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Theology Articles

  • Ben Shin — 

    The dynamics of shame are one of the greatest cultural dynamics of the New Testament. This paradigm is key in understanding other concepts and various texts accurately especially as it relates to topics such as approval, reputation, glory, and status. While these practices were prevalent in the 1st century of the Mediterranean, they also have current bearing to different segments of society today, specifically Asian-Americans in the 21st century. This blog will be the first in a series of blogs that will demonstrate the correlation of Paul’s use of shame in light of the framework of Roman cultural practices as well as how it relates to modern 21st century Asian-American spiritual tendencies.

  • Joe Hellerman — 

    One of my self-imposed projects over the January break is to read through N. T. Wright’s (most recent) magnum opus, Paul and the Faithfulness of God. The work is actually two separate books (@ 600 and 1200 pages, respectively!). Book I is primarily concerned with backgrounds, and Paul’s worldview vis-à-vis paganism and Judaism. Book II deals with Paul’s theology and more directly engages the text of his letters.

  • Scott B. Rae — 

    Why do pastors need to know all that much about work and economics? Last week we introduced this subject and suggested that there are very few areas of our lives that have nothing to do with work and/or economics. Remember that even the notion of our eternal salvation has something to do with economics, since the Bible actually describes the elements of our eternal salvation in economic terms. In addition, life on this side of eternity matters greatly. If we refuse to separate out the sacred from the secular, and thus affirm that all of life is spiritual, then there are few, if any, areas of our spiritual lives that are not impacted by economics.

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    Yes. If you deny that Adam was a historical person it negatively impacts other Christian doctrines. An affirmation of the historicity of Adam positively and necessarily connects with a number of key Christian doctrines.

  • John McKinley — 

    In Part One, I introduced the implausible situation that Jesus lived from His infancy with full divine awareness. I presented one argument that the New Testament presents Jesus as functioning with a human mind. This claim has been affirmed by the Council of Chalcedon (451) in opposition to some teachers such as Apollinaris, who denied that Jesus possessed a human mind and will. An incarnation involving two minds is complicated, but such is the historic teaching of the church.

  • Mark Saucy — 

    As a rule, Evangelicals are great defenders of the deity of Christ. That’s not something we mess around with, and anyone who might had better take care—be they Bart Ehrman or the Jehovah’s Witness at your door!

  • Scott B. Rae — 

    Why do pastors need to know all that much about economics? My friend and writing partner, Austin Hill, tells the story of a conference he attended as a graduate student, when the facilitator posed the provocative question, “Can somebody name for me one area of our lives that has nothing to do with economics?” The group was silent for more than a few moments, as the students were pondering this, most for the first time. Then a student spoke up in a southern drawl, and said what I suspect many were thinking. He said, “As a Christian, I believe that my eternal salvation has nothing to do with economics.” The group was taken aback by his forthrightness, and the facilitator then rephrased the question this way, “Ok, let’s assume you’re right about that, and let’s assume that one’s eternal destiny has nothing to do with economics (a debatable assumption), can somebody name a second area of our lives that has nothing to do with economics? He went on to suggest that “every facet of our earthly lives is impacted on some level by both economic activity and economic conditions.”

  • John McKinley — 

    One professor in this school playfully describes the birth of Jesus this way. There is Jesus, lying in the manger and looking out through the doorway of the stable at the stars in the night sky. I made all those stars. The baby then has another sensation alongside this new experience of seeing His creation through eyeballs, and it’s uncomfortable. I’m suddenly wet all through my diaper, and it’s getting cold! A normal infant would scream at this point until mom showed up. But not Jesus. He looks over at His teen-aged mom and thinks, I’d like to have this wet diaper changed, but Mary’s had such a hard night after so long of a trip. I’ll wait a few hours until she’s had some more rest. And so, baby Jesus, the pint-sized God-man waits until His mom has gotten the rest she needs. Probably not. It strains at plausibility to think that Jesus lived with His full divine consciousness from the beginning of His human life. We can be sure that Jesus knew His unique identity and relationship to God as His Father when He was twelve, having declared as much to Joseph and Mary in Jerusalem (Luke 2:49). Luke adds, “Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men” (v. 52, NASB). Jesus certainly knows who He is when He begins teaching, but beyond these details we don’t have revelation how much He knew before age twelve, or when.

  • Clinton E. Arnold — 

    “The Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are without error or misstatement in their moral and spiritual teaching and record of historical facts. They are without error or defect of any kind.” Thus reads Biola University’s (and Talbot School of Theology’s) Articles of Faith—a document that remains unchanged since it was written shortly after the turn of the century. As the Dean of Talbot and as one who has been on the faculty for 27 years, I can say that this is a conviction that runs very deep in our faculty. We believe that the Bible is the Word of God and, as such, is truthful in what it affirms and can be completely trusted.

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    A couple days ago I was reading Ephesians 1 in Greek during my morning Bible-reading time. As I read, I was drawn to two phrases that are clearly present in Greek but are often eliminated in English. The two expressions that get removed are “into him” (εἰς αὐτόν) in the middle of verse 5 and (“in him”) (ἐν αὐτῷ) at the end of verse 10. Presumably these expressions get cut because they are deemed unnecessarily repetitive.

  • Dave Keehn — 

    There is nothing like changes in one’s travel plan to reveal how we truly handle change. For myself, traveling with my family is a sacred obsession. I plan months ahead to get the best flights and reserve the “perfect” hotel to accommodate our sightseeing interests. As a family, we read travel books and blogs to find the out-of-the-way restaurants. With an itinerary in hand, we embark on our journey, only to be met with forced changes that were unforeseen. To say the least, I don’t deal with a “change in plans” well, especially when I am on vacation. Changes for me equal stress, hassles, and more work.

  • Moyer Hubbard — 

    This is the first of a series of blogs dealing with gun control from a Christian perspective. In this first installment, I sketch the general theological case for sane restriction on guns, particularly assault weapons, and apply biblical principles to common objections. In subsequent (shorter) posts, I will respond to alleged “biblical” arguments used by gun advocates, who claim that Scripture supports unrestricted access to lethal weaponry for private individuals. [I have slighly modified this post in the wake of the horrible tragedy at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.]

  • John McKinley — 

    Christians will commonly argue with each other about “secondary” issues of doctrine, while assuring themselves and the rest of us that it’s okay since they agree on the “primary” issues. Obviously, not all topics of biblical teaching are on the same level of importance. On the basis of this sort of distinction between “primary” and “secondary” we can readily join with Christians across denominational lines while continuing to warn Mormons that they have the primary material wrong. My concern is that the well-intentioned emphasis on the basics of mere Christianity and “primary issues” that we can all agree on also disparages the “secondary issues.” Less clarity in the Bible, less agreement among Christians, and less treatment by the tradition should not add up to counting these matters as unimportant. I suggest that the doctrinal topics that Christians feel free to disagree about are not adiaphora in the sense that we need not take them seriously. I propose a different analogy to help alleviate this concern.

  • Joe Hellerman — 

    Allow me to introduce you to Brett McCracken. Brett is a Talbot student and Biola employee whom God is using in some very strategic ways to represent Jesus and his people at the national level. I became acquainted with Brett through my oversight of the Good Book Blog. I am thankful and proud that this humble and gifted young man is part of the Biola/Talbot community, and I think that you will be, too, after you read the following interview.

  • Octavio Esqueda — 

    El 31 de octubre de 1517 Martín Lutero clavó en las puertas de la catedral de Wittenberg en Alemania 95 tesis en las que criticaba abiertamente las ventas de indulgencias de la iglesia católica romana. Lutero inicialmente no tenía la intención de romper con la iglesia romana sino enfatizar la supremacía del evangelio basada en su simplicidad y a la vez en su gran profundidad. El evangelio o las buenas noticias de la salvación en Cristo es el fundamento esencial de la fe cristiana y desgraciadamente se había pervertido convirtiéndose en una práctica totalmente ajena a su esencia. De manera que, las indulgencias eran una distorsión absoluta del evangelio y, por lo tanto, dignas de ser repudiadas con severidad. Como resultado de esta acción, Lutero inició el movimiento conocido como la Reforma Protestante y cada 31 de octubre se conmemora como el Día de la Reforma.

  • Kenneth Way — 

    I recently completed a manuscript on the book of Judges for Baker’s Teach the Text Commentary Series. It took me about three and a half years to write the short text, and I want to share just a few highlights from what I learned during my study.

  • Thaddeus Williams — 

    I recently watched a disturbing video. A camera caught the head of a certain political organization; we’ll call him Lucius, attempting to convince a packed auditorium about the reality of moral law. Specifically, Lucius appealed to a real moral law above and beyond culture to argue against a right to homosexual marriage. What struck me most was less of what he said and more how he said it. Lucius taunted the crowd relentlessly, hurling insults like hand grenades. People often argue against moral reality by appealing to moral reality (e.g., there can’t be absolutes because look at out how absolutely wrong the crusades and inquisitions were!). But there is an equal and opposite inconsistency, namely, arguing for moral reality while breaking the very morality we are defending (e.g., real morals like ‘love your neighbor’ exist, you ignoramus!). In other words, Lucius’ problem was that he did not argue his worldview as if his worldview were actually true. No matter what he said, the way in which he said it made it seem like morals like love and respect were not to be taken seriously after all. The medium refuted the message.

  • Darian R. Lockett — 

    After thirty-five years of service, James Adamson’s NICNT commentary on the Epistle of James has received a much-needed update by Scot McKnight. McKnight’s contribution to the series significantly expands on its predecessor volume—being more than twice its size—which is due, in part, to the mounting scholarship on James appearing since its 1976 publication date.

  • The Good Book Blog — 

    Robert Saucy, distinguished professor of systematic theology at Talbot, just released the new book, Minding the Heart: The Way of Spiritual Transformation. He kindly took some time to answer a few questions about the book.

  • John McKinley — 

    “Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body” (1 Cor 6:18 NASB). Why is sexual sin singled out as uniquely damaging to the body in a way that other physical actions are not? Substance abuse, gluttony, cutting—these are all harmful acts to the body, but they do not do what sexual misconduct does, according to Paul. Typical responses from students to explain this exception are that sex involves the whole person, or maybe because it involves someone else. The same could be said for illegal drug use, so there must be something more.

  • Kenneth Way — 

    2013 is the inaugural year of an innovative biblical commentary series edited by John Walton and Mark Straus (published by Baker Books). It’s called Teach the Text because that is what it is about: helping people to teach the biblical text effectively. It combines literary, background and exegetical analysis with theological, pedagogical and homiletical discussion. But it does this in a surprisingly concise and accessible manner.

  • Kenneth Berding — 

    Dave Brunn recently gave a gift to the English-speaking church in his book One Bible, Many Versions: Are All Translations Created Equal? (IVP, 2013). Dave Brunn is a professional translator and trainer of translator-wannabes within New Tribes Mission. To the best of my knowledge, he has never worked on an English-language translation project. His translational claim to fame is a translation of the Bible (done alongside dedicated national co-translators) into Lamogai, one of the multitude of languages in Papua New Guinea. Consequently, Dave Brunn brings an outsider’s perspective to our recent English translation battles. (You know what I’m talking about, the “mine is the best translation and all others are suspect” battles.) And his outsider’s perspective is clarifying and challenging. Here is a summary of the book, in the author’s own words (from pages 189-190), focusing on what translations share, rather than how they differ.

  • Thaddeus Williams — 

    “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” This slogan, first broadcast by the United Negro College Fund in 1972, has become something of a John 3:16 for educators seeking to evangelistically rouse students out of intellectual slumber. If I could tailor this slogan for our Biola community as we embark on a new semester, it would become: “The mind of Christ is far too precious to not cultivate.” While lacking the elegant phrasing and bumper sticker quote-ability of the original, it does express something I hope we can pause to ponder as we enter our classrooms.

  • Kenneth Way — 

    The Baker Illustrated Bible Dictionary, edited by Tremper Longman III (with Peter Enns and Mark Strauss), is now available for purchase as an E-Book or in hardcover. This one-volume dictionary offers 1767 full-color pages and more than 5,000 articles by 124 Bible scholars. You might ask, “Why should I care about this Bible dictionary?” You should care because many of the contributors are Talbot faculty.

  • Octavio Esqueda — 

    Hace ya varios años escuché una frase que me ha hecho pensar constantemente y que refleja uno de los mayores peligros que enfrentan los líderes cristianos. La frase dice así: “es importante no estar tan ocupado en la obra de Dios que nos olvidemos del Dios de la obra”. El problema no es el servicio a Dios sino el enfoque y, en muchos casos, la motivación que nos mueve al servicio. Estoy convencido que uno de los pecados principales de muchos líderes es el énfasis obsesivo por el trabajo y, por lo tanto, el descuido de lo esencial y verdaderamente importante como Dios, la familia y el cuidado personal.