Showing posts from September, 2005

Garrow -- The Didache, the Gospel of Matthew, and an implication on the authorship of Matthew

The Fall 2005 issue of the Journal of Early Christian Studies contains an article written by James A. Kelhoffer reviewing Alan J. P. Garrow's The Gospel of Matthew's Dependence on the Didache . As I read about Garrow's theory of the relationship between the Gospel of Matthew and the Didache, it struck me that his theory could be used to bolster the belief of some conservative scholars that Matthew was written by the Apostle Matthew. For those unfamiliar with the Didache, aka The Doctrine of the Twelve Apostles, it is a document that was first discovered in 1873 by Philotheos Bryennios in the Codex Hierosolymitanus, which dates from 1056. The Codex Hierosolymitanus was itself discovered in the library of the Jerusalem Monastery of the Holy Sepulchre at Constantinople. The Codex Hierosolymitanus contained the full text of the Didache and several other writings. According to the Early Christian Writings , "the Didache may be divided into four clearly distinct parts: a mo

Ben Witherington on Jesus' and Paul's views on Singleness and Marriage

Ben Witherington has profitably written on more areas of the New Testament than most other scholars could hope to accomplish. He has also garnered a deserved reputation as a leading scholar on Acts as well as Paul, which obviously is of much interest to me (see here , here , here , here , here , here , and here ). But I have not had the time to explore another area were Prof. Witherington has established his expertise and that is the role of women in the early Christian movement. Which is why I was pleased to see his latest blog entry , which succinctly summarizes his conclusion on the views of Paul and Jesus on marriage. Prof. Witherington concludes that Paul and Jesus were influenced by their views on eschatology and generally favored more strict rules about marriage than was articulated in the Old Testament. Despite the increased strictness, Paul and Jesus did not maintain the emphasis of the Old Testament that marriage was a requirement. Rather, Prof. Witherington believes th

An upcoming, uplifting movie.

I just stumbled across a preview for a new movie being released in less than two weeks by Sony Pictures entitled The Gospel , starring Clifton Powell, Yolanda Adams, Dwayne Boyd, and Idris Elba, among others. Here is the review from Movie-Source: "The Gospel" explores the inner-workings of a church. Told from the perspective of the pews, the film gives a realistic portrayal of people dealing with true life struggles and issues. Maestro Kirk Franklin helped set the tone by writing music for the film's performance sequences. In fusing some of the biggest names in gospel music today, with several of the most talented thespians in Hollywood, the film offers a helping of inspirationally uplifting entertainment for the entire family. While based on the biblical parable of The Prodigal Son, the picture provides a universal theme that can be enjoyed by all. The songs available for listening on the official movie site by Gospel artists Yolanda Adams, Fred Adams and Martha Munizzi

New Existence of God Page at the Cadre Site

I have revamped the Existence of God page at the Christian Cadre site, reformatting it, adding new categories (such as the "Hiddenness of God" and "Debates on the Existence of God"), and adding many new links to powerful arguments for God's existence. Please check it and out and let me know if you have any other ideas for the page. I also added a short article I wrote about the relationship between morality and God, Is It Possible to be Good Without God? The gist of the article is that it is of course possible to do good acts without a belief on God but that it is much more difficult to maintain that there is anything such as "good" and "evil" without a transcendent source, such as God, for moral belief.

What Universe is this guy living in?

This isn't really apologetics related, but when I read the following in a story entitled A hurricane strips off Bush's teflon by Marvin Kalb for the International Herald Tribune dated Wednesday, September 28, 2005, I was astounded. Suddenly, as if the flood waters had smashed not only the levees in New Orleans but the teflon-protected presidency of George W. Bush, networks and newspapers have again found their voice. An embarrassing four-year period of media deference to the president and his policies has ended. For the first time since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, when an understandable feeling of patriotism induced timid coverage of White House policy in Afghanistan and Iraq, journalists have now returned to their traditional role as fearless chroniclers of the passing parade, blasting the administration for its tardy, ineffective response to the hurricane. Indeed, they have even gone beyond their traditional role. Instead of acting like deferential, yet objective stenogra

Pennock says what you'd expect

In the trial of the Pennsylvania case where the idea of Intelligent Design being merely exposed to the students is being challenged, Robert Pennock testified that Intelligent Design fails to set forth a method. According to the AP Story : The concept of "intelligent design" is a form of creationism and is not based on scientific method, a professor testified Wednesday in a trial over whether the idea should be exposed to public school students in science class. Robert T. Pennock, a professor of science and philosophy at Michigan State University, testified on behalf of families who sued the Dover Area School District. He said supporters of intelligent design don't offer evidence to support their idea. "As scientists go about their business, they follow a method," Pennock said. "Intelligent design wants to reject that and so it doesn't really fall within the purview of science." Pennock, for those who have never heard of him, isn't a neutral pla

Bridget Loves Bernie -- A good idea?

Today's MSN Lifestyle section has an article entitled Faith in Marriage: Is a common spiritual bond critical to marital health and happiness? By Carol Mithers. In the article, Ms. Mithers notes: Faith -- belief in the judgment and authority of a higher power -- can have a powerful positive influence on the marital bond, research has shown. David Popenoe, PhD, professor of sociology at Rutgers University, in New Brunswick, New Jersey, and codirector of the National Marriage Project, sees being "answerable to a higher authority" as "vital" for a strong marriage. In part, faith has this power because belief in God often also means a belief that marriage itself is sacred. The conviction that, as Liz Hammer puts it, "this is a commitment we made before God, so divorce isn't an option" can give couples both emotional security and an incentive to keep their relationship strong. Back in 1972, there was (according to the news) a collective sigh of shock an

Why Does God Want Our Worship?

I have heard it asked more than once why God would want to be worshipped by His creatures. Why does it matter to Him if we love Him or ignore Him? While it is true that God is self sufficient, and therefore not in need of anything from His creatures, I do not think it all that surprising that He would wish to have a personal relationship with us, and that this relationship be based on mutual love, as well as our trust and devotion to Him. Perhaps the most common analogy used to describe God's relationship to humankind is that of a parent to his or her children. This analogy has taken on a new meaning for me since my own children have been born, and I would like to speak to it from this angle from personal experience. When my each of my sons turned about 2 or 3, I noticed a very distinct shift in the way he demonstrated his love for me. He now definitely knew who I was, that I was Dad, and that I existed not just to do things for him and meet his needs, but also that his greatest

A Quote for Use by Apologists

"I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use." -- Galileo Galilei True.

Scientists and Technicians

"When most people say 'scientist', they mean 'technician'. A technician is a highly trained person whose job is to apply known techniques and principles. He deals with the known. A scientist is a person who seeks to know the true nature of physical reality. He deals with the unknown. * * * "The fact is that most 'scientists' are technicians. They are not interested in the essentially new. Their field of vision is relatively narrow; their energies are directed towards applying what is already known. Because their noses often are buried in the bark of a particular tree, it is difficult to speak meaningfully to them of forests." Zukav, Gary The Dancing Wu Li Masters (1979) p.36. Now compare: "But mainstream scientists say that the claims of intelligent design run counter to a century of research supporting the explanatory and predictive power of Darwinian evolution, and that the design approach suffers from fundamental problems that place it out

The Omniscience of God and Hebrews 13

In an earlier post, I posted eight reasons that I believe show that the Bible teaches that God has exhaustive future knowledge . Andrew, a friend and the author of the blog Theo Geek , stated that my reasoning was completely unsound. While Andrew is a friend and a Christian, we don't always see eye to eye on matters of theology (which, of course, disproves the common contention of skeptics that Christians don't think for themselves), and I wanted to take up the issues more singularly in depth. Since responding to all of his arguments in a single post would be a monumental task (going well beyond the length of the typical blog), I will start with this first issue and see where it goes. My first argument: God is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13). If God doesn't know something, then he can learn something. If he is a learning God then he becomes different as the result of having learned something and He is not the same yesterday, today and forever. Andrew'

New Additions to the CADRE Apologetics Audio Page

Today, I added all of the following to the Audio page . Bethinking -- Bethinking is a new apologetics initiative of uccf:thechristianunions. Biblical Training --Biblical Training provides the finest in Christian evangelical teaching to the world, for free, forever. "This is teaching you can trust." Discovery Institute TV & Radio Interviews with CSC Fellows -- A frequently updated page containing the most recent interviews and television or radio appearances for members of the Discovery Institute's Center for Science and Culture. Trinity Foundation Lectures -- A selection of MP3 lecture series gathered by webpage editor John Robbins ranging from lectures on economics, to theology, to apologetics, to logic, to philosophy. Unchained Radio -- Most of the day, Unchained Radio carries some of the finest Christian alternative rock around, but it also has a large assortment of radio programs archived on a large variety of topics, several debates, and hosts the Atheist Ho

The Myth of Columbus' Fight Against the Anti-Science Church

Popular lore has it that in the 1400s, the world was convinced by the teachings of the Christian church (which teachings were based on the Bible) that the earth was flat. Christopher Columbus, a man of vision, sought to establish that the world was round by sailing West to arrive in the Far East. The nations of the world, it is said, laughed at him because they knew that the world was flat and that one could not sail west without falling off the edge of the world! This lore is portrayed in such places as the Carnaval website , where it says: When Columbus set sail the common belief was that the earth was like platter floating in an Ocean of the Universe and that venturing to far would mean falling off the edge into darkness and perhaps boiling water or unknown monsters who would easily consume you. It can also be found in the following from the Daily Pricetonian : Christopher Columbus was a courageous visionary. In a time when most people thought the world was flat, he staked his reput

Thank God for Organized Religion

"Organized religion" often gets a bad rap. I have even heard many Christians complain about how "organized religion" is not what Jesus intended and turns people off to God rather than into disciples. My usual, admittedly glib, response is that I will take organized religion over disorganized religion anyday. In the wake of Katrina, Anne Kim at her new blog Heart, Mind, Soul & Strength shows how having "organized religion" allows the Church to fulfill its mission and show God's love to the world. Anne is, like me, a Houstonian. But she has the benefit of still residing in Houston. Anne has stepped forward like many thousands of other church goers, to volunteer in providing relief to the refugees from New Orleans. Most recently, Anne has volunteered at the Astrodome, where she made the following observation about the advantages of organized religion: After the initial scramble to get everyone situated here in Houston, things have settled int

Scapegoat to the World: Israel and the Hard-Left

Yesterday's National Post contained an article from professor Alan Dershowitz criticizing "[T]he hard left's compulsive need to single out Israel for what is often undeserved condemnation (which is) damaging to the anti-war movement, and wounding other progressive causes such as feminism." To make his point Dershowitz cites the recent Amnesty International report Israel and the Occupied Territories Conflict, occupation and Patriarchy: Women carry the burden . In it he makes a damning case against AI, exposing inexcusable accusations and conclusions. For example, in Section 6: Occupation, conflict and patriarchy: Increased pressures and violence against women we are told: "Palestinian women and human rights organizations, community and social workers, counsellors, physicians and other professionals, are concerned that violence against women in the family has increased in the past four and a half years, as the deterioration of the security and economic situation

The Speeches of Acts

I have done some revising to Wikipedia's entry on the Acts of the Apostles. In addition to adding a few external links, I revised the section on the Speeches in Acts. Though some may conclude that Christians naively believe these are exhaustive transcripts of the entire speech, it is just as naive to simply dismiss them as the author's free creation. Different ancient writers had different practices when it came to "recording" speeches, but the ideal was likely for the writer to use sources if he had them and to impart the sense of what was actually said. Some ancient writers even criticized others for taking too much liberty in writing speeches. In an article hosted at the Christian CADRE site I provide additional reasons for believing that the author of Acts followed the more conservative route in recording speeches. That is, although he probably did not provide exhaustive transcripts he did use sources to tell us the sense of what was said.

Does God's Omnipotence Mean He Knows the Future?

This past weekend, a dear friend and I got into a discussion about the extent of God's omniscience. We explored whether the church's traditional idea that God knows the future can be squared with Scripture. Now, if you are not philosophically minded, there is one major problem that arises from God "knowing the future", i.e., the future hasn't happened yet. How is it that God can "know" something if it hasn't happened? The view that I adopted through the discussion is that we don't need to have an answer to that question for two reasons: first, we don't know enough about how God views things to do more than give arguments as to whether God is outside of time therefore having a non-time bound view of history, or whether God is in time and has perfect and exhaustive knowledge of all possible contingencies making his knowledge identical with knowing the future, or some other yet unnamed alternatives. Second, the Bible, which is God's revelati

ID and the New Republic

The August 22&29 edition of The New Republic has an article entitled "The Faith that Dare Not Speak Its Name" by Jerry Coyne. This article contains vertually every fallacy, false assumption, and error made against the Intelligent Design argument, making it a good case study for reviewing these objections. The opening of the article highlights the first two fallaciesy Coyne uses are called Poisoning the Well ("[T]his sort of "reasoning" involves trying to discredit what a person might later claim by presenting unfavorable information (be it true or false) about the person."), and Guilt by association In this case Coyne connects the defenders of ID with Christian "creationists". It is obvious from the article that Christians are not Coyne's "type of folks", but the "Creationist" kind are certainly the worst. Here is what Coyne wrote in his opening paragraph: Exactly eighty years after the Scopes "monkey trial&

National Day of Prayer

We have just had one of the worst natural disasters in our nation's history when Hurricane Katrina slammed on the shore hitting the Gulf Coast states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. All three suffered extensive damages with more than 800 people killed and more than 480,000 homes destroyed. Truly, all people are (or should be) saddened over this type of devastation and loss of life. In the great tradition of our founding fathers and the great presidents throughout our nation's history, President Bush has called on the country to observe a national day of prayer in this troubled time. "Throughout our history in times of testing, Americans have come together in prayer to heal and ask for strength for the tasks ahead. So I've declared Friday, September the 16th, as a National Day of Prayer and Remembrance. I ask that we pray -- as Americans have always prayed in times of trial -- with confidence in His purpose, with hope for a brighter future, and with the humility

Establishing Atheism?

The recent Federal courts decision by Judge Lawrence Karlton declaring the words "Under God" unconstitutional for "establishing a religion" both appauls me because of the reasoning behind the law and doesn't surprise me at all considering the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is the most liberal court in the "United" States of America. I'm dismayed because if the words referencing God were seriously unconstitutional, then all American currency that says "In God We Trust" are immoral by definition and ought to be destroyed and replaced. But this debate is NOT just about the two words "Under God" in our nations pledge. It is about a minute group of atheists who forsee, at a foundational level, contrary to classical and historical American thought on how religious freedom ought to be implemented on governmental grounds, educational system, and in civilian life. Can you imagine what would happen if this took place in a Muslim country?

Of Babel Fish and God

Back in early July I offered a post citing the wit and wisdom of atheist Douglas Adams in his book, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: A Trilogy in Four Parts . There I discussed the bleak and pessimistic view of the meaning of Life, the Universe, and Everything found in materialistic naturalism, because, of course, if materialism is true, then there is none. In this post I want to cite Adams again, this time with regards to the argument over Intelligent Design. Considering the Hitch Hiker's Guide was largely written back in the 50's and 60's as a radio program, long before ID debates became all the rage, his insights are rather interesting, and shed, I believe, some light on the difficulty the advocates face in trying to convince people that evidence of intelligent design points to an intelligent designer of some sort. Adams takes some time to discuss the existence of an amazing creature known as the Babel fish, and why its existence disproves the existence of Go

On the Public Acknowledgement of Religion

Anyone interested in whether the founding fathers would have agreed with the court striking down the words "under God" from the Pledge of Allegiance should peruse the following page written by History Professor Clayton Cramer (author of Clayton Cramer's Blog ) entitled "One Nation, Under God" . In the paper, Professor Cramer gives a number of examples from the earliest days of American history where the founders specifically approved the acknowledgement of God by the government. Of course, if you are an advocate for the "living constitution" where the meaning of the words changes from generation to generation, you probably don't care what the Constitution was intended to mean. Pity.

What Jesus' Birth May Have Looked Like

From What Jesus' Birth May Have Looked Like by Anita Gates: Even some conservative Christians are willing to allow that the Nativity scene presented in church pageants and Christmas decorations may not be absolutely accurate. That means the shepherds, three wise men bearing gifts, Mary and Joseph, their baby son (lying in a manger), a couple of angels and maybe a star overhead. "The Birth," the first episode of the National Geographic Channel's "Science of the Bible," which has its premiere tonight, sets out to determine what Jesus' birth really looked like. It takes the job seriously, with responsible interpretations of ancient history and intriguing historical possibilities. "Much of the nativity story we know comes from later writings, folk tales that never even made it into the Bible," the narrator says. The only mention of Mary's riding a donkey, for instance, is from the Infancy Gospel of James, a second- or third-century text read b