Book Review on Josephus: The Essential Writings

Josephus: The Essential Writings. Translated by Paul L. Maier

It’s hard to encapsulate fully the significance of this text for serious New Testament Students or for the casual historian who wishes to gain a better understanding of the first century. Paul L. Maier beautifully takes all the major passages, precisely those passages that would concern any conservative evangelical, from Josephus’ Jewish Antiquities and The Jewish War, to create an emotionally exciting book to read.

Jewish Antiquities is essentially a retelling of the Old Testament narrative that we all have in our Bibles. But, what is special about reading Josephus is that one is reading from the perspective of someone who lived during the first century. So, for the modern reader wouldn’t you like to know how a Jew living in the first century would retell their history and whether or not it would look similar to the Old Testament in your Bible? Well, surprisingly the answer to the latter question is a definitive yes with a few significant and exciting changes. For example, Josephus chooses not to include why Moses was not allowed to enter the promise land. For the Jews, it was embarrassing for them to think that their principal leader in delivering the Ten Commandments and the one who lead the Exodus out of Egypt did not get to enter the promise land because of his disobedience. Consequently, Josephus leaves that account out. Well, why? One can speculate, but it does give the reader the mindset of how many contemporary Jews during the first century choose to think about Moses.

Where I seem to place the most significance in Josephus’ Antiquities is his account of the Intertestamental period. The disparity that exists in people’s minds between the Old and New Testament is the size of the grand canyon, and quite frankly embarrassing. Well, Josephus records it as though it happened just a few months ago. As a historian Josephus was well educated, literate and his telling of the destruction of Babylon to the rise of the Roman Empire is an account that no serious historian can avoid not reading. The details on Alexander the Great alone are unique to Josephus. Furthermore, the passage on Jesus, being one of the most controversial passages in Josephus’s writings, does at least indicate the historicity of the person of Jesus. And that Jesus was a unique person of “extraordinary deeds.”

Concerning Josephus’ second book, The Jewish War it is first and foremost an excellent retelling of history. Paul L. Mair selects for his readers all the major wars that lead to the destruction of Jerusalem and eventually Masada. One cannot help but experience every heart-ripping emotion occurring concurrently when one reads how the blood of the Jews filled the streets in Jerusalem. Or the account of a mother eating her child in desperation for food, or reading of people eating leather shoes and grass. But in defense of home and country, wife and child the Jews were incredible fighters. It is exciting to read how the Jews ingeniously out-thought the Romans and it is also fascinating to read the mind of Titus as Josephus retells it. Sometimes it is easy to assume that because Titus was the one leading the Roman legions against Jerusalem that he was responsible for burning most of the city that he was an evil man. However, according to Josephus Titus was moved deeply with compassion towards the Jews in their dire situation. Titus knew that many of the Jews who wished to desert were being held captive and killed by other Jews who would kill anyone who thought of “serving the Romans,” instead of the one true God. Titus showed himself to be a man of his word, and he provided those who did escape, at the right time, a place of safety. Also, Titus was a man of god. He had no intentions of burning the Temple down, but rather it was an accident that he was heart broken.

Overall, I recommend this text for all readers. I would even assign this to my Sunday school class as a way for them to see, smell, and taste, the first century in a way that I think no other textbook could capture the way Josephus has done.

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How to be a Better Fictional Writer: The Bone Collector and What Jeffery Deaver has Taught Me.

First off I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Bone Collector and don’t  worry I will not give anything away. I recommend The Bone Collector for Christian and non-Christian readers. Jeffery Deaver’s book reads more like a Stephen King novel than the traditional sweet, Christianie books one might find at Lifeway or Scared Melody.

And if we can be frank with ourselves, most Christian fictional literature is terrible. Jeffery Deaver provides some helpful ways for Christians on how to be a better writer. I intend to extract those principles from one of his thrillers. Consequently, I aim to provide writing principles that I have learned from reading Jeffery Deaver’s book The Bone Collector. The titles bellow for each point are going to be obvious but stay with me through the explanation part because Deaver offers precious truths that we must all apply.

Respect the Reader: Jeffery Deaver has an unparalleled respect for his readers. I have never read a book where I felt like every page was propelling the story. If you miss one page of Jeffery Deaver’s book The Bone Collector than you will most likely lose a critical detail for a latter part of the book. What does that have to do with the reader? Everything. If I am going to spend my precious time reading some book, the author better not waste my time with irrelevant details that do not matter. Every detail that Jeffery Deaver provides serves as some way to make the scene that much more horrific, tense, and palm sweating. Yes, you the reader are allowed to have high demands. If the author does not meet those needs than I encourage you to do as I, Put the book down.

Be Honest: I am convinced that no other writing technique comes across more persuasive than being honest. As a reader, I have certain expectations that the characters must meet to convince me that they could be real people. Jeffery Deaver has no problem persuading his readers of the dangers that his characters are experiencing in the book at the hands of a merciless killer. The main character has serious flaws even though he is incredibly intelligent. Essentially, what it means, to be honest in your writing is the same as saying don’t be afraid that your characters look human. The main character does not have to be perfect; the characters in the peripheral do not need a long meaningless explanation on why they are in the book. Focus on the main story line, and quit it with the endless tangents and “footnotes,” if I can call them that. Also, being honest in your writing is another way of saying; let your characters speak like human beings. It is incredible when reading some pieces of literature; it looks like that author completely forgot how people talk. So, next time. Be honest.

Make the Reader Care: You can make a reader care about your characters without going into long, irrelevant details. How? By making your characters human. Just read the first chapter of The Bone Collector and tell me you don’t care about the two victims in the back of the taxicab. Deaver beautifully employs all five senses while describing a scene, thus making any reader who has a soul just about cry.

Final Thoughts: If there is one thing that I will never forget about The Bone Collector it’s the power of a twist at the end of a story. If the author does it right, a huge twist at the end of the book will almost guarantee a great book to me. I love surprises and after reading this book, I was surprised and happy as a reader because I flew through this story from beginning to end.

How to Study Effectively

 

Here below is a list of what I have found to be the most effective ways that I have learned while studying at Southwestern. I am taking for granted that I am writing specifically to Southwestern Students. In light of everything that I write to remember that all is for the glory of God and the advancement of his kingdom. There are other assumptions I am taking for granted here, but if you know me, you know my intentions are focused on Christ.

I wish to apply the most practical, definitive answers to your difficult questions. And simply throwing the blanket cliché saying, “All that I do is for the glory of God, and I am fully at the disposal of God’s will,” does not get you anywhere. Yes, the Christian man or woman is at the complete surrender of God’s will in his or her life. However, I am convinced that if that is your leading motto, you will die a thousand deaths long before your physical death because you never found out what God called you to.

My precious brothers and sister in Christ, God, has called you to serve him with excellence. It breaks my heart to tears knowing that the world is laughing at Christians because we act as though we don’t have the greatest message in the world to tell them. Do you know that you’re an ambassador of a King? Seriously. You are a citizen of a Kingdom that is far greater than the one you see around you. You work for one who is greater than President Obama. So, it is about time we started acting like it, and apart of that is deciding what you want to do.

1.) Decide what you want to do. Nothing will make your studying more enjoyable, more meaningful until you know exactly what you want to do in this life. You literally have the power to become anything you want in this life and your early twenties are vital in determining the existence of that future. If you want to join NASA and be apart of the International Space Station that orbits the earth at 17,150 miles per hour you can but you need to know what you want to do.

You need to sit down for at-least an hour everyday until you figure out the answer to the question: What do I want to do? The time you spend thinking about the answer to this question, you will make up in a lifetime of doing what makes you happy. Which is my second point, what you want to do will make you happy. Do what makes you genuinely happy. If that means your making 10,000 dollars a year, or 100,000 dollars a year, you need to pursue the interest that makes you happy.

If you know what you want to do it will make you happy. Pursue what makes you happy and every assignment you have, every 50 pages you have to read will make studying a breeze. What makes your blood boil, and fills you with adrenaline every time the subject is brought up? Pursue that subject, that idea, and you will go to your deathbed knowing with full contentment that you did what made you happy. If your at Southwestern as a college student you need to know that they want to prepare effective ministers to serve in the Church and home all across the world. If that is not generally what you want to do, than you need to find a different college. If Southwestern is a launch pad for further studies in a different field than I ask you the same question, why are you here?

To make studying easier and more exciting, you need to know why what your learning applies to your end goal. If you have no end goal, you will never understand why what your doing today will make a difference for you in the future.

2.) Say NO. Did you know that Christianity is fundamentally a life of saying “no?” We say, “no” to the ways of the world, and we die to our self to make Christ live magnificently through us. As Christians, we say “no” to our life, our pleasures and our desires but not to what we want to do-unless Christ has explicitly told you to give it up.

Why does saying “no” all of a sudden change when it comes to our studies? If you want to do what you want to do than you need to stop doing what everyone else wants you to do. Emphasis on everyone, stop doing what everyone wants you to do. The people at my Church have my complete devotion. I serve the people at my Church first, and secondly the community around our Church. My other friends, acquaintances, or co-workers will never have my complete devotion and focus. That is because for me to serve my people that God has given me to my maximal ability, I cannot, nor can you serve everyone you know. You treat the others like a person, you love them, and you help them, but draw the line somewhere. You cannot spread yourself thin, or you will get murdered. Right now, I have 538 friends on Facebook, you may have quadruple that number, and the sad fact is you cannot equally serve them all.

Even among the 12 disciples, Jesus had Peter, James, and John. Your desire to serve them all is a good and a godly desire, but that is why God has called us to make disciples. Than those disciples can invest into all those you know and love across the world.

So, stop going out every night to eat with your friends. The people that God has called you to serve demand your prayers and your complete service. Say no, to the desire to stop studying after two hours. Keep reading, keep learning, and keep going. Say no, to those who may think you are socially awkward because you choose not to spend the kind of time they expect you to spend with them.

To study effectively, you must die to your desires and your appetites. Dying to you is best lived out in a life of saying no. Learn this well, the people in Washington may not always grant us the wonderful privilege of religious freedom. When preaching the Gospel could put you in jail you need to know the power of this monosyllabic; two-letter word “no.”

3.) You need to work really really hard. The most profound truths in life are the ones usually right in front of us. You have heard this, and you are probably tired of hearing it. But you need to work hard.

When you get that feeling of, “I have earned this break,” or “I have read 20 pages, I’ll stop” or “I think I deserve a two-hour break.” You need to stop right there and continue to push through that desire. Get up, take a 15 minute timed break, and then get back to work. Learn to work hard in those moments you feel tired. Stop saying, “I feel to tired to read,” you will always be tired. The more you work in those times of complete exhaustion, the easier it will be to study in those times of tiredness and the easier it will be to retain the information you need to know.

There will be times when you feel good and you might read for two, or three hours straight but do not think that is the norm, or what the “higher ups” feel all the time. I got to work with a doctoral student for three weeks straight during Christmas. I didn’t even go home so that I could assist this student. We spent 10 hours on average, six days a week on his thesis. A few days we worked a total of 16 hours! That was long and tough work even for me, and I didn’t even write the thesis. I was doing grammar and translating work for a 190-page paper. We ate, drank, did lunch together and we went right back to work. I never felt my body pushed to that degree of commitment and devotion for a paper that I didn’t write. I did not want to do it, and there were multiple times when I wanted to give up, but I choose to ignore those appetites and continue through.

Also, stop letting your feelings govern the decisions you make in life. Just because you feel like it is a good idea, or that some event would be fun to go to stop and think. Control your feelings and make rational decisions based upon the work that you need to get done. God has given you a responsibility as a student. That is why you came to school; your friends are not paying for your school you are. Get what you are paying for by working every minute God has given you so that you can effectively serve those that God will give under you as a teacher, counselor, or preacher.

Other smaller helps and aids

1.) Earplugs I am of the belief that the best environment to study in is one that is completely silent. I use earplugs on a day-to-day basis. I need complete silence and so do you. I do not recommend listening to music for one important reason. Music distracts your mind from focusing on what you are learning. Lets be honest no one likes absolute silence. Not even me but control your mind to understand the subject. Take advantage of all that “scary, empty, silence,” and fill it with the subject your reading about.

Please do yourself a favor and try to get away from the music and use the earplugs. Control your mind and use 100% of it to focus on the subject your reading on. Do not be afraid to feel alone in the quiet, direct your complete attention towards the subject at hand and you will know it better than your classmates.

2.) RHOTO HYDRA EYE DROPS When your eyes get, tired, and a splash of water to the face doesn’t get the job done use eye drops. There is nothing bad about eye, drops and it helps moisten your dry and irritated eyes. I cannot tell you how many late nights when these little eye drops got me through that one reading assignment or that long night looking at a bright computer screen feeling like Superman in the study.

3.) Don’t sit in a wooden chair Studying takes a great exertion of energy and endurance. Nothing is more discouraging to me than studying in a wooden chair. You need to sit somewhere comfortable, a place, and chair where you can sit for two or three hours comfortably. Emphasis on endurance. You might not think about this, but the chair that you sit in is also important in your effectiveness to study for long hours. Find a comfy chair.

4.) Drink FLUIDS while studying You need to stay hydrated to study for longer periods of time. Do not go drinking so much that your getting up to go to the bathroom every 20 minutes, but get a Gatorade, a Powerade, and a water bottle every time you go to study. Believe it or not but you loose important electrolytes that you need to be replacing when you are studying. So think of studying like a basketball court. To perform well, you need to replenish your body with important surges, vitamins, and potassium.

5.) Blackstrap MOLASSES Black Strap Molasses (BSM) is an incredible super food and 100% completely natural to increase iron levels. BSM is extremely high in iron and iron creates red-oxygenated blood cells, which help you think clearly and be alert. When it comes to that midterm and final exam season, I will take one tablespoon of BSM every other day to stay alert and focused.

6.) EAT FRUIT AND VEGETABLES Especially during crunch time. Go to the store by ten apples, some bananas and a bag of clementine. You might as well pick up some orange juice as well for the morning. Mix it up with a bag of grapes. Nothing tastes better and makes you feel better during late nights of studying than eating fresh fruit. GOSH, IT IS SOO GOOD. I wish I had some right now.

CONCLUSION Here is another lame cliché you might not like, but it is very true. If you want to do what no one else is doing than you truly need to do what no else is doing. Look around you, look at your friends what is the single thing that distinguishes you from them? You might be surprised when it comes to studying not much separates you from them. In a world when we are crying out to be used uniquely by God we need to stop doing what all our friends are doing. Stop living their life, and live your own, be an adult for goodness sakes. Guess what I do every time I get back from Church on Sunday. I go directly to the study room to read. Why? Because no else is studying during those hours and that makes me more competitive in winning souls to Christ apart from the fact that it is solely by his work. Those extra few hours during Sunday and those other times I set aside make me a different kind of teacher and preacher. If you study when everyone else studies, and you read the same amount as everyone else, guess what, you are going to look and speak exactly like them. Charles Spurgeon was different because he did what no else would do, he read like no else would read, and he wrote more than anyone would write.

Remember God calls you to serve him with excellence. Dear Christian, be excellent in all that you do because you serve a real King, the whole crown, robe, horse and all who is excellent, beautiful, and worth every second of your complete devotion and sacrifice.

I love all of you at Southwestern I wish you the best and God bless.

The Greatest Piece of Literature

There are so many great pieces of literature that we read as a part of the degree program here at Southwestern. The program is designed so that the student will have a strong working conceptual grasp of the great books and how major ideas have changed throughout history. The great books include all the books that have contributed to the Western Thought, everything from Homer’s Odyssey to Freud’s Civilization and it’s Discontent. In my degree program, I have thoroughly enjoyed reading Plato’s Republic, and Aristotle’s Metaphysics. During the Medieval period, I found Augustine’s City of God, and his book entitled, Confessions to be an absolute wonderful devotion for the soul. Aquinas’ refreshing Aristotelian blend of theology and reason in his Summa Theologica offered me a serious and thought-provoking avenue into the world of religious philosophy.

From there we read Shakespeare’s Hamlet, and Romeo and Juliet, as well as Pascal’s Pensées. Descartes was the dawn of the rationalist, and there I entered a journey into unexplored areas that questioned the absolute authority of a God who is objectively good. Writings of Locke, Berkeley, and Hume followed afterward in my metaphysics, and epistemology courses. Including bits of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. Not long after we read Darwin, Marx, and Nietzsche’s Beyond Good and Evil. I finished Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment (an excellent anthropology study). And finally, I just finished this year off with William James Pragmatism and Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse Five to name just a few.

These are a few of my favorite texts that I have read while studying at Southwestern, but still there has never been a text more meaningful, and more powerful than the Bible. The Bible continues to speak to me in ways that these great books could never speak to me. When I read of Adam and Eve being kicked out of Eden, my heart breaks. I rejoice over the success of the judges and the great battles that the Kings of Israel won, but still my heart was broken. While reading the Old Testament I longed for the day, a day when a King would come and never fail me. So knowing, however, where sin lies, death, and destruction always follows I waited like all the prophets and the Kings for the KING. I read in the Jeremiah of when God rose up a prophet to speak to a generation of Israelites who profaned the name of God by worshipping idols. In the Minor Prophets, Malachi teaches us that the people of Israel were offering to God empty sacrifices. And still my heart was torn apiece, and my soul wasted. Where was the King to come, the one I looked for my liberation?!

After Malachi, we know there is nothing but silence. 400 years go by then all of a sudden we hear the sounds of a baby crying in a manager to two totally unsuspecting parents. We read of Persian Star Gazers from the East, who come to Herod to elicit information concerning a KING who is to be born so that they could worship him. Jesus is his name, and fast-forward a few years later, John the Baptist is proclaiming in the wilderness, “Behold the Son of God.” Thus indicating that he is the chosen one, long and expected, the one prophesized of Old, who would one day travel into Jerusalem on the back of a donkey to die on behalf of all men. The story goes on, and Jesus dies on a cross, was buried for three days, and on the third day he rose again from the GRAVE!

This is the greatest story in the world. I want the world to know that if Josiah were known for anything it was his relentless desire to proclaim this great and awesome love story! Would it be said of Josiah, on his epitaph that he never ceased to proclaim Jesus on his lips? My friends, there is no greater story to die for then the message of the cross.

And yet, sadly I see so many graduating seniors who forget their first love! As the Church in Revelation, oh great church of Ephesus how great you are except you forgot your first love! It is forever the shame of the Ephesians that they have forgotten their first love.

Graduating seniors do not forget your first love. Yes, you can die to many great pieces of literature and spend a lifetime unpacking the rich nuances in every little sentence but never stop reading your Bible. Never stop praying to God on your knees, and never stop sharing the Gospel.

On The Holy Spirit

In St. Basil’s work, “On the Holy Spirit,” he puts forth a couple of arguments defending the unity the Spirit shares with the Father and the Son. Before an evaluation of his arguments is presented, one point that Basil challenges the church with in his writing is that the scriptures are sufficient. One immediately sees when reading Basil that he held to a high view of scripture.

The beginning of the book begins with the initial inquiry from brother Amphilochius. It seems that brother Amphilochius is writing out of a genuine interest to hear how St. Basil would respond to the recent arguments against the Holy Spirit as one who is equal with God. In St. Basil’s response one sees compassion towards his brother, understanding that unlike so many in his time people in the Church, even like today’s Church there were those that sought ways to devise traps by using cunning words to ensnare other brothers in the faith.

The first part of his letter is a rebuttal against the heretics, those who believed there was a distinction between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. A distinction to such a degree that the Holy Spirit was not equal with the Father or the Son, and therefore not God. They argued that based on the words, “from whom,” “through whom,” and “in whom” was conclusive evidence that the Holy Spirit was different in nature to the Father and Son (30-31). St. Basil shows that this does not denote to anything in relation to the inequality among the three persons in the Godhead. Moreover, St. Basil goes on to add passages of scripture that show that Jesus is God, and that the Holy Spirit is God, as one would understand that the Father is God also (36-37). In this book, St. Basil goes to show for the next twenty pages that the significance of understanding this relationship cannot be overstated as it is explicitly revealed in the Word of God.

The next section, St. Basil moves on to focus on the work and ministry of the Holy Spirit. But more specifically, how does one understand the Holy Spirits relationship with God the Father, and God the Son. He begins by presenting the argument of those who disagree with him, concerning that the Holy Spirit should not be ranked with the Father and the Son. However, St. Basil simply shows from Matthew 28:19 that even Jesus himself in giving the great commission to his disciples ranks the Holy Spirit among the Father and the Son (55). He also shows that for those who reject the Holy Spirit has not part in the Kingdom of God either (58).

Following this argument, St. Basil picks up on the theme of Baptism. Initially it is unclear why St. Basil goes in this direction, he even has a disclaimer for his readers by asking the question, what then is the connection between Baptism and the Holy Spirit (64)? St. Basil shows that from the Old Testament that similar to the way Israel was baptized by the Red Sea, there are also many other different types, or prefigures of a future truth that would be revealed in the person of Jesus Christ. St. Basil writes, “he first trained us to see the shadows of bodies and to look at the sun in water, so that we not be blinded by wrecking ourselves on the vision of pure light” (65).[1]

St. Basil shows that Baptism is a way to symbolize the death one partakes with Christ, as they are lowered in the water, and is given new life in Christ by the Holy Spirit as they are lifted out of the water (67). St. Basil writes, “The water fulfills the image of death, while the Spirit furnishes the pledge of life” (67). This is how St. Basil interprets the passage in Matthew 3:11, the one who would come after John would be one who would baptize in the Spirit and Fire, the fire being judgment (69).

St. Basil uses Acts 5:3 as one strong point that the Scripture makes to argue that the Holy Spirit is God, but in St. Basil’s opinion he is convinced that the strongest argument is found in 1 Corinthians 2:11 (75). Here the Scripture reads plainly that similar to the way the spirit of man knows the man himself, the Holy Spirit, who knows the depths of God likewise understands God better than anyone. It begs the question, of who can know the infinite and unsearchable riches of God himself but God alone, the Holy Spirit. Next, St. Basil dismisses the argument concerning how the Holy Spirit is to be numerically related to the God the Father and Son by understanding a simple mathematical relationship. If A = C and A = B, then C = B. The Spirit is ranked with the Son, who is equal with the Father, consequently then the Spirit is also equal with the Father (78).

Continuing in his argument against the heretics, St. Basil shows that the Holy Spirit also deserves to be equally glorified with the Father and the Son. St. Basil writes, “For no gift at all comes to creation without the Holy Spirit,” since one cannot say that Jesus is Lord, unless if it is revealed by the Holy Spirit (94). As a result, no one can understand the paradox of the cross unless as Jesus said to Peter the Holy Spirit reveals it to him or her. Finally St. Basil writes, “for ‘the Law of the Spirit of life,’ says Scripture, ‘made us free’” (95).

In conclusion, St. Basil paints an unfortunate reality of the Churches in his time. They are like, inexperienced “helmsmen,” fighting amongst themselves in a dark, and nebulous mist that keeps one from distinguishing the enemy from foe (119). The certainty of the Church is unknown and the book concludes that if truth is not defended than there is little hope.

[1]Similar to Plato’s cave analogy in book VII in his work entitled, The Republic.

A Fair Criticism from a Pastor of the Assembly of God to a Baptist: Flying Home

Well that was a fine flight to Minneapolis. While I was on the plane, making my way to my seat, I saw the gentleman I was to be sitting with there pushed up against the window, a small gentleman. I immediately began the obligatory short-stuff kind of greeting, and pressed in further to get to know him. I had no agenda, I just wanted to meet this man, he said he was getting back from Africa, and the only reason why anyone goes to Africa in my circles is because they are missionaries. He just said he was visiting the country, but I didn’t believe it, I asked him what he was doing and he finally said he was doing mission work. I was right. Well that was about the only shy moment he had, I told him I was a student in the undergrad at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and suddenly we became friends. Actually, he was apart of the Assembly of God, Pentecostal group, but unlike any AOG person I have met, he put an unsuspecting emphasis on the authority of the Word of God.

Due to the lack thereof, I am generally cautious around pentecostal groups. Many pentecostal groups, I would argue, overemphasize the experience of faith, to a degree that questions the authority of scripture. It is as though through conversation while they speak of some experience they had with the divine that their experience were some extra-biblical source. Other conversations I have had, made it seem like one had to ascend to some spiritual-mystical height to be about the works of God. One had to, “feel” God as it were, if they were to be an effective minister. This is frightening. Especially if such a specific experience one has is not biblical at all. Recent accounts are those stories of some child who died and went to heaven. Who can judge whether ones personal experience is biblical if they said they experienced it as biblically true? They say, “no, I know this true,” despite whether the Bible agrees with them or not. To what plumb-line do we measure this up to? If the Word of God is not the supreme authority in speaking the truth in the lives of the believer in contrast to ones experience, one opens the gates to a complete relativistic interpretation. Hundreds, perhaps thousands of cults have arisen from such an anthropocentric hermeneutic. Examples include Mormonism and Jehovah Witness, both of which deny the eternal existence of Jesus the Son.

Many AOG groups also emphasize, the miraculous, the gifts, and speaking in tongs. He was not like that. Would that be considered an unorthodox AOG pastor? He was a pastor too. Either way, he is somewhat of a famous man, I suppose, his name is Steve Foss – google him. He was really encouraging to me, and I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation. I sometimes can speak in theological jargon and be completely unaware of it, but it is usually because it is only easier for me to convey my thoughts. It should never be like that, unfortunately, I never had time to apologize. It just happens unconsciously sometimes. Either way, he seemed very forgiving.

He softly criticized, and a fair criticism I might add, that seminary’s tend to remove the heart out of ministry. Seminaries do have reputation of building up the mind, while forgetting the heart, but it is certainly not true of every student that goes to a Seminary. I accepted his criticism for it is generally true, but I could also add the harshest criticism of the recent Church is its ignorance in the pew, and even the pulpit. I didn’t need to say that, but I did appreciate his desire, and burning compassion for the Lord. He was very contagious for sure. We talked the whole flight. Both of us, I would like to say it was mutually encouraging engagement, but I think more of him rubbed off on me than I on him. One may never know the type of people you meet on the plane. It may be a person who has never heard the Gospel and it may just be another Christian, and one who can encourage you in the Work that God is doing.

Further side note: There should be another blog coming out when I spoke to three Mormons and a buddhist on a plane. That was fun! The full three hours.

What would Screwtape say to this Generation?

My Dear Wormwood,

That is wonderful news to hear. That is the best news I have heard in over half a century. Soon Christians will think that the only relevant mission fields to engage in are the ones in the African Bush than the one in the schools. Granted I am not content with letting one soul go, but if one soul should escape our grips then I would choose the latter and not the former.

You see Wormwood, although the academic world represents a small minority of people they will lead the next generation. Their ability to spin intricate webs with their jargon, and ethos will persuade the people by the millions. We will continue to see a generation of poor Christian thinking flies that will suffer in our threads.

You know though almost all the school systems are corrupt now. The standard of high quality work has significantly decreased in the class room, teachers have become psychiatrist focusing on building up students self-esteem even if they are wrong! Remember that one professor who still passed his student. Thousands of graduates are walking across the stage feeling as though they are prepared to live in a world that they won’t even survive going out the back door.

Keep telling those Christians in that Seminary that discipline and study are too difficult. At every constant moment remind them how fickle their minds are at the shoreline of the ocean of information that we have thrown at them, thanks to the Internet. The Internet has not only proved to be a good distraction but it has made learning almost impossible.

I could not believe you told me people actually said, “Theology was irrelevant.” Soon people will say that Augustine is irrelevant, and once they have removed the memory of him, we shall ensnare another million in the false doctrine of modalism. Since we know that a wrong view of God leads to a wrong relationship with men. Consequently, creating great inner turmoil and argument in the Christian tent. However, this time we’ll also challenge them with the German Higher Criticism and make another million deny the inerrancy of Scripture again.

As always, be encouraged and do as Our Father Below would do. Fight well against the enemy, but remember to watch for the one he raises up to undo everything we worked so hard to accomplish.

Your Affectionate Uncle,

Screwtape

P.S. (Personal Note from the Author: No I did not enjoy writing this. Actually you might want to try, but it is painfully sad, because most of these evil thoughts come from my own imagination. This is mostly a reflection of my own inner turmoil, to which I need to be careful not to burden others with my own convictions, but I seriously don’t think they are far from the truth. I chose to write in this style to make a point I otherwise, might not have been able to make)

Character names, and style from: C.S. Lewis. The Screwtape Letters. (New York: HarperOne, 1942).