Appendix 1 -The Christian Worldview

In this first appendix of my paper “To Love God with All One’s Heart Soul and Strength,” I sketch the Christian worldview as best as I understand it. I briefly treat a Biblical view of metaphysics, epistemology, and ethics. My presentation is highly dependent on the work of John Frame and is very selective, only putting forth what I believe to be necessary for the main content of my paper.

 

You can download or read it here

To Love God with All One’s Heart Soul and Strength: a Christian Philosophy of Education

I recently had to summarize my approach to education for a class; here is the paper that resulted. Using Jeff Greenman’s nine components of learning as the structural framework, I develop in this paper my own philosophy of education, employing a hypothetical school of ministry located in Vancouver to elucidate it in a concrete setting. Two Appendices follow the main paper, the first giving a brief sketch of the Christian worldview and the second presenting my approach to the relationship of Christ and culture (Christians and the World).

 

You can download or read it here

The Rhetoric of Repentence

I recently posted another one of my papers on Academia.edu:

Why does the author of 1 & 2 Samuel break off the account of the taking of Rabbah in 2 Samuel 11:1 to recount David’s adultery and murder, only to resume it in 2 Samuel 12:26-31?  From this inclusio and other literary features of the narrative, it is argued that the narrator carefully crafts the narrative of Nathan’s rebuke and David’s repentance in 2 Samuel 11:27-12:25 to demonstrate God’s faithfulness to His promises and David’s true repentance, with the result that God would still provide David with a sure house and victory over his enemies.

You can download or read it here

A Creamy Garlic White Wine Sauce and 1 Tim. 5:23

Sometimes, as I read the Scriptures, I get inspired in various ways. This post is for those of you like me: one of the ways I get inspired is to cook, I think of food. So here is a meditation on Scripture with a recipe that it may inspire you to create. In 1 Timothy 5 Paul writes this to Timothy,

23 (No longer drink only water, but use a little wine for the sake of your stomach and your frequent ailments.)

Reading through this chapter, you may be caught off guard by Paul’s seemingly disconnected instruction to young Timothy. Though I am inspired to drink or cook with wine, I suspect that this may not be what Paul intended this verse to accomplish. This verse at first seems completely out of place, yet a closer look at the context sheds some light on why Paul says this.
 

Paul is in the midst of exhorting Timothy on how to conduct himself as a leader in the church and how to lead his flock. In verse 22, Paul turns to personal instruction: Timothy, be pure, keep yourself from sin. Making this practical, Paul inserts some personal health instruction. He is saying something like this, “Focus on pursuing godly conduct and leadership—and take care of yourself in the process!” Ethically, that Paul instructs a Church leader to drink wine suggests that there is no absolute Scriptural prohibition against drinking alcohol—though there are relevant prohibitions governing particular circumstances (e.g., Romans 14) and drunkenness (e.g. 1 Tim. 3:8, Gal. 5:19-21). Furthermore, though he makes it clear elsewhere that godliness is the priority (1 Tim. 4:8), Paul makes the point here that one can only lead others and serve Jesus when he or she is alive to do so—so health has some measure of importance. The fact that Paul sandwiches this instruction between the greater contrast between good works and sin suggests, probably, that Timothy was only drinking water (abstaining from wine) to avoid connection with the sinful practices of others. Paul is, then, reinforcing Timothy’s purpose but encouraging a different practice.

What can we take from this, other than a recipe? Paul cared about practical issues, he cared about people, their health, and though we should focus on godliness—dying to self and following Jesus—we need to be alive to do so, so we shouldn’t neglect those means of healing made available to us as we seek first Christ’s kingdom.

 

With that in mind, here is a great (at least my wife thought so) wine inspired recipe, a sauce for any pasta—ideally paired with seafood but great with any herby Chicken or pork.

 
  Creamy Garlic White Wine Sauce  (serves two people)

1/4 a cup white wine (I used a Chardonnay)

1/2 chicken broth

1/4 tsp salt (I added a bit more at the end, depending on the salt content of the chicken broth)

1/3 – 1/2 cup diced onion

5 or 6 cloves of garlic (depending on how garlicy you like it)

Fennel seed (I used about half a tsp)

Diced Mushroom

1/2 cup Almond milk

2 Tbsp. butter

Ground pepper to taste

(For thickening, I used about two tbslp brown rice flour)

 

Heat up ½ tbsp. olive oil in a 7-9inch (medium sized) pan. Add 1 tbsp of butter to the hot oil, sauté onions for 1 minute with fennel seed. Add garlic and mushroom, sauté for another minute with 1/4 tsp of salt. Add tbsp. of butter, then chicken broth and wine. Bring to a boil at medium heat, boil for 5 minutes. Add almond milk and pepper and bring to a boil at medium, boil for 1 minute. Thicken by boiling and adding flour to liking, add more salt as necessary. Serve hot.

The Co-Inherence of Authority, Inerrancy and Trustworthiness

[This accompanies this post] Wait a second, you may be thinking, you are fallaciously connecting ideas that are not necessarily connected: is authority really so connected to inerrancy? Yet, are they not? Let us ask ourselves, what do we mean when we call Scripture ‘authoritative’? We are affirming, with all of the writers of Scripture that the Bible carries God’s authority. This is a claim easy to prove: 2 Timothy 3:16-17 says that all Scripture was breathed out by God, that is, it is His words. Paul here refers to the Old Testament with which Timothy was raised, but Peter goes on to lump Paul’s letters into this same category—inspired Scripture (2 Peter 3:15-16). Peter also said, previously, that no prophecy found in Scripture (prophecy would cover the whole of Scripture—not just predictive texts) is of the prophets own imagination, but of God (2 Peter 1:20-21). The author of Hebrews, furthermore, writes that “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world” (Heb. 1:1-2). Some of the Old Testament records the very words of God—and when the prophets speak it is difficult to distinguish between their speech and God’s, so close is the connection—but all the Biblical texts, even the Psalms, are repeatedly said to be spoken by God, with David or the Prophets as His means of speaking: “saying through David so long afterward… ‘Today, if you hear his voice’….8For if Joshua had given them rest, God would not have spoken of another day” (Heb. 4:7-8); “God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago” (Acts 3:21, cf. Luke 1:70) (cf. Mark 12:36, Acts 1:16, Acts 4:25, Acts 28:25). So when we say “the Scriptures are authoritative,” we mean “The Scriptures, as the very words of God, bear His authority.”  The writers of Scripture are analogous—and this is a very near analogy—to the letter bears or heralds of a great king. When they come to the king’s subjects with a message—whether they paraphrase his words or read his words exactly—they come with his authority: to reject their words is to reject his; to spurn them is to spurn him. To do so is to incur the wrath of the king (cf. Matt. 21:33-22:14). To reject the prophets of God and their message is to reject God Himself (cf. Acts 8:51). Now, God has ultimate authority: He is the creator and has unquestionable rights and authority (cf. Job 38-41; Rom. 9:15, 20-21), God is also our covenant Lord—He has the authority to give commands, expect obedience, and pour out wrath upon the disobedient (see everywhere in Scripture). Scripture, then, as God’s very words, carries this same authority. This identity between God and His words is so close that David, in Psalm 56, talks repeatedly about praising God’s word (56:4, 10-11). Therefore, if Scripture is God’s word, it is trustworthy and inerrant both because God is trustworthy and inerrant (see Psalm 56) AND because it is absolutely authoritative. That is, if Scripture is absolutely authoritative—bearing God’s own authority—then it can never been in error, for there is no authority qualified to tell us it is wrong. Think about it: if you wanted to prove God wrong, where would you go? Science? He created the world and all that is in it; He would tell you that you are wrong, maybe tell you the reason you are wrong—maybe not—and command you to submit (see Job 38-41). Experience? He would tell you that you cannot rightly interpret your experience unless you know yourself perfectly—you cannot evaluate what is actually going on in the deepest recess of your heart and mind, what biases are at play—yet He who is completely omniscient knows the depths of your heart, mind, and all things: you would be wrong again. There is nothing in all creation that has the authority to tell the Creator that He is wrong. In the Christian worldview, all that exists is God and His creation, therefore God has unquestionable authority. If Scripture is God’s words, as it claims throughout, then there is nothing with the authority to show that it is wrong: it, therefore, must be inerrant—something it happily claims for itself (e.g., Isa. 40:8; Psalm 19:7, 8, 9, 119:43, 89-90, 127-128, 138-140, 151-152, 160, 163; Matt. 5:17-18, 24:35; Luke 16:17; John 10:35, 17:17).

Unless You Believed in Vain

In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul addresses false teaching in the Corinthian church and challenges the church on their doubt concerning the resurrection: “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (15:17). Yet, those who proffer this passage to substantiate the necessity of history for faith fail to see that this same passage—and a plethora of others—demand the same conclusion concerning Scripture. That is, I believe Paul would contend that if Scripture is not God’s Word—and thus trustworthy, inerrant, and authoritative—our faith is in vain. That is a bold claim, but it seems to me to be necessary.

Why doesn’t Paul say this? For Paul, and for the New Testament Church (and the Jews in fact), the doctrine of Scripture was never at stake—the binding authority of God’s revelation was not in doubt: what was in doubt, at various times, was the interpretation of the Old Testament (Paul’s debates with the Jews) or the authenticity of Paul’s preaching as God’s revelation (is Paul a genuine apostle?). In this passage, Paul combats the rejection of a future resurrection with three arguments, all appeals to the message he has preached. First, he begins by asking how they can doubt the future resurrection if Christ is proclaimed as raised from the dead—he points out the contradiction between this belief they are toying with and the preaching they received. He then brings out further the problem here in two ways: the ministry of Paul and the faith of the people are both at stake if this is true. The risen Christ is the essence of Paul’s preaching: if there is no resurrection, Jesus has not been raised and his preaching is futile (14). This of course brings out a bigger problem: if Christ has not been raised, then their faith futile, they are still in their sins—the message offering salvation is bogus.

 

What does this have to do with Scripture? The New Testament Scriptures are the content of the teaching and preaching of Jesus, Paul, and the Apostles. It is, for us, the equivalent of the preaching that the Corinthians’ doubt calls into question. We could then deduce that if Jesus was not raised from the dead, the teaching of Scripture is futile: this is attested in our context. All Scripture concerns Jesus and the Gospel, and he was raised “in accordance with the Scriptures” (4): if He was not raised, than the Old Testament was wrong, the message of Scripture is wrong. What is the point of a book that testifies to reconciliation to and enjoyment of God through faith in the life, death, and resurrection of the Son of God who was never actually raised? So if Christ was not raised from the dead, we can say that Scripture is futile—it fails to testify to the truth and cannot achieve its goals. But I would contend, and believe Paul would as well, that this goes the other way around as well.

What would happen if Scripture could be broken (contra John 10:35)? What would that say about our faith and the resurrection of Jesus Christ? What if Scripture was not authoritative, trustworthy, or inerrant? (If this is in doubt, read the appendix The Co-inherence of Authority, Trustworthiness, and Inerrancy.) Authority, Trustworthiness, and Inerrancy are all interrelated—what is authoritative must be trustworthy and inerrant, what is inerrant is implicitly authoritative on whatever it speaks; if it is trustworthy it has authority and is free from error. What does this have to do with 1 Corinthians 15? I contend that if Scripture is not authoritative, trustworthy, and inerrant, your faith is futile. How do we get here from what Paul is saying? His whole point rests not on the fact that Jesus was raised from the dead, but that Jesus was raised from the dead and that this has the utmost significance. Stay with me here; it matters that Christ was raised, not Lazarus. Paul cannot make this same point by arguing “if Lazarus was not raised from the dead….” This is obvious, but this means that the significance of Christ’s death was not merely the historical fact that a man was raised from the dead, not even that a man named Jesus was raised from the dead. The significance of the resurrection was that the Christ was crucified for our sins, was buried, and was raised from the dead in accordance with Scripture (1 Cor. 15:3-4). The Corinthian’s belief that there is no future resurrection was so dangerous because it threatened to utterly destroy the Gospel (3-11) and the hope that believers have because of that Gospel (20-49). Their rejection of the final resurrection called into question the historical resurrection of Jesus Christ, which, if it did not happen, would undermine the entire Christian faith. The falsity of this fact would destroy the Christian faith because of the meaning it carries, meaning given to it only by Scripture.

If we were told that Jesus was raised from the dead, yet were not told that He was the eternal son of God incarnate, what good would this do for us: if the resurrection of Lazarus is not the point on which our faith stands our falls, why would the resurrection of this unexplained Jesus be any different? If we were not told that He was crucified for our sins and that His resurrection was for our justification—that He died and was raised for our sins—His resurrection would not mean much, would it? The resurrection is so important because “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (1 Cor. 15:17). The resurrection is so important because if Christ was not raised, there would be no final resurrection—of which His resurrection was the first fruit—and all the trials Christians go through in this life would be meaningless (1 Cor. 15:19-23). If we did not know from the Old Testament who God was, and what He demanded from His creation, there would be no reason for the salvation Christ’s resurrection ensured. We could go on and on and on: every point of the Christian faith feeds into our understanding of the resurrection, our interpretation of it. If we did not have this teaching, this pattern of doctrine, as taught in Scripture, then the resurrection would be meaningless!

 

Historical facts need an interpretation to be meaningful, for their significance to be known: Christ’s resurrection was first interpreted by Him to His apostles, and then—by the Holy Spirit—the apostles interpreted it for God’s people. This all important interpretation of the historical fact of Jesus’ resurrection is only found in Scripture.[1] What, then, is the point of this? If Christ was not raised from the dead, after having died for our sins, and so ensured for us a right verdict before God, ushered in the new creation, and defeated death itself, then our faith would be in vain. But how, in the first place, do we know Christ was raised from the dead? In the end, the truth of the resurrection relies on Scripture: Scripture gives us God’s testimony to it, along with the written testimony of the eyewitnesses and their attestation to other witnesses (e.g., 1 Cor. 15).  All our historical arguments, those seeking to validate these claims on modern criteria, rely on this data. If Scripture were not a trustworthy witness, then we would have no reason to suspect that Jesus was historically raised from the dead (the historical arguments rely on demonstrating, on modern criteria, the trustworthiness of the witnesses recorded by Scripture).

Most importantly, the all-important interpretation of the resurrection relies on Scripture being a trustworthy interpreter. We are given God’s interpretation of a historical fact: if God’s word elsewhere admits error, how can we have the utmost certainty required to found our hope here? One may argue, of course, that though Scripture is true here, it is not necessarily true everywhere—what is true of the parts is not necessarily true of the whole. Yet, if all of Scripture is God’s word, and various parts are in error, this at least admits that the whole is not inerrant—with no guarantee as to which parts are not. On these grounds, our historical arguments cannot just substantiate further what is already attested to with unfailing authority, but have the sole responsibility of proving the resurrection as a fact—the burden of proof falls fully on these arguments. This follows for all of Scripture: if one part can be in error, than it is no longer a self-authenticating authority, all its parts are subject to testing against known authorities. This makes human reason the ultimate subjective measure of truth—what is true is what I can determine with my mind to be true. On these grounds, the more Scripture is “shown” to be in error, the less weight its own testimony would carry. If the word of the Creator requires at every point the authentication of the creature, one would begin to question whether what they had was actually the word of the Creator: “12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things” (John 3:12)? When it comes to something, like the interpretation of the resurrection—where direct external verification is impossible—what foundation do we have for certainty? The only way to trust that this interpretation is correct is to argue that the whole of Scripture is trustworthy, authoritative, and inerrant, therefore each part is so. If the parts may err, then we have no possibility of certainty here, where it matters most. If we doubt Jesus on the earthly, testable facts, how can we not help but doubt Him on the heavenly, unverifiable facts? What becomes of God’s authority if it is subject to the authority of His creation? Where else will we turn to authenticate our interpretation of the resurrection? There is nowhere else to turn. If we cannot trust Him about earthly things, how can we be sure He speaks with truth about heavenly things?

 

Paul writes to the Corinthians, “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sin. 18Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished” (1 Cor. 15:17-18). Everything rests on the resurrection of Jesus Christ, because of what it means—what He has accomplished through it. If Scripture is not authoritative, trustworthy, and inerrant, then there is no hope to know for sure the meaning of the resurrection, even if we can convince ourselves that it happened. Therefore, I would argue, “If Scripture is not the Inspired Word of God, with the authority and trustworthiness implied therein, our faith is futile.” If I cannot trust Scripture on its own God-derived authority, if it must answer to the authority of autonomous human reason as it wrestles with experience and raw data, if it requires external verification, how sure is my foundation? Every new discovery may, then, call into question my foundational beliefs, the source of my hope, the assurance of resurrection life. Can I really know without a doubt, on such a foundation, that I will stand before God in the Day of Judgment justified by my faith in Jesus Christ?


[1] What about tradition? Tradition is built on the foundation of Scripture—confessedly turns to it for authority and derives its teachings (however imperfectly) therefrom. If the foundation is removed, then this interpretation follows its source.