Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Why do bad things happen to us?

Why does God allow suffering?
I think there's a clue in one little word in John chapter 11: the story of the raising of Lazarus to life again.

When Jesus hears that Lazarus is sick, he says:
 "This sickness will not end in death but is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it." (John 11:4 Holman Christian Standard Bible)
Then we read:
 Now Jesus loved Martha, her sister, and Lazarus. *So* when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was. Then after that, He said to the disciples, "Let's go to Judea again."  (verses 5-7)
Some translations don't have "so", but I think it makes sense of the story.  Because Jesus loved Martha, Mary and Lazarus, he wanted them to see for themselves that he is the Son of God, who brings the dead back to life. This could only happen if he waited till Lazarus was dead before he got to Bethany.
And when that happened, he was able to assure them with the magnificent words:
"I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me, even if he dies, will live.  Everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die- (John 11:25-26 HCSB)

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Making sense of the Matthew and Luke genealogies of Jesus

Ben Witherington has a good article on the quite different genealogies of Jesus, which is as good as anything I've read, so far.

Here are a few pertinent bits:

While there are a few similarities between the two (e.g. they both mention that Jesus is the ‘so-called’ son of Joseph), they are mostly different, and they serve very different purposes. Some Bible students along the way have tried to suggest that we have Mary’s genealogy in Luke, and Joseph’s in Matthew, but this solution simply doesn’t work, since Joseph and his ancestry is referred to in both cases...

Luke’s, is an ascending genealogy (tracing Jesus all the way back to Adam, and thence to God) and focuses on Jesus’ human ancestry in general. The other, Matthew’s, is a descending genealogy and is a strictly Jewish genealogy that wants to establish that Jesus is a descendant of Abraham and of Moses and of David, and thus is the Jewish messiah. Neither genealogy attempts to be complete, but rather they are selective and stylized. In royal genealogies in antiquity often the skeletons would be left in the closet, and sometimes whole generations would be left out of account.The genealogy was intended to be illustrative of the ancestry, not an exhaustive account thereof. Furthermore, in the case of Matthew’s genealogy, there is an attempt to suggest that Jesus is the perfect descendant of Abraham, noticing the references to three sets of 14 generations, with seven being the number of perfection...

Because Matthew is trying to shoe horn Mary and Jesus into Joseph’s genealogy (a reasonable thing to do since if Joseph adopted or accepted Mary’s child, by Jewish tradition she was entitled to Joseph’s genealogy in the bargain), because of the virginal conception,many scholars have suggested that the odd references to various notable or notorious women in this otherwise all male genealogy is meant to prepare for the irregularity of mentioning Mary, the mother of Jesus (and his only physical parent) who came by her child in an irregular way. So we have Tamar, Rahab, Ruth, and Uriah’s wife (i.e. Bathsheba), and what all these women share in common with Mary is ‘irregular unions’. In other words, God can use all kinds of irregularities his wonders to perform, even to produce his messiah, the final anointed king. 



Wednesday, March 18, 2015

John Woodhouse on Scripture

Andrew Moody, citing John Woodhouse on Scripture ... I think:

The Classic Reformed claims about Scripture are less about the abstract properties of a book and more about the fact that God is a good God who provides for his children through the Bible.
1. Inerrancy - the whole of Scripture can be trusted and should be viewed as truth from God.
2. Clarity - God will lead us into truth through his Word, no matter how smart we are.
3. Sufficiency - We don't need to go elsewhere, Scripture is the table at which God will bring us the food we need.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Musings on the Bible's trustworthiness

If you are a clever person, the doctrine of biblical inerrancy is a challenge—not because it
is irrational, but because it makes your cleverness less important. If you are a creative
person, the doctrine of biblical inerrancy might annoy you—not because the inerrant Bible
is dull, but because your creativity is less significant. If you are a proud person, the
doctrine of biblical inerrancy will certainly be a problem. This doctrine says that this book is
not subject to your evaluation, it does not need your ingenuity, it does not bow to your
superiority as a sophisticated 21st century intellectual. This ancient book is for you to hear,
understand, and believe. Humbly.
– John Woodhouse

Weiyi Lou's video is well made and makes me think.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Have you discovered Alec Motyer?

If you haven't encountered Alec Motyer, the first thing to learn is that his surname is pronounced muh TEER.

Mr Motyer is 90 and has just published a newly-written book called A Christian's Pocket Guide to Loving the Old Testament.

He has specialised in making the Old Testament accessible. The first book he wrote, with which I am familiar is his book The Day of the Lion, on the Old Testament prophet Amos.

He has also written commentaries on Philippians and James.

This Amazon link gives a list of his books which Amazon currently has available.

If you'd like to see and hear him, you can access several of his talks at this UK website.

He has contributed articles to The New Bible Dictionary (on Amos, for example) and was one of the Old Testament editors of the New Bible Commentary.

He is a great treasure, and I am so pleased he is still writing and "bearing fruit in his old age."

Why Women Are Leaving Evangelical Churches

I'm posting this so that I can find this article again, if I need to read it.

Josie McSkimming says that one reason women leave the church is that it teaches that sexual expression should be limited to heterosexual marriage.

But isn't that what all churches have always taught, at least until recently?