Sunday, November 30, 2014

J.C. Philpot's supernatural experience


Excerpt taken from the Preface of  his The True, Proper, and Eternal Sonship of the Lord Jesus Christ The Only Begotten Son of God

2. And now for a few words why I send forth this little work. It is because I wish to leave on record my living and dying testimony to the true and real Sonship of Jesus, and that in a more convenient and permanent form than could be the case were it confined to the pages in which it first appeared. It is a truth which has for many years been very precious to my soul, and one which I trust I can say the Lord Himself on one occasion sealed very powerfully on my heart. From the very first moment that I received the love of the truth into my heart, and cast anchor within the veil, I believed that Jesus was the true and real Son of God; but rather more than sixteen years ago God’s own testimony to His Sonship was made a special blessing to me. It pleased the Lord in November, 1844, to lay me for three weeks on a bed of sickness. During the latter portion of this time I was much favoured in my soul. My heart was made soft, and my conscience tender. I read the Word with great sweetness, had much of a spirit of prayer, and was enabled to confess my sins with a measure of real penitence and contrition of spirit. One morning, about 10 o'clock, after reading, if I remember right, some of Dr. Owen’s "Meditations on the Glory of Christ," which had been much blessed to me during that illness, I had a gracious manifestation of the Lord Jesus to my soul. I saw nothing by the bodily eye, but it was as if I could see the blessed Lord by the eye of faith just over the foot of my bed; and I saw in the vision of faith three things in Him which filled me with admiration and adoration: 1, His eternal Godhead; 2, His pure and holy Manhood; and 3, His glorious Person as God-Man. What I felt at the sight I leave those to judge who have ever had a view, by faith, of the Lord of life and glory, and they will know best what holy desires and tender love flowed forth, and how I begged of Him to come and take full possession of my heart. It did not last very long, but it left a blessed influence upon my soul; and if ever I felt that sweet spirituality of mind which is life and peace, it was as the fruit of that view by faith of the glorious Person of Christ, and as the effect of that manifestation. And now came that which makes me so firm a believer in the true and real Sonship of Jesus; for either on the same morning, or on the next—for I cannot now distinctly recollect which it was, but it was when my soul was under the same heavenly influence—I was reading the account of the transfiguration of Jesus (Matt. xvii.), and when I came to the words, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye Him," they were sealed with such power on my heart, and I had such a view of His being the true and real Son of God as I shall never forget. The last clause, "Hear ye Him," was especially sealed upon my soul, and faith and obedience sprang up in sweet response to the command. I did indeed want to "hear Him " as the Son of God, and that as such He might ever speak to my soul. Need anyone, therefore, who knows and loves the truth, and who has felt the power of God’s Word upon his heart, wonder why I hold so firmly the true and real Sonship of the blessed Lord? and if God indeed bade me on that memorable morning "hear Him," what better authority can I want than God’s own testimony, "This is My beloved Son"? For, "If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God, which He hath testified of His Son." "He that thus believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself " (1 John v. 9, 10). But if he has not this inward witness, and for the want of it listens to carnal reason, need we wonder if he make God a liar? Truly did the blessed Lord say in the days of His, flesh, "All things are delivered unto Me of My Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son., and He to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him" (Matt. xi. 27). It has long been a settled point in my soul, "That a man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven" (John iii. 27), and therefore, if the Son of God has never been revealed with power to their heart, how can they receive Him as such? Happy are they who can say by a sweet revelation of Him to their soul, "And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know Him that is true, and we are in Him that is true, even in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life" (1 John v. 20). May I ever hear Him and Him only, and may He speak not only to me, but through me, to the hearts of His dear family; and as He has enabled me thus far to defend His dearest title and worthiest Name, may He now smile upon the attempt to give it a more enduring form; and to Him with the Father and the Holy Ghost, Israel’s Triune God, shall be all the glory.
[bold added by me, Annoyed Pinoy]


Monday, November 24, 2014

A.W. Pink on Revival



While it is true that all genuine revivals come from God, yet He is not capricious in the sending of them. We are sure that God never relinquishes His sovereign rights to own and to bless where and as He pleases. But we also believe that here, as everywhere, there is a direct connection between cause and effect. And a revival is the effect of a previous cause. A revival, like a genuine conversion, is wrought of God by means of the Word—the Word applied by the Holy Spirit, of course. Therefore, there is something more needed (on our part) than prayer:

the Word of God must have a place, a prominent place, the prominent place. Without that there will be no Revival, whatever excitement and activities of the emotions there may be. - A.W. Pink, Eternal Punishment, Introduction






Thursday, September 18, 2014

God's Forgiveness

posted 9/18/14

One of the old German devotional philosophers took the position that God loves to forgive big sins more than He does little sins because the bigger the sin, the more glory accrues to Him for His forgiveness. I remember the writer went on to say that not only does God forgive great sins and enjoy doing it, but as soon as He has forgiven them, He forgets them and trusts the person just as if he or she had never sinned. I share his view that God not only forgives great sins as readily as little ones, but once He has forgiven them He starts anew right there and never brings up the old sins again.

We have to be aware of the fact that human forgiveness is not always like God's. When a person makes a mistake and has to be forgiven, the shadow may hang over him or her because it is hard for other people to forget. But when God forgives, He begins the new page right there, and then the devil runs up and says, "What about this person's past?" God replies: "What past? There is no past. We started out fresh when he came to Me and I forgave him!"

This kind of forgiveness and acceptance with God depends on a person's willingness to keep the top side of his or her soul open to God and the light from heaven. You may wonder about my expression, "the top side of the soul," but I do think it is in line with Bible teaching and certainly in line with all Christian experience. The top side of the soul is open to God in some people's lives and not in others.- A.W. Tozer, Faith Beyond Reason, p. 112


Monday, September 1, 2014

Regarding Jewish Professor Dr. Sommer's Comments About the Trinity



Christian (and Jewish Messianic Believer in Jesus) Dr. Michael L. Brown, wrote
Interestingly, Dr. Benjamin Sommer, a professor in Bible and ancient Near Eastern languages at the Jewish Theological Seminary (that’s right, the Jewish Theological Seminary), came to similar conclusions in his recent book, The Bodies of God. He wrote: “Some Jews regard Christianity’s claim to be a monotheistic religion with grave suspicion, both because of the doctrine of the trinity (how can three equal one?) and because of Christianity’s core belief that God took bodily form. . . . No Jew sensitive to Judaism’s own classical sources, however, can fault the theological model Christianity employs when it avows belief in a God who has an earthly body as well as a Holy Spirit and a heavenly manifestation, for that model, we have seen, is a perfectly Jewish one. A religion whose scripture contains the fluidity traditions [referring to God appearing in bodily form in the Tanakh], whose teachings emphasize the multiplicity of the shekhinah, and whose thinkers speak of the sephirot does not differ in its theological essentials from a religion that adores the triune God.”
So, it appears that there are Jewish scholars who do not believe in Yeshua who can see what my dear friend Rabbi Blumenthal cannot. Let’s continue to pray for Rabbi Blumenthal!

In a book review of Dr. Sommer's book The Bodies of God and the World of Ancient Israel 
someone named J. Todd Hibbard, (University of Tennessee at Chattanooga) acknowledges that Dr. Sommer believes the Christian conception of the Trinity is not incompatible with various traditions within Judaism. It doesn't matter if Hibbard is a Christian or not. I quote him only to further corroborate Dr. Brown's interpretation of Dr. Sommer.

The final chapter finds Sommer donning his theologian hat in order to answer the question, “What do the Hebrew Bible's fluidity traditions teach a modern religious Jew?” (p. 126). After noting that the antifluidity traditions in P and D dominate the final form of the Hebrew Bible, he notes that fluidity traditions found elsewhere (notably in JE) are still present. He briefly explores the development of these traditions in the postbiblical rabbinic literature, the kabbalah and early Christianity. With respect to the latter, Sommer insists that core Christian assertions—the trinity and incarnation—are not theologically impermissible within the world of Judaism, but rather are faithful to the fluidity model of divinity found in ancient Israel. For modern Jews, Sommer demonstrates how biblical notions of fluidity and antifluidity pose challenges for both liberal and conservative Jews, though not in the same way. He concludes by insisting that, contrary to customary positions, it is the fluidity model that offers the strongest statement of monotheism consistent with the personhood of God.


In another book review, Esther J Hamori says the following:


In chapter 6, Sommer traces the fluidity model into later Judaism and Christianity. He points to the continuation of these concepts—the fluidity of the divine self and multiplicity of embodiment, the rejection of these notions, and various implications for sacred space—in rabbinic literature and kabbalah, addressing what this all might mean for those reading the Hebrew Bible as scripture today. He then frames the concept of incarnation in the New Testament in terms of the fluidity model and discusses the impact this has had on later Christianity. It is fascinating to see some of this unfold, for instance, as he traces the ways in which Protestantism and Catholicism prioritize different  voices among the fluidity and antifluidity traditions. One of his laudable goals here is to demonstrate ways in which much of Christian theology is not so foreign to Judaism. He concludes, “No Jew sensitive to Judaism’s own classical sources, however, can fault the theological model Christianity employs when it avows belief in a God who has an earthly body as well as a Holy Spirit and a heavenly manifestation, for that model, we have seen, is a perfectly Jewish one. A religion whose scriptures contains the fluidity traditions, whose teachings emphasize the multiplicity of the shekhinah, and whose thinkers speak of the sephirot does not differ in its theological essentials from a religion that adores a triune God” (135). The similarities of the Christian concept of the simultaneous presence of God in heaven and God on earth to the older fluidity model are striking, and it will be fruitful to consider Christian theology in light of this. At the same time, there are also important differences between these types of embodiment, and at a certain point the similarity may be a bit overdrawn. Sommer’s view does not take into account the difference between theophany and incarnation, between temporary manifestation and full human identity and life, as claimed in Christian theology. Perhaps more significantly, while the concept of the Trinity may be seen to reflect the multiplicity of embodiment as in the older fluidity traditions, it does not seem particularly fluid. Finally, Sommer concludes that this fluidity in Judaism and Christianity allows God both immanence and transcendence, and that it shows that the divine is not bound to any one place. (Or, as I have argued in regard to some biblical texts, even the embodiment of God demonstrates divine freedom, rather than limitation.)



An article HERE quotes Dr. Sommer:


“When the New Testament talks about Jesus as being some sort of small scale human manifestation of God, it sounds to Jews so utterly pagan, but what I’m suggesting is perhaps the radical idea for us Jews that in fact, it’s not so pagan. That in fact, there was a monotheistic version of this that existed already in the Tanakh. And that the Christian idea, that Jesus, or ‘The Logos’, The Word, as the Gospel of John describes it in it’s opening verses, that the presence of The Word or Jesus in fleshly form – in a human body on the planet earth – is actually God making God self accessible to humanity in a kind of avatar. This is what we were seeing in the ‘J’ and ‘E’ texts [differing Hebrew manuscripts]. This is much less radical than it sounds. Or when the Gospel of John describes God’s Self as coming down and overlapping with Jesus – which is a famous passage early in the Gospel of John – that is actually a fairly old ancient near eastern idea of the reality, or self, of one deity overlapping with some other being. So, this is not just Greek paganism sort of just smoothed on to a Jewish mold, which is a way that a lot of Jews tend to view Christianity. This is actually an old ancient near eastern idea, that is an old semitic idea, that is popping up again among those Jews who were the founders of Christianity. We Jews have always tended to sort of make fun of the trinity. ‘Oh how can there be three that is one? If they’ve got this three part God, even if they call it a triune God, a God that is three yet one, really, really, they are pagans. They are not really monotheists like we Jews are or like the Muslims are. Those Christians are really pagan.’ But I think what we are seeing in the idea of the trinity that there is this one God who manifests Itself in three different ways, that’s actually an old ancient near eastern idea that could function in a polytheistic context as it did for the Babylonians and Canaanites, but it can also function in a monotheistic context as it does I think in the ‘J’ and ‘E’ texts. In fact, to say that three is one, heck, Kabbala [Jewish mysticism] is going to go further than that. They say ten is one. The Zohar says ten is one. Actually certain parts of Kabbala say that within each of the ten spherote has ten spherote within them so that there is a hundred spherote, we are taking this much further than the Christians did. One of the conclusions that I came to, to my shock, when I finished this book [The Bodies of God and The World of Ancient Israel], is that we Jews have no theological objection to the trinity. We Jews for centuries have objected to the trinity, have labeled it pagan, have said: ‘Well, that’s clear. There you can see that the core of Christianity doesn’t come out of the Hebrew Bible, the Tanakh, what they call the Old Testament. Really, they are being disloyal to the monotheism of the Old Testament.’ Actually, I think that’s not true. To my surprise, I came to the conclusion, somewhat to my dismay, I came to the conclusion that we Jews have no theological right to object to the trinity. Theologically, I think that the model of the trinity is an old ancient near eastern idea that shows up in the Tanakh and in a different way shows up in Jewish mysticism as well.”

The article also has a link to the mp3 audio lecture from which the quote is from. Here's the direct link (for as long as it lasts). If the link dies, I'm willing to send a copy of the audio to anyone who requests it from me.

Here's another article that has links to lectures by Dr. Sommer:
http://benstanhope.blogspot.com/2014/02/the-bodies-of-god-and-jewish-trinity.html?m=1




See also:

My blog Trinity Notes

Which include blogposts like

The Jewish Trinity: How the Old Testament Reveals the Christian Godhead by Dr. Michael Heiser

Old Testament Passages Implying Plurality in God

Proving That There Is A Plurality In The Godhead

Quotes from "Of A Plurality In The Godhead" by John Gill

The Aaronic Blessing Is Highly Suggestive of the Doctrine of the Trinity

 Quotations from the Jewish New Testament Commentary by David H. Stern

The Great Mystery; or, How Can Three Be One? [The Trinity in Early Judaism]

 

 

 

 



Saturday, August 30, 2014

John Piper on God's Eternal Blessedness and Happiness


John Piper wrote:

It is not surprising, then, that Jonathan Edwards struggled earnestly and deeply with the problem that stands before us now. How can we affirm the happiness of God on the basis of His sovereignty when much of what God permits in the world is contrary to His own commands in Scripture? How can we say God is happy when there is so much sin and misery in the world?
Edwards did not claim to exhaust the mystery here. But he does help us find a possible  way of avoiding outright contradiction while being faithful to the Scriptures. To put it in my own words, he said that the infinite complexity of the divine mind is such that God  has the capacity to look at the world through two lenses. He can look through a narrow lens or through a wideangle lens.
When God looks at a painful or wicked event through His narrow lens, He sees the tragedy of the sin for what it is in itself, and He is angered and grieved: “I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord GOD” (Ezekiel 18:32).

But when God looks at a painful or wicked event through His wide-angle lens, He sees the tragedy of the sin in relation to everything leading up to it and everything flowing out from it. He sees it in relation to all the connections and effects that form a pattern, or mosaic, stretching into eternity. This mosaic in all its parts—good and evil—brings Him delight.5
- Desiring God: Meditations of a Christian Hedonist page 39


John Piper also wrote:

God's Happiness Is A Great Part Of His Glory

In 1 Timothy 1:11 Paul focuses on the gospel as "the glory of the blessed God." The word translated "blessed" in this phrase (makarivou) is the same one used in the beatitudes of Jesus in Matthew 5:3-11. "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth." And so on. The word means "happy" or "fortunate." Paul himself uses it in other places to refer to the happiness of the person whose sins are forgiven (Rom. 4:7) or the person whose conscience is clear (Rom. 14:22). It is astonishing that only here and in 1 Timothy 6:15 in the entire Old Testament and New Testament does the word refer to God. Paul has clearly done something unusual, calling God makarios, happy.

We may learn from the phrase "the glory of the happy God" that a great part of God's glory is his happiness. It was inconceivable to the apostle Paul that God could be denied infinite joy and still be all-glorious. To be infinitely glorious was to be infinitely happy. He used the phrase, "the glory of the happy God," because it is a glorious thing for God to be as happy as he is. God's glory consists much in the fact that he is happy beyond all our imagination.
- God is the Gospel page 100

John Piper wrote an entire book on the Blessedness or Happiness of God titled, The Pleasures of God: Meditations on God's Delight in Being God.

I believe (rightly or wrongly) that the first chapter has been posted online HERE.

In Piper's various books he argues that God's happiness and God-centeredness isn't selfish but the very foundation for our own happiness. There's no space or time to elaborate in Piper's argument, but here's a distillation of it from a quote by Sam Storms.

God created us so that the joy he has in himself might be ours. God doesn't simply think about himself or talk to himself. He enjoys himself! He celebrates with infinite and eternal intensity the beauty of who he is as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. And we've been created to join the party!

Here's a link to book 1 chapter 19 of John Gill's A Body of Doctrinal Divinity:
Of The Joy Of God






Monday, August 18, 2014

Three Kinds of Providence


In the combox of a Triablogue post I wrote :

- I don't know if it's an idiosyncratic categorization on William Lane Craig's part, but I think/believe I've heard him refer to 3 kinds of providence. Maybe these are standard categories in the theological and philosophic literature.

1. Ordinary Providence
2. Special Providence
3. Extraordinary/Extra-ordinary Providence

#2 would seem to be a special kind of ordinary providence that's miraculous because coincidental. For example, it so happens that, all things continuing as they are, it won't rain on Joey's outdoor birthday party next Saturday just as he prayed to God that it wouldn't. In this kind of providence, it didn't require God to do anything extra because He rigged ordinary providence to answer Joey's prayer long before Joey prayed. It was coincidental, yet purposed by God rather than unintentional and merely fortuitous.

#3 would be where God would need to intervene without, or apart, or above, or against His ordinary providence (i.e. God's normal way of upholding, directing and sustaining creation). Turning water into wine or restoring a missing limb instantaneously would be an example of extraordinary providence.

- I've added a link to Poythress' book on my blog:

Definitions of Chance [ 7 so far listed ]
http://misclane.blogspot.com/2014/06/definitions-of-chance.html



In which case #2 and #3 can be considered miraculous even though #2 shares with #1 a kind of ordinary providence. Just as #2 shares with #3 a special intention and/or sign on God's part in the event. Also, given classical theism (especially but not limited to Calvinism), #1 would also be under God's sovereign control as are #2 and #3.

I like and have used the 3 categories. So far I haven't found an example that would not fall into one of these 3 categories.


I found a quote of William Lane Craig that confirms my memory.

What all this implies is that in between events brought about by God’s extraordinary providence (miraculous interventions) and events brought about by His ordinary providence (events which regularly occur as products of purely natural causes) there is a third category, which we may call God’s special providence, namely, events which are the result of purely natural causes but which are unusual in terms of their special timing and context. For example, if just as George Muller is giving thanks for God’s provision of daily bread for his orphanage, knowing all the while they have no food, and at that moment a bakery truck breaks down outside in the street and gives all its provisions to the orphanage, then we may regard this as an answer to prayer, even if there are wholly natural causes of the truck’s breakdown at just that place and time. It’s a special providence of God, prearranged in answer to Muller’s prayer.

Quote taken from Craig's Questions and Answers article titled: Must We Pray for a Miracle?

I don't agree with Craig's Molinism or use of Middle Knowledge. Also, if I'm not mistaken, it appears that Craig doesn't consider Special Providence as being miraculous like I did. There are three possibilities regarding the miraculous nature of special providence. Either 1. it's always miraculous, 2. it's never miraculous or 3. it's sometimes miraculous and other times it's not.

At present, it seems to me that in this instance Craig is wrong. For example, let's say hypothetically that the parting of the Red Sea (or Reed Sea) was a case of special providence where a volcano erupted and caused a chain of events (including an earthquake) that combined with strong east winds which together resulted in the sea parting just at the time when Moses stretched out his hand over the water (Exo. 14:21). The text states that the wind blew all night long. Can we really say that this wasn't an instance of a timing miracle even though it was all natural and God didn't have to do anything extra to bring it about? I find it difficult to not call it a miracle since the Biblical understanding of a miracle doesn't seem to discriminate or distinguish between miraculous answers to prayer 1. which go beyond the power of natural causes and 2. those which don't.

So, contrary to Craig and my own previous opinion, I'm now inclined to think special providence is sometimes miraculous (e.g. the parting of the Red Sea in answer to prayer) and sometimes non-miraculous (e.g. having food on the table in answer to prayer). The difference would seem to be in the degree to which the special providential coincidence was likely or probable given ordinary providence. The parting of the Red Sea at just that time is highly unlikely. While it not raining on Joey's 10th birthday party in answer to prayer might also be an instance of a timed providential occurrence but it would hardly be called miraculous.

Also, previously I considered special providence a special form of ordinary providence. Thinking about it, I have to ask "What similarities the two have and what makes the difference or distinguishes between the two?" What makes them similar is that they both are the result of purely natural causes. What makes them different and distinct is the special and extraordinary intention and purpose on God's part in special providences. So, in one sense one could call special providence a unique category of ordinary providence. Yet, in another sense, by so doing, one would be blurring the line and disregarding the very difference and distinction between ordinary providence and special providence. Namely, the special or non-special, extraordinary or non-extraordinary intent and purpose God has or doesn't have in the event. Though, I've chanced my mind back and forth repeatedly, I'm now inclined to call special providence a unique form [or special type] of ordinary providence. But I make sure to point out their similarities (i.e. purely natural causes) and dissimilarities (presence or absence of special intention on God's part). In one sense, all of God's various providential activities have a special intention since every instance has a special role to play in the grand design of history. However, in some instances there's an especially special intention. Such cases would fall under either God's special providence or extra-ordinary providence.


Re-wording something William Lane Craig wrote in his Q&A (because I reject Molinism), I can agree that a belief in special providence "...is a tremendous encouragement to prayer...because it doesn’t require the faith for a miracle. You can pray that God will provide you with a job, for example, without thinking that during your job interview God must cause miraculous neural firings in the boss’s brain causing him to hire you."

My Understanding of Providence
Ordinary Special Extraordinary
purely natural causes involved purely natural causes involved supernatural cause(s) involved
no special intent or purpose special intent or purpose special intent or purpose
non-miraculous sometimes miraculous always miraculous

Things get a bit more complicated (or messy) if we were to factor in angelic and demonic activity and intervention in the physical world. Say for example that an angel prevents a car accident because he was sent by God to be the person's guardian angel. Or say for example, an occultist who apparently is able to levitate objects when in actuality it is a demon that is manipulating the physical object to "levitate." In both instances what happened went beyond the natural causes of the physical world via God's ordinary providence in the natural world. However, angels and demons have their own properties and abilities which are "natural" to them according to their own nature or being. What is "natural" to them would be beyond nature to us (i.e. our natural/physical world). In instances like that, we can say that at the angelic dimension and from the angelic perspective they too have God's ordinary providence working in their lives. We can consider some angelic interventions in the physical universe as instances of God's extra-ordinary providence because angels perform their work (say of protection) in the name and stead of God. For us it would be an instance of God's extra-ordinary providence, but for them (the good angels) it would be an instance of ordinary providence since they are merely exercising their powers which they have from God in order to protect us. However, demons can affect the physical world in a way that goes beyond what the physical world's natural processes can produce. Yet, it would not be appropriate to call it God's extra-ordinary providence since demons do not act in the name and stead of God. Since demons are evil angels. In which case, what demons are able to do in the physical world could be considered ordinary providence from their angelic perspective (since they are only exercising powers which they normally have by God's endowment) yet at the same time it is a supernatural event from the perspective of human beings and the physical world (since the event would not and could not happen according to the natural properties of matter).

Related  Blogs:

 Distinctions in God's Will from a Calvinist Perspective [ My Five Distinctions]

Definitions of Chance [ 7 so far listed ]

Ralph Martin on Catholic Leaving the Catholic Church


As hard as it may be to face, many Catholics who have left the Catholic Church to become part of a vital Protestant congregation may have gone to hell if they stayed, unconverted and with virtually no Christian support, in the Catholic Church. In actual practice many millions of Catholics are being led away from Christ by the corruption of faith and morality encountered in many Catholic institutions today, or by the emptiness, lack of power, and lack of God's presence that leave Catholics sitting ducks to be swept away by contemporary pagan culture. The phenomenon of large numbers of Catholics leaving the Catholic Church because they haven't found Christ there or support for their Christian lives or families should humble us and cause us to turn to the Lord in repentance and in seeking God, asking him to have mercy on us and to pour out his Spirit on us so that men, women, and children may encounter him in our midst.

-Ralph Martin (well known Roman Catholic speaker and author)
http://www.phatmass.com/phorum/topic/59903-was-i-better-off-back-then/page-3

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Explanatory Power and Scope


Abductive arguments are popularly known as Inference to the Best Explanation type of argument. That is, reasoning or inferring to that theory or hypothesis that provides the best explanation.

Among the criteria for best explanation includes:

1. the greatest explanatory power and

2. the greatest explanatory scope


Here's a link to the Wikipedia article on Explanatory Power

Part of the above article states, "...a good explanation also provides specific details which fit together so tightly that it is difficult to change one detail without affecting the whole theory."

Michael Licona simply summarized the difference between explanatory power and scope by saying (paraphase)

Explanatory Scope: deals with a theory's (or hypothesis') ability to account for all the relevant facts.

Explanatory Power: deals with a theory's (or hypothesis') ability to account for facts without forcing the data to fit or without excessive vagueness or ambiguity.

William Lane Craig applied explanatory power and scope to the case for Jesus Christ's resurrection. He said/wrote (paraphrase):

The Best explanation of these facts is that Jesus rose from the dead.

1. It has great explanatory scope. That is, it will explain more of the evidence.

2. It has great explanatory power. That is it will make the evidence more probable.

3. It is plausible. It will fit better with true background beliefs.

4. It is not ad hoc or contrived. That is, it won't require adopting new beliefs which have no independent evidence.

5. It is in accord with accepted beliefs. It will be disconfirmed by fewer accepted beliefs than other explanations. That is, it won't conflict with as many accepted beliefs.

6. It far outstrips any rival theories in meeting conditions (1) - (5). It will meet conditions 1-5 so much better than the other theories that there's little chance that one of the other explanations, after further investigation, will do better in meeting these conditions.





Thursday, June 12, 2014

Doing Searches on a Specific Website


I've found that one can do an effective website search using www.google.com/advanced_search.

However, it's important how one enters the website url. Otherwise, the search doesn't work.

Let's say you want to search www.triablogue.blogspot.com.

For a more thorough search go to http://www.google.com/advanced_search and type "triablogue.blogspot.com" in the "site or domain:" field.

Make sure to leave out "http://www." and only type "triablogue.blogspot.com". 


Only using "www." doesn't work. Using "http://www." sometimes works. So, it's best to leave out "http://www." entirely.

Then just type in keywords on the subject you're interested in.Whether in the "all these words" field, or the "this exact word or phrase" field, or "any of these words" field.

For example:






Tuesday, March 18, 2014

My Other Blogs



My Other Blogs:

What Day Did Christ Die?


A common claimed contradiction and/or discrepancy in the Bible that skeptics bring up is the question of when Jesus was actually crucified.

1. Did Jesus Christ's crucifixion occur the day before the Passover meal was eaten, as John explicitly says, or did it occur after it was eaten as Mark explicitly says? (paraphrase of skeptic Bart Ehrman's often asked question)

2. Was the crucifixion of Jesus Christ on a Wednesday, Thursday or Friday?

For a long while in my Christian youth I rejected a Friday crucifixion. But after doing a bit more study, I've concluded that the traditional position of a Friday crucifixion fits all of the available Biblical data better. What really helped me come to the traditional view was James White's discussion on the topic which can be purchased at his website (the current direct link is here). When it comes to other finer details, I haven't come to any firm conclusions. However, the following quotes and articles can help people come to their own conclusions.







April 3, AD 33 by Andreas J. Köstenberger and Justin Taylor




The Jewish Calendar, A Lunar Eclipse and the Date of Christ's Crucifixion by Colin J. Humphreys and W.G. Waddington



Friday crucifixion Sunday resurrection 
↑↑↑↑↑↑↑↑↑↑ Read the warning below about this link↑↑↑↑↑↑↑↑↑↑
While there are many doctrinal issues that I disagree with from the website that the above article comes from, this particular article argues persuasively for a Friday crucifixion (even if not all its facts are accurate). The creators of the website are sub-Evangelical. I recommend one reads this article after one reads the following quotes.





MARK 14:12ff- Did Jesus institute the Lord's Supper on the day of the Passover or the day before?

PROBLEM: If the first three Gospels (synoptics) are correct, then Jesus instituted the Lord's Supper "on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they killed the Passover lamb" (cf. Matt. 26:17; Luke 22:1). But John places it "before the feast of the Passover" (13:1), the day before the crucifixion on which "they might eat the Passover" (18:28).
SOLUTION: There are two basic positions embraced by evangelical scholars on this point. Those who hold that Jesus ate the Passover lamb (and instituted the Lord's Supper at the end of it) on the same day it was observed by the Jews, support their view as follows: (1) It was the day required by the OT Law, and Jesus said He did not come to destroy the Law, but to fulfill it (Matt. 5:17-18). (2) It seems to be the meaning of Mark 14:12 which says it was "on the first day of Unleavened Bread, when they killed the Passover lamb." (3) When John 19:14 speaks of it being "the Preparation Day of the Passover" they take this to mean simply the preparation for the Sabbath which occurred in that paschal week.
    Other scholars contend that Jesus ate the Passover lamb on the day before the Jews did because: (1) He had to eat it a day early (Thursday) in order that He might offer Himself the next day (Good Friday) as the Passover Lamb (cf. John 1:29) to the Jews, in fulfillment of OT type on the very day they were eating the Passover lamb (1 Cor. 5:7). (2) The plain reading of John 19:14 is that it was "the Preparation Day of the Passover" [not the Sabbath], or in other words, the day before the Passover was eaten by the Jews. (3) Likewise, John 18:28 affirms that the Jews did not want to be defiled on the day Jesus was crucified "that they might eat the Passover."
    Either view is possible without contradiction. However, the latter view seems to explain the texts forthrightly.

- From The Big Book of Bible Difficulties by Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe page 375 (previously titled When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties)




Lord's supper instituted at Passover.
Matt. xxvi. 17-30; Mark xiv. 12-26;
Luke xxii. 1, 13-20.
Upon the preceding day.
John xiii. 1,2; xviii. 28.


Of the two leading theories the first is, that the Lord's supper was instituted on the evening following the fourteenth day of Nisan, at the legal time of the passover. Robinson4 maintains that the term "passover" sometimes comprises the whole paschal festival, or the feast of unleavened bread which began with the passover proper; that the expression "to eat the passover" may mean "to keep the paschal festival"; and that the "preparation of the passover," John xix. 14, denotes simply the customary "preparation" for the Sabbath, which occurred in that paschal week. In this view, which relieves the difficulty, a host of critics5 substantially concur.


4 English Harmony, pp. 200-205.
5 So Andrews, Bochart, Davidson, Fairbairn, Gardiner, Hengstenberg, Lange, Lewin, Lightfoot, Milligan, Norton, Olshausen, Robinson, Schoettgen, Stier, Tholuck, and Wieseler.

-From Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible by John W. Haley p. 423





Was Christ crucified on Thursday or Friday?

    The uniform impression conveyed by the synoptic Gospels is that the Crucifixion took place on Friday of Holy Week. If it were not for John 19:14, the point would never have come up for debate. But John 19:14 says (according to NASB): "Now it was the day of preparation [paraskeuē] for the Passover; it was about the sixth hour. And he [Pilate] said to the Jews, 'Behold, your King!' " The NIV suggests a somewhat less difficult handling of the apparent discrepancy: "It was the day of Preparation of Passover Week, about the sixth hour." This latter translation takes note of two very important matters of usage. First, the word paraskeuē had already by the first century A.D. become a technical term for "Friday," since every Friday was the day of preparation for Saturday, that is, the Sabbath. In Modern Greek the word for "Friday" is paraskeuē.
    Second, the Greek term tou pascha (lit., "of the Passover") is taken to be equivalent to the Passover Week. This refers to the seven-day Feast of Unleavened Bread (Heb. maṣṣôṯ) that immediately followed the initial slaughtering and eating of the Passover lamb on the evening of the fourteenth day of the month Abib, which by Hebrew reckoning would mean the commencement of the fifteenth day, right after sunset. The week of maṣṣô-t, coming right on the heels of Passover itself (during which maṣṣô-t were actually eaten, along with the lamb, bitter herbs, etc.) very naturally came to be known as Passover Week (cf. Encyclopaedia Britannica, 14th ed., 12:1041), extending from the fifteenth to the twenty-first of Abib, inclusively. (Arndt and Gingrich [Greek-English Lexicon, pp. 638-39] state: "This [i.e., Passover] was followed immediately by the Feast of Unleavened Bread...on the 15th to the 21st. Popular usage merged the two festivals and treated them as a unity, as they were for practical purposes.") It was unnecessary to insert a specific term for "week" (such as šā-bȗaʻ) for it to be understood as such. Therefore, that which might be translated literally as "the preparation of the Passover" must in this context be rendered "Friday of Passover Week."
    It turns out, therefore, that John affirms just as clearly as the Synoptics that Christ was crucified on Friday and that His sacrificial death represented an antitypical fulfillment of the Passover ordinance itself, which was instituted by God in the days of the Exodus as a means of making Calvary available by faith to the ancient people of God even before the coming of Christ.
    Note that in 1 Corinthians 5:7 Jesus is referred to as the Passover Lamb for believers: "Purge out the old leaven, so that you may be a new lump, just as you were unleavened. For Christ our Lamb was sacrificed for us." The statement of E. C. Hoskyns on John 19:14 is very appropriate here: "The hour of double sacrifice is drawing near. It is midday. The Passover lambs are being prepared for sacrifice, and the Lamb of God is likewise sentenced to death" (The Fourth Gospel [London: Farber and Farber, 1940], ad loc.). It simply needs to be pointed out that the lambs referred to here are not those that were slaughtered and eaten in private homes--a rite Jesus had already observed with His disciples the night before ("Maundy Thursday")--but the lambs to be offered on the altar of the Lord on behalf of the whole nation of Israel. (For the household observance on the evening of the fourteenth of Abib, cf. Exod. 12:6; for the public sacrifice on the altar, cf. Exod. 12:16-17; Lev. 23:4-8; 2 Chron. 30:15-19; 35:11-16. These were all known as Passover sacrifices, since they were presented during Passover week.)
    Thus it turns out that there has been a simple misunderstanding of the phrase paraskeuē tou pascha that has occasioned such perplexity that even Guthrie (New Bible Commentary, p. 964) deduced an original error, for which he had no solution to offer. The various ingenious explantions offered by others, that Christ held His personal Passover a night early, knowing that He would be crucified before the evening of the fourteenth; that Christ and His movement held to a different calendar, reckoning the fourteenth to be a day earlier than the calendar of the official Jerusalem priesthood; or that He was following a revised calendar observed by the Essenes at Qumran--all these theories are quite improbable and altogether unnecessary. There is no contradiction whatever between John and the Synoptics as to the day on which Christ died--it was Friday.

- From Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties by Gleason L. Archer pp. 375-376.




14. The Length of Our Lord's Stay in the Tomb

Quite an effort is made in some quarters to show that Jesus remained in the tomb seventy-two hours, three full days and nights. The effort seems due to a desire to give full value to the expression "three days" and to vindicate scripture. But a minutely literal interpretation of this phrase makes "on the third day" flatly erroneous. A good deal of labor has been expended in the impossible attempt to make three and four equal to each other. There are three sets of expressions used about the matter, besides the express statements of the Gospels about the days of the crucifixion, and resurrection. Let us examine these lines of evidence. 1. Luke settles the matter pointedly by mentioning all the time between the crucifixion and the resurrection (Luke 23:50-24:3). The burial took place Friday afternoon just before the Sabbath drew on (Luke 23:54). The women rested on the Sabbath (Saturday) (Luke 23:56), and went to the sepulchre early Sunday morning, the first day of the week (Luke 24:1). There is no escaping this piece of chronology. This is all the time there was between the two events. Jesus then lay in the tomb from late in the afternoon of Friday till early Sunday morning. The other Gospels agree with this reckoning of the time, as we have already seen. 2. But how about the prediction of Jesus, repeatedly made, and once illustrated by the case of Jonah, that he would rise after three days? Are two nights and a day and two pieces of days three days? Let us see. (a) The well-known custom of the Jews was to count a part of a day as a whole day of twenty-four hours. Hence a part of a day or night would be counted as a whole day, the term day obviously having two senses, as night and day, or day contrasted with night. So then the part of Friday would count as one day, Saturday another, and the part of Sunday the third day. This method of reckoning gives no trouble to a Jew or to modern men, for that matter. In free vernacular we speak the same way today. (b) Besides, the phrase "on the third day" is obliged to mean that the resurrection took place on that day, for, if it occurred after the third day, it would be on the fourth day and not on the third. Now it so happens that this term "third day" is applied seven times to the resurrection of Christ (Matt. 16:21; Matt. 17:23; Matt. 20:19; Luke 27:7, 21, 46; 1 Cor. 15:4). These numerous passages of Scripture, both prophecy and statement of history, agree with the record of the fact that Jesus did rise on the third day. (Luke 24:7.) (c) Moreover, the phrase "after three days" is used by the same writers (Matthew and Luke) in connection with the former one, "the third day," as meaning the same thing. Hence the definite and clear expressions must explain the one that is less so. The chief priests and Pharisees remember (Matt. 27:63) that Jesus said, after three days I rise again. Hence they urge Pilate to keep a guard over the tomb until the third day (Matt. 27:64). This is their own interpretation of the Saviour's words. Besides, in parallel passages in the different Gospels, one will have one expression and another the other, naturally suggesting that they regarded them as equivalent. (Cf . Mark 8:31 with Matt. 16:21, Luke 9:22 with Mark 10:34.) On the third day cannot mean on the fourth day, while after three days can be used as meaning on the third day. (d) Matthew 12:40 is urged as conclusive the other way. But the "three days and three nights" may be nothing more than a longer way of saying three days, using day in its long sense. And we have already seen that the Jews counted any part of this full day (day and night) as a whole day (day and night). Hence this passage may mean nothing more than the common "after three days" above mentioned, and, like that expression, must be interpreted in accordance with the definite term "on the third day" and with the clear chronological data given by Luke and the rest. They seemed to be conscious of no discrepancy in these various expressions. Most likely they understood them as well as we do at any rate.

- excerpt from A Harmony of the Gospels For Students of the Life of Christ by A.T. Robertson
https://archive.org/details/harmonyofthegosp012598mbp




...The Jews take a particular notice of the third day as remarkable for many things they observe {e}, as

"of the third day Abraham lift up his eyes, Ge 22:4 of the third day of the tribes, Ge 42:18 of the third day of the spies, Jos 2:16 of the third day of the giving of the law, Ex 19:16 of the third day of Jonah, Jon 1:17 of the third day of them that came out of the captivity, Ezr 8:15 of the third day of the resurrection of the dead, as it is written, Ho 6:2 "after two days will he revive us, in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight".''

From which passage, it is clear, that they under stood the prophecy in Hosea of the resurrection of the dead; and it is observable, that among the remarkable third days they take notice of, are the two instances of Isaac's and Jonah's deliverances, which were Scripture types of Christ's resurrection. From which observations they establish this as a maxim {f}, that

"God does not leave the righteous in distress more than three days.''...

- John Gill's comments on 1 Cor. 15:4http://www.studylight.org/com/geb/view.cgi?bk=45&ch=15




...That Christ means himself by the "son of man", there is no reason to doubt; and his being laid in a tomb, dug out of a rock, is sufficient to answer this phrase, "the heart of the earth", in distinction from the surface of it; but some difficulty arises about the time of his continuing there, and the prediction here made agreeable to the type: for it was on the sixth day of the week, we commonly call "Friday", towards the close, on the day of the preparation for the sabbath, and when the sabbath drew on, that the body of Christ was laid in the sepulchre; where it lay all the next day, which was the sabbath of the Jews, and what we commonly call "Saturday"; and early on the first of the week, usually called "Sunday", or the Lord's day, he rose from the dead; so that he was but one whole day, and part of two, in the grave. To solve this difficulty, and set the matter in a clear light, let it be observed, that the three days and three nights, mean three natural days, consisting of day and night, or twenty four hours, and are what the Greeks call nucyhmera, "night days"; but the Jews have no other way of expressing them, but as here; and with them it is a well known rule, and used on all occasions, as in the computation of their feasts and times of mourning, in the observance of the passover, circumcision, and divers purifications, that wlwkk Mwyh tuqm, "a part of a day is as the whole" {n}: and so, whatever was done before sun setting, or after, if but an hour, or ever so small a time, before or after it, it was reckoned as the whole preceding, or following day; and whether this was in the night part, or day part of the night day, or natural day, it mattered not, it was accounted as the whole night day: by this rule, the case here is easily adjusted; Christ was laid in the grave towards the close of the sixth day, a little before sun setting, and this being a part of the night day preceding, is reckoned as the whole; he continued there the whole night day following, being the seventh day; and rose again early on the first day, which being after sun setting, though it might be even before sun rising, yet being a part of the night day following, is to be esteemed as the whole; and thus the son of man was to be, and was three days and three nights in the grave; and which was very easy to be understood by the Jews; and it is a question whether Jonas was longer in the belly of the fish.

{l} R. David Kimchi & Jarchi, in Jonah i. 17. & ii. 1. Zohar in Exod. fol. 20. 3. & 78. 3. {m} Antiq. 1. 9. c. 18. {n} T. Hieros. Pesach. fol. 31. 2. T. Bab. Moed. Katon, fol. 16. 2. 17. 2. 19. 2. & 20. 2. Bechorot, fol. 20. 2. & 21. 1, Nidda, fol. 33. 1. Maimon. Hilch. Ebel, c. 7. sect. 1, 2, 3. Aben Ezra in Lev. xii. 3....

- John Gill's comments on Matt. 12:40
http://www.studylight.org/com/geb/view.cgi?bk=39&ch=12




Verse 40. Three days and three nights] Our Lord rose from the grave on the day but one after his crucifixion: so that, in the computation in this verse, the part of the day on which he was crucified, and the part of that on which he rose again, are severally estimated as an entire day; and this, no doubt, exactly corresponded to the time in which Jonah was in the belly of the fish. Our Lord says, As Jonah was, so shall the Son of man be, &c.

Evening and morning, or night and day, is the Hebrew phrase for a natural day, which the Greeks termed nuxqhmeron, nuchthemeron. The very same quantity of time which is here termed three days and three nights, and which, in reality, was only one whole day, a part of two others, and two whole nights, is termed three days and three nights, in the book of Esther: Go; neither eat nor drink THREE DAYS, NIGHT or DAY, and so I will go in unto the king: Esth. iv. 16. Afterwards it follows, Esther v. 1. On the THIRD DAY, Esther stood in the inner court of the king's house. Many examples might be produced, from both the sacred and profane writers, in vindication of the propriety of the expression in the text. For farther satisfaction, the reader, if he please, may consult Whitby and Wakefield, and take the following from Lightfoot.

"I. The Jewish writers extend that memorable station of the unmoving sun, at Joshua's prayer, to six and thirty hours; for so Kimchi upon that place: 'According to more exact interpretation, the sun and moon stood still for six and thirty hours: for when the fight was on the eve of the Sabbath, Joshua feared lest the Israelites might break the Sabbath; therefore he spread abroad his hands, that the sun might stand still on the sixth day, according to the measure of the day of the Sabbath, and the moon according to the measure of the night of the Sabbath, and of the going out of the Sabbath, which amounts to six and thirty hours.' "II. If you number the hours that pass from our saviour's giving up the ghost upon the cross to his resurrection, you shall find almost the same number of hours; and yet that space is called by him three days and three nights, whereas two nights only came between, and one complete day.

Nevertheless, while he speaks these words, he is not without the consent both of the Jewish schools and their computation. Weigh well that which is disputed in the tract Scabbath, concerning the separation of a woman for three days; where many things are discussed by the Gemarists, concerning the computation of this space of three days. Among other things these words occur: R. Ismael saith, Sometimes it contains four hwnwa onoth, sometimes five, sometimes six. But how much is the space of an hnwa onah? R. Jochanan saith, Either a day or a night. And so also the Jerusalem Talmud: 'R. Akiba fixed a DAY for an onah, and a NIGHT for an onah.' But the tradition is, that R. Eliazar ben Azariah said, A day and a night make an onah: and a PART of an onah is as the WHOLE. And a little after, R.

Ismael computed a part of the onah for the whole." Thus, then, three days and three nights, according to this Jewish method of reckoning, included any part of the first day; the whole of the following night; the next day and its night; and any part of the succeeding or third day...

- Adam Clarke's comments on Matt. 12:40
http://www.studylight.org/com/acc/view.cgi?bk=39&ch=12




Other Resources:

John's Passion week chronology by Steve Hays

Inerrancy and the Resurrection by William Lane Craig (this article addresses the issue along with other issues).





Dying You Shall Die




It has often been suggested that God was wrong in telling Adam that in the very day in which he would eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil that he would, THAT VERY DAY, physically die. The following quotes demonstrate that that alleged discrepancy is false. Portions have been highlighted in red for emphasis.



2:17 Why Didn't Adam and Eve Die at Once?

Why did not Adam and Eve drop dead the same day that they disobeyed God and ate of the forbidden fruit? Adam lived to be 930 years old according to Genesis 5:5. Was Satan's word in Genesis 3:4-"You will not surely die"-a more accurate assessment of the real state of affairs than what God had said in Genesis 2:17-"When you eat of it you will surely die"? Is Satan more scrupulously honest than God himself?
    This hard saying calls for an examination of at least three different concepts embraced within the quotation from Genesis 2:17-(1) the tree of the knowedge of good and evil; (2) the meaning of the phrase "when [more literally, in the day] you eat of it"; and (3) the meaning of the phrase "you will surely die."
    First the tree. There are no grounds whatsoever for believing that the tree was a magical symbol for that it contained a secret enzyme which would automatically induce a wide  body of knowledge that embraced the whole gamut of good and evil. Instead it is safer to assume that the tree functioned much as the New Testament ordinance or sacrament of the Lord's Supper or Eucharist does. The tree was a symbol embodied in an actual tree, just as the bread and wine of the Eucharist are symbols embodied in real bread and wine. In a similar way the tree of life was also a real tree, yet symbolized the fact that life was a special gift given to individuals from God. That is also why participants are warned not to partake of the elements of the Lord's Supper in an unworthy manner, for when the elements are eaten and drunk in a flippant manner and when a person has not truly confessed Christ as Savior, the unworthy partaking of tehse rather ordinary elements (ordinary at least from all outward appearances) will cause illness and, in some cases, death (1 Cor. 11:30).
    In the same way, the tree was a symbol to test the first human couple's actions. Would they obey God or would they assert their own wills in opposition to God's clear command? To argue that the tree had magical power to confer knowledge of good and evil would be to miss the divine point: the tree was a test of the couple's intention to obey God. That men and women can attain the knowledge of good and evil is not in itself either undesireable or blameworthy; knowledge per se was not what was being forbidden here. The tree only represents the possibility that creatures made in God's image could refuse to obey him. The tree served as the concrete expression of that rebellion.
    It is just as naive to insist that the phrase "in the day" means that on that very day death would occur. A little knowledge of the Hebrew idiom will relieve the tension here as well. For example, in 1 Kings 2:37 King Solomon warned a seditious Shimei, "The day you leave [Jerusalem] and cross the Kidron Valley [which is immediately outside the city walls on the east side of the city], you can be sure you will die." Neither the 1 Kings nor the Genesis text implies immediacy of action on that very same day; instead they point to the certainty of the predicted consequence that would be set in motion by the act initiated on that day. Alternate wordings include at the time when, at that time, now when and the day [when] (see Gen. 5:1; Ex. 6:28; 10:28; 32:34).
    The final concern is over the definition of death. Scripture refers to three different types of death. Often only the context helps distinguish which is intended. There are physical death, spiritual death (the kind that forces guilty persons to hide from the presence of God, as this couple did when it was time for fellowship in the Garden, Gen. 3:8) and the "second death" (to which Rev. 20:14) refers, when a person is finally, totally and eternally separated from God without hope of reversal, after a lifetime of rejecting God).
    In this case, spiritual death was the immediate outcome of disobedience demonstrated by a deliberate snatching of real fruit from a real tree in a real garden. Death ensued immediately: They became "dead in...transgressions and s ins" (Eph. 2:1). But such separation and isolation from God eventually resulted in physical death as well. This, however, was more a byproduct than a direct result of their sin. Spiritual death was the real killer!
- Hard Sayings of the Bible by Walter Kaiser pages 91-92





We must also see what is the cause of death, namely alienation from God. Thence it follows, that under the name of death is comprehended all those miseries in which Adam involved himself by his defection; for as soon as he revolted from God, the fountain of life, he was cast down from his former state, in order that he might perceive the life of man without God to be wretched and lost, and therefore differing nothing from death. Hence the condition of man after his sin is not improperly called both the privation of life, and death. The miseries and evils both of soul and body, with which man is beset so long as he is on earth, are a kind of entrance into death, till death itself entirely absorbs him; for the Scripture everywhere calls those dead who, being oppressed by the tyranny of sin and Satan, breath nothing but their own destruction. Wherefore the question is superfluous, how it was that God threatened death to Adam on the day in which he should touch the fruit, when he long deferred the punishment? For then was Adam consigned to death, and death began its reign in him, until supervening grace should bring a remedy.
- selection from Calvin's commentary on Genesis (2:17)
http://www.studylight.org/com/cal/print.cgi?bk=0&ch=2&vs=19






Thou shalt surely die.] twmt twm moth tamuth; Literally, a death thou shalt die; or, dying thou shalt die. Thou shalt not only die spiritually, by losing the life of God, but from that moment thou shalt become mortal, and shalt continue in a dying state till thou die. This we find literally accomplished; every moment of man's life may be considered as an act of dying, till soul and body are separated. Other meanings have been given of this passage, but they are in general either fanciful or incorrect.
-Adam Clarke's commentary on Gen. 2:17
http://www.studylight.org/com/acc/view.cgi?bk=0&ch=2




"for in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die"; or "in dying, die" {z}; which denotes the certainty of it, as our version expresses it; and may have regard to more deaths than one; not only a corporeal one, which in some sense immediately took place, man became at once a mortal creature, who otherwise continuing in a state of innocence, and by eating of the tree of life, he was allowed to do, would have lived an immortal life
-selection from John Gill's Commentary on Gen. 2:17
http://www.studylight.org/com/geb/view.cgi?bk=0&ch=2




Perhaps Lee is alluding to the timeframe: “on the day.” But that’s a Hebrew idiom for "when." And, in fact, Adam and Eve did die. They lost the hope of immortality.
- Steve Hays from the blog  Randolph is mentally incompetent-http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2008/08/evan-is-mentally-incompetent.html





Gen. 2:17 (also Gen. 2:4, and 1 Kings 2:37) has a preposition before the word "day" (bay yom) which qualifies it so that it means "when".


Excerpt from The Bondage of the Will (near the ending)


Excerpt from The Bondage of the Will
(or On the Enslaved Will)
by Martin Luther



From the last few paragraphs of the book..


     I frankly confess that, for myself, even if it could be, I should not want 'free-will' to be given me, nor anything to be left in my own hands to enable me to endeavour after salvation; not merely because in face of so many dangers, and adversities, and assaults of devils, I could not stand my ground and hold fast my 'free-will' (for one devil is stronger than all men, and on these terms no man could be saved); but because, even were there no dangers, adversities, or devils, I should still be forced to labour with no guarantee of success, and to beat my fists at the air. If I lived and worked to all eternity, my conscience would never reach comfortable certainty as to how much it must do to satisfy God. Whatever work I had done, there would still be a nagging doubt [scrupulus] as to whether it pleased God, or whether He required something more. The experience of all who seek righteousness by works proves that; and I learned it well enough myself over a period of many years, to my own great hurt. But now that God has taken my salvation out of the control of my own will, and put it under the control of His, and promised to save me, not according to my working or running, but according to His own grace and mercy, I have the comfortable certainty that He is faithful and will not lie to me, and that He is also great and powerful, so that no devils or opposition can break Him or pluck me from Him. 'No one,' He says, 'shall pluck them out of my hand, because my Father which gave them me is greater than all' (John 10:28-29). Thus it is that, if not all, yet some, indeed many, are saved; whereas, by the power of 'free-will' none at all could be saved, but every one of us would perish.

     Furthermore, I have the comfortable certainty that I please God, not by reason of the merit of my works, but by reason of His merciful favour promised to me; so that, if I work too little, or badly, He does not impute it to me, but with fatherly compassion pardons me and makes me better. This is the glorying of all the saints in their God.

     You may be worried that it is hard to defend the mercy and equity of God in damning the undeserving, that is, ungodly persons, who, being born in ungodliness, can by no means avoid being ungodly, and staying so, and being damned, but are compelled by natural necessity to sin and perish; as Paul says: 'We were all the children of wrath, even as others' (Eph. 2:3), created such by God Himself from a seed that had been corrupted by the sin of the one man, Adam. But here God must be reverenced and held in awe, as being most merciful to those whom He justifies and saves in their own utter unworthiness; and we must show some measure of deference to His Divine wisdom by believing Him just when to us He seems unjust. If His justice were such as could be adjudged just by human reckoning, it clearly would not be Divine; it would in no way differ from human justice. But inasmuch as He is the one true God, wholly incomprehensible, and inaccessible to man's understanding, it is reasonable, indeed inevitable, that His justice also should be incomprehensible; as Paul cries, saying: 'O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgements, and His ways past finding out!' (Rom. 11:33). They would not, however, be 'unsearchable' if we could at every point grasp the grounds on which they are just. What is man compared with God? How much can our power achieve compared with His power? What is our strength compared with His strength? What is our knowledge compared with His wisdom? What is our substance compared with His substance? In a word, what is all that we are compared with all that He is? If, now even nature teaches us to acknowledge that human power, strength, wisdom, knowledge and substance, and all that is ours, is as nothing compared with the Divine power, strength, wisdom, knowledge and substance, what perversity is it on our part to worry at the justice and the judgment of the only God, and to arrogate so much to our own judgment as to presume to comprehend, judge and evaluate God's judgment! Why do we not in like manner say at this point: 'Our judgment is nothing compared with God's judgment'? Ask reason whether force of conviction does not compel her to acknowledge herself foolish and rash for not allowing God's judgment to be incomprehensible, when she confesses that all the other things of God are incomprehensible! In everything else, we allow God His Divine Majesty; in the single case of His judgment, we are ready to deny it! To think that we cannot for a little while believe that He is just, when He has actually promised us that when He reveals His glory we shall all clearly see that He both was and is just!

     I will give a parallel case, in order to strengthen our faith in God's justice, and to reassure that 'evil eye' which holds Him under suspicion of injustice. Behold! God governs the external affairs of the world in such a way that, if you regard and follow the judgment of human reason, you are forced to say, either that there is no God, or that God is unjust; as the poet said: 'I am often tempted to think there are no gods.' See the great prosperity of the wicked, and by contrast the great adversity of the good. Proverbs, and experience, the parent of proverbs, bear record that the more abandoned men are, the more successful they are. 'The tabernacle of robbers prosper,' says Job (12:6), and Ps. 72 complains that sinners in the world are full of riches (Ps. 73:12). Is it not, pray, universally held to be most unjust that bad men should prosper, and good men be afflicted? Yet that is the way of the world. Hereupon some of the greatest minds have fallen into denying the existence of God, and imagining that Chance governs all things at random. Such were the Epicureans, and Pliny. And Aristotle, wishing to set his 'prime Being' free from misery, holds that he sees nothing but himself; for Aristotle supposes that it would be very irksome to such a Being to behold so many evils and injustices! And the Prophets, who believed in God's existence, were still more tempted concerning the injustice of God. Jeremiah, Job, David, Asaph and others are cases in point. What do you suppose Demosthenes and Cicero thought, when, having done all they could, they received as their reward an unhappy death? Yet all this, which looks so much like injustice in God, and is traduced as such by arguments which no reason or light of nature can resist, is most easily cleared up by the light of the gospel and the knowledge of grace, which teaches us that though the wicked flourish in their bodies, yet they perish in their souls. And a summary explanation of this whole inexplicable problem is found in a single little word: There is a life after this life; and all that is not punished and repaid here will be punished and repaid there; for this life is nothing more than a precursor, or, rather, a beginning, of the life that is to come.

     If, now this problem, which was debated in every age but never solved, is swept away and settled so easily by the light of the gospel, which shines only in the Word and to faith, how do you think it will be when the light of the Word and faith shall cease, and the real facts, and the Majesty of God, shall be revealed as they are? Do you not think that the light of glory will be able with the greatest ease to solve problems that are insoluble in the light of the word and grace, now that the light of grace has so easily solved this problem, which that was insoluble by the light of nature?

     Keep in view three lights: the light of nature, the light of grace, and the light of glory (this is a common and a good distinction). By the light of nature, it is inexplicable that it should be just for the good to be afflicted and the bad to prosper; but the light of grace explains it. By the light of grace, it is inexplicable how God can damn him who by his own strength can do nothing but sin and become guilty. Both the light of nature and the light of grace here insist that the fault lies not in the wretchedness of man, but in the injustice of God; nor can they judge otherwise of a God who crowns the ungodly freely, without merit, and does not crown, but damns another, who is perhaps less, and certainly not more, ungodly. But the light of glory insists otherwise, and will one day reveal God, to whom alone belongs a judgment whose justice is incomprehensible, as a God Whose justice is most righteous and evident - provided only that in the meanwhile we believe it, as we are instructed and encouraged to do by the example of the light of grace explaining what was a puzzle of the same order to the light of nature.

     I shall here end this book, ready though I am to pursue the matter further, if need be; but I think that abundant satisfaction has here been afforded for the godly man who is willing to yield to truth without stubborn resistance. For if we believe it to be true that God foreknows and foreordains all things; that He cannot be deceived or obstructed in His foreknowledge and predestination; and that nothing happens but at His will (which reason itself is compelled to grant); then, on reason's own testimony, there can be no 'free-will' in man, or angel, or in any creature.

     So, if we believe that Satan is the prince of this world, ever ensnaring and opposing the kingdom of Christ with all his strength, and that he does not let his prisoners go unless he is driven out by the power of the Divine Spirit, it is again apparent that there can be no 'free-will'.

     So, if we believe that original sin has ruined us to such an extent that even in the godly, who are led by the Spirit, it causes abundance of trouble by striving against good, it is clear that in a man who lacks the Spirit nothing is left that can turn itself to good, but only evil.

     Again, if the Jews, who followed after righteousness with all their powers, fell into unrighteousness instead, while the Gentiles, who followed after unrighteousness, attained to an un-hoped-for righteousness, by God's free gift, it is equally apparent from their very works and experience that man without grace can will nothing but evil.

     And, finally, if we believe that Christ redeemed men by His blood, we are forced to confess that all of man was lost; otherwise, we make Christ either wholly superfluous, or else the redeemer of the least valuable part of man only; which is blasphemy, and sacrilege.


CONCLUSION


     Now, my good Erasmus, I entreat you for Christ's sake to keep your promise at last. You promised that you would yield to him who taught better than yourself. Lay aside respect of persons! I acknowledge that you are a great man, adorned with many of God's noblest gifts, - wit, learning and an almost miraculous eloquence, to say nothing of the rest; whereas I have and am nothing, save that I would glory in being a Christian. Moreover, I give you hearty praise and commendation on this further account - that you alone, in contrast with all others, have attacked the real thing, that is, the essential issue. You have not wearied me with those extraneous [alienis] issues about the Papacy, purgatory, indulgences and such like - trifles, rather than issues - in respect of which almost all to date have sought my blood (though without success); you, and you alone, have seen the hinge on which all turns, and aimed for the vital spot [ipsum iugulum petisti]. For that I heartily thank you; for it is more gratifying to me to deal with this issue, insofar as time and leisure permit me to do so. If those who have attacked me in the past had done as you have done, and if those who now boast of new spirits and revelations would do the same also, we should have less sedition and sects and more peace and concord. But thus it is that God, through Satan, has punished our unthankfulness.

     However, if you cannot treat of this issue in a different way from your treatment of it in this Diatribe, it is my earnest wish that you would remain content with your own gift, and confine yourself to pursuing, adorning and promoting the study of literature and languages; as hitherto you have done, to great advantage and with much credit. By your studies you have rendered me also some service, and I confess myself much indebted to you; certainly, in that regard, I unfeignedly honour and sincerely respect you. But God has not yet willed nor granted that you should be equal to the subject of our present debate. Please do not think that any arrogance lies behind my words when I say that I pray that the Lord will speedily make you as much my superior in this as you already are in all other respects. It is no new thing for God to instruct a Moses by a Jethro, or to teach a Paul by an Ananias. You say that 'you have wandered far from the mark, if you are ignorant of Christ.' I think that you yourself see how the matter stands. But not all will go astray if you or I go astray. God is One Who is proclaimed as wonderful among His saints, so that we may regard as saints persons that are very far from sanctity. Nor is it hard to believe that you, as being a man, should fail to understand aright, and to note with sufficient care, the Scriptures, or the sayings of the fathers, under whose guidance you think that you are holding to the mark. That you have thus failed is clear enough from your saying that you assert nothing, but have 'made comparisons'. He who sees to the heart of the matter and properly understands it does not write like that. Now I, in this book of mine, HAVE NOT 'MADE COMPARISONS', BUT HAVE ASSERTED, AND DO ASSERT; and I do not want judgment to rest with anyone, but I urge all men to submit! May the Lord, whose cause this is, enlighten you and make you a vessel to honour and glory. Amen.

Excerpt taken from the popular modern translation done by J.I. Packer and O.R. Johnston.

An older (public domain?) translation can be accessed HERE.The above quotation begins in section 164 (around here).

"Three Lights" Analogy by Luther

The following is an excerpt of the ending of Luther's Bondage of the Will. A longer excerpt of the ending can be found HERE. Luther addresses how people can reconcile the apparent injustice of election and reprobation.


I will give a parallel case, in order to strengthen our faith in God's justice, and to reassure that 'evil eye' which holds Him under suspicion of injustice. Behold! God governs the external affairs of the world in such a way that, if you regard and follow the judgment of human reason, you are forced to say, either that there is no God, or that God is unjust; as the poet said: 'I am often tempted to think there are no gods.' See the great prosperity of the wicked, and by contrast the great adversity of the good. Proverbs, and experience, the parent of proverbs, bear record that the more abandoned men are, the more successful they are. 'The tabernacle of robbers prosper,' says Job (12:6), and Ps. 72 complains that sinners in the world are full of riches (Ps. 73:12). Is it not, pray, universally held to be most unjust that bad men should prosper, and good men be afflicted? Yet that is the way of the world. Hereupon some of the greatest minds have fallen into denying the existence of God, and imagining that Chance governs all things at random. Such were the Epicureans, and Pliny. And Aristotle, wishing to set his 'prime Being' free from misery, holds that he sees nothing but himself; for Aristotle supposes that it would be very irksome to such a Being to behold so many evils and injustices! And the Prophets, who believed in God's existence, were still more tempted concerning the injustice of God. Jeremiah, Job, David, Asaph and others are cases in point. What do you suppose Demosthenes and Cicero thought, when, having done all they could, they received as their reward an unhappy death? Yet all this, which looks so much like injustice in God, and is traduced as such by arguments which no reason or light of nature can resist, is most easily cleared up by the light of the gospel and the knowledge of grace, which teaches us that though the wicked flourish in their bodies, yet they perish in their souls. And a summary explanation of this whole inexplicable problem is found in a single little word: There is a life after this life; and all that is not punished and repaid here will be punished and repaid there; for this life is nothing more than a precursor, or, rather, a beginning, of the life that is to come.

     If, now this problem, which was debated in every age but never solved, is swept away and settled so easily by the light of the gospel, which shines only in the Word and to faith, how do you think it will be when the light of the Word and faith shall cease, and the real facts, and the Majesty of God, shall be revealed as they are? Do you not think that the light of glory will be able with the greatest ease to solve problems that are insoluble in the light of the word and grace, now that the light of grace has so easily solved this problem, which that was insoluble by the light of nature?

     Keep in view three lights: the light of nature, the light of grace, and the light of glory (this is a common and a good distinction). By the light of nature, it is inexplicable that it should be just for the good to be afflicted and the bad to prosper; but the light of grace explains it. By the light of grace, it is inexplicable how God can damn him who by his own strength can do nothing but sin and become guilty. Both the light of nature and the light of grace here insist that the fault lies not in the wretchedness of man, but in the injustice of God; nor can they judge otherwise of a God who crowns the ungodly freely, without merit, and does not crown, but damns another, who is perhaps less, and certainly not more, ungodly. But the light of glory insists otherwise, and will one day reveal God, to whom alone belongs a judgment whose justice is incomprehensible, as a God Whose justice is most righteous and evident - provided only that in the meanwhile we believe it, as we are instructed and encouraged to do by the example of the light of grace explaining what was a puzzle of the same order to the light of nature. - The Bondage of the Will by Martin Luther (as translated by J.I. Packer and O.R. Johnston)




The following is another version of the same passage as translated by Henry Cole in a free online version of the entire book HERE.

Sect. 166.—BUT I will produce an example that may go to confirm this faith, and to console that "evil eye" which suspects God of injustice.—Behold! God so governs this corporal world in external things, that, according to human reason and judgment, you must be compelled to say, either that there is no God, or that God is unjust: as a certain one saith, 'I am often tempted to think there is no God.' For see the great prosperity of the wicked, and on the contrary the great adversity of the good; according to the testimony of the proverbs, and of experience the parent of all proverbs. The more abandoned men are, the more successful! "The tabernacles of robbers (saith Job) prosper." And Psalm lxxiii, complains, that the sinners of the world abound in riches. Is it not, I pray you, in the judgment of all, most unjust, that the evil should be prosperous, and the good afflicted? Yet so it is in the events of the world. And here it is, that the most exalted minds have so fallen, as to deny that there is any God at all; and to fable, that fortune disposes of all things at random: such were Epicurus and Pliny. And Aristotle, in order that he might make his 'First-cause Being' free from every kind of misery, is of opinion, that he thinks of nothing whatever but himself; because he considers, that it must be most irksome to him, to see so many evils and so many injuries.

But the Prophets themselves, who believed there is a God, were tempted still more concerning the injustice of God, as Jeremiah, Job, David, Asaph, and others. And what do you suppose Demosthenes and Cicero thought, who, after they had done all they could, received no other reward than a miserable death? And yet all this, which is so very much like injustice in God, when set forth in those arguments which no reason or light of nature can resist, is most easily cleared up by the light of the Gospel, and the knowledge of grace: by which, we are taught, that the wicked flourish in their bodies, but lose their souls! And the whole of this insolvable question is solved in one word—There is a life after this life: in which will be punished and repaid, every thing that is not punished and repaid here: for this life is nothing more than an entrance on, and a beginning of, the life which is to come!

If then even the light of the Gospel, which stands in the word and in the faith only, is able to effect so much as with ease to do away with, and settle, this question which has been agitated through so many ages and never solved; how do you suppose matters will appear, when the light of the word and of faith shall cease, and the essential Truth itself shall be revealed in the Divine Majesty? Do you not suppose that the light of glory will then most easily solve that question, which is now insolvable by the light of the word and of grace, even as the light of grace now easily solves that question, which is insolvable by the light of nature?

Let us therefore hold in consideration the three lights—the light of nature, the light of grace, and the light of glory; which is the common, and a very good distinction. By the light of nature, it is insolvable how it can be just, that the good man should be afflicted and the wicked should prosper: but this is solved by the light of grace. By the light of grace it is insolvable, how God can damn him, who, by his own powers, can do nothing but sin and become guilty. Both the light of nature and the light of grace here say, that the fault is not in the miserable man, but in the unjust God: nor can they judge otherwise of that God, who crowns the wicked man freely without any merit, and yet crowns not, but damns another, who is perhaps less, or at least not more wicked. But the light of glory speaks otherwise.—That will shew, that God, to whom alone belongeth the judgment of incomprehensible righteousness, is of righteousness most perfect and most manifest; in order that we may, in the meantime, believe it, being admonished and confirmed by that example of the light of grace, which solves that, which is as great a miracle to the light of nature!