Tuesday, December 31, 2013

"Christian Theology": Blogging Throughout Erickson - Soteriology 8

The one Reformed doctrine that all Baptists hold is the perseverance of the saints. In his book Christian Theology, Dr. Millard Erickson offers a helpful discussion explaining the Calvinist view of it. Most of them are fairly standard. Calvinism makes its case from both logic and the biblical text. Erickson, however, puts forward one argument I had not thought about (at least not in these terms) that is worth passing along and that relates to our union with Christ. He writes:
In addition, many Calvinists also infer their view of perseverance from other doctrines. Among them is the doctrine of union with Christ. If believers have been made one with Christ and his life flows through them (John 15:1-11), nothing can conceivably nullify that connection. Louis Berkhof says, "It is impossible that they should again be removed from the body, thus frustrating the divine ideal." The doctrine of the new birth, the Holy Spirit's impartation of a new nature to the believer, likewise lends support to the doctrine of perseverance. . . . If salvation could be lost, regeneration would have to be reversed. But can this be? Can spiritual death actually come to someone in whom the Holy Spirit dwells, that is, who has already been given eternal life? This must be impossible, for eternal life is by definition everlasting. (1000)
Although I have argued elsewhere and continue to affirm that debates over Calvinism and Arminianism are tertiary, that does not mean they are insignificant as the above quote shows. One major Baptist distinctive is the perseverance of the saints which contradicts pure Arminianism. In other words, even Arminian Baptists affirm at least one of the five points of Calvinism.

As Erickson shows here, the Reformed Baptist has a stronger and more consistent argument in favor of eternal security than his Arminian brother. The doctrines of unconditional election, total depravity, regeneration, effectual call, and others provide a strong and natural theological foundation for the perseverance of the saints.

Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 1 
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 2 
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 3
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 4  
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Prolegomena 5  

Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 1
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 2 
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 3
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 4
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 5
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 6
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 7
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 8  
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 9
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 10

"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 1
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 2
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 3 
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 4
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 5 
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 6
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 7
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 8
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 10
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 11
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 12
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 13
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 14
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 15
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 16
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 17
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 18
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 19
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Theology Proper 20

"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 1
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 2
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 3
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 4
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 5 
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 6
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 7
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 8
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 9
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 10
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 11
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 12
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 13
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 14
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 15
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Creation/Providence 16

"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Anthropology 1
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Anthropology 2
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Anthropology 3
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Anthropology 4
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Anthropology 5 
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Anthropology 6

"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Hamartiology 1
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Hamartiology 2
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Hamartiology 3
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Hamartiology 4
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Hamartiology 5
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Hamartiology 6
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Hamartiology 7
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Hamartiology 8
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Hamartiology 9

"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Christology 1
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Christology 2
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Christology 3
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Christology 4
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Christology 5
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Christology 6
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Christology 7
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Christology 8
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Christology 9
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Christology 10

"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Work of Christ 1
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Work of Christ 2
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Work of Christ 3
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Work of Christ 4
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Work of Christ 5
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Work of Christ 6
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Work of Christ 7 

"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Pneumatology 1
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Pneumatology 2
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Pneumatology 3
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Pneumatology 4
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Pneumatology 5 

"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Soteriology 1
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Soteriology 2
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Soteriology 3
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Soteriology 4 
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Soteriology 5
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Soteriology 6
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Soteriology 7
"Christian Theology": Blogging Through Erickson - Soteriology 8

For more:
The First Cause of Our Salvation: John Craig on God's Eternal Election
Does the Calvinistic Doctrine of God's Providence Make God Responsible For Sin?: Grudem's Answer
Spurgeon's Defense of Calvinism - Part 1
Spurgeon's Defense of Calvinism - Part 2
Spurgeon's Defense of Calvinism - Part 3
Spurgeon's Defense of Calvinism - Part 4
Spurgeon's Defense of Calvinism - Part 5

All Around the Web - December 31, 2013

Tim Challies - Mobility, Privacy, Pornography
Here is the statistic you and I need to think about: 52% of pornography consumed in the United States this year was consumed on mobile devices; a further 10% was consumed on tablets. This means that almost two thirds of pornography is now being viewed on devices other than desktop computers.

Why is this significant? For at least two reasons.

Did you buy your children an iPod or iPhone or other mobile device for Christmas? You just bought them the major porn-consumption device. So what are you going to do to protect them from it? One of the most popular articles I wrote in 2013 concerned The Porn-Free Family. I will be returning to the subject in the new year, but for now, I want to point out an important fact: Most of our attempts to block pornography and to use accountability software are effective only or primarily on desktop devices. Covenant Eyes is an effective solution on my desktop or laptop, but a rather ineffective solution on my mobile phone. This is the first major takeaway from these new statistics: Your filtering and accountability solution has to account for mobile devices if it is going to be at all effective.

The second one is this: The adoption of mobile devices, and therefore the consumption of pornography through mobile devices, probably trends toward younger people. This is based on an educated guess more than statistics, but I am quite sure it will prove true. The younger you are, the greater the likelihood that you enjoy the privacy and portability afforded by your mobile device when you look at porn. The statistics released by this company conveniently skip all mention of age, but we all know the popularity of pornography among teens—teens who are increasingly in possession of mobile devices. Putting a desktop computer in a public place within the home and installing Covenant Eyes is still a good idea, but it hardly matters if your children carry unsecured iPods with them all the time. That’s like securing your home by locking the front door while leaving all the windows wide open.

Real Clear Politics - Krauthammer: "I Don't Believe In God, But I Fear Him Greatly"

CNN - CNN Poll: GOP has edge in early midterm indicator
Democrats have lost their advantage and Republicans now have a slight edge in the battle for control of Congress, according to a new national poll.

A CNN/ORC International survey released Thursday also indicates that President Barack Obama may be dragging down Democratic congressional candidates, and that the 2014 midterm elections are shaping up to be a low-turnout event, with only three in 10 registered voters extremely or very enthusiastic about voting next year.

Two months ago, Democrats held a 50%-42% advantage among registered voters in a generic ballot, which asked respondents to choose between a Democrat or Republican in their congressional district without identifying the candidates. That result came after congressional Republicans appeared to overplay their hand in the bitter fight over the federal government shutdown and the debt ceiling.

But the Democratic lead evaporated, and a CNN poll a month ago indicated the GOP holding a 49%-47% lead. The new survey, conducted in mid-December, indicates Republicans with a 49%-44% edge over the Democrats.

Real Clear Politics - AP Report: Obama's Second Term Woes, Can He Turn It Around?

Gallop - Most U.S. Families Still Routinely Dine Together at Home

As families gather around the table this holiday season, Gallup finds that family dining is a part of everyday life for the majority of U.S. parents, and that it hasn't diminished much in recent years. Fifty-three percent of adults with children younger than 18 say their family eats dinner together at home six or seven nights a week. The average 5.1 dinners that families share each week is down slightly from 5.4 in 1997, but unchanged from 2001.

Since 1997, slightly more than half of parents have told Gallup they eat dinner together as a family at least six times per week, including between 35% and 38% saying they do so all seven days. However, there has been a slight increase in the percentage eating together less than four times per week; this was 16% in 1997, but jumped to 22% by 2001 and has remained at that level since.

While restaurants abound in the U.S., Americans report dining out only occasionally, which makes sense given their high reported frequency of eating at home. Gallup estimates from 2003 to 2008 found all U.S. adults reporting they eat dinner out at a restaurant 1.2 to 1.4 times per week, on average.

I know Christmas is past us, but this is too good to past up.

Monday, December 30, 2013

"The Psalms: Language for all Seasons of the Soul": A Review

If the Bible is about God's in-breaking of his kingdom, that is to say, of his will being done on earth as it is in heaven, then the psalms are the faithful voice of the people of God in response to his saving history. In the Psalms we hear the voice of the faithful petitioning God to erupt into the world with his just rule; and of praising him for his faithfulness to his creation of the world that sustains them and for his faithfulness to them in their salvation history. More specifically, we hear the voice of Israel in corporate solidarity - that is to say in a covenant relationship - with their king who expresses their common voice of praise and petition. As such the historical king and Israel are a type of Christ and his church. (26-27)

The largest book of the Bible, the Book of Psalms, includes more chapters than any other book of the Bible and has the honor of having both the longest (Psalm 119) and the shortest (Psalm 117) chapter in Scripture. As a pastor, I have turned to this ancient hymn book to comfort hurting flock, to extol the wondrous works of God, to grow in my own personal prayer life, and to connect with those before me who have struggled with what life throws at them. The psalmists, from all walks of life, deal with suffering, defeat, hope, anticipation, promise, pain, Christ, judgment, repentance, sin, wisdom, and foolishness. All that the Bible teaches is expressed beautifully in the Psalms.

In spite of all that, I struggle mightily with it. I am by no means an expert on the Jewish hymn book. Having taught and preached from it on numerous occasions, its content, interpretation, and exegesis remains a constant challenge for me. For this reason, I invested in the book The Psalms: Language for all Seasons of the Soul edited by Drs. Andrew Schmutzer and David Howard. The editors have arranged a collection of essays, taken from the Evangelical Theological Society, from some of the world's greatest scholars and pastors. The list of contributors include Drs. Bruce Waltke, Walter Kaiser, and John Piper.

Being that the book originates with ETS this is certainly not a book for new believers or those new to the academy. The writers frequently refer to the Hebrew text and discuss topics commonly known among Hebrew poetry scholars. I have three degrees in theology and biblical studies and struggled with some of its content.

Nonetheless, this book is a great addition to any pastor and theologian's library. A few things are worth pointing out. First, one major issue that appears throughout the book regards the nature of the Psalms. Are they simply a random collection of psalms or should we view it as one unified book? Several contributors defend the latter thesis. For example, in his chapter on Psalms 1-2, Dr. Robert Cole, quoting Amos Hakham, suggests that The two first psalms serve as an introduction to the entire book of psalms (183). Likewise in his exegesis of Psalm 91, Dr. Andrew Schmutzer connects Psalms 90-92 together linguistically and in their placement in the canon. This theme is common throughout the book and has helped me immensely.

Secondly, the exegetical chapters are excellent. The two I found most helpful regarded Psalm 91 (the same chapter as discussed in the previous paragraph) and Dr. Robert Chisholm's essay on the common theme of the sea throughout the Psalms. In the latter chapter, Dr. Chisholm acknowledges clear connections between ancient near eastern motif's of a divine battle with the sea (75) and the Old Testament, especially the Psalms. Yet instead of buying the line that the Bible is simply a book that borrows from culture's around it and gives it a Jewish reinterpretation, the author suggests it reflects more clearly exactly what the ancient Jews really believed about Yahweh. He writes:
For ancient Israelites familiar with the mythological symbolism of the sea current in the ancient Near East (and reflected in some biblical texts), Genesis 1 and related texts would have made a startling assertion about the scope and nature of God's kingship. in Mesopotamia Marduk defeated Tiamat, the deified sea or ocean, in conjunction with creation; at Ugarit Baal subdued Yam as a prelude to assuming kingship (though the myth does not appear to refer to a creative act). In Psalms 74 and 89 Yahweh subdues the sea in conjunction with his creative work. But in Genesis 1, neither the primordial deep nor the sea poses any threat whatsoever to God's rule. On the contrary, the sea has its appointed place in the created order and is subject to God's sovereignty.

This image of God's universal and absolute kingship portrayed in Genesis 1 fits well in the psalms derived from it. Psalm 95 asserts Yahweh's incomparablility; he is the "great God" and the "great King" who is superior to "all gods" (v. 3). Psalm 146 portrays God as the eternal cosmic King who demonstrates his justice by caring for the needy (vv. 7-10). (79-80)
The exegetical essays alone are worth the investment. Pastors will benefit greatly from the exegetical, critical, hermeneutical, and literary work of the scholars in this book. They will also be given a front row seat in how to do it. I have preached through a number of the Psalms before and am now interested in doing it again as a result of this book.

One final note. Though the book is primarily an academic work, the final section helpful includes a number of exegetical sermons, like the one from John Piper, from the Psalms. Frankly, I could never pull off the content of some of these sermons in my own congregation, but they do tie the content of the book all together. The editors want the reader to connect academic precision with exegetical homiletics. Sound exegesis ought to lead to more powerful preaching. And, of course, it does.

In short, this is a wonderful book for those with some background in biblical studies. Pastors, theologians, and scholars will benefit greatly from this book. I will certainly be returning to it often.

This book was provided by Moody Press free of charge for the purpose of this review.

For more:
"A Sad, Sad Song" by Steve Lawson
"Against the Gods" by John Currid: A Review

All Around the Web - December 30, 2013

HT: Slate

Vanity Fair - How George W. Bush Evolved From the Uncoolest Person on the Planet to Bona Fide Hipster Icon | Wait . . . what?
George W. Bush was once very uncool. So uncool, in fact, that in 2005, The New York Times reported that the then-president’s use of an iPod threatened Apple’s status as premier purveyor of “the electronic toys of the anti-establishment set.” The paper then asked a question: “If someone as mainstream as President Bush has caught on to something allegedly so hip, what can Apple do to keep iPod chic and cutting edge?”

Years later, toward the end of Bush’s presidency, members of the band U2 weighed whether to pose for photographs with Bush if it meant increased publicity for their charitable work in Africa. The Edge told the music magazine NME in 2009, “Hanging out with George W. Bush—which [Bono] knew was uncool, deeply unpopular in certain quarters—he knew for his own reasons that it would get results. And he was right. The amount of extra American investment in African development that occurred during that administration, compared to even the Clinton administration, was huge.”

If you are a liberal older than, say, 24—old enough to either hate Thought Catalog or not know what Thought Catalog is, is a better barometer—you know this. That George W. Bush is uncool, lame, establishment, square, and odious, etc., is a political fact as self-evident and unnecessary to argue as “Mitt Romney takes double-A batteries” or “Bill Clinton has an oiliness about him.”

But if you are younger than 24, you might not have attended anti-Bush rallies in high school and in college. You might not have pinned “SHRUB” buttons to your tote bag, and might not even remember Bush as a war-lovin’, vowel-droppin’, faux-folksy, ostentatiously religious Connecticut cowboy. This is because Bush has, quietly and wholly, ingeniously refashioned himself into an Internet-friendly, cat-loving, ironic-hat-wearing painter-cum-Instagram savant. Lately, George W. Bush is a hipster icon, and the Internet, unofficial Fourth Estate of the youth of America, is totally buying it.

Bush’s encouraging letter to student-athlete Cade Foster, the 22-year-old University of Alabama kicker who just about single-handedly (single-footedly) lost his team the 2013 Iron Bowl, is the Internet sensation of the week. How nice, Bush is, to reach out to a Troubled Youngster™! Foster’s photograph of the letter has more than 4,000 retweets; President Bush has innumerable new fans.

Reuters - Another dark Christmas for Iraq Christians, bombs kill at least 34
It’s Christmas in Baghdad, and once again Iraq’s Christians are celebrating behind blast walls and barbed wire.

At least 34 people died in bomb attacks in Christian areas on Wednesday, some by a car bomb near a church after a Christmas service. A church attack in 2010 killed dozens.

As prayers are offered and gifts handed out, many are wondering what a surge in violence to its worst levels in half a decade and politicking ahead of April elections means for a community whittled down by years of carnage and migration.

On Christmas Eve, the Mar Yousif Syriac Catholic church in western Baghdad looked like a walled fortress. Soldiers and police ran bomb detectors across cars, searched trunks and bags and patted down visitors before the evening ceremony.

Inside, the red confetti-strewn Christmas tree, bright blue-and-white tile mosaic, and strings of Santa Claus-themed bunting contrasted with drab streets strewn with concrete blocks and barbed wire outside.

Real Clear Politics - George Will: "The New American Entitlement" Is "To Go Through Life Without Being Offended"

Justin Taylor - None Like Christ, None Like Christ, None Like Christ
John Brown of Haddington (1722-1787):
If I never write to you more, let these be my last words:

There is none like Christ-none like Christ-none like Christ. . . .

There is no learning nor knowledge like the knowledge of Christ.

No life like Christ living in the heart by faith.

No work like the service, the spiritual service of Christ,

No reward like the free-graces wages of Christ.

No riches nor wealth like “the unsearchable riches of Christ.”

CBS Miami - Young Couples Moving Back Home To Save Money For Baby
You’ve heard of college graduates bunking with mom and dad as they look for their first job.

But today, some would-be moms and dads are saving for their new additions in a new way.

“Young couples, when they have a child or when they’re planning to have a child, are moving back in with their parents,” said Carmen Wong Ulrich, BabyCenter Financial expert,. “Ten percent of young women are staying, living at home with their parents to save money to have children. This is a new trend.”

Alexis Kort, her husband Josh and their baby Charlotte moved in with Alexis’ parents when they relocated to their hometown.

“You don’t necessarily think about it before you have a kid and then all of a sudden you’re like ‘Wait a second, how do we make this work financially?’,” said Kort.

Teddy Bradshaw on Phil Robertson

Saturday, December 28, 2013

1983 Dream Game: Louisville vs. Kentucky in the Elite 8

The game that started it all.

All Around the Web - December 28, 2013

Breitbart - U.S. belief in God down, belief in theory of evolution up
Three-quarters of U.S. adults say they believe in God, down from 82 percent in 2005, 2007 and 2009, a Harris Poll indicates.

The Harris Poll found 57 percent of U.S. adult say they believe in the virgin birth of Jesus, down from 60 percent in 2005, and 72 percent say they believe in miracles, down from 79 percent in 2005, while 68 percent say they believe in heaven, down from 75 percent. Sixty-eight percent say they believe Jesus is God or the son of God, down from 72 percent; and 65 percent say they believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, down from 70 percent.

Sixty-four percent say they believe in the survival of the soul after death, down from 69 percent in 2005; 58 percent say they believe in the devil, down from 62 percent; 58 percent say they believe in hell, down from 62 percent.

Forty-seven percent say they believe in Darwin's theory of evolution, compared to 42 percent in 2005.

Michael Bird - N.T. Wright on the “Meat and Potatoes” of Justification by Faith

Thom Rainer - A Bible Reading Strategy for 2014
Here are the steps I follow:
  1. I purchase a new study Bible each year. A good study Bible is not inexpensive, but it can help you understand the Word without requiring other devotional resources. Look for one with good introductions to the books of the Bible and strong study notes that accompany the text.  If you don’t have a copy, consider the HCSB Study Bible.
  2. I choose a daily reading plan from an online source. My preference is to follow a plan that includes both Old Testament and New Testament readings each day. My goal is to read the entire Bible each year, but you may choose a different plan. Be sure to read daily, even if your plan does not take you through the whole Bible in a year.
  3. Each year, I prayerfully choose a set of topics to study throughout the year. This step is the one that has been most important to me, as these topics guide my reading. In the past, some of these topics have been prayer, spiritual warfare, evangelism, and missions. I always remain open to studying other topics as I read through the Bible, but I especially watch for texts that speak to my selected themes for the year.
  4. I purchase a new set of Bible highlighters for the year (preferably Zebrite highlighters that are less likely to bleed through Bible pages). I then assign one highlighter color to each of the chosen topics, and I note the colors/topics on the inside cover of my Bible. In 2014, my plan is to study the topics of holiness, leadership, and the Holy Spirit. Thus, the inside cover of my 2014 study Bible will show:
    • Highlights in green: holiness
    • Highlights in pink: leadership
    • Highlights in blue: Holy Spirit
    • Highlights in yellow: other topics or notes that just grab my attention during my reading (sometimes these topics become my studies in future years)
  5. As I read each day, I watch for texts or notes related to the above topics. I highlight the text, pause to meditate on it, prayerfully consider how it might apply to my life, and perhaps write a few notes in the margin to help me reinforce the application.
  6. With each highlighted text, I pray briefly in response to what God teaches me. Prayer ought to be our natural response when the Word of God becomes so real to us.
  7. At the end of the year, I then have a study Bible with every text related to particular topics highlighted. Whenever I teach on those given topics, I simply pull that Bible off the shelf and use it as a resource. Remember, the notes on the inside cover quickly show me what topics are highlighted in that Bible.

Ben Witherinton - Tom Wright Responds to Young Earth Creationists | For the record, I personally think NT Wright goes farther than I would prefer. But I thought this video was worth passing along.

Rich Bozich - Louisville-Kentucky Trumps North Carolina-Duke In Rivalry Debate | Today is the annual UK/UofL basketball rivary game. Therefore, this article is not only accurate, but timely. Go CARDS!
Sometimes ESPN wraps all 17 of its channels around a story and then they shake it like a tambourine. Perhaps you have noticed.

Red Sox-Yankees. Tiger Woods, decades after his last major championship victory. That left-handed kid who played quarterback at Florida.

Then there is the other story that lights up my keyboard every college basketball season: The tall tale that Duke vs. North Carolina is the greatest rivalry in college basketball.

It isn't.

Louisville vs. Kentucky is more compelling, ferocious and decisive.

Duke and North Carolina not only live eight miles apart, they live in the same league. They play Feb. 12, March 8 and maybe one more time in the Atlantic Coast Conference Tournament.

That's not a rivalry. That's an NBA playoffs mini-series.

There's no do-over in the U of L-UK rivalry. You win, you own Tweetdeck for the rest of the season. You lose, you have to smell the ugliness of your meltdown for 364 days.

Unless you meet again in the NCAA Final Four.

Friday, December 27, 2013

"Man's maker was made man . . ."

From Augustine of Hippo (Sermons 191.1):
Man’s maker was made man,
that He, Ruler of the stars, might nurse at His mother’s breast;
that the Bread might hunger,
the Fountain thirst,
the Light sleep,
the Way be tired on its journey;
that the Truth might be accused of false witness,
the Teacher be beaten with whips,
the Foundation be suspended on wood;
that Strength might grow weak;
that the Healer might be wounded;
that Life might die.

HT: Trevin Wax

For more:
Odd Thomas on the Incarnation

An Anti-Santy Ranty: A Moralistic God vs. the God in the Manger

All Around the Web - December 27, 2013

Truth Revolt - OH Bill Would Require Parents to Undergo State Investigation Before Homeschooling
A new bill proposed by Senator Capri Cafaro (D-Ohio) would require parents who have decided to homeschool their child to undergo an investigation by social services, who would then decide whether or not it would be permitted.

The Home School Legal Defense Association (HSLDA) website is reporting that on December 3, 2014, Senate Bill 248 was introduced in Ohio. This bill is the latest attack against families from state legislatures who want to severely restrict choice to homeschool children.

Thom Rainer - Fourteen Things You Shouldn’t Say to Your Pastor

  1. I wish I had a job like yours, where I would work only one day a week.
  2. What do you do with all the free time you have?
  3. Can I have a couple of minutes before you preach?
  4. I love you pastor, but _______________________________ (fill in the blank).
  5. I like your preaching, pastor, but I really like ____________________________ (fill in the blank with television or podcast preacher).
  6. Can your wife play piano?
  7. Your kids shouldn’t behave that way. After all, they are pastor’s kids.
  8. Your low salary is good for you. It keeps you humble and dependent on the Lord.
  9. I bet you don’t spend any time preparing your sermons.
  10. Pastor ________________ (predecessor pastor) didn’t do it that way.
  11. You don’t have a real degree. You went to seminary.
  12. How much longer do you think you’ll be at our church?
  13. Did I wake you up pastor? It’s only 1:00 am.
  14. Did you hear what they are saying about you?

Biblemesh - What Does the Doctrine of the Trinity Have to Do With Christmas?
The doctrine of the Trinity seems to many Christians to be the most obscure and arcane of the Church’s dogmas. In contrast, Christmas is the holiday that more than any other stirs the emotions of followers of Jesus, regardless of denominational affiliation, inspiring them to acts of charity and service to others. What, then, could the seemingly rationalistic doctrine of the Trinity possibly have to do with the divine love we experience and celebrate at Christmas?

A pointer in the direction of answering this question may be found in the oft-overlooked second stanza of the Christmas carol, “O Come, All Ye Faithful.” The author writes, “God of God, light of light / Lo, he abhors not the Virgin’s womb; / Very God, begotten, not created: / O come let us adore Him / Christ the Lord.” Those familiar with church history will quickly recognize in this stanza echoes of the Nicene Creed from AD 325: “We believe . . . in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, begotten of the Father . . . Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten, not made, being of one substance (homoousios) with the Father.”

So why would someone think it fitting to include allusions to the Nicene Creed in a Christmas carol? The answer in brief is this: the message of Christmas is that God is with us in Jesus, and the doctrine of the Trinity tells us that it is God Himself who is with us.

Ligonier - Must Christians Believe in the Virgin Birth?
With December 25 fast approaching, the secular media are sure to turn their interest once again to the virgin birth. Every Christmas, weekly news magazines and various editorialists engage in a collective gasp that so many Americans could believe such an unscientific, supernatural doctrine. For some, the belief that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin is nothing less than evidence of intellectual dimness. One writer for the New York Times put the lament plainly: “The faith in the Virgin Birth reflects the way American Christianity is becoming less intellectual and more mystical over time.”

Does belief in the virgin birth make Christians “less intellectual?” Are we saddled with an untenable doctrine? Can a true Christian deny the virgin birth, or is the doctrine an essential component of the Gospel revealed to us in Scripture?

The doctrine of the virgin birth was among the first to be questioned and then rejected after the rise of historical criticism and the undermining of biblical authority that inevitably followed. Critics claimed that since the doctrine is taught in “only” two of the four Gospels, it must be optional. The apostle Paul, they argued, did not mention it in his sermons in Acts, so he must not have believed it. Besides, the critics argued, the doctrine is just so supernatural. Modern heretics like retired Episcopal bishop John Shelby Spong argue the doctrine was just evidence of the early church’s over-claiming of Christ’s deity. It is, Spong tells us, the “entrance myth” to go with the resurrection, the “exit myth.” If only Spong were a myth.

Marvin Olasky - Duck Dynasty: ‘Going to shoot him? The woman? Me?’
Where will it end?
Each month this fall has brought more attempts to kill the careers of anyone who speaks negatively about homosexuality. Novelist Orson Scott Card. Football analyst Craig James. Now Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson. Boycotts. Firing. “Indefinite hiatus.”

It’s strange in one sense that the cultural left is blacklisting and attempting to purge those who think and speak differently. Many high school students learn only one thing about politics in the 1950s: “McCarthyism” and “blacklisting” were wrong. But here we go again. 

Witness, a fine 1985 movie, has a climactic scene (warning: the linked video contains profanity) in which corrupt police chief Paul Schaeffer has his gun trained on a detective played by Harrison Ford, who has been hiding out in an Amish community to protect a little boy. But that boy rings a large bell and members of the community gather. Ford’s character yells at the corrupt police chief, “What are you going to do, Paul? Going to kill me?” He pulls over an old man: “Going to shoot him?” He pulls over the boy: “Going to shoot him? Is that’s what you’re going to do, Paul? Him? The woman? Me. It’s over. Enough. Enough.”

2013 as told by Google

Thursday, December 26, 2013

"The Incarnation": A Spoken Word by Odd Thomas

Odd Thomas on the Reality of the Resurrection

From Odd Thomas from Beautiful Eulogy.

For more:
"The Cup & the Crucifixion" Spoken Word
Odd Thomas - The Incarnation (Spoken Word)
"Lofty" by Propaganda, Beautiful Euology & Joel
A Beautiful Eulogy  
Hip Hop Theology: I am a Robot
Hip-Hop Theology: Creation
"The Good Life" by Trip Lee: A Review 
Listen to & Download Trip Lee's "One Hundred Sixteens" For Free
Listen to & Download Propoganda's Album "Excellent"
"Be Present" by Propaganda  
Trip Lee - "War"
Listen To & Download Lecrae's "Church Clothes" For Free
Flame- The Great Deception
FLAME - Power [with Rap-Along lyrics]
Shai Linne: Triune Praise   
The Gospel Illustrated 
Some of Their Best: DC Talk

All Around the Web - December 26, 2013

The Gospel Coalition - My Top 10 Theology Stories of 2013
10. Does it matter who says it if it's good?
9. Black and white, we're closer than ever—and just as far apart as always.
8. Purity and modesty provoke backlash in a sex-saturated culture.
7. Should American foreign policy privilege Christians?
6. 'Gay' Christians speak out.
5. Popular TV finds faith.
4. Culture warriors shift from offense to defense.
3. Wrath of God does not satisfy Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
2. Strange Fire book, conference force evangelicals to pick sides.
1. Pope Francis makes fast friends.

Joe Carter - When Nothing Created Everything
In the beginning was Nothing, and Nothing created Everything. When Nothing decided to create Everything, she filled a tiny dot with Time, Chance, and Everything and had it expand. The expansion spread Everything into Everywhere carrying Time and Chance to keep it company. The three stretched out together leaving bits of themselves wherever they went. One of those places was the planet Earth.

For no particular Reason—for Reason is rarely particular—Time and Chance took a liking to this little, wet, blue rock and decided to stick around to see what adventures they might have. While the pair found the Earth to be intriguing and pretty, they also found it a bit too quiet, too static. They fixed upon an idea to change Everything (just a little) by creating a special Something. Time and Chance roamed the planet, splashing through the oceans and sloshing through the mud, in search of materials. But though they looked Everywhere, there was a missing ingredient they needed in order to make a Something that could create more of the same Somethings.

They called to their friend Everything to help. Since Everything had been Everywhere she would no doubt be able to find the missing ingredient. And indeed she did. Hidden away in a small alcove called Somewhere, Everything found what Time and Chance had needed all along: Information. Everything put Information on a piece of ice and rock that happened to be passing by the former planet Pluto and sent it back to her friends on Earth.

Justin Taylor - An Interview with Stephen Meyer on “Darwin’s Doubt”

WORLD Magazine - ‘Mistakes were made’
When accusations of plagiarism regarding Seattle megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll surfaced in November, he and his church initially chose to ignore them. But in the face of mounting evidence and calls for accountability, the Mars Hill Church pastor and his publisher, Tyndale House, issued a joint statement yesterday acknowledging that “mistakes were made” and asserting that corrective actions had been taken. 

The uproar began when Driscoll appeared on the nationally syndicated Janet Mefferd Show on Nov. 21 to promote his new book, A Call to Resurgence. On air, Mefferd accused Driscoll of plagiarism, claiming he had not properly cited ideas that originally came from Peter Jones, director of truthXchange and adjunct professor at Westminster Seminary California. Since then, other examples of alleged plagiarism involving Driscoll have surfaced. Several websites feature screenshots of pages from Driscoll’s books posted side-by-side with passages from other books he allegedly quoted without proper citation. 

In the statement issued by Tyndale and Driscoll, the publisher says “it has spent much of the past three weeks looking carefully into these claims” and has concluded that “Mark Driscoll did indeed adequately cite the work of Peter Jones.” Further, “Tyndale rejects the claims that Mark Driscoll tried to take Peter Jones’s ideas and claim them as his own.”

Eric Crawford - A personal perspective on 'The Year of the Cardinal' | Indulge me if you will.
The University of Louisville commissioned its own commemoration of what it has dubbed, "The Year of the Cardinal." It aired Thursday night on ESPNU, and it was fine, as far as those things go. It hit all the highlights, had all the camera angles and interviews.

It succeeded more in some parts than others -- and in no part more than in the insightful retelling of the Cardinal women's basketball team's NCAA Tournament upset of Baylor through the words of Jeff Walz and his players.

But it took a wide-angle view of the year, as TV often does, and must, because of time constraints.

My view of "The Year of the Cardinal" came from the ground, in dozens of places and times, through bits remembered from players and coaches, and from just watching. The following is more personal remembrance than official record. Some of it the cameras caught, much of it they didn't. But with the year winding down and U of L's show having aired, it seems like this is a fitting place to look back.

Bill O'Reilly, yet again, reminds us why pundits like himself should stick to punditry. His quotation of Luke 6 is ridiculous. After all, he is judging Phil Robertson of being judgmental isn't he.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Advent: God With Us

Wow!  Simply Wow.  Here is the gospel with emphasis on the prophecy, birth, death, resurrection, and return of Christ.  Thanks to the Village Church and Isaac Wimberley for writing this and producing this video.

If the video doesn't work, you can view it here.

Advent: God With Us from The Village Church on Vimeo.

HT: Justin Taylor

The people had read of this rescue that was coming through the bloodline of Abraham
They had seen where Micah proclaimed about a ruler to be born in Bethlehem
Daniel prophesy about the restoration of Jerusalem
Isaiah’s cry about the Son of God coming to them
So for them—it was anticipation
This groaning was growing, generation after generation
Knowing He was holy, no matter what the situation
But they longed for Him
They yearned for Him
They waited for Him on the edge of their seat
On the edge of where excitement and containment meet
They waited
Like a child watches out the window for their father to return from work—they waited
Like a groom stares at the double doors at the back of the church—they waited
And in their waiting, they had hope
Hope that was fully pledged to a God they had not seen
To a God who had promised a King
A King who would reign over the enemy
Over Satan’s tyranny
They waited
So it was
Centuries of expectations, with various combinations of differing schools of thought
Some people expecting a political king who would rise to the throne through the wars that he fought
While others expecting a priest who would restore peace through the penetration of the Pharisee’s façade
Yet a baby—100% human, 100% God
So the Word became flesh and was here to dwell among us
In His fullness, grace upon grace, Jesus
Through Him and for Him, all things were created
And in Him all things are sustained
God had made Himself known for the glory of His name
And this child would one day rise as King
But it would not be by the sword or an insurgent regime
It would be by His life
A life that would revolutionize everything the world knew
He would endure temptation and persecution, all while staying true
Humbly healing the broken, the sick and hurting too
Ministering reconciliation, turning the old to new
A life that would be the very definition of what life really costs
Saying—if you desire life, then your current one must be lost
And He would portray that with His own life as His Father would pour out and exhaust
And Jesus would be obedient to the point of death, even death upon the cross
So just 33 years after the day that He laid swaddled in the hay
He hung on a tree suffocating, dying in our place
Absorbing wrath that is rightly ours, but we could never bear the weight
So He took that punishment and he put it in the grave
And He died
And when I say that He died, what I mean is that He died
No breath, noheartbeat, no sign of life
God is a God of justice, and the penalty for our sin equals death
That’s what Christ did on that cross
Then… On the third day, in accordance with scriptures, He was raised from the grave
And when I say that He was raised, what I mean is that He was raised
Lungs breathing, heart pumping, blood pulsing through His veins
The things that He promised were true
He is the risen Son of God, offering life to me and you
Turning our mourning into dancing
Our weeping into laughing
Our sadness into joy
By His mercy, we are called His own
By His grace, we will never be left alone
By His love, He is preparing our home
By His blood, we can sing before His throne
Jesus paid it all
All to Him I owe
Sin had left a crimson stain
He washed it white as snow
So now we, as His bride, are the ones waiting
Like the saints that came before, we’re anticipating
He has shown us that this world is fading
And He has caused our desire to be for Him
So church, stay ready
Keep your heart focused and your eyes steady
Worship Him freely, never forgetting
His great love for you
Immanuel, God with us

Originally published November 29, 2011

All Around the Web - December 25, 2013

Ross Douthat - Ideas From a Manger
PAUSE for a moment, in the last leg of your holiday shopping, to glance at one of the manger scenes you pass along the way. Cast your eyes across the shepherds and animals, the infant and the kings. Then try to see the scene this way: not just as a pious set-piece, but as a complete world picture — intimate, miniature and comprehensive.

Because that’s what the Christmas story really is — an entire worldview in a compact narrative, a depiction of how human beings relate to the universe and to one another. It’s about the vertical link between God and man — the angels, the star, the creator stooping to enter his creation. But it’s also about the horizontal relationships of society, because it locates transcendence in the ordinary, the commonplace, the low. 

It’s easy in our own democratic era to forget how revolutionary the latter idea was. But the biblical narrative, the great critic Erich Auerbach wrote, depicted “something which neither the poets nor the historians of antiquity ever set out to portray: the birth of a spiritual movement in the depths of the common people, from within the everyday occurrences of contemporary life.” 

And because that egalitarian idea is so powerful today, one useful — and seasonally appropriate — way to look at our divided culture’s competing worldviews is to see what each one takes from the crèche in Bethlehem. 

Many Americans still take everything: They accept the New Testament as factual, believe God came in the flesh, and endorse the creeds that explain how and why that happened. And then alongside traditional Christians, there are observant Jews and Muslims who believe the same God revealed himself directly in some other historical and binding form.

The Atlantic - Why C.S. Lewis Never Goes Out of Style 
Last month marked the 50th anniversary of a bizarre day in history. Three men of significant importance each died on November 22, 1963: President John F. Kennedy, author Aldous Huxley, and author and scholar C.S. Lewis.

On that day, the developed world (appropriately) halted at the news of the assassination of the United States’ 35th president. The front page of The New York Times on Saturday morning, the day after the tragic shooting, read, “Kennedy Is Killed by Sniper as he Rides in Car in Dallas; Johnson Sworn in on Plane,” and virtually every other news service around the world ran similar coverage and developed these stories for days and weeks following.

Huxley’s death, meanwhile, made the front page of The New York Times the day after Kennedy’s coverage began. The English-born writer spent his final hours in Los Angeles, high on LSD. His wife, Laura, administered the psychedelic drug during the writer's final day battling cancer, honoring his wishes to prepare for death like the characters in his novels Eyeless in Gaza and Island. Huxley’s Brave New World depicts a haunting futuristic world where a sovereign, global government harvests its tightly controlled social order in glass jars; the Times obituary writer declared that Huxley’s well-known book “set a model for writers of his generation.”

Thom Rainer - Seven Habits of Joyful Pastors
  1. They read their Bible daily. Their time in the Word is above and beyond sermon preparation time or teaching preparation time. They make certain they read and study the Bible for their own edification and spiritual growth.
  2. They have a daily prayer time. All of them have quiet times alone with God. Many of them include their spouses in additional prayer times. They feel they cannot be the servants that God has called them to be unless they are in regular conversations with the God they serve.
  3. They put their family time on their calendars. I mean that literally. They make certain that their children and spouses have time with them. Most of them have regular dates with their spouses and specific plans for their children each week.
  4. They have a long-term perspective. These pastors understand that the criticism of today will be a non-issue tomorrow. They don’t feel the need to make disruptive changes because they have the luxury of an incremental pace. And they tend to develop rich relationships with members in the church because they plan to be around awhile.
  5. They love to work with and help other churches. They have no sense of competition with other churches in the community. Indeed, they willingly and gladly work alongside them. They have great relationships with fellow pastors who serve in the same ministry area.
  6. They have a great sense of humor. I have spoken to each of the twenty pastors on my list on numerous occasions. It is rare for our conversations to end without some healthy laughter. These pastors take their ministries seriously, but they don’t take themselves too seriously. They are willing and eager to laugh at themselves.
  7. They rarely blame others or their circumstances. These pastors never have a victim mentality. They take responsibility for their ministries and others. It is rare to hear them complain or engage in conversations about the inadequacies of others or the rotten situation they encountered.

Christianity Today - The Seven People Americans Now Trust More Than Their Pastor (2013)
Once again, Gallup has examined who Americans regard as the most honest and ethical person in their lives—and found that the answer is not their pastor, but their nurse or pharmacist.

In fact, recorded public trust in clergy has now reached an all-time low, with only 47 percent of Americans rating clergy highly on honesty and ethics (compared to 82 percent saying the same about nurses). The previous low since Gallup began asking the question in 1976: 50 percent in 2009.
However, clergy still ranked No. 7 out of the 22 professions studied. And confidence in the overall church as an institution improved over the past year.

CT reported the results of last year's survey, when 52 percent rated clergy highly on honesty and ethics. This still placed clergy within the top half of all rated professions in 2012 (No. 8 out of 22). Confidence in clergy has stayed relatively stable over time: ranging from 61 percent in 1977 to a high of 67 percent in 1985, but has been consistently in the low 50s in recent years.

In 2013, Americans rated six professions more trustworthy than clergy: nurses, pharmacists, grade school teachers, medical doctors, military officers, and police officers. Meanwhile, engineers, dentists, and college teachers—three professions which surpassed clergy in 2012—dropped below clergy in 2013. (Grade school teachers and military officers rose above clergy from 2012 to 2013, while nurses, pharmacists, medical doctors, and police officers topped clergy in both years.)

Business Insider - Obama's Current Approval Rating Is The Ugliest Since Nixon

President Barack Obama is ending his fifth year in office with the lowest approval ratings at this point in the presidency since President Richard Nixon, according to a new Washington Post/ABC poll released Tuesday.

Obama's approval rating in the poll stands at 43%. By comparison, President George W. Bush had a 47% approval rating at the end of the fifth year of his presidency. And all other Post-World War II presidents had approval ratings above 50% — with the exception of Nixon, who, amid the Watergate scandal, had a dreadful 29% approval rating.

The brutal numbers underscore what has been something of a lost year for the President. His approval ratings have been plunging recently as a result of the botched implementation of the Affordable Care Act. In the Washington Post/ABC poll, only 34% approve of how Obama is handling his signature health law's implementation.

Obama has also been hit by the damage of Washington's recent fiscal battles, including the 16-day federal government shutdown. His administration also experienced a number of setbacks throughout the year — the controversy over some of the National Security Agency's surveillance practices, the debate over military intervention in Syria, the controversy over the IRS' targeting of certain organizations for more scrutiny

Letting go of family rancor.

HT: Denny Burk

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

"How the Grinch Stole Christmas": 1966 Cartoon

The greatest Christmas film of all time.

How the Grinch Stole Christmas 1966 by theperminator

All Around the Web - December 24, 2013

Religion News Service - Conservatives say Utah polygamy ruling confirms their worst fears
Fueling debates over marriage and religious freedom, a federal judge declared on Dec. 13 Utah laws criminalizing polygamy are unconstitutional, ruling on a case involving the Brown family from TLC’s reality series “Sister Wives.”

Social conservatives who have argued for marriage solely between one man and one woman have long warned that allowing gay marriage would ultimately lead to allowing polygamy — an argument that’s both feared and rejected by gay marriage proponents.

Perhaps not surprisingly, groups advocating for legalizing gay marriage were quiet in response, saying that legalizing polygamy is not part of their mandate.

At the same time, proponents of traditional marriage did a victory lap of sorts, saying their worst fears are starting to come true.

Albert Mohler - Moral Mayhem Multiplied—Now, It’s Polygamy’s Turn
As most Americans were thinking thoughts of Christmas cheer, a federal judge in Utah dropped a bomb on the institution of marriage, striking down the most crucial sections of the Utah statute outlawing polygamy. Last Friday, Judge Clark Waddoups of the United States District Court in Utah ruled that Utah’s anti-polygamy law is unconstitutional, violating the free exercise clause of the First Amendment as well as the guarantee of due process.

In one sense, the decision was almost inevitable, given the trajectory of both the culture and the federal courts. On the other hand, the sheer shock of the decision serves as an alarm: marriage is being utterly redefined before our eyes, and in the span of a single generation.

Judge Waddoups ruled that Utah’s law against consensual adult cohabitation among multiple partners violated the Constitution’s free exercise clause, but a main point was that opposition to polygamy did not advance a compelling state interest. In the background to that judgment was the argument asserted by Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy to the effect that the only real opposition to any form of consensual sexual arrangement among adults would be religiously based, and thus unconstitutional.

Gospel Coalition - Don't Hate on Rural Ministry

Joe Carter - 9 Things You Should Know About Christmas
2. Despite the impression giving by many nativity plays and Christmas carols, the Bible doesn't specify: that Mary rode a donkey; that an innkeeper turned away Mary and Joseph (only that there was no room at the inn); that Mary gave birth to Jesus the day she arrived in Bethlehem (only that it happened "while they were there"); that angels sang (only that the "heavenly host" spoke and praised God); that there were three wise men (no number is specified) or that the Magi arrived the day/night of Jesus' birth.

3. Rather than being born in a stable, Jesus was likely born in a cave or a shelter built into a hillside. The hills around Bethlehem were dotted with small caves for feeding and boarding livestock. The exact site of Jesus' birth is unknown, but by the third century, tradition had established a probable cavern. Constantine's mother, Helena, erected the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem over the small space.

4. During the Middle Ages, children were bestowed gifts in honor of Saint Nicholas (the namesake for Santa Claus). In an attempt to turn away from the Catholic veneration of saints and saint's days, Martin Luther laid gift-giving in his household on Christmas Eve. He told his children that "Holy Christ" (Christkind) had brought their presents. The tradition caught on with many Lutherans, though later St. Nick would get the credit as often as Christkind.

5. Martin Luther is widely credited as the first person to decorate Christmas trees with lights. Walking toward his home one winter evening, composing a sermon, he was awed by the brilliance of stars twinkling amidst evergreens. To recapture the scene for his family, he erected a tree in the main room and wired its branches with lighted candles.

Daily Caller - Who tops Cruz in early Iowa 2016 poll? | This story is meaningless at this point in the "race," but interesting nonetheless.
Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan is the most popular of the would-be 2016 Republican contenders among Iowa Republicans, handily outstripping his potential competition in the state that holds the first nominating contest every four years, according to a new poll.

The Des Moines Register poll, conducted by Selzer & Co. and released Sunday found that a whopping 73 percent of Iowa Republicans hold a favorable opinion of Ryan, the House Budget Committee Chairman and 2012 Republican vice presidential nominee, while just 10 percent have an unfavorable opinion of him. Among tea partiers, he is also far more popular than his competition, with 66 percent saying they view him favorably. 54 percent of born-again Christians like him; only former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee is more popular among that group.

The poll surveyed Iowa adults by phone interview from December 8 through December 11, meaning most of the interviews were completed by the time Ryan announced the budget deal he co-authored with Democratic Senate Budget Committee Chairwoman Patty Murray on Dec. 10. The Des Moines Register reported that several people interviewed after the deal was announced said that while they were not fans of the plan, they still felt Ryan was “a true conservative” and it did not affect their opinion of him.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Dealing with the Discrepancies of Jesus' Genealogies

The Bible is constantly under attack. For those who affirm biblical inerrancy critics like to point out apparent contradictions among other problematic texts. Near the top of that list is the troubling discrepancies between the genealogies of Matthew and Luke. Even a cursory comparison makes it clear the two are not in total agreement. So what do Bible-believing, inerrancy-affirming Christians do with these two texts? Here is how The Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels deals with it.

First, the discrepancies:
Why do Matthew and Luke's genealogies differ from one another after David? Up to that point, the lists generally agree with the OT records. No biblical records exist, however, of the names between Zerubbabel and Joseph (nine in Matthew; eighteen in Luke), and, if granted that Luke's Shealtiel and Zerubbabel are different from those in Matthew's, no biblical record exists for the names after Nathan in Luke's list. These portions are problematic; but with this divergence after David, it becomes quite clear that Luke and Matthew are doing two different tasks. (258)
They then offer four basic solutions to these discrepancies. First:
Julius Africanus (A. D. 170-245) proposed that both lists give Jesus' legal descent through Joseph: Matthew giving Joseph's natural lineage and Luke giving Joseph's legal lineage (cf. Eusebius Hist. Eccl. 1:7). Africanus explains that Jacob and Eli (alias Heli) were uterine brothers (born of the same mother by different fathers). When Eli died childless, Jacob took the widow as wife to raise up a child in the dead brother's name in accordance with Levirate law (Deut 25:5-10). Thus, Joseph was Jacob's natural son (Matthew), but the legal heir to Eli (Luke). Some feel this solution asks for too many happy coincidences. (258)
Several modern scholars also hold that both lists give Jesus' legal descent, reversing the roles of the genealogies in Africanus' solution: Matthew providing Joseph's legal lineage and Luke providing Joseph's natural lineage. This solution struggles, however, against the more natural understanding of Matthew's "begat" formula as indicating a blood relationship between Jacob and Joseph (Mt 1:16). (258)
Annius of Viterbo (c. A. D. 1490), followed by martin Luther and many today, understand Matthew as giving Joseph's ancestry and Luke as giving Mary's. it suggests that Mary was the brother-less heir to Eli whose estate would then go to Mary's husband. Luke 3:23 is understood as saying, "Jesus, being the descendant (as it was supposed, through Joseph) of Heli." If this were the case, however, it is strange that Luke mentions Joseph instead of Mary, since he everywhere else focuses on Mary in his infancy narrative (Matthew focuses on Joseph). Note also that Luke has some concern to show Joseph to be of Davidic descent (Lk 1:27; 2:4). The Talmudic references to a Miriam, the daughter of Eli . . . are most likely not references to Mary the mother of Jesus . . .(258)
And finally:
Tertullian . . . and a few modern scholars have suggested that Matthew gives Mary's ancestry and Luke gives Joseph's. Such a solution again strains the natural understanding of Matthew's "begat" formula. Although H. A. Blair has proposed that the text of Matthew 1:16 be amended to read "Jacob begat Joseph, and Joseph begat Mary, of whom was born Jesus who is called the Christ," there is no textual evidence for such a reading. (258)
From where I sit, these four solutions are versions of the same basic argument. Traditionally Christians have suggested that one Gospel writer (usually Matthew) published the genealogy of Jesus through Joseph while the other (usually Luke) published the genealogy of Jesus through Mary. Though this is an attractive argument, and the dictionary offers four ways of presenting it, it does not resolve all of the problems.

Though I am no expert on this issue, and I can easily get loss in the list of ancient names, perhaps the solution would be to discover the original sources in which the Gospel writers are using. Clearly Matthew and Luke are not using the same source for their genealogies. Mark, one source they both likely used, does not include any genealogical record at all. Assuming that the original genealogical sources both Matthew and Luke used will never be found, Christians will have to continue to struggle with these discrepancies.

Yet there remains an even greater, theological point to be made. The dictionary writes:
While Matthew and Luke each have somewhat different purposes for a genealogy of Jesus, both affirm the virginal conception explicitly in their infancy narratives and implicitly in the genealogies as well. A final solution to the intricate issues involved in comparing the two lists may never be found, but enough is known to show that the apparent discrepancies are not insoluble. The most important things to learn from these genealogies are not the names of Jesus' grandfathers (Jacob or Eli or both), but that he is the messianic king by God's providential working (Matthew) and that he is God's agent, offering all the world salvation (Luke). (258)
We must be careful in turning to the non-inerrantist argument that the historicity is second to the message, yet what is argued here is important. However, we must humbly admit that a satisfactory solution may never be found on this side of Heaven, yet we must not allow it to rob us of what the authors are arguing. First, both affirm the humanity and divinity of Christ in their genealogies. Secondly, the genealogy introduces Matthew's Gospel and through it he boldly declares this infant child born into an insignificant family from a small town is the rightful heir of David. Luke, likewise, makes a strong theological point by tracing Jesus' linage back to Adam. Perhaps Luke is thinking in Pauline terms reminding us that a second, and greater, Adam has come.

The context of Luke's genealogy is equally important. The genealogy of Jesus (consisting of "son of," instead of "begat" as in Matthew) introduces two narratives where sonship is a central question. Who is Jesus' father. Two of the three temptations from Satan begins with "If you are the Son of God . . ." This is then followed by the Jews rejecting Jesus and then asking a similar question, "isn't this Joseph's boy?" (4:22) Thus Luke is making a theological point as well. Jesus of Nazareth is the Son of Man (descendent of Adam) and the Son of God (begotten of the Father).

So while we wait for a satisfying answer, we rejoice in the theology the Gospel authors present. Jesus is King. Jesus is Savior. Jesus is Lord. Jesus is God.  “Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace among men with whom He is pleased.” (Luke 2:14)

For more:
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 1
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 2
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapter 3
"Jesus and the Eyewitnesses": Blogging Through Bauckham - Chapters 4-5
"The Historical Jesus": A Lecture by Ben Witherington
"The Story of Jesus" Documentary
We've All Heard This Before: "Zealot" and the Same Search For the Missing Jesus  
12 Proofs of Jesus' Deity From the Synoptic Gospels
Ravi Zacharias' 12 Arguments For the Historicity of the Resurrection
"The Case For Christianity" Documentaries
"Raised With Christ" by Adrian Warnock: A Review
NT Wright: Did Jesus Really Rise From the Dead?
"The Jesus Inquest" by Charles Foster: A Review
"The Case for Easter"
"The Case For the Real Jesus" by Lee Strobel
"The Case For Christianity" Documentaries
The Quest For the Historical Satan: The Entire Series
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 1
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 2 
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 3
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 4
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 5
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 6
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 7
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 8  
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 9
Christian Theology: Blogging Through Erickson - Bibliology 10