A Summary of Romans

So a while back I started writing a commentary on Romans that I was going to post. But the project got bogged down and I never really felt entirely good about the result. But I did prepare this summary of the book of Romans that was to help me ‘get the flow’ of Paul’s thoughts (from an LDS perspective, of course.)

Summary of Romans:

Background: Paul writes to the primarily Jewish Christian community in Rome (a gentile city) to head off problems with Judaizers, those that taught that the Law of Moses was still to be practiced in full. Imagine the problems with baptisms if all adult males had to be circumcised (without pain killer) to be able to join the Church.

Romans 1

The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the power of God unto salvation to them that believe (have faith) in Jesus Christ. (Rom 1:16-17). All men are accountable before God because, since the world began, God’s hand in things was perceptible to those that cared to see it (Rom 1:18-20). But most men failed to act on this knowledge and it became a curse to them instead, leading them into great sins. (Rom 1:22-32). Continue reading

Karen Armstrong’s Dim View of Christianity

Case for GodIn a post near the beginning of this series I summarized Armstong’s views of Jesus Christ and Christianity. Go back and read that post if you need to. In this post I’m going to touch about my concerns with her presentation here.

One Sided Unknowning is Actually A Special Case of Knowing

First, I note that for someone whose whole religious practice is built on “unknowing” that there doesn’t seem to be the slightest bit of “unknowing” when it comes to Jesus Christ. She is completely certain that He only taught that he was a non-unique son of God in the same sense that we all are. She is completely certain that He was not ‘bodily resurrected’ but that rather people just saw visions of Him. She is completely certain that He would have been in favor of self-emptying and her apophatic method. No other possibility is considered or discussed at all.

This ‘certainty’ that Armstrong easily asserts when necessary brings up a larger issues: Theological Liberals of the Armstrong variety seem to only believe in their beliefs when it’s convenient. Unknowing is only exalted right up to the point that it encourages their own beliefs. If it ever doesn’t, then ‘certainty’ becomes okay after all. Likewise, ‘not having the final word about God’ is only true if you mean everyone else but Armstrong-like Liberals. They really do have the final word on several subjects, namely all the ones they care about and that their religious beliefs are anchored on. So in this sense, they aren’t really different from their ‘conservative’ counterparts. Armstrong really does act as if she believes she gets the ‘final say’ when it comes to Jesus Christ. Continue reading

Original Poetry: By the Hand of Uriah

In the months I was preparing to visit Israel last year, I listened to a great deal of the Old Testament while riding my bicycle to and from work. Listening instead of reading helped me approach the scriptures in a way that prompted new insights and ideas, and I unexpectedly found that listening inspired me with some ideas for poetry to write.

Though I am not a prolific poet, the poetry I write is usually infused with gospel concepts and imagery. But I had never thought of poetry so directly inspired by scriptural narratives before.

As is usual for me, the time between when the idea for a poem occurs to me and when I actually write it is substantial. It has been well over a year, and I am now approaching the one year anniversary of my trip to Israel for Sukkot, the Feast of the Tabernacles.

This last Sunday, I sat down and wrote a draft of the first poem, and then honed it during the next day and a half. Hope you enjoy it.

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The Case for Christ: The Believing Scholar Point of View (Part 2: Other Evidences)

This is a continuation of my attempt to summarize the believing scholars interviewed in Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ. In my last post I summarized the internal Biblical evidences considered. In this post I’m going to look at the outside evidences.

A few points to consider. First, I have my own concerns with this book’s approach. I’m trying to not be critical of it yet, but to save that for later posts when I have presented enough alternative points of view to be able to look at the real strengths and weakness of the believing Christian arguments.

However, my criticism are more of the nature that these ‘proofs’ aren’t really proofs at all. I do, however, think they represent a fairly good ‘narrative fallacies’ that takes many data points and makes a good plausible story out of it and I suspect that is the most that could have been realistically asked of them. In short, I like these arguments even if I am fully aware they aren’t rationally coercive. So I think believing Mormons will be interested in much of what is presented in the book. Second, I admit that Lee Strobel is not a scholar. This seems to really bother some of the commenters on my last post. However, I would like for us to keep in mind that Lee Strobel is collecting interviews from some fairly good scholars. Does anyone really doubt that, for example, Craig Blomberg isn’t a good scholar? Third,  I feel less certain about this part of the argument than I did on the internal evidences, so don’t expect me to defend any of it in the comments just because I summarized it in the post.

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Book Review – 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus

1491

I recently finished Charles Mann’s book 1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus and wanted to do a quick book review.

As the title indicates, this is a book about what the civilizations of the American continent were like before Columbus arrived. The book is based on the most current research on the subject, though I must warn you that even our best most recent research seems quite tentative to me, as the author often admits. But here are some interesting new directions that seem worthy of note.

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