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A Look at Christmas – Some Different Viewpoints

 

Image result for christmas pictures of baby jesus in the manger

Merry Christmas everyone!

Around the world, people (Christians and non-Christians alike) are celebrating this perennial winter holiday.

Here are some interesting articles I recently came upon that explores what the Bible says about the Virgin Birth (really technically the “Virgin Conception”) and the genre of the gospels as well.

The Not-So Virgin Birth of God” and “Six Problems with the Virgin Birth: Biblical and Historical Perspective“.

And an interesting article on how the date of December 25 came to be celebrated as Jesus’ birthday.

Here are our group’s personal reflections on Christmas and the Virgin birth as well from earlier in the year.

Some things to chew on for this Christmas season.

 

 

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UPDATE: Essays on Jesus’ Conception and Virgin Birth

 

Image of the “spark” of conception, a physical reaction recently observed when sperm meets an egg.  The flash you see in the upper right is actually made of zinc, and its brightness could indicate the strength of fertilization.  Research done at Northwestern University.

 

This past Sunday we discussed the virginity (including the perpetual virginity) of Mary, mother of Jesus, and how Aristotelian philosophy shaped Greco-Roman, Jewish, and the Gospel writers and the New Testament writers in general on how they understood human conception, and how this thought contributed to the understanding of Jesus’ conception and identity.

These essays were based on an article written by Andrew Lincoln titled “How Babies Were Made in Jesus’ Time” that appeared in the Nov/Dec 2014 issue of Biblical Archeology Review.

 

 

A Look Into Jesus’ Conception

https://i0.wp.com/cdn.biblicalarchaeology.org/wp-content/uploads/lorenzo-lotto-nga.jpg

“The Nativity”, Lorenzo Lotto (1480 – 1556/57), 1523, oil on panel, National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

 

This week, we will take a mini-break from Confessions and discuss the topic of the Virgin birth and Christology.

 

We will be going over an article from the November/December 2014 issue of Biblical Archeology Review titled “How Babies Were Made in Jesus’ Time” by Andrew Lincoln.  A brief synopsis of the article can be found here; for the complete article you have to order from the website.

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“The Bible: So Misunderstood It’s a Sin” by Kurt Eichenwald in Newsweek

A friend sent me a link to this article about the Bible and biblical illiteracy among evangelicals today from the January 2015 issue of Newsweek.

The author makes the argument that modern American evangelicalism (aka the popular conservative portrayal of Christianity many have in mind in America) is quite at odds with what the Bible actually teaches, particularly when it comes to issues about the inerrancy of the Bible, issues on homosexuality, women’s roles in the church, the formation of the canon, and other issues.  In fact, the Bible condemns the style of Christianity modern evangelicals are practicing now, the article states.

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The Evolution of Satan

Statue of Satan at the Satanic Temple in Detroit, MI.

Statue of Satan at the Satanic Temple in Detroit, MI.

 

Great article and post on the development of Satan/the Devil in Judeo-Christian thought and theology through the centuries over at isthatinthebible.wordpress.com.

Highly fascinating.

“Princes of Darkness: The Devil’s Many Faces in Scripture and Tradition”

Site Update: New Sub-Menu – “Biblical Exegesis and Hermeneutics”

 

 

 

Since 2006, I have studied in depth the art and discipline of biblical exegesis and hermeneutics as both a student and a tutor to lay persons over the years.

 

It has been a tremendous blessing and life-changing journey to go through the Bible in a serious and thorough way.

 

I have included a new sub-menu category under the “Biblical Studies” menu on top titled “Biblical Exegesis and Hermeneutics” which covers a span from 2006 – 2014.

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A Critical Assessment of the Reformed Doctrines of Original Sin and Solus Christus (Salvation in Christ Alone)

 

 

So yesterday, we had an interesting discussion on the doctrines of Solus Christus (Salvation in Christ Alone) and Original Sin.

 

I just want to make this clear that these critical assessments of these core Reformed doctrines are in no way to undermine or question the validity of the Christian faith.  We raise these issues and challenges to strengthen the faith and understand what Christians actually believe in.

 

However, I understand how emotionally involved persons who have adopted these traditions and doctrines to heart are and who take this personally.  And I’m fully aware how nasty debates can become, even between faithful brothers and sisters in Christ.  We do it because we take the truth seriously.  We don’t want to engage in polemics attacking or pushing someone to adopt or reject another point of view.  Its purpose is to raise thoughtful questions and engage and spur others to think things through.

 

We live in a complex and interconnected world today and many worldviews will come into contact with one another.  It is important to take other viewpoints into consideration and call out those that do not make sense, are flatly wrong, or seem antiquated.

 

We raise questions, not to cause people to doubt their faith, but more so to realize that an unexamined faith is not worth believing in (to modify Socrates’ famous quote that “An unexamined life is not worth living”).

 

We welcome thoughtful discussion and disagreements with the ideas and viewpoints we present here, so please do comment if you wish.

 

This is theology in action – faith seeking understanding.

 

 

 

 

Views on Propitiation and Universal vs. Limited Atonement

 

sacrificial lamb propitiation

 

Some views on the Reformed theology of propitiation and questions about whether or not there are biblical justifications for universalism (i.e. that all will be saved).

 

Submitted by Michael.

 

 

Did Jesus Have a Wife? – The “Jesus’ Wife” Papyrus

 

King & Papyrus

Karen King of Harvard Divinity School holding up the “Jesus’ Wife” Papyrus

 

Be very cautious of sensationalist claims and findings on biblical archeology reported by the media firsthand.

 

 How the ‘Jesus’ Wife’ Hoax Fell Apart – Wall Street Journal online – May 1, 2014

 

 

Predestination/Election – A Biblical Perspective

 

predestination 266x300 Predestination and salvation

What does this mean? Is this interpretation even in the Bible?

 

Since the group will be encountering John Calvin very soon in MacCulloch’s book, I thought I’d get a head start and write about one of the most famous and also controversial doctrines of the Protestant/Reformed theology – predestination or election.

 

It’s definitely a hot potato topic and if you want to rile up a bunch of Christians and see some heated conversations, just introduce the topic of predestination, sit back, enjoy, and watch the sparks fly.

 

Well, here’s my entry into this eternal theological boxing ring for all its worth.

 

Also, as you’ll see, it’s listed on a new sub-menu called “Reformed Theology” under “Theology” at the top menu bar.

 

Though I know what I present won’t be a novel position by any means, it did give me pause to think when I first read it in Eugene Boring and Fred Cradock’s The People’s New Testament Commentary (Westminster John Knox Press, 2004).

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts about this topic as well, so please do share if you have any.