Thursday, June 01, 2023

Apologetics And Psalm 102:18

I've occasionally written about Biblical passages that are relevant to apologetics, but are often neglected in that context. Another one to consider is Psalm 102:18: "This will be written for the generation to come, that a people yet to be created may praise the Lord." The focus on God is good, it reflects the value of writing (which has become more important as a result of factors like the rise in literacy in the modern world and modern technology), and it reflects the value of benefiting people we aren't interacting with face to face ("a people yet to be created") in relationship with a God we don't see face to face. The passage is valuable in our cultural context, given the derogatory, dismissive comments so many people make about writing, especially writing on the internet, and any interaction with other people that isn't face to face.

Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Try To Persuade

In a tribute to Tim Keller after his death, Michael Kruger mentioned an article he'd written about how persuasion is a missing element in modern sermons. It's also missing in a lot of other contexts. There's a major problem with Christians in general, not just pastors, not trying to persuade people as much as they should. Most people don't get involved much in discussions about religious issues (or ethics, politics, etc.). Among those who do get involved, they often state their position without offering much or any support for it. The people who are making a significant effort to not only discuss religion, but also do it persuasively are a small percentage of the population. That needs to change.

Sunday, May 28, 2023

Quadratus As A Supplement To Papias

Papias is one of the early church figures often made out to have been more influential than he actually was, often blamed for originating or popularizing ideas that are opposed by the people doing the blaming. Others will blame Paul, Irenaeus, Eusebius, or whoever else. But Papias is one of the individuals most often brought up. Supposedly, he originated the traditional gospel authorship attributions or is said to have had a major role in popularizing the attributions or the gospels themselves, for example. In addition to being blamed for allegedly originating or popularizing supposedly bad things, he's often dismissed as too unintelligent to be reliable, too discredited by false claims that he made, and so on.

I've written a lot in response to such criticisms of Papias: whether he was a disciple of John the son of Zebedee, whether he had that relationship with some other John instead, Papias' influence on gospel authorship attributions, his alleged gullibility, his material on Judas' death, etc. There are many other posts in our archives on such issues, such as the ones included here, in my collection of links addressing skeptical myths about the church fathers. What I want to do in the remainder of this post is discuss another line of evidence that can be cited against objections like the ones mentioned above.

Thursday, May 25, 2023

Tuesday, May 23, 2023

I Cannot Die

"That kind of rock-solid confidence in the face of death has emboldened missionaries for two thousand years. The truth of God's providence has been the stabilizing power for thousands of Christ's emissaries. Believing that God holds life and death and always works mercy for his children has freed them to embrace the dangers of the mission and has sustained them when death came. Henry Martyn, missionary to India and Persia, who died when he was thirty-one (on October 16, 1812), wrote in his journal in January 1812: 'To all appearance, the present year will be more perilous than any I have seen; but if I live to complete the Persian New Testament, my life after that will be of less importance. But whether life or death be mine, may Christ be magnified in me! If he has work for me to do, I cannot die.' This has often been paraphrased as 'I am immortal till Christ's work for me to do is done.'" (John Piper, Providence [Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2020], approximate Kindle location 5904)

Sunday, May 21, 2023

Tim Keller's Death

Here's a discussion Gavin Ortlund had with Collin Hansen a few months ago concerning a book Collin wrote about Keller. I've had a quote from Keller's book on prayer that I hadn't gotten around to posting yet, so this is an appropriate time to post it. I'll include another good passage that I've quoted before from the same book.

"Consider the petition 'O Lord - give me a job so I won't be poor.' That is an appropriate thing to ask God for. Indeed, it is essentially the same thing as to pray, 'Give us this day our daily bread.' Yet the Proverbs [30:7-9] prayer reveals the only proper motivation beneath the request. If you just jump into prayer without recognizing the disordered nature of the heart's loves, your prayer's intention will be, 'Make me as wealthy as possible.' The Proverbs 30 prayer is different. It is to ask, 'Lord, meet my material needs, and give me wealth, yes, but only as much as I can handle without it harming my ability to put you first in life. Because ultimately I don't need status and comfort - I need you as my Lord.'" (Prayer [New York, New York: Dutton, 2014], 86)

"If you forget the costliness of sin, your prayers of confession and repentance will be shallow and trivial. They will neither honor God nor change your life….Stott argued that confessing our sins implies the forsaking of our sins. Confessing and forsaking must not be decoupled, yet most people confess - admit that what they did was wrong - without at the same time disowning the sin and turning their hearts against it in such a way that would weaken their ability to do it again. We must be inwardly grieved and appalled enough by sin - even as we frame the whole process with the knowledge of our acceptance in Christ - that it loses its hold over us." (212)

Thursday, May 18, 2023

Unravelling The Universe

Ben Sinclair's Unravelling The Universe is a good YouTube channel to follow on paranormal issues. He's done interviews with some of the biggest names in the field: Bruce Greyson, Stanley Krippner, Gregory Shushan, etc. There's a lot of valuable material on a lot of subjects.

Tuesday, May 16, 2023

You should be a teacher by now, but are you?

Hebrews 5:12 tells Christians who were much more disadvantaged in life than we are in a lot of ways, "by this time you ought to be teachers". That's even more applicable to immature Christians in our day. People should be expected to grow as Christians and become increasingly self-reliant and increasingly productive. That includes intellectual contexts (1 Corinthians 14:20). What do you have to show for the opportunities you've had?

Sunday, May 14, 2023

Were Christians united about a physical presence in the eucharist before the Reformation?

It's often claimed that every Christian, almost every Christian, or some other widespread consensus believed in a physical presence in the eucharist prior to the Reformation. Sometimes it's even suggested that a physical presence is the simple, literal reading of scripture that the universal church held to before Protestantism came along. I want to discuss some evidence to the contrary.

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Defrauding God Of His Honor

"It follows that we gain nothing if all we do is satisfy our fellowmen. Sometimes, of course, we see signs of honourable behvaiour among many unbelievers. The vital element, however, is missing. They do not make God their aim; they do not honour him or understand what he requires by way of holiness. We should be careful never to take from men what is theirs. By the same token we must give to God what is his, and the things he reserves to himself. If we would not think of robbing our neighbour, it would be sacrilege to want to defraud God of his honour." (John Calvin, in Robert White, trans., Songs Of The Nativity [Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Banner of Truth, 2008], 103-4)

Tuesday, May 09, 2023

The Release Date And Other Information On Gary Habermas' Multi-Volume Series On Jesus' Resurrection

Sean McDowell interviewed Gary Habermas a few days ago, and his upcoming multi-volume magnum opus on Jesus' resurrection was discussed. Here's one of the relevant segments. The first volume is due out next January, and the subsequent volumes should come out at eight-month intervals. He also described some of the contents of the first two volumes and other details.

Sunday, May 07, 2023

Early Belief In Inerrancy And Harmonization

The earliest Christians held a high view of the historicity of scripture and considered scripture inerrant. I've occasionally discussed these issues in the past and have provided documentation, such as here. I want to quote some relevant comments from Dionysius of Alexandria, since he's so often neglected in discussions of patristic issues:

"But by what you have written to me, you have quite soundly and with a good insight into the Divine Gospels established the fact that nothing definite appears in them about the hour at which He rose. For the Evangelists described those that came to the tomb diversely—that is, at different times…And we must not imagine that the evangelists are at variance and contradict one another: but even if there seem to be some small dispute upon the matter of your inquiry—that is, if though all agree that the Light of the world our Lord arose on that night, they differ about the hour, yet let us be anxious fairly and faithfully to harmonize what is said." (p. 77 here)

Thursday, May 04, 2023

The Advantages Of A Low Social Status

"I have a Bible that my parents gave me when I was 15. I look at it and how it’s marked up in red. I have memories of lying in my single bed with the trolley cars on the wallpaper on the wall above me, reading my Bible late at night, desperate because I couldn’t speak [well]. That was a great gift to me by the way, that God shut me down socially and cut me off from all fast tracks, all party tracks, and all cool-guy tracks. I was just shut down into my little world of going hard after God when I was 15. So I’ve been reading my Bible every day since I was 15, and it has been my life." (John Piper)

Tuesday, May 02, 2023

Early Christian Conversions Independent Of Baptism

I want to discuss a neglected line of evidence against baptismal regeneration and baptismal justification. There's a widespread pattern of early Christian conversion accounts that involve significant changes in the individual's life prior to his baptism. Those changes range across a spectrum. Often, it can be shown to be probable that regeneration or justification occurred before baptism (e.g., through a reference to forgiveness of sins, through a reference to the reception of the Holy Spirit). But even if prebaptismal regeneration or justification is only possible rather than probable when a conversion account is considered in isolation, that account can have more evidential significance than is typically suggested, such as when it's considered in a larger context, like one of the ones I'll be discussing below.

More Discussion Of The Problems With The Eliakim Argument For The Papacy

John Cranman and Jeremy Kidd recently produced a video that makes a lot of good points about the argument for a papacy based on Eliakim in Isaiah 22. (I came across the video by means of a link from The Other Paul on Twitter.)