N.T. WRIGHT’S THE RESSURECTION OF THE SON OF GOD

Who is N.T. Wright?

N.T. Wright is a retired Anglican Bishop and one of the world’s foremost New Testament scholars; he earned a Doctor of Philosophy and a Doctor of Divinity from Oxford University in 1981 and 2000, respectively.[1]  “He has broadcast frequently on radio and television, and has lectured at universities and colleges around the world, holding visiting Professorships at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, the Harvard Divinity School, and the Gregorian University in Rome. He has received honorary doctorates from several universities.”[2] He is currently Research Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at St. Mary’s College, University of St. Andrews in Scotland.  A prolific author, Wright writes for the theologian and layman alike.  In the broader world of New Testament Scholarship, Wright it fairly considered a conservative scholar.  However, within the realm of evangelicalism, he is not viewed as writing from a conservative perspective given that he does not affirm the inerrancy of scripture.[3]

“The Resurrection” and “The Son of God”

The Resurrection of the Son of God (the book) is the third volume in “five-volume project on the theological questions surrounding the origins of Christianity.”[4]  Understanding how the ancients thought about the concept of “resurrection” and to whom they referred when they spoke about “The Son of God” is crucial to understanding the origins of the Christian faith.  Thus a book about this subject matter was an inevitable part of Wright’s overall series.  As is easily surmised from its title, the central theme of the book is the historical question, “What did happen on Easter morning?”[5] In order to help answer this query Wright divides it into two sub-questions:  “what did the early Christians think had happened to Jesus, and what can we say about the plausibility of those beliefs?”[6]  Wright recognizes that doing the work of history to answer these questions is a daunting task, one which he compares to shooting an arrow into the sun.  “Proposing that Jesus of Nazareth was raised from the dead was just as controversial nineteen hundred years ago as it is today. The discovery that dead people stayed dead was not first made by the philosophers of the Enlightenment.”[7]  Yet Wright clearly believes that there is something that can be said to answer the Easter question.  In painstaking detail, Wright provides a historical backdrop, biblical commentary, and a compelling case for the resurrection of the Son of God.

A Short Summary of a Long Book

To answer the question, “What did the early Christians think happened to Jesus?” one must understand the outlook of the afterlife that was held by his closest contemporaries, the adherents of Second Temple Judaism.  Jesus was a Jew of the Second Temple period, as were many of the earliest Christian converts.  Wright explores the worldview of Jews in-depth, utilizing both the canonical Old Testament as well as intertestamental literature such as the Book of Enoch and the Wisdom of Solomon.  To shed light on the earliest Christian views, Wright analyzes the canonical the New Testament as well as related literature written in the same time period and shortly thereafter.  To provide a more complete picture, Wright additionally examines the philosophical and religious beliefs present in the pagan Greek milieu that surrounded the people of God.

The earliest Christians knew that Jesus had been executed by Roman crucifixion (this historical event is attested to by biblical and extrabiblical writings alike), but did that mean that they believed his existence was over?  No.  Like the pagans who surrounded them, Second Temple Jews and early Christian believed in an afterlife.  While the pagan culture, as well as early “Christian” gnostic sects, believed that the afterlife involved an immaterial existence, Christians and their Jewish predecessors believed in a physical resurrection.  Their belief in a physical, bodily resurrection set apart, with great contrast, Judeo-Christians from the pagan Greeks who surrounded them.

For the Greeks, “The road to the underworld ran only one way… (the dead) were beings that had once been human beings but were now souls, shades, or eidola…They might occasionally appear to living mortals…but they were basically in a different world…the soul was well-rid of its body – a sentiment echoed by many non-philosophers in a world without modern medicine, and often without much justice.”[8]  Where eternity was concerned, the ridding of the mortal body was considered to be a favorable event.  This was not so in Jewish culture.  Life in the realm of the dead (Hades was to the Greeks what Sheol was to the Jews) was indeed disembodied.  However, this state was neither favorable nor permanent.  Using Jewish literature, Wright shows how the Second Temple Jewish belief in a physical resurrection of the dead developed.  From the Old Testament to the New Testament, Wright shows that God’s people expected a resurrection.  Not only that but they were unique in their expectation.  “The Biblical language of resurrection, when it emerges, is simple and direct; the belief, though infrequent, is clear.  It involves not a reconstrual of life after death, but the reversal of death itself…Creation itself, celebrated throughout the Hebrew scriptures, will be reaffirmed, remade.”[9]

This concept of “resurrection” is so essential to Christian belief that Wright dedicates nearly half of the book to understanding and exploring the concept itself.  As is made abundantly clear in the fifteenth chapter of Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians (which Wright examines, along with other Pauline epsieltes, in-depth ), Christianity is nothing without the resurrection.  Thus, it is within the framework of the biblical belief of resurrection that story of Easter must be understood.  “The resurrection” does not refer only to the individual resurrection of Jesus on Easter morning.  The Judeo-Christian expectation was of a general resurrection, of a remaking of creation itself.  Jesus’s individual resurrection was, as Paul put it, the “first fruits” (1 Cor 15: 23) of that general resurrection.  His resurrection, as the first fruits, solidified his status as Israel’s Messiah.  His resurrection “revealed him as the one true Lord”[10] who will conquer all of God’s enemies and fulfill God’s purpose for creation.  Jesus’ status as Israel’s conquering Messiah is why the Easter event can be understood as “The Resurrection of the Son of God.”

Like a belief in the afterlife, the concept of a “son of God” was not unique to Second Temple Judaism and early Christianity.  For example, the sons of Roman emperors, their fathers having been deified, were understood to be “sons of god”.  The inbreaking of the messianic kingdom, as a result of Christ’s resurrection, was a direct challenge to the authority of such earthly kings.  As he closes the book, Wright explores the various meanings of the phrase “son of God”.  He makes it clear that when the earliest Christians used this terminology to describe Jesus, they were not speaking of a man who had been deified (or the son of such), but of a man who is the embodiment of Deity itself.  Jesus is the “Son of God” in a way that one else ever can be.  His divinity, Wright demonstrates, is not a development of later Christianity but a concept that is squarely grounded in the New Testament itself.  This concept, one that challenges the ultimacy of earthy rulers (1 Cor 15:24), is one that put the earliest Christians in earthly danger; it does the same for modern Christians.  Living dedicated to the “Son of God” in a dangerous world, Wright asserts is a demand of the Christian life.  “Nothing less is demanded by the God of creation, the God of justice, thee God revealed in and as the crucified and risen Jesus of Nazareth.”[11]

Evaluation

The space permitted by the scope of a review like this one[12] is insufficient to provide the depth of analysis that would do truly the book justice.  The book is 739 pages long and covers thousands of years of history and thousands of pages of ancient writings.  Wright does the subjects he covers justice and writes with care.  The Resurrection of the Son of God is a good book.  It’s a very good book.  It is a fine resource for theologians, historians, and Christian apologists alike.  Whoever reads it will be better educated and (presuming he is regenerate) a more effective Christian apologist for doing so.  That being said, it is a book written by N.T. Wright.  Those familiar with his work understand that he can often be wordy and painfully unclear.  Another scholar could have written a book that did the material just as much justice but with fewer words and more clarity.  Another scholar would also cause less trepidation among evangelical readers, especially the reformed.  As Matthew might say, “ὁ ἀναγινώσκων νοείτω” (let the reader understand). N.T. Wright, because of his “New Perspective on Paul” is (understandably) considered a dangerous influence by many.  This book, of course, (safely) does not advocate for the New Perspective.  However, whoever recommends this book to his Christian friends should keep in mind that they may not appreciate the tacit endorsement of Wright.  It should be recommended anyway.  Wright answers the question “What did happen on Easter morning?” in a through historically and theological faithful way – the Son of God rose from the grave.  The Resurrection of the Son of God is one of the best books in the world about the most important event its history.

Bibliography

Amazon.com, Inc. . “Christian Origins and the Question of God Series (4 Book Series).” Amazon.com. 2017. https://www.amazon.com/Christian-Origins-Question-God-Book/dp/B011M9AUFW (accessed February 25, 2017).

Merrit, Johnathan. “N.T. Wright on the Bible and why he won’t call himself an inerrantist.” Religion News Service. June 2 , 2014. http://religionnews.com/2014/06/02/n-t-wright-bible-isnt-inerrantist/ (accessed February 25, 2017).

School of Divinity, St Mary’s College. “N T Wright.” University of St Andrews. 2017. https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/divinity/rt/staff/ntw2/ (accessed February 25, 2017).

University of St Andrews. N. T. Wright appointed to Chair at St Andrews. April 27, 2010. http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/divinity/about/news/title,50688,en.html (accessed June 6, 2012).

Wright, N. T. The Resurrection of Son of God V3: Christian Origins and the Question of God. Kindle Edition. Fortress Press.

[1] University of St Andrews. N. T. Wright appointed to Chair at St Andrews. April 27, 2010. http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/divinity/about/news/title,50688,en.html (accessed June 6, 2012).

[2]  University of St Andrews. N. T. Wright appointed to Chair at St Andrews. April 27, 2010. http://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/divinity/about/news/title,50688,en.html (accessed June 6, 2012).

[3] Merrit, Johnathan. “N.T. Wright on the Bible and why he won’t call himself an inerrantist.” Religion News Service. June 2 , 2014. http://religionnews.com/2014/06/02/n-t-wright-bible-isnt-inerrantist/ (accessed February 25, 2017).

 

[4] Amazon.com, Inc. . “Christian Origins and the Question of God Series (4 Book Series).” Amazon.com. 2017. https://www.amazon.com/Christian-Origins-Question-God-Book/dp/B011M9AUFW (accessed February 25, 2017).

[5] Wright, N. T. The Resurrection of Son of God V3: Christian Origins and the Question of God. Kindle Edition. Fortress Press (p. 4).

[6] Ibid (p. 6).

[7] Ibid (p. 10).

[8] Ibid (p. 81).

[9] Ibid (p. 127).

[10] Ibid (p. 332).

[11] Ibid (p. 737).

[12] This is a seminary book review assignment; by no means is it a research paper.

 

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

A Pastor’s Awakening to Freemasonry 

James Bell has been shepherding the Lord’s flock as the pastor of Southside Baptist Church in Gallatin, Tennessee for over forty years.  Brother Bell prepared for the ministry by studying God’s word at Truett-McConnell College, Belmont University, and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.  The following is his personal testimony about encountering Freemasonry:

In January of 1969, at the ripe age of 23, I left seminary to take my first full-time pastorateMy wife and I moved from Ft. Worth, Texas to Hartsville, Tennessee where I had been called to pastor First Baptist Church. Quite a few FBC members were active in the local Masonic Lodge, Harstville Lodge #113.  Many of their wives were active in the Order of the Eastern Star.  My wife and I were often invited to monthly potluck dinners at the Lodge, provided, of course, by the Eastern Star ladies. Once we had our fill, they would kindly invite us to leave.  Prior to taking my pastorate and being invited to these potlucks, I had no knowledge of the Masonic Lodge.  Quite frankly, I had neither interest in nor curiosity about Freemasonry.  However, during my six year tenure at FBC three that would change.  Three memorable events opened my eyes to the darkness and dangers of Freemasonry.

First, I received a used book from England entitled Darkness Visible: A Revelation and Interpretation of Freemasonry”  I was amazed as I gazed upon a photograph in the book of a candidate prepared for initiation into a Masonic Lodge.  He was blindfolded with one pant leg up above the knee. I was stunned as I read the horrible vows that such candidates were expected to make.  They were blood oaths.  “How could Christians make such vows!?” I exclaimed.  Disturbed by what I had seen and read, I took the book to a respected FBC Church member who was a Mason. He looked and listened as I turned to the pages which I had marked. Then, without hesitation, he proclaimed that he knew nothing of such vows and practices…that maybe they did such in England; but definitely not in Hartsville, Tennessee! He stood there, looked his own pastor in the face, and lied.  Since that time, I have found dishonesty to be a common practice among Masons.  When confronted about the disturbing nature of their craft, Masons lie.  When confronted with inside information from former Masons who gave up the craft out of Christian conviction, Masons will accuse the former Masons of being dishonest.

The second event was the first Masonic funeral I attended. I discovered that when a Mason died the Lodge members would show up at the funeral services wearing their white aprons and expect to have the last word at the grave site.  As a pastor, this was normally my role.  Over time, I noticed that regardless of what a Mason had professed as to Jesus Christ and regardless of how he had lived, his Masonic brothers proclaimed that he was going to have a grand eternity simply because he was a Mason. Needless, to say, this was deeply troubling.  I had no ability to stop their proceedings. However, I told families and funeral directors that if I was expected to preach the funeral then the Masonic rituals would have to be done before I concluded at the grave site; I insisted that the Bible have the last word.  

A third, heart-breaking, event solidified my stance against Freemasonry.  Brother Nat McKinney, pastor at the Riddleton Baptist Church, in Smith County, Tennessee, asked me to preach a Revival Meeting… which I did.  Before the evening’s services, we visited in several homes.  One of those visits was to the home of an 85 year old gentleman who had never professed faith in Christ. He graciously received us into his old, but substantial, house and proceeded to make us feel most welcome. In fairly short order, he gave me permission to share the gospel of Christ with him. He seemed to listen carefully.  However, when I asked what his response to what he had heard was, he did not hesitate to reply, “Young man, I believe in God but I am a Mason. I do not need Jesus!”  I remember appealing to him; but he was steadfast— Being a Mason was enough to secure his eternity in heaven… he did not need Jesus.  That settled it. From that day forward, I have gathered materials, usually written by former Masons, and I have used such materials to help others leave the darkness of the Masonic Lodge. In spite of all Masonic denials, Freemasonry is a false religion which every Christian should flee.

Brother Bell’s testimony is sobering one; it is one which pastors and church members should take to heart.  Brother Bell has provided the following resources to those who wish to learn more about the dark nature of Freemasonry.

A Frank Exposure of Masonry – Reprinted from THE BAPTIST EXAMINER, Ashland, Kentucky

http://www.spiritual-research-network.com/a_frank_exposure_of_masonry.html

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

If a Freemason Died Today: Responding to Critics

Saturday night, I published an article entitled “If a Freemason Died Today…”.  The article has been shared many times in social media and has received numerous responses from supporters and detractors like.  I had not planned on writing a follow-up article this soon, however, a Freemason named Glen wrote to me to challenge the assertions of my article.  I have publicly responded to Glenn’s challenges below in the hopes of not only reaching Glenn but helping the numerous people who shared the article defend the Christian faith against the proponents of Freemasonry.

Glenn: Obviously you have not done much research into the history and the rituals of the Masonic Lodge.

Seth: That’s not at all obvious. The article in question specifically related to the funerary practices of Freemasonry. My article cited three Masonic sources related to funerary practices, which were linked for reader verification.  

Glenn: Freemason does not judge anyone by their religion but only asked if you believe in a Supreme Being.  

Seth: This is exactly what I stated in the article, with a link to the website of Cartersville Lodge #63 F&M for support.  This is my objection.  Master Masons are entitled to a funeral service which says they have a hope in Heaven, even though Master Masons don’t have to be Christians.

Glenn: Masonry is not a religion or a secret society but Freemasonry is an open organization that has secret rituals.  

Seth: Within the past 3 months, I have asked a “Christian” Mason for clarifications about certain tenets of Freemasonry and he told me outright that there were certain things he could not answer because it was “secret”. To claim that Freemasonry is not a secret society because it’s open to join doesn’t mean that it’s not actually a secret society. Initiates swear to keep the secrets of Freemasonry. Masons swear (symbolically or otherwise) on their cut throats or their pierced hearts not to reveal the secrets they learn. This type of oath-swearing itself is contrary to biblical standards.  (Matthew 5:34-37, James 5:12)

Glenn: The goal of the Masonic Lodge is to take good men and make them better: it is a fraternity not a religion.  

Seth: According to the Bible, there is no such thing as a “good” man. Furthermore, the sanctification of the believer is the role of the Holy Spirit. A church-going Christian does not an outside fraternity to make him a better man nor can he hope to lead another man into being good outside of Christ’s church. (Mark 10:18Romans 3:10-12)

Glenn: Freemasonry is not a religion nor should it be substituted for any church or religious activity.  

Seth: Masonic lodges elect a chaplain and a “worshipful master.” Their prayers and supplications to “the Great Architect of the Universe” are fairly considered religious activity.

Glenn: Belonging to the military is a lifelong affiliation which has or offers military funerals; does that make serving your country a sin?  

Seth: United States military funerals do not include unbiblical promises of eternal life to non-Christians. So, this isn’t an analogous comparison to Masonic funerals.  

Glenn: While in the military I was taught numerous things that I cannot talk about, so I hold these secrets in my heart and mind in regards to the United States military, our government, and other governments which I cannot communicate to you nor anybody else; so my question would be “does that make it a ‘religion’ to me and mean that I cannot be a Christian and a service member at the same time?”  

Seth: Do any of these things contradict scripture or conflict with your loyalty to your church? If not, then you can be a Christian and a service member. The United States Armed forces serves, is funded by, and accountable to the citizens of the USA. The Masons are accountable to themselves.

Glenn: Have you researched the Knights of Columbus that is open to Catholics?

Seth: No. I’ve asked a member of the Knights if the organization is akin to Freemasonry. He told me no. In any case the Roman Catholic Church is a gospel-denying apostate church. So, whether a Roman Catholic is in the Knights of Columbus or not is of no particular concern.

Glenn: Does belonging to the Knights of Columbus make you lost and in need of repentance? What Catholics who are baptized at Birth and have no conversion experience, no point in their life when they said “I believe in Jesus Christ as my personal savior”?

Seth: Believing in Roman Catholic doctrine, whether or not one is a Knight of Columbus, indicates that someone is lost.

Glenn: What about Mormons who believe that God was once man and that they can perfect themselves to become a God in their own “new” universe?

Seth: Mormons are not Christians. They are lost. They believe in a false gospel and a false Jesus.  See the resource at this link.

Glenn: What about the Jews that live in America, are they condemned to hell because they do not believe in Jesus Christ at all?

Seth: Ethnic lineage (Jewish or otherwise) does not contribute to one’s damnation or salvation. Members of every nation are  descended from Adam and thus under the curse of sin. Anyone who doesn’t believe in Jesus Christ (not the false Christ of Mormonism, the Watch Tower or other religions) is condemned. (Romans 9:6-13)

Glenn: Are the Jehovah Witnesses lost because they do not believe in the “Trinity” [the Father; the Son; and the Holy Ghost]?

Seth: Yes. They believe that Jesus is a created being named Michael, not God. They also deny the literal bodily resurrection of Jesus.  See the resource at this link.

Page Break

Glenn: Ancient Free and Accepted Masons have been around in the western world for more than 500 years; are you saying that now you’re smarter than all the world leaders and church leaders in the last 500 years?

Seth: Freemasonry is a secret society. Many church leaders of former times could have been ignorant of the unbiblical tenets of Freemasonry. The information age has made it possible for Masonic literature to be widely distributed to theologians so that it can be compared to Christianity. Walter Martin, who wrote The Kingdom of the Cults, asserted that Freemasonry was not compatible with Christianity. The same is contended by cult expert Ron Rhodes. Theologians who are informed about the tenets of Freemasonry tend to reject it. Hence, the North American Mission Board’s declaration that Freemasonry is not compatible with Christianity.

Glenn: “U.S. membership in Freemasonry is claimed at about three million, with about five million worldwide… The official magazine of Masonry in the U.S. is titled New Age. Some church denominations are also led by avowed Masons. For example, a 1991 survey by the Southern Baptist Convention Sunday School Board found that 14% of SBC pastors and 18% of SBC deacon board chairs are Masons. It is also estimated that SBC members comprise 37% of total U.S. lodge membership. (A 2000 updated SBC report found that over 1,000 SBC pastors are Masons.)”

Seth: The Bible makes it clear that all people who think they are of Christ are not really of Christ. The telling number there is that most Southern Baptist men are not Freemasons. Many Southern Baptist pastors refuse to become Freemasons themselves and disallow Masonic services on church grounds. There is no denominational authority over individual Southern Baptist churches to proscribe membership in certain organizations. The doctrine of the Presbyterian Church in America is very close to the doctrine of the Southern Baptist Convention. The PCA has authority over individual churches; it bans masonic membership. (Matthew 7:21-23)

Glenn: I pray that you revisit your article and separate fact from interpretation.

Seth: I pray that you will seek help and guidance from a faithful Christian pastor and reject Freemasonry and embrace Christ.

As the reader can see, Glenn seems to harbor univeralist beleifs.  His comments about Roman Catholic, Mormons, and Roman Catholics imply that he views this group saves.  By Google search, I believe that I have identified Glenn as a Freemason from Mississippi. He wrote the following about a Masonic brother after his death:

I especially mourn the loss of a Brother Don “Butch” Martin whose spirit has been summoned to the land where our fathers have gone before us; that house not made with hands. Brother Don guided me through my journey in seeking light, more light, and further light in Masonry. He was there when I was made a Master Mason, an Eastern Star, a Knight’s Templar, a 32nd Degree Scottish Rite Mason and a Shiner. If one man changed my life more than anyone else, it was Brother Don. He embedded into me to regulate my life by the plumbline of justice, ever squaring my actions by the square of virtue, that when the Grand Warden of Heaven shall call for me, I too may be found ready. Brother Don cultivated assiduously the noble tenets of our profession: Brotherly Love, Relief, and Truth. I know and am assured that Brother Don has gone from his labors here on earth to eternal refreshment in the paradise of God, where, by the benefit of the pass of a pure and blameless life, and an unshaken confidence in the merits of the Lion of the tribe of Judah, he gained admission into the celestial lodge where the Supreme Architect of the Universe presides. There, placed at His right hand, God pronounced Donald “Butch” Martin a just and upright man and Masons. Sister Bev our thoughts and prays are with you and know that we are just a phone call away.

While this is a touching tribute to his friend, it is devoid of reference to the Bible or the name “Jesus”  It is full of Masonic language which is very similar to that of Masonic funeral rites.  Outside of a reference to the “lion of Judah” it is completely

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

If a Freemason Died Today…

“Freemasonry teaches that salvation may be attained by ‘good works’ and not through faith in Christ alone.”  The North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention

If you are a Christian you have probably asked this question to someone at least once in your life:

“If you died today, do you know if God would accept you into Heaven?”

Every Sunday, in churches all across the world, this is a question that preachers ask as they prepare to give a gospel invitation to their audiences.  This same question is asked during the rest of the week as God’s people go throughout their cities to evangelize the lost.  Faithful Christian evangelists communicate the answer to this question clearly – those who have not accepted Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior will perish in Hell.  The correct answer to this question is easily supported by the Bible:

“Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, ‘Rulers and elders of the people, if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by this name this man stands here before you in good health. He is the stone which was rejected by you, the builders, but which became the chief cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.’” Acts 4:8-12

“Thomas said to Him, ‘Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?’ Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.’” John 14:5-7

“Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” Revelation 20:14-15

This question is one of eternal consequence.  It is perhaps the most important question that can be asked.  The Christian answer to it is clear, but how do Freemasons answer this pivotal question?  The Masonic answer to this question is apparent from their official policies and funeral rights.

When any Master Mason dies, he is entitled to a Masonic burial.  Funeral rites are prescribed by Masonic handbooks and include readings, responses, and prayers.  Clearly, Masonic funeral rites (which are led by the “Worshipful Master” of an individual lodge) are religious services.  Yet, these services are not particular to any one religion.  A specific religious affiliation is not required to be a Freemason.  According to Cartersville Masonic Lodge 63 F&M[1] an absolute requirement for becoming a mason is to “have belief in a Supreme Being (of any faith. No particular religion or faith is required or excluded. All are welcome.)”  The Cartersville lodge claims that “Masonry is universal in its ideals.”

Any Master Mason is entitled to a Masonic funeral and Christian belief is not required to be a Freemason.  Thus, deceased non-Christian Freemasons can (and do) receive Masonic funeral services.  According to God’s word, non-Christians suffer for an eternity in Hell.  Yet, Masonic funeral rites do not indicate such, in fact, they indicate the opposite.

The funeral ceremony of the Mount Scopus Lodge A.F & A.M. includes the following language:

“My Brethren, the roll of the workmen has been called, and one Master Mason has not answered to his name. He has laid down the working tools of the Craft and with them he has left that mortal part for which he no longer has use. His labors here below have taught him to divest his heart and conscience of the vices and superfluities of life, thereby fitting his mind as a living stone for that spiritual building — that house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. Strengthened in his labors here by faith in God, and confident of expectation of immortality, he has sought admission to the Celestial Lodge above.”

Clearly, there is an expectation that the dead Freemason (whether or not he accepted the Lord Jesus as his Savior) will reach Heaven, or what the Freemasons call the “Celestial Lodge” of the “Great Architect of the Universe”.  Akin’s Lodge Manual, which was published by John W. Akin of Cartersville, GA, includes the following funerary language:

“Most glorious God, Author of all good and Giver of all mercy pour down thy blessings upon us…may we be induced so to regulate our conduct here that when the awful moment shall arrive that we are about to quit this transitory scene, the enlivening prospect of thy mercy may dispel the gloom of death; and after our departure hence in peace and in thy favor, may we be received into thine everlasting kingdom, and there enjoy, in union with the soul of our departed friends, the just rewards of a pious and virtuous life.  Amen!”

From a Christian worldview, this language is profoundly disturbing.  A dead non-Christian has no hope of receiving mercy from God.  He has no hope of being received into God’s kingdom.  His Christian friends will never again unite with him.  He is forever under the curse of sin, destined for Hell.  To make matters worse, the language of the funeral rite implies that getting to Heaven is the result of living a “pious and virtuous life.”  In other words, getting to Heaven is the result of living a good life and doing good works.  Scripture clearly and absolutely teaches that good works do not and cannot save.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

The language of the Masonic funeral rite cannot be said or believed by a Christian in good conscience.  It is a lie.  It contradicts God’s word.  This lie is more insidious than the Christian friends of Masons might know.  Akin’s manual actually includes alternate funeral language which is to be read when a Masonic funeral service is held at a church.[2]  The language designed for readings in front of a body of Christians does not include the language which indicates that works save.  Thus, Christians may be unaware of the unbiblical practices of their fellow church members who participate in Freemasonry…because they have been hidden from them.

Freemasons have one answer to the question “If you died today, do you know if God would accept you into Heaven?” at church and another at their lodge.  They are double-minded men.  Scripture teaches that a “double-minded man is unstable in all his ways, like the surf of the sea and driven and tossed by the wind.”  Unchecked, such men are dangerous to the health of a church.  If there are Freemasons at your church, scripture makes your duty clear.  Members of this secret society must be dealt with according to biblical standards:

“Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not be partakers with them; for you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Do not participate in the unfruitful deeds of darkness, but instead even expose them; for it is disgraceful even to speak of the things which are done by them in secret.” Ephesians 5:6-12

“Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” Galatians 6:1-2

As a Christian, it is your moral responsibility to call Freemasons to reject freemasonry in repentance.  If a Freemason refuses, thereby proving that his loyalty to his lodge is greater than his loyalty to Christ’s church, then he must be treated according to the prescription of 1 Corinthians 6:

“I wrote you in my letter not to associate with immoral people; I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would have to go out of the world. But actually, I wrote to you not to associate with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler—not even to eat with such a one. For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? But those who are outside, God judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves.” 1 Corinthians 5:9-13

This will not be easy…but then again taking up your cross and following Jesus is not supposed to be.  The most loving thing to do is call sinners to repentance.  The most Holy thing to do is to remove the wicked from the body.  Like the Israelites who suffered from the secret sin of Achan, the work of the local church will be hindered by the secret sins of its Masonic members.  The more Freemasons that infiltrate a church, the greater influence they have.  Freemasonry is not harmless.  It has temporal and eternal consequences.  It literally teaches a different, works-based gospel than the faith-based gospel taught in the Bible.

“But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!” Galatians 1:8

Because church membership is so prevalent among Freemasons, potential pastors should inform church pulpit committees that they will not countenance Freemasonry under their shepherding.  Church members should support their pastors and fellow church members who insist on exercising Biblical fidelity and church discipline in regards to Freemasonry.

After reading this you may be saying to yourself, “There have been Freemasons in my church for years.  They seem like good men.  I’ve never heard any of this before.  I didn’t know any of this.”

Well…you know it now.  Faithfulness to Christ is paramount.

“Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to him it is sin.” James 4:17

Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.  Let all that you do be done in love.” 1 Corinthians 16:13-14

For an additional, first-hand resource on Masonic funeral rites, see the video below from Chrisitan Apologist John Ankerberg of Chattanooga, TN:

*I have resided in Cartersville, Georgia since 1996.  I write to you from the very town where Akin’s manual was written and is practiced.  This is a small town.  Pray for me that the Lord will protect me from any persecution that comes as a result of my taking of this biblical stand against an influential group.  If you need any help with this issue, please don’t hesitate to contact me.  If you are a Freemason, I adjure you to abandon the craft.

**Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

[1] “F&M” refers to “Free and Accepted” masonry.  It is the mainstream form of masonry.  Free and Accepted lodges operate under the jurisdiction of Grand Lodges.  Cartersville #63 operates under the jurisdiction of the Grand Lodge of Georgia.

[2] Many pastors do not allow Masonic funeral rites to be held in their church buildings.  Many of these same pastors, however, do not initiate church discipline on Masons.  This action is contradictory.  If a Mason can be a member in good standing, why can he not have a Masonic funeral in a church?

Eye Black Christianity: Tim Tebow, Clayton Jennings, and the Power of Celebrity

“…He has no stately form or majesty
That we should look upon Him,
Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.”
Isaiah 53:2

One of the worst nights of my life was December 6, 2008.  It was the night of the SEC Championship game in Atlanta, Georgia.  I had spent more money than this father of four ever again expects to have on the purchase of tickets to the game.  I had flown my brother in from Phoenix to attend the game with my wife and myself for his Christmas present.  We are die-hard Alabama fans, the real deal.  We are not the kind of bandwagoners you tend to find in SEC country these days wearing brand-new Alabama hats, purchased after the latest Iron Bowl.  Our Crimson Tide paraphernalia has age (what historians might call “verisimilitude”) – an unopened glass bottle coke with Bear Bryant on it, a blood-stained player wristband obtained outside of Neyland Stadium during the Stallings era, and a faded Dennis Riddle jersey.  In 2003, I cheered for Alabama in the student section of Sanford Stadium as a student at the University of Georgia.  At the dawn of the Fulmer era, my brother covered Volunteer football for the University of Tennessee student paper as an Alabama fan.  We are true believers.  By the time 2008 rolled around, we had impatiently waited through the folly of Dennis Franchione, Mike Price, Mike Shula and an NCAA probation for our beloved Crimson Tide to return to prominence.  They were undefeated.  All that stood between them, the SEC Championship, and a trip to the National Championship game was Urban Meyer’s Florida Gators.  Alabama controlled the game for three quarters.  In the fourth quarter, Florida’s Heisman-Trophy-winning quarterback led a comeback and the Gators defeated the Tide.  Our night was ruined.  You may have heard of that quarterback, his name is Tim Tebow.  He is famous for being one of the best college quarterbacks of all time and an outspoken Christian.

I watched the whole thing play out in horror.  There was Tebow beating the first of Nick Saban’s juggernaut Crimson Tide football teams.  On his eye black (the game was played indoors), he had written “Phil 4:13”.  As every Fellowship of Christian Athletes director knows athlete knows, that Bible verse says:

“I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”

As history has proven, it takes a miracle to beat a Saban-coached Alabama football team.  Tim Tebow is one of the few men who have done it…and he did it to win the 2008 SEC Championship.  As his team stormed the field to celebrate, Tebow found himself being interviewed by Tracy Wolfson.   Then, in front of Verne, Gary, and the rest of the world, Tebow thanked his “Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” for his good fortune.

The Bible belt swooned and it has kept on swooning.  Tebow is big, he’s strong, he hustles, he’s handsome, he’s winsome, he’s morally clean, and he praises Jesus all-day long.  Christians just love him.   Christians just love celebrity Christians.  Unfortunately, the influence of celebrity Christians can be greater than the influence of sound theology.  Tebow has in recent days proven that his good judgement is not equaled by his exuberance for painting Bible verses on his face.  That’s the problem with celebrity Christians.  They are sometimes more famous than they are orthodox.  Their adoring crowds often accept style before substance.  Just look at the Duck Dynasty guys and Ben Carson.  Their aberrant theology is all but ignored because they’ll say that they love Jesus in front of a TV camera.  Orthodoxy matters.  Just consider Tebow’s short stint in the NFL.  His lack of “orthrodox” quarterback skills eventually caught up with him and he washed out of the league.  Similarly, his lack of orthodox Christian actions should wash him off of the evangelical pedestal.

Tebow invited a Clayton Jennings to speak* at his foundation’s celebrity gala (The Duck Dynasty guys have been there, too).  Before that he invited Jennings to do a spoken word piece as a companion to his book Shaken.  In between, Jennings lost his license to preach at his home church.  In between, Jennings was accused by multiple women of deception and sexual misconduct (which is why Jennings lost his preaching license.)  Jennings’ spiritual mentor Tony Nolan severed their relationship, determining that Clayton was leading a “double-life”. Tebow, only paying attention to one Jennings’ lives it appears, stuck by Jennings.

Christians love Christian celebrities.  Jennings is handsome, outspoken, and…well…you get the pattern.  Swoon. When celebrity is the standard, theology is not.

preachingpoet

Terrell Owens with Clayton Jennings – peas and carrots

Tim Tebow is the head of a Christian foundation which espouses the following mission statement:

“This foundation, and all of our outreach initiatives, were primarily created to show God’s love to children around the world. I encourage you to explore this site and see how we have been able to accomplish our mission through God’s blessings and the support of our generous donors and partners.”

So why has Tim Tebow continued to promote a preacher, Clayton Jennings, who left a practical harem of damaged young females in his wake as he preached his way to fame?  This is the same man who labels his critics as “do nothing fake Christians” who are “Honda Civics” to his “Bentley”?

jennningstebowgolf

Why did Tim Tebow include a Roman Catholic (Urban Meyer) to the board of his Christian Foundation?  (Go read Galatians 1:8 if you don’t understand why this matters)?

Why did Tim Tebow promote the heretical sub-Christian movie, The Shack?

tebow-shack

Listen y’all.  Tim Tebow lives clean.  He visits prisons.  He helps out special needs kids.  He smiles.  He preaches about Jesus.  All of that stuff is good.  But exactly where is his influence leading?  I’m a true believer…in Christ.  Seeing a Christian with Tebow’s platform drop the ball in so many ways bothers me more than when Riley Cooper caught the ball in 2008 to salt the SEC Championship game away for the Gators.  Eye Black Christianity is not enough.  As Albert Mohler so often says, “Theology Matters”.  Christians who swooning over Christian celebrities and buying up their t-shirts need to sit back and remember that Christians were first famous for being eaten by Roman lions.  The best thing you can do for yourself and your children is teach them the scriptures and point them in the direction of Godly Christian pastors.  These men may not be good–looking enough to sell t-shirts but, apparently, neither was Jesus.

Roll Tide.

Praise Jesus.

#telltheworld

*Editor’s Note: The notion that Tebow invited Jennings to speak is based upon Jennings’ own claim (see the screenshot above).

**Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

***You can contact the Tebow Foundation’s marketing coordinator Jennifer Strickland and let her know how you feel.

An Open Letter to My Cooperative-Program-Loving Brothers at NOBTS

To My Fellow Students,

I hope you can agree with me on something – New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary is the best seminary in the world. I’ve been a student there since 2009, slowing working towards my MDiv in Christian Apologetics. As a distance learning student, most of my classes have been at the Johnson Ferry Baptist extension center or on-line. Because of this, I do not know many of you as well as I’d like. I’ve been to the main campus for workshop classes a handful of times; I’ve thoroughly enjoyed that experience. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed learning at NOBTS. As a Southern Baptist seminary student, I’ve benefited greatly from my subsidized education. Much of this subsidization has come through the Cooperative Program (the CP).

I’m against the CP.  I think you should be, too.  Hear me out. 

Although I grew up in a Southern Baptist Church, I’d never heard of the CP until I took the class at NOBTS. I learned about the CP when I got to NOBTS. I took the same one-hour CP course you’ve taken. We’ve all taken it; it’s required. Like you, I read One Sacred Effort by Brand and Hankins. When I finished reading that book and got out of the CP class, very early in my seminary career, I thought the best way to fund SBC cooperative missions was the CP.

It’s not. I slowly figured that out. I’m a Certified Public Accountant. I have two business degrees. I work as the controller of a carpet mill. I believe like a baptist theologian but I think like a businessman. Every businessman knows that passing money through intermediaries adds cost and inefficiency to a process. The CP passes money through multiple levels. CP money goes from the pew-sitting giver to the church to the state convention to the national convention to the SBC entity to the final recipient. That’s six levels of spending and four levels of bureaucracy. That isn’t the best way to pass money around in the 21st century. Former NAMB director Mary Kinney Branson, author of Spending God’s Money, put it best when she wrote, “The extent of misuse is directly proportionate to the distance between the giver and the spender.”

If you haven’t read Branson’s book, you should. I’ll even buy you a copy. It details the rampant misuse of Cooperative Program dollars at NAMB under the leadership of that organization’s former president, Bob Reccord.  Little old ladies all over the USA were putting money in the offering plate for missions. Reccord was spending it on ice sculptures and staff cruises. In my own state of Georgia, the state convention has a $42M headquarters that pastors are embarrassed to show to missionaries. Lots of pew-sitters don’t know about these things. They’ve just been told the CP must be funded, as if it’s “the church’s tithe”.

It doesn’t have to be and it’s not.

Has it dawned on you that you may not be an objective judge of the efficacy of the CP? You’re being supported by it right now. The people who have taught you about it are denominational employees who make their living from it’s funding…and some of them have been told their whole lives how good it is.

Do you know what’s better?

Direct giving. Why can’t your church just write a check straight to the IMB or NOBTS? What’s stopping you and your church from giving directly. Honestly, how many of your churches would want to give $4M to a lobbying group (the ERLC) when the IMB has been $210M short? Are we called to save the lost or lobby Caesar?

You and your church don’t need the Cooperative Program. You don’t need denominational bureaucrats telling you how best to spend your missions money. Can’t you do that yourself? Direct giving looks like the free market. CP giving looks like central planning. It builds levels of bureaucracy. That’s not how you’d want a government is it? Do you want your denomination that way?

The SBC existed for 80 years without the CP. It can survive without it. The time of the CP has come and gone. Sadly, many people equate being SBC with giving to the CP. That shouldn’t be so.

Think of your planned actions. Some of you guys are going to make up “I love CP” t-shirts to wear to Chapel. Let me ask you something…Do you think Prestonwood Baptist owes the SBC a certain amount of CP money? Do you think you know what’s best for Jack Graham’s church? We’re baptists right? Don’t we believe in soul competency and church autonomy?

The minute we think we know what’s best to do with somebody else’s money, we become intelligentsia. Is that what you want to be? If you want to spend your money to make “I love the CP” t-shirts, I’m not stopping you. Just remember that Adrian Rogers said the CP was a “golden calf”. Personally, I’d rather spend money on directly giving to NOBTS and Lottie than on t-shirts that support the CP bureaucracy.

I wrote a short e-book on this matter. It’s called The Cooperative Program and the Road to Serfdom. It’s available for free on the internet. Please read it and share it with your pastors. You might just agree with me after you think everything through.

Best,

Seth

geoffrey_dunn@yahoo.com

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

DARRELL L. BOCK’S STUDYING THE HISTORICAL JESUS: A REVIEW

Who is Darrel L. Bock?

“Darrell Bock is research professor of New Testament studies at Dallas Theological Seminary. In addition to many articles and scholarly monographs, he has written a two-volume commentary on the Gospel of Luke for the Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament.”[1]  He holds a ThM from the institution at which he currently teaches as well as a PhD from the University of Aberdeen.  He is a former president of the Evangelical Theological Society. [2]  He published Studying the Historical Jesus: a Guide to Sources and Methods (the book) in 2002.  As a professor at an inerrantist institution[3], Bock writes from the perspective of a conservative biblical scholar.

Historical Jesus 101

The book serves as a “basic introduction”[4] to the background and critical study of the Gospels.  This introduction is designed to whet the appetite of those students of the Bible who are interested in further, independent study of the Historical Jesus.  Given that the book is intended as a primer for study, a Historical Jesus 101 text as it were, it was written in an intentionally non-technical manner.  Nevertheless, the book is fairly considered a work of scholarship.  Bock’s sources include numerous works of antiquity as well as a variety of modern commentaries.  At the book’s outset, Bock contends that the authors of the biblical gospels “did not write for specific churches they knew or knew about”[5] but rather for any and every church to which their gospels might circulate.  Yet, though the gospels were written as “open” documents, the evangelists should be understood within the framework of their historical and cultural contexts.  Modern Christians, when reading the gospels, do well to consider the times in which the evangelists wrote as well as how their immediate audiences would have understood the unique themes of each of the four biblical gospels.  Despite the differences in these themes, Bock concludes that all four biblical gospels share a primary focus in that they “present Jesus as a messianic claimant and uniquely sent Son of God who challenged the Jewish leadership while offering deliverance to any who would embrace him and his message.”[6]

Context and Methodology

The book is divided into two parts, the first of which lays the foundation for the second.  Part 1 presents Jesus in his cultural context.  Part 2 examines methods for studying the gospels.  Part 1 includes a chronology of Jesus’ life which attempts to date his birth and death.  Logically, such a chronology belongs at the beginning of a historical Jesus monograph. However, Part 1 of the book begins by presenting extra biblical evidence that Jesus even existed at all.  Bock begins Part 1 in this way because of the unfortunate tendency of some skeptics to assert that the evidence for Jesus outside of the Bible is “obscure and trivial”[7] Citing ancient accounts from Suetonius, Tacitus, Pliny the Younger, and Josephus as well early Christian writers; Bock demonstrates that the existence of Jesus is very well attested to in antiquity. This is so despite the fact that Jesus was not a major figure in broader Roman society during his earthly lifetime. After examining Jesus’ life, Bock explores antiquity itself.

Jesus was a Jew from the land of Israel; however his Israel was not the Israel of the Old Testament.  His culture was that of postexilic second temple Judaism, a Judaism which existed in a land that was “ruled by Rome and surrounded by a Greco-Roman presence.”[8]  The earthly life of Jesus itself can be dated by the reigns of Roman prefects and Herodian tetrarchs.  Understanding the culture of Jesus, then, involves understanding the history that brought these individuals to power.  It also involves examining the influence that pagan rulers exerted on Jewish authorities.  As a result of its long period under pagan rule, Israel had “to choose between faithfulness and prosperity, purity and access to power. Eventually, it would be forced to decide between submission to Gentiles and allegiance to God.”[9]  The book surveys the history of Israel from the Babylonian exile in 586 B.C to the time of Jesus in the 1st century AD.  During that period, the Jews managed to gain independence for a short time but it was effectively lost by the time Jesus’ birth.

The Jews of Jesus’ day were a mixed bag.  Some sought to cooperate with their pagan overlords while others longed to overthrow them.  It’s not surprising , then, that the arrival of the Messiah would elicit different responses depending on one’s acceptance of Roman rule (this is chillingly illustrated by Herod the Great’s, whose Judaism was more nominal than ethnic or spiritual, slaughter of the innocents as recorded in Matthew 2:12-23).  Messianic hope is one of six themes that Bock presents as key to understanding the Jewish faith of Jesus’ day; the others are Sabbath, purity, temple, feasts, and calendar.  In addition to these themes, Bock highlights three fundamental aspects of second temple Jewish belief and identity; monotheism-election, covenant-land, and circumcision.  These themes and aspects are present in the gospels and methods for studying the gospels are bound to consider them.

Methods of criticism for studying the gospels seem to be as numerous as 1st century Jewish political concerns.  Bock deals with six of these methods in Part 2 of the book, in which he also provides an additional historical survey.  This survey is not additional history of the land of Israel but rather the history of Historical Jesus scholarship itself.  Bock summarizes three separate “quests” for the historical Jesus.  The first quest was undertaken by rationalistic skeptics who sought to separate the religious dogma that surrounded Jesus from his historical exploits.  This quest, which began in 1774 and lasted until roughly the beginning of the twentieth century, yield little insight in the Jesus of history.  “Nothing showed this more than the work of Rudolf Bultmann (1884– 1976), who believed that we could know little about Jesus other than that he lived.”[10]  The second quest was begun in the 1950s by students of Bultman who argued that his conclusions about the historical Jesus were “too overdrawn”.[11]  Unfortunately, the second quest seems to err too far in the opposite direction of Bultman.  With their minds a little too open, second questers tend to come to downright irrational conclusions.  For example, in the second quest, the same weight is given to later noncanonical texts such as The Gospel of Thomas as is given to earlier canonical texts.  Second questers end up “knowing” the same things about Jesus that Gnostic authors didn’t know.  A third, more recent, quest for the historical Jesus seems more balanced than the first two.  “In general, those who participate in the third quest have tended to see far more historicity in the Gospels than either of the previous quests…Many conservative and moderate evangelical scholars are contributing to this work with specialized monographs and articles on aspects of Jesus’ life.”[12]  The third quest especially focuses on Jesus’ Jewish background and, in doing so, provides valuable insight into how he interacted with his own culture.

The bulk of Part 2 is dedicated to presenting six types of biblical criticism that can be applied to the study of the gospels (or the biblical text in general).  These six types are: historical criticism, source criticism, form criticism, redaction criticism, traditional criticism, and narrative (Genre) criticism.  Each type of criticism has its advantages and drawbacks.  For example, historical criticism can help students of the Bible understand the cultural and political backdrop against which biblical events played out.  At the same time, historical criticism “deals with probabilities and possibilities based on the attempt to explain coherently the various kinds of data it treats.”[13]  The gospel accounts are replete with miracles which are considered historical by Christians who believe these accounts to be divinely inspired.  This throws a monkey-wrench into the works of the historian who to opines on historicity by calculating probabilities.  One’s level of dogmatic dedication to orthodox Christianity or lack thereof will ultimately determine what kind of use he makes out of any of the types of criticism Bock includes in the book.  All of these types, however, seem to have valuable uses and are worthy of study.

A Worthwhile Study

Its historical surveys alone make this book worth a read.  Even those Christians who aren’t interested in what they might consider “liberal” critical traditions can appreciate the interesting history of postexilic Judaism that Bock packs into this short work.  Christian apologists can make good use of Bock’s defense of Jesus’ historical existence when dealing with Jesus mythers.  Apologists who engage with more thoughtful skeptics can further benefit from studying Bock’s explanations of critical methods.  Any Christian who wants to be a better theologian would do well to read this book and study its bibliographical resources further.  The book is by no means an exhaustive study of the historical Jesus but that is not what it claims to be.  It is fine introduction to the subject matter being presented and would make a worthwhile addition to the library of any Christian who wants to learn more about his Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

*Please note that the preceding is my personal opinion. It is not necessarily the opinion of any entity by which I am employed, any church at which I am a member, any church which I attend, or the educational institution at which I am enrolled. Any copyrighted material displayed or referenced is done under the doctrine of fair use.

SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY

Bock, Darrell L. Studying the Historical Jesus: A Guide to Sources and Methods . Kindle Edition. Baker Publishing Group.

Dallas Theological Seminary. “Darrell L. Bock.” DTS. 2017. http://www.dts.edu/about/faculty/dbock/ (accessed February 2, 2017).

—. “DTS Doctrinal Statement.” DTS. 2017. http://www.dts.edu/about/campuses/chinese/doctrinalstatement/ (accessed February 17, 2017).

 

[1] Bock, Darrell L. Studying the Historical Jesus: A Guide to Sources and Methods . Kindle Edition. Baker Publishing Group. (Kindle Locations 4410-4412)

[2] Dallas Theological Seminary. “Darrell L. Bock.” DTS. 2017. http://www.dts.edu/about/faculty/dbock/ (accessed February 2, 2017).

[3] Dallas Theological Seminary. “DTS Doctrinal Statement.” DTS. 2017. http://www.dts.edu/about/campuses/chinese/doctrinalstatement/ (accessed February 17, 2017).

[4] Studying the Historical Jesus: A Guide to Sources and Methods . (Kindle Locations 68-69)

[5] Ibid (Kindle Location 137)

[6]  Ibid (Kindle Locations 627-628)

[7] Ibid (Kindle Location 1166)

[8]  Ibid (Kindle Locations 821-822)

[9] Ibid (Kindle Locations 1707-1708)

[10] Ibid (Kindle Locations 2857-2858)

[11] (Kindle Location 2875)

[12] (Kindle Locations 2903-2916)

[13] (Kindle Locations 3099-3100)