“Many [colleges] have been captured by stealth and their guns deliberately turned against the citadel of God’s Word. We must with zeal and generosity support the schools among us that are true to teachings of our Master, and the sinews of war and new recruits must be withheld from the training camps where the order of the day is doubt instead of faith.” –R. C. Foster 
American history is littered with examples of progressives infiltrating fine Christian colleges and universities and then corrupting their sound theology and mission. Continue reading
Budding Theologian: I worry that, of all the analogies throughout the Bible, we overemphasize the “sacrifice as payment for sins” idea at the expense of the others. In chapter 6 of The Cross of Christ, John Stott even says the sacrificial system is the best way to understand the atonement, but he doesn’t give any reasons. He just assumes the reader will agree. So, I can’t help but ask, “Why?” Why not look at all the analogies and let them inform each other? After reading other views, especially some within the Christus Victor tradition, I now see them everywhere in the NT. Before, since I was only conscious of PS, I completely missed out on them. Continue reading
(Note: This is the second installment of an on-going dialogue about the Atonement. See the previous post for the first installment.)
Budding Theologian: Thanks for the response. I was glad to see you recommend John Stott’s The Cross of Christ. It’s actually on my very long “books to read” list. I just so happened to have a copy of the book’s sixth chapter, “The Self-Substitution of God,” so I read it after reading your post. Below are a couple of things I wanted to flesh out so you know where I’m coming from.
When you say the atonement is primarily about Christ’s death I think you’re right. But I still can’t separate it from the problem of sin and the incarnation. Without the problem of sin Christ’s death becomes unnecessary, right? Also, not just anyone could have died for our sins. A man could not have died to save us from our sins. This is where I get into cloudy territory in my ability to comprehend God’s nature–but even God, The Father, couldn’t have died to save us from our sins. It had to be Jesus Christ, The Son. Continue reading
(Note: the following is a dialogue that occurred between a budding theologian and me. I hope you enjoy the unique format here in this post. This dialogue will continue in at least two future posts. Enjoy!)
Budding Theologian: I read the article on the atonement you posted [on FB] yesterday. I found it intensely interesting because I’ve been reading up on different views of it all summer.
I judge atonement theories on how well they incorporate the problem of sin, the teachings/life/example of Christ, the incarnation, Christ’s death, and resurrection. If any one of those factors is absent in the theory, then it is inadequate. Funny enough, almost no theory alone incorporates them all by itself. For example, moral influence theories generally do not say anything about the resurrection or incarnation. Even after reading Jack Cottrell’s book Set Free! I get the feeling that the penal substitution theory isn’t good enough by itself either. It accounts for the incarnation, death, and half the problem of sin (hence, Cottrell’s double cure for sin). But to include the resurrection and finish the second part of the problem of sin, Cottrell has to bring in ideas from the Christus Victor (CV) model and the better moral influence (MI) models (some of the MI models are really terrible). Since I approach it this way, it seems to me there is no overarching theory of the atonement. We have to look at each one to see what is worthy of Christ and which ones are lacking. Continue reading
During the 1990s, a movement known as Intelligent Design (ID) budded wings and began to fly. ID arose primarily out of concern that Darwinism could not account for the existence of everything in nature, especially biological organisms. ID theorists essentially called into question Darwinism’s underlying philosophical commitment to materialism—the belief that everything can be explained by mere physical processes. But those who were convinced of the reigning Darwinian paradigm were intent on clipping ID’s wings before it got too far off the ground. How could anything other than materialism be true? How could anyone dare to dethrone the reigning materialist science? Many committed to materialism attacked ID as “creationism” masquerading as science and dragged to court those who taught ID in schools. It was clear to the scientific establishment that ID was religion, not science. Continue reading
Several months ago I wrote two blogs detailing the coming gender crisis about to engulf the Restoration Movement (particularly the independent Christian Church; see here and here). I wrote then that feminism has taken root in some of the Christian Universities and Bible Colleges, and I documented how some churches were now hiring women as preachers and ordaining them as elders in local churches. I also argued that such action has historically led to addressing God as “Mother” and eventually to affirming homosexuality. In fact, I documented how calling God “Mother” has already been proposed by Theresa Garbe of Milligan College when she presented her paper (entitled “God Our Mother: Rediscovering the Maternal Divine in Prayer”) at the Stone-Campbell Journal Conference. Continue reading
In the last post I analyzed arguments against the historical nature of the book of Jonah posed by Brian Jones and found them wanting (see here). There is simply no good evidence that undermines the historicity of Jonah. In fact, there is evidence that points to its authenticity. In this article, then, I will discuss arguments for the historical authenticity of Jonah, i.e., why we should consider the book of Jonah to be an actual historical event. I will begin by looking at the most clear evidence: Jesus’ statements found in Matthew 12:40 and Luke 11:30-32 about Jonah. We will then move on to other considerations. Continue reading
Since the dawn of biblical criticism in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, it has been a common practice to question the authenticity of the book of Jonah. When it initially came under the microscope of modern theologians, Jonah was criticized for its unbelievable tale of a great fish swallowing a prophet and then spitting him up onto the seashore. Aside from the criticism of Jonah being miraculous, some of the more prominent criticisms launched at the Jonah story included: (1) no historical evidence exists that the entire city of Nineveh ever converted to the God of Israel, (2) the book claims that it took Jonah three days to walk through the city of Nineveh when it covered only about three to four square miles, and (3) the book refers to the “king of Nineveh” and history shows us that there was no king of Nineveh, only a king of Assyria. Continue reading
In my last post (found here), I began discussing how the church has followed the culture in losing its mind: Christians do not know what they believe and why they believe it because they have accepted the idea that faith has nothing to do with knowledge. In this post I will be focusing upon a second reason why Christians have lost and are losing their minds: they are suffering from the “empty self” syndrome just like the culture around them. Continue reading
Numerous studies over the last several decades reveal a startling and frightening fact: American Christians are losing their minds. This is to say that Christians are increasingly becoming more ignorant of what they believe and why they believe it.
Take, for example, George Barna’s studies that indicate that many professing Christians cannot identify more than two or three of the Apostles, only 14% of born-again Christians can provide an accurate description of the Great Commission, and only 50% of Christians can recite John 3:16. What is more mind-boggling is that the majority of Bible-believing Christians believe that Benjamin Franklin’s statement that “God helps those who help themselves” is found in the Bible. In fact, Barna indicates that only about half of Christians have a biblical worldview. He concludes, “American Christians are biblically illiterate. Although most of them contend that the Bible contains truth and is worth knowing, and most of them argue that they know all of the relevant truths and principles, our research shows otherwise. And the trend line is frightening: the younger a person is, the less they understand about the Christian faith.” Continue reading