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Archive for the 'Sean’s Articles' Category

Last October, I had the pleasure of attending Ken Westby’s One God Seminar. During that seminar I spoke on “Five Major Problems with the Trinity.” Click here to listen to the presentation. The talk was 36 minutes long and the remainder of the time addressed questions from the audience. Click here to download the notes. The rest of the 2010 conference is mostly available here (I’m still waiting on a couple of presentations).

Psalm 106.1-5
Praise the LORD!
Oh Give thanks to the LORD,
   for he is good,
   for his steadfast love [chesed] endures forever!
Who can utter the mighty deeds of the LORD,
   or declare all his praise?
Blessed are they who observe justice,
   who do righteousness at all times!
Remember me, O LORD,
   when you show favor to your people;
   help me when you save them,
   that I may look upon the prosperity of your chosen ones,
   that I may rejoice in the gladness of your nation,
   that I may glory with your inheritance.

Theology regularly takes the driver seat in Bible study. This is only natural since our theology is the construct or model we hold in mind while we read. For example, our theology of God informs how we read Scripture. If one believes that only the Father is God then he will struggle with certain verses (like John 20.28) while reading others with ease (like John 17.3). When we encounter difficult texts our tendency is to explain them away so that we need not alter our theological model on that particular subject. We may look at other translations until we find one that agrees with what we think it should say or else pontificate conspiracy theories that all the extant manuscripts are corrupt because the “evil” early Church Fathers and scribes had a nefarious agenda. Thus, our theology leads our Bible study rather than the other way around. But, what if this is doing things backwards? What if this way of studying the Bible is inherently dangerous?

This is the third part of a three part series on “The Son of Man.” Click here to read part one or here to read part two.

This is the second part of a three part series on “The Son of Man.” Click here to read part one.

Son of Man in Extra-Biblical Jewish Literature

Outside of the Old and New Testaments the Jewish people produced a good deal of other literature. There are historical, fictional, proverbial, and prophetic writings, which comment on major figures and themes in the Hebrew Scriptures. These sources are helpful to understand how Jewish people around the time of Jesus were thinking about matters in a way similar to someone a thousand years from now observing what movies were most popular in the early twenty-first century in order to understand background information about studying someone in our own time. Two texts in particular that give us a window into how the Son of Man was understood are The Jewish Apocalypse of Ezra and The Similitudes of Enoch.

Jesus referred to himself as the Son of Man more than any other title in the Gospels. Though this title was most familiar to Jesus, nevertheless it is the most obscure to modern readers. Opinions vary on just what Jesus meant by calling himself the Son of Man. Some believe the title refers to an angelic heavenly creature. Others think it denotes Jesus’ human nature (as opposed to his divine nature). Many consider “son of man” to simply be Jesus’ way of saying “I.” Still others think the title relates to Jesus’ suffering and death or his future role as the returning cosmic victor. Rather than consider each of these theories in turn, instead we will build our understanding from the ground up, starting with the Old Testament. Then we will move to consider two extra-biblical Jewish texts before finally working on the New Testament.

Last week, a number of us produced the following video. Thanks to Matt and Blake of Plasma Productions, and Nathan for his last-minute willingness to jump in and read the script, this eight minute video is now on youtube and gathering steam. Please link to it or embed it on your own website. It lays out in plain language five big reasons why the Trinity doesn’t make sense.

check out christianmonotheism.com/questions

Thinking Biblically about One of the Most Important Titles in the Bible

As Christians, we are so used to calling Jesus the Son of God that we can easily forget that the phrase “Son of God” has serious theological and biblical content. Though most believers conflate “Son of God” with “God the Son” and interchange a biblical notion for a philosophical one, I contend that it is a much better strategy to ground our conception in Scripture alone. In order to investigate divine sonship, I will first look at the two predominant prototypes—Adam and David—before moving on to think about how Jesus combines both layers of meaning. First, we begin in the beginning.

Is Paul quoting Isaiah 45 in Philippians 2? I have often heard people make this claim and it seems to be uncontroversial. However, I’m not really sure. Below is a table comparing these texts. Note, especially, the underlined words.

Our faith is under attack. Though many of us are not on the front lines, we all have the responsibility to be ready to make a defense to anyone who asks us to give an account for the hope that is in us (1 Peter 3.15). Sadly, in most churches we do not do well preparing and teaching our people the reasons why we believe what we believe. For example, why do we believe that there is a God? How do we know the Bible has been reliably transmitted? How can we be so sure that Jesus really was raised from the dead? These questions and many more are increasingly being asked, especially of those in college. What makes matters worse is that the anti-Christians, be they professors or fellow students, are often much better prepared to defend their position than we are. Does Christianity require a leap of faith regardless of the facts? What right do we have to say other faiths are in error if we cannot explain why our own is true? Questions like these have driven me to regularly expose myself to the field of apologetics (not apologizing, but defending or giving reasons for the faith). In this blog post I have collected together a number of resources that may help you give an answer to those attacking our faith.

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