Saturday, March 18, 2017


Redemptive Thoughts is now running at full steam. Barely an article has appeared here for a year and a half. I was at work on a project that took all my time I had to blog. That project is now complete and will be featured on this site later this year. In the meantime, I hope to post here a couple times a week to build back the readership Redemptive Thoughts once had. A few political posts will be my first focus. My primary concern for posting these is to counter the view of some Christians who believe that Christians must abandon evangelical political and social action. I would like to to post more audio material with the purpose that I might engage in podcasting later on. The semi-regular feature "Friday Night Frozen Dinner and an Intellectual" will return, providing not only book reviews but more reviews of web pages, internet articles and podcasts. In the past, I had expressed my intention to examine the situation and views of the Global Church. I intend on turning that intention into a reality here. I also hope to feature more Christian biography and history, and Wesleyan writings. As always, feel free to comment on anything that appears here.

Friday, January 6, 2017

THOMAS ODEN, 1931-2016

Thomas Oden, the best known American Evangelical theologian from the Wesleyan-Arminian branch of the Church, died last month. He was already a professor of theology when he came to faith in Christ after studying the early Church Fathers. His 3 volume systematic theology was required reading at Wesley Biblical Seminary. His theological method was not to create something new. He applied the wisdom of the historic Church, from the early Church to the Reformation, to our understanding of scripture, the Christian life, and to the Church's mission in today's world. He sought out the truths that have been acknowledged by all branches of the Church from its beginning as the standard by which we discover the source of this wisdom. (Oden acknowledged that Scripture has greater authority than Church teaching.)   Oden's method is often referred to as Classical Consensual Christianity. Oden referred to it as paleo-orthodoxy. Oden also sought to locate the place of Wesleyan theology and spirituality within the greater Church tradition. Recently, he had been educating the Church on the roots of African Christianity and its place in Church history. I never met Thomas Oden. However, many of my professors at Wesley Biblical Seminary were taught and mentored by him. I would like to think that my classmates and I were influenced by Oden through them and help carry on his legacy in the ministry and in the classroom. Here is a collection of articles on Oden that appeared after his death. I hope you take some time to gain some perspective on one of the 20th century's theological giants from a variety of theological viewpoints.

Before examining Thomas Oden's theology and impact, here is a humorous personal account of what kind of person Oden was by C. Michael Patton, a Calvinist. (HT: Kevin Jackson's Wesleyan-Arminian blog).

Andrew Dragos of Asbury Seedbed gives a short account of Oden's life and importance.

This article from Christianity Today was linked to more than any other by those who wished to bring attention to Oden's life and work after his death. It features praise for Oden and his contributions to theology from theologians of many perspectives. For instance, J.I. Packer is quoted as saying that Oden's work on classical Christianity was needed by the Church for centuries.

Here, in Oden's own words is a short account from of his journey from spiritual futility to a robust faith in Christ. (HT: A short article on Oden from Mark Tooley, President of the Institute On Religion and Democracy, on the Caffeinated Thoughts blog. Here is a tribute to Oden written by Tooley after Oden's death. (HT: The Gospel Coalition.)

 Here is a short but useful article from Ben Witherington of Asbury Seminary explaining Oden's contribution to theology with a lament that Oden was not able to produce more on Wesleyan theology. 

Here is a article that links to a great interview by Ray Nothstein of Oden. It is a wide ranging interview covering not only classical Christianity, but its application to such subjects as poverty and social witness, ministry to prisoners, immigration, and suffering. The link to this interview appeared in an article on the Acton Institute blog by Joe Carter.  Here is a link to another interview with Oden, this time with Al Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Its not as wide ranging as the interview with Nothstein. It focuses almost exclusively on Oden's theological and spiritual journey. The link to the original audio for this interview is provided below.

Michael J. Kruger, of Reformed Theological Seminary, learned seven lessons from Oden's life story.

Short tributes to Oden by Stephen Beard of Good News Magazine and Jason G. Duesing

Here is a examination of Oden's theological method from the SUMMA PHILOSOPHIAE blog. This is not an article that can be understood through speed reading.

You can read reviews of Oden's autobiography , A Change of Heart, on Amazon .com . (HT: Gene Vieth.)

Here is a lecture given by Thomas Oden. I haven't had time to listen to it yet. It was given at Seattle Pacific University. It is entitled The Renewal of Classic Christianity:Spirituality (HT: Kevin Jackson's Wesleyan-Arminian blog). When I recommence blogging in earnest, one of my first posts will be my impressions of it, along with the interview with Mohler mentioned above.

Here is a post with a very short video of Oden. However, after it is over, links to longer interviews appear. From Terry Mattingly's On Religion blog.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016


This blog is ten years old. On 12/7/06, from a solitary seat in a Panera Bread, somewhere in America, I began expressing myself on various subjects to the world. Whether the world wants to know what my opinion is on any subject is another matter. (One angry American atheist in Austria wanted me to tell him where I lived, probably so he could find me and punch me in the nose. But our exchange occurred on another blog.) I was reluctant to begin blogging. I was afraid it would compete for valuable time with legitimate spiritual activities. I have actually received a few comments over the years questioning whether one can be both a blogger and an active disciple of Jesus Christ. After ten years, 428 published articles (449 if you count those in draft), my fears did not materialize. In fact, much good has come from it. I learned anew how to express my thoughts in written form. I had let that skill deteriorate after college. I did not regain it while in seminary, which was very inconvenient when writing papers and taking exams. Only after I began blogging did I regain this ability. Many of the books I have on my shelf would not have been read had I not disciplined myself to read them so I could review them online. Many of these books were bought from the Wesley Biblical Seminary library. These books influenced my spiritual and theological development. One in particular influenced how I taught a class at the church I currently attend. The book was The Goodness of God by the late John Wenham. It sat on my shelf for at least ten years. As I turned each page, the page became separated from the binding. I wrote some good articles based on it that will appear one day on this blog. Some of the scriptural references appeared on my other blog, Notes From My Study. I thought that this this book would influence me no further. But soon after reading it, I heard a member of my class ask my pastor about some of the difficult issues surrounding the Old Testament. In God's sovereign timing, I had just been been prepared to deal with her questions. I already had background in the subject, but this particular book prepared me to teach the subject I was already going to teach in far more effective manner. And I would not have read the book if I had not been a blogger. In some cases, expressing myself in print has allowed me to sort out what I really believe on a subject. This was the case with the article, A Post Without Answers. It was a response to the controversy surrounding Pat Robertson's remarks on the earthquake in Haiti. It was the hardest single article for me to write because my position kept changing as I wrote. I have also learned that I have the greatest difficulty expressing myself theologically. It took me a year to produce an article in response to the theological writings of N.T. Wright. Being a blogger has caused me to express myself on other sites. Some of those exchanges were heated, but I also have had worthwhile contact with others I would not otherwise have had. These benefits have been a great blessing over the years, and I expect more positive benefits in the future. Social Media certainly deserves the criticism it has received for its adverse affect on our culture. But it has had one benefit for me. In certain instances, it has offered me an opportunity to define myself instead of having myself defined by others. Even in Christian circles, there are those who would try to marginalize you by painting a false picture to others of your intelligence and capabilities. Blogging has allowed me to transcend such attempts at marginalization. As to those heated exchanges, they have proven to be beneficial to me as well. Learning how to engage a hostile internet antagonist in a civil, Christian manner has been good training. Recently, I had needed that training as I dealt with someone who became somewhat aggressive toward me on another site. That kind of training carries over into other areas of human interaction as well.

So I look forward to another ten years of blogging. I hope soon to increase my productivity. In recent years, my productivity has declined. Productivity declined by half beginning in 2010 when I moved to my present location. Some of the ability to express myself in print seemed to disappear when I made the move. Also, since 9/15, I have been at work on a project which has taken up all the time I have to produce material for posting. I hope to finish this month. I might not produce the 70, 80, or 90 posts a year that appeared in my blog's first few years. But I do hope to produce at least 50 posts a year under my present circumstances.

If you have taken time to peruse my posts on this blog in the past, thank-you. I hope they were beneficial to you in some way. I hope Redemptive Thoughts continues to be a place where you can find articles of interest on a wide range of subjects.

I would also like to thank one of my fellow Wesley Biblical Seminary alumni Jason Kranzusch for encouraging me to be a blogger.  

Monday, November 21, 2016


The following is taken from The Book of Acts in the Setting of Hellenistic History by Colin Hemer. It is a summary of local knowledge supporting the historical accuracy of Acts. It is knowledge that could only be available to one who lived at the same time as the Apostles and who traveled the routes outlined in Acts. This knowledge would not be available to those who lived a couple hundred years later. It is proof for the historicity of Acts and against the claims of scholars who maintain that Acts was written much later. This summary from Hemer's book appeared in the comment section of an article posted on Victor Reppert's blog, Dangerous Idea.  The summary is provided by someone who identified himself as Jayman, who blogs at Biblical Scholarship.

1. Acts 13:4-5: The natural crossing between the ports of Seleucia and Salamis is noted.
2. Acts 13:7: While the name of the proconsul Sergius Paulus cannot be confirmed his family is confirmed.
3. Acts 13:13: "The text names Perga, a river-port, and perhaps the direct destination of a ship crossing from Cyprus, whereas a coaster would have called only at the coastal harbour town of Attalia" (p. 109).
4. Acts 14:1, 6 "implies that Iconium was not in Lycaonia, as has often been supposed on the strength of sources reflecting boundary changes and conditions of different date. Its ethnic inclusion in Phrygia, not Lycaonia, is confirmed by the geographical distribution of Neo-Phrygian texts, and could be illustrated extensively by onomastic study" (p. 110).
5. In Acts 14:6 the "bizarrely heteroclitic declension of the name Lystra is actually paralleled in Latin in the documents, though the point hinges on correct restoration" (p. 110).
6. Acts 14:11: The Lycaonian language was spoken in Lystra. The use of a native language was unusual in the cosmopolitan, Hellenized society in which Paul normally worked. Lystra was a Roman colony in a less developed part of Anatolia and was able to preserve its language.
7. Acts 14:12: The deities Hellenized as Zeus and Hermes are paralleled epigraphically in Lystra and its district. Barnabas and Paul are identified with the two deities in a way consistent with native beliefs.
8. Acts 14:25: Paul and Barnabas return to the coasting port of Attalia to intercept a coasting vessel.
9. Acts 16:1: The correct order of approach overland from the Cilician Gates is, in fact, Derbe then Lystra.
10. Acts 16:2: Lystra and Iconium were relatively close together so it was natural for Timothy to be known by both these churches.
11. Acts 16:8: The form of the name Troas is given as current in the first century.
12. Acts 16:11: The island of Samothrace, with its 5,000 foot mountain, was a conspicuous sailors' landmark.
13. Acts 16:11: Nea Polis, properly rendered as two words in the best manuscripts, was the seaport of Philippi.
14. Acts 16:12: Philippi is correctly described as a Roman colony.
15. Acts 16:13: The small river Gangites flows close to the walls of Philippi.
16. Acts 16:14: Thyatira was a center of dyeing.
17. Acts 16:20-21 "gives an ironical treatment of the anti-Jewish feeling on the part of colonists proud of their Roman status" (p. 115).
18. Acts 16:22: The use of the term stratēgos for magistrates is attested in Pisidian Antioch.
19. Acts 16:35: Flogging was appropriate to the rhabdouchos.
20. Acts 17:1: The mention of Amphipolis and Apollonia should be taken to imply that the were stops along the way as, in fact, they were stations on the Egantian Way from Philippi to Thessalonica. This would divide the journey into three stages of about 30, 27, and 35 miles.
21. Acts 17:1: An inscription confirms that there was a Jewish synagogue in Thessalonica.
22. Acts 17:5: In the free city of Thessalonica Paul is brought before the dēmos ("assembly").
23. Acts 17:6: The title of the board of magistrates in Thessalonica was politarchēs ("city officials").
24. Acts 17:10: Berea was a suitable refuge off the major westward route, the Via Egnatia.
25. Acts 17:14: "The implication of sea-travel is at once the most convenient way of reaching Athens with the favouring 'Etesian' winds of the summer sailing-season and also removes Paul to a different jurisdiction remote from nearer land-routes where opponents might be expecting him" (p. 116).
 26. Acts 17:17: Jewish inscriptions attest to a synagogue existing in Athens.
27. Acts 17:17: Philosophical debate in the Agora was characteristic of Athenian life.
28. Acts 17:18: The Stoa (portico) from which the Stoic philosophers took their name was in the Athenian Agora.
29. Acts 17:18: The term spermologos ("babbler") is characteristically Athenian slang.
30. Acts 17:19: The two-word form Areios pagos applied to the court and is regularly used in many inscriptions of the period.
31. Acts 17:23: Paul would have seen the Athenian "objects of worship" at the main approach to the Agora from the northwest.
32. Acts 17:23: Altars to unknown gods are mentioned elsewhere (Pausanias 1.1.4; Diogenes Laertius Vita Philos. 1.110; cf. Philostratus Vita Ap. Ty. 6.3.5). While many of these altars use the plural ("gods") at least one phrase from Diogenes is singular.
33. Acts 17:24: Paul mentions temples made by human hands in Athens with its Parthenon and other shrines.
34. Acts 17:24-29: Paul's speech is appropriate for a dialogue with Stoic and Epicurean terms.
35. Acts 17:28: The words "in him we live and move about and exist" are attributed to Epimenides the Cretan, who figures in Diogenes's story of the altars mentioned in Acts 17:23.
36. Acts 17:28: The words "for we too are his offspring" are from the Stoic poet Aratus, of Soli in Cilicia, near Paul's home in Tarsus. This citation is consistent with Paul's quotation of Greek literature in 1 Cor. 15:33.
37. Acts 17:31: Paul states that a "man" was appointed to judge the world. He does not use Christological constructs that would be meaningless to the pagan audience. This is suitable for Paul speaking in Athens rather than a Lukan theological construct.
38. Acts 17:32: Paul takes issue with the denial of resurrection in Greek culture (Aeschylus, Eumen. 647-48). The reaction of the Stoics and Epicureans is understandable in the Athenian context.
39. Acts 17:34: Areopagitēs is the correct title for a member of the court.
40. Acts 18:2: Displays a synchronism with the probable date of Claudius's expulsion of the Jews.
41. Acts 18:3: Paul's trade as a tentmaker is appropriate to his Cilician origin.
42. Acts 18:4: A synagogue in Corinth is attested epigraphically.
43. Acts 18:12: "Gallio is said to be a proconsul, resident in Corinth as provincial capital. Achaia was governed by a proconsul from 27 BC to AD 15 and from AD 44. I have argued elsewhere that the incident belongs to the time of Gallio's arrival in the province in early summer 51, the only point in Paul's residence (autumn 50 - spring 52) when his opponents would be able to take advantage of a new and untried governor" (p. 119).
44. Acts 18:13-14: Gallio is unconcerned that Paul's teaching is in conflict with accepted Jewish theology.
45. Acts 18:16: The judgment seat (bēma) overlooking Corinth's forum is visible today.
46. Acts 18:21: "The hasty departure from Ephesus in spring would suit the assumption, made explicit in the Western text, that Paul was anxious to reach Jerusalem for a feast, presumably Passover, in the limited time available after the opening of the sailing season" (p. 120).
47. Acts 18:23: "The 'Galatian country and Phrygia' is a peculiarly difficult phrase, not the same as in 16:6. I am now inclined to think that 'the Galatian country' is here resumptive of 16:6, and refers generally to Paul's sphere of work in ('South') Galatia, and that 'Phrygia' (here, but not there, a noun) is appended loosely in the awareness that Phrygia extended into the province of Asia, beyond Galatia in any sense, and on Paul's present route towards Ephesus. Possibly Luke knew of Paul's preaching on this journey in Asian Phrygia, in e.g. Apamea Cibotus or Eumenea, major cities on or near the route implied by a likely geographical interpretation of 19:1 below" (p. 120).
48. Acts 19:1: The description of the journey plausibly refers to the traverse of the hill-road reaching Ephesus by the Cayster valley north of Mt. Messogis, and not by the Lycus and Maeander valleys, with which Paul may have been acquainted (Col. 2:1).
49. Acts 19:9: The name Tyrannus is attested in first-century inscriptions from Ephesus.
50. Acts 19:13-14: Jewish exorcists are attested in Asia Minor. The title "high priest" may have been used by Sceva in order to impress his clientele.
51. Acts 19:24: Shrines to the goddess Artemis are well known.
52. Acts 19:27: The formulation "the great goddess Artemis" is known from inscriptions.
53. Acts 19:29: The theater was the meeting place of Ephesus.
54. Acts 19:31: The Asiarchs are naturally situated in Ephesus.
55. Acts 19:32-34: "The deflection of the move against Paul into an anti-Semitic channel accords with surviving evidence for such tensions in Ephesus, where Jews seem to have held citizenship and other special privileges guaranteed first by the Seleucids and maintained under the Romans. Cf. the humorous comment in v. 32" (p. 122).
56. Acts 19:35: The title grammateus is the correct title for the chief executive magistrate of Ephesus and is attested in inscriptions.
57. Acts 19:35: The diopetēs was the archaic sacred image of Artemis, whether it was literally a meteorite or an ancient sculpture.
58. Acts 19:37: Thea was the formal designation of Artemis.
59. Acts 19:38: The term agoraios "reflects the Roman practice in Asia of holding courts under the proconsul in nine or more principal cities which served as district capitals. Ephesus was capital of one of the conventus, or assize-districts" (p. 123).
60. Acts 19:38: "If not merely a generalizing plural, anthypatos may refer to the remarkable fact that two men were conjointly exercising the functions of proconsul temporarily after murdering their predecessor subsequent to Nero's accession in AD 54 (Tac. Ann. 13.1; Dio 61.6.4-5), a date which precisely suits the ostensible chronology of this passage. This view is severely criticized by Ramsay, however" (p. 123).
61. Acts 19:39: The phrase "legal assembly" is the precise phrase attested elsewhere and the concept is mentioned repeatedly in the Salutaris inscription of Ephesus itself.
62. Acts 19:40: Reflects the preoccupation with civic privileges and the fear that sedition or irregularity could provoke Roman intervention.
63. Acts 20:4: The form of the ethnic designation Beroiaios (Berea) is the precise form attested on local inscriptions.
64. Acts 20:4: The ethnic designation Asianos (Asia) is characteristic of the period.
65. Acts 20:13: "Paul's staying behind at Troas and travelling overland to rejoin the ship's company at Assos is appropriate to local circumstances, where the ship had to negotiate an exposed coast and double Cape Lectum before reaching Assos" (p. 125).
66. Acts 20:14-15: The sequence of places on the trip are correct and natural.
67. Acts 20:16: "The choice to by-pass Ephesus had presumably been made already in the choice of ship at Troas, where a faster coaster may have deliberately avoided entering the gulf of Ephesus, especially if the silting there was already causing delays. Paul too may have been acutely conscious that a visit to the church from a ship calling there would be likely to imperil his commitment to Jerusalem through personal entanglements there and the probable need for further trans-shipment" (p. 125).
68. Acts 20:17: Miletus was about 30 miles from Ephesus by land and by sea. The summons is understandable if the ship was to stay at Miletus for a few days.
69. Acts 21:1: The name of the city Patara is correctly given in the neuter plural, as it is in the local epigraphy and elsewhere in literature (Hdt. 1.182; Paus. 9.41.1; Diodorus 19.64.5; Lucian, Philopseud. 38; Appian, Mithridatica, 4.27; Arrian, Anab. 1.24.4).
70. Acts 21:3: The route was probably favored by the persistent northwest winds.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016


Steve Jobs Was Glad He Didn't Become a Victim of Abortion: Steve Jobs was an adopted child who searched for his birth mother when he became an adult. He recounted his meeting with her to his biographer Walter Isaacson:

"Biographer Walter Isaacson unveiled more about Steve Jobs’ life in a new book which recounts interviews with family, friends and other people influential in Jobs’ life. The book reveals some of the fear of abandonment that prompted Jobs to ultimately form a strong bond with his sister, author Mona Simpson, but he eventually refused to be reconciled with his biological father despite feeling a sense of loss for not knowing him.
Still, Jobs put everything into perspective when he said his biological parents could have subjected him to an abortion, and explained to Isaacson why he wanted to find his biological mother. When he finally met birth mother Joanne Schieble, she burst into tears as she apologized for placing him for adoption.
“I wanted to meet [her] mostly to see if she was OK and to thank her, because I’m glad I didn’t end up as an abortion,” he said. “She was 23 and she went through a lot to have me.”
HT: and @StevenErtelt 
These next two links are from the same source:
Martin Luther King Jr.'s Niece Blasts Abortion: "If Black Lives Matter, They Should Matter In the Womb." : Dr. Alveda King reveals that Planned Parenthood targets minorities by locating most of their clinics in minority neighborhoods.
" “Obviously, microcephaly is a terrible prenatal condition that kids are born with. And when they are, it’s a lifetime of difficulties. So I get it. I’m not pretending to you that that’s an easy question you asked me. But I’m prolife. And I’m strongly prolife. I believe all human life should be protected by our law, irrespective of the circumstances or condition of that life.”

Friday, July 22, 2016


Trump may have thanked Evangelicals for their support during his acceptance speech last night , and he may have supported pastors being able to express political opinions from the pulpit, and he may have promised to put Constitutionalists on the court. But he said nothing about protecting the life of the unborn. I know his speech was 75 minutes long. But he could have said, "I believe that life begins at conception and that all life must be protected by law and by Federal policy." That would have made his speech 75 minutes and 3 seconds. Trumps pro life position is of recent vintage. The party has had a pro life position going back many years. For many Christian conservative Republicans, the pro life position is of paramount importance. In light of this, would the extra three seconds been too much to ask?  

Monday, June 6, 2016

Just A Reminder

I am still working on the project that I have been working on since September. It has taken up all my free time. I still am trying to post articles just so readers won't think this site has gone inactive. I tried to write a post on evangelical political activity, but I am suffering from writers block. I post this instead.