Saturday, March 31, 2018


Today's excerpt from my novella.
Two tasks were planned during his time in death. The first was to go to the “place” where one group of fallen angels were bound, near where the spirits of the faithless wait. Some of the fallen angels are already bound for all eternity.

I will share more details later in my diaries, but there was a point early in the story of humanity when most of the inhabited world was destroyed by water. The days right before then were a time of great wickedness. Since the time of that flood, fallen angels remain unseen to the human eye. But it was not always the case.

Before the flood, one group of fallen angels dared to appear as men. The wickedness they brought was swallowing up humanity. It was not God’s time. Humanity was not far enough along for the Logos to come or for God’s people to emerge. God commanded Michael to intervene and those angels were bound forever in the fourth dimension.

Jesus’ first task in death was to proclaim a definitive victory over these imprisoned spirits. With his death, their defeat was final. The earth was redeemed. It just didn’t know it yet. Satan’s power was defeated. He just had not fully experienced it yet.

Jesus’ second task was to announce freedom to the faithful. They already knew peace. They already knew hope. Now Jesus confirmed to them that salvation was accomplished. They would rise again with glorified bodies. All the sacrifices they had made in life had pointed toward this moment in history. They were only foreshadowings of this time, anticipations of a reality that only Christ could actually bring about.

Friday, March 30, 2018

7. The Holy Spirit

7. The Theology of the Holy Spirit
7.1 Rule of Faith
  • A distinct person within the Trinity
  • Especially associated with God's omnipresence
  • Draws us toward salvation, convicts of sin
  • A seal of ownership, guarantee of inheritance, down payment of coming age
  • Unifier of body of Christ
  • Basis of Spiritual power and gifts
  • Instrument of spiritual cleansing and sanctification
  • Leader into truth
7.2 The Spirit in the Old Testament
  • Personhood is still ambiguous
  • Present in creation (Gen. 1:2)
  • Mediator of God's presence everywhere (Psalm 137)
  • Occasional empowerment of specific individuals for specific purposes (Samson, Gideon)
7.3 The Spirit of God and Christ
  • A person, referred to with a masculine pronoun in John 14:26
  • Romans 8:9-11 floats smoothly between Spirit of God and Spirit of Christ--same Spirit.
  • Distinct in Trinitarian expressions: 1 Cor. 12:3-6; 2 Cor. 13:14; Eph. 4:4-6; Matt. 28:18-20
  • God is Spirit (2 Cor. 3:17-18). To say God is a Spirit both 1) suggests that his essence is transcendent and yet 2) suggests that he is everywhere here immanent.
7.4 Functions of the Holy Spirit
7.4.1 Revealer
  • John 14:25-26 (he will teach you everything)
  • John 16:13 - Spirit of truth will guide you into all truth
  • Giver of prophecy (2 Pet. 1:20-21 and various)
  • Convicts the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8-11)
7.4.2 Deposit and Guarantee
  • 2 Cor. 1:22--seal of ownership
  • Earnest--2 Cor. 1:22; Eph 1:14
  • Heb. 6:4-5
7.4.3 Ground of Unity
  • Eph. 4:4
  • Acts 15:8-10--unity between Gentile and Jew
  • 1 Cor. 12:4, 13 (spiritual gifts)
  • Phil. 2:1
7.4.4 Power and Purity
  • "You will receive power" (Acts 1:8)--healing, boldness, tongues
  • Spiritual gifts (1 Cor. 12)
  • Sanctifier--2 Thess. 2:13
  • Empowerment for righteousness--Gal. 5:16; Rom. 8:2; 2 Cor. 3:18
7.4.5 Advocate
  • John 14:16 (cf. 1 John 2:1)
Previous "chapters"
Chapter 1: What is Biblical Theology?
Chapter 2: Theology of God
Chapter 3: Creation and Consummation
Chapter 4: Sin and Atonement
Interlude: A Theology of Israel
Chapter 5: Jesus the Christ
Chapter 6: Salvation

Friday Science: Hawking 3 (Expansion of Universe)

I started Friday reviews of Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time.
Chapter 1
Chapter 2

Chapter 3: The Expanding Universe
1. I'm trying to figure out why I found this book so hard to read back in the nineties. My brain is a strange thing. Sometimes nothing will go in and then at other times a mess of complicated stuff goes right through. My breakthrough book was The Perfect Theory.

So chapter 1 talks about the earth at the center of the universe. We hear about Copernicus and Newton. He mentions relativity and quantum mechanics. Chapter 2 then gives Einstein's special and general theories of relativity. Chapter 3 is about the Big Bang.

2. This chapter makes it clear that Hawking sees how the Big Bang theory could play into belief in God but of course he rejects that. I'm always a little puzzled by Christians who have a really negative view of a big bang, because it seems to serve in strong support of the cosmological argument for the existence of God.

It must be the fact that most scientists think it took place a little less than 14 billion years ago. But that's not the same as evolution. John Piper, for example, is very open to an old earth even though he does not believe in evolution.

3. He talks a little about the process of discovering that we are inside a galaxy of stars and that there are millions of other galaxies of stars. Edwin Hubble in 1924 was the first to discover other galaxies. The two factors in the brightness of a star are its luminosity and its distance from us. Hubble's logic went like this:
  • If we know the luminosity of what we're observing, we can figure the distance from us.
  • We know the distance of some stars near us using geometry. Since we know the distance, we can determine the luminosity of various type of stars.
  • [We can type them by analysis of the light they emit, their spectra.]
  • Now, knowing the luminosity of these types, we can figure out the distances of distant ones.
4. Hubble discovered that the spectra of all the stars everywhere was shifted to the red end of the spectrum. That is to say, using the Doppler effect, they were moving away from us. In short, every point, everywhere in the universe, is moving away from every other part of the universe. The universe is expanding.

Indeed, the farther away a galaxy is, the faster it is moving away! The speed of expansion suggests whether 1) it will eventually slow down and pull back in on itself (cosmic crunch), 2) it will continue at a steady speed, or 3) it will expand faster and faster until there is a cosmic rip. The third seems to be the case. Alexander Friedmann in 1922, four years before Hubble, had predicted the expansion.

Einstein hated the idea of cosmic expansion, actually introduced a "cosmological constant" into his formulas to make it stop. :-) Ironically, he was right about the constant, but wrong about expansion.

5. In 1965, two men working for Bell Labs picked up a background radiation that was theoretically explained by a big bang. If the universe was infinitely old, it would have already dissipated. The universe must have been fantastically hot to begin with, but it has been cooling down ever since. If we extrapolate back, the universe would have begun as something like a "singularity," a single point.

"Dark matter" has also been proposed to explain why galaxies swirl as they do. The outer rims of the galaxies swirl at the same basic speed as other parts.

A lot of people didn't like the idea of an expanding universe. It played too easily into an argument for God. Fred Hoyle in England was a very charismatic propagator of a "steady state" theory, where matter is constantly being created. He's a study in how people believe as much because of the person selling stuff as on the basis of truth. He was wrong. Go away, charmer.

6. The chapter ends with Roger Penrose's discovery of the probability of black holes, and of course Hawking's work built off of him. Together they proposed that the universe had begun with such a singularity that then expanded in a big bang. Again, this idea faced a lot of resistance but, in the end, the math was the math.

The problem--still unsolved--is that general relativity and quantum mechanics don't fit together. This is no problem today because the cosmos is really big and the atom is really small. But before the big bang, the universe was immensely dense and immensely small. This is the biggest problem in modern physics.

Friday--Pilate's Decision

Today's excerpt from my novella.
“So are you the King of the Jews?” Pilate said.

“That is why I am here,” Jesus finally said.

“They say you have been stirring up trouble all over Galilee. They say you healed one of the beggars over near the Pool of Bethesda. Is that true?”

Jesus did not say anything.

“You know what I think?” Pilate continued. “I think they’re jealous. I hear the people love you. The people don’t love them. Everyone knows that the money changers get rich off the people who come here to sacrifice.”

Pilate paused. “But that’s just the way the world works. The big fish eat the little fish.”

There was the smallest flicker of the Spirit in Pilate. This was his moment. At some point in every human’s life, the Spirit gives an opportunity for everyone to move toward God. For a moment Pilate felt the smallest tug of the Holy Spirit.

“Let’s see if the people love you enough to save you.”

It was customary at Passover for Pilate to release someone from his jail back to the people. He had a genuine insurrectionist in his jail, a violent man named Barabbas. So at the second hour, eight o’clock in the morning, Pilate presented Jesus and Barabbas to a crowd that had gathered outside Herod’s palace, where Pilate stayed when he was in town. Pilate genuinely thought they would free Jesus.

“Who do you want me to release?” he shouted. “Barabbas, who beat up a Passover visitor here from Egypt this week? Or do you want Jesus, who turned over some tables in the Temple this week?”

Jesus’ mother and some of his followers were in the crowd. They were distraught on the deepest of levels. Others were in hiding.

They thought the crowds would cry out for Jesus, but the priests and elders had planted their servants in the crowd. Much to the disciples’ surprise, people all over the crowd started shouting, “Crucify him!”

Then there were those in town who were bitter because they had hoped Jesus might lead an insurrection. They hoped he would overthrow the Romans. To them he was an embarrassment, a disgrace. They were angry at him because they felt betrayed. He made them feel once again like losers before the Romans.

“Crucify him! Crucify him!” the crowd shouted. Mary and Peter and Lazarus and Mary Magdalene and James and John and the others looked around in horror. What was happening? How could this be happening? Jesus was the Messiah!

Pilate was also surprised. The light of the Spirit flickered just one more time, more brightly than ever before. And then the light in Pilate went out for good. He had made his choice. He would reject the Holy Spirit.

“Then crucify him we will.”

6.3 After Incorporation

Chapter 6: Salvation
6.1 Predestination and Election'
6.2 The Conditions of Salvation

6.3 After Incorporation
6.3.1 Faith and Repentance
  • We walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7).
  • Hebrews 11--the faith chapter gives examples of faith among God's people (e.g., 11:6).
  • Confession of sins (2:1--1:9 is more about pre-Christian sins)
  • 2 Corinthians 7:10
  • Progressive glorification! 2 Corinthians 3:18
6.3.2 Christian Maturity (a.k.a. entire sanctification)
  • Hebrews 6:1--"Let us go into perfection"
  • Philippians 3:15--"As many of us as are mature"
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:23--"May God sanctify you entirely"
  • Matthew 5:48--"Be complete as your heavenly Father is complete."
  • 1 Peter 1:15-16--"Be holy as I am holy"
6.3.3 Falling Away
  • The Apostle Paul: 1 Cor. 9:24-27; Phil. 3:10-12--Paul did not consider his own resurrection, glorification guaranteed.
  • Romans 8:31-39 is talking about external forces, not a believer separating him or herself.
  • Romans 11:19-21 speaks of branches that are grafted in being grafted back out.
  • Hebrews and Apostasy: 3:14; 6:4-6; 10:26-27; 12:16-17
  • John is more deterministic in its language. Speaks of individuals that leave having never truly been in (e.g., 1 John 2:19). However, "no one can take them out of my hand" is again about external forces rather than internal ones (John 10:28).
6.3.4 Final Justification
  • 2 Corinthians 5:1-10 final justification by works
  • Romans 2:5-10--final judgment according to works
  • James 2--justification by faith and works
6.4 Proclamation of the Gospel (consider moving to Christology)
6.4.1 What is the Gospel?
  • The pre-gospel in the Synoptics--good news of the kingdom of God, the approaching reign of God, in earth as in heaven
  • 1 Corinthians 15:1-8--good news of the death, resurrection, and lordship of Jesus, and all that it entails.
  • Romans 1:3-4--Jesus is king!
  • The good news is that Jesus is Lord, and all that it entails.
6.4.2 The Great Commission
  • Matthew 28:19-20--Go make disciples, baptizing, teaching
  • 1 Corinthians 1:21--God has chosen to save the world using proclamation
  • Preaching is the norm for evangelization--Romans 10:14-17
  • Acts 1:8--the apostolic witness to the resurrection
6.4.3 Anonymous Christians?
  • Beyond Israel--Abraham as a model (Gen. 15; Rom. 4; cf. Job, Nineveh)
  • Romans 1:20--natural revelation and general knowledge of God
  • Acts 17:27--nature as basis for seeking God
  • John 1:9--the lighting of everyone
  • A possible theology of prevenient grace
Previous "chapters"
Chapter 1: What is Biblical Theology?
Chapter 2: Theology of God
Chapter 3: Creation and Consummation
Chapter 4: Sin and Atonement
Interlude: A Theology of Israel
Chapter 5: Jesus the Christ

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Thursday Last Supper

Today's excerpt from my novella.
On Thursday they prepared for the Passover meal. They had arranged to eat it at Cleopas’ house. The air was somber. Jesus knew this was the night. Lazarus, Mary Magdalene, and Martha were there. Cleopas, his wife Mary, and John Mark were there too. Jesus own mother, Salome, and a woman named Joanna were there. The upper room was large enough to fit over a hundred people.

The tone was somber, especially when you consider how excited they all had been on Sunday. The kingdom of God did not erupt after he rode into Jerusalem. It did not erupt after he “cleansed” the Temple of the money changers. Each day, the tone got more serious. The venom of the religious leaders was palpable on Tuesday. On Wednesday Jesus had spoken of the desecration, maybe even the destruction of the Temple.

Now it was Passover, and there was a seriousness to Jesus they had never seen. He had never been this way. It terrified them. “This is my body, which is going to be broken for you,” he said at one point during the meal while passing around the bread. As an angel, it was amazing to see how such an important statement did not take its full weight. For some, it went in one ear and out the other.

When the meal was over, Jesus’ heart continued to be troubled. “One of you is going to betray me,” he finally said, looking especially at Judas, who was on his left side. Lazarus was on his right, and Peter next to him.

“Ask him who it is,” Peter said to Lazarus.

“I will dip in the cup with him,” Jesus told John Lazarus, and then he dipped in the cup he shared with Judas.

When Judas saw Jesus hand him the cup, his face hardened, and he immediately left the room. He was determined to follow through on his course. He would show Jesus. He was not betraying him. He was saving him.

Then Jesus took the cup. “This is my blood, which is going to be shed for you.” And he passed the cup around.

It was a strange thing to say, macabre, almost grotesque. A Jew would never drink blood. It was expressly forbidden to ingest blood.

Yet Jesus had told them several times that he was going to die. It was Passover. The Israelites had put blood on the doorposts of their houses during the exodus to protect them from the angel of destruction. Now Jesus was going to give life through his blood. He would become the Lamb, and there was power in the blood of the Lamb to redeem all humanity.

After supper and passing the cup, Jesus and the eleven made their way around the walls of Jerusalem to the Garden of Gethsemane. They were exhausted and deeply discouraged, tempted to doubt. Jesus urged them to pray, but most fell asleep trying.

Jesus especially urged Peter, James, and John to stay awake with him to pray, but they also could hardly stay awake. So Jesus prayed alone.

“Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me. Nevertheless, not my will but yours be done.”

Three times he prayed this to God the Father. Between each time he tried to wake up Peter, James, and John to pray with him, to no effect.

It was a real struggle for Jesus. His human will was tempted to run. His human will was tempted to escape. His divine will would never have gone through with it, but his human will did not falter. He did not want to go through with it, but he chose to submit to Trinity’s will.

The third time he came to them he felt sympathy. They were willing in their spirits, but they just did not have the will power to stay awake.

It did not matter anymore. Judas had arrived with armed people sent from the priests and elders. He had arranged to greet Jesus with a kiss on the cheek, which he did.

“So you are betraying me with a kiss, brother?” Jesus said to Judas.

Peter sprang awake, as did the other disciples. Confused but ready to fight, he lunged with his dagger at one of the high priest’s servants and actually cut off his ear. It was a man named Malchus. He would later believe. Jesus touched the ear, and the bleeding stopped.

“Put your swords away,” Jesus said to his disciples. “This is the plan of God.”

Then to the mob he said, “You didn’t want to arrest me in the Temple? Am I a violent man, a revolutionary? Nevertheless, it is your hour.”

When the disciples saw that Jesus was going willingly with them, they were stunned. They were ready to fight for Jesus and his kingdom. They were not prepared for him to go willingly. Even Judas was shocked, hoping that God would send ten thousand angels to destroy his enemies.

So the disciples scattered. Some went to Bethany, others to Cleopas’ house.

When he heard Jesus had been arrested, John Mark jumped out of bed, quickly grabbed a linen cloth to cover his naked body, and ran out of the house. Lazarus quickly got dressed and wasn’t far behind.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Wednesday Prophecy

This could have happened on Tuesday too. Today's excerpt from my novella.
With each day, Jesus’ heart became heavier. On Wednesday, the Spirit opened his memory of the destruction that was to come to the Temple. As he left the Temple with his disciples, he remarked that he was afraid that none of the beautiful stones of the Temple would soon be left standing on each other.

After they had crossed the valley to the Garden of Gethsemane, Peter asked him privately, “When is the Temple going to be destroyed?”

As they sat in the cool of the garden, most took an afternoon nap, but Jesus unfolded a future to Peter and Andrew, James and John.

“It would not have to be the future,” Jesus said. “There is a possible future in which Israel turns to Christ. I am sending you all out as my apostles to work toward that future.”

“But there is another future,” he continued. “It is a future where Israel does not believe. It is a future where judgment comes on this Temple again.

“You remember the abomination of desolation in Daniel?”

“Yes,” Andrew said.

“There is a future where the Romans defile, even destroy this sanctuary.”

“We must stop that from happening!” Peter blurted out.

“The Son of Man will come from heaven,” Jesus answered with a smile. “I do not know the day or the hour,” he said. “But I will surely come in salvation and judgment.”

“But you are here already,” Peter said, confused. “Why not do it now?”

“Everything will become clear in its time, Peter. You still have not understood that I must die first.”

Jesus turned to look at Judas, who apparently could not sleep. He was agitated, throwing rocks at the trees. You could see on his face the festering anger. And I could see that the light of the Spirit had now gone completely out in his soul.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Tuesday Debates

Here's today's excerpt from my novella.
On Tuesday, Jesus was back in the Temple teaching. As people who like to argue do, several religious leaders tried to best Jesus in argument. This type of person thinks that if they can win an argument, they have shown themselves superior. They do not understand that God is concerned with people’s intentions, not their intelligence.

God looks on the heart. From the standpoint of an angel, the absurdity of human intelligence is obvious. So many think they know so much when they know almost nothing. Their arguments usually blow away like a puff of wind while they almost think themselves gods. As an angel, I know my thoughts are nothing compared to God’s. Yet their thoughts come nowhere close to ours.

Humans are infinitely valuable because God loves them and because God created them in his image. Yet in body and mind they are nothing. I have seen beings around the universe that make humanity pale in comparison.

Jesus of course had a better human mind than any of them, and he was full of the Holy Spirit. Yet he chose not to access the fullness of his divine mind while he was on earth. His omniscience was still there, but it was lurking as a sort of subconscious.

“Should we pay taxes?” one smart aleck asked him. Jesus took a coin and asked whose picture was on it. The answer was of course “Caesar.”

“It looks like Caesar has lost a coin,” Jesus answered. “You had better give it back to him.”

Coinage had nothing to do with the kingdom of God. It had to do with the Roman Empire. Jesus couldn’t care less about money.

Then some Sadducees asked him about the resurrection. They proposed a woman with seven husbands without children. “Whose wife will she be in the resurrection?” they asked. They supposed that their thought experiment showed that the idea of resurrection did not work.

Jesus just smiled at the ignorance of the question. The Holy Spirit opened up a small remembrance of what glorified bodies are like. Suffice it to say, they make questions about gender foolish. Glorified bodies are not sexual, even if they look like earthly bodies to those who are human.

Even more, the question showed ignorance about women in heaven. Women have full equality of status with men in the kingdom. They are not “given” to anyone to lord over them.

“Those who rise are not like you ignorant souls,” he said. “They do not marry. They are not given in marriage. They are like the angels,” Jesus said, and winked directly at me.

There was one last question. This one came from a scribe. Unlike the others, the light of the Spirit had been growing steadily in him as Jesus answered questions. His question came with complete sincerity.

“Sir, what is the greatest commandment of the Law?”

Jesus answered. “To love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself. All of God’s expectations for humanity and everything humanity needs to thrive is found in these commands.

“The person who loves God and neighbor has fulfilled all of Scripture. This person has understood that God looks on the heart, not on outward appearances. This person does not need ten thousands of sacrifices. This person has understood that God loves his enemies just as much as his friends.”

“What a great answer,” the scribe responded, and I could see that he believed. He would be part of the coming kingdom.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Monday in the Temple

Here's an excerpt for today from my novella.
The next morning, Jesus returned to the Temple. Only his disciples were with him this time. He knew the Romans would be watching for him. They had investigated him on Sunday. They came to the Court of Israel and watched him pray for over an hour. They interrogated some in the crowd.

Today he would make a statement. He took some rope and braided it together into a whip. Then when he got to the moneychangers, he began to overturn their tables and drive the animals out with the whip. Everyone scattered, and coins flew everywhere.

“My house will be called a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves!” he shouted. “God has weighed Jerusalem in the balance, and it has been found lacking. Repent and believe in the good news of God’s coming kingdom, for the Son of Man is coming on the clouds!”

Then he withdrew. He did it so quickly that he had disappeared by the time the Roman soldiers rushed down from the Tower of Antonia to the courtyard.

This was the last straw for Judas. Why did Jesus leave? A confrontation between him and the Romans was exactly the kind of moment that would prompt God to come from heaven to establish his kingdom on earth. Was Jesus a coward? Was he a fraud?

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Explanatory Notes on James

Explanatory Notes on James
Video Summaries
James 1-2
James 3-5

Textual Commentary
James 2
James 3
James 4
James 5
I have explanatory notes elsewhere on:
Paul's Letters
Galatians (see also here)
1 Thessalonians

Hebrews and General Epistles

Palm Sunday--Into Jerusalem

I've self-published two mini-novels. The first looks at Jesus' birth through the eyes of the archangel Gabriel.

I have just finished the second in time for Passion Week. It looks at Jesus' earthly ministry, death, and resurrection through Gabriel's eyes. Of course this is a novella, so I paint a possible world, not necessarily the way it actually happened.

As today is Palm Sunday, here is an excerpt from that part of the novel:
Early Sunday morning, Jesus sent Thaddeus and Bartholomew to Bethphage to get a donkey colt. Lazarus had already arranged for the colt to be available. Jesus knew what he was doing. This was the day he would enact the words of the prophet Zechariah.

The image in Zechariah was paradoxical. On the one hand, it spoke of Jerusalem’s king, righteous and victorious, riding on a donkey. It spoke of encamping at the Temple, guarding against the oppressors overrunning God’s people. Jesus knew the Romans would obviously come to mind.

And yet this king in Zechariah came to take away the warhorses and the warrior’s bow from Jerusalem. This king was a Prince of Peace. This king would bring peace to the nations.

Judas would reflect deep and hard on Zechariah for the first couple days of the week. Some later verses would stick out in his mind: “Then the LORD will appear over them.” Satan would use that Scripture to manipulate Judas’ mind and try to destroy Jesus.

In Bethphage, they did indeed find a young colt tied up in one of the pathways. As they began to untie it just after dawn, its owner came out to ask them what they were doing. It was the signal Lazarus had agreed on with the owner. “The Lord has need of it.”

All over Bethany and Bethphage there was an excitement. Lazarus had told his friends that Jesus had finally revealed himself as the Messiah. He was going to march triumphantly into Jerusalem that very day.

The rumor was, even among his disciples, that God was going to break forth the heavens that very day and reveal Jesus as the Son of Man. God was going to overthrow the Romans that very day without Jesus even lifting a finger. The word had traveled all over the two villages, and the people all planned to go with him.

Jesus of course had said none of these things, except that he was in fact the Messiah. Instead, he had repeatedly told his disciples that he was going to Jerusalem to die. They simply did not believe him. They did not have ears to hear. Everyone wanted a triumphant king, not a suffering servant.

So as Jesus and his disciples started their way toward Jerusalem, a crowd began to collect around him. Lazarus had been thinking of the psalm that says, “Open to me the gates of righteousness.” The Lord blessed him with the psalm.

He kept meditating the whole night before. “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.”

That morning, his mind was fixed on, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.” As they re-entered Bethphage, John Lazarus was near the front. Spontaneously, he shouted out, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!”

When they were half-way through the village, he shouted it again, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord!” Several of the disciples shouted in return, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord.”

As they climbed over the Mount of Olives, whenever they would approach someone or a group of people, Lazarus would shout, “Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord,” and the crowd accumulating around Jesus would shout it back. There were now at least three dozen people around Jesus, people not only from Bethany and Bethphage but who joined along the way.

Bystanders would ask, “Who is that man?” And the crowd would say, “It is Jesus, the one who has been healing and casting out demons in Galilee. He is the Messiah!” Then they would drop whatever they were doing and start following him.

“We need to do something to honor his entrance into the eastern gate,” Bartholomew said. “What can we do?”

“We could lay down palm branches,” Mary Magdalene finally said, “like we do for the Feast of Tabernacles.” To John Lazarus, Bartholomew, and Mary, it seemed like they were coming up with these ideas on their own. But it was the Holy Spirit. I could see it. They were being inspired to say these words and do these actions that would be celebrated for the rest of time.

The donkey moved slowly but steadily. Down the west side of the Mount of Olives, across the valley and up to the Eastern Gate. Then he entered the city.

“Hosanna to the king,” Lazarus shouted. “Blessed is the man who comes in the name of the Lord.” And the crowd would repeat the saying with a shout. They were very expectant, although Jesus did not pay them much attention.

The Temple was right there in front of the Eastern Gate. Jesus slowly made his way to the front steps, with the people shouting the whole way. Then he finally got off the donkey.

Saturday, March 24, 2018

Friday Science: Hawking 2 (Spacetime)

Last week I started Friday reviews of Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time.

Today I want to do a brief overview of the second chapter. The second chapter basically introduces spacetime, the theories of relativity. Here are some salient points:
  • So Aristotle thought that you had to push a body in motion for it to stay in motion. Rest was the preferred state. This makes sense because friction slows down ordinary motion.
  • But Galileo and Newton in the 1600s formulated a different law--a body in motion tends to stay in motion and a body at rest wants to stay at rest. This fact doesn't undermine God at all, but it does undermine one of Aquinas' arguments for God--God as the "prime mover," a concept Thomas Aquinas took from Aristotle.
  • Another principle that Galileo and Newton formulated was the principle of relativity. Speeds are relative to each other. If I am going 30 mph on a train in relation to the ground and I throw a baseball forward at 30 mph, the baseball will be going 60 mph in relation to the ground.
  • In the late 1600s, it was discovered that light moves very fast. 
  • In the 1800s, it was discovered that light moves at a fixed speed. At first they thought that everything was moving through some sort of ether, but Michelson-Morley showed apparently not.
  • So there was a problem. A light shone from the front of a moving train proves not to move faster than a light shone from the ground or from a space ship. The principle of relativity was in danger.
  • Einstein solved this with his special theory of relativity (1905). Space contracts as you approach the speed of light, and nothing can move faster than the speed of light.
  • Einstein came up with spacetime diagrams--time on the y axis, one dimension of space on the x-axis.
  • This suggests that cause-effect relationships can only take place within a "light-cone" that could emerge from an event at a point in time. Say light moves out from a point at a time. It spreads out in a sphere from the point. But if we diagram this light's progress with time as the z axis and two dimensions as space, the light spreads out in a cone on our diagram.
  • If you take that same concept and play it backwards in time, there is a cone of light that could arrive at this location at the time of the event. 
  • These two light cones suggest the locations that could cause an event or be caused by an event. Because nothing can move faster than the speed of light, anything outside the cone in time or space could not have affected or be affected by the event at that point in spacetime.
  • This theory messed up Newton's theory of gravity, because it connects force to distance. So if the distance changes, the gravity presumably would too.
  • This problem eventually led to Einstein's general theory of relativity (1915). He supposed that gravity was not a force at all but rather a bending of space caused by mass. So what would normally be a straight line of motion looks like it curves because space itself curves. This made it possible to explain why Mercury's motion around the sun is a little different than Newton's theory would have predicted.
So this is all stuff I've read elsewhere.

Friday, March 23, 2018

6.2 The Conditions of Salvation

Chapter 6: Salvation
6.1 Predestination and Election'

6.2 The Conditions of Salvation
6.2.1 The Rule of Faith
  • The Pelagian Controversy
  • The Calvinist Perspective (monergism)
  • The Arminian Perspective (synergism)
6.2.2 What is Salvation?
  • In most New Testament uses of the word soteria, future escape from the wrath/judgment of God is in view.
  • 1 Thessalonians 5:9
  • Romans 5:9
  • Romans 13:11
  • 1 Peter 1:4-5
  • Likely proleptic references: 2 Corinthians 6:2; Ephesians 2:8-10
  • Other meanings for the sozo root: Luke 1:68-71; 7:50
6.2.3 Grace
  • Grace in the Mediterranean world (John Barclay)
  • The righteousness of God (Rom. 1:16-17)
  • Romans 3:24
  • Romans 4
  • Ephesians 2:8
6.2.4 Repentance
  • Acts 2:37-38
  • Acts 17:29-31
6.2.5 Faith versus Works
  • Galatians 2:16-21
  • Romans 3:21-31
  • Ephesians 2:8-10
  • James 2
6.2.6 Confession
  • Romans 10:9-13 (the Roman Road)
  • 1 John 1:9
  • Hebrew 3:1
6.2.7 Baptism
  • Acts 2:37-28
  • The theology of Acts
  • Matthew 28
  • Baptism in the early church
6.2.8 The Holy Spirit
  • The theology of Acts
  • 2 Cor. 1:22; 5:5 (seal of ownership, earnest)
  • Rom. 8:9
  • Eph. 1:13-14
Previous "chapters"
Chapter 1: What is Biblical Theology?
Chapter 2: Theology of God
Chapter 3: Creation and Consummation
Chapter 4: Sin and Atonement
Interlude: A Theology of Israel
Chapter 5: Jesus the Christ

2. James 1:2-27 (Introduction)

James 1:1

Introduction (1:2-27)
  • 1:2. Christians are urged to look at trials as something positive, counter-intuitive to human nature of course. It suggests that it was typical at the time for Christians to face trials.
  • 1:3. Trials lead to endurance and perfect/make complete the person enduring them... if they endure them.
  • 1:5. The mention of wisdom after the mention of trials suggests that what James primarily has in mind is wisdom to endure trials. "Lord, give me the wisdom to know how to endure this time of trial."
  • 1:6-8. If you ask for wisdom in a trial, you had better want it. A double-minded person isn't someone who has a doubt. It is someone with divided loyalties.
  • 1:9-11. James, like most of the New Testament, has a very negative view of the wealthy. A reversal is coming. The lowly will be exalted. The rich will be humiliated.
  • Important cultural background to James' valuation of wealth is the notion of limited good. In our current world, there is a sense that the gross domestic product or the stock market can grow, as it were, out of nothing. In the Mediterranean world, if one person had more, there was a general assumption that someone else had less. As an ancient Arab proverb went, "Every rich person is either a thief or the son of a thief." This perspective may help explain some of the negativity toward wealth in the New Testament.
  • 1:12-15. These verses slide from peirasmos as "trial" (1:12) to peirazo as "tempt" (1:13). These are two related but distinct events.
  • 1:12. First, there is the idea of trial, which does not have a moral component. Trials bring positive benefits but are not always brought on by an evil person or entity.
  • 1:13. God does not tempt anyone. This is an important statement of God's character. God doesn't try to trip people up.
  • There are parts of the Old Testament where God does tempt people. God tempts David in 2 Samuel 24:1. But there is perhaps a moment of progressive revelation here. In 1 Chronicles 21:1 is the same event but says that Satan is the one who tempted David. 
  • Arguably, the concept of "the Satan" was not known in Israel until after the Babylonian captivity and into the Persian period. Accordingly, the older parts of the Old Testament are less precise and ascribe all events to God's direct agency, his directive will
  • In the more precise understanding of the later Old Testament and the New Testament, God does not tempt directly but allows temptation, whether by other agents or by human desire itself.
  • 1:14-15. Temptation is when human desire draws a person toward an inappropriate object of desire. The desire itself may not actually be bad, such as the human desire for sex. It becomes a temptation for evil when that desire has an inappropriate object.
  • Temptation is not sin. Jesus was tempted and did not sin (Heb. 4:15). Adam and Eve both had no sinful nature and yet were tempted.
  • 1:15. When a person acts on that desire, first mentally and then perhaps physically as well, then it becomes sin.
  • 1:16-18. Verse 17 is especially a key verse for James. "Every good gift" comes from above. This contrasts with other possible patrons that might tempt believers. For example, we see a rich person in James 2 who might be a potential patron.
  • Patron-client relationships were common in the ancient Mediterranean world. The "haves" gave to the "have nots." The "have nots" did not earn the gift or repay it. However, there often were expectations associated with the gifts, especially a return of honor or perhaps favors.
  • 1:18. Christians are first fruits from God. They themselves are gifts from him. Language of the word possibly has Stoic overtones. In Stoicism, each of us have a "word seed" inside us. We will see more of this in 1:21.
  • 1:19-21. We get the impression that James is giving us a taste of some of the topics upon which he will expand later in the letter. Here is one--the need to be slow to speak. Chapter 3 will especially build on this idea. Some think that 1:22 is the key verse of the letter.
  • 1:20-21. Anger rarely brings about righteousness, even though in itself it is not yet sin (cf. Eph. 4:26).
  • 1:21. Here James uses the Stoic language of the implanted word. To Stoics, the world was governed by God's Word, his Logos. It was God's mind, the Reason that governed the world. We each had a seed of this Logos inside us, and we needed to heed it.
  • 1:22-27 anticipates chapter 2's discussion of the importance of works. We cannot merely hear the word. He must do it.
  • 1:25. The law of liberty is the law of love, mentioned in 2:8.
  • 1:27 talks about true religion. True religion takes care of those who are in need. It takes care of orphans and widows.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Academic Freedom Wesleyan Style

I was asked to present some thoughts today on academic freedom from a Wesleyan perspective for a faculty forum. I of course have no authority to speak but shared my thoughts with a handful. Here are my basic thoughts:

1. First, the 1940 Statements of Principles on Academic Freedom and Tenure made a space for confessional institutions if they are clear from the outset about who can teach, what they can teach, how to teach it, and who can study there.

2. Then I presented Duane Litfin's "voluntary principle." When a faculty member agrees to become part of a confessional institution, they are in effect saying that they can freely publish and operate within the identity of the school. The university gives them full academic freedom assuming they have been honest upon admission or do not change.

So academic freedom is not carte blanche. Nor are academics purely objective Spock-like creatures. The search for truth always takes place within a perspective. So it's not just "let me pursue truth with no constraint," as if the search for truth is purely objective. A confessional institution assumes certain frameworks.

3. The Wesleyan tradition certainly operates within orthodoxy, but its focus has always been more on spiritual experiences and loving practices.  Wesley gave us sermons rather than a systematic theology.
  • "If your heart is as my heart, then put your hand in mind." John Wesley
  • "In essentials unity, in non-essentials liberty, in all things charity." motto of Pilgrim Holiness Church
  • This suggests what has been called a "generous orthodoxy."
  • This suggests identity more as a centered set than a bounded set.
4. So it seems to me that the bounds of academic freedom at a Wesleyan school should:
  • Require a personal faith relationship with God. (heart)
  • Require submission to its lifestyle commitments, whether one agrees with them or not. A respectful attitude is arguably more important than some Wesleyan distinctives. (hands and feet)
  • Require confession of a core orthodoxy. The problem with using the Wesleyan Articles of Religion is that there are some matters like entire sanctification that are Wesleyan specific. Something closer to the historic creeds seems more appropriate. (head)
  • Require respect of Wesleyan distinctives and perspectives. A faculty member (outside the ministry school) might very well disagree with women in ministry, but they should respect the position of the school/church.
5. The Wesleyan Church is the host.
  • It owns the college. In theory, it could fire the board of any Wesleyan school and replace it.
  • Arminian theology, though, does not force agreement. It believes in "free will" of a sort. It can thus be open to some varying positions among its faculty, as long as they do not threaten the Wesleyan identity of the school or undermine a Wesleyan sense of mission.
  • It should be kept in mind that the beliefs and practices of a denomination can change a little over time. As long as it is done with an irenic spirit, it is in part the function of academic institutions to critique the status quo.

6.1.2 Predestination: Passages in Tension

Chapter 6: Salvation
6.1 Predestination and Election
6.1.1 The Rule of Faith

6.1.2 Passages in Tension
  • Election in the OT is a matter of Israel being chosen from among the nations. However, there were strangers in the land whose "salvation" was integrated into the salvation of Israel. Similarly, books like Ruth, Jonah, and probably Job suggest that the election of Israel was not exclusive--others with faith could be in good standing with God as well.
  • James 2 speaks of Rahab being justified by works, and Hebrews 11:31 numbers her among the faithful. Noah, who is before Israel, is a testimony to "the righteousness that is by faith" (11:7).
  • Abraham in Romans 4 is of course the paradigm for justification by faith and Paul uses him as such before he is circumcised--that is, before Israel exists.
  • In short, the election of Israel is a corporate election rather than an election of specific individual Israelites. It is, as it were, an election of the people and the plan, not of individuals.
The Language
  • This fact brings up an important element in these discussions. Augustine has been called the "first modern man" in part because of the paradigm shift toward individualism that he facilitated. And of course Calvin and Wesley, along with the rest of the "white" Western world, has followed suit. 
  • But biblical people were collectivist personalities. Individuals were defined by their groups. For us, groups are defined by their individuals.
  • It is thus my claim that the predestination and election language of the New Testament should be read, first, in terms of the predestination of the people and the plan. The individuals in the people and the plan were not the focus.
  • Further, the ancient worldview was fatalistic in his language and perspective. To varying degrees, it was normal to speak fatalistically without necessarily filling in the philosophical details.
The Philosophies
  • Augustine and others connected the philosophical dots, some in one way, some in another.
  • Here is a syllogism: 1) If God determines who will be saved and 2) if God wants everyone to be saved, 3) then everyone will be saved.
  • There are universalists, who accept the conclusion. But the third conclusion would not seem to be biblical (e.g., Rev. 20:15). This fact means that, in this universe, one of the premises must be mistaken.
  • We might of course note that God is outside this universe as well as within it. Perhaps outside this universe God can resolve these two premises in a way we cannot fathom.
  • Of course Calvinists reject the second premise. Arminians reject the first.
  • Perhaps we could sum up the spectrum of positions as 1) thoroughgoing determinism, including Satan and Adam (John Piper, Wayne Grudem), 2) post-Adamic determinism (John Calvin), 3) predestination on the basis of foreknowledge (John Wesley), 4) logically irreconciliable, but perhaps divinely reconcilable, 5) predestination of the plan and people, not the individuals (Ken Schenck), 6) a matter of language (Ken Schenck).
New Testament Passages
1. Romans 9 and 11
  • These chapters are not written as a philosophy essay with numbered propositions.
  • About Israel and the Gentiles--not about individual predestination per se. The response--"But individuals are implied"--often is unaware of Western individualistic glasses.
  • Since the grafted out can be grafted back in, election must not mean exactly what Calvin thought it did.
  • Romans 8:29-30 is about the plan, not the individuals.
  • It is a mystery, and the bottom line is that God can do whatever he wants (which is true). He has not failed.
2. Ephesians 1:4-14
  • The way God's people are to live is what the elect are predestined for. They are predestined to be holy and blameless (1:4). It's not about the who's in, it's about the what they are to be.
  • The plan is predestined--the elect are planned to be adopted (1:5).
  • Election language often serves an honor purpose. It looks at who is here and says, "You are the chosen." It is thus more "after the fact" than predictive.
  • In group language, it is the group that is chosen. Individual members may come and go.
3. 1 Timothy 2:4
  • God wants everyone to be saved. This verse provides premise 2 above. Cf. also Romans 10:13, John 3:16, etc.
4. 2 Peter 1:20
  • If you have a part in making your election sure, election must not mean what Calvin thought it meant.
5. 1 John 2:19
  • We may have to reckon with the possibility that some biblical authors may have talked more deterministically than others. That is to say, 1 Timothy may say things in ways that sound more like free will while the Gospel of John does not. 
  • Of course, theologically, Christian tradition thinks more in terms of free grace than free will. That is to say, there are widespread assumptions in popular Christianity that reach into how someone comes to Christ, apologetics, etc that may be more American culture than Christian.
  • These verses seem to say that there was a group that appeared to be believers ("phenomenological" Christians) who were not and that the fact that they left showed that they were not truly Christians in the first place.
6. John 17:12
  • We could find a lot of deterministic language in the New Testament. The question is how literal to take it. Is it a way of speaking of the plan? 
  • God foreknew Judas would betray Jesus from eternity past.
  • From an Arminian perspective, God sometimes uses those who have already rejected his grace (Judas, Pharaoh, Cyrus, etc...)
Previous "chapters"
Chapter 1: What is Biblical Theology?
Chapter 2: Theology of God
Chapter 3: Creation and Consummation
Chapter 4: Sin and Atonement
Interlude: A Theology of Israel
Chapter 5: Jesus the Christ

Sunday, March 18, 2018

6.1.1 Predestination and Election

Chapter 6: Salvation
6.1 Predestination and Election
6.1.1 The Rule of Faith
  • Christians believe that God is sovereign. God is in control.
  • Views of God that either 1) see him determining everything, including Satan and Adam's fall (hyper-Calvinism), or 2) see him determining nothing, as if he only tries to woo and influence the world (certain forms of open theology) both stand outside historic orthodoxy.
  • Mainstream Christian views thus believe in both a directive and a permissive will of God, although they differ in the degree to which God wills each.
  • At the very least, Christians believe in common that God has predestined the plan of salvation. He has predestined 1) that Christ would die for sins, 2) that those with faith (the "elect") would be justified, 3) that those who are justified would be resurrected and conformed to the image of the resurrected Son, and 4) that those who are resurrected would be glorified (Rom. 8:29-30).
  • There is thus a group we know as the "elect," the chosen ones, although Christians disagree on the process by which one is part of the chosen.
Previous "chapters"
Chapter 1: What is Biblical Theology?
Chapter 2: Theology of God
Chapter 3: Creation and Consummation
Chapter 4: Sin and Atonement
Interlude: A Theology of Israel
Chapter 5: Jesus the Christ

Friday, March 16, 2018

Friday Science: Hawking 1

1. I can't say that I am a big Stephen Hawking fan. Obviously I never met him. I enjoyed the movie based on his life. I like a lot of the same stuff he did. He was funny on the Big Bang Theory.

I always got the impression that he was a bit of a donkey. Perhaps that's unfair. I imagine it must be hard when you're that much smarter than everyone else not to think that everyone else is an idiot. Of course so much smartness in one area can also entail immense density in other areas. I'll let God handle all that.

2. I bought A Brief History of Time a long time ago, probably from Joseph Beth Bookstore in Lexington, Kentucky in the early nineties. It came out in 1988. For some reason, I just couldn't get into it. I never made it out of the first chapter. It neither grabbed my attention nor did it get past the atrium of my thick head.

One of the benefits of a slowing metabolism is that I can read more and more. And with the death of Hawking this week, I sense it's time for me to buckle down and read this thing. There was a second edition in 1998 with an extra chapter, which I downloaded on Kindle to be able to get any revised thoughts he might have had.

The last ten years have not smiled on Hawking's intuitions. He had bet against the Higgs boson. He lost. In fact, he made one big discovery that, in retrospect, doesn't seem so startling at all. He was just the one to put it together. He concluded that black holes "evaporate" as it were. Yeah Hawking.

3. The first chapter is called, "Our Picture of the Universe." Some in this chapter is well known to those who are interested in these things. But there are a few surprises.

Here are the main points:
  • Aristotle (300s BC) and Ptolemy (200s AD) both thought the world was a sphere, but they thought that the sun, stars, and planets revolved around the earth.
  • Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, and finally Newton came up with equations that worked a whole lot better, supposing that all these things revolved around the sun, with the moon only going around the earth.
  • No one seems to have asked if the universe was expanding until the twentieth century. There was an assumption of a static universe. Why then did the universe not collapse under gravity? Newton thought by supposing an infinite universe, the pull would be equal in every direction. But this apparently is not how infinity works in this instance.
  • Heinrich Olbers in 1823 then asked the question about line of sight. In a static universe, there should be stars everywhere we look, a completely lit sky.
  • In 1929, Edwin Hubble discovered that the universe everywhere was moving away from us (red shift). This brought the question of the universe's beginning into science.
  • The beginning had always been there in religion. Augustine suggested that God created time when he created the world. So it makes no sense to talk about time before the creation. As a side-note, this is the current convergence between science and faith--both believe that the universe had a beginning.
  • The last part of the first chapter has two main points of interest. The first is the incompatibility of general relativity with quantum mechanics, the physics of the very large and the very little. Hawking longed for a "grand unified theory" or, as his biographical movie was titled, "a theory of everything."
  • He also endorses Karl Popper's philosophy of science. Science should be oriented around falsifiability. A good theory is one that has not yet been falsified. You can never finally prove a scientific theory. A good scientific theory thus has two characteristics: 1) it must accurately describe a large class of observations and 2) it must make definite predictions about future observations that are not falsified.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

5.4.3 The Divinity of Christ

Current chapter:
Chapter 5: Jesus the Christ
5.1 Fully Human, Fully Divine
5.2 The Theology of Jesus of Nazareth
5.3 Jesus is Lord!
5.4 The Development of Christology

5.4.1 Models of Christological Development
5.4.2 The Pre-Existence of Christ

5.4.3 The Divinity of Christ
Christians believe:
  1. There is only one God.
  2. God the Father is God.
  3. Jesus was not the same person as God the Father.
  4. Jesus was "ontologically" God.
  5. Jesus was not the same person as the Holy Spirit.
1. The first three are easy to demonstrate biblically. We presented the oneness of God earlier under our consideration of the theology of God. Similarly, in the New Testament, it is clear that God the Father is the default reference in relation to the use of the word God, as the examples below demonstrate.

As Christians, we might argue that the Trinity is indicated with any reference to God in the Old Testament, but if so, this is an example progressive understanding. It seems very unlikely that any Old Testament author had any such comprehension. Finally, we will consider the relationship between the Holy Spirit and the other members of the Trinity in a later chapter.

2. It is thus the fourth claim that is most ambiguous in the New Testament. To say that Jesus is "ontologically" God is to say that Christ as a person literally existed from all eternity past as God. As the Nicene Creed states, he was "eternally begotten of the Father... true God from true God, begotten not made, of one substance with the Father." This is what historic, orthodox Christians believe.

The opposite approach is to say that Jesus was "functionally" God. That is to say, he did things that are uniquely characteristic of God. This approach might say that Jesus was God's representative on earth or that in some way he was the embodiment of God on earth without actually being of one substance with God. A famous approach of this sort is an adoptionist Christology, considered a heresy early on. In this approach, Jesus becomes God's Son at some point after not having been so before.

3. Before we consider passages to address Jesus as ontologically God, we should look at those passages that clearly distinguish God the Father and Jesus as different persons. Such passages include:
  • 1 Corinthians 8:6
  • 1 Corinthians 12:3-6
  • 1 Corinthians 15:27-28
  • 2 Corinthians 13:14
  • Ephesians 4:4-6
  • 1 Peter 1:2
  • Hebrews 2:10
  • Matthew 28:18-20
1 Corinthians 15:27-28 is of particular interest, for here God (the Father) subordinates all creation to Christ and then Christ subordinates himself and the creation to God (the Father). This passage is central to debates over hierarchy within the Trinity. On the one hand, historic Christianity has rejected any subordination within the Trinity since the time of Nicaea. [2]

The historic solution to this conundrum is to see the humanity of Jesus as what is subordinated to God here. Exegetically, such an interpretation goes well beyond anything Paul indicates. It is an example of the need to believe by faith that God clarified or made the understanding of the Trinity more precise in the first few centuries of the Church. We simply would not come up with such an interpretation on the basis of the 1 Corinthians text--only through the eyes of later debates. What is clear is that the person of Jesus and the person of God are considered distinct here by Paul.

All of these passages distinguish God (the Father) from Jesus the Son. 1 Corinthians 8:6 says there is "one God" and "one Lord," the first is presumably the Father, the second is obviously Jesus. Ephesians 4:4-6 is also quite clear in distinguishing the "one Lord" from the "one God and Father of us all." Hebrews 2:10 distinguishes God (the Father) as the one "for whom and through whom everything is" from Jesus as the pioneer of our salvation.

4. There are passages that we believe by faith that God used as seeds to lead the Church to full-blown Nicaean faith. The Gospel of John was especially key in this regard. On the one hand, the New Testament authors clearly understood Jesus to be the Son of God. However, we have seen that this title was, more than anything else, a royal title and susceptible to an adoptionist interpretation.

There are two or three instances where the title Lord might be taken to identify Jesus with YHWH in the Old Testament. If the "name above every name" in Philippians 2:9 is "Lord" in 2:11, then Jesus is given the name YHWH at the point of his exaltation to God's right hand. However, again here, the giving of the name at a particular moment is susceptible to an adoptionist interpretation. [1]

A much more substantial connection between Jesus and YHWH is implied in John 8:58. Here Jesus states that "before Abraham was, I am." This verse seems to equate Jesus with YHWH at the burning bush. We have already seen that the Gospel of John is very explicit about the personal pre-existence of Jesus. John also indicates the oneness of Jesus with God the Father: "I and the Father are one" (10:30). It is not clear that John himself had the full understanding of Nicaea, but these statements emphasize the oneness of Christ with God in a way that goes back "before the worlds began" (John 17:5).

5. A passage that does not contribute to this discussion is the older version of 1 John 5:7-8, still found in the King James and New King James Versions...

6. Romans 9:5 debate...

7. Hebrews 1:8-12 calls Jesus both God and Lord...

8. Titus 2:13...

9. Revelation and the worship of the Lamb... e.g, 1:17-18; 5:8

[1] Richard Bauckham has suggested a similar understanding of "Lord" in Hebrews 1:10, connecting it to the name Jesus inherits in 1:4. However, most see the name as "Son."

[2] The issue has been revived because of the question of hierarchy within the family. However, the two issues are not necessarily connected.

Previous "chapters"
Chapter 1: What is Biblical Theology?
Chapter 2: Theology of God
Chapter 3: Creation and Consummation
Chapter 4: Sin and Atonement
Interlude: A Theology of Israel

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

1. Concentrated James (1:1)

Beginning the book of James in Hebrews and General Epistles class.

James 1
Prescript (1:1)
  • 1:1. There are several Jameses in the New Testament. There is the first apostle to be martyred, James the son of Zebedee. There was "James the Less" or James the son of Alphaeus.
  • By far the most common suggestion is James the Lord's brother, the leader of the Jerusalem church. He is well known from the book of Acts (e.g., Acts 15, 21). He is well-known from Galatians 1-2. He is mentioned in Mark 6:3 as one of several brothers of Jesus.
  • James is usually considered either the son of Joseph from a previous marriage (thus an older half-brother of Jesus) or a later child of Mary (more likely, given that the children in Mark 6:3 seem to be Mary's). Those who affirm the "perpetual virginity of Mary" favor either an older half-brother or a cousin/nephew.
  • James was put to death by the high priest Ananus, a Pharisee, after the Roman governor Festus died and the new procurator Albinus arrived in the year AD62.
  • Here's the quote: "This younger Ananus who took the high priesthood was a bold man in his temper, and very insolent; he was also of the sect of the Sadducees, who are very rigid in judging offenders… when Ananus was of this disposition, he thought he had now a proper opportunity [to exercise his authority]. Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road; so he assembled the Sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some of his companions. And when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned" (Josephus, Ant. 20.9).
  • Having said that the James in view was likely the Lord's half-brother, James Dunn suggests that the book may be a collection/"translation" of James' teaching for a broad, Greek-speaking audience. Dunn is addressing the generic rather than Jewish particular feel of the letter. The book of James does not have the more "partisan" feel of James in Galatians 2 or Acts 21 and even the treatment of works is generic rather than along the lines of "works of Law" in Paul's debates. Of course others have suggested that James was fully pseudonymous.
  • "To the twelve tribes in the Diaspora." Two choices here. Are the twelve tribes literal, to Jews scattered throughout the world? James does not really have that kind of feel. It is not really Jewish in an exclusivist way. It has a "universalist" feel, as if it would apply equally to either a Jewish or a Gentile believer. 
  • It thus seems more likely that James is considering all believers, including Gentiles, as part of the new Israel, a redefined twelve tribes. 
  • "Greetings." James certainly is in a letter format, but it is more of an epistle in that it seems to have a universal rather than a particular audience.

Monday, March 12, 2018

5.4 The Development of Christology

Current chapter:
Chapter 5: Jesus the Christ
5.1 Fully Human, Fully Divine
5.2 The Theology of Jesus of Nazareth
5.3 Jesus is Lord!

5.4.1 Models of Christological Development
The Older Consensus
  • The older consensus was that Christian faith developed from the resurrection back and that the full worship of Jesus unfolded over decades at the very least.
  • The disciples have a messianic understanding that does not include even the death of Christ.
  • Resurrection faith alters their understanding of Jesus' death and the resurrection becomes the center of a functional Christology. See the Gospel of Mark around AD70.
  • Matthew and Luke add the virgin birth in the 70s and 80s.
  • John adds the incarnation and literal pre-existence of Jesus in the 90s.
  • Nicaean faith develops over the next three centuries.
The Early High Christology Club
  • Richard Bauckham - "The earliest Christology was already the highest Christology." 1 Cor. 8:6 includes Jesus within the shema.
  • Martin Hengel - the development of high Christology was explosive and already in place before any of the books of the NT were written.
  • Larry Hurtado - the worship practices of the earliest Christians already reveal that Jesus is being worshiped alongside God the father.
  • N.T. Wright
  • Up and coming Wheaton grad, Caleb Friedmann
  • P.S. The early high Christology club doesn't mean orthodox faith. There are individuals in this group that pattern early high Christology on Jewish practice that do not consider Jesus worship distinctive.
5.4.2 The Pre-Existence of Christ
  • What does it matter? Necessary for Trinity (anything God does is done by all the persons of the Trinity). The logos/wisdom overtone would bring significant meaning.
  • 1 Corinthians 8:6 - Jesus as the agent of creation, prepositional metaphysics
  • Bruce McCormack - is this language metaphorical. Jesus is the wisdom of God. Jesus is the Logos. I.e., Jesus is the meaning and purpose, the telos of creation.
  • Hebrews 1:2. But see 2:10; 3:4; and 11:3. Is the agency of Christ in creation metonymic (Ken Schenck)?
  • Philippians 1:6-7 debate. Cf. Ralph Martin.
  • Is the background of morphe philosophical ("very nature")?
  • Is it form in the sense of God's glory (shekinah)?
  • Is it a last Adam allusion (Dunn, who does not see pre-existence in the hyman)?
  • Is it status as in Tobit 1:13 (Eduard Schweizer)?
  • Colossians 1:15 (logos background?) In him all things hold together
  • John 1 (present excursus on Middle Platonism and Philo)
Previous "chapters"
Chapter 1: What is Biblical Theology?
Chapter 2: Theology of God
Chapter 3: Creation and Consummation
Chapter 4: Sin and Atonement
Interlude: A Theology of Israel

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Chemistry AP Study Notes 7 (Bonding and Geometry)

Thus far:

1. The Basics
2. Basic Chemical Reactions
3. Reactions in Solution
4. Gases
5. Thermodynamics
6. Electron Orbitals

7. Bonding
  • Ionic bonds trade electrons. Covalent bonds share electrons.
  • Ionic bonds are a metal and a non-metal. Use the criss-cross method to figure out subscripts. These are polar bonds.
  • Use Lewis dot structures to draw shared covalent bonds. These tend to be more non-polar, although they can be partially polar (polar covalent bonds).
  • Electronegativity is the measure of the tendency to hold or gain electrons. It increases from bottom left to top right on the periodic table.
  • The N - A = S rule is 1) N -- what is the ideal filled valence electron number? (2 or 8); 2) A -- what is the total number of available electrons; 3) S is the total number of electrons that must therefore be shared and S/2 tells the total number of bonds.
  • The idea of formal charge helps you determine which of more than one possible structure is the most likely. For each possible structure, take the number of valence electrons for an atom. Subtract the number of electrons that aren't bonded and add half the number of bonded electrons. Make sure the total of all the "formal charges" on each atom add up to the actual charge on the ion.
  • The preferred structure is the one with the most zeros, especially on the most electronegative atom, without any like charges next to each other.
  • There are a few circumstances where the octet rule does not work.
Molecular Geometry
  • The VSEPR theory predicts the shape a molecule will take (valence shell electron pair repulsion). Basically, electron pairs try to move as far away from each other as they can.
  • 1) Write the Lewis-dot structure, 2) how many electron pairs are there (count double and triple bonds as a single group, 3) what shape maximizes the distance (this is the geometry of the electron groups), 4) now for drawing purposes, pretend that the non-binding electron groups aren't there and draw the molecular geometry.
  • Here are the possibilities. With only two bonding pairs, we have linear geometry (like CO2).
  • With three total electron pairs, we have trigonal planar (all three used, BF3) and bent (only two used NO2)
  • With four total electron pairs, we have tetrahedral (with all four used, CH4), trigonal pyramidal (with only three used, NH3), or bent (with only two used, H2O).
  • With five total electron pairs we have trigonal bipyrimidal (with all five used, PF5), seesaw (with four used, SF4), T shaped (with three used, ClF3), and linear (with two used, XeF2).
  • Finally, with six total electron pairs, we have octohedral (with all six used, SF6), square pyrimidal (with 5 used, ClF5) and square planar (with 4 used, XeF4).
Valence Bond Theory
  • Explains geometry by hybrid orbitals. 
  • Linear is one s and one p orbital (sp hybridization).
  • sp2 hybridization is an s with two p orbitals. This is trigonal planar.
  • sp3 hybridization is an s with three p orbitals. This is tetrahedral.
  • sp3d hybridization is an s with three p and one d orbital. This is trigonal bipyrimidal.
  • sp3d2 hybridization is an s with three p and two d orbitals. This is octohedral.
  • Sigma bonds are the straight bonds between atoms. Pi bonds are the second and third bonds in double and triple bonds.
Molecular Orbital Theory
  • A theory of covalent bonds that sees the electrons as assigned to the whole molecule rather than the individual atoms.
  • Speaks of bonding orbitals and antibonding orbitals.
  • A concept called "bond order" is half the bonding orbitals minus the antibonding orbitals.
  • The higher the bond order, the shorter and stronger the bond.
In addition
  • Resonance structures are instances when, say, a double bond isn't just in one location but moves around, so to speak (e.g., NO3-).
  • Paramagnetism is an attraction to a magnetic field due to unpaired electrons.
  • Diamagnetism is a slight repulsion from a magnetic field due to the presence of paired electrons.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Chemistry AP Study Notes 6 (Orbitals)

The Electron Orbitals
  • So the space around the nucleus of atoms has a certain structure. The clouds of probable location take on certain shapes. It's like a seating arrangement for the electrons. As people come in, they are given the next seat.
  • There are shells of electrons, like rows of seats. These correspond to the periods or rows on the periodic table. We give them numbers, 1, 2, 3, 4...
  • Within any shell, the first two electrons to arrive fill up a spherical orbital or subshell around the nucleus, which can hold two seats. So hydrogen's electron fills the first seat and the second seat is empty. Helium's two electrons entirely fill the first shell, which uniquely only holds two. It is a noble gas because it's outermost shell is completely full.
  • A spherical orbital is called an s orbital (the similarity is coincidental). The first two columns of the periodic table are atoms whose outermost orbital involves one or two electrons in this spherical "seating." Group 1 has one electron in that shell. Group two has the spherical part of the shell full.
  • After the first two electron seats, the next group of electron seats are also grouped in twos--two up and down, two in and out, and two side to side. So six possible seats perpendicular to each other. This orbital is called the p orbital (again, coincidental). The six groups on the right side of the periodic table are atoms whose outermost shell or valence shell involves electrons in the "p seats."
  • When we get to the third row, the third shell, another type of orbital comes into play. However, it doesn't actually show up until the space of the fourth row. These are the transition metals. Ten electrons can fit in this orbital. There are 5 sets of two in interesting flower shapes.
  • Finally, there is an f orbital with up to 14 electrons. These correspond to the Lanthanide and Actinoid elements usually placed at the very bottom of the periodic table.
Quantum Theory
  • In the year 1900, a scientist by the name of Max Planck suggested that energy might only come in certain packets. So there is the base energy level, then twice that level, three times, etc. This is why there are fixed "seats" around the nucleus of an atom. There is no in between the seats. We say that the energy of an electron is quantized.
  •  The starting point for an electron is its ground state. An excited state is when a certain amount of energy is added to the electron so it jumps to the next highest state. The energy between two levels is
ΔE = -2.18 x 10-18 (1/n2final – 1/n2initial)
  • In the 1920s, a man named Schrodinger came up with a wave equation to predict the possible size, shapes, and orientations that electron clouds could have around the nucleus. This is where the s, p, d, and f orbitals mentioned above come from. These states correlate to varieties of four quantum numbers.
  • First there is the principal quantum number, which has to do with the shells, the rows or periods of the periodic table. n = 1, 2, 3...
  • Then there is the angular momentum quantum number, which has to do with the orbitals. One less than n tells you how many orbitals exist for that row. So for the third shell, there can be L = 0, 1, and 2 (s, p, and d orbitals).
  • The magnetic quantum number goes from -L to +L. So the p orbital (L = 1) has three options (-1, 0, +1). 
  • When you finally take into account the spin quantum number (two options for each magnetic possibility), there are 6 possible electron states for each p orbital.
The Wave Nature of the Electron
  • Planck suggested that the packages of energy followed the formula E = hv, where h is Planck's constant: 6.63 x 10-34 Js and v is the frequency of the energy.
  • Frequency is the number of waves that pass a point per second. Related to the frequency is the wavelength, how far the distance is between each crest of a wave. The shorter the wavelength, the higher the frequency. The longer the wavelength, the lower the frequency.
  • If you multiple these two together, you get the speed of the wave (meters times cycles/second gives you meters/second for the wave cycles).
  • Einstein solidified for us that all electromagnetic waves travel at the same speed, the speed of light, which is 3 x 108 m/s, which is given the symbol c. So c = wavelength times frequency or c = λv.
  • The amplitude of a wave is how high it is.
  • The electromagnetic spectrum gives us the range of frequencies that electromagnetic waves can have. Radio frequencies are the longest wavelengths and lowest frequencies. Microwaves have slightly shorter wavelengths and slightly higher frequencies.
  • Then there is infrared, visible light, ultraviolet, x-rays, and finally gamma rays. Gamma rays have the highest frequencies and the shortest wavelengths.

Friday, March 09, 2018

Chemistry AP Study Notes 5 (Thermodynamics)

  • Enthalpy is the heat gained or lost by a system under constant pressure conditions, ΔH. ΔH > 0 if the reaction is endothermic. ΔH < 0 if the reaction is exothermic.
  • Exothermic means that the temperature goes up during the reaction. Endothermic means the temperature goes down during the reaction.
  • Calorimetry is a technique to measure the heat released or absorbed during a change. That quantity is known as q.
  • Heat capacity is the amount of heat needed to change the temperature 1K.
Cp = heat capacity = q/ΔT (units of joules/kelvin)
  • Specific heat capacity is the amount of heat needed to raise one gram of a substance 1K.
c = q/(mΔT) (units of joules per gram-kelvin)
  • Molar heat capacity is the amount of heat needed to raise one mole of a substance 1K.
  • Hess' Law states that if a reaction occurs in steps then the total enthalpy change will equal the totals of the individual steps. 
  • You do not have to know the actual steps because heat reactions are a state function. That means that the total only depends on the beginning and end states, not on the pathway used to get there. 
  • The heat of formation of a product is symbolized by ΔHf
  • A degree to the right of the ΔH implies a standard state (1 atm, 1 M, etc). ΔH°
  • So ΔH°f gives the total heat of formation when 1 mole of a substance is formed from elements and all the substances are in their standard state. This is the standard enthalpy of formation.
  • The ΔH°f of an element in its standard state is zero.
  • The ΔH°f rxn for a reaction is the sum of all the ΔH°f for the products minus those for the reactants.
  • The First Law of Thermodynamics is that the total energy of the universe is constant. It amounts to the Law of Conservation of Energy.
  • The Second Law of Thermodynamics is the famed entropy law. Entropy is the inevitable overall tendency of a system toward disorder. ΔSuniverse = ΔSsystem + ΔSsurroundings > 0.
  • The entropy increases: 1) when the number of molecules increases during a reaction, 2) with an increase in temperature, 3) when a gas is formed from a liquid or solid, and 4) when a liquid is formed from a solid.
  • The standard molar entropy (S°) can be summed up like the standard enthalpy (ΔH°). You take the sum of the entropies of the products and subtract from them the sum of the entropies of the reactants.
Gibbs Free Energy

  • Some guidelines for predicting a spontaneous reaction are a negative enthalpy and a positive entropy. These are put together in the Gibbs free energy equation.
  • ΔG is the best indicator as to whether a spontaneous reaction will occur.
  • If ΔG > 0, the reaction will not be spontaneous. More energy is needed.
  • If ΔG < 0, the reaction will be spontaneous.
  • If ΔG = 0, the reaction is in equilibrium.
  • The standard Gibbs free energy change ΔG° is again the sum of the products minus the sum of the reactants.
  • If the concentrations or pressures are not 1, then we need the Gibbs free energy equation for non-standard conditions:
ΔG = ΔG° + ln RT Q or ΔG° + 2.303 log Q

where Q is the ratio of the sum of products over the sum of reactants, the activity quotient.

Friday Science 3f: Spin Polarization Principle

Seventh installment summarizing Susskind's, Quantum Mechanics: The Theoretical Minimum.

Chapter 1: Dirac was much smarter than I (introducing linear algebra).
Chapter 2: Quantum States (a.k.a., more linear algebra)
Chapter 3a: Linear Operators
Chapter 3b: Eigenvectors
Chapter 3c: Hermitians and Fundamental Theorem of QM
Chapter 3d: Principles of Quantum Mechanics
Chapter 3e: 3-Vector Operators

Finishing up notes on chapter 3.

3.8 The Spin-Polarization Principle
Any state of a single spin is an eigenvector of some component of the spin.

I wish I more fully understood this principle, but I will do my best. It seems to me it is saying that you're going to get a +1 somewhere.

〈σx2 + 〈σy2 + 〈σz2 = 1

This type of bracket indicates what is called an "expectation value" or the average value of a measurement. The square of the expectation value is the probability of finding a 1 there. So there has to be a 1 somewhere or the probability has to total one.

So, given any state ∣A〉 = αu∣u〉 + αd∣d〉

There is some direction 𝜎 ⃗∙𝑛 ̂ ∣A〉 = ∣A〉

3.7 An example
If I had fully followed the matrix analysis of the previous sections, I'm sure this section would be delightful. I get the general sense that he is playing out probabilities in a spherical framework. I generally understand spherical coordinates and the chart on p.89. But I think I'll skip summarizing this section and call chapter 3 concluded.

Thursday, March 08, 2018

Chemistry AP Study Notes 4 (Gases)

Thus far:
1. The Basics
2. Basic Chemical Reactions
3. Reactions in Solution

Chapter 5
Kinetic Molecular Theory, Part I
  • 1) Gases are made up of very small particles, 
  • 2) in constant, random motion, bouncing into their boundaries (which constitutes pressure), 
  • 3) with lots of space between them, 
  • 4) colliding randomly and elastically into each other, 
  • 5) with the average kinetic energy being proportional to the Kelvin temperature.
Pressure, Volume, Temperature, Amount
  • There are clear relationships between the pressure, volume, temperature, and amount of gas.
  • Boyle's Law has to do with the relationship between pressure and volume when the temperature is constant. When the pressure goes up, the volume goes down. When the volume goes up, the pressure goes down. These are "inversely proportional." P x V is constant. Also P1V1 = P2V2.
  • Pressure can be measured by a barometer or manometer. One "atmosphere" is sea level pressure. It would raise a column of mercury 760 mm (aka 760 torr-s). The pascal and pounds per square inch are other units of measuring pressure.
  • Charles' Law has to do with the relationship between volume and temperature when the pressure is constant. When the temperature goes up, the volume goes up. When the temperature goes down, the volume goes down. These are "directly proportional." V/T is constant. Also V1/T1 = V2/T2.
  • Temperature in such cases is in Kelvin. Kelvin is Celsius plus 273.15.
  • Guy-Lussac's Law has to do with the relationship between pressure and temperature when the volume is held constant. When the pressure goes up, the temperature goes up. When the pressure goes down, the temperature goes down. Like volume and temperature, this is a directly proportional relationship. P1/T1 = P2/T2.
  • Avogadro's Law has to do with the relationship between the amount of gas and the volume at a constant temperature and pressure. When the amount goes up, the volume has to go up for the temperature and pressure to stay the same, and vice versa. V1/n1 = V2/n2.
  • We can add a constant and put all the above laws into a single ideal gas equation. The constant to make everything work out is R, the ideal gas constant (0.0821 L-atm/K-mol).
PV = nRT
  • Johannes van der Waals made the ideal gas law a little more precise by adjusting the volume to take into account the fact that gas molecules do not have an infinite volume in which to move. He also adjusted the pressure part of the equation to take into account the attraction between molecules. His modified equation was:
(P + an2/V)(V - nb) = nRT

Kinetic Molecular Theory, Part II
  • The average velocity of gas particles is the root mean square speed, urms.
  • It is the square root of 3RT/M, where R is the ideal gas constant, T is the temperature in Kelvins, and M is the molar mass of the gas.
  • The kinetic energy of each molecule is 3/2 RT.
Some More Laws
  • Dalton's Law says the total pressure of a mixture of gases is just the sum of the individual "partial" pressures.
  • You can figure out the partial pressure by multiplying the total pressure by the mole fraction of each gas.
  • Graham's Law of Diffusion and Effusion states that the comparative rates of effusion (r1/r2, going through a tiny opening) are equal to the square root of the inverse ratio of the molar masses (M2/M1). Diffusion works similarly (mixing of gases due to their kinetic energy).
Other Details
  • You can use the ideal gas law to answer stoichiometric questions. For example, you can find the number of moles of a gas released given the pressure, volume, and temperature. Then using the ratios of an equation, you can solve for grams of reactants and such.
  • STP means "standard temperature and pressure."