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Showing posts from August, 2006

Biblical Studies Carnival IX is Up at Hypotyposeis

The latest Biblical Studies Carnival is up, with many interesting blog posts highlighted (including one by yours truly). Check it out.

Thanks for all of the effort Stephen.

Yet Another "Historical Jesus" Novel

From "Local Author Investigates Life Of Jesus In New Novel" by Elizabeth Van Wye:

The enormously popular success of the book and movie, "The DaVinci Code" triggered a worldwide interest in the historical figures depicted in the Christian Bible. As demonstrated by book and ticket sales, curiosity about the human Jesus of Nazareth and others of that era is at an all time high. And yet, according to author and part-time Chatham resident Harold Lorin, there is very little agreement among scholars about the historical Jesus.

Fifteen years ago, Lorin set out to find out more about the man. The result is "The Tin Merchant," a 260-page novel about Jesus and his family and how they coped in a troubled place in a dangerous time.

"The problem is," said Lorin, "everyone thinks they know the story and yet the whole subject is hotly debated among scholars…there is almost no common ground. The question I asked myself was, 'Can I put together a…

So Have they or Haven’t They Created a New Stem Cell Method that Does Not Destroy Embryos?

Several news outlets ran a story this week claiming that scientists had developed a method of using stem cells from embryos without harming the embryos themselves. Reportedly, they could take one of the eight cells from an embryo without inhibiting its development. The single cell could then be used to create colonies of stem cell research that could be used in research or remedies. This sounded like a win-win way around the most fundamental objection to stem cell research – that the research was killing human beings in order to help human beings.

But it does not appear to be that simple. The Washington Post ran a story discussing some of the questions that have been raised about the study, including the fact that the scientists in the study intentionally killed the embryos with which they were working supposedly to show they could do this without killing embryos. But the WP reports that while questions had been raised, “basic facts of the report remain unchallenged.”

The Vatic…

Not Even Wrong -- Reviewing a Critique of Tom Harpur's The Pagan Christ

Written by Stanley E. Porter & Stephen J. Bedard, Unmasking the Pagan Christ, An Evangelical Response to the Cosmic Christ Idea is a readable and short response to Tom Harpur’s The Pagan Christ, which argues that Jesus never existed except as an allegorical understanding of true spirituality. New Testament scholars and historians usually avoid such marginal ideas, but – as Porter and Bedard explain – Harpur has garnered more attention than most advocates of the Jesus Myth (the notion that Jesus did not really exist). Given the vacuity of Harpur’s ideas, the only explanation for the attention is his credentials. Harpur seems to be an otherwise smart fellow, being a Rhodes Scholar and having taught Greek and New Testament at Wycliffe College.

Harpur’s main thesis is that Jesus did not exist as a real person, but only as a symbolic representation of universal spiritual principles based on pagan dying and rising savior figures. According to Harpur, Egyptian myth and religion as w…

John Kerry and the Problem of Evil -- Why I Posted It

Last time I posted (which was a while ago -- sorry, I got busy), I posted a piece from the Wall Street Journal's Best of the Web page entiteld John Kerry and the Problem of Evil. I posted it without commenting as to why I was posting it on this Christian apologetics page. A couple of people took offense at what I was writing and thought that I was posting it to bash John Kerry. While I certainly don't think John Kerry would have made a good president for many reasons, I didn't post it to simply bash him. I had a point to make, and now that I have a few moments, allow me to clarify what I was thinking.

The use of the argument that there is no God based on the existence of evil is very similar to the way the argument is being used by the WSJ. The WSJ suggests that John Kerry is making a claim to be able to end the war in Israel based on a comment that if he were Commander in Chief, it wouldn't be happening. Taking this comment (and others like it), they attribute to him a…

John Kerry And The Problem Of Evil

This just came to my attention from the Wall Street Journal Best of the Web, and I thought it fairly amusing while shedding a different type of light on the age old question of the Problem of Evil and the existence of God.

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John Kerry and the Problem of Evil

The Detroit News goes out for a drink with a visitor from the east:

U.S. Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., who was in town Sunday to help Gov. Jennifer Granholm campaign for her re-election bid, took time to take a jab at the Bush administration for its lack of leadership in the Israeli-Lebanon conflict.

"If I was president, this wouldn't have happened," said Kerry during a noon stop at Honest John's bar and grill in Detroit's Cass Corridor.
Now, our first thought when we read this was: Yeah, if Kerry were president, he wouldn't spend his days moping around some bar in Detroit. But then we realized that's not what he meant. He meant that if he were president, Hezbollah wouldn't be waging war on Israe…

Announcing the Virtual Office of Darin M. Wood, Ph.D.

I am pleased to announce that the CADRE will be hosting the Virtual Office of Darin M. Wood, Ph.D. Darin is pastor of Memorial Baptist Church in Corsicana, Texas. He received a Bachelor's degree from Dallas Baptist University in 1990 and a Master's degree from Southwestern Seminary in 1993. Recently, Darin received his Doctor of Philosophy in New Testament Theology from Southwestern Seminary. In addition to pastoring Memorial Baptist Church, Darin is an instructor of philosophy at Navarro College. He regularly posts at the Pastor's Page of Memorial Baptist Church's website.

I have announced some of Darin's previous articles on this blog. Now, you can find those articles and much more from Darin in one convenient place.

The Grace Series: "Romans 5:5 - A Deepening Trust." Part V

[This is the fifth part of The Grace Series in Romans 5. The first part of this series can be found here. The second part can be found here. The third part can be found here. The fourth part can be found here.]

Paul concludes in Romans 5:5, "And hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us." God not dribbles out the presence of His spirit, sprinkling here or there, but the word is to lavish upon. He pours out the gracious influences of His Spirit in our lives in a way that will make these struggles come together in the deepening of our hope such that we can praise and rejoice in them.
Going through these tribulations is difficult and a struggle; sometimes seeming unbearable at times. We don't desire the pain. But we desire what the pain produces; that which God provides in the midst of that. We wonder in our justification, which is easy to accept. But this tribulation stuff is somewhat …

Mount Soledad's Paulson -- A Hero? I Think Not

A couple of days ago, I came across an article published by the Institute for Humanist Studies, Humanist News Netword entitled "Freethought Community to Honor Paulson" by Bobbie Kirkhart. The story is about how some humanists plan to get together to honor Philip Paulson, the man who started the 17 year legal battle to remove the memorial cross from Mount Soledad in San Diego. The story, reads in pertinent part:

For 17 years, Mr. Paulson has fought and repeatedly won his battles with the city of San Diego, California to remove a large Christian cross from atop Mount Soledad in a city park of the same name. In spite of his victory at every round, the cross still stands as a monument to the stubbornness of politicians who pander to Christian claims of privilege.

* * *
Paulson’s legacy, impressive and still growing, has been recognized by several freethought organizations. He will receive the award from the Freedom from Religion Foundation at their convention this October. In past…

Major New Response to the Skeptics' The Empty Tomb

The good folks over at Triablogue have announced the release of a 400+ page response to The Empty Tomb, which is an anti-resurrection assortment of chapters edited by Robert Price and Jeff Lowder. It is exhuastive, addressing every chapter in detail.

And do not forget that the CADRE also has some excellent responses to chapters in The Empty Tomb, here.

The Grace Series: "Romans 5:4 - Pauline Hope Model." Part IV

[This is the fourth part of The Grace Series in Romans 5. The first part of this series can be found here. The second part can be found here. The third part can be found here.]
This very brief part of Romans 5 sets a foundational guideline to understanding the importance of tribulations and the ramifications on one's own spiritual trust and growth. Paul continues in Romans 5:4 but to put it in context let's begin with Romans 5:3 - 5:4. "3 And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; 4 and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope..."
Tribulation >> Perseverance
Perseverance >> Proven Character
Proven Character >> Hope The biblical model refers to the fact that one must endure tribulations in order to learn how to persevere, persevere to receive a proven character, and one should ought have proven character to bring about hope. Tribulation, perseverance, proven character, an…

The Grace Series: "Romans 5:3 - Rejoiceful Tribulations." Part III

[This is the third part of The Grace Series in Romans 5. The first part of this series can be found here. The second part can be found here.]

In Romans 5:3 Paul writes, "And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance." This almost sounds irrational or fanatical when compared to the preceding verse Romans 5:2, "...we exult in the hope of the glory of God." If we are to exult in hope, how is it then that we also must somehow rejoice in the trials that cause so us much personal pain? This notion borders almost bizarre. It seems as though God is unsympathetic and coldhearted. And yet there appears to be an anticipation by Paul of a potential argument against what he has set so far. If I am accepted in Christ, if I have been saved truly, if I am at peace with God and I have His peace, why the trials? Some would argue that if you look at their lives it seems as though God is angry at them. And yet by trusting G…

The Difference Is In The Details

From "Amla already reveres Jesus" in the Citizen, South Africa:

OH Christian from Ferndale, you certainly made me laugh, when I read, "your Muslim slip is showing" (The Citizen, August 14).

I think your prayers have been answered. Hashim Amla has come to know Jesus, as has the entire Islamic world.

You see, Christian from Ferndale, all Muslims adore, love and respect Jesus as a holy prophet of God, as our Koran has taught us.

The only difference is, unlike you, we don’t pray to him as a god.

SHAMEEMA BHYAT
By way of background, apparently a South African sports broadcaster named Dean Jones was fired from his position because he referred to Hashim Amla, a muslim sports figure, as a "terrorist." A Christian from Ferndale wrote saying that we need to pray that Amla "may come to know Jesus, who is the Way and the Truth and the Life."

Of course, the idea that they revere Jesus as a prophet is, to say the least, overstated. Yes, they revere Jesus as a proph…

The Grace Series: "Romans 5:2 - The State of Grace" Part II

[This is the second part of The Grace Series in Romans 5. The first part of this series can be found here.]
Paul continues in the book of Romans. Because we have been justified and are now at peace with God we are now standing secure in a state of grace. Grace has brought us to this point and grace will sustain us at this point. Romans 5:1 opens by saying, "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." On to Romans 5:2 Paul continues, "...through whom also we have obtained our introduction (or way of access) by faith into this grace in which we stand." Faith in Christ is the only path to eternal life, to right standing with God, to acceptance, to peace, and to rest. Faith in Christ is the only means to placing us in a state of gracious security. Jesus said in Matthew, "Come unto me all you who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest." He said in John 14, "I am the way, the truth, and the l…

Reviewing The Death of Death, Resurrection and Immortality in Jewish Thought, by Neil Gillman

In the Death of Death, Conservative Jewish theologian Neil Gillman writes a history of the development of Jewish views about the afterlife. He begins by explaining that what Orthodox Jews consider history is in fact simply “myth.” Gillman is quite clear that he does not believe that God revealed His word to His special people, but that Judaism is rather the result of some men grasping to understand God. He affirms belief in God and believes that God has sown knowledge of Himself throughout his creation, but to believe that God has revealed Himself to man is to engage in idolatry. This position is much more assumed than demonstrated. Nor is a justification readily apparent. If we are truly made in the image of God and to serve God's purposes, why is it idolatry to suppose that He would choose to communicate with us?

Most of the rest of the book is a much more straightforward presentation of the history of Jewish views on the afterlife. Like most scholars, Gillman finds litt…

The Grace Series: "Romans 5:1 - The Grace of Salvation" Part I

The grace of God. You can't see it. You can't taste it. You can't feel it. It is invisible, yet it is substantial and weighty. Its profound character sometimes escapes us because it is so familiar to us. We throw the word around like we know what it means, and yet we need to return again and again to be blessed by the great reality what the grace of God represents for the believer.

The grace of God is what we exult. We praise God for His grace. The grace of God is that characteristic of God's activity whereby he relates to us freely and benevolently. He relates to us fallen undeserving human beings. No greater example of His grace is there than salvation. The grace of God in salvation. "For by grace have you been saved through faith and that not of yourselves." It is a gift of God lest any man should boast.

I think we also see a very clear pristine picture of the grace of God in the person of Christ as we gaze upon His glory as He walked this planet many centur…

Justification by Doubt -- What Motivates Bible Scholars?

Some of the less imaginative skeptics claim that the reason that NT scholars and historians do not lend support for more radical theories, such as the Jesus Myth, is that they are Christians or fear backlash from Christians. Such a purported cabal has not prevented many scholars from advancing theories that are nearly as contra to traditional Christianity, such as the Jesus Seminar's marking most of the Gospels' Jesus sayings as of dubious authenticity.

In an informed corrective to this idea, leading New Testament scholar Ben Witherington blogs about what he calls "Justification by Doubt." Far from feeling pressure to confirm Christian tradition, many scholars work "to demonstrate his or her scholarly acumen by showing not merely great learning, but how much he can explain away, dismiss, discredit, or otherwise pour cold water on." Witherington rejects the notion that critical scholarship must be skeptical scholarship. He believes that "[a] critic…

The Embryo or Baby Dilemma

I think it's beyond dispute that in order to conduct embryonic stem cell research, the embryo must be killed. While there are differences between embryos and fully developed human beings, embryos are undoubtedly an early stage of development of human beings. There is no question that they are living and that their DNA makes them, scientifically speaking, human beings. Those who see little problem with embryonic stem cell research do so on the basis that the differences between grown human beings and embryos are quite significant, and that these differences are sufficient to warrant treating the embryos as something less than a full human being. Let me give an example.

In a recent post on embryonic stem cell research, one of our readers challenged me in the comments section with the following scenario:

You're caught in a burning building, BK, and you are at a T junction with an exit sign at both. On the way out the door, you see that you can pick up:

a) a liquid N2 tank containin…

Religious Beliefs May Lessen Post-Op Stress

A study presented to the American Psychological Association demonstrated once again the positive role religious faith can play in medicine. "The study shows less distress after heart surgery in people who lean on faith for comfort and support than those who feel spiritually angry or doubtful." Obviously, the less stress after heart surgery the quicker and more complete the recovery.

The team "studied 309 people due for major heart surgery at the University of Michigan Medical Center between 1999 and 2002." They were interviewed twice before their surgery and took a survey once afterwards to determine their coping styles. Those whose coping styles included "Finding forgiveness, spiritual support, and love in their religious beliefs" reported significantly less stress. Those who reported being angry at God or spiritually discontent actually experienced more stress.

Another study shows that patients want their doctors to discuss spirituality more ofte…

What Does Ezekiel 37 Tell Us About Early Jewish Beliefs About the Afterlife?

It is often said that the Old Testament contains little discussion about the afterlife. It is also often said that the earliest affirmative statements regarding resurrection occur only in the later books, such as Daniel. But in Ezekiel 37 there is a provacative discussion that Jews during Second Temple Judaism (4 Maccabees 18:17, 4Q Psuedo-Ezekiel) and even many today understood to be a reference to bodily resurrection. Ezekiel 37 paints a vivid picture of the author's being taken to a valley that is full of bones. The bones were "on the surface of the valley" and they were "dry."

Again He said to me, "Prophesy over these bones" .... So I prophesied as I was commanded; and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold, a rattling;and the bones came together, bone to its bone. And I looked, and behold, sinews were on them, and flesh grew and skin covered them; but there was no breath in them. Then He said to me, "Prophesy to the breath&quo…

Prejudice Against Atheists?

In reading the latest missive from the Humanists News Network, I saw an interesting note about an atheist who lived among evangelicals as part of an upcoming Fox Television program called "30 days." In the introduction, the HNN article makes the following statement:

"Brenda" attended church and Bible studies with her "adopted" family and in turn introduced them to a local atheist group. She hopes her experience will help to dispel public misunderstanding of and prejudice toward atheists.
Prejudice toward atheists? I have never witnessed prejudice towards atheists, so I decided to search the web for evidence of this prejudice. I found no evidence outside of atheist-run websites, but what I read disturbed me. For example, on a webpage entitled "Discrimination Against Atheists: The Facts, the author listed five examples of acts of discrimination and prejudice towards atheists that were very, very troubling.

Gray, Tennessee: Carletta Sims joined a financia…

Carrier, Moreland and Morality, Part IV

[This is the fourth part of a series on Richard Carrier's attempted rebuttal of J.P. Moreland's argument on Morality found in his book Scaling the Secular City. Carrier's original essay can be found here and the first part of this series can be found here, the second part can be found here, and the third part can be found here.]

Carrier’s Final Paragraph

In the paragraph which I have labeled RC4, Carrier makes his final argument in favor of his contention that humanism has as strong as a moral base as Christianity as follows:

Ultimately, the fact remains that secular humanists, by the very definition of 'humanist', love humankind -- whatever their reasons -- and this therefore stands as a reason to be moral equally as strong as the Christian's "love for God." One may even say that the secular humanist is on stronger ground here: for the love of God can lead to acts of immorality toward mankind, as exemplified by Abraham's willingness to murder his …