The Habituation of Separation – David Baker

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There has been evidence since the beginning of time (1) that at the core of any relational dysfunction lies the inability of individuals, both male and female to express negative feelings in a constructive, Godly manner. Perhaps because these feelings are not Godly to begin with! The end result of this inability to communicate is separation. Separation brings the inevitability of death.2 Jay Adams suggests that any sinful habit is the responsibility of the counselee to acknowledge and change. (3) According to Gary Chapman, “Communication is basically an act of the will, not a matter of the personality”. (4) In the Garden of Eden, at the center, there are two trees, the tree of Life, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. (5) As such, all mankind has the choice to submit to the sinful nature and express or suppress goodness and evil, or choose the tree of Life, which is the Christ at the center of us all.

In an effort to bring God’s children into an effective means of communication, we as Biblical Counselors are charged with the process of becoming involved with our brothers and sisters in order to be able to attain enough information to isolate the sinful problem(s) and show by direction and presenting the problem(s), and its alternate biblical solution in an nouthetic manner that gives hope and encourages change from within by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Positioning ourselves as Spiritual friends, we are able to connect with others in such a way as to express our own limitations in communication without the help of the Spirit. By being in a continual state of prayer and communication with the Father, Son, and Spirit, we are able to discern the best possible way to model Godly communication habits as opposed to suppressing any negative feelings which leads to separation and death. To be able to instruct others in this practice, and it is a practice to which we never achieve perfection this side of Eternity, it is essential to unveil the unhealthy, or sinful places from which we relate to others. We have to discern and expose the flesh dynamic vs the Spirit dynamic. (6) The flesh dynamic stems from our original sin nature and the knowledge of good and evil. We all tend to put our fig leaves on in an effort to avoid feeling shame, remorse, and/or guilt. Until we can begin to rely upon the inherent Goodness of God as a means of helping us to a position of freedom in relationship and communication, there will be a natural or worldly desire to suppress and cover up our negative feelings. How do we know they are negative unless we are embracing our sinful knowledge of good and evil?

When we embrace the tree of Life, we are free to express ourselves as loved and protected children of the Most High God. Expression without fear or guilt for the wrongs we have done, acknowledging the saving grace of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. Having given His life for us, the veil was torn and we are free to be seen in the reality of His redeeming love for all of creation. Thus, our communication is in its purest form, that of a supernatural process initiated by the cross. The Holy Trinity experienced the ultimate breakdown in family relationship when the Father gave His only Son, who asked why he had been forsaken, and gave up His Spirit and died. There was the ultimate separation for three days until the Resurrection, which gave life, overcoming death and the grave.

When working with people experiencing death in relationship, homework instruction may look something like this. Stressing the importance of listening (7), each person should be encouraged to express where they think communication is most needed, the other person is not to reply, but to prayerfully consider the others statement of feeling. They are each to journal what God has revealed during their prayerful reflection. Secondly, each of us have a wealth of Godly qualities that enable healthy communication. Each counselee should express those qualities that are seen in the other that can make communication easier. When we see and acknowledge the Christ in the other person, it not only makes it a safer place to communicate from, but it encourages our own view of Christ who resides in us all. (8) It is important to have the couple express their willingness to abandon old habits of communication and ask for help from the other and God in doing so. Even our secular wisdom agrees that “small, positive behaviors, frequently repeated, can make a big difference in the long-term success of a marriage”. (9)

1. Genesis 3:12-13

2. Genesis 3:23

3. Jay E. Adams, The Christian Counselors Manual, Zondervan 1974, pg 174

4. Gary Chapman, Towards a Growing Marriage, Moody Press, 1996, pg 105

5. Genesis 2:9

6. Larry Crabb, The Safest Place on Earth, Word Publishing, 1999, pg. 116-118

7. James 1:19

8. 1 Corinthians 2: 11-12

9. Gottman/Schwartz, 10 Lessons to Transform your Marriage, Crown Publishing, 2006, pg. 7

The Silence was Deafening – By Michael Boso

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We each have good and bad stories surrounding the preaching that’s heard each Sunday service. The term “arm chair quarterback” has come to mean the critical critique that’s made over someone else’s performance from the comfort of our cushy chair. If there seems to be ironies attached to it about sporting event, where is this right in the Church?

The world and media has made the real heroes of life seem weak and silly. This same knife has found the backs of the preachers that stand in the pulpit each Sunday to proclaim the word of God. The corpses have been piled so high that the bleeding is coming through the walls of the Church.

The world has made the men of God that standup to confront its sin look foolish, narrow minded, and egotistical. Some may have opened the door for this kind of attach, others are discredited by association. The Church may have delivered the deadliest blow however to their man of God by not honoring him for the work he does.

We may not always be appetitive to the labors in the pulpits. Our expectations may be very high for the pastors that stand before us and tend the flock. The sheep may be dull of hearing rather than being subjected to a dull speaker. Never the less, what will it be like when the pulpits become silent?

The task of a contemporary preacher is to deliver the resounding voice of God with strength and vigor from each watch stood behind their pulpit. Among the chatter that the world offers the sound has become deafening in its ears, but the pulpit has not been silenced. Even among the hardest heart the preaching of the gospel message find the smallest crack in which to flow. God is at work in the world in which we are honorably called to take part.

But who will speak the living, life giving, heart changing, soul liberating word of God when He says it’s enough? Can you imagine with me the moment when the Holy Spirit becomes quite and the voice of God becomes silent?

Amos 8:11-12
11 “Behold, the days are coming,” declares the Lord GOD,
“when I will send a famine on the land—
not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water,
but of hearing the words of the LORD.
12 They shall wander from sea to sea,
and from north to east;
they shall run to and fro, to seek the word of the LORD,
but they shall not find it.

Where will they find the living water that satisfies the hungry heart? If the pulpit is disregarded and the men of God become silent how will they hear? If the Church becomes a free cheap seat for entertainment between the regular scheduled events how will they be sent? Where have all the beautiful feet gone if not to bring the good news?

Reflections On Trinity Graduation – by Johnathan Pritchett

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One of the most amazing things about Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary is the diversity among the student body. Our students come from many cultural and national backgrounds, as well as many different orthodox theological traditions and denominations within Christendom. Being a distance learning institution with a worldwide imprint, aside from connections on social media, occasional phone calls, and the lively chats in the webinar classrooms or the TOLC forums, it is not always easy to put faces and voices with names.

Graduation weekend at Trinity is that one time of year where many of our students converge here in Newburgh Indiana to visit the campus, meet and greet their professors and advisers, share a meal together at a banquet dinner, and finally, assemble together for the graduation ceremony to celebrate accomplishment. For our students, it is a reminder that all the hard work they have put into their education has a reward. From the caliber of students that come to Trinity, it is obvious that they truly do honor God in their work, given the outstanding quality of the students themselves and the work they have turned in. This is an indication of the incredible ministries that the Lord has blessed our students to serve in as well. The majority of the students at Trinity are in some full or part time ministry already, and one of the blessings of graduation weekend at Trinity is to hear the stories of how the Lord is working in both big and small ways through the various ministries of our students. It is wonderful to hear the testimonies of how time spent in education at Trinity has helped these students grow and accomplish amazing things for the cause of Christ all over the world.

Unlike many other seminaries in the United States, Trinity is truly a global ministry with a global impact for the Kingdom. Graduation weekend is that reminder that seeing our students, staff, and faculty come to convene in celebration and worship, that we are truly blessed with a glimpse of what God gave John at Patmos. It is a vision of what Heaven will be like, worshiping with people from every tribe, tongue and nation. (Rev. 7:9) That is Trinity. In the U.S., that isn’t most other seminaries.

The high caliber of Trinity’s many students in both scholarship and heart-felt desire for service makes Trinity a unique institution of higher learning for the global Church. God has graced all of us to be a part of this fascinating experience of Trinity College of the Bible and Theological Seminary. For 45 years, this institution has stood out with a firm commitment to honor God in all our endeavors, assisting people all over the world in reaching their academic goals to aid them in their calling to service. The results and accomplishments of what the Lord has done in and through our students around the world speak for themselves. Trinity truly is the global intersection of scholarship and discipleship, evangelism and missions, academy and ministry.

Congratulations to all our 2014 graduates! We are all blessed beyond measure.

Dwelling in Shame, Aspiring to Honor – by Jennifer Habert

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Imprisoned, living, dying, suffering, struggling, humility, offering, sacrifice…these are the powerful words that flow from the mouth of Paul as he pours out his life for the gospel of Christ. In his letter to the Philippians, Paul demonstrates how circumstances that are seen as shameful in the eyes of the world can ultimately bring honor in the life of a follower of Christ. For the New Testament believer, this is radical teaching indeed. It will challenge everything that these men and women have ever learned.

Paul planted the church in Philippi during his second missionary journey. At this time, Paul is under house arrest in Rome (Acts 28:16) where he is boldly preaching to anyone who will listen (Acts 28:23-24). As we see his correspondence unfold this powerful idea of honor begins to develop, cutting to the heart of Christianity. What once would be viewed by the Greco-Roman culture as shameful will now bring honor to Christians serving the living God.

“Now I want you to know, brothers, that what has happened to me has actually resulted in the advance of the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard, and to everyone else, that my imprisonment is in the cause of Christ (Philippians 1:12-13).” Under the watchful eyes of a guard, many will see the shame in Paul’s circumstances. Paul also shares that brothers have “gained confidence from my imprisonment and dare even more to speak the message fearlessly (Philippians 1:14b).” Paul rejoices that others are working to advance the gospel. He knows that for many he loves, this may lead to the same suffering he is facing. Keeping his eyes on Christ, Paul is focused not on the rewards or honor that is found in the world but that which is found in Christ. Paul confirms this idea by saying in Philippians 1 verse 20 that his desire is to not be ashamed about anything but to honor Christ in his body, whether by life or death.

In Philippians chapter 2 Paul shifts his point of view from that of his own life to the life of Jesus. In verses 5-11 he challenges the reader to make their attitude like that of Jesus. Paul follows with a beautiful account of the life of Christ showing that although he was God, He emptied Himself and became a slave among men. The shame in this position would have been great indeed. As chapter 2 continues we see that after the death of Christ, He was highly exalted. God gave Him the name above every name so that all would bow to Him. To a culture fearful of shame and aspiring to honor the life of Christ once again contradicted everything that these people have seen before. How could one willingly walk in shame looking forward to the future rewards they would have with God?

As one final example, many at that time put great stock in their place among their peers. Paul shreds that idea as he shares from his own life. In Philippians 3:4-6 Paul expresses the many things he once had confidence in. He concludes by saying: “but everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ (Philippians 3:4-7).” Everything changed the day that Paul encountered Jesus. He would never again put confidence in the things of man. He would never again pursue honor before men. He is a follower of Jesus, all else is considered a loss.

I cannot say that I have always rejoiced in suffering. I faced the first real hardship of my life when my second child was born with a life threatening heart defect. We were told he would die but as we went through surgery after surgery with him, we watched the power of God at work. I didn’t want to walk through those hard days but through them something amazing happened. We were no longer distracted. Our thoughts were on walking with Christ. We had the opportunity to share the gospel in ways we had never dreamed. Our son is a true testament to God’s power. I still think suffering just plain stinks… but it is at those times where I am the most focused, the least distracted, the more driven to walk with the Lord and bring honor to only Him.

What’s Up With Old Testament Sacrifices? by Braxton Hunter

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If there is anything in Scripture which seems weird it is the sacrificial system. Why in the world would God require that mankind do things like kill animals in order to get forgiveness for sin? If animals need to be  sacrificed then why did Jesus need to die? Sacrifices are exactly the sorts of things that sometimes cause people to walk away from Christianity and say, “it’s just a made up religion.” But there really are some good reasons why God requires sacrifices which make sense if you really think.

In Leviticus, Chapters 1-7, there are five types of sacrifices mentioned. The Burnt sacrifices were those in which the entirety of the offering was set on fire and completely consumed by the flames. Grain offerings were those cereal sacrifices of vegetation and produce. Peace offerings differed somewhat in how they were made depending on the circumstances, but they were often voluntary acts of worship. Sin offerings were made on behalf of involuntary sinful acts. That is to say, many times a given Israelite might accidentally violate the law.Trespass offerings were similar, but involved actual money and were specifically made in the event that one man had cheated another (intentionally or not). These few chapters of Scripture outline how and when these offerings are to be made. So, what’s the point?

God’s requirement of sacrifices in the Old Testament makes sense for two reasons. First, part of what makes God so great is His justice. He must act justly! That means a penalty must be paid for sin. Second, the reason it had to be an animal, vegetation or amount of money is because the penalty must actually cost the sinner something. Thus, the sacrificial system. One reason that the Bible is so specific about how the sacrifices were to be done is, undoubtedly, that God wanted to teach obedience to the Israelites. However, we are still left with the question of why Jesus had to die.

Ultimately, the sacrifices that God required of the Children of Israel would not suffice in light of eternity. They were temporary. The system was a sort of “band-aid” solution. The reason for this is that man had sinned against an everlasting God. Often when I preach I point out that if you kill someone’s pet (let’s say a cat since I’m a dog person), there will be a penalty of some kind. If you kill the owner, however, the penalty will be much bigger. You may go to prison for the rest of your life. In fact, you may receive capital punishment. So there is a small penalty for sinning against an animal and a much bigger penalty for sinning against a man because this is what our own innate sense of justice tells us. So, what must be the punishment for sinning against an everlasting God? Can it be anything but an everlasting punishment? In order to escape everlasting punishment in hell, for sinning against an everlasting God, an everlasting sacrifice must be made.

1. Justice requires that the punishment for sin is equal to the weight of the sin

2. Sin against God is everlasting in weight, therefore

3. the just punishment for sin must be everlasting  

The only way this could be done is for God to enter the physical universe and die to fulfill that justice.

It all boils down to the fact that God cannot change the fact that He is a God of justice. He must act justly. This means that a price must be paid. The only just price for everlasting sin is an everlasting sacrifice. Jesus is the everlasting lamb that was slain. To me, this makes perfect sense. The next time it occurs to you, “What’s up with sacrifices?” you’ll have an answer.

Book Review: Defining Inerrancy: Affirming a Defensible Faith for a New Generation (J.P. Holding & Nick Peters)

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This book can be purchased here.

A Brief Recap of the Debate

The book Defining Inerrancy (Tekton E-Bricks, 2014) was recently released in response to Geisler’s book Defending Inerrancy (Baker, 2012), and a book of essays edited by Norman Geisler and F. David Farnell called The Jesus Quest: The Danger From Within (Xulon, 2014). The debate surrounding Biblical Inerrancy has been heating up once again in Evangelical circles. Unlike past debates regarding this issue, both sides of this new debate affirm the inerrancy of Scripture. Central to the debate here is in how do we as Evangelicals understand that doctrine, and what methodologies regarding the interpretation of Scripture fall within the bounds of being able to affirm inerrancy.

Much of the heat of the debate began when Norman Geisler publicly criticized a couple of sentences from Michael Licona’s groundbreaking work The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Histiographical Approach, in which he presents a stunning defence the physical, bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ. The criticism from Geisler regarding some of the contents of Licona’s book were a prelude to the release of Defending Inerrancy, in which Geisler takes to task several prominent conservative Evangelical scholars for their methods of interpretation. Whether in publication, or online, Geisler, enlisting help from other prominent Evangelicals, have made much about this issue since. Defining Inerrancy is one fine response to this controversy.

Largely Successful

The foreword from Craig Blomberg is an eye-opener into some of the history of Norman Geisler’s dealings with Evangelical scholars in the past. It is also enlightening that he, presumably like other scholars, will no longer remain on the sidelines in this debate. Holding and Peters go on offense with Defining Inerrancy. They primarily survey the contents of the The Jesus Quest and Defending Inerrancy books, and respond to criticisms directly related to the issues of genre criticism, extra-Biblical sources, literary conventions contemporary with the times of Scripture, and so forth. While both sides care about the preservation of the authority and inerrancy of Scripture, the scholars attacked by Geisler and company hold that their methodology is the only viable means of a) understanding the kind of text God has given us in His Word, and b) understanding how and why the Bible is inerrant in the sense of understanding it in its own terms. Contrary to the assertions of Geisler and company, they are largely correct in these claims. This book effectively demonstrates this to be the case.

Defining Inerrancy responds point by point to the criticisms of a number of critics who contributed to Geisler’s cause. For expedient purposes, Holding and Peters offer the label “traditionalists” to Geisler and others who hold to one method of interpretation, and “contextualizers” to scholars like Bock, Licona, Blomberg, and others who are under assault by Geisler. Two things are immediately noticed. First, these labels are far more charitable than the labels given by Geisler and company to those conservative Evangelicals they oppose. Second, it is realized very quickly that Geisler and company do not have very sound arguments, as they are easily countered by Holding and Peters. This is disconcerting, because the salient points relevant to the issue discussed in this book are typically cited in full by Holding and Peters, and they expose the bad reasoning, the misrepresentation, hypocrisy, and the irrelevant and overstated alarmist rhetoric employed by Geisler and company. After the first 24 pages of this book, this pattern becomes so repetitious as to be somewhat frightening at how seriously flawed these arguments against the contextualizers are. One will have to read the book and come to their own conclusions about this, but it was striking to me that these normally cogent and thoughtful scholars like Geisler and company offer very little by way of meaningful substance. Holding and Peters make it obvious that they need much better arguments if they are to be taken seriously, need to catch up and follow conservative Biblical scholarship better, and need to do some more homework before they come back to the table to respond. If nothing else, the authors of Defining Inerrancy make it clear to spectators on all sides of this issue that all the grandstanding and posturing in place of coherent argumentation and having a firm grasp on the issues will no longer do for Geisler and company.

Furthermore, Holding and Peters effectively demonstrate that the very fears of Geisler and company over methodology of interpretation would be brought about more and worse by their own traditionalist view than the contextualizer’s view. Holding and Peters point to examples like Bart Ehrman, and many people in the pew who perhaps do not have a sophisticated view of Scripture and inerrancy, and the kind of literary texts that are in Scripture. They argue that a hyper-wooden view of interpretative boundaries and conclusions by Geisler and company are likely to produce more liberals, apostates, and skeptics than the methodology used by the “contextualizers” who are, and largely remain, conservative Evangelicals. Those Apologists on the streets who have quite often encountered these sorts of apostates, skeptics, and others with questions about the Bible can verify as much as well.

They also demonstrate that if one ignores the scholarship over the last couple of decades, one finds himself in the position of having to shut one’s mind off and start ignoring reality. Apologists have long recognized these factors in discussing with both apostates and Christians struggling to deal with issues regarding the Bible. Holding and Peters rightly point out that contextualization of Biblical texts helps sort these kinds of issues out, and is arguably a more faithful hermeneutic to the text anyway.

This, of course, points us to a major issue in the debate. This really is not a debate about inerrancy at all, but rather, one of hermeneutics. If one really wants to ignore much of what genre criticism, effective use of extra-Biblical sources, literary conventions, social science data, etc. offers to aid us in understanding Scripture, then that amounts to ignoring Scripture itself. Both sides want to affirm inerrancy, and both sides also want to affirm that the Bible was not written in a vacuum. Essentially though, one side wants to limit the scope of tools we can use to understand the text, and the other side wants to broaden the scope. Though, as Holding and Peters also point out, their opponents only want to limit that scope selectively and arbitrarily as it suits their own interpretive conclusions.

Holding and Peters rightly point out that there can be dangers on both extreme ends of this spectrum, but evaluating interpretative conclusions on the basis of arguments made for them is a far cry from affirming or rejecting inerrancy itself. This is a very important point, and Geisler and company have completely failed to grasp it, and have offered no meaningful counterargument in response to this vitally important point. Sadly, only one side, the contextualizers, understand all this, and the other side  does not want to engage in the necessary hard work, but would rather engage in bombastic, alarmist rhetoric and bad arguments why other conservative Evangelicals should not try to understand God’s Word more fully. In any case, interpretations of particular passages by some conservative scholars that other conservative scholars may find questionable need to be decided at that level. What does not need to happen, but has happened, is the circus on the internet that has resulted from these disagreements (albeit from both sides). Questions regarding some conservative Evangelical scholars’ orthodoxy, Evangelical or Biblical commitment, or affirmation of inerrancy because they come to some interpretive conclusion about this or that passage that others reject goes too far out of bounds. Indeed, they go outside the relevant bounds of the matters under discussion.

All this simply will not do. As Holding and Peters demonstrate, one has to ignore too much scholarship demonstrating that these tools are both appropriate and necessary to have a robust understanding of Scripture. The authors also demonstrate that when one takes away the alarmist rhetoric, double-standards, hypocrisy, misrepresentations, and question begging, Geisler and company simply have no case. Moreover, when it all shakes out, Holding and Peters also show that this is largely about splitting hairs with regards to both the Chicago Statement/ICBI position and the “contextualizers” in how much extra-Biblical data one can use to help understand Scripture. One side wants more, but only insofar as it is useful (the contextualizers), the other side (the traditionalists) wants, well, more or less of it, depending on what their particular views are on this or that issue in this or that book of the Bible.

For example, take Geisler and his Old Earth Creationist views. He, along with Packer, still have yet to adequately address how their position and methodology is any different with respect to Genesis’ creation account to the contextualizers methodology with the Gospels, Epistles, and the rest of Scripture. At least, they have not adequately done so to the satisfaction of the contextualizers, to say nothing of Young Earth Creationists. Young Earth Creationists charge Geisler and others with much of the same labels and supposed harm to Scripture as Geisler and his company accuse the contextualizers. Holding and Peters rightly point out the blatant inconsistency of their opponents in this matter.

Stumbles a Bit Though

While I largely think that this book succeeds in its intent and argumentation, especially for a fast, accessible read for curious onlookers, it is not without a few problems of its own. One major problem is lacking citation when information is given regarding methodological approaches, or sourcing explanations of literary conventions, and things like this. Anyone who has surveyed either Holding’s or Peters’ respective websites know that they certainly have the book and article collection to provide citations to their explanation of what, for example, a high context society is, or how ancient rhetorical conventions would work regarding speeches, and things of this nature. This sort of thing would have been most helpful for curious onlookers who are unfamiliar with all the terminology.

Another problem is that while demonstrating the bad arguments of Geisler and company, they offer some bad arguments themselves. There is a myth that if one is a Systematic Theologian, or pastor, or philosopher, perhaps an apologist, then one is therefore not a “scholar” of Scripture, a competent exegete, and lack the right set of disciplinary credentials to discuss matters of Scripture and what are or are not appropriate methods of interpretation. Clearly, this is false.

Furthermore, it is irrelevant. Claims must be answered, as they have been in Defining Inerrancy, even apparently baseless ones such as is on offer by Geisler and company. However, the credentials of Geisler, Farnell, Holden, MacArthur, Mohler, Patterson, Land, and others are certainly respectable, and more than qualify them well enough to discuss these matters. This is especially pertinent since, were we to apply this standard to the authors of Defining Inerrancy themselves, both Holding and Peters lack any credentials whatsoever to offer back comment relevant to the field of this discussion to their chosen opponents, much less take up arms with those whom they agree and definitively speak for them. Should anyone therefore discount this book and the arguments they offered in it, most of which I am in agreement, because the authors here do not have terminal degrees in New Testament studies? Of course not. This line of argument was unnecessary, unconvincing, and the book would have been better served without it. While the arguments given by Geisler and company are certainly wanting, at least in my opinion, their credentials are certainly not.

Finally, there are some occasions of blanket statements that the authors assume are unchallenged by other contextualizers and other non-traditionalist scholars alike. For instance, statements like all the Gospels being ancient Greco-Roman biographies. This is not necessarily the case. Some of them are, but as Witherington convincingly demonstrates in his Acts commentary (The Acts of The Apostles: A Socio-Rhetorical Commentary), Luke’s Gospel is best concluded to be ancient historiography and not ancient biography. Witherington concluded this by using the very kind of methodology defended here (see Witherington’s introduction in his Acts commentary). This is simply being pointed out to demonstrate that occasional blanket statements found here and there in Defining Inerrancy may be a bit misleading, but also to show that the methodology defended in Defining Inerrancy yields further insight when pressed fully into service, as with the Witherington and Acts example, not less insight.

All Told

The few minor quibbles aside, I highly recommend this book to those interested in the back and forth regarding inerrancy. Unfortunately, inerrancy is the subject heading under which this conversation is taking place, but this is more about interpretative methodology than it is about inerrancy. Both sides affirm inerrancy. Sadly, only one side, the contextualizers, want to take the Bible seriously enough to understand it on its own terms, while the other side wants to seriously derail and distract from that goal. Holding and Peters, and the class of conservative, Evangelical Biblical scholars they represent in this work, are surely right in what they affirm and argue here. This is definitely the case when trying to understand literary genre and literary conventions, in which more understanding here serves to demonstrate why the Bible does not have the supposed “problems” it is perceived to have, from the perspective of modern readers, critics or otherwise. It is also the most sound way forward in demonstrating how we are to best understand (or “resolve”) these perceived problems. Finally, it also helps give us insight into determining how the Bible can be inerrant while appearing to have what modern readers perceive as “problematic” passages. We should favor any solution that concludes that these are, in fact, not problems at all. We should also favor the solutions that do not require a suspension of disbelief, as is often the case with some of the unconvincing harmonizations proposed for some of the problem passages or alleged contradictions in Scripture.

I especially recommend Defining Inerrancy to people who are tending to side with Geisler and company on this issue. Holding and Peters have done Geisler and company a favor by taking their arguments seriously, reading their material, and offering a response. Unfortunately for Geisler, those responses are devestating to his position. Obviously though, Geisler and company do not return the favor, and have demonstrated an avoidance to the real arguments offered back to them, rather than taking them straight on. I hope Geisler’s rank and file do not behave like Geisler and neglect to seriously contend with the arguments and responses like the ones offered in this book.

I know I personally have benefited and have been enriched in my own study of Scripture because of conservative Evangelical scholars like Licona, Blomberg, Bird, Keener, Witherington, de Silva, Bock, etc. who have introduced us to the highlights and insights gleaned from genre criticism, effective use of extra-Biblical sources, literary and rhetorical conventions, social science data, and so forth. As People of the Book, we should always grasp for more tools to better understand what God has given us, not less. Holding and Peters have served that end well with Defining Inerrancy, and have exposed some fatal flaws in the argumentation, approach, and unnecessary alarmist rhetoric of Geisler and company. While I also admire Geisler and his cohorts in many ways, and have benefited from their works on other issues, they are not only on the losing side of this issue, but on the wrong side as well.

Johnathan Pritchett
Vice President of Adminstration
Trinity Theological Seminary
Newburgh, IN