Thursday, February 24, 2011

Dr. Michael Heiser: “Another Bart-Sequitur”—authorship and “pseudonymity” concerning the New Testament

One of my favorite Evangelical scholars, Dr. Michael Heiser, has recently commented (LINK) on Bart Ehrman’s new book, Forged: Writing in the Name of God – Why the Bible’s Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are, which, of course, delves into the issue of “pseudonymity” concerning certain books/epistles of the New Testament canon.

Though I own, and have read, eight of Ehrman’s books, I have not yet read this new one (I usually wait until the paperback edition is released). With that said, I cannot at this time fully endorse Dr. Heiser’s reflections; however, given his past contributions, I have little reason to doubt that his assessment of Ehrman’s new book is anything less than accurate.

In addition to his own thoughts, Dr. Heiser links to a number of other important contributions by scholars that include Ben Witherington III and Donald Guthrie—hope everyone will take the time to check the material provided in all the links, I am sure you will agree that it is worth the effort.


Grace and peace,

David

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The secretive "TurretinFan" continues his censorship tactics


Against what may have been my better judgment (based on previous combox encounters with the secretive, paranoid, gent who goes by the name "TurretinFan"), I decided to respond to the following post penned by the anti-Catholic, Reformed "pastor", David King, in the combox of the Februray 15, 2001 thread at the Thoughts of Fancis Turretin blog:

...yet not demonstrate how the early Church was "Protestant" in the way Mathison suggests.

I am going to address this one point because it is such an utter distortion of what Dr. Mathison has actually said and argued. I hope that maybe our Romanist poster will actually get this, though I doubt he is capable of it.

Protestants do not argue that the early church was Protestant, and Dr. Mathison never argued that. What he has argued (and convincingly so) is that the ancient church was not a bunch of Romanists, and that the ancient church certainly didn't hold to the modern day dogmas of papal primacy or papal infallibility. Now, I understand that this goes right over the head of the average wanna-be Roman apologist, but we have to keep saying it whether they ever understand it or not. The early church was catholic, not a bunch of Romanists as Romanists contend. Now I understand that Romanists want to be called "catholics," but that is simply wishful thinking. The church of Rome has departed from the catholic faith, especially so having dogmatized so many "articles of faith" that are uncatholic, ahistorical, and unbiblical. It's a pretty convenient contention to assert, "one must be in communion with the bishop of Rome" in order to be "catholic." But that is not the spirit of catholicism. It is the spirit of Diotrephes "who loves to have the preeminence" ( 3 John 9). That is what Dr. Mathison has argued. Now, we understand you can't see it, but we are always happy to restate it for you over and over. :) (Wednesday, February 16, 2011 6:00:00 PM )

The above post is so typical of David King's caustic, polemical, ad hominem style; I responded with:

>>Protestants do not argue that the early church was Protestant, and Dr. Mathison never argued that. What he has argued (and convincingly so) is that the ancient church was not a bunch of Romanists, and that the ancient church certainly didn't hold to the modern day dogmas of papal primacy or papal infallibility.>>

Me: But it has certainly become vogue among a number of anti-Roman Catholic apologists to argue that certain Protestant doctrines were held by the "early church" (contra a consensus of prominent Protestant patristic scholars).

>>Now, I understand that this goes right over the head of the average wanna-be Roman apologist, but we have to keep saying it whether they ever understand it or not. The early church was catholic, not a bunch of Romanists as Romanists contend.>>

Me: Perhaps some "Romanists", but certainly not all Roman Catholic patristic scholars; fact is, a good number of Roman Catholic patristic scholars acknowledge doctrinal development.

>>Now I understand that Romanists want to be called "catholics," but that is simply wishful thinking.>>

Me: ROFL

>>The church of Rome has departed from the catholic faith, especially so having dogmatized so many "articles of faith" that are uncatholic, ahistorical, and unbiblical.>>

Me: Are you a Socinian? (hyperbole); I know that you are not, but you do argue like one (historically speaking).

Grace and peace,

David (Thursday, February 17, 2011 7:04:00 AM )

[Note: See these 3 threads for important material on why found King’s statement about the RCC not being “catholic” humorous; and this thread for supportive data concerning my Socinian comment.]

David King then posted:

Me: Are you a Socinian? (hyperbole); I know that you are not, but you do argue like one (historically speaking).

Let's see, Mr. Waltz, you profess to have been a Jehovah's Witness, an evangelical, a member of the Roman communion which you said you left some months back, and now who knows what you profess to be. And you want to ask me about being a Socinian? Apparently you don't realize that's a glass house you've built for yourself - be careful with those rocks. :) (Thursday, February 17, 2011 2:09:00 PM )

And in response to one of "TurretinFan's" ill-conceived comments, I wrote:

>>Whether or not the method of argumentation with respect to history is similar doesn't turn this into a valid criticism. After all, the Socinians were not rejected on account of their method of argument but on account of their false doctrines.>>

It painfully obvious that you have not read the arguments that were put forth in the 16th century to curtail the Socinian threat, for one of the primary 'weapons' employed was an attack on their "method of argument". (Thursday, February 17, 2011 10:20:00 PM )


Now, the above are the posts that have remained undeleted by "TurretinFan". The following are my posts that were deleted:

1.) >>Let's see, Mr. Waltz, you profess to have been a Jehovah's Witness, an evangelical, a member of the Roman communion which you said you left some months back, and now who knows what you profess to be. And you want to ask me about being a Socinian? Apparently you don't realize that's a glass house you've built for yourself - be careful with those rocks. :)>>

Interesting comments for sure! Let's see, perhaps you would have me to have remained a JW (the faith God providentially ordained that I was to be born into); or perhaps you would have me to have remained Reformed (not strictly evangelical) after learning of the scandalous schisms that plagued (and continue to plague) the English speaking Reformed paradigm; or perhaps you would have me to have remained Roman Catholic, after years of in depth study lead me to the conclusion that I could no longer affirm an infallible magisterium; or perhaps you would have me to start my own church, as did the co-author/publisher (engineer by trade) of the 3 volume work you helped to produce...hmmm...yes, very interesting...


2.) >>I'm not going to comment on the allegation of contradicting a consensus of "prominent Protestant patristic scholars.">>

A wise choice, for my statement was NOT a mere "allegation", but rather, a fact.

The fathers of the church spoke as they did because they regarded themselves as interpreters of the Scriptures. Therefore they are not to be made a substitute for the Scriptures; nor can the Scriptures be understood apart from the authoritative interpretation which tradition places upon them...if tradition is primitive, Protestant theology must admit that ‘Scripture alone’ requires redefinition. (Jaroslav Pelikan, Obedient Rebels, Harper & Row: New York, N. Y., 1964, p. 180 – bold emphasis mine.)


The divine Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, as opposed to human writings; and the oral tradition or living faith of the catholic church from the apostles down, as opposed tothe varying opinions of heretical sects—together form one infallible source and rule of faith. Both are vehicles of the same substance: the saving revelation of God in Christ; with this difference in form and office, that the church tradition determines the canon, furnishes the key and true interpretation of the Scriptures, and guards them against heretical abuse. (Philip Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Eerdmans: Grand Rapids, MI, 1981 ed., vol. 3, p. 606 – bold emphasis mine.)

Several publications by evangelicals have argued that the doctrine of sola scriptura was practiced, though implicitly, in the hermeneutical thinking of the early church. Such an argument is using a very specific agenda for the reappropriation of the early church: reading the ancient Fathers through the leans of post-Reformational Protestantism…Scripture can never stand completely independent of the ancient consensus of the church’s teaching without serious hermeneutical difficulties…the real question, as the patristic age discovered, is, Which tradition will we use to interpret the Bible? (D. H. Williams, Retrieving the Tradition & Renewing Evangelicalism, pp. 229, 234 – bold emphasis mine.)

Perhaps the most important aspect of the rule of faith is that it gives us what the Church conceived to be ‘the main body of truth’ (to use Irenaeus’ phrase). The Scriptures are, after all, a body of documents testifying to God’s activity towards men in Christ. They are not a rule of faith, nor a list of doctrines, nor a manual of the articles of a Christian man’s belief. In the rule of faith we have a key to what the Church thought the Scriptures came to, where it was, so to speak, that their weight fell, what was their drift. This interpretation of their drift was itself tradition, a way of handling the Scriptures, a way of living in them and being exposed to their effect, which, while not an original part of the Christian Gospel, not itself the paradosis par excellence, had been developed from the Gospel itself, from its heart, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit as an essential part of the existence of the Christian faith in history…We cannot recognize the rule of faith as original tradition, going back by oral continuity independently of Scripture to Christ and his apostles. But we can recognize it as the tradition in which the Church was interpreting Scripture under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, and as such claim it as an essential ingredient of historical Christianity. (R.P.C. Hanson, Tradition In The Early Church, pp. 128, 129 – bold emphasis mine.)

The first clear attitude to emerge on the relation between Scripture, tradition and the church was the coincidence view: that the teaching of the church, Scripture and tradition coincide. Apostolic tradition is authoritative but does not differ in content from the Scriptures. The teaching of the church is likewise authoritative but is only the proclamation of the apostolic message found in Scripture and tradition. The classical embodiment of the coincidence view is found in the writings of Irenaeus and Tertullian.

These both reject the Gnostic claims to a secret tradition supplementing Scripture. Apostolic tradition does not add to Scripture but is evidence of how it is correctly to be interpreted. This tradition is found in those churches which were founded by the apostles, who taught men whose successors teach today. These apostolic churches agree as to the content of the Christian message, in marked contrast to the variations among the heretics. It is important to note that it is the church which is the custodian of Scripture and tradition and which has the authentic apostolic message. There was no question of appealing to Scripture or tradition against the church. This is partly because the apostolic tradition was found in the church but not just for this reason: the Holy Spirit preserves the church from error and leads her into the truth. The real concern of Irenaeus and Tertullian was not with the relation between Scripture and tradition but with the identity of ecclesiastical with apostolic teaching. Any exposition of their teaching on Scripture and tradition which fails to show this is to that extent defective. (A.N.S. Lane, “Scripture, Tradition and Church: An Historical Survey”, Vox Evangelica, Volume IX – 1975, pp. 39, 40 – bold emphasis mine.)

The ‘ancillary view’ is Lane’s term for the sixteenth-century Protestant view, in which tradition functions as an aid, but not a norm, for the interpretation of Scripture…In spite of claims to the contrary, the Reformers did not return to the ‘coincidence view’…The Reformation posited a degree of discontinuity in church history… (Richard Bauckham, “Tradition In Relation To Scripture and Reason”, in Scripture, Tradition, and Reason, ed. Drewery & Bauckham, p. 122.)

As I said earlier, I had some reservations about commenting on "TurretinFan's" blog, fearing that he would delete posts that he perceives to be 'damaging' to his anti-Catholic cause. Maybe I should have listened to my inner voice; but then, if I had said nothing, the 'silliness' would have gone unchallenged...



Grace and peace,

David

Jehovah's Witnesses the fastest growing denomination in the United States

In the following segment from the ABC World News, that first aired on February 16, 2011, it was reported that the Jehovah's Witnesses are the fastest growing denomination in America:


video
In the related online ABC World News article, "Membership of Pentecostal Church, Jehovah's Witnesses Up, Protestant Down" we read:

The Jehovah's Witnesses, known for their door-to-door preaching, had the largest growth of any single denomination. They believe secular society is corrupt, and that Armageddon is imminent. Famous members include Venus and Serena Williams. Membership shot up 4.37 percent in a year. (link)

And from the website of the National Council of Churches, we get the following statistics:

Total church membership reported in the 2011 Yearbook is 145,838,339 members, down 1.05 percent over 2010.
The top 25 churches reported in the 2011 Yearbook are in order of size:
1. The Catholic Church, 68,503,456 members, up .57 percent.
2. Southern Baptist Convention,16,160,088 members, down.42 percent.
3. The United Methodist Church, 7,774,931 members, down1.01 percent.
4. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 6,058,907 members, up 1.42 percent.
5. The Church of God in Christ, 5,499,875 members, no membership updates reported.
6. National Baptist Convention, U.S.A., Inc, 5,000,000 members, no membership updates reported.
7. Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 4,542,868 members, down1.96 percent.
8. National Baptist Convention of America, Inc., 3,500,000 members, no membership updates reported.
9. Assemblies of God, 2,914,669 members, up .52 percent.
10. Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), 2,770,730 members, down 2.61 percent.
11. African Methodist Episcopal Church, 2,500,000 members, no membership updates reported.
11. National Missionary Baptist Convention of America, 2,500,000 members, no membership updates reported.
13. The Lutheran Church-- Missouri Synod (LCMS), 2,312,111 members, down 1.08 percent.
14. The Episcopal Church, 2,006,343 members, down 2.48 percent.
15. Churches of Christ, 1,639,495 members, no membership updates reported.
16. Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, 1,500,000 members, no membership updates reported.
17. Pentecostal Assemblies of the World, Inc., 1,500,000 members, no membership updates reported.
18. The African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, 1,400,000 members, members, no membership updates reported.
19. American Baptist Churches in the U.S.A., 1,310,505 members, down 1.55 percent.
20. Jehovah’s Witnesses, 1,162,686 members, up 4.37 percent.
21. United Church of Christ, 1,080,199 members, down 2.83 percent.
22. Church of God (Cleveland, Tennessee), 1,076,254 members, up .38 percent.
23. Christian Churches and Churches of Christ , 1,071,616 members, no membership updates reported.
24. Seventh-Day Adventist Church. 1,043,606 members, up 4.31 percent.
25. Progressive National Baptist Convention, Inc. 1,010,000 members, down 59.60 percent (due in part to a new methodology of counting members).
(link)

The total for the Jehovah's Witnesses is a bit misleading, for they are the sole denomination that I know of which only counts ACTIVE members in their membership total. A more accurate comparison with the other denominations would be the attendance numbers of their yearly "Memorial Service", which for the United States in 2010 was 2,485,231. (Full, worldwide statistics available online HERE.)

I find these statistics quite interesting, and given some recent cryptic comments made by the American Reformed "pastor" David King (link to post) in the combox of THIS RECENT THREAD at the blog of the secretive, post-deleting, gent who goes by the name "Turretinfan", thought-provoking.
[FYI - I see that "Turretinfan" has yet again deleted a number of my responses in the above mentioned thread; seems I need to reproduce those posts here at AF in a new thread.]


Grace and peace,

David

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Failure of the American Baptist Culture and 89 other 'politically incorrect' books online for FREE!!!

In the combox of the An Enlightened Lecture - Lesley Hazleton: On reading the Koran thread, Ken Temple shared some of his personal views on the issue of the church and state (link). His comments brought back to mind a number of books I read back in the mid-late 80s and early 90s that delved deeply into this issue. Ken's Baptist worldview brought to the fore one book in particular, The Failure of the American Baptist Culture (edited by James Jordan, published 1982). A Google search revealed that this book is available online for free:

LINK TO - The Failure of the American Baptist Culture

But this is merely the 'tip-of-the-iceberg', for an additional 89 books (and 800+ issues of newsletters) on this and related topics are also available for FREE:

http://www.commentary.net/freebooks/; How To Use This Site

It is my hope that every Baptist and/or Evangelical in America, who takes the Bible seriously, will read The Failure of the American Baptist Culture, and follow this book up with Dr. Bahnsen's, By This Standard, and then Dr. North's, Political Polytheism—this trio of books provides a devastating critique of the Anabaptist/Baptist tradition that began back in the 16th century, and has come to dominant the mindset of American evangelicalism.


Grace and peace,

David

Monday, February 14, 2011

Is Evangelicalism 'failing'...less than 1% of young adults in America hold to a Biblical Worldview

Earlier today, I was watching an episode of Frank Turek's "I Don't Have Enough Faith To Be An Atheist", that I had recorded earlier. During his lecture he mentioned that "75% of America's young adults were leaving the church" (i.e. Christian church/churches). This came as a bit of a shock to me, so afterwards, I checked in on Frank's website, CrossExamined.org, which has a promotional video that touches on this issue, and the following links:


1.) "The Christian Post" article, "Survey: Less Than 1 Percent of Young Adults Hold Biblical Worldview".


2.) The "USA Today" article, "Young adults aren't sticking with church".


Once again, I am shocked by these figures; may God's grace help our youth and young adults!!!


Grace and peace,

David

Friday, February 11, 2011

An Enlightened Lecture - Lesley Hazleton: On reading the Koran


video



Alternate viewing option (click on link below):


http://www.ted.com/talks/lesley_hazelton_on_reading_the_koran.html


Enjoy !!!


Grace and peace,

David