Friday, February 08, 2013

Robert Godfrey - The Inventions of Rome

I don't know about you, but I wish Jason Stellman had paid more attention to Dr. Robert Godfrey's church history class. Here is some material that, presumably, he missed:

If you subscribe to Modern Reformation, you can get the related article here (link). It would be nice if the article were made freely available, because it needs to have a broader audience. Nevertheless, of course, it's their right to receive payment for the article.


Thursday, February 07, 2013

Listen to Dr. James White on Unbelievable Radio

As of February 7, 2013, you can get the following podcast episodes from Unbelievable Radio, via iTunes:

  1. 22 September 2012 | The Anti-Islam film and protests - James White and  Muhammad Al-Hussaini
  2. 19 May 2012 | Was Jesus a Calvinist? James White and  David Instone-Brewer
  3. 30 Apr 2011 | Emerging Church Debate - Brian McLaren and  James White 
  4. 12 Feb 2011 | Is the King James Version the best? Kyle Paisley and  James White debate
  5. 13 Mar 2010 | Can we trust the doctrine of the Trinity? Christian James White debates Unitarian Anthony Buzzard
  6. 06 March 2010 | Which is more trustworthy - The Bible or Koran? Christian James White debate Muslim Adnan Rashid
  7. 08 August 2009 | Debating doctrine: Hell - Conditional immortality vs. Eternal conscious torment - James White debates Roger and Faith Forster
  8. 01 August 2009 | Debating doctrine: Predestination - James White debates Roger and Faith Forster
  9. 15 November 2008 | Does the Trinity lead to polytheism? James White of Alpha and Omega ministries debates Abdullah Al Andalusi

(here is the link)

I understand that there will be a new episode with Dr. White on February 9, 2013.


October/November of a Year of Biblical Womanhood (Guest Post)

The following is part two of a critical review of Rachel Held Evans's book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband “Master”, Thomas Nelson, 2012 (see this link for a little more background and an index to all sections of the review). Ms. Evans's book starts with October and ends with September, thus this review follows Ms. Evans's order.


Ms. Evans is at her best when she describes tackling the dead Thanksgiving turkey, baking an atrocious apple pie, or taking her first etiquette lesson with a Southern protocol diva. This is her forte and she should stick to it. The beautiful ex-con Martha Stewart can be the butt of any number of jokes. (I’ve made a lot of them myself). These interludes keep the book moving. Without them this diary would be too short to publish as a book and too boring for anyone to bother reading. The feminist stuff has all been said before, and much more succinctly, if she doesn’t mind my saying so.

October was the month for Rachel to attain the gentle and quiet spirit the Apostle Peter talks about in 1 Peter 3:3-4. As she rightly points out, gentleness is something to which everyone should aspire. She says this as if most Christians have never heard of the list of the fruits of the spirit (Galatians 5:23), but she doesn’t seem to like having gentleness and quietness pointed out to women in particular. Her description of the book of Proverbs as a collection of wisdom sayings that “gives us some of the most colorful quips, cracks, praises and poetry about women found in Scripture” again shows her low regard for Scripture. She tells us that while her book was in progress, her blog readers informed her that she was making a mockery of the Bible, but it is evident such criticism did not faze her. She appears not to care that the Holy Spirit wrote the Bible -- either that or she feels qualified to take Him to task for what He wrote.

It was good to note her self-description as “hyperbolically-inclined”. She’s absolutely right and her hyperbole shows all through the book. She overstates things all the time. (I am hyperbolic as well). She describes Deborah the judge as exercising “complete religious, political, judicial, and militaristic authority over the people of Israel.” If that’s not over the top I don’t know what is.

She says that the book of Proverbs shows a “preoccupation with the feminine” (you be the judge of that) and attributes this to Solomon having 700 wives and 300 concubines. But she can’t blame the wives and concubines for Proverbs 31 which King Lemuel’s mother taught him. Yet she takes issue with his mother’s teaching (and that of the Holy Spirit) as well. With Ms. Evans, a Biblical writer just can’t win.

In order to hone her gentle spirit skills Rachel Evans decided to make a “Jar of Contention” to hold a cent for every infraction in this area. While a little self-imposed operant conditioning never hurt anybody, it didn’t really appear to help her. She quotes a Bible verse from Proverbs as her justification to roof-sit, as if that is a “biblical” idea. Technically, if she wanted to be literal, her husband should have been the roof-sitter. She knows that the language in that verse is figurative, but she can’t help but take it literally. Her decision to go sit on the roof for a while to do penance for her many infractions didn’t do much for her soul, but it did provide a good cover picture for her book. Remember, publishers will pay for this kind of stuff if it’s marketable.

Her next venture is her etiquette lesson, which provides a few more laughs. I was disappointed not to find any pictures of Rachel in a pig costume with a gold ring in her snout. Instead all I got was a picture of the domestic diva’s beautiful dining room. (So much for literalism).

Rachel still needed a calm spirit and turned to a bout of contemplative prayer. (As did Mormon Jan Riess in what I refer to as Chapter Two of this “trilogy.” It’s a small world). With some help from Lectio Divina and St. Teresa of Avila she makes a little headway.


It seems like Rachel really enjoyed the Martha Stewart approach to cooking and housekeeping. In addition to her good looks and ambition, Martha has the savvy to know that nobody really wants to live in squalor (as Rachel’s mother put it) and eat crummy food. And I note that most of Martha’s TV audience is female, no matter what Rachel thinks about feminism. With Martha Stewart’s cooking course Thanksgiving was a success, as was the dinner cooked for the Falzone family. High fives all around.

Ms. Evans felt more in control after reading Brother Lawrence’s classic, The Practice of the Presence of God, which led to thoughts about the other Martha (not Stewart). Rachel didn’t like the Precious Moments NKJV she had as a young girl, because it made the sisters into cartoon characters. (What’s worse, it probably did the same with Jesus, although I’ve never seen a Precious Moments Bible so I can’t be sure). Martha, sister of Mary and Lazarus, felt that Mary did not fit the mold. Rachel adds that neither did Jesus who healed an invalid on the Sabbath, nor did Rachel’s friend, Jackie, who became the first woman to preach a sermon from the pulpit of a megachurch in Dallas. If you like Mary the sister of Lazarus, you’ll love Jackie the preacher. Do I note a non sequitur here?

Each of the chapters of the book ends with a three or four page feature of a female Bible character. November’s feature is “Tamar, The Trickster.” As noted in the Introduction to this book review, Ms. Evans operates under the naturalistic fallacy: what “is” means what “ought” to be. So, the story of Tamar is summed up by the author suggesting that “Tamar joins a storied troupe of crafty and courageous biblical women who used trickery, sexuality, and manipulation to work the patriarchal system to which they were born and to survive to change the course of Israel’s history.” And “God prefers chutzpah to status.”


This is a guest post, edited by TurretinFan.

Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Introduction to Year of Biblical Womanhood (Guest Post)

The following is part one of a critical review of Rachel Held Evans's book, A Year of Biblical Womanhood: How a Liberated Woman Found Herself Sitting on Her Roof, Covering Her Head, and Calling Her Husband “Master”, Thomas Nelson, 2012 (see this link for a little more background and an index to all sections of the review).

This book may be seen as the third chapter of a publishing trilogy attacking the authority of Scripture. Viewed in this light, Part One is The Blue Parakeet: Rethinking How You Read the Bible (2008) by Dr. Scott McKnight, and Part Two, Jan Reiss’s Flunking Sainthood: A Year of Breaking the Sabbath, Forgetting to Pray and Still Loving My Neighbor (2011)[Fn1]. In fact, whether she admits it or not (although she does have a chapter of acknowledgements, she does not mention these books, although her acknowledgements do include thanks to “teachers” among whom is Scott McKnight), Ms. Evans owes a lot to each of these books. Though Reiss is a Mormon and Evans is a self-styled evangelical, the similarity in the book titles is remarkable. Evans’s whole bizarre one year experiment inescapably echoes Reiss’s. Then, although Evans only quotes Scott McKnight in her eleventh chapter entitled, “August”, in reality the thesis of her entire book appears to be an outgrowth of McKnight’s suggestion that we try to put ourselves back into the world of the Bible and try to literally do all it commands. Even the covers of McKnight’s and Evans’s books are similar: both have bright yellow backgrounds, McKnight’s features a blue parakeet perched atop a pair of binoculars, and Evans’s features, well, Evans perched atop the roof of a house. These books, then, provide the steady drip, drip of anti-Biblical authoritarianism, for if the Bible does not provide authority, then these authors offer the reader some of their own: the Bible is not what it claims to be and it is only your blinkered eyes that makes you think it is--take it from us.[Fn2]


Evans’s pet peeve is the use of the word “biblical” as an adjective preceding “other loaded words, like economics, sexuality, politics, and marriage” [p. xx] (Why she calls these kinds of nouns “loaded” is an unanswered question). She wants to make doubly, triply and quadruply sure that we never, ever presume to use the word “biblical” selectively, since the Bible mentions many things that Evans finds patently “unbiblical.” You can’t have your cake and eat it, too, so you can’t believe that a woman should be silent in the church unless you also believe that woman can be one of multiple wives, as if the latter were a command of God. In fact, overall the book suffers from a common logical problem, that of the naturalistic fallacy: arguing from an “is” to an “ought.” For example, if Solomon had multiple wives and concubines, and God used him, then God approved of those wives and concubines, which is a lot like saying that God approved of Noah’s drunkenness because the Bible never condemns it and Noah is listed in Hebrews 11 as a person of faith.

Evans honestly admits that her experiment was supported by her publishers—“there are publisher out there who will actually pay for” this sort of thing, as long “as they believe it’s marketable”. She calls her year one of “true biblical womanhood.” [italics hers] Who is throwing around the adjectives now?

The underlying assumption of the liberated Evans is that the Bible is “an ancient collection of sacred texts, spanning multiple genres and assembled over thousands of years in cultures very different from our own” (p. xx), and thus lacks authority. It is not the inerrant, infallible source of truth. Its author is someone other than God, and its message is not clear, but is mostly a cacophony of sounding brass, tinkling cymbals, with a shofar horn thrown in for good measure. There’s no unity, no real message, no sound hermeneutic by which to interpret the book. Because she misses the overarching theme of the Bible, the redemption of man through the death of Christ, she fails to interpret Scripture by Scripture. Evans admits to “isolating every verse” about women of every sort--a sure path to misinterpretation.

In order to spice up her chronicle she chooses to observe ceremonial laws which are no part of Christianity, such as observing laws of female purity from the Levitical code which are clearly abrogated in the New Testament. She relies on an orthodox Jewish woman to assist her in her observance of various Jewish festivals which have no part in the Christian faith, and throws in an invented “Jar of Contention” (more on that later).

Sadly, the whole book mocks the holy Bible. When the third commandment forbids taking the name of the Lord in vain, it includes his “titles, attributes, ordinances, word and works” as the Westminster Shorter Catechism points out. When the Bible is referred to as less than God’s message to us, as less than inspired and inerrant, as “someone else’s conversation” we see Evans taking God’s name in vain.


FN1: We must not forget, of course, A.J. Jacobs' best-selling, "Year of Living Biblically." But Jacobs was clearly an open unbeliever primarily focused on getting a laugh. He explains:
Why? Well, I grew up in a very secular home (I’m officially Jewish but I’m Jewish in the same way the Olive Garden is an Italian restaurant). I’d always assumed religion would just wither away and we’d live in a neo-Enlightenment world. I was, of course, spectacularly wrong. So was I missing something essential to being a human? Or was half the world deluded?

I decided to dive in headfirst. To try to experience the Bible myself and find out what’s good in it, and what’s maybe not so relevant to the 21st century.

The resulting year was fascinating, entertaining and informative. It was equal parts irreverent and reverent. It was filled with surprising insights almost every day. (I know it’s not biblical to boast, so apologies for that).

FN2: On a related note, consider the reviews of The Blue Parakeet by Dr. James White (link) and Dr. Thomas Schreiner (link).


This is a guest post, edited by TurretinFan.

A Woman's Response to Rachel Held Evans' "A Year of Biblical Womanhood" - Index

Obviously, my dear readers know perfectly well that I'm not a woman. Nevertheless, a woman who will remain anonymous (at least, that's the plan) to my dear readers kindly volunteered to write a response to Rachel Held Evans' "A Year in Biblical Womanhood." I edited this response and posted it to this blog in installments. The following serves as an index to those responses.

Introduction Section