Volume 17, Number 1 (Spring 2006)

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  • by John F. MacArthur

    Clarity and accuracy in communicating divine truth is more important for Christian communicators than anyone else. The availability of mass communications further enhances the preacher's job in this day and time because of the vast audiences he can reach, which were not nearly as large in earlier days. Mass media opportunities can be abused, however, as they have been in so many cases. Television, for example, helped to usher out the "age of exposition" and usher in the age of "sound bites" when image became more important than substance in the message being communicated. As an entertainment medium, television has lowered appetites for serious thought as it has raised expectations for trivia and brevity. That is especially true of sermons in the mass media. Christian publishing has gone in the same direction in catering to people's "felt needs" and giving them something they want rather than the doctrinal truths of the Bible. That is the very thing that Paul warned Timothy against and that Jeremiah refrained from doing. As Christ's ambassadors, Christian communicators must make the message, not the medium, the heart of what they give their listeners, viewers, and readers.

  • by Dennis M. Swanson

    Various viewpoints on the biblical teaching of the millennium deal differently with the prophecy of Jerusalem's expansion in Jer 31:38-40. Wording of the prophecy points to a fulfillment in the distant future and sets seven boundary markers for the city: the Tower of Hananel, the Corner Gate, the Hill Gareb, Goah, the Valley of Dead Bodies and Ashes, the fields as far as the Brook Kidron, and the Horse Gate. Those markers indicate an expansion of the city beyond anything yet known. Proposals about the fulfillment of the prophecy include those that say the prophecy will never be fulfilled, those contending that the prophecy has already been fulfilled, and those holding to a yet future fulfillment of the prophecy. The first option sees a spiritual rather than geographical fulfillment of the passage and falters in light of specific geographical details given therein. The "already" option points to a fulfillment either in the time of Zerubbabel and Joshua or in the New Jerusalem of eternity future. Both "already" options fall short of compliance with details of the prophecy. The "not yet" option coincides well with conditions expressed in the prophecy by placing its fulfillment in the future millennial kingdom on earth.

  • by Jack Russell Shaffer

    A strict harmonization of Matt 8:5-13 and Luke 7:1-10 has been considered impossible by many recent biblical scholars because of seeming discrepancies between the two accounts. Matthew locates the encounter between Jesus and the centurion almost immediately after the Sermon on the Mount; Luke puts it soon after the Sermon on the Plain. The illness that had come to the centurion’s servant—not his son—was some type of lameness that kept the centurion from bringing or sending him to Jesus. Various authors have proposed three options for solving the problem of harmonizing the two accounts. The first says that Matthew and Luke adapted a common source called Q, but a lack of verbal agreement and an impugning of biblical inspiration rule this option out. The second option holds that Matthew used literary rhetoric to describe the encounter, but Matthew plainly supports the personal coming of the centurion— not his servants in his place as the view holds—to Jesus. The third option states that Matthew and Luke faithfully recorded the events and dialogue of the encounter. This option is feasible as an alignment of the texts according to a strict harmonization shows, and is the best option because it acknowledges the integrity of the human authors and the integrity of the Holy Spirit who inspired the accounts.

  • by Jason Sexton

    Some contemporary, evangelical academicians and leaders are questioning the plausibility of the doctrine of biblical inerrancy because of the unavailability of the autographs of NT books. New Testament textual criticism is a vital discipline in responding to doubts of this type. One who undervalues textual criticism’s importance in defending an evangelical doctrine of the Bible’s inerrancy has a serious problem of one sort or another, because that field seeks to discover and correct copyist errors that through the centuries have crept into the text. The field is vital because inerrancy pertains to the manuscripts of Scripture as they came from the original authors. Establishing a relationship between textual criticism and inerrancy is not a new endeavor. Princeton theologians such as Charles Hodge and B. B. Warfield continued a long tradition of tying inerrancy to the autographs of Scripture. Their response to doubters of their day is quite appropriate to give to contemporary evangelicals who have surrendered a high view of inspiration.

  • by Nathan Busenitz

    Though the church fathers, who lived shortly after the apostles, said relatively little about the gift of tongues, what they did say furnishes a helpful comparison with what contemporary Pentecostalism says about the gift. They did not believe that every Christian received the gift, but they believed that the Holy Spirit, not the human spirit, chose who would have the gift. They held that the gift's ideal use was to benefit the entire community, not the speaker. For them, benefitting others enhanced the importance of interpretation so that others could be edified. In contrast to early views of the gift, Pentecostal writers of the twentieth-century have given a high profile to the gift. In further contrast, modern writers have not limited the gift to messages in actual human languages as did early writers. They further differ with the early fathers in teaching that all Christians should have the gift as evidence of progress in their Christian lives. The Pentecostal view is that speaking in tongues can be a learned human behavior rather than a genuine gift of the Holy Spirit—a further difference from the early fathers. Relief from personal stress and self-edification of the tongues-speaker is the primary purpose of tongues in the eyes of Pentecostals, not the edification of others through interpretation of the tongues message as it was with the fathers. Contemporary Pentecostalism thus differs from ancient Christianity in fundamental aspects in its view of the gift of tongues.

  • by Douglas Petrovich

    A belief in biblical inerrancy necessitates an accompanying belief in the Bible’s historical accuracy. Biblical history can be harmonized with Egyptian history, claims to the contrary notwithstanding. Israel’s exodus from Egypt in 1446 B.C. fits with the chronology of the 18th Dynasty pharaohs in Egyptian records. The tenth biblical plague against Egypt fits with what is known about the death of Amenhotep II’s firstborn son. If this Amenhotep was the exodus pharaoh, biblical data about the perishing of his army in the Red Sea should not be understood as an account of his death. His second Asiatic campaign very possibly came as an effort to recoup his reputation as a great warrior and recover Egypt's slave-base after the loss of two million Israelite slaves through the exodus. The record of 3,600 Apiru on the booty list for his second Asiatic campaign appears to be a small number of the escaped Hebrews whom he recaptured and brought back to Egypt. If Hatshepsut is identified with the biblical Moses' adoptive mother, attempts to erase her memory from Egyptian records may have come from efforts of Amenhotep II because of her part in rescuing Moses when he was a baby and becoming his adoptive mother. Such scenarios show the plausibility of harmonizing the biblical account of the exodus with secular history and supporting the position of biblical inerrancy.

Volume 17, Number 2 (Fall 2006)

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An Issue Devoted to an Examination of The Emerging Church Movement

  • by John F. MacArthur

    The most recent battle being waged in the evangelical church is one related to the perspicuity of Scripture. Within the larger context of the Emerging Church Movement is the Emergent Church, whose leading spokesman is Brian D. McLaren. Because of his prominence as a leader of both the Emergent Church and the Emerging Church Movement, what he says about the clarity or perspicuity of Scripture needs to be scrutinized. McLaren undermines the clarity of Scripture by questioning whether biblical doctrine can be held with certainty. He questions the clarity of Scripture by needlessly introducing complexity into biblical interpretation. He further dismisses scriptural clarity by questioning the possibility of deriving propositional truth from the Bible. Also, his refusal to abide by the Bible’s emphasis on the exclusive nature of the Christian gospel raises questions about the Bible's clarity. McLaren's pointed criticism of conservative evangelicals who insist on the clarity of Scripture is another indication of his disdain for the perspicuity of Scripture. McLaren's position on the perspicuity of Scripture is clearly at odds with what the Bible itself says about its own clarity.

  • by Larry D. Pettegrew

    With the advent of "new evangelicalism" in the 1950s began a new movement among evangelicals that bases itself on human experience, minimizes the importance of doctrine, and neglects outward church relations and perhaps makes evangelicalism difficult to distinguish from the rest of Christianity. Since the Reformation, evangelicalism has undergone a number of paradigm shifts, including classic evangelicalism, pietistic evangelicalism, fundamentalist evangelicalism, and more recently, new evangelicalism and fundamentalism. Within evangelicalism, the emerging church has arisen as an attempt to serve the postmodern culture. Postmodernism is a new cultural paradigm that holds to no absolutes or certainties and that promotes pluralism and divergence. The emerging church gears itself particularly to the younger generation. Diversity within the emerging church makes it difficult to analyze as a movement. One can only analyze its individual spokesmen. One of its voices recommends returning the church to medieval practices. Other voices depart from traditions in eschatological thinking, the role of Scripture, and soteriology. Post-evangelicalism is a sort of British cousin to the emerging church and has some of the same deviations. The emerging church has surprisingly complimentary words to say about theological liberalism.

  • by Trevor C. Craigen

    Brian MacLaren typifies the dissatisfaction of the emergent over the format and praxis of modern churches. Such reactions ignore Psalm 1 in setting forth the source and impact of a proper worldview, a definitive conclusion about a proper worldview, and a formal approved conclusion as to a proper worldview. Though Emergent churches might identify themselves as evangelical, they still register dissatisfaction with the existing evangelical church, a dissatisfaction that spills over and affects emergent's doctrine of salvation. The language of Emergent churches ignores a number of traditional soteriological terms and redefines others. Emergent soteriology replaces biblical emphasis on a person’s eternal destiny with emphasis on one’s future condition and status in the present life, ignoring the impact of present behavior on future destiny. Because of selling short the words of Scripture, Emergent perspectives also are woefully errant in understanding the work of Christ on the cross. Emergents have revised the meaning of the well-known acrostic TULIP, depriving it of meanings given it in the Bible. They have an inclusivist view of the eternal destiny of the unsaved, leaning toward the position of universalism. Rather than following the worldview of Psalm 1, the movement has fallen into a pattern resulting from present-world philosophy.

  • by Richard L. Mayhue

    Brian McLaren, though not speaking officially for all who identify with the "emergent movement," nonetheless has become the most visible and widely-read proponent. Therefore, a review of his signature volume, A Generous Orthodoxy, serves to identify representative features of this recent religious phenomenon. The central question to be addressed must be, "Is it of God or is it of man?” Five significant characteristics of McLaren's "conversation" lead this reviewer to conclude the latter, not the former. These qualities include: (1) An Eclectic Church; (2) An Ecumenical Church; (3) An Earthbound Church; (4) A Scripture-Doubting Church; and (5) A Resisting-Biblical-Authority Church. Therefore, the Emerging Church Movement should be rejected as another failed attempt (no matter how sincere or learned) to improve on "the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints" (Jude 3).

  • by Rick L. Holland

    Under the influence of postmodernism and postconservativism, the Emerging Church is engaged in dismantling much of present-day worship practices in the local church. A leader in advocating radical changes in conventional preaching is Doug Pagitt in his book Preaching Re-Imagined. Pagitt’s name for traditional preaching is "speaching," which he sees as totally inadequate to meet needs in the Christian community, because it is a one-way communication that does not allow for the listeners' input. His preferred alternative is "progressional dialogue" which involves "intentional interplay of multiple viewpoints." As he sees the goal, the Bible is not the sole repository of truth. The Christian community has an equal contribution to make. Influences that have shaped Pagitt's thinking include the Christian/cosmic metanarrative, postfoundationalism, and outcome-based church ministry. The inevitable conclusion must be that progressional dialogue is not really preaching as preaching has been defined biblically and historically.

  • by Dennis M. Swanson