The new birth is not salvation? This was the troubling question on my heart as we covered the doctrine of regeneration one evening in Bible Doctrine III class. I had always thought that being born again was the same as being saved or justified and was a result of faith? The Reformed understanding of the Ordo Salutis (order of salvation) was about to challenge me to re-examine my belief. The purpose of this paper will be to briefly examine the Ordo Salutis in relation to which comes first, regeneration or faith?
Archive for the ‘New Testament’ Category
Tags: biblical commentary, Biblical Studies, Christian Education, Sunday school
Each year over the last decade, I have had the privilege of writing and editing these publications for Cook, which contain Bible lesson commentary for use for each Sunday of the year. And it’s my understanding that tens of thousands of churches make use of these products in their Sunday school and adult CE programs throughout the U.S. and overseas.
I’m happy to report that I’m busily working on the next edition for 2011-2012!
Tags: Ancient Near East, faith, new testament, old testament, Reason, Science, Scripture, Theology
Well, I’m now a community blogger at Endued! As I read it, one of the key aims of Endued is to be a witness for the Lord Jesus to the surrounding culture. Hopefully, my musings will in some way help to advance this aim.
The context for my becoming a community blogger was my recent radio interview with Pastor Rick about my latest book, Axis of Glory. And so I thought it would be appropriate to make material in it the starting point for my initial blogs.
The book itself reflects a continuation of my thoughts connected with prior research in biblical studies I’ve done over the last few years. One area that I explore in Axis of Glory, along with The Search for Ultimate Reality, is the material in the opening chapters of Genesis, specifically chapters 1 and 2. These chapters provide a two-part look at God’s creation (first) of the universe and (second) humankind. It is an understatement to note how important this portion of Scripture is to Christian thought and life.
It just so happens that this same portion of Scripture is of keen interest to those who dialog and write about the relationship between science and Scripture. One prime example of this would be The Biologos Foundation and website (http://biologos.org/), both of which were begun by Dr. Francis Collins (among others). He wrote the best-selling book The Language of God.
It is also worthy of mention that in the upcoming spring term at Marylhurst University, I will be team-teaching an online course dealing with the interfacing of science and Scripture (my third year to do this course). The latter is also the focus of the Biologos blogs titled “Science and the Sacred”.
Recently, at Biologos, Dr. Pete Enns has posted blogs dealing with issues related to the material in the first two chapters of Genesis. He is listed as a Senior Fellow of Biblical Studies for the Biologos Foundation. He is also a former tenured professor at Westminster Theology Seminary. His most recent posts have focused on the Ancient Near Eastern (ANE) background of the Genesis creation account, the relationship between Adam and Israel, Paul’s view of Adam, etc.
For me, this is where my own research finds a significant area of overlap. I have started to wrestle with some of the ideas being put forward by Dr. Enns and others at the Biologos Foundation. And I think my blog posts at Endued is a place where I could make some ongoing efforts in that direction. This includes my own approach to Genesis 1, the extent to which Adam (and Eve) are to be understood as literal / historical individuals, how Paul (and Jesus) understood the person of Adam, and so on. Each of these (and other areas) are worthy of individual treatment and discussion.
Well, that’s my plan, at least initially. I’m not sure where this endeavor on my part will lead or what sort of response it will get from my fellow community bloggers & readers. This will be especially so, given the exploratory, openended nature of my musings. And, concededly, there undoubtedly will be theological rough edges exposed in the process.
We’ve been covering the ancient Greeks in a couple of my classes this week, and it seems that understanding Greek culture sheds some light on the New Testament. Paul’s missionary work took him to the cities of the Roman Empire, many of which were in the eastern part of the Roman Empire.
This area had been heavily influenced by Greek culture because of the conquest by Alexander the Great’s Macedonian and Greek army. The fact that the New Testament was written in the koine, the simple Greek that formed the common language in these areas, bears witness to the influence of Greek culture. The cities of this area were often populated by Greeks. Even when the Romans conquered these “Hellenistic” kingdoms, the Greek culture and language remained strong.
A few things about Greek culture that I’ve learned that seem especially germane to the New Testament:
- Greek morality was best defined by concept of moderation, as you may know. This meant that, for men, drinking, gambling, and extramarital sex (heterosexual or homosexual) were all permissible as long as one didn’t get carried away and become a creature of pleasure who was consumed by these things. You can see why Paul had to write a lot about sexual morality to his readers. He was preaching a very different approach to morality, one of avoiding immoral actions completely rather than simply managing pleasures.
- Women were thought to be a punishment on men for gaining the gift of fire from Prometheus. (Of course, Prometheus got chained to a rock and had his liver eaten out each day by a huge bird. The liver grew back and the next day the bird would repeat the process. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that men got the better end of the deal.) This is very different from the Genesis teaching of women as perfect partners for men. Although Pandora opening of the box of evils might be compared to Eve’s eating of the forbidden fruit, the difference is pretty clear in that the Bible confers dignity on women from the beginning, while the Greek myth portrays them as a punishment from the beginning. For Christians on the other hand, women were the spiritual equals of men, as noted in Paul’s statement “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” I have read that women in the Greco-Roman world were attracted to the increased autonomy that they had in the Christian community.
- According to Simon Price’s Religions of the Ancient Greeks, the common denominator among the various Greek schools of philosophy was that they rejected the myths’ views of the gods as immoral. You may recall from reading Greek mythology that Zeus was constantly on the lookout for women, spirits, and goddesses that he could seduce. Greek philosophers, like the Stoics and Epicureans mentioned in Paul’s visit to Athens in Acts 17, believed that the divine had to be more dignified that this. It’s my understanding that one reason that God-fearers like Cornelius were attracted to Judaism was because of the morality that Jews identified with God. I wonder if philosophers might have been among them.
Another good source on Greek culture is James Davidson’s Courtesans and Fishcakes: The Consuming Passions of Classical Athens. This book and Price’s book were my main sources for this post.