The Roots of Willful Ignorance

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Guest Post by Amanda Fischer

The other day I was listening to a montage song from the movie God’s Not Dead. It is the song “God’s Not Dead,” interspersed with audio clips from the exchanges between Josh, a Christian freshman in college, and his antagonistic professor. I’ve listened to this several times, but this time, my mind caught on something Josh said.

“It’s easy to dismiss what you don’t understand. Or, what you don’t want to understand.”

 I stopped the track and thought this through, pondering the implications. How many times have we dismissed an idea, person, or cause, without hearing it out and truly understanding the message first?

I remembered a conversation I had with a friend about a year ago about evolution, an issue we disagreed on. The phrase from the movie reminded me of something my friend said: “You’re not really looking at the other side.” Though at the time I argued that I had indeed looked at the other side, I remembered those words long after the conversation had passed. And soon I realized that no, I had not really looked at the other side.

It’s easy to dismiss what you don’t understand.

 Why didn’t I understand this other side to the origins debate? My friend hit the nail on the head: because I hadn’t really looked. Sure, my creationist high school biology textbook had given a basic overview of the evidence correlated with evolution, and explained why it didn’t measure up. And of course I had heard various things about evolution in museums, TV, and just about anywhere science was mentioned in public. But I certainly hadn’t done research on the other side. I hadn’t given evolution that much thought or attention. It was incorrect, and I knew it. So why bother learn about it?

On the one hand, this seems like a reasonable conclusion to draw. If you know something is wrong, it’s usually not logical to continue devoting mental and/or physical energy and time to it. For example, if you search for a nearby grocery store in Google maps and come across a listing for one a friend told you has closed recently, you don’t select that store and hit the “directions” button to start driving.

But on the other hand, different situations require different levels of treatment. And with issues that have two (or more) sides, it’s often worth it—or even necessary—to investigate viewpoints other than the one you currently hold. Especially if you adopted your current viewpoint rather unconsciously, because it was what everyone around you talked about.

So why hadn’t I, and why haven’t many other Christians, given evolution much study? Let’s take a look at the other part of this quote.

“It’s easy to dismiss what you don’t understand. Or, what you don’t want to understand.”

 This is the part that really gives you a bit of a gut-punch, isn’t it?

Why don’t we “look at the other side”? I think it’s because we don’t want to understand evolution.

While I mulled this over in my car that morning, I identified two reasons I think this happens: pride and fear. This is the heart of what I’d like to examine today.

First, let’s deal with the pride aspect. We all have this tendency to want to be right, because being right is a good thing. But we have this driving need to be right that sometimes causes us to argue quite passionately and stubbornly about something, even when it’s not important or when we don’t have all the necessary info. Just consider the infamous Facebook comment debates.

Certainly, the question of how the universe began and how life came to be is an important one. And if you know you have the true answer, it’s good to share that. But when our attitude looks less like informed confidence and more like arrogantly refusing to even consider any other option, I think it’s safe to say we have an issue with pride. That’s an attitude that says “I have nothing to learn from you. You are unintelligent for holding such a position.” This kind of attitude is not helpful in any conversation, and certainly not in one where we hope to ask the other person to listen to what we have to say about God.

Second, and perhaps less obvious, is the issue of fear. This one was a lot harder for me to accept, even as I saw it in my own heart. I’ll be honest with you right now: I was afraid to look too closely at the evidence regarding evolution. Where does this fear come from? I believe it comes from a lack of faith and trust in God. I was not trusting that His Word was strong enough to counter any doubts. I was not trusting that He would be with me, guiding me as I walked through the information presented. I was afraid that if I really looked at the evidence, I would find too much for evolution and not enough against. I was afraid that my faith would waver.

Friends, this is a serious concern. If we do not ever study the evidence for something we are against, we are not well prepared to face the world. And if the reason we don’t study that evidence is because of fear…this is something we need to address in our own hearts. We must know our God, and know that He is trustworthy, that He is true, and that He made the world in an orderly way. We need to know with every fiber of our being that creation proclaims His glory and that, therefore, we can trust that we will find evidence of His fingerprints in this world. We must have faith that the God who created science did not leave misleading clues there with the intent to “test” us or distract us, and that the truth is there to be found. He has promised “seek, and you will find” (Matthew 7:7).

When the character Josh spoke these words we’ve been discussing, they were directed toward someone who had rejected God. We know why people don’t want to understand the case for a Creator. They do not want Him to exist. They are afraid that if they look too closely, they will see Him and then their life would have to change drastically. Their fear is a reasonable one, then, because they are running from something. They are hiding from Someone. But as Christians, we have nothing to fear.

Instead of shying away from science, instead of pushing back against any contradicting ideas or different lifestyles, instead of shutting down questions, instead of conveying the message to the world—and even more seriously, to people in the church—that Christianity is weak and needs to be shielded carefully lest it fall apart…let us boldly engage the world. Let us not live in willful ignorance in the areas that matter. Let us learn with thoroughness, let us look with care, and let us live with confidence in the God of truth.

A note: Of course, this does not exclusively apply to evolution, or even to only science. It also applies to the LGBT movement, to people of different political affiliation, and to anyone else “on the other side.” Let’s work to understand, and then we will have a much more respectable ground to stand on.


For more excellent posts from Amanda Fischer, check out her blog: todwellandneverleave.com
Also, find her on Twitter and Instagram

God Is The Same Between The Old And New Testaments

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Occasionally, I come across the assertion by some that the Bible portrays “two Gods.” The God of the Old Testament is wrathful while the God of the New Testament is loving. But is that truly how God is depicted in the Bible? The truth is, with just some serious reading, one can see that, just as Hebrews 13:8 states, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” That the God of both the Old and New Testaments are one and the same. They are both written as a “loving father” and as a “righteous judge”. That connection only adds to the credibility of the internal consistency of the Bible and silences the argument that the God of the Old Testament is different from the God of the New.

Only One God of the Bible

“Why is the God of the Old Testament so wrathful and the God of the New Testament so loving? They must be different Gods!” Is how the argument usually goes. I could see what they mean, for the most part. When one skims through the Old Testament, one is quickly introduced to a wrathful God who “killed people” who refused to worship Him! He was petty and jealous and allowed poor ol’ Job to be afflicted for what, after a superficial reading, would appear to be…just, “reasons”.

But, was the Old Testament God really like that?

I was able to talk to Joel Sims, one of the Elders at the Messianic Congregation I attend. As a Jewish man, he came to faith in Jesus having only read the Old Testament (Tanakh): he didn’t read the New Testament (Brit Chadashah) until after he believed that Jesus was the Jewish Messiah. As such, I thought getting his perspective on the matter might be refreshing.

Joel told me about what really stood out to him in the Old Testament that lead to him being convinced that Jesus (Yeshua) must be the promised Jewish Messiah (it was mainly the prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Daniel. Plus, the Messianic Psalms like Psalm 22.) But when I asked him if he saw any difference between the God described in the Old and New Testaments and he said,

“The only difference I saw was that it (the Old Testament) was about [re: the Messiah] ‘He’s coming! He’s Coming! He’s Coming!’ And the New Testament was about, ‘He’s here! He’s here! He’s here!'”

Stringing Together Pearls

Historically speaking, the Christian faith began with the Jews, about a Jew. As such, one should expect to see a nearly seamless transition between both the Old and New Testaments. In fact, the New Testament quotes from the Old Testament over 800 times! (As a brief aside, I thought it would be interesting to point out that Eusebius of Caesarea in his work “Church History” would trace Christian thought all the way back to Abraham himself!)

So, when one takes into account that Christianity sprang from Judaism, the seamless transition between the old and new covenants becomes apparent. The following points are not meant to be exhaustive, but only a cursory look at the plethora of evidence that links together both the Old and New Testaments.

God has always been Holy And Righteous as well as Forgiving

Joel told me, “When you go through scripture, sure, God can be a God of retribution. But when folks repented, He forgave.”  

As GotQuestions.org explains in their entry, there are actually many examples throughout the Old Testament that assert God’s loving-kindness, such as Deut 4:31 and Numbers 14:18. Just as the New Testament speaks of God’s judgment like in Romans 1:18 or, in Revelation 19:11-16.

The biggest issue with this, I believe, is the problem that we as human beings have with perception. Some, want to only focus on God’s judgment and wrath, while others only want to focus on God’s love. The fact is, with a thorough reading of scripture, you see that God is portrayed in a very balanced manner. He gets angry, but He also forgives. He hates sin, but He is also the source of love.

God has always wanted Faith not Works

When you look at the Bible, you’ll see that Abraham, as the Apostle Paul stated in Romans 4:3, was considered righteous before God, not by his works, but by faith, “What does scripture say? Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.

Christians are often accused of being hypocritical for not following the Old Testament Laws (A Clear Lens’ Nate wrote a great piece about that here.) Yet, many forget that the Laws were made for a specific people for a specific time. Besides, one could make the argument that the Law was never meant to be permanent as Moses himself predicted it’d be broken in the Ha’Azinu or, “The Song of Moses” found in Duet. 32:1-43. And, as the One For Israel team states in their book, “Reading Moses, Seeing Jesus”:

“‘…God explains to Moses quite explicitly the purpose for his dramatic appearance to Israel on Mount Sinai: that the people may ‘believe’. Faith is what God expects from Israel as the proper response to their Sinai experience.” 

As Joel told me, “Even in the Old Testament, it’s about God and His provision. Not what we can do for ourselves, but what God will do. God always wanted us to come to Him as faithful, contrite, children. He wants a contrite heart, not rituals.”

Similarities between Jesus and The Angel of the Lord

One of the more fascinating aspects of the internal continuity of the Bible are the striking similarities between the “three divine persons” that make up the God of Israel, Yahweh, in both the Old Testament and the New Testament.  In the Old Testament, you are introduced to “The Lord, The Spirit of the Lord, and the Angel of the Lord”. While in the New Testament, we have “The Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit”.

The argument that the Trinity can be found in the Tanakh is worth its own piece entirely (Inspiring Philosophy has a great video on it here.) However, for the sake of time, I’ll concentrate on just a few of the similarities between Jesus/Yeshua and “The Angel of the Lord”:

Both are perceived to be God

In Genesis 16, Hagar and her son with Abraham, Ishmael, ran away after being mistreated by Sarah. The Angel of the Lord appears to her and not only did he promise to increase her descendants (interestingly he promised to do so, he didn’t say “God would” or “the Lord would” – Gen 16:9-10) but, Hagar recognized him as being God:

“Then she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, ‘You are a God who sees;’ for she said, ‘Have I even remained alive here after seeing Him?'”

After reports of Jesus’ resurrection hit Thomas, natural skeptic as he was, he refused to believe the reports until he was able to see and touch where the nails were driven through his Rabbi’s hands and feet. When Jesus revealed himself and allowed Thomas to do just that, Thomas called him “…my Lord and my God!” (John 20:28)

Both Forgive Sin

In Zechariah 3:3-4, Joshua is standing before the Angel of the Lord in dirty clothes and the Angel of the Lord speaks to him saying, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” Again he said to him, ‘See, I have taken your iniquity away from you and will clothe you with festal robes.'”

And in one of the most iconic moments in the New Testament, Matthew describes a paralyzed man is brought to Jesus by his friends. And, as Matthew 9:2 describes, “…when Jesus saw their faith he said, ‘Son, your sins are forgiven.'” 

Both Accept Worship

In Judges 16:17-21, we see that Gideon sets out an offering of food and the Angel of the Lord accepts it and sets it on fire, consuming it:

Gideon replied, ‘If now I have found favor in your eyes, give me a sign that it is really you talking to me. Please do not go away until I come back and bring my offering and set it before you’The angel of God said to him, ‘Take the meat and the unleavened bread and lay them on this rock, and pour out the broth.’ And he did so. Then the angel of the LORD put out the end of the staff that was in his hand and touched the meat and the unleavened bread, and fire sprang up from the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened bread. Then the angel of the LORD vanished from his sight.”

When we’re introduced to regular angels in the Tanakh, they’re usually pretty quick to reject worship as in Revelation 22:9. I could be wrong, but I’m sure a regular, run-of-the-mill angel would reject an offering, too.

Jesus, in addition to his claims of divinity (Mark 14:61-63), also accepted worship:

“…And they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples. And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him.” (Matt 28:8-9)

The Same Yesterday and Today and Forever

With a thorough reading of the Bible, one can rightly believe that the entirety of the text speaks of only one God, adding to the credibility of the text’s internal consistency.

As GotQuestions.org aptly states:

“The fact that the Bible is God’s progressive revelation of Himself to us through historical events and through His relationship with people throughout history might contribute to misconceptions about what God is like in the Old Testament as compared to the New Testament. However, when one reads both the Old and the New Testaments, it becomes evident that God is not different from one testament to another and that God’s wrath and His love are revealed in both testaments.”

 

Podcast 76: A Practical Guide to Culture with Brett Kunkle

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On today’s episode Nate chats with Brett Kunkle, Founder and CEO of Maven and the co-author of A Practical Guide to Culture.

Some questions discussed on this episode:

  1. What is culture and how does it shape us?
  2. What happens to us when we spend so much time on our devices?
  3. How does the culture lie about gender identity and what should we do to counter that?

Don’t forget to check out our website (www.clearlens.org) and sign up for our unique newsletter that contains material only for subscribers! Also, if you get a chance, subscribe and rate us on iTunes! It’s quick and easy and helps us get our show out to more listeners.

Ep. 76: A Practical Guide to Culture with Brett Kunkle

To download this episode, right-click here.

or follow us on Twitter!

 

 

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Book Review: The Triune God by Fred Sanders

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How does one approach the Christian doctrine of the Triune God? “Trinity” or any word like it doesn’t appear in the Bible, so how can we call such a doctrine “Biblical”?

Fred Sanders, in this volume of the New Studies in Dogmatics series, has taken up the reigns to lead us through this massively enigmatic topic. And he does it well, with years of his personal experience in the subject coupled with an abundance of experts cited. Both work together to establish authenticity.

Being a study in “dogmatics,” the content tempts us to exclusively focus on exercising our intellectual faculties. This should go without saying, but I mention it because Sanders, clearly anticipating the heart-killing that inevitably comes from an exclusive exercise of the mind, opens this work with a call to praise (doxology). Surely the foundation of studying the Trinity ought to be one of worship and reverence, for we worship God as he is, not as our minds imagine him to be. So when working through informational content like this, we must to the Greatest Commandment: love the Lord your God with all your heart, strength and mind. The mind is the chief beneficiary in ascertaining doctrines of the one true God, but it’s up to the readers to recognize that and apply it to their heart and strength as well.

And seeking “God as he is” is precisely the way I would describe Sanders’ goal. He labors in giving students and caretakers of Scripture the exegetical equipment needed to approach the doctrine. He presents the case for the Trinity in Scripture, implied by the Old Testament and revealed in the New Testament.

He prunes away the misguided attempts at understanding this doctrine (such as attributing it to a product of Church history or overvaluing Biblical-critical methods that tend to fracture Scripture’s unity) and lets the truest method–letting the historical act of the Trinity revealed in the Incarnation and Pentecost–come to fruition.

God has revealed his Triune nature in the missions of the Son and Spirit, so we must, Sanders insists, let our interpretation be housed by the “overarching conception of a single divine economy of redemption and revelation structured by the missions of the Son and the Holy Spirit that manifest their eternal oneness with the sending Father.”

The divine missions are the central point, bounded on one side by the prophetic preparation for them and on the other side by the apostolic outworking of their consequences.

These historical acts are described in Scripture, so the authors of Scripture must be allowed to speak in their own voice before we perform eisegesis (or even allowing the voices of the enlightenment to sway our interpretations) on such a foundational doctrine. And the voice of Scripture says the Trinity has been revealed to us in the act of saving us (i.e., Jesus did not come to proclaim propositional truths about the Trinity). The truth that the Triune God has entered our world is the place to begin.

Yet the Biblical voices on this saving act of the Trinity are not as modernistic or propositional as we would like. This is because, Sanders argues, that the Trinity is presupposed by New Testament authors. Citing B. B. Warfield, he reminds us that “the Old Testament was written before [the Trinity’s] revelation, and the New Testament was written after it.”

Sanders articulates this well:

The authors of the New Testament seem to be already in possession of a Trinitarian understanding of God, one they serenely decline to bring to full articulation. The clearest Trinitarian statements in the New Testament do not occur in the context of teachings about God or Christ, but as almost casual allusions or brief digressions in the middle or discourse about other things.

The content is suitable for a theologically advanced readership, with knowledge of Greek and Latin being useful. The volume is rich with exegetical insight, and Pastors, students and teachers will find much to gain from owning a copy. Knowledge of what Scripture says about the God we fear, love and serve is critical for every thinking Christian, and using our faculties to study what it says about the Trinity is the most responsible act of worship we can offer. Otherwise, misguided theologies can deceive us into bowing to false images.

Because of this, Sanders defends Biblical unity, which is desperately needed to safeguard against critical attempts to nitpick the Trinity into nonexistence. For instance, the liberal criticisms inherited from the enlightenment that leads us to overemphasize the theological and lexical distances between Biblical authors and the Testaments is to court error. Doing so pokes holes in our intellectual faculties, like turning a bucket into a net, so when we’re asked to scoop the truth of the Trinity out of the Bible’s pages we’re left with the incriminating empty space of disconnected texts. But if one can imagine the reality of humanity’s redemption and can trust the modes of its revelation, the Three-in-One glues the Testaments together by making himself the point of it all. That’s why we must always return to doxology: praise to the One who creates many reasons for praise.

**I received this book from the publisher for free in exchange for a review on this site**

Podcast 75: YEC vs. OEC and Should Christian Leaders Get Six Figure Salaries?

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On today’s episode Nate, Gene, and Logan play a round of Name That Movie: Christmas Edition and discuss 2 contentious topics:

  1. YEC vs. OEC: A theological approach?
  2. Should Christian Leaders Get 6 Figure Salaries?

Don’t forget to check out our website (www.clearlens.org) and sign up for our unique newsletter that contains material only for subscribers! Also, if you get a chance, subscribe and rate us on iTunes! It’s quick and easy and helps us get our show out to more listeners.

Ep. 75: YEC vs. OEC and Should Christian Leaders Get Six Figure Salaries?

To download this episode, right-click here.

or follow us on Twitter!

 

 

 

*Bumper music by bensound.com

Book Review: All But Invisible by Nate Collins

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In the culture wars, Evangelicals have a tendency to want to split the parties involved in debates about sexuality into two neatly divided camps: the pro-gay hedonists and the anti-gay culture warriors.  Nate Collins confronts the debate in complicated ways in his book All But Invisible, for he fits neither of those descriptions.

Inconsistencies In The Gospels Prove Their Veracity

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Luke 1:1-4 states, “Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out in consecutive order, most excellent, Theophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught.”  When one reads through the New Testament books, one quickly realizes that there are discrepancies between the written accounts. Skeptics often point to these discrepancies as proof of their falsehood. Yet, as Lydia McGrew and J. Warner Wallace show in their works, “Hidden In Plain View” and “Cold Case Christianity“, those same discrepancies actually help prove their veracity.

Knowing What To Look For

Admittedly, when I was first introduced to the concept of “undesigned coincidences” or, as J. Warner Wallace calls them, “eyewitness support statements”, it was a little difficult to understand. Why would stories that didn’t match up, be “proof” of their veracity? Yet, once you understand the argument, it becomes pretty compelling. It is another strong link in the cumulative case for the truth of Christianity. But you have to know what to look for. As J. Warner Wallace, a cold case homicide detective, points out:

“Unless you’ve worked a lot with eyewitnesses and have become familiar with the nature of apparent contradiction in eyewitness accounts, it’s easy to assume that people are lying (or are mistaken) simply because they don’t agree on every detail or have ignored some facts in favor of others…While we might complain about two accounts that appear to differ in some way, we would be even more suspicious if there were absolutely no peculiarities or differences. If this were the case with the Gospels, I bet we would argue that they were a result of some elaborate collusion.” 

Essentially, if the Gospels were identical in all aspects in their telling of the life of Jesus, one could reasonably consider that the disciples did conspire to “make up a story”. But since there are differences, skeptics take the opposite tack: they accuse the Gospels of being faked because of those differences. Yet, as Lydia McGrew states:

“Think what a subtle and almost pointless form of deception it would be for the author of a non-factual book of John to leave out information in his own account, to raise questions by his own somewhat incomplete stories…That would be an extremely strange form of fakery.”

Undesigned Coincidences

Lydia McGrew dedicates her entire book, “Hidden In Plain View“, to the concept of “undesigned coincidences” and does a thorough job explaining what they are and their significance. First, Mrs. McGrew defines what an “undesigned coincidence” is:

“An undesigned coincidence is a notable connection between two or more accounts or texts that doesn’t seem to have been planned by the person giving the accounts. Despite their apparent independence, the items fit together like pieces of a puzzle.”

As for their significance she goes on to explain:

“Undesigned coincidences provide just one of the many lines of support that help us to answer…questions with confidence, and there are several notable features that make this argument especially useful. First, it’s contained in the text itself…so the appreciation of this argument is not restricted to specialists. Second, the evidence from undesigned coincidences would be difficult to fake…Third, undesigned coincidences create an ‘Aha!’ moment for the person who gets a particular argument…Fourth…This evidence give us reason to trust all four Gospels…”

Three Examples

This by no means is intended to be an exhaustive list. There are a plethora of examples. However, I’ll give three examples of what “undesigned coincidences” or, “eyewitness support statements look like.

The first, and perhaps one of the best examples of this, is one that J. Warner Wallace pointed out in his appearance in the movie, God’s Not Dead 2 where he played himself. In this particular instance, consider the account of Matthew who describes when Jesus was brought before Caiphas:

“…then they spat on His face and struck Him. Others slapped him and said, ‘Prophesy to us, Christ! Who hit you?'” (Matthew 26:67-68)

As J. Warner Wallace points out, simply by reading the Gospel of Matthew, the situation seems off. Why would it be considered a challenge to Jesus? Couldn’t he see who hit him? As the reader, you don’t know why that was considered a challenge until you find the missing piece in the Gospel of Luke:

“The men who were holding Jesus began to mock Him and beat Him. They blindfolded Him and kept demanding, ‘Prophesy! Who hit you?'” (Luke 22:63-64)

Luke’s Gospel fills in the detail that Matthew’s left out.

Second, Lydia McGrew explains that in the Gospel of John, we see the description of the transfer of Jesus to Pilate’s custody. In John’s description, he confronts Jesus by asking him if he was the “King of the Jews”:

“Pilate then went back inside the palace, summoned Jesus and asked Him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?'” (John 18:33)

By only reading John’s account, it seems weird. Why on earth would Pilate even ask that question. As Mrs. McGrew points out, “Why would Pilate even think that Jesus claimed to be the king of the Jews?” Once again, it’s the Gospel of Luke who fills in the missing link:

“Then the whole company of them arose and brought him before Pilate. And they began to accuse him, saying, ‘We found this man misleading our nation and forbidding us to give tribute to Caesar, and saying that he himself is Christ, a king.’ And Pilate asked Him, ‘Are you the King of the Jews?’ And He answered him, ‘You have said so.'” (Luke 23:1-3)

Lastly, when it comes to the burial of Jesus, Luke and John state that Joseph of Arimathea buried Jesus in an unused tomb:

“Now in the place where he was crucified there was a garden, and in the garden a new tomb in which no one had yet been laid. So because of the Jewish day of Preparation, since the tomb was close at hand, they laid Jesus there.” (John 19:41-42)

As Lydia McGrew points out, “John implies that the tomb was selected because it was nearby But surely this cannot be the whole story. Joseph would presumably not be allowed the use of someone else’s tomb merely because it happened to be conveniently located!” It is the Gospel of Matthew that fills in the missing information:

“When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who also was a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. And Joseph too the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away.” (Matthew 27:57-60)

Joseph of Arimathea recently made the tomb for himself. That’s why it was the tomb that was chosen for Jesus. However, if you had solely read the Gospel of John, you would have never got that information.

The Gospels Are Reliable Eyewitness Accounts

Again, when one first comes across this line of argument, it may be a bit difficult to grasp, but I highly recommend delving into this concept and understanding it. Sadly for many Christians, when skeptics (rightly) point out that the Gospel accounts are very different, they begin to question their authenticity. They don’t realize that had the Gospels all been identical, it would have been proof of their forgery.

However, as it stands, there are “undesigned coincidences” between the Gospels. It should also be noted that the Gospels are not alone in these “eyewitness support statements”. The Book of Acts also supports Paul’s epistles. As such, one can reasonably believe that the information contained therein is reliable.

J. Warner Wallace briefly explains “undesigned coincidences”:

Book Review: Rediscovering the Holy Spirit by Michael Horton

The Holy Spirit is deeply misunderstood by many Christians today. A survey updated in 2016 reported that 56% of evangelicals agreed that “The Holy Spirit is a force, not a personal being.” Needless to say, Christians need to better understand the Holy Spirit and His work in their lives!

In his new book, Rediscovering the Holy Spirit: God’s Perfecting Presence in Creation, Redemption and Everyday Life, Michael Horton seeks to overcome the misunderstandings of the Holy Spirit that permeate the Church today.

Overview

Horton’s work is an in-depth theology of the Holy Spirit. Many books about the Holy Spirit are more of a Theology 101 course, but consider this a Theology 401! Horton systematically walks through the themes and roles of the Holy Spirit in Scripture to give a fuller picture of the Spirit and His work.

Chapters include subjects like the Spirit’s role in creation, the Spirit as Judge, the baptism of the Spirit and the Spirit and the Bride. Horton exegetically looks at key texts in Scripture and in doing so leaves no stone unturned. The book is very scholarly and has many quotations throughout. Here are some memorable quotes from the book:

“…the Father works for us, the Son works among us, and the Spirit works within us” (italics his, 36).

“We will have a very narrow vision of the Spirit’s person and work if we identify him only with specific works (like regeneration and spiritual gifts) instead of recognizing the specific way he works in every divine operation” (39).

“The Holy Spirit was not sent at Pentecost to lead us away from this world but to send us out into it” (63).

“…the new creation is more astonishing than the first. The triune God creates a new world this time not out of nothing but out of sin and death, not only without assistance but in the face of hostility from creatures he made in his image” (203).

“Much of popular devotion is focused on the inner life of the individual believer. In contrast, the Scriptures place the emphasis on the Spirit’s work of opening us up and turning us outside of ourselves, looking up to God in faith and out to our neighbors in love” (220).

“The more we receive from the Spirit of the realities of the age to come, the more restless we become, having already received a foretaste of the future” (222).

My Thoughts

This was the first book that I have read by Michael Horton, so I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. I was very impressed with the depth of the book and Horton’s knowledge of the subject. He is very thorough, and in the book you will find many connections that you may have overlooked. For example, Horton differentiates between the Spirit’s work in the Old Testament and the New Testament by comparing Elisha to Jesus. Elisha was given a “double portion” of the Holy Spirit while Jesus was given the Holy Spirit “without measure” (John 3:34). It’s little gems like these that make the book worthwhile.

I found his section on the baptism of the Holy Spirit to be very helpful as well. He deals with each subject fairly, even those that are more controversial. For those wondering about his position on spiritual gifts, specifically the “sign gifts,” he is open to them but does not think they are normative for the church today.

My Recommendation

I would highly recommend this book to those who are interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the Holy Spirit. However, lay people with no theological background whatsoever may have some difficulty with the depth of this book.

Overall, this book will help you better understand the Holy Spirit and how He operates in the believer’s life and in the body of Christ.

**I received this book from the publisher for free in exchange for a review on this site.**

 

Podcast 74: God and the Transgender Debate with Andrew T. Walker

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On today’s episode Nate chats with Andrew T. Walker, Director of Policy Studies at the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission and the author of God and the Transgender Debate.

Some questions that Nate and Andrew discuss:

  1. How did the transgender issue become so popular so quickly?
  2. What is really behind gender identity questions?
  3. Which pronoun should we use when referring to transgendered folks?
  4. What does it look like for a transgendered person to be a disciple of Christ?

Don’t forget to check out our website (www.clearlens.org) and sign up for our unique newsletter that contains material only for subscribers! Also, if you get a chance, subscribe and rate us on iTunes! It’s quick and easy and helps us get our show out to more listeners.

Ep. 74: God and the Transgender Debate with Andrew T. Walker

To download this episode, right-click here.

or follow us on Twitter!

 

 

 

*Bumper music by bensound.com

Podcast 73: Should Christians Homeschool Their Kids and How to Re-Ignite Passion In Your Bible Study

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On today’s episode Nate, Gene, and Logan laugh their way through a new skit entitled: “Totally Honest Moments in Facebook”. Logan discusses “Thor: Ragnarok” in the latest Worldview Analysis. The gang also discuss 2 interesting topics:

  1. Is homeschooling the best option for Christians?
  2. How do you get through a season of lethargy with regard to Bible study?

Article mentioned on the show:
“Research Facts on Homeschooling”
“10 Reason Public School Is Better than Homeschooling”

Don’t forget to check out our website (www.clearlens.org) and sign up for our unique newsletter that contains material only for subscribers! Also, if you get a chance, subscribe and rate us on iTunes! It’s quick and easy and helps us get our show out to more listeners.

Ep 73: Should Christians Homeschool Their Kids and How to Re-Ignite Passion In Your Bible Study 

To download this episode, right-click here.

or follow us on Twitter!

 

 

 

*Bumper music by bensound.com

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