The Fourth Enoch Graduate Seminar Papers Are Now Available

Gabriele Boccaccini writes

All papers presented at the Fourth Enoch Graduate Seminar (University of Notre Dame) and at the First Nangeroni Meeting are available by subscription ($50) at “Enoch Seminar Online” www.enochseminar.org.

Of the meeting Isaac Oliver reports

On June 18, 2012, the Fourth Graduate Enoch Seminar took place at the University of Notre Dame in the friendly Midwestern state of Indiana, USA. Graduate students and recent PhDs from institutions in Brazil, Canada, Denmark, England, Finland, Israel, Norway, Switzerland, and the United States discussed for three days twenty-two papers on issues related to Second Temple Judaism and Christian Origins. Papers covered a wide chronological spectrum, ranging from the book of Zechariah to a an amulet from Late Antiquity, and explored diverse issues such as the origins of the Shema and the legacy of Geza Vermes’ work. Professor Jim VanderKam graciously presided over the discussions, and other faculty members from Notre Dame also attended the event, including Gary Anderson, Tzvi Novick, and John Meier. The omnipresent Gabriele Boccaccini also faithfully “attended” the conference live from Italy via Skype. Costs for room and boarding were generously covered by the Department of Theology of Notre Dame. Many look forward to the forthcoming Graduate Enoch Seminar to be held in Montreal two years from now.

Can You ‘Pray Away the Gay’?

It seems not, as this very intriguing report by NPR demonstrates.

Supporters call it “conversion therapy.” Critics call it “praying away the gay.” Whatever name you use, it’s creating a ruckus in Christian circles about whether a person can change his or her sexual orientation. And now the largest “ex-gay ministry” is rejecting the approach.  …

Earlier this year, Alan Chambers, the president of Exodus International, addressed the Gay Christian Network, which was notable because many in the network are more open to gay relationships. Chambers said that “99.9 percent” of the people he had met through Exodus International either had not changed their sexual attraction or still struggled with temptation. He got a laugh when he told the gathering that there are no quick fixes, “no hocus pocus, no magic wands, no ‘1-2-3, now be free, go be straight, date and mate!’ ”  Last month, Exodus International made it official: It would no longer associate with or promote therapy that focuses on changing sexual attraction.

Many years ago the Vatican commissioned a VERY thorough study of homosexuality which concluded that it is, in some cases, the result of abuse.  In some, it’s the result of choice.  And in some, the causes are unknown but may be biological.  (Mind you, that’s a very short overview of a very long and complex study).  And over the course of years I’ve come to agree with that assessment.   There are persons who are abused and injured as children who compensate by same sex attraction.  And some do indeed choose to participate in homosexual practices (think of Ellen Degeneris’ one time girlfriend who was gay for fame).  And there seem to be others who are simply biologically inclined to homosexual behavior.

Theologically all three are problematic (in the sense that they raise important theological issues concerning sin, the Imago Dei, and free will).  Such issues can’t be solved in a blog post and they have been so widely debated and widely disputed that there really seems to be no way forward at this point.

One thing I’m certain of, however, and that is this: homosexuality isn’t the unpardonable sin.  Homosexual persons, however they come to exist in that state, deserve to be shown the love of God even if we cannot agree with homosexual behavior.   They are, after all, human beings too.

The Mount Gerizim Archaeological Park is Reopened, After 12 Years

Via Joseph Lauer, both the Youtube link and the press report below-

The archaeological excavation site on Mount Gerizim, near Shechem, was officially inaugurated in a special ceremony on Thursday. The ceremony was attended by Environment Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud), Shomon Regional Council head Gershon Mesika, the head of the Nature and Parks Authority Shaul Goldstein, and the Head of the Civil Administration in Judea and Samaria, Brig. Gen. Moti Almoz. Mount Gerizim and nearby Mount Eival are named in the Pentateuch as the place where the Priests and Levites addressed the tribes entering Israel after their sojourn in the desert, blessing them at Mount Gerizim if they kept G-d’s commandments and elucidating the punishments they would receive at Mount Eival if they did not. Mount Gerizim is also an important place for the Samaritans, who believe that the preeminent holy spot is on the mountain and whose Temple was built there. Mount Gerizim was excavated for more than 24 years and Thursday’s ceremony marked the archaeological site’s reopening after being closed for 12 years since the start of the Oslo War, also known as the Second Intifada.

Amazingly the Samaritan Temple receives little more than passing mention and the history of the Jews is highlighted nearly to the Samaritan’s exclusion in the video. A truly appalling rewriting of history from a more than biased perspective.

What is our Only Source of Hope?

From Calvin’s ‘Geneva Confession’-

[We] acknowledge that there is one only God, whom we are both to worship and serve, and in whom we are to put all our confidence and hope: having this assurance, that in him alone is contained all wisdom, power, justice, goodness and pity. And since he is spirit, he is to be served in spirit and in truth. Therefore we think it an abomination to put our confidence or hope in any created thing, to worship anything else than him, whether angels or any other creatures, and to recognize any other Saviour of our souls than him alone, whether saints or men living upon earth…

Advertisers of Christian books (and all others) should take note.  Not only does Calvin say it rightly, he says it well.

The Heidelberg Catechism In Many Languages

Over at Refo500

Below [on the Refo500 site] you will find the Heidelberg Catechism in various languages. We plan to steadily increase the number of collected translations so that you can find as many versions as possible on this page.  If you have the Heidelberg Catechism available in another language, we would like to receive a copy. We will then on this page make this version available to others. Read here how you can offer your text.

It’s a great project.  If you have the Catechism in a language not already included, please help.

Bad Theology, Zondervan

Ever since Murdoch bought Zondervan it has declined in my estimation both for the quality of some of the things it publishes and even more so in its marketing of the products that it sells.

For instance, I received this flyer in an email-  see if you can spot the poor theology:

Did you spot it?  In case you didn’t, I’ll point it out:  hope isn’t found in a book- in any book- not even the Bible.  Hope is found in Christ.  The notion that hope is found outside of Christ is neither theologically accurate nor biblically correct.

True enough, the Bible is exceedingly important but again, it is not our source of hope.  To suggest that it is is really nothing less than idolatry.  Or better, bibliolatry.

Furthermore, teens won’t find traction in a slippery world IN the NIV, they’ll find it in Christ.

The lack of theocentricity in Zondervan’s advertising is distressing.  Very distressing.  Because it’s just bad theology.  Instead of consulting marketing consultants when coming up with sales pitches they should consult a theologian or two.

Today With Zwingli: On the Importance of Preaching, and Preachers

As a proclaimer of the Word, the Pastor must not stop preaching simply because of opposition or because there is no visible success connected to his efforts. He is to be a living example of the love of God, and a living example is more important than 100,000 words.

And in another place-

The work of preaching I believe to be most holy, so that above any other duty it is in the highest degree necessary. For in speaking canonically or regularly we see that among all nations the outward preaching of apostles and evangelists or bishops has preceded faith, which we nevertheless say is received by the Spirit alone. For alas! We see very many who hear the outward preaching of the gospel, but believe not, because a dearth of the Spirit has occurred.