Saturday, July 15, 2023

Why should we believe the Bible?

1. A very nice 2-part series on why we should believe the Bible from Shane Rosenthal. It's especially nice to see underutilized arguments featured front and center in Rosenthal's series (e.g. argument from prophecy). Glad to see Rosenthal still doing good work for the kingdom post-White Horse Inn.

2. Similarly see Rosenthal's excellent post "Can We Trust Luke's History of the Early Jesus Movement?". (Someday I'd like to pick up Colin Hemer's The Book of Acts in the Setting of Hellenistic History, but as far as I'm aware it's only available used or secondhand and all the copies I've seen are quite expensive.)

3. Speaking of Rosenthal, I appreciate Rosenthal's interviews with Lydia McGrew about her own fine works in this area over on The Humble Skeptic podcast. Lydia's most recent book Testimonies to the Truth: Why You Can Trust the Gospels looks like it'd be quite stimulating as well as edifying to read. It seems aimed at being a port of entry for the reliability of the Gospels (and afterwards, I assume, one can embark on her other three longer works for further voyages). I wonder how it will compare to a standard bearer on the reliability of the Gospels like Craig Blomberg's Jesus and the Gospels: An Introduction and Survey (3rd edition). I'm sure it'd be ideal to read and study both.

Thursday, July 13, 2023

Jesus' Happiness

"Jesus himself — and all that God is for us in him — is our great reward, nothing less. 'I am the bread of life....If anyone thirsts, let him come to me' (John 6:35; 7:37). Salvation is not mainly the forgiveness of sins, but mainly the fellowship of Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:9). Forgiveness gets everything out of the way so this can happen. If this fellowship is not all-satisfying, there is no great salvation. If Christ is gloomy, or even calmly stoical, eternity will be a long, long sigh. But the glory and grace of Jesus is that he is, and always will be, indestructibly happy. I say it is his glory, because gloom is not glorious. And I say it is his grace, because the best thing he has to give us is his joy. 'These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full' (John 15:11; see also 17:13)….In Hebrews 1:8-9 God speaks to the Son, not to the angels, with these astonishing words: 'Your throne, O God, is forever and ever. . . .You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.' Jesus Christ is the happiest being in the universe. His gladness is greater than all the angelic gladness of heaven. He mirrors perfectly the infinite, holy, indomitable mirth of his Father." (John Piper, Seeing And Savoring Jesus Christ [Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway Books, 2004], 35-36)

Tuesday, July 11, 2023

Did Irenaeus condemn prayer to angels?

Yes, though advocates of the practice sometimes suggest otherwise by adding qualifiers Irenaeus didn't include. Let's look at a couple of relevant passages.

Sunday, July 09, 2023

If somebody prays for you, does it follow that you can pray to him?

Obviously not. Yet, Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox often act as if passages in the church fathers about how the saints pray for us are evidence that those fathers believed in praying to the saints. Or let's say that somebody lives a thousand miles from you, but is part of the same denomination you belong to. And that denomination has set aside a particular day to pray about something. Let's say it's praying for missionaries. So, that person is praying with you for missionaries, in the sense that you're both praying for them on that day. Does the fact that he's praying with you prove that you can pray to him? Would you go into your bedroom, say a prayer to this man who lives a thousand miles away, and expect him to hear the prayer? No, you wouldn't. If you prayed for him, would it make sense for somebody to conclude that you must have no objection to praying to him as well? No. In that sort of everyday experience, we make the relevant distinction between praying for an individual and praying to him, praying with somebody and praying to somebody, being prayed for by somebody and praying to that person. And Protestants aren't the only ones who make those distinctions. Catholics and Orthodox do as well. They have to. They couldn't function in everyday life without doing so. But when they get into discussions about praying to the saints (and angels), they often act as though all of these distinctions can be disregarded. Supposedly, citing a church father's reference to how the saints pray for us or with us or how we pray for them is sufficient to prove that the father believed in praying to the saints.