Christmas

This tag is associated with 9 posts

Sunday Quote!- Russell Moore on Christmas and the Strangeness of Christianity

onward-mooreEvery Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!

Russell Moore on Christmas and the Strangeness of Christianity

Russell Moore’s Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel is one of the best books I’ve read all year. He has a way with words that makes reading it a joy, while also giving new insights and perspectives on questions that are highly relevant. In his chapter on religious liberty, he writes about seeing a couple ads in a magazine on a plane. One is a beer ad that said “Silent nights are overrated” and another asked “Who says it is better to give than to receive?” Moore’s comments on the potential offense of these ads are well-worth reading. It’s a longer quote than I normally share, but I think it is worth the time to read:

The… ad agency probably didn’t reflect together… about how the song “Silent Night” is about the holy awe of the dawning Incarnation in Bethlehem. TO them, it probably seemed like just another Christmas song, part of the background music of the culture during this season. Saying it’s “overrated” probably didn’t feel any more insensitive to these copy writers than making a joke about decking the halls or reindeer games. The writers probably never thought… that the statement “It is better to give than to receive” is a quotation from Jesus, via the apostle Paul… It probably just seemed to them like a Benjamin Franklin-type aphorism, along the lines of when someone says… “to be or not to be” while not knowing the difference between Hamlet and Huckleberry Finn…

That ought not make us outraged, but prompt us to see how our neighbors see us–sometimes more in terms of our trivialities than in terms of the depths of meaning of Incarnation, blood atonement, and the kingdom of Christ. This means we need to spend more time engaging our neighbors with the sort of news that shocks angels and redirects stargazers and knocks sheep-herders to the ground. That will seem strange, and that’s all the better, because it is strange. (150, cited below)

Moore also points to Hanukkah and its importance to Judaism as going beyond selling blue stars of David at retail stores. His point is that we need to educate the broader culture about what it means to be Christian, and that means embracing the “weirdness” of our faith rather than working entirely to downplay it. In the context of religious liberty, that means not sacrificing the central claims of the Gospel when trying to make our points about what we believe and why we think it should be protected speech or act.

I recommend Moore’s book, Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel to you this Christmas season. It’s not a Christmas book of course, but it is worth your time and money to acquire and read it.

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Sunday Quote– If you want to read more Sunday Quotes and join the discussion, check them out! (Scroll down for more)

Source

Russell Moore, Onward: Engaging the Culture Without Losing the Gospel (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing, 2015).

SDG.

Really Recommended Posts 12/19/15- Christmas, the Incarnation, science, and more!

postGotta be brief. Be sure you check out my post on Star Wars: The Force Awakens, too! Enjoy the posts.

3 Ways to Live Out Gender Equality this Christmas– The title explains it, but this is a deep post calling Christians to live out gender equality over the Christmas season. This has some great practical advice.

The Jewish Background of the Incarnation in John 4– Here is a fascinating read on how the Incarnation in John 4 reflects a Jewish background. This is a theologically deep, compelling post that I highly recommend you read.

Are Scientific Explanations the Only Show in Town?– Short answer: no. This post offers 7 quick, accessible points for why this is the case.

Does the New Testament Quote the Old Testament Out of Context– Here’s a thoughtful post by Craig Keener on this extremely complex topic. I recommend reading the post, as well as some books on this interesting topic.

Tales of a Recovering Answer-Addict: From Young Earth Apologist to Evolutionary Creationist– Though we are called to always have a reason, this does not mean we should get addicted to answers–a pitfall I have fallen into myself more than once. Here’s a post about a young earth creationist who fell into that trap, and emerged as a theistic evolutionist/evolutionary creationist.

Star Wars Advent Antiphon- Leader and Lawgiver– Over at “The Sci-Fi Christian,” they are doing a series of Advent Antiphons leading up to Christmas. Each has a look at a Star Wars character, and then relates that character back to Christianity. The’re good reading, so check them out!

Sunday Quote!- The Quest for the Star of Bethlehem

gcc-nicholl

Every Sunday, I will share a quote from something I’ve been reading. The hope is for you, dear reader, to share your thoughts on the quote and related issues and perhaps pick up some reading material along the way!

The Quest for the Star of Bethlehem

I was excited to dive into The Great Christ Comet by Colin Nicholl. Not only is it seasonally appropriate as a read for Advent, but it also is a topic that I believe has much untapped theological and apologetic value. The topic has surely captured the popular imagination, as many renditions and references can attest to. There are many different lines of theological and astronomy that Nicholl draws on to make his point, however the biblical narrative, he argues, ought to be central to the quest for the Star of Bethlehem:

It should surely go without saying that any quest for the historical Star must be built firmly on the foundation of a rigorous analysis of Matthew 1:18-2:18. Only when this text has been mastered and the profile of the Star fully laid out can one realistically hope to deduce the precise astronomical phenomenon in view. (Kindle Location 563)

Nicholl does an admirable job showing how the biblical narrative of the Star ought to be central to research, and he forms his own theory around the biblical data. The Great Christ Comet is an exciting read on a topic that is little-explored. If you are interested in learning more about this fascinating topic, I know of no other work as thorough as this one. Check out my review of the book.

Source

Colin Nicholl, The Great Christ Comet (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2015).

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Book Review: “The Great Christ Comet” by Colin Nicholl– I review the book and provide some more background into its subject and contents.

Sunday Quote– If you want to read more Sunday Quotes and join the discussion, check them out! (Scroll down for more)

Eclectic Theist– Check out my other blog for my writings on science fiction, history, fantasy movies, and more!

SDG.

Really Recommended Posts 12/11/15- Jesus’ Wife?, Polemical Apologetics, and more!

postAnother week brings you another round of reads from around the web, courtesy yours truly. This week we have a report in on the “Gospel” of Jesus’ Wife, a look at “Guy Secrets revealed” (a common trap for our thoughts–making gender binaries), polemics in apologetics, our attitudes over Christmas/Advent, and a response to some arguments against the conclusions of the recent book, The Great Christ Comet.

Whatever Happened to Jesus’ Wife?– Well? Notice that the media uproar over the alleged “Gospel” of Jesus’ wife has effectively disappeared? There’s a good reason for that.

 

Response to an Amazon Review of “The Great Christ Comet”– Colin Nicholl, author of The Great Christ Comet, responds to a highly critical Amazon review of the book. The review argues that supernatural explanation best fits the Star of Bethlehem, while Nicholl holds it was a comet that was providentially ordered. See my review of the book here.

Guy Secrets Revealed?– Here’s an analysis of a book that claims to reveal “guy secrets.” The post provides much needed correction for the whole movement that seeks to identify the alleged inherent differences in preferences, mentality, and the like between men and women.

Polemics in Apologetics– The use of polemics in Christian apologetics is a necessary endeavor, but it requires some caution. Here is a great post putting forward how to balance the use of polemics in defending the faith.

A Note from Auntie Screwtape– If you’re not familiar with C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters, I suggest you get acquainted with it ASAP. The concept is a set of letters written from a demon to another regarding temptation. Here is a post in that style about temptations this Christmas season.

 

 

Book Review: “The Great Christ Comet” by Colin Nicholl

gcc-nichollThere are few biblical images which capture the imagination as much as the Star of Bethlehem. Its prominent portrayal in films featuring the Nativity, in popular renditions of a Nativity scene, and its place in many Christmas carols demonstrates its continuing popularity. Colin Nicholl’s work, The Great Christ Comet is a significant contribution to scholarship about the nature of the Star of Bethlehem. Nicholl approaches the topic from both the standpoint of theology and astronomy.

Nicholl’s analysis of the biblical data is extensive and interesting. Early in the book, he establishes that the exegetical evidence is important to anyone–including astronomers–who would like to pinpoint what the Star of Bethlehem may have been.

As I read through the theological portions of the book, I found myself opening up my running Bible commentary document to add several notes as Nicholl provide insight into the text and argued for specifics about the narrative. In addition to interpreting the passage, he also sheds light on it from extrabiblical sources, particularly in regards to the Magi and Herod. Regarding the former, he discusses the practice and likely origin of the Magi, noting they were likely astrologer/astronomers from Babylon. Regarding the latter, he shows how the Massacre of the Innocents would not be so out of place for Herod, and why he would have been so willing to go to the depths of evil action that he did. There were many more times I found Nicholl’s exegesis enlightening on various passages–including prophetic ones in Numbers and Isaiah and others in Revelation.

The interpretation offered by Nicholl related to the movement of the Christ Comet is different than any I have read. Nicholl delves into Revelation 12:1-5a in order to argue that this passage describes a literal astronomical phenomenon with the celestial movements of Virgo, a comet, and a meteor storm in view. It was in this section that my confidence in his conclusions wavered. He makes a convincing argument for showing that the comet could have moved and shined in the way he believes is described in this passage, but I am less convinced by the simple connection of Revelation to Matthew in this literal, astronomical way. The infancy narrative of Matthew and the description in Revelation are both referencing the birth of Christ, but I’m not convinced John in Revelation is attempting to give a full explanation of a cosmic event that occurred here. Regardless of my reservations, however, Nicholl does establish that this is a possible, if not probable, reading of the text while also laying out in extensive detail how a comet could have engaged in this “cosmic drama.”

I am not an expert in astronomy, so my comments on that regard are that of an interested lay person. Nicholl gave significant background into astronomy before he delved into some of the data and the competing theories regarding the Star of Bethlehem. This included extensive discussion of the nature of different kinds of comets and how they move throughout. At many points these details are accompanied by historical drawings or artistic renditions of the aspects discussed. Nicholl’s theory is outlined in intricate detail, and it includes a kind of procession of the comet throughout various astrological signs to the point that it reaches Virgo. At this point, the Magi were convinced by the movement of the comet that a significant birth was occurring and they headed west. Nicholl draws upon the words of the Magi as well as Matthew and Luke’s infancy narrative, in addition to Revelation 12 to show that his theory corresponds to literal readings of the various passages and allows a real astronomical event to lie behind the explanation of the comet. This, however, does not mean that the comet is a purely naturalistic phenomenon, as Nicholl argues that the one-of-a-kind, astounding nature of this comet and its performance–down to marking the very location of Jesus’s home in Bethlehem–point to divine intent.

One significant difficulty with the book is the overall feeling of “assured results” found throughout. A search for “certainly” shows up 66 results; 9 for “unquestionably” (each used in context of conclusions drawn). Other words like “undoubtedly” (11 results) show up throughout as well. While it is admirable to have confidence in one’s own position, at times I wondered whether the arguments presented could yield such levels of confidence. The very existence of such continuing debate over the nature of the Star of Bethlehem calls into question any interpretation which comes along and offers certainty across the board, whether it is the refutation of other theories or the interpretation of the Book of Revelation.

So much is invested in the relation of Revelation 12 to the infancy narratives that if one remains unconvinced by his exegesis there, one may not find his overall theory convincing. However, this is not necessarily the case. The argument he presented for a great comet being the origin of the Star of Bethlehem was quite convincing to me, despite my not being fully sold on the Revelation 12 theory. One does not have to accept Nicholl’s view of how the comet played across the sky to accept that the comet is the best explanation.

As far as substantive critique of Nicholl, on the astronomical part I admit I don’t have the knowledge to offer much. Both theologically and astronomically, it seems Nicholl’s proposal is airtight and stunning. Frankly, that is probably where my suspicion comes from: I tend to be a bit suspicious of anything that is such a perfect fit. The Bible is a complex work, and the debate over the Star of Bethlehem is entrenched with many differing positions. Could it really be so simple (in the sense of having this be the answer)? I would like to say yes. I want to. But I’m not sure I can be fully on board. Nicholl has convinced me that the Star was a great comet, and the movement he describes seem possible, but it is perhaps only a personal feeling of reservation that holds me back from embracing the whole picture. This does say something for the strength of Nicholl’s argument, of course, for it suggests that it is really this personal reservation that holds me back rather than significant criticisms.

Nicholl’s concluding thoughts about the Christ Comet deserve to be quoted:

What the Great Christ Comet did… was extraordinary and merits wide telling. People of all disciplines… must come to grips with its story. In an era when science is often viewed as the enemy of religion, the Christ Comet suggests that science may be the best friend of religion. In a period when the claims of Christ are commonly disregarded, the Star callse upon all to give his claims a fresh reappraisal… (Kindle Location 7343).

Whatever one thinks about certain aspects of Nicholl’s argument, the book as a whole presents a comprehensive, deep case for the Star of Bethlehem being a great comet. The Great Christ Comet is a fantastic, deep read that will expose readers to a variety of topics in a fresh way. The amazing intricacy of the movement of the comet and its correspondence to the readings Nicholl presents in the book would be, if true, a monumentally powerful testament to the power of God and the truth of the Gospels. I enjoyed it immensely, even though I may not be fully convinced of every detail.

The Good

+Extensive look at the Biblical data
+Fascinating topic
+Provides background for astronomical analysis
+Massive scope with in-depth discussion

The Bad

-Overstates case at points
-Exegesis of some passages uncertain

Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book for review purposes from the publisher. I was not required to provide any specific kind of feedback whatsoever.

Source

Colin Nicholl, The Great Christ Comet (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2015).

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Book Reviews– There are plenty more book reviews to read! Read like crazy! (Scroll down for more, and click at bottom for even more!)

Eclectic Theist– Check out my other interests site for posts on science fiction, fantasy, television, and more!

SDG.

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The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

Handel’s “Messiah” as Apologetic

hmcgp-stapert“I should be sorry if I only entertained them [the audience], I wish to make them better.” – Handel 

Handel’s “Messiah” is one of the greatest pieces of music ever composed. It has been performed constantly since he wrote it. There is no doubting the enduring popularity of the piece and the way it brings comfort to God’s people. It is often played during the Christmas or Advent seasons and has become a way for many to hear the message of Christ during this time.

One aspect that is not often explored, however, is the way the piece may be seen as an apologetic for Christianity. Calvin Stapert, in his work on the piece, Handel’s Messiah: Comfort for God’s People, notes how the work was written in part as apologetic. The biblical selections which were put together to form the lyrics of the performance were selected by Charles Jennens, whose brother had committed suicide during some doubt-inducing talks with a famous deist (77-78, cited below).

Moreover, Christian apologists during this time–during the height of Enlightenment–were beginning to realize that simply making arguments from natural revelation or reason alone was in some way to not engage with the Deists who were at large. After all, Deists could agree God existed. The question was which God and whether God was personal. So although the arguments of natural theology were helpful, they could not do all the work on their own, and Christian apologists set about the task of proving Christianity through the Scriptures (75-77).

By simply putting forth a different narrative than that of the Deists, Handel and Jennens challenged the notion that God was impersonal. Moreover, they pressed home the need for a savior due to our own futile raging against God. The beauty of he piece serves to enhance its apologetic narrative, making it entice the heater to keep listening. The music forges links between the notion of he need for a savior and the Incarnate Son.

The Messiah, then, is part of this project. It is a story of prophecy and the way that God sent the Son into the world, incarnate in the flesh, to bring about salvation. It is a masterful interweaving of Old Testament prophecy and New Testament fulfillment. More than that, it is an apologetic voice in the wilderness.

Source

Calvin Stapert, Handel’s Messiah: Comfort for God’s People (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2010).

Links

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook and Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

Book Reviews– There are plenty more book reviews to read! Read like crazy! (Scroll down for more, and click at bottom for even more!)

SDG.

——

The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy

 

 

“The Saint Who Would Be Santa Claus” by Adam English – A Seasonably Appropriate Book Review

swsc-english

In the quest for the real Santa Claus, what is discovered more often than not is that he can assume any shape. He can accommodate anyone… (191)

There are many discussions floating around about the “real” Santa Claus, Saint Nicholas. I have a bit of a side interest in the topic because I was never a believer in Santa Claus and so I’ve always been interested in the reality behind the myth. So, when I received The Saint Who Would Be Santa Claus
for Christmas last year, I was excited to dive in for the season this year

Perhaps the most interesting portion of the work is English’s discussion of the historiographical difficulties related to unearthing the historical Nicholas of Myra. The difficulty with discovering the “real Santa Claus”–Saint Nicholas–is compounded by the fact that Nicholas of Myra (the Nicholas in question) is often confused with Nicholas of Sion (10; 80; 120; 174). Historical accounts of the life of Nicholas have often conflated these two persons, which means historians must extract them from each other in order to make an account of either. English confronts the possibility that Nicholas did not exist–a possibility put forth by some scholars, in fact–head-on by noting the multiple, independent sources for his life. Although Nicholas did not leave behind a legacy of his own writings, the extant evidence, argues English, is enough to acknowledge his existence as well as a historical core of stories about his life (11ff).

English does a great job of reflecting upon the apparently historical narrative while also drawing out the legends and apologetic tales which grew up around the narratives. Throughout the book, he reports a number of stories related to the life of Nicholas of Myra. He reports these stories seemingly in order of legendary development. For example, the famous story of Nicholas’ gift of gold to three women in need (about to be sold into prostitution) received more embellishment as time went on (57ff). However, English does not always do a great job of making the distinctions clear when these various types of tales are discussed. Part of this is probably due to the historiographical difficulties noted above, but it would have been nice for English to at least offer his opinion regarding the stories he related as to which he felt might be accurate as opposed to inaccurate. At some points he does, but at others he simply offers a series of increasingly surprising accounts without any commentary as to the possible historicity of the accounts.

A central part of the work focuses upon the council of Nicaea and the famous incident of Nicholas’ alleged slapping or punching of Arius or a different heretic (Arian) at the event. English argues that it is unlikely that it would have been Arius, because Arius was not a bishop and so likely would not have been present at the council itself  (101-107). Moreover, English believes that a different story, in which Nicholas reasons with an avowed Arian to change his view, is more likely the historical background for the story (107-109). Nicholas’ own place at the council is disputed, but his orthodoxy is acknowledged by all his biographers, and it is likely that he defended the orthodox position at the council itself (107ff).

Apart from his participation at Nicaea, Nicholas also, of course, performed the basic functions of a bishop, which at his time included helping to resolve issues in Myra and the surrounding area (115ff). He helped with the struggle against pagan belief and practice, and at this point some of the stories and legends of Nicholas of Sion were often intermixed with those stories of Nicholas of Myra (120-125).

English’s work also draws out the way that Nicholas of Myra has been adapted for multiple purposes and occasions. Whether this is through the adaptation of his apparently real, historical life to various theological discussions (including Aquinas) or legends which were developed to supplement his legacy and individual viewpoints, Nicholas’ story continues to have widespread appeal.

The Saint Who Would be Santa Claus is an interesting read on a compelling man. Perhaps the most interesting part is the frequent fusion of myth and legend with the historical account. Those interested in the life of the “real Santa Claus” should immediately grab the book for their collection.

Links/Source

Adam English, The Saint Who Would Be Santa Claus: The True Life and Trials of Nicholas of Myra (Waco, TX: Baylor University Press, 2012).

Saint Nicholas- A Christian life lived, a story told– I wrote about the interplay between myth and reality in the stories about Nicholas. I wrote about how the myth of Nicholas actually bolsters the Christian worldview by pointing toward our longing for the ideal.

Be sure to check out the page for this site on Facebook for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies and more!

SDG.

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The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from quotations, which are the property of their respective owners, and works of art as credited; images are often freely available to the public and J.W. Wartick makes no claims of owning rights to the images unless he makes that explicit) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation with both the name of the author (J.W. Wartick) and a link to the original URL. If you’d like to repost a post, you may do so, provided you show less than half of the original post on your own site and link to the original post for the rest. You must also appropriately cite the post as noted above. This blog is protected by Creative Commons licensing. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

Christian Apologetics/Philosophy Book Gift List Christmas 2011

Brian Auten over at Apologetics 315 has an excellent post which outlines some great gift choices for Christian apologists. I thought it was an great idea and wanted to expand on it. Thus, welcome to the inaugural, annual Christmas Christian Apologetics and Philosophy Book Gift List! That is a mouthful!

The following list suggests several books for beginner and intermediate readers, a couple for advanced readers, and 2 books I think that anyone interested in apologetics or philosophy of religion will enjoy.

Beginner/Intermediate

Hugh Ross, Hidden Treasures in the Book of Job– A phenomenal book about the scientific intelligence of the book of Job, the oldest book in the Bible. See my review here.

Komoszewski, Sawyer, and Wallace, Reinventing JesusThis book is, in my opinion, the best introductory work on apologetic issues related to the historicity of the New Testament. I can’t recommend it highly enough–it covers gnosticism, the canon, the Gospels, etc. It’s simply phenomenal.

Gary Habermas, The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus– Habermas’ defense of the historicity of the resurrection is top-notch, easy to understand, and, I’ve found, irrefutable. The best part about it is that it focuses on three easy-to-remember facts about Jesus.

William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith– An intermediate-level book on natural theology, Craig here presents a convincing, reasoned defense of theism generally and Christianity specifically. This was the book which got me into apologetics. I highly recommend it. Beginners will be happy to know Craig has distilled his work here into his readable On Guard.

Paul Copan, True for You But Not For Me– I read this book for a class and admit I went into it with some skepticism, but it quickly astonished me with how well Copan explains all kinds of issues related to Christian apologetics. The

Greg Koukl, Tactics– This book provides a background for apologetic method. Koukl’s insight will quickly train readers to analyze arguments, find fallacies, and point them out, all with a kind of gentleness and respect which is fitting for the Christian Apologist. I recommend this book very highly. No collection is complete without it.

Advanced

Stephen Parrish, God and Necessity– Parrish’s phenomenal work of philosophy of religion surveys the notions of contingency and necessity. He analyzes various theistic arguments, offers an ontological argument, and finds that only in the necessity of deity can we explain the existence of all things. The scope of this work is immense–it covers a broad array of metaphysical issues. I recommend it highly.

Linda Zagzebski, Divine Motivation Theory– Zagzebski explores a range of issues regarding metaethical systems and finds that divine command theory needs modification. She offers her own theory for the grounding of morality in the divine, which is backed by motivations, not commands. There’s a reason Zagzebski is getting recognition and causing stirs in the world of philosophy of religion. Check out my review of the book.

The Top 2

Douglas Groothuis, Christian Apologetics– I believe this book will quickly become the definitive work on Christian Apologetics. It’s comprehensive, eminently readable, and convincing. Beginners might be scared off by the sheer size of the book, but it provides enough background to appeal to any reader. The succinct nature of the arguments, the reasoned defenses of the premises, and the immense ground the book covers will make it appealing to all.

Edgar Andrews, Who Made God?– I have to agree with Brian Auten (see the article linked above)–this book is simply phenomenal. Readers at any level will find new ideas of great interest. Andrews covers a wide range of issues, all of which are of interest to Christian apologists and philosophers. See my review.

Jesus and the Stable: A Theory

The Christmas season is upon us and I have been contemplating much of the story of Christ’s birth.  Apologetically, I’ve decided to focus this season upon a few questions about Jesus.

One argument I have heard is that the account of Jesus’ birth in Luke 2 is inaccurate. The charge is made because it seems unfathomable culturally that Joseph could have gone to his hometown and found no family who would accommodate he and his betrothed. Luke 2:7 says “And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.” The latter part of the verse is that to which the objector points, saying that surely one of Joseph’s family members would have provided a bed for them.

There are a few important points to be made here. First, the text actually provides for the possibility of Joseph’s family providing lodging. The Greek word translated “inn” in this verse can also be translated as “guest room” which implies that Joseph did seek lodging with family, but all of their guest rooms were full. This is reflected in the NIV translation, which states that “there was no guest room available to them.”

Second, while those who make this objection focus on the cultural significance of hospitality, they also ignore the cultural significance of adultery. That Mary was pregnant was a pretty big deal. She would have been seen as an adulterer–possibly with Joseph (though some anti-Christian literature from the second century suggested that Jesus was the illegitimate child of Mary and a Roman soldier named Panthera). The penalty for adultery was death by stoning. Joseph had stayed with Mary and protected her. It doesn’t seem unlikely that this could have incurred his family’s wrath to the point where they simply didn’t allow him to stay with them for the census. Treated like the family member no one talks about, everyone’s door was shut when Joseph came knocking with his pregnant bride-to-be.

It should be noted that this later theory is just that; a theory. The textual evidence could easily support my first point (that all the guest rooms were full). I think that my own theory is plausible. Either way, the objection fails.

SDG.

This is part of a series I’ve entitled “Jesus: the Living God,” which explores Jesus from Biblical, theological, and apologetic levels. View other posts in the series here.

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The preceding post is the property of J.W. Wartick (apart from citations, which are the property of their respective owners) and should not be reproduced in part or in whole without the expressed consent of the author. All content on this site is the property of J.W. Wartick and is made available for individual and personal usage. If you cite from these documents, whether for personal or professional purposes, please give appropriate citation and provide a link to the original URL. By viewing any part of this site, you are agreeing to this usage policy.

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