Sunday, July 11, 2004
Saturday, July 10, 2004
Resurrection:(2) The Evidence of the Early Church
Resurrection:(3) Paul and the Gospels
Dr. Craig is an excellent debater and has had a number of debates with atheists. At one of these that I attended (against R. Gregory Cavin, debate title Dead or Alive?: A Debate on the Resurrection of Jesus Christ), even the atheists that I sat near freely admitted that Dr. Craig won the debate hands down. Moreland has also taken on the Jesus Seminar. Tapes of the debates are for sale on his website. They make excellent study materials for small groups interested in Christian apologetics.
Some of Dr. Craig's books were co-authored with Dr. J. P. Moreland. Dr. Craig's books include:
- Philosophy of Religion: A Reader and GuideDr. Craig defends a view of libertarian free will known as Molinism or Middle Knowledge.
- Time and Eternity: Exploring God's Relationship to Time * great book
- Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up?: A Debate Between William Lane Craig and John Dominic Crossan
- Hard Questions, Real Answers
- Jesus' Resurrection: Fact or Figment?: A Debate Between William Lane Craig and Gerd Ludemann * great book
- The Son Rises
- Knowing the Truth About the Resurrection: Our Response to the Empty Tomb
- Assessing the New Testament Evidence for the Historicity of the Resurrection of Jesus
- The Historical Argument for the Resurrection of Jesus During the Deist Controversy
- Five Views on Apologetics
- The Only Wise God: The Compatibility of Divine Foreknowledge & Human
- Divine Foreknowledge: 4 Views
- Divine Foreknowledge and Human Freedom: The Coherence of Theism : Omniscience
- Naturalism : A Critical Analysis (Routledge Studies in Twentieth Century Philosophy)
- To Everyone an Answer: A Case for the Christian Worldview
- Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview
- Does God Exist: The Craig-Flew Debate
- God: A Debate Between a Christian and an Atheist (Point/Counterpoint Series (Oxford, England).)
- Theism, Atheism, and Big Bang Cosmology
- The Kalam Cosmological Argument
- Cosmological Argument from Plato to Leibniz
- No Easy Answers
- The Tenseless Theory of Time: A Critical Examination
- God, Time, and Eternity: The Coherence of Theism II : Eternity
- Time and the Metaphysics of Relativity
- Apologetics: An introduction
- Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics
- The Problem of Divine Foreknowledge and Future Contingents from Aristotle to Suarez
- Creation out of Nothing: Its Biblical, Philosophical, and Scientific Exploration
- The Logic of Rational Theism: Exploratory Essays
- God Are You There
- Will the Real Jesus Please Stand-Up!
His writings in the area of God and Time are excellent.
Dr. Moreland is an excellent speaker on subjects related to the Christian faith and Christian apologetics. He also served as interim pastor at Calvary Church in Santa Ana where we were blessed to hear him preach many times.
Dr. Moreland has written an impressive number of other books in the areas of Christian apologetics (the resurrection, atheism, worldviews and answering the Jesus Seminar), Philosophy of Science, Medical Ethics and General Christian Philosophy; including
- Scaling the Secular City: A Defense of ChristianityOne of the great things about Dr. Moreland (and there are many of them) is that he has a science background. He has a BS in Chemistry. When Dr. Moreland writes about the philosophy of science he knows what he is talking about nnd it is relatively rare to have a writer that is scientifically, philosophically and theologically trained. Add to that, Dr. Moreland was a pastor for a number of years. This sort of multi-disciplinarian approach yields some thoughtful writing.
- Philosophical Foundations for a Christian Worldview
- To Everyone an Answer: A Case for the Christian Worldview
- Beyond Death: Exploring the Evidence for Immortality
- Immortality: The Other Side of Death
- Does God Exist?: The Debate Between Theists & Atheists
- Jesus Under Fire
- Three Views on Creation and Evolution
- The Creation Hypothesis: Scientific Evidence for an Intelligent Designer
- Naturalism : A Critical Analysis
- Philosophy of Religion: A Reader and Guide
- Christian Perspectives on Being Human: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Integration
- Body & Soul: Human Nature & the Crisis in Ethics
- The Life and Death Debate
- Christianity and the Nature of Science: A Philosophical Investigation
- Universals, Qualities, and Quality-Instances: A Defense of Realism
- Universals (Central Problems of Philosophy (Montreal, Quebec).)
Dr. Moreland challenges us to think more Christianly. And even when it is painful to do so, that is a good thing.
Friday, July 09, 2004
It has become common language to talk about the the building where Christians gather as the church. In response, it is sometimes said that the church is not the building, the church is the people. There is some value in this distinction but for several reasons it should not be overplayed.
It is an ordinary usage to refer to a place where something is done by that name. A school is a place where people are schooled. A church is a place where the church gathers (more about this later). In this sense it is proper to speak of a church building as a church.
The dictionary lists many definitions for church. One of them includes the building. Another is the gathering together of the people who attend there.
The Greek word for church, ekklesia, is made out of two words. ek-, out and kalein, to call. Literally, church is the called out ones.
But, taking words apart like this can be a bit misleading. It is a mistake to always conclude that a word, in English or Greek, is always only the sum of its parts. An obvious example of a fallacy of this sort in English is the word butterfly. A "butterfly" is not made of butter nor is it a fly. D. A. Carson has a book, titled, Exegetical Fallacies which deals with misuse of etymology and morphology of words.
In this instance, it is important to guard from importing Reformational ideas of election (calling) in with church. While it is theologically true that the church is the ones who are called out of the world, that was probably not the meaning of the word to the early church reading in Greek.
So, What is Church?
The main characteristic of church is the gathering together of individuals into a group, particularly as a meeting. The word does not always speak of Christian gathering in the New Testament:
Acts 7:38 This is he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina, and with our fathers: who received the lively oracles to give unto us:In this passage the children of Israel are described as the church. The word simply means gathered together people.
Other equivalent words include congregation (people congregate together) and assembly (people assemble together). In all of these cases, it takes more than one to be church.
We can safely use the phrase "gathering" to replace the word "church" in the places it is used which shows the equivalence. Here are some examples:
Mat 18:17 And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican.Why Does the Definition Matter?
Acts 2:47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.
A proper definition of church matters a great deal. There are people with the mistaken impression that they are part of the church who do not think that they need to gather together with the saints. The writer of Hebrews addresses this mistaken practice:
Heb 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.There were people who stopped assembling together. In other words, by not gathering together they stopped being church.
The other thing that this definition guards against is quite similar to the last definition. Just as it would be wrong to say that "I am the gathering", it is wrong to say "I am the church." One can be part of a gathering, but only with other people is it really a gathering. Individually, we are part of the church, but we are not the church. This is a distinction worth making since it makes a real difference.
This is the second time in my life (outside of a class on Systematic Theology) where I have been asked what my theory on the atonement is. The other time I was asked by a pastor who was doing his due diligence before I was allowed to teach a Sunday School class. The question was hard to answer then. I know what I don't believe more than what I do believe on the atonement. The lack of clear Biblical texts does not make this any easier.
Atonement in the Old Testament
The idea of atonement spans the Old and New Testaments. In the Old Testament, the word is used in connection with the sacrificial system:
Exo 30:10 And Aaron shall make an atonement upon the horns of it once in a year with the blood of the sin offering of atonements: once in the year shall he make atonement upon it throughout your generations: it is most holy unto the LORD.The sacrifice was one of an animal and the sacrifice resulted in the death of the animal. The atonement could also be in terms of a price paid:
Exo 30:15 The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, when they give an offering unto the LORD, to make an atonement for your souls.Both of these concepts are carried over to the New Testament concept of atonement. In the Old Testament The price was paid by the individual for the animal to be sacrificed but the acts are all performed by the priest.
Atonement in the New Testament
In the New Testament, the system of sacrifices is replaced with the death of Jesus.
Rom 5:11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.This word is translated as reconciliation in other passages (Rom 11:15 and 2 Cor 5:18-19). This is the subject of much of the book of Hebrews.
Models That Do Not Work
There are models that do not work. Jesus was a good moral example, but it seems that the moral example theory of the atonement falls too far short. A good moral example does not die for our sins. Buddha, was probably a good moral teacher. But his death did not atone for my sins. This model downplays the deity of Jesus.
Why Is It Tough to Come Up With a Model?
The reason that it is difficult to settle in on one theory of the atonement is that the theories are all weak. Each take into account only one part of the Biblical witness at the price of other parts.
The Bible uses a lot of terms to describe what Jesus did for us. There are also a lot of related terms. The core point is that Christ died for our sins:
1 Cor 15:3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;The Wrath of God
The wrath of God is not just an Old Testament concept. Of the ten places that the phrase "wrath of God" appears in the Bible, nine of these are in the New Testament. A primary verse in John is:
John 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.It is clear that there remains a wrath of God and that the wrath is not for Christians. Other verses support this same point (Rom 5:9, Eph 5:6, Col 3:6, Rev 14:10). Does that mean that the atonement was to appease the wrath of God? Does God actually have wrath or is this anthropomorphic language?
Purchased by Christ
Another way to look at this is to see how Christ paid the price for us. This is found in passages like:
1 Cor 6:20 For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.The metaphor here is that of being a slave who was purchased from the slave market. The price paid was the life of God's Son. Other passages speak of the price paid (Mat 27:6, 1 Cor 7:23). The main thrust of these are the value of what was paid.
Ransom to Whom?
The word used in Mark is "ransom":
Mark 10:45 For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.Who was the ransom paid to? This has led some to see the ransom being paid to Satan although the passage does not state that.
There are a lot of models. Each provide some shading to the question. Clearly this question is a forced one that the text does not directly get at.
Thursday, July 08, 2004
Of the Cause of Sin they teach that, although God does create and preserve nature, yet the cause of sin is the will of the wicked, that is, of the devil and ungodly men; which will, unaided of God, turns itself from God, as Christ says John 8:44: When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own. (Article XIX)The Augsburg Confession also say that man can do no other than sin.
Of Free Will they teach that man's will has some liberty to choose civil righteousness, and to work 2] things subject to reason. But it has no power, without the Holy Ghost, to work the righteousness of God, that is, spiritual righteousness; since the natural man 3] receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, 1 Cor. 2:14; but this righteousness is wrought in the heart when the Holy Ghost is received 4] through the Word. (Article XVIII)The Augsburg Confession shows that God makes man only able to sin, and then holds man accountable for the way God made him. This is a view of God that makes God unjust. Yet, we know that God is just. Those who hold this view often defend it by saying that this contradiction is a mystery and is in the hidden will of God.
Our Covenant Church ancestors rejected the Augsburg Confession because of the Anselmian view of the atonement (satisfaction theory) found in the Confession. They believed that the Confession put too tight a box on God.
Before Leaving on the Roadtrip
Start with what you know. Collect names and dates of births, marriages and deaths. Interview all living relatives. It is probably cheaper to make a long distance call to a relative than it is to drive a distance to see them. Interview older relatives sooner rather than later. They won't be around forever and they are usually eager to share their personal stories. Probe for names and dates. Ask if there is a family Bible around.
Even if your primary interest is family history and not genealogy, these are the basic facts you need to unlock other stories. Pay special attention to finding out maiden names since these are particularly hard to trace. Ask if there are living relatives who are doing this work already. No need to re-invent the wheel and they will be happy to share what they have learned with you - at least about their part of the family.
Create four or five generation pedigree trees for all known ancestors. Put these into a 3 ring binder notebook. These charts can be generated from most software or from a pedigree tree blank. Even if you have them as a database and you take along a laptop, having these in an easy to access binder is worth the time and paper. You never have to look for a wall plug for your 3-ring binder. Print extra blank pedigree pages where you can fill in additional information that you learn on your trip. You can write notes on the backs of these pages while you are on the road. Evenings in the hotel are a good time to transcribe data into your laptop.
Upload your tree to the worldconnect database. Not only is this a great place to search for ancestors it is a great place to share what you have learned. Uploading has an additional advantage that is not obvious. When you are on the road, any library you visit will have internet connected computers. If you need to check some detail of someone in your own tree, you can find out about your own tree from the internet no matter where you are.
Using On-Line Resources
Some free resources exist for research before leaving home. I have already mentioned the worldconnect database. The LDS church has free search engines on-line at familysearch.org.
They have a Social Security Death Index which covers deaths from the 1960 through as recent as a year or so ago.
The 1880 census can help you find a great many relatives. This was a time when there were no retirement villages so you may find an unexpected maiden name because the mother-in-law may be in the same house after her husband passed away. Make sure you view households on both sides of the family of interest since there may be in-laws next door.
Ancestry.com has a 14-day free trial. If you don't want to pay, be sure to cancel before the end of the 14 days. The free trial is limited but can be a good place to start. If you cancel, make sure you write down the confirmation number since you may have trouble getting a refund if they don't cancel you (from my own experience here).
Your local genealogical libraries may have free access to Internet databases like Heritage Quest and ancestry.com.
There are a lot of programs out there. A popular one is Family Tree Maker (FTM). It is about $30.
A free program is the Personal Ancestry File (PAF) from the LDS. PAF is reliable and quick. It can import and export GEDCOM files (the standard interchange format for genealogy records).
The Trip Itself
First, determine what questions that you want answered. A way to focus a trip is to concentrate on a Family Group. Bring along blank family groups sheets. A family group focuses on a marriage. It list the husband and wife. There is room to list their parents and details about their children. If you find someone's maiden name you may end up being able to dig back a whole new branch of the family tree and having these forms along helps. Make sure you keep a blank since you can always make a copy of the blank at the library you are visiting.
Second, determine where the questions might be answered. If someone lived in a particular place for a while it may be possible to find information in that location about them. If they lived in a small county there is a good chance that the county has a genealogical library that may be quite helpful. The longer a family lived in an area, the more likely it is to find information in that county. Counties often have histories. If the person had prominence in the county they may be easy to find in these histories. I have some ancestors who were Lutheran ministers in Ohio in the mid to late 1800's. They are listed in numerous county histories from Ohio.
Local Genealogical Societies
Smaller counties usually have a genealogical library located inside of the largest public library in the county or main city in that county. This is the best place to start. A web search for the county name and either "Genealogical Society" or "Historical Society" may yield the days and hours of that facility. Since there are often multiple states with the same county name include the state as well in the search. For instance, a google search for "Fayette County Illinois Genealogical Society" shows the Fayette County Genealogical & Historical Society.
Often times local genealogical societies have hours where they are manned by volunteers. These are the best times to visit since the volunteers can quickly guide you to their materials.
Each library is organized just a bit differently than the others. Some are very well organized. Others are just a section of books in the main library.
Start by looking for indexes. Some have a master index organized by surname. This index can be used to index into the various sources in that library. Others have separate indexes for each particular file such as an index for obituaries.
Things You Might Find on the Roadtrip
The sorts of things you might find include at a local genealogical or historical society:
Obituaries - these are gold. They will often list parents, siblings, children, grandchildren. This is a great way of tracing maiden names and married names of females. They may add local color to the character and may include details such as religious affiliations. The library may not have your ancestor in their files and you may have to search microfilm rolls of local newspapers for the day, week or month after the death.What to do with Your Results
Location of graves - from indexed books in the library. Take a roadtrip before it gets too dark. Inscriptions on the stones can be helpful. Bring along paper and crayons for rubbing. Don't forget the camera. Flash may be necessary if it is late in the day. A toothbrush to scrape away fungus on the lettering may help. Look around. Is the grave in a plot? Are there other relatives nearby? Is the person buried between others with unfamiliar surnames? Could these be family of the wife?
Wills - These reveal names of surviving offspring. These also reveal the assets. They may have property location information to find where the family farm was. Ask for help reading plat maps if they are not familiar.
Birth Certificates - These are available often starting in the last quarter of the 1800s. Don't expect them sooner. Expect to pay money for these if they are recent. Otherwise, ask if there are microfilm rolls that can be read for older records. These often just cost the price of a copy - $0.10 to $0.25 usually.
Death Certificates - These may list cause of death, next of kin and other useful information. Did the person die during a year of an influenza outbreak (like the Spanish flu of 1918?).
Marriage Certificates - These reveal maiden names of wives. They also may list parent's names, etc. They can even list maiden names of the wife's mother. This can give two generations in one document.
Family Trees - The local genealogical society probably has a file cabinet full of family trees. Check all the surnames of your relatives that lived in that county. Don't forget to give back by leaving a copy of your pedigree charts for family from that county. Make sure your address is on the chart. Someone may contact you with additional information somewhere down the line.
Local Phonebooks - Copy pages with the surnames you are interested in. You can call them when you get home.
Other Researchers - This is a great way to find others who are working on the same family tree. Make sure you sign the book and list the local surnames you are researching. This book is not to put you on a mailing list for junk mail, but to put into a publication of people researching that family surname for that county.
Local Census data - You can do the federal census data before leaving home. Some states have odd year census data. The federal census are done on the years ending in 0, such as 1880, 1900, 1910, etc. Local census may have been done for years like 1855.
Distant cousins - Yes, you will probably find distant conjoins on your trip. Ask them if they have pictures, etc.
Everyone has a story of a relative who kept all the family history but when she died nobody knew what happened to her collection. Don't be that person. One thing that genealogy teaches us is that we all will die. Make it clear on your notebooks who you want you materials to go to in case of your unexpected death.
Wednesday, July 07, 2004
Here is an article Dallas wrote on the God and the Problem of Evil. One quote at the end of the article stands out:
Because I make my living as a university professor and philosopher I am frequently asked, in so many words, "Why do you follow Jesus Christ?" My answer is always the same: "Who else did you have in mind?"Indeed. Without Christ, what else do we have?
The Internet Medieval Sourcebook is a vast depository of Medieval source materials.
The Christian Classics Ethereal Library has a large selection of source materials from the history of the Christian Church. The Early Church Fathers is a 38-volume collection of writings from the first 800 years of the Church. This collection is divided into three series, Ante-Nicene (ANF), Nicene and Post-Nicene Series I (NPNF1), and Nicene and Post-Nicene Series II (NPNF2). The Works of Josephus are also found there. You can purchase a hard copy of the Works of Josephus on amazon.com. You can even listen to the entire Greek New Testament in mp3 audio.
The Project Gutenberg is another huge site that contains a vast amount of public domain writings.
The Catholic Encyclopedia is what the name implies an Encyclopedia from a Catholic persepective. Although from a Catholic perspective, this Encyclopedia is generally fairly objective in presentation of historical facts. The text original of this project was completed in 1914 and is generally conservative.
Here is an article by Michael Novak published in First Things on the same subject. Novak has the advantage of being more recent so he interacts with what has happened. Novak writes:
The pressure of today's culture is immense, since many persons do not wish to sit still for theological argument. Nonetheless, the only serious question concerns fundamental theology, not the pressures of contemporary culture.
Interestingly most of the more "compelling" cases have not been reproduced by other researchers, hence they fail the basic scientific criteria of repeatability. In other cases, the bias of the researchers are evident. In the end there is really no solid evidence that sexual orientation is genetic or predetermined.
If anything, these studies do point to the effect of environmental factors rather than genetic factors on sexual orientation. Traumatic experiences can affect a person's ability to trust. That trust can be associated with gender. If a woman is abused by men she can become less trusting of men. As Christian parents we are to protect our children from potentially abusive situations.
Tuesday, July 06, 2004
Food for thought.
Monday, July 05, 2004
Sunday, July 04, 2004
That's the situation that seven churches in Asia Minor found themselves in when the Apostle John penned the book of Revelation. The book starts out with the statement:
Revelation 1:1-2 - The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John, who testified to the word of God and to the testimony of Jesus Christ, even to all that he saw.Each of the seven letters contains a revelation of who Jesus is:
Ephesus - holds the seven stars in His right hand/walks among the seven golden lampstands
Smyrna - first and the last/who was dead, and has come to life
Pergamos - hath the sharp sword with two edges
Thyatira - eyes like unto a flame of fire/feet are like fine brass
Sardis - hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars
Philadelphia - holy, he that is true/he that hath the key of David, he that openeth, and no man shutteth; and shutteth and no man openeth
Laodicea - the Amen, the faithful and true witness/the beginning of the creation of God/
Friday, July 02, 2004
Thursday, July 01, 2004
It's no longer fashionable in some sectors of the Christian community to be patriotic, but I say, "God Bless American". Let's keep praying for our country and thanking God that we live in a place with the sorts of freedoms we enjoy here. There are certainly enough people who would give up everything to come here. A refugee boat friend from Vietnam comes to my mind....
This flag is for you, Charles.
God Bless America.
Sometimes we forget that. Today we got another reminder. Check out the pictures of Saturn from the lastest JPL mission to the ringed planet.
It is certainly spectacular. And yes, the Heavens do declare God's glory.
The British Museum has a series of wall panels describing the siege of Lachish by Sennacherib. This is described in the Old Testament in 2 Chr 32:9.
The period of the Old Testament Kings is well attested from archaeology.
This is documented in a book titled, The Bible in the British Museum: Interpreting the evidence, by T. C. Mitchell. Mitchell was a curator of Middle Eastern antiquities for the British Museum.
The example of Saddam comes to mind. In some very limited sense of the word free, he is free. He gets himself up on the morning. He brushes his own teeth. He chooses how much of the food that is given to him that he will eat. He opens and closes his own eyes and talks freely.
In the way that most people use the word free, he is not free. He can't go where he wishes. He is bound to be where others want him to be. He is led around. He gets up when he is told and he goes into his cell when he is told.
This is essentially the issue with compatibalism. Under this idea, man is free within certain, very limited bounds. Unredeemed man can do nothing but sin. While the claim is made that man is free, in fact man is not free to do anything other than sin.