Jul 19, 2008

Bible Teaching or Preaching Christ?

Michael Jensen has broached the topic of biblical teaching versus Christ preaching. On his
blog he writes,

I was speaking with a prominent English conservative evangelical not so long ago, and we were talking about preaching. He had a gripe: the phrase 'bible teaching' (and the idea of 'bible churches', too). It has crept into the evangelical vocabulary to describe what used to be called 'preaching'. A church is great, we will say, because 'the bible teaching is excellent'. But, he said, the vocab change is significant: it represents a shift to a more cognitive, flat and explanatory style of discourse. The hearers will not be exhorted or edified so much as 'taught'. What's more, and perhaps more seriously, we talk less of preaching Christ, but of teaching the Bible. A subtle but significant difference perhaps?

While I can certainly appreciate the distinction being offered here, I am not sure that the distinctions are as sharp as some see it. Biblical teaching and preaching Christ are friends not adversaries. Good preaching has an element of teaching and good teaching will have some elements of exhortation which epitomizes of good preaching. Furthermore, I would posit that the assertion above that "it represents a shift to a more cognitive, flat and explanatory style of discourse. The hearers will not be exhorted or edified so much as 'taught'. What's more, and perhaps more seriously, we talk less of preaching Christ, but of teaching the Bible," is simply incorrect. First, if hearers are neither ehorted nor edified than you can call it someting, but you simply cannot call it Bible teaching. This appears to me to be a strawman. Second, there is nothing wrong with "cognitive" or "explanatory." Concerning the former, did not the Lord teach that we are to Love God with our mind (Matt 22:37). Concerning the latter, the teaching of Jesus and the Apostles as recorded in Scripture was often explanatory. Indeed there are more recorded occasions of Jesus teaching than preaching in the Gospels. Even when Jesus is in the synagogue he is more often described as teaching than preaching. Third, I think that it also a bit of a strawman to draw a distinction between "preaching Christ" and "teaching the Bible." Although it is possible to preach the Bible as if Christ were not present, most Christian preachers and teachers worth their salt do not do so. To properly teach the Bible is to teach Christ and to preach Christ is to teach the Scriptures of which he is the cen
ter, focus, and end.

Forthcoming Volume on the Book of Acts

Michael Bird has noted that there is a soon to be published
book on Acts about reading Acts from a second century perspective. I m not sure how well this premise is going to work since I am fairly confident that Acts was written in the first century.

Is it Right or Wrong to Fire a Pastor?

See this
article in the Baptist Standard seeking to answer this question.

Jul 18, 2008

Leen Ritmeyer on Stones from Hezekiah's Time

Leen Ritmeyer has posted an interesting
post on a portion of the existing Jerusalem wall containing stones he believes date from the time of Hezekiah. Ritmeyer states, "A couple of weeks ago, we spent some time in Israel with our family, visiting places which are dear to us. Following up on a lead, I used some of that time to investigate a particular section in the eastern wall of the Temple Mount. In the picture below, you can see me photographing two massive stones, which are located 77m (253 feet) north of the south east corner. These stones are similar in size and shape to the ones that can be seen on either side of the Golden Gate. I have dated this masonry to the time of King Hezekiah’s expansion of the Temple Mount in about 700 B.C."

For the pictures see the original post.

Jul 17, 2008

Free Online/Downloadable Hebrew Grammar Resources

Mark Hoffman has provided a convenient list of free online/downloadable Hebrew grammar resources. You can view the list

Jul 16, 2008

Some May Enjoy This

From Piled Higher and Deeper.

Latest Issue of Review of Biblical Literature

The latest issue of the Review of Biblical Literature is out. Reviews that may be of interest to those interested in Bible exposition include:

Kevin L. Anderson
"But God Raised Him from the Dead": The Theology of Jesus' Resurrection in Luke-Acts
Reviewed by Lidija Novakovic

Norbert Baumert
Sorgen des Seelsorgers: Übersetzung und Auslegung des ersten Korintherbriefes
Reviewed by Helmut Schwier

Jon L. Berquist, ed.
Approaching Yehud: New Approaches to the Study of the Persian Period
Reviewed by Armin Siedlecki

Adela Yarbro Collins
Mark: A Commentary
Reviewed by Edwin Broadhead

Avraham Faust
Israel's Ethnogenesis: Settlement, Interaction, Expansion and Resistance
Reviewed by Kenton L. Sparks

Charlotte Elisheva Fonrobert and Martin S. Jaffee, eds.
The Cambridge Companion to the Talmud and Rabbinic Literature
Reviewed by Joshua Schwartz

Mary Gerhart and Fabian E. Udoh, eds.
The Christianity Reader
Reviewed by Mark Reasoner

Christiana de Groot and Marion Ann Taylor, eds.
Recovering Nineteenth-Century Women Interpreters of the Bible
Reviewed by Athalya Brenner

John Jarick
1 Chronicles
Reviewed by Steven L. McKenzie

Anne Lapidus Lerner
Eternally Eve: Images of Eve in the Hebrew Bible, Midrash, and Modern Jewish Poetry
Reviewed by Lieve M. Teugels

Andrew M. Mbuvi
Temple, Exile and Identity in 1 Peter
Reviewed by David G. Horrell

André Munzinger
Discerning the Spirits: Theological and Ethical Hermeneutics in Paul
Reviewed by Lee S. Bond
Reviewed by Victor Paul Furnish

Stephen W. Need
Paul Today: Challenging Readings of Acts and the Epistles
Reviewed by Steve Walton

Barclay M. Newman, ed.
The UBS Greek New Testament: A Reader's Edition
Reviewed by Steven R. Johnson

Bridget Gilfillan Upton
Hearing Mark's Endings: Listening to Ancient Popular Texts through Speech Act Theory
Reviewed by W. R. Telford

Jan G. van der Watt
An Introduction to the Johannine Gospel and Letters
Reviewed by D. A. Carson

Challies' Review of What is a Healthy Church Member?

Tim Challies has a nice review of Thabiti Anyabwile’s new book
What is a Healthy Church Member? According to the book, there are ten marks of a healthy church member.

1. A healthy church member is an expositional listener
2. A healthy church member is a biblical theologian
3. A healthy church member is gospel saturated
4. A healthy church member is genuinely converted
5. A healthy church member is a biblical evangelist
6. A healthy church member is a committed member
7. A healthy church member seeks discipline
8. A healthy church member is a growing disciple
9. A healthy church member is a humble follower
10. A healthy church member is a prayer warrior

Read the entire review here.

Jul 15, 2008

New Book on Textual Criticism

ee Peter Head's enthusiastic recommendation of David Parker's An Introduction to the New Testament Manuscripts and their Texts (Cambridge: CUP, 2008).

Not Sure What to Make of This

The Preaching Now newsletter has the following interesting tidbit. Surely, there is a sermon illustration her somewhere.

More than 70,000 people in Australia have declared they are followers of the Jedi faith, the religion created by the Star Wars films.

According to a BBC story, a recent census found that one in 270 respondents--0.37 percent of the population--say they believe in "the force," an energy field that gives Jedi Knights like Luke Skywalker their power in the films.

Most of the 70,509 people who wrote "Jedi" on their census forms were suspected to have done so in response to an email encouraging all Star Wars fans to get it recognized as an official religion.

The majority do not seriously tell each other: "May the force be with you," according to Australian Star Wars Appreciation Society President Chris Brennean.

"When you look at it, you probably have about 5,000 people in that 70,000 who were true hard-core people who would believe the Jedi religion carte blanche," he told ABC Radio.

"Then you would have 50,000 fans who said, 'Oh yeah, we'll just put down "Jedi" for fun, we don't actually have a religion of our own.'

"Then you probably have 15,000 people who did it just to give the government a bit of curry," he said.

1 Timothy 2:15: Are Women Saved Through Childbirth?

Brent Nelson has a nice post on the notoriously difficult 1 Timothy 2:15. Brent is mainly interacting with Douglas Moo's discussion on the passage. I have included below a portion of the post below, but read it in its entirety

Moo outlines four basic views on the meaning of this verse. What each of these views has in common is that none suggest that women are saved differently than men. Each view affirms that all persons are saved by grace through faith, “And this is not of your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9, ESV). Neither manhood nor womanhood is ever a ground for boasting.

First, some take it that Paul is teaching that women will be kept physically safe during childbirth. The NIV translation, “women will be kept safe through childbirth…” seems to reflect this view. This view however doesn’t fit well with the rest of the verse which describes faith, love, holiness and self-control as spiritual realities in which she must continue. These terms along with Paul’s custom of using the term “saved” to refer to ultimate salvation hamper this view.

A second view is that the “childbirth” Paul has in mind is THE childbirth of Christ. This view draws a link to the mention of Eve in verse 13 and refers to the promise of Genesis 3:15 that a “seed” promised to the woman will crush the serpent. Though this fits with the context better, it still isn’t clear that Paul would use the generic term ‘childbirth’ to refer to Christ, if he didn’t say so explicitly.

Third, Moo outlines the view that women will be saved through childbearing, as if the bearing of a child hinders their salvation. This idea is similar to Peter saying that Noah was saved through water (I Peter 3:20). This view suffers the same problem as the first view in that it takes salvation to be mainly physical. Childbirth isn’t best conceived as an impedance to a woman’s salvation in Christ.

Lastly, (and my preference) Moo thinks that childbirth for Paul “designates the circumstances” in which Christian women will work out their salvation. It is the sphere in which God-given evidences of their salvation are seen in a way that is distinctly feminine. Though salvation is all of grace, it must be worked out with fear and trembling (Philippians 2:12). Men will express faith, love and godliness in a distinctly masculine sphere.

Similarly women will express these same qualities in a way that marks their femininity. For Paul, this is, in a general sense, through the precious calling of childbirth and maternity. I say 'in a general sense' because even young girls, single and elderly women can affirm these virtues in a maternal and feminine way.

Jul 14, 2008

Church Membership

David Mathis at the Desiring God blog has posted on church membership here. He suggests that,

"The New Testament gives at least five strands of evidence that a definable, local-church membership is necessary:

1. The church is to discipline its members.
2. The reality of excommunication exists.
3. Christians are required to submit to their leaders.
4. Leaders are required to care for their people.
5. The prominent metaphor of the body implies membership."

Jewish Temples in Egypt

Although this
story in the Jerusalem Post is not exactly biblical in nature, it does contain a fascinating synopsis of recent archaeological work in Egypt related to two Jewish temple complexes, one located at Leontopolis and the other at Elephantine, that existed during the Intertestamental period.

Thanks to Todd Bolin at his Bible Places blog for pointing this out.

Jul 13, 2008

"What's Central When You Preach?"

Rodney Decker has some fine comments on preaching here. The following is just a snippet his post.

When you preach, focus attention on the text, not on what you say about the text. Always make sure that your audience knows when God is speaking and when you are speaking. Read Scripture in big chunks. Read it well. Emphasize that what you are reading is God’s Word and authoritative. I like the pattern of some preachers (I first heard it listening to D. A. Carson), who when they read the Scripture at or near the beginning of their message, says something to this effect: “This is what Scripture says: …” (And some add at the end of the text, “This is the Word of the Lord.”) The exact phrasing isn’t important, but the emphasis is good.
Amen and Amen. Do read his entire post.