themelios

volume 43 issue 3

December 2018 / 203 pages

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Columns

Articles

How Did Job Speak Rightly about God?

Eric Ortlund

Yahweh’s stated preference for Job’s speech toward him in opposition to the friends in Job 42:7 is difficult to understand in light of the many criticisms Job levels against God in the course of the debate and the many seemingly pious and biblically supportable claims which the friends made. A variety of proposed interpretations of this verse are considered and rejected. It is argued instead that even when Job curses creation in ch. 3, he shows how much he values the friendship with God which he thinks he has now (inexplicably) lost; even when he rails against what seems to be a guilty verdict in chs. 9–10, Job shows how profoundly he understands that human claims of righteousness must be substantiated by God to have any worth. In these ways and others, Job spoke rightly about God even when he criticized.

Miserable but Not Monochrome: The Distinctive Characteristics and Perspectives of Job’s Three Comforters

Susanna Baldwin

Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite are often perceived as delivering an essentially uniform message that (erroneously) upholds the rigid, retributive justice of God as the answer to Job’s devastating plight. This paper presents a more nuanced and individualised examination of Job’s three comforters. Through a textual and thematic exploration of each friend’s corpus of speeches, the case is put that Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar embody three subtly differentiated worldviews and epistemic frameworks. Consequently, each is shown to develop his own unique line of argument with regard to the origins and mechanisms of human suffering and the means by which Job may attain deliverance and restoration.

John’s Appropriation of Isaiah’s Signs Theology: Implications for the Structure of John’s Gospel

Andreas J. Köstenberger

The present article explores John’s distinct use of “signs” as part of his “theological transposition” of the Synoptic Gospels by which John transforms the Synoptic concept of “miracle” into that of “signs” pointing to Jesus’s messianic identity. The article proposes that Isaiah was the source for John’s signs theology by demonstrating significant links between Isaiah’s and John’s use of signs. In addition, the article proposes that John was led by Isaiah to structure his Gospel according to Jesus’s signs: the first half containing “The Book of Signs,” and the second half conveying the reality to which the signs point.

Why Paul Wrote Romans: Putting the Pieces Together

Will N. Timmins

Close attention to the content and context of Romans suggests that Paul had three purposes in view in writing the letter—namely, a missionary purpose, a pastoral purpose, and an apologetic purpose. This article explores these three purposes, explains their interrelationships, and considers some neglected evidence.

Self-Deception in Theology

Joseph Pak

Self-deception is a fundamental experience and the starting point of philosophy since Socrates. This article discusses a few aspects of self-deception as a theological concept. Self-deception is closely related to sin, often creates false assurance of salvation, and is caused by disordered love. Diligent effort to gain self-awareness is vitally important to prevent self-deception. We can counteract self-deception by acknowledging its pervasive and universal presence, opening ourselves to self-examination and questioning, and avowing disavowed engagements. God often uses trials to bring us out of self-deception.

Answering Eastern Orthodox Apologists regarding Icons

John B. Carpenter

The Eastern Orthodox Church claims that their practices have been preserved unaltered from the early church, thus making them the pristine church in perfect continuity with the apostolic church. Eastern Orthodox Apologists use this claim to offer potential converts certainty amid competing truth claims. In particular, they claim that the early church venerated images (icons) in the liturgy just as the Eastern Orthodox (and often Roman Catholics) do now. However, a careful examination of the evidence, both archaeological and written, reveals that despite the claim to continuity with the early church, the Eastern Orthodox practices of iconography directly contradict the consistent teachings of the early church. The early church, with only varying degrees of vehemence, strictly prohibited icons. This article engages typical Eastern Orthodox Apologists’ strategies for dealing with the evidence of the early church while maintaining their claims to continuity and argues that there is no evidence for the use of icons in the early church.

The New Atheist Sledgehammer: Like Epistemological Air Boxing

Ernie Laskaris

In one of the chief works produced by the New Atheists, Richard Dawkins’s The God Delusion set out to reduce the existence of God to an “almost certain” impossibility. While his words are firm and belittling, however, Dawkins fails to cause any legitimate damage to the theistic worldview. This article identifies three reasons why the New Atheist sledgehammer has widely missed its target. First, Dawkins demonstrates a deficient understanding of the God he seeks to extinguish. Second, he is unable to account for certain concepts that he appeals to in his arguments (logical absolutes, the uniformity of nature, and moral absolutes). Third, he repeatedly violates the commitments of his naturalistic materialism, resorting to metaphysical speculation on multiple occasions.

Book Reviews

Old Testament

New Testament

History and Historical Theology

Systematic Theology and Bioethics

Ethics and Pastoralia

Mission and Culture

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