Mistakes Bible Teachers Make - Ineffective Questions

Teaching the Bible in a relatively small, somewhat informal setting provides unique advantages and blessing for both students and teachers. The spontaneity and interaction can often turn the class into a collaborative effort to edify and encourage one another, and no matter how high his level of expertise, the teacher is often edified as much as anyone else.

But there are many ways to reduce the effectiveness of this teaching format. Well-intentioned teachers can easily discourage participation, focus, and thoughtful engagement—in some cases to the point that everyone is discouraged and frustrated rather than built-up and refueled.

We’ll consider some common mistakes teachers make with this kind of teaching, focusing for now on question-related problems. Read more about Mistakes Bible Teachers Make - Ineffective Questions

How Did We Get Here? Competing Theories of Origin

“How did we get here?” This is one of the great questions of life, and its answer sets the direction for so many other answers to great questions. If we are descended from animals, then are we not justified in living as animals? If we are generated merely by chance, then is there any meaning to life, or do we simply make our own? If we are created by a non-involved creator, then are we accountable to that creator? If we are created by the Creator described in the Bible, then are we not accountable to Him, and should we not look to Him to guide in our understanding of existence in His universe?

How we answer the origin question in large part predetermines how we view and answer questions of our own personal meaning and responsibility. We really can’t know what we should do unless we know who we are. And we can’t know who we are unless we know from whence we came. Read more about How Did We Get Here? Competing Theories of Origin

Book Review: Douglas Axe's “Undeniable”

Image of Undeniable: How Biology Confirms Our Intuition That Life Is Designed
by Douglas Axe
HarperOne 2017
Paperback 304

Readers of Stephen Meyer’s two important books, Signature in the Cell and Darwin’s Doubt, will know the name of Douglas Axe. Axe’s work on probability theory and gene folding feature quite prominently in those works. This book is a compliment to Meyer, but it is also a companion to William Dembski’s books, like The Design Inference and No Free Lunch. I suppose the nearest thing to it is Dembski’s book Intelligent Design.

But Undeniable is not simply a repetition of the type of arguments one will find in those books. In the first place, Axe’s main concern is to provide Joe Public with an assuring and accessible guide on his own ability to detect invention no matter what the Science pundits tell them.

This book tries to get behind the sane intuition all of us have that incredibly complex functionality is not, and can never be, a result of any kind of unguided randomization. It never is, in our day to day experience of living. Only in the imaginings of those who cannot see the difference between a scientific pronouncement and a metaphysical one does the idea gain currency and the power to veto competing ideas. Read more about Book Review: Douglas Axe's “Undeniable”

From the Archives: How I Became Convinced of the Effectual Call

I grew up with a semi-Calvinistic understanding of salvation. I knew that people were dead in sins and that dead people don’t do anything. But I did not understand much of how salvation actually worked.

When I first heard someone teach on the effectual call (also poorly described as irresistible grace) I balked at it. It didn’t seem to match up with my conception of salvation and my experience of life. When the gospel was preached, it seemed that the Spirit was working generally in people’s hearts, and they either responded to that work or rejected it. But that was all that was happening.

While in graduate school, I took a class on Romans. When studying through Romans 8—specifically verses 28–30—I became convinced that the effectual call was a biblical teaching. Read more about From the Archives: How I Became Convinced of the Effectual Call

Theology Thursday - Byzantine Priority & the "Phantom" Eclectic Text (Part 2)

Maurice Robinson continues to make his case for Byzantine priority for the Greek text of the New Testament. In this excerpt, he explains his approach to restoring the text from his perspective, and how it differs from the eclectic method.1 

Principles for Restoring the Text

For the most part, the principles utilized in the practice and application of Byzantine-priority theory remain identical to those found in the standard text-critical handbooks regarding the eclectic methods. The issue is not the principles, but the total scope of their application; modern eclecticism sees only the individual variant units, while Byzantine-priority sees the sequential text as a whole.

Read more about Theology Thursday - Byzantine Priority & the "Phantom" Eclectic Text (Part 2)

“Replacement Theology” - Is It Wrong to Use the Term? (Part 9)

Read the series.

This is the final post in this series, the purpose of which has been to ask whether “replacement theology” and “supercessionism” correctly describe what some theologies, covenant theology especially, do with the nation of Israel and its OT promises in teaching fulfillment through “transformation” into Christ and the church. I am not saying that every CT (or NCT) will want to see themselves undercover of these names, only that the names fairly describe this aspect of the way these good people interpret the NT’s use of the OT.

We have seen that replacement theology exists. I have shown that some CT’s actually use the term “replace” (or “supercessionism”) to describe their approach in their own works, and that they recommend books that unashamedly use it. More anecdotally, I have encountered this opinion many times in conversations.

Of course, replacement theology is not confined to orthodox Reformed covenantalism, but they are the ones whose books and lectures I know best. In this tradition, it is common to view the history of Israel as primarily a structural learning device; a tool for teaching the Christian church through narrative and type; a “means to an end” as R. Scott Clark put it. Read more about “Replacement Theology” - Is It Wrong to Use the Term? (Part 9)

Should Divorcees Be Forbidden to Teach or Lead in Local Churches?

The constitutions and bylaws of independent Baptist churches commonly include language that forbids divorced persons from teaching Sunday School or holding church office. The restriction is so common that of the dozens of church constitutions I’ve read and filed, only one or two lack some version of it. Since many churches with these restrictions have some history of conflict over them, the topic also tends to be seen as a minefield—best to fence it off and leave it alone.

But these same church constitutions and confessions of faith also strongly emphasize the authority of Scripture, and one question should always be welcome: Is what we’re doing biblical? Is it compatible with Scripture and the revealed nature and purposes of the church?

Let’s consider some arguments pro and con. Read more about Should Divorcees Be Forbidden to Teach or Lead in Local Churches?

Why They Followed the Law (Part 3)

Read the series.

Many dispensationalists are mistaken about the impetus for obeying the Mosaic Law, and they’re mistaken about Paul’s main point in his letter to the Galatian churches.1 These errors compound one another and, like an investment gone mad,2 they produce great confusion among Christians.

I’ll repeat something I wrote in the first installment of this series:

In Galatians, Paul was not arguing against the Old Covenant. He was arguing against the twisted, warped version of the Old Covenant the scribes and Pharisees had been pushing for so long.

Dispensationalists have made many attempts to explain the relationship between Old Covenant saints, the law and Christian life today.3 They often labor mightily to avoid the excesses of Scofield and Chafer, while yet simultaneously upholding a strong discontinuity between the Old and New Covenants. They often focus relentlessly on Paul’s letters (particularly Galatians and Romans), and less on the Old Covenant texts or their continuity with Jesus’ ministry. Read more about Why They Followed the Law (Part 3)