Category Archives: Christ

The Apostle Paul was a Motivational Speaker?

Marcus Borg: The Heart of Christianity - Rediscovering A Life Of Faith

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“When Paul resolved to ‘preach nothing but Christ and Christ crucified,’ this is centrally what he meant: the cross as a symbol of the process of personal transformation at the heart of the Christian life.” – Marcus Borg, The Heart of Christianity

Earlier in the book, Borg has made clear that he believes substitutionary atonement is an incorrect understanding of the cross – that it was only invented in the 11th century. He also believes that there is no actual process of being ‘born again’ – that all people are always in a relationship with God.

It would appear, then, that the Apostle Paul was a traveling motivational speaker – urging people to be better versions of themselves. I have trouble believing that such a message would have set off the dynamic and rapid growth of early Christianity.

Marcus Borg and Christian Pluralism

Marcus Borg: The Heart of Christianity - Rediscovering A Life Of Faith

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“God is also known in other ways and other religions, I am convinced, but to be Christian is to be centered in the God of the Bible.” – Marcus Borg, The Heart of Christianity

Since the Bible describes an exclusive God, I don’t understand how Christian pluralists deal with texts like John 14:6

“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

Are passages such as this discarded as counterfeit sayings of Jesus?

Did Jesus Spend Saturday in Hell?

A few weeks ago, I listened to a sermon by Mark Driscoll on 1 Peter 3:18-20, one of the most difficult to understand passages in the Bible:

Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit, in which he went and proclaimed to the spirits in prison, because they formerly did not obey, when God’s patience waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight persons, were brought safely through water.

A traditional understanding is that after he was crucified, Jesus descended into Hell.  This is codified in the Apostle’s Creed, which I remember being exposed to in my two semesters at a Lutheran school:

Jesus Christ … was crucified, died, and was buried.  He descended into hell. On the third day he rose again.  He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty.

John Piper has an interesting interpretation up that would make the narrative more consistent with the very clear passage of Jesus to the thief in Luke 23:43 (“Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”):

With regard to 1 Peter 3:19, I take these words to mean that Christ, through the voice of Noah, went and preached to that generation, whose spirits are now “in prison,” that is, in hell. In other words, Peter does not say that Christ preached to them while they were in prison. He says he preached to them once, during the days of Noah, and now they are in prison.

I encourage you to read the whole post for a fuller picture of the evidence for this interpretation, as well as its consequences.

A Conversation with Death on Good Friday

From John Piper’s Desiring God:


Hello, Death, my old enemy. My old slave-master. Have you come to talk to me again? To frighten me?

I am not the person you think I am. I am not the one you used to talk to. Something has happened. Let me ask you a question, Death.

Where is your sting?

DEATH, sneeringly:

My sting is your sin.


I know that, Death. But that’s not what I asked you. I asked, where is your sting? I know what it is. But tell me where it is.

Why are you fidgeting, Death? Why are you looking away? Why are you turning to go? Wait, Death, you have not answered my question. Where is your sting?

Where is, my sin?

What? You have no answer? But, Death, why do you have no answer? How will you terrify me, if you have no answer?

O Death, I will tell you the answer. Where is your sting? Where is my sin? It is hanging on that tree. God made Christ to be sin—my sin. When he died, the penalty of my sin was paid. The power of it was broken. I bear it no more.

Farewell, Death. You need not show up here again to frighten me. God will tell you when to come next time. And when you come, you will be his servant. For me, you will have no sting.

O death, where is your victory?
O death, where is your sting?
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory
through our Lord Jesus Christ. (1 Corinthians 15:55-57)

Who is the Greater Prophet, Jesus or Muhammed

Seeing Clearly puts up a great list of the teachings about Jesus in the Qur’an:

  • Jesus was born of a virgin (Surah 3:45-50)
  • Jesus is sinless (Surah 6:85)
  • Jesus is the Messiah (Surah 3:45)
  • Jesus performed miracles (Surah 3:49)
  • One of these miracles is especially interesting (although only attested elsewhere in the Gospel of Thomas). Surah 3:49 and 5:110 teach that Jesus created a bird out of clay while He was upon this earth.
  • Jesus ascended into heaven in bodily form (Surah 3:55)
  • Jesus spoke at his birth (Surah 19:27-35)
  • Jesus raised the dead (Surah 3:49)

Question for Muslims: since none of the above is true of Muhammed, how can he be called the greatest prophet?

[Whole list taken from Norman Geisler, “Jesus and Muhammed in the Qur’an: A Comparison and Contrast,” SBJT 8:1 (2004), 50-58.]