Volume 11, Number 1 (Spring 2000)

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  • by John F. MacArthur

    The NT is consistent in its anticipation that the return of Christ might occur at any moment. That pervading perspective of imminence prompts three questions. The first question pertains to whether the Tribulation will precede Christ's coming for the church. The answer to that question is that it will not because the church is never asked to look forward to the tribulation, but they are asked to look forward to Christ's coming. The second question revolves around how the return of Christ could have been imminent in the early church. The answer here is that no one but the Father knows when the coming will occur, so that Christians, including the early church must always be ready. The third question asks why Christ's imminent return is so important. This answer relates to the motivation it supplies for believers to purify their lives and thereby progress toward the goal of sanctification and Christlikeness. The threefold call of the imminence doctrine is to wake up and obey right now, to throw off the works of darkness, and to put on the garments of holy living.

  • by William D. Barrick

    Both liberal and evangelical scholars have entertained doubts about the presence and/or frequency of conversion in the OT, but the doctrine is illustrated and objectified in the OT rather than being presented in doctrinal discourses as in the NT. Moses spoke of conversion in terms of the circumcision of the heart in Deut 10:16 and 30:6. The OT prophets referred often to Deuteronomic theology found in Deut 27-30 as a foundation for their prophecies. Joshua spoke of fearing the Lord in developing the Deuteronomic basis for conversion. Hezekiah's trust in the Lord also built on that foundation, and the prophets after him continued to build thereon. Examples of conversion in the OT included Abram, Naaman, Rahab, Ruth, the sailors on board the ship with Jonah, and the Ninevites. Elements involved in conversion in the OT included the Holy Spirit, the Word of God, knowledge of God, confession, faith, and repentance. A total change in a person’s life was the obvious outcome of conversion.

  • by Robert L. Thomas

    A difference of opinion is emerging among evangelicals about the degree of historical accuracy of the Synoptic Gospels. A historical survey of how various individuals explain the Great Commission illustrates that difference of opinion. An examination of how the church at different periods has viewed this Commission gives perspective regarding how and when this difference developed. The early church took the words of the Commission at face value, assuming them to be spoken by Jesus. The post-Reformation church did the same until the impact of the Enlightenment, which generated the ideology of Historical Criticism. Radical Historical Criticism questions the basic historicity of the Commission, Jesus' claim of all power, His command to go to all nations and baptize, and His use of the Trinitarian name in connection with baptism. Evangelical Historical Criticism questions the historicity of the same parts of the Commission, though usually not to the same degree as radical Historical Criticism. This evangelical approach to the Great Commission poses a serious dilemma for evangelical preachers and teachers in their handling of the Great Commission.

  • by J. Gregory Behle

    Institution-sponsored religious activities within American state universities in the nineteenth-century have gone largely unnoticed by higher education historians, although such activities were an integral part of such institutions from their founding. One such case was the compulsory chapel at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from its origin in 1868 to the demise of chapel in 1894. The first Regent of the University, John Milton Gregory, instituted chapel exercises from the beginning of the institution. Emphasis on chapel began to decline under the leadership of Selim Hobart Peabody, the second Regent. Compulsory chapel attendance ended during the tenure of Thomas Jonathon Burrill, the interim Regent who followed Peabody. Historical lessons to be learned from the University of Illinois experience include the effect of changing student populations on chapel attendance, the limitations placed on faculty schedules by academic work loads, and the effect of leadership's view of the importance of chapel attendance.

  • by Leslie James Crawford

    Ephesians 1:3-4 highlights the very important doctrine of election, but the passage is not without interpretative challenges that relate to that doctrine. An examination of individual words and phrases within the section reflects whether it supports the teaching of corporate or individual election. The two verses are part of a doxology that occupies 1:3-14 and emphasizes God's activity in benefitting His people. Various words and phrases within the doxology that contribute toward a correct understanding of election are "He chose," "He predestined," "us," "in Christ," "holy," "blameless," "with every spiritual blessing," and "in the heavenly places." An examination of those leads to the conclusion that God in eternity past selected certain individuals to receive a comprehensive spiritual package that includes justification and adoption. The two verses rule out the position of corporate election and support an individual, unconditional view of election.

  • by Michael McGhee Canham

    The debate over whether Christ was not able to sin or able not to sin results from Scripture's failure to address the issue directly. Some advocate that He was peccable (able not to sin), others that He was not able to sin (impeccable). Five hermeneutical issues relate to the resolving of this debate: what to do about the silence of Scripture, the argument from theological implications, the meaning of theological terms such as "ability" and "humanity," the role of theological presuppositions in exegesis, and an appeal to other relevant theological models. The role of theological suppositions includes a consideration of the meanings of perizo ("I tempt, test") in connection with Christ and of choris hamartias ("without sin") in Heb 4:15. Relevant theological models to be consulted include the hypostatic union of the two natures in Christ, the theological concept of "antinomy," and the kenosis of Christ. The preferred solution to the debate is that Christ in His incarnation was both peccable and impeccable, but in His kenosis His peccability limited His impeccability.

Volume 11, Number 2 (Fall 2000)

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An Issue Devoted to the Subject of Biblical Ethics

  • by Larry D. Pettegrew

    Systematic theology must serve as a foundation for any set of moral standards that pleases God and fulfills human nature. Establishing such a set is difficult today because of the emergence of the postmodernism which denies the existence of absolute truth, absolute moral standards, and universal ethics. Advances in science, medicine, and technology increase the difficulty of creating a system of Christian ethics. The inevitable connection between ethics and systematic theology requires that one have a good foundation in systematic theology for his ethics. A separation between the two fields occurred largely as a result of the Enlightenment which caused theology to be viewed as a science. Since the study of a science must be separate from a religious perspective, theology underwent a process of becoming a profession and the responsibility for educating theologians became the responsibility of the college rather than the church. This solidified the barrier between theology and ethics. Who God is must be the root for standards of right and wrong. God's glory must be the goal of ethics. Love for God must be the basis for one's love for and behavior toward his fellow man. Other doctrines besides the doctrine of God, especially bibliology, play an important role in determining right ethical standards.

  • by Alex D. Montoya

    Developments in the secular society in its acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle have put pressure on the evangelical church to respond in some way. Homosexual spokespersons have advocated varying principles of interpretation to prove from the Bible the legitimacy of their lifestyle. They have resorted to either subjectivism, historic-scientific evolving of society, or cultural biases of the biblical writers to find biblical backing for their position. Scripture condemns homosexuality in such passages as Genesis 19; Lev 18:22; 20:13; Rom 1:18-32; 1 Cor 6:9; 1 Tim 1:10; 2 Pet 2:7; and Jude 7. The true biblical teaching on the subject requires the church to condemn the sin of homosexuality, convert the homosexual, confront erroneous teaching, and cleanse itself. The church must be careful not to adopt the customs of the world.

  • The Abortion Dilemma   (169-90)

    by Michael A. Grisanti

    In recent years Supreme Court actions legalizing abortion have crystallized two ethical positions: pro-choice and pro-life. A series of cases resulted in decisions granting women the right to choose whether or not to have abortions. As a consequence, several methods of aborting unborn children have come into prominence: suction aspiration, dilation and curettage, dilation and evacuation, saline injection, hysterotomy, prostaglandin chemical, RU-486, and partial-birth abortion. Viewpoints on abortion break down into four categories. Some say abortion is always right, others say sometimes, still others rarely, and some say never. The Bible gives several reasons why abortion is wrong because it does not distinguish between a person's state before and after birth, because it indicates God "knew" certain ones before birth, because it indicates King David was a sinner from conception, and because John the Baptist reacted while still in his mother's womb. Both sides in the debate have used Exodus 21:22-25 to prove their cases, but the passage has a number of exegetical difficulties that keep it from being a strong argument. Though several Ancient Near Eastern law codes are similar to the Exodus passage, the biblical law is distinguishable from these in several ways. Questionable situations when some would use the mother's health, pregnancies caused by rape or incest, and pregnancies facing fetal handicaps do not furnish sufficient grounds for abortion.

  • Euthanasia   (191-212)

    by Keith H. Essex

    In the early part of the twenty-first century, euthanasia is destined to become the dominant ethical issue in American culture. It has become better known in the recent past because of several factors: the German euthanasia program, the cases of Karen Ann Quinlan and Nancy Beth Cruzan, and the activities of Dr. Jack Kevorkian. Recent responses to the growing acceptability of euthanasia are the Uniform Health-Care Decisions Act of 1993, the recognition of euthanasia in Holland in 1993, the Oregon Physician-assisted Suicide Initiative in 1994, and the U. S. Supreme Court's upholding of bans on physician-assisted suicide in 1977. A clear understanding of the vocabulary of euthanasia is vital because different sources are attaching differing meanings to the same words. Expressions that are especially significant are "active/passive euthanasia," "voluntary/involuntary/nonvoluntary euthanasia," and "direct/indirect euthanasia." The Bible is clear in its condemnation of both homicide and suicide, which cover all types of euthanasia. The Scriptures also present guidelines for dealing with death and euthanasia.

  • The Christian and War   (191-212)

    by William D. Barrick

    Answering the question, "Should a Christian be a member of the military?" is the best way to elaborate on "The Christian and War." On the positive side, the military emphasizes the importance of moral character for its leaders. On the negative side, the military is a profession in which killing may be a part of one's responsibility. Four possible positions to take regarding this difficult issue are nonresistance, Christian pacifism, just war, and preventive war. Also at stake is the Christian responsibility to submit to governmental authority as indicated in Romans 13:1-7 and 1 Peter 2:13-17. New Testament analogies comparing responsibilities of Christian living with being a good soldier seem to point to the legitimacy of Christians being part of the military endeavor of their country. That plus other factors support a Christian's being involved in military service. Yet the conscience of each Christian must prevail in making this difficult decision about the issue, "Should a Christian be a member of the military?"

  • by Dennis M. Swanson