Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Inerrancy?

Here are my thoughts on inerrancy. This is certainly not my final stance on the issue, I'm just working through what I believe. But right now, I don't believe in inerrancy. Not in the traditional sense at least. I certainly don't mind saying that the autographs of the Bible were inerrant, or at least infallible, in the sense that I will explain presently.

So when evangelicals say that the Bible is inerrant, what do they mean? A more pressing question perhaps is, What is the Bible for evangelicals? Do they mean the original autographs? Do they mean the complete collection of manuscripts that we have at this moment? Do they mean their translations of this collection of manuscripts? Do they mean the Vulgate? Or Erasmus' translation? Or the Geneva Bible, the Lutheran Bible, the King James Version? While there's problems with all of these options, most evangelicals will probably be willing to admit that the reconstructed text (as found in the latest versions of the Nestle-Aland or the UBS texts, and, I suppose, the Biblica Hebraica Stutgarttentsia) are the closest thing we have to the Bible- at least as it was originally.
Below is a picture of the Nestle-Aland 28th Edition. The top text is the text which the textual critics have sifted through all the manuscripts and determined that this is most likely the original text. The bottom text, on the other hand, is the textual apparatus, which lists the variants in each verse.


If you notice, in verse three alone there are at least six possible readings. Which of these readings is inspired? Which is inerrant? Moreover, how is this reconstructed text (as a whole, by the way, never appears in any extant manuscript(s) anywhere) infallible? Each page has dozens of different readings, as you can plainly see above. How can we say that the Bible is inerrant? It's perfectly possible that the reading in the body of the text is the incorrect reading, as my Greek professor would be happy to argue in the case of Mark 1:41 (moved to compassion and becoming angry are quite different things). 

What it seems we're left with, then, is that the Bible is inerrant or infallible in its message and proclamation of salvation and the God who accomplishes it. If we're to believe in some form of inerrancy at all, it seems to me that we must believe that the Bible's message is important. The smaller details then (e.g., the historicity of the conquests, the story of Noah, etc.) are unimportant, indeed irrelevant to whether we believe in inerrancy. To believe in inerrancy is to affirm that god's message of salvation is perfect because God is perfect. Insofar as God's message is a proclamation of salvation, which we call the Bible, it is his Word, and in this way his Word is inerrant.

I'll probably update this later with more complete thoughts. But see if y'all follow me till then. Let me know your thoughts if you have any.


Monday, October 6, 2014

Israel, the Church, the Temple, Eschatology, etc. etc. etc.

So some people have asked about my eschatology and what I believe, and they want to get their hands on some resources. Well, folks, today is your day! I'm going to give you too many books to read on the subject of eschatology (and consequential subjects like dispensationalism more generally speaking) than you would probably want to ever read, although I've taken (or wasted- though I wouldn't say so :]) the time to read all of them (and some of them twice) and heartily recommend each one, for various reasons, of course. So here we go.


Charles Ryrie's classic Dispensationalism explains clearly the dispensationalists' hermeneutic, eschatology and tries (though it fails) to defend against other systems (e.g., covenant theology).


Progressive Dispensationalism shares many things in common with dispensationalism but is sometimes seen as a middle ground between covenant theology and dispensationalism (though it sides far closer to the latter). Saucy does a fantastic job in laying out a case for Progressive Dispensationalism, though fails to make a strong enough case against non-dispensational systems. Eschatology is by and large the same for the two forms of dispensationalism with a few nuances.


Poythress, a covenant theologian, having studied at Dallas Theological Seminary for a season, tries to create dialogue between covenant theologians and dispensationalist, showing that the two systems do not have to be at each others' throats all the time. The most valuable part of this book are his discussions on the similarities between Progressive Dispensationalism and covenant theology and his exposition of Hebrews 12 contra a dispensational hermeneutic.


Less a rebuttal against dispensationalism or primer for eschatology, this book by Robertson lays out a necessary understanding of redemption history that inevitably affects our eschatology. This book is a necessary volume to read before engaging in many of the next few books to be listed.


Perhaps the best book to date on Amillenialism, Riddlebarger writes well, clearly, concisely and positively as he makes a case for amillennialism, instead of against the other systems. He does do a fair bit of deconstruction, but, in my estimation, the vast majority of the book is dedicated to the positives of amillennialism rather than the short comings of the pre- and post-millennialism. He takes an eclectic approach, which he calls "Reformed Amillennialism" and I would probably just call Idealism or at least a (not greatly) modified Idealism. He lands in the camp of Beale, Hendriksen and Hoekema, both soon to be mentioned.


This volume is a necessary compendium to the previous volume by the same author. In this Riddlebarger leaves no stone unturned as he makes his way through the texts and history concerning the antichrist and the interpretation of him. This could almost have been a long appendix to the previously mentioned work, but nevertheless, it is a must read (but only after you read A Case for Amillennialism).


Storms' tome against dispensationalism is a good place to start their Amillennial journey, though I would start with Riddlebarger. Storms write more negatively than positively about Amillennialism (i.e., he tears apart dispensationalism more than he makes his case for Amillennialism). In any case, his diatribe against dispensationalism is definitely needed in the Christian culture of America today. That alone is worth the cost of the book. His exegesis is solid, though not comprehensive enough for my own satisfaction (though his book clocks in around 500 pages, so he had to stop writing eventually, right?). In any case, it's a solid book and deserves a place on the shelf and in the mind. Storms writes as someone from inside and so, if for no other reason, his book deserves a place of honor for the respect and understanding he brings in writing this beast.



This book, though it has since this picture received a new cover design, was the most formative and comprehensive book on amillennialist eschatology per se I have read (excluding Beale's stuff). In it Hoekema brings to bear OT fulfillment in the NT, largely based on his covenant theology and his understanding of typology. Once a basic understanding is grasped in this book, one should move on to the next few to grasp a better understanding of the individual, yet perfectly necessary subjects regarded within.


The Reformers continually proclaimed, Ad Fontes! (Back to the sources!) Ridderbos is one of the pioneers in the Already-Not Yet Kingdom theology. His book is essential in grasping and defending this theology. It is perhaps a bit dated, but many good things are. Plus he's Dutch, and the Dutch Reformed theologians were/are the best.


This extremely important work by Goppelt provides readers with an extremely in-depth analysis of many (and I mean a dang many) New Testament uses of Old Testament passages in a typological framework. This is a necessary text for understanding the hows and whys of amillennialist/Already-Not Yet typological interpretations of the OT. Exegetically rigorous and at times energetic, this is highly recommended.


If you just need that last little confidence booster or just want an easier read after everything you've just read above, check out this book, again by Robertson. It will surely deprive you of any more desire to become or remain a dispensationalist, and perhaps even strip you of your status of Christian Zionist- a wholly other problem in itself.


I'm extremely partial to Beale, as you all are about to see, but I heartily recommend this book... to those who can trudge through it and come out alive on the other side. This book is extraordinarily comprehensive, and though I would disagree with Beale's method at times, this does not detract from the argument, message or conclusions. The Church is the Temple of God. We need not look for or wait for the Jews to rebuild. Beale tracks the Temple theology from the Garden of Eden to the New City Jerusalem, literally the Bible cover to cover. The book is extraordinarily comprehensive in its scope and, while it may be tedious (and very technical) at times, still it is worth the work to get through. (As a side, I believe he is also coming out with an abridged, lay-friendly version of this soon[?]. Y'all should check that out, too, if you have the time.)


Encyclopedic in scope, Beale's work here is not to be ignored. I don't expect many of you readers to work your way through the whole thing, but much (all) of this book is worthy of deep consideration. Like Moltmann's Theology of Hope, Beale sees virtually all of Christianity wrapped up in eschatology, but for him, it is eschatological fulfillment- or at least inaugurated fulfillment. His exegesis is careful and precise and quite helpful. This book takes both his The Temple and the Church's Mission and Goppelt's Typos to the extreme. Extremely helpful volume. Even if you don't have time to read it all in/at one time, this deserves a place of belonging in your library!


While extraordinarily helpful to the exegete and pastor, this is more of a commentary than anything else (if the title didn't give it away). Like I said, I love Beale. Everything he writes (and in this case, edits) is worth its weight in gold (and they are usually quite heavy!). I'd particularly recommend the commentary on Revelation (worth the cost of the book by itself) and Mark (also worth the cost of the book by itself, maybe doubled... if you have lots of money to blow on books, that is). Both are quite helpful and stimulating. Highly recommended.


Finally, Beale's last book I'm recommending is his commentary on Revelation. This will be a difficult and overly tedious read if you don't have a working knowledge of Greek, but this book mines the depths of God's Word in Revelation, pulls out (probably) every OT reference, and gives a fantastic and convincing interpretation that is helpful for Christians today and can help us recover from the embarrassment that many sensational interpretations (cough- Left Behind- cough cough) have caused. This commentary is very technical but every page is a treasure and worth the time and investment (it ain't cheap!). His discussion of method at the beginning is worth half the book alone and the rest is virtually priceless. I love the NIGTC series and Beale so this book is an absolute win.

Finally, two more books are important for the man/woman in the pew. These are The Returning King again by Poythress and More than Conquerors by W. Hendriksen. The Hendriksen text is a bit dated but indisposable, as it provides the interpretational tradition that both Beale and Riddlebarger fall into (and perhaps perfect?). He writes for the person in the pew (to an extent), and this takes the form of an almost abbreviated, running commentary (though, not at all a verse-by-verse, exegetical commentary). Poythress is almost an updating of Hendriksen, and so I have included him because he writes a bit more clearly and is/can be a bit more helpful than Hendriksen, perhaps merely because his is more recent. Both are definitely recommended, though neither come close to Beale, but, of course, neither set out to (I say this anachronistically, of course, in the case of Hendriksen). 

In any case, I wish to ramble on no further! Check these books out. Read, feast, learn, be edified.*









*I included no works about Post-Millennialism because I have only met one post-millenarian in my life, and he doesn't read my blog. Ha! In any case, Riddlebarger does a good job of handling post-millennialism.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Academia Page Info

Hey folks, here is a link to my page on Academia if you want to see my stuff. Most of it has been uploaded on to here, but you can download the stuff as PDFs if you want to read them later. So... There ya go!

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