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Character Formation in Online Education: An Interview with Joanne Jung

Wed, 10/07/2015 - 12:00

Joanne Jung (Associate Professor of Biblical and Theological Studies at Talbot School of Theology) recently finished writing Character Formation in Online Education: A Guide for Instructors, Administrators, and Accrediting Agencies and it will be released on October 13, 2015. We wanted to learn more about this book, so we had Joanne respond to some questions ...

Categories: Seminary Blog

A Pesar de las Malas Noticias Podemos Orar y Ayudar / We are Surrounded by Bad News, but We Can Pray and Help

Tue, 10/06/2015 - 12:00

Esta semana hablé por teléfono con un amigo y cuando le pregunté qué estaba haciendo me dijo que estaba en la sala de su casa leyendo las noticias en el periódico local. En tono de broma le pregunté si había encontrado una buena noticia y me respondió rápidamente con un “no” rotundo. Al parecer las malas noticias salen a luz  mientras que las buenas se pierden en el anonimato social ...

Categories: Seminary Blog

Ruth as a Wisdom Story

Mon, 10/05/2015 - 12:00

One of the ways to interpret the idyllic story of Ruth is to read it as a wisdom text—an illustration of God’s order in the lives of his faithful people. There are a number of good reasons to read Ruth in this way ...

Categories: Seminary Blog

Christian Pessimism?

Fri, 10/02/2015 - 12:00

Dear Dr. Craig

Hi I'm an Australian who converted to Christianity about a year ago after reading Richard Dawkins’s book 'The God Delusion'. Ever since I read the book I became interested in Christianity and so after 3-4 months of research I came to the conclusion that Christianity is the most probable worldview, hence this is why I'm a Christian.

Over the last year I have continued to search for answers to my greatest questions by reading the works of people like you, Ravi Zacharias, Alvin Plantinga, John Lennox, Hugh Ross, Timothy Keller and many others. In all my many hours of research I have yet to find a direct answer to the question I'm about the pose ...

Categories: Seminary Blog

Did the Apostle Paul Use Profanity?

Thu, 10/01/2015 - 18:21

In Philippians 3:8, Paul compares his religious credentials to knowing Jesus. The difference could not be more emphatic: “knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” is of “surpassing value,” but Paul’s past success is like σκύβαλα (skubala). σκύβαλα is commonly translated as rubbish, refuse, or garbage, but sometimes more strongly as dung, in both ancient and modern translations (Vulgate, Tyndale, KJV, NET). Some have suggested another four-letter translation, stronger than dung.

While teaching Greek, I used to say that σκύβαλα is the closest thing to a swear word you can find in the New Testament. But is that true? Is σκύβαλα a swear word, or maybe a rude word? Or is it unobjectionable?
Categories: Seminary Blog

“Teaching Naked” in the Church, Idea #3

Thu, 10/01/2015 - 12:00

This is fourth and final in a series of blogs on José Bowen’s book, Teaching Naked: How Moving Technology Out of Your College Classroom Will Improve Student Learning (Jossey-Bass, 2012). I shared in my first blog that the main thrust of his book was for teachers to use technology to deliver content outside of class sessions, and shift the use of class time to processing that information, promoting critical thinking and the application of knowledge to real life situations. I then identified three ideas from Bowen’s work that I think have the potential of deepening the impact of our teaching in the church. In my second blog, I put the focus on his first idea, finding ways to use technology to provide content to group members, preparing them for active learning in your Bible study group. In the third blog I focused on how to better use your class time to help students in processing and applying the content of the Scripture you are studying together. In this final blog, I want to give our attention to ways we can use social media and other online technologies to connect with those we teach, promote a stronger sense of community as we follow Christ, and promote the application of what we are learning over time, deepening the impact of our studies ...

Categories: Seminary Blog

Metaphors Revealing the Holy Spirit, Part One

Wed, 09/30/2015 - 13:00

Theologians have often observed the paucity of details about the Holy Spirit in the Bible, as compared to revelation of the Father and the Son. This holding back by the Spirit who inspired Scripture seems typical of his humility, and the trait of divine love “that does not seek its own.” Sets of details that we can add to the several statements about the Spirit are connected with eight metaphors used throughout the Bible. Several of these metaphors pull together and give concrete expression to the declarative statements of pneumatology, such as “the Spirit sanctifies, indwells, teaches, assures, and convicts people" ...

Categories: Seminary Blog

Observations About Ministry Basics

Mon, 09/28/2015 - 13:00

This past spring my wife and I traveled to five states and visited nearly 50 Talbot alumni. Our journeys found us in the San Joaquin valley of California, the Flagstaff-Casa Grande corridor of Arizona, parts of Illinois and Indiana, and the Colorado Interstate 25 from Ft. Collins to Colorado Springs. And while our grads were doing all kinds of ministry in a multitude of settings, some basics about life and ministry came through loud and clear. Here are some of the most prevalent ...

Categories: Seminary Blog

Disobeying the Supreme Court

Fri, 09/25/2015 - 12:00

Hello Dr. Craig.

I must say that I began my travels as an agnostic, and after watching a multitude of your debates, reading your book Reasonable Faith, and reviewing your website, I confess to be impressed by the breadth and depth of your research. I have come to accept Christianity. In fact, much of the apologetics I use now to help others understand what I had trouble understanding I learned from you! So thank you for that.

Now, as of recent, with the legalization of gay marriage across the United States, someone pointed out to me that the Bible says that to resist the authorities would be directly against God's wishes. To support this, he showed me Romans 13 verses 1-7. The verses seem to suggest that authority is placed by God, and we are to obey them because disobeying would be akin to disobeying God ...

Categories: Seminary Blog

Prince of Peace—Jesus, or Pope Francis?

Thu, 09/24/2015 - 16:15

“Prince of peace” is biblical language. In other words, it derives from its use in the Bible as a descriptive title with a very specific context. The title “Prince of Peace” is used of the Messiah in Isaiah 9:6. It is, therefore—according to Christian orthodoxy—a reference to Jesus Christ. This is an extraordinarily honorific title. It denotes the full realization of messianic hope. In the Christian Scriptures it alludes to human reconciliation with God, and only by extension to the realization of peace within the human community. The agent, of course, is the Prince of Peace ...

Categories: Seminary Blog

New Commentary On Philippians

Wed, 09/23/2015 - 12:00

Dr. Joseph Hellerman, Professor of New Testament at Talbot School of Theology, talks about his volume on Philippians in the Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament series ...

Categories: Seminary Blog

Does "I Am" always refer to God in the Gospel of John?

Mon, 09/21/2015 - 12:00

It is commonly claimed that when Jesus used the phrase “I am,” (ἐγώ εἰμι, ego eimi) that he was making a direct reference to the name of God in the Old Testament, YHWH. There is some truth to this, but I want to suggest three important caveats to this claim:

  1. “I am,” (ἐγώ εἰμι), by itself, is not a code for the name of God;
  2. “I am” is only intended to refer to deity in some of Jesus’ sayings;
  3. Paying too much attention to the “I am” part of the sentence distracts readers from paying attention to the rest of the sentence.
Categories: Seminary Blog

Nominalism and Natural Law

Fri, 09/18/2015 - 13:30

Hi Dr Craig.

I've heard you say, on the topic of marriage, that you are an "essentialist" on the nature of marriage- that is, marriage has a certain intrinsic nature which is not merely a social construct. As a natural law theorist who thinks the moral law is grounded in what it is to be human, this gratified me immensely. On the other hand, you are also well-known for your nominalism on the topic of abstract objects, which I take to be the denial that there are real universals in any sense (either Aristotelian or Platonic). My question is how these positions can be made consistent.

As far as I know, to an essence just is a universal, so to affirm that marriage has an essence seems in direct contradiction with the idea that there are no such things as universals. Since I don't think you would permit so obvious a contradiction, either my account of essence or my understanding of your nominalism must be at fault. I would be much gratified if you could elaborate, as I think it would help me better understand your position on abstract objects ...

Categories: Seminary Blog

Is God’s Life Absurd?

Fri, 09/11/2015 - 14:00

Dear Doctor Craig,

I have recently thought myself into a theological dilemma, which, to be perfectly honest, I find somewhat frightening. I look forward to your analysis:

I do not want to say or even think that God's existence might be purposeless, but I'm having a hard time not coming to that conclusion. Consider: purposes do not lie within themselves. Purposes depend upon an external factor, or judgment. Does the purpose of a tree lie within that tree's mere existence? No. The purpose of the tree becomes known only after observing the tree with various other things, i.e. the bird nesting in its branches, the shade its leaves provide on a hot summer day.

Therefore, it follows that for one to assert a /purpose/ for God implies that there remains something outside of God, thus making God God ...

Categories: Seminary Blog

Sub-Themes in the New Testament Authors' Use of the Old Testament

Thu, 09/10/2015 - 12:00

One of the keys to understanding the New Testament (NT) use of the Old Testament (OT) may be the recognition that when a NT author draws upon an idea found in a particular OT passage, it does not have to be the main idea of that passage to be usable. The contemporary assumption (often not articulated) that it has to be the main idea of an OT text to be legitimate seems to be a key stumbling block for people studying the NT use of the OT. The tendency for people to focus only on the main idea of a text (rather than also upon sub-themes) may also explain my present discomfort with the sense / referent distinction made by various authors.[1] The sense / referent distinction seems to assume a single sense for a verse that is akin to an exegetical idea of that verse.

Categories: Seminary Blog

What Do Theology and Ice Cream Have in Common?

Tue, 09/08/2015 - 20:15

Have you ever wondered what theology and ice cream have in common? Some Zondervan authors shed some light on the matter ...

Categories: Seminary Blog

Questions Sparked by Defenders Class

Fri, 09/04/2015 - 12:00

Weekly Q & A with Dr. William Lane Craig:

... I have found your descriptions of omni-temporalism and middle-knowledge have challenged some of my assumptions, but instead of finding this irritating or threatening I am grateful to have had my horizons extended, and I am very interested to know more. I suspect I shall have to track down a copy of your book "Time and Eternity" for a detailed explanation, but I wondered if you could find the time to provide a short answer? ... But I am finding the idea of omni-temporalism much harder to get my head around. If God didn't create time then who did? Also aren't temporal beings in a sense controlled by time? As you point out, God would still has his perfect knowledge of the past, but does omni-temporalism lead to a belief that God is under the control of time? ... are these valid thoughts to ponder as I weigh a-temporalism and a tense-less B-theory against omni-temporalism, or have I misunderstood the debate?

Categories: Seminary Blog

Questions Over Breakfast #12: Can One Person Change the World?

Tue, 09/01/2015 - 12:00

The dialogue between Michael and Jim comes to a close:

Michael: But what if it doesn’t happen the way I hope? What if I set out on a course of action and my impact turns out to be minimal?

Jim: I don’t believe that anyone who lives a life of whole devotion to God will only have minimal impact. But it’s not until eternity that we will be able to see all that has occurred through our lives. In other words, we don’t always see fully now. But, let’s say that you really don’t make an impact; you can’t even see a dent. Even then, you’ve lived life according to the purpose for which you were created, and that can never be called an empty life.

Michael: But if your ministry is unsuccessful, you haven’t succeeded.

Jim: Not necessarily ...

Categories: Seminary Blog

Responding to Objections with Truth and Love

Mon, 08/31/2015 - 12:45

As a parent, my favorite word to say is “yes.” Saying this word puts me in a favorable position with my children. The look of joy on their faces when I say “yes” compels me to say it more and more. I even struggle saying “yes” when I know it would be wiser to say “no” due to budget restraints (“yes, take my last $20”), or health concerns (“yes, eat the whole gallon of ice cream”), or just common sense (“yes, you can play in the street”). My children expect a “yes” when they ask because I love saying “yes” so often. So when I say “no” they are surprised by my objections to their request. However, my disapproving “no” is just as loving as my “yes,” and many times it is a much more compassionate response ...

Categories: Seminary Blog

The Key to Successful Debating

Fri, 08/28/2015 - 12:00

Dear Dr. Craig,

You were the first Christian apologist I came across when I was researching a credible answer from Christianity to Atheist and Islam in 2002. Since then I have been following you through different medium on the internet. May God bless you for bringing the Christian truth with precision and clarity and with so much needed nuances.

I was re-watching your debate with Dr. Richard Carrier on the Resurrection of Jesus. I can't remember anyone really dismantling his case as you did. So I wondered how do you do to prepare for a debate? Most speakers are good at their opening speech but fair less well during the rebuttals, failure you seem immune to. Do you also prepare the rebuttals before your debates? If yes, how on earth do you do that since you can't possibly know what the opponent would say? ...

Categories: Seminary Blog