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Well … I passed!

I tried to think of a better title for this post, but I’m drained from Palm Sunday at church and my dissertation defense this morning.

My dissertation passed with some suggested editorial revisions to be made at the discretion of my promoters with no more involvement from examiners.  I’m not sure whether the title doctor becomes truly official until after the revisions, but my panel of examiners did call me “Dr. Thompson.”  My examiners evaluated me fairly. I am thankful for their comments on the document along with their questions and feedback during the oral defense.

Working full-time and trying to maintain time with my family, I struggled through the last three years to finish this project.  At one time in particular, I doubted whether I would finish.  Yet I had a lot of support from my family and friends.  I had a lot of support from my church parish that has been understanding of me being scatter-brained over the last year or two.   And I also appreciate the support of the Biblioblogging community.  Having met a number of you in person at SBL meetings, you all encouraged me to press on as well.  Thank you everyone who helped me through this process.

I thought it would be fitting to post my acknowledgments here (to my knowledge, this section needs no revision – only it could have been about 10 pages longer), so that those who influenced me the most can have some public recognition:

This study is a blend of interests from both my undergraduate-level study of psychology and graduate-level study of Biblical Hebrew.  These ideas developed more fully in an introductory course in Biblical Hebrew at the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary.  Though we had a good instructor, a number of my classmates struggled to learn the language.  I believed this was the combined result of students not knowing how to go about language learning and a poorly conceived introductory grammar.  In light of this experience, I determined to take one small aspect in the language learning process, namely vocabulary learning, and undertake a study that could benefit struggling students like these.
At first, I was unsuccessful in finding a doctoral program where my idea for a dissertation would fit because many institutions were focused primarily on exegesis and theology.  By nothing other than divine providence, I came across the program in Biblical Languages at the University of Stellenbosch.  I contacted Christo van der Merwe with my idea for a dissertation and received a message back that might have been twice as long as the one I had sent.  Through our correspondence, I learned that he had long held an interest in applied linguistics and Biblical Hebrew, though his primary research focus lay elsewhere.  He agreed that I had a good idea for a dissertation, and I began to craft a proposal.  Through that process, Van der Merwe came to believe that we would need outside expertise for the applied linguistics aspect of the research.  He then arranged for Johan Oosthuizen to be a co-promoter for the study.
Each in their own way, Van der Merwe and Oosthuizen have had an impact on this study for the better.  Van der Merwe provided immeasurable support and encouragement throughout.  His stress on getting the “logic” of the study right from outset led to his influence manifesting on every page.  Oosthuizen’s keen eye for detail has resulted in greater precision of thought.
Along with Van der Merwe and Oosthuizen, I must also acknowledge a number of others.  I am thankful for the friendship and support of Karyn Traphagen, who shares similar interests and started at Stellenbosch shortly after I did.  I am grateful to those who helped me in the testing phases of this study, including Van der Merwe and Traphagen as well as Matt Jones, Fr. Pat Madden, Walter Brown, Steven Laufer, and Tarsee Li, among others.  I am thankful for my former Hebrew instructors Charles Isbell, Archie England, Dennis Cole, Rick Byargeon, and Harold Mosley, without whom I would not have had a foundation for this study.  I am also thankful for Gary Wyss, my high school Latin instructor, who awakened in me and many of my classmates the love of a dead language at an early age.  I am thankful for my mother and father, who have always loved me unconditionally and for whom my education has always been of the utmost importance.  I am thankful for Erica, Abigail, and Katherine — words are inadequate.  They bore the brunt of this study more than anyone else.  Maybe now, Daddy will not “always have to work” for a while.  Finally, I am thankful to God, who, though this study will one day (whether sooner or later) be lost in the passage of time, has spoken a word that endures forever.

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Biblical Hebrew Vocabulary around the BiblioBlogosphere

It appears that my good friend Daniel has brought up some of my research on Biblical Hebrew vocabulary HERE and HERE (in the comments). I take Daniel’s compliments in high regard.

I have kind of been waiting until I defended my dissertation before I posted much on my research.  That will happen in less than two weeks now.  But, I’ll go ahead and say a couple of words.

I like what Adam is doing in his post on vocabulary, in general.  I also think it is problematic that flashcards do not provide contexts.  And, this is one things that I tried to remedy in the new approach that I tested in my dissertation.  There is indeed research that shows that vocabulary learned in a meaningful context is better learned.

With that said, I would throw out a word of caution, which I have mentioned here before. Learning vocabulary in frames is helpful, but might be better delayed to a later stage in the learning process.  The main problem with learning similar Biblical Hebrew words together is that it can cause interference.  Interference means that the vocabulary items are not distinct enough from each other and are easily confused by the learner.  This phenomenon has been demonstrated in no less than twelve empirical studies.

The idea of interference seems counter-intuitive because we have heard time and again that we learn by association.  However, most research on association has been done in monolingual contexts, i.e. learning lists of related words in the person’s native language.  This is not the same as learning a second language.  I think the empirical research on interference is difficult to argue with, and one must be careful about presenting too many semantically related words at one time, though they must come to be associated later in the learning process.  Thus, rather than association helping students to learn words initially, they can help to cement the learner’s knowledge later in the process of acquiring the word.

Second, I would also comment, just briefly, on Adam’s dislike of L2 (second language) – L1 (first language) vocabulary cards (e.g. Biblical Hebrew word on the front and English translation on the back).  I am sympathetic to this to some degree as this seeks to mimic the way in which we learn a first language.  However, I am not convinced that using the L1 in the second language instruction is as problematic as some think.   In fact, some researchers in second language acquisition (e.g. Michael Lewis well-known for his “lexical approach” the language learning) have concluded that using the L1 in second language instruction is inevitable, so we might as well make the best use of it we can.  And, Nation who has written one of the more important texts on second language vocabulary acquisition proposes traditional flashcards as a very helpful strategy, though they have fallen into disrepute with some second language instructors.

Ironically, I think not including the L1 on a flashcard might actually benefit because it makes more use of the first language translation than flashcards that include the L2 and L1.  Take Adam’s example of prepositions.  Imagine that a student looks at the picture for the preposition bet and sees the preposition “in” the glass.  It is difficult for me to imagine that the student learning Biblical Hebrew is doing anything other than looking at the picture and thinking of the English word “in.”  Thus, they might be making more use of translation than required by traditional flashcards.

Anyway, I’m just weighing in on a couple of these matters here.  I realize that there are some who would disagree with the assessment I gave above.  But, hopefully I can let you all know soon when my dissertation is online, and you all can judge these arguments as they are developed more fully.

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On another note, I’m freaking out a bit

My dissertation defense has been scheduled for April 18th.


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A Response to Jason’s Charge of Injustice

So, I have now been accused of an injustice.  I might take that as a bit of a rhetorical flourish on Jason’s part since I haven’t really impinged on anyone’s rights or oppressed them, perhaps something along the lines that I have been unfair.  I’ll be the first to admit that it is possible that I have been unfair.  It wouldn’t be the first time that I’ve done something wrong, and unless I die shortly after writing this post it probably won’t be the last.  In fact, it probably wouldn’t be the first time I’ve committed the particular wrong of having been unfair (feel free to ask my six year old – she thinks I’m unfair all the time).  I am, in fact, a human being given to my own biases and sometimes controlled more by my emotions than anything else.

So, I am trying to write the rest of this with that in the back of my mind.  Though I have probably been unfair to others at points throughout my life, in this case, I think that the injustice, at least to some extent, is dependent on whether or not there is any merit to what I have said.  So, I’ll try to go back to the beginning.

1. Bob makes these two statements, one in his original post and one in the comments: First, in the post, he states “There may be genuine Christians who are RC or Orthodox, but they are the exception not the rule. Perhaps those faiths are more open to the struggle for faithful celibacy and so have something he can identify with. As a Protestant, I fear the Gospel can be at stake in so easily recommending Catholicism and Greek Orthodoxy with their denial of justification by faith alone.”  And, in the comments, he states: “This doesn’t mean I think no true Christians are to be found in those churches, but a self-reliance or ritual-reliance, even a church-reliance is not the same as Christ alone-reliance, which Protestantism at least officially stands for.

I’ll begin with the second statement.  This is the statement that originally tipped me off that Bob probably hasn’t read much Catholic theology, or even nuanced Protestant discussions of Catholic theology for that matter.  To make an analogy, this statement is roughly equivalent to me saying something like “Many Protestants believe in eternal security, which means after their conversion they believe they can basically live however they want to and it won’t matter.”  Do some Catholics think that is what Protestants believe? Certainly.  But, is that statement true to Protestant self-understanding?  No, that would be an unwillingness to understand Protestant theology on its own terms.

So, perhaps one can imagine my disdain that just ever Bob has said, “There may be genuine Christians who are RC or Orthodox, but they are the exception not the rule. Perhaps those faiths are more open to the struggle for faithful celibacy and so have something he can identify with. As a Protestant, I fear the Gospel can be at stake in so easily recommending Catholicism and Greek Orthodoxy with their denial of justification by faith alone” he makes a statement like the one above that is a fundamental misunderstanding of Catholic theology.  To stretch the analogy a bit further, it would be like me saying, “There may be true Christians among Protestants, but they are the exception rather than the rule,” and then following that up with “Many Protestants believe in eternal security, which means after their conversion they believe they can basically live however they want to and it won’t matter.”

I don’t really have time to go into explaining why Bob’s misunderstanding is so egregious, because I’m only trying to defend myself against a charge of injustice.  But, my guess is that those who have really read Catholic theology, or even nuanced Protestant treatments of it, and tried to understand it on its own terms, know exactly where I am coming from.  My guess is that, if I had made the analogous statements above, I probably would have faced quite a bit of fire myself.

2. In the comments to his original post, Bob makes this statement about Trent just before citing some of the statements from that Council: “It appears that the Roman Catholic Church says the same of me” (i.e. calls into question his salvation – it’s pretty clear this is what he means at the end of the comment).  My main concern about this is to ask why he is citing only Trent.  If you want to cite Trent, fine.  But, let’s not get stuck in the 16th century.  In other words, why is he not reading Trent in light of anything like: THIS, THIS, THIS, THIS, THIS, THIS, and THIS (several of these are official teaching documents of the Catholic Church and recognize either explicitly or implicitly Protestants as “separated brethren,” separated, but brethren nonetheless).

This is only a sampling, but I could probably have kept going with months worth of reading if I was going to cite individual Catholic theologians, instead of only official Church documents and joint statements between Roman Catholics and other groups of Protestants.  The bulk of material that has not been brought into the discussion is a bit overwhelming.  I am aware of detractors from some of these documents (see below), but at the same time, not to even bring these documents into a discussion, in which they are incredibly pertinent, to me shows that Bob has either a very strong bias or a lack of knowledge.  And, from his own admissions, I went with lack of knowledge.

3. Then there is the situation with Jason.  For one thing, I think that part of the issue is that Jason is Bob’s friend and is trying to defend him.  And, I can’t say that I really blame him.  If I saw one of my friends taking a few blows, there is a chance I might come to their aid as well.  Yet in doing so, I think Jason has, perhaps unintentionally, softened significantly some of the things that Bob actually said.

Here is that issue in a nutshell.  Jason has said, “Neither Bob nor I have presumed to declare that every Roman Catholic is an apostate who is hell bound.” Perhaps not, yet Bob closes the door pretty tightly for starters with: “There may be genuine Christians who are RC or Orthodox, but they are the exception not the rule. Perhaps those faiths are more open to the struggle for faithful celibacy and so have something he can identify with. As a Protestant, I fear the Gospel can be at stake in so easily recommending Catholicism and Greek Orthodoxy with their denial of justification by faith alone.

Next, he seems to pretty well shut the door on me personally when he cites affirmatively this statement from Martyn Lloyd Jones “There are, of course, individuals who are both Roman Catholics and Christians. You can be a Christian and yet be a Roman Catholic. My whole object is to try to show that such people are Christians in spite of the system to which they belong, and not because of it.”  I am a faithful Catholic who accepts the teachings found in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.  I have absolutely no intention of being saved “in spite of the system to which I belong.”  Nor do I have any desire to be.  I will either be saved as a Roman Catholic or not at all.

So, one thing I am asking here is for Jason to step back and see, at least from my perspective, that I believe Bob has called my salvation called into question.  Is there another way to read Bob on this?  Maybe.  But, try to put yourself into my shoes as a faithful Catholic and read again the excerpt he cites from Martyn Lloyd Jones above.

Furthermore, if you can see where I am coming from, especially in light of the statement about Christians among Catholics being an exception, then try to realize just how personal a matter this is.  For instance, if a Catholic is saved only “in spite of the system to which they belong,” that implies, though it is not explicit, that if I teach my six year old and three year old daughters to be faithful Roman Catholics, I am actually doing them harm, though, of course, unintentionally.

For me, this is a very serious issue, and I feel as though Bob has treated it too glibly. I don’t think that it is appropriate for Bob to quote things like “There are, of course, individuals who are both Roman Catholics and Christians. You can be a Christian and yet be a Roman Catholic. My whole object is to try to show that such people are Christians in spite of the system to which they belong, and not because of it” when he says “Now, I admit, I haven’t read Catholic theologians.”  I especially don’t think this is appropriate considering that some of the other statements that Bob makes are fairly severe misunderstandings of Catholic theology.  If I am wrong for believing this or for saying it rather emotionally, then so be it.  But, I am asking that Jason try to read the quotes from Bob above from my perspective as a faithful Catholic.

4. There is still a somewhat similar issue with Jason, though not entirely the same as the one with Bob.  Jason has read some Catholic theology – Trent, Vatican II, Karl Keating, and now he’s starting in on Scott Hahn.  Yet I called him out for not having read enough Catholic theology either, though I never did so in a post.  My only interactions with Jason were in the comments to one of my posts and in the comments of one of his posts.  Perhaps I was wrong for doing so, because I may not have framed the issue quite properly.  The problem that I have with Jason’s posts is that, whether he has read Catholic theology or not, he shows little awareness, at least in his posts, of a significant amount of Catholic, and even Protestant, material that speaks directly to some of the statements that he makes.  I find it hard to imagine that Jason is unaware of at least some of this material, but I just can’t understand why he doesn’t bring any of it into the discussion at points where it would seem to be highly pertinent.

Take this statement from Jason:

Here’s what I’d like to do:  I want to see some quotes from Catholic theologians that show us that the grace of God in Christ is ALL that we need.  Let them show us justification by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.  If they cannot do so, why do they not come under the same anathema as the Judaizers of Paul’s day?  I’m willing to listen to someone who can show me unequivocally that Catholic dogma does not teach that one must do certain things/works/rites in order to stand before God  justified.

I find it somewhat ironic, that he makes this statement in a post entitled “Martin Luther is Rolling Over in His Grave!”.  The problem is that if those who have followed most closely in the tradition of Luther are any indication, what he asks for in the statement above has already been done to some extent in the Lutheran-Roman Catholic Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification.  Nor has he cited the fact that a significant number of Methodist, Presbyterian and Reformed Churches have looked at that Lutheran-Roman Catholic statement and said that we are in fairly substantial agreement.

Now, I am aware that there have been critiques of these statements, and I do not deny that they  make many valid points.  Cardinal Avery Dulles provides one of those helpful critiques, yet at the end he still concludes that, though the agreements have problems, “In the dialogues of the past fifty years, Catholics and Lutherans have come to respect one another as Christian believers.”    Similarly, from a Protestant perspective, I believe it somewhat likely that these kinds of dialogues have played a major role in prompting statements like the following from Mark Noll, an Evangelical Church Historian whose work I still read and find nothing other than expert and well-balanced: “In sum, the central difference that continues to separate evangelicals and Catholics is not Scripture, justification by faith, the pope, Mary, the sacraments, or clerical celibacy-though the central difference is reflected in differences on these matters- but the nature of the church.”  These joint statements are all on either the Vatican website or the website of the United States Council of Catholic Bishops website and should be read on their own before reading the critiques.  And, the critiques, when read in unison with the documents themselves, should not overshadow the fact that progress has been made.

Jason doesn’t cite the work of Evangelicals and Catholics Together either.  The first document from this group contains this statement: “We affirm together that we are justified by grace through faith because of Christ.” Of course, Jason might object that the word alone is not found there, but in essence there is nothing added either and a number of Evangelicals were willing to sign the document.  In addition, when disagreements are added toward the end of the document the doctrine of justification is not included as one of them.  This document is signed by no less than 12 Catholics theologians, likely more, only I don’t know the religious affiliations of some of the signatories.

Now, as I have said above, Jason may be aware of the dialogue between Catholics and Lutherans, Methodists, Presbyterians, Reformed Churches, and Evangelicals.  But, he doesn’t display this awareness in any way in this statement where it would seem to be of importance:

Here’s what I’d like to do:  I want to see some quotes from Catholic theologians that show us that the grace of God in Christ is ALL that we need.  Let them show us justification by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone.  If they cannot do so, why do they not come under the same anathema as the Judaizers of Paul’s day?  I’m willing to listen to someone who can show me unequivocally that Catholic dogma does not teach that one must do certain things/works/rites in order to stand before God  justified.

If he had started this statement with something like “I am aware that Catholics have reached some agreements with major Protestant groups concerning justification, but I reject those statements because of X …,” I wouldn’t have nearly as big of a problem with the statement that he makes.  But, the statement as it stands reflects a lack of awareness of the dialogue of the past 25-50 years or so.  And, I don’t think that it is asking too much to expect Jason to qualify his statement in this way, because this doesn’t require being an expert in Catholic theology, but could be considered being a part of being an expert in Protestant theology, especially if Luther is going to be brought into the discussion.  As a Catholic, when I read a statement like Jason’s, my first response is to think “hasn’t that already been done to some extent?”.

This brings me to a related issue with Jason’s statement above of who exactly is this “us” that Jason is referring to?  “Let them show us…”  Who is “us”?  Who is Jason speaking for?  Protestants in general?  Well, considering the documents linked to above it wouldn’t seem so.  Lutherans? It wouldn’t seem so, at least for many.  Presbyterians?  It wouldn’t seem so, at least for many.  Methodists?  It wouldn’t seem so, at least for many.  Evangelicals?  Perhaps for some or even many, but by no means all.  What I have trouble with from time to time is who this “us” remains to be and why Catholics must continue to prove themselves, when what this “us” is asking for has already been shown in a way that is satisfying to many.

As Jason’s statement stands, I don’t think it shows enough self-awareness.  In my own study and experience, I think that Jason actually represents a very, very small minority of Christians percentage-wise, especially from the perspective of global Christianity.  But, at least to me, some of the statements that he makes don’t seem to reflect that he is very aware of that, as he claims to stand on the side of Luther and Paul, whereas I suppose the vast majority do not.

Not just in my study, but in my own day to day experience, I don’t find Jason’s statement to hold.  In my own experience, it is sometimes difficult for me to point to this “us.”  It certainly isn’t my Presbyterian friends who have invited me to preach at their church because their pastor just retired, and they are asking individuals to fill in during the interim.  It certainly isn’t my Southern Baptist cousin who asks me many of his deep theological questions because he trusts I know what I’m talking about in the realm of theology.  It certainly isn’t the Anglican folks who sometimes attend Bible studies that I teach.  It certainly isn’t my Methodist SBL roommate, or my Church of Christ buddy.  It certainly isn’t my Dutch Reformed dissertation supervisor who attends mass when he’s in Germany.

With all of this said, I do not question whether either Jason or Bob is a Christian.  In fact, I like Jason.  To some degree, I think it was noble of him to come to Bob’s defense when he was being called out.  I’ve been sick for a couple of weeks, and when I’ve mentioned that on Facebook, Jason has wished me well.  Jason may disagree with everything that I’ve written here.  But, I don’t think that what I have done is an injustice.  I simply do not think that some of the things that Bob has said are in any way appropriate in light of his clear misunderstandings of Catholic theology and his own admission of not having read Catholic theologians.  And, I think that Jason, whether he has read Catholic theology or not, is only showing his awareness of only one side of it.  And, I don’t think that is appropriate either, especially in light of the gravity of the subject matter, at least the gravity of it from my perspective as a faithful Roman Catholic.

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Biblioblog top 50 for February posted

The Biblioblog top 50 is up for February.

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Barber on Sirach’s status within Judaism

Michael Barber has an interesting post up, which also links to another interesting post on the status of the Book of Sirach within Ancient Judaism.  Possibly this is inspired by the fact that the first readings in our lectionary are currently being taken from the Book of Sirach.

The post that Michael links to is written by Dr. Jeff Morrow of Seton Hall University.  It’s not really an apologetic post for the inclusion of deuterocanonicals as a part of the canon.  It simply serves to muddy the waters a bit.  Here’s a snippet:

What complicates matters further is that different groups within Second Temple Judaism apparently considered different books canonical. Although the biblical books used by the Pharisees is likely identical to Josephus’, which looks like the Old Testament of most Protestants, and, it should be noted, the Hebrew Bible (Tanak) of the majority of contemporary Judaism, this is not for certain. Sadducees, on the other hand, had a much smaller list of biblical books (only including the Penateuch, according to New Testament evidence). It is difficult to determine what canon was in  use among the Jews at Qumran—where Esther has not been discovered but Tobit and Sirach from the deuterocanon have been found (in Aramaic and Hebrew no less)—but it appears they likely considered some of their own community’s texts as canonical. The question of canon at such an early stage, however, is complicated by the fact that we are not even sure what a canon would mean at that point within Judaism. Would they have understood those texts as divinely revealed, as inspired? And what would inspiration mean for them? Would there have been a canon-within-a-canon? These questions remain unresolved.

Anyway, I’d recommend you check it out.

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Missed my point entirely, Bob

While Joel and Rod may have spoken about the issues of salvation and the gospel, my point is exactly this:

I must say I haven’t read primary Catholic authors writing after Vatican 2. But in what I’ve heard and read about Vatican 2 it never abrogates the Council of Trent and it doesn’t change church teaching on additional things “necessary unto salvation”. I’m foolish enough to trust the Reformers and evangelical Protestants up through the middle of the 20th Century who have studied these matters and conclude that Roman Catholic doctrine on salvation is confusing at best and damning at worst.

How do you know Vatican II didn’t at least temper the statements of Trent if all you done is hear about Vatican II and read about Vatican II?  Especially if you only hear about this from Protestant sources?  Have you even looked at the section on the Protestant churches in the most recent Catechism of the Catholic Church?

Let’s put it this way … If you were a student in one of my classes, and I asked you to write an exegesis paper on Job 1-2, and you read commentaries about Job 1-2, but never got into the actual text of Job 1-2, I’d give you an F.  Now, sub in Catholic theology.  If I asked you write a paper on Catholic theology, and all you read was Protestant commentary on Catholic theology and never got into any actual Catholic theology, I’d give you an F.

I repeat: This is unacceptable.  If you are going to tell me that I and a large part of my denomination (including my mother, my father, my wife, and my two little girls) are potentially going to die and go to hell with any kind of integrity, you cannot do so without at least first trying to see things from my perspective.  At the very least, I think Jesus’ command to love your neighbor demands that.

I voice my disagreements with Protestant friends, but guess what … I’ve got an MA from a Baptist Seminary.  Now, I’m not asking nearly that much out of you.  Could you at least read a couple of Catholic books before you tell me that many of us are perishing for all eternity?  That’s all I’m asking.

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Deficient theology, Indeed!

Going to try to maintain the most charitable tone possible here.  In a post reviewing a book about homosexuality, Bob Hayton threw in this bit of a sidebar comment about Roman Catholicism:

I have but one small reservation with this book. Hill details both a Roman Catholic’s and Greek Orthodox’s struggle on this issue with no caution about the deficient theology of those churches. There may be genuine Christians who are RC or Orthodox, but they are the exception not the rule. Perhaps those faiths are more open to the struggle for faithful celibacy and so have something he can identify with. As a Protestant, I fear the Gospel can be at stake in so easily recommending Catholicism and Greek Orthodoxy with their denial of justification by faith alone.

Joel, subsequently brought it to my attention (and has responded, a has Rod) because … well, I’m Catholic, and not just the kind that Joel says he is either ;-).

I’m only really going to say a few things about this.  A couple things in this statement, and especially some of the statements Bob made in the comments, hinted to me that Bob has never read a Catholic theologian about Catholicism, which you would think he would have read one before saying something like: “There may be genuine Christians who are RC or Orthodox, but they are the exception not the rule.”  I mean before you say something like over 1 billion people are going to die and go to hell, you might want to at least read one book if not more written by people from that group.

So, here was my response in the comments:

Can you please tell me which books you have read and by which Catholic theologians? Because several of your statements here cause me to doubt you’ve read very many serious Catholic theologians, but have gotten your understanding of Catholicism mostly from secondary, Protestant, apologetic sources.

Here is part of the response that I got:

Now, I admit, I haven’t read Catholic theologians. Recommend a good intro on the topic and I will make an attempt to do so. But I don’t think the Reformers and subsequent evangelical leaders are all totally off-base here.


Bob has said there are very few Christians among the world’s 1 billion Catholics, but admittedly “hasn’t read Catholic theologians.”  Recommend a book and “he’ll make an attempt” to read it. This is both intellectually dishonest and uncharitable.  Bob feels the need to call Catholicism out on the gospel.  Yet the Bible also has a few things to say about being dishonest and uncharitable.

In the comments, Bob has said that he might put up another post to open up a debate on the topic.  Now, I have no problem talking Catholicism with someone from a different perspective, even one who thinks I’m going to burn in hell, as long as they have put in the intellectual work necessary to hold that opinion with any kind of integrity.  But, this would just be continuing on the dishonesty.  Why would anyone take the time to debate someone who hasn’t even taken the time to understand them from their own perspective first?  I’m most certainly not going to spend any of my time doing it.

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Commercial for God – Doctrine of Retribution Abused (VFTTB)

I just finished teaching through the Book of Proverbs in my Wisdom Literature class and thought I’d share this video.  It is exactly what the title of the post says a “commercial for God.”  Basically, these two girls read Proverbs 3:9-10 verbatim.  Just be careful because it might give you a sickening feel in your stomach when you see that God has an 800 number.

I used this video as entry way into discussing the doctrine of retribution and how it is part of Old Testament theology, but was not intended to be taken as a complete picture of how the world works.  So, it can, therefore, be abused.  For instance, I brought texts like Proverbs 30:7-10 into the picture to show that the doctrine of retribution wasn’t even meant to be taken as a complete picture of how the world works within the Book of Proverbs itself.

At any rate, you might find a better video for entering into the doctrine of retribution.  But, this is the one I used:

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John Hobbins just threw out an interesting set of posts

I mean he was throwing them out one after another, and I’m not sure if he’s stopped yet.  They are posts that he’s giving the heading:

An outline of a 90 minute module in a course entitled “The Bible and Current Events.” Follow the links and you pretty much have it.

I’m not sure of the background of the posts, whether they are for something that he is teaching in his church or in a university setting.  But, some of the topics look incredibly interesting and seem like they could work in different contexts.  There is no particular tag or category that it looks like he is putting the posts in.  So, the only way to keep up might be to subscribe to his feed, which wouldn’t be a bad idea anyway.  Or, you might go to his blog and search the phrase “The Bible and Current Events.”

For an example, check out this called An Introduction to the Primary History, replete with video clips (which I like).

If you like some of what he’s done there, you might also want to check out some of my posts on videos for teaching the Bible.

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