Posts Tagged ‘Justin Taylor’

OD Today: 22 January 2009 (late edition)

January 22, 2009

Lots of abortion-related links today because today is the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court decision that made abortion a federal issue (and legal with restrictions in all fifty states).

  1. La Shawn Barber name-checks Blogs4Life.
  2. Russell Moore offers a sermon on why the unborn still matter.
  3. Joe Carter offers an open letter to fetal humans.
  4. Frank Turk links to a video where a young man argues that it’s better for babies to be aborted than to be born poor.
  5. Defending Contending offers a retrospective of its own posts devoted to abortion.
  6. Ingrid Schlueter offers comments and a picture of an aborted fetus.
  7. Ralph Petersen compares abortions to body counts from various wars.
  8. Bob Hayton offers a video devoted to a live baby.
  9. La Shawn Barber offers an opinion piece from 2003.
  10. John Ensor guests at Tim Challies, thinks about making abortion unthinkable.
  11. Justin Taylor offers two posts: one on abortion and the early Church, the other a collection of links. Some overlap with those above; sorry.

And just a couple of items unrelated to abortion:

I may have buried the lead. Sorry.

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OD Today: 8 January 2009 (late edition)

January 8, 2009

Really nothing but continuing stories in this update; Desert Pastor (see item 14) summarizes the views of most everything I’ve heard or read from conservative Christians regarding the current conflict in and around Gaza.

  1. Chris Rosebrough says Barack Obama “is a Christian” even if he is heterodox (podcast, at about 23:00).
  2. The Frog in the Kettle says God is not blessing America. “God stopped blessing us many many years ago.  Perhaps He’s restraining His judgement upon us or we’re benefiting from His mercy, but c’mon, do we really think He’s blessing us? … take it for what its worth, just a gimmick used by career politicians to trick you into thinking they’re on your side, they’re like you.”
  3. Ingrid Schlueter calls out cowboy churches. “A cutting-edge idea would be to have a dual-theme church where men and boys go off to the pirate service and women and girls go to a Disney princess service. There could even be some dramatic interplay between the two where pirates kidnap a damsel and Prince Charming rides into the service on his white horse to rescue the maiden. The sermon potential here is rich.” She also manages to tie in Rick Warren and says “If people have a problem with long sermons and being taught about sin and hell, their greatest need is not accommodation—it is repentance. Sadly, few will hear that message in these circus-driven churches.”
  4. Justin Taylor lists life highlights for Richard John Neuhaus (1936-2009), including Evangelicals and Catholics Together (1994).
  5. Dwayna Litz on women teaching men. “See Acts 18:26—Priscilla taught a man!”
  6. David Reagan presents part three of his series on the question of whether the Antichrist is a Muslim. “Next, he claims that since Antiochus Epiphanes — a type of the Antichrist — came from the Seleucid or Assyrian area of the Grecian Empire (Syria and Iraq), the Antichrist must also come from that area.”
  7. Christine at Talk Wisdom says Barack Obama will turn America’s back on Israel. “I think that Israel already knows that her security will mostly fall upon Her own shoulders once Obama is in office. The steadfast loyalty, security, unconditional stance and friendship of the United States government (of the past) with Israel might (tragically) be severely at risk.”
  8. Ingrid Schlueter endorses home schooling, Abeka, and Bob Jones Press. “As a homeschooling parent for a number of years, I can tell you that it is possible to have top-drawer Christian education in your own home. … The peer segregation in churches and schools today breeds rebellion and disregard for adults and authority. … The biblical model is for the older to teach the younger.”
  9. Phil Perkins concludes his series on Online Discernment Ministries; he offers advice on how to fix ODMs and calls out Frank Turk. “Of HUGE CONCERN to most ODMers is the loss of formerly “Christian” institutions, like denominations, colleges, and seminaries. Did you know that God isn’t concerned about it?  He isn’t.”
  10. Ingrid Schlueter extolls the virtues of being old-fashioned. “Those of us who still have appreciation for the old ways that worked will have to band together. There aren’t very many of us!”
  11. Dave Hunt warns regarding the National Council of Churches‘ year-old warning regarding Christian Zionism. Does anyone call himself a Christian Zionist? Or is it always pejorative? “In fact, according to the NCC, Christian Zionist support for Israel is the main stumbling block to tranquility in the Middle East.”
  12. Ken Silva proclaims a split in Evangelicalism. “The time has come in the American Christian Church for division; for a reformation every bit the same as when Luther stood hammer in hand. Since my time is looking as if it’s nearing an end I’ll simply say that someone must arise and declare that there is no way to harmonize what you will hear in the following sermon from Dr. John MacArthur with the egregiously ecumenical postliberal cult of the Emerging Church and postevangelicalism, which is right now completely swallowing up centered on the self semi-pelagian evangelicalism.”
  13. Ingrid Schlueter advertises a Crosstalk interview with Albert Mohler. “I believe that legalized child-killing and homosexuality issue are the defining moral issues facing the church today. The impotent response of God’s people to these abominations are resulting in God’s judgment on our land.” Mohler will be pushing a book.
  14. And finally: Gaza updates and analysis from Desert Pastor and Joel Rosenberg.

Ehrman vs. Williams on Unbelievable?

January 6, 2009

I picked up the trail on this story via either James White or Justin Taylor. I don’t remember. These are my raw notes from an episode of Unbelievable? on Premier Christian Radio in the United Kingdom.

Bart Ehrman is the author of a book called Misquoting Jesus. He was born Episcopalian, then was born again; he attended Moody Bible Institute, then Wheaton, and finally Princeton Theological Seminary, where he was a student of Bruce Metzger. He first believed that the Bible was inerrant, with no problems or inconsistencies, completely correct in all matters scientific and historical. To him the original words matter, and as he lost his faith in this model of the Scriptures he lost his faith, period.

Peter Williams takes the position that the Scriptures are “inerrant with some problems, but still true in the normal sense.”

Ehrman’s opening argument:

  1. There are no original copies of the (New Testament) text available; the copies available were made much later than the originals. For example, the earliest complete collection of Paul’s writings dates to about 350AD, nearly three centuries after Paul’s death.
  2. The copies differ; this means that scribes changed the texts
  3. We have no clue how much; the changes are extensive: there are thousands (hundreds of thousands?) of changes across the body of available text
  4. Most are not material, but some are; some are doctrinal

Ehrman is advocating a model of scribal error that propagates and compounds errors, and furthermore the important errors were introduced intentionally.

Peter Williams starts here; he agrees on the facts regarding dates, but takes a “half-full rather than half-empty” view:

  1. The quality of Scriptural textual traditions is much better than for e.g. classical texts
  2. Agrees there are hundreds of thousands of errors across the total textual tradition
  3. Agrees most are of secondary importance
  4. Says the many texts imply a strong tradition, even with many errors, and claims that Ehrman suggests just the opposite: the more texts there are the weaker the textual tradition is.

The host asked offhand why God didn’t keep errors from creeping in, then deferrs the question for a later show.

Which changes matter:

Ehrman: Mark 1:41: the angry Jesus. Claims the minority tradition, where Jesus is angry (at the man who wants to be healed) is authoritative, vs. the majority tradition, where Jesus is compassionate. This fits Mark’s Jesus better.

Williams: Agrees it matters but not much in this case; questions that there’s any evidence of intent: the minority tradition is geographically concentrated.

Ehrman: gives a weak direct response, then appeals to Matthew/Luke: they both give this story, presumably from Mark, but neither portray Jesus’s emotional state.

Williams: Ehrman consistently prefers an “intelligent design” theory of textual problems, rather than a “random chance” theory. Suggests the spread of changes from Mark to Matthew/Luke suggests accidents, not intent.

Host introduces the story from John of the woman taken in adultery.

Ehrman: this story doesn’t belong in John; how did it get into the text? Williams agrees on the facts, differs on interpretation.

Host: next week Ehrman will be back debating Richard Swinburn and pushing his book God’s Problem, on the problem of evil.

Williams: We can reconstruct the original text from the available textual tradition. Translations improve over time due to 1) more texts and 2) better scholarship. Tradition regarding existing translations is a drag on progress; Bible translators are unwilling to jump whole-hog into modern translations because doing so would hurt sales.

Williams also distinguishes between textual traditions according to their moral value vs. their historical value, and suggests that the older witnesses (secondary sources) are more important than later extrabiblical witnesses.

Ehrman: picks up Hebrews 2:9: did Jesus die by the grace of God? Or did He die apart from God? One word separates these two traditions, and the words are spelled very similarly. Argues the latter/more difficult reading is more likely correct, and the change was a response to a 2nd Century argument with Gnostics, who claimed Jesus “had the Christ” rather than “was the Christ.” This sort of change is the most worrying, because it suggests that the text may have been changed to fit theology, rather than the other way around.

Williams: the preponderance of the evidence suggests chance/random changes.

Host: what does this imply for what/how people believe?

Ehrman: rejects that he has taken a “falsus in uno” position. Brings up the point of 1 John 5 regarding the Trinity. Says theologians don’t generally change their minds regardless of what the Scriptural text actually says, or in response to changes in the understanding of the history of the text.

Williams: Ehrman’s book overstates the problem/how much is really at stake. The overall significance/impact of the Bible is not touched by Ehrman’s argument.

Ehrman: these issues per se didn’t ruin his faith. Reasserts that there are hundreds of important changes.

Williams: early variant readings represent small disagreements. Scholarly agreement is not the central issue; it isn’t the foundation of the authority of Scripture. Appeals to the Old Testament story of Josiah: the Scriptures were completely unavailable, but that didn’t mean they weren’t authoritative.

Analysis: Ehrman is probably correct in that he was constrained by the format of the show: he presented two, maybe four cases, out of what he claims are hundred of important textual problems. Williams had better soundbites: his “glass half-full” and “intelligent design” bites were better than anything Ehrman had in response. Williams had the advantage that he was free to attack Ehrman’s book, while he had no corresponding book to defend.

Conclusion: each man presents and argues a model of scribal error inferring a model of textual variance. It’s difficult to argue conclusively back from the text, which is available, to the scribal process, which can’t be observed. Neither side really has a knockout punch: Ehrman would need say the minutes of a text-changing committee, Williams a cache of authentic texts from 120AD or so closely resembling what’s available today.

Unfortunately, the question they’re purporting to answer, regarding the importance of variations in textual traditions, don’t touch the question of whether the Bible is the Word of God. They both agree in essence that that’s still a matter of faith, and Williams has it, in some form, while Ehrman doesn’t.