17 May 2018

Christus Victor and the Old Testament

CHRISTUS VICTOR AND THE OLD TESTAMENT Until A.D. 1200, Christians around the world all saw the cross as liberating believers from darkness. After A.D. 1200, Roman Catholics added the idea that God’s wrath and justice were satisfied by our Lord’s suffering and torture. That view of the cross dominates Protestant theology, and it does so with several misunderstandings. To summarize the previous article in this series: The term “Penal Substitutionary Atonement” is a misnomer, because

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07 Mar 2018

Christus Victor Clarified

Does torture satisfy God? Thanks to a book by Gustaf Aulen, the term “Christus Victor” (or CV) has become shorthand for the traditional Christian view of the atonement prior to the work of Thomas Aquinas. The view of the cross by Aquinas and the subsequent view of Protestantism are both commonly referred to as “Penal Substitutionary Atonement” (or PSA). Without taking sides between these two views, I hope to clarify three misunderstandings about Christus Victor.

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18 Dec 2017

Luther’s Human Sides

Opinions of Martin Luther tend toward extremes. One side will lionize him, mentioning few (if any) of his problems, while the other will oversimplify him as an anti-Semitic heretic. Two of Martin Luther’s contemporaries wrote biographies of him, first Philip Melanchthon, and then Johannes Cochlaeus in response to Melanchthon’s account. Melanchthon sang Luther’s praises, while Cochlaeus painted him as a perverted rebel. “Luther’s Lives,” published in 2003, contains both of those biographies. Despite opposite choices

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19 Oct 2017

Movie Review: Blade Runner 2049

(This review is spoiler-free.) Blade Runner 2049 is an adult film, but not because of sex scenes or violence. The sci-fi action would probably earn a PG 13. Nudity of “replicants” (the film’s word for androids) abounds, as does nudity in digital advertisements. Yet it does so in a manner that should repulse rather than titillate. Running almost 3 hours long at a fairly slow pace, Blade Runner 2049 immerses audiences in urgent questions about

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25 Jul 2017

Sola Scriptura and the Greek Old Testament

I invite those who hold to the principle of Sola Scriptura to consider what role the Greek Old Testament should play within that Sola. For those who might be unfamiliar with it, the Greek Old Testament is also called the “Septuagint.” Due to the wide impact of their work, I offer below the 1611 King James Version translators’ comments on the Septuagint, explaining why the Apostles used the Septuagint. The “Seventie” in the following quotes

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01 Jun 2017

Importance of the 3rd Old Testament

To my surprise, skeptics who attack the Bible do not normally focus on inconsistencies between New Testament quotations and their Old Testament sources. No matter which Scripture translation you prefer, try opening your New Testament to a quotation. If you flip back to the Old Testament source of that quote, odds are strong that they will not match. If asked about those differences, we should have an answer. I submit that there were three perfect

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04 Apr 2017

Exploits of the Apostle Thomas in India

Though we would not meet until many years later, my wife and I both enjoyed the good fortune of having college roommates from India who became our closest friends. My roommate came from a Hindu family, and my wife’s roommate from a Christian family. It was through her that I first heard of “Saint Thomas Christians”—the Christians of Southern India, who trace their faith all the way back to the Apostle Thomas himself. It’s my

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13 Feb 2017

The Poverty of Sola Scriptura

I deeply appreciate the great benefits which the Sola Scriptura mindset in Protestantism has produced. The attempt to trust Scripture alone has resulted in a widespread love for the Bible, a love which appears to me to far outshine that of the elder branches. The most devoted of Protestants spend much time every day in personal study of Scripture. They flock to group Bible studies, and it is Protestants who do the majority of translation work

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28 Nov 2016

Books Removed from the New Testament?

A friend recently asked if any books had been removed from the New Testament. Such questions often come from an intent to discredit the Bible, but she sincerely wondered. For example, some skeptics point to the Gospel of Judas as a removed book. National Geographic published the first English translation of it in 2006. This gospel mostly offers conversations between Jesus and Judas. In it, Jesus praises Judas as His wisest disciple and commends him because Judas would sacrifice the man

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27 Sep 2016

In Defense of My Opponents

I once heard the tale of a dark and dangerous place which often goes by the name of Internet! If the rumors are true, then that place overflows with angry attacks, countermoves, and insults without measure. Many an innocent child or a virtuous thinker has entered her realm and returned (if they return at all) with the scars and the soiled countenances of wars which should never have been fought. Brothers turn against brothers in

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04 Aug 2016

The Curious Case of Ethiopian Orthodoxy

The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church is the third largest Christian denomination in the world, but most Western Christians know very little about their ancient roots, their miraculous success against Islam, or their peculiar traditions. This article will focus on the formative events of the EOTC. Brief comments on their later history and customs are included with recommended readings for those who want to know more.   ETHIOPIAN JUDAISM The EOTC traces its faith back to

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04 Mar 2016

Is Sola Scriptura Really a Disagreement?

I’ve been enjoying a collaborative book titled “Three Views on Eastern Orthodoxy and Evangelicalism,” a book full of meaningful dialogue across Christian traditions. In it, Bradley Nassif offers the perspective that Eastern Orthodoxy and Evangelicalism are highly compatible. Nassif is Eastern Orthodox and appears to bear the approval of Antiochian Eastern Orthodox hierarchy (even though he does not enjoy unanimous agreement among all of the Eastern Orthodox). Within his broader argument1 for compatibility between these two

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05 Feb 2016

Are We Really Born Again?

I vividly remember tattooed punk rocker Joy Whitlock’s1 words. At Highpoint Church in Memphis, Joy gave her testimony before being baptized. She spoke repeatedly of “the new Joy” as opposed to “the old Joy.” Her own father baptized her and told us in a few words how great a change had happened. She and he said God had radically changed her; but I submit that mainstream Christianity fails to truly embrace the basic doctrine of

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03 Dec 2015

The False Gospel of Protestantism

This article marks the close of my bi-weekly writing at Conciliar Post. It has been a joy to contribute and discuss the faith here. I hope I have produced a coherent framework in these articles for viewing all five branches of Christianity as one common faith to be embraced and learned from across denominations and lines of tradition. In my final regular article, I have no intent to malign Protestantism since I myself continue to

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19 Nov 2015

Myths of the Apocrypha – Part III

Welcome back to the third and final “Myths of the Apocrypha!” In the first article, we asked whether Roman Catholics inserted seven “apocrypha” books into their canon to disprove Martin Luther. In the second, we asked whether early Christians rejected those same books for containing false teachings. Today, we ask the big question: “Did Jesus and His apostles quote any of these seven books?”   Myth #1: Roman Catholics inserted “apocrypha” books into their canon

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05 Nov 2015

For the Love of Greek

The Spanish audience burst to life! I was in the jewel of Honduras, the island of Roatan. For this violent and impoverished nation, Roatan seems like the equivalent of America. The rampant crime and poverty of Roatan pales in comparison to that of its mainland nation. About 35% of Roatan’s residents speak English at home like Americans, and American cruise ships frequent the island’s harbors with wealthy tourists ready to spend money and enjoy the

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30 Oct 2015

Round Table: Martin Luther

498 years ago tomorrow, a young Augustinian monk who taught at the University of Wittenberg nailed ninety-five theses on “The Power and Efficacy of Indulgences” to the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg. Though seemingly innocuous as the time, this event has since been hailed as the start of the Protestant Reformation, a theological shake up in the Western Church that has changed the face of Christianity and Western civilization. In response to the

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22 Oct 2015

Myths of the Apocrypha – Part II

Welcome back to “Myths of the Apocrypha!” In the previous episode, we looked at the widespread idea that Roman Catholics added several apocryphal books to their canon of scripture after the Protestant Reformation in order to support disputed doctrines against Martin Luther. As it turns out, Christians all around the world who had been separated from Rome for 500-1,000 years before the Reformation all had these seven books in their Bible canons and affirmed all

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08 Oct 2015

The Atonement of Irenaeus

Imagine if one of the twelve disciples of Jesus had personally discipled a man whose pupil had written a short book for us, a book that explains the barest essentials of the apostles’ teaching. What a treasure it would be if we found such a book! In 1904, a priest of the Oriental Orthodox Church of Armenia uncovered exactly such a book, the Demonstration of the Preaching of the Apostles. Its author, Bishop Irenaeus of

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25 Sep 2015

Myths of the Apocrypha – Part I

Dear Protestant brothers and sisters, I have seven free gifts for you today! Hopefully you won’t mind my re-gifting them since I received these presents myself a few years ago. They’re not brand new either, but they are divine! I got my seven gifts when I learned that a long-standing idea in Protestantism turned out to be a myth. Philosopher Norman Geisler and other prominent theologians taught me that Roman Catholicism inserted several apocryphal books

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