Did Yahweh Father Cain?

Cain Kills Abel by Paul Gustave Doré, Commons.wikimedia.org

Christians are often taught to interpret the Bible literally. I wrote about the problems that can come out of overemphasizing literal interpretation, but I should point out that most people who advocate literalism do so to prevent self-serving or idiosyncratic interpretations. If we interpret the text at face-value, so the idea goes, we’ll more often than not be interpreting Scripture correctly. This approach—though well-intentioned—isn’t always the best strategy, for several reasons. One is that the most straightforward reading can produce bizarre outcomes. [Read more…]

3 Free Logos Features That Make Seminary Easier

If you go to seminary, there are certain tasks you will be asked to do. I don’t have to know which school you’re going to or what classes you’re taking. You’ll be doing these things. Three of them. Promise.

I’ve used pretty much all the major tools out there to do them, and I’m going to show you the best ones—and how to get them for free.

You should also check out Logos’ back-to-school sale. You can get essential books for seminary up to 40% off.

[Read more…]

6 Facts You Might Not Know about Martin Luther’s 95 Theses

95 theses

An obscure monk hammers a list of grievances onto the doors of a church: what could be more revolutionary—or more symbolic of the Protestant Reformation—than that?

But when Martin Luther nailed his 95 Theses to the Wittenburg Church door on October 31, 1517, he wasn’t launching a fully formed movement in a single act; he was giving voice to ideas that had been brewing in Christendom for years. Though many Christians see that act as the launch of the Protestant Reformation, the truth is a little more complicated.

Here are six facts you probably didn’t know about Martin Luther and his 95 theses, all drawn from Dr. Jennifer McNutt’s Mobile Ed course Milestones of the Protestant Reformation. [Read more…]

5 Ways Right-Clicking Just Got Better—Logos 8.7 Update

Here’s what’s new to Logos 8 with the Logos 8.7 update release.

Right-clicking in your Bible is one of the fastest ways to leverage the powerful tools in Logos. In the latest version, we’ve made the Context menu—the one that pops up when you right-click—more compact and easier on the eyes.

But we haven’t just updated the look; we’ve made it simpler and more useful.

[Read more…]

How to (Mis)Interpret Prophecy

The Siege and Destruction of Jerusalem, David Roberts (1796–1864)

There’s no shortage of advice on how to interpret the Bible. One maxim that I’ve already mentioned advises, “When the plain sense makes sense, seek no other sense.” I’ve heard it quoted when it comes to biblical prophecy—encouraging people to interpret literally, at face value. Although that sounds like good advice, some New Testament writers didn’t get the memo. [Read more…]

Preaching? Drain the Liquid Before You Give It to Others

Photo by Elevate on Unsplash

By Jeffrey Arthurs, adapted from Preaching Points: 55 Tips for Improving Your Pulpit Ministry.

In an issue of Leadership journal, Lee Eclov tells the story of a researcher named Hillary Koprowski, who was a leader in the search for the polio vaccine in the 1940s. Koprowski and his team had done animal tests successfully, and the next step involved a powerful but unwritten rule of scientific research: Before testing an oral vaccine on other humans, the researcher must try it himself. 

So late one winter afternoon in 1948, he and his assistant whipped up a polio cocktail and the two men drank from small glass beakers. They tilted their heads back and drained the liquid fully. They agreed it tasted like cod-liver oil. The assistant said, “Have another?”

“Better not,” Koprowski said, “I’m driving.”

Lee Eclov says that every preacher has to take the same gutsy step. We have no right to give other people our “holy vaccine” until we’ve drained the liquid ourselves. And sometimes it does taste like cod-liver oil.

As preachers we must drain the liquid. Preach to yourself before you preach to others. Ask yourself, “Am I living the life I’m recommending to others?” “Authenticity” is one of the god-terms of our culture—and rightly so. Of the members of the old rhetorical trio of ethos, pathos, and logos, Aristotle said that ethos is number one. Your character, trustworthiness, experience, and sincerity—your ethos—are the most persuasive tools you possess. 

So this week and every week when you’re doing your sermon preparation, remember to drain the liquid yourself.

***

This post is adapted from “Drain the liquid” by Jeffrey Arthurs in Preaching Points: 55 Tips for Improving Your Pulpit Ministry, edited by Scott M. Gibson (Lexham Press, 2016).

 

Marxism and Biblical Theology Aren’t Synonyms

I’m a biblical scholar by training, but what most people don’t realize is that I’m also a political junkie. My undergraduate degree is actually in History and Political Science. Since one of my graduate degrees is in history (albeit ancient history), I was able to teach western civilization at the college level to help support myself through graduate school. I’ve also taught US History at a local community college. But while my interest in political discourse is high, I also have to confess to being an American political atheist—I don’t put my faith in any political party. The answer to the nation’s problems—to those plaguing a beleaguered world—is the kingdom of God, not a kingdom made by human hands, even American ones. [Read more…]

6 Recent Archaeological Discoveries That Affirm Details in Scripture

Photo credit: Eliyahu Yanai, City of David

Each time an artifact related to the biblical narrative is unearthed in Israel or the surrounding lands of the Bible it becomes a witness to the perfection of God’s Word.  [Read more…]

Why Archaeology Makes Faith Less ‘Blind’

Biblical archaeology is archaeology focused on the ancient Near East. It includes places like modern-day Israel, Jordan, Syria, Turkey, Egypt, Iraq, and Iran from 1,400 BC through the first century AD. 

And though students of the Bible often overlook archaeology, it’s one of our most significant partners in Bible study—a witness to the events, culture, and people in the Bible’s stories.  [Read more…]

Pastor, Your Empathy Is Not Enough (and That’s a Good Thing)

By Harold Senkbeil, adapted from The Care of Souls: Cultivating a Pastor’s Heart

Over the years I’ve developed, in good Lutheran fashion, ten theses on spiritual cure, the care of souls.  [Read more…]