Archive | September, 2010

Best Theology Podcasts on the Web

No, I don’t have a list. I don’t even know of many out there. I am interested in what you listen to.

What are the best theology podcasts out there on the web.

Qualifications:

  • Have to be consistant…at least once every two weeks.
  • Can’t be just a web version of a radio broadcast. (i.e. Renewing Your Mind does not count).

That’s it. What are your favorites? Let me and others know.

I’ll try to put together a list of those that “made the cut” in a new post.

Paul, the New Socrates in Athens: Paul as Philosopher (Part III)

The noted philosopher of religion Marilyn McCord Adams makes the mystifying assertion that “the Paul of Acts does not pursue his mission to the Athenians, for the simple reason that he was not a philosopher.”[1]  Au contraire!  His departing Athens was by no means due to insufficient philosophical skills.   In Douglas Groothuis’s book On Jesus in the Wadsworth Philosopher Series, we see why Jesus could be called a remarkable philosopher; if this is true of Jesus, then it would be true of Paul as well.  Indeed, we have seen in my two previous blog posts on the apostle Paul that he had ample philosophical skills and the requisite suppleness of mind to show himself to be a “lover of wisdom.”

 In this piece I note, among other things, that Luke presents Paul’s Areopagus speech at Athens (Acts 17) as that of a gifted philosopher-theologian.  Luke views Paul as a Socrates-like philosophical figure.   

How so?  Paul’s activity and teaching bear a similarity to the early Greek philosopher Socrates as portrayed by his pupil Plato in The Apology, which depicts Socrates’ trial).[2]  We see three verbal similarities between Socrates and Paul:

Engaging in dialogues in the marketplace

Paul: “[E]very day with those who happened to be present,” Paul engaged in dialogues (dielegeto) in the marketplace/agora (en tē agora) (17:17). 

Socrates: “I go about the world, obedient to the god, and search and make enquiry into the wisdom of any one, whether citizen or stranger” (Apology 23).  The common place that Socrates engaged others was the marketplace: “If I defend myself in my accustomed manner, and you hear me using words which I have been in the habit of using in the agora… (Plato, Apology 17).

Proclaiming foreign deities:

Paul:  He was accused of proclaiming “foreign gods/divinities [xenōn daimoniōn]” because he was preaching Jesus and the resurrection (17:18).

Socrates:  He was charged with being “a doer of evil, who corrupts the youth; and who does not believe in the gods of the city, but has other new divinities [hetera de daimonia kaina]” (Apology 24).

Presenting a new teaching:

Paul:  He was asked to give an account of this “new teaching which you are proclaiming [tis hē kainē autē hē hypo sou laloumenē didachē]” (17:19).

Socrates:  “Socrates is a doer of evil, who corrupts the youth; and who does not believe in the gods of the city, but has other new divinities” (hetera de daimonia kaina]” (Apology 24).

Luke is trying to strengthen Paul’s message by connecting him to Socrates.  As biblical scholar Walter Hansen observes, “Luke indicates the favourable reception which the [Areopagus] address should receive from his hearers in the Greek world by this association of Paul with Socrates.”[3] Continue Reading →

Top Ten Biblical Discoveries in Archaeology – #2 House of David Inscription

This post is a continuation of our Top Ten Biblical Discoveries in Archaeology series. To see the complete series please click here.

The Great Kings of Israel

Without question the two greatest kings of Israel were David and Solomon. The Bible is full of rich stories recounting these two remarkable lives.

David burst onto the scene as a small boy who could play a musical instrument beautifully enough to calm the nerves of his king. The larger than life prophet Samuel secretly anoints David as the new king to replace the unfaithful King Saul. As a young man David shows fierce courage. He steps up, while all the men of the nation cower, and cuts the head off the giant Goliath. David then goes on to eventually become the greatest King of Israel. He is a poet, a warrior, a musician, a leader, a lover and so much more. David had substantial flaws but through it all God deemed him a man after His own heart. His influence is still felt today with the modern nation of Israel using the “Star of David” as their national emblem.

Solomon, additionally, is cloaked in his own greatness. Rarely can a son follow in the footsteps of a famous father. Solomon reaches iconic status through God offering him a unique opportunity, one wish. What is Solomon’s wish? Solomon famously asks not for riches but for wisdom. God, surprised by Solomon’s wish, makes him the wisest man who has ever lived. As an added bonus God goes ahead and makes him rich as well. Solomon’s wealth, influence and wisdom are without rival. These men are famous and contribute a considerable portion of Scripture (traditionally Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon).

The Great Silence

We have two great kings; we also have a great silence. Outside of the Bible there has been absolutely no evidence David or Solomon ever existed. David and Solomon are portrayed in the Bible as international players. Solomon is married to an Egyptian princess, the Queen of Sheba comes to visit and learn from Solomon, David conquers kingdoms, yet nothing has been discovered from any country with any hint to their existence.

You can imagine the doubts this has developed in the scholarly world. Many scholars postulate the nation of Israel was nothing more than the equivalent of a backwoods hick town at the supposed time of David and Solomon. The Bible, it is thought, grossly exaggerates the influence of these kings (who may or may not have lived) in order to create some sort of false national pride to a much later generation. Are these fabricated stories? The archaeological record appears to support this view due to the shocking lack of any mention of their names.

For years millions of people trusted the biblical account of David and Solomon without any archaeological support, then came 1994.
Continue Reading →

Baptist Seminary Professor Roger Olson Headed Toward Rome

Roger Olson is my favorite Evangelical Arminians. He has a unique ability to be an anchor of doctrinal stability and a provocative juggernaut of theological inquiry that causes us to scratch our heads and, many times, reshape our paradigms. I have used his The Mosaic of Christian Belief in The Theology Program for over six years and I don’t plan on changing it any time soon. He has been on Converse with Scholars (twice I think). He is a great and well respected Evangelical author and professor. All of this to say, I have much admiration and appreciation for Roger Olson…he keeps us on our toes.

Having said this, his recent blog post about Protestant Purgatory makes me wonder what is going on.

Don’t take the title of this post seriously. It comes from Roger himself when he says, “Once again, as I write, I am aware that some critics out there may rip what I say out of context (because they have in the past) and publicly accuse me of adopting a Roman Catholic doctrine.  I can see the (admittedly small) headline in some state Baptist newspaper now: “Baptist seminary professor Roger Olson headed toward Rome!” Well, this is not a Baptist newspaper, but it’ll do.

While I am a fan of Roger Olson, I am a contemplative critic of his thesis here. I don’t really know where it has come from. The very idea of Purgatory goes against everything that the Reformation was about. Let me back up. In essence, this is what I am hearing Olson say: “There are some Christians who have done some really, really bad things and had some really, really bad attitudes. Therefore, I am considering that these Christians have to enter into an educational corrective half-way house before entering Heaven. Let’s call this a ‘Protestant Purgatory’.”

For those of you not familiar with Purgatory, this is a doctrine held by Roman Catholics but rejected by Protestants and Eastern Orthodox. It is taken from the Lat. “purgare” meaning to purify. Officially and without internal debate, it can be said that Purgatory is a place that those who die in the grace of God (i.e. in a justified state) go to in order to be purified from the venial sins. “Venial” sins, as opposed to “mortal” sins, are sins that do not remove the justifying grace of God. They are the “small” sins, the white lies, calling in sicks when we were not sick, the candy thefts, and the “holy *%$# Batman’s” of our life. They are all those things that we forgot to do penance for (or simply did not have time!).

There is internal debate among Catholics concerning the nature and duration of Purgatory. Traditionally, it was a place of fire that could last millions of years. However, contemporary Catholicism has lightened the load quite a bit. Some current (and more palatable) descriptions I have heard include “a washing up before dinner” and “a timeless, instantaneous, and virtually painless purging of our wicked nature.” Either way, the idea is that there will be a time of suffering that all non-sainthooded Christians go through before entering Paradise. Very few escape its purging. But take heart, if you make it there, you are guaranteed to make it to Heaven eventually! Continue Reading →

Of Glenn Beck and Beards

Last week I blogged here about the recent controversy over evangelical views of TV political commentator and culture warrior Glenn Beck, who is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons). The issue there was whether and in what sense one might speak of a Mormon such as Beck as a “Christian.” As something of a follow-up to that piece—this time approaching the subject from a somewhat different angle—I would like to comment here on some particularly interesting remarks about the unbiblical theology of Beck’s religion.

Continue Reading →

Theology Unplugged: I’m Not Judgmental, I’m Discerning (with Sam Storms)

Join C. Michael Patton, Sam Storm, and Tim Kimberley as they continue to discuss the issue of theological arrogance.

MESSAGE SUMMARY: Often it is the case that the more you understand and know, the more you fall on your face before God. Well, this is ideal. However, knowledge “puffs up.” Sometimes we just become more arrogent. Sometimes our zeal shapes our personality to a point where we are the last people that others want to be around, much less be like. Theology is a wonderful thing. Belief is a wonderful thing. Conviction is a wonderful thing. But when out beliefs cause us to well up with pride, our witness can be counterproductive to the Gospel.

Other ways to get TUP:

  • RSS
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  • Get TUP on the new theological toolbar (along with a lot of other great podcasts)
  • ARE MORMONS CHRISTIANS 19: Glenn Beck and that Question Again

    There is an amusing scene in the 1990 film Back to the Future III in which time-traveler Marty McFly, exploring his home town in the year 2015, encounters a holographic projection of a shark as part of the marquee at a theater showing Jaws 19. At first taken by surprise, Marty recovers and comments, “The shark still looks fake.”

    I must confess that I have a similar reaction to the latest “sequel” in the long-running debate over whether Mormons are or can be Christians, prompted this time around by the conservative TV talk-show host Glenn Beck. Do we really need to discuss this question again? Apparently we do, given the lack of clarity that continues to characterize much of what is said on the subject.

    The Christian blogosphere recently lit up following the comments of World Magazine online columnist Andrée Seu in which she spoke of Beck not just as a Christian, but as “a new creation in Christ” who is “red hot” toward God. “I can say without hesitation that I have not heard the essentials of the gospel more clearly and boldly in any church than on his program.” Seu acknowledged that Beck is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and admitted that Mormon doctrine is problematic, but described Beck as a latter-day Apollos who needs a Priscilla and Aquila to help him with his theology.

    Never Mind!

    Evangelical bloggers were quick to contradict Seu. Justin Taylor, one of the most insightful Christians blogging today, commented on “Andrée Seu’s Tragic Mistake on the Gospel of Glenn Beck.” Taylor warned: “It is easy to be moved by talk of having faith in Jesus, without asking who the person understands Jesus to be…. Despite what mainline evangelicalism has taught for years, the gospel is not ‘I trusted in Jesus and he changed my life.’” Russell Moore, an astute Southern Baptist theologian, argued that evangelical enthusiasm for Beck’s religious rhetoric is a sign that American evangelicals have largely traded the gospel for American civil religion:

    “It’s taken us a long time to get here, in this plummet from Francis Schaeffer to Glenn Beck. In order to be this gullible, American Christians have had to endure years of vacuous talk about undefined ‘revival’ and ‘turning America back to God’ that was less about anything uniquely Christian than about, at best, a generically theistic civil religion and, at worst, some partisan political movement.”

    World Magazine acknowledged Taylor’s blog and offered a retraction, stating, “Our website editing system failed in regard to Andrée’s post about Glenn Beck.” In a separate article, the magazine’s editor-in-chief, Marvin Olasky, echoed Moore’s assessment: “Beck is syncretizing Mormon and Christian understanding in the service of a civil religion, but that’s a radically unequal yoking for reasons WORLD has pointed out before.”

    One thing that seems to have been overlooked up to now is that Taylor and Moore offer two fundamentally different—and possibly incompatible—diagnoses of the problem. Both argue that evangelical enthusiasm for Beck reveals a lack of discernment and a shallow understanding of the gospel among American evangelicals. Taylor worries that Beck’s evangelical supporters are under the mistaken impression that anyone who claims that Jesus changed his life has accepted the gospel. Moore contends that those same evangelicals have mistaken American civil religion for the gospel. So which is it? Does Beck represent a personal-transformation gospel focused on Jesus as life-changer or a civil-religion gospel focused on a generic theism as the foundation for a stable society? I suppose it is possible to mix the two messages, and perhaps there are elements of both in Beck, but they don’t mesh naturally.

    Mormon doctrine in two minutes

    The main objection to viewing Beck as an advocate for the gospel is that the theology of the LDS Church, of which Beck is a member, is radically incompatible with the biblical gospel. The divide between biblical teaching and Mormon doctrine is so wide that from an evangelical perspective Mormonism falls outside the circle of acceptable, authentic expressions of the Christian faith. The crucial problems with LDS doctrine that impinge directly on one’s view of Jesus Christ and the gospel include the following unbiblical claims:

    Continue Reading →

    Inviting Jesus into your Heart (Dan Wallace)

    In Revelation 3:20 Jesus says, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him and he [will dine] with me.” The crucial phrase for our purposes is “I shall come in to him.” This text has often been taken as a text offering salvation to a lost sinner. Such a view is based on two assumptions: (1) that the Laodiceans, or at least some of them, were indeed lost, and (2) that the Greek εισελεύσομαι πρό means “come into.”

    Both of these assumptions, however, are based on little evidence. Further, the resultant notion is anything but clear. To invite Christ into one’s heart is hardly a clear picture of the gospel.

    Regarding the idea that those in the Laodicean church were not believers, note that in the preceding verse, the resurrected Lord declares, “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline.” Here φιλέω is used for “love”—a term that is never used of God/Jesus loving unbelievers in the NT. This φιλέω is applied to the Laodiceans here, for the verse concludes, “Be zealous, therefore, and repent.” The inferential ‘therefore’ connects the two parts of the verse, indicating that the Laodiceans are to repent because Christ loves (φιλέω) them!

    The second assumption is that εισελεύσομαι πρό means ‘come into.’ Such an assumption is based on a less than careful reading of the English text. The ASV, NASB, RSV, NRSV, for example, all correctly render it ‘come in to.’ (Note the space between the prepositions.) The idea of ‘come into’ would be expressed with είς as the independent preposition and would suggest a penetration into the person (thus, spawning the idea of entering into one’s heart). However, spatially πρό means toward, not into. In all eight instances of εισοέρχομαι πρό in the NT, the meaning is ‘come in toward/before a person’ (i.e., enter a building, house, room, etc., so as to be in the presence of someone), never penetration into the person himself/herself. In some instances, such a view would not only be absurd, but inappropriate (cf. Mark 6:25; 15:43; Luke 1:28; Acts 10:3; 11:3; 16:40; 17:2; 28:8). Continue Reading →