Written in Pursuit of Degrees
Among the various enigmas the Apostle John has left us, perhaps none is so difficult as the problem of the sixth hour in John 19:14. To frame the problem, one need only examine John 19:14 in parallel with Mark 15:25, 33, and 34; while John says Pilate handed Jesus over to be crucified at the sixth hour, Mark states Jesus was crucified in the third hour, darkness descended over the land at the sixth hour, and Jesus was dead by the ninth hour.
The year of the birth of Jesus may seem like a small corner of the world of studies in the Life of Christ, but, in reality, it impacts many other points of interest. How did the political situation in and around the nation of Israel impact the ministry of Christ? What would have been the earliest memories of Jesus? What would have been past, and what future, when he first stepped into the water to be baptized at the hands of John the Baptist? These questions can really only be answered within the context of when Jesus was born; a few years either direction can have a huge impact on the political and social landscape in which Jesus lived. The life of Christ is pinned by three hard and fast points in the Scriptures: the death of Herod, his age when he began his ministry, and the year of his resurrection.
Has the battle to identify Christ been lost over the last several decades? In the popular mind it clearly has been lost; Dan Brown and The Da Vinci Code, aligned with various Gnostics, the Jesus Seminar, and various other forces have taken Christ for themselves. From Christ they have made a Gnostic master, or a great man who is not divine, or a Palestinian rebel who fought for social justice, or the founder of liberation theology. Should Christianity despair? Even in the time of Jesus he was misidentified. Mark writes: “And Jesus went on with his disciples to the villages of Caesarea Philippi. And on the way he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that I am?” While the answer to this question has never been open, the world tries to drown the truth in as many ways as it can.
There are at least two widely held views of the miracles of Christ: that they are designed to teach moral lessons and that they are signs. … If miracles are signs, what are they a sign of? There are three views: they are signs of the inauguration of the Kingdom of God, signs authenticating His teaching, or signs authenticating the identity of Christ Himself. This paper takes the final view, that the miracles of Jesus fit into a pattern showing, in an unmistakable way, that Jesus is God incarnate.
Can the record of God’s work in Creation be reconciled with the uniformitarian presumption of modern scientist? The reading of Genesis 1 appears to allow no leeway in reading them as anything other than a literal, historical, six days of creation. Is it possible to insert a gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2 to to “make up the time?” This paper argues that while a gap is possible, and may even be the best reading of the Scriptures, any such gap cannot be used to “make up the time” to correlate modern scientific assumptions with the Scriptures.
What is the meaning of adoption in Paul’s writing? What is the basis for his use of the concept of adoption —Roman, Greek, or Jewish? Is there a progression in the concept and importance of adoption throughout the Scriptures? If so, does it follow a roughly dispensational form? While this paper is really short to actually answer this set of questions, it does make a start, and provide a biography of useful places to look for the reader to investigate these questions himself.
The modern mind is fascinated with the concept of truth being found in all religions —surely all roads must lead to god? Any god worth the name of “god,” would provide many ways for people to reach him, many paths along which a person can travel to find the truth. But what if the nature of the god at the end of each road is different? The laws of logic dictate that two beings with two completely different attributes cannot be the same; if two religions describe gods with contradictory characteristics they cannot, in fact, be the same god. This paper examines the attributes of Allah, the god of Islam, so that Christians can freely compare Allah’s attributes to Yahweh, the God described in the Scriptures. The examination begins with Allah’s attributes in the proper sense, then considers Allah’s relationships as a means to better understand Allah’s attributes, and then the impact of these attributes within Islam. Finally, a short section is included on Christian apologetics towards Muslims in light of the attributes of Allah.
I wrote this 16 page paper as part of a Biblical Discipleship class at Shepherds Theological Seminary. The point of the paper is to define the concept of discipleship, and then to provide a high level overview of a discipleship training program targeted to a specific environment. I chose discipleship in a corporate environment, and used a study of faith and spiritual maturity in Genesis as the material to work from.
This is a 12 page paper examining the pattern of public confirmation given by God for promises given to individuals. The general thesis is that the concept of a “private word from God,” with no validation or verification of any sort, is either completely unknown in the Scriptures, or the rare exception. A short discussion on testing the validity of the words of a prophet is followed by a discussion of six instances where God gives a promise to a person, and then follows that promise with a physical sign.
This paper will argue that Paul’s treatment of Esau and Jacob cannot support either unconditional election of individuals or group election to salvation within the dispensational hermeneutic described here.
Book Review and Analysis
At first appearance, Calvin’s Golden Book of Christian Life is yet another collection of sayings, perhaps modeled on the Proverbs, on living the Christian life. A deeper look, however, reveals a larger pattern radiating from the pen of Calvin. Here the reader can find a reflection of Calvin’s strong taste for order in the realms of theology and government in the meaning and living out of Christianity through everyday life.
“”HE WHO follows Me, walks not in darkness,” says the Lord. By these words of Christ we are advised to imitate His life and habits, if we wish to be truly enlightened and free from all blindness of heart. Let our chief effort, therefore, be to study the life of Jesus Christ.” Thus begins The Imitation of Christ, by Thomas A Kempis. On this foundation he builds a series of short chapters divided into “books,” each of which offers practical advice on living the Christian life by imitating Christ.
Augustine’s Confessions is rightly considered a classic because it illustrates the origin and development of much of Augustine’s doctrine. In turn, Augustine’s doctrine is the foundation of much of theology for the rest of church history (it has been said that all later theology is a footnote to Augustine). Confessions is an interesting work; while it is clearly intended to be a deeply personal work, it is also clear Augustine intended to illustrate the impact of his belief on his life. In modern terms it might be called a work of application, or even possibly a homily, rather than a theology or a confession.
The Church has always been a contested and difficult concept to define in a way that makes sense to outsiders, and often even to insiders. Is the Church all those who live within a given area, or kingdom, as the Roman Catholics urged when Popes crowned kings? Is the Church those who are among the elect, as evidenced by their actions, and their children, as the Puritans put forward in the Halfway Covenant? Or is the Church only made up of those who have obvious works proving they are Christians –a pure and holy body—as the Anabaptists put forward? In the Church in God’s Program, Robert Saucy attempts to provides a book length answer to this question.
Is Hell a real, physical place, with real, physical torment for all time? Will those who do not accept Christ be thrown into Hell? This is a pressing issue in today’s world, because nonjudgmental moralism is the reigning belief of the day –logical or not. Dr. Robert Peterson’s response in Hell on Trial is a useful, if sometimes flawed, response to the modern lack of acceptance of God. Dr. Peterson’s book is arranged in three basic sections providing an introduction, a set of witnesses, and finally a set of proofs for Hell. The witnesses are arranged historically; he begins with the Old Testament, and ends with modern false witnesses who deny that Hell exists. Along the way he visits each era of history, examining the Scriptures or contemporary writings show the importance of Hell within Jewish and Christian thinking.
Apologetics is the process of presenting the rationality of the Christian faith to skeptics both within the Church and without. It is a valuable tool in the hands of the Christian to undergird the faith of those who are under attack by skeptics or life circumstances, and to remove objections to the Christian faith in the mind of the unbeliever. Five Views on Apologetics presents five different apologetic methods currently practiced within the Christian community. Each view is presented by a proponent of the view in question, followed by the proponents of the four remaining views provide comments and criticisms on the proposed view. The remaining sections of this paper provide a short summary of each view in turn, including their basis and some criticisms. The cumulative view is considered last, and provided more space than the others, because it is the most advantageous method of the methods discussed here.
This is one of two very short papers I wrote for Historical Theology II. The assignment was to read 50 pages of some work of Jonathan Edwards, and then comment on the work in terms of academic depth, argument made, etc.
This is one of two very short papers I wrote for Historical Theology II. The assignment was to read 50 pages of some modern Pentecostal, and then comment on the work in terms of academic depth, argument made, etc.
This is actually three short (2 page) reviews and reflections I wrote on three discipleship books for my Biblical Discipleship class. The reviews I posted on this blog are different than the writeups in this paper. The three books are Growing True Disciples, Transforming Discipleship, and The Trellis and the Vine.
I wrote this for Historical Theology I —an interesting and enlightening book. I also posted this as a review in the main blog.
Dispensationalism, by Charles Ryrie, has long been considered the classic, definitive apologetic for the dispensational system. Dr. Ryrie begins his book with a general defense of dispensationalism as a help toward understanding the Scriptures and living the Christian life. In this first chapter, he outlines several attacks against the Dispensationalist position, most of which are dealt with in later chapters. He then outline several way sin which Dispensationalism helps answering the need of Biblical distinctions, the need for a philosophy of history, and provides consistent hermeneutics.