Bible Old Testament

The Old Covenant is not the Hebrew Bible: The Hitch in Andy Stanley’s Recommendation

A recent sermon by megachurch pastor Andy Stanley has a lot of people criticizing him for everything from poorly worded teaching to Marcionism. Stanley doesn’t have a single text he preached from but loosely bases his sermon on the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15, and Galatians 2. His points are not well stated, and this is the source of the trouble. He wants to echo the sentiments of the apostles to say that when Gentiles come…

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Bible Culture

The Books and Parchments are not a Screenplay

In a few days, a feature-length movie on the life of Paul will premiere. Paul, Apostle of Christ is a biopic of sorts, but when we come to a biblical persona, this is different than other such efforts to tell a faith-based story. The New Testament gives very little material to construct any sort of “life of Paul.” We only have the broad outlines of where he went, when he was there, and who was with him.…

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Bible

The Limits of Tradition as a Hermeneutical Aid

Interpreting Scripture is sometimes a challenging endeavor. I previously considered whether the Rule of Faith or regula fidei provides a guide to believers. Here, I consider the role of tradition as an aid to interpretation. Members of hierarchical church communities have sometimes chided evangelicals for their disregard of tradition, saying that tradition should not raise an objection for anyone because we find the principle in Scripture itself. Paul tells the Thessalonians to “stand firm and…

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Bible Theology

Coming Up Short: The Rule of Faith as Hermeneutical Guide

Is the Rule of Faith an aid to understanding the difficult parts of Scripture? In an age of interpretive diversity, many wonder if there is not some tool or method that can serve believers as a kind of theological umpire. In short, how do we interpret the difficult parts of Scripture? Some have argued that the rule of faith, or regula fidei, functioned as an authority in the early life of the church, serving as an…

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Bible

The Problem with Red Letter Bibles

All God’s Words are Important If you are a Bible reader, chances are at some point in your life, you’ve owned a red letter Bible. A red letter Bible is one where the words of Christ are in red font, to highlight their importance. I was reminded of this by an NPR story about a new edition of the gospels that contains no chapters or verses, but the text only. Other editions have done this…

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Bible

The Truth of Apostolic Succession

Does the Bible have anything to say about apostolic succession? It does, in fact, but in a different way than what some teach or believe regarding the term. In what is likely his last epistle, Paul writes to Timothy “What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Tim. 2:4.) There is succession, but of the gospel itself and…

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Bible Reformation

Priesthood: The Other Recovered Reformation Truth

When people think of the Reformation and its heritage, the most common thing is the recovery of justification by faith alone.  But one of the other things that Martin Luther proclaimed was the priesthood of all believers.  Luther didn’t practice this to the degree that the Reformation step-children (the Anabaptists) did, but still, this was a truth he did revive. With all of the talk about Protestants and Rome being not that far apart, we should recall that…

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Bible

If They Do Not Hear Moses

At the end of Luke 16, Jesus tells a parable about a poor man named Lazarus, and an unnamed rich man. Both men die and go to different destinations. The poor man goes to “Abraham’s bosom”, commonly thought to be heaven. The rich man ends up in Hades – hell. He is in agony in the flames and cries out to Abraham for relief. There is much speculation about this parable. “Can those in hell…

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Bible Gospels

Getting to Know the Gospels Better

One cannot study the gospels without the idea of harmony coming to the fore. Specifically, in the synoptic gospels, the idea of laying one gospel alongside the other two has a very long history. Beginning with Tatian’s Diatessaron in the 2nd Century, putting the gospel records side by side to see both similarities and differences can show you an awful lot. Tatian intended to highlight the fact that the gospels are one story. He reduced…

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Bible

Reading Scripture Recursively

I’m a programmer by trade and so the idea of recursion or looping is something I use all the time. It’s the technique of repeatedly passing through a set of data, usually doing some process on each bit of data as you read it; counting, summing or sorting. The thought of applying that to the Bible isn’t immediately apparent, but there are some parallels. Many Christians set of goal of reading through the entire Bible in a…

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