Text on Tuesday – More ‘early church’ and less Text

Today I want to post a link to a lecture by Gerald Bray (Research Professor of Divinity, History and Doctrine at Beeson Divinity School, Samford University) on Tertullian and the Latin Church. This lecture was a bit of a slow start but turned out to be really excellent. So much became clear and fell into place for me – particularly in relation to some of the distinctive practices and dogmas of the Roman Catholic church.

By clicking the image below it will link to the website where I sourced the lecture for this post.

tertullian_001

Click to Play the MP3

This lecture was originally hosted at a wonderful theological resource; with classes and courses from basic to advanced – highly recommended.

biblical training

Click here for more of Gerald Bray and a million other lectures

 

 

Trinity on Thursday – Trinitarian and Unitarian Debate

Here is a debate hosted on a Unitarian (non and anti-trinitarian) website that took place sometime in the mid 2000’s between Professor Anthony Buzzard (real name) and Dr. Fred Sanders. Is God one person or three? The sound quality is not brilliant. There  is a transcript available somewhere and I will post that next week.

For image source go to donaldsweblog.blogspot.co.uk/2011/07/follow-directions.html

Click the image for the debate

Waxing Lyrical on a Wednesday – Humanity’s relationship to God through Christ

Humanity’s relationship to God through Christ

Joined yet not the same.

Close yet not One.

As one though not the same One.

With yet without.

For and of.

From and to.

Enemy become friend.

Lost become found.

Creature become son.

Original poem by Humble Donkey. This poem can be reproduced electronically for non-commercial purposes, with a link to this blog.

 

 

 

 

Friday Fundamentals – Functionally liberal non-liberals

Function

For source – click image.

Is your church functionally liberal?

From Ray Ortland’s blog, a very pertinent question. Click to visit his blog.

“It is one thing to hear God’s Word.  It is another to fear it, heeding all God’s warnings, trusting all God’s promises, and obeying all God’s commands.”

Philip Graham Ryken, Jeremiah and Lamentations (Wheaton, 2001), page 551.

The liberal churches I’ve known are not openly hostile to the Bible.  They like the Bible.  They want their preacher to use the Bible.  They have home Bible studies.  What makes them “liberal” is that the Bible alone is not what rules them.  They allow into their doctrine, their ethos, their decisions, other complicating factors.  The Bible is revered, in a way.  But it is not the decisive factor.  It is only one voice among others.

This lack of clarity allows unbiblical ideas and behavior to get traction.  In a liberal church no one stands up, with an open Bible in his hand, and says, “Hey guys, we just don’t say/do things like that around here.  It isn’t biblical.”  That simple clarity just doesn’t exist in such a church.  There is no authority towering over all else, rallying the people to the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.  Only the Word of God, received with meekness, can prevent a church from sinking lower and lower into mediocrity, irrelevance, conflict and sheer boredom.

Is the dominant mentality of your church functionally liberal?  Whatever your church’s commitment might be on paper, what is it that, in real terms, leads and guides and defines your church culture?  All our churches should see themselves as potentially unfaithful.

We who lead are responsible to keep our churches in constant, repentant realignment with Scripture alone.  The only effective safeguard against spiritual erosion is not our doctrinal statement on paper but personally to swallow the Word whole.  We must never stop being eager to learn and change and grow under the Sunday-by-Sunday impact of biblical preaching.  Let’s keep on following the Lord, according to his Word alone, going further with him than we’ve ever gone before, further than we’ve ever dreamed of going.

As we enter the new year of grace, 2015, let’s humble ourselves before the Word of God.  After all, the message of this unique Book is good news for bad people through the finished work of Christ on the cross and the endless power of the Holy Spirit.

Trinity on Thursday

From the Monergism  website an excerpt from BB Warfield (1851 – 1921).

The Biblical Doctrine of the Trinity

Benjamin B. Warfield


The term “Trinity” is not a Biblical term, and we are not using Biblical language when we define what is expressed by it as the doctrine that there is one only and true God, but in the unity of the Godhead there are three coeternal and coequal Persons, the same in substance but distinct in subsistence. A doctrine so defined can be spoken of as a Biblical doctrine only on the principle that the sense of Scripture is Scripture. And the definition of a Biblical doctrine in such unBiblical language can be justified only on the principle that it is better to preserve the truth of Scripture than the words of Scripture. The doctrine of the Trinity lies in Scripture in solution; when it is crystallized from its solvent it does not cease to be Scriptural, but only comes into clearer view. Or, to speak without figure, the doctrine of the Trinity is given to us in Scripture, not in formulated definition, but in fragmentary allusions; when we assembled the disjecta membra into their organic unity, we are not passing from Scripture, but entering more thoroughly into the meaning of Scripture. We may state the doctrine in technical terms, supplied by philosophical reflection; but the doctrine stated is a genuinely Scriptural doctrine. 

Click here to go to full article.

Trinity on Thursday

Trinity

Excerpt from Concise Theology
by J.I. Packer“This is what the LORD says—Israel’s King and Redeemer, the LORD Almighty: I am the first and I am the last; apart from me there is no God” (Isaiah 44:6).

The Old Testament constantly insists that there is only one God, the self-revealed Creator, who must be worshiped and loved exclusively (Deut. 6:4-5; Isa. 44:6– 45:25). The New Testament agrees (Mark 12:29-30; 1 Cor. 8:4; Eph. 4:6; 1 Tim. 2:5) but speaks of three personal agents, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, working together in the manner of a team to bring about salvation (Rom. 8; Eph. 1:3-14; 2 Thess. 2:13-14; 1 Pet. 1:2). The historic formulation of the Trinity (derived from the Latin word trinitas, meaning “threeness”) seeks to circumscribe and safeguard this mystery (not explain it; that is beyond us), and it confronts us with perhaps the most difficult thought that the human mind has ever been asked to handle. It is not easy; but it is true.

The doctrine springs from the facts that the New Testament historians report, and from the revelatory teaching that, humanly speaking, grew out of these facts. Jesus, who prayed to his Father and taught his disciples to do the same, convinced them that he was personally divine, and belief in his divinity and in the rightness of offering him worship and prayer is basic to New Testament faith (John 20:28-31; cf. 1:18; Acts 7:59; Rom. 9:5; 10:9-13; 2 Cor. 12:7-9; Phil. 2:5-6; Col. 1:15-17; 2:9; Heb. 1:1-12; 1 Pet. 3:15). Jesus promised to send another Paraclete (he himself having been the first one), and Paraclete signifies a many-sided personal ministry as counselor, advocate, helper, comforter, ally, supporter (John 14:16-17, 26; 15:26-27; 16:7-15). This other Paraclete, who came at Pentecost to fulfill this promised ministry, was the Holy Spirit, recognized from the start as a third divine person: to lie to him, said Peter not long after Pentecost, is to lie to God (Acts 5:3-4).

So Christ prescribed baptism “in the name (singular: one God, one name) of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit”—the three persons who are the one God to whom Christians commit themselves (Matt. 28:19). So we meet the three persons in the account of Jesus’ own baptism: the Father acknowledged the Son, and the Spirit showed his presence in the Son’s life and ministry (Mark 1:9-11). So we read the trinitarian blessing of 2 Corinthians 13:14, and the prayer for grace and peace from the Father, the Spirit, and Jesus Christ in Revelation 1:4-5 (would John have put the Spirit between the Father and the Son if he had not regarded the Spirit as divine in the same sense as they are?). These are some of the more striking examples of the trinitarian outlook and emphasis of the New Testament. Though the technical language of historic trinitarianism is not found there, trinitarian faith and thinking are present throughout its pages, and in that sense the Trinity must be acknowledged as a biblical doctrine: an eternal truth about God which, though never explicit in the Old Testament, is plain and clear in the New.

The basic assertion of this doctrine is that the unity of the one God is complex. The three personal “subsistences” (as they are called) are coequal and coeternal centers of self-awareness, each being “I” in relation to two who are “you” and each partaking of the full divine essence (the “stuff” of deity, if we may dare to call it that) along with the other two. They are not three roles played by one person (that is modalism), nor are they three gods in a cluster (that is tritheism); the one God (“he”) is also, and equally, “they,” and “they” are always together and always cooperating, with the Father initiating, the Son complying, and the Spirit executing the will of both, which is his will also. This is the truth about God that was revealed through the words and works of Jesus, and that undergirds the reality of salvation as the New Testament sets it forth.

The practical importance of the doctrine of the Trinity is that it requires us to pay equal attention, and give equal honor, to all three persons in the unity of their gracious ministry to us. That ministry is the subject matter of the gospel, which, as Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus shows, cannot be stated without bringing in their distinct roles in God’s plan of grace (John 3:1-15; note especially vv. 3, 5-8, 13-15, and John’s expository comments, which NIV renders as part of the conversation itself, vv. 16-21). All non-Trinitarian formulations of the Christian message are by biblical standards inadequate and indeed fundamentally false, and will naturally tend to pull Christian lives out of shape.

From The Mystery of God: Theology for Knowing the Unknowable by Stephen D. Boyer & Christopher A. Hall  Baker Academic 2012  Page 121

God is not just tri-personal; he is expansively, creatively tri-personal. The triunity of God is something that unfolds and opens out, not something that curves in and closes down on itself. God’s intrinsic relational completeness, the unimaginable eternal intimacy between the Father and the Son in the Spirit, does not exclude other relations. The unquenchable divine joy that makes creation unnecessary also makes creation possible in the first place, for the love of Father, Son, and Spirit is in no way threatened or imperiled by flowing out beyond itself into a created world. ……. God is  love, and creation itself is the wholly free outpouring of that love, in generous, gratuitous, open-handed bounty, a bounty that is infinitely hospitable not because it needs us but simply because it is itself.

Text Tuesday: Textual Criticism, the New Testament, and the Qur’an

holy_books_cover_1

Dr. Small’s book as pictured is an abridgement of the larger version reviewed by Dr. Hurtado.

For Christians thinking about the New Testament in terms of its textual landscape, it is worth clicking through to Larry Hurtado’s blog below to read his post in full. Dr. Hurtado is a scholar of the New Testament and Christian Origins.

If you have the priviledge of discussing texts – biblical and quaranic with good Muslim folk – it is an especially interesting read. The two key points for me (briefly mentioned) are about the role of the presence or absence of ‘state sponsorship’ for want of a better phrase and also the desire and need for correctives that arose in both traditions. In Islam – this was toward the text (I am thinking about Uthman) and in Christianity, this was toward belief and doctrine – (I am thinking about the great church councils – Nicea for example). The relationship between power and orthodoxy are interlinked for both communities. But both communities were exercised about potential threats to orthodoxy in different ways.

The early(ish) Islamic community embarked on its quest for textual orthodoxy in the full bloom of its power and has been consequently very successful. Whereas Christianity needed or at least saw fit to embark on its quest for doctrinal (not textual) orthodoxy relatively late and with relatively liitle power in place. These adventures in securing orthodoxy seem poorly understood by many, misrepresented by some and challenging to all – for different reasons. A key staple of Islamic rhetoric appears to be one of Islamic textual stability. A key polemic against Christianity is one of instability of doctrine and belief. But what if in spite of all the offensive and defensive bluster Christianity was somewhat more stable that its critics wish to allow and Islam was a little less stable than its adherents can allow? It certainly would make for more interesting conversations – with more learning and listening, wondering and journeying.

Over to you Dr. Hurtado.

 Textual Criticism, the New Testament, and the Qur’an

Larry Hurtado's Blog

I’ve recently reviewed a fascinating book:  Keith E. Small, Textual Criticism and Qur’an Manuscripts (Lanham/Boulder/New York/Toronto/Plymouth:  Lexington Books, 2012), the review appearing in Scottish Journal of Theology in due course.  The book arises from Small’s 2008 PhD thesis, and is an impressive and stimulating work.  To engage in depth his data requires, of course, a good competence in Arabic, one of my many deficits.  But Small’s analysis and judgements seem measured, always based on evidence he proffers, and also respectful of the scholarship (both “Western” and traditional Islamic) that he so profusely engages.  My reason for mentioning the book on this blog site is that Small’s study prompts some interesting comparisons with the textual history of the New Testament.  Indeed, comparing the two textual histories (of the Qur’an and the New Testament writings) might enhance our appreciation of each one.

As an immediate comparison/contrast, note Small’s opening statement (p. 3): …

View original post 796 more words

The One …

OneThe One

The one who is

The one who loves

The one who speaks

The one who plans

The one who creates

The one who walks

The one who waits

The one who watches

The one who judges

The one who punishes

The one who grieves

The one who covers

The one who promises

The one who casts out

to be continued

Text Tuesday 10 to 13 – The Gospels as Histories

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.

Richard Bauckham Lecture 1 – The Gospels as Historical Biography

Richard Bauckham Lecture 2 – The Gospels as History from Below – Part 1

Richard Bauckham Lecture 3 – The Gospels as History from Below – Part 2

Richard Bauckham Lecture 4 – The Gospels as Micro History & Perspectival History

heart-of-gospels_1680x1050

Text Tuesday 8 – Historicity of the New Testament

TestThis post of someone else’s valuable thoughts and work continues on the theme of reliability and dependability of the texts that tell us about the birth, life, death, resurrection of the man Jesus the worlds Messiah.  Worth thinking about, whether you believe in Him or not.

Historicity of the New Testament – by James M. Rochford [footnotes at original article]

The gospels and epistles are a historically reliable record of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. There are three tests in which all historical documents are subjected in order to determine their reliability:

A. The Bibliographical Test

B. The Internal Test

C. The External Test

Let’s begin with the first test:

A. Bibliographical Test

The bibliographical test (also called lower criticism or textual criticism) asks if the manuscripts from the first-century were accurately transmitted to us today. Was the original NT documents distorted over time?

Many modern people believe that the New Testament was passed down to us like a game of Telephone.[1] I’m sure you remember the game of telephone from grade school. You might begin with the phrase, “Games are played in this space” and you end with the phrase, “James has an ugly face…” (at least, that’s how I remember it from grade school). By whispering the phrase from person to person, the message becomes distorted and unintelligible. Critic Bart Ehrman estimates that there are roughly 400,000 variations in the New Testament.[2] He writes, “There are more variations among our manuscripts than there are words in the New Testament.”[3] However, this claim is misleading for a number of reasons:

First, the reason why we have so many variations in the New Testament documents is because we have so many manuscripts. Textual critic Daniel Wallace observes, “No classical Greek or Latin text has nearly as many variants, because they don’t have nearly as many manuscripts. With virtually every new manuscript discovery, new variants are found. If there was only one copy of the New Testament in existence, it would have zero variants.”[4] This objection is similar to criticizing a muscle car for burning too much fuel. The engineer might retort: “The only reason this car burns so much fuel is that it burns so much rubber!” In the same way, Ehrman’s criticism actually serves to demonstrate one of the greatest strengths of the New Testament documents: the thousands of manuscripts that support it.

To read the rest of this interesting and comprehensive article at evidence unseen – click here

Text Tuesday 7 – What is the truth about alleged contradictions in the Gospels?

Week 5 and last in this valauble series from Dr. Timothy McGrew hosted by Calvary Bible Church, Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Alleged contradictions in the Gospels? is the subject.

I have loved this series and not just because of Dr. McGrew’s jumpers (pullovers / sweaters) but also getting to write the lovely word kalamazoo 6 times – this being the sixth.

Week 05, Powerpoint, Feb 17, 2013.pdf

Week 05, Resources, Feb 17 2013.pdf

Text Tuesday 6 – What about the alleged errors in the Gospels?

Week 4 with the Dr. Timothy McGrew series at Calvary Bible Church, Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Alleged errors in the Gospels? is the subject.

Resources:

Week 04, PowerPoint, Feb 10 2013.pdf

Week 04, Resources, Feb 10 2013.pdf

Text Tuesday 5 – Is there Internal Evidence for the Truth of the Gospels?

Week 3 of the McGrew series at Calvary Bible Church Kalamazoo, Michigan.

This week the question being addressed is Is there Internal Evidence for the Truth of the Gospels?

Resources:

Week 03, PowerPoint, Feb 03 2013.pdf

Week 03, Resources, Feb 03 2013.pdf

Text Tuesday 4 – Is there external, historical evidence for the truth of the Gospels?

Continuing the series by Dr. Timothy McGrew delivered over at Calvary Bible Church Kalamazoo, Michigan.

This is week 2 of their series – Is there external, historical evidence for the truth of the Gospels?

 

Resources referenced in the talk available in PDF form.

Week 02, PowerPoint, Jan 20 2013.pdf

Week 02, Resources, Jan 20 2013.pdf

Quotable Quotes 2

Continuing a series of quotes from books I am reading or have read. Chosen because stood out to me because of their ability to summarise or zoom in; their poetry, strength or arresting beauty. Sometimes just because they arrested me with their sheer Truthness.

Today’s quote is helpful in growing our understanding of and love for the truth of the triune nature of God. The alliterative verbs are instructive and insightful – italics in the original. Why not meditate for a while on the by, in, and through of the second sentence.

The Trinity is not an abstraction but a living, working Creator-Redeemer. God is who he is in his triune being for our salvation. We are chosen by God the Father, in Christ the Son, through God the Holy Spirit. Or, as we have already noted, salvation is administered by the Father, accomplished by the Son, and applied by the Spirit. To express the same truths in yet another way, the salvation that was planned by the Father has been procured by the Son and is now presented by the Spirit. Whatever words we use to describe it, the point is that our salvation from sin depends on a gracious cooperation within the Godhead. ( Page 21)

Our Triune God: Living in the Love of the Three-In-One Philip Ryken & Michael LeFebvre, Crossway 2011.

TriuneI wholehearted recommend this little book. It’s solid, simple yet deeply beneficial for the growing christian or the christian in need of growth.

£5.67 from ICM Books Direct as of today – free shipping in the UK – click the book.