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About five months ago I shared on our blog a dissertation titled “The Self-Attestation of Scripture as the Proper Ground for Systematic Theology” that was completed at Southern Seminary.  Personally I find the self-attestation of Scripture to be a fascinating doctrine that has tremendous implications for how we do theology, counsel believers, evangelize non-believers and present an apologetics to those who ask for the reason for the hope that we have.

Today I want to share a thesis that was completed for a Masters of Arts that was completed over at Reformed Theological Seminary.  It is titled “The Self-Attesting Nature of the New Testament Canon” and written by John Gordon Duncan.  Duncan takes the approach of exploring how the self-attesting nature of Scripture has its contribution towards the canonicity discussion.  In his introduction he writes the following summary:

For the purposes of this paper, the canonization of the New Testament will be explored by examining the subject of criteria, including the early Fathers’ perception of scripture, inspiration, and apostolicity, with an emphasis on the self-authenticating nature of the New Testament. By taking a self-authenticating approach, such language as Eugene Ulrich uses when he talks of, “the historical development by which the oral and written literature…was handed on, revised, and transformed into the scriptures,”9 will be avoided. The scriptures were handed down. However, a revision or transformation from letter to scripture cannot be supported. Once that fact is established, this paper will offer a summary of the various lists and collections that led to the recognition in the late fourth century that the canon was closed.

For the PDF of this thesis click HERE.

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Mark Grant Osborne

Grant Osborne. Mark.  Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2014. 352 pp.

This is a work that is a part of the Teaching the Text Commentary Series put out by Baker Books.  My overall review of this book is that this is a wonderful and helpful expositional commentary.  I read through this commentary for my own devotional but felt it would be good for an expositor to use as well.  The introduction of the book mentioned that the editor was intentional in making this volume accessible and helpful for the exegete and educated lay person and certainly I think they largely succeeded with the format of the book.  The author begins each section in the commentary with the big idea summarizing the periscope, then a section titled “understanding the text” that is broken down into “The Text in Context” followed by “Interpretative Insight” that goes roughly verse by verse.  After this is “Theological Insights” then “Teaching the Text” and ends with “Illustrating the Text.”  I appreciation the commentary’s attempt to give illustration even when at times the illustration was weak since it help the expositor jog his mind for sermon illustrations!

This is a commentary filled with good insights.  Here in this review I can only share some of those that stood out to me:

  • I especially enjoyed how the commentary shares background that helped enlightened the text; for instance, the Jews often saw that the further back in salvation history one can pull in one’s theological argument, the greater is its theological “weight;” thus when Jesus argues against the Pharisees concerning divorce the move by Jesus to go back to Adam and Eve and not just stay with Leviticus and Deuteronomy was a deliberate move to provide an argument with a stronger force than the Pharisees.
  • In the first century religious context, Jewish sages were often seen as being too important to have children bother them; yet Jesus turns this on its head when He welcomes children in Mark 10:13-16.
  • This commentary was also helpful for me in interpreting Jesus’ curse of the fig tree.  The author noted that fig trees in the area typically had early figs in early March even though the main season that it bloomed was in May; this was what Jesus expected from the fig tree even though it was “not the season for figs.”  The commentary makes the argument that the issue isn’t so much about the fig tree as it is about the spiritually barren temple (which the fig tree periscope is sandwiched between two periscopes at the temple) which the word “season” heavily suggests since it is not a botanical term for growing season but a religious term.
  • Background information is also important in appreciating the scene of Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem on a donkey.  The commentary noted that it was unusual for pilgrims to enter Jerusalem on a ride so Jesus entrance into Jerusalem bear some resemblance to Solomon’s entrance to Jerusalem on David’s donkey in 1 Kings 1:32-48.
  • The commentary’s explanation of how the Jews performed the Passover feast with its various steps also help illuminated what was going on during Jesus’ last supper.
  • There are some ironies during the night that Jesus was arrested.  The verb for “laying hands” is often used in Mark to describe Jesus healing people but now used to describe people grabbing Jesus.  Normally in Jewish custom it is the Rabbis who bestow the greeting of a kiss to his disciples and not the other way around as Judas did.

Although I read through this commentary as a devotional read I would also say that this commentary is definitely for expository preachers.  Several years ago I had a hard time finding a good commentary I can recommend on Mark to my church’s small group leaders.  Had this commentary came out then I would have also recommended this book as a tool for lay people leading Bible studies on Mark.

NOTE: This book was provided to me free by Baker Books and Net Galley without any obligation for a positive review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

Purchase: Amazon

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Inerrancy Summit 2015

I’ve been to nearly a decade worth’s of Shepherd’s Conference and this one was definitely the best personally.  I really enjoyed the Inerrancy Summit.

Here are the videos!

There are some more videos they haven’t had it up yet but I will put it up as soon as they make them available.

Enjoy!

 

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Note: The following are rough notes from the conference.

Mark Dever Shepherds conference

We sometime need to unpack what it means when we say that the bible is true?

Issue: translation, transmission, truth content (teaching)

We want to get to the issue of its teaching

4 questions to help understand God’s Word:

1.) What is God’s Word?

2.) What is God’s word like?

  • True (v.142)
    Good (v.68)
    Ancient (v.152)
    Unchanging (v.160)

Note God’s word is like this because He is like this

To attack the word of God is to attack God

3.) What does God’s word does?
Studying God’s word should not make us morally indifferent
Sir us to holiness? (V.102)
Note if Jesus use the Scripture in temptation why would we think we need it less than Jesus?
Rejoice (v.65)
Understanding (v.105)
Answering prayers (v.66)
Give life!

If God is speaking why would we not read it?

4.) How do we respond?
Obey
Love it (v.148)
Meditate
Trust it (v.42)
Fear (v.120)

This passage is about: Jesus! (Listen to the sermon when it is out and the many verses in Psalm 119 that only Christ could have fulfilled.

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Inerrancy Summit 2015

The Inerrancy Summit had some recommended books to help those attending the conference pick out what they want from the bookstore.  I thought I share my reviews of some of those books along with my own recommendations concerning books not only with Inerrancy but Scripture in General.

Can I Really Trust the Bible? by Barry Cooper

Can I Really Trust the Bible Cooper

Purchase:  Amazon

Thoughts: If you are attending the conference you would already have this as part of your ten free books.  However this book is worth purchasing as gifts for others especially young believers.  Cooper’s short book shows an awareness of Presuppositional apologetics.

My Further Review

 

Taking God at His Word by Kevin DeYoung

18475501

 

Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

Thoughts: Like what Ligon Duncan said in his message, one should be informed by what the Word of God says about itself first and then understanding Scripture’s phenomena and not the other way around.  What does God’s Word says about itself?  Check out DeYoung’s exposition!

My Further Review

 

The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God by John M. Frame

The Doctrine of the Knowledge of God John Frame cover

Purchase: Westminster | Amazon

Thoughts: The doctrine of Inerrancy is often rejected because of other surrounding issues such as a bad doctrine of God’s revelation (for instance, due to a bad philosophy of language, knowledge, etc), bad philosophy and problematic epistemology.  John Frame’s biblically driven book towards the knowledge of God is very helpful!  I would also recommend John Frame’s Doctrine of the Word of God but I think it’s best to begin here.

My Further Review

 

Inerrancy and Worldview by Vern Poythress

InerrancyAndWorldview

 

Purchase: Amazon

Thoughts: Very helpful in evaluating different worldviews that often is the undercurrent in people’s reasons for having problems with Bible.

Further Review is forthcoming!

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Live Blog from Shepherd’s Conference.

(Note: I did not have my power cord for Shepherd’s Conference and had to rely on my a less reliable electronic device, hence the poor formatting and rough note-taking in my previous posts)
duncan-ligon

2 Timothy 3:14-17

Setting: Paul reminding Timothy his calling

Establish the Need: The people in this conference probably believe in inerrancy so why this message?  It is to encourage you

History of Reformed Theological Seminary is founded on funds originally for the cause of having a professor that believes in inerrancy.

3 points:

1.) What the bible is
2.) What the bible is for
3.) What the bible does

1.) What the bible is
“All scripture is God breathed”
What is “inspired”? It does not tells the means but the result
The bible is inspired because it inspired me; that’s not what Paul is talking about (subjective theory of inspiration)
Inspiration is about the words
We believed the bible is inspired and thus it’s inerrant and not the other way around
You must move from what scripture says about itself before learning of its phenomena

2.) What the bible is for
Profitable; how?

  • Teaching
  • Reproof
  • Correction
  • Training in Righteousness

3.) What the bible does

Lead us to the way of life
The bible is in the business of justification and sanctification
We know that we can’t obey what we won’t believe but do you know we won’t believe what we won’t believe

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image

Notes from Shepherd’s Conference

Introduction: Spurgeon’s Defending Lion quote

Setting: Paul writes to young Timothy

1.) His Charge (v.1-2)

Note it is a solemn charge
It is a charge before God and we must live in light of the reality of God now

We must be conscious of God and this begins with the preacher before the congregation

We are to preach
Nots speaking with authority is culturally neutral in that every culture understand someone speaking with authority

Are you convinced that expository preaching will always do it’s work?
Even when it’s difficult, even when it’s dwindling

Do it with patience

2.) His Challenges (v.3-4)

Instead of abiding to their creator, some have become themselves creators of their own god

People don’t put up with sound doctrine

Not New but even back in Isaiah 30 we see
These people accumulate teachers

3.) His character (v.5)
5 imperatives:
Always be sober minded (note that much of worship today undermine the preaching of the gospel)
Suffering
Preach Gospel
Fulfill your ministry (fulfill can be understood in the Greek as paying a debt)

Let the Lion out

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