Thursday, December 31, 2015

Was Paul's "Thorn in the Flesh" Malaria?

While studying through Paul's letter to Galatians, the question of Paul's mysterious "thorn in the flesh" (2 Corinthians 12:7) is raised. In Galatians 4:13-14 Paul comments:
13 but you know that it was because of a bodily illness that I preached the gospel to you the first time; 14 and that which was a trial to you in my bodily condition you did not despise or loathe, but you received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus Himself. 
 We should pause here and observe that we are making a presumption here that may be unnecessary. We are presuming that the condition described in Galatians 3:13-14 is the thorn in the flesh referenced in 2 Corinthians 12:7. It is very possible that Paul had a recurring illness or condition (a thorn in the flesh) that he hints at throughout his writings. It is equally possible that the illness in Galatia was a unique illness he suffered with for only a time. We simply do not know for sure.

With that said, let us presume that both Galatians 4:13-14 and 2 Corinthians 12:7 are connected. Scholars for centuries have surmised a variety of possible conditions. One interesting theory regards malaria. I first came across this argument in John MacArthur's sermon on Galatians 4:12-20 where he states:
What was his illness? Everyone wonders about that, "You know how through infirmity of the flesh." What was it? The only possible speculation that seems to have any kind of weight at all is that he probably could have had malaria. You see, when he began his first missionary journey and covered Syria and Cilicia, which is just north of Palestine, he then got on a boat and went to the island of Cypress and ministered there. He left Paphos and went north across a little part of the sea there and came to a place called Pamphylia, a lowland area very much affected with malaria. It is very possible contracted malaria in Pamphylia and immediately then, and we know he didn't stay there any time at all, he went there and was gone fast. He immediately ascended the highlands of Galatia. Some say that he would have contracted malaria in Pamphylia and would have immediately gone to the highlands to get away from the infection that was prevalent in that area. He wanted to get to higher ground where he would not have to face a continued worsening of that problem by being exposed to it again.

So it is possible that, leaving Pamphylia, he ascended and climbed to that tremendous, rocky area to get to Galatia and stayed there only because he was sick. Now malaria manifests itself sometimes in recurring frequency of pain. In other words, it may not always be present. So it is possible that, in his time there, he would have been able to minister in between the recurring times of pain. Some have said that when malaria does hit, it gives tremendous headaches and pains that are unbearable and torturous, especially with no anti-malarial shots or vaccines or whatever you'd take for that kind of thing. He was completely exposed to it, and when it came, it came. But between attacks of it, which seemed to recur, he would have been able to minister.
He later added:
If that's true, then back in Galatians 4, when he says, "You would have plucked out your eyes and given them to me," it may have been that he couldn't see very well. You know, I just dug into this a little bit and called my brother-in-law, who is a doctor, and asked him about it. He looked up some information and found that malaria can attack the orbital portion of the optic nerve, so there may be some connection. If it does that, it can affect it in several ways: it can create a loss of color, it can cause atrophy, it can finally render the pupil immobile, and lead to blindness. Malaria and eye disease can be closely connected, so that is a possibility. The disease that he contracted there could have caused problems in his eyes. Again, this is speculation. The point of the whole thing is this: they loved him. They would have torn out their eyes and given them to him.
MacArthur then notes, "Whatever the disease was . . .," that is to say, "we simply do not know." Yet MacArthur's reputation is that of a studious preacher. He would not have made this suggestion without seriously considering it.*

An archived Christianity Today article summarizes the argument as follows:
Malaria is another possibility, suggested in the 1800s by archaeologist William Ramsay. What happened, Ramsay guessed, is that Paul caught malaria while traveling through the coastal plains of Pamphylia (western Turkey) during his first missionary journey. This coast’s marshes bred malaria-carrying mosquitoes. The tendency for malaria to recur with alternating bouts of sweating and shivering seems to fit well with Paul’s choice of the word torment, which refers to something that continually or often battered him.
The writer, Stephen Miller, ultimately concludes, "Given the growing list of theories about Paul’s thorn in the flesh, the one thing we can be sure about is that we can’t be sure about any of them."

In the end, let us conclude that the malaria hypothesis, though possible and fascinating, remain (and will remain) a theory. Often when Paul reminded his readers of his infirmities, it was not to brag about how much he has suffered for Jesus, but to remind his readers that apart from Christ is a weak man indeed! Whether we are reading 2 Corinthians 12 or Galatians 4, let that be our message. I can do all things through Christ. I can do nothing apart from him.

* In his commentary on Galatians, MacArthur writes, "On his first missionary journey Paul apparently either became seriously ill while in Galatia or else went there to recuperate. Some suggest that he contracted malaria while traveling through the low, swampy regions of Pamphylia and decided to go up into the higher and healthier area of Galatain and minster there for a while until he was better (see Acts 13:13-14). Although malaria can be terribly painful and debilitating, those effects are not continuous. If Paul did have that disease, he would have still been able to do some preaching and teaching between attacks of fever and pain. This explanation is plausible." (116)

All Around the Web - December 31, 2015

Wall Street Journal - New York City Unveils Rules on Gender Discrimination (see also Denny Burk)

The Gospel Coalition - Middle Eastern Christians Speak Out on Wheaton Professor’s Actions

Tim Challies - How Should Christians Use Guns?

Bible Gateway - The Top Ten Bible Verses of 2015 And More: Bible Gateway’s Year in Review Is Here

CNN Money - Ashley Madison says it added 4 million members since the hack

In case you ever wondered:

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Free eBooks: RC Sprul's Crucial Questions Series Books

The good folks at Ligionier and Reformtion Trust Publishing are offering RC Sproul's "Crucial Questions Series" of short book for free as a digital Kindle download. You can find the links to each book below:
Who Is Jesus? (Crucial Questions Series Book 1)
Can I Trust the Bible? (Crucial Questions Series Book 2)
Does Prayer Change Things? (Crucial Questions Series Book 3)
Can I Know God's Will? (Crucial Questions Series Book 4)
How Should I Live in This World? (Crucial Questions Series Book 5) 

What Does It Mean to Be Born Again? (Crucial Questions Series Book 6)
Can I Be Sure I'm Saved? (Crucial Questions Series Book 7)
What Is Faith? (Crucial Questions Series Book 8)
What Can I Do With My Guilt? (Crucial Questions Series Book 9)
What is the Trinity? (Crucial Questions Series Book 10)
What is Baptism? (Crucial Questions Series Book 11)

Can I Have Joy in My Life (Crucial Questions Series Book 12)
Who is the Holy Spirit? (Crucial Questions Series Book 13)
Does God Control Everything? (Crucial Questions Series Book 14) 

How Can I Develop a Christian Conscience? (Crucial Questions Series Book 15)
What is The Lord's Supper? (Crucial Questions Series Book 16)
What is The Church? (Crucial Questions Series Book 17)

What Is Repentance? (Crucial Questions Book 18)
What Is the Relationship between Church and State? (Crucial Questions Series Book 19)
Are These the Last Days? (Crucial Questions Book 20)
What is the Great Commission? (Crucial Questions Book 21)
Can I Lose My Salvation? (Crucial Questions Book 22)

From Lewis's Pen: When Maleldil Was Born a Man

From Perelandra:
Every minute it became clearer to him that the parallel he had tried to draw between Eden and Perelandra was crude and imperfect. What had happened on Earth, when Maleldil was born a man at Bethlehem, had altered the universe for ever. The new world of Perelandra was not a mere repetition of the old world Tellus. Maleldil never repeated Himself. As the Lady had said, the same wave never came twice. When Eve fell, God was not Man. He had not yet made men members of His body: since then He had, and through them henceforward He would save and suffer.

All Around the Web - December 30, 2015

Justin Taylor - Reading the Whole Bible in 2016: An FAQ

Sam Storms - The Best Books of 2015

Christianity Today - The Good News Behind Why Teens Don’t Need a Bible for Christmas

Eric Metaxas - Remembering the Holy Innocents

Thom Rainer - Top 10 Posts of 2015 at – Part One

Denny Burk - A Plan To Read the Greek New Testament in a Year

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

"Whosoever Will": Blogging Through Allen and Lemke - Preaching John 3:16

"Whosoever Will": Blogging Through Allen and Lemke - Introduction
"Whosoever Will": Blogging Through Allen and Lemke - Preaching John 3:16

Though an oversimplification, many try to frame the debate (and defend their non-Calvinism) based on one verse. In fact, it might be the verse of the Bible: John 3:16. Non-Calvinists point to a number of things from it. First, Jesus's atonement is said to be for the whole "world" thus contradicting particular redemption. Furthermore, the phrase "whoever believes" seems to contradict the doctrine of radical depravity and effectual calling.

The first chapter of the book Whosoever Will: A Biblical-Theological Critique of Five-Point Calvinism begins with a sermon manuscript preached by Dr. Jerry Vines (one of the most respected preachers in the Southern Baptist Convention) on this wondrous verse.

Let me say that this point will be brief. Vines offers a good exposition of John 3:16 and shows preachers like myself how much a single verse can contain. I agree with almost everything Vines says but only criticize one portion of it. To that, we turn.

Near the end of the chapter, Vines discusses what he calls "the faculty of faith." He writes:
How does this saving faith come about? A sovereign God has given every person the faculty of faith and a will to exercise it (see Rom. 12:3). This does not rob God of His sovereignty. Humans exercise the faculty of faith every day. They trust that their spouse is not poisoning them, so they eat their breakfast. They trust the banker to keep their money safe so they make their deposit. They trust the pilot is capable so they board the plane. As Norman Geisler says about humans' capacity to choose - it has been "effaced, not erased; limited, not lost; damaged, not destroyed." God commands us to believe. . . . It would be unreasonable to command someone to do something impossible for them to do. It would be like commanding an armless man to embrace you. (25-26, emphasis mine)
A couple of words in response. First, Dr. Vines is articulating a common Arminian view regarding human nature and the command to believe. Secondly, I appreciate Vines reminding us that this still affirms God's sovereignty. As we said in the previous post, Arminians still believe in divine sovereignty - a point Calvinists would do well to remember.

With that said, this common argument fails to appreciate what faith actually is. Faith, in the above quote, is equated with trust. A husband trusts his wife not to poison him. We "trust the banker to keep" our money safe. Clearly, Vines equates these two words.

Yet that is not how faith is exclusively presented in the Bible. Faith is more radical than that. Faith is desperation. If I am poisoned by my wife (and I survive) or if my wife cheats on me, that trust (or faith) I have in her is lost and divorce is a likely result. Likewise, if I cannot trust my banker, I will go to someone else. Yet in Scripture, faith is presented as our only hope. The woman with the bleeding issue in the Gospels came to Jesus in faith, desperate for healing. She knew that there was no hope anywhere. Yes she trusted Jesus could heal her; but more, she was desperate He would heal her. Her only hope was Jesus.

All of this is to say that biblical faith is not joining a team or choosing banks; it is absolute surrender. The theologian must ask, as the next chapter will, what affect does the Fall of Adam have on our nature? Is it so radical as to prevent the sinner from exercising such faith apart from Christ? Vines's answer here is too simple and does not reflect the biblical record. We cannot isolate John 3:16 from the rest of Scripture in our defense of our non-Calvinism.

In the end, there is something to be said here regarding preaching. How should the Calvinist preach John 3:16. The answer is simple: as is. Let both the Calvinist and the non-Calvinist stand in the pulpit and proclaim that if you believe that God, in love, send forth and gave his only begotten son to die as our propitiatory sacrifice that in believing you will be saved.

It is imperative that both sides preach the gospel and call on men everywhere to repent. I agree with Charles Spurgeon (a 5-point Calvinists) who said:
I believe it is the duty of every minister of Christ plainly and faithfully to preach the gospel to all who hear it; and as I believe the inability of men to spiritual things to be wholly of the moral, and therefore of the criminal kind, and that it is their duty to love the Lord Jesus Christ and trust in him for salvation though they do not; I therefore believe free and solemn addresses, invitations, calls, and warnings to them to not only be consistent, but directly adapted, as means, in the hands of the Spirit of God, to bring them to Christ. I consider it as a part of my duty which I could not open it without being guilty of the blood of souls. (Tom Nettles, Living By Revealed Truth, 279)

All Around the Web - December 29, 2015

Canon and Culture - Religious Liberty in 2015: A Year in Review

Denny Burk - A Plan To Read through the Bible in 2016

Ligonier - Bible Reading Plans for 2016

Jason K Allen - Four Reasons to Pray for Your Pastor Daily

The Blaze - Chick-fil-A Opens on Sunday ‘for the Best Reason Possible’ After Deadly Tornadoes Ravage Texas Homes

Denny Burk - Top 10 YouTubes of 2015

Monday, December 28, 2015

"Name Above All Names" by Alistair Begg and Sinclair Ferguson: A Review

This is why Jesus experienced such overwhelming weakness and hunger (in contrast to Adam, who enjoyed plenty). This is why he faced temptation in a wilderness (not like Adam, situated in a lovely and hospitable garden). This is why he was surrounded by wild animals (no, as Adam was, by pliant, obedient, almost domesticated animals). Jesus, the last Adam, had to conquer in the context of the chaos the first Adam's sin had brought into the world. (27)

The most written about person in human history is without a doubt Jesus of Nazareth. And rightly so. In spite of our best efforts, we cannot say enough about him or get enough of him. Some love him and some hate him but few are indifferent about him. I am reminded of the conclusion of the fourth Gospel:
24 This is the disciple who is testifying to these things and wrote these things, and we know that his testimony is true.

25 And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they *were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself *would not contain the books that *would be written. (John 21:24-25)
The study of Christ (known as Christology) is, in my opinion, one of the greatest aspects of Christian theology. In this study, it is best to read from some of the best writers, theologians, and pastors. This is why I recently read Alistair Begg and Sinclair Ferguson's book Name Above All Names (Crossway, 2013). Begg and Ferguson are two of my favorite pastors/theologians and I was looking forward to seeing their thoughts on the most famous man in the world.

The writers are clear this work is not an exhaustive or academic work. Instead they offer a book that looks into various Christological truths in an assessable, yet biblical way. Clearly these men are writing from a pastoral perspective.

Each chapter offers a thorough, yet still brief, overview of how Jesus is, for example, the True Prophet, the Great High Priest, the Son of Man, etc. My favorite chapter was the first which shows how Jesus is the Seed of the Woman - a theme which runs through the entirety of Scripture. The authors show how Jesus fulfills the proto-evangelion: Genesis 3:15. At the cross and resurrection, Jesus crushes the head of the "dragon of old." Here is a sample of what the authors had to say:
This is the underlying plotline of the whole of the Bible. it appears in embryo in the very next chapter of the book of Genesis. One brother (Cain) is in conflict with another brother (Abel) because the latter's sacrifice was acceptable to Gd. Jealousy and murder result as the seed of the Serpent (Cain), seeks to destroy the seed of the woman (Abel).

The same plotline makes its way through the tower of Babel as man seeks to build his kingdom over against God's. But in sovereign power God pulls down that kingdom and destroys its unity. This is also the story of Egypt against Israel. it is he story of Goliath against David. it is the story of Babylon against Jerusalem, of Nebuchadnezzar against Daniel. It is the story of Satan against Jesus, and of Pontius Pilate and Herod seeking to destroy the Savior. It is the story that runs throughout the Gospels and beyond. The Jews seek to destroy Jesus during his ministry: "You are of your father the devil," he says. it is the story of how the enmity then turns on the Christian church.

Thus the story of the ages is beginning to unfold here already in Genesis 3:15. (22-23)

I believe this adequately shows the strength of the writing, the theology, and the accomplishes of the book. I highly recommend it to both pastors (its a great resource) and to Christians. May we never stop learning more and growing closer to Jesus. Alistair Begg’s 2-Minute Summary of Jesus through the Bible from christianitydotcom on GodTube.

All Around the Web - December 28, 2015

Doug Wilson - 21 Maxims for Discouraged Pastors

Russell Moore - ISIS, the Persecuted Church, and Christmas In Wartime

The Gospel Coalition - How Can Jesus Be Our Everlasting Father?

Church Leaders - 10 Reasons to Consider Video in 2016

The Blaze - Top 5 Highest-Grossing Christmas Movies for Your Holiday Viewing

Friday, December 25, 2015

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, 2015

Doug Wilson - Slomosexuality

Wayne Grudem - I Have Parkinson’s and I Am at Peace 

RC Sproul - What Was the Star of Bethlehem?

John Stonestreet - Who Decides to End a Life?

The Blaze - Days Before Christmas, Imprisoned Iranian Pastor Gets a Miracle

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

From Lewis' Pen: Bigger Than Our Whole World

From The Last Battle:
Tirian looked round again and could hardly believe his eyes. There was the blue sky overhead, and grassy country spreading as far as he could see in every direction, and his new friends all round him laughing.

“It seems, then,” said Tirian, smiling himself, “that the stable seen from within and the stable seen from without are two different places.”

“Yes,” said the Lord Digory. “Its inside is bigger than its outside.”

“Yes,” said Queen Lucy. “In our world too, a stable once had something inside it that was bigger than our whole world.”

- C. S. Lewis, from The Last Battle (The Chronicles of Narnia)

All Around the Web - December 23, 2015

The Gospel Coalition - My Top 10 Theology Stories of 2015

Thom Rainer - Nine Surprises in Worship Services That Made Guests Return

Associated Press - FDA eases restrictions on blood donations from gay men

Bible Gateway - Who Was Where at Christmas? A Christmas Story Timeline

Jason K. Allen - Spurgeon and the Downgrade Controversy

Monday, December 21, 2015

"A Commentary on 1 and 2 Chronicles" by Eugene Merrill

The trauma of the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, the exile of thousands of Judea's citizens, and the return after seventy years to the homeland and the difficult task of starting the new covenant community virtually from scratch - all contributed to a reassessment of Israel's meaning destiny. The chonicler-Theologian thus composed his work not just as a history of his people from their ancient beginnings but an interpreted history, one designed to offer hope to the beleaguered community as well as to issue warnings that should they fall back into the ways of their fathers they could expect the judgment of God to be repeated. (57)

The Old Testament contains six historic books which tells the story of Israel from Samuel the prophet who crowned the first two kings of Israel (Saul and David) to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonian leader Nebuchadnezzar. Two of those books offers very little new to that story. 1-2 Chronicles was written much later and retells this story with a theological message of hope. For that reasons, it is a unique and important book in the Old Testament canon and recently I had the opportunity to open and read Eugene Merrill's A Commentary on 1 and 2 Chronicles.

As commentaries go, one's preference for one over another is largely subjective. Some prefer technical commentaries with interactions with the original languages and scholars. Merrill offers such a commentary. Others prefer simplified explanations of the biblical text. Merrill is not that. I much prefer the former.

In this commentary, Merrill offers more than just a standard commentary with the biblical text, but explores a variety of issues that 1-2 Chronicles raises. For example, in his discussion of 1 Chronicles 10ff, the author offers helpful insight into what he calls "The Theology of the Rise of David." (180ff) It is insights like this that enrich commentaries for pastors like myself who need more than explanations for difficult verses and word meanings. Likewise, his discussion of the angel of the Lord is helpful, though brief.

Overall, this is a helpful commentary and worth having in your library. It is likely the average pastor and Christian struggles with some of the historic books of the Old Testament. Merill offers a helpful textbook that will guide the reader through it.

This book was given to me courtesy of Kregel Publications for the purpose of this review

For more:
"A Commentary on Exodus" by Duane Garrett: A Review

All Around the Web - December 21, 2015

WORLD - Bob Beckel: Around for a reason

The Gospel Coalition - 5 Errors to Drop From Your Christmas Sermon

Christianity Today - Admitting you're a conservative evangelical Christian is harder than coming out as gay, says author

Joe Carter - How I Work: An Interview with Daniel Patterson

WORLD - Evangelical insiders coalesce around Rubio, Cruz

Thom Rainer - Eight Christmas Truths for Church Leaders

Friday, December 18, 2015

Eustace is Not the Only Dragon

My favorite story in CS Lewis's Narnia Chronicles is The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. The dragon theme throughout of the story is intriguing to me. Throughout history, dragons have been associated with greed and that is no different in The Dawn Treader. The most famous dragon in the story is Eustace is is turned into one only to be liberated later by Aslan himself. Yet he is not the only dragon in the story. In his book Planet Narnia, Lewis scholar Michael Ward shows that there are in fact four and through them, Lewis reveals that greed infects us all - not just Eustace.
The first of these defeats occurs in chapter 6 when we see the death of an old lugubrious dragon. This episode is powerfully redolent of the killing of the dragon Python in the Homeric Hymn to Apollo. There we learn that the sun-god sent arrows into the monster so that it lay 'rent with biter pangs, drawing great gasps for breath and rolling about that place. An awful noise swelled up for unspeakable as she writhed continually this way and hat amid the wood; and so she left her life, breathing it forth in blood. Then Phoebus Apollo boasted over her. In the Dawn Treader we read that there came from the dragon 'a great croaking or clanging crying and after a few twitches and convulsions it rolled round on its side . . . A little dark blood gushed from its wide-opened mouth.' Lewis frames the account of this death by telling us, first, 'the sun beat down' and then, straight afterward, 'the sun disappeared.' However, here it is not Apollo Sauroctonus who boasts over the dragon's corpse but Eustace, who 'began to feel as if he had fought and killed the dragon instead of merely seeing it die.' His presumptuous claim to Solar power is shortly to be upended when he is turned into a dragon himself.

Eustace, who metamorphosis occurs after he falls asleep on the dead dragon's hoard 'with greedy, dragonish thoughts in his heart,' finds that he is unable to free himself of the 'the giant lizard' or 'serpent with legs' that he has become; for that to happen he has to submit to Aslan, the true Sol (that is, the true God, figured as Sol). . . . Eustice is in deed released from his cupidity by Aslan for, as soon as he is restored to human form, he slips the bracelet (which he had planned to steal) off his arm and announces, 'Anyone can have it as far as I'm concerned.' This same spirit of liberation from greed is communicated tot eh whole ship's company: no one feels any desire to go back to the first dragon's valley to search for its treasure.

Receptiveness to Solar influence among the ship's company is tested in the very next chapter as they have to defeat the third dragon of the story, the great Sea Serpent which tries to crush the ship, but which only succeeds in breaking off the Dawn Treader's carved stern.

That carved stern is shaped, we must remember, like a dragon's tail, just as its bowspirit is like a dragon's head and its sides like dragon wings.the ship itself is the fourth dragon in the story, and here Lewis modulates the them of liberality into a more theological or religious key. The ship may be taken as the expression of Caspian's own avariciousness: eh is her maker (she is the first ship he has built, we are told) and his own cabin is decorated, ominously, with 'crimson dragons.' Despite all his nobility and heroism, Caspian is not immune from the worse kind of illiberal motivation. 'All dragons collect gold,' says Edmund, in connection with the dragon-that-is-Eustace, and the Dawn Treader's dragon-shape tells us something about her builder and king. Int eh final chapter we suddenly discover that Caspian harbours a self-serving ambition to abdicate and seize Aslan's country by his own will. His urgent wish to go beyond the eastern edge of the world is another manifestation of dragonish greed, a kind of simony, a rapacious desire to grasp religious enlightenment -- even at the price of his own life. It is akin to what Austin Farrer perceptively calls, in connection with Lewis's suspicions about the origins of sehnsuscht, 'the ultimate refinement of covetousness.' Caspian is restrained from this course of action first by the near-mutiny of the ship's company, then by a painful encounter with Aslan: 'it was terrible - his eyes'. This religious crisis brings the Sauroctonus theme to an intense and unexpected, but entirely appropriate, climax. Aslan-as-Sol burns away the dross in Caspian's motives. He makes the dragonish king and his dragonish ship subject to the spirit of gratuity, symbolized now in three main ways, by freshening of the sea so that it can be drunk in deep enriching droughts; by the mysterious current that carries them across windless seas; and by the sublime 'fate' that directs the last moments of the voyage. (113-115)

For more:
Repost Friday | To Be Undragoned: Aslan, Christ, and the Gift of Regeneration

All Around the Web - December 18, 2015

Carl Truman - When You Unchain the Earth from the Sun

LifeWay Research - No Place Like Church for the Holidays

Joe Carter - How to Love God by Getting More Sleep

Seattle PI - Mark Driscoll starts new church in Phoenix

Preachers and Preaching - What Would Jesus Do?

Kevin DeYoung - Thinking Theologically About Islam

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Why the "X" in Xmas is not an Anti-Christmas Conspiracy

Every year I am inevitably asked the same question: what's with abbreviating Christmas to "Xmas?" There are usually two types of people who ask this question. On the one hand is the conspirator who assumes that "Xmas" is a secular coo against Christ. On the other hand is the confused who simply wonder why anyone would abbreviate "Christ" with a simple "X."

Good news American Christians, the abbreviation is not that big of a deal.

The Greek word for "Christ" is christos. The first letter of christos is the Greek letter chi which is transliterated into the English letters "ch." The chi itself looks like an English "X." Christians would often abbreviate christos with the Greek letter chi. A good example of this would be the Chi-Rho monogram which was a type of cross with the first two letters of christos - the chi and the rho. A picture of the Chi-Rho Monogram is available below.

Another example would be the ichthus. The word "ichthus" is Greek meaning "fish." Christians turned it into an acronym with each Greek letter representing something about Christ. The iota ("i") meaning "Jesus," the chi (ch) meaning "Christ," the theta ("th") meaning God, the upsilon ("u") meaning "son," and the sigma ("s") meaning Savior.

This brings us back to "Xmas." What appears to be the English letter "X" is actually a Greek chi which has a sacred history of being an abbreviation for "Christ" Thus, "Xmas" is short for "Christmas." Christ, therefore, has not been taken out of Christmas nor is this a secular, anti-Christian attack on Christmas. Abbreviating Christmas does not make one less a Christian or anti-Christmas anymore than abbreviating any other word. The chi is a reminder that Christmas is about the incarnation of God who condescended himself as a man in order to save mankind. The confusion over "Xmas" is not part of the so-called War on Christmas (or Xmas if you so desire).

There is a bigger issue here.All around us are people lost without the gospel. Many bible-believing, Jesus-worshipping, church-going Christians will fight against the secularism of Christmas, yet at the same time do not know the spiritual state or needs of their neighbors. Jesus is more offended by our lack of missional obedience than he is how we write "Christmas" on our cards. He cares more about the truth of the incarnation and the power of the cross than he does about more trivial matters. He cares more about the heart of the Target cashier than whether or not she uttered the words "Merry Christmas" as opposed to "Happy Holidays."

For more:
Advent: God With Us 
Odd Thomas - The Incarnation (Spoken Word)
An Anti-Santy Ranty: A Moralistic God vs. the God in the Manger
Happy RamaHanuKwanzMas

All Around the Web - December 17, 2015

Christianity Today - ‘I Am Called a Cult Leader. I Really Don’t Care.’

Thom Rainer - 16 Trends in American Churches in 2016: Trends 1 to 8

The Gospel Coalition - TGC Editors’ Picks: Top Books of 2015

Erik Raymond - My Favorite Books of 2015

Steve Weaver - Top Ten Favorite Reads in 2015

Jason K. Allen - Five Reasons Why I Enjoy Reading Biographies

Denny Burk - All the Star Wars Trailers and Clips in One Video

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

From Lewis's Pen: The Cry of the One New-born

From his poem, "The Turn of the Tide":
So death lay in arrest. But at Bethlehem the bless'd
Nothing greater could be heard

Than a dry wind in the thorn, the cry of the One new-born,

And cattle in stall as they stirred.

All Around the Web - December 16, 2015

New York Times - Our (Bare) Shelves, Our Selves | The implications are clear: Owning books in the home is one of the best things you can do for your children academically. It helps, of course, if parents are reading to their children and reading themselves, not simply buying books by the yard as décor.

LA Times - Abortion falls to record low in the U.S., CDC says

Andy Naselli - On Plagiarism: An Interview with Justin Taylor

LifeWay Pastors - 12 Outreach Ideas for Your Church This Winter

Doug Wilson - The Names on the Cover

Justin Taylor - “I. Howard Marshall (1934-2015): A Tribute,” by Darrell Bock

The Gospel Coalition - I. Howard Marshall, New Testament Scholar, Dies at 81

Michael Bird - I. Howard Marshall (1934-2015)

Yahoo! News - For God and country: more U.S. pastors seek political office in 2016

HT: Justin Taylor

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

eBook Deal of the Day: "Ransom Trilogy" by CS Lewis

The good folks at HarperOne are currently offering the entire science-fictional trilogy of one of my favorite authors, CS Lewis, for a very low price: $3.99.
The Space Trilogy, Omnibus Edition: Three Science Fiction Classics in One Volume: Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, That Hideous Strength Kindle Edition
This one-volume edition marks the 75th anniversary of Lewis's classic science fiction trilogy featuring the adventures of Dr. Ransom on Mars, Venus, and Earth. It includes an exclusive foreword compiled from letters by J.R.R. Tolkien, who inspired Lewis to write the first volume and on whom the main character of Ransom was largely based. The Space Trilogy is a remarkable work of fantasy, demonstrating the powerful imagination of C. S. Lewis.

The Space Trilogy, Omnibus Edition includes:

Out of the Silent Planet
Dr. Ransom, a Cambridge academic, is abducted and taken on a spaceship to the red planet of Malacandra, which he knows as Mars. His captors are plotting to plunder the planet's treasures and offer Ransom as a sacrifice to the creatures who live there.

Having escaped from Mars, Dr. Ransom is called to the paradise planet of Perelandra, or Venus. When his old enemy also arrives and is taken over by the forces of evil, Ransom finds himself in a desperate struggle to save the innocence of this Eden-like world.

That Hideous Strength
Investigating the truth about her prophetic dreams, Jane Studdock encounters the fabled Dr. Ransom, who is in great pain after his travels. A sinister society run by his old adversaries intends to harness the ancient powers of a resurrected Merlin in their ambition to subjugate the people of Earth.
 To buy all three books, click here.

For more:
"Out of the Silent Planet" by CS Lewis: A Review
"Perelandra" by CS Lewis: A Review 

"CS Lewis, Spinner of Tales" by Evan Gibson: A Review

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

All Around the Web - December 15, 2015

Christianity Today - C.S. Lewis Was a Secret Government Agent

The Gospel Coalition - 6 Ways Not to Preach the Birth of Jesus

Ligonier - Reflections on the Top 25 Christian Classics

Erik Raymond - The Nativity and Its Pro-Life Message

Trevin Wax - The Missing Strand in Much of Our Discipleship

Real Clear Politics - Laying Odds on the GOP Presidential Race

Monday, December 14, 2015

"Beowulf" by JRR Tolkien: A Review

Wiglaf spake, the son of Wihstan: 'Oft must it be that many men through one man's wills hall suffer woe, even as is now befallen us." (Lines 2582-2584, page 102)

It is no secret that one of my favorite authors of the 20th century is J. R. R. Tolkien. It is also no secret that I am a fan of Beowulf. Fortunately in 2014, Christopher Tolkien published the book Beowful: A Translation and Commentary based on his father's work on the English classic.

Anyone familiar with Tolkien's biography or with the history of Beowulf studies will know that the writer of Middle-Earth almost single handily put Beowulf on the scholarly map. His study of Beowulf made other scholars take the classic work seriously. In this book, Christopher Tolkien provides the reader with a full translation of Beowulf along with commentary on his translation, his story Sellic Spell, and two poems based on Beowulf. It does not include some of Tolkien's classic works and studies on Beowulf.

For Beowulf fans, this is a must-have in your library.  Fans of the classic work have been waiting for it for some time. The translation Tolkien provides is good but since I am not an expert on Old English I cannot compare it to others. Nevertheless, one should remember that Tolkien was a scholar in the area. As a reader, it is at times difficult and borderline KJV-ish. Regardless, I had little trouble with the translation.

I feel it is best to allow Tolkien's translation to speak for itself. The first sample is taken from lines 1181-1191 where Beowulf marches to meet Grendel's mother in her lair.
To all the Danes, vassals of the Scylding lords, to the hearts of many a knight, grievous was it endure, and pain to all good men, when there upon the cliff above the deep they found the head of AEschere. the water surged with gore, with blood yet hot. The people gazed thereon. Ever and anon the horn cried an eager call unto the host. There sat them down the ranks of men. Now they saw about the water many of the serpent-kind, strange dragons of the sea, ranging the flood, and demons on the deep lying upon the jutting slopes, even such as in the middle hours watch for those journeying anxious upon the sailing paths, serpents and beasts untamed. (54)
Regarding the execution of Grendel's mother, Tolkien translates:
Lo! among the war-gear there be beheld a sword endowed with charms of victory, a blade gigantic, old, with edges stern, the pride of men of arms: the choicest of weapons that, albeit greater than any other man might have borne unto the play of war, a good and costly thing, the work of giants. Now he grasped its linked hilt, that champion of the Scyldings' cause, in fierce mood and fell he flashed forth the ring-adorned blade; despairing of his life with ire he smote, and on her neck it bitter seized, and shivered the bony joints. Through and through the sword pierced her body doomed. She sank upon the floor. The sword was wet. The knight rejoiced him in the deed. (Lines 1303-1314, page 58)
On the death of Beowulf:
Beowful spake - despite his hurt, his grievous mortal wound, he spake - verily he knew that he had accomplished his hours of life, his joys upon the earth; now was departed all he number of his days, and Death exceeding near. (Lines 2286-2289, page 92)
As you can see, Tolkien preserves the ancient-nature of the story while updating it some to modern audience. Overall, however, I would recommend Tolkien's book to any true Beowful or Tolkien fan. Only scholars in the field will likely appreciate all of it, but even an amateur like me can celebrate Christopher Tolkien's work here.

We Are All Descendants of Cain: A Theology of Beowulf - Introduction
We Are All Descendants of Cain: A Theology of Beowulf - Why Beowulf Matters
We Are All Descendants of Cain: A Theology of Beowulf - The Story, Part 1
We Are All Descendants of Cain: A Theology of Beowulf - The Story, Part 2
We Are All Descendants of Cain: A Theology of Beowulf - The Story, Part 3
We Are All Descendants of Cain: A Theology of Beowulf -  The Theology Part 1
We Are All Descendants of Cain: A Theology of Beowulf -  The Theology Part 2
We Are All Descendants of Cain: A Theology of Beowulf -  The Theology Part 3
We Are All Descendants of Cain: A Theology of Beowulf -  The Theology Part 4
We Are All Descendants of Cain: A Theology of Beowulf -  The Theology Part 5
We Are All Descendants of Cain: A Theology of Beowulf -  The Theology Part 6
We Are All Descendants of Cain: A Theology of Beowulf -  The Theology Part 7 (forthcoming)
We Are All Descendants of Cain: A Theology of Beowulf -  Conclusion (forthcoming)

For more:
"Beowulf": A Review
A Shrewd Apologetic: Doug Wilson's Take on Beowulf
"A Companion to Beowulf" by Ruth Johnston Staver: A Review 
Beowulf: Resources and Links
Clash of the Gods: Tolkien's Monsters Documentary

All Around the Web - December 14, 2015

The Gospel Coalition - On My Shelf: Life and Books with Trevin Wax

Thom Rainer - Eight Characteristics of Evangelistic Church Growth Leaders

Bible Gateway - Finding Truth: An Interview with Nancy Pearcey

Ligonier - The Doctrine of Scripture: Defining Our Terms

Tim Challies - My Top Books of 2015

Christianity Today - The World's Most Popular Bible Verses, According to 200 Million YouVersion Users

Friday, December 11, 2015

On the Role that Einstein's Science Played in Modern Relativism

From Albert Mohler's Briefing from December 4, 2015:
Finally, it’s important for Christians understand that ideas indeed have consequences and some of those consequences are unintended and unforeseen. One of those ideas now celebrates its 100th anniversary just in these recent weeks, and that is Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity. Einstein presented what became known as his general theory of relativity in four lectures presented to the Prussian Academy of Sciences in the month of November in the year 1915. Those lectures were released to the public and they were published in December 1915 that is 100 years ago this month. That is a huge idea. Most Americans have heard of Einstein’s theory of relativity, it is actually two different theories, the special theory of relativity and the general theory of relativity. The general theory was Einstein’s attempt by mathematics and physics to come to terms with some of the biggest questions about the universe. If you’re trying to understand what Einstein’s general theory of relativity is all about, we simply turn to Einstein’s attempt to summarize it in his own words. He said that his general theory comes down to this and I quote,
“The totality of physical phenomena is of such a character that it gives no basis for the introduction of the concept of absolute motion, or shorter but less precise, there is no absolute motion.”
Einstein’s general theory of relativity paired with his special theory of relativity made the argument that the world had been fundamentally misunderstood by the physics that came before him, in particular, Newtonian physics. Because that understanding of the physical world argued that time and space and motion are absolutes. Einstein argued based upon his mathematical theory 100 years ago this month that there is not an absolute but a relative relationship between time and space and matter. Put simply Einstein’s general theory of relativity quickly changed the way that scientists look at the world. They came to understand that space was not essentially empty and that time and space were relative to one another, not only by observation, but in physical reality. Dennis Overbye, summarizing the importance of the theory said this,
“This is the general theory of relativity. It’s a standard trope in science writing to say that some theory or experiment transformed our understanding of space and time. General relativity really did.”
Einstein’s general theory of relativity implied the existence of what is now called a black hole later verified by scientific observation. The first worldview importance of this anniversary is understanding that the modern understanding of physics brought about by Albert Einstein’s intellectual revolution did change the way we look at the world. Einstein’s revolution led to the development of all kinds of things, including the atomic bomb and also a great deal of modern cosmology. Einstein himself a legendary figure was primarily involved in physics and mathematics and he was looking for the most elegant of equations that would explain the universe. But the biggest issue of importance as we think about the anniversary of Einstein’s general theory of relativity is what historian Paul Johnson described going back to the early years of the 20th century when the theory became known and advertised. As Johnson wrote,
“From that point onward Einstein was a global hero, in demand at every great University in the world, mobbed wherever he went, his wistful features familiar to hundreds of millions, the archetype of the abstracted natural philosopher. The impact of Einstein’s theory was immediate and cumulatively immeasurable. But it also illustrates what Karl Popper was later to term the law of the unintended consequence.”
What was that unintended consequence? Paul Johnson makes that clear in this statement,
“At the beginning of the 1920s, the belief began to circulate for the first time at a popular level, that there were no longer any absolutes of space and time, of good and evil, of knowledge above all of value. Mistakenly but perhaps inevitably, relativity became confused with relativism.”
That is actually my main point in raising the anniversary of Einstein’s general theory of relativity on The Briefing today. That 100 year anniversary is in a worldview perspective, not so important in our everyday lives with anything that might have to do with physics, but it is when it comes to morality. Einstein’s theory had nothing to do with morality whatsoever. He was denying the absolutes of space and time and of motion, but very quickly, his theory of relativity as Johnson indicates became popularized as an understanding not only that space and time were not absolute, but that neither was morality. When you look at the 20th century, you see the spreading infection of the idea of relativism. Relativism when it comes to issues of truth and most especially, relativism when it comes to issues of morality. You can’t understand the world around us, without coming to terms with the fact that in incredible number of our neighbors actually are moral relativist and we also have to understand that that was an intellectual possibility only in very recent decades. And it came hand-in-hand with the argument that if space and time are not absolute then neither is right and wrong.

It’s hard to identify Albert Einstein in terms of his theological worldview with precision. He made some very oblique statements, but it is clear that he was basically what we would call an agnostic. But it’s also clear that he did not intend to start a revolution in morality, and that no revolution in morality was inherent in his physical theory, that is the general theory of relativity. But that’s how ideas are transformed in a culture, from one thing to another in a line of moral rebellion. And perhaps the lesson for us, 100 years after Einstein’s lectures are published is that what happens in the laboratory doesn’t stay in the laboratory.
Mohler also explored this in a full article which you can read here.

All Around the Web - December 11, 2015

Joe Carter - Are Evangelicals Addicted to Pseudo-Events and Media Outrage?

Randy Alcorn - Why You Don’t Need to Choose Between Happiness and Holiness

Kevin DeYoung - Can that be Right? The Use of Old Testament Prophesy in the New Testament

Eric Geiger - Four Reasons Burnout Is More Prevalent in Ministry Leadership

High Existence - Amusing Ourselves to Death: Huxley vs Orwell

Thursday, December 10, 2015

The Holy Spirit in Creation and the Virgin Birth

From Sproul:
A major point of confusion about the Holy Spirit concerns the differences between His activity in the Old Testament and His work in the New Testament and in the lives of Christians today. The activity of the Holy Spirit goes all the way back to creation: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep” (Gen. 1:1–2a). The unformed world is described as dark, empty, and formless. Carl Sagan, in his work Cosmos, makes the dogmatic assertion that the universe is cosmos, not chaos, which is the difference between order and confusion.* In biblical categories, it is the difference between pure darkness and light, between a vacuous universe ultimately empty of anything significant and that which is filled and teeming with the fruit of the Creator. In the beginning verses of the book of Genesis we find a dramatic proclamation of cosmos, yet the world was without form, and darkness was over the face of the deep.

However, in the next clause of Genesis 1:2, we meet the Holy Spirit for the first time: “And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” Another word for hovering is brooding. This is the idea that was communicated when God sent the angel Gabriel to visit the peasant girl Mary in Nazareth to tell her that she was about to become a mother. Mary asked the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” (Luke 1:34). The angel replied, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you” (v. 35). The verb used to describe the Holy Spirit’s coming upon Mary carries the same connotation as the term used in Genesis 1 to describe the creative power of the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit came into the formlessness and hovered or brooded. As a hen broods over her eggs in order to bring forth life, so the Spirit produced order and substance and light. God, as the New Testament says, is not the author of con- fusion (1 Cor. 14:33). He does not generate chaos. The Spirit of God brings order out of disorder; He brings something out of nothing; He brings light out of darkness.*

All Around the Web - December 10, 2015

Russell Moore - Is Donald Trump Right About Closing the Border to Muslims?

Ross Douthat - Liberalism’s Gun Problem

Trevin Wax - No More Gender: A Look into Sweden’s Social Experiment

The Gospel Coalition - The Paradox of Chronic Pain

Tim Challies - The 2016 Reading Challenge

HT: Kevin DeYoung

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

"Whosoever Will": Blogging Through Allen and Lemke - Introduction

"Whosoever Will": Blogging Through Allen and Lemke - Introduction

Well, here we go. I'm about to wade into controversial waters. I was recently given a complimentary copy of the book Whosoever Will: A Biblical-Theological Critique of Five-Point Calvinism edited by Drs. David L. Allens and Steve W. Lemke and found it worth exploring in some detail. The contributors include Drs. Paige Patterson, Richard Land, Jerry Vines, Malcomb Yarnell, and other scholars and pastors. The book, as the subtitle suggest, is written from a non-Calvinist perspective in defense of non-Calvinism. At the same time, this is a work of Baptists theology. The editors and contributors are Baptists and the context of the book regards the John 3:16 Conference and the ongoing debate within the Southern Baptist Convention between Calvinists on one side and non-Calvinists on the other.

To begin, let me state that I am not a five-point Calvinist and never have been. At the same time, I am not sympathetic to the theological conclusions of the book's contributors. I studied at the center of Reformed Baptists - the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary yet I have found the debate (on both sides) oversimplified with neither side listening to the other. The conversation and debate has been clouded with false accusations and half-truths. Theology is messy and at times we must allow certain tensions to remain with faith that with God, all truth is clear in Him. Thus I prefer to stand on the outside looking in.

The key to theology is humility and this debate lacks it.

With that said, the book begins cordially. The forward (written by Dr. Johnny Hunt) and the preface (written by Dr. James Leo Garrett) go out of their way to explain to the reader that both sides of the debate are orthodox Christians and faithful baptists. Nevertheless, the debate is important as it forces us to return to Scripture.

From there, we move to the introduction written by Dr. David Allen. Early on, Allen makes a point worth emphasizing:
Such a strong affirmation of human depravity and the complete inability of humans to save themselves means the Remonstrants cannot responsibly be called Pelagians or even semi-Pelagains. Pelagians and sem-Pelagians affirm that natural human beings can initiate or respond to God completely independent of God's grace. Nothing could be more foreign to the belief of these Arminian Remonstrants than the notion that sinful humans could initiate, much less earn, their own salvation. Just as there are different kinds of Calvinists, with many Calvinists bristling at being called hyper-Calvinists, it is totally inappropriate for theologians to describe these Arminian Remonstrants as Pelagian or semi-Pelagian in doctrine. Indeed, the Synod of Dort unfortunately mislabels the Arminan Remonstrants as 'entirely Pelagian.' Some later Arminians do go to that extreme, and they are wrong in doing so. Likewise, some Calvinists became so extreme that they became hyper-Calvinists. But let us abstain from calling them what they are not. The Arminians at Dort were Calvinists - members of Reformed congregations - who had concerns about the extremes to which some Calvinist theologians had taken Calvinism, at points probably further than Calvin himself. Caricaturing the Remonstrants as Pelgaisn or semi-Pelagians is, therefore, historically inaccurate and inappropriate. (4-5)
I appreciate this word here. Often when we debate Calvinism, etc. our words are poorly defined. So let me state from the outset, extremes on both ends (Pelagians and Semi-Pelagians as well as all forms of Hyper-Calvinism) should be rejected. Pelagianism itself is a heresy and one cannot be a Christian and affirm it.

Furthermore, it should be stated that Calvinists affirm both free will and evangelism. At the same time, Arminians affirm human depravity and divine sovereignty. The debate might hinge on how we define some of these terms, but often the argument is over false caricatures.

In the end, we ought to affirm what the editors and contributors do here.
[The Baptist] tradition, however, is broad enough to embrace both poles of this issue. Can Baptists be Calvinists? Yes, but Baptists can be non-Calvinists too. Baptists have always had both Calvinists and non-Calvinists within their ranks. Two extremes must be avoided: (1) Southern baptists should never be Calvinists, (2) true Southern Baptists must be Calvinists. (5)
I agree with this assessment. The days of fear mongering and the sharpening of pitchforks must cease. Calvinists are the not the enemy of Baptists and neither are Arminians. Such differences are over tertiary doctrines, not over primary ones. And thus we ought to be able to have an open, honest, and cordial conversation without false accusations and heated rivalries. A conversation I hope to have through this book.