Archive | Theology/Bible

An “evangelical” church in Nashville embraces gay marriage

A couple weeks ago, I noted Elizabeth Diaz’s feature-length article in Time magazine arguing that evangelicals are changing their mind about gay marriage. Today she has a follow-up piece about Nashville, Tennessee’s GracePointe Community Church which has become “one of the first evangelical megachurches in the country to openly stand for full equality and inclusion of the LGBTQ community.” The church’s pastor, Stan Mitchell, made the announcement at the end of a sermon a few weeks ago. You can watch it above beginning at 44:00. Continue Reading →

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No one can really redefine marriage

Last week I read a report about philosophy professors who believe the debate about marriage is over. For many (perhaps most) of them, the question has been settled. There is no rational basis to privilege the union of one man and one woman in our laws and culture. To do so is the equivalent of bigotry. Or so these professors believe. And that is why many of them are no longer treating it as a matter up for debate. Conversation over.

It struck me that while many people in our culture will evade this discussion in a similar way, that doesn’t close the issue. Why? Because an ostrich with his head in the dirt doesn’t actually make the sun disappear. The sun shines as ever, no matter how much one closes his eyes to it. Likewise, marriage really is the covenanted union of one man and one woman with a unique connection to procreation and child-rearing. That truth about marriage remains the truth, no matter how much people try to pretend that it is not. The evidence of that truth will persist and will explain—perhaps better than anything else—the pain of brokenness of those who deny it. Continue Reading →

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Douglas Moo’s essay on the NIV and Bible Translation

At last November’s ETS meeting in San Diego, I attended a dinner hosted by Zondervan celebrating the 50th anniversary of the commissioning of the New International Version (NIV). Doug Moo is the head of the committee that oversees that translation, and he gave an extended address on the NIV in particular and on Bible translation in general. Zondervan has made a PDF of that address available for free. You can download the booklet at right or at the link below.

Douglas J. Moo, We Still Don’t Get It: Evangelicals and Bible Translation Fifty Years After James Barr, Presentation from the 2014 ETS Annual Meeting (Zondervan, 2014).

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Possible first-century copy of Mark’s Gospel discovered

In 2012, Dan Wallace dropped a bombshell during a debate with Bart Ehrman. Ehrman had pointed out that our earliest copy of Mark’s Gospel is dated 140 years after the gospel was first written. It’s a point often made by critics to show the unreliability of the New Testament. Wallace then revealed that he had knowledge that a first century copy of Mark’s Gospel had been discovered. He also revealed that the document would be published in a forthcoming volume by E. J. Brill.

It was all very cryptic at the time, and Ehrman later complained that Wallace should not have brought it up in the debate. Ehrman argued that bringing up this alleged discovery without providing any evidence for it was dirty pool. I disagree. It seems reasonable to mention forthcoming scholarly work with the understanding that independent verification can only come after publication of the find. In that sense, it’s only dirty pool if you are making outlandish claims. But a report out today says that a group of scholars are indeed planning to publish what they believe to be a first-century fragment of Mark’s Gospel. Continue Reading →

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Michael Kruger’s Christmas Eve take-down of Newsweek’s preposterous cover story attacking the Bible

Three cheers for Michael Kruger for exposing the outlandish Newsweek cover story attacking the integrity of the Bible. Released just two days before Christmas, the Newsweek article is riddled with basic historical errors and the author’s own prejudice against Christianity. I don’t know how this tendentious rubbish got into Newsweek, but there it is. Thanks to Kruger for taking time on Christmas Eve to expose this farce for what it is. He writes:

Of course, this is not the first media article critiquing the Bible that has been short on the facts. However, what is stunning about this particular article is that Kurt Eichenwald begins by scolding evangelical Christians for being unaware of the facts about the Bible, and the[n] proceeds to demonstrate a jaw-dropping ignorance of the fact[s] about the Bible.

Being ignorant of biblical facts is one thing. But being ignorant of biblical facts after chiding one’s opponent for that very thing is a serious breach of journalistic integrity. Saying Eichenwald’s article is an instance of “the pot calling the kettle black” just doesn’t seem to do it justice.

Again, the errors in the Newsweek piece are not just a little bit off. They are epically wrong. And yet the author appears oblivious to the fact that some of his assertions come right out of internet rumor mills and Dan Brown’s Da Vinci Code novel. And yet somehow Newsweek thought it was a worthy cover story. It really is quite preposterous.

Paul once warned Timothy about the way that some false teachers operate: “They do not understand either what they are saying or the matters about which they make confident assertions” (1 Timothy 1:7). That is Newsweek’s cover story in a nutshell, and I am grateful to Kruger for pointing it out. If you need your spine-stiffened for the faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3), then you should read the rest of Kruger’s take-down. It’s worth your time.

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A plan to read the Greek New Testament in a year

Several years ago, I created a plan to read through the Greek New Testament in a year. For the most part, it tracks pretty closely with Lee Irons’ excellent schedule for reading the Greek New Testament in a year. My plan, however, varies a little bit. Because John’s writing is simpler Greek, my schedule goes through John’s Gospel at a faster pace than Irons’. As a result, there are no readings scheduled at the end of the year from Christmas Eve to New Year’s Eve. These open dates at the end can be used as catch-up days. The schedule is given in two formats below.

DOC – Read the Greek NT in a Year

PDF – Read the Greek NT in a Year

If you are serious about reading, you might consider Crossway’s reader’s edition of the Greek New Testament (pictured at top right). This volume contains the text of the UBS Greek New Testament. There are other reader’s editions of the Greek New Testament on the market, but I believe that this is the only UBS that is available with a premium leather cover. This edition features the Greek text above notes on every page. The notes include parsings of difficult verb forms as well as translations of Greek words occurring 30 times or less in the New Testament. A dictionary in the back defines words occurring 30 times or more. It’s available now from Amazon.com.

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A plan to read through the Bible in 2015

readbibleIn years past, my customary mode for reading the Bible through every year involved starting in Genesis and reading right through to Revelation. I estimated that about four chapters per day would get me through in under a year’s time. The method worked reasonably well, but it wasn’t without its problems. Sometimes I would miss a day (or days) and get behind, and I had no way to keep up with my progress. I needed a schedule so that I could keep myself accountable for finishing in a year. Continue Reading →

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Mary’s crisis-pregnancy and noble Joseph

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows. When His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man, and not wanting to disgrace her, desired to put her away secretly. –Matthew 1:18-19

The key thing to note about Joseph’s character is in verse 19. The text says that Joseph was “a righteous man.” A righteous person in Matthew’s gospel is one who has an obedient trust in the promises of God revealed in the Old Testament. A righteous person cares about what God says. He trusts what God says, and so he obeys what God says. That was Joseph. Continue Reading →

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A friendly response to Wesley Hill’s “thought-experiment”

I am really grateful that evangelicals seem to be moving toward a serious conversation about homosexuality. Two articles in particular seem to be driving some recent online discussions. One is a piece in World magazine profiling a lesbian chaplain at Wheaton College. Another is a piece by Michelle Boorstein in The Washington Post about the “celibate gay Christian” movement. Both of these articles have provoked disagreement and spirited discussion about what it means to be a same-sex attracted Christian.

I am not going to try and rehash all that has been said up to this point. I invite you do to take a look at the links in this post if you want to get up to speed on the points of disagreement. My aim is to engage with Wesley Hill’s recent post at the Spiritual Friendship website. He invites feedback to his “thought experiment,” so I am going to offer some.

Continue Reading →

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Does the Bible teach that women can be deacons?

I have been preaching through the Pastoral Epistles at my church, and a few Sundays ago I delivered a message on deacons from 1 Timothy 3:8-16. You can listen to the sermon below or download it here.

The second point of the sermon focuses on verse 11 and deals with whether Paul intends for women to serve as deacons. This is a controversial question, and I obviously don’t treat it exhaustively in this sermon. Nevertheless, here’s where I came down.

Continue Reading →

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