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Bible Scholar Gordon R. Lewis Dies

Dr. Gordon R. Lewis

Bible scholar and author Dr. Gordon R. Lewis, 89, died June 11, 2016 at his home in Littleton, Colorado. Until his death, Dr. Lewis served as senior professor of Christian philosophy and theology at Denver Seminary (@denverseminary). He was a full-time faculty member from 1958-1993.

In 2013, Denver Seminary created the Gordon Lewis Center for Christian Thought and Culture, named after Dr. Gordon Lewis, to engage the needs of the world with the redemptive power of the gospel and the life-changing truth of Scripture by using the disciplines of theology, philosophy, and apologetics to explore the question of what it means to be a Christian.

Buy your copy of Integrative Theology in the Bible Gateway Store

Dr. Lewis earned a PhD from Syracuse University and also studied at Baptist Bible Seminary, Gordon College, Faith Theological Seminary, and Cornell University. He served as president of the Evangelical Theological Society (1992) and the Evangelical Philosophical Society. He founded Evangelical Ministries to New Religions. Dr. Lewis served as a visiting professor at Union Biblical Seminary, Yeotmal, Maharashtra, India. He published one of the earliest evangelical critiques of transcendental meditation in What Everyone Should Know about Transcendental Meditation, which has been republished in Bombay. Dr. Lewis’ books include Decide for Yourself: A Theological Workbook, Confronting the Cults, Judge for Yourself, Testing Christianity’s Truth Claims, and with colleague Dr. Bruce Demarest, Challenges to Inerrancy and Integrative Theology which presents a distinctive method to help people discover truth when facing conflicting claims in a diverse world.

Dad—Invite Your Children to Watch You: Guest Post by Joe Carter

Father’s Day will be June 18, 2017 in the USA.
Browse the Gifts for Dads section in the Bible Gateway Store.

[Also see our Blog post, The NIV Lifehacks Bible: An Interview with Joe Carter]

Joe Carter“Watch me, dad. Watch me.”

There are few imperatives a father hears more often from his children than “watch me.” It’s a plea for us to recognize that whatever our son or daughter is doing—catching a ball, jumping off a diving board—is worthy of our full attention. They know we are often busy, often distracted and want, at least for a moment, for us to truly see them. By seeing them in action, they believe, we’ll appreciate them even more.

We can learn a valuable lesson from their example: If we want our children to develop godly habits we need to imitate them by saying, “Watch me.”

“Watch me” was the command the Apostle Paul gave to his own spiritual children. As he told the church at Corinth, “for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me” (1 Cor. 4:15-16). He also told them, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Cor. 11:1). Paul repeated this admonition several times to the various people and churches to which he served as a spiritual father (Phil. 3:17, Phil 4:9, 2 Thess. 3:7-9, 2 Tim. 3:10-11).

We have a duty to follow Paul’s example with our own children. As theologian D. A. Carson says, “Do you ever say to a young Christian, ‘Do you want to know what Christianity is like? Watch me!’ If you never do, you are unbiblical.”

Here are three ways your own spiritual habits can be used as a model for your children:

Be “watch-worthy” — Every day we’re becoming either more like Jesus or less like him. Which direction are you headed in today? Because your children are watching you, that’s also the direction you’re leading them.

Paul was able to say “follow my example” because he was worthy of imitation. And he was worthy of imitating because he was himself committed to imitating Christ.

If we want to be similarly “watch-worthy” we ought to dedicate ourselves to developing a broad range of godly habits. We must practice the core spiritual disciplines of prayer and intake of Scripture. But we should also be engaged in service and hospitality, evangelism and self-reflection, character formation and developing wisdom, etc. And, above all, we must daily learn to trust and obey God in all things.

These are not practices that come naturally to us. Developing godly habits that lead us to become like Christ requires vigilance and effort. It requires setting aside the necessary time and energy and finding trustworthy resources. The task also obligates us to seek out mature Christians who we ourselves can imitate. If we’re to be “watch-worthy” dads for our children, we need to model our own behavior on imitation worthy spiritual fathers.

Let them see you in action — When do your children see you pray or read Scripture? Do they only see you bow your head to say grace at the dinner table? Do they only see you open your Bible in the Sunday morning church service? Are all your other times of prayer and devotion done behind the closed door of your office or bedroom? If so, then your children may assume such spiritual disciplines are to be practiced alone and in private.

Find ways to let them see you talking to the Father and engaging with his Word. And welcome their interruptions. Don’t be dismissive when they ask what you’re reading. Explain to them—in language they can understand—what you’re learning about God and why it’s important to you.

Love their mother — We live in a broken world and many of us live in broken families. But if you’re blessed to be married to the mother of your children, show them what it means to be a godly husband.

The most important way a husband can love his wife like Christ loved the church is to sacrifice himself for her sake. We’re also called to model and channel the love of Christ by leading our wives into holiness. A husband should therefore forgive, pray for, and gently encourage his wife to engage in disciplines that lead to her sanctification.

There’s no relationship that our children will observe more closely than our marriage. Having them see how we have a Christ-like love for their mother is a powerful example of how they too should love others.

Read more about forming godly habits with this 7-day reading plan.

Buy your copy of the NIV Lifehacks Bible in the Bible Gateway Store

Bio: Joe Carter is an editor for The Gospel Coalition, a senior editor at the Acton Institute, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He’s the co-author of How to Argue Like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History’s Greatest Communicator (Crossway, 2009) and editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible (Zondervan, 2016).

Mourning With Those Who Mourn: Reflections on the Violence in Orlando

We grieve at reports of a mass murder in Orlando this weekend. We invite you to join us today and in the weeks to come in praying for the survivors—and for the many families who lost precious loved ones.

The fact that attacks like this are heartbreakingly common doesn’t make it any easier to intellectually understand or spiritually process them. How can people commit such terrible acts? Why doesn’t God intervene to stop them? There isn’t a simple and easy answer—but these resources, written in the aftermath of past tragedies, might help you to come to grips with what violent acts like this one say about humans, religious faith, and God:

The essays linked above contain numerous links to passages in the Bible that address questions of violence and evil. One of the most famous such passages is Romans 8, and it’s worth reading and sharing today:

The sufferings we have now are nothing compared to the great glory that will be shown to us. Everything God made is waiting with excitement for God to show his children’s glory completely. Everything God made was changed to become useless, not by its own wish but because God wanted it and because all along there was this hope: that everything God made would be set free from ruin to have the freedom and glory that belong to God’s children.

We know that everything God made has been waiting until now in pain, like a woman ready to give birth. Not only the world, but we also have been waiting with pain inside us. We have the Spirit as the first part of God’s promise. So we are waiting for God to finish making us his own children, which means our bodies will be made free. We were saved, and we have this hope. If we see what we are waiting for, that is not really hope. People do not hope for something they already have. But we are hoping for something we do not have yet, and we are waiting for it patiently. — Romans 8:18-25

No doubt many details will emerge once authorities have had a chance to thoroughly investigate the crime. We’ll also hear politicians, pundits, religious leaders, and many others proposing different solutions and responses. We hope you’ll weigh those suggestions prayerfully and thoughtfully, but that whatever else happens, you’ll remember to continually pray for those affected, and to “mourn with those who mourn.” May God comfort the victims and their families—and may our response to this violence point people toward, and not away from, Jesus Christ.

Bible News Roundup – Week of June 12, 2016

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Bible Scholar Gordon R. Lewis Dies
Blog post
See Integrative Theology by Dr. Gordon R. Lewis and Dr. Bruce A. Demarest in the Bible Gateway Store

The Bible in America: 6-Year Trends
Barna Group

Majority of American Christians Don’t Find Bible Reading & Church Attendance Essential
Millennial Evangelical

No More Bibles for Abbotsford Canada Public School Kids
CBC News

Iowa Bible Reading Marathon set for June 30-July 3
Daily Iowegian

Howard County Iowa Bible Reading Marathon June 30
Cresco Times

Group Using Delaware County Iowa Courthouse Grounds to Read Bible Continuously
KMCH

Iowa Prayer Caucus Network to Hold Bible Reading at Courthouse
Dallas County News

It’s Likely This Man Created the Maps Printed in Your Bible or Atlas
Tri-County Times
See the Bible Atlas section in the Bible Gateway Store

Does the New Petra Discovery Hint at Biblical Prophecy?
CBN News
Read Micah 2:12, Isaiah 63:1-6, Matthew 24:15-16, and Daniel 11:41 on Bible Gateway
See the Bible Prophecy Resources section in the Bible Gateway Store
See the Archaeology Resources section in the Bible Gateway Store

The Bible Cause at 200
First Things
Blog post—History of the American Bible Society: An Interview with John Fea

Small-Town Church Gives Big Embrace to Phones, Social Media in Worship
Baptist News Global
Download Award-Winning Free Bible Gateway App

Fresh Bid to Share the Gospel in the Digital Age
Premier Radio

No Cash for Collection at Church? Text It Instead
Marketplace

Annual Public Bible Reading Held In, Around Pembroke, Canada
Pembroke Daily Observer

Young Man Studies the Bible to Learn and to Compete
The Telegraph

Homeless South Carolina Man Said Deputy’s Bible Saved His Life
WYFF News 4

Revised Version of Luther Bible Returns to Reformer’s Original German
dpa international
Read multiple German translations of the Bible on Bible Gateway

371-Year-Old Bible Lives On in Darlington County
WBT Radio

Now In Its 118th Year, Vacation Bible School Still Teaches Children About the Love of Jesus
The Albany Herald
See the VBS section in the Bible Gateway Store

The Bible That Stopped a Yankee Bullet
Darlington County Historical Commission

Man Finds Deceased Grandmother’s Bible at Thrift Shop: ‘This is a Gift from Heaven’
KMTR

Are You More Biblically Literate Than a 7th-Grader?
The Fayetteville Observer
The Fayetteville Observer: Autryville Teen to Represent North Carolina in National Bible Drill
Bible Gateway Bible quizzes

Christian Bible Training Center Approved to Open in China
China Christian Daily

Kids Bible Clubs Begin In India
Mission Network News

Minalin, Philippines Council Approves ‘No Bible Verse, No Permit’ Law for Public Utility Vehicles
Sun Star Pampanga

See other Bible News Roundup weekly posts

Be the Best Dad You Can Be: Sign Up for These Devotions for Fathers

Fathers Day devotions from Bible GatewayLooking for a devotional that will challenge and inspire you to be a better parent and spouse? With Father’s Day on the horizon, we’ve picked out some of our best parenting devotionals for dads and put them on our Father’s Day page!

The three devotionals we picked are:

Devotions for a Sacred Marriage: Our brand new devotional! It asks, “What if God’s primary intent for your marriage isn’t to make you happy… but holy?” It’s written by best-selling author Gary Thomas to help you explore God’s purpose for your marriage and your relationship with your spouse.

Night Light for Parents: Learn to better love, understand, and nurture your children and family. This daily reflection by James and Shirley Dobson will help you grow in your understanding of God-honoring parenthood.

Boundaries: Take control of your relationships with this weekly devotional drawn from the bestselling Boundaries series.

As you can infer from the descriptions, these devotionals are very appropriate for fathers, but because they focus on strengthening your family relationships generally, they’re a good match for anyone, male or female, whose marriage or personal relationships could use a tune-up. If that’s you, stop by our Father’s Day page and sign up! And feel free to point the father figure in your life in that direction as well.

And don’t forget that the Bible Gateway Store is currently running lots of good deals on gifts for dads, so if you’re looking for something special with which to show your appreciation for dad, take a look at what’s on offer there.

How to Study the Bible: Conviction and Commitment

howtostudythebible

This lesson is part of Mel Lawrenz’ “How to Study the Bible” series. If you know someone or a group who would like to follow along on this journey through Scripture, they can get more info and sign up to receive these essays via email here.


Some of the great Christian leaders of the past based their lives and work on their intimate and deep knowledge of the truth of God in Scripture. Some spoke out forcibly, compelling all believers to take Bible reading and study seriously. Their commitment rose from their deep-seated conviction. Here are a few examples.

Richard Baxter:

Study hard, for the well is deep, and our brains are shallow. But especially be laborious in practice and in the exercise of your knowledge.

Martin Luther:

Watch, study, give attendance to reading! Verily, you cannot read too well; and what you read well you cannot understand too well; and what you understand well you cannot teach too well; and what you teach well you cannot live too well!… It is the devil, it is the world, it is our flesh, that rage and rave against us. Therefore, dear sirs and brethren, pastors and preachers, pray, read, study, be diligent! Verily, there is no time for sloth, snoring, and sleeping in this evil, shameful time. Use the gift that has been committed to you and make known the mystery of Christ.

John Wesley, who here makes six key practical points:

If you desire to read the Scriptures in such a manner as may most effectually answer this end, would it not be advisable,

(1) To set apart a little time, if you can, every morning and evening for that purpose?

(2) At each time, if you have leisure, to read a chapter out of the Old and one out of the New Testament; if you cannot do this, to take a single chapter, or a part of one?

(3) To read this with a single eye, to know the whole will of God, and a fixed resolution to do it?

In order to know His will, you should,

(4) Have a constant eye to the analogy of faith, the connexion and harmony there is between those grand, fundamental doctrines, original sin, justification by faith, the new birth, inward and outward holiness;

(5) Serious and earnest prayer should be constantly used before we consult the oracles of God; seeing ‘Scripture can only be understood through the same Spirit whereby it was given.’ Our reading should likewise be closed with prayer, that what we read may be written on our hearts;

(6) It might also be of use, if, while we read, we were frequently to pause, and examine ourselves by what we read, both with regard to our hearts and lives….

And whatever light you then receive should be used to the uttermost, and that immediately. Let there be no delay. Whatever you resolve begin to execute the first moment you can. So shall you find this word to be indeed the power of God unto present and eternal salvation.

These historic leaders were not talking about Bible study as a mechanical obligation, but as a life-giving pattern of our lives. History was shaped from this kind of conviction and commitment.


Mel Lawrenz trains an international network of Christian leaders, ministry pioneers, and thought-leaders. He served as senior pastor of Elmbrook Church in Brookfield, Wisconsin, for ten years and now serves as Elmbrook’s minister at large. He has a Ph.D. in the history of Christian thought and is on the adjunct faculty of Trinity International University. Mel is the author of 18 books, the latest, How to Understand the Bible—A Simple Guide and Spiritual Influence: the Hidden Power Behind Leadership (Zondervan, 2012). See more of Mel’s writing at WordWay.

Prostitutes and Polygamists: An Interview with David Lamb

Dr. David LambJacob and Solomon were polygamists. Tamar and Rahab were prostitutes. What are polygamists and prostitutes doing on the pages of Holy Scripture? And God told the prophet Hosea to marry a prostitute. What about Cain—did he really marry his sister? Abraham did, and he was also a polygamist. Lot offered his daughters up for rape, David committed adultery (or rape?) and the Bible calls both men righteous.

As readers of the Old Testament encounter these confusing and horrific “love” stories they ask, “What’s up with sex in the Old Testament?” The church often ignores the R-rated bits of the Bible, so it’s hard for people to find answers to their disturbing questions about sex in Scripture, which can lead people to give up on God and God’s Word.

Bible Gateway interviewed Dr. David Lamb (@DavidTLamb) about his book, Prostitutes and Polygamists: A Look at Love, Old Testament Style (Zondervan, 2015).

Buy your copy of Prostitutes and Polygamists in the Bible Gateway Store

Briefly describe love, Old Testament style.

Dr. David Lamb: Love, American Style was a wacky TV show from the 1970’s that made fun of love, sex, and marriage. My parents didn’t allow me to watch it. But they did want to read my Bible. The funny thing is that love, Old Testament style is even wackier than Love, American Style. And sometimes, these biblical stories can be highly disturbing. Jacob and Solomon were polygamists. Tamar and Rahab were prostitutes. Abraham married his sister. Lot offered up his daughters for rape, and David committed adultery with Bathsheba (I’d call it rape), and the Bible calls both men righteous. And, except for Lot, the first chapter of the New Testament includes all of these individuals in Jesus’ family tree. What’s up with that?

As shocking as these stories are, an even more shocking love story is revealed in the pages of the Old Testament as we see that when humans behave badly, God behaves graciously. I explain that fully in my book, Prostitutes and Polygamists.

Why does the Bible include the worst sins of some of the holiest people who have ever lived?

Dr. David Lamb: It’s hard to say definitely why the divinely inspired authors of Scripture included the stories they did, but the Bible, even when it doesn’t make sense to us, is always honest. We’re used to people in power covering up sins, but the Bible exposes sins, even the sins of its heroes (Abraham, Judah, and David). In order for people to be reconciled with their God, they first need to acknowledge their own depravity. Scripture models this by talking about sexual sins honestly and openly. The point of talking about scandalous sins isn’t to satisfy a depraved curiosity; sort of like glancing at the tabloids while waiting at the grocery store checkout lines to purchase our milk and bananas. The Bible includes these stories because they can give hope to anyone who shares similar temptations, or have given into similar sins because just as God could bless Abraham, redeem Judah, and forgive David, he can bless, redeem, and forgive us.

How can Bible heroes who were polygamists, murderers, adulterers, and more be called “righteous” and lifted up as examples?

Dr. David Lamb: Biblical heroes are held up as examples not because of their flaws and sins, but in spite of them as they trusted God in times of crisis. Abraham isn’t praised for essentially trafficking his wife Sarah on two occasions (Gen. 12; 20) or for sleeping with his maidservant Hagar (Gen. 16), but for leaving his homeland, believing God, and agreeing to penis surgery at age 99 while still trying to father a son through Sarah (Gen. 12; 15; 17). Judah isn’t viewed positively for visiting a prostitute (who just happened to be his daughter-in-law Tamar), but for praising her righteousness (Gen. 38:26) and for offering to sacrifice himself for the sake of his youngest brother Benjamin (Gen. 44:33). David isn’t viewed positively for raping Bathsheba and murdering Uriah, but because he humbly repented of his heinous crimes and was therefore reconciled to God (2 Sam. 12:13; Psa. 51).

How much does the Bible talk about sex and why?

Dr. David Lamb: The Bible talks about sex a lot, starting in the first chapter. God’s first command to the humans was, “Be fruitful and multiply, fill the earth” (Gen. 1:28). To fulfill this commission, what needs to happen? As I understand it, I think we’re talking about sex. How much sex are we talking about? Well…enough to fill the earth. It thus appears that the first words God speaks to the humans are essentially, “Have a lot of sex” (I’d say in the context of a life-long committed relationship). God could have allowed procreation to take place in many different ways, but he designed it to be pleasurable because God is good, and he wants his image-bearers to be able to enjoy his good gifts like marriage and sexuality, as they reproduce and create more humans made in the image of God. The rest of Scripture tells the story of how humans fulfill this command, sometimes faithfully, and other times sinfully.

What does the Bible say is God’s ideal love relationship?

Dr. David Lamb: Scripture is pretty clear that the ideal for marriage set up by God at creation is one man, one woman, together, forever (Gen. 2:18-25). God brought the first man and the first woman together because it wasn’t good to be alone. The animals, as great as they were (dogs are man’s best friend, right?), didn’t really provide the necessary partnership. So, the husband and wife leave their parents, cling to each other, and, in a mysterious and supernatural manner, become one flesh, not to be separated. Ultimately however, the Bible’s ideal love relationship is that of God towards humans, revealed most profoundly in Jesus’ incarnation, his life of servanthood, and his sacrificial death for sinners.

What aberrant sexual behavior does the Bible regulate and why doesn’t it prohibit it altogether?

Dr. David Lamb: The Bible clearly prohibits prostitution (Lev. 19:29; 21:9; Deut. 23:17), rape and adultery (Deut. 22:22-29), homosexual behavior (Lev. 18:22; 20:13), and incest (Lev. 18:6-18; 20:11-21). I have chapters on each of these topics in Prostitutes and Polygamists.

The problem really is polygamy, which biblically may involve multiple wives, or a combination of wives and concubines (who are essentially slave wives). What’s problematic is that there are so many biblical polygamists, including Abraham, Jacob, Gideon, David, and Solomon (who had 700 wives and 300 concubines! 1 Kings 11:3), and the text doesn’t seem to condemn any of their polygamous marriages. But just because a behavior is not condemned doesn’t mean it’s affirmed. An absence of condemnation, does not constitute an affirmation.

While Old Testament laws seem to condone polygamy (Exo. 21:7-11; Lev. 18:18; Deut. 17:17; 21:10-14; 25:5-6), they don’t actually advocate for it, but are merely legislating what to do when it happens. Polygamy was assumed. God set up the ideal for marriage in Genesis 2, but in a non-ideal world, he gave laws to protect the rights of everyone involved (wives, husbands, sisters, slaves, widows, concubines, and prisoners).

How does the culture of the day (past and present) factor into our understanding of the Bible?

Dr. David Lamb: Culture plays a huge role in interpreting and understanding the Bible. A person from the world of the Old Testament would be shocked at how un-hospitable most people are in the West. We don’t know our neighbors, and we don’t invite anyone who rings our doorbell to join us for a meal, or to stay overnight. When it comes to expectations of hospitality, we would appear to them to be barbarians.

No one wants to be considered a barbarian (except perhaps for Conan). We want our actions to be evaluated not based on ancient values of hospitality, but on how we treat people and love them in our own context. Therefore, we need to do the same to the characters in the Old Testament. And as we do our homework on ancient culture, the problems in the Bible don’t disappear, but they become less problematic as we gain insight into why God does what he does. We also need to remember that God in both testaments tells us to love our neighbor as our self.

Why do you believe Christians should talk about sex more than they do?

Dr. David Lamb: Our culture is obsessed with sex. The church and parents, however, are generally afraid of talking about it. When the church whispers about sex and the culture yells about it, whose voice is going to be heard? If parents and Christian leaders avoid the subject, we’re essentially abdicating responsibility to our culture to teach our children and our parishioners about the topic. The church needs to talk about sex more—not just the ideal but also the reality. And the great thing is if parents or Christian leaders want some good material to teach from, all they have to do is open their Bibles. Granted it’s confusing sometimes, but understanding will come through examination, not avoidance.

What do you mean, “fall in love with Jesus first”?

Dr. David Lamb: Scripture often uses the image of marriage for God’s relationship with his people. The church is the bride of Christ (Matt. 9:15; 25:1; Rev. 19:6; 21:2), and God’s people are called to love him (Deut. 6:5; Matt. 22:37; Mark 12:30). Tragically, we often love, worship, and prioritize many things before God (e.g., money, sex, power, success, fame, family, education, jobs). When humans worship the gifts, and not the God who gave them, the Bible calls it idolatry. Our culture makes sex into an idol and the church often makes marriage into an idol. When I tell people they need to “fall in love with Jesus first” I’m simply paraphrasing Jesus’ command to seek first God’s kingdom (Matt. 6:33). Jesus is the only thing that can truly satisfy our deepest desires.

How should parents help their children read and understand the R-rated portions of the Bible?

Dr. David Lamb: Parents obviously need wisdom and discernment (Jam. 1:5) as they teach the scandalous sex stories of Scripture, but children are smarter than their parents often think. They know they aren’t getting the whole story in their children’s Bibles. By “protecting” them from the nasty bits we’re essentially handing over responsibility to teaching our sons and daughters about sex to their friends from school, which I don’t think we really want to do.

Both Planned Parenthood and Focus on the Family think that parents and children need to talk about sex more. According to the research, children actually want to learn about sex from their parents. And the more parents discuss sex with their children, the more likely the children are to take on their parents’ sexual values. Fortunately, the Bible talks about sex a lot, so all parents need to do is to stop ignoring the scandalous sections of the Bible when they’re teaching their children.

Teaching the R-rated portions can be done normally and naturally, as these stories appear in Scripture. At Christmas, explain to children what the virgin birth means. When reading through John’s Gospel, explain what it means to be caught in adultery (John 8:3-4). When telling the story of David, don’t just talk about Goliath, also talk about Bathsheba (1 Sam. 17; 2 Sam. 11-12). If parents are talking about the Bible with their children, it’ll come up a lot. We just need to stop editing and sanitizing the Bible.

What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App?

Dr. David Lamb: As a professional Bible teacher, I have several types of Bible software programs on my computer, but I still use the Bible Gateway website often and find it extremely helpful. I recommend it regularly to my students, who also find it invaluable for searching Scripture, for investigating contextual background, and for checking out multiple translations in English or other languages.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Dr. David Lamb: Christians often quote Paul’s letter to Timothy that “all Scripture is inspired and profitable for teaching” (2 Tim 3:16). While we may believe Paul’s words theoretically, practically I don’t think we do because we avoid so much of the Bible, particularly the Old Testament, specifically the scandalous sex stories. But if we were to read, study and teach the scandalous sex stories of Scripture, Paul tells us that we’ll profit from them as we learn profound lessons about human sin and divine grace. Because as humans behave badly, God behaves graciously.


Bio: David Lamb (DPhil, University of Oxford) lived in Lexington (KY) long enough to become a Wildcat fan (age 1), lived in Downers Grove (IL) long enough to become a Cubs fan (age 5), and lived in Ames (IA) long enough to learn how to walk beans and de-tassel corn (age 18).

As a young man, he went west to Stanford (CA), where he studied economics (BA), industrial engineering (MS) and Bible (in InterVarsity). He served on staff with InterVarsity (1986-1999) at Claremont, Redlands (CA) and Penn (PA) and is the author of God Behaving Badly: Is the God of the Old Testament Angry, Sexist and Racist?.

He married his wife Shannon in 1991, and together they created Nathan and Noah. Since 2006, he’s taught Old Testament at Biblical Theological Seminary. He loves to give others a love for God’s word.

If In Doubt: An Interview with Rhys Stenner

Rhys StennerMockery of the Bible is commonplace. Skeptics dismiss Scripture with a sweeping assumption that it’s unreliable and contradictory. Do you allow this condescending attitude to cast doubt on your faith?

Bible Gateway interviewed Rhys Stenner (@rhysstenner) about his book, If In Doubt: Answering the Seven Great Questions About Faith (Worthy Publishing, 2016).

Buy your copy of If In Doubt in the Bible Gateway Store

Why do you say Jesus loves those who are in doubt?

Rhys Stenner: When Jesus rose from the dead, famously Thomas was absent. He missed the vital facts. The disciples had a doubter in the midst for a long week. But Jesus re-appeared and more than answered the questions that Thomas asked. “Doubting Thomas” became a courageous witness until his dying day. Jesus was patient. He answered the questions. But he does expect us to stop doubting and believe when the answers are given.

What differentiates your book from other apologetic books?

Rhys Stenner: I was taught that to explain simply we need to understand profoundly. Being simple is not easy. But I hope that If In Doubt is accessible and hopefully an easy read. I wrote at first at the request of a few students, and the encouragement of my children. But so many are confused and the world is shifting dramatically that already all ages are getting hold of the book.

Many parents are worried and are wondering, “have I done all I can to train my children for their future” (Deut 6:1-9), or “how do I answer the attacks on the Bible.”

In our first book signing, as we made the book accessible to our church, some members were buying several copies, and one lady with limited resources said, “This is for my son serving overseas; he’s strong in the Lord. This one is for my other son; he’s not doing so well. This one is for my friend who really needs it. And this one is for me.”

It’s aimed for the skeptic, the seeker; and as a foundation book for all.

You begin the book by asking “did God make the world?” Why start with that question?

Rhys Stenner: Obviously the beginning of the world’s most real and relevant story is vital. It’s the gateway to understanding the Bible’s grand scheme. If we doubt or neglect that God made the world and buy into the idea that nothing made nothing then we have a new religion.

The religion of naturalism holds sway among the Western “powers.” If we reduce creation to a random process, then we’ve lost the argument and there’s no foundation for God. The Bible loses its authority over our lives. The logical conclusion is what we have today: we can do as we see fit (Judges 21:25). But our maker will not be forgotten. He has a far better way.

What is irreducible complexity and why does it point to God?

Rhys Stenner: Increasingly we’re discovering the magnificence of creation. Just the human digestive system alone is a solar system of complexity and balance. When evolutionary theory began we saw things much more simply. Our appendix was seen as a hang-over from evolution. Now we know it all works amazingly together. It’s far more complex.

Michel Behe used the term to say that, just as a mousetrap has several moving parts that all work together, so the human body has multiple complex systems like the eye or the knee. If one part doesn’t work, the whole fails. Each entire system is so complex that each integral part would have had to have evolved as one, without any design permitted! Random minuscule mutations of information could not have done this, no matter how many millions of years we make up.

Complexity cannot be reduced to one thing at a time. It all has to work together or it fails. This must mean “design;” that God made all as one, as the Bible says.

Things are way more complex; so we need to challenge and question the 19th century theory of evolution. Sadly, the main reply to those who do question is ridicule. We have to push through this patiently and kindly ask questions of our skeptical friends, as we watch the ever-shifting theories of evolution so often evade the obvious flaws.

How do you see the theory of evolution impacting the idea of absolute right and wrong?

Rhys Stenner: Origins and ethics are inextricably linked. If there’s no creator of life, there’s no God, no accountability. All is a “societal construct.” There’s no right or wrong. But if the Bible is true for the beginning, it’s true until the end.

Many believers have thought that we could concede creation to the secularist and that we could carry on as before. This is not possible.

How do you respond to people who say the Bible is unreliable and mythological?

Rhys Stenner: I get so excited to answer these questions because the evidence is so overwhelming. I do need to say as gently as I can that those who claim the Bible is full of mistakes and fairy stories have rarely read any it!

The Bible is credible history—not merely working through the power and helpfulness of the Scripture but that it’s also corroborated by its careful and accurate eye-witness accounts; its painstaking preservation and protection. It’s real history. In fact, it is history. And If In Doubt provides the facts and evidence that I hope many will read and remember. In the book, we spend time over the last week of Jesus’ life to see how rapidly the message was carefully witnessed, written, passed on, and even sung.

How should someone who’s never opened the Bible begin reading it?

Rhys Stenner: I actually did it in a way I wouldn’t recommend. I began reading the Old Testament when I was 11 after winning a King James Bible as a prize! Not knowing the Lord and having no one to help me, I got bogged down half-way before the Psalms.

As soon as I became a Christian at 14, I was encouraged to go to the New Testament and read John’s Gospel. I read it rapidly and read the rest of the New Testament in a very short time.

So I would suggest starting with either the Gospel of John or Gospel of Mark and going from there.

In practical terms, describe what it means for a person to build her life on the foundation of Scripture.

Rhys Stenner: Everything the believer does needs to be “biblical”—a life based in knowing our creator and forgiver Jesus and living for him always. The Bible reveals how to do this.

In practice, try reading the Bible daily. Morning and night and in between. We can even have e-reminders! Like exercise, some is better than none. Jesus was immersed in the Scriptures and obeyed his father.

Also, get into a Bible-teaching church and don’t hop around. Make sure that your pastor opens the Bible, reads it and believes and preaches all of it unapologetically without watering it down.

Briefly explain the logical progression of your book’s seven questions.

Rhys Stenner: (1) If God made the world, then (2) he’s real and has revealed himself to us. We’re answerable to him. We know this to be true because (3) the Bible is reliable. Scripture takes us to the supreme revelation of (4) Jesus Christ, the one and only. If In Doubt focuses on his last week when he died and actually (5) rose again. If we have this truth nailed down, then we can progress and see that he gives us (6) eternal life. We can be sure of the marvelous future to where we’re going and must warn others of the dangers of judgment. Then we can see what the Bible says about (7) the end of time.

In these seven chapters we’re telling the great story, in part, beginning to end.

What are your thoughts about Bible Gateway and the Bible Gateway App?

Rhys Stenner: Bible Gateway is so helpful. I love the app. I have always appreciated the speedy help to my Greek as well.

Is there anything else you’d like to say?

Rhys Stenner: Thank you for what you’re doing for Bible studies across the world, and for encouraging others to address our doubts and seek the answers.


Bio: Rhys Stenner is the senior pastor of New Hope Baptist Church, with two locations in the South Metro Atlanta area. Rhys was previously senior pastor of Holland Road Baptist Church in Brighton and Hove, England. New Hope is noted as one of the more diverse churches in Atlanta, with a strong teaching ministry on radio and podcast. Well known for its commitment to missions, New Hope currently works in Wales, Zimbabwe, Burkina Faso, India, Thailand, and Haiti. In addition to his leadership at New Hope, Rhys has founded and leads a partnership of many churches in Wales, as well as founding a pastors’ network in South Metro Atlanta. Rhys is a keen golfer and delights to follow rugby as well as ministering to rugby clubs in Wales. He is married to Louise and has three girls. He lives in Fayetteville, Georgia.

New Devotional: Transform Your Marriage with “Devotions for a Sacred Marriage”

Click here to sign up for Devotions for a Sacred MarriageIs your marriage everything that you want it to be? Do you and your spouse feel that there’s a divine purpose behind your marriage? Is the presence of God an everyday reality in your marriage?

Devotions for a Sacred Marriage is a new email devotional that will help you and your spouse connect more closely not just with each other, but with God. Written by bestselling author Gary Thomas, Devotions for a Sacred Marriage challenges us with a simple question: what if God’s primary intent for your marriage isn’t to make you happy… but holy?

During this two-week devotional, you’ll begin to explore concepts like:

  • Turning marital struggles into spiritual and personal appreciation
  • Loving your spouse with a stronger sense of purpose
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  • Transforming a “tired” marriage into a relationship filled with awe and respect

If those sound like ideas you want to incorporate into your marriage, sign up for Devotions for a Sacred Marriage today! When you sign up, you’ll receive a daily reflection from Gary Thomas on topics like the ones listed above. It’s ideal for reading and discussing with your spouse. And even if you’re not married—perhaps you’re in a relationship and starting to consider marriage in the future—it will give you an excellent look at what a Christ-centered marriage looks like.

Here’s Gary describing the questions he explores in this devotional:

Devotions for a Sacred Marriage is free and runs for two weeks. Click here to sign up. Once the devotional is complete, if you want to explore its ideas further, you can find Gary Thomas’ original book—winner of the K-Love 2016 Book Impact Fan Award—at the Bible Gateway Store, along with many other books by Thomas that offer a thoughtful Christian perspective on marriage and relationships.

Bible News Roundup – Week of June 5, 2016

Read this week’s Bible Gateway Weekly Brief newsletter
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‘Noah’s Ark’ Collides with Coast Guard Ship in Oslo Harbor
San Diego Union Tribune
Read the story of Noah’s Ark from Genesis 6-9 on Bible Gateway

Survey Finds Growing Interest Among Catholics in Reading the Bible
Catholic News Service
Blog post—CNN: A Catholic Reads the Bible

New York Catholic Bible Summit Set for June 18
Catholic New York

Bible Reading Marathon to be Held at Muscatine Iowa County Courthouse
Muscatine Journal

Bible-Reading Marathon Held in Detroit Lake
DL-Online

Saint John’s Bible Artist to Become a Knight
St. Cloud Times
Blog post—The Saint John’s Bible: A Work of Art

Pulpit Bible Reveals WWII Sacrifice of Clifton, NJ Residents
Clifton Journal

Thousands of Atheists Gather in DC for Reason Rally
CNN

Are Christian Converts Seeking Asylum Getting a Raw Deal?
BBC News
Christianity Today: Take this Bible quiz of Christian trivia faced by converts from Islam seeking asylum in the UK

Centuries-Old Bible Found; Police Trying to Find Its Owner
ABCNews4

Bible Created by Wearside UK Pupils Set to Emulate Journey to the Vatican 1300 Years On
The Chronicle

See other Bible News Roundup weekly posts