Living in Light of Two Ages
Has Jesus Been Misquoted?
In his many books and speaking engagements, Bart Ehrman claims that—given the late date of most extant manuscripts and numerous copyist errors—the New Testament that we have today is basically unreliable. On this program, we will evaluate these claims with Daniel B. Wallace, a New Testament scholar who has engaged with Ehrman in a number of public debates over the past few years. Wallace is also the editor of Revisiting the Corruption of the New Testament, and is a contributor to The Reliability of the New Testament: Bart Ehrman and Daniel Wallace in Dialogue.
Baesball is the only major sport without a clock. It is a thinking person's game, leisurely by design, yet punctuated by moments of great excitement--a home run, a stolen base, or a great throw from right field to third base or home plate. Nothing better than the building momentum of a no-hitter or a perfect game.
The bane of modern baseball games is all the artificial activity which goes on between innings (or at any break in the action) designed to keep the non-baseball fans awake. When framed in "seeker-sensitive" terms, these are events/activities which will supposedly attract new fans to the game. The best way to attract news fans to the game is make the players accessible to the fans (autograph signings before games, etc.). But I digress.
The worst of these activities is the Kiss-Cam. I love my wife, but this is not about love (or even public displays of affection). I, for one, might be tempted to risk the fate of the young man in the video (depending upon what I was wearing). There is a greater principle at stake.
There is nothing worse than forced audience participation during a baseball game (or any other public event for that matter)! This young man bravely took one for the team (even though he was more interested in his cell call than the game). But the point stands. Let me watch the game and don't put my mug on the camera! Leave me alone!
Debby Applegate's Pulitzer Prize winning biography of Henry Ward Beecher (2006) is well worth reading. All of the elements that make for a compelling story are here (at least for those who frequent this blog): a sex scandal and a sensational court trial, the fiery preaching of political activism and social reform, and an open disdain for confessional Reformed theology. And this, one hundred years before Jim and Tammy and brother Swaggart made the headlines for much the same. As Yogi Berra aptly put it, "the more things change, the more things stay the same." There are many echoes of the "evangelical" preacher Henry Ward Beecher in today's evangelicalism.
Beecher was for a time--as the title of the book informs us--the most famous man in America. The brother of Harriet Beecher Stowe (the author of Uncle Tom's Cabin) and son of famous Congregationalist/tepid Presbyterian preacher Lyman Beecher, as well as an acquaintance of Abraham Lincoln's, Henry Beecher's story is quite remarkable, and sadly, altogether typical of someone who has lost his way--theologically and morally. Beecher's story plays out during the pre-Civil War years (and beyond) as we witness Beecher's ambivalence about hitching his personal wagon (and his future as a preacher) to the Abolitionist movement.
In the "how quickly we forget" department, Beecher stands at the formative headwaters of a distinct "evangelical movement" as several evangelical ministers of that era (when relocation to the West was an important opportunity for empire building) sought more and more public prominence (and larger and more influential churches), and in the process, gave up their fading loyalties to the established Protestant denominations and doctrine of Colonial America. If Henry Ward Beecher was the most famous man of his day, he is surely among the most forgotten of ours.
Several things ought to be mentioned as items of interest. As for Beecher's disdain for Reformed theology, Applegate describes Lyman Beecher (Henry's father) as an "orthodox Calvinist" (20), teaching his family a religion of fatalism, fear of sin, and a vivid awareness of human corruption (25). The Beecher's Calvinism was characterized by a stern and rigorous life of family worship, church attendance (including lectures, memorization of the Westminster Confession, and prayer meetings) as well as continuous religious instruction throughout the week (28). Henry recalls the Lord's Day as the "dreadful day of the week," a day of "thou shalt not, thou shalt not" (35).
Applegate makes no mention of the role of Christ's cross in any of this, repeatedly describing the family's religious life as one of a joyless, almost fatalistic drudgery, capped off by a constant fear of hell. If this is an accurate representation of life in the Beecher home, we can hardly wonder why Henry W. rejected the Calvinism of his father, even as his father did later in life. The Calvinistic "orthodoxy" of Lyman Beecher is suspect to the degree to which law is divorced from Gospel. There is an important lesson in this, since this form of joyless "Calvinism" sounds very much like the predestinarian moralism identified and repeatedly trounced by Scott Clark.
One especially interesting vignette (208-209) is the account of Henry's ordination examination before a board of congregational ministers, including the famed "liberal" pastor Horace Bushnell of Hartford--who did not believe a word of the Reformed doctrine Henry Beecher was required to define and defend in Bushnell's presence.
When Henry Beecher was asked about the doctrine of election (the first question in his exam), Beecher answered that he had been so busy trying to "save souls" during his time in Cincinnati, that he had not the time to engage in the spiritual calculus he associated with the doctrine of election and its attending doctrine, reprobation. Whatever reservations the examiners had (apparently enough that Henry did not sustain the exam), they were outweighed by Henry's personal testimony (no surprise there), and his brother Edward's pleas to reconsider (Edward was also a Congregationalist minister and was present for the exam). Despite the initial negative vote, Henry was eventually, albeit reluctantly, approved by the examiners.
The Beecher family had a good laugh about the exam later. Probably not something to laugh about, but exactly what you would expect of Henry Ward Beecher.
All is all, this is a good read, and certainly might be of interest to many of you (especially those with Amazon gift cards to redeem).
You can find the book here: The Most Famous Man in America
Note: I am posting texts of sermon manuscripts again (to complete the 1 Corinthian series)
The Eighteenth in a Series of Sermons on 1 Corinthians
We live in a culture dominated by celebrities–people who are famous for being famous. Madonna, Paris Hilton, Lindsey Lohan and Brittany Spears are household names not so much because of their talent or accomplishments, but because of their ability to shock us by defying societal convention. People are interested in them because they offend our sensitivities. Believe it or not, Paul is dealing with much the same thing in the Corinthian church. In an age in which women were not to be seen or heard, Paul recounts how what some have called a first century woman’s liberation movement brought great distress to the Corinthian church.
As we continue our series on First Corinthians, we come to chapter 11. Apparently, when composing their list of questions to Paul, the Corinthians asked the apostle about certain aspects of public worship. In light of these questions, Paul now turns his attention to matters of proper conduct in worship (1 Corinthians 11) before addressing spiritual gifts in chapter 12. After praising the Corinthians for holding fast to his teaching (v. 2), Paul raises the matter of headship to describe three important relationships: man/Christ; woman/man; Christ/God, as the basis for his discussion of head-coverings, or more likely, hairstyles (vv. 4-5a), as these relate to male headship and the modesty of women in the churches.
The cultural background here is important. Unless we understand the circumstances in Corinth, we will not understand Paul’s response. While the general principles are clear and binding upon Christians in different cultures throughout the ages, the specific cultural issues Paul discusses are not always clear to us. The rebellion and immodesty which was symbolized by the long, flowing hairstyles in Corinth, may be symbolized by another hairstyle in another culture. This is why we must not concentrate on the specifics in terms of application, but the general principles. In Greco-Roman culture, a woman’s hair was often the object of male lust. This is why in much of the Mediterranean world women were expected to cover their hair (or wear it up) as an expression of modesty and proper etiquette.
To read the rest of this sermon, Click Here
Sunday Morning (05/12/13): We will be looking at Jesus' assertion that he is the "light of the world" (John 8:12-30), as we continue our series in the Gospel of John.
Sunday Afternoon: This Lord's Day we are continuing our series on the Canons of Dort. We are looking at the First Head of Doctrine and the Canons' teaching on God's wrath (Articles 4-5). Our afternoon service begins @ 1:15 p.m.
Wednesday Night Bible Study 7:00 p.m. (05/8/13): We are continuing our series "Studies in the Book of Revelation." This week, we will wrap up our look at the letter to the church in Smyrna (Revelation 2:8-11).
The Academy will resume in the Fall of 2013
For more information and directions, check out the Christ Reformed website: Christ Reformed Church
Jesus & His World
What can we learn about the Bible from the study of archaeology? Are there any discoveries in particular that shed light on the life and ministry of Jesus of Nazareth? What are we to think of skeptics who refuse to believe in the historicity of biblical stories unless they are confirmed by archaeological evidence? Joining us to discuss these issues is Craig Evans, author of Fabricating Jesus, Ancient Texts for New Testament Studies, and, more recently, Jesus and His World: The Archaeological Evidence.
Sunday Morning (05/5/13): We are continuing our series on the Gospel of John, and will be looking at Jesus' assertion that he is the "living water" (John 7:37-52).
Sunday Afternoon: This Lord's Day I am continuing our series on the Canons of Dort. We are working our way through the First Head of Doctrine and the Canons' teaching on God's love for fallen humanity (Article 2, cf. John 3:16). Our afternoon service begins @ 1:15 p.m.
Wednesday Night Bible Study 7:00 p.m. (05/1/13): We are continuing our series "Studies in the Book of Revelation." This week, we will look at the letter to the church in Smyrna (Revelation 2:8-11).
The Academy 7:30 p.m. (5/03/13): We are discussing Michael Horton's theology text The Christian Faith. We are currently in chapter 5, and will be discussing the sufficiency of Scripture in light of critical Protestant scholarship.
Note: This is the last Academy session until the Summer/Fall 2013
For more information and directions, check out the Christ Reformed website: Christ Reformed Church