Saturday, February 28, 2009

Son Lux . . .

. . . is quite possibly the coolest new artist I have heard in years. He is part Sufjan Stevens, part Pedro the Lion, part Radiohead, part Beck, and all good.

His real name is Ryan Lott, and the album is At War with Walls and Mazes.

The Future of Evangelical/Roman Catholic Dialogue in the American Public Sphere

Russell Moore, Dean of the School of Theology at Southern Theological Seminary, gave a great lecture on the future of evangelical/Roman Catholic dialogue in the American public sphere. It is fantastic--definitely worth a listen.

My favorite line is "An evangelical understanding of sola fide does not mean that someone is saved by his articulation of sola fide. It means that a person is justified by a being hidden in the person of Jesus Christ." I will be writing about that in the near future.

(Hat Tip: Internet Monk)

Thursday, February 26, 2009

New Video from the IBR Jesus Group

The IBR Jesus group has put out a new online video about the historical Jesus. You can view the first video of the series here. The Institute of Biblical Research is a sub-group of the Society of Biblical Literature--more conservative than SBL at large but not as restrictive as the Evangelical Theological Society.

The work that the IBR Jesus group is doing is important because of the influence that the Jesus Seminar (another sub-group of SBL) has on the way that Jesus is portrayed in the media. The Jesus Seminar essentially paints Jesus as a wandering Galilean sage, whose followers elevated him to the theological position of "Son of God." Just about any documentary you see on television about the historical Jesus points out all of the "errors" in the biblical witness and portrays Jesus according to the Jesus Seminar's interpretation.

The Jesus Seminar's task is noble. On the surface, the group exists to sift through theology and discover the true historical Jesus. Religious literature tends to elevate its heroes and to create stories about them to justify the religious community's worship of that hero. We recognize this in the literature of other religions, why should we doubt it about the Bible? If we do not approach the Bible with preconceived notions about its accuracy or "inerrancy," we would be a little more hesitant to accept stories like Jesus walking on water or feeding 5,000 with just a few small loaves and fish. Thus, the Jesus Seminar seeks to distinguish "history" from "theology."

However, the Jesus Seminar's portrayal of Jesus is so different from that of the sources they use, it raises questions about the objectivity of their search. May there be ulterior motives behind the quest for the historical Jesus?

The IBR Jesus group uses the same methods of the highly influential Jesus Seminar to paint a completely different picture of Jesus. Essentially, they turn the issue around and show that unless you approach the Bible with preconceived notions of its inaccuracy, there is nothing in the story of Jesus that cannot be true. They have shown through historical investigation that Jesus really lived, that he was baptized by John the Baptist, that he proclaimed the coming reign of God, that he was considered a wonder-worker and exorcist, that he was crucified by the Romans for claiming to be Messiah, and that his followers claimed that he rose from the dead. From that historical framework, it is not too difficult to justify the more theological claim that he is the "Son of God."

I studied the historical Jesus with Dr. Darrell Bock (who is featured in the video) for a semester, and he had us investigate events in Jesus life according to the methods of historians. I looked at the Last Supper. The class was invaluable because it taught me to approach the issue of Jesus without preconceived theological ideas, and that one can do "good history" and still maintain a conservative interpretation of Jesus.

Dr. Bock has his own blog on issues related to the historical Jesus, and he also contributes to Primetime Jesus, a blog about Jesus in the media.

The Good Life Sermon 9--"I Need to Get More Done in Less Time"

Two Sundays ago I preached the ninth sermon in my series called The Good Life: Redeeming Suburbia through Counter-cultural Living. I have been interacting with David Goetz's book, Death by Suburb, and comparing his thoughts on suburbia with what I see in the Gospel of John.

The ninth sermon covered Goetz's eighth and final myth of suburbia, "I need to get more done in less time." We talked about busyness. The suburban life is hectic. Between work, commute, school, soccer practice, spin classes, dentist appointments, etc., there isn't much time for real living. Most of us look at our lives and conclude, "I need to get more done in less time." If only I were more efficient with my time, I would be happy.

However, the busy life is, for the most part, the unreflective life. Our busyness costs us something, and many of us need to reevaluate our lives to see why we are so busy. Are we chasing things that are worthwhile, or are we busying ourselves with things that ultimately will rob us of life's joy?

You can hear this sermon, the rest of The Good Life series, or the latest in Gary Albert's series on Ruth here. Older sermons can be found here.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Why I Am Not a Calvinist (But I Am Not an Arminian, Either)

I had a phone conversation with a college student whose family attends our church about Calvinism and election. Her questions forced me to rethink my own views of “will and grace” and I thought I would post them here. As always, my thoughts are constantly evolving and I reserve the right to retract anything I say here.

I didn’t know it, but I was an Arminian until I went to college. At Cedarville University, I came face-to-face with Calvinism for the first time. It angered me. I questioned the salvation of the professors who dared suggest such horrid things about God. But in the end, I converted. I left Cedarville a solid “four point” Calvinist who bought into everything but limited atonement.

At Dallas Theological Seminary I explored the issue further and concluded that limited atonement was the inevitable inference of the other four points of Calvinism. I was officially a “five star general.”

Since seminary, I have continued to reflect on salvation, and I have drifted from my Calvinist convictions. (I am by no means an Arminian, but I recognize some weaknesses in the Calvinist position.) My beliefs are a mixture of Reformed theology and the New Perspective on Paul. (I promise; I am still working on that post on the New Perspective!)

For those of you who don’t know, the five points of Calvinism are:

Total Depravity. This is the idea that every fiber of our being has been infected by sin. It does not mean that we are as bad as we could be, but that we are wholly bad. Our thoughts, attitudes, behaviors, and reasoning are all affected by the power of sin.

Unconditional Election. This is the idea that everyone has been elected either to salvation or destruction. No one is “saved” by their own volition; the saved have all been elected to salvation.

Limited Atonement. This is the idea that Christ’s death on the cross was sufficient for all but only efficient for the elect. Jesus “died for the world” in the sense that He died for all kinds of people, but not in the sense that He died for every single person.

Irresistible Grace. This is the idea that God’s call and God’s grace cannot be resisted. If God calls someone to salvation, that person will respond. Modern Calvinists now refer to this doctrine as effectual grace, but that breaks the TULIP acronym.

Perseverance of the Saints. This is the idea that those whom God has called will persevere in their faith to maturity.

Calvinists have proof texts for these doctrines, and I don’t disagree with all of them. (I disagree with enough of them that I can confidently say, “I am not a Calvinist”.) But beyond the force of their proof texts is the logical force of their argument. In fact, the logic of the five points of Calvinism may be stronger than the textual support for any of the individual tenets.

A professor of mine in Seminary said, “If you accept total depravity, the other four points are inescapable. For example, if you are totally depraved so that you cannot choose God and you cannot help but to sin, then you need irresistible grace to convert. If God’s grace is resistible in any way, sinful humanity would resist it (otherwise, you could add, salvation would be “earned” by those who didn’t resist God’s grace and therefore would not truly be of grace). If God’s irresistible or effectual grace is the only means of salvation, and those to whom God shows His grace will be saved, then salvation and condemnation are determined solely by God and whether or not he chooses (or “elects”) to call someone by His grace. Thus you have unconditional election. If salvation is based solely on God’s choice, then the extent of Jesus’ atonement doesn’t extend to the “non-elect” in any meaningful (or efficient) way, so you have limited atonement. Finally, since God’s call is irrevocable, He will complete the work He has begun in the believer and the saints will persevere.

Clearly there is compelling logic behind Calvinism. Accepting total depravity almost naturally leads one to accepting all five of the points of Calvinism.

To show why I am not a Calvinist, I am going to show that (1) the Calvinist doctrine of total depravity is not completely accurate (there is much truth in it, but they go too far), (2) the Bible does not teach that God’s grace is irresistible, and (3) the Bible’s language about election refers to corporate election (i.e. God’s choosing of Israel or the church) and not to the election of individual Jews or Christians. My theology of salvation lines up with the Calvinist’s doctrine of perseverance of the saints and it makes limited atonement to a non-sequitur.

The Nature of Humanity—Totally Depraved or Totally Impotent?
The first point of Calvinism, and the hinge on which the logic of the system swings, is total depravity. Calvinists believe that humanity is completely infected by sin. It’s not that we are as bad as we could be (some people are clearly worse than others), but that we are wholly bad.

The classic text describing humanity’s inherent sinfulness is Romans 5:12–21. Romans 5:12 NET says, “So then, just as sin entered the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all people because all sinned.” Humanity is worse off because of Adam’s sin, but notice what Paul says it is that we inherit—death. All of humanity shares in the guilt of Adam’s sin, thus we are all sinners and we are all mortal. But Paul’s emphasis is not a change in moral tendency, but a change in mortality.

However, Adam’s sin does affect the “moral tendency” of his descendants, but not because human beings are naturally evil. Instead, Paul thought that human beings were naturally weak. He calls the weakness of humanity the flesh, and the flesh is powerless to resist sin. In Romans 7:18–20 NET, Paul writes, “For I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my flesh. For I want to do the good, but I cannot do it. For I do not do the good I want, but I do the very evil I do not want! Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer me doing it but sin that lives in me.” Even when Paul wants to do good, he does evil. However, this is not because he is evil, but because he is weak. The power of sin is too strong for the flesh to overcome.

I think it is more appropriate to speak of human nature in terms of impotence than of depravity. While I would agree with the Calvinists that all people are born under sin and that no one has the power to turn to God, I would say that this is because our flesh is weak, not because it is evil. It’s not that we are rotten to the core, it’s that we are weak to the core. The power of sin is so strong that we are incapable of resisting it. Thus, by our behavior, we can be considered “rotten.”

God’s Grace—Is It Irresistible?
If the human condition should be described in terms of weakness rather than depravity, what then is the change that God brings about in salvation? While the flesh is unable to resist the power of sin, the indwelling Holy Spirit is powerful enough to overcome sin. Paul writes, “So then, brothers and sisters, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh (for if you live according to the flesh, you will die), but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live.” (Romans 8:12–13 NET)

This is also what is going on in the famous fruit of the Spirit passage, “Now the works of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity, depravity, idolatry, sorcery, hostilities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish rivalries, dissensions, factions, envying, murder, drunkenness, carousing, and similar things. I am warning you, as I had warned you before: Those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God! But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:19–23 NET)

So, to Paul, the lives of those who live according to the (weakness of the) flesh will be characterized by sin and death, but the lives of those who live according to the Spirit will be righteousness and life.

How then, does the Spirit begin to work in someone’s life?

The Spirit works through the Gospel. In 2 Thessalonians 2:13–14 NET, Paul writes, “But we ought to give thanks for you always, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth. He called you to this salvation through our gospel, so that you may possess the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Salvation was worked among the Thessalonians “by the Spirit and faith in the truth” and “through our gospel.” This is what Paul meant when he called the Scriptures theopneustos, or “God-breathed” (2 Timothy 3:16). The Holy Spirit works through the Gospel. Thus Paul can say, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is God's power for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.” (Romans 1:16 NET)

So, the power of sin can only be overcome by the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit works through the preaching of the Gospel. Does this mean that everyone who hears the Gospel and experiences the power of the Holy Spirit will be saved? No, because this power can be resisted.

Acts 7:51 NET says, “You stubborn people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are always resisting the Holy Spirit, like your ancestors did!”

Matthew 23:37 Net says, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you! How often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would have none of it!”

Hebrews 3:12 NET says, “See to it, brothers and sisters, that none of you has an evil, unbelieving heart that forsakes the living God.”

The argument that I made about the impotence of humanity is key to the argument of resistible grace. Calvinists point out that if humanity is inherently evil, then he cannot choose God. Humanity needs irresistible grace to be saved. I would reply that since humanity is inherently weak, he still cannot choose God. However, if the power of the Holy Spirit working through the Gospel overpowers the weakness of the flesh, a person can live for God (Romans 8:12–13).

While my system would be considered synergistic rather than monergistic, I am not advocating Semi-Pelagianism. People are not morally neutral in the sense that they are free to choose either good or evil. They are morally impotent so that they are powerless to resist evil. However, if the Holy Spirit works in them, then they are free to choose good. However, because the Holy Spirit can be resisted, the person is still responsible for responding to the Gospel in faith. Thus, salvation is synergistic and not monergistic.

Election—Whom Has God Chosen?
To demonstrate why I am not a Calvinist, I have shown that humanity’s plight is one of weakness and not of pure evil. I have also shown why I think God’s grace is resistible. Thus unrestrained by the logical reasons for believing in election as understood by the Calvinists, I can have a different understanding of election.

In short, God’s election refers to His election of people groups rather than of individuals. Thus, Israel was elect, but individual Israelites were only elect in the sense that they were part of the whole. In the same way, the Church is the elect people of God, but individual Christians are only elect in the sense that they are part of the whole. God does not play, “Duck, duck, damn” with people, as Mark Driscoll points out.

The classic proof text for election is Romans 9–11, especially Romans 9:6–8:

“It is not as though the word of God had failed. For not all those who are descended from Israel are truly Israel, nor are all the children Abraham's true descendants; rather ‘through Isaac will your descendants be counted.’ This means it is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God; rather, the children of promise are counted as descendants. For this is what the promise declared: ‘About a year from now I will return and Sarah will have a son.’ Not only that, but when Rebekah had conceived children by one man, our ancestor Isaac-- even before they were born or had done anything good or bad (so that God's purpose in election would stand, not by works but by his calling)-- it was said to her, ‘The older will serve the younger,’ just as it is written: ‘Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.’

What shall we say then? Is there injustice with God? Absolutely not! For he says to Moses: ‘I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.’ So then, it does not depend on human desire or exertion, but on God who shows mercy. For the scripture says to Pharaoh: ‘For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may demonstrate my power in you, and that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.’ So then, God has mercy on whom he chooses to have mercy, and he hardens whom he chooses to harden.” (NET)

Notice from the start the two questions that the passage seeks to answer: (1) Has the word of God failed, and (2) Is there injustice with God? Whatever this passage means, it answers those two questions. So, what does it mean that the word of God had failed? I think this is an allusion to Deuteronomy 4, especially verse 30–31, “In your distress when all these things happen to you in the latter days, if you return to the LORD your God and obey him (for he is a merciful God), he will not let you down or destroy you, for he cannot forget the covenant with your ancestors that he confirmed by oath to them.”

In short, the “word of God” was the promise that God made to Abraham that His descendants would always be His people. As Paul unfolded his Gospel—that the Gentiles had been accepted as well as the Jews—the natural objection would be, “Well, what about the covenant? Did God break His word? Isn’t that unfair?” Notice, Paul’s response—it is perfectly fair because God has mercy on whom He wills.

I am not a Calvinist. I have a lot of good friends who are and I have respect for their position. I disagree with it. I do not believe that God has elected some people for salvation and some people for destruction. He has elected the church for salvation, and all people have equal opportunity to join the church. Sure, people are born guilty under sin and they cannot turn to God on their own. They need the power of the Holy Spirit to enable them to respond in faith. But that power can be resisted. Thus, anyone who hears the Gospel and responds in faith will be saved, but only those who hear the Gospel and respond in faith will be saved.

“For the scripture says, ‘Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.’ For there is no distinction between the Jew and the Greek, for the same Lord is Lord of all, who richly blesses all who call on him. For everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved. How are they to call on one they have not believed in? And how are they to believe in one they have not heard of? And how are they to hear without someone preaching to them? And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How timely is the arrival of those who proclaim the good news.’” (Romans 10:11–15 NET)

Thursday, February 19, 2009

iMonk and the Liturgical Gangstas

Michael Spencer is doing a series called "The Liturgical Gangstas," in which he interviews six ministers representing six Christian traditions. He asks them the same questions and posts their responses in a panel format. The Gangstas include an Eastern Orthodox priest, and Anglican priest, a Southern Baptist pastor, a Roman Catholic writer (not a priest), a United Methodist pastor, and a Lutheran pastor.

In the latest post, he asked them:
What is the most misunderstood positive thing from your tradition?
What are the most ignored weaknesses in your tradition?
Of the five other traditions represented, whom could you learn from the most?

I loved the responses. It was good to see these guys clarify some of the stereotypical criticisms of their tradition, honestly admit their weaknesses, and praise the other traditions for the things they do well.

Good stuff. It's a long post, but worth the read.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Scot McKnight and the NeoReformed

Scot McKnight has blogged about the NeoReformed again. Justin Taylor of Between Two Worlds (part of Piper's Desiring God ministries, I think) has responded.

I guess this "controversy" started with Piper and Wright's back and forth about the nature of justification. Although I haven't read either book, to my knowledge the exchange has been pleasant. The two men disagree but do so with a gracious spirit.

However, I guess McKnight wrote a blurb endorsing Wright's new book to which Piper's camp has taken exception.

I like McKnight, Carson, Piper, and Wright. I hope they work it out.

Perhaps I would disagree with the wording McKnight chose on the blurb, but I think that he has a point that there is a growing constituency of Reformed types who see Reformed theology as the only form of evangelicalism. I don't know if Piper falls into that category, but the group exists and seems to be growing in influence.

I only mention it because it touches on what may be a key issue in the American evangelicalism of the future. Is there room in evangelicalism for the non-Reformed? You will notice in McKnight's article that the main "enemy" of the NeoReformed is the New Perspective on Paul, something I have recently endorsed. I think that my theology is closer to Piper and Carson than it is to McKnight, but I am not Reformed.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Biblical Curse Generator

Need a witty retort Elijah-style? Check out the Biblical Curse Generator. (Hat Tip to Ben Witherington III.)

"I pray thou shalt fall under a speeding chariot, thou relative of Herod!"

Media and Already . . . Not Yet Spirituality

I meet with some friends on Monday nights to eat food and talk about Jesus. Last night we had an interesting discussion about media and what is "appropriate." I think the real elephant in the room was the temptation to watch shows featuring scantily clad women (or shows with commercials involving scantily clad women), and the consensus in the room was "we need to be careful about this." What you watch affects what you do.

But we got into a side discussion about art and media, and what makes something "true." We have a friend who listens only to Christian music and, having gone there myself for a few years in my past, I objected to the lifestyle. (Not that I would criticize my friend for this decision. If it is helpful for him, praise God. But I don't find it helpful.)

My objection was that the state of Christian music (and other media as well) is so awful that I feel much non-Christian music is "truer" than a lot of Christian music. A couple of events led me to this conclusion. First, I used to be a huge fan of Sixpence None the Richer. (I still would be if they were still together. Their 2002 album Divine Discontent remains one of my all-time favorites, and This Beautiful Mess and their self-titled album are both great.) When I was in college they sang a song called "Kiss Me" that was a radio hit. The song is not explicitly Christian, but I would say that it is "true" nevertheless. It's clean, it's fun, and it celebrates love that God created.

At the same time, I started reading more into the lyrics of U2 and was more and more impressed with their spiritual content. U2 is not on a Christian label, yet they sing some great songs that Christians would affirm as "true."

Finally, Christian music has declined to the point that most of it is not helpful to me, and some of it is not even "true." (There is a lot of bad theology in popular Christian music.)

So I had three pieces of a puzzle to wrestle with. On the one hand there was a Christian band on a Christian label singing about "secular" things that were true. There was a great band not on a Christian label singing about Christian things that were true. Finally, there were Christian bands on Christian labels singing about "churchy" things that weren't true. I had to conclude that what made a song "Christian" was not the faith of the singer/songwriter or the label that signed the artist. It had to be the message of the song. If the song is true, then it is Christian.

That being said, which of the following songs is more helpful to your faith?

"I Need You"
by Sonic Flood

You know who I am inside
You know when I lie
You can tell when I'm amazed
You can see my faith
You know when I don't believe
You know when I'm free
You can tell when I need love
You know I'm in need

Love, I need love
You are love
I need You
Love, You are love
I need love
I need You

You know of my deepest fear
You know when I'm scared
You can read my empty page
You can feel my rage
You're aware of when I dream
You see when I bleed
You can tell when I need love
You know I'm in need

I know we need You, Father
Much more than any other
Your love brings us together
We need You, we need You

Love, we need love
You are love
We need You
Love, You are love
We need love
We need You I need You.

You know who I am inside...


"What Sarah Said"
by Death Cab for Cutie

And it came to me then that every plan
Is a tiny prayer to father time
As I stared at my shoes in the ICU
That reeked of piss and 409
And I rationed my breaths as I said to myself
That I’ve already taken too much today
As each descending peak on the LCD
Took you a little farther away from me
Away from me

Amongst the vending machines and year-old magazines
In a place where we only say goodbye
It stung like a violent wind that our memories depend
On a faulty camera in our minds
And I knew that you were a truth I would rather lose
Than to have never lain beside at all
And I looked around at all the eyes on the ground
As the TV entertained itself‘

Cause there’s no comfort in the waiting room
Just nervous pacers bracing for bad news
And then the nurse comes ‘round and everyone lift their heads
But I’m thinking of what Sarah said
That love is watching someone die

So who’s gonna watch you die? So whos gonna watch you die

There are probably a lot of people out there who are helped by the Sonic Flood song. I'm not saying that you shouldn't like Sonic Flood, but this song isn't helpful to me. Replace the word "Father" in the song with the word "baby" and what are you left with? (Thank you Eric Cartman for pointing this out.)

The Death Cab song, on the other hand, is vulgar, pessimistic, and atheistic. It's also real. I love the line about the TV entertaining itself. Part of already . . . not yet spirituality is the realization that we are not yet fully redeemed. We have the first fruits of the Spirit, but we still dwell in corruption. Death is still real, and it's still the enemy. So, I find the Death Cab song more helpful. Sure, it doesn't reflect a theistic worldview, but it doesn't claim to. Would we deny that we have ever felt the feelings expressed in the song? Isn't it a healthy challenge to the people of God to be there when those around us are dying?

What do you think about media?

Biblical Allusions in Literature

I guess college professors are finding it more and more difficult for students to pick up on biblical allusions in literature. Test your knowledge of biblical allusions in literature here. I won't disclose my score. HT: BHT

Monday, February 16, 2009

Scot McKnight on the NeoReformed

Scot McKnight has a great article on JesusCreed about the NeoReformed movement in America. I don't know how accurate he is with the label "NeoReformed," but I definitely agree that there is a militant, mean-spirited movement in American evangelicalism that holds to Reformed theology.

McKnight points out that there are exceptions, one notable one being my favorite Reformed theologian Michael Horton.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Dr. Harold Hoehner (1935–2009)

Dr. Harold Hoehner passed away this morning.

I only took one class with Dr. Hoehner. It was a doctoral seminar with only one other student. Twice a week the three of us worked through the Synoptic Gospels and discussed source criticism. Even in the short time I knew him, Dr. Hoehner left a lasting mark on my life.

Dr. Hoehner was brilliant. He had doctorates both from DTS and Cambridge, and his tome on Ephesians testifies to his scholarship. Dr. Hoehner was "particular." He knew the Turabian style manual backwards and forward, and even wrote letters to the makers of bibliography-formatting software when they couldn't get the style right. Nothing got past him on class assignments.

Brooke and I went over to his house for dinner once. I don't think we talked about New Testament theology at all the whole night, but he and his wife were conversant in any topic that came up. He was a scholar in the truest sense of the word.

But beyond his qualities as a scholar, Dr. Hoehner stuck out to me as a man of God. The DTS tribute to him says, "Most of all Harold has shown us what it means to be a man of God, committed to Christ and His gospel, and reflecting the fruit of the Spirit over a lifetime of faithful service." I couldn't agree more. Even when we tediously worked through the Synopticon in class, Dr. Hoehner would take the time to remind us of the relevance to faith and ministry.

Dr. Hoehner was humble. Despite his learning, he never "put students in their place" or made sure that you knew he was right. He was notorious for holding to Matthean priority in the Synoptic Gospels--the only person (to my knowledge) in the New Testament department to do so. When asked about this, he made the comment that the department was full of Markan priorists because he hired them. "Why surround yourself with people who agree with you?" he said.

The thing I learned most from Dr. Hoehner is that it is possible to be a biblical scholar and a lover of Jesus. It is possible to "dissect" the Scriptures in ways that would make most people nauseated, but to do so with a passion to know God. It is possible to study hard, but to do so as a ministry. I am not alone in saying that my life and ministry will never be the same having studied under him. He was a great man and he will be missed.

"For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, so also we believe that God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep as Christians." (1 Thessalonians 4:14 NET)
(Here is an article Dr. Dan Wallace wrote last year about the effect that Dr. Hoehner had on him and Dallas Seminary.)

Monday, February 2, 2009


Apparently, I am an Orthodox Quaker (100%). Find out what religion you really are by taking the Belief-O-Matic quiz. HT: JesusCreed