The Bible is the core of Christian belief. It is the Word of God. As such, it deserves significant attention. Here, one can find my posts related to the Bible. These posts focus on Biblical apologetics or theology. They are divided by series. I’ve provided links with brief descriptions of the contents.
The Law Always Condemns, The Gospel Always Saves. Or, why I’m a Lutheran– I defend the Lutheran position of Law and Gospel, where they are distinguished not by temporal means or by covenant but rather by function.
I discuss the origins of the European Reformations and how many of its debates carry on into our own day. The debates that took place during the Reformation continue on into today’s theological discussions.
The Church Universal: Reformation Review– What makes a church part of the Church Universal? What makes a church part of the true church? I write on these topics (and more!) and their origins in the Reformation.
Who Interprets Scripture? Sola Scriptura, the Reformation, and the modern era: Reformation Review– I investigate the notion of “sola scriptura” and its different applications in interpreting Scripture. I particularly emphasize the problem of doctrinal unity and the various ways church bodies have dealt with these difficulties from the Reformation into today.
The Continuing Influence of the Reformation: Our lives, our thoughts, our theology- Reformation review– I examine how the issues which came up during the Reformation continue to influence almost every aspect of our lives today. Theology matters.
These posts focus on the ordination of women into the pastoral ministry.
On the Femnization of the Church– It is frequently alleged that the church is being “feminized” and that this is a bad thing. Check out this post, wherein I analyze this notion from a few different angles.
Women in the Ministry: The philosophy of equality and why complementarianism fails– I argue that the position in which women are excluded from church leadership entails inequality of being.
Women, Complementarianism, and the Trinity- How getting subordination wrong has undermined the Trinity– I note how some complementarians have distorted the doctrine of the Trinity in order to ground their theological position on women in the ministry.
The Unacknowledged Teachers: an argument for women pastors– I argue for women to be pastors.
Book Review: “Man and Woman, One in Christ” by Philip Payne– I review a magisterial work on the quality of men and women.
Response to a Complementarian video about why women cannot be pastors- Part 1– I examine a video in which the argument is made that women cannot be pastors.
Book Review: “Good News for Women” by Rebecca Groothuis– I review an excellent book on the issue of gender equality in the Bible.
Caring for Creation: A Discussion among evangelicals– I was able to attend an excellent talk on caring for creation, along with a panel discussion afterwards. I provide an outline and analysis of this fascinating dialogue.
Did God Create the Universe for Humans? – Some thoughts on God’s purposes for creating– I analyze the notion that God created the universe for humans. I use a particularly apologetics-focused angle to look at the topic.
Alien Life: Theological reflections on life on other planets– Suppose we found aliens. What then? I reflect on what theological positions may exist if we found aliens.
The Consolation of Counterfactuals: The Molinism of Boethius– Boethius was an early Christian thinker who thought of a very insightful way to discuss counterfactuals of freedom.
Is God Just Lucky?: Possible Worlds and God’s Providence, a Defense of Molinism– I examine the set of possible worlds from a molinistic perspective.
The New Defenders of Molinism: Reconciling God’s Foreknowledge and Our Free Will– I present a general case for molinism, analyzing various positions and concluding that God does know what we will do without predetermining it.
“Love Wins” by Rob Bell- A Brief Review and Study Guide– I provide a brief review of Rob Bell’s book, Love Wins while also linking to my reviews of each individual chapter. I also provide a study guide with questions for those who desire to read through the work either individually or in groups.
All will be made New: Mayans, end times, and eschatology, oh my!– I examine the alleged Mayan prophecy of the end of the world, but also look at end times prophecies in general. What should we expect? How should we consider end times?
Apologetics of the Bible
Inerrancy and Presuppositional Apologetics: A different approach to defending the Bible– I put forth a way to defend inerrancy which does not involve attempting to refute every alleged error.
Description is not Prescription: A tale of interpretation– I discuss the differences between describing an action and prescribing an action. I delve into the importance of this distinction for understanding the Bible.
Inerrancy, Scripture, and the “Easy Way Out”– Clarifications on what “inerrancy” means along with a brief exposition and defense of the idea.
Awesome Person of the Bible – A series highlighting various awesome persons who show up in the Bible. I use the term “person” because it includes any personal beings, like angels, demons, humans, and God. Read these posts to find out about some really fun Bible stories.
Jephthah, Human Sacrifice, and God: What should we make of Judges 11:29-40?– An updated post which discusses Jephthah’s sacrifice of his daughter. See the older Bible Difficulties 1: Judges 11:29-40, with which I no longer truly agree.
Bible Difficulties 2: Adopting the Attitude of the Ethiopian– recommends an attitude towards Scripture of constant learning.
Bible Difficulties 3: Joshua 6:21-24– discusses God’s command to exterminate the peoples in the promised land.
Bible Difficulties 4: Hardening Hearts– asks whether or not people are culpable for their actions if God hardens their hearts.
Studying Scripture is extremely important. As a philosopher, it is also important to integrate one’s interests in philosophy with Scripture. Here are links to my various devotions as well as providing brief descriptions of the content of each post.
The Devotional Life of a Christian Apologist/Philosopher: shares my advice on how to maintain a strong spiritual life as a Christian apologist/philosopher. It includes links to recommended reading, as well as daily/weekly suggestions.
Job and Natural Theology: The book of Job offers a lot for Christian philosophers. This devotion focuses upon the natural theology which can be found throughout the book.
Ecclesiastes: The devotion focuses upon the themes within Ecclesiastes. Notably, the idea that without God, life has no meaning–but with God, life finds completion.
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I tried to reply to your answer to my comments but was unable to do so as it said the page had been moved. You said that you subscribe to the Chicago statement on inerrancy of the Bible. Meaning of course that you believe that only the original manuscripts were inspired. Meaning that we do not actually have Gods inerrant Word today and that His Word is only implied in today’s versions. You carry it further by writing in statements that the Bible was not intended to be taken literally in all points or teachings. Who is it that decides what is to be taken literally and what is not? You? Others? Is it only to be taken literally if it lines up with science? Is science then the bench mark?
As for myself, I believe the Bible I hold in my hand is the very Word of God, without error. Gods Word is therefore the bench mark. Not science or any individual. When God says the universe was created in 6 days, that is exactly the number of days it was created. I have no need nor reason to apologize to God for telling the truth. Science has not caught up with God and you have not either. God needs no apologies. He is right.
I appreciate your comments. Now I don’t think I can adequately answer all the issues you raise even in this brief comment. What I would point out is that it is clear the entire Bible is not literal. For example, it talks about the rivers clapping their hands (Psalm 98:8). So it is not me or anyone else who determines what is literal and what is not: it is the author. The genre and context of verses must be taken into account.
Great comment jpfinn7!
I know you like to fancy yourself a “defender of the faith,” hence the extensive use of sword and shield imagery. This is an unfortunate icon, considering the blood the church has shed.
Wouldn’t it be more worthwhile to guide your own flock? Look at the comments, from your own, on this page. You’ve got an uphill battle from your own brothers! After all, if the existence of God, His plan for salvation, His ongoing presence through the Holy Spirit, and His love are so apparent (either through actual evidence, logical proof, or personal revelation) why does it require such extensive defense?
Perhaps the fanfare defense is indicative of the frailty.
I’ve been an atheist for only about a year or so. Ive learned a lot about my world in the last several months. I’ve also come across scores of Christians. Dozens of pastors. Some of those pastors lead churches of thousands of people.
In a year’s time, you’re the first Christian that even gave me pause. I actually appreciate it very much!
However, it has to occur to you on some level that the vast majority of people who profess roughly the same belief system as you (at least in the birth, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ) profess it with no knowledge, evidence, defense, or even idea of why they do. Does that bother you?
Indeed, in a year I didn’t encounter a single apologetic. Are apologetics the only group that can argue with a layman atheist? It certainly seems that way.
But as I said, perhaps such elaborate defense mechanisms are more indicative of an inherent vulnerability than strength?
But I digress…
I’m pleased to see you understand that the Bible is not necessarily a literal account. I think JPFINN7 asked a very valid question you failed to answer: how does genre and context govern what is literal and what is not?
River of blood?
Pillar of fire?
Two of a kind?
Walls of Jericho?
Job’s murdered family?
People living 900 years?
Resurrection of Lazurus?
I don’t expect you to answer each of those. I’m curious about how you, personally, decide what is metaphor and what is literal, historical account.
And, if any are metaphors, did authors do a responsible job presenting their work as metaphor?
Actually JW, disregard answering my previous post.
I thought about what I read earlier on here, while I sat and ate dinner with my girlfriend and my dog.
On this page, you link to a page where you, articulately as always, make a detailed defense / explanation / argument for mass murder, as ordered by God, in the OT book of Joshua.
It finally occurred to me that I’m not really interested in spending my time arguing with people who would ever attempt to justify the murder of women and children. I’m still somewhat baffled that people do that these days.
Further, I noticed a keen lack of “Biblical Difficulties.” If these are the only four passages that you consider difficult, I’m further confounded.
So I guess I will go back to freethinkers. You know, those people who would just rule out murder of women and children anytime.
Have fun with the others!
I find this comment extremely telling on a number of levels. For example, you wrote:
This is incredibly disingenuous. Where exactly do I say that these posts cover the whole breadth of Bible difficulties? Where?
Furthermore, they are part of a series that I haven’t revisited. My specialty is largely on the philosophical rather than Biblical side of the discussion, so I’ve found that simply linking to others for a number of topics helps spread the labor a bit more evenly. Are you suggesting I am obligated to comment on every difficult passage in the Bible? Wow.
Yep, this is what confirms to me that you’re not really interested in dialogue. Rather, you’re only here to scorn those who disagree with you. You have a presupposed view from which you view all other worldviews, and you are offended by views that contradict your own. Your only recourse is to leave the conversation. Honestly, I think you should be ashamed for writing this comment. It just shows that instead of being interested in dialogue, the only thing you’ve been interested in is sitting on a self-made pedestal and piling up slander on those whose views differ from your own.
I was sensing this thought in some of your previous comments, but here you’ve really shown that all you’re doing is allowing your preconceived notions of right and wrong (!? do you believe in objective morals? How does that work…. oh well) cut off any other discussion. Without any grounding for morality, you’ve declared yourself the judge of all other worldviews. I wish I could say I was surprised.
Predictably, you’ve missed the point. However many passages you find troubling is irrelevant. The fact that you can twist your own mind regarding specifically the passage on genocide I find deeply troubling.
If, indeed, God conducts himself in such a manner, my choice is quite simple: I reject that god. I reject his system in which that act could ever be deemed even remotely acceptable. I reject your twisted worldview that accepts the idea that the murder, pain, and suffering of fellow human beings is acceptable if it God’s Will.
I am not judging all worldviews, only yours. I’m judging your worldview that attempts to justify genocide. Forgive me if I think that aspect of your worldview is wholly reprehensible.
So, no, I don’t want to maintain dialogue regarding that worldview. Why would I?
War is murder? Was war murder on D-Day?
I don’t think Andrew would call D-Day “murder”. While I appreciate your frustration with some of his posts, he did make a clear distinction here that women and children were involved and intentionally killed in the case of the Canaanites.
While I don’t think that women should be lumped in with children because it appears very plausible that the women were morally accountable and complicit in the child sacrifice and temple prostitution practices in the Canaanite culture, the problem with children being killed, even in light of them being free of God’s judgment after death, is still something extremely hard to accept for atheist and Christian theist alike.
Perhaps there is much more going on in the context of Joshua 6:21-24 than is shown, but it seems pretty apparent that only through faith can one truly accept some of the possible explanations that there is real justification behind children being killed via human agency or “natural evil”.
Of course, there is always the question that you raised about grounding of one’s morals, which I think is a fair question to one who assumes a naturalistic worldview.
You’re certainly not insinuating that the women and children were combatants, are you? Further, “extermination” is not typically a word associated with war. That’s genocide. And it’s typically associated with Nazis, et al. And God’s chosen people.
Also, I was in war.
Have you seen war? Or do you consider what you’ve read an adequate representation of what war is.
It would take a lot to explain, but as I point out on my “About” page my views are subject to change, and the post you’re referencing is not one I really hold to any more anyway. I tend to think Copan is correct in his book “Is God a Moral Monster” when he points out that the language of killing all the women and children is polemical. So I think this whole debate is pretty much moot anyway. I’m pretty convinced by Copan’s references of ANE cultures that used that language while meaning they just captured some forts that the ‘genocidal’ accusation just comes from a surface level understanding of the text, particularly in light of the fact that even the cultures that the Israelites “wiped out” even the women and children are referenced within chapters of the verses that discuss wiping them out.
But hey, on your view, it’s just your sensibilities that are offended anyway. You can’t actually say they’re wrong. You just don’t like it.
I haven’t gotten very far in Copan’s book yet, but I am wondering what you think the relationship is between hyperbole in the OT and divine inspiration that influenced the recording of such accounts. I suppose what I’m ultimately getting at is that I frequently have a difficult time understanding why divine inspiration would allow an OT author to record something that would be a huge stumbling block for posterity that is dozens of generations and more in the future. Of course, I’m not referring to the supernatural, but instead to the moral.
I know that all OT and NT accounts are written to address the culture of the time, but it seems that since Israel was to be quite separate from the rest of the cultures in the ANE, I don’t see what the problem would have been with refraining from the hyperbole.
I realize there’s no clear answer, but would like to know if you have any thoughts on this.
I’m not sure I agree that Israel was actually quite separate from the rest of the ANE. They were supposed to be, but throughout the Bible they are not. They’re always getting in trouble for intermarrying, having altars to other gods, etc.
Regarding inspiration, God inspired people in their cultural milieus, and part of that is their background beliefs. Just like the Bible was written with a background belief in which the earth was covered with a dome of the sky, so was it written with hyperbolic language. Inerrancy, and the Chicago statement of inerrancy, both agree that the Bible is right in all it teaches, not necessarily in the background beliefs that are part of the explanation of what is taught.
I agree and realize that Israel certainly did not live up to the standards set for them, but I suppose I was trying to say that Moses, though not faultless in his ways, was probably one of the better Israelites in terms of conforming to the standards set forth, so I figured that given divine inspiration, the hyperbole would have been excluded since God intended this historical record to be used by generations thousands of years down the line.
I’m still not sure how this would turn into a problem for a Christian. Now I realize that some Christians–in particular YECs–tend to argue that the doctrine of perspicuity of Scripture applies to everything it teaches, but the correct view of that doctrine is that the Bible is plain and simple in its teaching on salvation. That doctrine does not apply to everything in the Bible, whether it is the cleansing of the land or eschatology. The purpose of the Bible is to teach salvation history, not to make everything easy for everyone.
OK. I suppose I should read up on inerrancy, then. I didn’t realize that the standard of clarity only applied to salvation.
It’s disputed. Some definitely argue it applies to all of Scripture. I disagree. Anyone who reads Revelation and says that what it teaches is clear is either lying or divinely inspired in their reading and discernment abilities.
I should clarify, too. I don’t mean Revelation is unclear. What I mean is that to get the meaning, it takes a whole lot of study, prayer, and reading. What I mean is that the meaning is not plain as day for a surface-level reading.
you should check out the book: Come Let Us Reason New Essays In Christian Apologetics edited by Paul Copan and William Lane Craig. Just look it up on Amazon.
In chapter 13, Matthew Flannagang addresses the use of hyperbole in Joshua and I found his reasoning very powerful. I recommend it to you after reading your comments.
Hey, why wasn’t that @me too? ;).
I will have to look up the reference. I have the book on my shelf but haven’t gotten to it yet. Thanks for the recommendation.
Well I assumed you’re the pro and know it already :). Thank you for your work, love your blog and benefit from it heaps!
Thank you for your very, very kind words. And I am not an expert on anything and everything. I love recommendations and often follow up on them! The OT ANE context is one area I decidedly could stand to read more on.
Thanks, Patrick. I have yet to complete “Contending With Christianity’s Critics”, which is waiting on my Kindle for me. I’ll certainly pick up “Come, Let Us Reason” afterward.