the act of wanting to control God
or the art of waiting on the God who is in control?
Hidden in plain sight.
God in Christ.
For all to see.
Yet not seen by all.
To some it is given.
To those who have eyes and ears to see and hear.
Does God exist?
Where is he?
In plain sight.
God in Christ.
What about your beautiful eyes and ears?
Are they to see the Hidden in plain sight?
2 Corinthians 5:19
… in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
Lord and God
Bart Ehrman’s How Jesus Became God
Through his words and actions, Jesus of Nazareth excited expectations that he was (or would be) the Messiah. That Jesus inspired this hope likely led the Roman authorities to crucify him. Jesus didn’t actually claim divinity for himself, and he wasn’t worshiped as such during his earthly ministry. The ascription of divine status to Jesus and the accompanying devotional practices that are reflected in the New Testament arose only after—though astonishingly soon after—Jesus’ crucifixion. Key to this development were experiences (“visions”) of the resurrected Jesus, which generated in the earliest circles of Jewish believers the conviction that God had raised Jesus (bodily) from death and exalted him to a unique heavenly status and glory. Further developments in christological belief over the ensuing decades and centuries led to the classic doctrine of the Trinity.
That, in a nutshell, is the thrust of Bart Ehrman’s book. To anyone familiar with a historical approach to the topic, these will not be novel conclusions. Indeed, they have been affirmed by a significant number of New Testament scholars, especially over the past several decades. That an astonishing “high Christology” erupted quite soon after Jesus’ crucifixion, and that the risen Jesus featured remarkably in the corporate devotional practices of earliest believers, has been increasingly recognized. As the great German New Testament scholar Martin Hengel observed about developments in the 20 years between Jesus’ execution and the earliest letters of Paul, “in essentials more happened in Christology within these few years than in the whole subsequent seven hundred years of church history.”
However, Ehrman’s book is intended for readers generally unacquainted with this scholarly work. Among those readers he obviously aims to have a dramatic impact. Many Christians unacquainted with the historical data will assume that beliefs about Jesus’ divine status derive from Jesus’ own claims, and many non-Christians will likewise assume that the validity of traditional Christian beliefs about Jesus depends upon whether Jesus actually made corresponding claims. For both kinds of readers, the “news” that Jesus didn’t actually make the sort of claims for himself that earliest believers made about him may seem somewhat sensational.
As in his other popular books, Ehrman clearly seeks not simply to inform but also to stir controversy among this varied readership. More specifically, he hopes to startle naive traditionalist Christians, nettle anxious apologists of Christian faith, and reassure fellow agnostics (Ehrman’s self-description) and skeptics that there is justification for their doubt. (He is obviously able to stir a response: published almost simultaneously with this book is a multiauthor riposte, How God Became Jesus: The Real Origins of Belief in Jesus’ Divine Nature, released by Zondervan.)
Ehrman’s polemical agenda may well make for a lively discussion and a marketable book, but it also lessens somewhat his ability to give a balanced historical picture. Ehrman, who teaches at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, gained prominence by way of a string of books with a similarly sensational tone aimed at a general readership on a variety of topics—variants in New Testament manuscripts (Misquoting Jesus), the problem of evil (God’s Problem), and pseudonymous writings in the Bible (Forged). These books generated appearances on The Daily Show and The Colbert Report and phenomenal sales, at least compared to most books by scholars. In all these works he makes frequent reference to his own journey from naive and fundamentalist Christian to voluble (but generally genial) agnostic. Along with (and as another result of) his popular books, he often engages in public debates with Christian apologists, adding to his public stature.
In those prior books, Ehrman drew more directly on his own scholarly expertise. In this one he focuses on matters on which he himself has not been a noted contributor. He draws heavily (and respectfully) on the work of a number of other scholars (including my own work, such as Lord Jesus Christ: Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity) who in recent decades have probed the origins of belief in Jesus as divine. Ehrman is often good at making scholarly arguments accessible. Unfortunately, in a few matters he oversimplifies or misconstrues things, and in other cases his claims and arguments appear one-sided.
An example of oversimplifying: in the first chapter Ehrman rightly notes that the Roman world was full of gods and deified humans (especially deified rulers), and he suggests that this phenomenon helps explain the emergence of beliefs about Jesus as divine. But he fails to indicate that for Roman-era Jews the plurality of deities and demigods and the practice of deifying rulers were repellent, even blasphemous. More of an explanation is needed as to how the multiplicity of deities in the Roman environment could have been a relevant and facilitating factor for considering Jesus divine in the circles of devout Jews among whom (as Ehrman readily grants) the divinity of Jesus was first asserted.
Spent weekend in Ireland. learned to play this on the Tin Whistle as a boy. Loved it. Love it. The ache, the poetry, the transport. She moves ..
Bought this DVD on it’s release (2002) – a region 1 version. Suspect I was the only one in the UK to do so. Region 1 DVDs do not play here (ordinarily) – that’s the US region. We are Region 2. Too much information. I have a great interest in comedy and it’s composition and ultimately its secret … timing. (perfect).
This trailer is for Jerry Seinfeld’s post retirement of material return to stand up journey. You have to watch it for it to make sense. Hal Douglas as the hapless voiceover man is wonderful. A renegade cop …..
Repeated viewing never fails to deliver.
Many lovely muslims say to me, a Christian, your beliefs about God are complex. Ours are simple. Therefore ours must be true.
I say to the lovely muslim “must be – how so?”
They profer – God would not give us something complex to understand about himself when we would struggle to understand it. He would give us something simple so it could be understood.
This is an attractive piece of reasoning based on the idea that God would be committed to presenting simple things about himself so that we would understand them.
But I am not so sure. Surely God would and does reveal truth to us – in his mercy and condescension toward his creatures. If God is complex, high above us, surely we might encounter something of that in his presentation of Himself to us.
Coming back to the idea that Simple is obviously truer than complex, I would venture that the simple understanding of the God as put forward in Islam is not necessarily true simply based on that idea. I find the Buddhist notion of One (everything is one, there is no divisibility – all divisibility is but an illusion – all is One) to be immensely attractice and immensely simple. The most simple idea in metaphysics that there is. But I actually don’t believe it is true. And complexity versus simplicity does not play a part at all in my judgement of Buddhism versus Christianity (versus Islam). But for the Muslim who insists I should abandon my One God who is Three (Complex) for their One God who is One (simpler) simply based on those grounds needs to be consistent and surrender to buddhistic One (simplest of all).
I am not advocating that Muslims renounce Islam and become Buddhists. What a waste of renouncement that would be. As a christian of course I want lovely muslims (and the unlovely ones too) to renounce Islam and embrace the Jesus of the New Testament – the Saviour & LORD. (He actually came to save the unlovely and rebuke the so called lovely). But some muslims and many particularly converts to Islam cite this reduced complexity of ideas about God as a major factor in their conversion. It is interesting that it becomes for many a master concept, a deal breaker – worth using emphatically to persuade others to embrace Islam. As a master concept it needs to carry them further – to Buddhism. If it doesn’t then it needs to fadeaway and become an incidental finding on the road having embraced a particular worldview. But for many it is more than this – not just something spotted on the arrival at a destination but a driver directing some towards Islam. I simply say that as a driver it’s work is unfinished when you arrive at Islamville. Buddhaville is 40 clicks down the road and is the simplest destination of all.
So why am I not a buddhist? Because as I journey through life I have found myself arriving at the God who is Three (One God, eternally existing as Father, Son and Spirit) not because I crave simplicity or complexity for that matter but truth. It may turn out to be untrue. But that won’t be because of it’s complexity.
I hope to say something about the proposition that Islam is simple and Christianity is complex another time but for now this has been another Ramadan Reflection.
Peace and blessing of Christ be upon you and your family.
Hat tip to Jared C. Wilson for posting this over at his blog. Octavious Winslow – great name, great meditation on the Son of God – eternally begotten of the Father.
Eternal love moved the heart of Jesus to relinquish . . .
heaven for earth;
a diadem for a cross;
the robe of divine majesty for the garment of our nature;
by taking upon Himself the leprosy of our sin.
Oh, the infinite love of Christ!
What a boundless, fathomless ocean!
Ask the ransomed of the Lord, whose chains He has dissolved, whose dungeon He has opened, whose liberty He has conferred — if there ever was love like His!
What shall we say of the ransom price? It was the richest, the costliest, that Heaven could give! He gave Himself for us! What more could He do? He gave Himself; body, soul and spirit. He gave His time, His labor, His blood, His life, His ALL — as the price for our ransom, the cost of our redemption. He carried the wood and reared the altar. Then, bearing His bosom to the stroke of the uplifted and descending arm of the Father — He paid the price of our salvation in the warm lifeblood of His heart!
What a boundless, fathomless ocean! How is it that we feel the force and exemplify the practical influence of this amazing, all commanding truth so faintly? Oh, the desperate depravity of our nature! Oh, the deep iniquity of our iniquitous hearts! Will not the blood-drops of Jesus move us? Will not the agonies of the cross influence us? Will not His dying love constrain us to a more heavenly life?
Just beginning to read Jared’s book The Story Telling God – which I am enjoying very much so far. An exploration on the Parables of Jesus.
From the wonderful and surprisingly young scholar Michael J. Kruger over at Canon Fodder.
Each one is hyperlinked to the original and bears some time getting to know each one more fully.
Well it is the height of summer here in the UK. Swam in the sea at the weekend. It was like swimming in a warm bath. Don’t mind winter if we actually get a summer. So far this one has yet to fully deliver but there is some potential. Over to you Charlie.
Continuing the Text Tuesday series (even though last weeks post had 4 talks for your perusal. This week – no audio or video – just words.
Recently within the Tuesday Text series, I posted the fine work of others – a series by Tim McGrew speaking at Calvary Bible Church Kalamazoo. I had the priviledge of meeting him on the weekend here in London town and what an impressive scholar he is. More from Tim another time.
I am very comfortable with the approach of Jonathan Dodson on the Bible and it’s errors. We must remember that the Bible is a collection of ancient manuscripts, copied and handed down. It is however superintended by God in it’s provision. Are there errors in the Bible? Yes. But that’s not the end of story; merely for the open minded, it’s the beginning of knowledge. Does it have errors of the kind that are detrimental to its purpose, its narratives, its characters, its themes? Not that I can see.
The Bible translation I have in my home has errors – in fact it uses space on its pages to point to many of them. Not problematic for a document, written in history, by human authors even as supervised by God. But this would be very problematic for a magically arrived at book – a book without human authorship, human characteristics, stylings, nuances, faithfulness to human genres, with all it’s strengths and weaknesses. A ‘magically arrived at’ book is supposedly downloaded actively from on high through the merely passive human recipient(s). Such a book can carry no errors. For if it does the errors belong fully and soley to the Divine downloader – it’s only author. The bible has errors but not in the way that the non magical advocates should be worried. Let’s be careful not to make category errors and expect one species of book to behave and function like another.
And now over to Jonathan K. Dodson [check out his links also].
Most people question the reliability of the Bible. You’ve probably been in a conversation with a friend or met someone in a coffeeshop who said: “How can you be a Christian when the Bible has so many errors?” How should we respond? What do you say?
Instead of asking them to name one, I suggest you name one or two of the errors. Does your Bible contain errors? Yes. The Bible that most people possess is a translation of the Greek and Hebrew copies of copies of the original documents of Scripture. As you can imagine, errors have crept in over the centuries of copying. Scribes fall asleep, misspell, take their eyes off the manuscript, and so on. I recommend telling people what kind of errors have crept into the Bible. Starting with the New Testament, Dan Wallace, New Testament scholar and founder the Center for the Study of New Testament Manuscripts, lists four types of errors in Understanding Scripture: An Overview of the Bible’s Origin, Reliability, and Meaning.
Types of Errors
1) Spelling & Nonsense Errors. These are errors occur when a scribe wrote a word that makes no sense in its context, usually because they were tired or took their eyes off the page.Some of these errors are quite comical, such as “we were horses among you” (Gk. hippoi, “horses,” instead of ēpioi, “gentle,” or nēpioi, “little children”) in 1 Thessalonians 2:7 in one late manuscript. Obviously, Paul isn’t saying he acted like a horse among them. That would be self-injury! These kinds of errors are easily corrected.
2) Minor Changes. These minor changes are as small as the presence or absence of an article “the” or changed word order, which can vary considerably in Greek. Depending on the sentence, Greek grammar allows the sentence to be written up to 18 times, while still saying the same thing! So just because a sentence wasn’t copied in the same order, doesn’t mean that we lost the meaning.
3) Meaningful but not Plausible. These errors have meaning but aren’t a plausible reflection of the original text. For example, 1 Thessalonians 2:9, instead of “the gospel of God” (the reading of almost all the manuscripts), a late medieval copy has “the gospel of Christ.” There is a meaning difference between God and Christ, but the overall manuscript evidence points clearly in one direction, making the error plain and not plausibly part of the original.
4) Meaningful and Plausible. These are errors that have meaning and that the alternate reading is plausible as a reflection of the original wording. These types of errors account for less than 1% of all variants and typically involve a single word or phrase. The biggest of these types of errors is the ending of the Gospel of Mark, which most contemporary scholars to not regard as original. Our translations even footnote that!
Is the Bible Reliable?
So, is the Bible reliable? Well, the reliability of our English translations depends largely upon the quality of the manuscripts they were translated from. The quality depends, in part, on how recent the manuscripts are. Scholars like Bart Ehrman have asserted that we don’t have manuscripts that are early enough. However, the manuscript evidence is quite impressive:
What to Say When Someone Says “The Bible Has Errors”.
So, when someone asserts that the Bible says errors, we can reply by saying: “Yes, our Bible translations do have errors, let me tell you about them. But as you can see, less than 1% of them are meaningful and those errors don’t affect the major teachings of the Christian faith. In fact, there are 1000 times more manuscripts of the Bible than the most documented Greco-Roman historian by Suetonius. So, if we’re going to be skeptical about ancient books, we should be 1000 times more skeptical of the Greco-Roman histories. The Bible is, in fact, incredibly reliable.”
Contrary to popular assertion, that as time rolls on we get further and further away from the original with each new discovery, we actually get closer and closer to the original text. As Wallace puts it, we have “an embarrassment of riches when it comes to the biblical documents.” Therefore, we can be confident that what we read in our modern translations of the the ancient texts is approximately 99% accurate. It is very reliable.
For Further Study (order easy to difficult):
Love Americana (before it was cool), love Country (before it was new), love story songs before I could read.
Here is the fabulous (The) Lost Dogs from their great album Scenic Routes.
Calling very serious christians – here is a quite academic series of talks from a very serious scholar. They are above my head but so what! I am indebted to and can confirm the advice of John Piper about reading above your level. Your level does lift over time. I can read stuff today that I couldn’t have imagined being able to engage with 5 and 10 years ago. Also while reading above your level – you do get some of the things and as you push ahead you begin to gets stuff your earlier had to gloss over.
So watching lectures is kinda’ the same deal and I encourage you to read, think and converse above your level. Big ideas under consideration are like muscles worked out in the gym. Under strain, there is growth. I certainly prefer books to running machines, though I need both.
They are all over 60 minutes so treat them like a study series and watch one a week and repeat it within the week of viewing to maximise opportunites for increased understanding.
Wow – heard this today on the wrap ups of the Wimbledon Finals day – stunning battle between my two favourite tennis players.
Great version of Survivor’s ‘Eye of the Tiger’ like you never imagined. It’s on an album of Paul Anka covers called Rock Swings which I will definitely be buying. Long before it was cool to like the crooners – I loved them. Uncool – that’s me.
Jesus could not be God – he hungered, ate – game over!
I say to lovely muslims that I, a christian
expect to see Jesus eating and hungering;
because Jesus on earth was the eternal Word of God – made flesh.
Flesh – real flesh – not fake flesh – not pretend flesh;
real eating – real hungering.
That is what incarnation (Word made flesh) means; what one expects with incarnation.
Jesus – God but not solely God
Jesus – man but not solely man.
Jesus – God and man.
Read the scriptures – all of them – not just the ‘Jesus eats! Game Over’ ones.
So when the lovely muslim person says to me, “Jesus ate, he was hungry”, said muslim undoubtedly has an expectation of a light bulb moment for me. There certainly is one – but not the one he expects.
The lightbulb moment for me is the sudden awareness that although this muslim knows I am a christian, he clearly does not know what christians understand our scriptures to say and what we therefore believe.
The lightbulb moment is seeing that the lovely muslim is putting 6th century islamic requirements on the first century Jesus and our scriptures.
We have work to do to understand one another and have a productive chat, this lovely muslim and me.
Gospel according to John – Chapter 1 – Verses 1 to 5
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Gospel according to John – Chapter 1 – Verse 14
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
I must try to get to work using this method and see if I ever get there. That might be an interesting day away from the office. Delightful.
Jesus the ultimate one who fasts – he fasted – laid aside his divine privileges to be rough and ready in the neighbourhood with us & for us
Jesus the ultimate breaking of the fast – arose after three days in death to break the fast of desolation and begin a new kind of life for those who would become his brothers
Jesus the ultimate one to pray behind – he said ‘pray like this “our Father in heaven …” ‘
Jesus the ultimate call to prayer – ‘he said “come unto me …” ‘
Jesus the ultimate alms – he is the embodied kindness of the Father to the poor and sin sick of this world
Jesus the ultimate striver for the Father’s glory – resists the way of Satan in the wilderness and in the garden
Jesus the ultimate one on pilgrimage – journeys from eternity into time to raise a band of brothers and sisters under his banner of grace
Jesus the ultimate religion of peace – opposites are reconciled in his crucified body
Jesus the ultimate brother – to all brothers and sisters adopted by his Father through the Holy Spirit
Jesus the ultimate in resurrection – first over a new creation
Jesus the ultimate one over all the angels
Jesus the ultimate advocate for repentant and believing sinners on the day of judgement
Jesus the ultimate eternal word of God – enfleshed
Jesus the Ultimate
Great presentation here from Dr. James White on New Testament reliability.