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Bodies and Souls: The Case for Reading Revelation 18:13 as a Critique of the Slave Trade

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The Cambridge journal New Testament Studies recently published my article, "Bodies and Souls: The Case for Reading Revelation 18:13 as a Critique of the Slave Trade." I am indebted to my colleague, Garrett Best, and my professor, Craig Keener, who both provided helpful input during the research and writing process. I am also grateful for the careful work of the copy editor, Iveta Adams, who caught several errors in my manuscript.

You can access the full article here. It is relatively short and easy to read, and I hope even non-specialists will find it interesting. For those who do not read German or Greek, here are translations of the non-English phrases that appear in the article (listed in order):

σώματα | bodies
ψυχαὶ ἀνθρώπων | souls of men
σωμάτων καὶ ψυχὰς ἀνθρώπων | bodies and souls of men
die wundersamsten Spekulationen | the strangest speculations
δούλων καὶ ψυχὰς ἀνθρώπων | slaves and souls of men
σωμάτων καὶ δούλους | bodies and slaves

For more on the subject of…

Barth Netterfield | On the Beginning of the Universe

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Barth Netterfield is a professor of astrophysics at the University of Toronto. “He was a key member of the instrument team for BOOMERANG, the experiment that made one of the first accurate determinations of the age, geometry, and mass-energy content of the universe” (Wikipedia).

Augustine on "Game of Thrones": Love, and watch what you will?

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I recently came across an article by Josh Hayes tackling the controversial topic, “Should Christians Watch Game of Thrones?” (For those who do not know, Game of Thrones is a popular television series famous for its extraordinarily graphic depictions of sex and violence.) Hayes defends what is undoubtedly the mainstream position among modern American Christians: while we should exercise caution and discernment in our entertainment choices, even Game of Thrones is not necessarily off limits for mature believers.

What caught my attention in the article was Hayes' use of the following dictum of St. Augustine: “Once and for all, I give you this one short command: Love, and do what you will.” Applying this to the debate over Game of Thrones, Hayes concludes, “Love, and watch what you will.”

This caught my attention because I had just completed an extensive search for any reference to the theater in the writings of the church fathers. (I published the most relevant excerpts in an anthol…

John Lennox | Debate with Richard Dawkins

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John Lennox is an Oxford mathematician and philosopher of science.

William Lane Craig | On Meaning in Life

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William Lane Craig is an analytic philosopher who has participated in many high-profile debates with the world's leading atheists. He currently teaches at Talbot School of Theology and Houston Baptist University.

Babylon, Slavery, and the Dark Side of Joy

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Last year, the Yale Center for Faith and Culture sponsored an essay competition on the topic, “Joy and the Good Life.” My entry, “Babylon, Slavery, and the Dark Side of Joy,” received the runner-up prize. Here is a brief synopsis:

In Revelation 18-19, we see the saints in heaven rejoicing over the destruction of the city of Babylon:

"Rejoice over [Babylon], O heaven, O saints and apostles and prophets, for God has given judgment for you against her!" … After this I heard what seemed to be the loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, crying, "Hallelujah! Salvation and glory and power belong to our God, for his judgments are true and just; he has judged the great harlot [i.e. Babylon] who corrupted the earth with her fornication, and he has avenged on her the blood of his servants." Once more they cried, "Hallelujah! The smoke from her goes up for ever and ever." And the twenty-four elders and the four living creatures fell down and worshiped God who is s…

Should we be progressive?

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Today at work I caught snippets of a discussion on NPR about a pair of sisters who ran a newspaper advice column. The reporters noted that when the sisters began writing, they were quite conservative. Over the years, however, they became increasingly “progressive” in their views about various social issues such as interracial dating, birth control, extramarital sex, and homosexuality.

As one example, the reporters cited the reply given to a father who was concerned that his daughter was engaged to marry a black man. I don’t remember the reply verbatim, but it ran something like this: “Regardless of how you personally feel about interracial marriage, this is the direction that society is going, so you should just accept it.”

As I reflected on those words, it occurred to me that this is actually a terrible piece of advice. Now don’t get me wrong. The conclusion the sisters reached is certainly correct. Of course this father should accept his daughter’s fiancé. But the reasoning used to…

Peter Williams | New Evidence for Reliability of Gospels

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Peter Williams is Principal of Tyndale House, an academic library and study center in Cambridge. Williams also lectures in Old Testament at the University of Cambridge and is an expert in ancient Semitic languages.

Reflections on a 20-Week Ultrasound

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In January I viewed my son through a 20-week ultrasound. Two days later, the Senate killed a 20-week abortion ban. Here are a few reflections:

1. Empty Slogans

"My body, my choice!" That slogan never sounded so lame. The beautiful, delicate foot which I saw on the ultrasound screen was most obviously not a piece of my wife's body. I was looking at the body of my son. It is the body of the child, not the body of the mother, which is dismembered in the abortion procedure. The use of such feeble slogans by the pro-choice movement is a mark of intellectual dishonesty. It represents a refusal to engage seriously with the very real ethical issues at stake in the abortion debate.

2. Deceptive Numbers

Only about 1.5% of abortions in America are performed at 20 weeks or later. Sounds rather insignificant, right? What pro-choice advocates often fail to mention, however, is that there are over one million abortions per year in America. One and a half percent of one million is fiftee…

Why I will not watch "The Passion of the Christ"

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I have argued before on this blog that Christians should not entertain themselves with the sort of graphic violence contained in shows like Game of Thrones or The Walking Dead (see my previous post, Rethinking Legalism and Entertainment). But what about Mel Gibson’s film, The Passion of the Christ? This is certainly a different matter. Christians who watch The Passion are presumably not watching the film to be entertained. Rather, Christians watch this film to remember and to grieve. For this reason, I would never claim that it is a sin to watch The Passion.

Nevertheless, I have chosen not to watch this film, and I would encourage others to abstain. Here is my rationale:

The Power of Evil 

The famed film critic Roger Ebert described The Passion as "the most violent film I have ever seen" and accused the MPAA of lacking "the nerve to give [this film] the NC-17 rating it clearly deserves."

Now someone who witnesses an act of extreme violence against another human b…