Biblical commentary

A man is “justified” by works?? — James 2:21–25

Forms of δικαιοσύνη or δικαιόω (dikaiosunē, dikaioō; the respective noun and verb forms) occur eight times in James’ letter. The area debated primarily is 2:21–25. It is not uncommon for Roman Catholic apologists, for example, to argue against Protestantism that the only area of the Bible in which “faith alone” appears is in v. 24: “You see that by works a man is justified by works and not by faith alone.”[1] Yet, Paul states in Romans 3:20 that “by works of the law no flesh will be justified in His sight.” Theologically, we might define justification as a “declaration that the person has been restored to a state of righteousness through belief and trust in the work of Christ rather than on the basis of one’s own accomplishment.”[2] In short, James and Paul, by using forms of δικαιοσύνη, are not referring to the same concept and thus should not be seen as conflicting with each other. Continue reading

Book review

The Great Good Thing: A Secular Jew Comes to Faith in Christ by Andrew Klavan

Andrew Klavan has held my attention ever since I discovered his old video commentary series Klavan on the Culture back around 2010. The format and media have changed a few times before his present cultural-political show The Andrew Klavan Show on The Daily Wire came to be. Outside of politics, Klavan is well-known for his novels, two of which have been made into successful movies. I thoroughly enjoyed Empire of Lies back in the day.

9780718084479I’m a little late to the party concerning his memoir, The Great Good Thing: A Secular Jew Comes to Faith in Christ (2016). Klavan is already proven as a master storyteller, and The Great Good Thing in this respect is no different. His ability to evoke authentic images and experiences in the reader’s mind shines through. If nothing else, it’s a narrative that is difficult to put down through the end. However, if you’re looking for a narrativized systematic theology concerning Reformed soteriology, this is neither that book nor its aim. Moreover, its theological vagueness, intentional or otherwise, could leave one with a false impression of Klavan’s theology and a certain sense of incompleteness. Continue reading

Biblical commentary

Understanding the “Falling Away” of Hebrews 6:4–6

Adapted from a seminary paper.

It is probably apparent for even the newest Bible readers that Hebrews 6:4–6 is one of the most difficult passages in the Bible to interpret. A plain reading of the passage may cause one suddenly to question the precious doctrine of eternal security. Worse yet, one may conclude — with eternal security out of the way — that one who once made a profession of Christ but later strayed from the faith can no longer repent. The stakes get higher when we remind ourselves that we are talking about real people. For many people who were raised in the church, the eternal destination of family members who have strayed from their profession comes into serious question.

Hodges does well to summarize four prevalent interpretations of the passage.

1) that the danger of a Christian losing his salvation is described, a view rejected because of biblical assurances that salvation is a work of God which cannot be reversed; (2) that the warning is against mere profession of faith short of salvation, or tasting but not really partaking of salvation (The New Scofield Reference Bible, p. 1315); (3) that hypothetically if a Christian could lose his salvation, there is no provision for repentance (The Ryrie Study Bible, p. 1843); (4) that a warning is given of the danger of a Christian moving from a position of true faith and life to the extent of becoming disqualified for further service (1 Cor. 9:27) and for inheriting millennial glory.[1]

This essay will examine the text as best as possible given space limitations and finds that the second option above is that which the author of Hebrews intends in the text. Continue reading

Biblical commentary

Hebrews 9:16–17 — “Covenant” or “Will”?

Adapted from a seminary assignment.

David Allen calls the issue of Hebrews 9:16–17 “one of the thorniest interpretative issues in the epistle,” as “[c]onsiderable debate exists over whether the translation of diathēkē in 9:16–17 should be rendered as “will/testament” or “covenant.”[1] Consensus exists for the nineteen instances of the term outside of vv. 16–17, as they clearly refer to “covenant” in the Old Testament sense. The four instances inside of these verses are an issue requiring validation. Continue reading

News

Dark Humor and Incivility

“Too soon”? Perhaps. Did “we” have it coming? Also yes.

By “we,” I mean the Navy, as I am a Navy Surface Warfare veteran.

By now, you probably know of the recent respective collision incidents involving USS Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain, and you almost certainly know of the damage in south Texas from Hurricane Harvey. The two ship collisions cost the lives of 17 U.S. Sailors. The overall death toll from the hurricane is yet to be known until flood waters recede.

Now add satire news. Notwithstanding the far too common problem of people believing satirical news articles to be true, this came in the other day from Duffel Blog, a military-themed satire news site. Continue reading

News

What Was Being Worshiped Yesterday at First Baptist Church in Dallas?

I found myself once in the middle of something like this at a Sunday morning service at a relative’s church. I had left the Navy about five weeks prior, and they wanted veterans to stand up for their particular service anthems. I remained seated for “Anchors Aweigh.”

Moreover, they managed to “churchify” the song. You see, there’s a line in the song that goes “Through our last night on shore, drink to the foam,” and they’re not talking about drinking ocean water. But the church had purchased music along with accompanying lyric video from some company, and they changed the offending lyric to “hail to the foam.” The church leadership itself was probably completely unaware of this.

“Hail” to the foam? Really?

the way of improvement leads home

Jeffress 1

Yesterday was “Freedom Sunday” at the First Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas.  The pastor of First Baptist is Robert Jeffress.  He is a Trump supporter, Christian nationalist, and prominent court evangelical. As the pictures attached to this tweet indicate, it was a day of patriotic celebration in the church sanctuary.

People waived American flags during the service.

The last time I checked, the waiving of the American flag was a sign of support or loyalty to the nation.  Jeffress had no problem allowing such an act to take place in a church sanctuary–the place where Christians worship God as a form of expressing their ultimate loyalty.  Patriotism is fine. Flag-waiving is fine.  But I wonder if any…

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