Tuesday, June 02, 2020

Book Review posted: Robert W. Yarbrough's Clash of Visions: Populism and Elitism in New Testament Theology




My book review of Robert W. Yarbrough, Clash of Visions: Populism and Elitism in New Testament Theology appeared in Midwestern Journal of Theology, Vol. 19, No. 1 (Spring 2020): 165-167.

You can read it here on my academia.edu page or listen to the video or audio versions above.

JTR

Monday, June 01, 2020

May 2020 Thoughts for the Day



Image: CRBC meeting house, Louisa, Virginia, May 2020.

Here are the May "Thought for the Day" updates from the CRBC website:

May 1:

“Affliction is for our profit, as it is a refiner. It works us up to further degrees of sanctity…. The leaves of the fig tree and root are bitter, but the fruit is sweet; so afflictions are in themselves bitter, but they bring forth the sweet fruits of righteousness” (Thomas Watson, A Body of Practical Divinity, 1692).

May 4:

“There is a kindness in affliction, in that there is no condition so bad but it might be worse. When it is dusk, it might be darker. God does not make our cross so heavy as he might: he does not stir up all his anger” (Thomas Watson, A Body of Practical Divinity, 1692).

May 6:

“Here was a stately building; man carved like a fair palace, but now lying in ashes: let us stand and look on the ruins and drop a tear…. Could we avoid weeping if we saw our country ruined and turned by the enemy into a wilderness? If we saw our houses on fire, and our property perishing in the flames? But all this comes far short of the dismal sight—man fallen as a star from heaven” (Thomas Boston, Human Nature in Its Fourfold State, 1720).

May 8:

“There is a kindness in affliction, in that your case is not as bad as others, who are always upon the rack, and spend years with sighing (Psalm 31:10). Have you a gentle fit of the ague [a fever or shivering]?  Others cry out of the stone and strangulation. Do you bear the wrath of men? Others bear the wrath of God. You have but a single trial: others have them twisted together. God shoots but one arrow at you, he shoots a shower of arrows at others. Is there no kindness in all this? (Thomas Watson, A Body of Practical Divinity, 1692).

May 12:

“There is a kindness in affliction, in that, if we belong to God, it is all the hell we shall have. Some have two hells: they suffer in their body and conscience, which is one hell, and another hell to come is unquenchable fire. Judas had two hells, but a child of God has but one. Lazarus had his hell here; he was full of sores, but had a convoy of angels to carry him to heaven when he died. Say then, Lo! If this be the worst I shall have, if this be all my hell, I will patiently acquiesce: ‘Thy will be done.’” (Thomas Watson, A Body of Practical Divinity, 1692).

May 21:

“There is a kindness in that God gives gracious supports in afflictions. If he strikes with one hand, he supports with the other... There is not the least trial, but if God would desert us, and not assist us with his grace, we should sink under it….” (Thomas Watson, A Body of Practical Divinity, 1692).

May 26:

“There is a kindness in affliction that is preventative. God, by this stroke of his, would prevent some sin…. Affliction is sometimes sent for the punishing of sin, at other times for its prevention…. God’s people know not how much they are beholden to their affliction; that they might have fallen into some scandal, had not God set a hedge of thorns in their way to stop them. What kindness is this! God lets us fall into sufferings to prevent falling into snares; say then, Lord, do as it seems good in thy sight, ‘Thy will be done’” (Thomas Watson, A Body of Practical Divinity, 1692).


May 30:

“God by affliction would prevent damnation… A man by falling into briars, is saved from falling into the river; so God lets us fall into the briars of affliction that we may not be drowned in perdition” (Thomas Watson, A Body of Practical Divinity, 1692).

JTR

CB Roundtable #3: The TR and Apologetics




I have posted to sermonaudio.com the audio-only version of the Confessional Bibliology Roundtable from last Tuesday (5.26.20). This was the third of three presentations and discussions, over the course of three consecutive Tuesdays, on text, theology, and ministry. For all three in the series, look here. In this final session, Pastor Pooyan Mehrshahi of Providence Baptist Chapel in Cheltenham, England gave an excellent presentation on the value of using the TR and translations based upon it in evangelism and apologetics, in general, and with Muslims, in particular.

JTR

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Eusebius, EH.7.30: Pastoral Letter Condemning Paul of Samosata




This is an occasional series of readings from and brief notes and commentary upon Eusebius of Caesarea’s The Ecclesiastical HistoryHere is Book 7, chapter 30.

Notes and Commentary:

This chapter coveys the pastoral letter issued from the synod which condemned Paul of Samosata. It was directed to Dionysius of Rome and Maximus of Alexandria, a mark of the importance of these two churches, as well as to other churches throughout the provinces.

It denounces the “perverse heterodoxy” of Paul of Samosata.

It notes that input was sought from the respected bishops Dionysius of Alexandria and Firmilian of Cappodocia. Dionysius was unable to come but sent a letter addressed to the church at Antioch, since he did not deem Paul worthy of being addressed as their bishop. Firmilian, on the other hand, had visited twice and had initially been deceived by Paul’s claim to have changed his views. He had died while on a third journey to see into the matter.

In addition to his doctrinal errors, Paul’s character is also assailed in the letter. He is accused of having used his office for financial gain and of seeking worldly honors as a ducenarius (a procurator of high rank who had a salary of at least 200 sestaria). He liked to “strut” in the marketplaces, surrounded by a sycophantic entourage. In his pride he engaged in theatrical behavior. He removed psalms that addressed Christ as Lord but encouraged the singing of his own praises. Questions are raised about his interactions with a group of “spiritual sisters” known as the subintroductae. Finally, he is accused of partaking in the heresy of Artemas (Artemon; cf. EH.5.28).

The close of the letter is cited in which Paul is excommunicated and replaced as bishop by Domnus, the “son” (probably meaning his protégé) of the former orthodox bishop Demetrian.

Having been defrocked, however, Paul and his supporters held on to the church building in Antioch, until the orthodox appealed to the emperor Aurelian who sided with them against Paul and removed him.

It is noted by Eusebius that despite Aurelian’s favor in this particular episode, he later stirred up persecution against the Christians and was only held back by the providential hand of God. In reflection Eusebius notes that the rulers of this world never find it easy “to proceed against the churches of Christ” unless God permits this for their chastening.

Aurelius was succeeded by Probus, and Probus by Carus with his sons, Carinus and Numerianus. Next came Diocletian who brought about the great persecution and “destruction of the churches” in Eusebius’s own day.

The chapter ends by turning to succession in the church of Rome as Felix succeeded Dionysius as bishop.

Conclusion:

This chapter describes the church discipline enacted against Paul of Samosata. Not only his theology but also his ethics were attacked. It also anticipates the sufferings coming under Diocletian, by offering a theology of persecution. So, the orthodox were pressed from within and without, but they also continued to persevere from one bishop to another.

JTR

Friday, May 29, 2020

The Vision (5.29.20): Look at Manasseh, and then look to Christ


Image: CRBC Meeting House, Louisa, Virginia, May 2020.

Note: Devotional is taken from last Sunday's sermon on 2 Kings 21:

But they hearkened not: and Manasseh seduced them to do more evil than did the nations whom the LORD destroyed before the children of Israel (2 Kings 21:9).

2 Kings 21 is a sad and discouraging chapter. So much potential, so much spiritual promise seems wasted by Manasseh. All the great gains of godly king Hezekiah were rolled back and thrown aside. The result for Judah was national disaster, defeat, and exile.

So, this account is placed before us a warning. We are not to be like Manasseh.

We are not to reverse all the reforms won by our spiritual fathers.

We are not to raise up high places and idols.

We are not to import into the worship of God pagan and foreign practices.

We are not to pass our sons through the fire.

We are not to traffic in the occult or try to turn the faith into some manipulative and pragmatic scheme to get what we want in this life.

May it not be said of us, as it was of Judah when they ignored God’s Word in favor of the folly of Manasseh: “But they hearkened not” (v. 9).

Let us not use our influence upon other to seduce them to do that which is evil, as Christ taught in Matthew 18:6: “But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.”

There is one final thing to be said about Manasseh that is not recorded in 2 Kings 21. It is found in 2 Chronicles 33 (see especially vv. 11-17). It describes how at one point during his rule, Manasseh was taken captive by the Assyrians, and in his “affliction, he besought the LORD his God, and humbled himself greatly before the God of his fathers” (v. 12). It relays that he prayed to God and intreated him, so that the LORD heard Manasseh and allowed him to be brought back to Jerusalem (v. 13). It adds: “Then Manasseh knew that the LORD was his God” (v. 13). It even says that Manasseh tried in his last days to take away the pagan practices, but the people continued to sacrifice in the high places (v. 17).

The Chronicler seems to take this as a genuine conversion.

The historian of 2 Kings, however, wanted to make sure we heard the warning. There were things that Manasseh could not undo once they had been done. He and the nation deserved judgment that would make the ear tingle (v. 12). He had been measured and found crooked (v. 13a). He was like a dish wiped and set aside (v. 13b).

In the portrait of Manasseh’s sin, we are reminded that this is what we are like apart from Christ. The rap sheet has been dropped to the floor, and it is filled with our misdeeds. But there is one who is a friend of sinners. There is one who was commended toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, he died for us (Rom 5:8). It is Christ, the righteous plumb line, who knew no sin, who laid down his life a ransom for many, who was buried, who was raised again the third day, who appeared for 40 days to his disciples, and who ascended to be seated at the right hand of the Father in glory. The one of whom Paul wrote in Hebrews 10:37: “For yet a little while, and he will come and will not tarry.”

Let us look at Manasseh, and then look to Christ.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Incorporating the CJ (and other traditional texts) into the liturgy and visual art of the churches



Image: The meeting house of Five Solas OPC, Reedsburg, Wisconsin, with the CJ printed on either side of the pulpit.

It is certain that there are parts of the traditional text that are particularly vulnerable to the withering attacks of modern criticism. One of those parts is, without doubt, the Johannine Comma (1 John 5:7-8), now routinely removed from many modern New Testaments (both Greek and versions). In some modern translations it is not even mentioned in the footnotes. See my recent presentation on the CJ.

Our defense of this and other disputed texts should not make us fainthearted, since we defend them as Gamaliel did the apostles, “for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought, but if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God” (Acts 5:38b-39).

I was recently discussing this circumstance with a couple of likeminded pastors and, aside from the obvious that we might do to defend these words, including using translations that incorporate them and preaching and teaching from them, other ideas were also mentioned, including incorporating them into the worship liturgy and even into the visual art of a church meeting house.

Here are two examples:

First, with respect, to singing, in Grantley McDonald’s Biblical Criticism in Early Modern Europe, he notes a Trinitarian hymn composed by the Puritan William Barton (c. 1598-1678) in response to Owen’s defense of the CJ (p. 133):

Three witnesses there are above,
     And all these three are one:
The father, Son and sacred dove,
     One deity alone.

The Living father sent the son,
     Who by the Father lives:
And unto them that ask of him
     The holy Ghost he gives.

Note: This is the text as printed by McDonald. I assume it is faithful to the original punctuation and capitalization. The footnote and bibliography notes this as hymn XC in Barton’s A Century of Select Hymns. Collected Out of Scripture (London, 1659). It is set to the common meter tune (same as "Amazing Grace", "O God Our Help in Ages Past" etc.) and could be easily incorporated into worship.

Second, with respect to visual art, the Five Solas OPC Church in Reedsburg, Wisconsin has recently added a tasteful gold-leaf lettering of the CJ in its meeting house (see above), on each side of the pulpit,  a helpful visual reminder of the doctrine of the Trinity (WCF 2:3) and that worship is directed to the Triune God alone (WCF 22:2).

There are, no doubt, similar and even more creative ways in which things like this might be done in use and defense of the sacred text.

JTR

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Book Review Posted: The Synoptic Problem: Four Views


I have posted my book review of Stanley E. Porter and Bryan R. Dyer, The Synoptic Problem: Four Views (Baker Academic, 2016) which appears in Midwestern Journal of Theology, Vol. 19, No. 1 (Spring 2020): 172-175 to academia.edu. Read the pdf here.

I have also posted a video version to the WM youtube.com channel. See above.

An audio only version is also posted to sermonaudio.com:



JTR

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Origen on the Pauline Authorship of Hebrews



Image: Origen teaching his students, etching by Jan Luyken (1649-1712)

It seems every discussion of the authorship of Hebrews must throw in the quote attributed to Origen by Eusebius: “But who wrote the epistle, in truth God knows” (Eusebius, EH, 6.25). This is taken to mean that Origen believed it impossible to know who wrote the work.

David Alan Black points out in episode 19 of the Hoi Polloi podcast, however, that if you read Origen’s works he consistently attributes Hebrews to Paul. See also his book, The Authorship of Hebrews: The Case for Paul (Engerion, 2013).

In On First Principles, for example, before offering a citation from Hebrew 6:7, Origen writes, “To show more clearly, however, what we mean, let us take the illustration employed by the apostle Paul in the Epistle to the Hebrews” (3.1.10).

In his Epistle to Africanus, Origen goes even further, in reference to his interpretation of Hebrews 11, when he says, “However, some one hard pressed by this argument may have recourse to the opinion of those who reject this Epistle as not being Paul’s; against whom I must at some other time use other arguments to prove that it is Paul’s” (v. 9). See also Matthew J. Thomas, “Origen on Paul’s Authorship of Hebrews, New Testament Studies, Vol. 65, No. 4 (2019): 598-609 (read the abstract here, which concludes, that Origen’s “surprisingly consistent testimony is that the epistle is indeed Paul’s”).

JTR

Monday, May 25, 2020

Thomas D. Howie (1908-1944): "The Major of St-Lô"




Images: Kable Hall and the memorial to Thomas D. Howie on the old campus of SMA, Staunton, Virginia, May 25, 2020

Somehow it has become something of a tradition for the Riddle family to go play some tennis on Memorial Day.  Today with the courts closed down in Charlottesville and Albemarle, we made the trip over to nearby Staunton and played on the courts at Mary Baldwin College.

The courts are in a back section of the college, which was formerly the campus of the Staunton Male Academy, later known as the Staunton Military Academy, or SMA (a designation still prominently stamped in various places on campus). The school existed from 1884-1976. After the school closed, the property was sold to the adjacent Mary Baldwin. Notable alamuni of SMA include 1964 Presidential candidate Barry Goldwater, folk singer Phil Ochs, and Tarheel basketball legend Lenny Rosenbluth (see the SMA Wikipedia article).

On a walk through this part of campus today, I stopped in front of Kable Hall, once the main dormitory at SMA, where there is a central memorial to Thomas D. Howie (April 12, 1908-July 17, 1944). Howie was a teacher and coach at SMA who died in France during the liberation of Normandy. For the Battle of St-Lô, see this articleA granite plaque records that he had challenged his troops in battle by saying, "I'll see you in St-Lô." It continues: "After he fell they entered the city and placed his flag draped coffin in the ruins of Sainte Croix Church." It then adds: "Wherefore in his nation's history, he is 'The Major of St-Lô.'" The memorial closes: "Dead in France, Deathless in Fame."

It seemed a fitting place to pause today as we enjoyed and considered the freedom given us by previous generations.

JTR

Saturday, May 23, 2020

New WM Video resources on the PA added to Word Magazine channel

Last Tuesday (5.19.20) I was in a debate with Stephen Boyce on the PA. This brought to mind the two WM podcasts I did in 2014 (hard to believe it was that long ago!) reviewing a sermon by evangelical pastor John Piper in which he makes some of the same arguments as Boyce on the PA, especially in suggesting that the PA is a  "true" story that is not in the Bible.

In these podcasts I point out some of the problems I see with this rejection of the authenticity of the the Pericope Adulterae (PA), John 7:53-8:11.


I have added video versions of WM 31 and WM 32 to the Word Magazine channel:







JTR


Friday, May 22, 2020

The Vision (5.22.20): Set thine house in order



Image: Rhododendron, North Garden, Virginia, May 2020

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on 2 Kings 20.

In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death. And the prophet Isaiah the son of Amoz came to him, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live (2 Kings 20:1).

Notice the ominous beginning: “In those days was Hezekiah sick unto death” (v. 1a). We are told later that he had a boil (v. 7). An abscess or infection could, no doubt, be lethal in those days.

There is a sense, however, in which all of us have a sickness unto death. The old saying is that there are only two things certain in life, death and taxes. The mortality rate for healing evangelists is 100%. The great faith healer Oral Roberts, the “godfather of the charismatic movement” died on December 15, 2009. The apostle Paul said, “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Heb 9:27).

The Lord’s minister, the prophet Isaiah, came to the king and said to him, “Thus saith the LORD, Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die and not live” (v. 1b). This was God’s word, and it is always fulfilled. Many have their lives taken swiftly from them. They leave the house one day and never return. There is an accident or the heart fails and their deaths come unexpectedly. I remember years ago a minister acquaintance then the “ancient” age, from my 30 something perspective, of 52 years of age, thin as a rail and seemingly healthy as a horse, went out for a run on Sunday morning before church and died of a massive heart attack. Others have time to anticipate that which is to come. I remember my father being told by the cancer doctor he had four months to live and, sure enough, nearly four months to the day he passed from this life to the next. It is interesting to ponder which way we’d prefer, but we have no say in the matter. Isaiah’s word came not from doctors, who are not always right (as they had happened to be in the case of my father), but from the LORD.

Whatever prospects we face in life and the circumstances, God’s word to Hezekiah could well be his word to us: “Set thine house in order; for thou shalt die, and not live.” This is what God is saying through his word today to each one of us today.

What is out of order? What needs to be corrected? What needs to be removed? What needs to be added? What must happen for you to set your house in order?
Then, having set our house in order, let us live, without worry of death, for Christ, the one who had a truly “perfect heart” (cf. 2 Kings 20:3), who lived a sinless life for us, who died on the cross for sinners, and who was raised for our justification.
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Eusebius, EH.7.26-29: The "unmasking" of Paul of Samosata


Image: Paul de Samosata predikt voor de vroeg-christelijke gemeenschap (Paul of Samosata preaches for the early Christian community), etching by Jan Luyken (1700), Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

This is an occasional series of readings from and brief notes and commentary upon Eusebius of Caesarea’s The Ecclesiastical HistoryHere is Book 7, chapter 26-29. Listen here:


Notes and Commentary:

These chapters describe the transitions of various bishops in the city centers of early Christianity, as one bishop was succeeded by another. It describes,in particular, the conclusion of Dionysius of Alexandria’s long and effective ministry. It also describes disputers over and the “unmasking” of Paul of Samosata at Antioch on the charges he held Jesus to be merely human and not divine.

Chapter 26 describes the conclusion of Dionysius of Alexandria’s ministry, including several anti-Sabellian letters sent to various bishops, including four to his namesake Dionysius of Rome.

He also wrote a treatise in letter form to Timothy “his boy” (son? servant?) on Nature, another on Temptations to Euphranor, an exposition on Ecclesiastes, and other works.

Chapter 27 turns to describe various transitions:

Xystus at Rome was succeeded by Dionysius of Rome.

Demetrian at Antioch was succeeded by Paul of Samosata, who held “low and mean views as to Christ.” A council was held to discuss Paul of Samosata’s belief, which the aged Dionysius of Alexandria could not attend but to which he wrote his opinion. Paul was confronted as “a spoiler of Christ’s flock.”

Chapter 28 describes those at this council, the best known of whom included Firmilian of Cappadocian Caesarea, Gregory and Athenadore of Pontus, Helenus of Tarsus, Nicomas of Iconium, Hymenaeus of Jerusalem, Theotecnus of Caesarea, and Maximus of Bostra.  Paul and his party tried to conceal his heterodox views, while the orthodox pushed to reveal them!

At that time Dionysius passed away after 17 years as bishop and was succeeded by Maximus in Alexandria.

In the Roman Empire, Gallienus was succeeded by Claudius, who then handed over the government to Aurelian.

Chapter 29 describes a final synod held in the reign of Aurelian in which Paul of Samosata was “unmasked,” condemned as heterodox, and excommunicated from the “catholic [universal] churches under heaven” (note the Greek has “churches” plural, not singular). His chief accuser was a man named Malchion, the head of a school of rhetoric and elder at Antioch. He had a dispute with Paul and stenographers took notes, which, Eusebius, says, could be read in his day.

Conclusion:

These chapters provide an account of the end of Dionysius’s ministry, as well as the “unmasking” or denunciation of Paul of Samosata (of Antioch) for his low Christology. It shows the early controversies over Christology that would later be addressed in the great ecumenical councils. As usual, Eusebius stresses the orderly transitions of the bishops, parallel to the transitions of the Roman emperors.

JTR

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

New Resources: New Audio on CJ Roundtable and PA Debate & New Video Version of WM 54 on CJ

I have posted some new audio material to sermonaudio.com from the two presentations I did yesterday on the text of the NT: (1) The audio of the CB Roundtable # 2: The Comma Johanneum (1 John 5:7-8); (2) The audio of my debate with Stephen Boyce on the PA (John 7:53-8:11):





I have also posted a video version of WM 54 The Comma Johanneum and the Papyri (from 7.13.16):



JTR

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Debate on PA Coming (5.19.20)


God willing, I'm planning to take part this evening in an online debate with Stephen Boyce a staff "apologist" at City Light Church in Seattle on the "Talking Christianity" podcast at 9 pm EST (8 pm CST).

The topic: “Is the PA an authentic part of John's Gospel? The PA should be rejected on external, internal, and historical grounds."

The PA refers to the Pericope Adulterae or woman taken in adultery passage in John 7:53--8:11, one of two major textual issues in the NT (the other being the ending of Mark).

My opponent will be arguing that the PA is spurious and should be removed from our Bibles. I will be defending the PA as Scripture.

JTR


Monday, May 18, 2020

I Kid You Not: Pro-Textus Receptus Rap Song



"...Your Word is perfect and nothing is missing. This text is better than phones and message. I praise the Lord for the Textus Receptus....God has preserved his Word through the church..."

Enjoy! JTR

Saturday, May 16, 2020

CB Roundtable #1: John 1:18: "Only God" or "Only Begotten Son"?



Here's the video from the first Confessional Bibliology Roundtable (5.12.20).

You can also listen to the audio here:


Enjoy! JTR

Eusebius, EH.7.25: Dionysius on Revelation


Image: St. John Monastery on the Island of Patmos, Greece

This is an occasional series of readings from and brief notes and commentary upon Eusebius of Caesarea’s The Ecclesiastical HistoryHere is Book 7, chapter 25. Listen here. Or watch here:




Notes and Commentary:

This chapter conveys the observations of Dionysius of Alexandria on the book of Revelation, or the Apocalypse of John.

He notes that some in the past had rejected the book as “unintelligible and illogical.” They also said that it appeared under a false title, since it is neither an Apocalypse, which clearly reveals anything, nor is it by John the Apostle. He notes that some claimed it was written by the heretical teacher Cerinthus, since it taught the kingdom would be on earth (a literal millennium).

Dionysius, however, says the book is not to be rejected, but it cannot be understood on a literal sense. He confesses he has reached the conclusion that the book’s thoughts are “too high for his comprehension” but “I do not reject what I have not understood, but I rather wonder that I did not indeed see them.”

He also questions whether the John of the title is John the Apostle, since in the Gospel of John and the Johannine epistles, the apostle John never explicitly identifies himself as does the author of Revelation (see Rev 1:1, et al). Furthermore, the John of Revelation is never explicitly identified as John the Apostle (using terms like “the beloved disciple” or the “brother of James”). He points out that there were other early Christians named John like John Mark in Acts and that there were two tombs in Ephesus which were said to hold someone named John. He adds that the vocabulary and style of the Gospel and epistles of John are similar, and they have common themes (like “light,” “truth,” the command to “love one another”, etc.) which are not stressed in Revelation. Revelation is also written, according to Dionysius, in a less polished Greek style. He makes sure that he offers these observations not to denigrate the book, which he respects, but to point out its dissimilarity with the Gospel and epistles of John and to understand Revelation better.

Conclusion:

This chapter indicates how the book of Revelation continued to be one of the most debated and discussed books of the NT canon and how controversy surrounding it led to a slower process of its recognition and acceptance among early Christians. It is also interesting to see how Dionysius approached Revelation as a pre-critical interpreter, arguing that it not be interpreted literally but according to “a deeper meaning” which “underlies the words.” He also freely questions the authorship of the book, suggesting that it was not from the apostle John, and the quality of its literary style, but these considerations did not disqualify its acceptance and usefulness.

JTR

Friday, May 15, 2020

The Vision (5.15.20): Hezekiah's Model Prayer


 Image: Leatherleaf  Mahonia, Albemarle County, Virginia, May 2020.

Note: This devotion is taken from last Sunday's sermon on 2 Kings 19.

And Hezekiah prayed before the LORD, and said, O LORD God of Israel, which dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; thou hast made heaven and earth (2 Kings 19:15).

2 Kings 19 describes a great season of distress in Judah, as they were surrounded by the Assyrians. Godly king Hezekiah declared, “This day is a day of trouble, and of rebuke, and blasphemy” (v. 3).

Having received a threatening letter from the Assyrians, Hezekiah went into the temple and “spread it before the LORD” (v. 14). He then offered a prayer (vv. 15-19), which we might well call Hezekiah’s model prayer. It was composed of three parts:

First, he acknowledged and praised God for who he is (v. 15).

The point: Authentic prayer begins with worship.

Some of you know the acronym for prayer ACTS (Adoration*Confession*Thanksgiving*Supplication), where the A stands for adoration. Hezekiah’s prayer does not precisely follow that acronym (prayer does not need to follow a cookie cutter form), but it does begin with A, adoration.

Think of when Christ taught his disciples to pray, and he told them to begin, “Our Father which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name” Matt 6:9). His model prayer also began with adoration.

Hezekiah praised God as being the covenant God of Israel: “O LORD God of Israel.”

He praised the exaltedness of God and the sovereignty of God: “which dwellest between the cherubims.”

He acknowledged the reality of the one true God: “thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth.”

He praised God as the Creator: “thou hast made heaven and earth.”

Second, he called upon the Lord to hear his prayer and to consider his situation (vv. 16-18):

Notice that Hezekiah called upon the Lord to bow down his ear and open his eyes (v. 16). Two things here need to be remembered:

First: The language is anthropomorphic. God does not have ears or eyes. “God is a Spirit” (John 4:24). This is language of accommodation to our needs.

Second: God is omniscient. He knows these things. But God is also pleased to have his children cry out to him, and to rehearse these things to him.

Third, he offered his supplication (request) (v. 19):

His request is a striking, straightforward plea for temporal salvation: “save thou us out of his hand.” And notice the reason is not to preserve Judah or Hezekiah, but to preserve the Lord’s own honor among the kingdoms of the earth: “that all the kingdoms of the earth many know that thou art the LORD God, even thou only” (v. 19b). The best reason for the Lord to hear and answer our prayers is not rooted in our merit but in God’s own glory.

Let us read and consider Hezekiah’s model prayer, as we also continue to learn how to pray.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Follow Up: Mark Ward's Rejoinder to My Review

One more follow up to my review of Mark Ward's Authorized: Yesterday (5.14.20) Mark Ward posted to his blog a rejoinder to my review titled "When Will the KJV Be Sufficiently Unintelligible to the 'Plow Boy' That Change Will Become Necessary?" He has also incorporated this rejoinder as an appendix to the audio version of the book.

IMHO, not much new ground is covered, so I'll let my review stand and readers can make their own judgments as to the ongoing usefulness and intelligibility of the classic translation of the Bible in English.

JTR

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Resource Recommendation: Bible League Quarterly


Image: Cover for current issue of the BLQ.

Here's a quick follow up to my post on my recent Authorized book review in the Bible League Quarterly (BLQ) and a recommendation for this publication.

Some might not know the BLQ. It is a publication of The Bible League Trust, a ministry in the UK, which, according to its website, "was instituted on May 3rd 1892, to promote the reverent study of the Holy Scriptures and to resist the varied attacks upon their inspiration, infallibility and sole sufficiency as the Word of God." Pastor Pooyan Mehrshahi is currently on the council that directs the ministry.

The BLQ appears in a quarterly print version. It is ably edited by Pastor John Thackway and consistently presents encouraging devotional articles, book reviews, and notices. A number of articles are available to view and explore online at the BLQ web page.

Those of us in the US (and in other places in the world) who have become part of the "Confessional Bibliology" movement will find the BLQ to be a hidden gem. If you are a pastor or teacher, it will also provide a great resource for information, anecdotes, and illustrations.

You can get an annual subscription to the print edition for just 8 pounds in the UK (c. $13 to mail to USA), or it is just 5 pounds to get an annual online subscription which not only allows you to read the current edition but also to access the complete archive of past editions. Scroll down on the right side of the BLQ webpage for subscription info.

JTR

Book Review posted: Mark Ward, Authorized: The Use & Misuse of the King James Bible

My book review of Mark Ward's Authorized: The Use & Misuse of the King James Bible appeared in the Bible League Quarterly, No. 479 (October-December, 2019): 28-31.

You can read a pdf of the review here on my academia.edu page.

You can listen to an audio version of the review here on sermonaudio.com:


Or a video version on the Word Magazine channel on youtube.com, where I have now set up a "Book Reviews" playlist to which I hope to begin adding past and future book reviews:




JTR

Monday, May 11, 2020

Confessional Bibliology Roundtable Coming: May 12, 19, 26, 2020


I'm looking forward to talking part in Episode 1 of 3 in the Confessional Bibliology Roundtable beginning tomorrow, Tuesday, May 12, 2020 at 4 pm EST with Chris Thomas (moderator), Pastor Christian McShaffrey (Five Solas OPC, Reedsburg, Wisconsin) and Pastor Pooyan Mehrshahi (Providence Baptist Chapel, Cheltenham, England).

We plan to meet for three consecutive Tuesdays at 4 pm EST via Zoom (live-streamed on the Confessional Bibliology Facebook group). You can find out how to join the conversation here.

In each session a different speaker will give a presentation on an issue related to the text of Scripture and theology/ministry, which we will then discuss. The sessions will also be recorded and posted online.

Here is the upcoming schedule

Episode 1: May 12, 2020: Topic: John 1:18 (Presenter: Christian McShaffrey)

Episode 2: May 19, 2020: Topic: 1 John 5:7-8 (Presenter: Jeff Riddle)

Episode 3: May 26, 2020: Topic: Text and Apologetics/Evangelism (Presenter: Pooyan Mehrshahi)

JTR