Saturday, June 17, 2006

The angry young man syndrome

The Blue Raja (hereafter TBR) has responded to my comments.

A few remarks are in order:

1. There’s a disconnect between what he says he intended, and what he actually said. For example, he now tells us that “I hadn't intended anything like what Steve fears I meant - namely that Carson is somehow ‘out of touch’."

But this is what he said before:

“One wonders if Carson has ever been to an average conservative church meeting in his entire life.”

“Though Carson’s first criticism is that Enns doesn’t really understand his audience, the shoe appears to be on the other foot…”

He now tells us that “Neither my review, nor the book, implies that there haven't been real attempts to solve the kind of universally acknowledged theological and hermeneutical difficulties which Enns discusses, that Enns is somehow dealing with issues no one has ever dealt with before, or that conservatives have somehow "locked away evidence" you'll not find any of those sentiments in my review, and Steve's recitation of well-known books and authors don't refute claims that I never made.”

Yett this is what he said before: “…but also because of the degree to which apologetics has defined the agenda in conservative sectors of OT studies, and have fueled the very excesses the book seeks to curb. “

“"The result of such modern formulations is that interpretation becomes an exercise in a rather shifty brand of apologetics – ANE parallels are completely ignored in order to make the Bible appear culturally timeless; texts with genuinely different perspectives are forcibly crammed into a homogenized goo in order to make the Bible appear seamlessly harmonized; the hopelessly unscientific method with which Scripture uses Scripture is either dressed up as historical-grammatical exegesis or unconvincingly privileged as a non-repeatable apostolic privilege – all from a desire to rid the Bible from any signs of being a genuinely human (as well as divine) production."

Sorry, but it looks to me as if TBR is now attempting to cover his tracks with a backdated reinterpretation of his original remarks.

2. “He's a Reformed, conservative evangelical speaking to conservative evangelical students.”

Except that Enns is clearly not a “conservative” evangelical. He’s a moderate. To take TBR’s own example, just compare him to Archer.

I’m not using labels to solve problems or adjudicate debates. And I’m not saying that Archer is always right.

But let’s have the honesty to recognize people for what they are. Enns clearly represents a left turn from the conservative Reformed tradition of Warfield or Allis or Young.

You can also see this shift on higher critical issues between E. J. Young’s introduction to the OT and the Dillard/Longman introduction to the OT. And you can also see this reflected in Waltke’s commentary on Genesis, among other things.

If you want a contemporary example of the old school approach, just read O. Palmer Robertson’s criticisms of the Dillard/Longman volume in Robertson’s The Christ of the Prophets.

So let’s not debate the semantic value of theological coinage any further by issuing funny money as the gold standard.

3.My impression of TBR isn’t limited to his review, or his association with the BHT. I’ve read a lot of his exchanges with Phil Johnson, and they fall into a very familiar pattern.

It’s just like an adolescent son challenging his old man at the dinner table. When the kid was 5, his dad was always right—but now that our kid is 15, dad is always wrong. Amazing how much his old man could change in just 10 years time!

4.I think one reason that Phil and I react to theological “revolutions” like the new perspective or the emergent church movement so very differently than TBR does is that Phil and I are old enough to have a sense of déjà vu.

Both of us lived through the Sixties. We’ve seen the Counterculture in action, with its millennial pretensions. Woodstock. The Summer of Love. The “consciousness” revolution. The Fourth Great Awakening. “Climb every mountain.” “Puff the magic dragon.” “Lucy in the sky with diamonds.”

Well, the Age of Aquarius was a washout. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band disbanded. The strawberries fields were paved over to make way for Wal-Mart.

The Emergent church movement is a B&W version of The Yellow Submarine.

Phil is also a student of church history in general, and Victorian Christianity in particular. I can’t speak for him, but I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if he doesn’t see today’s slogans as having much in common with yesterday’s slogans—minus the petticoats.

You know the saying about something so old that it’s new again. Well, if you’ve been around the track a few times, you can’t get that excited over the latest theological fad, because it bears an uncanny resemblance to something you’d buy at an antique shop.

5.Which brings us to the next problem: “"The helpfulness of the book is its honest presentation of the challenges presented by the Old Testament - a presentation that may linger irritatingly for OT scholars to whom the issues are old hat (and to a more educated audience like Steve, who are anxious to rush to their preferred answers to long-known questions). But for new students who are newly coming to grips with these glaringly terrestrial marks of Scripture, it is an exceedingly wise introduction because it takes their context seriously - namely that of the raging Bible wars between liberals and conservatives, marked by a posture of defense in conservative evangelical churches."

No, this is what is wrong with the book, and not what is right with the book. The problem is that Enns is giving the wrong answers to old questions—something I pointed out in the review I wrote a while ago:

If new students are dependent on this book for their initiation into biblical hermeneutics and comparative Semitics, then they will received a systematically skewed impression of what the real challenges are, and where to find the best available answers.

An “incarnational” model of inspiration, even if it were otherwise sound, is useless to address the “phenomena.” A model of inspiration doesn’t answer any detailed questions.

And what’s the “modern” theory of inspiration that TBR objects to? Warfield’s? But Warfield was an advocate of the “organic” model of inspiration. Warfield had no problem with the historical character of revelation.

Does the TBR object to the Chicago Statement on inerrancy? Does he regard that as too “Docetic”?

6.Finally: “But I should probably end my explanation with a reminder about the mode of communication being utilized here. Blogs, for me, anyway, are somewhere in between an email and an essay, both in their manner of expression and their content...After feeling thoroughly clobbered by his comments it did me some good to remember the distorted images which are refracted by what bloggers write during a few minutes of distraction from the rest of their busy lives.”

This is a classic copout. On the one hand, TBR indicates that I mistook his meaning at various points. On the other hand, he issues this all-purpose disclaimer.

So does he stand by his original words, or not? If he succeeded in expressing himself the first time around, then he’d hardly feel the need for a fallback position.

Indeed, one of the problems is precisely the way in which some Christians treat blogging as if it were the same thing as private email. Well, it’s not.

A blog is a public forum. And there are certain responsibilities when you speak in public to choose your words with care and say what you mean. This is especially so in the case of blogging because you don’t have any idea who will read your material.

Does TBR want his words to be taken seriously, or not?

Apparently, he wants to be taken seriously as long as you agree with him, but if you disagree, then you’re taking him too seriously.

I have a bit of advice for TBR: you’re not a minor any more. This isn’t High School. Time to grow up.

Everyone is busy. Is the TBR any busier than D. A. Carson?

The difference is that some men manage their time better than others. One reason F. F. Bruce could write so many books is because he turned his course lectures into books. For him, teaching and writing weren’t two different things. One was not a distraction from another.

And a man who takes sermon preparation seriously can post his sermons online.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Exploiting the weak

Here’s a sampling of a contemporary thread over at the DC:


I [John Loftus] received an e-mail from [Name Redacted per request], a former Christian who describes the problem of mental human suffering as well as any I have ever read. He will be reading your responses here, so be gentle. Here's his story:

I am a former Evangelical/Charismatic/Mennonite Christian. In order to understand why I came to reject the Christian faith, read the following:

I am writing this to you to determine what the worth of a man's soul is. After 40 years of being a born-again Evangelical Christian, I have effectively renounced the Chistian faith, God, Jesus, the Bible, churches and religion in general. I would like to know if there is one minister in the Christian faith who has the intellect and adult and spiritual maturity to address my issues as presented here without resorting to the worn-out, tired cliches' that I am so sick of hearing!( "The Devil is talking to you" or "You must have had sin in your life" or "look at Job" or "God has a reason for everything" ). If you can, I will strongly consider returning to the Christian faith.

I was an Evangelical/Charismatic/Mennonite Christian for 40 years. I worshipped God, praised him, prayed to him, witnessed to others about him, even cried when I watched crucifixion scenes in Jesus movies, and defended the faith wholeheartedly. How did God, my Heavenly Father, repay my allegiance to him? By doing something that was the moral equivalent of an Earthly father "pimping" his teenage daughter to a molester to be raped and sexually abused!

Between August 1995 and November 2005 I was afflicted with the most psychologically abusive and torturous mental illnesses known to man: Paranoid Schizophrenia.

I went through "deliverance" several times! It didn't work. I rebuked Satan. It didn't work. I repented of every sin I could conceive I had committed. It didn't work! I took medication. It didn't work! I went through counseling. It didn't work! I prayed to God and begged for deliverance. It didn't work! My wife divorced me in 1999 because of her fear that I may have been a threat to my daughter, leaving me to live on my own in a psychotic state.

The fact is, I want nothing more to do with this rebrobate God or his Son! He called me my Father, said he loved me, said he cherished me, and then betrays my trust in him by subjecting me to this living Hell!

At 2:48 AM, June 16, 2006, Anonymous said...

I don't think that there is any answer that would be satisfactory to you. People have gone through much worse and still hold to their Christian faith. People have had to watch their children die, suffer, get sick, and cry to their parents for answers when there are none. The simple fact is, we don't know why God allows such things to happen. But you aren't looking for an intellectual answer to evil, you want an emotional answer to why you suffered in such a way.

But look at it like this: You are an atheist. In such a world, there are only brute facts which are ruled by chance. There is no intent, design, purpose, or evil in the world. There is just a cold, empty universe that will one day die out. You are outraged at God for not giving you help when you felt that you needed it, but you are making a moral pronouncement that carries no weight given your assumptions about the world. All moral judgments are just subjective, personal pronouncements and let's face it: In such a world as atheism, what does it matter if we kill, murder, and hate? We are just another animal aren't we?

Your world of atheism is now much worse than before friend. You live in a world where it doesn't matter if children suffer, if children are raped, etc. Of course I know you maintain a moral system, but that is arbitrary because ultimately there is no right and wrong.

At 6:34 AM, June 16, 2006, [Name Redacted per request] said...


Another thing I would like to say is how INFURIATED I was at at the COLD-HEARTED, CLINICAL, INSENSITIVE, DISCOMPASSIONATE tone of your response!! I thought Christians were supposed to be loving, compassionate, merciful, sensitive, understanding, and possessed with a desire to HEAL, not HURT!
You basically gave me the "Dr. Laura Schlesinger" response of "Hey, CryBaby, get over it!! We all have problems!" Your first "knee-jerk" reaction to my post was not, "Hey, I need to help this lost, hurting, wayward brother" it was, "He is a threat, so I need to discredit him!"
If your response isn't LIVING PROOF that Chistianity is a LIE, A HOAX, AND A FRAUD, I don't know what is!!!!

[Name Redacted per request]

At 7:38 AM, June 16, 2006, Sandalstraps said...

[Name Redacted per request],

The comment by Anonymous was, at the very least, proof that his or her Christianity is either fraudulent or dangerous. If Christianity necessarily produces such people then it can hardly make any moral claims without being laughed out of the room.

My hope, as a Christian (who has been burned many times by people like the anonymous commenter who stopped by merely to insult and infuriate, hiding behind the mask of anonymity like a coward and a moral reprobate) is that Christianity does not necessarily produce such people, any more than Islam necessarily produces terrorists.

But yes, there is a great deal of emotional and intellectual terrorism done in the name of the religion which has provided my life with order and meaning, and, I hope, made me a better person than I used to be.

At 8:57 AM, June 16, 2006, [Name Redacted per request] said...


I do sincerely appreciate the thoughtfulness, sensitivity and ultimately, non-judgmental nature, of your post. It is not just Christians like "anonymous" who disgust me with Christianity, it is God himself, his hypocrisy, and his brutal, tyrannical nature! What happened to me is PROOF POSITIVE that God does not love me!! If an earthly father had a child, and saw that child being abused, emotionally or physically, and had the power to stop it, AND DID NOT, then he is a LIAR when he claims to love that child! Love is an action, not words. God pays "lip service" to love!The Bible can call God a God of love all day long, but if there is no evidence of it, then the Bible is a cruel lie! The fundamental premise of Christianity is "Jesus loves you very much and oh, by the way, if you reject him, he's sending you to a burning Hell where you'll scream in agony and torment for all eternity!!" I'm sorry, but that seems just a TAD bit sadistic to me, to put a human being into fire for all eternity.

[Name Redacted per request]

At 2:32 PM, June 16, 2006, Stardust1954 said...

When I was on my path to atheism, I often questioned why an all-powerful god would allow such suffering to occur while he stayed silent in his Heaven.

I lost a child during childbirth in 1977. I prayed and prayed for that baby to make it.


Several comments are in order:

1.It says something about Loftus’ character that he would publish, and solicit public comment on, an email from a man who was or is mentally ill.

Loftus is using [Name Redacted per request] as a human shield. [Name Redacted per request] says what Loftus would like to say, but due to his history of mental illness, Loftus can hide behind [Name Redacted per request], the way a terrorist will blend into the civilian population.

[Name Redacted per request] is off-limits. He can go on the attack. But to counterattack would be mean and cruel and so on.

Loftus may well have received permission to post this email, but that’s beside the point. Either [Name Redacted per request] is mentally ill or not. If he is mentally ill, then Loftus is exploiting his condition.

But if he no longer is ill, then we should feel free to subject his comments to the same rational scrutiny as we would anyone else’s.

Loftus is not [Name Redacted per request]'s psychiatrist. He’s in no position to evaluate [Name Redacted per request]’s mental state. To publish his email is cynical and opportunistic. Loftus is using a man with a history of mental illness in a game of chicken.

Keep that in mind when we are scolded as cruel and mean-spirited for daring to respond.

ii) I thought the reply by the anonymous commenter was measured and reasonable. But let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that he was “insensitive.”

It should be needless to say that if a Christian can be insensitive, this in no way shows the Christian faith to be a lie, a hoax, and a fraud.

That has absolutely nothing to do with whether Jesus is the Son of God, or the Redeemer of his people. Nothing to do with his rising from the dead.

Is the law of gravity falsified by the fact that Isaac Newton was an SOB? Is the theory of general relativity invalidated by the fact that Einstein was a lousy husband?

iii) What [Name Redacted per request]’s experience illustrates is that bad theology has consequences. Bad theology fosters a false expectation which, sooner or later, will be dashed by life in a fallen world.

What is striking is how many churchgoers read the Bible with blinders on. They have a preconception of God that doesn’t bear any correspondence to the Bible.

And then, when their unscriptural view of God collides with reality, they get angry and blame God and leave the faith.

iv) [Name Redacted per request] complains about the way in which God “repaid” him for all the things he did for God.

Where did he ever get the idea that the Christian faith is a quid pro quo? Maybe from Creflo Dollar. But not from Scripture.

He says he trusted God, but where is his trust?

How did God “betray” him? Where does God promise in Scripture that all his children will be exempt from personal tragedy?

Assuming that [Name Redacted per request] ever read the Bible from cover to cover, he must he must have read it with blinkers on. The Bible is full of stories about the suffering of the faithful.

It’s striking, I say, how many churchgoers read what the Bible says about the experience of many an OT or NT saint, yet they never connect it to their own experience.

They manage to bracket all that in one big parenthesis. Then they mentally shelve this parenthesis, or lock it away in a drawer.

They compartmentalize their own expectations from the repeated witness of Scripture. Somehow it can happen to everyone else, but never to them.

These are people who have two different Bibles. There’s the Bible they read—assuming they read the Bible. And then there’s this hallmark card version of Christianity which they superimpose on Scripture.

If they read the Bible at all, they read it through the rosy lens of their Sunday school image of God—like something out of a children’s coloring book—illustrated with puppies and deer and butterflies.

v) Does the Bible merely say that God is a God of love? Is there no evidence to that effect? Look to the cross! Look to the Exodus! Look to restoration of Israel after the Babylonian captivity! Look to the healing ministry of Christ!

But mercy is not a bill to be paid.

vi) Finally, what is [Name Redacted per request] left with? The alternative to a fallen world redeemed by God is an irredeemably evil world.

Without God, you still have evil. You have all the same sorrows, but sorrow unalchemized by hope. Remove God, and despair moves in.

You are now alone with your loss—sealed away with your grief.

Yes, John Loftus may pat you on the back—like one death row inmate patting another on the back. He may wave at you and smile through the glass as a godless and pitiless universe straps you into the chair and throws the switch. Does that make you feel better?

Thursday, June 15, 2006


The Blue Raja, who goes by the name of…The Blue Raja (hereafter TBR), has been reviewing Peter Enns' softening up exercise for a more liberal view of Scripture.

He has cross-posted his material over at the Tavernistas. Given the cocky, juvenile tone of his review, he should feel right at home.

That’s a pity. The Blue Raja is a talented young man. It’s unfortunate to see him immerse himself in an environment conducive to spiritual immaturation rather than maturation—like a recovering alcoholic working as a bartender.

While he gives Peter Enns a rave review, he pans the remarks of Carson and Helm. Among other things, this is what TBR has to say:


Enns’ basic thesis is that a doctrine of Scripture should arise from the Scriptures themselves. Well, duh. But as you might expect, that recommendation turns out to be much more controversial than it initially sounds, because Enns is concerned not only about conforming our doctrine of Scripture to the Biblical testimony of its authority but to the phenomena of Scripture itself – with all its cultural moorings, rich diversity and strange uses of previous texts. These three issues only become problems in need of creative explanation if one develops expectations of Scripture from outside Scripture – which is precisely Enns’ critique of modern notions of inspiration. The result of such modern formulations is that interpretation becomes an exercise in a rather shifty brand of apologetics – ANE parallels are completely ignored in order to make the Bible appear culturally timeless; texts with genuinely different perspectives are forcibly crammed into a homogenized goo in order to make the Bible appear seamlessly harmonized; the hopelessly unscientific method with which Scripture uses Scripture is either dressed up as historical-grammatical exegesis or unconvincingly privileged as a non-repeatable apostolic privilege – all from a desire to rid the Bible from any signs of being a genuinely human (as well as divine) production.

The answer to such distortion, says Enns, is to see the written Word of God functioning according to the same nature as the incarnate Word of God – a perfect symbiosis of humanity and divinity. Jesus perfectly revealed the Father not as a hovering wraith or Docetic illusion, but as a genuine 1st C. Jewish man. He spoke the language, lived and participated within ancient Palestinian culture, and displayed all of the creaturely dependence requisite to humanity. He wasn’t a god just pretending to be a man, as so many seem to believe (and then wonder why they’re not moved by the stories of suffering and crucifixion in the Gospels). He was God anchored in time, culture and finite dependence upon the Father. The written Word of God should be understood as revealing the Father in the same way. As evangelicals continue to thrash about over theories of inspiration, some are drowning and others are barely treading water while the actual content of the Bible – in all of its varied and richly enculturated glory – circles the drain. In the next week or so, as I have time, I’ll be posting an evaluation of some of the criticisms I’ve read (from the likes of such Reformed luminaries as Paul Helm). In the meantime, Inspiration and Incarnation: Evangelicals and the Problem of the Old Testament is required reading.

In either case, with statements like “Most of us glory in the fact that God has disclosed himself to us in space-time history, in real words, to real people, in real languages” and “[ANE parallels] should cause no surprise among those who fully recognize how much the biblical revelation is grounded in history” one wonders if Carson has ever been to an average conservative church meeting in his entire life. One of my Sunday school attendees was shocked and horrified at a remark that Jesus’ teaching sprung from His study of the Law and the Prophets, declaring that He didn’t need to “study” because He was God and His teaching was a “direct revelation from God”! A few families left a neighboring church because of their outrage at the preacher’s suggestion that Paul was in any way affected by his surrounding culture.

That accusation misses the point not only because starting with the phenomena of Scripture IS HIS PROPOSAL, but also because of the degree to which apologetics has defined the agenda in conservative sectors of OT studies, and have fueled the very excesses the book seeks to curb. Both Carson and Helm glibly bypass the most difficult examples of diversity within the OT canon, Carson by offering his own potential harmonization of the less significant examples and Helm by skipping the actual data altogether (how Helm can accuse him of “fideism” and at the same time recommend “starting from dogma instead of difficulties” is beyond me).

Regardless of such a judgment, though, neither Carson nor Helm ever really present what an alternative to Enns’ proposal might mean. Surely the CONTENT of what is gained in the process of interpretation is the divine Word of God; and certainly the PROCESS of enscripturation is divinely ordered – but in what sense is the mode of expression “divine”? The authors were “born along by the Spirit”, but what “heavenly” qualities should we expect to find in the actual words of Scripture? For all the protest against Enns’ supposed “interpretive naiveté” in regard to Arianism”, beyond giving attention to the cultural, historical, and linguistic temporalities of the text, I’m not sure what else is an interpreter is to do.


A few comments are in order:

i) The ad hominem attacks are completely out of place. Carson is pushing 60. He’s the son of a pastor and a church-planter. He’s been a pastor himself. He’s been teaching seminarians for nearly 30 years now. He lectures around the world.

The idea that Carson is out of touch, or that he lacks direct exposure to Evangelical churches, especially coming from a greenhorn like TBR, is an insolent and foolish remark.

Likewise, Helm is in his upper 60s, having taught students for decades in an intellectual climate hostile to his Evangelical (indeed, Reformed) theology.

TBR would to well to drop the snotty-nosed attitude and stick with theological analysis—not that he fares any better on that score.

ii) We have the spectacle of TBR casting conservatives in the role of Blue Beard. They have the incriminating evidence hidden away in the dungeon.

I don’t know if it’s funny or sad when angry young men blame their elders for their own historical ignorance.

Comparative Semitics is hardly a new field. And conservatives have been interacting with the issues raised by this material going back several generations now.

For example, the Old Princetonians took a particular interest in comparative Semitics. John J. Davis published a monograph on the subject (Genesis & Semitic Tradition) way back in 1894.

Allis wrote an article on “Assyriological Research During the Past Decade,” for the 1914 issue of the PTR.

For the same publication, Allis wrote a number of book reviews on such subjects as:

“Annales de Tukuth-Ninip II, Roi d’Assyrie 889-884” (1911).

“Development of Religion & Thought in Ancient Egypt” (1913).

“Babylonian Business Transactions of the First Millennium BC” (1914).

“A Hebrew Deluge Story in Cuneiform and Other Epic Fragments in the Pierpont Morgan Library” (1923).

“Assyrian Grammar with Chrestomathy and Glossary” (1924).

“Israel & Babylon” (1927)

“A Sumerian Reading Book” (1927).

“The Epic of Gilgamesh” (1928).

Warfield wrote an essay on comparative Semitics back in 1903: “Great Babylon The Mother of Us All,” SSW 1:61-65.

Warfield also discussed the limitations of the incarnational model of inspiration in his classic ISBE article, published in 1915. Cf. Works 1:108f.

And before that there was his 1894 article on “the Divine & Human in the Bible,” SSW 2:542-48.

At Westminster, the successor to Princeton, E. J. Young, who studied under Cyrus Gordon, certainly knew his way around the cuneiform findings, and deployed that expertise to defend the inspiration and authority of Scripture.

So did the late Donald J. Wiseman. So did the late William White. So did the late R. K Harrison. So did the late Gleason Archer.

Among the living (at last check), so do J. J. Bimson, Daniel Block, John Currid, John J. Davis, Richard Hess, Alfred Hoerth, James Hoffmeier, Kenneth Kitchen, Meredith Kline, Alan Millard, T. C. Mitchell, J. A. Thompson, John Whitcomb, Clifford Wilson, Edwin Yamauchi, and David Livingston—to name a few.

iii) All of the “phenomena” that Enns puts on display are well-trodden ground: the Assumption of Moses, Amenemope, Atrahasis epic, code of Hammurabi, early/late date of the Exodus 1 Enoch, Enuma Elish, epic of Gilgamesh, midrashim, targumim, pesher, Sibylline oracles, redaction of Samuel-Kings in Chronicles, &c.

iv) As far as parallels are concerned, it’s important to distinguish between genealogical parallels and parallelomania. That’s something you won’t be getting from the likes of Peter Enns.

v) Is apostolic exegesis “hopelessly” unscientific (pace the grammatico-historical method)?

Let’s remember that the NT writers are writing within a literary and hermeneutical tradition of OT Judaism, Intertestamental Judaism, Second Temple Judaism, Palestinian Judaism, and Diaspora Judaism.

Communication is a relation. The meaning of the text cannot be isolated from what the author meant it to mean for his audience.

An author says less than he means because he takes for granted a certain cultural preunderstanding.

The NT writers expected to be understood, and this shared area of understanding rounds out the meaning of the text.

The NT writers cite, quote, and exegete the OT in the way they do because they and their readers move within the same conceptual world. The NT writers didn’t make up the rules. Rather, they play by a preexistent set of rules—of cultural transmission codes that are shared in common between the OT author and his implied audience as well as the NT author and his implied audience. A continuous, crosshatching interpretive grid.

vi) To say that Carson and Helm fail to present an alternative is a bizarre criticism. Both Carson and Helm are prolific writers. They don’t outline an alternative; rather, they embody an alternative: they lead by example; they show by doing.

vii) And as Carson explains in some detail, Enns is the one who fails to redeem his vouchers. For Enns never develops his Incarnational model. He merely reiterates the same talismanic catchwords ad nauseum without advancing the argument:


First, Enns offers no discussion whatsoever of what the doctrine of the incarnation actually looks like. If the incarnation is to become the controlling model for our understanding of the nature of Scripture, then are we not owed some exposition, however brief, of what "incarnation" means to Enns? The word is thrown around in contemporary discussion with an enormous array of meanings; it is entirely unclear what Enns means. But let us suppose, for charity’s sake, that he stands roughly in line with Nicea and Chalcedon.

That brings up the second problem. The only thing that Enns draws from the doctrine of the incarnation is that Jesus is truly a human being; he does not merely appear to be a human being. In other words, for Enns an adequate affirmation of the incarnation entails the abolition of docetism, and the parallel with Scripture entails the abolition of a kind of scriptural docetism, in which Scripture only appears to be human, but is not truly human. So far, so good. But the doctrine of the incarnation was used to fight off multiple errors, not just docetism. For instance, it equally fights off Arianism, in which Jesus is not truly God, but at most an inferior god, or perhaps merely godlike. If incarnation is to serve as the controlling model for how Scripture is to be understood, why does not Enns use it to refute the voices that confess the Bible to be only a human document, or a collection of human documents? In what sense is the Bible God’s Word, or, as we have noted in biblical usage, a collection of God’s words? And how do the human and the divine dimensions of Scripture cohere? Is there some point where we appeal to mystery, as we appeal to mystery when we are talking about the divine nature and the human nature cohering in the one person, Jesus the Messiah? Without ever discussing the nature of the incarnation, Enns is using the incarnation as a positive "buzz" word to fight off his opponents to the right, but he never develops the doctrine, or the argument, to warn against dangers at least as great on the left (if we may resort to that old left/right spectrum). Nor is it merely a question of balance which could be remedied by another book treating the other side. The doctrine of the incarnation is powerful and central to Christian confessionalism not only because it counters "left" and "right" alike, but because it carefully formulates what it means to confess Jesus as the God/man. If the incarnation were deployed only to fight off docetism, pretty soon we would have a thoroughly human Jesus, but nothing more; if it were deployed only to fight off Arianism, pretty soon we would have a thoroughly divine Jesus, but nothing more. The doctrine of the incarnation tries, with appropriate caution, hesitation, and adoration, to get it right. But the only way it functions in Enns’s analogical argument is to confirm that docetism is bad, and therefore a failure to confess the truly human nature of Scripture is bad. Enns adduces all the evidence he can for the Bible’s humanness, and reflects on it at length; he does not attempt to adduce all the evidence he can for the Bible’s rootedness in God himself, and reflect at length on that—not even the very sketchy bits of evidence I mentioned in discussing Webster’s book. It is not just that the view of Scripture that Enns paints is lopsided, but that the heart of the issue is side-stepped, i.e. how it must all cohere. Think "incarnation" in any historic, confessional sense of "incarnation," and you are never far away from mystery (in the modern sense of that word); apply it as Enns has done to the nature of Scripture, and there is very little that is mysterious at all. Apply it to Jesus, and you think "God/man"; apply it to the Bible in the way that Enns does and you think "not docetic; thoroughly human." True, Enns repeatedly concedes that the Bible is God’s Word, but because he does not tie that confession to incarnation, or warn against a kind of scriptural Arianism, or probe the difficulties inherent in Scripture’s dual nature, the result is remarkably distorted.

Third, whenever one makes an entire argument turn on analogy, it is imperative to explain in what ways the two poles of the analogy are alike and unlike. In Christology, for instance, we speak of two natures and one person; we cannot deploy exactly that terminology in talking about the Bible. When we speak of Jesus as truly human, as truly a man, we carefully insist that he is a perfect man, i.e. a man without sin, and that there is nothing intrinsic to humanness that requires that humans be sinners. In that sense, Jesus is thoroughly like us, human; he is also thoroughly unlike all of us, since he alone is sinlessly perfect. If the incarnation is to be our model for how we think of Scripture, or even of Scripture’s humanness, how do such elementary distinctions as these play out? What might it mean to say that Scripture is composed of thoroughly human, but perfect, documents? Or does the analogy break down? If so, why and where? None of this is discussed. "Incarnation" is merely a rhetorically positive word to approve Enns’s argument; it is not a word with real substance that can clarify or illuminate the nature of Scripture by really careful analogical argumentation. Thus, when Enns writes (his italics), "It is essential to the very nature of revelation that the Bible is not unique to its environment. The human dimension of Scripture is essential to its being Scripture" (20), the statement is formally true and hopelessly muddled. Using the incarnational analog, the "human dimension" of the God/man not only places him in the human environment, but leaves him unique in that environment since only he is without sin. And even more strikingly, of course, what makes Jesus most strikingly unique to the human environment is that, without gainsaying his thorough, perfect, humanness for an instant, he is also God, and thus the perfect revealer of God, such that what Jesus says and does, God says and does. But when Enns speaks of "the very nature of the revelation of the Bible" as "not unique in its environment," he looks only at its "human dimension" and integrates nothing of what else must be said if we are to understand what the Bible is in this "human environment." I hasten to add that I am as rigorously opposed to what he thinks of as a docetic understanding of Scripture as he. But I am no less suspicious of an Arian understanding of Scripture—or, if we may get away from the incarnational analog, I am no less suspicious of assorted non-supernatural and domesticated understandings of the Bible, understandings of the Bible that are far removed from, say, that of the Lord Jesus. Methodologically, Enns gets himself into these problems because he has spelled out neither what he understands of the doctrine of the incarnation, nor how well analogical arguments work in this case, and what limitations might be applicable.


TBR merely regurgitates the same buzzwords himself.

vii) As to the complaint that “both Carson and Helm glibly bypass the most difficult examples of diversity within the OT canon, Carson by offering his own potential harmonization of the less significant examples,” since Helm is a Christian philosopher rather than a Bible scholar, we wouldn’t expect him to wade into the field of ANE studies or Biblical hermeneutics.

For Carson’s part, since he’s a NT scholar, he naturally accentuates the NT examples proffered by Enns—although Carson does delve into some of the OT examples as well.

But to say that Carson limits himself to the “less significant examples” merely reflects the idiosyncratic viewpoint of TBR, and not the authorial viewpoint of Enns. Enns has a whole chapter on apostolic exegesis, so this is quite significant to Enns.

Indeed, one could argue, and rightly so, that the NT view of the OT is normative for Christians. So this is the most significant chapter in the book.

viii) For that matter, when TBR describes apostolic exegesis as “the hopelessly unscientific method with which Scripture uses Scripture,” then Carson’s corrective of Enns’ misinterpretation of apostolic exegesis is highly germane to one of TBR’s own objections to “modern” theories of inspiration.

ix) The relation between Samuel-Kings and Chronicles has received quite a lot of attention over the last several years from the likes of Dillard, Hasel, Pratt, and V. P. Long, to name a few prominent examples. So why should Helm or Carson cover the same ground?

Likewise, Smick wrote a fine commentary on Job, Bullock wrote a fine introduction to the Poetic books, while Kidner wrote a fine introduction to the wisdom literature. There’s lots of stuff on the Law, such as the recent, well-rounded commentary on Leviticus by Allen Ross, or T.D. Alexander’s introduction to the Pentateuch, as well another volume on the Pentateuch which he edited—not to mention the new series Exploring the Old Testament, of which Wenham wrote the inaugural volume.

V. P. Long wrote a fine monograph on The Art of Biblical History. He also edited Windows into Old Testament History. What about the New Dictionary of Biblical Theology? Or the Dictionary for Theological Interpretation of the Bible? Or the New International Dictionary of OT Theology & Exegesis? The list goes on and on.

Midrash has been debated to extinction. Same thing with pesher.

If TBR spent less time transfixed by his reflection on the computer screen and more time actually boning up on the literature, he’d know better to whine about the dearth of the very literature which is piled high on every side.

x) TBR’s own compromise position is hardly responsive to all of the “phenomena” in question: “Surely the CONTENT of what is gained in the process of interpretation is the divine Word of God; and certainly the PROCESS of enscripturation is divinely ordered – but in what sense is the mode of expression ‘divine’?”

If, for example, if you regard Gen 1 as an expurgated transcription of the Enuma Elish, then you can forever kiss good-bye any pat division between human form and divine content.

Why Are We Supposed To Doubt Jesus' Birth In Bethlehem?

Earlier today, Steve Hays wrote a response to an article by John Loftus on the subject of the New Testament's treatment of Biblical prophecy. Steve and the commenters in that thread made some good points, but I want to address an issue that they didn't discuss and that was mentioned only briefly in Loftus' article.

He referred to "Luke’s concoction of a census in order to get Mary to Bethlehem so that Jesus could be born there, according to 'prophecy'". That sort of dismissive comment about the Bethlehem birthplace is common in skeptical circles, but it's never accompanied by any good evidence.

I'm not aware of any credible early rival tradition to the Bethlehem account. Dozens of ante-Nicene sources either directly or indirectly comment on Jesus’ birthplace. It was commonly discussed. Justin Martyr and Origen mention the inclusion of the subject in debates between Christians and Jews and Christians and pagans. They refer to non-Christian Jewish and pagan sources corroborating the Bethlehem birthplace. As Raymond Brown wrote:

"If there is any truth in Origen's charge of suppressed references to the Messiah's birth at Bethlehem (footnote 2), such suppression would represent a tacit acknowledgment of Christian tradition concerning the birthplace of Jesus." (The Birth of the Messiah [New York, New York: Doubleday, 1993], p. 514)

Eusebius, who had access to many documents no longer extant, wrote that "all agree that Jesus Christ was born in Bethlehem" (Demonstration of the Gospel, 3:2). If the early Christians and their early enemies were agreed that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, why are we supposed to believe that He wasn't born there?

Jesus' birthplace would have been an issue of interest and an established fact before Jesus' death. If Jesus and His relatives and perhaps others (neighbors, etc.) had believed for decades that Jesus was born somewhere other than Bethlehem, how could that non-Bethlehem tradition have been universally lost and universally replaced with a Bethlehem tradition without leaving any trace in the historical record? Nobody can accuse people like Jesus’ parents and neighbors of being motivated by a Christian bias in claiming Bethlehem as the birthplace prior to Jesus’ earthly ministry. How could they have known that Jesus would claim to be the Messiah later in His life? If Jesus was born somewhere other than Bethlehem, there surely would have been a non-Bethlehem tradition for decades prior to the beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry, and Jesus probably would have discussed that non-Bethlehem tradition with His disciples and with His enemies. The lack of any trace of such a tradition in the historical record needs to be explained.

The suggestion in the gospel of John that people were interested in Jesus' background and His birthplace in particular (John 7:42) is likely to be true. Thus, not only would Jesus' birthplace have been an issue discussed by Him and among His relatives and other people close to Him, but it also would have been discussed by the early opponents of Christianity. Skeptics sometimes suggest that the issue of Jesus' birthplace would have gone undiscussed for decades, followed by people guessing and making up stories about His birth late in the first century. But such a scenario is highly unlikely. It's probable that an issue such as His birthplace would have been discussed widely long before the time when the gospels of Matthew and Luke were written.

The objection that early references to Jesus as "Jesus of Nazareth" are evidence that He was born in Nazareth, not Bethlehem, is untenable. While a person could be named by his birthplace, people were sometimes given a placename other than their birthplace. Dionysius the Areopagite (Acts 17:34), for example, was so named because he was associated with the Areopagus, not because he was born there. The second century bishop Irenaeus of Lyons seems to have been born in Smyrna, but was bishop of a church in Lyons. Luke, who refers to Jesus' birth in Bethlehem, also refers repeatedly to Jesus as "Jesus of Nazareth" (Luke 24:19, Acts 10:38). The historian Paul Maier summarized the issue well during an interview on the December 3, 2003 broadcast of the "Bible Answer Man" radio program:

"Jesus spends, probably, not more than 50 days in Bethlehem. For all I know, He never visited the city again, except on the way back from Egypt, and then briefly. He spends all of His childhood in Nazareth. He spends His early ministry in Nazareth. He grows up in Nazareth. And so He should now be called 'Jesus of Bethlehem'? I mean, this is ridiculous! I just have very little patience with this sort of sloppy, avant-garde, sensationalist, revisionist scholarship."

Skeptical appeals to John 7:42 are likewise dubious. See here and here for an explanation.

What are we left with, then? Why are we supposed to doubt that Jesus was born in Bethlehem? Information about Jesus' birthplace would have been easily attainable, the earliest Christians (who were in contact with Jesus for a few years and were in contact with His relatives for several decades) unanimously report that the birthplace was Bethlehem, they seem to have been corroborated on the issue by multiple early non-Christian sources, and there's no trace of a credible rival tradition in the historical record. If skeptics want us to think that it's unlikely that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, then they need to present evidence to that effect rather than just telling us that they doubt He was born there or that it's possible that He was born somewhere else. If we judge this issue as we would any other historical issue, the weight of probability is heavily in favor of Bethlehem as Jesus' birthplace.

The liberal tug-of-war


Ibelieve early Christian preachers simply went into the Old Testament looking for verses that would support their view of Jesus. They took these Old Testament verses out of context and applied them to Jesus in order to support their views of his life and mission. None of the them proves much of anything significant with regard to Jesus' nature or mission.

It is more probable that the New Testament writers were influenced in the construction of their stories about Jesus by making his life fit some of these details. That may also explain Luke’s concoction of a census in order to get Mary to Bethlehem so that Jesus could be born there, according to “prophecy” (Micah 5:2, Matthew 2:6).


This only calls for a few comments:

1. Loftus wheels out the usual tray of overcooked chestnuts, viz. Mt 1:23, 2:15, 2:23.

He also quotes from a couple of liberal commentators to prove that liberal commentators don’t believe in Messianic prophecy.

Now, if Loftus were a real scholar or serious debater, instead of a flake, he would actually try to make a case for his position, not by a lop-sided presentation of the exegetical options, but by also quoting from moderate to conservative scholars on Isaiah (e.g. Motyer, Oswalt, Young), Zechariah (e.g. Baldwin, McComiskey, Merrill), Matthew (e.g. Blomberg, Carson, France, Gundry, Hagner, Keener, Nolland), and the Psalter (e.g. Grogan, Van Gemeren), then set up a comparison and contrast between the respective arguments of the liberals and the more moderate-to-conservative scholars.

But let us also note the fault lines internal to his position.

2.Let’s assume, for the sake of argument, that the census of Quirinius is a literary device. Now, liberals ordinarily accuse Luke of an anachronism by dating the census to the tenure of Quirinius.

If, however, Loftus is going to maintain that the census was only a literary device to “get Mary to Bethlehem,” then Luke is not in error inasmuch as his “concocted” census was never meant to refer to a real world situation.

So Loftus must pay a toll if he’s going to cross this bridge. He can only offer a liberal interpretation of the census as a literary device by forfeiting another liberal interpretation of the census as a literal mistake.

3.Let’s also assume, for the sake of argument, that Matthew and Luke did cite the OT out of context in order to force the life of Christ into a prophetic pattern.

Now, they would only resort to this expedient if they were confronted with certain stubborn facts about the life of Christ. There was no flexibility over what Jesus said or did, or what was done to him. They were stuck with the hard data of history.

So their only recourse was to rip OT verses out of context and misapply them to the life of Christ. But once again, Loftus must pay a toll if he’s going to cross that bridge.

After all, if would be so much easier for Matthew and Luke to begin from the other end of the equation. To cherry pick some yummy Messianic prophecies, and then weave a story around these handpicked prophecies so that you had a seamless fit between the OT job description and the NT applicant.

So Loftus can only offer a liberal interpretation of OT prophecy by assuming a conservative view of Evangelical historicity. He can only deny Messianic prophecy by affirming the factuality of Matthew and Luke.

For Matthew and Luke would only twist OT prophecy to fit the events if they did not feel free to fabricate made-to-order stories about Jesus.

4.So this is the liberal dilemma. There’s no consistently liberal view of Scripture. If Loftus takes a liberal view of apostolic exegesis, then he must take a conservative view of Evangelical history.

There is, by contrast, a consistently conservative view of Scripture, in which conservative historiography and conservative hermeneutics go hand-in-hand.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Closet Paedobaptists in the SBC?

I have changed my mind today. Yes, beware.

In my recent booklet on Landmarkism, I say that “church history” are the two most feared words in the Baptist vocabulary. I was wrong. “Regenerate church membership” is, it seems, the most feared set of words. After reading Tom Ascol’s report on his resolution on church membership and church discipline’s failure for consideration today, I am convinced that the majority of Southern Baptists are ecclesiological Paedobaptists. How ironic, since just yesterday one of the trustees of the IMB stated that the new (unbiblical) policies on baptism and tongues at the IMB were necessary because the missionaries needed a "stronger Baptist identity."

Dr. French from the Resolutions Committtee’s excuse for rejecting the resolution from consideration was that we shouldn’t discharge those church members as they are some of our greatest prospects for evangelism. This comes, ironically, on the heels of a sermon by Dr. Edwin Young, who I know and under whom my grandfather was a deacon at Ardmore Baptist in Winston-Salem, NC when Dr. Young was a young pastor, in which Dr. Young pointed out that 6 out of every 8 (that’s 75 percent) of the young people in SBC churches fall away when they leave home. He also stated that there are church members in the SBC that not even the FBI could find. How then, pray tell, are these persons, “our best prospects for evangelism” if we can’t find them at all?

I do agree that these folks are very likely our best prospects for evangelism, but I have to ask, then, why are they members of your church? I believe, along with the Baptist Faith and Message, that we believe in a regenerate church membership. That is why I am a Baptist and not a Paedobaptist. Paedobaptists open the door to unregenerate church membership. In a Paedobaptist church, people that are on your membership roll and don’t show can be legitimately called evangelism prospects and church members. In a Baptist church, if you really believe that, then you are violating the cardinal principle of baptism: the baptism of believer’s only. Don’t dare call me a closet Presbyterian for being a Calvinist who believes in a church polity built on plural eldership while making comments like this:

Regarding Brother Tom’s resolution,

And the servants of the master of the house came and said to him, ‘Master, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have weeds?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ So the servants said to him, ‘Then do you want us to go and gather them?’ But he said, ‘No, lest in gathering the weeds you root up the wheat along with them.” (Matthew 13:27-29)

This comes from Charles, from the Calvinist Flyswatter, who apparently didn’t bother to read the rest of the passage. The world is the field, not the church! If this represents the thinking of anti-Calvinist Baptists who call us Reformed Baptists closet Presbyterians, what does it really say about them? It seems the shoe is really on the other foot.

Now, baptism of believers only is not foolproof, though it is very evident that there are fools practicing it in the SBC at the moment. It is merely a control measure. Some churches baptize very early after a profession of faith. Some wait for evidences to show. There are tradeoffs for each practice. In the former, your are more likely to baptize a spurious convert. In the latter, you violate a NT example by which they baptized very early after conversion, judging from the evidence we have. Churches have, for almost 2000 years, and even in the past 450 odd “Baptist years” varied in their actual practices leading up to baptism, with respect to its timing. Some people are bound to get through and into your church, but that’s why we have a Plan B called church discipline, and church discipline has one of two end results: (a) restoration or (b) excommunication.

So, pray tell, how is it that Dr. French can legitimately say that lapsed church members are some of our best prospects for evangelism? Were they not evangelized before they were baptized? If you are presuming them to be prospects of evangelism, then you must believe them to be unregenerate. If they are unregenerate, why are they members of your church? Who really needs a stronger sense of Baptist identity: the IMB missionaries or the 75 % of SBC messengers who voted not to consider Tom Ascol’s resolution.

The harmonistic method

DagoodS said:

“I was not discussing Paul’s trip to Jerusalem, but rather the double trip to Damascus, in an attempt to align the contradictions presented in Acts 9:1-25 as compared to Gal. 1:15-17 and 2 Cor. 11:32-33.

There is no ready-made criterion for telling when an ancient historian is skipping years.

I appreciate your honesty. We have no internal reason to place any three year hiatus in Acts 9:21-23, nor any methodology by which to do so. Not in regards to any ancient historians, but the author of Acts in particular.

It was as I suspected—a trumped up apologetic. (Not yours, mind you, just an apologetic.)”

1.You continue to retail in equivocations: for x not to say that something happened, and for x to say that something did not happen, are hardly equivalent propositions.

Silence is not evidence of a nonevent. Silence is not evidence of a contradiction.

2.No, we have no internal reason to see an interval in Acts 9:21-23. But that misses the point.

In the nature of the case, synchronizing two overlapping accounts isn’t based on internal reasons alone, but an external relation generated between two independent, but intersecting accounts.

And this isn’t distinctive to Biblical chronology. This is involved with any relative chronology of ancient world, whether ANE chronology or Greco-Roman chronology.

3. Once again, there’ is no generic methodology. To demand a generic methodology is unhistorical.

We take our sources as they come to us. We don’t impose an extrinsic methodology on the primary sources.

The only “methodology” in synchronizing two overlapping accounts is whatever relation successfully aligns the two accounts in time and place. Certain combinations work, while others do not.

4.Of course, if you insist that one or both of our sources are erroneous, then the exercise is artificial. But that requires a separate argument.

The harmonistic principle is not distinctive to Christian apologetics, but is used in historical reconstructions generally.

5.Finally, it’s disingenuous for an unbeliever to demand a harmonization, and then, when a harmonization is given, accuse the Christian of a “trumped up apologetic.”

If you dismiss any proposed harmonization as DOD, then spare us the insincere demand for one.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Review: No One...

The shock-value of the big red hand and white font inscription combination on the cover of J.D. Wetterling’s book No One… (Christian Focus Publications, July 2006 in the UK, September in the US) portrays well the type of effect a book like this has on the thinking of today’s secular culture. It isn’t that this book is overly negative. It’s that this book is Biblical, and today’s culture has grown to despise the claims of the Bible. But in the Kingdom of God, the negative precedes the positive; the gospel is not good news until it is first bad news. First you must be made aware of your need for a Savior, and then you can accept him.

Mr. Wetterling’s book focuses on 6 “No One” statements made by Jesus that are recording in the gospel of John. These are the “unshakable certainties” to which a Christian may cling in a world that rejects the absolute. Indeed, these principles, while stated by Jesus in the negative, are the very spinal chord and foundation for a gospel that wholly and completely saves those whom God grants eternal life. And Mr. Wetterling accurately portrays for us Christ’s meaning in these phrases.

In the preface, Wetterling does an excellent job of setting up the urgency of the gospel. It establishes those “unshakable certainties” found in God’s Word that are so necessary to our uncertain world. Wetterling states, “This little book is an effort on the part of a sinner saved by grace to witness to the power of a handful of the most important of them [unshakable certainties].” He continues, “They are unshakable certainties that can, God willing, open your eyes to his truth, fill you with the peace that transcends all understanding, and show you the way to the unimaginable joy of life, both now and forever, with him.”

In the introduction, Wetterling tells us, “This brief witness to Christ focuses uniquely on just six statements Jesus uttered that can profoundly affect anyone regardless of race, religion, or lack thereof. The subject of all six sentences consists of two simple monosyllabic words that are beyond argument in their clarity. Some parts of God’s Word are not easy for the human mind to grasp, but the subject of these six sentences is not among them. The subject of these unshakable certainties is ‘no one.’”

Wetterling expounds upon each of these six “no one” statements, including No one can see the kingdom unless he is born again (man is completely passive in regeneration, and prior to regeneration man is altogether dead in sin and unable to believe), No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him (man’s salvation initiates with God’s sovereign action), No one comes to the Father except through me (Christ is the only way of salvation), No one takes [my life] from me, but I lay it down on my own accord (Jesus gave his life freely that he might satisfy God’s wrath in our place) No one can snatch them out of my hand (Christ’s sheep are forever secure in his sovereign grip), and No one can take away your joy (the joy that results from the gospel is eternal, ever-increasing, and ever-sustained). Wetterling very wonderfully proclaims, “The cross of Christ is at the heart of Christianity, and the grace by which Christ’s atonement covers his people.” He exclaims, “I live in joyful wonder and amazement at a holy God who hates sin yet loves this sinner so much he has rescued me from my hell-bound madness!” This is the gospel. Each chapter concludes with the phrase, “These are unshakable certainties in an uncertain world,” which very appropriately concludes Christ’s teaching that is previously exposited.

Wetterling concludes his work with the statement, “You can take these ‘no one’ statements of Jesus and torture their syntax and redefine words and perhaps say something else so they will fit into your preconceived worldview, but they will not be God’s unshakable certainties.” This is the “chose life” plea found in the teachings of Christ.

The book is partly theological, partly exegetical, partly evangelistic, and partly devotional. And it is wholly gospel truth. The extremely minor exegetical disagreements I have with the author are not worth mentioning. I recommend this short book to all to read, enjoy, and learn.

Evan May.

And the Winner Is

Frank Page of Taylors, SC has just been elected SBC President. He is the first "non-establishment" candidate to be elected in 26 years. Jerry Sutton and Ronnie Floyd received just under 25 percent of the vote apiece. Page won with 50.48 percent of the vote. This means that 75 percent did not vote for Ronnie Floyd, the man endorsed by Paige Patterson and other agency heads. He is, unlike Dr. Sutton, unwilling to amend the BFM to conform to International Mission Board policies (thus setting a precedent that we can amend the BFM to conform to the whims of agencies), and, unlike Floyd, he will not continue to narrow the parameters of cooperation in the SBC in a manner that exceeds the current BFM. Congratulations, Brother Frank, and may God have mercy on your soul.

Crunch time


DagoodS said:

Then, perhaps steve, if you are interested you could help BillH out. He seems to be in a bit of a time crunch.

The most common apologetic to resolve the problem of Paul vs. Luke regarding Damascus is to claim Paul went twice, and Luke was convoluting the two events in Acts 9. That there should be a three-year hiatus somewhere within 9:21-23.

Can you provide a set of criteria by which we can determine where Luke is convoluting or skipping years, and where Luke is not in his books? Don’t just tell me he “is” or “is not” to suit some problem presented in another book, but come up with a criteria so that we know when Luke is confused, or when he is skipping years, or when he is not, regardless of what is stated in other books.



1.Since I don’t believe that Luke is ever confused, I don’t need a criterion to distinguish between when he’s confused and when he’s not.

2.There’s no magic rule of thumb for synchronizing overlapping accounts of ancient historians. That can only be done on a case-by-case basis, and the synchronization will often be provisional, for the chronology may be open to more than one harmonization.

3.Likewise, every ancient (and modern) historian records what is important to him, in his own order of preference.

There is no ready-made criterion for telling when an ancient historian is skipping years. That depends on what time-markers, if any, he provides when he transitions from one event to another, as well as whatever comparative data, if any, we may have at our disposal.

We can’t impose some abstract framework on individual historians.

4.Both Luke and Paul refer to more than one trip taken by Paul to Jerusalem.

5.One standard synchronization, favored by Bruce, Hemer, Marshall, and Witherington, coordinates Acts 9:26-29 with Gal 1:18-19 (Paul’s first trip) and Acts 11:30 with Gal 2:1 (Paul’s second trip).

Other correlations are possible.

6.The 3-year hiatus may be by inclusive reckoning.

Terrapin cosmology

Skimming the archive I see that Danny did reply to something I wrote, for which I’ve offered no response.

I said,


Daniel Morgan said:

But there are even more problems. He says that “that time itself is a feature of the Big Bang,” but he goes on to say “that the energy/mass/matter of the Big Bang existed prior to the expansion.”

But if time began with the big bang, then there’s no timeline which he can retroject into the singularity; hence, his appeal to temporal priority is nonsense.

So much for his oscillating universe, which assumes a relative timeframe of expansion and contraction.


To which he said:


If only you could get off so easily:
just published article on calculating a "bounce" rather than a singularity from the GR equations --
Quantum Nature of the Big Bang

Perhaps I should clarify my point with a simple reference -- the Naked Singularity provides a way to give people an understanding of how event A can be causal to effect B without being prior temporally within B's spatio-temporal framework. If indeed every black hole is a naked singularity, we cannot deny that the space-time fabric no longer applies there. Let our universe be A and the new singularity B.
-The events that gave rise to B happened within the spatio-temporal framework of A.


It is hard to see how this is responsive to the problem. Let us remember how this aspect of the discussion got off the ground. As I recall, Danny said that modern cosmology invalidated the cosmological argument for God’s existence inasmuch as time began with the origin of the universe, in which case there could be no first cause prior to the universe itself.

i) If he believes that “event A can be causal to effect B without being prior temporally within B's spatio-temporal framework,” then what becomes of his original objection to the cosmological argument?

ii) He is tacitly assuming a relative chronology which embraces both A and B. As such, it stands outside of the chronology internal to both A and B respectively.

He is saying that events within A give rise to B. That assumes a temporal relation between A and B, as well as within A and B.

What physical structure is grounding this transcendent timeline?



-The fate of B is sealed: nothing within A can "undo" the singularity
-What occurs within B is completely unknown and unknowable from outside the event horizon, but there is no reason to suppose that B cannot undergo a transformation (independent of further causation from A) in which B expands again and produces its own, A-independent space-time.
-If anything happens within B, observers in B cannot "see" A, and can only go back to their own origin : the singularity itself.


So although there’s no direct physical evidence for A, they should postulate A anyway.

How does this differ, in principle from the reasoning for the cosmological argument?


Is it proper, though, for an observer inside of B to deny the existence of a causal A? Yes and no.

They cannot "see" A, yet it is clear that something did not come from nothing.


Of course, Aquinas, Leibniz, Swinburne, and W. L. Craig (to name a few) would agree: it’s clear that something did not come from nothing.

Moving along:


We'll wait and see, but I'll put my money on science to produce a GUT before the end of my life. The uncertainty of science doesn't bother me. Unlike yourself, I need no [quasi] claims to absolutism to sustain me. I love data, and interpretations of data change, and new data comes in all the time.


Several problems with this reply:

i) Unlike Witten, who’s a Fields medalist, Danny lacks the command of quantum geometry necessary to evaluate Brane cosmology for himself.

So he has to rely on popularizations, which he takes on faith.

ii) His appeal to the “data” continues to miss the point.

a) This assumes that the probative data is accessible.

But if Brane cosmology is a fourth-order abstraction, then how can it be descriptive of the physical universe?

We’ dealing with unobservables, not observables. Unobservables several steps removed from observation.

b) And even if the observables were available, this also assumes that the human mind enjoys direct access to the observables.

But a scientific theory of sensory processing does not justify that claim.

You cannot appeal to the “data” as some short of shortcut when the very point at issue is the inaccessibility of the data.

Moving along:


“How does Danny happen to know what the laws of physics were before the big bang? Wouldn’t’ the big bang erase any trace evidence of the “preexisting” universe?”

We don't know. In fact, that is why it is called a "singularity". The better question to ask is -- can the laws of physics we have now have originated in an event which itself canno be described by the laws of physics? If the answer is "yes", then we're done with science if the singularity is factual and historically correct. We can't go back any further. However, most people have no reason to suppose the answer is "yes", and, using mathematics and findings unavailable in Einstein's day, have seen the distinct possibility that the "singularity" may be an artefact of inadequate modeling. GR equations are insufficient, IOW. We have to have quantum gravity.

Until then, we have to use the known physics from this universe to extrapolate to how the universe arose. From there, speculating about the physics of other universes is indeed abstract and unscientific, which leads to your next point:

“vii) Likewise, why assume an alternative universe must be governed by the same laws and constants of nature?”

Great question! In fact, there is no reason to suppose that at all! Which, nicely, slices the Anthropic principle to pieces. If one single configuration of the constants gives rise to a universe which itself harbors life, and there are a huge number of other universes produced which do not harbor life, some of which capable of producing more black holes and singularities and "seeded universes", or not, the AP is defeated.

Of course, erstwhile models supposed a huge number of cycles of this one universe, something still unable to be scientifically disproven for the very reason you bring up -- the 2LoT, often invoked to falsify "steady state" universes, is "reset" with each singularity -- we cannot know what happens to "state functions" like the laws of thermodynamics through a singularity, and there is no reason to suppose they carry their net value through, versus becoming "0" again on the other side. The other observation intended to quash the steady-state is that our universe is expanding. A question is -- are the distant galaxies accelerating towards black holes which are, themselves, the seeds of new universes?

Either way, multiverse or single universe, with a cycle, with constants that do or do not change, then the whole anthropic principle is defeated.


Several more problems:

i) If the latest phase of an oscillating universe erases the evidence of a prior phase, then what evidence is there for an oscillating universe in the first place?

ii) If the laws of our universe may not be applicable to a previous cycle, then how can one offer a physical model of the oscillating universe as a whole?

iii) Why does Danny reject the cosmology argument on the grounds that it would violate the laws of physics when he endorses Brane cosmology, according to which it may well be illicit to extrapolate the constants governing this phase of the oscillating universe to the preceding cycle?

iv) In their yearning to abandon the anthropic principle, it’s striking to see unbelievers abandon Occam’s razor.

v) The cosmological argument is not dependent on the anthropic principle. Fine-tuning is just one version of the cosmological argument.

The fundamental principle underlying the cosmological argument, and, indeed, rational explanation generally, is the principle of sufficient reason.

Even if the megaverse or cyclical universe were true, the principle of sufficient reason would still obtain.

Leibniz could easily adapt the cosmological argument to a megaverse or cyclical universe.



This field is quite interesting on a variety of levels. Some are scientific, some "just" philosophical, but all give us pause for thought to consider the nearly endless possibilities of the origin and fate of our universe (and others).


In that event, why is he pinning his hopes on a GUT?

Moving along:


That's why I have wonder and awe of nature, while refusing to inject "God" into my own ignorance of what happened, as "God" explains nothing and gives me no more understanding or knowledge. "Poof" doesn't tell me a darn thing.


Danny continues to indulge his childish and anti-intellectual characterization of theism. Did he get this infantile adjective from Babinski?

To say that God has no explanatory power merely exhibits his ignorance of the literature.

His willful ignorance is no better than terrapin cosmology: it’s turtles all the way down.


Current quantum gravity work will probably do a complete overhaul of everything people have done thus far (modifying it for the better, of course).


“A complete overhaul of everything people have done thus far.”

Is this supposed to inspire confidence in the veracity of cosmological theorizing?

Danny speaks with the native optimism of the young. The great breakthrough is just around the corner.

The problem is that some of us have been around this corner before. Taking four right turns in a row is not a sign of progress.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Dancing on his grave


A Terrorist is dead. His name was Abu Musab al-Zarqawi.

What are we as Christians supposed to make of that?

But I must be honest with you, much of what I have heard in response to al-Zarqawi's death has been distrubing. One popular Talk-show host suggested we wrap him in a bacon blanket, put a ham hat on him and bury him in a Spam can. Even Christians I've heard have been positively gloating and jubilant. And

I fear we have done much sinning in our responses.

Now let me mark out first that this murderer and terrorist needed to be stopped. He deserved death. That is not in dispute. But by the same token, how Christians can claim to have the heart of their Lord and then rejoice over a man's perishing into the ternal torments of a Christless Hell is beyond me.

We need caution here. Proverbs 24 warns: “17 Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles, 18 lest the LORD see it and be displeased, and turn away his anger from him.”

There is place for sighs of relief and genuine gladness that the threat is gone - but no place, I repeat NO PLACE, for wicked gloating over the sin-bound life and violent death of one of Adam's sons made in the image of God as much as you or me. None.

Did he deserve to hear the Gospel? As much as you or I. Was he more sinful than you and me? Only in manifestion, not in state. There but for the grace of God go I - and you. And the pictures of his wounded, dead corpse only make me grieve over the horror of sin's claim on our lives apart from God intervening grace.

Yes, al-Zarqawi is a threat I am glad no longer exists. But dancing on his grave, is as depraved as excusing his crimes.

Be careful Christian, that you do not react the way the World does. Be careful that your own heart does not become callous and indifferent to the souls of men. “From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer.” (2 Cor. 5:16 ) We must think of Zarqawi as a soul - not mere flesh. One of those “every living creature”s we were commanded to preach the Gospel to - to extend grace to, and the promise of mercy to, because of Christ's death at Calvary. The loss of his eternal soul is no source of rejoicing for us.

Sometimes justice must be meted out on the battlefield, because society has no real way of dealing with such men. In God's providence, He shows us great mercy this way. But do not use it as an occasion to scorn the soul of any man. You were God's enemy too once. The only difference between Judas' betrayal and Peter's denials, was grace. Don't forget it.


I’m sure this man means well, but he’s fallen into the trap of hyperpiety. The fact is that Scripture is full of taunt-songs.

Exodus 15:1-18 (New International Version)

The Song of Moses and Miriam
1 Then Moses and the Israelites sang this song to the LORD :
"I will sing to the LORD,
for he is highly exalted.
The horse and its rider
he has hurled into the sea.

2 The LORD is my strength and my song;
he has become my salvation.
He is my God, and I will praise him,
my father's God, and I will exalt him.

3 The LORD is a warrior;
the LORD is his name.

4 Pharaoh's chariots and his army
he has hurled into the sea.
The best of Pharaoh's officers
are drowned in the Red Sea. [a]

5 The deep waters have covered them;
they sank to the depths like a stone.

6 "Your right hand, O LORD,
was majestic in power.
Your right hand, O LORD,
shattered the enemy.

7 In the greatness of your majesty
you threw down those who opposed you.
You unleashed your burning anger;
it consumed them like stubble.

8 By the blast of your nostrils
the waters piled up.
The surging waters stood firm like a wall;
the deep waters congealed in the heart of the sea.

9 "The enemy boasted,
'I will pursue, I will overtake them.
I will divide the spoils;
I will gorge myself on them.
I will draw my sword
and my hand will destroy them.'

10 But you blew with your breath,
and the sea covered them.
They sank like lead
in the mighty waters.

11 "Who among the gods is like you, O LORD ?
Who is like you—
majestic in holiness,
awesome in glory,
working wonders?

12 You stretched out your right hand
and the earth swallowed them.

13 "In your unfailing love you will lead
the people you have redeemed.
In your strength you will guide them
to your holy dwelling.

14 The nations will hear and tremble;
anguish will grip the people of Philistia.

15 The chiefs of Edom will be terrified,
the leaders of Moab will be seized with trembling,
the people [b] of Canaan will melt away;

16 terror and dread will fall upon them.
By the power of your arm
they will be as still as a stone—
until your people pass by, O LORD,
until the people you bought [c] pass by.

17 You will bring them in and plant them
on the mountain of your inheritance—
the place, O LORD, you made for your dwelling,
the sanctuary, O Lord, your hands established.

18 The LORD will reign
for ever and ever."

Judges 5:1-31 (New International Version)

The Song of Deborah
1 On that day Deborah and Barak son of Abinoam sang this song:

2 "When the princes in Israel take the lead,
when the people willingly offer themselves—
praise the LORD!

3 "Hear this, you kings! Listen, you rulers!
I will sing to [a] the LORD, I will sing;
I will make music to [b] the LORD, the God of Israel.

4 "O LORD, when you went out from Seir,
when you marched from the land of Edom,
the earth shook, the heavens poured,
the clouds poured down water.

5 The mountains quaked before the LORD, the One of Sinai,
before the LORD, the God of Israel.

6 "In the days of Shamgar son of Anath,
in the days of Jael, the roads were abandoned;
travelers took to winding paths.

7 Village life [c] in Israel ceased,
ceased until I, [d] Deborah, arose,
arose a mother in Israel.

8 When they chose new gods,
war came to the city gates,
and not a shield or spear was seen
among forty thousand in Israel.

9 My heart is with Israel's princes,
with the willing volunteers among the people.
Praise the LORD!

10 "You who ride on white donkeys,
sitting on your saddle blankets,
and you who walk along the road,
consider 11 the voice of the singers [e] at the watering places.
They recite the righteous acts of the LORD,
the righteous acts of his warriors [f] in Israel.
"Then the people of the LORD
went down to the city gates.

12 'Wake up, wake up, Deborah!
Wake up, wake up, break out in song!
Arise, O Barak!
Take captive your captives, O son of Abinoam.'

13 "Then the men who were left
came down to the nobles;
the people of the LORD
came to me with the mighty.

14 Some came from Ephraim, whose roots were in Amalek;
Benjamin was with the people who followed you.
From Makir captains came down,
from Zebulun those who bear a commander's staff.

15 The princes of Issachar were with Deborah;
yes, Issachar was with Barak,
rushing after him into the valley.
In the districts of Reuben
there was much searching of heart.

16 Why did you stay among the campfires [g]
to hear the whistling for the flocks?
In the districts of Reuben
there was much searching of heart.

17 Gilead stayed beyond the Jordan.
And Dan, why did he linger by the ships?
Asher remained on the coast
and stayed in his coves.

18 The people of Zebulun risked their very lives;
so did Naphtali on the heights of the field.

19 "Kings came, they fought;
the kings of Canaan fought
at Taanach by the waters of Megiddo,
but they carried off no silver, no plunder.

20 From the heavens the stars fought,
from their courses they fought against Sisera.

21 The river Kishon swept them away,
the age-old river, the river Kishon.
March on, my soul; be strong!

22 Then thundered the horses' hoofs—
galloping, galloping go his mighty steeds.

23 'Curse Meroz,' said the angel of the LORD.
'Curse its people bitterly,
because they did not come to help the LORD,
to help the LORD against the mighty.'

24 "Most blessed of women be Jael,
the wife of Heber the Kenite,
most blessed of tent-dwelling women.

25 He asked for water, and she gave him milk;
in a bowl fit for nobles she brought him curdled milk.

26 Her hand reached for the tent peg,
her right hand for the workman's hammer.
She struck Sisera, she crushed his head,
she shattered and pierced his temple.

27 At her feet he sank,
he fell; there he lay.
At her feet he sank, he fell;
where he sank, there he fell-dead.

28 "Through the window peered Sisera's mother;
behind the lattice she cried out,
'Why is his chariot so long in coming?
Why is the clatter of his chariots delayed?'

29 The wisest of her ladies answer her;
indeed, she keeps saying to herself,

30 'Are they not finding and dividing the spoils:
a girl or two for each man,
colorful garments as plunder for Sisera,
colorful garments embroidered,
highly embroidered garments for my neck—
all this as plunder?'

31 "So may all your enemies perish, O LORD!
But may they who love you be like the sun
when it rises in its strength."
Then the land had peace forty years.

1 Samuel 17:45-47 (New International Version)

45 David said to the Philistine, "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the LORD Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This day the LORD will hand you over to me, and I'll strike you down and cut off your head. Today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air and the beasts of the earth, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. 47 All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the LORD saves; for the battle is the LORD's, and he will give all of you into our hands."

Isaiah 14:3-21 (New International Version)

3 On the day the LORD gives you relief from suffering and turmoil and cruel bondage, 4 you will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon:
How the oppressor has come to an end!
How his fury [a] has ended!

5 The LORD has broken the rod of the wicked,
the scepter of the rulers,

6 which in anger struck down peoples
with unceasing blows,
and in fury subdued nations
with relentless aggression.

7 All the lands are at rest and at peace;
they break into singing.

8 Even the pine trees and the cedars of Lebanon
exult over you and say,
"Now that you have been laid low,
no woodsman comes to cut us down."

9 The grave [b] below is all astir
to meet you at your coming;
it rouses the spirits of the departed to greet you—
all those who were leaders in the world;
it makes them rise from their thrones—
all those who were kings over the nations.

10 They will all respond,
they will say to you,
"You also have become weak, as we are;
you have become like us."

11 All your pomp has been brought down to the grave,
along with the noise of your harps;
maggots are spread out beneath you
and worms cover you.

12 How you have fallen from heaven,
O morning star, son of the dawn!
You have been cast down to the earth,
you who once laid low the nations!

13 You said in your heart,
"I will ascend to heaven;
I will raise my throne
above the stars of God;
I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,
on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain. [c]

14 I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High."

15 But you are brought down to the grave,
to the depths of the pit.

16 Those who see you stare at you,
they ponder your fate:
"Is this the man who shook the earth
and made kingdoms tremble,

17 the man who made the world a desert,
who overthrew its cities
and would not let his captives go home?"

18 All the kings of the nations lie in state,
each in his own tomb.

19 But you are cast out of your tomb
like a rejected branch;
you are covered with the slain,
with those pierced by the sword,
those who descend to the stones of the pit.
Like a corpse trampled underfoot,

20 you will not join them in burial,
for you have destroyed your land
and killed your people.
The offspring of the wicked
will never be mentioned again.

21 Prepare a place to slaughter his sons
for the sins of their forefathers;
they are not to rise to inherit the land
and cover the earth with their cities.

Ezekiel 28:11-19 (New International Version)

11 The word of the LORD came to me: 12 "Son of man, take up a lament concerning the king of Tyre and say to him: 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says:
" 'You were the model of perfection,
full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.

13 You were in Eden,
the garden of God;
every precious stone adorned you:
ruby, topaz and emerald,
chrysolite, onyx and jasper,
sapphire, [a] turquoise and beryl. [b]
Your settings and mountings [c] were made of gold;
on the day you were created they were prepared.

14 You were anointed as a guardian cherub,
for so I ordained you.
You were on the holy mount of God;
you walked among the fiery stones.

15 You were blameless in your ways
from the day you were created
till wickedness was found in you.

16 Through your widespread trade
you were filled with violence,
and you sinned.
So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God,
and I expelled you, O guardian cherub,
from among the fiery stones.

17 Your heart became proud
on account of your beauty,
and you corrupted your wisdom
because of your splendor.
So I threw you to the earth;
I made a spectacle of you before kings.

18 By your many sins and dishonest trade
you have desecrated your sanctuaries.
So I made a fire come out from you,
and it consumed you,
and I reduced you to ashes on the ground
in the sight of all who were watching.

19 All the nations who knew you
are appalled at you;
you have come to a horrible end
and will be no more.' "

Revelation 18:1-24 (New International Version)

1After this I saw another angel coming down from heaven. He had great authority, and the earth was illuminated by his splendor. 2With a mighty voice he shouted:
"Fallen! Fallen is Babylon the Great!
She has become a home for demons
and a haunt for every evil[a] spirit,
a haunt for every unclean and detestable bird.
3For all the nations have drunk
the maddening wine of her adulteries.
The kings of the earth committed adultery with her,
and the merchants of the earth grew rich from her excessive luxuries."

4Then I heard another voice from heaven say:
"Come out of her, my people,
so that you will not share in her sins,
so that you will not receive any of her plagues;
5for her sins are piled up to heaven,
and God has remembered her crimes.
6Give back to her as she has given;
pay her back double for what she has done.
Mix her a double portion from her own cup.
7Give her as much torture and grief
as the glory and luxury she gave herself.
In her heart she boasts,
'I sit as queen; I am not a widow,
and I will never mourn.'
8Therefore in one day her plagues will overtake her:
death, mourning and famine.
She will be consumed by fire,
for mighty is the Lord God who judges her.

9"When the kings of the earth who committed adultery with her and shared her luxury see the smoke of her burning, they will weep and mourn over her. 10Terrified at her torment, they will stand far off and cry:
" 'Woe! Woe, O great city,
O Babylon, city of power!
In one hour your doom has come!'

11"The merchants of the earth will weep and mourn over her because no one buys their cargoes any more— 12cargoes of gold, silver, precious stones and pearls; fine linen, purple, silk and scarlet cloth; every sort of citron wood, and articles of every kind made of ivory, costly wood, bronze, iron and marble; 13cargoes of cinnamon and spice, of incense, myrrh and frankincense, of wine and olive oil, of fine flour and wheat; cattle and sheep; horses and carriages; and bodies and souls of men.

14"They will say, 'The fruit you longed for is gone from you. All your riches and splendor have vanished, never to be recovered.' 15The merchants who sold these things and gained their wealth from her will stand far off, terrified at her torment. They will weep and mourn 16and cry out:
" 'Woe! Woe, O great city,
dressed in fine linen, purple and scarlet,
and glittering with gold, precious stones and pearls!
17In one hour such great wealth has been brought to ruin!'

"Every sea captain, and all who travel by ship, the sailors, and all who earn their living from the sea, will stand far off. 18When they see the smoke of her burning, they will exclaim, 'Was there ever a city like this great city?' 19They will throw dust on their heads, and with weeping and mourning cry out:
" 'Woe! Woe, O great city,
where all who had ships on the sea
became rich through her wealth!
In one hour she has been brought to ruin!
20Rejoice over her, O heaven!
Rejoice, saints and apostles and prophets!
God has judged her for the way she treated you.' "

21Then a mighty angel picked up a boulder the size of a large millstone and threw it into the sea, and said:
"With such violence
the great city of Babylon will be thrown down,
never to be found again.
22The music of harpists and musicians, flute players and trumpeters,
will never be heard in you again.
No workman of any trade
will ever be found in you again.
The sound of a millstone
will never be heard in you again.
23The light of a lamp will never shine in you again.
The voice of bridegroom and bride
will never be heard in you again.
Your merchants were the world's great men.
By your magic spell all the nations were led astray.
24In her was found the blood of prophets and of the saints,
and of all who have been killed on the earth."

Revelation 19:1-3 (New International Version)

1After this I heard what sounded like the roar of a great multitude in heaven shouting:
Salvation and glory and power belong to our God,
2for true and just are his judgments.
He has condemned the great prostitute
who corrupted the earth by her adulteries.
He has avenged on her the blood of his servants." 3And again they shouted:
The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever."