Archive for September, 2009

Available as MP3 here: http://apologetics315.blogspot.com/2009/09/james-white-vs-dan-barker-mp3-was-jesus.html

Watch the full video here: http://aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=3520

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The September 26th, 2009 debate has some early feedback in the blogosphere

I will highlight some of them.


Here is the clip of the incident that everyone is talking about, where Dan Barker didn’t wanted James White to quote from Barker’s book

James White first written post-debate reaction concerning this moment (from http://aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=3514):

He went first, so I had the second 20 minute opening statement. Exactly 20 seconds into that statement he interrupted me, objecting to the moderator. His objection? I was quoting from his own book! “This debate isn’t about my book. Please stick to the topic!” Can you believe it? He wanted me to do my presentation without any reference to the very arguments he himself had put in print on the very same topic in a book he was selling in the foyer of the church! I couldn’t believe it. In all my nearly twenty years of debate I had never encountered a more absurd situation. Someone demanding that you not hold them accountable to their own published statements on the topic of the debate! Amazing beyond words. Obviously, I refused to let him silence me, and I proceeded to document error after error in his work. But it was truly the most amazing thing I had ever seen.

My brother in Christ, Christian apologetics’ blogger Chris Bolt was listening to this debate and his reaction to this moment is as follows (from http://choosinghats.blogspot.com/2009/09/futility-of-unbelief.html):

After Barker’s opening statement, Dr. White got up to begin his opening statement. As Dr. White always does his homework, his opening statement was full of quotes from Barker’s books. One would think that Mr. Barker would be glad to have his works read and quoted, but this was not the case!

Before Dr. White could even finish his first quotation, Barker loudly objected to having his own book quoted! He kept saying, “I may have changed my mind”. There was a short spat regarding this and Dr. White (as well as my wife) pointed out that Barker is still selling the books that Dr. White was quoting from. The moderator did not uphold Barker’s objection.

If I were an atheist, I would be ashamed of Dan Barker and concerned about his confirmation of the truth of Christianity. His thinking and behavior show that he is clearly just a man who hates God and has no apologetic, which is exactly what the Bible says he is. (Romans 1.20b)

Update: To make matters worse, Barker just quoted from his own book with respect to naturalism and miracles.

Tur8infan’s reaction (http://aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=3516):

Before Dr. White could even get started, Barker committed what can be considered at best to be an enormous faux pas. He interrupted Dr. White’s speech to object to Dr. White responding to Barker’s own book. It was a boneheaded move, since it made Barker appear to be attempting to disrupt his opponent’s speech. Furthermore, the rationale for the objection tended to undermine Barker’s credibility, since normally scholars are willing to stand behind their books, especially when they are still selling that particular book.

The MennoKnight gives further insight (http://mennoknight.wordpress.com/2009/09/26/initial-thoughts-on-the-dan-barker-vs-james-white-debate/):

1.  Dan comitted a fatal error right off the start.  When White started his opening statement, Barker interupted him and pleaded for a point of order; he asked that White would not quote from his own book Godless.  Why?  Barker essentially has changed some of his positions from the book (released in 2008) and doesn’t want to have to defend some of the things that he’s changed his mind on.  Ironically, the book was apparently for sale on the merch table at the debate though.  Fatal error is an understatement.  Barker came to the debate and brought his latest book, but protested to his opponent actually refering to his published offerings on the subject.  If Barker is still in transition on the issues of the debate, selling his book at the debate while admitting it’s error is both a marketting flaw and a debating seppuku.

White rightly remarked that he’d never heard of anyone doing that in a scholarly debate.  Usually, people desire to have people quote their books (as opposed to some T.V. interview, or some sound bite, or a blog post, etc.).  It seems that when a person writes a 400 page book on an issue, they’re relatively confident on the subject matter and have done enough thinking about the issue to think it’s worth publishing, for the benefit of the world at large.  Barker is a bizarre exception to this rule.

James White later delve into further details that Barker’s argument in his first book, “Losing Faith in Faith”, was nothing different in Barker’s new work, “Godless” (Source: http://aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=3517 ; the reader should read all of what White has to say there!):

As soon as I got into the office today I went over to my atheism section in my library and pulled down Dan Barker’s 1992 publication, Losing Faith in Faith: From Preacher to Atheist. This book is the immediate predecessor of Godless which came out, not two years ago as Dan recalled in the debate, but in 2008. I immediately began thumbing through the book, and very quickly encountered chapter 51, beginning on page 359. Now, there may be some minor editing of this chapter as it appears in Godless (pp. 251ff), but the sub-headings are the same, as are the citations.
Consider for a moment what this means. Dan Barker has been promoting the Barbara Walker “Mithraism parallels” foolishness, in print, for seventeen years. Seventeen years! Same argument—even to having eight self-contradictory “natural explanations”—over the course of two books. And I replied to that argument. What else would you expect me to do? Dan Barker has been promoting the same material for nearly twenty years. Should I ignore the consistent argumentation, documented for nearly seventeen years, in print in books Dan Barker has been distributing through the Freedom From Religion Foundation and at all his speaking events, let alone on the very day of the debate, in the foyer of the church? If you have been presenting the same arguments for that long, and have never given the slightest indication (until your opening statement anyway!) of having changed your views, upon what possible grounds should I have concluded that I should ignore his own published arguments and respond to…something else?


This was James White’s perspective of the rest of the debate (http://aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=3514).  Speaking of Barker:

He later openly, and without repentance, broke the rules of cross-examination we had agreed to before the debate, and openly said that was a rule he was “proud” to break. It was an amazing display of atheistic ethics, to be sure. I know the atheists in the audience were rowdy, doing a fair amount of vocal “participation” from what those sitting next to them tell me. One yelled out at the end of my closing, “What about Islam?” As if I haven’t debated that topic enough! But these were the same zealots who applauded wildly every time Barker mentioned the “Flying Spaghetti Monster.” When I pointed out how irrational and absurd Dawkins and his argument actually is, they were very displeased. They just about worship Dawkins, sad to say.

MenoKnight’s insight (http://mennoknight.wordpress.com/2009/09/26/initial-thoughts-on-the-dan-barker-vs-james-white-debate/):

Barker got horribly outgunned by White on the various source texts that are used to establish the Isis/Mithras/Osiris issue, as well as the supposed Christian borrowing from those texts for the creation of the “Jesus Myth”:

  • First, White knew the source material and had done original language work that adequately challenged the translation of some of the source documents.  Barker apparently does not know Greek enough to simply read a Greek text without helps, since he had nothing to say about White’s interpretative points stemming from original language work.
  • Secondly, White commented on the parallels and showed how utterly non-parallel they are; i.e Osiris was “resurrected”, but this really means he was hacked to pieces and sewn together and ultimately became a zombie.  Not quite as similar to the resurrection of Christ as many people attempt to portray it.
  • Barker admitted that the Old Testament’s essential message was one of how the Israelites were constantly flirting with idolatry; thus he made the effort to show how the Israelites were familiar with paganism and attempted to incorporate it into Judaism.  White responded by pointing out that the univocal response to paganism in the OT was one of disgust; the prophets consistently and constantly showed a hatred of paganism in all its beliefs and practices.   Also, the paganism was essentially set by the leadership; i.e. when a king was bad, the nation was bad (idolatrous like Ahab or Manasseh), but when the leadership was good, the nation was good (non-idolatrous like David or Josiah).  It’s very hard then, knowing how completely “anti-idolatry” the Jews were after the Babylonian captivity, to suggest that anyone in Judaism would support what would have clearly been idolatrous concessions, if early Christians were Jews stealing from paganism to make up their Christianity.  The Jews, especially the leadership (Pharisees and Sadducees), would have condemned any pagan concessions, and the early Jewish converts would have gone with them in condemning the ‘psuedo pagan message’ that the Christians were delivering.  This is not the case with Christ though.  Everyone knew he was a miracle worker, and the historical records of the gospel suggest blasphemy where Christ said he was God.  This was an utter attack against the Jewish monism that was found nowhere in preceding paganism.  The 1st and 2nd century Jews knew that Christianity was new and different, but nobody thought it was a reversion to, or new version of, pagan idolatry.  Many things were rightly said of early Christianity by the Jews, but ‘pagan rip off’ was not one of them.
  • Barker completely abandoned this topic in both of his Q&A periods, which is telling.  Barker used his Q&A time to pursue obvious ad hominem arguments; namely the idea of Young Earth Creationism and ideas surrounding Mormonism and their “scriptures”, attempting to establish evidences of inconsistency with White.  The YEC questions were simply attempting to show that White was a crack pot, and Barker didn’t go near Mithraism/Isis/Osiris, etc. in his Q&A time.  In channel, everyone was consistently asking “Why is he changing the debate subject?” and “Why is he using such obvious rhetorical traps and ad hominem arguments?”

3.  Barker started off the debate attempting to give proof that Christianity stole from pagan sources to manufacture the “Jesus story” but ended up the debate reverting to a pleading for uncertainty.  He closed his final statement suggesting that White looks for “proof” when you cannot prove anything, suggested that Christianity is unprovable, his atheism is equally unprovable but more rational (though he abandoned any form of reasoning, outside of ad hominem attacks against White, to show how it is more rational), and gave the standard “I only believe in 1 less god than you” line.  Barker was on the ropes, and it seemed like he knew it.  I was wondering where his notorious “capital ‘A’ atheism” (I’m going to prove that God does not and can not exist…) went by the end of the debate.

I’m guessing that’s why the “Jesus never existed” camp is so utterly small (what, >10 biblical scholars support that, if that?), and why the “Jesus is entirely a concoction from earlier pagan myths” camp is not much bigger (what, >100 biblical scholars, if I’m being generous?).  The first position, when thrown in the ring of actual debate and when demanded to present its factual evidence in the face of articulate and informed rebuttal, is simply atrociously weak and utterly indefensible.  The second position, when thrown in the ring of actual debate and when demanded to present its factual evidence in the face of articulate and informed rebuttal, needs to rest in ambiguity and has to completely ignore the numerous glaring differences between Christ and the pagan ideas in order to argue for [precious few tiny similarities.

The web groups that applaud things like Zeitgeist are essentially filled with high-school level skeptics who are incompetent critical thinkers that are allergic to self-critical examination, and the whole “Jesus never existed” and  “Jesus is a concoction of pagan components” positions are built upon bizarrely improbable skepticism stacked upon bizarrely improbable skepticism stacked upon bizarrely improbable skepticism.   Let’s face it; the majority of people who support the latter position on a popular level, have no training in anything relevant to anything biblical (Ancient Near Eastern History, Religious Studies, Classical or Semmitic languages, let alone Biblical studies, theology, exegesis, biblical languages).  I think that’s why biblical scholarship (i.e. the SBL or…*cough* the ETS) currently has less than a dozen scholars who positively defend the position as opposed to the thousands of currently active biblical scholars who, although they represent a wide variety of opinions about Jesus, recognize that he was a figure who was not simply a figure built from the lego blocks of the paganism that came before.

That of Tur8intin (http://aomin.org/aoblog/index.php?itemid=3516):

Dr. White recovered well from the interruption and went on to demolish (quite thoroughly) the argumentation used by Barker against the New Testament. The cross-examination section was especially good, in that during Dr. White’s time to ask questions he was able to demonstrate the weakness of Barker’s position, while Barker had to resort to trying to argue and grand-stand during the cross-examination section.

What made things worse for Barker was the fact that such argumentation in the cross-examination is not just against the general rules of debate, but against the specific rules that Barker had agreed to just before the debate. Barker acknowledged this but then indicated that he was “proud” to violate the very rules to which he had agreed. At that point, I think that most of any remaining credibility he had was shot.

Of course, the full debate will eventually be available through Alpha Omega Ministries.  Here’s some further preview:

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Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

In the corpus of Christian apologist Cornelius Van Til’s work, this would probably not go down in history as the most memorable one of his works. Having been titled, “Paul at Athens”, I think Van Til could have further expounded Acts 17, and exegetically digested the passages itself! As a small work, with a broad stroke, the general thrust of what Van Til has to say here is important: Christians in their defense of the faith ought to get deeper in the actual confrontation of unbeliever’s presuppositions, after all, it is the unbelieving presuppositions which reject the “Christian” fact of the resurrection even if they say that the resurrection did happen. The nonbeliever holds to autonomy and a metaphysics which ultimately believe that everything is one. The works mention some of Van Til’s important theme in his apologetics, and the general reader might not comprehend the significance of Van Til’s insight from this brief booklet. I suggest they read Van Til’s other works, such as “The Defense of the Faith” (see my review of it!), for the fuller development of Van Til’s insight.

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Kids taught to praise Obama


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Fascinating observation by Gary DeMar, concerning the health care debate


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Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

A helpful work by Bruce Metzger concerning the topic of the New Testament Canon. The chapters in Metzger’s work is logically laid out, and he begins with a historical survey of the scholarship concerning canonical criticism. This section is a great reference for those who desire further study, not only of the works out there but the work’s place in the academic world of canonical studies. Metzger’s massive knowledge and awareness of the patristics, his interaction with the ideas of various critics throughout the centuries, provide his readers valuable information which keen readers will enjoy. Metzger is very detailed. He is also very charitable in a topic that can spark ecclesiastical sparks. After finishing the work, I appreciated the process of New Testament canonicity and the providence of God a lot more in the process. One thing I wish Metzger could have explored more in his work is the implication of theology in canonicity. Superb and recommended!

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Cambridge Companion to Evangelical Theology, T. Larsonm, ed. 2007.

Cambridge Companion to Postmodern Theology, Kevin J. Vanhoozer, ed. Cambridge, 2003.

Cambridge Companion to Christian Doctrine. Colin Gunton, ed. Cambridge, 1997.

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These are the Blackwell Companions to theology (free to view),

Blackwell Companion to the Theologians. 2 Vols. Ed. Ian S. Markham. John Wiley and Sons, 2009.

Blackwell Companion to Modern Theology. S. Gareth J. Jones, ed. Wiley-Blackwell, 2004.

Blackwell Companion to Political Theology. Ed. Peter Scott, William T. Cavanaugh. Wiley-Blackwell, 2004.

Blackwell Companion to Postmodern Theology. Graham Ward, ed. Wiley-Blackwell, 2001.

Blackwell Encyclopedia of Modern Christian Thought. Alister E. McGrath, Duncan Forrester, eds. Wiley-Blackwell, 1995.

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Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

When I was still very new to Van Til’s Presuppositional apologetics, I attempted to read John Frame’s Apologetics to the Glory of God but eventually stopped because it seem to deviate from Van Til’s apologetics in some key areas.  In addition, there were names of Christians Frame mentioned who were strangers to me.  It seemed back then as if Frame was boxing some shadowy unknown interlocutors, whom he assume his readers were aware of.   Some years later, I finally re-read John Frame’s introduction to apologetics, and can now say I appreciate what Frame is trying to say.  The names are no longer a mystery though Frame should properly introduce them!

Early in the book, Frame warns in his preface that some Van Tillian will see his work as “revisionist”.  I do agree that Frame is in some sense a revisionist Van Tillian, notably with his acceptance of the traditional arguments.  In his criticism of the Transcendental argument (69-72), of how the Transcendental argument need additional arguments to support its premises with arguments of the traditional forms, I was disappointed that he didn’t interact more with Van Til’s concept of the “impossibility of the contrary”.  Published in 1994, Frame even made reference in the book to his former student and colleague Greg Bahnsen but did not interact with what he has to say.  Bahnsen (who was still alive at this point) has been one of the chief proponent of the “impossibility of the contrary” argument.  Unlike others who have critiqued Van Til (Clark, Sproul and company, etc), Frame actually understands Van Til and doesn’t misrepresent him, which makes his work more valuable for those who wish to strengthen Van Til’s apologetics.  Frame’s criticism of Van Til is fairly constructive.  In fact, Frame strikes me as a good example of a godly apologist who is humble and charitable, something that can be a short supply among apologists in general.  In the book, he expressed his disagreement with Jay Adam’s take on the problem of evil in The Great Demonstration, yet Frame included in the appendix of his work Adam’s response to Frame.  Christians who desire to engage in apologetics have a good Christian example to follow in John Frame.

Frame has the best summary I have ever read of Van Til’s argument of the One and the Many, and the Trinity as the solution to the dialectical problem of monism/pluralism, continuity/discontinuity in philosophy (46-50).  He explained it better than Van Til!  This has some influence then with perspectivalism.  John Frame’s perspectivalism (different fields and spheres as perspectives, which are inter-related with each other) is evident throughout this work.  While I am aware that there is some caution of some Van Tillian toward this as Frame’s revision, I do think the incipient form of perspectivalism in Van Til’s work. I am in general agreement with Frame’s overall effort to demonstrate the rational coherent inter-dependability of the various aspects of Christianity.  While perspectival argument can be distinct from the transcendental argument (Frame’s perspectivalism has influenced me: I think the two broad form of arguments are inter-related!), a perspectival form of argument is also a valuable tool in the apologists arsenal, especially in the defense of Christian doctrines as an entire inter-related system.

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In light of my entry, “Will pro-choice advocates denounce the murder of James Pouillon?, I thought revisit a topic in the aftermath of George Tiller’s murder.

I have exposed here at https://veritasdomain.wordpress.com/2009/06/02/frank-schaeffer-is-responsible-for-tiller/ of the internally twisted logic used by Franky Schaeffer in a piece he has written against Pro-lifers and his Father Francis Schaeffer, where he charged them with contributing to the murder of Abortion doctor George Tiller.

With the tragic murder of Pro-life grassroot advoate Jim Pouillon, it helps illuminates the hate-filled rhethorics and incoherent reasoning of anti-Pro-lifers such as Franky Schaeffer, and see how his own logic can be turned against him.

Below is a paraody of what Schaeffer SHOULD write, and its a massive copy from Frank’s own words, when we apply his reasoning in the Tiller’s case to the Pouillon’s case, and “conclude” with his line of reasoning, that “Franky Schaeffer contributed to Jim Pouillon’s murder”

*NOTE- I have also been observing Franky Schaeffer’s disturbing trend and reporting on this blog since 2007, these can be found here: https://veritasdomain.wordpress.com/?s=frank+schaeffer

My fellow cronies and I share the blame (with many others) for the murder of Jim Pouillon the pro-lifer gunned down on Friday. I am both a leader of the anti-Pro-life movement and a part of the hate machine against the Conservative prolife movement masquerading as the moderate Leftist’s conscience of America.

I have continued blogging with an atmosphere of discontempt towards those who are prolife and religious, that they are a full-blown American fascists, dysfunctional and truly dangerous — not to mention armed — darkest reaches of our country, psychological sickness that is the basis of the Religious right’s power to delude other people who are also needy and unstable who are America’s rogue’s gallery of mean-spirited, even sadistic, cranks. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/frank-schaeffer/max-blumenthal-vs-the-far_b_278800.html).

I have even followed up with a book that those who hate the ‘right wing’ made into a New York Times best seller. For instance Max Blumenthal’s Republican Gomorrah–Inside The Movement That Shattered The Party drew heavily from my book, which I recommended to Read the book and then “to fight like hell to keep Republicans out of power come what may” (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/frank-schaeffer/max-blumenthal-vs-the-far_b_278800.html).

Like many writers of moral/political/religious theories  I would have been shocked that someone took us at our word, and pulled the trigger on an anti-abortionist. But even if the murderer never read  my words we helped create the climate that made this murder likely to happen.

Hyperbole from the media and blogs from leaders against religious conservatives , be it from me or President Obama’s former pastor the Rev. Wright, is par for the course. But once in a while someone “does something” about it and then everyone says that they were only speaking metaphorically or “spiritually” when they called for violence from hell.

Angry speech has become the norm in my circle, with the left. Words are spoken which — when taken seriously — lead directly to violence by the unhinged and/or the truly committed.

When advocates on Huffington Post call Pro-life religious folks a full-blown American fascists, dysfunctional and truly dangerous — not to mention armed — darkest reaches of our country, psychological sickness that is the basis of the Religious right’s power to delude other people who are also needy and unstable who are America’srogue’s gallery of mean-spirited, even sadistic, cranks and, echoing the common pro-choice argument, someone who is invading my rights and controlling my life, the logical conclusion is violence. If you take these words literally you might pull the trigger to “make America safe” and/or free us from Fascism or to even protect us from — what some “rights” leaders claim — simple folks Christian prolifers as “dictators”.

Contributing to an extreme and sometimes violent climate has been the fault of the abortion crusaders.

Take away the hate filled adjectives and immature anti-Conservative political cartoons and everything changes emotionally.

The same hate machine I am a part of is still attacking all anti-abortionists as evil dictators of the American way of life.And today once again the Leftists leaders are busy ducking their personal responsibility for people acting on their words. The people who stir up the fringe never take responsibility.  They just find a convenient abortion (pun intended). But I’d like to say on this day after a man was murdered in cold blood for preforming the murder that I — and the people I worked with , all contributed to this killing by our foolish and incendiary words.

Furthermore, I have created the first murder in my heart, by hating.

But the reason this issue will never go away is that the Roe ruling was an over broad court decision that makes abortion legal even in the last weeks of pregnancy.

I am very sorry.

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James Pouillon, a Prolife advocate, was murdered yesterday

Doesn’t seem like the news make this as big as the murder of George Tiller

The story can be found here: http://www.lifenews.com/state4410.html

Also from a local newspaper, an article was written: http://www.freep.com/article/20090911/NEWS06/90911020/1319/Pro-life-activist-shot-dead-near-Owosso-High

Will Pro-choice advocates denounce the murder of James Pouillon, like pro-life advocate denounce the murder of George Tiller?  Only time will tell.

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Over at Trinity Foundation, the latest Trinity Review feature an article by their founder John Robbins, who is now with the LORD.

He was at one time, Ron Paul’s Chief of Staff.  It is a stimulating read and relevant to the debate of Obama’s health care today.

The Ethics and Economics of Health Care

John W. Robbins


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I hope the Christian community can keep on praying for Rifqa Bary, a Muslim girl who converted to Christianity and is now in fear for her life, of her Muslim father.

Pray that God will protect her, that God will give strength and wisdom to the lawyers, and the judge to make the right decision.

The next trial is set for September 29th.

This document is interesting, as it discusses about the link of the father’s mosque to extremists: http://www.jihadwatch.org/Noor%20Memo%20of%20Law.pdf

The same document has her testimony of how she became a Christian, and her side of the story as it is given in legal written testimony:

15. I became a Christian on Friday, November 18, 2005 at the Korean United Methodist Church in Columbus, Ohio;

16. I hid my Christian faith from my parents as best as I could and had to sneak around to attend Christian campus meetings. I also hid my Bible at home in various locations;

17. In about 2007 my father discovered a copy of a book entitled the “Purpose Driven Life” by Rick Warren that I hid in my bedroom. My father had a serious talk with me about the importance of retaining the Islamic blood line in my family but I did not tell him about my conversion;

18. In June of 2009 my father confronted me with several questions about whether I had become a Christian, whether I was baptized, ifl was going to a church. Out of fear I remained silent;

19. Then my father told me that he received numerous e-mails and phone calls from the leaders of the Noor Center community who informed him that he needed to deal with this matter immediately;

20. In a fit of anger that I had never seen before in my life, he picked up my lap top, waived it over my head as if to strike me with it and said “If you have this Jesus in your heart, you are dead to me! You are no longer my daughter.” I continued to remain silent and then he said to me even more angry than before, “I will kill you! Tell me the truth!”

21. On July 17, 2009, my mother confronted me about another Christian book she discovered that I had hid in my bedroom. She had just spoken with my father was on the phone who was out of town. She was very upset, in tears, and almost grieving and told me I was going to have to be sent back to Sri Lanka to be dealt with.

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Some recent resources

1.) Panel – N.T. Wright and the Doctrine of Justification
  • By Dr. R. Albert Mohler, Jr., Dr. Denny Burk, Dr. Tom Schreiner, Dr. Mark Seifrid, Dr. Brian Vickers

LINK: http://www.sbts.edu/resources/chapel/chapel-fall-2009/panel-nt-wright-and-the-doctrine-of-justification-2/

2.) Blog- Wright Wednesdays

  • By Dr. Michael Horton

Part I: http://www.whitehorseinn.org/component/option,com_wordpress/Itemid,39/p,60

Part III: http://www.whitehorseinn.org/component/option,com_wordpress/Itemid,39/p,94

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