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November 2018 Archives

November 3, 2018

Teaching from fiction and teaching from fact

I have argued, as have others, that the distinctive nature of Christianity (and for that matter Judaism) is that God teaches mankind through real, historical facts. God says to Moses that he is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and Moses knows that that refers to a God who has done certain things in the real world. Then, throughout Israel's history, God says that he is the Lord who has brought them up out of the land of Egypt. The nature of God is declared in what he really does in the world.

In God's revelation of himself in Jesus Christ, as well, God writes his message in the language of fact. Jesus is really born of a virgin in a particular place and time. His fulfillment of prophecy at multiple points occurs in reality, not in legend. And at last he really suffers under Pontius Pilate and really rises from the dead.

The God of the Judeo-Christian religion is a God who speaks in facts, who dips his pen in the material world and writes his message in providentially guided historical events, which would not have that same message if they did not really occur.

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November 15, 2018

Teaching from fiction and teaching from fact II

I've decided to add some further reflections on the topic of my last post.

It might be argued that a person of sufficient authority can teach something entirely new using fiction. If Jesus taught by way of a parable that the Gentiles are to be accepted into the people of God, while this would be a new teaching (hence, not recognized from our independent experience), we should accept it because of Jesus' teaching authority.

This is certainly true.

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November 22, 2018

Thanksgiving: Not Weary in Well-Doing


"And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not." (Galatians 6:9)

I don't know what it's like where my co-bloggers are located or where my readers are located, but here in lovely Michigan our normally lovely November went away early. Over the last few years I'd learned to count on golden-and-red-and-blue days of autumn and Indian summer in November. These help to compensate for the shock of the time change with the shift to very long, very dark evenings. But this year the leaves came down early and with them the cold, the snow, and the gloom came down early, too.

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November 25, 2018

St. Augustine on Narrating dyschronologically vs. narrating achronologically

Repeatedly I remind those interested in the New Testament and in issues of historicity that there is a crucial distinction between an author's simply being non-specific about chronological order and his changing the chronology in his account so that it is contrary to fact.

Again and again (as I pointed out in this talk), literary device theorists fail to make this crucial distinction. They will say something vague like, "Ancient authors did not always narrate chronologically" or "Ancient readers did not always expect authors to narrate chronologically" and then use that to defend the conclusion that a Gospel author changed the chronology in a story, deliberately, to make it appear that events happened in a different order than they actually happened or took less time than they actually took. Narrating without indicating a specific chronology is what I call narrating achronologically--without a chronology. Changing chronology is what I call narrating dyschronologically.

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November 26, 2018

President and Pope


An innate interest in arguing over Lists appears present in most, and pronounced in many male members of our peculiar creature called man. Men will throw themselves into animated discourse over such matters as The Best NFL Quarterback (Elway), or The Greatest Basketball Player (LeBron), or Greatest English Prose Stylist (Wodehouse), laying out Top Threes and Top Fives and Top Tens with notable vigor and persistence. Frequently the females of the species can be observed on the fringes, bedecked with wry smiles or affecting harried cynicism.

Speaking for myself, I enjoy the mischief of the Top Three Presidents list: in particular, I like throwing Reagan in there with Lincoln and Washington, and then waiting, with amused anticipation, for the reactions.

The book under review here, an absorbing study composed by Prof. Paul Kengor of Grove City College, is part of the growing body of historical assessment which is making that mischief no longer effective as such. Because, it turns out, there surely is no mischief in adding to the list of the Greatest Presidents, our Republic’s greatest peacemaker. Lincoln and Washington both fought and won wars -- just wars, I think -- but still cruel and awful confrontations that left indelible scars, bitterness, and many other evils in their wake.

Reagan achieved victory without war; and having done so he prevented incalculable evils.


It is the burden of Prof. Kengor in this sizable but elegant volume, to demonstrate that few allies in this peaceful victory proved more valuable to Reagan than Pope Saint John Paul II.

Upon diving in, the reader of A Pope and a President will immediately find himself riding the splendid narrative currents of something extraordinary: A Catholic-Protestant alliance without historical parallel. Aspects of this tale have been related in many fine historical works over the past two decades; and we might say that the general lineaments of it are well known in a hazy kind of way.

Millennials who came of age after these men’s deaths -- at least those possessed of any sense -- do know that Reagan won the Cold War, that John Paul II was a great pope, and that both were lifelong and courageous anti-Communists. Most, likewise, understand dimly that all this implies considerable honor to both men, honor that is even granted, however grudgingly, by folks who admire them little in other matters.

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November 30, 2018

Transgender Blasphemy at the ETS

The Evangelical Theological Society meeting recently took place in Denver, CO. This is (as I'm sure most readers know) allegedly quite a conservative society. You have to affirm inerrancy to be a member, though I don't know for sure (you can tell me in the comments) whether you have to be a member to make a presentation.

One of the presenters was Andy Draycott, an associate professor at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University. His institution trains a lot of apologists and has a lot of "blue sky" (and deservedly so) in the evangelical community. And a lot of good professors. Draycott (I say unequivocally after this dust-up) is not one of them, for multiple reasons.

Colin Smothers of the Council for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood posted on November 19, and Steve Hays at Triablogue posted the link on November 28, alerting people to the contents of Draycott's talk, which Smothers attended.

I have now received a transcript of Draycott's talk. I am assuming, but do not have time to check (I'm trying to devote as much time as possible to book writing), that it simply was transcribed from the audio, which is available to the public for download here. If a reader downloads the audio, feel free to tell me if there is some significant misunderstanding going on, but the contents of the complete transcript I have appear to be simply an attempt to transcribe what Draycott actually said, up to and including the places where he descends into incoherence. They are absolutely damning. I will include quotes below.

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