How to Teach the True Meaning of Christmas to Your Kids

The rear seating in our 2004 Yukon must have some kind of magnetic field that provokes good questions from kids. This week it was, “Why do we decorate trees at Christmas? What does that have to do with Jesus being born?” I don’t remember asking such sophisticated questions at age 7.

But at age 37, I have an answer. [Read more…]

Evidence of God’s Grace amidst the “War on Christmas”

What Flannery O’Connor said of the South is true of all America—but it seems truest at Christmas:

While the South is hardly Christ-centered, it is most certainly Christ-haunted. The Southerner, who isn’t convinced of it, is very much afraid that he may have been formed in the image and likeness of God.

In our post-everything, skeptical-yet-credulous world, people may not know Jesus, but they’re not starting from a place of absolute ignorance. By God’s amazing grace, Christ has a cultural foothold in America—through Christmas. [Read more…]

Is the Pope Right or Wrong on “Lead Us Not Into Temptation”?

Pope Francis recently created an international theological incident when he told an Italian TV interviewer that the classic, traditional wording from the Lord’s Prayer, “Lead us not into temptation,” is “not a good translation.” Instead he favors translating this particular petition in the Lord’s Prayer something like, “Don’t let us fall into temptation.” The pope argued,

I am the one that’s falling. It’s not [God] who’s leading me into temptation to see, then, how I fall. No, a father doesn’t do this. A father helps you to get up right away. The one who is leading you into temptation is Satan. That is Satan’s mission. The prayer that we say means: “When Satan leads me into temptation, please give me your hand.”

Is the pope’s (re-)translation of the Bible here right or wrong?

[Read more…]

5 Words You’re Probably Not Getting in the Christmas Story

Every Christmas Eve growing up, my father read the Christmas story from Luke 2 in the King James Version.

And every Christmas Eve, I thought I understood it. I largely did. But I now see little things I was missing—through no fault of my own, nor of the KJV translators, but simply because of the inevitable process of language change. The KJV is 400 years old, after all. I now see these little things because I focused hard on them while writing my new book, Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible.

Here are five things you might not have noticed you were missing in the Christmas story in Luke 2 in the King James Version. [Read more…]

What Do We Really Know about the Three Wise Men?

What do we really know about the “magi,” the three “wise men” who brought gifts to Jesus?

I get questions like this from my kids all the time, questions about Bible and theology stuff. I love their curiosity. And I often find myself answering them this way: “Well, how could we know?” [Read more…]

How Evangelical Theologians Are Tackling the Doctrine of the Trinity

The Trinity is a hot topic right now—because of its relationship to discussions about gender (see 1 Cor 11:3) and its place in the perennial back-and-forth between more confessionalist and more biblicist strains of evangelical faith.

Recently I attended the annual Evangelical Theological Society meeting in Providence, Rhode Island, and I felt that if I was going to have a responsible view in these important debates, I needed to listen to people who’d studied the Trinity far more carefully than I have. You may feel the same way. [Read more…]

Is There Anything New to Say about the Christmas Story?

Biblical scholarship is essentially a lot of very careful reading of very old, very familiar stories—with the goal of discovering something new in them.

The well has not run dry. After two millennia, the Christmas story, for example, is still delivering fresh insights to Bible readers of all kinds—like a grandmother sending out packages to grandkids reliably every December.

Does the “greatest story ever told” have anything left to tell us? As you prepare your heart for the Christmas season, here are three reasons to turn back to the Christmas story in your Bible reading, three reasons (among others that could be mentioned) why this story keeps delivering new insights. [Read more…]

Did Augustine Believe in Biblical Inerrancy?

One of the most important figures of the Reformation died over a millennium before Luther was even born. B.B. Warfield explains his significance:

It is Augustine who gave us the Reformation. For the Reformation, inwardly considered, was just the ultimate triumph of Augustine’s doctrine of grace over Augustine’s doctrine of the Church. (The Works of Benjamin B. Warfield, IV:130)

[Read more…]

Misunderstanding the Most Common Old Testament Literary Device

I could tell by the faces of my amazing adult Sunday School class, with whom I have such enriching discussions, that what I had just said did not register. I needed to call an audible. It was time to ditch (temporarily) my planned lesson and start a new, impromptu one. My class needed to learn about Hebrew poetic parallelism.

It’s hard to interpret the Old Testament without some knowledge of this ubiquitous literary form. I turned immediately to the Psalms Explorer in Logos to help me teach it. [Read more…]

Last Day: Get Started with Greek for Under $35

If you’re going to study, preach, or teach the Bible with any depth, it’s helpful to be able to read and pronounce Greek words—even if you don’t understand them. [Read more…]