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Showing posts from March, 2005
Un-Sinning Sin

Pastor Jaynan Clark Egland, President of the Word Alone Network, a Lutheran grassroots network of congregations and individuals committed to the authority of the Word manifest in Jesus the Christ as proclaimed in Scripture and safeguarded through the work of the Holy Spirit, has written an interesting piece about the present debate in the ELCA over homosexuality.

In "Forgive sin or un-sin it?" Pastor Egland expresses some thoughts that I have had about the issue of homosexuality. Pastor Egland writes:

Though it is not popular or palatable the church needs to ask, "Is homosexual behavior a sin or not?" The sin question is ours to ask and ours to come to a position of clarity on. To avoid asking it serves no one, especially not God.

Turning to the Word of God first and then to our history as a church, our tradition, our past and present policies and then further considering society's historic understanding and its current conversations, opposing sid…
The synoptic puzzle meets my word processor

There are various theories about how the different accounts of Christ's life are related. The questions pursued include these: Which authors had access to to which materials? Which account is earliest? Detailed and computer-based comparisons add some weight to the theory that the similarities between Matthew and Mark may trace to a common source document older than Mark.

Comparisons of the gospels started long ago as a tedious manual process of comparing texts line by line. But these days there are other tools to help with such a comparison. Even my word processor contains basic tools to compare different versions of documents and show modifications and matches. I used Microsoft Word.

So what happens when you compare the Greek texts of Matthew and Mark in a standard word processor? First, you find that the the computer cannot successfully compare the documents as a whole. They are too different for a comparison at the level of the whole d…
Should Evolution be Immune from Critical Analysis?

About 15 years ago, before the science (yes, it is a science) of intelligent design came on the scene, I wrote a letter to the editor of my local paper arguing that there existed a reasonable middle ground between the dogmatism of the creation-science camp and the dogmatism of the evolution camp. I argued that if evolution were merely taught as a theory rather than as proven fact, it would go a long way towards resolving the conflict. I guess I was rather na├»ve at the time because I thought that the conflict between the two was based largely on a decision by a minority of idealists in the evolution camp to push naturalistic evolution as the only possible alternative for the creation of life. Of course, the text-book sticker controversy in Cobb County, Georgia, has demonstrated that teaching evolution as a theory is not acceptable to evolutionists -– they have to have evolution taught as proven fact even though, at best, it is a model f…
The Argument from No Other Versions

Meta’s Blog sets forth an interesting argument for Christianity with which I have little familiarity called the "Argument from No Other Versions." Below, I set forth Metacrock's statement of the argument as posted in a blog entitled "Defending No Other Versions Argument against Kirby" -- that's Peter Kirby, author of the Christian Origins Blog.

Jesus Myth

Specifically, Metacrock's argument responds to the "Jesus Mythers." Believe it or not, there are people out there who not only deny that Jesus was God or was resurrected, they deny (contrary to the great weight of the evidence, in my humble opinion) that Jesus Christ was an actual figure in history. In essence, the entire Biblical account of Jesus' life, earthly ministry and death is, in their view, a fiction. They put together interesting, but scholarly irrelevant, items such as Earl Doherty's The Jesus Puzzle in argument that Jesus never existed. As …
This Pagan Copycat Stuff is Getting Out of Hand

Check out this Easter's Foxtrot.

Pretty funny. And about as convincing!
The Author of Luke-Acts as a Smooth Operator: His Use of Sources As a Guide to Genre

It is widely remarked that the author of Luke-Acts is a smooth operator. That is, his Greek is more polished than the other Gospel authors. So polished, in fact, that it difficult to detect his use of sources based on an internal review of the Greek alone. Fortunately, in the case of the Gospel of Luke, we can compare him to the Gospels of Mark and Matthew and see that he used Mark and Q as sources. From the comparison, we can see that Luke takes his sources and linguistically makes them his own, but that he is generally faithful to them. See Paul Barnett, Jesus and the Rise of Early Christianity, page 209 (“[W]hen passages in Luke are set alongside passages from Mark, Luke proves to have been a sober and careful scribe.”). Given the lack of comparative material for the Acts of the Apostles, searches for the sources of Acts have been less fruitful. Moreover, in the case of Acts we may be deali…
The Resurrection: A Harmonization of the New Testament Accounts

A number of years ago, I ran across a challenge from a skeptic on the internet: to write a harmonization of all the resurrection accounts in the New Testament, in chronological order, leaving out nothing. This challenge was well-hyped, supposedly unanswerable. Like many things on the internet, I am skeptical of broad claims that nobody could ever answer the challenge; it did not take that long to place all the accounts in a chronological sequence. The original challenge indicated that the final response should include all 4 gospel accounts, the pre-ascension section of Acts, and Paul's recap of the post-resurrection appearances of Jesus in I Corinthians 15:3-8. In the hopes that someone finds this helpful, it is now available here.

The bottom line: Christ is Risen!

A blessed Easter to you all.
Thank God for the Resurrection of Jesus Christ

Sorry for my reduced posting activity as late, but work has kept me very busy. One of the busiest months I have while not in trial. I have managed to gear down a bit for Easter, but have decided to spend that time with family and friends rather than working on an extensive resurrection post. However, I did want to remind readers of the many fine resources on the historicity of the resurrection that are available. For a list of books relevant to a defense of the historical fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ, check out my Listmania List over at Amazon: The Historical Resurrection of Jesus.

I also review several books at Amazon relevant to the resurrection. You can read those here.

Happy Easter.

"The Lord has really risen...." Luke 24:34.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ …
Terri Schaivo: Immediate Desire v. Higher Duty

In many ways I agree with CADRE member The Dawn Treader when he says in his post entitled "Exegeting Culture: The Terri Schiavo Story" that "I feel like we are all standing around a swimming pool and watching a child drown … and analyzing the drowning and discussing the ethical and legal issues involved in diving in to save the child." Still, I think that I have seen little discussion about is the difference between what we want (our desires) and what we would do if we choose to act virtuously.

As I understand the situation, Terri is being starved to death because her husband (and supposedly others who have never been identified that I can find) introduced testimony that Terri, in a casual conversation about people in persistent vegetative states, said words to the effect of "I wouldn't want to live that way." As I listen to the endless discussion of this matter on the radio, I hear person after person say…
Odds and Ends Heading into Easter

Bill Maher -- In case you were unaware, Bill Maher, comedian of Politically Incorrect fame, has made a few . . . uh . . . shall we say, disparaging comments, about Christianity. He has worn his ignorance like a bad tatoo by saying such enlightened comments as "I think religion is a neurological disorder." Well, Scott Pruitt of Pensees has written a rather lengthy response to Mr. Maher which is well worth the time to read.

The Shroud of Turin -- One of the shroud experts has now chimed in on the shroud-like images created by Nathan Wilson which I blogged about in my post entitled "Maybe the Shroud is Dead After All (or maybe not)". In the Associate Press article entitled "Teacher Claims Shroud of Turin Is Fake", Shroud expert Dan Porter said

. . . that while Wilson's theory is ingenious, it does not produce images identical to those on the shroud.

"It is not adequate to produce something that looks like the shroud i…
Poem for Maundy Thursday and Easter

Tom Graffagnino, yet another friend of the CADRE, has published another poem, but unlike most that I have linked to the CADRE site, this poem deals with the majesty and mystery of the Passion. Entitled "Only Jesus Knew the Score", it reads, in part:

When they sang the Hymn that evening,
Only Jesus knew the score...
Those glad and joyful verses,
Hid the pain that was in store.

Jesus saw the torture coming...
The crown of thorns pressed on his head;
He knew the mocking and the scourging,
Even as He broke the Bread.

He saw The Cross and Roman soldiers;
He understood those painful signs,
That the Prophets had once spoken...
Even as He poured the wine.

He knew well there at The Table,
Of the wicked heart of man....
He saw clearly Calv'ry's bloodshed,
And nails driven through His hands.

He knew the pain, the spit, the laughing...
He knew the spear would pierce his side;
He knew death by crucifixion,
Was how Messiah had to die.
As always, I encourage everyone…

Maybe the Shroud is Dead After All (or maybe not)

Robert Sutherland, author of Putting God on Trial: The Biblical Book of Job: A literary, legal and philosophical study, recently sent me a link to an Discovery Magazine article about the Shroud of Turin entitled "Experiment: Turin Shroud An Easy Forgery". The article notes that "Nathan Wilson, a fellow of literature at New St. Andrews College, Moscow, Idaho, claims to have successfully created a shroud-like image."

Rather than attempting to discover how to darken linen without chemicals or paint, Wilson just did the opposite.

"It is not an issue of dark placed on light, but of light replacing dark. The most obvious method for lightening linen is the one housewives have used to bleach tablecloths for centuries and, more likely, millennia. Put the cloth outside beneath the sun," he said.

Helped by microbiologist Scott Minnich, an associate professor at the University of Idaho, who provided him with scientific advice on structuring the experiment, Wilson put …
A More Complete List of Terri Schiavo sites

Robert Bowman of the great apologetics site The Center for Biblical Apologetics has pulled together a much better list of Terri Schiavo related sites than I had. So, rather than keep them to myself, here they are:


GENERAL NEWS AND RESOURCES ON SCHIAVO

"Terry Schiavo" - Wikipedia
Internet encyclopedia article

Terry Schiavo News
News articles from around the world, continuously updated



LEGAL DOCUMENTS AND ANALYSES

Terri Schiavo Case: Legal Issues Involving Healthcare Directives, Death, and Dying
FindLaw is a standard online legal news service

Supreme Court of Florida-Documents in the Schiavo Cases

Abstract Appeal (Matt Conigliaro)
Blog focusing on the Florida legal system and the Schiavo case (somewhat
supportive of ending Schiavo's life)

American Center for Law and Justice
Christian conservative advocacy group, favoring keeping Schiavo alive


SITES FAVORING KEEPING SCHIAVO ALIVE

Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation
Primary site supporting keeping Te…
More Info on Terri Schiavo's Case

For those seeking insight into Terri Schiavo's case (sadly, the appeals court has denied her parents' appeal within the last hour), I recommend two sources:

1. Apologia Christi: Friend of the CADRE Apologia Christi has been doing a pretty good job of following this case and posting some good analysis of the situation.

2. The International Task Force on Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide has been collecting some fine articles about the case including "Starving for the Truth from the Pittsburg Post-Gazette, and "Starving for a Fair Diagnosis" from the National Review Online.
Hastily Generalizing the Slippery Slope

Friend of the CADRE Phil Steiger (whose own blog Every Thought Captive is recommended daily reading) made a comment on my post entitled "Cleft Lips and Palates, Abortion and Discrimination in the U.K." which read as follows:

There are many people out there who do not believe in the validity of the 'slippery slope' argument, but I am afraid reality bears it out. If we are at a point where a society is willing to label this a handicap, then we have slipped a long way indeed!
Slippery Slope arguments were identified in my college textbook on logic as an informal fallacy. Yet, as I have followed the events of the world, I cannot help but notice that people who argued against various positions in my own lifetime on the basis of slippery slopes have turned out to be quite prophetic. My fellow blogger Layman (who has been quite busy at the office the past few days) has earlier voiced his doubt about slippery slopes but recognizes that br…
Simplicity, Complexity and Design

Friend of the CADRE, David Heddle, at He Lives has an excellent post entitled "Suboptimal Design?" which is dated March 7, 2005, in which he analyzes an attack on Behe's theory of irreducible complexity and intelligent design by a blogger using the psuedonym Perakh. Perakh makes the following point:

As I have argued before (Perakh 2004), contrary to Dembski’s persistent assertions, complexity is certainly not just disguised improbability. Examples to the contrary abound. Imagine a pile of stones. Each stone has some irregular shape that resulted from a series of chance events. Among these irregularly shaped stones we find a perfectly rectangular brick. It has a simple shape which can be described by a short (i.e. simple) program containing only three numbers – width, length, and height. On the other hand each of the irregularly shaped stones can be described only by a more complex program containing many numbers. However, the probability o…
Cleft Lips and Palates, Abortion and Discrimination in the U.K.

Hanibal Smith at The A-Team Blog has blogged on a rather horrible article from the Guardian entitled "Cleft lip abortion done 'in good faith'." The article reports on the fact that two doctors who performed a late term abortion on a child whose only reported defect was a cleft lip and palate would not be prosecuted for violating the British abortion law requiring evidence of a "serious handicap" before such an abortion can proceed.:

Doctors and health officials will consider whether more guidance on abortions is needed following the decision of the Crown Prosecution Service not to prosecute two doctors who authorised a late abortion on a foetus with a cleft lip and palate.

Jim England, the chief crown prosecutor for West Mercia, said the doctors believed, in good faith, that there was a substantial risk the child would be seriously handicapped.

* * *

Joanna Jepson, 28, now at St Michael's Chu…
Fideism and Isaiah 55: 8-9

Sometimes I run into people who make the charge that it is inappropriate to try to use logic to evaluate what God does. This charge usually stems from the idea that it is inappropriate to use our logic to evaluate and/or make sense of the ways of God because our logic, like the rest of our nature, has fallen. One of the usual proof-texts for this way of thinking is found in Isaiah 55:8-9:

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways," declares the LORD. "For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts."
This type of thinking has been generally labled fideism. Fideism, according to CARM Theological Dictionary, is the "position that religious doctrines rest not on reason, but only on faith." The New Advent Encyclopedia defines fideism as "A philosophical term meaning a system of philosophy or an attitude of mind, which, denying the power …
Religion and Genetics

Researchers have published a study of identical and fraternal twins which purports to show that our "genes contribute about 40% of the variability in a person's religiousness." Another study -- by Dean Harmer in his book The God Gene -- claims that there is specific genetic material that encourages spirituality.

It would not surprise me to find that genetics plays some part in religious belief, though pegging down numbers like "40%" seems far fetched to me. It would also not surprise me if the human genetic code encouraged at least an openness to some leve of spirituality. Of course, I have yet to see a study that claims that genetics plays a preponderant role in religiousity. Nor would I expect to. I myself have gone through periods of doubt and increased faith. Some Christians convert to atheism. Some atheists and agnostics, even leading atheists like Anthony Flew, convert to theism. Ultimately, though upbringing, exposure, and e…
Questions in the Terri Schiavo Case

First, the good news is that the U.S. Congress has issued a subpoena to have Ms. Schaivo and her (*ahem*) husband appear to testify before Congress next week. This action buys some valuable time for the Congress to act to try to protect Ms. Schiavo's life. (Note, even the Vatican has chimed in on this issue saying: "By any decent count, Mrs. Terri Schiavo can be considered a living human being, deprived of full conscience, whose legal rights must be recognized, respected and defended. The removal of the feeding tube from this person, in these conditions, can be considered direct euthanasia," the Vatican official said. "As far as we're concerned, impeding someone access to food and water represents a pitiless way to kill that person.")

However, I do have a question. As I am sitting here listening to the news, it has been mentioned on at least three occasions that Terri's (*ahem*) husband, Michael, has two children by ano…