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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Christology Prophecy

The Son of Man: Jesus’ Self-Designation as Messiah

The term “Son of Man” occurs repeatedly in the gospels as the way that Jesus most frequently refers to himself. Why is this, and what does the term mean? The fact that the term is limited almost exclusively to the gospel records also informs the meaning of Son of Man.  There are at least three things one can say about the title and its meaning. Son of Man is a Messianic title. The use of…

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Bible

Why Four Gospels?

A question that is logically posed by readers of Scripture is, why are there four gospels? The question becomes more interesting when one begins to read the four evangelists; a striking feature is both their similarity and dissimilarity. Are these biographies of Jesus? If the Holy Spirit inspired these records, surely there should be one story, one official biography? These questions can sometimes trouble new believers, and unsettle them when they encounter the differences. They…

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Bible Culture

TLDR: God’s truth in a post-literate world

Probably a dozen years ago, I received a review copy of a book called Goodbye Gutenberg that purported to be the future of communicating ideas. The book claimed that the future would not be one of reliance on words and letters so much as a combination of picture and symbols that would replace the “old” system of letters, words, and sentences. I didn’t find the book compelling, and in hindsight, I wonder if it was partly…

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Culture Reformation

Luther’s Lessons on Gospel Vigilance

The just-released documentary Luther is an interesting bit of filmmaking. It is artful and professional, and hits on some key points of why the Reformation took place. (Nor does the film shy away from some of Luther’s sins – his late life anti-Semitism, for example, is dealt with head on.) Among the reasons the film is worth seeing is because Christians need constant vigilance for the gospel, and there are parallels between Luther’s day and ours.…

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Bible The Church

Bible Answer Man: Wrong Number

The recent conversion of Hank Hanegraaf to Orthodoxy has caused a stir in evangelical circles, but only because of Hanegraaf’s prior ministry. As the so-called “Bible Answer Man” one would think he of all people would base his views and teaching on the Scriptures. Perhaps not. The reasons for such conversions still fall into the same sort of categories that Scot McKnight wrote about in From Wheaton to Rome: Why Evangelicals Become Roman Catholic.  The…

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Culture Evangelicalism

Evangelicalism and the Post-Truth World

Are evangelicals responsible for the “post-truth” world? A recent NY Times opinion piece by Molly Worthen makes this claim, but that conclusion is far from certain. I think history argues against that – even recent history.  If one lays the blame for giving up on facts at the feet of evangelicals, one of the first data points to consider is there no easy answer to the question, “what is an evangelical?” Worthen’s own work asks this question,…

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Bible

Ignorance of the Old Testament is a threat to New Testament faith

I’m not a fan of red letter Bibles, because I think they promote a view of inspiration and the canon that is inconsistent and unsustainable. The words recorded by the apostles as well as those of Jesus are equally the product of the Holy Spirit. The idea of some parts of the New Testament as more inspired than others is an impoverished view of the Scriptures. But another view of inspiration has crept into the church, and it…

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Reformation The Church

When Reform Brings Schism

 In this 500th anniversary of the Reformation, I think it’s important to revisit certain truths, not only doctrinal, but historical as well. I’ve written previously about the idea of the Reformation being over. That is, in the view of some, the level of agreement between former ecclesiastical foes is now so small that we can put the Reformation behind us and join together. That is a non-starter, in my view, not because I have anything…

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