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Category: Theology

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    As you daily walk in the Holy Spirit, God will fill you with his Spirit in such a way that your desires to sin lessen. Galatians 5:16—set in a chapter that parallels Romans 8 in many ways—says it so well: “Walk in the Spirit and you will not carry out the desires of the flesh.” The one who walks in the Spirit will not give in to the desires of the flesh. Walking in the Spirit and carrying out the desires of the flesh are mutually exclusive ideas; you cannot do one at the same time as you engage in the other.

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    I remember sitting in my office with a student who was thinking about moving out of evangelical Protestantism and into a different church tradition. He began thinking this way after he had started reading widely in the writings of Christian authors from earlier eras. After being exposed to various authors who sometimes expressed divergent viewpoints from his own, he became increasingly unsure about whether the Bible on its own was clear in what it taught. He was considering changing to a church tradition that could interpret the Bible for him. Since, in his thinking, we can’t be certain what the Bible actually means when we read it, we need an authoritative guide. Let me assure you, there are people out there who will gladly tell you what the Bible means if that’s what you want! Another conversation with a different student also comes to mind. She wasn’t sure whether she could really give herself to Christ in faith because she didn’t know if the message of the gospel was actually true. But the more we talked together, the more I realized that she wasn’t struggling with which truth claims were correct and which were false; she was struggling with whether anyone could know something was true at all. So whenever I appealed to the Bible I didn’t get any traction in our discussion because she didn’t think we could actually come to know truth through a written text. Both of these students were struggling with whether the Bible was clear.

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    I have just finished reading through (most of) the new 1,200+ page book, The Enduring Authority of the Christian Scriptures, edited by D.A. Carson. This book is a splendid example of deep thinking about important subjects presented in a format readable not just for advanced students and scholars, but also for other deep-thinking Christians. I am not saying that the topics are simple. Quite to the contrary, this book tackles some of the most difficult questions surrounding the authority of Scripture. The doctrine of inerrancy in particular is underscored throughout the book ...

  • Charlie Trimm — 

    As we saw in the previous two posts in this series, the long defeat was an important theme for Tolkien that continued even after the defeat of Sauron. As is well-known, Tolkien did not intend his fiction to be an allegory; unlike C. S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, The Lord of the Rings was not designed to correlate to the Christ event. Given the lack of attention to a central act of atonement in the book, it is not surprising that Tolkien continued the theme of the long defeat even after the defeat of Sauron.

  • Dave Keehn — 

    Images of extreme poverty motivate those with financial resources to donate their money to help alleviate poverty; or that is what the producers of the images hope occurs. However, reducing the terrible and often deadly ramifications of poverty is not as simple as signing the ONE petition or buying RED products (both of which I have done). The problem is also not as straightforward as the global 1% of wealth (the “haves”) giving of their means as handouts to the “have-nots.” The position of wealth in the Global West often leads to a mentality that says we know what is best for the Global Rest – we assume that if they just do what we did then they will get the same results. However, this classification of foreign aid ignores the resources of the Global Poor and their local churches, and instead creates an unhealthy dependency on handouts undermining the dignity of the materially poor, while “their poverty is actually deepened by the very churches and organizations that are trying to help them” (Fikkert & Mask, From Dependence to Dignity, 2015, p. 20) ...

  • William Lane Craig — 

    Dr. Craig, Your ministry has radically changed my life. As a direct result of your arguments and debates, I went from a nihilist to a staunch Christian. However, I have encountered a problem with the ontological argument. Is there a contradiction between perfect justice and perfect mercy in a maximally great being? The way I have seen this objection posed is that the Christian God is just and merciful. Mercy is defined as the suspension of justice. Thus there is a contradiction. I have also seen the argument being put as perfect justice is giving everyone what they're due, and perfect mercy is giving some people less than what they're due. Is this objection as crushing as its proponents make it out to be? ...

  • Ryan Peterson — 

    Christian anthropologies have been of vital importance throughout the history of the church because at each point in history there are cultural assumptions and philosophical perspectives about the nature of humanity that call the gospel into question, that question God’s Lordship, humanity’s servanthood, and their genuine fellowship in Jesus Christ. To maintain a biblical understanding of salvation, Christians have needed to emphasize humanity’s existence as embodied and as spiritual, as moved by intellect and by desire, as motivated by the will and as motivated by habitual acts that shape the will. These realities of human existence have been uncovered as theologians have thought through the logic of the gospel and its proclamation in their context ...

  • Erik Thoennes — 

    The study of theology is considered by many to be dry, boring, irrelevant, and complicated. But for those who want to know God, the study of theology is indispensable. The word “theology” comes from two Greek words, theos (“God”) and logos (“word”). The study of theology is an effort to make definitive statements about God and his implications in an accurate, coherent, relevant way, based on God’s self-revelations. Doctrine equips people to fulfill their primary purpose, which is to glorify and delight in God through a deep personal knowledge of him. Meaningful relationship with God is dependent on correct knowledge of him ...

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    In his classic book on sanctification, Holiness, J.C. Ryle includes a poignant paragraph on the divine and human natures of Christ.

  • Charlie Trimm — 

    This post continues the study of the long defeat of Tolkien by looking at the foundational work for the Lord of the Rings, the Silmarillion. As noted in the previous post, the long defeat was Tolkien’s phrase for the idea that no matter how many times one defeated evil, it continued to (apparently effortlessly) return to full strength. The motif is connected with the elves primarily, who are immortal and experience the long defeat over the long millennia of their lives. Since we are talking about the long defeat, it is good to slow down and look at more history!

  • Alan Hultberg — 

    A while ago, I got a letter from a friend (whom I’ll call “Mary”) struggling with why God allows evil. Some people had told her that God was working through terrible tragedies to produce a greater good (Rom. 8:28). Others had told her that Satan was the cause of evil and that greater faith and use of her authority in Christ would deliver her from difficulties. Mary found little comfort in these well-meaning professions, and in fact was beginning to think that God was either cruel, impotent, or worse, non-existent, a classic case of the problem of evil ...

  • Mark Saucy — 

    What images do the word “work” bring to mind? If students and others I’ve had the chance to ask are any measure, the first thoughts aren’t all that positive. For myself I can recall flip comments I have made (half-) jokingly about hating when my work gets in the way of my hobby (cycling, mountain biking—the sport of kings!). From what I get from others, I’m fairly typical ...

  • Clinton E. Arnold — 

    A few years ago, the National Geographic Society announced the discovery of a lost gospel called the Gospel of Judas. Every major news outlet covered this event, with some hailing it as the discovery of the century. The Society then aired a television special on the Friday before Easter telling the story of this great find and discussing its significance. This discovery raised many questions for people, but especially two of a critical nature for the Christian faith: (1) why were some books left out of the Bible (like the Gospel of Judas), and (2) should we consider including other books in the Bible? ...

  • John McKinley — 

    In response to Klaus Issler’s article, “Exploring the Pervasive References to Work in Jesus’ Parables,” I offer two conclusions that are valuable for Christology and a Christian vision of economic activity. Jesus’ demonstrates two kinds of work productivity, and Jesus knows workplace temptations that afflict us all. In advance of exploring these conclusions, I will review how Issler’s analysis includes three important ideas that overturn common misconceptions about Jesus ...

  • Clinton E. Arnold — 

    Without any hesitation we can say that yes, God wants you to be happy. The Bible (as well as experience) tells us that the Christian is given happiness in an incredible number of ways. But Christ has actually sweetened the deal and offered us something even better. While happiness is used to describe a basic feeling of gladness and contentment, what Christ offers is joy, which includes happiness, but runs much deeper, lasts much longer, and is felt much more strongly than happiness. The word joy shows up roughly four hundred times in the Bible, and it is no coincidence. Christ wants you to experience the joy that comes from him ...

  • Octavio Esqueda — 

    Todos los viernes en la tarde un grupo de estudiantes y maestros de la universidad cristiana en donde trabajo se reúnen a jugar basquetbol. Hace unas semanas fui a jugar con ellos y lo que parecía un día normal se convirtió en una experiencia que me ha impactado y que también ha tenido el mismo efecto en muchísimas personas. Después de jugar por más de una hora uno de mis alumnos del doctorado se disponía a irse a su casa cuando le pedí que me esperara unos minutos porque necesitaba hablar con él. Primero se sentó y después se recostó en el césped a un lado de la cancha en lo que terminaba de jugar mi partido. En cuanto el juego terminó fui a hablar con él y en ese momento me di cuanta que estaba inmóvil, sin respirar y con una apariencia pálida y descolorida. Inmediatamente pedí ayuda y mientras algunos lo trataban de resucitar yo llamé a los servicios de emergencias. Gracias a Dios lograron que respirara otra vez y se lo llevaron a la sala de emergencias de un hospital cercano ...

  • John McKinley — 

    In part three of this series, I will present the third biblical metaphor revealing the Holy Spirit: oil. We need to discern what the metaphor is, and what its meanings are within the biblical and ANE framework. I will be drawing some details from the Dictionary of Biblical Imagery. My goal is to recognize patterns of meaning that may be intended to expand our understanding of the Holy Spirit’s presence and action in subtle ways hinted at through metaphors.

  • Charlie Trimm — 

    J. R. R. Tolkien produced a masterpiece of fiction with his Lord of the Rings, one of the best-selling novels of all time. This post will begin a series of reflections based on Tolkien’s work, not only surrounding the 600,000 word Lord of the Rings but the entire world of Middle Earth (as recounted to us in great depth in the Silmarillion and other posthumously published work by Tolkien) and Tolkien’s thoughts about what he was trying to achieve through his world (largely recorded in The Letters of J. R. R. Tolkien) ...

  • The Good Book Blog — 

    Michelle Lee-Barnewall (Associate Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at Talbot School of Theology) recently wrote and published Neither Complementarian nor Egalitarian: A Kingdom Corrective to the Gender Debate. We wanted to learn more about this book, so we had Michelle respond to some questions ...

  • John McKinley — 

    The topic of God and time is complicated and unclear. Christian theologians and philosophers disagree about God’s relationship to time. Theorists disagree about whether only the present moment exists, or if the past and the future are equally real. One question that comes up in teaching theology is God’s knowledge of the future: how does God know the future, and how does God’s knowledge fit with human freedom, God’s providence, and the reality of the future? ...

  • Charlie Trimm — 

    Most agree that knowledge about the Bible in the United States is very low today (our own Ken Berding’s helpful Bible Fluency Program seeks to rectify this). What little Bible knowledge is present usually is focused on the New Testament, leaving the Old Testament as a scary foreign land that few visit. However, this was not always the case. A recent book by Eran Shalev, American Zion: The Old Testament as a Political Text from the Revolution to the Civil War, gives us a glimpse of a somewhat different world as he shows how important the Old Testament was in political discussions in the United States before the Civil War ...

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    ... When I was younger, I would try to get rid of doubts by closing my eyes (really really tightly) and concentrate (really really hard) on pushing out the doubtful thoughts. And when I (inevitably) started thinking about my doubts again, I’d simply try again (really try this time!) to expel those doubts. But you can’t push doubts out of your mind any easier than you can push other thoughts out of your mind by valiantly trying ...

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    A spiritually-minded friend of my wife and me recently made this comment: “I struggle with the idea of praying according to the will of God. Since I know that some things are clearly according to God’s will, why can’t I just pray directly about those things and know for certain that they’re going to happen? But that’s not the way it works with my prayers. For example, I know that God doesn’t want Christians to get divorced. But I’ve sometimes prayed that God would preserve a struggling marriage that still ended up in divorce ...

  • Mark Saucy — 

    This week’s conference, “Israel and the Church: A Troubled Past and Glorious Future,” hosted by Biola and Chosen People Ministries, provided yet another opportunity for me to think “big picture.” As most of us, I suppose, the cares of daily tasks—emails, news cycles, family, work-ministry, church-ministry—I can get so buried in the daily that I lose the plan! By plan I mean the narrative that God has written for the world. A narrative that first rescues a fallen creation and then restores it to the flourishing fullness God made it for ...

  • Octavio Esqueda — 

    This semester I am part of a professors’ reading group about the relationship of economics and Christian theology. We are reading several books and discussing relevant issues regarding a theology of work, stewardship, and economics. Obviously every author and participant has a unique perspective about different topics, but in our group we all come from a position of privilege, especially as we talk about poverty and ways to help those who are less fortunate. We have a tendency to talk about the poor as “they,” as people different from us and not necessarily as peers who can also teach us and lead us into better paths as we immerse in their circumstances and perspectives ...