Should transparency or vulnerability be a defining characteristic of a believer? This article considers why people say, "The Christian life is all about being transparent and vulnerable," and how it is helpful when shunning hypocrisy, yet unhelpful when it creates a culture that is more about authenticity than repentance.
This article establishes that preaching is difficult work, and is not for just anyone. It presents seven key pitfalls that preachers need to avoid.
This article shows that the Gospel of Mark does present Jesus as God, right from the beginning of his gospel, with Old Testament citations.
This article considers whether there are clues in Matthew's Gospel as to whether he thought he was writing Scripture. It discusses the opening phrase and how it can be understood. It suggests he thought of his Gospel as a continuation of biblical history.
This article discusses the importance of a church having its mercy ministry as Christ-centred. Otherwise, the ministry is vulnerable to turning into a moralistic work void of the gospel. Two things need to be in place: a Christ-centred motivation, and a Christ-centred message.
How did the early church know which books were from God? They appealed to the internal qualities of the books. This article discusses how the books of the NT canon are self-authenticating, and how the early church emphasized this often. It also explains why so many nevertheless reject the voice of God in these books.
This article discusses the language we use to describe our Christian identity. More often we call ourselves sinners rather than saints. But the letters of the New Testament have by far the reverse emphasis. While there is of course still a place for Christians to refer to themselves as sinners, there is even more a place for them to think of themselves as saints.
This article calls believers to recognize that the development of the canon was not a problem-free process, but rather at times its history is quite tumultuous. Yet it explains that there is no reason to mistrust the entire process just because some Christians disagreed.
This article demonstrates that the New Testament canon was not decided at the Council of Nicea in AD 325. From there it explains that no council decided the canon, but the early councils were simply part of the process of recognizing a canon that was already there.
This article evaluates a critique from Barnabas Piper on how Christians confront the sin of homosexuality. It explains among other things that not all sins are equally evil.
The Muratorian fragment is a key point in any discussion of New Testament canon. This article explains that the fragment illustrates that from a very early time period there was a core canon. The author discusses two implications to be drawn from this: Christians did disagree over books from time to time, and there was widespread agreement over the core very early on.
This article offers a review of the last part of Hal Taussig's A New New Testament. It identifies historical, methodological, and theological problems in the book. Taussig has written a new set of Scriptures to accomodate his new theology.
Irenaeus not only confirmed the canonicity of the four Gospels but was keen to say that only these four are recognized by the church. Some have attempted to minimize his statement, and call him an innovator. This article offers several considerations that raise doubts about this charge.
This article offers a review of the book by Hal Taussig, A New New Testament, a book that argues that apocryphal literature should be regarded as scriptural. The review interacts with the book's introduction, where the author offers his apologetic for the book. This article shows that the author's claims regarding the origins and dates of the books are deceptive, as are his remarks on when the current New Testament came into existence.
The New Testament canon is intimately connected to the activities of the apostles, who themselves had the very authority of Christ. The church thus valued apostolic books over and above other types of books.
This article asks what is at stake if the future-oriented dimension of the faith is overlooked. It suggests that we will forget that redemption is more than spiritual, we will lose perspective regarding the problem of evil in the world, and we will lack an appropriate context for personal holiness. But if our minds are on the second coming, then our churches will be all the healthier today.
This article evaluates the claim that the early church fathers regarded their own writings as inspired. It explains that they repeatedly expressed that the apostles had a distinctive authority that was higher than their own, and that inspiration-like language can be used to describe ecclesiastical authority even though such authority is subordinate to the apostles'.
This article considers the topic of submission, explaining that everyone submits to somebody. It calls specifically men to model submission, as Christ himself modelled it.
This article enters into the discussion on the so-called Gospel of Jesus' Wife and draws attention to the back side of the fragment, which has a faded Coptic script, with the spacing between the lines as greater than the spacing on the front side. The author considers how this supports the hypothesis that the fragment is a modern forgery.
This article explains that every worldview has to reckon with a key issue, that of the origins of good and evil. The author considers dualism and nihilism in this regard, before turning to Christian theism, which has argued that God originally made the world good, and evil is a subsequent corruption of a good thing.
This article stresses that there is something powerful and special about male friendships when they are centred on Christ and his kingdom.
Were the canonical Gospels written by anonymous individuals outside of Palestine? This article considers this claim, and argues that there are good reasons to think that the titles of the Gospels were included at a very early point.
This article addresses the perception that early Christians resisted the written word and thus the date of the canon should be pushed back. It raises and evaluates three reasons scholars adduce in this regard.
This article shows that legalism is not the same as obedience, with a view to explaining that law-keeping is not grounds for the accusation of legalism.
This article considers two criticisms against the New Testament, that it is filled with competing theologies, and was formed by the "winners" of the theological battles within early Christianity. The author shows that these critiques neither sustain evaluation, and are actually incompatible with each other.
Is it really true that Christians prior to the fourth century had no standard by which they could distinguish heresy from orthodoxy? This article offers reasons to doubt this claim. Christians would have had at least three solid guides as they navigated the doctrinal complexities of their faith: the Old Testament, core New Testament books, and the rule of faith.
Were the apocryphal gospels as popular and widespread as the canonical gospels? This article argues to the contrary, with three pieces of evidence: the extant manuscripts, the (in)frequency of their citation, and the way they are cited. The majority of early Christians preferred the books that are now in our New Testament canon.
What place does the imperative have in preaching? When is preaching considered moralism? This article considers the place of moral imperatives in preaching, and shows by way of examples that sometimes it is fine to take large blocks of teaching and focus on Christian morals without fear of falling prey to moralism.
Walter Bauer's book, Orthodoxy and Heresy in Earliest Christianity, is in many ways the basis for a common misperception about the New Testament canon, that there was very little agreement over the books that made it into the canon until the fourth or fifth century. This article evaluates that claim, showing that there is substantial evidence for widespread agreement over the core canonical books from an early time.
What are the "books" and the "parchments" to which Paul refers in 2 Timothy 4:13? This article considers the possibility that the books were the Old Testament writings, and the parchments some early Christian writings, possibly Luke's Gospel and copies of Paul's own letters. In canon discussions, this provides additional support to the idea that at a very early time, Christians thought of their religious writings in two parts.
This article shows that even though the boundaries of the canon had not solidified by AD 200, it is clear that many of the books were viewed as Scripture long before then. It offers a brief sampling of how the earliest sources used the New Testament books as Scripture, and draws some conclusions relating to the acceptance of some of the later books.
What kind of characteristics of a Facebook culture do believers need to reckon with? This article offers five, and urges us to see that technology often exacerbates the sin patterns already present in our hearts.
This article discusses how we are to diagnose the sin patterns in our life. There are two answers available, a therapeutic answer and a biblical answer.
This article challenges the thesis that only oral tradition can explain citations in the apostolic fathers, by considering a statement by Papias about the written gospels of Matthew and Mark.
Did the New Testament authors have any awareness that they were contributing to the canon of Scripture? This is a common misconception, which this article addresses by considering select passages that show the authors believed their writings were Scripture.
Many Christians are fond of the saying, "No one is more holy than anyone else." Is this biblical? This article shows that it is not by explaining that many neglect the biblical category of the righteous man, the believer who displays a consistency in walking with God.
This article discusses the contention of Roman Catholics and others that tradition is the only means by which we may know what books are in the canon of Scripture. It expresses two concerns with this, stating that while a helpful way to know which books are canonical, the consensus approach is not the only way. For the books of the Bible speak for themselves as authoritative.
This article responds to the question regarding the validity of the very existence of the New Testament canon. It shows three ways that first-century Christianity created a favourable environment for new written revelation.
In response to the notion that the term "canon" can only refer to a fixed list of books (the so-called exclusive definition), this article shows the weaknesses in this definition. It makes the case that we should not be forced to use just one single definition to appreciate the depth and complexity of canon; we need other definitions to have a voice, like the functional definition, or Kruger's ontological definition.
This article considers the charge that Christians believed the return of Christ would happen in their lifetime, and thus they would not have been interested in composing new scriptural books for the canon. The author explains that apocalyptic beliefs were not necessarily incompatible with the production of written, authoritative texts.
This article engages with the objection that Christians are arrogant on account of the absolute claims of Christianity. The article considers the meaning of Christian humility, and explains that the Christian can be humble and certain at the same time.