May 21st, 2013
The Matthean account of Jesus pronouncing judgment on the cities of Choarzin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum may be found in Matthew 11.20-24. This passage of Scripture contains a historical context of six particular cities that were condemned for their depravity. The following contains a grammatico-historical examination of the text, which is an example of the doctrine of revelatory judgment applied, a verse often used to support the soteriological problem of evil, and is a problem passage for the doctrine of transworld damnation. The purpose of Jesus’ pronouncement of judgment on these cities was to convey the depravity of man.
Before any critical examination of the text can be made a conclusion on the genre must be established. The book of Matthew is a Gospel, which is a genre in and of itself. Many studies performed in modern scholarship of the Gospel literature link the Gospels with Hellenistic biography. Hellenistic biographers did not feel compelled to include all periods of an individual’s life or to narrate in chronological order. The selected events were carefully ordered to promote a particular ideology. In slight contrast to Hellenistic biographies, Robert Guelich proposes formal and particular genera for the Gospels:
Formally, a gospel is a narrative account concerning the public life and teaching of a significant person that is composed of discreet [sic] traditional units placed in the context of Scriptures… Materially, the genre consists of the message that God was at work in Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection effecting His promises found in the Scriptures.
read more »
May 11th, 2013
The teaching of Scripture seems to assert that post-Genesis 3 humans possess libertarian free will, including freedom to choose between opposites on matters pertaining to salvation or any other spiritual good. This immediately raises questions surrounding the concept of original sin. Augustine first used the expression “original sin” in the wake of the Pelagian controversy. Upon arriving at Rome in A.D. 400, the British monk Pelagius was horrified to see the open immorality prevalent among so-called Christians. This was the direct result of Theodosius I nineteen years earlier (381) declaring Christianity to be the state religion so decreeing that anyone living within its borders to be Christian. This was a transformation of Christianity from a voluntary religion (one that people freely choose to join) to a natural religion (one into which people are born) spawned immense immorality in many people who bore the name of Christ without ever having personally committed their lives to Jesus. Pelagius exhorted the Romans to live worthy of their Christian calling with an argument logically summarized in two steps:
1. Humans possess libertarian free will.
2. Humans should use their libertarian freedom to be good enough people to earn their own salvation.
Unfortunately, as so often happens in the history of thought, one extreme position meets the response of an equally extreme opposing position, thus swinging the ideological pendulum from one side to the other. Very rarely is prudence taken in shifting the pendulum back to the center, where the truth is most likely to be found.
read more »
July 4th, 2012
Word of the Week: Interrogatio
Definition: A mode of inquiry in which questions yield results that are entirely new, giving rise to knowledge that cannot be derived by an inferential process from what was already known.
More about the term: Lorenzo Valla (1406-1457) developed the interrogative (interrogatio) rather than the problematic (quaestio) form of inquiry. This method was similar to the works of Stoic lawyers and educators like Cicero and Quintilian; that is, questioning witnesses, investigating documents and states of affairs without any prior conception of what the truth might be. Valla transitioned from not only using this method for historical knowledge but also applied it as “logic for scientific discovery.”
Valla’s logic for scientific discovery was the art of finding out things rather than merely the art of drawing distinctions and connecting them together. He called for an active inquiry (activa inquisitio). John Calvin (1509-1564) applied this method to the interpretation of Scripture and thus became the father of modern biblical exegesis and interpretation. Francis Bacon (1561-1626) applied it to the interpretation of the books of nature, as well as to the books of God, and became the father of modern empirical science.
read more »
March 29th, 2012
I’ve decided to keep all my posts and responses to Norman Geisler in one location for ease of access and reference.
My Support and Endorsement of Mike Licona
It has been a long time coming but I wanted to publicly support Dr. Mike Licona amidst recent accusations of him denying inerrancy over Matthew 27.51-54 (the resurrection of the saints at the time of the crucifixion) in his most recent book The Resurrection of Jesus: A Historiographical Approach. Licona takes the position that this passage is apocalyptic imagery and is not literal. To be clear from the beginning, Licona has not denied inerrancy. He has been quite clear about that (even though he lost his job as the Apologetics Coordinator with the North American Mission Board over this… unfortunate). Dr. Al Mohler is the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary and has openly condemned Licona for his position…
read more »
March 2nd, 2012
Tattoos, beards, and consuming blood is mentioned in the Bible in Leviticus 19.26-28. These verses prohibit tattoos, trimming the edges of one’s beard, and consuming blood. Christians often find themselves puzzled as to what we should do with these types of verses. Are we allowed to have tattoos today? Well, that’s important for me since I’m covered in tattoos. Are we allowed to trim the edges of our beards? Should we let them grow out? Have you ever had a medium-rare steak with just a little bit of blood in it? I’ve provided an exegesis of this passage of Scripture in hopes to help others understand how we should understand this passage and provide insight as to how the Old Testament Law applies to us today.
Leviticus is the sequel to Exodus. At the heart of Exodus is the Sinai Covenant, though it is rarely mentioned in Leviticus. Leviticus explains how covenant worship should be conducted (chs. 1-17), how the covenant people should behave (18-25), and then closes with a section of blessings and curses, entirely appropriate to a covenant document (26). The book enshrines the laws by which the religious and civil organization of the primitive theocracy in Canaan was to be regulated.  Leviticus is given in a treaty format consisting of naming the suzerain, giving a historical prologue explaining the background of the treaty, stipulations, a document clause (covenant context), blessings and curses, and the divine witness[es].
read more »