Friday, February 19, 2010

Pig in a pope

Mark P. Shea said:
You guys are pigs. I used to have a scintilla of respect for you. No more. In a more civilized age somebody would challenge you swine to pistols at dawn.
He also said:
Do not cast your pearls before swine.

There are two ways of drawing a picture of a pig. One is to draw a picture (and Hays/Bugay and Co have drawn a fine self-portrait).

The other is to draw a picture of a pig and write below it, "This is a pig."

You don't need to write that. All normal people can see the pigs here.

The oinking here does not require a reply from Catholics. It requires stony silence.
Hey! What's so wrong with pigs? What's Mr. Shea got against them anyway? What'd pigs ever do to him?

After all:
Pope Sergius IV (born in Rome, died May 12, 1012), born Pietro Martino Buccaporci, was Pope from July 31, 1009, until his death. The date of his birth is unknown. His birth name is believed to have been Pietro Martino (Peter Martin) Buccaporci. This name essentially translated to "Peter Pig's Snout." Pietro adopted the name Sergius IV upon accession to the pontificate.
And according to the May 10, 1984 edition of the Gainesville Sun:
Ma va! Porca miseria!

"Seeking God in Science: An Atheist Defends Intelligent Design"

Paul Manata and I are in a "debate" with someone who goes by the moniker "sillysillysilly". Well, if you can call debating a troll a debate. For some examples see here, here, and here. This is just the tip of the iceberg too. Anyway, Paul made an insightful, worthwhile comment to the troll where he cites Seeking God in Science by Bradley Monton. It's a useful book.

The natives are restless

The natives are restless


You guys are pigs. I used to have a scintilla of respect for you. No more. In a more civilized age somebody would challenge you swine to pistols at dawn.



Do not cast your pearls before swine.

There are two ways of drawing a picture of a pig. One is to draw a picture (and Hays/Bugay and Co have drawn a fine self-portrait).

The other is to draw a picture of a pig and write below it, "This is a pig."

You don't need to write that. All normal people can see the pigs here.

The oinking here does not require a reply from Catholics. It requires stony silence.


You know, you could also apologise outright for all the deliberate Catholic-baiting you've done and the wilful aggrievation involved. "I think your church sucks for many reasons, but I shouldn't have talked in that way. Please forgive me." Your pride is not worth holding on to, will not save you, and does not please God.

Dave Armstrong said...

A truly sad case . . . please pray and do penance for this poor deluded soul who is leading many astray (his blog gets as many daily hits as mine does; he's not just spreading this filth to five or six people). Among anti-Catholics, he is considered one of the best critics of the Catholic Church.

Nothing new under the sun

18Also many of those who were now believers came, confessing and divulging their practices. 19And a number of those who had practiced magic arts brought their books together and burned them in the sight of all. And they counted the value of them and found it came to fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20So the word of the Lord continued to increase and prevail mightily.

21Now after these events Paul resolved in the Spirit to pass through Macedonia and Achaia and go to Jerusalem, saying, "After I have been there, I must also see Rome." 22And having sent into Macedonia two of his helpers, Timothy and Erastus, he himself stayed in Asia for a while.

23About that time there arose no little disturbance concerning the Way. 24For a man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, brought no little business to the craftsmen. 25 These he gathered together, with the workmen in similar trades, and said, "Men, you know that from this business we have our wealth. 26And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus but in almost all of Asia this Paul has persuaded and turned away a great many people, saying that gods made with hands are not gods. 27And there is danger not only that this trade of ours may come into disrepute but also that the temple of the great goddess Artemis may be counted as nothing, and that she may even be deposed from her magnificence, she whom all Asia and the world worship."

28When they heard this they were enraged and were crying out, "Great is Artemis of the Ephesians!" 29So the city was filled with the confusion, and they rushed together into the theater, dragging with them Gaius and Aristarchus, Macedonians who were Paul’s companions in travel. 30But when Paul wished to go in among the crowd, the disciples would not let him. 31And even some of the Asiarchs, who were friends of his, sent to him and were urging him not to venture into the theater. 32 Now some cried out one thing, some another, for the assembly was in confusion, and most of them did not know why they had come together. (Acts 19:18-32)

Catholic fetishism

Because Catholicism repudiates forensic justification as well as God’s appointed means of sanctification, Catholicism substitutes fetishism for real grace. It fetishises “holy” persons, buildings, paintings, furniture, relics, &c.

Such persons, places, and things are sacrosanct, not due to their inherent holiness, but their ascriptive holiness. Popes, monks, nuns, &c., are said to have a holy vocation. Indeed, a superior vocation. And their vocation ipso facto confers ascriptive holiness.

As such, they’re off limits. Immune to satire.

And Protestants are supposed to defer to Catholic fetishism. Catholics wax indignant of you dare to treat their ascriptively holy persons as ordinary men and women like you and me because, deep down, there is no depth to Catholic piety. In practice, externals are all they’ve got. So they cling to their externals for dear life.

No doubt many priests, monks, and nuns are sincere and self-less individuals. But for the average Catholic, that’s ultimately irrelevant. Image is all that matters. The iconic image of a nun. Not the reality–for better or worse. But the ideal notion of a nun as a bride of Christ.

Keep in mind, though, that it isn’t merely priests and bishops who’ve been complicit in the priestly abuse scandal. Consider the role of nuns in the infamous case of Nazareth House.

Yet that has no practical impact on pious Catholics since, for them, ascriptive holiness trumps actual holiness.

One of the tragic features of Catholic fetishism is that what it does to Catholic men and women with authentic, godly impulses. Some priests are genuine Christians. As such, they exhibit genuine sanctity. Yet they also flail themselves with a cat o’ nine tails in a futile and misguided effort to draw closer to Christ through self-harm. Nothing is sadder than to see good seed grow up twisted and crooked–because it’s been misdirected.

Catholics wax indignant over sadomasochistic comparisons while they remain blithely oblivious to the sadomasochistic spirituality which is codified in their own theological system.

There’s a reason that Luther broke with Rome. He’d been through all that himself.

Breach of etiquette

You can tell a lot about a man’s moral or spiritual compass by what offends him. For example, many Catholics are oddly thin-skinned when it comes to criticism of their own denomination.

At say that’s odd for a couple of reasons. For one thing, their hypersensitivity is strikingly lopsided. After all, a number of Catholic epologists are hardly paragons of decorum in their characterization of the Protestant faith. And, of course, it’s not as if their denomination was conspicuous for its tender treatment of theological opponents in the past.

I suppose we could chalk this up to standard issue hypocrisy. But I think there’s more to it than that.

In practice, Catholicism has no core identity. It’s all circumference. Surface-level piety.

For Catholic piety represents, to a fairly extreme degree, a highly externalized piety. You can see this in many respects.

Consider the pervasively pictorial emphasis in Catholic piety. Statues and paintings and other doodads.

Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with making room for the picturesque dimension of religiosity. You have some of that in the OT. Yet the OT never confuses symbolism with reality. Indeed, the OT goes out of its way to accentuate the difference. Signs are nothing in themselves. It’s what they point to that counts.

You can also see the externalized piety in its pervasive emphasis on rites and rituals. For example, repentance is transmuted into “doing penance.” Performing a ritual.

Once again, there’s nothing wrong with a certain amount of ritual. The OT had its share of ceremonies. But, once again, the OT never confuses a rite with the reality it signifies. These are placeholders.

You can also see this externalized piety in the way it confuses grace with matter. Take its morbid obsession with the relics of the saints. The notion that holiness is something which literally attaches itself to a bone or desiccated organ. And if you make a pilgrimage which puts you in spatial proximity with the severed head of a saint, his holiness rubs off on you.

Once more, there’s nothing inherently wrong with the idea of ritual purity or impurity. But that is, at most, a divine convention. God must assign that relationship to the medium. It’s not something that you and I can simply wish on things. And, once again, Scripture never confuses cultic holiness with real holiness.

On a related note is the Catholic notion of holy objects, holy places, holy gestures, and so on. Again, that’s appropriate in such cases where God has actually authorized holy time, holy space, &c. Yet even then, Scripture never confuses the sign with the significate. At best, it’s a type or emblem.

You can also see this in the Catholic notion of holy persons (“saints”). In many cases, this is a purely ascribed status. Something you (allegedly) have because of your relationship with someone else. Popes and bishops. Mary as the Queen of Heaven. On this view, it doesn’t matter what you do, only what you are–in a derivative sense.

This accounts for the amoral reaction of so many Catholics to the priestly abuse scandal. Yes, they may be indignant, but their indignation is strikingly compartmentalized. Outrage at the end-result, but no outrage at the underlying cause. Complicit popes and bishops are allowed to continue in office until they expire or retire.

And that’s because, in Catholic piety, the person of the pope or bishop is sacrosanct. What matters is his office. His isolated status as an officeholder.

Now, the Bible also has a concept of church office, with OT counterparts. And a certain deference was normally paid to officeholders.

Yet that was far from unconditional. Kings and priests could be deposed if they broke the covenant.

We can also see this externalized piety in the theology of indulgences. The saints accrue certain units of supererogatory merit, through lives of heroic mortification. Their vicarious units merit are then deposited in the treasury of merit. The pope can then redistribute certain units of merit to second parties.

This division of labor also creates one of the most appealing features of Catholicism. For the laity can wax eloquent over the austere lifestyle of Mother Theresa or Padre Pio or Father Damien while they themselves are free to live like the Prince of Monaco, le Roi Soleil, or Lord and Lady Marchmain–because they delegate “heroic virtue” to monks and nuns and other stand-ins.

You can also see this externalized piety in the purely decorative use of Scripture in Catholic apologetics. There’s no serious effort to ascertain the actual meaning of the prooftext in context. No, it’s just so much pretty wallpaper. And the more reams of wallpaper a Catholic apologist can roll out, the more impressive the argument.

As a result, the cardinal sin in Catholic piety is a breach of etiquette. It’s like high society, where the worst thing an ingénue can possibly do is to commit a fault pas at her debutante ball–like wearing the wrong color dress–and thereby disgracing the family name.

This surface-level piety also blinds them to the obvious. For example, one Catholic epologist acts offended at my suggestion that artistic renditions of St. Sebastian’s martyrdom betray a homoerotic and sadomasochistic undercurrent. Yet I’m not the only one to notice this. For instance:

[Camille Paglia] “The church that I was baptized in, St. Anthony of Padua, that I attended weekly until we moved away from Endicott, New York, when I was in first grade, had right near the altar this pretty-boy statue of St. Sebastian posing in an extremely voluptuous way, with a little loincloth around his hips and arrows in his body, bleeding. I've often spoken about the impact this statue had on my mind right from the start. As a Mediterranean Catholic, I understood the intermingling of my culturally rooted history with that kind of imagery of boys' beauty. It's built right into the iconography of the Mediterranean Catholic countries.”

Judging A Document's Genre

Chris Price recently wrote a good post on determining the genre of ancient documents, like the gospels. Since Craig Keener is mentioned in the thread, here's a post in which I quote some of his comments on the subject. And here's another article, by J.P. Holding, on the subject of the gospels' genre.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Nuns gone wild!

I’ve already commented on some other examples of Armstrong’s ignorant prooftexting. Here’s another case in point:


“Hays and his buddies tried to make the argument that the custom of wearing sackcloth was simply a Semitic custom of those times (using the merely ‘anthropological’ approach that liberals are notorious for), or that it was for mourning only, and in no sense prescribed by God. . . . .How odd, then, that the prophet Isaiah, speaking on behalf of God (as prophets are wont to do), recommends (‘prescribes’?) the wearing of sackcloth (Is 32:11)... It is only anti-Catholic Bible students today who can't see the obvious.”

Okay, let’s play along with the “obvious” implications of Armstrong’s prooftexting.

Here’s the full text: “Tremble, you women who are at ease, shudder, you complacent ones; strip, and make yourselves bare, and tie sackcloth around your waist” (Isa 32:11).

As one leading commentator explains:

“It appears that it was typical for women in the ancient Near East to bare their breasts in mourning and put sackcloth about their waists. This custom explains the reference here,” J. Oswalt, The Book of Isaiah: Chapters 1–39 (Eerdmans 1988), 585.

Since dear old Dave likes to tout his (tenuous) connections with Mother Angelica, perhaps he should produce a Spring Break video of the Poor Clares.

Saints or pain-freaks?


Lately, a great deal of controversy has occurred over the information that has come about concerning Venerable Pope John Paul II's penitential practices and self-mortification. The usual suspects have been mocking this; for example, see two pathetic anti-Catholic examples (one / two). Be forewarned that the second has an absurd, offensive sadomasochistic theme. Elsewhere, the same person claims that the martyrdom of St. Sebastian as depicted in Catholic art "betrays the homoerotic and sadomasochistic undercurrent in major streams of Catholic piety".

Mortification has a long history of use in the Catholic Church, as most people are aware. But is there any biblical justification for such a thing? The answer (as usual) is yes. The most obvious parallel is the common biblical motif of sackcloth

Ezra 9:3-5 (RSV): When I heard this, I rent my garments and my mantle, and pulled hair from my head and beard, and sat appalled. [4] Then all who trembled at the words of the God of Israel, because of the faithlessness of the returned exiles, gathered round me while I sat appalled until the evening sacrifice. [5] And at the evening sacrifice I rose from my fasting, with my garments and my mantle rent, and fell upon my knees and spread out my hands to the LORD my God,

Jeremiah 41:5 eighty men arrived from Shechem and Shiloh and Sama'ria, with their beards shaved and their clothes torn, and their bodies gashed, bringing cereal offerings and incense to present at the temple of the LORD.

1 Corinthians 9:27 but I pommel my body and subdue it, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.

[cf. NIV, Beck: "beat"; NEB: "bruise"; Williams: "beating and bruising"; Barclay: "batter"; NASB: "buffet"; NRSV: "punish"; NKJV: "discipline"; Wuest: "I beat my body black and blue and make it my abject slave"; Amplified: "I buffet my body -- handle it roughly, discipline it by hardships -- and subdue it"; Goodspeed: "I beat and bruise my body and make it my slave"; Moffatt: "I maul and master my body"]

The Apostle Paul and Ezra were clearly major deranged masochists, just like Venerable John Paul II.

How scandalous (!) that a pope would actually follow biblical models, while Protestants mock same . . . Truth is always stranger than fiction.

It takes a while to untie this tangled knot of errors:

i) One of the standing ironies of Armstrong’s apologetic method is the way he quotes Scripture to “prove” Catholicism. Needless to say, this methodology is self-refuting inasmuch as it presupposes the perspicuity of Scripture.

ii) Dave fails to draw some rudimentary distinctions between what the Bible describes, prescribes, proscribes, and permits.

iii) Apropos (ii), much of Scripture consists of historical narratives. OT history was set in the ANE. As such, the Bible frequently describes ANE customs.

Take the use of sackcloth. This isn’t distinctive to Israel. It was also employed by Israel’s pagan neighbors (e.g. Isa 15:3; Jer 49:3; Ezk 27:31; Jonah 3:5).

As such, there’s nothing inherently holy, much less prescriptive, about the use of sackcloth. At best, this is adiaphorous.

iv) Likewise, as Scripture points, fasting and ritual mourning (i.e. sackcloth) could easily degenerate into mock piety and dead formalism (Isa 58:3-7).

What the hypocrites in Isa 58 fails to appreciate–which God, through the prophet, explains–is that such rituals are, at best, symbolic tokens of what ought to be the corresponding attitude or action. As such, these rituals are nothing in themselves. Rather, they are merely emblematic signs which point to something else. That’s what matters.

v) Given Armstrong’s failure to distinguish between Biblical descriptions and Biblical prescriptions, we should conclude from 2 Kgs 6:30-32 that premeditated murder is sanctified by the preparatory use of sackcloth.

vi) Mourners often engage in irrational or self-destructive behavior. Likewise, supplicants, if left to their own devices, frequently take their “devotions” to harmful extremes.

That’s why the law of Moses expressly and repeatedly forbad self-mutilation and other forms of self-injury or disfigurement (Lev 19:27-28; 21:5; Deut 14:1).

Not surprisingly, grief-stricken Jews sometimes forgot these prohibitions. In the heat of the moment they reverted to the social customs of the day.

But because the Roman Church flagrantly disregards the teaching of Scripture, it ends up codifying pagan perversions. In Catholic spirituality, piety and immorality become indistinguishable.

vii) As for 1 Cor 9:27, this is figurative language. As the Catholic Bible scholar Joseph Fitzmyer explains:

“Despite the images that the two verbs convey, Paul is employing contemporary vivid athletic images that express the self-restraint and discipline necessary to achieve a goal, and these he applies to his apostolic task (See Papathomas, ‘Das agonistische Motiv,’ 240-41, who shows that Paul’s use of such terminology conforms well with the athletic contests of his day and the motivation that inspired them)…Cf. his use of athletic imagery and the goal of life in Phil 3:12-16,” 1 Corinthians (Yale 2008), 374.

In other words, Paul is using sports’ metaphors to illustrate the walk of faith. This has nothing to do with literal self-flagellation or other forms of physical self-mortification.

viii) In addition, Catholic “self-mortification” is grounded in the traditional Catholic misinterpretation of Col 1:24. (For a corrective, see Moo’s recent commentary.)

But, clearly, none of the copy/paste catena of OT quotes that Dave has posted had in mind “filling up what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church”–even if, ad arguendo, we were to grant the Catholic appropriation of the Pauline text.

So his appeal to the OT is grossly anachronistic in light of the Catholic dogma which actually underwrites its masochistic brand of self-mortification.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Horror as religion

(Posted on behalf of Steve.)

This review suffers from a bit of Catholic bias (or so it seems). I, for one, have no trepidation about entering a Gothic cathedral. But that aside, it's a useful analysis.

Vicar of Christ or priest of Baal?

Unlike those uptight Prots, with all their hang-ups and insecurities, Catholicism is a truly liberating gospel:

Pope John Paul II projected a warm, grandfatherly image to the adoring public who flocked en masse to hear his homilies or watched on TV from home as he traversed the globe. So there was no small shock when a recent book revealed that the pope, who died in 2005, whipped himself with a belt and sometimes lay prostrate all night on the floor.

The pope apparently did not want aides to investigate his sleeping habits, going so far as to make his bed appear used by tossing around the sheets. Yet Monsignor Slawomir Oder, who is presenting John Paul II's case for canonization, detailed the behavior in an Italian-language book, Why He's a Saint: The Real John Paul II According to the Postulator of His Beatification Cause. Oder explains that the pope believed these acts of penance would affirm God's primacy and help him seek perfection. While self-inflicted physical suffering is unusual among Catholics, other notables have pursued holiness in this manner. Mother Teresa wore a cilice, a strap secured around the thigh that inflicts pain with inward-pointing spike.

Then Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, "Choose for yourselves one bull and prepare it first, for you are many, and call upon the name of your god, but put no fire to it." And they took the bull that was given them, and they prepared it and called upon the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, "O Baal, answer us!" But there was no voice, and no one answered. And they limped around the altar that they had made...And they cried aloud and cut themselves after their custom with swords and lances, until the blood gushed out upon them. And as midday passed, they raved on until the time of the offering of the oblation, but there was no voice. No one answered; no one paid attention.

(1 Kgs 18:25-26,28).

UNCG Outreach Report 2-16-2010

Due to cold, blustery weather conditions yesterday, I only open-air preached for about 15 minutes. The rest of our time was spent talking to people one-on-one about the gospel. This time, we had Sye TenBruggencate from Sinner Ministries join us for our outreach. Almost all the people we spoke with yesterday were very courteous and willing to take our literature. If I could say one thing that will help your daily evangelism more than anything else it is this: be nice to people! Simply displaying a kind and respectful attitude to people whose beliefs are hugely different than yours will lend greater weight to your witness; even when you point out the contradictions in their beliefs. But I digress.

The first person I spoke with was a young man that was math major and former Southern Baptist church attender. I walked right up to him, said, "Good morning!" and "Here you go" handing him a small, business card sized tract. I then asked him, "If you could ask God one question, what would it be?" He never really answered my question, but said he thought there were many things that we simply could not have certain knowledge about, especially religion. I asked him about his religious background and it was then that he told me about coming up in the SBC and how at one point he and many other youths in his church got emotional at a youth rally, prayed a prayer, was later baptized, yet there was no lasting change and no real difference in his life. He reiterated that he thought he couldn't have certain knowledge about religion. I asked him why, and he basically said "I don't know." I then asked, "How can you be certain that you can't have certainty if you don't know why you can't have certainty?" It was at this point that Sye walked up and joined our conversation and began to discuss issues of epistemology and the fact that one can account for the axioms of mathematics since God provides the preconditions for knowing such things. It was then that I shifted the conversation to what Peter said in 2 Peter 1:16-21,
For we did not follow cleverly devised tales when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of His majesty. 17 For when He received honor and glory from God the Father, such an utterance as this was made to Him by the Majestic Glory, "This is My beloved Son with whom I am well-pleased "-- 18 and we ourselves heard this utterance made from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. 19 So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts. 20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one's own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
I emphasized to this young man that the word of God provides a sure and certain guide for religious knowledge even more than an eyeball experience according to the Apostle Peter (cf. v. 16 & vs. 19). I told him that his skepticism regarding his experience of the Christian faith is grounded in an abuse of it and not the truth of it. I then explained the gospel to him, encouraged him to contact me if he had any questions, and then I bid him farewell.

The second person I spoke with was a girl who was a former United Methodist now attending a Roman Catholic church. When I explained the huge difference between the Biblical teaching of the doctrine of justification versus the Roman Catholic view, she said, "I agree that we are saved by faith apart from works" to which I responded, "That's great, but why would you knowingly attend a church that is purposefully preaching what St. Paul calls 'another gospel'?" she responded, "Well, I didn't agree with many things that the Methodist church taught either." I said, "It's one thing to attend a church where you disagree with secondary doctrinal issues that the church holds to (i.e., mode and recipients of baptism, form of church government, millenial positions, etc.), but there is a crucial difference between Rome's understanding of justification versus the Biblical view; it is the difference in those views that makes the difference between whether a person goes to heaven or hell." She seemed stunned that I would say such a thing, then I proceeded to explain again the crucial differences. She seemed to understand what I was trying to say, and I encouraged her to read her New Testament and compare it's basic teachings on salvation with Rome's official position on justification. I then bid her farewell.

The fourth person I had the pleasure of speaking with was a Muslim named Abdul. Abdul had a bit of a language barrier, so I asked him if he had ever heard the Injil (gospel) and about Isa (Jesus) as it is presented from the New Testament. He said he had never read the New Testament, so I gave him a copy of the ESV Gospel of John. We then parted company and I thanked him for his time.

At this point there was a class change with an increase in foot traffic so I decided to try to capitalize on that with some open air preaching. I preached the gospel for about 15 minutes when a young man came right up to me and asked me if I would be here in an hour to talk. Based upon his body language, he seemed sincere, and since the crowd was dying down again, I stepped down and told him I was glad to talk to him. At this point, all of us were engaged in good conversation with an unbeliever so I figured with the foot traffic dying down, it would be a good chance to do the same. This young man was at least deistic, but like the former SBC math major I spoke to earlier, this young man wasn't sure that we could have certain knowledge about religion. I asked him "What do you mean by that?" and he gave me an explanation of how he thought that all the major world religions inevitably led to the same God and that as long as people were sincere with what they knew about God, that would be good enough to land them in their version of heaven. I asked him, "If you are skeptical about having certainty regarding religion, how can you certain of that religious claim?" I also asked, "If my religion sincerely believes that molesting little girls for fun is good and necessary for my salvation and eternal happiness, what basis do you have to say that is wrong?" to which he responded in typical relativistic fashion, "I can't" then I asked, What about if it's your daughter that I'm molesting?" then he balked. I then said, "You see my friend, it's all good and well to talk in hypotheticals and abstractions, but when those hypotheticals and abstractions become grounded in reality and involve someone that you love, things are different aren't they?" He agreed they were. I then asked, "So if they're different, what changed?" He couldn't answer. I said, "You see, this is what happens when you reject the God of Scripture, you have no transcendent and objective moral basis upon which to object to my molesting your little girl in order to ensure my own eternal happiness." He got the point, but had to go to class. I gave him several booklets from CMI and AiG that answered other questions that he had.

The last person I had the pleasure witnessing to was an Asian girl whose name I could not make out. This young lady was a Buddhist with syncretistic leanings. She held dear to Buddhism because of her desire to maintain family tradition yet she attended a local Baptist Church on Wednesday evenings. She said that she believed that she was a good person and that in order to get ahead in life she asks the Buddha to help her as well as "God" (whatever that meant). I explained idolatry to her, and she said, "We do not worship Buddha, we only revere his good teachings (i.e., the eightfold path, Golden rule, Karma, etc.). I then asked her how she determines what is "good" and she said, "based upon how it makes me feel". I then trotted out the toddler again and said, "If I feel that to get ahead in life and in order to do good I need to molest little girls for fun is that okay" and she said, "yes". I then said, "What about if it's your little girl?" and she hesitated like the previous person I presented this to. She then said something about Buddha's version of the Golden Rule (i.e., don't do to others what you don't want done to you.) and I responded, "I agree that Buddha's teaching here is great, but I agree with him because it agrees with what Jesus taught about how to treat others, but assuming your standard of determining goodness, why should I care what Buddha taught?" It was then that strangely enough, she persisted in her contradictory beliefs even though you could sense in her body language that she knew she was contradicting herself and suffering from a little cognitive and moral dissonance. Time was running short, so I said, "Look, you know that it's wrong to molest people regardless of what kind of argument one can present for it. You know that not because Buddha taught it, but because the Creator of the world has hardwired that into your heart. The Bible says that God has created all people with a basic sense of right and wrong, and although it will vary slightly from culture to culture with some societies suppressing that innate knowledge more than others, you know it is wrong, because God told me you know it". (Romans 2:14-15) She agreed that she knew that it was wrong, but she also admitted that given her standard of determining good, she couldn't argue with my hypothetical scenario. It was then that I gave her the gospel and bid her farewell with a firm handshake and thanked her for her time.

Summary: Moralistic Therapeutic Deism is alive and well in today's youth, just as Christian Smith, the secular sociologist from UNC-Chapel Hill said several years ago. When these teenagers become college students, their vestige of Christian tradition is easily stripped away by the onslaught of what appears to be (to them) a rational and logical view of the world as provided by humanism, pluralism, syncretism, multiculturalism, and society-says relativism. College students need to hear the Biblical gospel, and they need to hear it more clearly than ever before. So dear readers, if you are able, why not go and tell them about Jesus and His marvelous grace? You don't have to be a great street preacher, but you do need a heart for the lost. If you can't go and tell in this context, are you praying for those who labor diligently in the word, seeking to preach it whether it's societally acceptable or not? We all would do well to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, "He is not with me is against me, and he who does not gather with me, scatters." (Matthew 12:30)

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The "essential difference" between oaths and promises


"Then there is the essential difference between vows and oaths on one hand, and resolutions and promises on the other. Reasonable, intelligent folk understand that exceptions and even reversals can be made in the latter instances, whereas oaths and vows are far more serious and binding, and don't allow for such reversals. That is true both in the biblical understanding and in the cultural / dictionary-level understanding."

Exodus 3:16-17

Go and gather the elders of Israel together and say to them, 'The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, has appeared to me, saying, "I have observed you and what has been done to you in Egypt, and I promise that I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, a land flowing with milk and honey."'

Deuteronomy 7:8

But it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.

Psalm 105:8-9,42

He remembers his covenant forever, the word that he commanded, for a thousand generations, the covenant that he made with Abraham, his sworn promise to Isaac...For he remembered his holy promise, and Abraham, his servant.

Luke 1:72-74

To show the mercy promised to our fathers and to remember his holy covenant, the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve him without fear.

Luke 24:49

And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high."

Acts 2:39

For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself."

Galatians 3:29

And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.

1 John 2:25

And this is the promise that he made to us—eternal life.

Dave Armstrong's glossary

Sample dialogue between Dave Armstrong and his son (Paul):

Paul: Dad, where were you?
Dave: What do you mean?
Paul: You promised to pick me up after baseball practice!
Dave: No, that wasn’t a “promise.” That was an “agreement.”
Paul: What’s the difference?
Dave: An “agreement” is stronger than a “resolution,” but weaker than a “pledge.”
Paul: But you gave your word of honor!
Dave: See “resolution.”
Paul: But you make a commitment to me!
Dave: No, a “commitment” is different than an “agreement.” I only “agreed” to pick you up.
Paul: What’s the difference?
Dave: A “commitment” is stronger than an “agreement,” but weaker than an “oath.”
Paul: Well, I don’t care what you call it as long as you guarantee that you’ll pick me up next time.
Dave: see “promissory note.”

Dave Armstrong's glossary

Agreement: something to keep 5% of the time
Commitment: something to keep 6% of the time
Contract: something to keep 7% of the time
Covenant: something to keep 12% of the time
Guarantee: something to keep 13% of the time
Oath: something to keep 17% of the time
Pledge: something to keep 14% of the time
Promise: something to keep 9% of the time
Promissory note: see “guarantee”
Resolution: something to keep 2% of the time
Sacred word: see “resolution”
Vow: see “covenant.”
Word of honor: see “resolution”

Incorrigible self-incrimination

According to Dave Armstrong, I’m an “anti-Catholic.” And as dear old Dave has said on more than one occasion, he refuses to debate anti-Catholics.

When I then point out that Dave has gone back on his word not to debate anti-Catholics…by continuing to debate anti-Catholics, Dave “refutes” my allegation by…debating my allegation.

When I point out that by debating my allegation, Dave has, once again, gone back on his word, Dave “refutes” my allegation by debating my allegation that Dave has, once again, gone back on his word.

When I point out that by once again debating my allegation, Dave has, once again, gone back on his word, Dave “refutes” my allegation by once again debating my allegation that Dave has, once again, gone back on his word.

When I point out that by debating my allegation yet again, Dave has gone back on his word, Dave yet again “refutes” my allegation by…debating my allegation.

Repeat as necessary.

Am I the only one here to discern a wee bit of a dilemma in his modus operandi?

Why Lutherans deny the empty tomb

Did you know that Lutherans deny the empty tomb? No, I don’t mean liberals like Rudolf Bultmann. I mean confessional Lutherans.

You see, Lutherans insist that, due to the hypostatic union, Jesus is physically ubiquitous. If you dispute this they accuse you of being “Nestorian” cuz you “divide” or “separate” the two natures.

So, if Jesus is everywhere, then he’s still in the empty tomb. If he’s everywhere, then that includes the tomb that Joseph of Arimathea interred him in.

Sure, Peter and John inspected the tomb on Easter Sunday. To their eyes, it looked like the tomb was empty. But this doesn’t mean Jesus wasn’t really there. You see, as one Lutheran epologist recently explained, “suppose Jesus multiplied his flesh as necessary, and made it small so you couldn't see it?”

But because Peter and John were Nestorian heretics, dogmatically committed to their naturalistic philosophy, they had the temerity to say the tomb was empty!

Likewise, did you know Lutherans deny the Second Coming of Christ? That’s because Lutherans don’t think Jesus ever went away. He’s been here all the time!

Likewise, Lutherans don’t really think that Jesus actually went into the upper room. For, if Jesus is omnipresent, then Jesus never left the upper room!

Jesus was always inside upper room and outside the upper room.

Monday, February 15, 2010

An Acorn in Babylon

Nuts About Nuts: Cardinal Newman and the Theory of Development
~Gene Clyatt

Product Details
Hardcover: 1155 pages
Publisher: Oxford University Press (3rd ed., 2010)
Language: English, Akkadian
Product Dimensions: Nutshell

Editorial Reviews
Drawing upon decades of field experience in sorting and sifting mixed nuts, the Squirrel in Babylon is uniquely qualified to evaluate Newman’s organic theory of development. J. I. Packer, Anglican Theological Review

With advanced degrees in botany, forestry, and church history, the Squirrel in Babylon traces the theory of development through its High Germanic roots (hence the Yiddish expression, “Nuz to you!”) back to the Egyptian cult of the sky goddess Nut (alternatively spelled Nuit, Newet, and Neuth). Timothy George, Beeson Journal

In this groundbreaking study, the Squirrel in Babylon corrects a traditional misidentification: the Roman acorn is actually an old chestnut. Francis Beckwith, Return to the Nuthouse

After reading this historical monograph, the Holy Father has decided to sell Vatican City to Walt Disney Studies and join the Southern Baptist Convention. Walter Cardinal Kasper, L'Osservatore Romano

Broken resolutions

Billy Birch:

I hate regrets. But as much I hate regrets, I also learn from them. For example, I think back over this year and remember how poorly I acted at times in debate toward other Christian brothers with whom I have disagreed. That has got to change. I cannot complain about others who act ungodly toward other Christians with whom they disagree and then behave in the same manner. I hate depravity.

As far as this blog is concerned for 2010, I intend on being more gracious with those who oppose my ideas and exegesis of Scripture...

Billy Birch:


Calvinist James White lies...Typical of White, he gave his spin on a philosophical notion of what Caner said...White actually posted Caner's words for everyone else to catch White in his lie. Honestly, given White's track record, we have come to expect no better of him.

White's tactics remind me of the far left political liberals. He has mastered spin tactics.

His perpetual rant of "Jesus 'actually' saves people in Calvinism" bit is so tired and worn out - to say nothing of silly.

Since Billy is having such a hard time keeping his New Year’s resolution, perhaps some tech savvy Christian could record his resolution and email it to him in a downloadable format for his iPod.

Of course, it’s always possible that he’s a graduate of the Dave Armstrong School of Oaths, Vows, and Resolutions.

Roman bubble wrap

I looked over Scott Windsor’s latest pseudoresponse to me. 9/10ths of what he says is repetitious bubble wrap. It’s one of those situations where a disputant feels the need to say something even if he has nothing to say, to avoid the appearance of having no comeback–when, in fact, he has no real comeback.

I’ll just quote the few things that have any semblance of substance.

“And Steve Hays isn't a Dr. Francis Beckwith or Dr. Robert Bellarmine, but he certainly is polemical. We, as Christians, should strive to be less insulting and/or polemical in our apologetics and try to be more in the spirit of 1 Peter 3:15-17.”

St. Peter wasn’t so charitable in his dealings with Simon Magus. And my remarks pale in comparison to what Leo X said about Luther and other Protestants in Exurge Domine.

“With all due respect, I disagree that it is hyperbolic. Why does Mr. Hays seem to be arguing for a lesser meaning to Jesus' words here?”

That’s why I reference R. T. France’s commentary.

“Regardless, the point is that not every word of Scripture needs an in-depth interpretation – ‘thou shalt not kill" still means ‘do not murder.’”

Actually, that’s a good example of a text that calls for interpretation–as anyone would know who’s had to debate a pacifist of opponent of the death penalty.

However, we appreciate Windsor’s confidence in the perspicuity of Scripture. How very Protestant of him!

“Mr. Hays missed the point - interpretation is not part of Scripture. The interpretation is extra scriptura - and thus if sola scriptura is the rule of faith - then this interpretation is outside the rule.”

A correct interpretation coincides with the meaning of Scripture. Therefore, that’s not extrascriptural.

“Mr. Hays is essentially conceding my point and then attempting to establish that my point is not necessary for "sola" scriptura.”

Windsor is too incompetent to know basic forms of argument. A conditional form of argument (“Even if such-and-such were those-and-so…”) is not a concession. Rather, it demonstrates the weakness of the objection. Hypothetically speaking, even if the objection were sound, it would fail to disprove the position it opposes.

This is not a concession to the actual soundness of the objection. Rather, it exposes the inadequacy of the objection–even if (ad arguendo) it were sound.

“Again, I understand Mr. Hays need to spin this and put the onus back upon me, but my position is in the negative - MY position is that sola scriptura is NOT TAUGHT IN SCRIPTURE. Thus, no matter how much he would like to ‘wiggle’ and turn this back to me, the onus truly lies with the person holding the positive in debate. ”

His position is just as much of a claim as the counterclaim. So he has an equal burden of proof. A denial is still a claim. Simply an opposing claim. Affirmations and denials are on a par.

“Again Mr. Hays changes the subject. The BIPM is not merely a ruler, it is a set of rules regarding measurement. The BIPM defines precisely what it is - an international standard. ”

And the set of rules is distinct from the commission which issued the rules. But that doesn’t render the rules self-refuting.

“If something must be added, then even the rule itself does not stand alone!”

Windsor is so illiterate. Did I say that something must be added? No.

“Again, trying to point back to the ‘Catholic alternative’ is not a valid response to whether or not sola scriptura is the sole infallible rule of faith for the church.”

i) As I’ve pointed out before, I didn’t confine myself to a tu quoque argument. I addressed the Catholic objection directly.

ii) But it’s also a valid additional move to bring in the tu quoque, for that exposes the sincerity or insincerity of the Catholic opponent. If he’s not prepared to apply the same yardstick to his own position, then he doesn’t really find the objection all that objectionable. And if he doesn’t believe the objection in application to his own position, then he can’t seriously believe the objection in application to the opposing position.

The fact that Windsor runs away from his own objection when it’s turned against him shows his lack of confidence in his argument.

“Mr. Hays turns to the Westminster Confession of Faith - but the WCF does not teach sola scriptura either, as Mr. Hays rightly points out, it never uses the term ‘only’ to define its stance on the Scriptures.”

In that event, Windsor doesn’t regard the Westminster rule of faith as self-refuting. So, by his own admission, his precious objection is impotent against a Christian who subscribes to the Westminster formulation.

Honoring the Son

Dan Chapa has a 4-part reply to me:

“Stafford asserted that Hebrews 1:3 relates to God and Christ’s essence rather than their persons.1 You responded, not by contradicting him on this point, but by describing the consubstantial identity of the Father with the Son in terms of a numerical distinction.”

Dan is now swapping out the context of my statement. When I said “I didn’t affirm or deny that all members of the Trinity are numerically one in essence,” I was responding to Dan, not to Safford.

I was responding to Dan’s specific arguments. Answering Dan on his own terms.

If Dan wants to change the subject, he’s at liberty to do so, but it’s deceptive to swap out the context. Stafford’s argument isn’t the same as Dan’s argument. Answering Dan on his own terms is hardly equivalent to answering Stafford on his own terms.

“It sure seems like you were denying the numerical oneness of the divine essence, but perhaps you were responsive to Stafford in some rather subtle way here, which is why I asked for clarification.”

i) Let’s see. In the very passage of mine that Dan quotes, I introduce a key qualification. For some reason, Dan blows right past my qualification as if it didn’t exist. What did I say?

“As to Heb 1:3, we need to keep a couple of things in mind: i) To speak of the Son as a ‘copy’ of God is figurative imagery. A metaphor is an analogy. Every analogy has an element of disanalogy…Stafford, with wooden literality…And keep in mind, once again, that this is figurative.”

So after reading this, what does Dan say?

“It sure seems like you were denying the numerical oneness of the divine essence.”

Even though I explicitly and repeatedly qualify my statement to make emphatically clear that I’m analyzing figurative imagery, Dan acts as if I’m making a literal statement about a numerically distinct essence.

It’s tedious to deal with an opponent who, when I painstakingly qualify my usage, immediately disregards the qualifiers.

ii) The figurative imagery of replication involves a numerical distinction between the original and the copy.

A copy may be “generically” identical to the original, but a copy is not numerically identical to the original.

Whether or not the Father and the Son are numerically one in essence is not something you can derive from the metaphorical usage of Heb 1:3. That’s a more specialized distinction than this figure of speech is able to delineate or amplify.

“They do have to do with unity (i.e. oneness or being one); else they wouldn’t be ‘monotheism passages.’”

i) ”Monotheistic” is merely a label. It’s not a substitute for exegesis or conceptual analysis.

ii) Apropos (i), keep in mind that Jehovah’s Witnesses appeal to the monotheistic passages to disprove the Trinity. That’s one reason we need to know the difference between unity and unicity. By his refusal to distinguish the two, Dan is arguing like a Jehovah’s Witness.

iii) Unity is not interchangeable with unicity. Unicity is a synonym for singularity. It denotes something unique, one of a kind. Sui generis.

That is not the same concept as “unity.” And it doesn’t entail unity. Something can be unique without being unified.

This is not to say that God is disjointed. Just that Dan can’t infer the internal “structure” of the Godhead from monotheistic passages.

iv) In the monotheistic passages, the one true God (Yahweh) is set against pagan idolatry. That’s the context.

The monotheistic passages don’t distinguish between generic essential unity and numeric essential unity. The wording isn’t that specialized.

“Since unicity implies unity…”

It does? Where’s the argument?

“Paul uses the monotheistic passages to both rule out polytheism…”

Paul doesn’t need the principle of unity to rule out polytheism. Unicity will suffice.

“And urge for the unity of the body of Christ. (1 Cor. 8:4, Eph 4:3-16).”

i) Actually, Eph 4:3-16 is a complex passage that trades on a dialectical relation between the one and the many.

ii) Moreover, the unity is view (in Eph 4) falls short of either generic or numeric essential unity.

iii) Dan is also shifting from the concept of numeric “identity” to the concept of numeric “unity.” But identity and unity are hardly convertible concepts. “Unity” is a looser concept than “identity.”

“With respect to God, there can be no distinction between numeric and generic unity; since two divine essences would either actually be one (as we learned from Leibniz) or one of the divine essences would be lacking in some perfection, which is both impossible and demotes the ‘same-essance’ as affirmed by the Church to the ‘similar-essance’ affirmed by the semi-Arians.”

i) To begin with, Dan is shifting gears from exegetical theology to philosophical theology. He has yet to establish numeric essential unity on exegetical grounds.

That doesn’t necessarily mean Scripture is silent on the subject. Perhaps it does teach numeric essential unity. But since that’s thesis which Dan is defending, then the onus lies on him to exegete that teaching from the relevant passages of Scriptures (assuming they exist).

In principle, Scripture might be silent on that distinction. In that event, Scripture would not be opposed to that distinction. Rather, Scripture would be neutral on that distinction.

Dan is skipping over key steps in his argument. He needs to go back and make a rigorous case for each step along the way. Dan is oblivious to how much he is reading into his prooftexts.

ii) With respect to God, we must make room for numerically distinct persons of the Godhead. Yet these persons also share the same divine attributes.

iii) And notice, once again, that Dan is shifting from the concept of “identity” (which was the original topic of this debate), to the concept of “unity.” But “unity” is a more elastic relation than “identity.”

“If two essences are the same with respect to substance, space and time, what could divide them? Two glasses of water of the same formula could be divided with respect to space or time.”

Time and space are not the only principles of individuation. Abstract objects can be distinct.

“But given God’s immensity, the same could not be true with respect to God. ”

“Immensity” is a spatial metaphor. Dan can’t validly infer numeric identity from generic identity on the basis of a spatial metaphor.

I asked, “How does Dan happen to know how the “church at large” understands the Nicene creed?”

Dan responds by quoting a passage from Hodge:

“The creeds are nothing more than a well-ordered arrangement of the facts of Scripture which concern the doctrine of the Trinity. They assert the distinct personality of the Father, Son, and Spirit; their mutual relation as expressed by those terms; their absolute unity as to substance or essence, and their consequent perfect equality; and the subordination of the Son to the Father, and of the Spirit to the Father and the Son, as to the mode of subsistence and operation. These are Scriptural facts, to which the creeds in question add nothing; and it is in this sense they have been accepted by the Church universal.”

i)But, of course, that doesn’t answer the question. I didn’t ask, how does the Nicene creed understand Scripture? Rather, I asked, how does the church-at-large understand the Nicene creed.

What the Nicene Fathers understood, and how the church-at-large understands the Nicene Fathers, are obviously two different things.

ii) I’d also note the irony of this exchange at a time when there’s a raging debate over at the blog of David Waltz on how the Nicene Father’s understood the Nicene creed. Does it, or does it not, rule out Arianism–or some variant thereof?

Dan Chapa acts as though the Nicene formulation is unambiguous. But to judge by the debate over there, with different commenters quoting church historians back and forth, it’s really quite equivocal.

“From a historical standpoint, your arguments effectively make Athanasius and the Cappadocian Fathers into Arians.”

i) All this objection amounts to is that I can’t be right, for if I were right, then someone else would be wrong.

Dan’s frivolous objection is duly noted.

ii) And he also resorts to hyperbole.

“Continuation has a borrowed atemporal sense.”

That’s a lovely, tendentious assertion. Whenever you’re ready, I await the supporting argument.

“I could be mistaken, but I believe the EOC is agnostic towards the status of Christians outside the EOC.”

Here’s an example of EO “agnosticism” regarding the spiritual status of Protestants:

“JNORM is welcome to correct me on this if I am mistaken.”

When did JNORM become an authoritative spokesman for Eastern Orthodoxy?

“This is an epistemic paradox, but not a logical one.”

Of course, the doctrine of the Trinity is traditionally formulated to avoid explicit contradiction. However, linguistic formulations are placeholders–and they can mask implicit tensions. The difficulty reemerges when we try to unpack the language and relate the concepts.

Ultimately, Christians accept the Trinity as an article of faith, on the authority of God’s self-revelation.

Attempts to rationalize the Trinity move us into the realm of philosophical theology. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that move, but our faith in the Trinity is not (or ought not be) contingent on the success or failure of that program. Faith seeks understanding, not vice versa.

“The passages with ‘gennao’ (Acts 13:33, Heb 1:5, 5:5) are not really in question, even if those with monogenes are. Do you really question if begotten (or Fathered) applies to Christ? That goes against some rather plain scriptural statements.”

This is one of the points at which dialogue with Dan Chapa always breaks down. I suspect that one of his underlying problems, which is endemic to his soteriology as well as his Triadology, is that Dan is a dispensationalist. And he brings his pop dispensational hermeneutic to issues over and above eschatology.

Mind you, academic dispensationalists like Darrel Block are far more sophisticated. They would never fall into this trap.

But Dan seems to operate at a more popular, retrograde level (a la Chafer, Scofield).

As a result, he reads the Bible in a very “flat” fashion. He acts as though you can simply read the “plain sense” off the surface wording of a passage. You don’t need to consider the linguistic or conceptual background.

So, for example, he simply assumes that Acts 13:33 must teach the eternal generation of the Son because it uses reproductive imagery. But to understand what is meant, it is necessary, both to consider the original context of the Psalm, which the NT speaker is quoting, as well as the way in which that carries over into the argument of the NT speaker. Briefly:

“The king is Yawh’s son (cf. 2 Sam 7:14), who rules his father’s realm as his regent. The king implies that he heard Yhwh give this decree, so the occasion was hardly the day of his physical birth, but his designation or coronation. Yhwh did not bring him into being then but did enter into a fatherly commitment to him in adopting him as a son. The words uttered on that occasion made him heir to his father’s wealth and authority and are the undergirding of his position now. To judge from practice elsewhere in the Middle East, ‘You are my son’ is a performative declaration of adoption: 89:27 [27] will then indicate the correlative response,” J. Goldingay, Psalms 1–41 (Baker 2006), 100-101.

So the reproductive imagery is used as a synonym for royal “adoption,” which is, in turn, a metaphor for royal inheritance–as the crown passes from one king to another.

Now let’s see how this coronation formula carries over into NT Christology:

“This ‘begetting’ and the enthronement the psalm implies have been fulfilled in Jesus’ resurrection from the dead (cf. 2:33-36,where resurrection and exaltation to the right hand of God are viewed as linked events),” D. Peterson, The Acts of the Apostles (Eerdmans 2009), 392.

Here the timing of the event has reference, not to the eternal generation of the Son, but to the Resurrection (followed by the Ascension and Session of Christ). And it has reference, not to “eternal generation,” but to the coronation of the Davidic Messiah.

“Yet you say the Son was not eternally begotten and question if He was begotten at all. Do you see why I question if your views are in line with the church at large?”

Confessions are written by theologians. I don’t equate theologians with the “church at large.” They are just a small part (albeit important part) of the church at large.

What the Nicene Fathers may have meant by “begotten of the Father before all worlds,” and what a 13C French peasant may have understood, are hardly identical. The “church at large” includes the laity throughout the ages.

“The three statements (Without father or mother, without genealogy, without beginning of days or end of life ) are about Melchizedek, not Christ.”

That completely misses the point of why the author introduces Melchizedek into his argument. It’s an argument from analogy. He is drawing a parallel between Melchizedek and Christ. A typal/antitypal relation. Moreover, what is merely foreshadowed in the type holds true at a higher level in the antitype.

“Nor is the ‘without father or mother’ language the point of analogy between Melchizedek and Christ, since Christ is called the Son of God.”

Of course, that commits a level-confusion in terms of what fatherhood/motherhood is in view–and how the literal pedigree, or absence thereof, relates to the typological pedigree, or absence thereof.

“So ‘eternal priesthood’, not being un-begotten, is the point of analogy.”

Which again, that overlooks the thrust of the argument. What grounds that effect? this is grounded in the nature of the officeholder. It’s special nature of the Melchizdekian priest that gives rise to the special nature of the Melchizdekian priesthood. As Bauckham explains:

“We can now see that what the author of Hebrews says of Melchizedek in 7:3 is precisely what he said of Christ in applying the words of Ps 102 to him in chap. 1. In both cases, this is the full eternity of the only true God. Just as the God of Ps 1-2 remains, whereas all his creation perishes, so the Melchizedekian high priest remains a priest, whereas Levitical priests, being merely mortal, come and go. Also important here is 7:16: Jesus ‘has become a priest, not through a legal requirement concerning physical descent, but through the power of an indestructible life’ (another alpha privative adjective: akatalutos). Jesus qualifies for his never-ending priesthood because he shares the fully eternal being, the indestructible life, of God. His eternity in the future–the ‘forever’ of Ps 110:4–is not merely contingently never-ending, but due to his inherently indestructible life,” op. cit., 31.

It’s a pity that Dan is more anxious to honor the Nicene Fathers than he is to honor the Son. He’d rather demote and degrade a NT prooftext for the deity of Christ than surrender Nicene subordinationism.

“That Christ is begotten and God’s Son is clearly reconcilable with His being a Priest in the Order of Melchizedek.”

i) This is another example of Dan’s flat reading of Scripture. He’s trying to harmonize metaphors, as if different metaphors need to be harmonious. But that commits another level-confusion.

Authors can use different metaphors to make different points. They can even use related metaphors to make different points. And metaphors, being figurative, needn’t be literally harmonious with each other.

ii) In addition, each distinctive metaphor may have a distinctive conceptual background, such as literary allusions to OT usage.

You can’t simply isolate one theological metaphor, isolate another theological metaphor, and then directly relate the two. Rather, you have to interpret each metaphor in context, consistent with the package of associations which comes with that metaphor–along with how it functions in the flow of the argument.

Dan seems to operate with a concordance approach, where he simply plucks one or more occurrences of the same word out of context, then attaches it to something else.

“Bauckham somehow manages to conclude that Christ is unbegotten from the scriptures' statement that Christ is begotten, based on Sibyl’s claim God is unbegotten. (p.52) Helenistic Jews probably did think of the Father as unbegotten, but that just sharpens the distinction between begotten and unbegotten rather than transformimg begotten into unbegotten.”

i) There is no “somehow” in Bauckham’s conclusion. He presents an argument for his conclusion. Indeed, his entire essay is currently available online, so anyone is free to see his process of reasoning.

ii) This is yet another example of Dan’s flat reading of Scripture. It doesn’t occur to him that the usage in Hebrews might be idiomatic.

Bauckham tries to understand the phraseology in light of period usage. What did that phraseology signify in period usage? What would that mean to a Hellenistic Jew, writing to fellow Jews?

Bauckham’s argument isn’t based on the Sibyl’s claim, but on how that passages is a witness to the idiomatic terminology under review.

But Dan will have none of that because he thinks he can read off the “plain sense” of a passage from the surface wording.

If Dan overheard someone remark about “shooting the bull,” he’d report the speaker to animal cops. “Shooting the bull” can’t be an idiomatic expression. No, that would violate the “plain sense” of the phrase.

“Given Christ’s Sonship and being under the Father’s authority were before the foundation of the world, what’s the basis for a distinction between an economic and intrinsic status?”

Notice how Dan makes it sound as if the Son of God is an underage minor, living with mom and dad. Grounded for a week if he gets home after curfew. “Sorry, Dad! I lost track of time when I was out playing touch football with Michael and Gabriel!”

Dan doesn’t seem to have any room for anthroporphic discourse in his reading of Scripture. His Christology might be good Miltonian Christology, with Milton’s very Olympian depiction of heaven, but it’s not a serious way of viewing the Godhead. It fails to take seriously the divine attributes of Christ.

“The passage is ‘I have begotten you’. ‘I’ is the Father and ‘you’ is the Son. So the Father begets the Son.”

i) I think that misses the point of Bauckham’s argument. As I understand him, Bauckham is stating that in Hellenistic usage, the principle of divine aseity could be expressed through the idiom of divine self-begetting. Only God can beget God.

So, for the Father to say (in Hebrews), “I have begotten” the Son is a binary, Trinitarian way to express the principle of divine aseity.

And divine begetting is an idiomatic synonym for aseity or eternality. A different way of saying the same thing, where unbegotten and self-begotten are idiomatic synonyms.

And the author of Hebrews reformulates this unitarian idiom in binary terms since he is a Trinitarian.

That’s what I take Bauckham to mean. Dan is free to disagree with Bauckham, but he needs to engage the actual argument.

ii) And he also needs to demonstrate that Bauckham’s linguistic analysis is wrong. What, precisely, is wrong with Bauckham’s use of comparative linguistics?

After all, the author of Hebrews frequently employs more specialized terminology than other NT writers. So it’s only appropriate to take his erudite, linguistic background into consideration.

ii) And this is on top of the fact that such language is already idiomatic in the OT passage which the author was quoting. In Ps 2, God didn’t literally beget David. Rather, that’s a metaphor to describe his coronation as the theocratic king.

“Given Christ’s Sonship and being under the Father’s authority were before the foundation of the world, what’s the basis for a distinction between an economic and intrinsic status?”

i) Notice how Dan constantly reasons in circles. Observe how he’s appealing to the Sonship of Christ, when the meaning of that title is the very issue under review.

ii) As I’ve already documented, the Sonship of Christ doesn’t have a uniform meaning in NT Christology. It varies from writer to writer. Likewise, same writer may use that title to connote different things depending on the context.

In some cases it connotes intrinsic divinity, but in other cases it connotes an achieved status.

iii) What he means by the Son under the Father’s authority before the foundation of the world he doesn’t spell out. He needs to state his prooftexts, and, what is more, exegete them in context.

“I agree with your view of John 5, but not its cross-application to John 6.”

This assumes that 6:57 has a fundamentally different meaning than 5:26. I disagree. 6:57 is a summary statement of 5:21,24-27–which, in turn, refers back to 1:4. And I’m not alone in this. That’s the common view of commentators.

Of course, Dan is at liberty to disagree if he has a better argument.

“Here’s the text: ‘As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats Me, he also will live because of Me.’ So the Son proceeds from the Father…”

It’s misleading to use the word “proceed” to gloss 6:57 unless you’re going to distinguish between Scriptural usage and patristic/conciliar usage. “Proceed” is a loaded word because it acquired a technical meaning in patristic/conciliar usage. It would be anachronistic to read that back into Johannine usage.

“The point of analogy is not the type of life.”

The text doesn’t distinguish between the kind of life the Father gives and the kind of life the Son gives. So, for Dan to suggest that it’s not referring to the same kind of life in both instances is not a distinction which he can educe from his chosen prooftext.

i) To introduce a discontinuity between one kind of life and another destroys the natural flow. According to the text, the Son can only give what he has. If, however, the kind of life he has is different from the kind of life he gives, then he’s not transmitting what he has to another–which, in turn, the Father transmitted to him. So Dan’s interpretation disrupts the logical drift of the argument: You can only share what you possess.

If, however, the kind of life which Jesus gives is not the same kind of life that Jesus has, or receives (from the Father), then Dan’s interpretation invalidates the logic of the dominical claim.

ii) For some reason, Dan also fails to draw any distinction between the incarnate Son and the discarnate Son–as if everything said of Jesus in the Forth Gospel is equally true of him irrespective of the Incarnation.

“The Father is the source of the Son’s life and the Son is the source of our life.”

If it’s the same kind of life in both instances, then that is pantheistic–which destroys the unique Sonship of Christ in the Fourth Gospel.

And if it’s not the same kind of life in each instance, then that severs the principle of continuity which undergirded the claim.

“Hence we use the Son’s being alive because of the Father to understand the metaphor of the Father’s generation of the Son.”

i) Except that John doesn’t actually make that connection–either explicitly or implicitly. At most, it would be consistent with figurative generation.

ii) And if, for the same of argument, we stipulate to Dan’s equation, then the equation is reversible. If Jn 6:57 is economic, then so is the generation of the son.

“The Father’s authority over the Son from before the foundation of the world (not just since the incarnation) helps us understand the metaphor of His begetting the Son.”

I’m waiting for the reference, as well as the exegesis.

“His authority is based on who He is, not some agreement the pre-Father makes with the pre-Son as to who gets to be Father and who will play the role of Son.”

That’s an obtuse statement in reference to my argument since I’ve already defended the eternal Sonship of Christ. Try to pay attention next time.

“We disagree on this point, but I haven’t criticized the B-theory of time because it hasn’t become all that relevant yet.”

Whether or not the Father acquires a temporal property by making the world isn’t contingent on the A-theory of time, that I can see. It may be consistent with the A-theory of time, but someone could affirm the A-theory of time, yet also affirm that God subsists outside of time.

“Well some folks disagree with that assessment and point to Monotheism in Jewish thought instead. And for good reason: the Platonic concept of emanations was altered by the Church Fathers from the idea of a God to creation emintation to the idea of an emination internal to God.”

But that’s the problem. They start with a flawed paradigm which they imported into the discussion, then they tweak it a bit to make it fit. But why should we frame the discussion in those terms to begin with?

“There’s a difference between expressing Christian doctrine in terms of a given philosophy and imposing a philosophy on Christian doctrine. By the time we get to Augustine, we have the opposite going on. Augustine goes to great lengths to read Christian doctrine back into pagan Platonic philosophers.”

But we were discussing Nicene Triadology, not Augustinian Triadology. Since Augustine was not one of the framers of the Nicene creed, it would be anachronistic to interpret the Nicene creed in light of his subsequent reflections on the Trinity.

“With regard to the Trinity, the Church Fathers made a sharp and vital distinction between their views and Neo-Platonic philosophers with regard to the equality of the Father and Son.”

In order to justify that statement, Dan would need to give a separate exposition for each of the church fathers. I have no reason to think he has the competence to do so.

“Logical relationships are often discussed in causal and temporal language, simply because we have no other way of expressing them.”

i) Logical relationships aren’t expressed in terms of x being the source of y.

ii) Moreover, if, by your own admission, human language is inadequate to accurately describe the Trinity, then you have no springboard from which you can launch your missiles against my own position.

“If we strip causality of time, change, motion and action, what’s left sure looks like a logical relationship. What’s left are things like if X, then Y (which is a logical relationship.) If we want to call what’s left ‘causality’, OK, but it’s a different type of causality than the one we experience and if we call it ‘causal’ is should be qualified.”

If you strip away all of the features that make causality causal, then “eternal generation” reduces to an empty cipher. You’re now fighting tooth and nail for an indefinable label.

Unless you can present an intelligible alternative to my position, your own position reduces to jabberwocky–where “eternal generation” is synonymous with “slithy toves.”

“To be God and to be a creature are mutually exclusive conditions. So it does not and cannot follow that if Christ receives His divinity from the Father, He is a creature.”

It follows logically from your stated position. To deny the unwelcome implication doesn’t make it vanish into thin air.

“It seems as if you are asking me to prove a negative; that generation does not imply creaturehood. Meanwhile, you reject my explanation of generation and time. I think rather the burden is on you to demonstrate that, given my view of generation and time, generation implies creaturehood. ”

Either you’re spouting gibberish or you’re making sense. If you’re making intelligible claims, then I can draw attention to the logical implications of your claims.

But if, when challenged, you retreat into the inadequacy of language to express theological truths, then the onus is hardly on me to refute gibberish. At that point there’s nothing to refute. It has no truth-value to begin with.

“If generation was a choice, it would be an action and therefore inceptive of time.”

Well, you’ve backed yourself into a dilemma. On the one hand, you say creation initiates time. Yet you’ve also said that choices presuppose time.

In that event, God couldn’t chose to make the world. For time would already need to be in place for him to make that choice, yet he couldn’t make the choice before time came to be as a result of his choice (i.e. creative fiat).

The more you try to salvage your position, the more irrational and contradictory it becomes. It would behoove you to scrap your position and start from scratch.

“Both God’s nature and His actions must be understood in a logical order, rather than a temporal order. God’s decree is His first act and its effect is creation and the inception of time. His decree is one and simple in and of itself, but understood by us in a logical order based on its effects in time.”

Eternal generation (or procession) is not a logical order. Rather, it’s a constitutive principle.

“About all we can do is ascribe a logical order to it.”

Is that what the Nicene Fathers did?

“Each person doesn’t have a separate nature.”

I didn’t say that each person has a separate nature. Rather, I said that each person has an inderivative nature.

“They all share one simple divine nature that defines the relationships between the persons.”

No, you want to say more than that. Your position isn’t merely that three persons constitute one God because they share one nature. Rather, your position is that three persons constitute one God because two of the three persons (Son and Spirit) participate in the nature of another person (the Father). On your paradigm, the divine nature is uniquely correlated with one person rather than three. For you, the nature of God is properly the nature of the Father.

“But the divine nature is not a person, but rather each person has the whole divine nature. Hence there are not four persons, but three.”

That’s not responsive to my actual argument. As I put it: “To say that Father’s nature necessitates generation and procession makes him the effect of a generic nature which subsists over and above the property instance of the Father. So you now have a quaternity rather than a Trinity: Nature>Father>Son>Spirit.”

Go back and deal with my actual argument.

“They are modes of subsistence of the Divine Nature, not the Father.”

On your paradigm, they are subsistent modes of the Father’s nature.

“I am reasoning like the Church Fathers who based eternal generation on these texts. Just because Arians, then and now, abuse these texts does not mean we can pay these passages no mind. I have asked you three times to comment on the passages, but to date you haven’t done so.”

i) Eternal generation is a more specific concept than stating that the “Father is the Son’s God.” Therefore, your prooftexts underdetermine your conclusion.

ii) You also make no allowance for the Incarnation. Jesus isn’t simply the Son qua Son. His relationship with the Father is also qualified by his humanity.

“While I agree with those three connotations, I certainly would not limit sonship to them. In fact, those three connotations seem isolated to what sonship tells us about Christ simpliciter, rather than the Father/Son relationship.”

I cited standard exegetical monographs on NT Christology to fill out the argument. And I could cite others.

“Father/Son relationships have many aspects, but one of them is authority.”

i) That’s an overstatement even on human grounds. Grown children don’t have a lifelong obligation to obey their parents. Rather, when they marry and have kids, they create a new authority structure. They have a standing obligation to honor their parents, but not to obey them from the cradle to the grave.

And the Son (qua Son) was never a little boy. The Son is omniscient, omnipotent, &c.

ii) Moreover, you make no allowance for anthropomorphism. You act as if the Son of God is an underage minor, living at home. Must you operate with such a childish view of God-talk?

“If the Father/Son relationship doesn’t imply authority, why not just call them heavenly brothers?”

i) You assume that you already know what father/son terminology means in NT Triadology.

ii) In fact, one thing it connotes is the way in which a son images his father. Hence, the father/son relation signifies a revelatory or representational principle, where a son represents his father.

And, in fact, that’s easy to document in NT Christology.

iii) That also harmonizes the subordinationist passages with the egalitarian passages.

On the one hand, a faithful representative cannot speak or act independently of the party on behalf of whom he is speaking or acting. For in his representative capacity, he is representing the interests of a second party rather than his own interests.

On the other hand, the best type of representative is one who has the most in common with the second party he represents. For the more he has in common, the more truly he can speak and act in exactly the way the second party would speak and act on his own (e.g. Jn 1:18; 8:38; 10:15).

Therefore, the subordinationist passages actually presuppose the egalitarian passages, not vice versa. Due to the coequality of the Trinitarian persons, one member can truly represent another member.

In a fundamental respect, they are what they represent. Like father, like son.

“The Fathers declaration that ‘this is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased’ is one of the many texts on the Sonship of Christ that implies the Father’s authority over Him.”

So I take it that on your view, the Son cannot reciprocate the Father’s love or pleasure–since that would represent an exercise of authority over the Father.

Not only is this absurd, but you also overlook the mutual glorification of the Trinitarian persons–which is a common theme in the Gospel of John. They honor each other. Defer to each other. Seek the glory of the other. That’s essentially egalitarian rather than hierarchical.

The Real Presence of the Big Mac

Acolyte4236 said...

Here I am not suggesting that the body is in more than one place, but only in one place. I am suggesting then that many places can access one body or rather that the one body can be accessible from many places. So take one way of thinking about God’s omnipresence. God is not in every place as in spatial location, but every place is present to God and hence God’s access to every location immediately without being located in or circumscribable by any of them.

It therefore seems logically possible for a body to be in one and only one place but for it by divine power to be accessible from many locales. This view denies that Christ is in more than one place at a time qua body but that his body is still accessible to many different agents.

As I noted before, I don’t see why a locally circumscribably body can’t be accessed from many different points of space. That seems to accommodate the properties you take to be essential to human nature without seemingly violating at least that part of transubstantiation.

I’ll make several brief observations:

i) God and bodies have very different properties. Indeed, these represent contrary properties. For a body is, by definition, corporeal whereas God is, by definition, incorporeal.

So, for Perry to shift gears from divine omnipresence to the physical body of Christ is patently fallacious.

ii) Also notice that Perry hasn’t actually presented anything like a detailed model of how this is possible. All he’s really done is to draw a pretty word-picture.

So that’s not a real argument. It’s merely picture language.

iii) Even assuming that his description is coherent, there is no more presumption that this is true than the existence of Leibnizian monads.

iv) Apropos (iii), it’s one thing to postulate conjectural mechanisms for something you know to be true. But it’s quite different to postulate conjectural mechanisms as a substitute for knowing that something is true.

That’s the fatal flaw in Perry’s theological method. His belief-system is several steps removed from any reliable source of knowledge.

Oh, he’ll occasionally cite a verse of Scripture as a pious fillip to Orthodox tradition. But that’s purely cosmetic. There’s no systematic use of Scripture to even supply the basic framework.

v) But is his description even coherent? Let’s take a comparison:

Here I am not suggesting that the Big Mac is in more than one place, but only in one place. I am suggesting then that many places can access one Big Mac or rather that the one Big Mac can be accessible from many places. I don’t see why a locally circumscribably Big Mac can’t be accessed from many different points of space.

But imagine millions of daily consumers accessing the one Big Mac. The obvious problem is that if millions of consumers were eating the same Big Mac, it wouldn’t last very long.

There’s more to the dogma of the Real Presence than the mere availability of Christ’s physical body. There is also the consumability of his body.

So, over and above its availability, Perry would need to further accessorize his model such that one body instantly regenerates when you take a bite out of it. Like those horror films in which the bloody stump of a monster grows back before your very eyes. You can see the new limb sprout forth like a dandelion on steroids.

Now, is it possible for God to miraculously make that happen? I suppose so.

But what does any of this have to do with the very modest descriptions of the Lord’s Supper in the NT?

The Heisenberg compensator

Acolyte4236 said...

Is Jesus a divine and human person or not? When you say that he is a person of the Trinity, is that person in question a divine hypostasis or a human hypostasis or a resulting composite of both? If both, what constitutes the union if not the hypostasis of the eternal Son? What unites them?

The doctrine of the hypostatic union is as I glossed above that the divine person of the Son assumes human nature into his divine person, making it his own, enhypostacizing it and the nature enhomizing the divine person without any loss of each essences distinctive properties so that there are two wills as well as two intellects in the one divine person of Christ and without any intrinsic change in the hypostasis per se.

Before we attempt to answer questions like this, we need to stop and ask ourselves if we’re even posing the right questions.

What do we know about the Incarnation? What’s our source of information? Given our source of information, what limits does that impose on the level of precision or detail that we can give to curious questions about the Incarnation?

Much of the time, Perry Robinson sounds like a nerdy, bespeckled 5th grader who can wow his fellow 5th graders with his erudite command of Treknobabble. Think Spencer Reid (a la Criminal Minds) in 5th grade.

Our precocious moppet leaves his fellow 5th graders spellbound with his dazzling disquisition on the physics of the “Heisenberg compensator.”

But since, unfortunately, the Heisenberg Compensator is hifalutin’ nonsense, any explanation, however sophisticated, will be gold-plated gibberish.

When I’m on my deathbed, what comfort should it be to me that I can give you a chapter-by-chapter exposition of Henry of Ghent: Metaphysics and the Trinity. With a critical edition of question six of article fifty-five of the Summa, but I can’t give you a chapter-by-chapter exposition of John’s Gospel?

How Important Is The Resurrection?

I recently received a review copy of Adrian Warnock's Raised With Christ (Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 2010). Here's how he describes the premise of his book, a premise I agree with:

Most of us are not intentionally neglecting the resurrection. We do appreciate its importance and value it highly. But the resurrection has not been explored as fully as many of the other doctrines and has not been given the attention it deserves. (p. 67)

He cites similar conclusions reached by other Christians, such as Charles Spurgeon (pp. 21-22) and Richard Gaffin (p. 61). He notes the prominence of Jesus' resurrection in apologetics (p. 61), but thinks it's been more neglected in other contexts.

For those who don't know, Adrian Warnock is a Reformed charismatic. The book reflects that perspective, as you'd expect, and I disagree with him on some points. But the large majority of the book is good, and it covers a broad range of topics related to the resurrection. He says that he writes "as an ordinary Christian, and not a theologian" (p. 15). He addresses his material at an introductory or intermediate level, but he's discussing so many subjects, and some of those subjects are so neglected today, that most Christians would gain a lot from reading the book.

He has chapters on the historical evidence for Jesus' resurrection, the prominence of the resurrection in the Bible, the role of the resurrection in justification, the resurrection and sanctification, the resurrection and prayer, the resurrection and revival, and many other issues. I suspect that the large majority of Christians have never thought so widely and in such depth about the resurrection.

In one of the chapters, he discusses a subject that's important both for understanding why the resurrection has been neglected and for appreciating its significance in Biblical theology. He writes:

I would go so far as to suggest that when he [Paul] referred to either the death or resurrection of Jesus individually, he usually intended to refer to both events, as a form of shorthand. (p. 73)

He gives examples of how we use such shorthand (synecdoche) in our everyday language (pp. 75, 77). When passages like 1 Corinthians 2:2 and Galatians 6:14 refer to something like the cross or Jesus' death, they're summarizing the gospel. Elsewhere, we're told that Jesus was "raised for our justification" (Romans 4:25), that we were born again "to a living hope through the resurrection" (1 Peter 1:3), etc. Yet, modern gospel presentations often don't mention the resurrection at all or underestimate it. I think Warnock is correct in seeing the summarizing language of Biblical authors like Paul, what he refers to as shorthand, as one of the reasons why the resurrection is neglected in some contexts today. Similarly, as I've noted before, Paul often summarizes the gospel without mentioning the foundational issue of the exclusion of works. Just as it doesn't make sense to use the gospel summary of 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 to neglect what Paul says about the exclusion of works in Galatians, for example, it also doesn't make sense to use a summarizing comment like 1 Corinthians 2:2 to neglect the resurrection. While the Biblical authors explain the significance of the resurrection in other contexts, even though they make summarizing comments that don't directly refer to the resurrection at times, we often don't do so today.

I think another factor is that we can more easily identify with Jesus' physical suffering than we can with His resurrection. The cross has a more immediate emotional appeal to people. We're often more interested in avoiding something negative, like suffering for our sins, than gaining something positive. We have more interest in Christ's substitutionary suffering than His substitutionary righteousness and His resurrection. Many theological liberals and others who don't believe in the resurrection have reason to put more emphasis on the cross while neglecting a resurrection that they don't believe even occurred.

Whatever the reasons for the neglect of the resurrection, I agree with Warnock that it has been neglected, and his book is helpful in addressing the problem. I also agree with his presentation of the risen Christ as a glorious, holy, and righteous God who's to be feared. There's a lot in this book that's commendable, far too much for me to mention here.

My objections are relatively minor. I'll just mention a few examples.

Like a lot of other Evangelical authors, Warnock has a tendency to go from the Biblical era to the Reformation and post-Reformation church history, without saying much or anything about the intervening years. He often cites Jonathan Edwards, Charles Spurgeon, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, John Piper, and other more recent sources, and what he cites from them is useful. But many of his points could have been more effectively illustrated and strengthened if he had also said more about earlier church history and cited earlier post-Biblical sources. The prominence of the resurrection in Ignatius of Antioch, Aristides, Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, and other patristic sources supports Warnock's reading of the Bible. Aristides (Apology, 2) and Irenaeus (Against Heresies, 1:10:1), for example, mention the resurrection as one of the foundational truths of Christianity. The resurrection was also prominent in the thinking of Christianity's early critics, as illustrated in Athenagoras' treatise On The Resurrection Of The Dead and Origen's Against Celsus. See here for some examples of what the patristic Christians said about the resurrection.

Warnock is right to focus on the resurrection of Christ and His people, but I thought he should have said more about the resurrection of the creation in general (Romans 8:19-23). See here, for example.

I disagree with some of his views as a charismatic. I have problems with some of his exegesis. And I think he mishandles some of the issues related to the historicity of Jesus' resurrection.

It's a good book overall, however. Authors who address neglected subjects and attempt to address those subjects from a lot of different angles should be commended for doing so, even if they sometimes fall short in the process. Most readers should come away from the book with a broader and deeper view of the resurrection and the God who raises the dead.