Posts tagged ‘biblical studies’

April 4, 2012

So, You Need an Education to Understand the Bible? How Dare You Say Such a Thing

by Max Andrews

I recently shared a previous post of mine in which I discuss my response to the atheist objection that God is a moral monster on Facebook.  Referring to my comment that understanding the Levitical law requires an advanced knowledge of hermeneutics an agnostic/atheist responded:

Are you saying that a person can’t judge morality without some fancy education?

No, this is not what I’m saying at all.  My point is that you don’t learn the hermeneutical approach to understanding the laws and commands in the Old Testament in a first year hermeneutics class.  However, if one wants to have a deep knowledge of the material one does need an education on it.  This doesn’t mean you have to get a degree in it but you do need to be well read on hermeneutics.  Somehow Christians and non-Christians have a stigma suggesting that it’s offensive if a certain degree of knowledge is required to understand something.  How is this offensive? Surely, the Bible can be understood without a degree in theology or biblical studies but to understand it with depth you will have to read and learn.  We do we demand such simplicity?  If a cosmologist says that I need an advanced knowledge of relativity theory and quantum theory to understand the early models of our universe should I be offended? No. There are certain antecedent conditions that must be met in order to really understand something with meaningful depth.  It’s the process of learning and getting an education.

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March 2, 2012

What Does the Bible Say About Tattoos, Beards, and Blood?

by Max Andrews

Tattoos, beards, and consuming blood is mentioned in the Bible in Leviticus 19.26-28.  These verses prohibit tattoos, trimming the edges of one’s beard, and consuming blood.  Christians often find themselves puzzled as to what we should do with these types of verses.  Are we allowed to have tattoos today?  Well, that’s important for me since I’m covered in tattoos.  Are we allowed to trim the edges of our beards?  Should we let them grow out?  Have you ever had a medium-rare steak with just a little bit of blood in it?  I’ve provided an exegesis of this passage of Scripture in hopes to help others understand how we should understand this passage and provide insight as to how the Old Testament Law applies to us today.

__________

Leviticus is the sequel to Exodus.  At the heart of Exodus is the Sinai Covenant, though it is rarely mentioned in Leviticus.[1]  Leviticus explains how covenant worship should be conducted (chs. 1-17), how the covenant people should behave (18-25), and then closes with a section of blessings and curses, entirely appropriate to a covenant document (26).[2]  The book enshrines the laws by which the religious and civil organization of the primitive theocracy in Canaan was to be regulated.  [3]  Leviticus is given in a treaty format consisting of naming the suzerain, giving a historical prologue explaining the background of the treaty, stipulations, a document clause (covenant context), blessings and curses, and the divine witness[es].[4]

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February 29, 2012

An Outline of the Book of Genesis

by Max Andrews

The following is very brief outline of the book of Genesis.

Genesis:  The beginnings (This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created, in the day that the Lord made the heavens and the earth.  Gen. 2:4 NASB)

Theme Verse(s)In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth…And God saw that it was good. Genesis 1:1, 10b (NASB)

Author:  Moses (Pentateuch Authorship:  Ex. 17:14; 24:4; 34:27; Num. 33:1-2; Deut. 31:9)

Date, Place, and Type of Writing:  1450-1410 BC, General Middle East, Historical

Outline:

*A.  Theological Significances  B.  Practical Applications C.  Major Events  —Multiple or None Major

1.  The Creation—1-2

A.  The Creator creates everything (anything not created is God—cosmological argument—c.f. John 1:3).

  • There are supposed contradictory Creation accounts between chapters 1 & 2.  Chapter 2 is another account in supplementation to the first account by adding details (i.e. we are told that God created man (a generic term here) male and female (v 27), but this does not mean that the first creature was a male-female combination.  The details of that creation of the male Adam and the female Eve are given in 2:18-23.  Likewise, verse 5 adds details about the creation of vegetation on the third day.
  •  Creation was good, untainted by sin (1:10b).
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February 16, 2012

Can You Lose Your Salvation? A Molinist’s Perspective

by Max Andrews

FOCUS:  Can a born-again believer lose his or her salvation while simultaneously affirming God’s sovereignty and human free will while being consistent with Scripture?[1]

An Examination of the Perseverance of the Saints Doctrine

Apostolic warnings against apostasy pose a difficulty for the classic doctrine of perseverance of the saints because either the warnings seem superfluous or else it seems possible for the believer to fall away after all.  The attempt to construe the warnings as the means by which God effects perseverance fails to distinguish the classical doctrine from a Molinist doctrine, according to which believers can fall away but if fact will not due to God’s extrinsically efficacious grace.  A Molinist perspective is coherent and, unlike the classical doctrine does not render superfluous the apostolic admonitions.[2]

The traditional doctrine of perseverance states that not only will the saints maintain grace and salvation, but literally cannot fall from grace.  (It is very important to approach these and understand these texts in light of appropriate exegesis.) However, this seems to ignore numerous Scriptures, which warn the danger of apostasy of those who deliberately fall from grace:

Rom. 11:17-24; I Cor. 9:27; Gal. 5:4; Col. 1:23; I Thess. 3:5; I Tim. 1:19-20; II Tim. 2:17-18; Jas. 5:19-20; II Pet. 2:20-22; I Jn. 5:16

Perhaps the most prominent:

Therefore leaving the elementary teachings about the Christ, let us press on the maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God, 2of instruction about washings and laying on of hands, and the resurrection of the death and eternal judgment.  3And this we will do, if God permits.  4For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.  7For ground that drinks the rain which often falls on it and brings for the vegetation useful to those for whose sake it is also tilled, receives a blessing from God; 8but if it yields thorns and thistles, it is worthless and close to being cursed and it ends up being burned.  Heb. 6:1-8 (NASB)

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February 13, 2012

The Theological Advantages of Molinism

by Max Andrews

For a context of where I’m coming from concerning Molinism please see my previous posts:

  1. Middle Knowledge in a Nutshell
  2. Why I’m Not an Arminian
  3. Why I’m Not a Calvinist
  4. God Controls Everything–Good and Bad
  5. Overpower–Is God Ultimately Responsible for Everything?
  6. The Pelagian Equivocation
  7. The Singular Redemption View of the Atonement
  8. Does God Ever Literally Change His Mind?–Yes
  9. Is a Molinist Concept of Providence Discomforting?
  10. Word of the Week Wednesday: Supralapsarianism

Advantages

  1. Holds a high view of God’s sovereignty while holding to an equal and uncompromising view of human free will.
  2. Provides a better model for understanding how it is simultaneously true that God’s decree of election while His rejection of the unbeliever is conditional.
  3. Affirms the genuine desire on the part of God for all to be saved in His universal salvific will  (which is problematic for the Calvinist) claiming that God loved the whole world (John 3:16) yet, Christ has a particular love for the Church (Eph. 5:25).
  4. God control’s all things, but does not cause all things.
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February 12, 2012

The Book of Jonah: God’s Compassion and Our Lack of Compassion

by Max Andrews

The following is an outline of the book of Jonah I used for a Bible study group.

Question:  When I say, “Jonah,” what do you think of?

Historical Background:  Eighth century B.C.—Jonah was a prophet from Israel (Northern Kingdom) called to preach repentance to Nineveh (Assyrian).  Instead, he attempted to flee to Tarshish (Spain?).  Jonah had many reasons not to like Nineveh.

  • During Assyrian captivity they would torture.  Their methods would be cutting the skin on the side of the body and peeling it off a live person.
  • They would place bodies on spears for display.

Outline:

1.1-6:  The pagans aboard the ship were better pagans than Jonah was a Jew

  • The pagans called on their gods
  • They sought help from their gods before help from man
    • Jonah could care less about anyone perishing

1.8-17: Jonah is tossed overboard and is swallowed by a big fish

  • How could Jonah live?
  • Natural: It has been well established that the phrase “three days and three nights” in ancient Hebrew usage was an idiomatic expression meaning simply “three days,” and was applicable even if the beginning and ending days of the period were only partial days. Thus it could refer to a period as short as about 38 hours. There is always some air in the whale’s stomach, and, as long as the animal it has swallowed is still alive, digestive activity will not begin. Thus, Jonah’s experience could possibly have happened entirely with the framework of natural law.
  • Miracle:  Jesus uses a simile to compare His miraculous resurrection like that of Jonah in the belly of the fish.  Its literary comparison likens the Jonah situation to be miraculous, c.f. Mt 12.40.
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January 31, 2012

Yes, There are Gaps in Biblical Genealogies

by Max Andrews

There’s that one question that has plagued Christians on anthropological origins.  Many young earth creationists claim there cannot be any gaps in the genealogy, which is what leads us to dating the time frame of the earth being young.  Old earth creationists, like myself, believe that there are gaps in the genealogy. The question is whether it explains anything at all and how much does it explain?

The genealogies are adequate but not complete.  No matter how you read the genealogies, you must concede that there are gaps.  For example Mt. 1.8:

Asa the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Jehoram, Jehoram the father of Uzziah.

However, 1 Chron. 3.10-12 reads it differently:

Asa his son, Jehoshaphat his son, Jehoram his son, Ahaziah his son, Joash his son, Amaziah his son, Azariah [also called Uzziah] his son.

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January 23, 2012

Does God Ever Literally Change His Mind?–Yes

by Max Andrews

Think about it for just a moment. Does God ever literally change his mind or course of action?  The Christian tradition usually sides with the, ‘No.’  Well, if you say know let me ask you something. What would you do with cognitive, so-called, anthropomorphisms concerning peitionary prayer or changing his course of action (i.e. God changing his mind in response to prayer or sparing Ninenveh)?  The traditional hermeneutic concerning anthropomorphisms approaches these statements as literary elements in which God expresses himself through human or animal terms that teach something true about God.  Expressions like “the right hand of God” or “the eyes of the Lord,” for example, communicate something true of God’s strength and knowledge.  But what does the concept of God’s changing his mind communicate? For example, if indeed it is anthropomorphistic?  If God in fact never actually changes his mind [due to prayer], saying he does so doesn’t communicate anything truthful.  It is simply inaccurate.[1]

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January 18, 2012

Word of the Week Wednesday: Heilsgeschichte

by Max Andrews

The Word of the Week is: Heilsgeschichte (hiyels-ge-sheek-te)

Definition: When translated from German it literally means “salvation history.”

More about the term: Heilsgeschichte is an organizing principle developed by Oscar Cullman for the various New Testament titles for Jesus. Cullman’s Christology is centered on what Jesus has done in history.

It is a characteristic of New Testament Christology that Christ is connected with the total history of revelation and salvation, beginning with creation. There can be no Heilsgeschichte without Christology; no Christology without a Heilsgeschichte which unfolds in time. Christology is the doctrine of an event, not the doctrine of natures. (Oscar Cullman, The Christology of the New Testament, rev. ed. [Philadelphia: Westminster, 1963], 9).

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November 21, 2011

A Horrible Attempt at Debunking Christianity

by Max Andrews

One of the blog followers, @DalloDallo on Twitter, sent me the video below.  The video was an attempt by another blog to debunk Christianity in a couple of sentences. Well, watch the video.

To begin with, I want to advocate that Christianity is falsifiable.  However, this is not how to falsify Christianity.  The argument suggests that just because Adam and Eve are fictitious Christianity is false.  Well, that doesn’t follow.  Even if Adam and Eve are theological myth or allegorical, say, of all humanity, then atonement still applies.  This argument is against the theory of universal sin, primarily seminal and original sin (maybe an entailment against atonement).  If theistic evolution is true and Adam and Eve are theological myth, Christianity is still true.  Paul, in 1 Cor. 15.17, says that if Christ had not been raised from the dead then our faith is in vain.  If Christ had not risen then Christianity is not true. That’s the task for falsifying Christianity.  This “one fell swoop” argument is not an argument against Christianity at all.  What they are arguing against is the model of sin (original sin, imputation, inherited, etc.) and an entailment, at best, would be against atonement.  This is an embarrassing argument and demonstrates a complete lack of familiarity with the biblical text, doctrine, and, I know it’s harsh, logic.