1 John 1:5b can be translated “God is light and darkness doesn’t exist in Him even slightly.” Continue reading
Posts Tagged With: theology
The category of book I’ve been reading the last two weeks is: A book about theology. The book I chose for this category was 9 Marks of a Healthy Church. Below you’ll find some information about the book, a summary, and some closing thoughts. **note: this book was assigned for a class so the review is longer than usual** If you’d like to skip straight to my ratings, click here.
Bibliographic Information: Dever, Mark. 9 Marks of a Healthy Church. Wheaton: Crossway. 2013 (Kindle Edition). Read On
The category of book I’ve been reading the last two weeks is: A book with the word “gospel” in the title. The book I chose for this category was Entrusted with the Gospel. Below you’ll find some information about the book, a summary, and some closing thoughts. If you’d like to skip straight to my ratings, click here.
Bibliographic Information: Kostenberger, Andreas J. and Terry L Wilder. Entrusted with the Gospel: Paul’s Theology in the Pastoral Epistles. Nashville: B&H, 2010. Read On
Since I enjoy reading–and a good challenge–this year I will be partaking in the 2016 reading challenge. My plan is to read a book off this list every other week and write a short summary/review of it. Without further ado, here’s my reading list* for 2016:
- A book about Christian living
*Radical– David Platt
- A biography
*J.R.R Tolkien: A Life Inspired– Wyatt North
- A classic Novel
*Persuasion– Jane Austen
- A book someone tells you “changed my life.”
*Stepping Heavenward– Elizabeth Prentiss
- A commentary on a book of the Bible
The Pastoral Epistles–George W. Knight III
- A book about theology
*9 Marks of a Healthy Church– Mark Dever
- A book with the word “gospel” in the title or subtitle
*Entrusted with the Gospel: Paul’s Theology in the Pastoral Epistles–Andreas Kostenberger
- A book your pastor recommends
Pastoral Leadership Is…– Dave Earley
- A book more than 100 years old
Little Women– Louisa May Alcott
- A book for children
*Peter and Wendy– J.M. Barrie
- A mystery or detective novel
The Professor and the Madman– Simon Winchester
- A book published in 2016
Age of Myth– Michael J. Sullivan
- A book about a current issue
Qur’an– Translated by Talal Itani
- A book written by a Puritan
*Pilgrim’s Progress– John Bunyan
- A book recommended by a family member
A Christmas Carol– Charles Dickens
- A book by or about a missionary
*10 Who Changed the World– Daniel Akin
- A novel that won the Pulitzer Prize
To Kill a Mockingbird– Harper Lee
- A book written by someone from another denomination
A Praying Life– Paul Miller
- A book with at least 400 pages
Anna Karenina– Leo Tolstoy
- A book by C.S. Lewis or J.R.R. Tolkien
*Till We Have Faces– C.S. Lewis
- A book that has the fruit of the Spirit in the title
*Love Eternal– H. Rider Haggard
- A book with a great cover
Laurus– Eugene Vodolazkin
- A book on the current New York Times list of bestsellers
Girl on the Train– Paula Hawkins
- A book about church history
Heroes– Iain H. Murray
- A graphic novel
A Quest of Heroes– Morgan Rice
- A book of poetry
*Mountain Interval– Robert Frost
Feel free to join along in the challenge by making your own list!
*These books have been read and a review is available.
The foundation for understanding the purpose of the Bible is a correct understanding of the meaning and purpose of Genesis 1-2. The first word of Genesis 1, “בראשית”, denotes the beginning of time and is essential to the doctrine of “ex nihilo.” In addition to showing God’s transcendence, the very idea of “beginning” with this particular word brings with it the connotation of an ending. The texts referring to the events of the beginning and the end of the work of God give limited details concerning timing. Therefore, it seems evident that dating is not the primary focus of the author. What is evident, however, is a rising emphasis on each section as the creation process proceeds. Few details are given at the beginning of creation and more are given on each subsequent day. At the end, the reader reaches the apex of creation: the blessing of man. This account spills over into the next chapter and becomes the catalyst to God’s redemptive history. In order to properly interpret these two chapters, the reader must pay attention to the linguistic clues given by the author. By investigating these clues of word choice, intertextual links to other passages and the immediate context, one will understand that the purpose of the Genesis 1-2 account is not necessarily to date God’s creation–though there are some temporal ideas–but to show the purpose of God’s creating.
The age of the earth is not the primary concern of this text. Sailhammer has suggested in The Pentateuch as Narrative, that there are three purposes for the first verse in Genesis: to identify the creator, to explain the origin of the world, and to tie the work of God in the past to the work of God in the future. The explanation of the origin of the world appears to take place in three stages. Lioy cites J. Templeton’s “Encountering the infinite” stating that the three stages of creation in Genesis 1-2 are as follows: I. The Primordial Earth (1:1-2), II. The Ordering of Creation (1:3-31), III. The Perfect Result (2:1-3).
Some scholars have argued that the temporal words are used only as symbols. Hodge concludes that the similarities between the text of creation and that of the description of the temple necessitate a symbolic view of creation and that they “represent a sacred event, not the time period of that event.” Hodge may be correct that the purpose of Genesis 1 is not to date the earth, but one cannot deny that the author uses temporal language to describe the acts of God. And while it may be helpful for there to be less emphasis given to the temporal ideas which are not presently clear in the text, denying any temporal meaning is also not helpful. Indeed, when God gives the ten commandments to Moses he compares what the Israelites do on the seventh day to what God did on the seventh day. Therefore, removing time altogether would remove meaning from the command about the Sabbath.
So, while time is not the primary focus, there are some temporal themes present which need to be addressed. The first theme encountered is one argued from grammar. Many scholars have argued that there is a gap between verses 1:1 and 1:2, or 1:2 and 1:3. This gap between God’s original creating of the heavens and the earth in 1:1, they argue, allows for an indefinite period of time to pass. A gap here allows for many unanswered questions about the creation account to be shoved into this time. A few of these include the angel rebellion, dinosaurs, and old earth. While this may be a possibility and smooths out some supposed inconsistencies between faith and science, it also detracts from the authors purpose of this text, which is to show God’s creative power and establish his rule over his creation.
What is likely the most debated temporal idea comes in verse five. The author writes describing the work of God, when he separated the light from the darkness, that “There was evening and morning, one day (translation mine).” Most English translations render this “the first day.” However, it seems as though the author used this phrase intentionally (he could have said “first day” if he wanted) in order define how he would be using the word “יום” in the following verses.
It has been argued in the past that even though the author uses the word “day” in these verses, he may not mean a literal day. It is written in various texts (cf Ps 90:4; 2 Peter 3:8) that a day for God could be a thousand years as we reckon it. The author of Jubiliee gives an example from Genesis 2:17, stating that God told Adam and Eve that they will die that day, yet it is recorded that Adam died at the age of 930. It would be odd, however, to use “day” as a thousand years–or any longer period of time–in conjunction with evening and morning descriptors.
Some have also argued that the days could not be literal because the celestial bodies, which is used to measure time were not fashioned until verse 14. However, it should not be difficult to believe that the God who created heaven and earth and everything in them (including time) could relate to mankind his creation process with respect to time. Perhaps he could do so even though the objects which humans use to understand time had not been fashioned or set in place as they are known today. In order to understand this better, it may be helpful to remember that Moses was not standing next to God at creation narrating what God was doing. Rather, many years after God had created all things, Moses wrote as he was carried along by the Holy Spirit, using language with which his readers would be familiar.
Another problem that many scholars have found with the timing of the creation account occurs in relationship between chapters one and two. Some have argued that there are, in fact, two contradicting creation accounts which take place in these chapters. Their argument states that on the one hand God creates everything in six days and rests on the seventh in chapter one. On the other hand, in chapter two, the author uses the phrase “ביום,” denoting a day, singular. Many translations render this as “in the day,” leading to an interpretation that Genesis two gives the picture that everything was created in one day.
There are a few problems with that argument. First, that word-phrase is used 138 times in 130 different verses in the Pentateuch. Depending on the context, this phrase can be used as the general temporal marker “when” or be rendered more literally “in the day.” When ordinal numbers, definite articles, or demonstrative adjectives are present, this phrase is most frequently used to mean “in that day,” or similar phrases. However, when these modifiers are missing, the phrase is used equally “when” or “in that day.” In addition, the other time the phrase “ביום” is used in connection with ״,תּוֹלְדֹ֖ת״ in Genesis 5, the translation “when” is used. In fact, the only two times in the first five chapters of Genesis that this construction is translated as “in the day” instead of “when” are Genesis 2:4 and 2:17. Both of these verses give interpreters trouble because “in the day” does not seem to fit naturally in either context and thus should be translated as “when.”
In conclusion, the author of the text of Genesis 1-2 has written this text in a way that the reader might understand that everything was created by God and that it was formed and given purpose in seven literal days. It is not clear whether this happened immediately after God created everything from nothing or if there was a gap between the creation and forming. The vagueness concerning the dating of the earth should point the reader to find the meaning of creation in the text; the one who created the heavens and the earth has given it a purpose which culminates when he makes man in his image.
Wherein I use historical information and exegesis to justify my decision to begin listening to Christmas music in September.
Preamble: The subject of when to listen to Christmas music is hotly debated, especially among my extended family. There are some who think Black Friday is the earliest that one should deck the halls, and they are often offended when they walk into department stores who have skipped over Turkey Day for the red and green (read money) season. Others refuse to echo those glorious strains until December–that is when Jesus was born, right? However, I’d like to offer up a third way, a better way, if I do say so myself. And that way is to begin listening to Christmas music in September. The following argument will be taken loosely from Luke chapter 1.
First: you must work with the assumption that Jesus was not actually born on December 25th but that Christians usurped that date in order to kick out some pagan practices (ironic eh).
Second: You must understand that the number of our calendar months do not correspond to those referenced in the Bible (see this link for reference).
- With those two things in mind, Luke 1:26-45 gives a clear picture that Mary conceived Jesus sometime around September. Gabriel came to her in the sixth month (Elul-our August/September). Now some of you might be tempted to say, “Why don’t we start listening to Christmas music in August?” But that opposition is answered in the text also. In verse 34 Gabriel tells Mary that “The Holy Spirit will come upon you(ἐπελεύσεται-future tense).”
- Sometime between that and verse 39 when Mary journeys to see Elizabeth (a journey that would likely take a pregnant woman–even in haste–at least a couple weeks) Jesus has already entered her womb, as we see that John kicks for joy when Mary arrives. That gives us plenty of buffer to say that it was most likely September and not August, when Mary conceived Jesus via the Holy Spirit.
- So, if you’ve been looking for a reason to listen to Christmas music earlier in the year, you’re welcome. If you’re a person who has a set date for when you begin listening, I’d love to hear your reasoning in the comments.
**Disclaimer: In matters of theology I would never twist Scripture for my own, so I do not recommend (in fact I discourage) doing this in your regular Bible study. However, until I’m shown otherwise, I think the timing of Christmas music (and I use that phrase loosely) is not a hill upon which one should choose to die–in other words feel free to disagree**
I’m going to have to set the stage for this one: I was running late in the evening (as is my wont) and my jaunt took me to the historical district of Wake Forest down N. Main St. It wasn’t quite 10:00 PM but there were a few clouds out. Needless to say, it was quite dark where street lights were not installed. This was even more true where the trees had matured, growing over the sidewalks and blotting out any light. While my eyes could and would grow adjusted to the darkness, every so often a gap in the tree line would allow for a small amount of light to break through and re-disorient my eyesight. This wasn’t my first trip around the block (literally or otherwise), however, and I made sure to lift my feet just a bit higher to make sure that I didn’t fall prey to some mischievous and uneven crack in the sidewalk. What I had not prepared for was what lay ahead.
Just like cloud watching, shadows often resemble identifiable objects; I have dodged many ethereal people in my nighttime runs. This shadow, however, did not a person but rather a dog. As I approached the dog it disappeared, just as most of the other figures I encounter–but not without a bit of foreshadowing. A few steps later there was a medium to large white dog standing in the middle of the sidewalk. I say it was medium to large, but honestly I jumped off the sidewalk, out of the way and ran past it so quickly that I didn’t really get a good look at it. As I passed I did see the owner out of the corner of my eye and let out a surprised and anxious chuckle as I realized what I had just done.
Then my mind started to think: Why did I startle? The dog wasn’t that big and I wasn’t scared of it–if it came down to it, I’m fairly certain I’d have won that fight (big black dog–little white dog, Mike). On top of all of that, I know that Jesus holds all of the world (including my fate) in his hands. Like many people, I encountered a situation that didn’t mesh with my worldview. So I had a couple of options.:
1. I could rewrite what I believed about the world and thus reinterpreting what the Bible has said based on my experiences. By that I mean I could read my experiences and thoughts into the Bible so that it said what I wanted it to say.
2. I could review what I believe the Bible says and then view the previous events based off that. In this case, it is likely that it wasn’t that this experience clashed with my worldview, but that my worldview was incomplete in this point and I needed to fill in some gaps.
I’m afraid that too many times in life we try to rewrite the Bible based on how we feel or what we experience rather than viewing our lives through the lens of God’s timeless truths. The first will leave us in a state of despair hopping from one ideological position to another, lost in a state of relativity. The second gives us hope that no matter what we experience here on earth, God sits on his throne and has a plan to redeem all of creation for his glory.
In reading a book of English/Irish poetry I came across “Invictus,” by William Ernest Henley. It is an intriguing poem depicting the resolve of mankind to fight and win his own fate. And while it is true that we are responsible for our own thoughts and actions, as Solomon says, “The horse is made ready for the day of battle, but the victory belongs to the LORD. (Pr 21:31)” With that in mind, I made a few revisions to Henley’s account to better reflect the course of human history:
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of cicumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bldugeonings of chance
my head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the horror of the shade,
and yet the meance of the years
finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate;
I am the captain of my soul.
I’m in the night that covers me,
Black as the pit my nat’ral pole,
I thank my self-corruptor: me,
For my dead and sinful soul.
In the pangs of sin and death, glance
Not I to God nor cry aloud.
Under the curse of sin’s advance
My will is battered and unbowed.
But to the cross of wrath and blood
The LORD himself went in my place,
And through the preaching of the word
I can receive his loving grace.
When then I’m caught up to his gate,
I’ll say to him who reads the scroll:
You are the master of my fate;
You are the captain of my soul.