OT Anthropology. The Constituent Elements of Man. DRLE Pt.1

Death, Resurrection and Life Everlasting – DRLE Pt.1

A. Contemporary Criticism Against Biblical Dualistic Anthropology
Our understanding of death and afterlife depends on what Scripture says about the nature of man. However, the OT presents no systematic discussion of the nature of man, any more than it does of the nature of the triune God. Nevertheless, the Bible often refers to human nature as dualistic, that is, human nature is a combination of two distinct and separable entities, the material body and the immaterial soul which survives death.

However, the contemporary intellectual climate is inimical toward the traditional Christian teaching of dualism. The various objections raised against dualism include the following: 1) The theory of evolutionary psychology and scientific naturalism undermines belief in the human soul. 2) New research in neuroscience and behavioristic psychology claims to have identified direct causal relation (although this at best could be correlation) between brain functions and states of consciousness. This has rendered irrelevant the idea of the faculties of the soul & a fortriori the idea of the soul. Continue reading “OT Anthropology. The Constituent Elements of Man. DRLE Pt.1”

The Creedal Imperative and Trinitarian Confession of Christian Faith and Theology

Kairos Podcast 6: Early Trinitarianism from NT to Nicaea. Part 6/6

LINK: The Creedal Imperative and Trinitarian Confession of Christian Faith and Theology

Recapitulation – how the doctrine of Trinity unfolded as the early church countered heresies.

Tertullian defined the Trinity as three persons in one essence, thus highlighting the foundational biblical teaching on the oneness of God and the three distinct yet equal persons of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Council of Nicaea, with Athanasius, applied the term “essence” (ousia) to the person of Christ. Christ is of the same essence (homoousios) with the Father. Yet Christ also exists as a separate person, distinct in his own identity as Christ the Son. In short, biblical-Nicene trinitarianism succinctly insists that Christ is truly God and anyone who teaches otherwise is teaching heresy.

The Creedal Imperative – Biblicism insists that one only needs the bible to formulate Christian belief by relying on rigid proof-texting of selective bible verses at the expense of context and other biblical teachings. In contrast, the historic church affirms that creeds (like the Nicene Creed) are essential as they assist the church in understanding Scripture, provide succinct and normative summary of the foundations of the Christian faith (rule of faith) and protect believers from false doctrines.

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The Creedal Imperative and Trinitarian Confession of Christian Faith and Theology

Nicene Trinitarian Theology: True God from True God; Of One Substance (Homoousios) with the Father

Nicene Trinitarian Theology: True God from True God; Of One Substance (Homoousios) with the Father

Kairos Podcast 6: Biblical-Nicene Trinitarianism vs Early Heresies. Part 5/6

Theology of the Nicene Creed (325 AD)
Note how the four clauses of the Nicene Creed specifically rebut Arianism.

1. TRUE GOD FROM TRUE GOD – He is also ‘true God’, i.e. not God in a secondary degree.

2. THAT IS, FROM THE SUBSTANCE OF THE FATHER added to give a more precise interpretation to BEGOTTEN FROM THE FATHER – “What we have here is a deliberately formulated counterblast to the principal tenet of Arianism, that the Son had been created out of nothing and had a beginning.”

3. BEGOTTEN NOT MADE – “The Arians were “eager enough to employ such language as BEGOTTEN, but the meaning they put upon it was indistinguishable from MADE… [The Nicene Creed affirms that] The Godhead had never been without His Word or His Wisdom: so the Father had never been other than the Father, and had never been without His Son. The Son and the Father must therefore have coexisted from all eternity, the Father eternally begetting the Son.” (ECD 237-238).

4. OF ONE SUBSTANCE WITH THE FATHER – “This asserts the full deity of the Son. “The Son, it implied, shared the very being or essence of the Father. He was therefore fully divine. Whatever belonged to or characterized the Godhead belonged to and characterized Him.” (ECD 238)

To ensure total condemnation of Arian theology, the anathemas were added to condemn phrases typically used in Arian catchwords or slogans. Continue reading “Nicene Trinitarian Theology: True God from True God; Of One Substance (Homoousios) with the Father”

Genesis 1:1 – The Correct Translation: “In the beginning, God Created the Heavens and the Earth” (KJV, ESV, NIV) vs “In the Beginning when God Created the Heavens and the Earth (NRSV, JPS).”

The standard translation takes Gen.1:1 to be an independent clause which refers to the absolute beginning of the universe: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The word bərēʾšît (beginning) denotes the start of a whole sequence of events, that is, the absolute beginning of “the heavens and the earth.” The phrase is a rhetorical device (merism) which combines two extremes in order to refer to everything in between them. The translation is consistent with the idea that God created the whole universe ex nihilo.

The NET Bible supports the traditional scholarship in its translators’ notes on Gen. 1:1 – “the translation assumes that the form translated “beginning” is in the absolute state rather than the construct (“in the beginning of,” or “when God created”). In other words, the clause in v. 1 is a main clause, v. 2 has three clauses that are descriptive and supply background information, and v. 3 begins the narrative sequence proper.”

This traditional interpretation has been dominant for centuries. However, it has recently been seriously challenged by scholars who are informed by historical criticism of the Pentateuch which began in the 19th century. Continue reading “Genesis 1:1 – The Correct Translation: “In the beginning, God Created the Heavens and the Earth” (KJV, ESV, NIV) vs “In the Beginning when God Created the Heavens and the Earth (NRSV, JPS).””

The Arian Heresy and the Council of Nicaea (AD 325)

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Kairos Podcast 6: Biblical-Nicene Trinitarianism vs Early Heresies. Part 4/6
Video Link – The Arian Heresy and the Council of Nicaea (AD 325)

Essence of Arianism: God the Father is absolutely unique and transcendent. Since the being or essence (ousia) of the Godhead is unique, transcendent and indivisible it cannot be shared or communicated. Therefore, whatever else exists must have come into existence by an act of God’s creation.

Deductions: 1) The Son must be a creature, 2) As a creature the Son must have a beginning, 3) The Son can have no communion with, and indeed no direct knowledge of His Father, 4) The Son must be liable to change and even sin.

Conclusion: The Son of God was not eternal, was not always with God, but was made by the Father before all time. Key phrase of Arianism: “there was [a time] when he was not.”

For Arianism, the Son of God is of similar substance/essence (homoiousios) with the Father.

Refutation by the Nicene Creed (325 AD): the Son of God is of the same substance/essence (homoousios) with the Father – “We believe…the Son of God, begotten from the Father, only-begotten, that is, from the substance of the Father, God from God, light from light, true God from true God, begotten not made, of one substance with the Father.”

Book of Genesis vs Babylonian Creation (Enuma Elish) and Babylonian Flood (Epic of Gilgamesh)

Genesis vs Ancient Near East Polytheistic Myths: Plagiarism or Polemics? Part 2

A. Genesis and Babylonian Creation & Flood Accounts: Similar but Independent Accounts

The chart below lists several parallels between the Creation and Flood accounts of Genesis and the Mesopotamia Enuma Elish. [Source: Currid, p. 37-38]

Enuma Elish (Mesopotamia) Genesis
Divine spirit and cosmic matter are coexistent and coeternal Divine spirit creates cosmic matter and exists independently of it
Primeval chaos; Tiamat enveloped in darkness The earth a desolate waste, with darkness covering the deep (tehom)
Light emanating from the gods Light created
The creation of the firmament The creation of the firmament
The creation of dry land The creation of dry land
The creation of the luminaries The creation of the luminaries
The creation of man The creation of man
The gods rest and celebrate God rests and sanctifies the seventh day

How does one account for these similarities? Continue reading “Book of Genesis vs Babylonian Creation (Enuma Elish) and Babylonian Flood (Epic of Gilgamesh)”

Logos Christology vs Modalistic Monarchianism; Tertullian Trinity, Origen Eternal Generation of Son

Kairos Podcast 6: Biblical-Nicene Trinitarianism vs Early Heresies. Part 3/6

Video Link – Logos Christology vs Modalistic Monarchianism; Tertullian Trinity, Origen Eternal Generation of Son

Problem facing the early church in the 2nd century: How to maintain the unity of God while insisting on the deity of the one who was distinct from God the Father.
Answer by Logos theologians: Christ as the pre-existing Logos, was the Father’s thought and mind, and that as manifested in creation and revelation, He was its extrapolation or expression.”

Logos Christology was rejected by Modalistic Monarchianism (Sabellianism) which claimed that God is a monad (a monarchy above everything) which expresses itself in three operations. “Father, Son and Spirit are only different designations of the same revelation. The one God is known as a Trinity because of his three modes of action.

Modalistic Monarchianism was decisively refuted by Tertullian who utilised the systematic theory of the economy of salvation, with emphasis on the gradation and forms of the Father, Son, and Spirit. Tertullian was the first theologian to use the word “trinitas” and the formula, “one substance in three persons.”

Origen formulated the idea of the “eternal generation of the Son.”

Video Link – Logos Christology vs Modalistic Monarchianism; Tertullian Trinity, Origen Eternal Generation of Son

Penal-Substitution as Heart of Christ’s Atonement and its Accomplishments

Why do Christians call the day of the crucifixion of Jesus “Good Friday”? How can an execution that results from a miscarriage of justice be good? The Christian proclamation throughout history is that it is Good Friday because on the cross of calvary, Christ took the sinner’s place (Greek: ἀντί anti, ὑπέρ huper) /1/ in bearing the guilt of man’s sin and suffering the divine punishment as our substitute in order to satisfy divine justice and bring reconciliation between God and man. “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned – every one – to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all…Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand” (Isa. 53: 6, 10). Penal-substitution is the heart of the atonement, Christ’s work of salvation.

In recent times, some theologians have highlighted alternative theories to the penal substitutionary death of Christ. I shall only focus on two of the more influential alternative theories today – the moral influence theory and the Christus Victor theory. The problem with these theories of atonement is not that they are entirely wrong. They rightly explain some aspects of Christ’s death. However, they are in reality attempts to avoid the stumbling block of penal-substitution which causes offence to modern sensibilities. These theories are deficient since they emphasize on secondary features or by-products of the atoning death of Christ in order to evade penal-substitution which is the heart of atonement. Continue reading “Penal-Substitution as Heart of Christ’s Atonement and its Accomplishments”

Genesis vs Ancient Near East Polytheistic Myths: Plagiarism or Polemics? Part 1

Many critical scholars in Western universities suggest that the biblical Creation and Flood stories borrowed ideas from Ancient Near Eastern Texts (ANET). For example, the Creation story in Genesis must be influenced by the Babylonian creation story of Enuma Elish since the story in Genesis is briefer and the preserved records of Genesis belong to a later date. However, Kenneth Kitchen rejects this notion. He writes, “The common assumption that the Hebrew account is simply a purged and simplified version of the Babylonian legend (applied also to the Flood stories) is fallacious on methodological grounds. In the Ancient Near East, the rule is that simple accounts or traditions may give rise (by accretion and embellishment) to elaborate legends, but not vice versa. In the Ancient Orient, legends were not simplified or turned into pseudo-history (historicized) as has been assumed for early Genesis.”/1/

On the other hand, the relationship between Genesis and the Babylonian Flood story of the Epic of Gilgamesh could be more nuanced. There are some similarities, but also differences (the form of the Ark, duration of the Flood and the birds sent out by Noah). Perhaps, the similarities and differences arose because the memories and traditions of the event of the Flood were transmitted differently by Israel and its neighboring societies.

More importantly, Genesis displays vocabulary similar to ANET not because it borrowed ideas from ANET but because it is mounting a polemical theology against the pagan polytheism of Israel’s neighbors. Continue reading “Genesis vs Ancient Near East Polytheistic Myths: Plagiarism or Polemics? Part 1”

Early Heresies – Ebionism, Gnosticism and Adoptionism (Dynamic Monarchianism)

Kairos Podcast 6: Early Heresies Part 2/6

Video Link – Ebionism, Gnosticism and Adoptionism (Dynamic Monarchianism)

One paramount issue facing the early church was how to harmonize belief in the deity of the Son of God with monotheism. The early church had to clarify the relationship between Jesus and the one God of the Old Testament.

Prominent heretical sects which offered one-sided solutions include 1) Gnosticism and Docetism which deny the humanity of Christ and 2) Ebionism and Adoptionism (Dynamic Monarchism) which denied the deity of Christ.

The early church countered these heresies with the Rule of Faith which affirmed that belief in 1) the one God who is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and 2) the life, death, resurrection and deity of Jesus Christ to be non-negotiable. The affirmation was called the Rule of Faith. Because the Rule of Faith was so universal and consistent, the early “Church Fathers” could use it against heresies. The Rule of Faith eventually took the form of the Apostles’ Creed.

Video Link – Ebionism, Gnosticism and Adoptionism (Dynamic Monarchianism)

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Trinitarian Pattern in Greetings, Prayers & Worship in the New Testament

Doctrine of Trinity: A Primer