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  • Old Diatribe: Merry Christmas
    owned buildings Why should Christians be bothered when a public school forces parents to remove the Christmas lights they had strung about the building After all the first amendment is pretty clear on the fact that the government is not allowed to give special treatment to a given religion For years Christians have worried about the excessive commercialization of the December 25th holiday its tendency to disappear into a time of gift giving and getting tinsel and trees and a jolly red suited obese guy Jesus is the reason for the season we Christians have chanted And so I would point out that only when Christmas was safely neutered and simply about red and green decorations could it be safely placed inside government structures As soon as Christmas became what it actually is a celebration of Jesus birth it became dangerous Christians should rejoice in this removal of Christmas ornamentation from government centers It means that we ve won the argument People finally recognize the true significance of Christmas Linus words from the Charlie Brown Christmas TV special have finally reached the hearts and minds of the American public the true meaning of Christmas is that Jesus came to the

    Original URL path: http://theology.edu/diatribes/diatribe07.htm (2013-12-10)
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  • Frequently Asked Questions: Who Wrote the Bible
    the wise 25 1 29 27 are attributed to Solomon but were collected and recorded by Hezekiah s men 30 1 33 is attributed to Agur 31 1 31 is attributed to Lemuel Ecclesiastes The book is attributed to Solomon by some If that is the case the book dates to the 900 s BC Others would argue for an unknown author and put the date of composition around 390 BC Ezra Nehemiah They are treated as a single book in the Talmud Josephus and the Canon of Melito AD 171 They are also treated as a single book in the Masoretic Text traditional Hebrew Bible The author of the book of Ezra Nehemiah is unknown though Ezra 7 9 apparently were written by Ezra since they are in the first person The account in chapters 1 6 is compiled from records including decrees 1 2 4 6 3 12 genealogies and name lists 2 and letters 4 7 22 5 6 17 There are two sections that have been preserve in Aramaic 4 8 6 18 and 7 12 26 Aramaic was the diplomatic language during this period Sources for the section labled Nehemiah in our text include what appear to be memoirs of Nehemiah written in the first person Nehemiah 1 1 7 73a 11 1 2 12 31 43 13 4 31 The date of the final composition of the book is generally accepted as being sometime during the 4th century BC Song of Songs The book is attributed to Solomon which would place its date of composition in the 900 s BC Isaiah It is attributed to Isaiah it consists several oracles given by him over several years 740 690 BC Its final form as we have it assuming a single unitary authorship to the book would thus be sometime during the 7th century BC Jeremiah It is attributed to Jeremiah who lived from about 627 to 580 BC Ezekiel It is attributed to Ezekiel who was born around 622 BC Based on internal dating the book covers the time from about 593 through about 570 BC Daniel It is attributed to Daniel and thus would have been written sometime between 605 BC and about 530 BC Hosea Attributed to Hosea His prophesies cover the period from 753 715 BC Joel Attributed to Joel The date of the book is uncertain with dates ranging from the early pre exilic 800 s BC to late post exilic period 500 400 BC Amos Attributed to Amos Dates between 767 and 753 BC Obadiah Attributed to Obadiah Dates between 847 and 841 BC Jonah Attributed to Jonah Dates to the 700 s BC Micah Attributed to Micah Dates between 740 and 695 BC Nahum Attributed to Nahum Two different dates are generally accepted as possibilities for Nahum s ministry 661 612 BC or 722 701 BC Habakkuk Attributed to Habakkuk Dates to sometime between 612 and 587 BC Zephaniah Attributed to Zephaniah Dates sometime during the reign of Josiah

    Original URL path: http://theology.edu/faq01.htm (2013-12-10)
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  • Frequently Asked Questions: Whom Did Cain Marry?
    In Genesis 5 4 we are told that after Seth was born Adam had other sons and daughters The assumption therefore is that Cain married one of his relatives either a sister cousin or niece Although this seems odd who else would there have been for him to marry We have an example in the Bible of someone else being married to his half sister Abraham see Gen 20 9

    Original URL path: http://theology.edu/faq02.htm (2013-12-10)
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  • Frequently Asked Questions: Why Didn't God Write It Himself?
    one It is loosely analogous to the question that arrises when someone wonders why God would sometimes use angels to bring a message to someone and sometimes come directly or at other times use human intermediaries Or why did God choose to talk to a certain person rather than another or why did Jesus heal these folks and not those or for that matter why did God pick Abraham and his descendants to work through and not some other person and his or her descendants Frankly there is no good answer to any of these questions other than to say simply that God being God will pretty much do whatever he darn well feels like doing Sort of like the story of the five hundred pound gorrilla and his sleeping arrangements This is obviously not an entirely satisfactory answer but I ve found that the Bible rarely offers us answers to why questions of this sort It may be useful to point out that the ten commandments are the only portion of scripture for which it is claimed that God physically wrote them down so the human instrument method seems to be normative Of course one must point out that the appearance in the Bible of even the ten commandments is then the result of the author of Exodus copying them from the tablets to the scrolls he was using for the rest of God s words In regard to the differences of style content and descriptions of events in the Gospels or in other parallel accounts say comparing 1 2 Samuel 1 2 Kings and 1 2 Chronicles such variations clearly indicate that they are the products of several human beings doing the writing each with his or her own perspective and methods of expression We would assume that

    Original URL path: http://theology.edu/faq03.htm (2013-12-10)
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  • Frequently Asked Questions: Is Birth Control a Sin?
    the issue There is no place in the Bible that says one cannot use birth control I would not agree that Onan s behavior in Genesis 38 is relevant to the question since his sin came in failing to perform his duty in that culture of raising up an heir for his dead brother By thus failing to produce an heir for his dead brother he hoped to become the sole heir of his father s estate Onan s sin therefore is essentially that of greed Personally I disagree with the arguments commonly raised that to use something like birth control or some other human intervention in nature especially in biology is to resist God s will One could make the same arguments about anything that we as human s do whether taking aspirin to relieve a headache building a bridge to cross a river or performing open heart surgery If God had meant for us to fill in the blank Human intervention in the natural order of things is not resisting God s will since we are no less parts of his creation and he doubtless has taken our behavior patterns which he designed in the first place into

    Original URL path: http://theology.edu/faq04.htm (2013-12-10)
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  • Frequently Asked Questions: Why Don't Protestants Revere Mary?
    of Mary s perpetual virginity binding upon Eastern Orthodox and Roman Catholic believers and many Anglican some Lutheran and a few other Protestant theologians have accepted it Certainly the concept of Mary s perpetual virginity is very early and the church fathers argued for it on the basis of such OT passages as Ezek 44 2 and Song of Solomon 4 12 I would argue that those OT passages have nothing to do with Mary and are used out of context They would seem usable only if one has already decided to accept the doctrine of Mary s perpetual virginity Much of Protestantism s rejection of Mary s perpetual virginity is ultimately the result of one of the three pillars of the Reformation specifically the first one a Only Scripture b Priesthood of all believers c Salvation by grace through faith That is much of Protestantism s rejection of Mary s perpetual virginity is the consequence of scriptural interpretation Since the Bible Matthew 13 55 56 Mark 6 3 and Galatians 1 19 speaks of Jesus brothers and sisters Catholic interpretors will insist these are cousins kinsmen or from a supposed earlier marriage of Joseph and since we re also

    Original URL path: http://theology.edu/faq05.htm (2013-12-10)
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  • Frequently Asked Questions: Doesn't James Suggest Salvation by Works?
    in Galatians 6 14 May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ through which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world The point in the book of James as well as the point with this classic text is that salvation is not simply an academic or theoretical sort of thing Rather salvation inevitably leads to good works James point essentially is to wonder how a person can have faith without it having some rather significant imapact on one s life Good works are the natural inevitable consequence of grace God taking up residence inside a believer by means of the indwelling Spirit cannot help but have rather significant impact on that individual s life James does not suggest and none of the other writers of scripture do either that one gains favor with God by what one does Paul makes it quite clear that while grace will lead to good works good works will never lead to grace that in fact grace is then excluded see Romans 11 6 for instance Other significant passages relating to the expression of salvation by grace can be found throughout the Bible The passages in Romans you are doubtless familiar with You might also profitably reread Galatians 3 1 6ff Additionally the Old Testament illustrates that salvation is by grace through faith rather than by works As an example consider what Peter had to say about Lot in 2 Peter 2 7 8 that he was a righteous man Yet when one examines the story of Lot in Genesis 19 one is hard pressed to discover anything righteous in the sense of his works Lot resisted the idea of leaving Sodom he offered his daughters to a mob to be raped and ultimately he

    Original URL path: http://theology.edu/faq06.htm (2013-12-10)
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  • Frequently Asked Questions: What About Those Who Have Never Heard?
    solution becomes inescapable when one considers some other passages and concepts Notice that John has consiously patterned John 1 1 2 after Genesis In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God He was with God in the beginning Through him all things were made without him nothing was made that has been made In him was life and that life was the light of men John 1 1 4 In case there were any doubts it is through the Son verse 3 that the universe was created yet Genesis 1 1 tells us that God made it So who is the God of the Old Testament who created the universe The Bible is clear it is the Son Notice Colossians 1 13 17 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves in whom we have redemption the forgiveness of sins He is the image of the invisible God the firstborn over all creation For by him all things were created things in heaven and on earth visible and invisible whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities all things were created by him and for him He is before all things and in him all things hold together Consider too that the even the nature of salvation requires that the God of the Old Testament be the Son Peter reports then know this you and all the people of Israel It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead that this man stands before you healed He is the stone you builders rejected which has become the capstone Salvation is found in no one else for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved Acts 4 10 12 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved Acts 2 21 That if you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead you will be saved For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved As the Scripture says Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame For there is no difference between Jew and Gentile the same Lord is Lord of all and richly blesses all who call on him for Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved Romans 10 9 13 The New Testament writers quote from the Old Testament telling people to call upon the name of the Lord meaning Jesus in order to be saved Clearly they felt that Yahweh in the Old Testament is the same as Jesus in their day Look at the passage in Joel that they were quoting from And everyone who calls on

    Original URL path: http://theology.edu/faq07.htm (2013-12-10)
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