Michael Bird on Genre of the Gospels

Given many don’t have the time to read my entire post on the genre of the Gospels, I wanted to mention these comments by Michael Bird. I couldn’t ask for a better analysis of the topic.

He says:

“The Gospels are rooted in the Jewish Scriptures. They explicitly function as the continuation and fulfillment of the story of Israel. That is why they are replete with citations, allusions, and echoes of the Old Testament. The religious content and theological texture of the Gospels is heavily indebted to the worldview, socio-political landscape, and sacred texts of Judaism. Roman biography and Greek legends could refer to various religious literary works such as Delphic oracles or Homer’s Iliad. But for the Gospels, the story and worldview of Israel’s Scriptures are very much what the Gospels are about, namely, the God of Israel inaugurating his kingdom through Jesus the Messiah. It should not raise anyone’s eyebrows to say that the Gospels comprise a form of post-biblical Jewish literature with messianic faith in Jesus as its primary content. The main point of contact with the Gospels is that Jewish biographical literature contains a theography, a story about Israel’s God, working through an agent of deliverance, such as a prophet, king, or teacher. The protagonist leads the Jewish people at a time of national crisis or performs some miraculous deed at an important moment in Israel’s history. The Gospels possess a theological worldview, a geopolitical setting, didactic content, and a deliberate replication of Old Testament literary types that make some kind of connection with Jewish sacred literature irrefutable.”—-Michael F. Bird, The Gospel of the Lord (p. 229). Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Bird also says:

The Gospels are the textual imprint of the oral phenomena of Christian preaching and teaching about Jesus. Viewed this way, they are Christian documents related to the needs of Christians in corporate reading, worship, apologetics, and proclamation. So in that sense they are a unique genre with no precise literary counterparts. However, their uniqueness is in many ways inconsequential because they remain largely analogous to Greco-Roman biography, and the biographical genre was typified by innovation and adaptation. The content of the Gospels is singularly determined by Jewish Christian content, while the literary form of the Gospels is a clear subtype of Greco-Roman biography.- Michael F. Bird, The Gospel of the Lord (p. 270), Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company

Now, notice Bird’s comments about the Gospels relationship to the history of Israel. This means we need to ask how Christians view the Old Testament.

Perhaps we need to stop obsessing over Genesis 1-11 and the age of the earth and move on to chapter 12? Anyone heard of the Abrahamic covenant?

The Historical Muhammad: The Good, the Bad, and the Downright Ugly

Here is an excellent article by David Wood who is a leading apologist on Islam.

By David Wood

With a superb script, unparalleled directing, and flawless acting, Sergio Leone’s The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly is the greatest “spaghetti western” of all time. I have only one problem with the film. While I understand why the sociopathic mercenary Angel Eyes is called “the Bad,” and why the underhanded bandit Tuco is called “the Ugly,” I’ve never been able to figure out why the bounty hunter Blondie is called “the Good.” In the film, Blondie’s money-making scheme is to capture criminals, turn them in to collect the reward, free them before they are executed, and split the money with them. He then turns the criminals in at the next town, collects the reward, and so on. When a criminal’s bounty is no longer increasing, Blondie takes him deep into the desert to die of heat exhaustion. Why, then, is he good? The only answer I’ve ever been able to come up with is this: Blondie is played by Clint Eastwood, so he must be good—regardless of what he does.

We find a similarly puzzling bit of reasoning when we turn to Islam. Muslims confidently proclaim that Muhammad was history’s greatest moral example, a man whom all people would do well to emulate (see Qur’an 33:21). What happens, then, when we turn to history and meet a shockingly different figure? The unstated Muslim response seems to be: “Muhammad was God’s greatest prophet, so he must be good—regardless of what he did.”

In this article, we will examine the life of the Historical Muhammad, that is, the Muhammad we learn about through careful historical investigation, rather than the Muhammad of faith. As we shall see, there is a massive difference between the two.

To read on, click here:

A Closer Look at Isaiah 52:13- 53:12: Who is the Servant of the Lord? Part One

 

To see Part Two: Click here:

Part Three:

Part Four:

Part Five:

When it comes to messianic prophecy, Christian apologists appeal to Isa 52:13-53:12 as a slam dunk for showing that nature of the Messiah’s suffering  which is predicted hundreds of years in advance. And of course, almost any Jewish person that has come to faith in Jesus as their Messiah was greatly impacted by this text. Let’s take a look at it here:

Behold, My servant will prosper, He will be high and lifted up and  greatly exalted.  Just as many were astonished at you, My people, So His appearance was marred more than any man And His form more than the sons of men.  Thus He will sprinkle many nations, Kings will shut their mouths on account of Him; For what had not been told them they will see, And what they had not heard they will understand. Who has believed our message? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?  For He grew up before Him like a tender  shoot, And like a root out of parched ground; He has no stately form or majesty That we should look upon Him, Nor appearance that we should  be attracted to Him.  He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of  sorrows and acquainted with  grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.  Surely our  griefs He Himself bore, And our sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted.  But He was  pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; The chastening for our  well-being fell upon Him, And by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, Each of us has turned to his own way;But the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all To fall on Him. He was oppressed and He was afflicted, Yet He did not open His mouth; Like a lamb that is led to slaughter, And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth.By oppression and judgment He was taken away; And as for His generation, who considered That He was cut off out of the land of the  living For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due? His grave was assigned with wicked men, Yet He was with a rich man in His death, Because He had done no violence, Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.  But the Lord was pleased To crush Him,  putting Him to grief; If  He would render Himself as a guilt offering,He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand.  As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see  it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, As He will bear their iniquities. Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the booty with the strong; Because He poured out  Himself to death, And was numbered with the transgressors; Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the transgressors. –NASB

The Messiah

The word “ Messiah” means “Anointed One” (Heb. messiah),(Gk. Christos) and  is derived from verbs that have the general meaning of “to rub something” or, more specifically, “to anoint someone.” The Tanakh records the anointing with oil of priests ( Exod 29:1-9 ),kings (1 Sam 10:1;2 Sam 2:4;1 Kings 1:34), and sometimes prophets (1 Kings 19:16b) as a sign of their special function in the Jewish community. Also, when God anointed or authorized for leadership, in many cases he provided the empowering of the Holy Spirit to do complete the task (1 Sam. 16:13; Isa. 61:1). However, just because someone was anointed in the Old Testament to perform a specific task doesn’t mean they are “the Messiah.”

As we look at this messianic text, let’s remember the following: Other names were used to describe the messianic person other than the “Messiah.” Some of the names include Son of David, Son of God, Son of Man, Prophet, Elect One, Servant of the Lord,  Prince, Branch, Root, Scepter, Star, Chosen One, and Coming One.”

The word Servant” in Hebrew is “ebed,” which can be defined as a slave, servant, or official, depending on the context in which it is used.

Remember the following issues with  the identity of Servant of the Lord in the Bible: Herbert M. Wolf offers a summary here:

1. God’s servants  were those who worshiped him and carried out his will, often in important leadership roles. Individuals such as Abraham(Gen 26:24 ), Moses ( Exod 14:31 ; Deut 34:5 ), David ( 2 Samuel 7:52 Samuel 7:8 ), and Isaiah (20:3) were called God’s “servants” as they obediently walked with the Lord.

2. The Servant as Israel: At times it seems quite clear that the servant refers collectively to the nation of Israel. The people of Israel (or Jacob) compose the corporate body that God calls “My servant” (Isa 41:8, 9; 42:19; 43:10; 44:1, 2, 21, 26; 45:4; 48:20; 49;3; Jer 30:10; 46:27, 28; Ezek. 28:25; 37:25).

3. The Servant as a Righteous Remnant: Sometimes the concept of the “servant” seems to refer to those in Israel who were spiritual, the righteous remnant who remained faithful to the Lord. In 42:5 and 49:8 the servant functions as “a covenant for the people” and is involved in the restoration of the land after the Babylonian exile.

4. The Servant as an Individual: Unlike the nation Israel, the servant of the Lord listened to God’s word and spoke words of comfort and healing ( 42:2-3 ; 50:4-5). Yet his words were powerful and authoritative, and like a judge he was concerned about establishing justice and righteousness ( Isaiah 42:1Isaiah 42:4 ; 49:2 ). Twice the servant is called “a light to the Gentiles” ( 42:6 ; 49:6 ), and “light” is clearly paralleled to “salvation.” Similarly, the servant is involved in the restoration of the nation Israel ( 49:5 ). He is “a covenant for the people” ( 42:6 ; 49:8 ) as the ruler who was promised in the Davidic covenant ( 2 Sam 7:16 ) and the One who would initiate the new covenant. The servant opens the eyes of the blind and frees captives from prison ( 42:7 ; cf. 61:1 ).

5. A careful reading of the four servant songs has nonetheless led many scholars to argue that the servant refers to an individual who fulfills in himself all that Israel was meant to be.  In some respects the servant can be compared with the Davidic messianic king. Both were chosen by God and characterized by righteousness and justice (cf. 9:7 ; Isaiah 42:1 Isaiah 42:6). The Spirit of God would empower both the king and the servant ( 11:1-4 ; 42:1 ), and ultimately the suffering servant would be highly exalted (cf. 52:13 ; 53:12 ) and given the status of a king. The “shoot” or “branch” from the family of Jesse ( 11:1 ) is linked with the description of the servant as “a tender shoot” ( 53:2 ). [1]


[1] Herbert M. Wolf, “The Servant of the Lord” featured in Walter Elwell, Bakers Evangelical Dictionary of Theology (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House Company, 1996), 726.

To see Part Two, click here:

Updated Post: Ancient and Modern Historiography: So What Are The Gospels?

Introduction

I had previously written on this topic. But I wanted to add some new tidbits. Over the years, I have had my share of discussions about the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John). There is still an overall skepticism towards them that permeates the culture and college campuses. I have found that many skeptics have never stopped and asked the question, “What Are The Gospels?”

What Are The Gospels?

When we discuss the Gospels with others I don’t think we can ignore the advice of New Testament scholar Ben Witherington who says, “Works of ancient history or biography should be judged by their own conventions.” (1)

For starters, one view of this topic was Dennis R. MacDonald’s Homeric Epics and the Gospel of Mark. But there was several problems with this approach. To see some of the issues with this approach, see here: Or, to see whether the Gospels are some sort of historical fiction and the problems with this approach, see Glen Miller’s Were the Miracles of Jesus invented by the Disciples/Evangelists?

Therefore, in asking whether the available sources for the life of Jesus are legendary, we should carefully evaluate the genre of the Gospels. In studying for his doctoral dissertation, Richard Burridge, dean of King’s College in London England, researched the genre of the gospels. Burridge says, “Genre is the like a kind of contract between the author and the reader, or between the producers of a programme and the audience, about how they will write or produce something and how you should interpret what they have written.” Therefore, it is important that you know what the genre of the thing is before you come to interpret it.” (2)

Burridge placed special attention on the prologue, verb subjects, allocation of space, mode of representation, length, structure, scale, literary units, use of sources, style, social setting, quality of characterization, atmosphere as well authorial intention and purpose. Because of the gospel’s similarities to these ancient biographies, Burridge concluded that the genre of the gospels is what is called an ancient bioi which bear some similarities to Suetonius’s Twelve Ceasars or Plutarch’s Paraell Lives. But just because it can be concluded that the Gospels are Greco-Roman biographies, does that mean they are historical in nature? We probably should take the advice of David Aune when he says, “Greco Roman biography was “intrinsically concerned with history.” (3)

Some of the other aspects of an Ancient Bioi:

Ancient Bioi centered on a particular person and sought to present adequate characterization of that person. The biography would include information about other persons and groups of people, but the major focus of the work would be on central character. The goal of the ancient biographer was often hortatory or exhortational. Burridge says, “Ancient Bioi was a flexible genre having strong relationships with history, encomium and rhetoric, moral philosophy and the concern for character.” (4)

Other issues of Ancient Bioi:

1.The modern desire for precision must not be imposed on ancient authors because they wrote in general fashion. Ancient authors were content to use adverbs and other terms for time in a metaphorical or less that precise way. Example- Luke says “Jesus was about 30”

2. The ancient author utilized historical data about the central figure but did so with different purposes.

3. The goal of ancient bioi was to create a lasting impression on the reader.

4. Objection: “Why do the gospels not include more about Jesus’ childhood and early adult years? Because another aspect of an Ancient Bioi placed little focus on childhood development of the person in question since it was believed that character was basically static and did not develop over time, but rather, was merely revealed.

5. The author’s goal was not to recount all the historic events of the person’s life. The goal was to reveal who the person was through a portrait of words and deeds. If the person’s death took place in a glorious fashion, an ample amount of space had to be devoted to the biography to explain significance of event. The reason for this is the following: in antiquity that how one died revealed one’s true character. Since Jesus was crucified and no one in antiquity saw this as a noble way to die, this explains why the gospels include so much information about this event.

6. The tendency to apply modern historiographical expectations to the gospels makes it difficult to recognize ancient conventions and genre traits that are used in the Gospels such as:

1. Exhaustive or compressive accounts 2. Value-free commentary 3. Ascribing all events to natural causes –ancient authors did not hesitate to mention supernatural events in their narratives of historical events. 4.The avoidance of rhetorical devices and effects (5)

Charles Talbert, who had written the groundbreaking What Is a Gospel? says the following about the Burridge book, “This volume ought to end any legitimate details pf the canonical Gospel’s biographical character” (see his review in Journal of Biblical Literature, 112 (1993).

The Jewish Background of the Gospels

Michael Bird has recently noted the following about the genre of the Gospels:

“The Gospels are rooted in the Jewish Scriptures. They explicitly function as the continuation and fulfillment of the story of Israel. That is why they are replete with citations, allusions, and echoes of the Old Testament. The religious content and theological texture of the Gospels is heavily indebted to the worldview, socio-political landscape, and sacred texts of Judaism. Roman biography and Greek legends could refer to various religious literary works such as Delphic oracles or Homer’s Iliad. But for the Gospels, the story and worldview of Israel’s Scriptures are very much what the Gospels are about, namely, the God of Israel inaugurating his kingdom through Jesus the Messiah. It should not raise anyone’s eyebrows to say that the Gospels comprise a form of post-biblical Jewish literature with messianic faith in Jesus as its primary content. The main point of contact with the Gospels is that Jewish biographical literature contains a theography, a story about Israel’s God, working through an agent of deliverance, such as a prophet, king, or teacher. The protagonist leads the Jewish people at a time of national crisis or performs some miraculous deed at an important moment in Israel’s history. The Gospels possess a theological worldview, a geopolitical setting, didactic content, and a deliberate replication of Old Testament literary types that make some kind of connection with Jewish sacred literature irrefutable.”—-Michael F. Bird, The Gospel of the Lord (p. 229). Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

Bird also says:

The Gospels are the textual imprint of the oral phenomena of Christian preaching and teaching about Jesus. Viewed this way, they are Christian documents related to the needs of Christians in corporate reading, worship, apologetics, and proclamation. So in that sense they are a unique genre with no precise literary counterparts. However, their uniqueness is in many ways inconsequential because they remain largely analogous to Greco-Roman biography, and the biographical genre was typified by innovation and adaptation. The content of the Gospels is singularly determined by Jewish Christian content, while the literary form of the Gospels is a clear subtype of Greco-Roman biography.- Michael F. Bird, The Gospel of the Lord (p. 270), Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

The Gospel Genre and Historical Intention

In the latest book by Gregory Boyd and Paul Eddy called The Jesus Legend: A Case for the Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Tradition (pgs 334-335) they note Willem van Unick’s study of how ancient historians understood their work based on Lucian’s How To Write History and Dionysis of Halicarnassus’s Letter to Pompei. From these two works van Unick formulates “ten rules” of ancient historiography. Ancient historians were expected to:

1. Choose a noble subject 2. Choose a subject that would be useful to the intended audience 3. Be impartial and independent in researching and composing their history 4. Construct a good narrative with an especially good beginning and ending 5. Engage in adequate preparatory research 6. Use good judgment in the selection of material, exemplifying appropriate variety 7. Accurately and appropriately order one’s material 8. Make the narrative lively and interesting 9. Exercise moderation in topographal details 10. Compose speeches appropriate to the orator and rhetorical situation

Daniel Marguerat has analyzed Luke’s history writing in the light of Unnick’s ten rules and has arrived at the following conclusion:

“Comparisons of Luke-Acts with the list of historiographal norms confirms that the Lucan writings corresponds to standard Graeco-Roman historiogrpahy. We…find that Luke follows eight of ten rules: his transgression of the other two (the first and the third) points us toward the specificity of Luke’s project. The instructions observed by Luke are also followed by the majority of historians of Hellenistic Judaism, especially Flavius Josephus.”

Boyd and Eddy note that Luke’s apparent violation of rule number one is instructive. Rather than a culturally appropriate noble subject, Luke and his fellow Gospel writers chose as their central focus the life of a Galilean carpenter who was eventually crucified as a false messiah and blasphemer—hardly a “noble subject. “ –pgs 334-335

Modern Biographies?

It is true that the Gospels are not modern biographies. While modern biographers may write to the entire public and no one or group in particular, the Gospels were written to specific Christian audiences for “in house” use.

What needs to be remembered is that just because the Gospels are not biographies in the modern sense, this doesn’t mean they are unreliable. It is important to avoid the fallacy of chronological snobbery which rejects something just because of the date of it is extremely old or what people label as “primitive” or “prescientific.” For those that reject the Gospels because they assume the natural world is all there is, that is a philosophical issue that is for another time.

We should appreciate the fact that we have access to four biographies from a figure in antiquity such as Jesus.

Furthermore, we can note that William Placher calls the Gospels “history like-witnesses, to truths both historical and transcendental.” Having said this, there are plenty of historical points that are made in the Gospels that don’t have to be attributed to the miraculous. For example, Luke gives correct titles for the following officials: Cyprus, proconsul (13:7–8); Thessalonica, politarchs (17:6); Ephesus, temple wardens (19:35); Malta, the first man of the island. Each of these has been confirmed by Roman usage. In all, Luke names thirty-two countries, fifty-four cities, and nine islands without an error. (6) He also gives us 84 events, customs, people, locations, etc, which have been confirmed by archaeology in the book of Acts–see The Book of Acts in the Setting of Hellenistic History by classics scholar Colin Hemer. To see the list of these items, click here:

In his book The Reliability of John’s Gospel, Craig Blomberg has identified 59 people, events, or places that have been confirmed by archaeology such as:

1.The use of stone water jars in the New Testament (John 2:6). 2. The proper place of Jacob’s well (2:8) 3. Josephus in (Wars of the Jews 2.232), confirms there was significant hostility between Jews and Samaritans during Jesus’ time (4:9). 4. “Went Up” accurately describes the ascent to Jerusalem(5:1). 5. Archaeology confirms the existence of the Pool of Siloam (9:7) 6. The obscure and tiny village of Ephraim (11:54) near Jerusalem is mentioned by Josephus. 7. “Come down” accurately describes the topography of western Galilee.(There’s a significant elevation drop from Cana to Capernaum). (4:46;49, 51). 8. Caiaphas was the high priest that year (11:49); we learn from Josephus that Caiaphas held the office from A.D 18-37.

To see the full list, see here:

The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony by Richard Bauckham

One book that has recently handled the issue of eyewitness testimony issue within the New Testament is Jesus and the Eyewitnesses: The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony by Richard Bauckham. In this book, Bauckham offers a new paridigm called “The Jesus of Testimony.”

New Testament faith is portrayed biblically as knowledge based upon testimony. Epistemology is the branch of philosophy that investigates the nature and origin of knowledge. How do we know something? The role of testimony is one of the primary ways humans can know anything about historical events. Bauckham does a superb job in evaluating how testimony can be treated as historical knowledge.

Bauckham also notes the following:

“The Greek word for “eyewitness” (autoptai), does not have forensic meaning, and in that sense the English word “eyewitnesses” with its suggestion of a metaphor from the law courts, is a little misleading. The autoptai are simply firsthand observers of those events.

Bauckham has followed the work of Samuel Byrskog in arguing that while the Gospels though in some ways are a very distinctive form of historiography, they share broadly in the attitude to eyewitness testimony that was common among historians in the Greco-Roman period. Above all, these historians valued  reports of firsthand experience of the events they recounted. Best of all was for the historian to have been himself a participant in the events (direct autopsy). Failing that (and no historian was present at all the events he need to recount, not least because some would be simultaneous), they sought informants who could speak from firsthand knowledge and whom they could interview (indirect autopsy).”

Conclusion:

It is my hope that more people will take the time to look at the genre of the books of the Bible and actually attempt to know what it is they are trying to interpret. While this may be a challenge for some people, it can be an incredibly rewarding experience.

Sources:

1. Ben Witherington III, New Testament History (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic. 2001), 14-28.

2. Richard Burridge And Graham Gould, Jesus: Then And Now (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 2004), 2.

3. Gregory A. Boyd and Paul R. Eddy, The Jesus Legend: A Case For The Historical Reliability of the Synoptic Tradition (Grand Rapids: Baker Books. 2007), 411.

4. See Richard Burridge, What Are the Gospels?: A Comparison with Graeco Roman Biography (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, Second Edition, 2004).

5. These six points can be found in Witherington’s New Testament History.

6. Norman Geisler, Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics (Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Books. 1999), 431.

The Role of Emotions in the Life of the Christian

I found this to be an excellent article. It is called Stop Worshipping Emotions.

In it, the author says the following:

Use your emotions as your major decision making tool and you are sunk.

Now, do you want to know why?

Let me set the scene. As we grow we experience bodily and mental ‘feelings’ as we experience current or think about past events. We win a race, everyone cheers, we see our parents smile, we get feelings we come to label as ‘good’ or ‘positive’. We also get feelings that are not so pleasant which we often label as ‘bad’ or ‘negative’.

These are mental classifications, ways we categorise our experience, and we then respond to those as if they were real when in fact they exist only in our body and mind.

Emotions are created in the psychological-physiological space between the way we think about the world and our actual experience of it. When we get what we expect we tend to feel the nicer emotions. When we get less than we expect or something different and unwanted we experience the ‘negative’ emotions.

Emotions, as a general rule, only tell us about OURSELVES and what already think. They are a feedback mechanism giving us the ‘temperate’ of our current thinking, so to speak.

To make this clearer I will quote Albert Ellis, author of the wonderful How to Stubbornly Refuse to Make Yourself Miserable about Anything Ever Again (Yes, ever).

We feel our thoughts.”

There – that’s it in a nutshell.

We feel OUR thoughts. But we are not always AWARE of those thoughts – sometimes we have the feeling that “it just feels right.”

The UK has the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in Europe. Now, whilst I think part of that is due to the general decline of sensible moral boundaries (and yes, I do love my country!) the other reason is probably that “it felt right at the time”. Try telling that to the aborted babies, the children born outside a stable relationship. To be clear I am not down on single parents per se – I was raised by one.

But those children could have been born into better circumstances if the people involved were not thinking with their groins or with the awareness elevating participation of alchohol.

If we elevate good or bad feelings to the role of the deciding factor in our decisions we are setting ourselves up for trouble. Emotions, essentially exist as echoes of our thoughts manifested in the body (we are not just a body carrying a brain, our brain expresses its responses IN our body – what is called somatism) and they reflect our current thinking.

How can a feeling (however strong and labelled as ‘right’) evaluate the quality of a decision? How can it compare options, decide the worth of criteria?  How can it reason, eliminate, take different perspectives etc.

Its not designed to do that. It’s a symptom of a cause – the Energy in Motion (E-motion!) in your body proceeding from the thoughts you ALREADY have. Primarily using your emotions as your ‘yes’ or ‘no’ indicators cannot give you the quality of decision that learning to think things through can.

Emotions do work as information but a very poor quality information overall.  The quality of the feeling from ‘wonderful’ to ‘awful’ can only tell us about how we feel about a circumstance.

Now having read this (and the entire article) perhaps we can ask how a Christian can use their emotions to glorify God.

The way I see it is the following:

1. You can’t place your emotions over the Bible. The Bible is the sole authority of faith and practice. So if you ‘feel’ this may or not be the right course of action and it violates the text, you need to place your emotions under the authority of the Bible. By the way, when you wake up tomorrow and don’t ‘feel’ like a child of God or ‘feel’ that God has left you, the first thing to do is to feed your mind on the Word of God. Stick with what the Bible says about you and what it says about how God views you. Otherwise, you will be a very instable Christian.

2. Also, when a person from another faith tells you they ‘feel’ so strongly that their religion is the correct path, please ask them for evidence for their beliefs.

3. Realize what Jesus said about loving God with all our being. I  have written more on that here. Remember, we are becoming a more emotionally driven culture every day. Technology is not helping! Remember that God gets no glory by his children when they don’t use their minds! See our article called “Why Christians Don’t Think!”

Responding to “Do You Believe in Evolution?”

In this article called  The Meanings of Evolution. authors Stephen C. Meyer and Michael Newton Keas list the Principal Meanings of Evolution in Biology Textbooks

1. Change over time; history of nature; any sequence of events in nature.

2. Changes in the frequencies of alleles in the gene pool of a population.

3. Limited common descent: the idea that particular groups of organisms have descended from a common ancestor.

4. The mechanisms responsible for the change required to produce limited descent with modification, chiefly natural selection acting on random variations or mutations.

5. Universal common descent: the idea that all organisms have descended from a single common ancestor.

6. “Blind watchmaker” thesis: the idea that all organisms have descended from common ancestors solely through an unguided, unintelligent, purposeless, material processes such as natural selection acting on random variations or mutations; that the mechanisms of natural selection, random variation and mutation, and perhaps other similarly naturalistic mechanisms, are completely sufficient to account for the appearance of design in living organisms.

The authors go onto critique each of these six points. I can’t say it more strongly in that Christians need to brush up on these definitions so that the next time someone asks “Do you believe in evolution?” please respond with “What do you mean by evolution?” From my own experience, it does pay great dividends.

The Rise of the Nones and the Collapse of the Middle

Here is a very informative article written by my friend Tom Gilson at Breakpoint.

By Tom Gilson

The Pew Research Center has reported recently on the continuing increase of the “nones”–the religiously unaffiliated. Over the past five years, says Pew, “the unaffiliated have increased from just over 15% to just under 20% of all U.S. adults. Their ranks now include more than 13 million self-described atheists and agnostics (nearly 6% of the U.S. public), as well as nearly 33 million people who say they have no particular religious affiliation (14%).”

On first glance it might appear that Christianity is in decline. The truth is rather more complex–in some ways encouraging and in other ways ominous, for what the numbers signify is a widening polarization of American society due to the collapse of the middle

To read on, click here:

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