Contents
FORUM 1. 2
Question #1. 2
The element of the canon that is most important to this writer is element one. 2
Question # 2. 2
Later Acceptance. 3
Forum.. 3
Question 1: The Three Quests. 3
Two Contemporary Challenges. 4
Question 2: The Criteria of Authenticity (COA). 4
Forum 3. 5
Question # 1: Synoptic What are the Synoptic Gospels?. 5
“Synoptic Problem”. 5
Forum # 4. 6
Question # 1: How important is the book of Acts in this [the Chronology of Paul] procedure?. 6
Paul’s Journeys. 7
Question 2: Who sparked the “New Perspective” on Paul, and what is the title of his major work?. 7
What is the label this scholar affixed to first-century Judaism?. 7
What has the “New Perspective” correctly emphasized, and how should it be critiqued?. 7
Critique. 7
Explain Paul’s basic gospel message. 8
Forum #5. 8
Question 1: 8
Occasion and purpose of 1 & 2 Thessalonians. 8
Opponents in Thessalonica. 8
Opponents’ teaching and Paul’s response. 8
Question 2. 9
Interactions. 9
What events led to the writing of 2 Corinthians?. 10
FORUM # 6. 10
Questions 1. 10
Ephesians: Occasion. 10
Ephesians: Purpose. 10
Question # 2; Why did Paul write these letters?. 11
1 and 2 Timothy & Titus: The Occasion. 11
Timothy the Occasion. 11
Titus The Occasion. 11
I, 2 Timothy & Titus Purpose. 11
Timothy the Purpose. 11
Titus the Purpose. 12

 

FORUM 1

Question #1

The word “kanon”, is derived from its Hebrew equivalent “kaneh” and means a “rule or “standard” (KKQ, 3). Today the word canon describes the Christian Scripture as a whole.  The text pointed out the relevance and importance of the timeline and closure of the canon as being, “moot” (KKQ, 3). The fact that the New Testament (NT) canon was closed the date the last book of the was written solidifies this point; however, the NT canon began with the writing of the first books in the late forties and concluded sometime in the latter part of the first century (KKQ, 3). The Christian church did not recognize most of the NT as “Scripture” until the late second century (KKQ, 7).

The four listed of criteria of canonicity were; (1) “was apostolicity, that is, direct or indirect association of a given work with an apostle”; (2) “The second criterion was orthodoxy; that is, whether a given writing conformed to the church’s ‘rule of faith”; (3) “The third criterion was the book’s antiquity”, and (4) “ecclesiastical usage” (KKQ, 8. 9, 10).

 

The supplication for books that “conformed to” the teachings of the apostles was needed for study and congregational worship; this spurred the establishment of an “authoritative list of Scripture” (KKQ, 8).

 

The element of the canon that is most important to this writer is element one.

The early church needed unification of thought and doctrine as members were fulfilling the great commission. They needed to be clear and unified gospel message.  Element one established eyewitness confirmation or personal teaching from The Lord.

The least important element, not that this writer believes that any of the elements are unimportant, would be the last element. This element lends itself to “popular acceptance of a book’ becoming part of a popularity contest rather than being a book inspired by God for spiritual edification. This concern is one that the church is currently experiencing.  The culture of the times indicates that the same need for “mental titillation” existed then. Paul stated, “For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal (1 Cor3:4-6 NIV)?”

 

Question # 2

The traditional evangelical position affirms God’s inerrant authorship of the canon through the Holy Spirit was settled by the early church fathers and that its closure occurred when the last book of the NT was written (KKQ, 3, 4).  The Christian position also believes in the inerrancy of Scripture.

 

Contrary to traditional evangelical thought, recent scholastic developments indicated that scriptural documents existed then even if they were not included in the original canon because the canon was not closed until the third or fourth century when the church councils made the formal announcement of its closure; this thought negates inerrancy and the authority of Almighty God in the canonicity of Scripture (KKQ, 2, 14)

 

Sundberg proposed that the OT was not closed in the first or second century due to evidentiary proof of the completion date being the fourth century; he also iterated that the early church received the OT canon before the establishment of the acceptance of the statutory criteria (KKQ, 13).

 

Later Acceptance

Hebrews, James, 2 Peter, 2-3 John, Jude, and Revelation were slower to receive universal acceptance (KKQ, 3). The delayed acceptance of the book of James was a surprise.  His discourse on Christian living somewhat mirrored the beatitudes. Relationally it addressed OT teachings on our responsibilities to each other. The late acceptance of the book of Revelation was not surprising.  The reader must be proficient in their understanding of OT prophecies to grasp this book.

 

 

Bibliography

Köstenberger, Andreas J., L. Scott Kellum, and Charles L. Quarles. The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown. Nashville: B & H Pub. Group, 2009, Google Books.

 

Forum

Question 1: The Three Quests

The first quest was initiated by Reimarus’ and presented a Jesus that mirrored the mindset of the questers who presented him as a man who taught about the brotherhood of man, the fatherhood of God, and a death that was self-giving rather than redemptive (KKQ, 111). It emphasized the “Jesus of History” and ended in the first decade of the twentieth century: source criticism was the tool of inquiry (111).

“The Abandoned Quest” (1906-1953) spearheaded by Schweitzer’s book entitled “The Quest of the Historical Jesus” utilized “form criticism” as it research tool and deemed the historical Jesus an unnecessary appendage, but emphasized a Jesus of Faith (KKQ, 116). This quest had no theological significance (KKQ, 116).

The students of  Bultmann began the second quest 1954 and used noncanonical documents as its research base; it is still ongoing (KKQ, 113). Mack and Crossan, proponents of this quest, presented Jesus as a “cynical, nonapocalyptic, subversive, who was a social reformer” (KKQ, 116). The tools of redaction and tradition criticism were used instead of form criticism as in the “Abandoned Quest, or source criticism utilized in the first quest (KKQ, 116).  The research community has not accepted the theological construct of this quest (KKQ, 116).

The third quest, launched in 1965 by Caird, formulated a construct of Jesus as “an actual historical figure” placed within the cultural context of first century Judaism (KKQ, 114). The researchers directed the process through the use of “Social-scientific and a retooled tradition criticism” (KKQ, 116). The deity of Jesus was not an important part of this research ideology. The concept behind the research was theologically neutral (KKQ, 116).

Two Contemporary Challenges

Jesus the Sage: Witherington proposed that Jesus a sage or teacher of wisdom, “who regarded himself as the embodiment or incarnation of God’s Wisdom” (KKQ, 121).  The evidence offered included a discourse on a deity that “pre-existed man, created, and came to earth to call God’s people to repentance, was accepted by some and rejected by others, and returned to heaven” (KKQ, 122).  KKQ asserted that Witherington’ did not extend the construct enough; it needed more evidentiary proof (122).

Jesus the Marginal Jew: Meirer presented Jesus as a carpenter who abandoned his profession and proclaimed himself a prophetic iterant minister who did not adhere to the Jewish customs Judaic practices of his religious sect (KKQ, 122). Meirer proffered his execution demonstrated that he was considered marginal by both the political and religious leaders of his time (122).

Accurate historical information is used for research and aids in the reliability of the Gospel message.  However, researchers use historical data based on their own assumptions, but believers walk by faith.

 

Question 2: The Criteria of Authenticity (COA).

  1. Multiple Attestation or Forms: materials are authentic and found in more than one source.
  2. Palestinian Environment or Language: literal translation of Semitic Idiom into Greek.
  3. Dissimilarity: Sayings or deeds attributed to Jesus are dissimilar to the expected Judaic practice of His day.
  4. Coherence: early and authentic if judged consistent with material based on other criteria (KKQ, 152).

These criteria aid in the establishment of the historical reliability of the Gospels’ presentation of Jesus activities such as exorcisms, miracles, and culminating in his resurrection (KKQ, 153). The burden of proof was placed on the Gospel material (152).From a philosophical construct, utilizing the tools of COA) to defend the historical Gospel lends authenticity to the argument.  Critics accept evidence provided by researchers and do not require “belief” on their part.

 

 

Forum 3

Question # 1: Synoptic What are the Synoptic Gospels?

 

The Synoptic Gospels are the books of “Matthew, Mark, and Luke” (KKQ, 158; BB, 45).  Historical researchers considered them “synoptic” because there are so many “similarities” between the writers’ presentations of the “life, teachings, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ” that researchers concluded that the Gospels must have a correlation between the writers (158).

 

 “Synoptic Problem” 

 

The “Synoptic Problem” refers to the “unique literary phenomenon” of similarities and differences between the gospels of Matthew, Mark, and Luke (BB. 3; KKQ, 158).

 

 Do the differences found in the Synoptic Gospels present a threat to their validity for understanding the ministry and teachings of Jesus Christ or the historical events concerning his life and resurrection?

 

The differences do not constitute a threat to the validity or reliability of the Synoptic Gospels presentation of the history, ministry, and teachings of Jesus Christ. According to KKQ “early non-Christian sources” lend credibility to the historical existence of Jesus Christ, his teachings, and ministry (110). Regardless of the theory utilized to determine which Gospel was written first, second, or third, neither hypothesis negates the fact that Jesus came as the Savior of humanity, completed His ordained purpose, and is the resurrected Savior (BB, 10-20, 140-143). Employing the “Criteria of Authenticity” to facilitate the validity/reliability of the Synoptic Gospels proffered historical evidence of the existence of Jesus Christ (KKQ, 153). 

Question #2 

Define the following terms and explain from whom they originated:

The Augustinian View: KKQ declared that this view gave priority to Matthew as the writer of the first Gospel; it also proposed that Mark utilized Matthew as a source for his Gospel, and Luke acquired source materials from both Matthew and Mark to write the Gospel of Luke (164). The term originated from “Augustin” and so did “literary dependence” (KKQ, 164; BB, 16-17).

 

Literary Independence: The presented explanation for “literary independence” stated that authors of the Gospels wrote independently of each other under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit which is consistent with the inerrancy of the Gospel (BB, 19; KKQ, 164).  Literary independence also demonstrates the Gospel writers’ fidelity as they reported what they saw concerning the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of The Lord (KKQ, 164).  KKQ does not consider “literary independence” to account for the similarities in the literary content of the Gospel writers (164). Neither BB nor KKQ identified a theorist for this term.

 

Markan Priority: This priority determined that Mark wrote his Gospel first, and Matthew and Luke utilized it to write their Gospel. Some points of reference to support this hypothesis are: 

  1. The fact that Mark is a “shorter Gospel”;
  2. Mark offered Aramaic phraseology that is absent in the others writer’s Gospels 
  3. Mark provided some passages that were more challenging to the reader; such as  “Mark 10:17: 19:17” and the other Gospel writers were led to clarify them.
  4. Matthew and Luke rarely argued against Mark in phraseology (KKQ, 167).

The Two-Gospel Hypothesis (or “Theory”) “or Oxford Hypothesis”: J. J. Griesbach is the author of this theory. He advanced a theoretical construct of Matthew is the first Gospel, but Luke was second and did not use Mark as his source material (KKQ, 164-165). Moreover, he further contended that Mark wrote the last Gospel and used Matthew and Luke as artifacts from which Mark penned The Gospel of Mark; this is the reverse of the Augustine theory (BB, 46-48; KKQ, 164-165).  Contemporary researchers who support Griesbach’s theory iterated that Luke developed his Gospel utilizing Matthew (KKQ, 165). This theory should not be confused with the “Two-Document Hypothesis” and demonstrates literary interdependence (KKQ, 164).

 

Forum # 4
Question # 1: How important is the book of Acts in this [the Chronology of Paul] procedure?

The book of Acts provided additional material for dating Paul’s persecution of the church, his conversion, the beginning of his missionary journeys, the beginning of his mission to the Gentiles, his visit to Jerusalem. Offer a brief overview of Paul’s life and his missionary activities (KKQ, 397-398).  [All references in this section are from KKQ.]

As previously stated, Paul was a Roman Jew and a Pharisee, and well versed in the law due to his training under Gamaliel (Acts 22:3 NIV). His relentless persecution of the Church did not convey his teacher’s position on the followers of Christ, but it denoted his zeal for the law (Acts 5:34-39; Phil 3:5-6). His conversion occurred around during 34-36 AD (390). Paul’s historic visit to Jerusalem and acceptance by Peter and James happened three years after his conversion; the missionary journey to Syria and Cilicia followed this historic visit to Peter and James (391).

Paul’s missionary travels spanned between 34-58 AD (392). First Paul visited Arabia and experienced his first push-back to The Gospel; He returned to Damascus but avoided imprisonment due to the accusations of the Jews (392). Paul went to Jerusalem and visited with Peter and James – it is probable that he learned about Jesus’ life, ministry, death and resurrection from them (392). The next journey took him to Syria and Cilicia where he witnessed for several years (392).

Paul’s Journeys

  1. First Missionary Journey (47-48) to Pisidia, Antioch, Iconium, Pystra, and Derbe located in Galatia from where he probably penned the letter to the Galatians (392).
  2. Second Missionary Journey (49-51): Paul traveled through Anatolia, Macedonia, and Achaia; and created churches in Philippi, Thessalonica, and Berea after his disagreement with Barnabas due to Mark’s abandonment of the team during their first missionary journey (393; Acts 15:38). KKQ documented that several of the Pauline letters addressed to the Gentile churches were written during this period (393).
  3. Third Missionary Journey (51-54): Paul focused on Ephesus during these years and the books of Romans and 1 and 2 Corinthians (393-394).
  4. Paul’s final years included relief work for Jerusalem; his trial before Felix, his arrival in Rome where he wrote the books of Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, I and II Timothy, Titus and Philemon (395). Church tradition dictated that Nero beheaded Paul (396).
Question 2: Who sparked the “New Perspective” on Paul, and what is the title of his major work?

KKQ identified Sanders as the scholar who sparked the “New Perspective” when he wrote, “Paul and Palestinian Judaism” (KKQ, 379).

What is the label this scholar affixed to first-century Judaism?

“Covenantal nomism” is the label that E. P. Sanders attached to first-century Judaism (379).

What has the “New Perspective” correctly emphasized, and how should it be critiqued?

The “New Perspective” correctly emphasized early Christianity’s “contextual relationship” with Judaism; warned against “presumptive/misleading caricatures” of Judaic beliefs; some first-century Jews may have embraced the “works-righteousness for salvation (386). It is best not to generalize and group “everyone” in just “one pot.”

Critique

Sanders’ attempt to find a single “pattern of religion” in first-century Judaism sometimes led him to downplay the vast differences between various sects and theological perspectives within Judaism” (KKQ, 383). Critique of this perspective would require exegesis of Paul’s letters that provide evidentiary proof or refutation of the above assertions.

Explain Paul’s basic gospel message

Paul’s Gospel rendered humanity guilty of rejecting God and his authority’ the impact of universal sin; the only avoidance of God’s just judgment was acceptance of Jesus Christ through faith, not works (396). The Gospel of Paul focused on the incarnate Jesus who fulfilled the requirements of the Judaic law; adherence to the law was no longer necessary due to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (396). The deity of Christ and the unity of the Godhead was also evident in Paul’s Gospel; one body, one spirit, one Lord and one faith (397).

Forum #5
Question 1:

 

Discuss the occasion and purpose for the writing of 1 & 2 Thessalonians. Who were the opponents of Paul in Thessalonica? What was the nature of the opponents’ teaching and how did Paul respond to it? Should church leaders today apply Paul’s responses in their respective ministries? If so, how?

Occasion and purpose of 1 & 2 Thessalonians

 

KKQ cited several reasons for the first letter to Thessalonians: (1)Encouragement to endure the persecution”; (2) a defense of Paul’s rationale for his mission to the area; (3) an expression of the urgency of spiritual purity and a life free from sexual immorality ; (4) to provide the Thessalonian Church with a picture of what a “Christian work ethic” looked like finally (5) an admonishment to the believers of their financial responsibility to the leaders of the faith (445).

The second letter qualified the construct of “The Day of the Lord” and it significance for believers; exhortations regarding the necessity of prayer, and a revalidation of the concern regarding idleness (447-448; 2 Thes 3.11).

Opponents in Thessalonica

 

Acts 17:5 asserted that the opponents were Jews; however they incited the “bad characters” to escalate the dissension when they, “formed a mob and started a riot in the city.” (KKQ, 443).

Opponents’ teaching and Paul’s respond

 

The opponents asserted that Paul’s mission was self-motivated; the opponents alluded that Paul abandoned the fledgling church after he caused a riot even though the persecuted church needed the apostle (471). The detractors criticized him for leaving the church to endure the persecution that started because of the riot initiated by Paul started (KKQ, 471).

Paul apparently learned from Timothy that some opponents of the church were challenging the motives of the ministry.  Paul responded by expressing his love for the congregation; expression of love alleviated the congregants’ fears (KKQ, 451). Paul thanked God for the Thessalonian church; the apostle referenced their love of God and obedience by destroying their idols; their election as God’s people was peppered by miracles, thus solidifying the work of the Holy Spirit through the apostle in Thessalonica.

Question 2

Describe the various interactions of Paul with the church in Corinth (include both visits and letters). What events caused his writing of 1 Corinthians? What events led to the writing of 2 Corinthians? What are the three major theories concerning Paul’s opponents in 2 Corinthians? Using Paul as an example, should Christian leaders today respond to their opponents in this way? Why or why not? What principles do you think we can learn from Paul in dealing with church conflict?

KKQ documented the sequence of Paul’s journeys and letters as follows:

  1. First visit: Paul planted the church in Corinth
  2. Paul wrote the “previous letter.”
  3. Paul wrote 1 Corinthians from Ephesus in
  4. Second visit: the “painful visit.”
  5. Paul wrote the “severe letter.”
  6. Paul wrote 2 Corinthians from Macedonia
  7. Third visit (Acts 20:2) (470).
Interactions

Paul established the Corinthian church during his “second missionary journey” (471).  According to KKQ, scholars purport that Paul wrote other letters to the leaders in Corinth (464).  KKQ indicated that the letters were personal letters of instruction, direction and or exhortation to the spiritual leaders in Corinth (464). Scholars attest that I Cor is a compilation of ten letters written by the apostle due to the “fragmentary” nature of the prose; however, Paul was addressing specific points of contention and fluidity of prose would not be evident due to the nature of the discourse (466). While in Ephesus, Paul received “oral” reports of immorality, dysfunctionality, division, and factions in the church; Paul penned 1 Cor to address these concerns (474).  2 Cor praised the church for solving the concerns raised in the first letter (464). It postulated a defense of the “apostolic” nature of Paul’s authority over the church and detailed the theology of the “new covenant,” encouraged “sacrificial giving” to the relief effort, and challenged the claims of false apostles” (464).

What events led to the writing of 2 Corinthians?

The book of 2 Corinthians purposed to; (1) encourage the Corinthians for the manner with which they handled his directives in the first letter and (2) to defend his apostleship (482). Furthermore, it was written to (3)  ensure the Corinthians that he was not inconsistent in keeping his word and would indeed be visiting them; (3) to restore a member who had experienced church discipline, and finally to encourage the Corinthians to examine the authenticity of their faith (482).

“Unless otherwise stated all references are from KKQ and the New International Version of the Bible.”

Unless otherwise noted, all biblical passages referenced are in the New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2015)

FORUM # 6
Questions 1

Discuss the occasion and purpose for the writing of two of Paul’s letters from Prison (Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon). Who were the opponents (if any) of Paul in these areas? What was the nature of the opponents’ doctrine and how did Paul respond to it?

 Ephesians: Occasion

KKQ expressed that the occasion for the letter to the Ephesians is not clearly identifiable (580). However, C. E. Arnold specified that the pagan practices of the Asia Minor region would “necessitate” guidance for living a Christ-centered lifestyle (C. E. Arnold as cited by  KKQ, 588).

Ephesians: Purpose

Scholars agree that the purpose of Ephesians defined “cosmic reconciliation” in Christ while addressing the need for a unified church that demonstrated a clearly Christian ethic while recognizing the need for an awareness of spiritual warfare in a society plagued with paganism (589). The body of the letter proffers an explanation of the unity of the Godhead mirrored in the congregation; and Paul’s doxology once again reiterates the theme of unity (590-591; Eph 3:18 and 21). This letter defined the nature of the church, the place of the Trinity or “trinitarian ecclesiology”, as well as the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and the unity afforded through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (597).

 Question # 2; Why did Paul write these letters?

Paul wrote these letters for the expressed purpose of providing his apostolic delegates (Timothy and Titus)  with the instruction needed to navigate the stormy waters of threats from without and within, as well as preparing both delegates for the roles of  “apostolic delegates” (KKQ, 637). The theme of the letters is securing the church for the “postapostolic” period of church history (Ibid). KKQ postulated the historical importance of pastoral letters; the letters presented the framework for church governance and administration and the criteria for positional leadership within the church. It is apparent that Paul was aware that the pastoral letters, though not written to Timothy or Titus as pastors, would be his last communique of this type to his delegates (638).

For the sake of space, the occasion and purpose for the pastorals will be combined

1 and 2 Timothy & Titus: The Occasion
Timothy the Occasion

 

Paul admonished Timothy to address the false teachers and specifically identified Hymenaeus and Alexander (1:3-11; 2:1-316). The same Judaic concerns with the eating of meats were evident in 1 Tim 4. Myths and fables were also a concern addressed 1 Tim 4 as it pertains to the latter days. The threat of the false teachers was not a basic one Paul addressed it more than once as he concluded letter. 3:14-16 spoke of Timothy’s demeanor and role as a leader: Paul’s parting words to him were to avoid controversy and espouse to the simplicity of the gospel, “God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory” (3:16). KKQ referenced that Paul’s intention was to refute the heresies (KKQ, 664)

Titus The Occasion

 

Titus’ biggest challenge was from Judaic influences; specifically about circumcision (Titus 1:10).  Titus also had a need to appoint qualified elders, but he was opposed but the Cretans (KKQ, 658).
I, 2 Timothy & Titus Purpose
Timothy the Purpose

 

1 Timothy was directed to handle the congregational concerns of prayer for all men, leadership within the church, the role of women in the church, how one should conduct themselves, and the qualifications of male overseers, deacons, and to prevent certain people from preaching doctrine (647). 2 Timothy’s purpose was to preach the Christian gospel (KKQ 647-648).

Titus the Purpose

 

Titus: Titus’ dictum was “to appoint elders in every town”; Titus received various instructions on how to correct the enemies of the gospel while keeping himself stayed above the fray (KKQ, 647). Titus delivered the apostle’s directive of Christian deportment “adorn the teaching of God our Savior in everything” (2:10);  to devote themselves to “every good work” and adherence to the Christian doctrines  (3:1: KKQ, 647).

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LIBERTY UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF DIVINITY

John Walton, Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament:

Introducing the Conceptual World of the Hebrew Bible

Submitted to Dr. David Maas

in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the completion of

OBST 510 – DO2 Old Testament Introduction

by Joyce Gerald April 10th, 2016

 

Chapter 1

Walton commenced the discourse in chapter one by presenting the early history and methodology of comparative studies as well as the contributions of the early Assyriologists. Walton also noted the impact of a specific anti-Christian anti-Semitic Assyriologists Delitzsch who presented a series of lectures that questioned the veracity of the Bible (15-17). Walton prefaced that Delitzsch’s work changed the tenor of the study of Assyriology and how critical scholarship used of Assyriology to refute the Bible. Next Walton defined the methodology of comparative studies as an area of cultural studies that “attempts to draw data from different segments of the broader culture in time and or space, into juxtaposition with one another to assess what might be learned from one to enhance the understand of another” (18). Walton continued by presenting confessional scholars’ opposition toward the construct and its potential of opening skepticism and questioning the validity of the Bible compared with acceptance of comparative studies by critical scholars as a means of proving the “veracity” of the Bible (19). Walton pointed out the importance of place in time, the culture, the milieu and purpose of a document when conducting comparative studies (20-21).

Walton stressed that the meaning of phrases or words change over time and will lead to misinterpretation of the text (20). Walton clarified that the method of choice when determining the reliability of ANE text, involved comparisons of similarities, differences, uniqueness, distinctiveness, and iconology to foster a deeper understanding of the text and proffer a valid evaluation (22-24). Walton posited that the foundations of comparative studies were an interest in particular attributes of an event; however, scholars are now interested in the interpretation as well as the cultural facets of the events (25). Walton listed ten important principles as well as four goals that students must initiate while conducting comparative studies (27-28).

Chapter 2

Walton continued the presentation of comparative studies by revealing the impact of comparative studies on scholarship and theology and the two methods used to engage in comparative studies (29). The scientific study that conducted an inspection of historical and literary particulars and the confessional study that viewed and accepted literary text as presented (29). Walton explained that use of comparative studies by critical scholars resulted in scholars challenging the interpretations and findings of their colleagues thus opening new theories and hypotheses such as Gunkel’s “Sitz im Leben” and Wellhausen’ hypothesis (30-32). Walton expressed that the most prevalent form of comparative study applied to the Bible was polemical.

Next Walton conveyed how confessional scholarship related to the construct of comparative studies. Walton submitted that confessional scholars tend to avoid comparative studies and defended traditional ideologies against critical and comparative interpretations (34). Thus, comparative studies presented multiple challenges to confessional scholars. As an example of the challenges faced by critical scholars, Walton highlighted narratives found in ANE texts that were similar to biblical narratives (34-35). Walton posited that the interpretation of the discoveries led critical scholars to ascertain that the Bible was not original, and it was contrived; therefore, it went from the designation of the divine to human and was, in fact, fictional (35).

Walton cited Assyriologists and Egyptologists who refuted the finding using comparative studies and explained how the integration of comparative studies through three facets provided data for assimilation and accommodation of biblical facts (36). The three areas were a critical analysis, defense of the biblical text and the exegesis of the biblical text. Walton submitted that the critical analysis process would offer a broad range of data points that lead to conclusions that avoided bias (38). The defense of the biblical text is carried out by confessional and non-confessional scholars to “deflect negative criticism” against the reliability of the Bible (39). Lastly, exegesis of biblical text utilizing comparative studies provided a deeper understanding of biblical test and prevents misinterpretation (39-40). Walton concluded part one of the text and began Part 2 Literature of the ANE by summarizing the literature.

Chapter 3

            Walton summarized the literature of the ANE in chapter three, pointed out the type of literature prevalent in the ANE and affirmed the meaning of each type of literature. For example, the term myth connotes numerous meanings in the current century (43). Walton apprised readers that understanding the term within the confines of the time and space of the ANE culture fostered a clearer understanding of the text in question (44). Walton moved forward by explaining the contents of literature unearthed from archeological sites of numerous ANE cultures. Sumerian and Akkadian literary titles, a collection of cosmology texts that chronicles civilization, cities, and people before the flood and Enki and the Ordering of the World were samples of myths discussed by Walton (44-47). Walton presented myths from Egyptian, Hurrian and Ugarit cultures as well as others. Similarities and differences were duly noted. Walton implied that the point of the discussion was not a detailed analysis of the genre juxtaposed with similar stories from the Bible. It was simply a summary of the genre from the ANE. The summary also provided the reader with a clear picture of the religious practices of the area. Walton described the religious or superstitious rites embedded into the culture of the ANE such as divinations, incantations, rites of purification, magical spells, dream omens and celestial omens (44-61). Other types of written texts discussed included letters that represented local and international correspondence between kings and or their subjects and provided details of the culture both domestic and international (62). Royal inscriptions, written on stones, plates, steles, annals, chronicles, treatises, legal documents and legal collections, criminal or civil, provided insight into other written genre from the ANE. Walton also shared the archeological finds of hymns, prayers, prophecy, wisdom literature, archives, fictional autobiographies, and apocalyptic texts (63-83).

Chapter 4

Chapter four explained the concept of gods as perceived by the people of the ANE. Walton contented that the cultures of the ANE did not include a word that meant religion: therefore, everything in the culture was intertwined there was no difference between supernatural and natural (86). Walton revealed that the only matching bifurcation existed between spiritual and physical also the culture was not compartmentalized (87). Walton purported that the mythology of Egypt and Mesopotamia offered finite not infinite, imperfect not perfect, good not morally holy gods like Jehovah and they procreated from previous generations (88). Walton proposed that understanding the theogony, ontology, and cosmogony of the ANE was crucial to understanding the culture and it polytheistic nature compared with the monotheistic culture of Israel (88-97).

Walton ensured that the reader comprehended the vast difference between the Old Testament depiction of Yahweh and the ANE by presenting the divine council that decreed destinies compared with the biblical concept of the unique existence and relational oneness of Yahweh (92-95). Walton also mentioned the salient divine attributes corresponding with the gods. Those attributes were the anthropomorphic features of nature, character, personality these are all basic human traits that solidified the concept that the gods were not better than humans (103). Geographical, geopolitical, cosmically bound, procreative, fallible, emotional, engaged in daily routines and activities and being members of the community continued the thread of the humanness of the gods as presented by Walton (104-105). Walton purported that gods displayed divine attributes of justice [though not competent], wisdom, faithfulness, mercy, and compassion, (105-110). Walton concluded this section with the ANE thought of gods by stating that the ANE considered that all gods were real, and none was fallacious, and all beliefs were acceptable when compared to Israel’s one true Yahweh and one belief system (102-112).

Chapter 5

Chapter five chronicled the purpose of temples as the place of residence marked with the image of the god and represented the gods’ heavenly domain, but were not a place of worship (113). Walton postulated that rituals were performed to acquire the gods’ approval of the icons that adjourned the walls of the temples and connected the spiritual world to the physical world (113-114). Walton compared the iconism with the Christian concept of the inspiration of Scripture (114). Walton purported that the mouth-washing ritual was the most important ritual in the temple because it allowed the icon to eat, drink, what it received on behalf of the gods (115). Walton indicated that the Egyptian icons were produced by the soul of the god and revealed the icon as an embodiment of the god moreover Walton further iterated that this is an example of habitation (116-117). Walton proposed that the oracle declared the space as sacred and that determination led to the location of the temple and prevented the approach of anything profane (118). The ANE temples and the rituals conducted within them were not for the purpose of meeting the needs of the people but for the maintenance of order in the cosmos. The characteristics of the temple embodied several chambers, a garden, and a ziggurat/elevated resting place for the god as the temple was “the center of power, control, and order from which deity brings order to the human world” (119). Furthermore, Walton compared the designation of the ANE temple to the temple of Israel and the role of Yahweh in the appointment of the temple’s sacred space (129). All ordinances, the functions of personnel associated with the temple, Yahweh’s relationship with the people about the temple, its use, and what constituted holiness came by divine revelation from Yahweh (129). The dedication of Solomon’s temple was a comparative example of the difference in temple dedication and the relationship of the temple to the people of Israel versus the ANE (130-134).

Chapter 6

Chapter six discussed the construct of state and family religion. Walton posited that much of the information known by scholars today came from the palaces and temples; thus concluding that the data pointed to a concept of a state religion rather than a family religion (135). Walton revealed that the average person did not participate in religious activities outside of special festivals (135). Walton further suggested that the state religion expressed the needs of the gods and the people’s responsibility to fulfill those needs by treating the gods in the same manner that they would treat a king (137). The people of the ANE were never clear if they met the burden of proof for their gods even though they carried out the jobs and whims of their gods (138-139).

Walton posited that the main difference between state religion and family religion was the role of the priests and kings who stood in the place of the gods and carried out any required tasks that they have tried throughout the years without direction their gods (138). Walton advanced that the state religion in Israel expressed that Yahweh had no needs that religion was required to meet (140). Furthermore, Walton pointed out that Yahweh had no jobs, nor whims that the people were required to carry out for Him; however, the covenant between Yahweh and His people maintained order and justice. (141-142). As a point of comparison, Walton juxtaposed the procedures of the Pentateuch developed through divine revelation to seal the covenantal relationship between Yahweh and His people who knew the expectations of YHWH (141-142). Walton also discussed ethics and morality and declared concerning Ten Commandments that “No contrasts between the religious beliefs of Israel concerning Yahweh, and those of the ANE can be clearer than those emerged from the first four commandments” (155). Adherence to the Ten Commandments showed the relationship between Yahweh and His people compared with the population of the ANE, who relied on their gods for protection and assistance, not a relationship (150-161). 

Chapter 7

Chapter seven focused on cosmic geography. Walton explained it as, “Cosmic geography concerns how people envision the shape and structure of the world around them” (165). Walton posited that the culture’s understanding of the cosmos determined their place in the cosmos; however, people of the ANE did not have the scientific process nor the benefit of science to understand the cosmos (166). Consequently, the people used observations of their environment and life experiences to answer questions about the layers of heavens where the deity lived or the netherworld/Duat the place where many gods lived under their feet; therefore, their cosmic geography was primarily metaphysical and secondarily tangible (167). At the same time, Walton reiterated that the physical environment of the cosmos were tools at the disposal of the gods who represented the physical environment (168). Walton purported that the elements of the physical world evidenced by iconographic images displayed the sky and how it remained in the atmosphere without falling and also how the waters from above stayed above to prevent the earth from flooding (169-170). Walton declared that the cultures of the ANE viewed celestial bodies with the same status of heavenly placement as the sky as depicted on the icons, on the other hand, the sun was a considered a source of heat and the moon regulated the lunar calendar (170-171). Walton submitted that the Mesopotamian and Egyptian cultures tendered the flat earth concept as evidenced on the maps and sarcophagi, but these depictions did not correlate to specific terrestrial features denoting a theological construct (171-172). Whereas, Walton proposed that revelation from Yahweh to the nation of Israel show a cosmic geography to match the cultural background of the biblical canon; hence, Israel’s theological construct of a cosmic geography rests in the ANE world rather than the modern world (175).

Chapter 8

Cosmology and cosmogony: the people of the ANE were more interested in the metaphysical world because function was more important than substance (179). Walton pointed out that ontology stressed that function was more important than substance and emphasized the importance of understanding ANE views about “cosmic existence (creation cosmology) and how the ANE defined existence “creation ontology” (180). The Egyptians described creation within the parameters of how the cosmos functioned not that it existed in time and space (181). Walton iterated that readers of ANE text must recognize that the creation of anything is attached to its functional character.

Next, Walton provided readers with an understanding of terms that meant create in two cultures. The Akkadian words banu and basamu which could mean synonyms for build or construct; whereas, bara the Hebrew verb for create denoted functional objects such as people, gender roles; however, it does not refer to the construction an object like a building (182). Furthermore, Walton posited that language nuances lead to confusion. The term chaos in the English language means a state of disorder, on the other hand, the same word in Greek meant “the primal state refers to the personified state in which the earth, sky, and sea were all merged” and denoted the opposite of cosmos which meant order (184). Walton suggested using the term the precosmic state of the universe be it the primordial sea, the dead body of a god, or a disordered existence of functionless material (185-186). Walton declared that the tohu wabohu of Genesis 1:2 meant without form and void and described the precosmic world; thus implying that the cosmos lacked function and order (187). Walton continued by explaining that the naming, separation, and role involved in creation showed functional aspect of the process and defined the control attributes and destinies brought about by the gods who created the cosmos and maintained its order through the cycle of renewal in the microcosmic picture of the cosmos namely the temple (188-191). Walton proffered that Genesis 1 does not depict the ordering of the cosmos and the rest of deity as a time of respite for conflict resolution between the gods because the concept of theogony indicated that the gods had a beginning whereas YHWH existed outside of the cosmos and had no beginning (198-199). 

Chapter 9

Walton presented a comparative study of ten ANE texts about the origins of man from Egypt, Sumeria, and Akkadia (203-204). Walton propounded that the ANE conceived the origins of humans collectively/polygenesis and provided no evidence that humans originated from progenitors/monogenesis, but literature indicated how the ANE perceived the creation of people (205). Sumerian accounts reported that the formation of individuals involved breaking out of the ground whereas the Egyptians used clay or product from the living deity and Atrahasis used flesh and blood; Atrahasis, as well as Genesis, show a deity as part of the creation process (204-206). ANE literature illustrated four common characteristics “humans to deity, male to female, humans to the created world, humans to previous and future generations” (207). Walton reported that each account of human origins focused on functionality while flesh and blood demonstrated a connection to the deity and clay or dust illuminated a link with the land (210-211). Walton compared the Hebrew human origins with the ANE and ascertained that the differences were significant. Genesis revealed that the human origins involved two ingredients dirt and breath (213). Walton also reviewed the conceptualization of body, soul, and spirit in the ANE as well as Israel and posited that Ka, Ba, and Ank do not equate with the Hebrew terms of basar, nephesh, or ruah (213-215). The differences accented the beliefs of what happened to a man when he died. Walton conveyed that, the Egyptian construct of the soul based on the afterlife and the Mesopotamian’s intertwined with the understanding of human origins, on the other hand, the Israelite view consisted of the covenantal relationship with Yahweh (210-214). The differences in the concept of the totality of man correlated to the decreed destiny of man (214). Egyptian theology had no concept of why creation included people but the Sumerians and Akkadians believed that humans were created to work as slaves for the gods and Egyptian theology had no explanation for the creation of individuals, but the Hebrews believed the cosmos exists as a function for people not for God (215).

 Chapter 10

Walton discussed the genres, the deity’s role in historiography, the perception of time and history and the histography of narratives and poetics in chapter ten. Walton pointed out that the historiographical genre of Mesopotamian literature fell within two categories; commemorative records (annuals, building accounts, and royal inscriptions) and chronographic records (records of past empires, lists, narratives and similar genres) and they demonstrated the work done for the deity (219). Walton also posited that the supernatural bias of modern historians skewered the data presented in the study of histography further iterated that the   ANE were more interested in the role of the divinity in history rather than the natural causes for events (219). Walton declared that to dismiss that correlation rejected the purpose of ANE literature (219-220). Walton posited that the study of the historiography of the ANE culture required historians to recognize and accept, the cognitive environment and cognitive integrity of the history of the ANE (221). Walton recalled that the historiography of the ANE included their view of time which was something from the past and future (222). Walton conveyed that Western societies perceived time in a linear manner; however, the ANE understood time to be recurrent, endurant and cohesive in that the stories had a divine purpose, with some linear aspects and history was a part of their present (222-226). Walton delivered the categories of historical literature such as epic, didactic, legitimation, and theological as tools that the authors used to convey values and truth (231). Unlike the genre of the ANE that lends credence to the rulers’ needs as conveyed to the gods, the historiographical genre of Israel conveyed Yahweh’s revelation to His people as conveyed through the Bible the central tool that provided cohesion of theological thought (232). Walton also pointed out that the genre found in the ANE literature was also used by the writers of inspired Scripture as directed by Yahweh (233-236).

.Chapter 11

Walton focused on utilization and interpretation of divinations and omens in chapter eleven. Walton posited that there was no separation between the secular and the sacred in the ANE consequently divinations and omens were crucial to the daily lives of the people (239). Walton discussed two categories of divination, inspired and deductive. Inspired divination involved official and informal prophecy that focused on the king and dreams, which occurred during daily living and led the people to consult dream experts whose consultation guided the decisions of the citizens (240-242). Walton compared dreams, the purpose and the interpreters of dreams in the culture of Israel with the ANE the stark difference was the interpretation of dreams in the OT came from Yahweh (243). Walton posited that dreams represented futuristic events and were categorized into plans, predictions of the future, a forecast of the probability of an event or a prognosis to ascertain an outcome as well as a simple picture of what the future may present for the dreamer (244). Walton explained that deductive divination was demonstrable and observed in the physical realm and required interpretation utilizing signs connected to events (249). Walton submitted that extispicy, the process of examining the organs of animals to verify omens, was one of the most reliable forms of divination and lastly casting lots to ascertain certain events. (243-260). Events such as lunar eclipses, signs in the weather, terrestrial omens, and physiognomic that operate from mystical speculations all fall within the realm of passive and unprovoked events (259-262). Walton submitted that cognitive understanding of why Israel was forbidden to participate in deductive divination required answers to four elements. (1) How the Israel perceived the world around them, (2) semiotics or what did the omen portend, (3) the perception and reception of the divine communication (hermeneutics) epistemology and how Israel’s perception of Yahweh as well as theological constructs that govern divination (272-273).

Chapter 12

            Life within cities and kingship was the focus of this chapter. Walton offered three distinct aspects of the concept of ANE cities. The primordial city in relationship to the state, the cosmos, the sacred relationship between the people, the gods, and sacred places or the temples and shrines (275-277). Walton proffered the kingship as the central institution of the ANE society that mediated between the dwellers of the city and deity thus providing the god with the ability to maintain order in the kingdom or the part of the cosmos over which he had control (278). Walton further proposed that four features pertain to kingship. First the origin of the king: in Mesopotamia, the king was a gift from the gods, on the other hand, Israel received a king because they demanded one from Yahweh and godly, cautious and negative depictions of kingship permeate biblical literature when compared with the ANE literature about kings (280). Second, the kings were expected to discern the divine will of the gods; Walton called it a covenant between the gods, and the king maintained that covenant (281). Third, the kings ruled through divine sponsorship even though they were not gods; Walton posited that some kings claimed divine sonship (282-283). Fourth the responsibility for justice fell within the king’s domain and required the king to take care of the vulnerable within the kingdom as assigned by the gods, the stele of Hammurapi demonstrated that requirement (283). Walton pointed to the similarities between Israelite kingship and the ANE; however, Israel’s kings served at the will of Yahweh, the kings instituted Yahweh’s plans, were concerned with Yahweh’s divine will and represented Yahweh’s divine authority (284). Israel’s kings had no divine existence in a mythical sense (285-286). Lastly, the kingship covenant of Israel was a dynastic covenant that extended beyond that period, for instance, the Davidic covenant, and extended into “the ideal future” (286).

Chapter 13

Walton continued the discussion of life in cities and rulership with a chapter on the guidelines for life, law, and wisdom as depicted in legal treaties and the legal ontology of the ANE that involved the understanding and application of the treaties.  Walton also discussed wisdom literature and the cognitive environment governing these pieces of literature. Walton proffered that the term code was an ineffective word to discuss the law literature and chose the term treatise instead (28-288). Walton mentioned that archaeologists unearthed six known treaties; three have prologues and epilogues, and three do not (289). Walton noted that the distinctions in the treaties impacted how the discussion of the literary content (Ur-Nammu, Lipit-Ishtar, Eshnunna, Hammurabi, Middle Assyrian, and Hittite) (287-288). Walton cited Botero’s explanation of the medical treaties as a teaching tool for diagnosis with an “if” clause that determined treatment (289). Walton purported that the divinatory treatises taught diviners how to use omens to predict scenarios and the legal treatises covered financial affairs, punishments, penalties, restitution, ordeals, oaths, and or judicial decisions that were not necessarily laws but were “verdicts” that served a didactic function (290). Walton’s comparative study of the ANE law treaties with the covenantal laws of Exodus, Deuteronomy, and Leviticus demonstrated that the instruction from the biblical text rendered direct revelation from Yahweh and suffering correlated with a violation of the covenant; however and the suffering not a surprise to the sufferer (291-301). Walton discussed the wisdom literature of the ANE and concluded that the literature offered guiding principles for living even though there appeared to be some dependency on ANE literature in Proverbs the ideas in Proverbs coincided with the covenant between Yahweh and his people (302-311).    

Chapter 14

Walton concluded his discussion on ANE and the OT with the current future of man as well as what happened to a person when death occurs. Walton expressed that nationally the ANE focused on the now, and the future represented the current reality; however, Israel envisioned a better tomorrow as exhibited by the Davidic covenant (314). The Egyptian and Mesopotamian constructs of the afterlife were different. The Egyptians had four significant texts that addressed the afterlife. First, The Pyramid Texts (PT)-provided spells that supported the journey to the afterlife exclusively for the Pharaohs whereas the second document The Coffin Texts (CT) superseded (PT) showed the availability of the afterlife to non-royalty and showed the afterlife and its dangers in a more dramatic manner (315). Third, the Book of the Dead (BOD)superseded the CT and included spells to aid the deceased in their navigation pass the guardians and enter Duat. The BOD aided the deceased in how to avoid the pitfalls on the road to the netherworld and lastly the Books of the Netherworld (Amduat) “these were arranged and focused on the nightly journey of the sun god’s bark” (315). Walton declared that the literature of the people of the Levant and Mesopotamia did not indicate an interest in the afterlife. About the concept of a soul, the Egyptians conceptualized this through the ba and ka. Ba and ka equated to the person’s essence being and both the ba and ka separated from the body of the individual at death and the Mesopotamians gave the dead ancestors a status of divinity which kept the individual within the community after death (316). However, Israel described Sheol the place of the dead differently. It is a place of separation from Yahweh. It is not the resting place of the wicked, everyone does not enter Sheol. It is a place of without memory, knowledge, or storage for personal belongings. Neither judgment nor punishment takes place there and finally, there are no levels of Sheol (320-321). Walton concluded that Israel’s concept of the afterlife is a minute circle within the scope of the ANE construct (321). 

Postscript

Walton proffered that scholars in the field of ANE studies have avoided the level of synthesis in the book thus choosing to approach the topic from a safe standpoint; furthermore, Walton stated that this stance is commendable (331). Walton declared that his intention was to present foundational constructs that demonstrated a revealing amount homogeneity. Walton portrayed that the documented differences were due to geological environments, sociopolitical currents or developments, and significant forces the shape the essence of culture (332). Walton summated that regardless of the similarities and differences between Israel and the ANE the cognitive environment was “not borrowed from one culture to another” (332). Walton mentioned that this point is crucial to understanding the literature of both cultures because the literature of each culture is a mirror of the culture’s cognitive environment (332). Walton reviewed the six levels of the cognitive environment discussed in the book; ontology, epistemology, anthropology, historiography, and sociology (332). The six levels discussed theology and historiography demonstrated a marked difference. The direction of  Israel’s theology and historiography came from the one covenantal Yahweh. Yahweh worked outside of the cosmos, had no needs that the people had to meet, Yahweh chose the king, and epistemologically conveyed His expectations to His people through patriarchs such as Abraham, Moses, David, and the prophets (333). Whereas historiography in the ANE functioned to promote and legitimize the king while divine sponsorship of the king was evident in the activities of the gods in the human world (333). The sociological level contained both similarities and differences between both cultures; the anthropological level acknowledged the divine beginnings of humanity through either a polygenetic/monogenetic sense (333). Walton reiterated that an understanding of the similarities and differences in the cognitive level of both cultures played a significant role in the interpretation of the Bible and interpreting critical scholarship of biblical content.

Bibliography

Walton, John H. Ancient Near Eastern Thought, and the Old Testament: Introducing the Conceptual World of the Hebrew Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006.

 

Link

Contents

Discussion Board 1 Assignment. 1

Bibliography. 2

Discussion Board 2 Assignment. 3

Discuss the importance of revelation to God and the biblical writers. 3

God to reveals himself to humankind. 3

Importance of revelation to the prophets. 4

Bibliography. 4

 

 

Discussion Board 1 Assignment

In The Bible Among the Myths, Oswalt states, “If the historical basis on which the supposed revelation [the Bible] rested was false, then why should we give any special credence to the ideas resting on that basis” (p. 31). Please post a 400-word response to Oswalt’s statement. Seek to answer whether or not one could trust a historically false document to be theologically accurate? If not, why? If so, how? While sources are not required, you may support your answer from the Bible, your textbooks, or other sources as you see fit.

Among the books of all religions the Old Testament (OT) canon “Bible” is original in its construct and theology. It purported that there is only one God who is the sovereign creator of all that is, was and is to come, and He breathed His book the Bible through His chosen vessels (Genesis 1:1; 2 Tim 3:16-17). The historicity of that belief, juxtaposed against the backdrop of modern scholars’ need to disprove the historicity of the Bible, thus, disproving the validity of the theology of the Bible is a prevailing problem and lends itself to meet a scholarly need to disprove all things theological.  Lee McDonald posited that Josephus argued for the historicity of the OT; the historicity of the OT was preserved throughout the history of Israel by the prophets (p. 110).  Therefore, giving credence to the truthfulness of the Bible and validating its content.

To claim that any part of the Bible is false purported that all of is false.  There is no middle ground. God is not a man that He should lie (Numbers 23: 19).  Archeological discoveries of Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) literature supported the historicity of the Bible and validated its contents (Eugene Merrill, Mark Rooker, and Michael Grisanti, p. 63).  Merrill, Rooker, and Grisanti identified the parallels between the historical culture of the times referenced in the Bible but did not present the social structures as equal to the historicity of the Bible as dictated by God to the writers of old (p. 69).  The scholars cautioned readers that “The idea . . . that the OT is simply a human book that converted ANE mythology into another version, the concoction of Israelite poets and theologians” is a false premise (ibid).

Merrill, Rooker, and Grisanti also posited that this worldview will lead readers to surmise that the Bible is simply a book of myths or legends,  “concocted” to meet the theological need of a group of people (p. 71). On the other hand, Oswalt pointed out that one can contend that a “legend” is an untruthful story about the past while still asserting that a “history” is a truthful rendition of the past; however when making that assertion one must posit the question “false or true according to what standard?” (p. 16). Consequently, one cannot propose that the historicity of the Bible is false without saying at the same time that the theology of the Bible is false. In concluding, it is necessary to reiterate that,

All Scripture is God-breathed [given by divine inspiration] and is profitable for instruction, for conviction [of sin], for correction [of error and restoration to obedience], for training in righteousness [learning to live in conformity to God’s will, both publicly and privately—behaving honorably with personal integrity and moral courage]; so that the man of God may be complete and proficient, outfitted and thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17 Amplified Bible AMP).

 

Bibliography

McDonald, Lee Martin, and Lee Martin McDonald. The Biblical Canon: Its Origin, Transmission, and Authority. Peabody, Hendrickson Publishers, 2007.

Merrill, Eugene H., Mark F. Rooker, and Michael A. Grisanti. The World and the Word: An Introduction to the Old Testament. Nashville, B&H Academic, 2011. Google Books.

Oswalt, John N. The Bible among the Myths: Unique Revelation or Just Ancient Literature? Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2009. Google Books.

 

 

 

Discussion Board 2 Assignment

In Walton’s Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament, he writes, “With no revelation . . . there was no way to know what pleased and what angered . . . This is the plight of those who live in a world without revelation. In the end, for all of their conscientious ritual, they did not know what deity wanted” (p. 145). Please post a 400-word response to Walton’s statement. Discuss the importance of revelation to God and the biblical writers. Seek to answer questions like “Was it important for God to reveal himself to mankind? If so, in what ways has God revealed himself? How important was revelation to the prophets who often used the phrase ‘Thus says the Lord?’” While sources are not required, you may support your answer from the Bible, your textbooks, or other sources as you see fit.

Discuss the importance of revelation to God and the biblical writers.

Revelation in the OT is foundational and addressed concerns for the time of the writer as inspired by God, as well as the inspired revelation about the future of persons, nations, and God’s chosen people. The NT takes the revelations from the OT and expounds on them or fulfills them such as Isa 53 that speaks of the coming Messiah and John 4:25-26 reveals the identity of the Messiah. Without revelation, Moses would not have been able to accomplish the task placed before him by God and the Pentateuch would not exist God used revelation to reveal His plan for His people to them and the Egyptians (Exodus).  Merrill, Rooker, and Grisanti declared that Leviticus” attested” to revelation than any other book of the Bible (238). Both Isaiah and Jeremiah refer to God’scovenantal revelation to Abram a thread that flows throughout the entire OT until the fulfillment of that covenantal revelation in the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, now all nations are a part of God covenantal family (Gen 22).

Without revelation Abraham had no hope, Moses had no purpose, and Joshua would have no function.  God used revelation to inspire (David Psalms), teach, lead, correct, and guide his people even during their times of disobedience, idolatry, and exile. See the books of the former prophets and lesser prophets and Jeremiah specifically God’s use of prose in that book is demonstrable of the manner in which he conveyed His thoughts to a rebellious nation as well as His love. God revealed His expressed will to people through the Holy Spirit, covenants, rituals, and revelations contained in OT and NT (Ps. 42:2; 63:2; 119:20, 81; 143:6; cf. Isa. 26:8). The book of Exodus reveals God’s covenantal nature to His people and how adherence to that covenant maintains a vertical relationship with their maker (Merrill, Rooker, and Grisanti, 209). Through revelation, God maintained his relationship with His people.

God to reveals himself to humankind 

God began his relationship with humankind in Eden universal sin created a chasm between humanity and its Creator. God exiled Adam from the place of  “rest” to the rest referenced in Exodus not so much rest for God as it was for His people as a time set aside for public revelation (Walton, 145). After the flood, it became essential for the vertical relationship between God and man to become reestablished, and revelation from God enabled that creation covenant to become tenuous (Gen 8:20-22 NKJV). Walton proffered that the Torah enabled God to reveal himself to his people Israel who saw the Torah as a direct revelation from God concerning what He was like and defined His Character for the people, or His holiness as a benchmark for their lives (Walton, 143). Without revelation, humanity would not have a moral compass – the ten commandments.  It was important for God to reveal his faithfulness to humankind –covenantal relationship, His sovereignty, and knowledge of Him that comes through the direct revelation embodied in His word (Merrill, Rooker, and Grisanti390-391).

Importance of revelation to the prophets 

According to Merrill, Rooker, and Grisanti, the OT provided its criteria of canonicity. The keywords of “the word of the Lord came” as wells as “thus says the Lord” lend credibility to the writings of the prophets and authenticated the writings as the divine and revealed Word of God (112). The people receiving the writings knew that the words they were hearing came directly from God due to the key phrases that the prophets used in their prose (112). The people also had the phrases used by “their original” prophet Moses “These are the words which the LORD hath commanded, that ye should do them”  as a benchmark for future prophets (Exo 35:1 KJV). In short, revelation from God prevented the prophets from having to address concerns without God’s direct guidance.

Bibliography

Köstenberger, Andreas J., L. Scott Kellum, and Charles L. Quarles. The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown. Nashville: B & H Pub. Group, 2009, Google Books.

Merrill, Eugene H., Mark F. Rooker, and Michael A. Grisanti. The World and the Word: An Introduction to the Old Testament. Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2011. Google Books.

Walton, John H. Ancient Near Eastern Thought, and the Old Testament: Introducing the Conceptual World of the Hebrew Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006.

Link

Divorce and Remarriage Resources

These are just resources for people who have been divorced.

They are not my opinion. All resources are based on the Biblical worldview

Article # 1

Remarriage (Matthew 19:4–6)

An Awesome Challenge

The question of remarriage is closely related to the matter of divorce. The Scripture lifts up permanent, monogamous union as the plan of the Creator (Mt 19:4–6). To understand the strong language of Scripture concerning this matter, look at the whole of Scripture to see how God regards marriage. The marriage bond between husband and wife is the same kinship bond that exists between parents and children and between God and his creation (Ge 2:24; Mt 19:6).

Some argue that remarriage is never permissible (Mk 10:11–12). Others note that the divorce teaching of Jesus includes an exception (Mt 5:32; 19:9) and close that this implies permission to remarry. Still others suggest that the understood meaning of “divorce” in ancient law included freedom to remarry, suggesting that remarriage is forbidden only after an invalid divorce. Finally, there are those who deny that Jesus gives a justification for divorce in the modern sense, although they allow that remarriage is permissible if reconciliation with a divorced spouse is rendered impossible because of death or remarriage of the divorced spouse to another partner (1 Co 7:10–11), or if the divorced spouse is a non-believer opposed to reconciliation (1 Co 7:15).

Despite these differences of Biblical interpretation, some important conclusions can be drawn:

(1) Once remarriage follows divorce, there is no turning back (Dt 24:1–4), and the tearing apart of a marriage is painful, leaving its scars on all who are touched by the tragedy.

(2) God sees the one-flesh relationship as permanent and binding because it is the picture he has chosen to portray his relationship to his children, and thus, he guards the home with great zeal (Mal 2:16).

(3) Jesus gives no divine directive nor even acceptable excuses for breaking this holy covenant but rather observes that the hardness of the human heart makes such tragedy a reality in this sinful world (Mt 19:8).

(4) The role of the church and of believers must always be redemptive. With God, forgiveness is as if it never happened. No sin or tragedy is beyond God’s forgiveness.

After seeking and receiving God’s forgiveness, a woman who remarried has a new understanding of God’s incredible grace. She must then seek a new an understanding of God’s plan for marriage (Ge 2:24), commit herself wholeheartedly to pursuing his plan and consider her vows of marriage binding before the Lord (Mt 19:5–6).

Taken from The Woman’s Study Bible

Other online articles on the same subject

 

The Suffering of Christ on the Cross in the Theology of Jürgen Moltmann

Submitted to Dr. C. Fred Smith in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the completion of THEO 510-B01 LUO Survey of Theology by Joyce Gerald March 10, 2017

 Contents

Introduction. 1

Thesis Statement 1

The Origins of Moltmann’s Theology of Hope and Suffering. 2

Passibility. 5

Moltmann and Passibility. 7

The Theology of a Suffering God. 8

Theologia Crucis and Suffering. 8

Christian Theology Linked to Suffering on the Cross. 10

The Trinity and Suffering. 13

The Godhead Suffers as Humanity Suffer 16

Solidarity in Suffering. 18

Present  Hope Encased in the Suffering God. 22

Conclusion. 24

Bibliography. 26

 

 

 

 

Introduction

Christians in the western world struggle to maintain an attitude of hope within the crucible of meaningless, never-ending ongoing fear and suffering caused by terrorism, poverty, political unrest, unethical political leaders, and theological debates that raise the thermometer of uncertain hope and creates a milieu of hopelessness. Humanity has placed its assurance of hope on politics or religious beliefs that fail to ease suffering and pain. The realization that neither political nor military force guarantees hope and or an assurance of peace places the church in the unenviable position of providing an answer to the following questions. Is the Godhead unreachable and does the Godhead comprehend the immensity of humanity’s suffering? How can a God of love allow suffering to exist within the dichotomy of the promise “Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28)? [1] Can the Godhead relate to the suffering of people everywhere? How does the theology of the cross equate with the suffering of humanity?  Individuals in crisis, under the weight of suffering, challenge Christian theology based on its ability to offer hope during times of hopelessness.

Thesis Statement

Moltmann sees the suffering of Christ as God’s way of participating in our human despair, taking it into himself, and replacing it with hope.

The purpose of this research is to explore Moltmann’s theology of hope presented through the suffering of Christ and God’s methodology of bringing His children unto himself through suffering with and for them. The paper details how the God of love suffered on the cross with His son and experiences suffering with His Children. The first part of the paper begins with a concise survey of the development Moltmann’s theology of hope and suffering as well as the concept of Moltmannian “passibility” or the God of love who experiences suffering an act love through encapsulated in the cross of Jesus Christ.”[2] The intent of this section of the paper is not to argue for the concept of passibility as a theological construct or to argue against impassibility. The discussion on passibility lays the foundation for understanding the construct of a God who lovingly knows and suffers along with His children because of His experience on the cross. Next, the project discusses the Moltmann’s theology of a suffering God with the subtopic of Theologia Crucis and suffering. Then Christian theology linked to suffering on the cross, the Trinity and the Godhead and suffering, as well as God suffering as humanity suffers, and solidarity in Suffering. Finally, the project argues the concept of present hope encased in the suffering God and ends with the summative conclusion of the presented research.

The Origins of Moltmann’s Theology of Hope and Suffering

Moltmann who lived Germany during World War II and served in the German Army after being drafted experiences suffering in such a way that it changed his worldview.[3] While reflecting on the war Moltmann recalls the ravaging death of his friend and the immensity of the suffering prompted him to cry out to God for the first time in his life “God, where are you [and] why am I still alive and not dead like the rest?”[4] Moltmann questioned his deliverance from death and the destruction of his friend. He looked at the senseless death, destruction and suffering around him and wondered where was God in the midst of all of the suffering.[5] After the destruction of Hamburg, and troubled by the abject poverty and his personal experience with misery Moltmann surrendered to a British officer and spent and three-year period as a prisoner of war who suffered behind a barbed wire fence.[6] While there Moltmann sought for answers to the two questions, as well as a reply to the question “Does God Share in Our Suffering?” he was given a Bible and read the New Testament and the book of Psalms.[7] Moltmann recollects the resonance of Psalms 36 as a verse that “echoed” within his soul.[8]

I am dumb and must eat up my suffering within myself. My life is as nothing before thee [Luther Version]. Hear my prayer, O Lord, and give ear to my cry. Hold not thou thy peace at my tears, For I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were.[9]

Moltmann recalls the impact of the Gospel of Mark’s recordings of the death of Jesus Christ on his psyche and the theological understanding it gave him about the brotherhood that existed between himself and his Redeemer as a “fellow sufferer who carries [him] in his suffering.”[10] He continued his recollections by stating that the personal sense of being forsaken coupled with the revelation of God’s feeling of forsakenness, invaded his being [Moltmann coined a phrase “godforsakenness” to describe this feeling, and today the phrase “godforsakenness” pervades his theology of hope and suffering].”[11]  Furthermore,  Moltmann ascertains that his experiences in the concentration camp left an indelible mark on his psyche that intertwined an understanding of suffering and hope that supported each other.[12] Also, Moltmann stipulates that when an individual comprehends the fortitude of “hope” it does not negate the hurt or pain, but the suffering is “better than” developing an attitude of deadness and indifference toward suffering.[13] In 1965 Moltmann’s personal experience with suffering and loss and the urging of the Holy Spirit planted the seeds of an eschatology of hope that has changed the theological construct for many decades.[14] Moltmann presents a personally applicable view of Christianity and the hope embodied in the suffering of Christ, as well as how God relates to that suffering in a way that is unprecedented. Moltmann delivers a Christology of suffering that engenders the presence of God, during the suffering of man, be it political, social, or psychological, and connects that suffering relationally with the suffering of Christ. Moltmann’s theology of hope, offered through the suffering, crucified and resurrected Christ opens the door to hope regardless of the level of suffering and knowledge that God understands, participates in, and embraces the individual’s suffering. Moltmann declared

Faith does not come to its own in becoming radically unworldly, but by hopeful outgoing into the world, it becomes a benefit to the world. By accepting the cross, the sufferings, and death of Christ, by taking upon it the trials and struggles of obedience in the body and surrendering itself to the pain of love, it proclaims in the everyday world the future of the resurrection, of life and the righteousness of God. The future of the resurrection comes to it as it takes upon itself the cross.[15]

Moltmann declared that the cross reflected a life of suffering and challenges that projects into the future resurrection of all saints. How then does the suffering of God through the suffering of Christ make human suffering relatable to God? What term does Moltmann utilize to conceptualize God’s ability to suffer?

 

Passibility

Passibility is a concept that Moltmann uses to explain the suffering that God experiences. In defining passibility, Lee declares that God has a “drive for reunion” with humanity and this drive “makes” Him participate in the world as an act of love “the empathy of God creates the passibility of God.”[16] Lee continues” Therefore, our first task is to define the nature of God as love, and establish a criterion, the empathy of God, for the divine passibility as a mode of the divine love.”[17] Lee offers an expanded definition of passibility that lends itself to this discussion.

The terms “passibility” and “impassibility” are used to designate the capacity or incapacity of bound to the body, while suffering is in terms of a loving relationship bound to time. Thus, it is irrelevant to attribute pain to God, who is Spirit. Nevertheless, suffering can be attributed to Him, who loves us in Christ. Suffering can be divided into two categories: voluntary and involuntary suffering. The former is often called redemptive suffering, while the latter is penal suffering. When we attribute suffering to the divine, we mean the former, namely the pure form of vicarious and redemptive suffering.[18]

Furthermore, Lee explains that when God reveals Himself to us, we simultaneously envision him as both transcendent and immanent.[19]   Lees continues by expressing that human terms of, “equivocity” and “aunivocity” cannot be applied when attempting to explain passibility and the “pathos” of God because the human mind cannot “represent the highest point of contrast with our speculative idea of God.”[20] According to Lee, our faith in God “manifested in Christ”  is the fulcrum that opens a believer’s understanding of the construct of passibility (Romans 12:6).[21]

However, the idea of God being ”passible” is incongruous to most theologians because theologians equate passibility with emotions [a construct that theologians assign to corporeality] and theologians believe that human emotions negate God’s omniscience and  His incorporeality.[22] Scrutton’s study on emotions and its impact on God’s incorporeality led Scrutton to propose that “divine incorporeality does not pose a serious threat to divine passibility. . . .”[23] Scrutton concluded the study of emotions and passibility by agreeing with modern theologians that “some emotional experiences might be attributed to an omnipotent, omniscient, incorporeal God. . . .”[24]Scrutton supports Moltmann’s construct of passibility and the ability of God to experience emotions such as suffering while maintaining His role as Lord of the Universe.[25] The passibility of God veers to the right of ancient Christology and theological thought about the person of God.  Is passibility just a theoretical construct that is devoid of scriptural support or does it present an argument for the very nature of the God of love who renders all things as possible, even Him suffering with His children, as a display of His love for His highest creation?

Moltmann and Passibility

Moltmann views passibility as an extension of God’s love for man.  Moltmann declares that God experienced suffering through Christ’s suffering on the cross relates that experience of suffering to the suffering of human history through the construct of divine passibility.[26]  Moltmann’s vision of the passibility of a God who suffered abandonment is encapsulated in this statement “To take up the theology of the cross today is to go beyond the limits of the doctrine of salvation and to inquire into the revolution needed in the concept of God.”[27] When defining God’s suffering, the latitude of that suffering, and modern theologians’ conceptualization of that suffering, Neal declares that the construct would be null and void without the application of Moltmann’s theory or “treatment” of passibility.[28]  Furthermore, Neal iterated Moltmann’s assertion about passibility by declaring that Christ who continually proclaimed the imminent coming of the kingdom of God suffered and died.”[29]

According to Neal, Moltmann believes that “the cross” licenses “divine passibility” because the event of the cross allowed God to open Himself to suffering.[30]  This viewpoint is contrary to Enns who believes that Moltmann denies the historicity of the cross.[31] Neal proposes that Moltmann’s Christology rejects  “analogical epistemology and two-natures Christology” because they foster a barrier that separates God from suffering and inadvertently separates Him from the suffering of his children; thus, creating a barrier between God and His children.[32]  For Moltmann passibility is something that the Godhead experiences and opens a viaduct of hope for the suffering because God experienced suffering on the cross. [33] It is essential that one comprehends that suffering is a real-life experience for Moltmann; therefore, expressing a hope embedded in the suffering of God, through His passibility, is tantamount to comprehending the compassion of God for His people.

The Theology of a Suffering God

As a soldier during World War II, Moltmann’s personal experience with the rigors of human depravity, suffering, and abandonment merged with the understanding of a passible God, who suffers. Understanding the concept of passibility is central to understanding Moltmann’s assertion that God knows human suffering as it relates to Christ’s passion. Moltmann proffers the suffering of The Lord, and God’s experience of that suffering, as His divine participation in the depths of humanity’s feelings of absolute abandonment.

Theologia Crucis and Suffering

Moltmann declares that as he interpreted Luther’s Theologia Crucis, he recognizes that as God reveals himself through the suffering of the cross “He repudiates in us the arrogant man or woman and accepts the sinner in us.” [He gives us hope because He knows and understands our immense pain during our suffering.][34]  Moltmann places high importance on the event of the cross and its significance to Christology.  Traditional theologians may not adhere to this viewpoint because Moltmann extends the importance of the cross to the entire Godhead (See the discussion on the Trinity and the Cross.) Moltmann reflects that he asked himself what God intended humans to comprehend “in the cross of Christ.”[35] Moltmann posited that in addition to an answer to that question he needed to determine what the cross meant to God and recognizes that the manifestation of the cross” is God’s suffering [as an act] of . . .. passionate love for his lost creatures.”

Moltmann declares that the suffering of Christ embodies the “divine reason for the reconciliation of the universe [this speaks to God’s love and hope for humanity as He brings each person unto himself and into the God family,]” and the foundational basis for the theology of the cross.[36] The “divine reconciliation of the universe” through the cross of suffering demonstrates high Christology and not at all humanistic as Enns contends. [37] Moltmann argues that the “pinnacle of the Christian faith” and theology is based on the “suffering and death of Christ on the cross.”[38]

Moltmann affirms Scripture when he identifies the “death of Christ on the cross” as the pinnacle of the Christian faith.”[39] Moltmann’s theology of the cross is not “humanistic” nor Marxist” in nature but evangelical because it declares the “good news” represented by the suffering Savior on the cross of Calvary.[40] It is that same good news that hymnists have written about throughout the centuries of the church.

Christian Theology Linked to Suffering on the Cross

Moltmann takes this train of thought a step further by proposing that the theology of a suffering God on the cross require acceptance by Christians for them to receive the hope of release and or relief from the profundity of suffering that they experience in their daily existence.[41]  Furthermore, Moltmann sees the theology of the suffering God on the cross as the core of all Christian beliefs and stretches the theology of the cross to embrace the concept of a God who suffers on the cross as the “theme…. and centre of all Christian theology.”[42] Moltmann also proposes that belief in the suffering God determines how “solutions” for all problems come to a resolution on earth.[43] Moltmann continues by declaring that all Christian “statements about God, creation, sin, death, history, the church, faith, sanctification,” stem from a clear understanding of the magnitude of the suffering crucified Christ.[44]

It is not the only theme of [Christian]theology, but it is in effect the entry to [the solutions to all] its problems . . . . on earth. All Christian statements about God, about creation, about sin and death have their focal point in the crucified Christ. All Christian statements about history, about the church, about faith and sanctification, about the future and about hope stem from the crucified Christ.[45]

It appears that Moltmann is attempting to unravel Christian theology; however, central to our faith is our belief in the cross and the hope it offers to a sin-laden humanity that suffers under the burden of its sin. Neal submits that Moltmann interconnects God’s absolute passion for humanity with all its suffering. [46] Moltmann posits that the hope proffered by Jesus’ “deliberate” suffering on the cross is a quietus for the hopelessness experienced by humanity and “a [death that] affirmed . . . .[Jesus’] passion for God.”[47]

Moltmann is keenly aware of the type of hope that suffering people must experience to embrace the hope incorporated in the concept of a God who suffers. Moltmann states

Hope finds in Christ not only a consolation in suffering, but also the protest of the divine promise against suffering …. [Does this mean that the suffering individual should wait for the suffering to cease?] faith takes up this contradiction and thus becomes itself a contradiction to the world of death…. [Apparently not – but] faith, wherever it develops into hope, causes not rest but unrest …. [Unrest translated as suffering?] it does not calm the unquiet heart, but is itself this unquiet heart in man …. peace with God means conflict with the world ….[48]

According to Moltmann, the concept of a suffering God is problematic for theology because “Theology has only one problem: God. We are theologians for God’s sake. . . .  God is our suffering. God is our hope.”[49] Consequently, Moltmann is declaring that by humanity’s ‘experience of suffering’ profoundly impacts God.[50]

Harvie iterates Moltmann’s statement and proposes that not only does humanity’s suffering “question theology” it also brings to bear a “‘[theological] crisis of relevance’ within Christianity.”[51]  Moltmann proffers that the glorious suffering of God on the cross rendered void the godforsakenness evident in the wall of separation between God and all His creation.[52] The cross enjoined God with the part of creation that He created in His image.  The cross represents the hope in the phrase “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness,” or “When the woes of life o’er take me, Hopes deceive, and fears annoy, Never shall the cross forsake me; Lo! It glows with peace and joy.“[53] The words in these hymns reflect what Moltmann declares about the importance of the cross to Christians as they consider the suffering of the Lord juxtaposed against their suffering. They envision that “godforsakenness” no longer reigns supreme in their lives because of the suffering Savior.[54] Does Moltmann extend this concept of God as a God who suffers to the triune Godhead?

 

The Trinity and Suffering

2 Corinthians 1:4 declares that the Holy Spirit “. . . . comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble [Does this apply to suffering too?], by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.” Could the extension of this Scripture and the “comfort” that we experience from the knowledge that not only does Christ and God suffer with their children, but so does the Holy Spirit?  Moltmann presents Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection as events in human history as well as Trinitarian historical life and experience.[55] Moltmann posits that the cross actualizes Trinitarian suffering not just for but along with the created.[56] Moltmann demonstrates the cyclical nature of the suffering Trinity when he declares

The Son suffers dying, the Father suffers the death of the Son. The grief of the Father here is just as important as the death of the Son. The Fatherlessness of the Son is matched by the Sonlessness of the Father, and if God has manifested himself as the Father of Jesus Christ, then he also suffers the death of his Fatherhood in the death of the Son.[57]

Moltmann continues by revealing that faith in the suffering Jesus and the redemptive nature of the cross necessitates the need to “speak in trinitarian terms of the Son and the Father and the Spirit.”[58]  Moltmann posits that the suffering of the cross is at the nucleus of the Trinity.[59]

According to Harvie, Moltmann’s trinitarian theology “takes its bearings from the biblical testimony of the interpersonal relationships of the three divine persons.”[60] Harvie explains that Moltmann’s concept of the Trinity and God’s love for humanity is encased in the role of the Holy Spirit in God’s plan for humankind. [61] Moltmann’s construct of the suffering God and the suffering of Christ and His people is not based on a sadistic need of God to sees people suffer but rather because of His Love for humanity.[62]   Moltmann proposes that God suffers in “a third form” of suffering that humanity realizes. [63]“the voluntary laying oneself open to another [God opens up Himself to allow Himself] to be intimately affected by [humanity]; that is to say, the suffering of passionate love.” [64]  

God “opening up Himself” is outside of the realm of traditional theology. [65] Moltmann reveals that theological thoughts about the formation of the Trinity are “doxological” in nature because it “expresses the experience of God in the apprehension of Christ” as part of the fellowship of the Godhead.[66] Moltmann argues that when one “expresses” the “doxological” nature of the spirit a pattern of “thinking, speaking, feeling, acting, and suffering” reveals experiences that are overpowering with “profound” expectations for the Triune God.[67] Moltmann posits that when theology applies the distinction of “apophatical’ expressions of God, it enriches humanity’s thinking about God and leads to a searching of God that frees the mind to see the Triune God as He is a loving entity that experiences the suffering of His children.[68] Moltmann believes that the humanity experiences the Holy Spirit as an “impelling and consoling entity [that leads God’s people to] prayer, [sighs, laments and complaints] before God.”[69]

Furthermore, Moltmann explains why this leading is so important” prayer always remains the voice of all those who apparently have no voice – and in this voice there always echoes that “loud cry” attributed to Christ.[70]  Moltmann clarifies the role of the Spirit by stating “. . . . praying, sighing, complaining, and crying out for God are not religious gifts or performances. . . .[But] realistic expressions of the abyss into which people have fallen.” [71]How does this relate to the work of the Holy Spirit in God’s expression of love toward His children? Moltmann iterates “Wherever the cry from the depths is heard, the Spirit who ‘helps us in our weakness’ is present. [The Spirits knows our condition and helps.] When in our torment we ourselves fall dumb, the Spirit is there too, interceding for us ‘with sighs too deep for words’ (Ro 8.26).[72]

Moltmann ensures that Christians understand that their suffering is not without hope. Moltmann points to the groaning of the Spirit as God’s act of love and a declaration of solidarity.[73] Moltmann continues with affirmation of the depths of God’s love for His creation by stating

The sighs of fettered creation are taken up by the sighs of the Spirit who dwells in it, [therefore, the Spirit feels and experiences what the creation is feeling and experiencing] and are brought before God. The ‘invocation of the Holy Spirit’, the epiklesis, is in the reality of this world identical with the cry de profundis which we find in Ps. 130.1: ‘Out of the depths I cry to thee, O Lord.’[74]

The Triune God expresses His love to His creation in that while it suffers He draws them to Himself as He experiences their suffering not through on act of punishment but through the action of love and compassion. For it is through suffering that His people unite with Him in a bond of love and adoration that they can translate and demonstrate to others.

Moltmann declares “If [the triune] God were incapable of suffering in every respect, then he would also be incapable of love. He would at most be capable of loving himself, but not of loving another as himself.”[75] Moltmann sees the triune God as a God who loves and suffers “by virtue of his love, he remains master of the pain that love causes him to suffer.”[76] As a united entity the Godhead suffers not because it needs to suffer “But [it] suffers from the love which is the superabundance and overflowing of [its] being.”[77] Carrying the concept of God suffering even further Moltmann appears to be declaring that God suffers as humanity suffers.

The Godhead Suffers as Humanity Suffer

Moltmann’s theme of the suffering God continues as he adds another level to the suffering of the suffering God.  Moltmann exclaimed, ”Through his own abandonment by God, the crucified Christ brings God to those who [feel] abandoned by God.”[78] One cannot comprehend the immensity of this statement.  The one who created all things and left His heavenly abode to embrace humanness experienced abandonment on behalf of humanity.  Moltmann envisioned that “Through his suffering he brings salvation to those who suffer [regardless of the origin of that suffering].”[79]

That statement gives suffering persons a reason to pause and contemplate on the extent of God’s love for them. In addition to embracing the scope of God’s love for His children the suffering creation must conclude that “the tempted, rejected, suffering and dying Christ came to be the centre of the religion of the oppressed and the piety of the lost.” [80] Unless one feigns atheism, at the core of every human being is a desire to be connected with God even if that individual uses the term “higher being” to label God. Not only does Moltmann proclaim that God suffered on the cross, but Moltmann also espouses the abandonment of God on the cross reflects human neglect. Moltmann cites Bonhoeffer’s lengthy explanation of the importance of the relationship between God, suffering, and abandonment

God lets himself be pushed out of the world on to the cross. He is weak and powerless in the world, [not in a sense that people envision weakness, but in His humanity He embraced the human concept of weakness.] and that is precisely the way, the only way, in which he is with us [in our suffering and takes us into Himself as He] helps us [to navigate our sufferings] Matt. 8.17.[81]

Bonhoeffer is insistent that the belief grasps the level of commitment that the Godhead has for His creation; this helping His children, through suffering, is not a by-product of God’s humanness.  Bonhoeffer declared that God’s actions “makes it abundantly clear that Christ helps us, not by virtue of his omnipotence, but by virtue of his weakness and suffering.”[82] Subsequently, this vision of God as a weak and suffering God does not implicate that God has lost His omnipotence. It implies that despite the humanness attached to suffering or inferred by weakness, God chose to suffer with the ones whom He created in His image. Bonhoeffer concludes the premise by declaring, “Only the suffering God can help … That is a reversal of what the religious man expects from God. Man is summoned to share in God’s sufferings at the hands of a godless world.”[83]

The hope engendered in this statement offers consolation to the suffering. Be it the suffering Korean who endures the tyranny of a communist regime or the disabled child who cannot take care of themselves. How about the cancer patient who does not comprehend why God is allowing them to suffer? Alternatively, the suffering of the mother who just lost a child or for that matter the poor? Moltmann defines poor as “the hungry, the unemployed, the sick, the discouraged, and the sad and suffering. the poor are the subjected, oppressed and humiliated people.”[84] Within the body of Christ a Christian experiences current and future hope in that any present suffering encountered in the flesh is not foreign to the God of love as He embraces them and their suffering through the cross of Jesus Christ.

Solidarity in Suffering

The western world has created a culture that celebrates the richness of accomplishments and has forgotten the dichotomy of layered existence that includes poverty, brokenness, godforsakenness, and suffering. Moltmann maintains that God is not an impassible or immovable God because His passibility and involvement in human history and suffering reside at “very centre” and “history of Christ’s passion.[85] The belief of a Christian is enmeshed in the passion of Christ and its representation of the redemption of all peoples through His suffering, death, and resurrection. Moltmann asked four poignant questions “But how is God himself involved in the history of Christ’s passion?  How can the Christian faith understand Christ’s passion as being the revelation of God, if the deity cannot suffer? Does God just allow Christ to suffer for us? Alternatively, does God himself suffer in Christ on our behalf?”[86] 

The four questions pushed at the very existence the theological beliefs of Christianity that God is impassible.[87] Moltmann makes a pronounced declaration when he posits that if God is incapable of suffering, in fellowship with humanity, then the next step in the process leads to the logical conclusion that the death of Christ must be “viewed as a human tragedy” for Christ dies in the flesh as a human being (John 1:1-3). In addition to this view of Christ death being a tragic human event, Moltmann proposes that God is “bound to become [a] cold, silent unloved heavenly power” and negate the veracity of the Christian faith.[88]  Moltmann maintains that it is the dignity and resolve of “hope [that] prove its power. Hence eschatology [hope of future revelries, and present solidarity with a God of suffering who experienced His forsakenness that]. . . must formulate its statements of hope in contradiction to our present experience of suffering, evil, and death.”[89]

In describing Moltmann’s theology of God and His oneness with His creation, Schweitzer expressed that “The biblical witness . . . .describes God as being both internally related to the creation, affected by its existence [thus, affected by its suffering], and radically transcendent to it.”[90] Moltmann describes this oneness with the creation of the “world which is not God, but which none the less corresponds to him, God’s self-humiliation begins – the self-limitation of the One who is omnipresent and the suffering of the eternal love.”[91]

Moltmann continues by proposing that God’s relationship with His creation not be an outward expression of His love, but is in fact “an act of God [looking] inwardly [and reaching toward Himself after having reached out to man], which means that it is something that God suffers and endures.”[92] Moltmann suggests “For God, creation means self-limitation, the withdrawal of himself, that is to say self-humiliation [possibly self-imposed suffering to create a oneness with His creation?]”[93]

Moltmann stipulates a definitive understanding of God’s love for His creation [humanity] and the oneness embodied in suffering with them ”Creative love is always suffering love as well.”[94] Why would the Creator become a suffering Creator? Additionally, Moltmann proposes that “. . . . the creation is: at the same time the subjection of God to the sufferings that follow from it… If God appoints all these sufferings, they are also sufferings for God himself. “[95] Moltmann clarifies his conceptualization of God’s love for humanity by declaring that our refusal to surrender to the concept that God does not suffer projects an attitude that agrees with the principle that God’s “holy love” for us expressed in His willingness to “subject himself” to suffering on our behalf.[96]

In addition, Moltmann proposes that the problem of acceptance of God’s solidarity with humanity and its suffering is not an “intellectual one” because “we feel, we experience suffering differently if it is not something fortuitous, but [suffering] is part of the meaning of the world [in which we live, and God lives with us].” Succinctly stated Moltmann posits that God suffers as the “otherness of the other.”[97] Contrary to the theological thought of his time, Moltmann’s proclaims that redemption is encased in the “self-deliverance” of The Lord as he suffers “with and for the world.”[98] Consequently, Moltmann declares humanity also suffers with and for God.[99]

The ability to conceptualize this theological construct liberates the people of God futuristic eschatology of oneness with God and freedom from suffering to the next realization that they are suffering with God now and in communion with Him now as He suffers with them.[100] “The freedom from worry, restraint and self-abasement encapsulated in this theology is a sacrificial offering from God to and for His children.”[101] Moltmann completed this thought by declaring “. . . . the history of the profound fellowship between God and man in suffering – in compassionate suffering with one another, and in passionate love for one another” is actualized when humanity accepts this sacrifice of suffering.”[102] Moltmann summed up the importance of God’s ability to suffer by proposing

Were God incapable of suffering in any respect, and therefore in an absolute sense, then he would also be incapable of love. If love is the acceptance of the other without regard to one’s own well-being, then it contains within itself the possibility of sharing in suffering and freedom to suffer as a result of the otherness of the other. Incapability of suffering in this sense would contradict the fundamental Christian assertion that God is love, which in principle broke the spell of the Aristotelian doctrine of God. The one who is capable of love is also capable of suffering, for he also opens himself to the suffering which is involved in love, and yet remains superior to it by virtue of his love. The justifiable denial that God is capable of suffering because of a deficiency in his being may not lead to a denial that he is incapable of suffering out of the fullness of his being, i.e. his love.[103]

Although the eschatology of Christians is an affirmed concept, what does that concept look like when juxtaposed against the theology of a God who suffers by drawing His creation unto Himself? How does Moltmann resolve the doctrine of the last things with a God who suffers and sent and delivered Himself to suffer on the cross? This paper has presented an argument of God as a God who suffers by drawing into Himself the suffering of His children but is that all that He offers His children?

Present Hope Encased in the Suffering God

For centuries, the Christian hope cemented itself in the risen Lord who conquered death and the promised hope of a future event when all will rise to an immortal body transported to an eternal experience with the God of the future. Moltmann looks at the resurrection of The Lord and characterizes God as “the God who raises the dead.[104] Moltmann proposes that the future hope of the Christian, as stated by Paul in Galatians 1:1 and Romans 8:11 points to “creation of the end-time’ that is now dawning, it is not a futuristic event that flows in the “spirit of the resurrection of the dead guaranteed by the suffering, dead, risen and glorified God.”[105]

Moltmann sees the theology of the cross presented by both Paul and Mark as a theology of a crucified Christ [or as one crucified by God and as God] as opposed to just a risen Christ.[106] This action of a suffering God does not make Him a helpless God that has no bearing on the current eschatology of His children, but it does make Him a God who brought the future hope of His children into their present experience with Him by “giving up” His son.[107] Moltmann continues by positing that Pauline and Johannine theology encapsulated in (Ro 8:32; Gal 2:20; John 3:16; Eph 5:25) speak of the suffering and death of God as an expression of love and election.[108]  Moltmann shatters the eschatology of the early church by proclaiming the risen Jesus is “the present future of God and the new world [intermingled in the reality of His presence.][109]

Furthermore, Moltmann declares that eschatology is not a trendsetting, fortune-telling precursor of the future because the resurrected suffering God embodies the “presence of God’s promised future” in that He has delivered His creation from death and hell and has begun the process of the eternal inheritance now.[110] What does this mean for a suffering world? Moltmann proposes that it means “the end of godforsakenness . . . . now [here in this present life], and the beginning of a universal, liberating, and rejoicing of the living God in all things.”[111]

God’s children who suffer now do not suffer alone because He is here and His Kingdom mission is here with them as they suffer. Harvie iterates that Moltmann presents an eschatology of hope embedded with the suffering, crucified, and raised Jesus not as a hope that releases humanity from suffering into the escapism of another world, but hope for the “new creation of this world.”[112] Moltmann clearly emphasizes that Christian hope as he sees it deals with ‘the future of the very earth on which [Christ’s] cross stands.’ God did not suffer in vain, but out of love for His creation. His creation experiences the rewards of that love now and into the future. “Oh, what wondrous love is this oh, my soul!”[113]

Conclusion

Moltmann sees the suffering of Christ as God’s way of participating in our human despair, taking it into himself, and replacing it with hope. This research explored Moltmann’s theology of hope as presented through the suffering of Christ and God’s methodology of bringing His children unto Himself through suffering with and for them. A discussion ensued on Moltmann’s theology of hope encased in the suffering of the Godhead on the cross. Pivotal to the comprehension of Moltmann’s theology of the cross was the conceptualization of a passible God who, through suffering, reached into eternity present and the future and offered up Himself as a living sacrificial hope of release from the intensity of pain of His children.  In doing so, God experienced the immensity of human suffering, absolute abandonment, and Godforsakenness.

Moltmann presents a compelling case for the Trinitarian suffering and the outreach of the Trinity to humanity as it suffers to affect hope even in dire circumstances.  It is important to note that the suffering God does not allow humans to suffer out of incredulous spite or sadistic tendencies.  Sin is consistently at the door of humanity and suffering is the result of sin whether the individual’s sin or sin that was brought to bear through human actions.  However, Moltmann’s theology of hope, through the suffering of the cross, proffers hope for connectedness with the Godhead today even in one’s present sufferings. The joy of knowing that God so loved His children that He suffers with and for them not just two thousand years ago on the cross but today in their present circumstances expands eschatological thoughts of hope.

Moltmann does not dispel eschatological hope nor does he state that the theology of hope through the suffering Godhead is a neo-orthodoxical construct. Moltmann traced hope back to the cross and brought the cross, and the hope enmeshed in and through it, through the expanse of history to suffering people today as they embrace the solidarity of hope through the suffering Trinity.

Finally, As the body of Christ welcomes this construct of hope and love cocooned in the suffering God a solidarity of oneness with the Godhead ensues. The misconception that the Christian life is idyllic and pain-free is a misnomer.  Suffering presents itself as a means for Christians to reach upward to the Godhead and horizontally into society as it draws people into the hope offered by the suffering El Shaddai. Moltmann’s presentation of the actions of the Trinitarian Godhead calls humanity into the God family with a promise of never experiencing Godforsakenness because God is ever present in the suffering of His children and draws them closer to Him as He suffers with them.

 

 

Bibliography

Enns, Paul. The Moody Handbook of Theology. Revised and Expanded ed. Chicago: Moody, 2014, Google Books.

Gavrilyuk, Paul L. “The Christian God v. Passionate Pagan Deities: Impassibility as an Apophatic Qualifier of Divine Emotions.” In The Suffering of the Impassible God: The Dialectics of Patristic Thought, 1-23. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006.

Harvie, Timothy. Ashgate New Critical Thinking in Religion, Theology and Biblical Studies: Jürgen Moltmann’s Ethics of Hope: Eschatological Possibilities for Moral Action. Abingdon, UK: Routledge, 2009. Accessed February 15, 2017. ProQuest Ebrary.

“In the Cross of Christ I Glory (No. 554).” In The Baptist Hymnal. Nashville: Convention Press, 1991.

Lee, Jung Young. God Suffers for Us: A Systematic Inquiry into a Concept of Divine Passibility. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1974.

Moltmann, Jürgen. A Broad Place: An Autobiography. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2009, Google Books.

________. The Crucified God. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2015, Kindle.

________. Experiences in Theology: Ways and Forms of Christian Theology. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2000. Accessed February 20, 2017. Ezproxy Ebrary.

________. The Living God and Fullness of Life. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2016, Google Books.

________. The Theology of Hope. NY: HarperCollins Publishers, 1993, Google Books.

Moltmann, Jürgen, and Elisabeth Moltmann-Wendel. Passion for God: Theology in Two Voices. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004.

Moltmann, Jürgen. Crucified God: The Cross of Christ as the Foundation & Criticism of Christian Theology. Translated by John Bowden. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993. Accessed February 22, 2017. Ezproxy Ebrary.

________. History and the Triune God: Contributions to Trinitarian Theology. Translated by John Bowden. New York: SCM, 1992.

________. How I Have Changed: Reflections on Thirty Years of Theology. Translated by John Bowden. Harrisburg: Trinity Press International, 1998.

Moltmann, Jürgen. God for a Secular Society: The Public Relevance of Theology. Translated by Margaret Kohl. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2005.

________. In the End — The Beginning: The Life of Hope. Translated by Margaret Kohl. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004. Accessed February 17, 2017. Ezproxy Ebrary.

________. Spirit of Life: A Universal Affirmation. Translated by Margaret Kohl. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2001. Accessed March 2, 2017. Ezproxy Ebrary.

________. The Trinity and the Kingdom: The Doctrine of God. Translated by Margaret Kohl. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993. Accessed February 24, 2017. Ezproxy Ebrary.

________. Way of Jesus Christ: Christology in Messianic Dimensions. Translated by Margaret Kohl. Fortress Press, 1993. Accessed February 17, 2017. Ezproxy Ebrary.

Moltmann, Jürgen. Jürgen Moltmann: Collected Readings. Edited by Margaret Kohl and Richard Bauckham. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2014.

Moltmann, Jürgen. Theology of Hope: On the Ground and the Implications of a Christian Eschatology. Translated by James W. Leitch. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993, Google Books. Accessed January 24, 2017.

Neal, Ryan A. Theology as Hope: On the Ground and Implications of Jürgen Moltmann’s Doctrine of Hope. Eugene: Wipf and Stock, 2009, Google Books.

Saler, Robert Cady. Theologia Crucis: A Companion to the Theology of the Cross. Eugene: Cascade Books, 2017.

Schweitzer, Don. “Aspects of God’s Relationship to the World in the Theologies of Jurgen Moltmann, Bonaventure and Jonathan Edwards.” Religious Studies and Theology 26, no. 1 (June 1, 2007): 5-24. Accessed February 24, 2017. ProQuest Ebrary.

Scrutton, Anastasia Philippa. “Chapter 7.” In Continuum Studies in Philosophy of Religion Series: Thinking Through Feelings: God, Emotion and Passibility, 184-87. New York: Bloomsbury, 2013. Accessed February 17, 2017. ProQuest Ebrary.

“The Solid Rock. (No. 406). ” In The Baptist Hymnal. Nashville: Convention Press, 1991.

“What Wondrous Love Is This? (No. 143).” In The Baptist Hymnal. Nashville: Convention Press, 1991.

[1] Unless otherwise noted, all biblical passages referenced are in the King James Version (Public Domain).

[2] Jürgen Moltmann, Theology of Hope: On the Ground and the Implications of a Christian Eschatology, trans. James W. Leitch (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993, Google Books), 7.

[3] Jürgen Moltmann, A Broad Place: An Autobiography (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2009, Google Books), 17.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid., 19-26.

[6] Moltmann, A Broad Place, 29-30.

[7] Moltmann, A Broad Place, 31; 35Jürgen Moltmann, The Crucified God (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2015, Kindle), Loc. 58; Jürgen Moltmann and Elisabeth Moltmann-Wendel, Passion for God: Theology in Two Voices (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2004), 70.

[8] Ibid., 27

[9] Ps. 39 as cited by Moltmann in A Broad Place. No version of the Bible was cited by Moltmann for the citation of this Scripture.

[10] Ibid., 29; Jürgen Moltmann, In the End — The Beginning: The Life of Hope, trans. Margaret Kohl (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004), 35, accessed February 17, 2017, Ezproxy Ebrary.

[11] Ibid. Mark 15:34.

[12] Ibid.

[13] Ibid.

[14] Jürgen Moltmann, How I Have Changed: Reflections on Thirty Years of Theology, trans. John Bowden (Harrisburg: Trinity Press International, 1998), 14-15.

[15] Moltmann, Theology of Hope: On the Ground, 163-164.

[16] Jung Young Lee, God Suffers for Us: A Systematic Inquiry into a Concept of Divine Passibility (The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 1974), 11.

[17] Ibid.

[18] Ibid., 12.

[19] Lee, God Suffers for, 11.

[20] Ibid.

[21] Lee, God Suffers for, 11.

[22] Anastasia Philippa. Scrutton, “Chapter 7,” in Continuum Studies in Philosophy of Religion Series: Thinking Through Feelings: God, Emotion and Passibility (New York: Bloomsbury, 2013), 184-187, accessed February 17, 2017, ProQuest Ebrary.

[23] The intent of this paper is not to argue for the construct of passibility or corporeality versus incorporeality.  However; for a more detailed explanation of the concepts see J. K. Mozley, The Impassibility of God: A Survey of Christian Thought (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1926), p. 128; Bertrand R. Brasnett, The Suffering of the Impassible God (London: S. P. C. K., 1928); Paul L. Gavrilyuk, “The Christian God v. Passionate Pagan Deities: Impassibility as an Apophatic Qualifier of Divine Emotions,” in The Suffering of the Impassible God: The Dialectics of Patristic Thought (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006), 1-23; Scrutton, “Chapter 1,” 1-35.

[24] Scrutton, “Chapter 7,” in Continuum, 187.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Jürgen Moltmann, Crucified God: The Cross of Christ as the Foundation & Criticism of Christian Theology, trans. John Bowden (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993), xi, accessed February 22, 2017, Ezproxy Ebrary; Neal proffers a detailed explanation of this construct in Ryan A. Neal, Theology as Hope: On the Ground and Implications of Jürgen Moltmann’s Doctrine of Hope (Eugene: Wipf and Stock, 2009, Google Books), 47.

[27] Moltmann, Crucified God: The Cross, 4.

[28]  ” Divine passibility, especially the type (voluntary) that Moltmann espouses, ensures hope is found in suffering, because God takes up all suffering,” Neal, Theology as Hope, 52.

[29] Ibid., 47.

[30] Ibid. Inversely does this mean that because of the “indwelling of God” within His children He experiences the same intensity of their suffering too? Moltmann implies just that in Jürgen Moltmann: Collected Readings, ed. Margaret Kohl and Richard Bauckham (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2014, Kindle), Loc. 4201.

[31] Paul Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology, Revised and Expanded ed. (Chicago: Moody, 2014, Google Books), 853.

[32] Neal, Theology as Hope, 47.

[33] Jürgen Moltmann, The Living God and Fullness of Life (Louisville: Westminster John Know Press, 2016, Google Books), 45-46. Moltmann responds to the theology of impassibility with, “How then can we know so exactly what God cannot do when we assert that “God cannot alter” and that “God cannot suffer?” In reply to the second question we can reply-If God is incapable of suffering-what is what happens to be of Concern to God?”

[34] Moltmann, Crucified God: The Cross, xi.; Robert Cady. Saler, Theologia Crucis: A Companion to the Theology of the Cross (Eugene: Cascade Books, 2017), 1-3.

[35] Moltmann, Crucified God: The Cross, ix. Moltmann poses this question in Experiences in Theology: Ways and Forms of Christian Theology (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2000), 304-305.” What does the cross of the Son of God mean for God himself?” Moltmann answers the question with “And I came face to face with the pain of the Father of Jesus Christ who suffered with him. If Christ dies with the cry of profoundest God-forsakenness, then in God the Father there must be a correspondingly profound experience of forsakenness by the Son. If the Son suffers his death on the cross not just as a human death but also as an eternal death of God-forsakenness, and thus as ‘the death of God’, then – or so we must conclude – the God whom he always called ‘Abba, dear Father’ suffers the death of his Son and the deadly tornness of his own heart and eternal being.”

[36] Moltmann, Crucified God: The Cross, 251.

[37] Ibid., Enns, The Moody Handbook, 853.

[38] Moltmann, Crucified God: The Cross, 251.

[39] Moltmann, Crucified God: The Cross, 251.

[40] Enns, The Moody Handbook, 875.

[41] Moltmann, Crucified God: The Cross, 204.

[42] Ibid.

[43] Ibid.

[44] Moltmann, Crucified God: The Cross, 204.

[45] Moltmann, Crucified God: The Cross, 204.

[46] Neal, Theology as Hope: On, 158-59.

[47] Jürgen Moltmann, Way of Jesus Christ: Christology in Messianic Dimensions, trans. Margaret Kohl (Fortress Press, 1993), 173, accessed February 17, 2017, Ezproxy Ebrary.

[48] Moltmann, Theology of Hope, On Grounds, 21.

[49] Jürgen Moltmann, God for a Secular Society: The Public Relevance of Theology, trans. Margaret Kohl (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2005), 21.

[50] Jürgen Moltmann, History and the Triune God: Contributions to Trinitarian Theology, trans. John Bowden (New York: SCM, 1992), as quoted in Timothy Harvie, Ashgate New Critical Thinking in Religion, Theology and Biblical Studies: Jürgen Moltmann’s Ethics of Hope: Eschatological Possibilities for Moral Action. (Abingdon, UK: Routledge, 2009), 26, accessed February 15, 2017, ProQuest Ebrary.

[51] Ibid.

[52] Moltmann, A Broad Place, 31; Matthew 27:51 declared And, behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom; and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent. The wall of separation melted at the foot of the cross as God reached down into humanity and drew all individuals into Himself during His time of colossal suffering.

[53] “The Solid Rock” (No. 406) and “In the Cross of Christ I Glory (No. 554), in The Baptist Hymnal (Nashville: Convention Press, 1991).

[54] Moltmann, A Broad Place, 31.

[55] Moltmann, Crucified God: The Cross, 204.

[56] Ibid.

[57] Ibid., 243.

[58] Ibid., 246.

[59] Moltmann, The Trinity and, 59.

[60] Harvie, Ashgate New Critical Thinking in, 101.

[61] Ibid., 104-107.

[62] Moltmann, The Trinity and, 59.

[63] Ibid., 23.

[64] Ibid.

[65] Ibid.

[66] Jürgen Moltmann, Spirit of Life: A Universal Affirmation, trans. Margaret Kohl (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2001), 73, accessed March 2, 2017, Ezproxy Ebrary.

[67] Ibid.

[68] Ibid.

[69] Jürgen Moltmann, Spirit of Life, 73.

[70] Jürgen Moltmann, Spirit of Life, 77.

[71] Ibid.

[72] Ibid., 76.

[73] Ibid.

[74] Ibid.

[75] Moltmann, The Trinity and, 23.

[76] Ibid.

[77] Ibid.

[78] Ibid.

[79] Ibid.

[80] Moltmann, Crucified God: The Cross, 47

[81] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers from Prison: The Enlarged Edition (London: SCM Press, 1971), 360, quoted in Moltmann, Crucified God: The Cross, 47.

[82] Ibid.,

[83] Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers, 47.

[84] Jürgen Moltmann, Way of Jesus Christ: Christology in Messianic Dimensions, trans. Margaret Kohl (Fortress Press, 1993), 100, accessed February 17, 2017, Ezproxy Ebrary.

[85] Jürgen Moltmann, The Trinity and the Kingdom: The Doctrine of God, trans. Margaret Kohl (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1993), 21; 60, accessed February 24, 2017, Ezproxy Ebrary.

[86] Jürgen Moltmann, The Trinity and the Kingdom, 21-22.

[87] Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers, 19.

[88] Ibid., 22.

[89] Moltmann, Theology of Hope, On Grounds, 44.

[90] Don Schweitzer, “Aspects of God’s Relationship to the World in the Theologies of Jürgen Moltmann, Bonaventure and Jonathan Edwards,” Religious Studies and Theology 26, no. 1 (June 1, 2007): 5, accessed February 24, 2017, ProQuest Ebrary.

[91] Moltmann, The Trinity and the Kingdom, 59.

[92] Moltmann, The Trinity and the Kingdom, 59.

[93] Ibid., 60.

[94] Ibid.

[95] Ibid., 61.

[96] Ibid., 61.

[97] Moltmann, Crucified God: The Cross, 230.

[98] Moltmann, The Trinity and the Kingdom, 60.

[99] Ibid.

[100] Ibid.

[101] Ibid.

[102] Ibid.

[103] Moltmann, Crucified God: The Cross, 230.

[104] Moltmann, Crucified God: The Cross, 188.

[105] Ibid., 189.

[106] Ibid., 190.

[107] Ibid., 193.

[108] Moltmann, Crucified God: The Cross, 193.

[109] Jürgen Moltmann, “The Presence of God’s Future: The Risen Christ,” Anglican Theological Review 89, no. 4 (Fall 2007): 578, accessed February 24, 2017, ProQuest Ebrary.

[110] Moltmann, The Presence of God’s, 578-579.

[111] Ibid.

[112] Harvie, Ashgate New Critical Thinking in, 24.

[113] “What Wondrous Love Is This” (No. 143) in The Baptist Hymnal (Nashville: Convention Press, 1991).

Theo 510 Spring 2017 DBs

Contents

Discussion Board Topic 1. 1

Discussion Board Topic 2. 2

Discussion Board Topic 3. 5

Discussion Board Topic 4. 7

 

 

Discussion Board Topic 1

 

Based upon your reading of chapter 1 in Enns’ text, how has the study of this chapter affected your understanding of what is biblical theology and its relationship to the other disciplines?  What would happen to a church or denomination that does not actively learn or apply biblical and systematic theology to its teaching ministry?  Has this happened to your church or denomination?

 

How has the study of this chapter affected your understanding of what is biblical theology and its relationship to the other disciplines?

The study in this chapter was an excellent reminder of the tenure of the information presented in both the NBST [New Testament Introduction], OBST [Old Testament Introduction] and Survey of the History of Christianity classes offered by Liberty University.  The diversity of theological constructs posited by theologians as documented in the “biblical theology movement” from Eichrodt to von Rad proffer possibilities for confusion and could lead to disbelief if an individual is not grounded in the truth of God’s word (Enns 2014, 23). The infusion of liberalism into biblical theology and the growth of neoorthodoxy fostered led by the historical method of examining Scripture denied the authority of Scripture (23-24). It is impossible to maintain a biblical base to Scripture when the authority of Scripture is the eliminated.

As a methodology, biblical theology posits a narrow focus of parts Scripture from a historical frame of reference and is exegetical in nature (24). Whereas and the extensive focus on systematic theology utilizes Scripture and sources outside of Scripture to unravel truths or doctrinal concerns of the whole Scripture (24-25).  Biblical theology presents theological constructs or doctrines from a specific theologian or biblical era; however,  systematic theology exegesis all scriptural references to the proffered doctrine or theological construct. The knowledge posited in chapter one of the text concerning the difference between the how, why, process, and progress of biblical theology when juxtaposed against the what, product and a viewpoint from the culmination of God’s revelation of systematic theology clarified the value of both forms of methods of exploring the truths of the Bible (27-28).

 

What would happen to a church or denomination that does not actively learn or apply biblical and systematic theology to its teaching ministry?

When a church or denomination negates active engagement in the biblical and systematic theology to its teaching ministry the ministry becomes stale in the presentation of Scripture to the membership. Examination of Scripture and the application of Scripture to a Christians life fosters personal growth as indicated by Acts 17:11 and practiced by the Bereans.  Negating the use of the above disciplines above prevents the growing of disciples who are equipped to grow other disciples. No pastor or denomination has a complete understanding of all Scripture.  The church universal received an admonishment from Peter to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior 2 Pet 3:18. 

Has this happened to your church or denomination? 

The staleness of doctrine and the riveted use of Scripture happened to the Worldwide Church of God. I attended the Worldwide Church of God from 1971 in London UK until 2002 when I left the Savannah, Georgia congregation. When the leadership of the church broadened its study of Scripture using both the biblical and systematic theology methods of studying the Bible the church when through significant doctrinal changes that led to a complete change of doctrine and beliefs.  Personally, when I began to use both methods to study Scripture my personal understanding of biblical truths changed because I used the writings of sources for reference that were not written by writers from my church.   I did not leave the church because of the doctrinal changes.  I left because of a personal problem, and the pastor was not equipped to proffer spiritual guidance.  Finally, studying God’s word from both standpoints proffers a more rounded understanding of theological constructs.

Bibliography

Enns, Paul. The Moody Handbook of Theology. Revised and Expanded ed. Chicago: Moody, 2014.

 

Discussion Board Topic 2

After reading Enns’ section on “Gifts of the Holy Spirit” (ch. 21), do you agree or disagree with his conclusion that select spiritual gifts ceased after the time of the Apostles and are no longer in use today?  Provide the needed scripture to substantiate your position.

“Gifts of the Holy Spirit” is a highly charged theological construct that has divided the Church of the Living God for centuries. Enns posited that the select spiritual gifts have ceased. Enns provided an explanation for spiritual gifts ” first, a spiritual gift to an individual is God’s enablement for personal spiritual service (1 Cor. 12:11). Second, a spiritual gift to the church is a person uniquely equipped for the church’s edification and maturation (Eph. 4:11–13)”.[1] The point of reference provided by Enns concerning the explanation for spiritual gifts defines one’s acceptance of cessation of the gifts.

Statement: As the church of the twenty-first century grows and functions and discontinuity of the spiritual gifts are evident this fledgling theologian affirms that the initial purpose of the spiritual gifts was a means of authenticating the work of the early church, but the display of the spiritual gifts is not normative of the church today. Within the confines of word count and the need to reduce this argument to a readable level the discussion below focuses on the gifts of apostles, prophets, the Holy Spirit, tongues, and healing.

 Apostles

Enns repeatedly pointed to the closure of the Canon of Scripture as evidentiary proof of the cessation of the gifts due to the inerrancy, and revelatory nature of the gifts.[2]  Historians and early church fathers iterated the closure of the canon; therefore, documentation of the glory of God, as evidenced by the spiritual gifts, and the inerrancy of Scripture no longer warranted authentication. Josephus declared the three divisions of the Old Testament (OT) and cited not only the names but also the number of the books contained in the OT.[3] Scholars such as Ryle detailed the three separate sections in the OT canon and offered the specific dates of recognition for each division of the Scripture.[4] Ryle proposed completion dates for each section. The “Law” around 432 BC; The “Prophets” an approximate authentication date of 200 B.C., lastly the “Writings” indicated a  completion date of before 100 BC but iterated that recognition did not occur until about AD 100.[5] Early church fathers such as Athanasius – who lived after the death of the last writer of a canonical book namely the Apostle John – also recognized the books of the OT canon and its divisions as well as the books of the New Testament (NT) and their apostolic nature of the writers in his Paschal letter.[6]

The apostle Paul addresses the foundations of the church as “And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone” (Eph 2:20 KJV).[7] Note that Paul iterated “the foundations of the church” not “the church” or “the continuation of the church.” The word of the apostle and prophets of the early church was without error (see Deut. 18:20, 22 for proofs of the role of the prophet).  Theologians – who believe in the supremacy of God and the fact that He cannot lie and the fact that Scripture is without error – cannot indicate a time during the Bible when prophetic utterances of the writings of the canon of Scripture produced a falsehood or were in error. This point is pivotal when it comes to the belief that scripture is inerrant. Therefore, with no apparent indication in the NT that the roles assigned to the persons chosen by the Lord as Apostles and or prophets continued after the death of John and the Apostle Paul. [8]Persons reference the two witnesses in Revelation 11:1-14 note God’s word calls then witnesses and not prophets.  John’s writings about the end times do not reference the use of any of the gifts referenced in chapter 21.

Holy Spirit
Concerning the gift of the Holy Spirit, Peter declared, “Repent and be baptized” then you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Acts 10:45. Peter brought to remembrance “the gift of the Holy Spirit” had been poured out on the Gentiles also.” [What language were they speaking or understanding? Scripture does not indicate that. Is it possible that Peter was hearing them speak in His tongue? Scripture again does not make this clear in this instance. The Scripture simply stated “[individuals heard] them speak with tongues and magnify God” (v.46). When “tongues” first appeared in Scripture, each person heard their “mother language” being spoken by someone who was not bi-lingual.

And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?  And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,  Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God (Acts 2: 1-11).

It is apparent that the language spoken by the persons in the initial appearance of the gift of tongues was understandable by the individuals in the audience even though the speaker uttered another language. Every person who believes in Jesus Christ as their Savior receives the Holy Spirit (1 Cor.12:13). John 14:17 declares “Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” It is apparent that every believer received this gift during John’s time and even today. Does the church need to hear a person speaking in a foreign language today for us to believe that they are a child of God? No! Scripture speaks of Christian no longer needing milk.  Having said that this Christian believes that it is possible for a person sitting in a congregation where the pastor is preaching in English to hear the Word of God in their language and accept Christ as their personal Savior. God’s timing is not man’s timing, and He will use whomever He needs to use to reach an unsaved person.

Healing

In this dispensation of the church, it is unnecessary to utilize the gift of healing as a show of God’s power. God does not need to work through a human being, and or an object to heal his people. James 5:13-15 declared, “Is any among you afflicted? Let him pray. Is any merry? Let him sing psalms. Is any sick among you? Let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he has committed sins, they shall be forgiven him.” Each believer has direct contact with God.  No believer needs to go to a particular person for “healing” today. Yes, we should be praying for God to intervene and cure a believer if that is within His will for them James 15:16).

Finally, today believers live by faith and not by sight. The need for the spiritual gifts ceased at the close of the canon and as the church matured. This topic will probably bring about many interesting responses.
Bibliography

Athanasius. Easter Letter AD 357 39. Grand Rapids: Christian Classics Ethereal Library. Accessed January 31, 2017. https://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf204/Page_552html.

Enns, Paul. The Moody Handbook of Theology. Revised and Expanded ed. Chicago: Moody, 2014.

Josephus, Flavius. Against Apion 1. Accessed January 31, 2017. http://www.pseudepigrapha.com/josephus/apion-1.html.

Ryle, Herbert Edward. The Canon of the Old Testament: An Essay on the Gradual Growth and Formation of the Hebrew Canon of Scripture. Reprint. London: Macmillan and, 1909.

Notes

[1] Paul Enns, The Moody Handbook of Theology, Revised and Expanded ed. (Chicago: Moody, 2014), 283.

[2] Ibid., 285-286.

[3] Flavius Josephus Against Apion 1, accessed October 14, 2016, http://www.pseudepigrapha.com/josephus/apion-1.html; Anthony Frost, “Tracing the Emergence of a Canon of Holy Scripture in Churches,” Anglican Historical Society Journal 57 (April 2014): 28-29, accessed September 12, 2016, Ezproxy Ebrary.

[4] Herbert Edward Ryle, The Canon of the Old Testament: An Essay on the Gradual Growth and Formation of the Hebrew Canon of Scripture, Reprint (London: Macmillan and, 1909), 93.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Athanasius. Easter Letter AD 357 39. Grand Rapids: Christian Classics Ethereal Library. Accessed September 29, 2016.https://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf204/Page_552.html.

[7] Unless otherwise noted, all biblical passages referenced are in the King James Version (Public Domain).  I use this sitehttps://www.biblegateway.com/
[8] See(Matt. 10:1–15; Acts 15:4, 6,22, 23; 2 Cor. 12:12; 1 Cor. 9:1–2; 15:5–8; Gal. 1:12; 1 Cor. 15:8).

Discussion Board Topic 3

 

After reading Enns’ section on “Reformation Soteriology,” critique and evaluate his assessment of Calvinism (Reformed) and Arminianism on the select topics of atonement and faith and works (Enns, ch. 30).  Would your church denomination be in agreement with the Reformed or Arminian or some modified position?

Calvinism and Arminianism: Atonement

According to Enns, Calvin taught atonement for a select group of people decided by the Godhead through the process of predestination – or the “elect” (Enns 2014, 483). Calvin’s concept of the atonement being applicable the elect coincides with the Calvinistic view of predestination (483). On the other hand, Arminian theology considers the death of Christ a “substitute for a penalty” that appeased the God’s judicial system (484). However, Scripture does not support either the Calvinism or Arminianism theology on atonement.  Act 2:40 chronicles the Apostle Peter’s plea with the people to “save yourself from this untoward generation” (Unless otherwise stated all scriptural references come from the public domain King James Version of the Bible KJV.) Election negates Peter’s declaration to the people if Christ’s death only applies to a select group of individuals. Peter iterated the same sentiment in 1 Pet 2:23 with no indication of Christ’s death applying to only an elect group of people. The words of the Lord in Matt 24:14 clearly indicates that the gospel is preached to all individuals in all the world. Köstenberger and O’Brien affirm the premise of the application of a substitutionary death for all individuals in all nations (Köstenberger and O’Brien 2001, 87-109).  Enns presented a brief view of the Calvinistic and Arminian view of atonement.  To facilitate a deeper understanding of the difference in the theological concept of the atonement from both theologians required Enns to extrapolate a richer discussion on the topic.

Calvinism and Arminianism Faith, and Works

Enns reported Calvin considered salvation unconditional and independent of any action on the part of the recipient (483).  Moreover, Enns stipulated that Calvin taught that men must shed their previous life and live righteous repentant lives while simultaneously believing the gospel. Calvin posited that justification requires acceptance before The Almighty through righteousness that comes through faith (485). Consequentially, justification is demonstrable as a declaration before individuals of the “righteousness of faith” (486). However, the contention then would be neither faith nor works are needed if the “elect” are predetermined and have access to the family of God as the sole purview of a few people.

In like manner, Enns discussed the Arminian “conditional election” view (486). Conditional election dictates God’s election of individuals He already “knows will believe in Christ”; however, Arminianism supports the applicability of Christ’s death to all of humanity (486). Subsequently, when the believer becomes sinful the conditions of election fall into place and the believer loses salvation (486). At this juncture, the core Christian beliefs of faith and works, as exemplified by Calvinism and Arminianism, required more extrapolation by Enns. Enns left too many questions unanswered in this presentation. Granted Enns offers a more detailed explanation in another section of the book but fails to cite the upcoming discourse; thus, leaving the reader wondering how the theologians could arrive at the shallow conclusion presented in chapter 30.

The Beliefs of My Church

The church believes that the Great Commission is an active part of every Christian’s life commanded by The Lord before His final ascension; therefore, evangelism is not the sole purview of an evangelist, neither is it a spiritual gift. The church believes that the Lord Jesus Christ is the eternal Son of God who became man without ceasing to be God, having been conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary, in order that He might reveal God and redeem sinful man (John 1:1-2, 14; Luke 1:35). The church believes that the Lord Jesus Christ accomplished redemption for all of humanity through His death on the cross as a substitutionary sacrifice and that our justification is made sure by His actual, physical resurrection from the dead (Earley and Wheeler 2014, 31-35; Terry 2013, 9-24; Romans 3:24; 1 Peter 2:24). Fourth, the church believes that the Lord Jesus Christ ascended into heaven and is now exalted at the right hand of God, where, as our high priest, He fulfills the ministry of representative, intercessor, and advocate (Acts 1:9-10; Hebrews 7:25, 9:24; Romans 8:34; 1 John 2:1-2). Finally, the church believes that in an act of faith and trust in Jesus, the repentance of our sin leads transference from us to Him and His righteousness brings a justified relationship with God and facilitates life in Christ as a new creation.

Bibliography

Earley, Dave, and David Wheeler. Evangelism Is. Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 2014, Kindle. 

Enns, Paul. The Moody Handbook of Theology. Revised and Expanded ed. Chicago: Moody, 2014, Google Books. 

Kostenberger, Andreas J., and Peter Thomas. O’Brien. Salvation to the Ends of the Earth: A Biblical Theology of Mission. Leicester, England: Apollos, 2001, Google Books. 

Terry, Justyn. “The Forgiveness of Sins and the Work of Christ: A Case for Substitutionary Atonement.” Anglican Theological Review 91, no. 1 (Winter 2013): 9-24. Accessed February 13, 2017. ProQuest Ebrary.

 Discussion Board Topic 4

Which of the contemporary theology topics researched by Enns would be considered the most relevant to the contemporary church? Explain why you believe this to be so. Based on cultural trends, what do you anticipate to be the next “major” issue the contemporary church will need to address?

Christianity stands on the edge of time in a manner that has never been realized by any religious group. Throughout the world, people are experiencing tyranny, suffering, hopelessness, and a sense of “godforsakeness” that they have never experienced before (Moltmann, A Broad Place, 31). The most relevant contemporary topic presented by Enns that opens the way to the cross for a broken and suffering world through the theology of evangelicalism (Enns 2014, 654-656). The general election of this nation proved to Americans that the need for religious teaching, lifestyle, and governance that is mainstream and sticks to Christian beliefs that maintains a “trunk” of the tree biblical context meets the needs of the populace.

Enns identifies why evangelicalism presents a Christian worldview to the public, and to people looking into the world of Christianity, that looks firm and solidly grounded in Scripture and the tenets of historical Christianity (654-656). The doctrinal affirmations of evangelicalism hold to the Nicene Creed [the doctrine the Trinity, the concept of verbal plenary inspiration, and the foundational doctrines of the reformed church (654; “Nicene Creed,”). The idea of universal sin and the redemption of humankind through the suffering of God on the cross “reconciles” humanity unto the creator, lies at the center of evangelical theology (Enns, 654). Moltmann describes the importance of the cross for Christians as he iterates

There is a medieval picture which shows Christ descending into hell and opening the gate for someone who points to himself as if he were saying, ‘And are you coming to me?’ That is how I have always felt. Jesus’ Godforsakenness [Godforsakenness is a term coined by Moltmann to describe the feeling the Lord when He cried out “My God, My God why have you forsaken me (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34).] as on the cross showed me where God is present — where He was in my experiences of death, and where He is going to be in whatever comes. Whenever I read the Bible again with the searching eyes of the Godforsaken prisoner I was, I am always assured of its divine truth” (Moltmann 2009, 31).

The evangelical gospel offers hope and the ability for broken people to be “reconciled to God” (Enns, 654; 2 Cor 5:19). Faith in Christ stands as the cornerstone of the doctrinal tenets of evangelicalism, not works alone (Ro 5:1). Evangelicals believe in sharing the message of the gospel and the process of evangelism (Enn, 655). The act of sharing the message of the good news translates the Scripture of loving one’s neighbor as themselves into active agape love. Sharing the gospel does so because the very act of evangelism demonstrate the ability to think of all of humanity the way that Christ thought of humanity when He sent the disciples out to share the good news with all people until the end comes. Stott proffers an apt definition of what evangelism means to Kingdom Mission “. . . .the Bible gives us the message for world evangelization. The Lausanne Covenant defined evangelism . . . . . Paragraph four begins:

To evangelize is to spread the good news that Jesus Christ died for our sins and was raised from the dead according to the Scriptures and that as the reigning Lord he now offers the forgiveness of sins and the liberating gift of the Spirit to all who repent and believe. (Stott 2009, 22; Lausanne Covenant: The Nature of Evangelism as quoted by Stott).

Why is evangelicalism most relevant to the contemporary church?

Evangelism is most pertinent to the modern church because the world needs Christ. Moffett proposes that evangelism is only part of the mission of the church, but it opens a venue for sharing the gospel of the good news with people who are blind, oppressed, imprisoned, or poor (Moffett 2009, 598). To qualify his definition of evangelism Moffett declares “evangelism is not. . . . Christian action and protest against the world’s injustices” (Moffett, 599). Moffett explains that biblical evangelism ensures that a Christian’s vertical relationship with the Triune God comes first, and then a horizontal relationship with our neighbor is second to our relationship with God (599). Moffett has placed into contemporary language the dictates of the Shammah from Deuteronomy 6:4-9 repeated by The Lord in Matthew 22:37-39 (NIV) “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.” On this Scripture “or the Shammah” hangs all of the Old and New Testament theology of God’s Kingdom Mission that started with Abraham and ends with the return of the Lord. Love is an ageless construct. Love is a human need that stems from the very core of the God of love. An evangelical’s love for God and man is embodied in evangelical theology and powers all evangelicals to look first to the triune God as the source of all hope and love (Neal, 2009, 61). Then the evangelical’s love for God extends that hope out to their neighbor as they embrace the cross of Jesus Christ as the place where all hope begins (Neal, 2009, 61).

What is the next major issue that the contemporary church needs to address?

The next major issue that the present church needs to address is the reality and magnitude suffering people all over the world and the biblical answer to that suffering. As one views the news, at any time during the day, a graphic picture of the world fraught with turmoil, impoverishment, distrust – in politicians and the church, division, and mayhem present itself to Christian theology. How does one address the needs of these people as Christ did when He healed the sick, fed the poor and even cried over the emotional and-and spiritual state of Jerusalem, and for Lazarus’ family as they suffered?

We live in a world where 80% percentage of humanity is “living on less than $10.00 per day (Shah 2013, Poverty Facts and Stats). How do evangelicals make Christianity impactful or beneficial to people living lives fraught with suffering and impoverishment? How do evangelicals present a gospel and an eschatological hope as a present reality rather than a future promise of resolution of people’ current pain? What real hope, coupled with faith and the reality of the freedom engender in the promise of the cross, can Christianity offer to people who do not see an end to their suffering? The “Savior” presented as a solution to a suffering world cannot be radicalized socialism or the political aspirations of any political leader. The hope offered to the world must be centered on the reality of the cross (Moltmann 2015, 99). The presentation of the reality of the cross to the world as a whole, to young Christians, and to people who see no hope at the end of their daily struggles will determine the effectiveness of the gospel presentation. It will never negate the gospel of Jesus Christ neither can it prevent God’s Kingdom Mission, but it will change the nuclei from which the gospel is disseminated.

Bibliography

Enns, Paul. The Moody Handbook of Theology. Revised and Expanded ed. Chicago: Moody, 2014, Google Books.

Moffett, Hugh. “Evangelism: The Leading Partner.” In Perspectives on the World Christian Movement: A Reader, by Ralph D. Winter, Steven C. Hawthorne, Darrell R. Dorr, D. Bruce. Graham, and Bruce A. Koch, 598-99. Pasadena: William Carey Library, 2009.

Moltmann, Jurgen. A Broad Place: An Autobiography. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2009, Google Books.

Moltmann, Jurgen. The Crucified God. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2015, Kindle.

Neal, Ryan A. Theology as Hope: On the Ground and Implications of Jurgen Moltmann’s Doctrine of Hope. Eugene: Wipf and Stock, 2009, Google Books.

“Nicene Creed.” Nicene Creed. Accessed February 26, 2017. https://www.ccel.org/creeds/nicene.creed.html.

Shah, Anup. “Poverty Facts and Stats.” Global Issues. January 1, 2013. Accessed February 26, 2017. http://www.globalissues.org/article/26/poverty-facts-and-stats.

Stott, John R. W. “The Bible in World Evangelization.” In Perspectives on the World Christian Movement: A Reader, by Ralph D. Winter, Steven C. Hawthorne, Darrell R. Dorr, D. Bruce. Graham, and Bruce A. Koch, 21-26. Pasadena: William Carey Library, 2009.

Aside

DBS PACO 603-Spring 2017

Contents

Discussion Board Topic 1. 1

Discussion Board Topic 2. 3

Discussion Board Topic 3. 6

Discussion Board Topic 4. 8

 

 

Discussion Board Topic 1

What is the status of premarital counseling in your church/community? What level of importance does your church place on the institution of marriage, and are they doing anything creative to support young marriages?

What is the status of premarital counseling in your church/community?

Faith Ridgeland Baptist Church (also known as Faith Ridgeland) utilizes the following protocols for premarital counseling. Pastor Henry Criss iterated that the church does not have an established protocol for premarital counseling; however, Faith Ridgeland has a developed a letter that each premarital couple receives who is interested in their marriage ceremony conducted at Faith Ridgeland.[1] Pastor Henry declared that the practice of the fellowship deems it inappropriate to marry individuals who are non-believers.[2]Pastor Henry iterated that the letter explains the Southern Baptist Convention Article XVIII position on marriage and the sanctity of marriage on the couple’s insistence that they are believers and still wish to be married by Pastor Henry, Pastor Henry then sets up an appointment to meet with them.[4]  At that point, the contents of Article XVII: subsection marriage is discussed at length with the couple.[5]

Steps taken to support premarital counseling.

The next step requires the couple to procure premarital counseling from a licensed pre-marital counselor. Due to the location of the church, and the fact that licensed counselors are forty or more miles away from this small town, Pastor Henry mentioned that an alternative methodology for counseling requires the couple to meet with him for several sessions.[6] During the sessions, the counseling model uses the book “Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married” by Dr. Gary Chapman. Pastor Henry uses the Leader’s Guide to facilitate the sessions.[7] A letter of referral from the couple’s pastor is required before the ceremony is performed to ensure that they are indeed baptized members of the community of faith. The other Baptist churches in the county follows a similar process, but may utilize a different book.

Ongoing support for young couples.

An essential component of a strong marriage is posited in the inerrant Word of God.[8] Hawkins declared that the key concepts of entailed in a strong healthy marriage include “ intimacy, commitment, wisdom’s directives, reality, God’s sovereignty, the person, sexuality, communication, and companionship.”[9] The pivotal ingredient for strong Christian marriages is the realization that marital intimacy and strong successful marriages do not occur outside of God’s sovereignty. Understanding one’s future mate’s personality style, coping mechanisms, and also how they handle stress – prior to marriage eliminates the leap of faith that couples take when they do not participate in pre-marital counseling that discusses these traits.[10] Pastor Henry supports young couples by utilizing resource books that support relationship building.

Notes

[1] Henry Criss, interviewed by Joyce Gerald, Faith Ridgeland e-mail interview, Hardeeville, South Carolina, March 20, 2017.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Southern Baptist Convention, “Report of the Baptist Faith and Message Study Committee: Article XVIII The Family,” The Baptist Faith and Message, 2000, Marriage, accessed March 20, 2017, http://www.sbc.net/bfm2000/bfm2000.asp.

[4] Henry Criss, interviewed by Joyce Gerald.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] Gary D. Chapman, Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married (Chicago: Northfield Pub., 2010), Facilitator’s Guide-Introduction. Some of the chapters in this book are very short; therefore the introduction to the facilitator’s guide proffers methods for combining the chapters “Some of the chapters of Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married are short, especially the first few. You might have your group be prepared to discuss two or three chapters per meeting at first and see how it goes. Be flexible.”

[8] Ronald E. Hawkins, Strengthening Marital Intimacy (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1991, MBS Direct), 9.

[9] Ibid., 10.

[10] PREPARE ENRICH, Facilitator’s Manual (Roseville: PREPARE/ENRICH, LLC., 2015), 6-7, accessed March 20, 2017, https://www.prepare-enrich.com/prepare_enrich_content/training/facilitators_manual.pdf.

 

Bibliography

Chapman, Gary D. Things I Wish I’d Known Before We Got Married. Chicago: Northfield Pub., 2010.

Hawkins, Ronald E. Strengthening Marital Intimacy. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1991, MBS Direct.

PREPARE ENRICH. Facilitator’s Manual. Roseville: PREPARE/ENRICH, LLC., 2015. Accessed March 20, 2017. https://www.prepare-enrich.com/prepare_enrich_content/training/facilitators_manual.pdf.

Southern Baptist Convention. “Report of the Baptist Faith and Message Study Committee: Article XVIII The Family.” The Baptist Faith and Message. 2000. Accessed March 20, 2017. http://www.sbc.net/bfm2000/bfm2000.asp.

 

Discussion Board Topic 2

There are many ideas about why people should get married; Scripture even mentions more than one reason. Some recent publications suggest that marrying for love is a bad idea. Explore this idea using Internet resources and the Bible to articulate your point of view on this subject.

Today the presentation of the idea of marriage does not match the Biblical model declared by God’s word. Hartwell-Walker, a psychologist and marriage and family counselor, proposed five reasons why individuals should not marry the one they love. Hartwell-Walker lists  “(1) To escape the family of origin” as a logical reason why love should not enter the matrix of the decision to marry one’s, partner.[1] PREPARE/ENRICH provides research that supports the impact of the family of origin on couples and marriage; however,  PREPARE/ENRICH posits solutions that ameliorate the adverse impact that family of origin dynamics has on young couples.[2]  Hartwell-Walker posits another reason why couples considering marriage should not do so (2) Because it’s the next logical thing in a dating relationship or because parental expectations require them to conclude the relationship with marriage.[3]The construct of marrying because it is the “next logical thing” does not appear to fit the author’s original title neither does topics three to five offered as evidence as to why couples should not marry because they love each other.[4] Reasons three to five are as follows; (3) To fix the other person, (4) To legitimize sex and lastly (5) To avoid being alone.[5]

According to Gadoua “love is a luxury, ” and the main three reasons why couples should not marry for love are (1) Love is a changeable emotion and falling out of love occurs as rapidly as falling in love.[6] Gadoua continues, (2) Love does not make for a strong enough foundation and (3) Love is far from “all you need.”[7] Gadoua concludes the article with her recipe for  “strong, healthy relationships” as “1 Cup respect; “1 Cup shared goals; 3 Cups compatibility, 1 Tablespoon love, 1 teaspoon attraction (optional!).”[8] Note the exclusion of love admiration, friendship, and or companionship from Gadoua’s recipe. Additionally, Grant chose the wisdom and thoughts of Tacitus on why marrying for love “is a bad idea” to articulate why the current concept of marriage should be updated to meet the needs of society.[9]

Grant utilized circular reasoning to conclude that if love is the defining factor in the marriage decision them all forms of marriage that are outcroppings of love must be allowable.[10]Grant extended that frame of reference by declaring that gay marriages, polygamy and other societal configurations of marriage are worthy of consideration if love is the key that unlocks the door to the wedding.[11] Scripture declares that the thoughts that pervade the mind of humanity are incongruous with God’s thoughts (Isa 55:8-9).  God’s instruction manual for marriage is the same instruction manual for life. God declares that it is not acceptable for the man to be alone – the exact words “it is not good that the man should be alone” connotes the immensity of God’s perception of Adam’s need (Genesis 2:18 KJV).

God creates Eve not just for the physical companionship that Adam needed but for the permanent emotional relationship cited in Malachi 2:14 and Proverbs 2:17. Genesis 2:18-25 details that God creates Eve to be Adam’s companion and vice as versa.  Scripture also presents a picture that the covenant of marriage a reflects the type of relationship that God has for part of creation that He made in His image (Eph 5:32; Eph 5:22-33; Is 54:5; Jer 31:32; Hos 2:16; I Cor 11:11). Scripture declares that God loves the world (Jo 3:16).  Deuteronomy 7:9 speaks of the covenant of love that God has His covenantal people. 1 John 4:9-11 declares “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another” (NKJV).

Any marriage union consummated on anything other than love violates I John 4:16 “And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.” For a Christian, marriage outside of love demonstrates that the individuals do not love God  Scripture details that “If anyone says, “I love God,” yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen” (1 John 4:19-20 NKJV).

Although this Scripture speaks to general relationships among humanity, it applies to the marriage relationship because Agape love ensures that Eros is not self-motivated. Love begins with friendship and what better way to start a marital relation than with an understanding of the value of your mate before Eros develops.

It goes without saying that for a Christian to be in step with God and His intention for marriage marrying for anything other than love goes against God’s will for that individual’s life. God orders the steps of  His people. There is no problem for which He does not have a solution. So, when persons who do marry for love experience marital challenges, and they have them, there are resources to support them such as people like yourselves who are becoming God ordained Christian marriage and pre-marital counselors.

Notes

[1] Marie Hartwell-Walker, “5 Reasons Not To Marry the One You Love,” Psych Central, July 17, 2016, para. 2, accessed March 24, 2017, https://psychcentral.com/lib/5-reasons-not-to-marry-the-one-you-love/.

[2] PREPARE/ENRICH, Couple and Family Maps, PDF, Roseville: PREPARE/ENRICH, October 25, 2015.

[3]Hartwell-Walker, “5 Reasons, para. 2.

[4] Ibid.,  para. 3.

[5] Ibid., paras 4-5.

[6] Susan P. Gadoua, “3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Marry for Love Alone,” Contemplating Divorce, November 17, 2013, accessed March 24, 2017,https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/contemplating-divorce/201311/3-reasons-why-you-shouldnt-marry-love-alone, para. 8.

[7] Ibid., paras 9-11.

[8] Ibid., para.11.

[9] David Grant, “Tacitus On Why Marriage For Love Is A Bad Idea,” Hestia Society, August 19, 2015, conclusion, accessed March 24, 2017,http://www.socialmatter.net/2015/04/11/1990/.

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

  

Bibliography

Gadoua, Susan P. “3 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Marry for Love Alone.” Contemplating Divorce. November 17, 2013. Accessed March 24, 2017. https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/contemplating-divorce/201311/3-reasons-why-you-shouldnt-marry-love-alone.

Grant, David. “Tacitus On Why Marriage For Love Is A Bad Idea.” Hestia Society. August 19, 2015. Accessed March 24, 2017. http://www.socialmatter.net/2015/04/11/1990/.

Hartwell-Walker, Marie. “5 Reasons Not To Marry the One You Love.” Psych Central. July 17, 2016. Accessed March 24, 2017. https://psychcentral.com/lib/5-reasons-not-to-marry-the-one-you-love/.

PREPARE/ENRICH. Couple and Family Maps. Roseville: PREPARE/ENRICH, LLC., 2015. Accessed March 20, 2017. https://www.prepare-enrich.com.

 

 

Discussion Board Topic 3

In the PREPARE/ENRICH training, Dr. Olson discusses couple strengths. There are a number of theories/ideas about what constitutes a couple’s strength(s). Some texts recommend that couples should be similar so that they have their likenesses to lean on in stressful times. Others contend that couple differences diminish the weaknesses of the other spouse. How do you approach this idea? Is there evidence in Scripture that supports your position?

Opposites do attract, but without commitment, the attraction can become a fatal and destructive one.[1] Hawkins posits that “Husbands and wives who recognize they are on the same team, striving for the success of their marriage, make an unbeatable combination.”[2] Intentionality within a team where opposites and differences in personality exist does not hinder the team from accomplishing its intended goal. Each member of the team intentionally develops the understanding that “togetherness” requires thoughtful, intentional efforts of understanding the other person’s differences thus resulting in understanding their needs.[3] Hawkins discusses the creation of Adam and Eve and the mere fact that God created each of them with different or “unique” strengths and attributes. [4] Each person brought the team their unique strengths and attributes without which humanity would have been impoverished and with which humanity was significantly enriched to serve as a fuller revelation of God’s image.  It appears that Hawkins is suggesting that God created the differences; therefore, are these differences also considered opposites? Hawkins suggests that the antagonism that developed between the differences/opposites in personalities occurred after the fall of man.[5] Therefore, the enemy has made differences a challenge rather than an enhancement between couples. These personality differences complement pairs rather than separate them or create friction.

Personality types indicate the opposites attract conundrum more than anything else.  Moreover, an introvert and an extrovert are attracted to each other – they complement each other and are helpmates in social gatherings and brings balance to the relationship.[6] Deuteronomy 24:5 demonstrates God’s desire for men to stay at home with their new wives to “cheer” them up! Could this be an example of an extroverted husband going off to war to leave his young introverted wife at home alone and with people whom she did not know? Although opposites do attract, the attraction does not have to result in a disastrous relationship.  Ephesians 5:25 directs husbands to love their wives in the same manner that Christ loves the church.  Hawkins proposes that companionship, not an automatic thing that occurs in marriages where opposites are intermingled-it takes commitment.[7]

The book Song of Solomon provides us with graphics pictures of how each person in the relationship describes the concept of love and their love for each other.  However, the bond was strong and heartfelt; the dominant character in this book is the beloved. The Shulamite expressed with poetic beauty the intensity of her love and commitment for her “beloved” even though they appear to be social opposites.[8]  1 Samuel 25:2-42 speaks of biblical opposites. Nabal, Abigail, and David. Nabal was brutish, displayed no social graces and demonstrated an attitude of ungratefulness. Abigail signified a woman of compassion, generosity and quick witnesses. In this instance, David was determined to require vengeance after being rejected by Nabal even though he protected Nabal’s property.  Three separate personalities met during the perfect storm of Nabal’s unthankfulness.  Abigail’s quick witness prevented David from committing an atrocity that God would have handled.  David, on the other hand, was attracted to her because she was wise and committed in her relationship with her husband.

Notes

[1] Dr. Olson states that although opposites do attract “They will need to remember to work with their differences rather than attempting to change or criticize the other person. It is helpful to look at the positives, even in very diverse approaches to the same issue.“ PREPARE/ENRICH, Facilitator’s Manual: Social, 71, PDF, Roseville: PREPARE/ENRICH, October 25, 2015;  I Corinthians 13 (KJV)declares “ 4 Love is patient, love is kind. . . . . 5 It does not dishonor; it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” This scripture suggests that love will encounter differences, but it also offers suggestions that enables couples to maintain relationships with individuals who are one’s opposite.

[2] Ronald E. Hawkins, Strengthening Marital Intimacy (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1991, Vital Source), 13.

[3] Ibid., 123.

[4] Ibid., 15

[5] Ibid., 15; Gen. 2:18.

[6] Ibid., 80; 124-126.

[7] Ibid., 132 “Attraction must culminate in exclusive commitment to the other individual if intimacy is to be achieved.”

[8] Song of Sol. 8:13-14. He is outside socializing with his friends while he is at home waiting for him.  However, she does not resent his absence. She declares her need for him and demands a commitment to their time together.

Bibliography

Hawkins, Ronald E. Strengthening Marital Intimacy. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1991.

PREPARE/ENRICH. Facilitator’s Manual: Social, 71. PDF. Roseville: PREPARE/ENRICH, October 25, 2015.

 

 

Discussion Board Topic 4

What do you see as some of the most impactful challenges involved in a blended family coming together under one roof? What areas would you seek to address in counseling a couple thinking about remarrying to form a blended family?

What do you see as some of the most impactful challenges involved in a blended family coming together under one roof?

Deal implores couples who are considering marriage with a blended family construct to take the time to wait and weight the challenges that they will face, not just as individuals, but as a blended family.[1] Deal iterated that using wisdom in the decision-making process fosters an understanding of creating a blended family with eternity in mind and not just as a stop-gap measure.[2] Christian couples who are considering blending their families or adding an individual into the family matrix who was not there at the birth of the children must bring every decision under the direction of God.[3]

Not only should couples consider the wisdom of their actions, but they should also both become actively engaged in educating themselves about the challenges of “familyness” and “coupleness” bring to the blended family and the emotional and psychological obstacles that occur when blending a couple attempts to blend a family.[4] Formulating and articulating a personal, relational, dating, family, and new partner silhouette creates an environment that eliminates the challenge of dating a partner who does not have a healthy sense of self, a strong relationship with the Lord, and understanding the impact of family of origin and its impact on the person’s knowledge of how to parent.[5] Deal proposes that the dating process determines how well a family blends in the future. Deal identifies several yellow and red light cautions that impact blended families.[6] Just a few of the yellow and relight cautions are listed below.

Dating Is Inconsistent With Actual Blended Family Living. A person who is quietly dating but is not prepared for a blended family experience is not ready for the rigors of a blended family.

A Quick Turnaround. A person who is looking for a relationship to heal past hurts is not prepared for a blended family.

Pressured to Marry and Willing to Accommodate. The impact of “church family” on the couple to create a new family result in a disaster for the couple who are not prepared for “blendedness.”

Caution: Character Issues. An individual with personality deficits tears apart relationships

A Difficult or Unbelieving Ex-Spouse. This scenario is one that the blended family will live with for a long period.  You are marrying a person and all of their life experiences as well as family experiences.

Someone Who Can’t on Occasion Sit in the Backseat. A person who must remain in control of all situation and who must be the “center of attention” leaves no room for joint decision making or collaborative discussions.  All members of the blended family will experience isolation and a sense on non-importance in this relationship.

Extreme Differences in Parenting. The inability to come to a consensus on how to parent will disintegrate and or prevent the blending of two families into a cohesive group where both parents are speaking the same thing. [7]

What areas would you seek to address in counseling a couple thinking about remarrying to form a blended family?

 

After completing The SYMBIS Assessment with the pair, and addressing their strengths and weaknesses, the areas of significant weakness that will derail the marriage will be addressed. The Dynamics sections will facilitate many of the yellow and red light cautions mentioned above.[8] Following the questioning style and protocol of SYMBIS will foster an understanding of the red and yellow cautions involved with remarrying. Also, exclusively utilizing the “Remarriage & Blending A Family” resource that addresses all of the areas above will heighten the awareness of the pitfalls of remarrying for the wrong reasons.[9]  Finally, utilizing the Biblical guide to direct the couple toward the importance of the presence of the Holy Spirit in their remarriage decision is crucial to the success of their marriage.[10]

Notes

[1] Ron L. Deal, Dating and the Single Parent (Minneapolis: Bethany House, 2012), 4.

[2] Ibid., 8.

[3] Ibid., 13.

[4] Ibid., 20,

[5] Ibid., Chapters 2 and 3.

[6] Ibid., 161-182.

[7] Ibid., 182

[8] Parrott, Les, and Leslie Parrott. ULTIMATE GUIDE TO PRE-MARRIAGE MINISTRY. PDF. Bothell: SYMBIS, 2017.

[9] Ibid., REMARRIAGE & BLENDING A FAMILY.

[10] Ibid., SYMBIS Biblical Guide.

Bibliography

Deal, Ron L. Dating and the Single Parent. Grand Rapids: Bethany House Publishers, 2012, Google Books.

Parrott, Les, and Leslie Parrott. REMARRIAGE & BLENDING A FAMILY. PDF. Bothell: SYMBIS, 2017.

Parrott, Les, and Leslie Parrott. ULTIMATE GUIDE TO PRE-MARRIAGE MINISTRY. PDF. Bothell: SYMBIS, 2017.

Parrott, Les, and Leslie Parrott. BIBLICAL GUIDE: Integrating Scripture into every page of the report. PDF. Bothell: SYMBIS, 2017.

Aside

Review of Lunn on Jesus Being our Atoning Sacrifice

Introduction

The intent of this critique is to explore the theological implications of Lunn’s allusions of the ritual of the Day of Atonement and its correlation to the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ on the cross thus fulfilling the event of the Day of Atonement.  Encapsulated in the statement “Jesus, The Ark, and the Day of Atonement: Intertextual Echoes in John 19:39-20:18” Lunn presented a theological framework for the ascension of Christ.[1] Furthermore, Lunn implied that the ascension to His Father proffered implications that the ascension fulfilled the entire process of the ritual of the Day of Atonement.[2] Lunn offered the details of John 19:38-20:18 as evidentiary proof of the theological implications of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ as the fulfillment of the Day of Atonement.

Summary

Lunn prefaces the discourse with the state of the tomb of Jesus, the presence of the angelic beings – similar to the divine beings of the Most Holy Place in the temple and the presence of linens left behind by Jesus after His resurrection.[3] Lunn extends the theological correlation of the Azazel with the substitutionary death of Jesus Christ who died for all of the humanity.[4] Lunn posited the existence of numerous intertextual links between The Lord’s prayer in John 17 and the discourse between the Levites and Aaron in Numbers 18:6, 8:19, and 3:9.[5]  Lunn continued that the atonement pattern presented itself throughout the Johannine passion narrative and cited that Jesus was indeed the chosen and final “Azazel” in that John 19:23-24 by the positing that the removal of Jesus’ “woven” garments equaled the same removals of the priestly garments noted in  Exodus and Leviticus during the ritual of Yom Kippur.[6]  Lunn posited that the final corollary intertextual proof was the placement of linen garments in the sanctuary and the appearance of the High priest for ascension offering. [7]  Lunn dictated that Jesus offered himself as the sin offering, place his garments in the tomb, met Mary in the garden and articulated that the statement “ [that Jesus ascended to] my Father and your Father, my God and your God” sealed the atoning sacrifice and closed the ritual of Yom Kippur.[8] Lunn ends the parallel between the priestly garments, duties, and the atoning sacrifice of Christ because the disciples entered the tomb which represented the Holy of Holies-thus signifying that all may approach the throne of grace because the final sacrifice occurred with the atoning death of Christ.[9] Lunn also posited that Pauline theology indicated that same parallels between the Levitical rituals as associated with the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ and His priestly role.

Critical Interaction

Lunn presented a theological topic that appeals to any individual who questions the extinction of the Mosaic laws and the rituals attached to those laws. Lunn approached the subject of the atonement from a textual lateral view of the Old Covenant (OC) requirements and the New Testament (NT) or New Covenant finalization of that covenant through the death, entombment, resurrection, and ascension of Christ as the completion of the OC.[10] Lunn chronicled the similarities between the Levitical duties and posited the similarities with the disrobing in tomb, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus as portrayed by the Gospel of John. [11]However, the intensity of the discussion that focused on the atoning sacrifice of Christ was not as extensive as the Levitical priesthood and its role.[12] Lunn detailed the implications of the Gospel of John “to the idea of atoning sacrifice” as a theological point of reference.[13] However, Lunn does not extend that premise by providing supporting details from scholarly sources that compared the old covenant and the new covenant.[14] The importance of the atoning death of Christ that paid the penalty for sin is alluded to but not expounded.  Lunn appeared to circumnavigate the topic with the choice of word used in the presentation. For instance, Lunn declared “the fact that the crucifixion and death of Christ should have overtones of the principal Mosaic ritual dealing with sin should occasion no surprise.”[15] At this juncture Lunn missed an opportunity to conclude this discussion by stating the apparent theological importance of the final atonement of Christ.

Lunn made a solid case for Johannine theology as one that supports the deity of Christ but does not extend that thought into the atoning sacrifice of His death. A footnote detailing the connectivity of John’s gospel, written to a Jewish audience,  with that of Hebrews written to a similar audience and the fact that it details the permanence of the New Covenant, and the transformative power of that atoning death of Christ would have bolstered the credence of the atonement theology presented in the article.[16] The application of the OT Levitical Priestly role and the actual rituals associated with the Day of Atonement juxtaposed against the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ posited solid theological support for atonement theology.[17] The narrow focus of the presentation of the atonement theology demonstrated by the article negated the importance of the correlations made by Lunn. Lunn presented the construct of atonement theology through the limited snippet of textual allusions and lessened the impact of the importance of Jesus as the atonement for humanity.

 

Conclusion

Lunn presented a discussion on the allusions between the priestly duties, the Holy of Holies, and the atoning death of Jesus Christ. The article paralleled the Old Testament rituals with the death of Christ. The placement of His garments in the empty Tomb, and the culminating fact that the ascension concluded the necessity of the Atonement ritual.  Lunn left not so much of question as a need for further New Testament attestation of the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. The substitutionary death of The Lord is the supreme act of God and the completion of the need for the sacrifices and rituals of the Old Testament. 

Bibliography

 

Joslin, Barry. Hebrews, Christ, and the Law: The Theology of the Mosaic Law in Hebrews 7:1-10:18. Milton Keynes: Paternoster, 2008.

Lunn, Nicholas P. “Jesus, The Ark, And the Day of Atonement: Intertextual Echoes in John 19:38-20:18.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 52, no. 4 (December 2009): 731-46. Accessed January 21, 2017. ProQuest Ebrary.

Meyer, Jason C., and E. Ray. Clendenen. The End of the Law: Mosaic Covenant in Pauline Theology. Nashville: B&H Academic, 2009. Accessed January 21, 2017. ProQuest Ebrary.

Schrock, David Stephen. A Biblical-Theological Investigation of Christ’s Priesthood and Covenant Mediation with Respect to the Extent of the Atonement. PhD diss., The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2013. Accessed January 21, 2017. ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 2013.

Williams, Jarvis J. For Whom Did Christ Die?: The Extent of the Atonement in Paul’s Theology. Milton Keynes: Paternoster, 2012, Google Books.

[1] Nicholas P. Lunn, “Jesus, The Ark, And the Day of Atonement: Intertextual Echoes in John 19:38-20:18,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 52, no. 4 (December 2009): 731, accessed January 21, 2017, ProQuest, 732.

[2] Ibid., 732.

[3] Ibid., 732.

[4] Ibid., 736

[5] Ibid.

[6] See the details of John 19:23-24; Exodus 28:32 and Leviticus 16:4

[7] See Leviticus 16:23.

[8] Lunn, “Jesus, The Ark, And the Day, 746-747.  These scriptures clarify Jesus’ role “he is the atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 2:2); “he [God] loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins” (1 John 4:10).

[9] Ibid.

[10] Lunn, “Jesus, The Ark, And the Day, 736-744.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid., 736.

[13] Ibid.

[14] See Barry Joslin, Hebrews, Christ, and the Law: The Theology of the Mosaic Law in Hebrews 7:1-10:18 (Milton Keynes: Paternoster, 2008). Joslin posited solid support for this theological argument.

[15] Lunn, “Jesus, The Ark, And the Day, 737.

[16] Jason C. Meyer and E. Ray. Clendenen, The End of the Law: Mosaic Covenant in Pauline Theology (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2009), 232, ProQuest Ebrary.

[17] David Stephen Schrock, A Biblical-Theological Investigation of Christ’s Priesthood and Covenant Mediation with Respect to the Extent of the Atonement, PhD diss., The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2013 (ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 2013).

 

Submitted to Liberty University in partial requirement for

CCHI 510 Survey of Church History by Joyce Gerald November 4th, 2016 

Introduction

The Canon of Scripture is God’s inherent word; it is authoritative, well founded, and unchangeable. The Canon of Scripture [the Bible] refers to the books in the Protestant Old and New Testament (OT and NT) Bible utilized by the church today.  Controversy has erupted over the inspiration of the books of the Bible, the criteria of selection that determined which books to include in the final Canon and the rationale for the exclusion of other ecclesiastical writings.  This discussion presents the history of the church’s involvement in the canonization of the Bible. The argument presented will include the inherency and authority of scripture, the stimuli for the canonization of scripture, the criteria for canonization, the church’s history about the selection of the books and the fact that it has not changed since the councils confirmed the books. The writer believes that God’s word is inherent and that it proceeded from Him to the writers of the OT and NT. God is sovereign and would not allow the infestation of His Holy Word with error – intentional or otherwise. The attacks on Christians about the sanctity of God’s word come from every venue. No research methodology can prove to the world that God is the master writer of Scripture. Belief in the purity of Scripture requires absolute faith in the sovereignty of God. Before proceeding with the argument for the authority, inherency, and unchangeable nature of the canon, see below for some definitions of common words used in this discussion.

Definitions and Origins

Noll purported that the etymology of the word “Canon” is probably borrowed from the Phoenician and roughly means a ” standard.”  Westcott proposed a definition for Canon as “the collection of books that constitute the original written Rule of The Christian Faith.”[1]  According to Noll, Athanasius, the Bishop of Alexandria, receives the credit for using the word “canon” for the first time denoting its meaning as the list of the books of the Bible in Athanasius’ “Easter Letter 39”.[2]   Woo declared that currently, the “Canon” is “the closed collection of documents that constitute authoritative scripture.” [3] On the other hand, Bible history defined Apocrypha as “hidden or secret.”[4] The inherency of Scripture defines the Christian Bible as God’s holy word to His people.  Understanding that the Bible is not merely a set of stories written by men to guide and direct the behavior of people sets the Bible apart as an authoritative and inspired holy book.

Scripture is Authoritative God Breathed, Inerrant, and Inspired

God breathed translated from the Greek word Theopneustos is used once in the Bible to mean “divinely breathed in —given by inspiration of God.” [5] The power of the breath of God in divine inspiration pervades Scripture. God breathed “the breath of life” into Adam Genesis 2:7; as in the creation of Adam; 2 Peter 1:21 Peter notified us that prophecy does not come from man but God. Scripture disseminates from the Holy Spirit given to men of God for our edification (1 Corinthians 2:13).  McDonald purported that the origin of Scripture involved an extended historical period that is not just limited to the Christian Church; it also encompasses the history of Judaism.[6] Furthermore, McDonald posited that the OT collection of the Bible is a compilation of old sacred writings produced by the inspired Judaic writers before “586 BC” indicating that the OT is authoritative under the authorship of the Almighty. [7]

McDonald iterated that the NT books received approval from all members of the Christian community including the Early Fathers who believed that Scripture was God-breathed, authoritative and inspired by Yahweh.[8] Furthermore, Beale purported that any discussion on Scripture presupposes that the Protestant Canon of Scripture is the authoritative, inspired Word of God.[9] Henry cited that the Apostles and Jesus quoted OT and NT scriptures; therefore, Jesus’ use of the OT evidenced its authority and inherency as well as the fact that it the intent of the original remains the same.[10]

Eissfeldt proposed six recurring words that identified the OT canon as divinely inspired and provided credence to the canonicity of the books of the OT.[11]  The words were; 1) mišp or judgment of God as a giver of the law; 2) dābār meaning coming from the divine will of God; 3) tôrâ meaning under the tutelage of a priest; 4) the same word dābār can also mean words of the prophet; 5) šîr, song of a singer; and 6) the māšāl or proverbs of wisdom.[12] Menzies proposed that the apostles affirm the accuracy, reliability, and inspiration of the NT Scripture in their writings.[13]  The denial of the authority, accuracy, reliability, and immutability of Scripture would be denying the immutability of God. What necessitated the canonization the Bible?

Stimuli for the Canonization of Scripture

Many situations stimulated the canonization of Scripture. First the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70.[14] Secondly, ongoing persecution from the Roman Empire.[15] Lastly, the continued exhibition of heretical teaching forced the Early Fathers to initiate and declare the books of the Bible that were canonical.[16]

The Fall of Jerusalem and Roman Persecution

As the fall of Jerusalem forced the fledgling church – that was once considered a version of Judaism – to spread throughout the Roman Empire, a need for Scripture became evident in the church.[17] However, the spreading of the faith into the far regions of the Roman empire proffered threats to its stability.[18]  Due to the dispersion of the church throughout the Roman Empire, the need for a uniformed message became critical.[19] Diocletian’s edicts against Christians that led to the burning of Scripture during his attempted to erase the church heightened the awareness that the canonization of Scripture and a finalized Bible was crucial to the stability of the church.[20]  Heresy from within had a more profound impact on the church’s beliefs and theological frame of reference and fostered a need for the canonization of the Bible.

Heresy from Within

Lane posited a title for Irenaeus that clearly depicted the era of the church ”Irenaeus: Against the Heretics.”[21] Irenaeus eloquently and precisely addressed the heresies of the Gnostic teachers in his major work Against Heresies.[22] Irenaeus was a contemporary of Polycarp and his argument was against the establishment of a pluralistic religious system that identified itself as Christian but “generally rejected the OT.”[23] The text of Against Heresies highlighted the urgency of the need for the canonization.[24] Book 3 adjudicated the heresy of Valentinus and his accusations against the erroneous interpretation of the Bible.[25] In addition to Gnostic writers of the period, other heretics developed books that proffered the dispersed church a version of Scripture that was not in keeping with the OT or the writings of the Apostles.[26] The heretical threats from within the church threatened not only the Body of Christ, but the authority, inherency, and immutability of Scripture.

Tertullian documented Marcion’ “mutilation” of the Gospels through the exclusion of the books of Matthew, Mark, and John and excluded all references to The Lord’s ancestry, birth, or his lineage in the Marcion Canon.[27] This alteration of the gospels threatened the plan of God and the fulfillment of His promise to Abraham.[28]Barton iterated Tertullian’s denunciation of Marcion’s canon by detailing the changes encapsulated in each Epistle.[29] Marcion’s canon and the ongoing challenges from heretics required an immediate response from the Apostolic Fathers and fostered the need for the canonization of Scripture.[30]

Köstenberger, Quarles, and Kellum proposed that the heretical Marcion Bible may have escalated the need for a universally recognized canon.[31]McDonald posited that the theological disputes between Alexander and Arius, the Arian controversy, the emergence of Donatism, Montanism, and other heretical concerns led Constantine to convene a council to not only address the nature of Christ but to begin the process of codifying the Scripture.[32] Heresy occurred before the post-apostolic period. During their ministry, John and Paul both identified heretical and false teachers.[33] Köstenberger, Quarles, and Kellum stated that Paul was still alive and his letters to the churches demonstrated the influx of heretical teachings imposed on the early church by heretics.[34] Heresy posed a significant threat to the stability of the church and resulted in an immediate need for the canonization of Scripture. Defining what the Christian Bible would entail required specific criteria for the inclusion into the final Canon of Scripture; therefore, the criteria of canonization became the method used to finalize the books included in the canon.

Criteria of Canonization

How did the church establish the criteria of canonization? What were the criteria of canonization for the OT? How were the criteria of canonization for the NT defined?

Old Testament Criteria of Canonization

Geisler and Nix affirmed that the early church developed and applied certain standards to determine the worthiness of a book for inclusion into the Canon of Scripture. 1) Is the book authoritative? i.e., “This said the Lord.”[35] 2) Is the book prophetic in nature – written by “a man of God” or a designated OT prophet, a ruling entity such as a king, judge or even a scribe as in the scribe of Jeremiah.[36] Additionally, Merrill proposed that the early church never questioned the veracity of the Masoretic Canon or Hebrew Scripture, neither did they question the validity of the Scripture as being the authoritative, inspired Word of God and cited inspiration as the most vital “canonical criterion” for the canonization of the OT books.[37] Merrill continued by positing that Jewish scholars cited a date of 400 BC as the latest dated for a book to be considered valid for inclusion into the OT canon as well as the requirement for the writer to be a prophet or an individual who demonstrated prophetic gifts.[38]

Merrill iterated the position that Malachi was the last OT prophetic writing thus its inclusion in the OT books and lack of discovery of “extant” books before the closure of the canon solidified Malachi as the last book of the OT; therefore, the closure of the OT canon with the writing of the Book of Malachi.[39]  McDonald cited the covenantal relationship between God and His people and proffered that covenantal relationship as part of the ancient Near Eastern’ culture; therefore solidifying the construct of the OT being a covenantal document between a God who cannot lie and His covenantal people.[40] McDonald also noted that the early church had access to the OT as its official source of Scripture while the Apostles developed the Gospels and letters encapsulated in the NT.[41] What criteria was used to ascertain the canonization of the NT?

New Testament Criteria of Canonization

The writings of the Apostles set the precedence, or the benchmark, for the authoritative, inspired, and unchangeable NT Word of God.  The requirement that the books considered for the final NT canon must meet the same level of authorship was not unprecedented because those books would be teaching God’s people about His requirements for Christian living. The criteria of canonization did not address the contents of the book because the contents were considered authored by men inspired under the authorship of The Almighty. The four criteria of canonization for the NT are apostolicity, orthodoxy, antiquity, and universality/ecclesiastical usage.[42]

The first criterion of apostolicity asked if the book in question entailed “direct or indirect testimony of an Apostle of Jesus Christ?”[43]  Consequently, any book that failed to meet this criterion resulted in its exclusion from the canon.  The second criterion, “orthodoxy,” questioned whether the book met the test of the “rule of faith” or does the teaching of the book adhere to the teachings of the Apostles?[44]  Criterion three, “antiquity,” ascertained if the writer produced the writings during the apostolic age.[45] This criterion eliminated books such as apocryphal and pseudepigraphical books from the second and third century as well as the Didache and the Shepherd of Hermas because they did not meet the antiquity as well as the apostolicity criteria.

According to Köstenberger, Kellum, and Quarles as well as Carson, Moo, and Morris, universality or ecclesiastical usage indicated that a large segment of the church received, read, utilized, and determined the canonical nature of the book.[46] Lea and Black reported that universality meant the acceptance of a book by a culturally diverse portion of the early church.[47] As to the universal acceptance of a book, Carson, Moo, and Morris proffered that a move of the “Holy Spirit signified divine inspiration” behind the of universal acceptance of the canon due to the cultural diversity of the early church and the possibility for disagreement along cultural lines. [48] The establishment of apostolicity, orthodoxy, antiquity and universality/ecclesiastical usage as the criteria for canonization led to the exclusion of other writings, such as the lost books (see discussion on the Lost Books). Before the need for the formal canonization of Scripture, the church demonstrated a history of sharing the authoritative, inspired, and unchanged Scripture using the methods of oral tradition and written records.

Early Oral Tradition and Written Records

Metzger, when referring to the OT, confirmed that from the “first day of its existence” the Christian Church possessed a “canon of sacred writings.”[49]  Papias mentioned and witnessed the methodology of orally transmitting the writings of the Apostles of the Lord and cited oral transmission as his preference of receipt of their writings.[50] Polycarp declared his preference for oral tradition as cited by Irenaeus and also provided samples of sayings from the Gospels indicating that they were indeed from the oral tradition.[51] Hollander proffered evidence that Paul went to see Peter for oral information about the life of Jesus Christ. [52] Scripture supports the use of the written Word of God. The Berean believers checked the veracity of Paul’s words to ensure that he adhered to the God-breathed written Word of God to (Acts 17:11). Acts 17:11 shows that Paul and the Bereans read scripture from a written source. All of the Pauline epistles provide proof of the early church receiving written as well as oral access to Scripture. Irenaeus, in his treatise Against Heresies, identified that the dispersed church already had access to the writings of the Apostles and the Gnostic gospels the were spreading heresy.[53]

For comparative purposes, the validation of the contention of heresy required prior written records of Scripture. Cyril, at the Council of Ephesus, in his reply to Nestorius, provided proof that the Scripture was handed down to the Church by the Apostles in their writings, and deemed them authentic and inherent.[54] As to written copies of the Bible, Trobisch posited that written copies of the Bible were available around the middle of the second century.[55] Therefore, the Early Fathers provided the church with evidence that the Bible was transmitted both orally and in writing as the authoritative and unchangeable Word of God. Yahweh spoke to His people, through His prophets, teachers, apostles, and or servants, both orally and in their writings. In turn, His people believed that Scripture was Yahweh speaking to them with authority, immutability, and classified God and His Word as unchangeable and He selection the books of the Bible.[56]

 

Church History and the Selection of the Books of the OT and NT Canon

The Early Fathers affirmed selection of books inclusion into the OT and NT canon.  Church history indicated how the affirmation took place.  The selection process for the integration of books into the final canon occurred throughout a period of history.  Christians believe that God affirmed the books of the Bible. Early Fathers concur that God made that determination.[57]

Selection Process for the Old Testament

No particular church council met and decided the qualifications of the writings that would produce a series of books that were suitable and that met the criterion of canonization. Newman posited that the determination of the OT canon was discussed by “Jewish Rabbis” in attendance at the Council of Jamina.[58] However, Lewis contended that research indicated the idea that the Council of Jamina finalized the OT canon is no longer a credible argument. [59] Documented evidence of the listing of the books of the Bible remains today and scholars note that evidence. Today, how do we decide if the OT canon is viable? Church history scholars such as Bruce, Packer and Comfort identified the three sections of the Masoretic canon as “the law,” “the prophets” and “the writings.”[60] Josephus confirmed the same three divisions of the OT and cited the names and the number of the books contained in the OT.[61] Ryle also noted three separate sections in the OT canon and declared the specific dates of recognition for each division.[62] The first is the “Law” completed around 432 BC.[63] Ryle continued with the “Prophets” and established the authentication date as 200 B.C., and finally the “Writings” as completed before 100 BC but iterated that recognition did not occur until about AD 100.[64]

Early church fathers such as Athanasius also recognized the books of the OT canon and the divisions within the canon.[65] Again researchers have provided church historians with evidence supporting the existence of the OT books and the fact that no human being determined its contents. The criteria for canonization for the NT books not only included specificity of  God’s authorship it also included specifics about the writers and the churches acceptance of their writings.

Selection Process for the New Testament

Unlike the books of the OT canon the books of the NT canon experienced much scrutiny and contention; however, numerous historical sources exist that chronicle the history of the development of the NT.  Walton noted that the period of the “Apostolic Fathers” (AD 100-140) show no debate about the status of the contents of NT canon occurred.[66] However, the Gospels and the writings of the Apostle Paul were received and used by the early church indicating the utilization, acceptance of the authority, inerrancy, and unchangeability of the Scripture.[67] Furthermore, Walton posited that the church responded to the Marcion Gnostic gospel in AD 120-220 by citing the specific parameters addressed during the discussion about the “Muratorian Canon (c. 180)”; this canon affirmed and listed the specific books included in the NT canon.[68]

Walton proposed that Origen’s contributions during the deliberations about the books for the NT canon fostered the authentication process as well as citing AD 200-400 as the acceptance period.[69] Eusebius, another early church father, iterated the books mentioned by Origen but Origen included Revelation in the questioned books and did not reference the book of Hebrews.[70] Athanasius’ Paschal Letter of AD 367 attested to all of the OT and NT books contained in the present canon.[71] Köstenberger, Kellum, and Quarles argued that as the Roman Empire split into its eastern and western divisions doubts arose about the inclusion of Hebrews, James, 2 Peter, 3 John, and Jude, but these doubts were not at all universal.[72] They also posited that around AD 500 the Syrian church finally accepted the rest of the NT books to its canon.[73]

Walton also cited the decision of the synods of Rome and Carthage relating to the listing of the same books in our  “present canon.”[74]  Having ascertained that the books encapsulated in the current Canon of Scripture met the criteria of canonization, where do the lost books stand. Christians contend that the authentication of the canon and the confirmation of the inerrancy of Scripture leave the lost books of out the debate about the inerrancy of the Canon.

The Lost Books

Much discussion has ensued about the purportedly lost books of Scripture. According to the previously mentioned discussion about the acceptance of books entered into the OT and NT and the confirmation of the acceptance by Origen, Eusebius, Athanasius, the status of the lost books needs no further proof as the theological legality behind the exclusion of the books. The procedural guidelines of canonization of scripture the rendered the lost books non-canonical.[75]  Athanasius considered some of the lost filled with falsehood and labeled them as heretical.[76] Ehrman contended that the lost books were not lost at all but were found to be heretical during the heretical period of church history.[77] Also, Ehrman purported that the biased final decision of the canonical debate determined that heretical books, such as The Gospel of Mary and The Gospel of Thomas, would be excluded from the final Canon of Scripture.[78]  Divine inspiration and the lead of the Holy Spirit guided the Early Father’s decision regarding the books included in the corpus of Scripture. Another area of contention was the closure of the OT canon.

Scholars such as McDonald, contend with the date of the closure of the OT canon and disagreed with Josephus who stated that the OT scriptures ended with Artaxerxes; thus, implying that the inclusion of additional books into the OT cannon was still permissible.[79] Additionally, McDonald posited that Philo read other writings that were not deemed heretical by the Early Fathers.[80] God’s Word determined what is inspired and contained in Scripture. Scripture reminds Christians that all authority over Scripture belongs to God, not man.[81]  Athanasius addressed the other writings of lost books,

But for the sake of greater exactness, I add this also, writing under obligation, as it were. There are other books besides these, indeed not received as canonical but having been appointed by our fathers to be read to those just approaching and wishing to be instructed in the word of godliness: Wisdom of Solomon, Wisdom of Sirach, Esther, Judith, Tobit, and that which is called the Teaching of the Apostles, and the Shepherd. But the former, my brethren, are included in the Canon, the latter being merely read; nor is there any place a mention of secret writings. But such are the invention of heretics, who indeed write them whenever they wish, bestowing upon them their approval, and assigning to them a date, that so, using them as if they were ancient writings, they find a means by which to lead astray the simple-minded.[82]

 

On the one hand, early church fathers iterated the inerrancy of the Bible and authenticated the books of the Bible while providing leverage for congregants to read the purportedly lost books that did not meet the authentication process.[83] Therefore, they had access to the lost books should they chose to read them, and with the blessings of early church fathers.  The decision regarding the lost books does not negate the authentic nature of Scripture, the sovereignty of God over His word, the inherency of Scripture or the preservation of the canon.

Preservation of the Canon

The preservation of the canon provides credence to the accuracy and authentication of Scripture.  Scholars noted the transmission of the Bible throughout the ages and cited instances of its transmission. McDonald posited that papyrus contained the original manuscripts/autographs of Scripture handed down to the early church but eventually the transference of the books to the codex fostered easier transportation as well as preserved the contents of the codex.[84] Sundberg discussed the historical significance of the first known preserved book of the NT “Canon Muratori,’ that was found in the Monastery at Bobbio and concluded by stating that the book of Hebrews was left out due to the disagreements between the eastern and western churches.[85] Tregelles addressed the accuracy of the Canon Muratori by citing early church father Justin Martyr’s acceptance of its contents signifying its usage and preservation after the age of the Apostles.[86]

Of Jerome, Lane proposed that Jerome, “. . . had grasped the important principle that the Old Testament Scriptures are entrusted to the Jews (Romans 3.2; 9.4)” and did not intend to change the preservation process; therefore, Jerome wrote the Latin Vulgate directly from the Hebrew, once again indicating the copious manner of the conservation of the canon.[87] Wegner identified the comprehensive care that trained Jewish scribes utilized to preserve Scripture and discussed the reach of the transcribed books to the Jews and churches in Egypt.[88] Dunn proposed that church history documents the distribution of the preserved Pauline letters to the early church.[89] With the broad distribution of Scripture, the initiation of a church council would have documented any deliberate errors contained in the books of the canon; however, to date, no such council has been called to discuss the accuracy of preserved Scripture.[90]  The Synod of Laodicea authenticated the books of the NT canon; however, the authentication of this list is questionable.[91]

Although church historians do not have access to the lost record of the Synod of Hippo in AD 393, historical documents from another council document that the final list of canonical books occurred at the Synod of Hippo.[92]  The bishops of the faith that attended the Council of Carthage AD 397 included Augustine and confirmed the established unaltered list of the NT canon and posited an accurate preservation of the canon statement.[93] The Synod of Rome AD 382 ratified the listing of the canon; this ratification confirmed the authentication and maintenance of the canon in both the eastern and western churches.[94] The church’s use of Scripture and the various translations from the LXX/Septuagint 250-100 BC through to The Complete Bible an American Translation painstakingly transmitted Scripture without deliberate errors to preserve the authenticity of Scripture.[95]

 Conclusion

The Canon of Scripture is God’s inherent word; it is authoritative, well founded, and unchangeable. The examination of Christian literature about the Canon of Scripture cannot provide scientifically determined evidence that the Bible is inherent, authoritative, well founded and unchangeable. The stimuli for the canonization of Scripture included persecution by the Romans and the infusion of heretical teachings into the church. The criteria of canonization substantiated the rationale for the inclusion of books written with apostolic authority and the exclusion of writings, or books, that were considered heretical. As in the current theological circles, books examined by the Early Fathers that were in keeping with the doctrines of the church were permissible for congregants to read. However, exclusion was the only alternative for the writings’ inability to meet the criteria of apostolicity, orthodoxy, antiquity, and universality/ecclesiastical usage resulted in their elimination from the canon.

The purported lost books fell into this category. Historical Documents of Early Fathers such a Eusebius, Athanasius, Origen, Poly carp, Papias, and church historian Josephus provided evidence that the writings of Jesus and the Apostles were transmitted with fidelity to congregations of the early church both orally and in writing. No evidence exists that supports the claim of intentional errors in the canon. The contents of the Protestant canon did not receive sanctification from men because that lies in the purview of the Almighty. However, this papers proffered evidence that the acceptance of  Scripture as God’s holy word utilized by the Apostles who walked and talked with Jesus, and Early Church Fathers is the definitive well-founded and unchangeable guidebook for Christians.

The OT was cited by Jesus on numerous occasions thus providing evidence of its authority and unchangeability. One cannot find a more qualified person to proffer evidence of the immutability of OT Scripture than Jesus.  Scripture informs Christians that the Holy Spirit inspired the writers of Bible.  In the final analysis, the presentations of scholars of church history cannot convince a reader about the authority, the foundation of God’s word or sovereignty of God over His word. The Holy Spirit within a Christian determines a Christian’s belief in Scripture as God’s direct, authoritative, well founded and unchangeable message to humanity.

 


 

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[1] Mark A. Noll, Turning Points: Decisive Moments in the History of Christianity (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2012, Google Books), 33; Brooke Foss Westcott, A General Survey of the History of the Canon of the New Testament (London: Macmillan, 1896, Google Books), 1, accessed September 25, 2016.

[2] Ibid., 34; Athanasius Easter Letter 357 39.3, https://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf204/Page_552.html, accessed September 29, 2016.

[3] D.A. Carson, Douglas J. Moo, and Leon Morris,  An Introduction to the New Testament, (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1991, Kindle), 726.

[4] “Apocrypha – Old Testament Bible History,” Bible Study Tools, 2016http://www.biblestudytools.com/apocrypha/, accessed October 14, 2016.

[5] Blue Letter Bible, s.v. “Theopneustos,” definition G4154, 2016, accessed October 20, 2016, https://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/Lexicon/Lexicon.cfm?strongs=G2315&t=KJV.

[6] Lee Martin McDonald, Formation of the Bible: The Story of the Church’s Canon (2012; repr., Peabody: Hendrickson Publishers Marketing, 2012), 16-18.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid., 18.

[9] G. K. Beale, A New Testament Biblical Theology: The Unfolding of the Old Testament in the New (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2011), Introduction, accessed September 12, 2016, ProQuest Ebrary.

[10] Carl F. H. Henry, “The Authority of the Bible,” in The Origin of the Bible, by F. F. Bruce, J. L. Packer, and Phillip Comfort, Newly Updated ed. (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, 2013, Kindle), 20; Early church father Origen concurred by explaining the “divinity” of scripture in 4.6 and detailed the inerrancy of scripture in 4.7. Origen, Texts from the History of the Relationship Book 4, Origen, “On Principles” (ca. 125), 2014, 4.6, accessed October 14, 2016, http://www.ccjr.us/dialogika-resources/primary-texts-from-the-history-of-the-relationship/243-origen-de-principiis.

[11] Otto Eissfeldt, Peter Ackroyd, and Samuel Davidson, The Old Testament. An Introduction, trans. Peter R. Ackroyd (Reissued.) (NY: Harper Row, 1978), 560.

[12] Ibid.; Eugene H. Merrill, Mark F. Rooker, and Michael A. Grisanti, The World and the Word: An Introduction to the Old Testament (Nashville: B&H Academic, 2011, Google Books), 114.

[13] 2 Tim. 3:16-17; 2 Pet 1:21; Paul (1 Thessalonians 4:1,2 – “commandments…by the authority of the Lord Jesus”: John (Revelation 1:1 – “The revelation of Jesus Christ…to his bondservant John”; Jesus claimed that the scriptures were inspired (Matthew 5:18; Luke 24:44 – “all fulfilled”; Acts 4:24, 2: Michael J. Kruger, The Question of Canon : Challenging the Status Quo in the New Testament Debate (Downer’s Grove: IVP Academic, 2013), 56, accessed September 12, 2016, Ezproxy Ebrary. Kruger cited the terms “the word of the Lord” or “word of God” as a recurring theme in both the OT and NT indicating that the writing was inspired by God; Menzies documents that specific words are held as “Holy Words’ to indicate inspiration of the written words in the religious culture of the specific nation. Allan Menzies, “The Natural History of Sacred Books. Some Suggestions for a Preface to the History of the Canon of Scripture,” The American Journal of Theology 1 (January 1, 1897): 74, accessed September 12, 2016, https://archive.org/metadata/jstor-3153576; “. . . . the apostolic faith is contained accurately, reliably and wholly in scripture.”

[14] F. F. Bruce, The Spreading Flame: The Rise and Progress of Christianity from Its First Beginnings to the Conversion of the English (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1958), 156.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Ibid.

[17] Andreas J. Köstenberger, L. Scott Kellum, and Charles L. Quarles, The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown (Nashville: B & H Pub. Group, 2009, Google Books), 8.

[18] Ibid.

[19] Ibid.

[20] “Diocletian: Edicts Against the Christians,” Internet History Sourcebooks Project, 1996, accessed September 15, 2016, http://sourcebooks.fordham.edu/halsall/source/persec1.asp;

[21] A. N. S. Lane, A Concise History of Christian Thought (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2006), 12.

[22] Irenaeus Against Heresies Book 3, Preface, https://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.ix.iv.i.html, accessed October 15, 2016; Ignatius addressed heretics in Ephesus: Ignatius. Epistle to the Ephesians 9 https://www.ccel.org/ccel/richardson/fathers.vi.ii.iii.i.html, accessed September 29, 2016.

[23] Robert C. Walton, Chronological and Background Charts of Church History, Revised and Expanded (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1986), Chart 19.

[24] Ibid.; Kyrtatas referenced nature of heresy and its impact on the church during the second century Dimitris J. Kyrtatas, “Christians Against Christians: The Anti-Heretical Activities of the Roman Church in the Second Century,” Historein 6 (2007), accessed October 20, 2016, http://ejournals.epublishing.ekt.gr/index.php/historein/article/view/2147/1987.

[25] Irenaeus Against Heresies

[26] Ibid.

[27] Tertullian Against Marcion Chapter 19, https://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf03.v.iv.vi.xxi.html?highlight=against,marcion#highlight, accessed September 29, 2016; Jorgensen addressed the “Valentians” and the heresy about the Gospel of Matthew, David William. Jorgensen, “Wicker Interpreters of Well Said Words,” Introduction to Treasure Hidden in a Field. Early Christian Reception of the Gospel of Matthew (Berlin: Walter De Gruyter &, 2016, Kindle), 1-2.

[28] God promised Abraham that all nation would be blessed through him (Genesis ( 18:18; 22:18; 26:4; 28:14). Jesus’ lineage documented the fulfillment of that promise to Abraham (Gal 3:8 and Gal 3:13–14).

[29] Tertullian Against Marcion; Barton, John. “Marcion Revisited.” In The Old Testament: Canon, Literature and Theology: Collected Essays of John Barton, 342-43. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2007.

[30] Köstenberger, Kellum, and Quarles, The Cradle, 8.

[31] Ibid., 8.

[32] McDonald, Formation of, 99: Also, see Walton, Chronological, 19: 24, and 25.

[33] 1 John 4: II; Thessalonians 2; Gal 5 in his discourse against the Judaizers; Acts 17:5 asserted that Paul’s opponents were Jews; however, they incited the people of poor character to escalate the dissension when they started a riot in the city

[34] Köstenberger, Kellum, and Quarles, 419.

[35] N. L. Geisler and W. E. Nix, A General Introduction to the Bible, (Chicago: Moody, 1986), 277-78.

[36] Ibid.

[37] Eugene Merrill, A Historical Survey of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 1991), 17.

[38] Ibid.

[39] Ibid., 18; Merrill, Rooker, and Grisanti stated that “Theologically inspiration serves as the foundation for the canonicity of a biblical book. In other words, God’s activity determines canonicity.” Eugene H. Merrill, Mark F. Rooker, and Michael A. Grisanti, The World and the Word: An Introduction to the Old Testament (Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2011, Google Books), 81.

[40] McDonald, Formation of, 30-31.

[41] Ibid.; “For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.” (Hab 2:14). This yet to be fulfilled statement comes from the covenant that God made with Abraham. As such He would not allow His word to be diminished by men because reducing God’s word would reduce Him.

[42] Köstenberger, Kellum, and Quarles, The Cradle, 10; Carson, Moo, and Morris, An Introduction, 736.

[43] Geisler and Nix A General, Ibid.; Apostolicity as demonstrated in writings of scribes who wrote the dictated words of the Apostles: For the Apostle Matthew in (Matt 10:2-3); for Paul and the Pauline letters. Paul was called on the Damascus road (Acts 9:1-9); For James and Jude see (Mark 6:3; Jas 1:1; Jude 1); For Mark, an individual who worked with Peter, see (1 Pet 5:13) and Luke Paul’s traveling companion.

[44] Pope, H. “The Rule of Faith.” Catholic Encyclopedia. 1909. Accessed October 15, 2016. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05766b.htm

[45] Köstenberger, Kellum, and Quarles, The Cradle, 10.

[46] Josh McDowell, The New Evidence That Demands a Verdict. (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1999), 22.

[47] Thomas D. Lea and David Black, The New Testament: Its Background and Message (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1996), 71.

[48] Carson, Moo, and Morris, An Introduction, 736.

[49] Bruce M. Metzger, The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origin, Development, and Significance (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1987), 2, accessed October 14, 2016, http://ixoyc.net/data/Fathers/134.pdf.

[50] Eusebius Chapter 39 The Writings of Papias, https://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf201.iii.viii.xxxix.html, accessed October 19, 2016. In this account, Eusebius quoted Papias’ exact words, “For I imagined that what was to be got from books was not so profitable to me as what came from the living and abiding voice.”; Michael W. Holmes, The Apostolic Fathers in English (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2012, Kindle), 302.

[51] Polycarp, The Epistle of Polycarp To the Philippians 8:1, accessed October 19, 2016, http://wesley.nnu.edu/sermons-essays-books/noncanonical-literature/the-epistle-of-polycarp-to-the-philippians. Polycarp cited the words of the Lord, “. . . . as the Lord said, ‘The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak’” Matthew 26:41

[52] Harm Hollander, “The Words of Jesus: From Oral Traditions to Written Record in Paul and Q,” Novum Testamentum 42, no. 4 (2000): 342, accessed October 19, 2016, http://ezproxy.liberty.edu/login?url=http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/docview/1301812696?accountid=12085; Gal 1:16;

[53]  Irenaeus Against Heresies Chapter 10.1, https://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/anf01.ix.iv.iv.html, accessed October 19, 2016.

[54] Council of Ephesus AD 431Canon 77, https://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf214/Page_201.html, accessed October 19, 2016; Matthew 10:34 and 37; Hebrews 11:35.; Porter confirmed the transmission of Scripture by Paul’s scribes and the existence of a “scriptorium”; Stanley E. Porter, How We Got the New Testament: Text, Transmission, Translation (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2013), 77-79, accessed October 18, 2016, ProQuest Ebrary.

[55] David Trobisch, The First Edition of the New Testament (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), 7.

[56] (Numbers  23:19; Hebrews 13:8; James 1:17)

[57] Metzger, The Canons, 286.

[58] Robert C. Newman, “The Council of Jamina and the Old Testament Canon,” Westminster Theological Journal 38.4 (Spring 1976): 340-348, accessed October 14, 2016, https://faculty.gordon.edu/hu/bi/ted_hildebrandt/otesources/00-introduction/text/articles/newman-canonjamnia-wtj.pdf.

[59] Ibid., 177-178; 172.

[60] F. F. Bruce et al., The Origin of the Bible (Wheaton: Tyndale House Publishers, 2008, Kindle), 59.

[61] Flavius Josephus Against Apion 1, accessed October 14, 2016, http://www.pseudepigrapha.com/josephus/apion-1.html; Anthony Frost, “Tracing the Emergence of a Canon of Holy Scripture in Churches,” Anglican Historical Society Journal 57 (April 2014): 28-29, accessed September 12, 2016, Ezproxy Ebrary.

[62] Herbert Edward Ryle, The Canon of the Old Testament: An Essay on the Gradual Growth and Formation of the Hebrew Canon of Scripture, Reprint (London: Macmillan and, 1909), 93.

[63] Ibid.

[64] Jack P. Lewis, “What Do We Mean by Jabneh?” Journal of Bible and Religion 32, no. 2 (April 01, 1964): 132, accessed October 17, 2016, http://www.jstor.org/stable/1460205.

[65] Athanasius Easter 39.4

[66] Walton, Chronological, Chart 17.

[67] Ibid.

[68] Ibid., Matt, Mk, Luke, John, 13 Pauline Epistles, 1 Peter, 1 John, Jude, and Revelation: The following books were questioned due to authorship, Hebrews, James, 2 Peter, 2-3 John, Jude, Shepherd, Didache, and Apocalypse of Peter.

[69] Walton, Chronological, Chart 17.

[70] Eusebius Ecclesiastical History Chapter 25, https://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf201.iii.viii.xxv.html, accessed October 19, 2016.

[71] Athanasius Easter 39.1.

[72] Köstenberger, Kellum, and Quarles, The Cradle, 11.

[73] Ibid.

[74] Walton, Chronological, Chart 17.

[75] Ibid.

[76] Athanasius Easter 39.1.

[77] Ibid.

[78] Bart D. Ehrman, Lost Scriptures: Books That Did Not Make It into the New Testament (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003, Google Books), 3.

[79] McDonald, Formation of, 63.

[80] Ibid.

[81] Isaiah 45:18 NJK “For thus says the LORD, Who created the heavens, Who is God, Who formed the earth and made it, Who has established it, Who did not create it in vain, Who formed it to be inhabited: “I am the LORD, and there is no other.”

[82] Athanasius Easter 39.5.

[83] J. Scheetz, “The Books of the Bibles in Early Christianity,” Hervormde Teologiese Studies 68, no. 1 (2012): 6-8, accessed October 14, 2016, ProQuest Ebrary.

[84] McDonald, Formation of, 118.

[85] Albert C. Sundberg, “Canon Muratori: A Fourth-Century List,” The Harvard Theological Review 66, no. 1 (January 01, 1973): 38-39, accessed October 20, 2016, http://www.jstor.org/stable/1509348.

[86] Prideaux Tregelles, Canon Muratorianus: The Earliest Catalogue of the Books of the New Testament (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1867), 78, https://books.google.com/books?id=dmUVAAAAQAAJ&printsec=frontcover., accessed October 20, 2016; See Justin Martyr, “Chapter 14,” in First Apology, accessed October 19, 2016, http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/0126.htm.

[87] Lane, A Concise, 47-48.

[88] Paul D. Wegner, The Journey from Texts to Translations: The Origin and Development of the Bible (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 1999), 192-194.

[89] J. D. G Dunn, “How the New Testament Began,” in From Biblical Criticism to Biblical Faith: Essays in Honor of Lee Martin McDonald, William Brackney and C. Evans eds., (Macon: Mercer University Press, 2007), 133.

[90]

[91] Synod of Laodicea AD 363 Canon 60, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf214.viii.vii.iii.lxv.html, accessed October 19, 2016.

[92] Synod of Hippo AD 393 Canon 64, http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf214.xv.iv.iv.xxxv.html, accessed October 19, 2016.

[93] Synod of Carthage AD 397 Canon 24, accessed October 18, 2016. http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf214.xv.iv.iv.xxv.html, accessed October 18, 2016; Statement, “Let nothing besides the canonical Scriptures be read in church”; Von Hefele, Karl, and Henry Nutcombe, Trans. “Canon 6.” In A History of the Councils of the Church, 393-400. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1896, https://archive.org/stream/cu31924092369614#page/n407/mode/2up/search/393, accessed October 15, 2016.

[94] “Canon of the New Testament.” New Advent: Catholic Encyclopedia, http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/03274a.html, accessed October 18, 2016.; See Schihl for other councils that met to discuss the canon. Paul Flanagan and Robert Schihl, “Major Church Pronouncements on the Bible,” Catholic Apologetics, accessed October 21, 2016, http://www.catholicapologetics.org/ap031100.htm, accessed October16, 2016.

[95] Lane, Christian, 48; Walton, Chart 92; Wegner, The Journey From, 194; Brenton, Lancelot C.L. The Septuagint LXX: Greek and English. London: Samuel Bagster & Sons, 1851, http://www.ccel.org/bible/brenton/, accessed October 16, 2016.

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Can We Avoid the Same pitfalls of Church and State – That the church in the Middle Ages Could Not Avoid?

 Jesus said, “Give Caesar what is his, and give God what is his.”  Their mouths hung open, speechless (Mark 12:17)

The Middle Ages appears to be history’s warning to Christendom as to who is responsible for the governance of the Church and the governance of the state.[1] The middle ages initially demonstrated a dual or symbiotic system of leadership namely the “ecclesiastical hierarchy”  governed by the Pope and the system of the “imperium” or governance by political leaders. [2]  However, symbiosis requires both parties involved in the relationship to comprehends its role and works together to support each other.[3]  During the Middle Ages that was not the case because both systems of governance vied for control of the Church, social and political systems and attempted to do so through the symbiotic relationship between church and state.[4] What did the symbiotic relationship look like during the Middle Ages and do they present any pitfalls to modern day church-state relationships?

According to Noll, the intertwining of church and state during the Middle Ages proffered a religious culture that identified the need for saving grace and salvation for all human beings due to universal sin.[5] Nevertheless, the caveat for that saving grace required a definition of grace through the sacraments [formally known as Sacramental Theology] of the Catholic Church and the theological arm of the monasteries supported by the Catholic Church.[6] Furthermore, Noll declared that the relationship between the sacraments, the church, and the social structures of the Middle Ages placed the Church in a perceived role of governance in all spheres of life within the kingdom including the economy, education, the arts, and legal system.[7] Church governance did not have the type of lasting spiritual impact that it should have had on the culture.   Instead, the culture and the power associated with positional control changed the spiritual nature of the leadership of the church.

Noll posited that the rise of the authority of members of the “ecclesiastical  hierarchy” led religious leaders to behave in a manner that was unbecoming of church leaders.[8] Hendrik concurred by pointing out that  the period was far from idyllic and the Christianity of the Middle Ages was not at all Christian, society  transformed the Church instead of the Church impacting society.[9]  Today, it is highly likely that the church would not be able to avoid the pitfall of the societal transformation of the church instead of the church transforming the culture. Absolute power corrupted absolutely during the Middle Ages and it would do likewise in the Modern Church.  Throughout the centuries human nature has not changed.

Secondly, Noll spoke to the church’s perceptions of the role of political leaders during the Middle Ages. Noll painted a picture of the struggle between the Church and the body politic as a tug of war. Noll contended that the church attempted to regulate the “imperium” and placed it in a role of subservience to the Pope but expected the leaders to support the church with unfeigned loyalty.[10]  Therefore, the transference of this ideology identified the next pitfall of one-sided governance.  Attempting to bring the construct of the absolute power of the Church into the modern age would not engender the modern Church culture to political leaders.  The state i.e. the USA perceives itself as having complete governance over social, political, and legal decisions (See the Constitution).[11] Thirdly, the pitfall of schisms that arose during the Middle Ages cannot be avoided today because they currently exist within the church.[12]

In concluding, modern Christianity cannot ascertain that the blending of Church and state is a good idea. The intermingling of God’s Governance and the political system would damage the Church culture in the same manner that it damaged the Church culture of the Middle Ages.  The current political climate has demonstrated that Christians cannot allow themselves to be transformed by the “state”.  It has diluted the veracity of  the testimony of the Church and will eventually muzzle the Church. The tenability of a church-state governance is not possible for the United States of America – the Constitution forbids Congress from formulating any religious body that becomes a state religion (See Foot Note Reference 11). Leave the government to the system that humanity chose and leave the Church in God’s hands. (Jesus said, “Give Caesar what is his, and give God what is his.” Their mouths hung open, speechless.)

Notes


[1] God’s word clearly delineates the representative head of the Church. “And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church.” (Ephesians 1:22 English Standard Version ESV).

[2] Encyclopedia Britannica Online, s.v. “Middle Ages,” 2016, Christendom, accessed September 14, 2016, https://www.britannica.com/event/Middle-Ages#ref908220.

[3] Webster’s Dictionary definition of symbiosis defines it as: “the living together in more or less intimate association or even close union of two dissimilar organisms (as in parasitism, mutualism, or commensalism) “Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged, 2016, s.v. “symbiosis,” accessed September 14, 2016, http://unabridged.merriam-webster.com/unabridged/symbiosis.

[4] Adriaan Bredero Hendrik., Christendom and Christianity in the Middle Ages: The Relations between Religion, Church, and Society (Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans, 1994), 12.

[5] Noll, Turning Points,152-153.

[6] Ibid., 154; Tony Lane, A Concise History of Christian Thought (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2006), 88.

[7] Ibid., 155.

[8] Ibid., 159.

[9] Adriaan Bredero Hendrik., Christendom and Christianity in the Middle Ages: The Relations between Religion, Church, and Society (Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans, 1994), xi–xii.

[10] Ibid., 157.

[11] “The Constitutional Convention of 1787: A Revolution in Government,” National Constitution Center, accessed September 14, 2016, http://constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constitution/white-pages/the-constitutional-convention-of-1787-a-revolution-in-government;  By, “Amendment I Freedom of Religion, Speech, Press, Assembly, and Petition,” National Constitution Center, First Amendment, accessed September 14, 2016, http://constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constitution/amendments/amendment-i.

[12] Lane, A Concise History, III. The Medieval West.

Bibliography
Bredero, Adriaan Hendrik. Christendom and Christianity in the Middle Ages: The Relations between Religion, Church, and Society. Grand Rapids: W.B. Eerdmans, 1994.
By. “Amendment I Freedom of Religion, Speech, Press, Assembly, and Petition.” National Constitution Center. Accessed September 14, 2016. http://constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constitution/amendments/amendment-i.
“The Constitutional Convention of 1787: A Revolution in Government.” National Constitution Center. Accessed September 14, 2016. http://constitutioncenter.org/interactive-constitution/white-pages/the-constitutional-convention-of-1787-a-revolution-in-government.
Lane, Tony. A Concise History of Christian Thought. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2006.
“Middle Ages.” Encyclopedia Britannica Online. 2016. Accessed September 14, 2016.https://www.britannica.com/event/Middle-Ages#ref908220.
Noll, Mark A. Turning Points, Decisive Moments in the History Christianity. 3rd ed. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2012.
Webster’s Third New International Dictionary, Unabridged. 2016. Accessed September 14, 2016.http://unabridged.merriam-webster.com/unabridged/symbiosis.

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