With the publication of Bart Ehrman’s book How Jesus Became God and the response How God Became Jesus by a team of scholars, Jesus is in the news again. That’s a very good thing. It’s also terrific that scholars are rising to the challenge of responding to the skeptical questions raised by the likes of Ehrman.
But at a deeper level, what is needed is to equip high school students and young college students, as well as their parents and youth leaders, to know what the issues are and to respond intelligently and biblically to questions such as, Why does God allow human suffering? Is the... Read More
In his influential address, “Discourse on the Proper Distinction between Biblical and Dogmatic Theology, and the Right Determination of the Aims of Each,” Johann Philipp Gabler (1753–1826) lodged the programmatic proposal that scholars ought to distinguish between biblical and systematic theology. In his lecture, delivered at the University of Altdorf in 1787 (the year the Constitutional Convention met in Philadelphia), Gabler urged his colleagues to place their theological edifice more overtly on a scriptural foundation: “There is truly a biblical theology, of historical origin,... Read More
The New York Times includes an article by Laurie Goodstein, “A Faded Piece of Papyrus Refers to Jesus’ Wife.” According to the article, Karen L. King of Harvard Divinity School announced at the International Congress of Coptic Studies in Rome yesterday that a 4th-century Coptic papyrus fragment includes the line, “Jesus said to them, ‘My wife,'” at which the manuscript tantalizingly breaks off.
The manuscript came into Dr. King’s possession through an anonymous collector who in turn in 1997 bought it from a German collector. The fragment has been... Read More
The definition of marriage is not up to us to decide.
Marriage is God’s idea, not merely a social contract between consenting adults. Now it’s understandable that those who don’t believe in a deity don’t trace the roots of marriage back to God. It’s less obvious why those who claim to be Christians—or at least invoke the “Golden Rule”—in the name of tolerance brush aside the biblical teaching that “a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh” (Genesis 2:24, reaffirmed by Jesus in Matthew 19:5 and Mark... Read More
Thanks to those of you who were following my tweets from the debate. As promised, here are some further reflections on last night’s debate between Bart Ehrman and Dan Wallace. First of all, both men did a good job presenting their case and responding to each other’s questions. Bart Ehrman is a skilled debater and a very gifted communicator. He took charge of the debate from the very beginning, communicating clearly and directly. He also effectively anticipated many of Wallace’s arguments, especially regarding the number of Greek NT manuscripts.
When it was Wallace’s turn, he showed... Read More
Christians celebrate Christmas and Easter every year, but few know when Jesus was actually born and when he died. Not that any great doctrine rests on the calculations below, but it sure is nice that we can have reasonable confidence that the dates of Jesus’ birth and death are secure and can be gleaned from a combination of biblical and extrabiblical historical data. I may not be willing to stake my life on the accuracy of the data below, but I am confident enough of these calculations that the license plate of my van reads as follows: 5BC–AD33. Read More
Voddie: Thank you for these additional points of follow-up.
First of all, thank you for articulating your strong commitment to regenerate church membership, with implication for observance of the Lord’s Supper. I accept your assurance that this is not an FIC issue even though Presbyterians will differ from Baptists on these matters. Perhaps a bit more dialogue is needed on this to crystallize the issue even more clearly.
I’m not sure what was unclear about my response regarding the Mohler blog. As I tried to indicate, Dr. Mohler had planned to post a blog but did not end up doing so, and... Read More
Thank you for taking the time to read the chapter on God, Marriage, Family, and the Church in the second edition of God, Marriage & Family and for your blog post in response to it. You are a man of God, and I am deeply grateful for your ministry. In fact, I endorsed your most recent book!
I think it’s great that you and I seem to agree on the bottom line—you quote at length my positive and constructive prescription on how to move forward in encouraging family-friendly and family-oriented churches (though you prefer the term “family-integrated”).
We also agree on the... Read More
The Bauer-Ehrman thesis contends that “orthodoxy” is not a first-century phenomenon but only a later concept that allowed the Roman church to squelch alternate versions of Christianity. We have seen that Bauer virtually ignores the New Testament evidence while believing to find evidence for early heresy and late orthodoxy in various urban centers of the second century. Ehrman, likewise, makes much of second-century diversity and assigns the notion of orthodoxy to later church councils. The precursors of the orthodox, Ehrman calls “proto-orthodox,” even though it must,... Read More
A generation ago, Francis Schaeffer prophetically lamented that the West had lost its spiritual moorings in its pursuit of prosperity, personal peace, and affluence. Now, as Arthur Laffer, Stephen Moore, and Peter Tanous suggest in their book The End of Prosperity, it appears that this prosperity is fast slipping away, too (though, as will become clear later on, while I agree with their diagnosis, I believe their solution does not nearly go deep enough). In fact, the current economic crisis is global in scope, and the depth of the recession increasingly approaches the magnitude of the Great... Read More
There are few tasks more urgent than for the church to reflect on the nature of its mission and to formulate a clear understanding of its task in the world today. As Paul wrote, “There I do not run like someone running aimlessly. I do not fight like a boxer beating the air” (1 Cor 9:26). I developed the following 12 theses as a humble contribution to the ongoing conversation on this topic.
THE TWELVE THESES
(1) The church’s mission-in both belief and practice-should be grounded in the biblical theology of mission. This requires sustained reflection on the biblical teaching... Read More
In a previous post, I discussed the question, “Do Jews Need to Be Perfected?” An international task force of the Theological Commission of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) met on the issue of the uniqueness of Christ and Jewish evangelism in Berlin, Germany, from August 18-22, 2008 to consider how the Christian community might express genuine love for the Jewish people, especially in Europe. Participants included Christians from Germany and Messianic Jews. The result was the following “Berlin Declaration.”
1. Love is not Silent: The Need for Repentance
We deeply... Read More
This blog was originally written for inclusion in the Encyclopedia of Christian Civilization, 4 vols., ed. G. Kurian (Blackwell).
Albert Schweitzer (1875–1965) was born January 14, 1875 at Kaysersberg in Upper Alsace, Germany, the son of a Lutheran pastor. In 1893, he began his studies at the University of Strassburg, taking classes in New Testament with the well-known German scholar Heinrich Julius Holtzmann. From 1902 until 1912, he served in Strassburg as a lecturer in New Testament, as pastor of a church, and as director of the Thomasstift. Apart from being a New Testament scholar,... Read More
When was Jesus born? And how can we know? Could it be that Jesus really was born on December 25, the day we celebrate Christmas? While many have disparaged the traditional date of December 25, J. Stormer, PCC [Pensacola Christian College] Update (Winter 1996), cited by G. E. Veith, “Evidence December 25 is the right day,” has argued for December 25 as a possible date of Jesus’ birth on the basis of the course of temple duties for the clan of Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist (Luke 1:5, 8; cf. 1 Chron 24:10).
The Argument for December 25
The argument goes as follows. The sons... Read More
As Mike Huckabee said a while back, “Jesus was way too smart to run for political office.” Isn’t that the truth. One certainly sympathizes with the candidates having to reinvent themselves about once every few days to appeal to different constituencies of voters. Indeed, Jesus didn’t run for political office. In fact, he said that his kingdom was not of this world. This doesn’t mean he was so otherworldly that he was of no earthly good. To the contrary, he was well aware of people’s anxieties and preoccupation with existential necessities. He was critical of those who hoarded... Read More