Archive for December, 2011

Geoffrey Cohen went to school in Johannesburg, at King David Linksfield, at times wondering about the rote prayers he was taught and if there was more to serving & knowing God.

He experienced anti-semitism in the South African army (and mentioned this is the same spirit that is behind racism also). He spent some time in Israel & now lives in Texas. You can see some of his messages & his personal story here.

Growing up thinking that Jesus was the son of Mr & Mrs Christ he was shocked, years later, by Psalm 22 that eventually pointed him to the real Messiah, quoted below (even given the “like a lion” translation ‘issue’ that anti-missionaries often raise). He never even knew or considered that Jesus was actually Jewish … and the anti-semitism he encountered from ‘church people’ didn’t give him much reason to think so either.

Is Psalm 22 a messianic prophecy? We would need to consider, among other things, how the Jewish sages of old interpreted this Psalm before the influence of the ‘Christian era’ was felt by many Jewish commentators to review ancient interpretations in a more “non-Christian” light … and yes, there is support for the “Christian interpretation”, from Rashi, no less (among others) as mentioned at the bottom of the post.

Audio extract from Line of Fire Radio. Listen to full audio here.

Psalm 22

1 My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
2 My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.[b]

3 Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the one Israel praises.[c]
4 In you our ancestors put their trust;
they trusted and you delivered them.
5 To you they cried out and were saved;
in you they trusted and were not put to shame.

6 But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by everyone, despised by the people.
7 All who see me mock me;
they hurl insults, shaking their heads.
8 “He trusts in the LORD,” they say,
“let the LORD rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
since he delights in him.”

9 Yet you brought me out of the womb;
you made me trust in you, even at my mother’s breast.
10 From birth I was cast on you;
from my mother’s womb you have been my God.

11 Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near
and there is no one to help.

12 Many bulls surround me;
strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
13 Roaring lions that tear their prey
open their mouths wide against me.
14 I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
it has melted within me.
15 My mouth[d] is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
you lay me in the dust of death.

16 Dogs surround me,
a pack of villains encircles me;
they pierce[e] my hands and my feet.
17 All my bones are on display;
people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my clothes among them
and cast lots for my garment.

19 But you, LORD, do not be far from me.
You are my strength; come quickly to help me.
20 Deliver me from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dogs.
21 Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;
save me from the horns of the wild oxen.

22 I will declare your name to my people;
in the assembly I will praise you.
23 You who fear the LORD, praise him!
All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
24 For he has not despised or scorned
the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
but has listened to his cry for help.

25 From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
before those who fear you[f] I will fulfill my vows.
26 The poor will eat and be satisfied;
those who seek the LORD will praise him—
may your hearts live forever!

27 All the ends of the earth
will remember and turn to the LORD,
and all the families of the nations
will bow down before him,
28 for dominion belongs to the LORD
and he rules over the nations.

29 All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
those who cannot keep themselves alive.
30 Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord.
31 They will proclaim his righteousness,
declaring to a people yet unborn:
He has done it!

Footnotes:

  1. Psalm 22:1 In Hebrew texts 22:1-31 is numbered 22:2-32.
  2. Psalm 22:2 Or night, and am not silent
  3. Psalm 22:3 Or Yet you are holy, / enthroned on the praises of Israel
  4. Psalm 22:15 Probable reading of the original Hebrew text; Masoretic Text strength
  5. Psalm 22:16 Dead Sea Scrolls and some manuscripts of the Masoretic Text, Septuagint and Syriac; most manuscripts of the Masoretic Text me, / like a lion
  6. Psalm 22:25 Hebrew him

Messianic Prophecy Or Not?
Quote: For example, at the outset of his comments on this psalm, Rashi says, “They [meaning the people of Israel] are destined to go into exile and David recited this prayer for the future.” Commenting on the words “I am a worm” in 22:6[7], Rashi notes that David “refers to all Israel as one man,” and he interprets specific verses with reference to later historical figures such as Nebuchadnezzar (22:14[15]). How then can Rabbi Singer claim that the psalm does not “speak of any future event”? Jewish tradition says that it does! In fact, Rashi explains verse 26[27] with reference to “the time of our redemption in the days of our Messiah,” then interprets verses 27-29[28-30] with reference to the Gentile nations turning to the Lord, the end of the age, and the final judgment. These certainly are future events, also underscoring the worldwide redemptive implications of this psalm.

It is very interesting to see how Pesikta Rabbati, the famous eighth-century midrash, put some of the words of this psalm on the lips of the suffering Messiah (called Ephraim, but associated with the son of David), citing Psalm 22:8, 13–14, and 16 in the context of Messiah’s sufferings. In fact, the midrash explicitly states that “it was because of the ordeal of the son of David that David wept, saying My strength is dried up like a potsherd (Ps. 22:16).” Did you catch that? According to this respected Rabbinic homily, David described the Messiah’s sufferings in Psalm 22!

From: Answering Jewish Objections To Jesus, Volume 3.

Gray deceased artefacts of history, like Hume, combined with prevailing Scientism had & continue to have a great impact on past & present thought around the miraculous, but books like Keener’s points out that the prevailing view is actually very unreasonable.

About Craig Keener’s latest work:

Biography: Craig Keener is professor of New Testament at Asbury Theological Seminary, Wilmore, Kentucky. Three of his many books have won national awards, and his background commentary has sold over half a million copies.

“Perhaps the best book ever written on miracles”

Most modern prejudice against biblical miracle reports depends on David Hume’s argument that uniform human experience precluded miracles. Yet current research shows that human experience is far from uniform. In fact, hundreds of millions of people today claim to have experienced miracles. New Testament scholar Craig Keener argues that it is time to rethink Hume’s argument in light of the contemporary evidence available to us. This wide-ranging and meticulously researched two-volume study presents the most thorough current defense of the credibility of the miracle reports in the Gospels and Acts. Drawing on claims from a range of global cultures and taking a multidisciplinary approach to the topic, Keener suggests that many miracle accounts throughout history and from contemporary times are best explained as genuine divine acts, lending credence to the biblical miracle reports.

Reviews:

“This book is the kind of performance that reviewers of opera like to call ‘bravura’ or ‘virtuoso’ and that philosophers call a tour de force. After putting it down, I’m standing up, clapping, and shouting, ‘Bravo! Bravo!'”
Leonard Sweet, Drew University; George Fox University

“Seldom does a book take one’s breath away, but Keener’s magisterial Miracles is such a book. It is an extremely sophisticated, completely thorough treatment of its subject matter and, in my opinion, it is now the best text available on the topic. The uniqueness of Keener’s treatment lies in his location of the biblical miracles in the trajectory of ongoing, documented miracles in the name of Jesus and His kingdom throughout church history, up to and including the present. From now on, no one who deals with the credibility of biblical miracles can do so responsibly without interacting with this book.”
J. P. Moreland, Talbot School of Theology, Biola University

“An exhaustive treatment of the subject, encompassing a range of sources from antiquity to contemporary times, from the Bible to modern Africa. It brilliantly serves not only biblical scholars but also–equally important–mission thinkers and practitioners.”
Wonsuk Ma, Oxford Centre for Mission Studies

“From the very beginning of the modern approach to the Gospels, the question of miracles brought controversy. Over the last few centuries, most historical-critical scholars have dismissed them out of hand. However, in recent years, the tide has turned for a growing number of Gospel scholars. It is within this context that Craig Keener’s new two-volume work can be fully appreciated. Those familiar with Keener’s past volumes will not be surprised by the remarkable level of scholarship in this work. The depth and breadth of research is stunning. The interdisciplinary synthesis is as careful as it is brilliant. The arguments are evenhanded and nuanced. In short, this work takes scholarship on miracles to a new level of sophistication and depth. A truly amazing set of books.”
Paul Rhodes Eddy, Bethel University

“Craig Keener has produced an impressive work that is meticulously researched, ambitious in historic and geographic scope, and relevant to current cultural concerns. Keener’s bold exploration of the plausibility of past and present miracle claims should provoke interest–and debate–among a wide range of readers.”
Candy Gunther Brown, Indiana University
“Any history of the rise and growth of Christianity that fails to take account of the belief in miracles and healings and signs and wonders is missing a very large part of the story. That statement is truer than ever today when we look at the booming churches of Africa and Asia. Craig Keener’s Miracles is thus a major contribution to understanding the Christian faith, past and present. The book is all the more valuable because of Keener’s thoughtful and bold analysis of the scientific method and the means by which we can test the miraculous. This massively researched study is both learned and provocative.”
Philip Jenkins, Pennsylvania State University

“Craig Keener’s discussion of New Testament miracles adduces a uniquely–indeed staggeringly–extensive collection of comparative material. That eyewitnesses frequently testify to miraculous healings and other ‘extranormal’ events is demonstrated beyond doubt. Keener mounts a very strong challenge to the methodological skepticism about the miraculous to which so many New Testament scholars are still committed. It turns out to be an ethnocentric prejudice of modern Western intellectuals. So who’s afraid of David Hume now?”
Richard Bauckham, St. Andrews University; Ridley Hall, Cambridge

“Craig Keener’s magisterial two-volume study of miracles is an astounding accomplishment. The book covers far more than the subtitle implies, because Keener places the debate over the biblical miracles in many different contexts, including the philosophical debate over miracles, views of miracles in the ancient world, contemporary evidence for miracles, and the relationship of the issue to science. Although this book is clearly the product of immense learning and a mind at home in many disciplines, it is clearly written and argued and shows good sense throughout.”
C. Stephen Evans, Baylor University

“In an age of a global church, the time has come for Bible scholarship to be enriched by considering the way Christians read and understand Scripture in non-Western countries and cultures. In Miracles, Craig Keener offers an invaluable example of how that enrichment can take place through hard scholarly work and a passion for integrity. He gives us an exhaustive wealth of historical understanding, anthropological richness, and missiological savvy.”
Samuel Escobar, Palmer Theological Seminary; Theological Seminary of the Spanish Baptist Union, Madrid

Line of Fire Radio. Listen to full audio here.

Audio & images – not much more to add…

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AlbertMohler, The Briefing. Listen to full audio here.

Question to Orthodox Jewish leader: “How important is the Temple to Jews?”
Answer: “The Temple is like blood to the body… if only the world knew how important the Temple was…”.

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Israel National Radio, listen to full audio here.

Audio: A lecture touching on all these elements by John Lennox.

Bertrand Russell (British mathematician & philosopher) described a common materialist position when he said:

“Whatever knowledge is attainable, must be attainable by scientific methods, and what science cannot discover, mankind cannot know.”

Note, however, that this statement is extreme Scientism and that it is logically incoherent in itself. It is not a statement of science but an article of blind faith. Thus by its own assertion we cannot know if it is true. Note the use of the term “blind faith” because it likely describes a belief held in spite of evidence.

John Lennox, Professor of Mathematics and Philosophy of Science at Oxford, observes that Scientism even denies the validity of any non-scientific fields such as philosophy, ethics, literature, poetry, art and music. He also said:

“Science can tell you that if you add strychnine to someone’s drink, it will kill her, but it cannot tell you whether it is morally right or wrong to put strychnine in your grandmother’s tea in order to get your hands on her property.”

It is, as obviously true to most people, possible to have such knowledge of right and wrong, even though it is clearly beyond the scope of science.


Audio: Discussion of the authority by which the new Sanhedrin has been established & a challenge to rabbis that are not used to the concept. Some discussion on progress in the ‘recognized legal standing’ Sanhedrin – some measure of (secular) government recognition thus far. Also some comments on restarting the sacrificial system. See also the Korban Pesach (Passover Sacrifice) page from the main Sanhedrin website.

Note that the re-established Sanhedrin is very likely to have implications in terms of where we are in the prophetic timetable – in case you’re wondering what the relevance of this post is.

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How much valid theology can we derive from ‘near death experiences’ like these? Some of these accounts are easy to dismiss (in the cases that don’t match up with biblical teaching), but people do easily fall in love with books like this for the ‘story value’ – similarly as with “The Shack”. Bottom line, be cautious. Some of these accounts may have some value, but they differ substantially from person to person & we should know that “extra-biblical revelation” is not to be accepted where it does not square up with the Bible. The primary danger, these days is likely that on average biblical literacy is dangerously low & isn’t rising (Barna Survey 2009: Biblical literacy is neither a current reality nor a goal in the US). This obviously prepares the ground for all kinds of doctrines that are not taught by the scriptures, not “…once for all delivered to the saints” – Jude 1:3

It would be better to steer clear. After all, we already have “…all scripture given by inspiration of God, and profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness so that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” – 2 Timothy 3:16

Reasonable Faith Podcast. Listen to full audio here.