Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Righteous Thoughts

My tongue will speak of Your righteousness and of Your praises all day long. (Psalm 35:28 NIV 1984)

Usually when I wake up, my mind is immediately filled with the tasks of the day. This morning as I woke, my mind was immediately transfixed on the words of Christ from Matthew 5:6, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled:" the implications of this verse for my own life, my witness, and the life of the Church. I did not plan to meditate on this passage this morning: it was a special blessing from the Lord, which arrested my heart, for which I give him glory.

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Monday, March 11, 2013

Scavenging Animals?

In discussing the crucifixion, I argued that the story of Jesus' burial by his friends was totally unhistorical. If he was buried at all, he was buried not by his friends but by his enemies. And not in a tomb hewed out of stone, but in a shallow grave that would have made his body easy prey for scavenging animals.

 [Who Is Jesus? by John Dominic Crossan. Westminster John Knox Press: 1996. 120.]


Introduction

On August 27, 2005, Dr. James White of Alpha and Omega Ministries debated John Dominic Crossan of the Jesus Seminar on the subject of "IS THE ORTHODOX, BIBLICAL ACCOUNT OF JESUS OF NAZARETH AUTHENTIC AND HISTORICALLY ACCURATE?" This debate held particular interest for me personally as I have received a good deal of information of how to give a biblical answer to those who oppose the Gospel through Dr. White's apologetics ministry, he became an acquaintance of mine through the #prosapologian chat room, and I also once had the privilege of having him as a dinner guest in my home (though he may not remember me now).

On the other hand, as a minor in philosophy at Georgia State University, I often encountered the teaching of John Dominic Crossan and other members of the Jesus Seminar in classes that subtly called the basic tenets of biblical Christianity into question. (Issues in this regard have already been examined in my post Jesus' View of Scripture.) And if you are in a college program that includes any philosophy classes or you know someone who is, this debate should hold interest for you as well, for the teachings of the Jesus Seminar have become so prevalent in academic circles.

Over the next few weeks I hope to post as frequently as possible on different quotes taken from John Dominic Crossan and to give a biblical, God-honoring response to these quotes.

Eaten by Wild Dogs?

The quote given at the head of this post is one of the most infamous of Crossan's sayings. If you have heard the name of John Dominic Crossan before, you more than likely heard it in relation to this saying.

Crossan gives this quote based on the historical evidence of what usually happened to criminals who suffered crucifixion. But this is just the problem with his logic. To examine what normally took place does not disprove multiple accounts of what were obviously meant to explain an exception to the rule. The fact that men do not normally walk on the moon does not mean that "one small step" never historically occurred.

And this is the main failure of Crossan's words about scavenging animals: that they contradict the historical narrative of the Gospel accounts. Most Christians reading the above quote would get angry at the thought of our Lord's corpse being so dishonored, but really, if we think about it, there would be nothing wrong with Crossan's hypothesis if we did not have a direct witness to the contrary. For Jesus was treated with the utmost dishonor in His death on the Cross, and so, with no further word from the Gospel writers, we would expect that He would have been despised in His manner of burial as well. But God chose to demonstrate His approval of His Son's sacrifice beginning with the manner of Jesus' burial. And the following points must be made, which will be repeated in different ways throughout this discussion of Crossan's work:

1. The Gospel narratives are given an an eyewitness account of historical events.

Since many have undertaken to compile a narrative about the events that have been fulfilled among us, just as the original eyewitnesses and servants of the word handed them down to us, it also seemed good to me, having carefully investigated everything from the very first, to write to you in orderly sequence, most honorable Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things about which you have been instructed. (Luke 1:1-4 HCSB)

This is the disciple who testifies to these things and who wrote them down. We know that his testimony is true. And there are also many other things that Jesus did, which, if they were written one by one, I suppose not even the world itself could contain the books that would be written. (John 21:24-25 HCSB)

2. The historicity of the events provided in the Gospel accounts are given by God to provide basis for our trust in Christ as the fulfillment of prophecy.

Yet He was with a rich man in His death. (Isaiah 53:9b NASB)

Conclusion

As we continue to look at these quotes by Crossan, I hope that these posts will provoke you to meditate on the nature and purpose of Scripture, and I hope that we will all worship God better as a result of this focus.

[The material above is adapted from a post that originally appeared on 8/13/05.]

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Sunday, March 03, 2013

That Postmodern Inclusivism is Antithetical to Biblical Christianity

My Position Reiterated

Postmodern philosophy is an enemy to the gospel as surely as was the philosophy of modernism. As modernism assaulted the Word of God through rationalistic "higher criticism" that undermined the inerrancy of Scripture and proceeded to deny the posibility of God through embracing materialism, which is contrary to Jesus' teaching that "God is Spirit" (cf. John 4:24). Postmodernism assaults the Word of God by an experientialism that undermines the sufficiency of Scripture and proceeds to deny Jesus through embracing relativism, which is contrary to Jesus' teaching that "I am the Truth" (cf. John 14:6).

Postmodern Inclusivism Explained

A prime example of the assault waged by postmodernism against the gospel of our Lord can be seen in the chapter "Between Exclusivity and Plurality: Toward a Postmodern Christian Philosophy of Other Religions" by Andrew Dell'Olio found in the book Postmodern Philosophy and Christian Thought, edited by Merold Westphal. In this chapter, Dell'Olio states that he wishes to "bracket" the issue of salvation and speak instead of truth-- he decries what he refers to as the error of "soteriocentrism"-- indeed, he directly identifies the idea of soul-winning to the crusades or jihad: acts of violence by religious fanatics.

He states, "I will argue that the postmodern Christian philosopher ought to reject the position of religious exclusivism." [In this case, "religious exclusivism" refers to the belief that Christianity is true and all other religions are false.]

Calling for "a posture of openness to the other religion," the author promotes "a postmodern version of Christian inclusivism [which] maintains that divine truth is definitely in Jesus Christ, but that Christianity- the religion- does not enjoy full possession of this truth. Postmodern Christian inclusivism thereby refrains from granting the teachings and practices of the Christian religion any absolute status vis-a-vis other religions." The author asserts that as all people are made by God for God, any person of another religion may have had divine truth revealed to them, and so we should listen to them. As could already be expected from the previous statements, it is clearly stated in this chapter that people will not go to hell for choosing some religion other than Christianity.

The Biblical Response Examined

First, I would like to point out that the attempt to discuss truth in this context while ignoring the question of salvation is an impossible task. For all religions have an ultimate goal at their core, such as gaining the favor of a god, attaining spiritual enlightenment, or living in harmony with the universe. When a Christian speaking from the biblical perspective makes the claim that the teaching of God's Word is true and all other religious perspectives are false, the point is not that the various world religions are incorrect on all points of fact, but rather that they fail to achieve the end to which they claim to aspire, whereas only biblical Christianity has the hope of achieving its stated goal- that of eternal reconciliation with God.

The basic, insurmountable problem of seeking to unite a philosophy that promotes inclusivism with Christianity is that the Christian Scriptures-- the authority on which the Christian religion rests-- are outspokenly exclusive in the sense mentioned above.

To list all the verses that prove this point would basically reconstruct the entire Bible right here on this blog, so I will give a limited sampling from some of the major groupings and teachers recorded in Scripture:

The Law, the Psalms and the Prophets

The Law of Moses commands worship to the LORD exclusively (Exodus 22:20 NKJV): "He who sacrifices to any god, except to the Lord only, he shall be utterly destroyed."

The Psalms teach us to that there is no god but the LORD alone, and so those who worship other gods are idolaters (Psalm 96:5 NKJV): "For all the gods of the peoples are idols, But the Lord made the heavens."

The prophet Isaiah records the words of the LORD mocking other gods and naming worshippers of other gods as an abomination (Isaiah 41:21-24 NKJV):
"Present your case," says the Lord. "Bring forth your strong reasons," says the King of Jacob. "Let them bring forth and show us what will happen; Let them show the former things, what they were, That we may consider them, And know the latter end of them; Or declare to us things to come. Show the things that are to come hereafter, That we may know that you are gods; Yes, do good or do evil, That we may be dismayed and see it together. Indeed you are nothing, And your work is nothing; He who chooses you is an abomination."

The New Testament Witness

The Apostle Paul preached an exclusive gospel (Galatians 1:6-9 ESV):
"I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel: not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed."

The Apostle Peter taught an exclusive gospel (Acts 4:11-12 ESV):
"This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Jesus taught an exclusive gospel (John 14:6 ESV):

"Jesus said to him, 'I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.'"

Conclusion

It has been my desire in this post to obey the command of God:

But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil. (I Thessalonians 5:21-22 NASB)

Postmodern inclusivism has been demonstrated to be a form of evil as it directly contradicts the Word of God.

In seeking to "bracket" the issue of salvation, this philosophy has utterly forsaken the only hope of salvation, found in God's Word alone:
Where is the philosopher? Where is the scholar? Where is the debater of this age? Hasn't God made the world's wisdom foolish? For since, in God's wisdom, the world did not know God through wisdom, God was pleased to save those who believe through the foolishness of the message preached. (I Corinthians 1:20-21 HCSB)

[For further reading on related subjects, please see the following links: “The Law of Contradiction” by Phil Johnson, “A Word About Labels” by Phil Johnson, “What Should We Think of the Emerging Church?” Part One and Part Two by Al Mohler.]

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