Does God have to know everything?

Does God necessarily have to have an exhaustive foreknowledge or have complete knowledge of the future in order to still be considered omniscient?

The late evangelical-Baptist theologian, Clark H. Pinnock (1937-2010) of McMaster Divinity College put forth a middle-way theology between classical Arminian/Freewill Theology and Calvinist/Process Theology.  He called it “Open Theism” theology (also called free-will theism, the open view of God, relational theism).

In Pinnock’s openness theology, the future is an open question; it is not completely known, as far as, the knowledge of God is concerned.  Certain things are not yet settled because human agents have not yet made their choice. For him, even though God is omniscient, it did not have to mean that the future had to be completely foreknown.  He believes that the future is decided by both God and also by human agents. There is room for human agents to determine the future’s difference.

If I changed my mind about something that had an eternal consequence, would that impact God’s decision in the future?  If your answer is “Yes”, then you’re an Arminian.  If it’s “No” because God already knows what you will do in the future, then you’re a “determinist”.  What are you?

The Out-From-Amongst Resurrected Jesus

In Philippians 3:10-11, Paul said something profound and he connects it to the resurrection. He said, “I want to know Christ–yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead”.

It seems like Paul is only hoping to attain the resurrection from the dead. It sounds like he is not sure, but that’s not the case. What he is talking about is not just the resurrection from the dead. Paul is talk about a second resurrection (not the first resurrection.

In Jewish Pharisaical belief, they don’t think of the resurrection as most Christians do. They believe there is the first resurrection and a second resurrection. In the first resurrection, all the dead will rise again to be judged. Both those who died in Christ, and those who die outside of Christ… both the sheep and the goats… both the wheat and the tares… will all rise again. This is a general resurrection in which all people will be resurrected. But there is also the second resurrection is one where a person is called out from, to stand out from.

The most common Greek word for resurrection is anastasia (“standing up again”, or “to rise again”). This is the general resurrection of all. But In Philippians 3:11, Paul did not use this word. Paul used a special word that’s only noticeable in the original Greek and is ignored in all English translations. Paul used the word, “ex-anastasis”. The “ex” means “out among”. This expression means “out-up- standing of the out-of-dead-ones.” Paul wanted to stand up again from among the dead. In other words, Paul saw a resurrection in which only some will stand up; others will remain dead. He’s not talking about the general resurrection.

Paul had looked forward to “arrive at” or to attain to a very special goal. Attain (Gk: katantao) means “to arrive at.” In other words, Paul’s goal was to one day arrive at the resurrection (“ex-anastasis”) from the dead, the same resurrection that his Lord had attained. In desiring to die as his Lord died, Paul was seeking to rise from among the dead just as the Lord rose as the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep (1 Corinthians 15:20).

If we read further in Phil. 3:14, Paul says, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” This goal to win the prize that God has called him to is the “ex-anastasis” type of resurrection.

Oldest book in Europe (St. Cuthbert’s gospel) found in a coffin

[from UK’s Daily Mail ]

Europe’s oldest book: St Cuthbert’s gospel which survived pillaging Vikings and lay in his coffin for centuries is sold for £9m

The St Cuthbert Gospel (formerly known as the Stonyhurst Gospel) is the oldest intact European book. Made in the late-7th century, the manuscript contains a copy of the Gospel of St John, and was apparently placed in the coffin of St Cuthbert (c. 635–687)

  • The seventh century St Cuthbert Gospel is on show at the London library
  • Book is a copy of the Gospel of St John
  • It was buried alongside St Cuthbert, an early English Christian leader, on the island of Lindisfarne off the coast of Northumberland in around AD698
  • Coffin was moved off island to escape Viking raiders and taken to Durham
  • Book was found when the coffin was opened at Durham Cathedral in 1104
  • Its original red leather binding survives today
  • Now bought by the British Library for £9million

The digitized manuscripts can be found here.

Rev. Matthew Harrison defends rights of unborn

Before the House Committee in the U.S. Congress, Rev. Matthew Harrison, President of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, defends the right of the unborn–he’s calm, cool, and collected but firm in his convictions.  There are not many people these days, including pastors, who openly defend the rights of the unborn.  Thank and praise the Lord for men of God like him.  As Christians, we must pray for leaders like him who are standing up for righteousness and justice in our world. [Video quality isn’t great but it’s current and relevant: “Has the Obama Administration Trampled on Freedom of Religion and Conscience?” ]

Is there any good in the prosperity gospel?

I really like how John Piper differentiates the types of prosperity gospel preaching that is out there today. He’s not bashing it; it seems like he’s defending it. He’s a Calvinistic Baptist who believes in the continuation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit of 1 Cor.12.

Amongst the prosperity preachers, he says:

  1. there are some charlatans…
  2. then there are those who genuinely believe that God should prosper us as children of the King…
  3. and then there are the those who believe that God universally prospers and blesses us in practical ways simply because we practice God’s universal laws that inherently come as a result of doing what is good.

If I were to preach a prosperity gospel, I’d be more inclined to preach it from the third perspective.

Play and listen. Which type of prosperity gospel do you believe in (if any)?

The Post-Resurrected Jesus: raised in a physical body

It’s the first Sunday of Easter.  Doubters of the resurrection may prefer to say that Jesus was only a spirit-being (like Casper the Friendly Ghost). By refusing to believe that Jesus was not raised from death in a physical body, one may conveniently avoid having to deal with a God who intervenes in human affairs.  However, we Christians do believe in that Jesus was raised with an imperishable physical body .  The onus is not on us to prove this; the onus is on doubters to disprove this.

In the New Testament, the word used for “spirit” is pneuma; however, Paul in First Corinthians 15:44 used the words: soma pneuma (“σωμα πνευματικον”) which means “spiritual body”. This is the type of body that we, as believers in Jesus, will also be raised with.  A week after Jesus had resurrected, Scripture says he was still around for at least one week before his ascension (John 20:26). The resurrected Jesus walked around, made himself known to many people, and he showed himself in a resurrected spiritual-physical body to over 500 people. He was definitely not in hiding.  The bible is clear about the form of Jesus’ resurrected body.  The onus is on doubters to disprove that Jesus resurrected in a physical-spiritual body.
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Bible passages on the post-resurrected Jesus:

John 20:19-23  Enters locked room
John 20:24-29  Doubting Thomas
John 21:1-14  Another big catch
Luke 24:13-35  Road to Emmaus
Matthew 28; Mark 16:9  Women witnesses
1 Cor. 15:6  Five hundred witnesses/followers
1 Cor. 15:8   Apostle Paul

New Epistles domain name was lost

Some of my old readers may not know that I’ve lost the old domain name of NewEpistles.com so they think the blog is down. After not having posted for a period of time,  I neglected to renew the domain so I apologize for this. I don’t know if I can get back the domain name of NewEpistles.com. Google told me they emailed me but it was to an old email address that I haven’t checked for years.  Someone else has now picked it up and it’s  a generic website until they can find a buyer.  They said I had to pay another $80 and still go through more hassle to get it back.  It might not be worth it.  It will be here now at NewEpistles.WordPress.com for the forseeable future, or at least until I can find another domain name that I like.

So my advice if you’re a blogger: keep on top of your domain renewals and renew for 5 years at a time if possible, rather than annually.

Who was Henry Alline?

First Great Awakening

As part of my orientation into the Baptist Church, I started doing some research on the early Baptists in Canada and rediscovered the importance of spiritual revivals.   Though Baptists had an even earlier history in Europe, I was pleasantly surprised to learn that many early Baptists in  Canada and the American colonies had its beginnings in the revivals of the Great Awakenings.  God used and is still using spiritual revivals to call His people back to Himself.

Many Baptist churches in the Maritimes were established upon the foundation set by the leadership of one of the most influential preachers in early Canadian history, Henry Alline, who was central to spiritual revival in Nova Scotia.  Alline was regarded by his contemporaries as Nova Scotia’s George Whitefield—dynamic, eloquent, and uniquely spiritual.

Born in Newport, Rhode Island in 1748, Alline arrive to Nova Scotia with his parents and experienced a spiritual conversion in 1775 at the age of 27. Henry Alline began to preach in 1776 during the spiritual revival that swept the Maritimes, in which most, if not all, protestant churches were impacted.  Whether it was in Nova Scotia or New England, crowds flocked to hear him wherever he went.  His ministry lasted only eight years from 1776 until his premature death in February 1784 at the young age of thirty-five.  All though the timespan of his life and ministry was short, God used him powerfully, and later, his predecessors, to make a lasting impact in the evangelical and Baptist landscape in the Maritimes during this period of the First Great Awakening, 1778-1783.

Alline often spoke of this personal spiritual experience in terms of “New Light” and “New Birth”.  Today, we would probably speak of his New Light experience as equivalent to what we know as the “Spirit-filled” and “born again” experience, which is expressed in his words, “Attracted by the love and beauty I saw in the divine perfections, my whole soul was inexpressibly ravished with the blessed Redeemer . . . my whole soul seemed filled with the divine being”. Church historian George Rawlyk says: “Sometimes his preaching, ‘charged with emotionalism’ as it was, and delivered in a ‘fervent and eloquent manner’, in a resonating tenor voice, became superb poetry. Sometimes, the poetry was sung as a spiritual song and followed immediately by an almost frenzied outburst of words directed at specific [types of] people in his audience.”   For example, it might be directed it at young and old, at fisherman, community leaders and soldiers. Rawlyk says he probably did not have time to prepare his sermons.  He preached “as the Spirit moved him” and used words full of evocative and powerful imagery.  Between 1777 and 1783, in his trips crisscrossing Nova Scotia and the New England states, it is estimated that Henry Alline may have preached fifteen hundred sermons.

Between 1776 to 1784, Henry Alline established  five churches in Nova Scotia and two in New Brunswick that were known as New Light congregations.    These congregations did not start out Baptist in polity.  All but one of these New Light congregations eventually organized to become a part of Regular Baptist and Free Baptist denominations in Atlantic Canada. By 1810, there were about 28 Baptist churches in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.

A case for the resurrection of Jesus

Jesus is risen. That is why we as Christians celebrate Easter.
But for more Christians are planted seeds of doubt these days.  Science may try to ‘poke holes into the resurrected Jesus’ [ 😉 above image], but it cannot completely disprove that Jesus’ resurrection from death is impossible and unverifiable.

Is the Christian faith based on science and reliability of evidence? No, I think not.  Biblical and archeaological scholarship may be, but faith in a risen Christ  is based on faith, but not blind faith. Faith is the knowing through revelation from God’s Holy Spirit.  However, revelation and faith cannot be disproven by science either. The two are not equivalent, but yet, are inclusive of one another and not exclusive.  Biblical research does back up  the resurrection of Jesus.

There are resources for churches that give recent biblical research on the resurrection. Here’s a sample of one from Credo House called A Case for the Resurrection of Jesus by Dr. Mike Licona and Michael Patton that would be worth considering to get for your church.

Common English Bible #7

It seems like the Common English Bible is gaining ground and is at #7 spot in number of sales on CBA. It’s a good translation and I predict that it will rival the NLT and may eventually overtake it as the next dynamic easy-to-read translation.

Bible Translations – Based on Dollar sales

1  New international Version
2  King James Version
3  New King James Version
4  New living Translation
5  English Standard Version
6  Holman Christian Standard Bible
7  New international Readers Version
8  The Message
9  New American Standard Bible update
10  Common English Bible

Bible Translations – Based on Unit sales
1  New international Version
2  King James Version
3  New King James Version
4  New living Translation
5  English Standard Version
6  Holman Christian Standard Bible
7  Common English Bible
8  New international Readers Version
9  The Message
10  New American Standard Bible update


‘and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. And the life that I now live in my body, I live by faith, indeed, by the faithfulness of God’s Son, who loved me and gave himself for me. – The Apostle Paul (Galatians 2:20 CEB)