Archive for October, 2012

Links around the web related to Presuppositional apologetics.  Most interesting is the first one concerning Gordon Clark and Cornelius Van Til’s reconciliation towards the end of their life.  Very interesting.

1.) Clark, Van Til and their Common Savior

2.) New E-Book: Defeating Relativism, Subjectivism, and Self-Refuting Statements

3.)  Veritas Domain Face Book Page!

4.) Atheists Have No Business Suing over Marriage (or Anything)

5.) Paul Kurtz: Will he be missed?

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Earlier this fall the Christian apologist James White had a tour in London engaging in a lot of debates and teaching concerning Christian apologetics concerning Islam.  One of the debates was on the topic of whether Jesus was crucified, which video done by the Muslim Debate Initiative is featured here.

Don’t forget to check out James White’s other debate on whether the Bible prophecied about Muhammed here.  For those interested in our blog’s small feeble attempt at providing resources on Christian apologetics addressing Islam with this summer’s marathon series on Islam, click here.


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Apologetics Professor MARK FARNHAM of Calvary Baptist Seminary has written a seven part series on God’s Word in Human Hands that in Van Tillian in it’s approach to apologetics.

You can check them out here:

1.) God’s Word in Human Hands, Part 1: How Epistemological Failure Leads to Accommodation of Critical Biblical Scholarship

2.) God’s Word in Human Hands, Part 2: A Look At the Bible Through the Lens of Critical Biblical Scholarship

3.) God’s Word in Human Hands, Part 3: The Epistemological Basis of Kenton Sparks’ Proposal

4.) God’s Word in Human Hands, Part 4: The Inadequacy of Practical Realism as a Christian Epistemology

5.) God’s Word in Human Hands, Part 5: How Epistemology Affects Ontology and Why It Matters

6.) God’s Word in Human Hands, Part 6: Cornelius Van Til and Revelational Epistemology Correctly Understood

7.) God’s Word in Human Hands, Part 7: Conclusion

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Purchase: Amazon

I did enjoy this commentary. For readers who are unaware, Fitzmyer is a Roman Catholic but I did not find his tradition really coming out (for instance, his interaction of the word “saints” in Philemon is interpreted to refer to believers in general, not SAINTS, and he did not have any further discussion about that point of saints and SAINTS). In the past I have used various commentaries from this series and I think this volume is one of the better ones (there are some whacky ones in this series). I read this work primarily for my exegetical preparation for preaching, so in terms of it’s usefulness for the exegete I thought that this work was worthwhile in terms of the materials for the readers to interact with, though I feel that there was more that Fitzmyer could have said. By saying that this work is worthwhile, I do not mean that I agree with every interpretative decision made by the author, only that they were not outrageous or out of bounds where he landed. From time to time there were historical, lexical, grammatical and syntactical insights that I gained about the Greek text from reading Fitzmyer, that I didn’t not see on my own.

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Some additional links from this month around the web on Presuppositional apologetics.

1.) Self-refuting Statements: Agile and Deft Defenses by Relativists

2.) The Character of Miracle Witness.

3.) Truth and Models of Composition.

4.) New & Innovative Apologetics eBook: Defeating Relativism, Subjectivism, and Self-Refuting Statements.

5.) Introduction to Worldviews.

6.) American Vision Apologetics Promo.

7.) A Problem of Logic for Joe Biden and the Pro-Abortion Religious Left.

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Purchase: Amazon

To begin with a personal note, many years ago the author was the pastor of the current church I am ministering at now, though I only heard him preach once when he came back to visit. This short book was adapted from a sermon that the author preached and the book is written with the lay reader in mind. Basics such as why the topic of baptism is important, a short account of types of baptism in the New Testament, a summary of the word study of “baptize” and why the author believes in believer’s baptism by immersion is given here. Author does tackle the topic of the relationship with baptism and salvation, and I appreciate his remark that one ought to begin with the epistles to explain the narrative passages given that the epistles function largely to explain the doctrines of the faith and is prescriptive rather than descriptive (that is not to say there is no example for us in narrative portion of Scripture, but must be done in consideration of the prescriptive [imperatives and prohibition] passages in the Bible). There is an appendix of Charles Spurgeon’s sermon against Baptismal regeneration, which I appreciate and I am one who is growing to appreciate a lot more of the writing by dead men. With what little I have read of Spurgeon, I’m surprise how that Victorian English preacher from the past can speak to us still today– during those moments when I do come across Charles Spurgeon’s written sermon, I wished he asked me what I want so I can reply, “Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit.”

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These lectures are free and made available through Monergism.com!  They focus on the Christian theology of God Himself (that is, what they call Theology Proper).  Download them and be blessed!

Introduction to Theology Proper – Lecture 1 (MP3)

The Existence & Being of God – Lecture 2 (MP3)

The Knowability & Incomprehensibility of God – Lecture 3 (MP3)

The Spirituality of God – Lecture 4 (MP3)

The Names of God – Lecture 5 (MP3)

Introduction to God’s Attributes – Lecture 6 (MP3)

The Incommunicable Attributes – Lecture 7 (MP3)

God’s Immutability & Knowledge – Lecture 8 (MP3)

God’s Wisdom & Holiness – Lecture 9 (MP3)

God’s Holiness & Righteousness – Lecture 10 (MP3)

God’s Goodness & Righteousness – Lecture 11 (MP3)

God’s Goodness & Love – Lecture 12 (MP3)

God’s Grace & Mercy – Lecture 13 (MP3)

God’s Longsuffering & Truth – Lecture 14 (MP3)

The Trinity (1) – Lecture 15 (MP3)

The Trinity (2) – Lecture 16 (MP3)

Predestination (1) – Lecture 17 (MP3)

Predestination (2) – Lecture 18 (MP3)

God’s Sovereign Will & Power – Lecture 19 (MP3)

Providence (1) – Lecture 20 (MP3)

Providence (2) – Lecture 21 (MP3)

Angels & Devils – Lecture 22 (MP3)


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Christopher Cone, whom we have interviewed before on Veritas Domain, has written a book on Christian view of Government and Society.  An electronic edition of it is free for a limited time–up till the Election Day: November 6th, 2012.

Here’s a link to the website if you click here.

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Lesson 3: The Canon of the New Testament in Church History : The Early Circulation of the Writings, Lesson 3

I have titled this section, The Science of PaleographyThis section includes an analysis of handwriting.  This is important—perhaps the most important means of dating ancient documents.  Because of  its importance, we will examine the major styles of handwriting found in the NT mss.[1]

A.  The Unical Style:

The unical letters resembled “capital letters” in ancient times.  The capital letters were chiseled in stone.  The capitals that were found in inscriptions have been discovered.  The unical letters were square and upright, but they were not as square or upright as the capitals.  Moreover, the letters were not connected with one another.  This type of writing was found in the earliest parchment of codices of the NT.  Also this type of style was also the dominant, but not the exclusive style in the earliest papyrus mss.  In terms of its usage in history, we must note the early centuries of the Christian era.  There is perhaps the first four to five that gave us mss.  These mss. were written in this manner, which is particularly in the literary or formal type of writings.  Here is an example of uncial handwriting that resembles the upper case printed in Greek letters of modern times:[2]

Luke 11, 2 in Codex Sinaiticus

B.  The Cursive Style,

Gradually the cursive handwriting developed from the unical style.  Now, however, the letters were connected together in a sort of running handwriting.  This permitted greater speed in copying.  There also began to be some letters which projected above and/or below the rest of the letters.  This style became characteristic particularly in non-literary or more informal types of writings.  Generally speaking, the cursive style belongs to the middle centuries of the first millennium A.D., until around the ninth century.”[3]

C.  The Minuscule Style,

The minusule handwriting borrowed characteristics from both the unical and the cursive.  It had the beauty of the uncial and the flowing quality of the cursive.  The letters are smaller, and some letters consistently extended above or below the line of the rest of the letters.  This type permitted speed in copying and also provided for a conservation of space.  It came into use in private documents during the ninth century, and from the tenth century on, it was popular for literary purposes also.  Our modern printed Greek New Testaments resemble this style more than any other.”[4]

[1] Dr. Thomas, Class Lecture, pp. 5.

[2] Dr. Thomas, Class Lecture, pp. 5.

[3] Dr. Thomas, Class Lecture, pp. 5.

[4] Dr. Thomas, Class Lecture, pp. 5-6.


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There have been many great books that have been written concerning the cross of Christ.  Books like Redemption Accomplished and Applied (1955) by John Murray, Systematic Theology (1941) by Louis Berkhof, and the five books written by Leon Morris called The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross (1955), The Cross in the New Testament (1965), Glory in the Cross (1966), The Atonement (1983), and The Cross of Jesus (1988).  Another major work that is among the classics affirming the doctrine of the cross is John Stott’s The Cross of Christ (1986).  John Stott’s book has been a very popular and cherished by many.  But with all the books concerning the cross of Christ that have been written, distorted views continue to exist concerning the cross.  The continual confusion has lead to another important book (336 pages) with its groundbreaking research.  Endorsed by many prolific pastors and scholars, Pierced for Our Transgressions: Rediscovering the Glory of Penal Substitution, written by Steve Jeffery, Michael Ovey, and Andrew Sach, covers two major parts in the book.  Part one covers the biblical, theological, pastoral, and historical elements.  Part two answers the critiques with an apologetical twist.

In lieu of all the important facets covered in this book, the crux or the heartbeat of the book is centered on this God-glorifying, biblical statement when it comes to exalting the heart of the gospel: “That the Lord Jesus Christ died for us—a shameful death, bearing our curse, enduring our pain, suffering the wrath of his own Father in our place—has been the wellspring of the hope of countless Christians throughout the ages.”[1]  This statement is referred to as “penal substitution,” “substitutionary atonement,” or “vicarious atonement.”

For the purpose of this book analysis, concerted efforts will not be focused on the summary of the content, but will involve critical interactions from the book in order to discover the weaknesses and strengths so that a passion will be lit for you study more concerning areas you think that were was not presented in the book; and to encourage you with the wonderful resources documented and written by these fine authors.

In regard to the weaknesses in this book, there are a few that I see.  Some of the weaknesses can be found in pages 47-48 and 213.  There are probably other pages that could be discussed, but these pages will be my focus for now.  And just a footnote: there are not many weaknesses compared to the vast strengths, but it is enough to devote some interaction with them.

In regards to page 47-48, the author (s) somewhat seems to blur the connection of penal substitution of Christ when using the example of Nadab and Abihu (Lev. 10:1-2).  Although I appreciate the efforts of the author (s) in trying to tie in the idea that if Nadab and Abihu offered a good sacrifice[2], God’s wrath would be averted (Lev. 9:24)—however, I disagree with how the paradigm is connected to penal substitution.  In page 47, the author (s) says this in the context of Nadab and Abihu, “…God’s wrath must be overcome in order to draw near to him….” The problem with that statement is that there was no way to overcome God’s wrath because Nadab and Abihu had rebelled against God and there would be no way for them to avert God’s anger even after their sin was committed.  Moreover, performing good sacrifices do not always avert God’s anger as seen in Lev. 9:24.  If there is a certain sin that is an abomination, it maybe too late to avert God’s anger.  Although I appreciate the applications of the word kipper (כפר) to relate to “averting God’s anger,” it does not fully correspond to the idea of penal substitution of Christ as seen in the New Testament or other passages in the Old Testament like Isaiah 53.  The passage in Leviticus 16 and Leviticus 10:1-2 may teach some aspects of penal substitution, but it does not illustrate penal substitution in its full complexities.  The passage in 10:1-2 seems to be teaching more on the failures of Nadab and Abihu rather than making atonement to be in right relationship with God.[3]  The children of Israel were already God’s people.  The only time they would need to make atonement or avert God’s anger is when sin is in play.

On another note, when examining the Leviticus 16 passage that is covered in pages 42-50, the blood of goats and bulls that were “sprinkled on the mercy seat and in front of the mercy seat” had to be repeated annually (Lev. 16:29-34).  But with the penal substitution of Christ who is our High Priest, He only performed one sacrifice; and the sacrifice was enough to avert God’s anger forever (Hebrews 9:11-14).  As a result, I see aspects of the atonement being illustrated in Leviticus and its foreshadows to Christ’s sacrifice, but it does not teach a complete detailed idea of penal substitution as revealed in the New Testament or other passages in the Old Testament like Isaiah 53.  With all due respect, it appears that the author (s) maybe theologizing the text prior to exegeting the passages.  Each passage in the Bible have different contexts.  As a result, much care must be taken into account in order to preserve the exegesis process.  Theologizing or systematizing a passage should come after exegesis.

Another area of weakness would be page 213 where the author (s) discusses the perfect obedience of Christ in relation to the law.  In page 213, the author (s) say this in regards to the perfect obedience of Christ,

Christ’s entire life on earth was part of his atoning work, for he lived in perfect obedience to the law of God, which was binding upon us but which we failed to keep.  This integrates perfectly with the doctrine of penal substitution.  The righteousness of Jesus’ life was imputed (credited, or reckoned) to us, so that we might be justified, or declared righteous by God, and stand pure and blameless before him.”

It would be good if the author (s) pointed out what law is binding upon us.  Is the entire Mosaic Law binding upon us or is it the moral law that is universally binding to us all?  I think this needs to be addressed for the sake of clarity since many debates these days—at least in my experience, has been centered on the law.

At this juncture, let us now transition into the positives.  As I said earlier, the book have many enriching truths in regards to penal substitution.  I believe this book adds more clarity, truthfulness, and sacredness regarding the doctrine of penal substitution.  I hope that it will fuel more confidence to the preacher of the Gospel.  The preacher and Christian will have more confidence in this wonderful doctrine and will be better equipped in defending the Faith from enemies of the cross.  Upon reading this book, I really enjoyed the exegesis that was used in the passages such as Isaiah 53:13-53:12; the Gospel of Mark; the Gospel of John; Romans; Galatians 3:10-23; and 1 Peter 2:21-25 and 3:18.  I appreciated the author’s effort in spending much of their material on the significant passages that contributes to penal substitution.  Another portion of the book that really made the reading enjoyable was the explanation of the penal substitution in light of a biblical theological framework.  For example, discussing the doctrine in light of creation, decreation, the consequences of sin, truth, goodness, justice, salvation, relationships within the Trinity, and redemption, made me appreciate Christ’s sacrifice more.  It is amazing how all of the sobering theological terms just mentioned somehow link to penal substitution.  Without them, it would be hard to grasp my thinking around the forensic nature of penal substitution.

Another part about this book that I was keen on were the pastoral implications of penal substitution.  It is a powerful reminder for me that when someone sins against me, that person did not offend me more than I have offended Christ.  The wrath of Jesus’ Father should of been poured out on me and consumed me.  It is sobering that Jesus – by taking on my sin in order that His righteousness be injected into me, His just Father who could not tolerate sin, targeted His wrath towards His Son because He became our substitute (Isa. 53:6; 2 Cor. 5:21).  His anger crushed His own Son (Isa. 53:10; Rom. 5:9).  This is why the cross precipitates my mind and heart to look to the cross and say, “If you could forgive a wretched man like me then I should forgive those who have hurt me.”  The cross of Christ humbles you and will make you a better shepherd and Christian when it comes to dealing with difficult people God has placed in your life.

When the book turned its attention towards the “historical pedigree of substitution” by quoting giants of the faith in church history, it provided me strength and perseverance when hostile speculations and attacks go against this holy doctrine.  It’s a powerful reminder for me that if the brethren in the past could go through the attacks with perseverance, we should too, because we have the same Spirit (2 Corinthians 4:13).

When journeying into the second part of the book, entitled, “Answering the Critics” one who is unfamiliar with some of the heretical logics thrown at Christians will appreciate this part of the book.  The book rebuttals some of the hostile rationalistic thoughts such as, “Penal substitution is the product of human culture, not biblical counseling,” The violence involved in penal substitution amounts to ‘cosmic child abuse,’” etc.[4] The authors do a fairly good job in answering the critiques in a loving and truthful way by discussing the doctrine of penal substitution in relation to the Bible, culture, violence, justice, our understanding of God, and the Christian life.  Much of the attacks against penal substitution is prevalent and driven mostly by the academic world, but I suspect that in the near future, the attacks against penal substitution will permeate and spread its disease to others not involved in the academic world.


Penal substitution is a serious doctrine that must be exalted amongst all Christians.  To separate oneself from this doctrine is to sever oneself from orthodoxy.  To substitute rationalism for penal substitution is to make oneself hostile before a Holy God.  Since this doctrine is the heartbeat of the Gospel, which is linked to salvation, one must preach this truth with passion and integrity.  One must not substitute rationalism, lies, or inaccuracies for the sacred and biblical understanding of penal substitution.  The cross was bloody and costly.  We must not cheapen it in order to satisfy the masses.  One should also be careful when treading the waters of penal substitution when using illustrations in preaching or teaching.  The book has an appendix called, “A Personal Note to Preachers,”on pages 329-336 that discusses the negative implications of illustrations used in explaining penal substitution.  Brethren, let us work out our theology in fear in trembling!

[1] Steve Jeffrey, Michael Ovey, and Andrew Sach, Pierced for Our Transgressions: Rediscovering the Glory of Penal Substitution (Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2007), 21.

[2] See complete quote regarding “overcoming God’s wrath and good sacrifices” by the author (s): “It thereby highlights the fact that God’s wrath must be overcome in order to draw near to him, and that only by performing the sacrifices in the correct manner is this possible” (Steve Jeffrey, Michael Ovey, and Andrew Sach, Pierced for Our Transgressions: Rediscovering the Glory of Penal Substitution [Wheaton: Crossway Books, 2007], 47).

[3] Kent Maitland, “Book Review: Pierced for Our Transgressions,” The Bible Belt, entry posted n.d., http://biblebeltstudies.blogspot.com/2011/10/book-review-pierced-for-our.html (accessed October 19, 2012).

[4] Steve Jeffrey, Michael Ovey, and Andrew Sach, Pierced for Our Transgressions: Rediscovering the Glory of Penal Substitution, 9-10.

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I know it’s election season but on October 17th, 2012 I was going to write an article here on Veritas Domain addressing popular political conservative and Christian apologist Dinesh D’Souza’s views and argument against the Biblical doctrine of election (not the political one, but the doctrine concerning man’s salvation).  I decided to google the author’s name to see if there’s anything new in the news about him and found that through God’s providence, Fox News posted D’Souza’s response to a World Magazine article that brought up the fact that he was having an affair and engaged to a woman that’s 29 year old while he was still legally married.  His response can be accessed by clicking here.  While not agreeing with his theology, I was nevertheless very sad especially when it comes to seeing another Evangelical leader (these days the term is becoming too broad) having their moral failure exposed.  It reminds me  the importance of sanctification and holiness in the life of the apologist.  It is also a lesson of how sanctification and apologetics are inseparable–with sin even making the brightest apologists irrational when they are not right with Him.

For the rest of this post I will interact only with D’Souza’s own response, from his own words.  I think it’s more sad to read what he has to say more than what others say.  I think it reveals some concern I have of his spiritual and moral life.

In the first sentence he writes,

A recent article in World magazine gives the false impression that I, a married man, had an affair with a woman Denise Joseph at a Christian conference in Spartanburg, S.C.

And a little further later,

I met Denise three months ago.  We are not and have not been having an affair.

Its strange that D’Souza would state that World Magazine gave “the false impression” that he was having “an affair with a woman Denise Joseph,” and even goes on to deny that he was having an affair when he also admitted the following:

I sought out advice about whether it is legal to be engaged prior to being divorced and I was informed that it is. Denise and I were trying to do the right thing. I had no idea that it is considered wrong in Christian circles to be engaged prior to being divorced, even though in a state of separation and in divorce proceedings.  Obviously I would not have introduced Denise as my fiancé at a Christian apologetics conference if I had thought or known I was doing something wrong. But as a result of all this, and to avoid even the appearance of impropriety, Denise and I have decided to suspend our engagement.

How can one be still be married to another woman the whole time while some time during this period D’Souza was in a relationship with another woman even to the point of being “engaged” and publicly calling her a fiance and D’Souza could still say he was not having an affair?  Though he might have been separated from his estranged wife for two years, he is still married in the sight of God and the state, and to pursue another woman while being married is an affair.

I don’t know how a public spokesman for Christianity would be able to say something like, “I had no idea that it is considered wrong in Christian circles to be engaged prior to being divorced, even though in a state of separation and in divorce proceedings.”  How he does not know when he has been an advocate for traditional marriage is beyond my comprehension.

All that has been said here is enough to show my concern for why Christians must be careful in setting up those who might be into apologetics as public spokesman and leaders of the Christian faith if it turns out that they are not one who is an Elder material (see 1 Timothy 3).  It is important for those engaging in the public defense of the faith to be called to a holy life; how real would it be to the world if someone representing the Christian faith was a hypocrite?  Or didn’t know what to believe and live Biblically?

The fact that he has been appointed the president of the Kings College (which I have made monetary contribution in the past years ago through Campus Crusade) and speaking at Christian apologetics conference shows even more problem not with D’Souza but Evangelical Christian circles today despite the man being separated from his wife the last two years!  What is the state and standards of Evangelical American landscape today?

His response took the saddest turn owhen he went after the messenger that exposed him: he accused both the writer and the editor of World of acting out a vendetta against him.  I won’t be disputing this (since I would not know their hearts), but even if it was true their intent, there is still the serious problem D’Souza has to come to terms with: his affair.  To suddenly point out the possible sinful motive of the editor and the writer seems to me to be like pointing out that someone has pink eye while one has the more serious problem of nearly being blind: That is, one has a more serious problem to deal with than the one pointing it out, even if their motive was paved with bad intentions.

His last paragraph continued with his focus on the writer and editor of World, raising the issue of how Christians are supposed to behave towards one another while the secular world is watching.  Ironically I thought the first half of the last paragraph could have been easily turned on him concerning his affair and his behavior towards his wife:

Ultimately this is not just about Olasky or even World magazine.  It is also about how we Christians are supposed to behave with one another. And the secular world is watching. Is this how we love and treat fellow believers? If my conduct was improper, wouldn’t it be the decent and charitable thing to approach me about it?  Instead, here is a clear attempt to destroy my career and my ministry.  This is viciousness masquerading as righteousness.  And this is the behavior that is truly worthy of Christian condemnation.

D’Souza asked, “If my conduct was improper, wouldn’t it be the decent and charitable thing to approach me about it?” and yet earlier he also acknowledge that he was approached by the news reporter, as this statement presupposes:

While World notes that my divorce filing was registered with the court on October 4—giving the impression that I moved quickly on the day their reporter spoke to me—in reality I had been working with a San Diego law firm on this for the previous two weeks.

Now I anticipate that some people who found this article will no doubt at this point think that I am unloving in pointing out all these problems with D’Souza’s response.  I don’t want this to just be a personal hit piece.  As I said before, I originally had no intention of writing this–but felt I must after noting the problems I raised above from his own writing.

So I’m praying for him, not because it’s a presidential election year but because I’m worry about his spiritual life and that God will orchestrate all things to move D’Souza to make his election and calling sure in his life (2 Peter 2:10).  Lord God, be merciful to us all, and sanctify us!

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Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

This is a book on the problem of evil that I fully agree with, though not many Christians even those who are Reformed are willing to accept readily. The only other book that I can think of that is in similar vein is Gordon Clark’s God and Evil. If you want to see a treatment of theodicy that takes God’s sovereignty into account and the issue of where does one get the standard of right and wrong from in the first place, this book is for you. The book does not appeal to the free will argument for the problem of evil which I feel is rather inadequate as a remedy (philosophically and biblically). Jay Adams also note how those who are Reformed sometimes stop short and appeal to mystery with the problem of evil when there are more that Scripture reveal on the matter. I’ve always thought Job 38-42, Romans 9 and Habakkuk have been underutilized in formulating a biblically centered theodicy. Focusing chiefly on Romans 9 (though there was mention of Job) the author points out that why God allow evil is really for a grand demonstration of His Holy wrath and also for the elect it is a contrast to demonstrate God’s mercy, grace and patience. Of course, Jay Adams picks up the Apostle Paul’s attack on humanistic autonomy which sets up it’s own standard against God such as those who wish to prohibit God from doing things that Scripture itself does not say God cannot do. Jay Adams notes from James 4:11b that if we judge the Law we are not living it. This work also explains the differences between fatalism and predestination in a clear and concise matter. Here are some notable quotes from the book:

“To begin with, the very fact that Paul indicates that this question will be asked proves that what I am teaching about the matter in this book is the same thing Paul taught. Paul says that whenever this truth is taught people will ask that question” (44).

“After all, what is fairness? And from where does your sense of fairness come? Fairness is based on a standard of right and wrong. But it is God, Himself, Who has given us that standard” (46).

Difference between decretive and directive will of God: “To speak of the decretive will of God means that the writer is telling us what God will do. One perspective has man in view as the actor; the other, God” (59).

Fatalists and Predestinarian distinguished: “Fatalists say, ‘If I’m going to be hit by a truck on the corner of Fifth and Main on July 5, 1992, it will happen—no matter what I do.” Que sera sera. But in stark contrast, predestinarians say, ‘If I’m going to be hit by a truck on the corner of Fifth and Main, on July 5, 1992, it will happen—because of what I do.’ It will be because you were watching that attractive blonde rather than the traffic. Fatalists say ‘in spite of’; predestinarians say ‘because of.’ The former view destroys responsibility; the latter establishes it” (68).

“God does not have to ‘overrule’ what man does in order to bring about His purposes (as Hughes supposes); rather, He works out these purposes by means of human beings who are ordained to freely choose and decide in a responsible manner” (68-69).

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It has been a while since I last posted.  Please forgive me for my long delay.  There have been many responsibilities that I had to take care of the last couple of months.  At any rate, right now, I would like to continue my series on the “The Canon of the New Testament in Church History.”  The last post I did on this series can be found in this link: https://veritasdomain.wordpress.com/2012/07/01/the-canon-of-the-new-testament-in-church-history-lesson-2/.

Lesson 3:  I have titled this section, The Early Circulation of the Writings.  This lesson will focus on the encyclical characters of the autographs.  Details of how the autographs circulated from church to church will be discussed during a time where the NT took some time for recognition to sink into the churches.

The Circulation of Writings at the Early Years:

When studying the early circulation of the writings, one must understand that we are studying the formation of the canon.  The completion or consummation of the canon did not depend on the church receiving the NT books.  The truth is that the canon was already completed when the last book was completed, Revelation.  This is important to note for the student because the canon had all the authority even before the church recognized the authority of the NT books.  For the church, recognition took time.[1]

When the autographs arrived at its particular destination and was received by the recipient or recipients, it probably remained there for a long time.  After being publicly read, it would be preserved in the archives of the communities in which they were addressed.  They were also read repeatedly, but went no further.  However, there was an exception to this rule.  The exception to this rule included those books, which were encyclical (letter intended for a wide or general circulation) in character.  Because of the encyclical character of so many of the epistles, increased demand created a need to have a multiplication of copies so that the churches in the address may have its own copy.  Besides the epistles, books like Revelation, Galatians, and 2 Corinthians were also encyclical in nature.  Ephesians was probably also a circular letter to all of the churches in the Roman province of Asia:[2][3]  It is important to note also that the local churches would have copies of only a few apostolic epistles, and perhaps one or two gospels.  These collections were gradually formed over time.  Other books held by the local church besides the gospels and epistles were the Acts of the Apostles and the Revelation of John.  See Acts 1:1 and Revelation 1:3.[4]

Eph. 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are at Ephesus and who are faithful in Christ Jesus:
Col 4:16 When this letter is read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and you, for your part read my letter that is coming from Laodicea.

There are more details that need to be discussed regarding the circular letters.  When the Churches had become possessors of the epistles or gospels, the word would get out to the addressee’s possession of the writing.  Because of this, requests would be made so that there would be copies of these authoritative texts utilized in other localities.  Even private persons were permitted to probably make copies or extracts for their own use of those parts that interested them.  The requests were honored and the copies became widespread over a period of time. And gradually they were made into sets of books.  It is also important to keep in mind that the evidence for such collections of the inspired writings comes from a very early time, a time even before the 27 books were composed or placed together.[1][2]

I also mentioned earlier that the autographs were written on papyrus sheets which were then joined together in a roll-form.  From an early date, the NT writings were circulated in the form of papyrus codices.  In a codex (singular), the sheets of paper would be placed on top upon another, which is similar to how modern books are constructed.  Then the sheets were folded down the middle and connected either by sewing or gluing.  Upon discovery, some of the codices were quite large.  One of the largest is the p45 which is one of the Chester Beatty series that contained 59 sheets or 118 leaves.  When it comes to codex format, there are advantages.[7]

Portions of Luke’s Gospel in P45 Chester Beatty Papyrus. The earliest papyrus to contain portions of all four gospels and Acts dated c.250 AD. [8]

Definition of codex from Milligan

Here is how Milligan defined the codex:

The original meaning of the word codex was the trunk of a tree (caudex), and hence it came to be applied to the pile of wooden tablets (pugillares) smeared over the wax, which were commonly used both by the Greeks and Romans for ordinary writing purposes, as when a ledger was called codex accepti et expensi.  And from this again the word was extended to denote any collection of papyrus or parchment sheets, in which the sheets were not rolled within one another, but laid over one another, as in a modern book.”[9] 

One advantage of the codex is that the writer is able to write on both sides, which conserves space.  The second advantage —it makes referencing easier when going through the pages.

The third format was the “parchment codex.”  The adoption of the parchment for literary purposes may be dated back to the reign of Eumenes II at Pergamum, B.C. 197-158.  It was said by Varro, that Eumenes had a desire to have a library of his own which would rival the library of Alexandria.  But when Ptolemy of Epiphanes found out what he was doing, he prevented Eumenes from exporting the papyrus from Egypt to Pergamum.  As a result, Eumenes had to fall back on the use of skins which had to be specially prepared first.  The new material came to be known pergamhnh,, (pergamena) which is where we get the word parchment from.  Another name that is synonymous to this material is vellum (vitulinum), which was manufactured from the skins of very young calves.[10]

There were advantages of the parchment literary usage.  For one thing, it was able to be manufactured in any country and was not in a limited area like the papyrus.  Secondly, its advantage was seen in its flexibility and durability, and it presented itself to a more convenient codex form.  It was also resistant to the dry climate of Egypt.  Codex Sinaiticus and Codex Vaticanus are some examples of the parchment-codex form.[11]

In A.D. 331, Constantine ordered fifty copies of the Scriptures for his new capital.  He gave special orders and instructions that the copies of the Scriptures be written in a legible manner on prepared skins. The Codex Sinaiticus, according to Tischendorf believed that one of the fifty Bibles was written on fairly thin parchment, which was made according to the same authority—from antelope skins.[12]

[1] Dr. Thomas, Class Lectures, pg. 4.

[2] Milligan, pp. 173-174.

[3] Dr. Thomas, pp. 4.

[4] Bruce Manning Metzger, The Text of the New Testament, pp.6.

[5] Milligan, pp. 173-174.

[6] Dr. Thomas, pp. 4.

[7] Dr. Thomas, pp. 4.

[8] http://wordofgodorwordsofmen.com/variantreadings.aspx

[9] Milligan, pp. 188.

[10] Milligan, pp. 192.

[11] Milligan, pp. 193; Dr. Thomas, pp. 5.

[12] Milligan, pp. 193.

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I am reviewing this commentary from the perspectives of the need and desire of an expositor of the Scriptures. For anyone going through the book of Obadiah exegetically I would say that this is a must read commentary. Bound in these pages are really thorough syntactical and grammatical analysis. The author was not kidding when he said in the introduction that since Obadiah is a smaller book, this afford the opportunity for him to go more in-depth in his analysis of Obadiah. This works ended up being a thick work for a part of the Bible that’s only 21 verses! There are good lexical data given in this work. The author holds to the unity of the book of Obadiah which might seem somewhat unusual to run across something like this for this Bible commentary series, which dabble so heavily on historical critical method. The author is to be commended. I like the way Raabe note other interpretation then offers the reason for his interpretation by showing how a word or construct operates a certain way in another passage of Scripture. I wish more commentaries would argue for their position this way! Furthermore, I appreciated the extended discussion as an excursus on the topic of the metaphor of drinking and the wrath of God, with lexical studies on the word cup, drink, drunk and wine, followed by the study of it’s metaphorical use of relevant passages that suggests God’s wrath.

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These are links that might be of interests for those who enjoy Presuppositional apologetics.

1.) Apologetics315 Interviews Scott Oliphint.

2.) Mutability and the Self-Defeating Notion of Materialistic Naturalism.

3.) Asking For More Evidence of Miracles.

4.) Preception and Transcendentalism.

5.) 1o Books that Made an Impact in the Last 100 Years— A radio show of Generations With Vision.  I counted more than 10 books mentioned in the show.

6.) Apologist Interview: Doug Wilson.

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