Daily Archives: 8 Sep 2017

The Mega Church Belief Matching Guarantee

Lifeline Community Church’s Pastor of Business Development confirmed Friday that the 5,000-member congregation would now be offering a belief-matching guarantee, promising to lower its doctrinal standard to meet whatever any competing congregation believes, “or your money back.”

Church visitors are invited to bring in a printed-out copy of any religion or competing church’s statement of faith or else a recorded sermon, show it to an usher or pastor, and the church will immediately drop a biblical doctrine in order to match the watered-down doctrine being espoused.

“Whatever beliefs you bring in here, we’ll match. Why go anywhere else?” Pastor of Marketing Kip Budlong said in a television commercial advertising the new policy. “If you come to our church and are taught a qualifying doctrine, and then go elsewhere and find that doctrine being taught in a manner less faithful to the Scriptures, return the following Sunday with proof and we’ll immediately lower the bar or just chuck the teaching altogether.”

At publishing time, the church had also announced an upcoming “Believe One Apostasy, Get One Free!” sale.

The Megas I know will gladly encourage you to believe whatever you like, and you’re welcome there.  It’s your presence that matters, not God’s.  And of course your offering.

SOMEONE, Please Make this Happen!

Answering Your Mail

Dear Jim,

I’m a first year Seminary student and I’m taking Greek this year and Hebrew next.  How, once I have those languages, can I retain them?  I hear so many people talk about how hard they worked to learn them and then they don’t remember anything they learned.  I don’t want to have that happen to me.  So what can I do?

Thanks, and I really love your blog, and your commentary too.

Chris S.


Thanks.  I appreciate the kind word.  As to your question, here’s the procedure I have followed for a very long time:

Each day I read one to two chapters in the Old Testament or New.  I read them first in Hebrew (or Greek) and then I read the same chapter or chapters in Greek (or Hebrew), Latin, and German.

So, for instance, if I’m reading Jeremiah, I’ll read the Hebrew text then the LXX then the Vulgate and then one of the German editions I have.  If I’m reading Acts I’ll read it in Greek and then Delitzch’s Hebrew New Testament (a real gem), then Latin and then German.

The only way you can retain a language is to use it.  You’ll find that the 10-20 minutes a day you devote to reading the languages you’ve worked so hard to obtain is very much worth it.  Especially when your fellow students start lamenting a year after they had Hebrew that they don’t remember any of it.

One aside- AVOID at ALL COSTS use of an Interlinear.  Don’t fall for the rubbish suggestion that they will help you.  They are an instrument of Satan to mislead the blessed.  Stay away from them as you would a Meth den.  If you don’t, you won’t be able to look at yourself in the mirror with any sense of self respect.  You’ll be a poseur.

Best wishes in your studies.



This Month’s Dilly Winner

I haven’t seen a more ignorant statement on the subject of theology for a good while.  So, precious heretical Canadian modalist, here’s your Dilly.  It’s well deserved.

Coolest Thing Ever, Or Coolest Thing in the Universe Ever?


Don’t Worry Houston, Joel Osteen Will Continue Preaching His False Gospel In Spite of Public Attacks

After enduring criticism for what some felt was a poor response to the Hurricane Harvey crisis on the part of Lakewood Church, Pastor Joel Osteen proudly stood in front of his congregation Sunday morning and reassured his church members that he would continue to preach the false prosperity gospel, even in the face of withering criticism.

Osteen graciously responded to unfair criticism of his ministry by redoubling his efforts to deceive millions of people into believing an unbiblical distortion of the gospel.

“There will always be voices of negativity in your life,” Osteen said to the cheers of the crowd. “There will always be haters. There will always be those that don’t want God’s best for you. I just want each and every one of you to know that no matter how much critics try to tear me down, I will be here, speaking words of positivity over you and preaching the false gospel of prosperity into your lives.”

“Remember, they can talk about Lakewood Church all they want, but we have to choose to remain vigilant in our mission to spread the completely made up modern American gospel of health and wealth. God will help us pursue our destiny to promote the Word-Faith movement as long as we continue to name and claim God’s blessings and release His power in this church!”

And, Houston, even if he does quit, you still have Ed Young and TD Jakes to hear spew falsehoods.  And they love your money as much as Joel does!  You’ll always have wolves in sheep’s clothing, so don’t despair.

When You Can’t Figure Out What God is Up To…

A Multi-part Interview With Matthew Bates on His New Book, Part Three

Note: Previous parts of the series are posted here.

Q –  Your book is very thought provoking. I can imagine that if could have grown exponentially and become quite a large volume. What did you leave out that you now wish you had included?

AServing up regrets? I’ll take four helpings, please. And my book has only been out a couple months, so I’ll probably be back in the buffet line soon. Dessert will follow with a cherry on top.

First, a more thoroughgoing defense of corporate rather than individual election. My sense is that most biblical scholars affirm corporate rather than individual election. So, I felt that there was no real need to defend this view. However, given their large stake in systematics, I should have realized that Calvinist-Reformed theologians would desire more evidence. Presently Reformed theologians are clinging to “both” regarding to individual/corporate election, but the studies showing this is unlikely for late second temple Judaism and early Christianity are multiplying. Since I didn’t include them in the book itself, now I can only point readers to studies such as A. Chadwick Thornhill, The Chosen People; N. T. Wright, Paul and the Faithfulness of God; Brian J. Abasciano, Paul’s Use of the Old Testament in Romans 9.10-18; “Corporate Election in Romans 9: A Reply to Thomas Schreiner,” JETS 49 (2006), 351-71).

Second, I wish I had given a clearer articulation of how boasting properly fits into a biblical theology of salvation. “Faith,” “grace,” “works” and “boasting” tend to be packaged together in systematic articulations of salvation theory, especially those that want to make Ephesians 2:8-10 the premier statement of how salvation functions. The problem, however, is sixteenth-century rather than first-century understandings of these terms are all too often in play. I worked on the first three, and although the savvy reader of my ch. 5 can probably extrapolate how boasting fits, I didn’t tackle it head-on (see the subsections on “The New Perspective on Paul” and “Works of Law as Rule Performance”). In any case, it must be remembered that Ephesians 2:8-10 is not an articulation of the gospel; that is far too imprecise. Rather the gospel is a specific story about Jesus how Jesus came to be the atoning royal Messiah, the Lord of heaven and earth.

Third, although I think at times this is transparent enough, I wish I had been clearer that my argument really hinges on the presence of the “embodied loyalty” nuance with regard to the pistis word group (not in all passages, just in certain ones). That is, it does not ultimately turn on whether or not “allegiance” (or the like) is the single best translation of pistis or pisteuö in any given passage. My point is that loyalty or allegiance is part of the semantic range of the word pistis, so when we are speaking about Jesus the Christ, it is problematic to evacuate allegiance entirely—which is not quite the same thing as saying allegiance is the best translational choice.

Fourth, I think my articulation of why Abraham was justified by pistis could have been sharper. I’ve sought to nuance that more here [https://academic.logos.com/abrahams-allegiance-to-king-jesus-part-4-of-the-matthew-bates-interview/]. This is important, I think. So, check it out.

Q – Who has played the most influential part in your theological development?

AUmmh… Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Because it is tricky to deny God’s causal agency in any of our human endeavors. And because it sounds pious while implicitly asserting that my work is divinely inspired. Just kidding, of course. I only joke because in reality such things are very serious business for me. I am definitely a praying theologian. And I truly do hope that the Lord has helped me by taking the best I could offer and minimizing inevitable errors and follies.

I work at the interface of biblical studies and systematic theology, but my formal training emphasized the former. On the biblical front I was heavily impacted early in my career by Gordon Fee (whom I studied under at Regent College). Beyond Fee, many of the usual suspects could be named, but I’ll single out Justin Martyr and Irenaeus as ancient worthies and N. T. Wright, Richard Hays, Richard Bauckham, Michael Gorman, and David Aune (my Doktorvater) as modern influences. Systematics is a growth area for me. I wish I could tell you that I was cool enough to spend lots of time reading Karl Barth, as that would sound impressive. This past year I’ve enjoyed new offerings by Fred Sanders, Oliver Crisp, Scott Swain, and Kevin Vanhoozer, among others.

Q– The pedagogical thrust of your work shines brilliantly on every page but is especially noticeable in the ‘For Further Thought’ sections at the end of each chapter. If readers have questions about the questions you pose, where would you recommend they find guidance?

AThanks for the compliment. I do hope that individual readers, students, and church groups find the questions stimulating. I did get to test some of them out in the classroom. The questions really vary.

Some questions are more content related and can be answered by re-reading. For example, “Can the grace of the Christ be prior without it involving the eternal predestination of individuals?” And, “How could grace be prior yet still demand actual obedience (including good works) for salvation?” These answers can be found by re-reading a portion of the chapter. For those that want to go deeper, further reading could be undertaken in the literature cited throughout the chapter.

Other questions are more personal or communal. For example, “How does our time-bound status affect our spirituality?” And, “Do you struggle more with the past, present, or future? Why?” The book’s content has bearing on these answers but does not give a direct answer. The reader must seek to synthesize the book with other knowledge/experiences.

Finally, others involve application, “Give at least two specific, practical suggestions that might help your local church (or another congregation that you know about) shift from a salvation culture to an allegiance culture during this forthcoming week, month, or year.” These are designed to help connect the head to the hand, so that Jesus’s kingly rule can be made tangible.

Celebrating the Birth-iversary of Peter Martyr Vermigli

Today marks the anniversary of Vermigli’s birth, on 8 September 1499 (or 1500- there is some debate about the year).  His numerous writings are still very much worth reading.  Encyclopedia Brittanica describes him thusly:

The son of a prosperous shoemaker, Vermigli had by 1518 entered the Lateran Congregation of the Augustinian Canons Regular at Fiesole. After eight years of study at Padova he served variously as preacher, vicar, and abbot, finally becoming abbot at St. Peter ad Aram, a city monastery in Naples, in 1537. There he joined the select group around Juan de Valdés and read the pseudonymous works of the Reformers. Vermigli became suspect, and the Theatines procured his suspension from preaching, but sympathetic cardinals at Rome had the ban lifted. In 1541 he became prior of San Frediano at Lucca, where he gathered a teaching staff and introduced both monastery and congregation to Reformed doctrine and worship. Summoned to appear before his order at Genoa, he fled in August 1542 to Zürich. Martin Bucer then called him to Strasbourg (now in France), where he was professor of theology (1542–47, 1553–56). Vermigli in 1547 accepted Archbishop Thomas Cranmer’s invitation to England and became regius professor of divinity at the University of Oxford. The major event of his stay was a disputation (1549) on the Eucharist, at which three matters of belief were debated: (1) transubstantiation, (2) carnal or corporeal presence, and (3) whether “the body and blood of Christ is sacramentally joined to the bread and the wine.” His influence on the 1552 prayer book and the Forty-two Articles (1553) is problematic. His eucharistic doctrine, in the Oxford Disputation and Treatise and in Defensio adversum Gardinerum (published in 1559), was close to that of John Calvin, Bucer, and Philipp Melanchthon. After Queen Mary’s accession, Cranmer named him the archbishop’s assistant, but Vermigli went into exile, followed by disciples such as John Jewel, during later persecutions by the crown. He returned to Strasbourg in 1553 but in 1556, after the Lutheran–Reformed dispute over the ubiquity of Christ’s body intensified, went to Zürich as professor of Hebrew.

There’s a bit more on Vermigli here.  And here’s a vermigli gallery for your enjoyment.  Get to know this man.  He’s important.