Mesopotamian Monday: Inscription of Sargon II to Adad at Dur-Sharrukin — The Biblical Review

A common way that kings honored deities within the pantheon was via prayers inscribed at temples and gates. For example, at the capital of Assyria during the reign of Sargon II, Dur-Sharrukin, archaeologists uncovered a small room within a temple building. Presumably on account of Adad’s lower position in the pantheon, his sanctuary […]

via Mesopotamian Monday: Inscription of Sargon II to Adad at Dur-Sharrukin — The Biblical Review

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Church Write-Up: Idols, Two Cities, Romania

Time for this week’s Church Write-Up.

A.  The theme at both the LCMS church and the “Word of Faith” church was idolatry.

At the LCMS church, the Scripture text was Joshua 24, in which Joshua exhorts the Israelites to stop worshiping other gods and affirms that, for him and his house, they will serve the LORD.  The youth pastor said it was odd that the Israelites still had foreign gods, after experiencing miracles and acts of provision from the true God.  He went through idols, ancient and modern: Ra, sports, money, and ourselves.  Sports and money are not bad in themselves, he said, but they become idols when they are all-consuming to us and eclipse our relationship with God.  When we worship God, our other interests and commitments fall into their rightful place.  The youth pastor said that, whereas idols demand that we serve them, Jesus served us.  He gave up his place in heaven, was hungry, and died, all for us.

The pastor spoke in the same vein.  We like to be in charge, he said, but do idols allow us to be in charge, or do they enslave us?  He noticed that Joshua referred back to the days of Abraham.  Abraham’s father, Terah, waffled in his commitment to God, and Abraham was taking a radical step by worshiping a God he could neither see nor touch, rather than a god he could put inside his backpack.  The Israelites in Joshua’s day were tempted to worship the gods of the Canaanites: the gods of the Canaanites brought Canaan prosperity, so maybe they should be appeased, they thought!  The pastor talked about using our talents and hobbies, not as things over which we should obsess or treat as ultimate, but as means to serve God.  August is mission month, so he referred to next week’s mission fair, which will inform people of ways to serve the church, and to help the church serve the world.

That point on gods one can see and touch can perhaps be qualified.  The ancients, of course, did not believe that the idols themselves were gods, but rather than the idols contained or channeled the power of the gods.  The idols were like mini-temples.  At the same time, the pastor may have a point about Abraham and Israel proposing something revolutionary: taking a leap of faith to follow a God who gave them a word and acted on their behalf, even if this God did not show them what he looked like or provide them with talismans each of them could personally grasp.  Even when the Israelites had the Ark of the Covenant, it was usually hidden from most of them and seen by the priests.

The pastor at the “Word of Faith” church wrapped up his series on the Book of Revelation.  He said that Revelation was a story of two cities.  One was the city of Babylon, which rested on human pride and achievement.  The other was the city of God, which does not (or at least should not) value people or themselves in terms of their achievements; unfortunately, he noted, the Babylonian mindset afflicts the church!  The pastor said that big cities set the culture of the country and can even have a worldwide impact.  Another point that the pastor made was that Satan in the Book of Revelation was an accuser, and, unfortunately, people, including Christians, set themselves up as accusers of others.  They should be in the mercy business.  He said that he was not going to weigh in on capital punishment, but, whether it is right or wrong, Christians should be remembering that even murderers have their own stories and should be pleading with them with tears to accept Jesus.

B.  At the LCMS church, a couple was sharing about their experiences in Romania, where they worked at a camp for orphans.  A lot of these kids are technically not orphans, but the children have been given up because their parents cannot afford to take care of them.  They often do not have enough to eat, they are ashamed over things they have done in an attempt to survive, they have few adult models to teach them life skills, and prospects are available to very few.  They are excited to see this couple every year that they visit.

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Answers to Mormon Answers on Moroni 8:18

Bowman on Target: Rob Bowman's Blog

We agree with moroni 8-18August 18 is observed annually with the message “We Agree with Moroni 8:18” by evangelical Christians who seek to share the biblical faith with Latter-day Saints. Moroni 8:18, a verse near the end of the Book of Mormon, states:

For I know that God is not a partial God, neither a changeable being;
but he is unchangeable from all eternity to all eternity.

This statement, dictated by Joseph Smith in 1829 and published in 1830 in the Book of Mormon, stands in stark contrast to a statement made by Joseph Smith in a sermon known as the King Follett Discourse near the end of his life in 1844:

In order to understand the subject of the dead, for consolation of those who mourn for the loss of their friends, it is necessary we should understand the character and being of God and how He came to be so; for…

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Thinking Divine Simplicity from a Grace-Alone-Frame — The Evangelical Calvinist

Thomas Torrance’s project was largely about reifying classical theological concepts under the pressure provided for by a personalist understanding of the Triune life; Barth in his own way obviously reformulates the tradition as well. What I want to do with this post is share a snippet from John Webster and his description of Divine Simplicity […]

via Thinking Divine Simplicity from a Grace-Alone-Frame — The Evangelical Calvinist

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Correct Error Without Radicalizing Doubt


The first time I got called a heretic, I think I was about 19. I had just started getting into theology, biblical studies, N.T. Wright, that sort of thing, and was slowly walking away from the default dispensationalism of Orange County Evangelicalism. Well, at the time I also happened to be in a Bible study at a Calvary Chapel church in Southern California and I told the guys, “Well, I actually don’t think I believe in the Rapture anymore.” Judging by the reactions, I might as well have questioned the Second Coming itself.

Things became very strained between myself and some of the guys. They started to doubt my “soundness,” and I started to wear the air of a sort of knowing, theological rebel. “Maybe I am a heretic. Maybe we are all heretics to some degree. Maybe a little heresy was necessary now and again.” No doubt, we…

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Book Review: A Student’s Guide To Philosophy

Edge Induced Cohesion

A Student’s Guide To Philosophy, by Ralph M. McInerny

In reading this book I was struck by the pro-Catholic nature of the author of the book, who forthrightly admitted he was a Thomist and whose defense of philosophy made it clear that this book is defending a Hellenistic view of Christianity.  While I stand a bit far removed from the author when it comes to matters of philosophy [1], this book was certainly an interesting and worthwhile one to read, to be sure, and it demonstrates that there is a lot to be gained from having a strong understanding of the history of philosophy.  Even as someone whose relationship with philosophy is more than a little bit ambivalent can recognize the fact that all of us are philosophers whether we know it or not, and that ancient philosophy, by beginning with what human beings knew in general, is a far…

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Book Review: A Student’s Guide To The Classics

Edge Induced Cohesion

A Student’s Guide To The Classics, by Bruce S. Thornton

I must admit that while I am not fluent in Greek or Latin, I have long had a complex relationship with the classics as a body of literature.  Without ever having attempted a systematic reading of the classics, I have managed to find myself reading a great many classic works and being influenced by them [1] a little bit at a time.  Whether that means reading some of the works in school and some of them for fun and some of them as a reviewer of books for scholarly journals, I have read a great many of what the author considers to be essential classics, and I would hope that I have been bettered by it.  This book, of course, is intended for those who are younger and who may not be familiar with the writings of the ancient world…

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