God Gave Us a Book

Can the supernatural and the natural realms talk together? Is communication possible between God and people? This crucial question polarized our nation’s founding fathers. All of the founders believed in a supernatural realm—God was a given. But a few of the founders insisted that God created the universe to run on its own without Him (a view known as Deism). For all practical purposes, these men dismissed the very possibility of communication between the natural and supernatural realms.

Since the early influences of Deism, American culture has been shaped by the anti-supernaturalist philosophies of biological evolution and secular humanism. Secularism is not merely anti-religious, although it is that. Secularism is, more fundamentally, an utter denial of the sacred and thus a disaffirmation of the indispensability of a supernatural realm—a supposition rendered reasonable by the theory of biological evolution. Whereas Deism was stuck with a Creator (albeit a silent one), evolutionism eliminated the notion of a Creator and completely eradicated the necessity of a supernatural realm. Secularism stands in at this point to assert what evolutionism suggested: supernaturalism is a myth.

It would seem that most Americans today embrace some form of evolutionism (fueled by evolutionism’s monopoly of the public education system), but few Americans are pure secularists. Surveys indicate that most Americans pray, and praying evidences at least a wishful hope in the existence of a supernatural realm (which goes far to explain the angst secularist educators suffer when public school students talk to God). Despite the inroads of Deism and secularism, many Americans still believe in a supernatural realm with which communication is possible.

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Book Review - Slave of Christ by Murray Harris

Paul begins his letter to the Romans by identifying himself: “Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ”—at least, this is how it is translated in the King James, English Standard, American Standard, Revised Standard, and New International versions. The New King James Version translates it this way, “Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ,” while the Holman Christian Standard Bible and New Living Translation say, “Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus.” This translation difference can be seen in most instances of the English translation of the Greek word doulos, used 126 times in the Greek New Testament.

What is the meaning of the Greek word doulos in its linguistic and cultural context? In Slave of Christ, Murray J. Harris presents a convincing case that the New Testament use of doulos refers to the ownership and authority of a master over a slave. Through a comprehensive review and synthesis of biblical and extrabiblical literature, as well as a detailed description of the meaning and connotation of slavery in the world of the New Testament, Harris argues that the New Testament use of the word doulos is a metaphor for wholehearted and total devotion to the Lord Jesus Christ (p. 19).

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What Are the Essentials?

Aristotle introduces his Nicomachean Ethics with these words: “Every skill and every inquiry, and similarly every action and rational choice, is thought to aim at some good; and so the good has been aptly described as that at which everything aims.”

While Aristotle identifies different intermediary goods on his way to his ultimate good (happiness), he underscores the importance of the question, “Good for what?” In Aristotle’s view, we can’t really define good until we understand at what goal the good aims. While his conclusion is problematic, his line of questioning is insightful.

Likewise, we can’t answer the question “What are the essentials?” until we first answer the question, “Essential for what?” One popular website asserts that, “The Bible itself reveals what is important and essential to the Christian faith. These essentials are the deity of Christ, salvation by God’s grace and not by works.”

While this sounds like a helpful enough answer, I wonder upon what basis the writer identifies these doctrines over others as essential. Are these intermediary essentials or they ultimate essentials?

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Christianity Is Not a Religion?

Reprinted with permission from Baptist Bulletin Nov/Dec 2012. All rights reserved.

People like me (a 20-something rookie pastor) have probably noticed a trend making its way through social media, bumper-sticker Christianity, and Christian bookstore T-shirt sections. What I’m noticing is not really a new trend or even an original spin on an old idea. It is a mind-set toward Christianity that, as far as I can tell, has influenced every generation since at least the Reformation. The phrase “Christianity is not a religion” is being touted as a fresh way of looking at the relationship of individual disciples of Christ to the practice of Christianity.

Some readers may be familiar with YouTube sensation Jefferson Bathke. Using poetry to express social commentary, Bathke has released a number of videos online that have reached tens of millions of viewers. One of his latest, released in January, “Why I Hate Religion, But Love Jesus,” has garnered over 20 million views. In the opening, Bathke asks, “What if I told you Jesus came to abolish religion?” Admittedly there has been a great deal of response and assessment of this video in the evangelical blogosphere, but most responses do not address the underlying issue prompting such a statement. Is Christianity a religion or not?

This is not a question being raised solely in liberal denominations and emerging groups. This is a sentiment identified on T-shirts and social media of fundamental Bible college students and of individuals in your church and mine, that is, the next generation of Regular Baptists.

The concept of religionless Christianity is pleasing to the “spiritual but not religious” generation of Oprah and The Shack. People, especially young people, love the idea of Christianity without the rigorous restrictions and expectations of their parents’ and grandparents’ Christianity.

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Book Review - A Theology of Luke & Acts

Last year, under the editorial direction of Andreas Kostenberger, Zondervan began the Biblical Theology of the New Testament Series.  The first installment was Kostenberger’s contribution A Theology of John’s Gospel and Letters. The BTNT series seeks to provide a biblical theology of the entire NT in eight volumes with a biblical/thematic approach.

This year the next volume is A Theology of Luke and Acts by well known Luke commentator Darrell Bock. Darrell Bock has written a few other books on Luke and Acts: Luke (IVP), Luke (NIVAC), Luke (BECNT), and Acts (BECNT). A Theology of Luke and Acts is not a commentary but rather a thematic look at the biblical theology of Luke and Acts as a literary unit.

Purpose of Luke-Acts

The essential purpose for Luke-Acts is “to show that the coming of Jesus, Christ, and Son of God launched the long-promised new movement of God. The community that has come from his ministry, the suffering these believers experienced, and the inclusion of Gentiles are part of God’s program promised in Scripture” (p. 29). According to Bock, Theophilus needed assurance that this new movement (Christianity) was a legitimate work of God given the amount of persecution it underwent. Luke assures him that the persecution is not a judgment of God but rather part of the plan of God to spread the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ to all nations.

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Doctrinal Error in Thayer's Lexicon

Reprinted with permission from As I See It. AISI is sent free to all who request it by writing to the editor at


Brother Kutilek,

In your most recent edition of AISI, you recommend Thayer’s “A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament.” I have used this lexicon extensively since the day my former pastor helped me pick out my copy at a local used book store. At that time, my pastor told me to watch out for Thayer’s doctrine with regard to the Trinity or deity of Christ, or perhaps his potential unitarianism. My pastor said he hadn’t found it, but he had been made aware of the warning and was just passing it on to me. I haven’t found it either. For a while, I have been using the Thayer’s edition that is online at Blue Letter Bible. I found the same warning there. They post this disclaimer online:

Caution: According to Baker’s modern copyright edition, Thayer was apparently not doctrinally sound in all areas, particularly in the area of the trinity, and so the user must be on guard. We would be appreciative of any actual examples of doctrinal error, so they can be marked with “caution” tags.

Brother K., you seem to be a person who is typically aware of this kind of information, so I thought I would ask you if you can shed any light on this. Do you know of any specific unsoundness in Thayer’s lexicon? Do you know of any particular entries where the user might be cautioned? Do you have any biographical information on Thayer (or perhaps on Grimm) that would uphold or refute this warning?

Thank you…

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