Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Ongoing Dialogue with Ben Witherington

The follow-up from my last blog entry continues here in Ben Witherington's combox.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Whatever you Bind or Loose . . .

Ben Witherington's Errors on the Periphrastic Participle in Matthew 18:18

I found a link from Alpha & Omega to this article from Ben Witherington. I don't have time presently to write a full response, so here's the quick and dirty. Witherington states (in elliptical form):
One of the more interesting sayings of Jesus with equally interesting theological implications is found in Mt. 18.18--" I tell you whatever you (i.e. Peter and the gang) bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven." . . . If the Evangelist, and/or Jesus before him had wanted to say "whatever is bound on earth, was already bound and determined in heaven" he could certainly have done so, first in Aramaic and then in a Greek rendering of the same. The fact is that Jesus here says the opposite. . . . Now we could debate endlessly about what this refers to. In my view it has to do with decisions about community matters such as are described in vss. 16-17. The point is that there is a heavenly
ratification of such a spiritual decision on earth.
When one of his readers asked about the grammar used in this passage, Witherington responded:
Firstly, the future tenses in the second clauses in this verse are just that future tenses, they are not perfect tenses.

When another reader pointed out the obvious--namely, that the periphrastic future-perfect is employed in this passage and not merely a future tense verb--Witherington responded:

Sorry but this is not the way such conditional statements in Greek work at all. You cannot judge these things on the basis of verb tenses and participles by themselves, but in context. When a future tense is in the apodosis of a future more probably conditional statement, it always implies a future condition, NOT a perfect one. Mounce is simply wrong about this if he was referring to conditional clauses.

Sorry, but the fact that a periphrastic participle happens to appear in a conditional clause has absolutely no bearing on the meaning of the periphrastic participle (what is Witherington’s authority for this? He does not say). A future-perfect periphrastic participle means “will have been,” not simply “will.” The action of such a participle in the apodosis of a conditional statement is indeed future, but it is always a past action from the standpoint of the action in the protasis. In the present case (Matt 18:18 and Matt 16:19), the periphrastic construction means “whatever you bind/loose will have been bound/loosed in heaven.” See the NASB on Matt 16:19 and Matt 18:18, as well as the notes for those passages in the NIV, the ESV, and the NET. I would refer the reader to D. A. Carson for more information on this construction, who concludes these statements "must therefore be rendered 'shall have been bound/loosed'" (Commentary on Matthew). While he is tentative about seeing future-perfect force purely on grammatical grounds, he argues convincingly that other "paradigmatic" considerations are at work here (particularly why this grammatical construction was used over against a simpler one which is more common--especially with the luo word group). See also Mantey's comments. I also checked with Turner and BDF, and found nothing to overturn this (in fact, Turner plainly states that the periphrastic future-perfect carries the normal force of a future-perfect, and lists both Matt 16:19 and 18:18 as examples, 89). I haven’t checked Wallace yet, but since he helped with the notes on the NET I cannot imagine him saying anything different. The point is, by the time Peter et al has bound or loosed, that binding/loosing has already taken place in heaven. There are still those who dispute this understanding, of course. But my larger point is that Witherington's fiat on the periphrastic participle and this passage won't hold. The passage simply does not support Witherington’s point about human free will. But even if we grant that Witherington's understanding of the participle is an exegetical option, it is still only one option. That's a far cry from the cut and dried way Witherington has argued his case. At best, it's a poorly chosen passage if his goal is to convince us of his Arminianism.


Wednesday, April 23, 2008

It's That Time of Year Again

It's springtime! . . .

And that can mean only one thing . . .

Yep, you guessed it . . .

Someone who is completely unqualified to do so has nevertheless taken it upon himself to write a new book or produce a new movie explaining the "REAL Jesus story."

(yawn--just wake me up when this one's over).

Monday, April 07, 2008

In the Presence of Greatness

I was playing around again with the Blog Readability Test tool, and was curious to see what websites would weigh in on a "Genius" level. Interestingly . . .

American Mensa weighs in at "Genius" level

Mensa International (that second word in a title almost always means "Europe") weighs in at "Post Grad" level

Mensa of Canada weighs in at "High School" level

Chicago Areas Mensa weighs in at "Junior High School" level

. . . I take all this to mean that most Mensa organizations think more highly of themselves than they probably should.

On a similar note, the church website of a personal friend of mine--who is also a pastor--ranks on the level of "Genius." We meet for lunch once a week; I'm hoping that will eventually raise the rating of my own website.

Rate Your Website

Follow the link to "The Blog Readability Test."

Not sure I agree with the results. For instance, this article receives the following rating:

. . . while this article receives this rating:

Most of the dialogue in the first article is repeated in the second (through quotations). The only difference in the two articles that I can discern is that the second article includes the signature block of a Roman Catholic apologist.

Actually, it's probably a compliment that most of the articles on this site are understandable to a high school student. There's little value (outside of massaging the egos of men) in communicating at such a sophisticated level that no one but the illuminati can understand it.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

The Authority Debate: Svendsen v. Pacwa

Closing Statement by Eric Svendsen

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

A Faux Orthodoxy

. . . or, better, "A Foe Orthodoxy." From my neck of the woods . . .

"Denver Archbishop Charles J. Chaput Challenges CCU Students"

CCU, for those not from my neck of the woods, is "Colorado Christian University," an institution that used to be a sound evangelical voice in the world. They have purposefully watered down their statement of faith to ensure sola fide never becomes a litmus test for a true gospel: "We believe that for the salvation of lost and sinful people, regeneration by the Holy Spirit is absolutely essential." Wow. Powerful. I wonder if anyone under the rubric of Christendom could be found who disagrees with that.

And so, CCU has invited the head Judaizer of Denver to exhort their theologically naive, unsuspecting youth . . .

"The archbishop was greeted warmly by all attending, and throughout his talk he held everyone’s quiet attention. . . . After chapel concluded, students asked the archbishop many questions on how to he felt they could best be used in today's times of so many challenging issues to Christianity."

So "Christians" (are they?) are now officially getting their guidance on how to live the Christian life from a man who embodies a gospel that condemns. Who is responsible for arranging this meeting? The article goes on to tell us . . .

"CCU President and former U. S. Senator Bill Armstrong has been aggressively bringing some of the best scholars and Christian authorities onto campus to speak to students and elevate campus commitment to open dialogue."

So, the head Judaizer of Denver now qualifies as a "Christian authority."

"When asked about the invitation to Archbishop Chaput to visit CCU, Armstrong stated, 'Archbishop Chaput embodies exactly what we want our students to hear and learn.'"

So the accountability for this shameful liaison lands squarely on the shoulders of Bill Armstrong, an extremely foolish man who naively thinks that a Judaizer embodies "exactly" what he wants Christian youth to hear and learn. Here, in his own words, is his explanation of that . . .

"He [the archbishop of Denver] believes deeply in the sanctity of life, the word in the Holy Bible, and the teachings of Jesus Christ. The mere speaking about Christian worldviews is not enough – we must live our lives to those principles and help transform the world in which we live."

He (the archbishop of Denver) also believes, O foolish CCU president, that a man is justified by the merits he earns through his own works. He also believes, O foolish CCU president, in a gospel that was specifically condemned by the Apostle Paul. He also believes, O foolish CCU president, that Mary and the saints ought to be venerated and looked upon as objects of prayer. He also believes, O foolish CCU president, that his church and pope are infallible. He also believes, O foolish CCU president, that Jesus is not the only road to salvation; that Muslims, Jews, and even good atheists are saved; that a piece of bread and a cup of wine are the objects of adoration and worship; . . . and on and on it goes.

Of course, none of those things will matter to a university that has abandoned its birthright. Even Esau recognized his error and sought his birthright back with tears. It is exceedingly doubtful that Bill Armstrong and CCU--or anyone who goes down that path--will have the biblical sense to rise even to the level of an Easu.