text, Community, & Mission]. I realize that these probably aren't new to many of you as they were given in 2007 (though they were new to me), but they were so good that I wanted to point them out anyways. Happy listening!

Session 1 is on whether or not we have pseudepigrapha in the New Testament. Witherington says no and provides an outstanding discussion of the issue that's making me reconsider my stance (although I still am uncertain about 2 Peter, though Witherington's stance on 2 Peter seems plausible).

Session 2 is about canonicity. At what point did the church have a functioning canon for the NT and how did the NT writers view their writing in relation to the OT. I don't think I agree with him on some points here (particularly his discussion of Jude's citation of 1 Enoch), but it's still definitely worth while to listen to.

Session 3 is on the question of the authorship…

Judgment and Justification Part 4

In our last post we looked extensively at the land as the sphere in which God's people experienced God's blessing for living God's way. In this post we want to start fleshing out a very broad picture of how living God's way relates to the theme of judgment,. In this post we will focusing particularly on the law in the Old Testament.

In the Old Testament, living God's way is clearly spelled out. The middle of Exodus through Deuteronomy provides us with God's law, the rules that were supposed to govern life in the land. As we looked at in our last post, keeping the law meant reward in the land. A pattern of breaking the law brought on judgment and could ultimately result in expulsion from the land and thus from God's presence.

I believe, though, that that is an incomplete explanation. When looking at the Law we need to consider the wider narrative framework in which the law is situated. First, we must keep in mind that the covenant came first, both with Abraham…