Category: Columns

When angels desert

This is the sixth in a series of excerpts from the new MBC resource, “The Last Apologist: A Commentary on Jude for Defenders of the Christian Faith,” available at mobaptist.org/apologetics.

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The identity of certain angels in Jude 6 is a matter of much debate. Unlike Satan and most demons, who roam the earth in search of mischief, these angels are kept “with eternal chains in darkness for the judgment of the great day, angels who did not keep their own position but deserted their proper dwelling.”

While many views have emerged, two seem to be most popular – and both views are tied, at least in part, to Gen. 6:1-4, and to a lesser extent the apocryphal Book of Enoch.

Cohabiting angels

One popular interpretation ties directly to Gen. 6:1-4, where the “sons of God” are identified as rebellious angels who cohabitate with the “daughters of man,” producing a race of giants God destroys in the great flood. Advocates of this view generally note the following:

(1) Jewish tradition supports it. For example, the Book of Enoch offers an extensive depiction of evil angels fornicating with women (1 Enoch 10:11).

(2) Based on Jude 14-15, where the author references a prophecy of Enoch, we may conclude that Jude is familiar with 1 Enoch and is influenced by it.

(3) Jude draws a parallel between the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah and the rebellion of deserting angels. Verse 7 begins, “In the same way, Sodom and Gomorrah … committed sexual immorality and practiced perversions” (emphasis added). Therefore, it seems clear that sexual sin is prominent in both instances.
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Who are those guys?

This is the fifth in a series of excerpts from the new MBC resource, “The Last Apologist: A Commentary on Jude for Defenders of the Christian Faith,” available at mobaptist.org/apologetics.

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Who, exactly, are the “certain men” about whom Jude writes in verse 4 of his epistle? Jude delivers serious warnings about the religious scoundrels who have infiltrated the church – without naming them.

Perhaps this is because there are far too many to name – an indication of how widespread the movement has become. Or maybe it’s because no single person is so well known as to have a heretical movement named after him; no Arius or Nestorius has yet emerged.

Perhaps it’s because Jude’s readers know full well who is being discussed, as Paul’s readers in Corinth do when he identifies “super apostles” who are, in fact, “false apostles” proclaiming another Jesus, a different Spirit, and a different gospel (see 2 Corinthians 11-12).

Or perhaps Jude neglects to name the false teachers because he is writing, not only to the church in his day, but to believers throughout the church age. It’s even possible he resists the temptation to call them out personally because he is determined not to grant them a taste of the credibility they so ravenously desire.

It’s clear these false teachers are in the church, for Jude says they have “come in by stealth.” This makes them especially dangerous.
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What does it mean to contend for the faith?

This is the fourth in a series of excerpts from the new MBC resource, “The Last Apologist: A Commentary on Jude for Defenders of the Christian Faith,” available at mobaptist.org/apologetics.

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Jude writes in verse 3 of his epistle, “I found it necessary to write and exhort you to contend for the faith that was delivered to the saints once for all.”

The Holy Spirit has stirred Jude’s heart, causing him to grieve over the manner in which his beloved friends are allowing false teachings to seep into the church. They must not sit idly by while interlopers undermine the first-order doctrines established by the eyewitnesses of the life of Christ.

Like Paul, who writes that “an obligation is placed on me” to preach the gospel (1 Cor. 9:16), Jude senses a heavy burden that compels him to address false teachers in the church. He and his readers are not able to share a common salvation if they lose the doctrinal truths that define it. Therefore, Jude exhorts them to contend for the faith.
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Are some Christian beliefs non-negotiable?

This is the third in a series of excerpts from the new MBC resource, “The Last Apologist: A Commentary on Jude for Defenders of the Christian Faith,” available at mobaptist.org/apologetics.

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With an estimated 2.2 billion Christians in the world, worshiping in more than 41,000 denominations, one may legitimately wonder how we can possibly fulfill the prayer of Jesus that we all be as one (John 17:22).

But diversity does not necessarily mean division. The differences among the world’s Christian denominations generally have more to do with location, culture, worship styles, missionary efforts, and forms of church government than they do with major doctrinal differences.

Even so, it’s good to ask: What are the non-negotiable doctrines of the Christian faith?

Albert Mohler, president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, refers to the process of discerning biblical truth as “theological triage.” On the battlefield and elsewhere, triage is the process by which medical personnel evaluate and prioritize the urgency of patient needs. A scraped knee can wait; a severed artery cannot.

Mohler suggests that a similar method be used in our churches to determine a scale of theological urgency – what some theologians call primary, secondary, and tertiary issues.
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Are Jude and Peter plagiarists?

This is the second in a series of excerpts from the new MBC resource, “The Last Apologist: A Commentary on Jude for Defenders of the Christian Faith,” available at mobaptist.org/apologetics.

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History is rife with famous plagiarists. Primatologist Jane Goodall “borrowed” from sources ranging from Wikipedia to astrology websites to produce a 2013 book, Seeds of Hope: Wonder and Wisdom from the World of Plants.

Alex Haley’s epic Roots is now considered a mixture of facts, fiction, and thievery.

Joe Biden scuttled his own run for president in 1987 by stealing lines – and even whole pages – from other people’s speeches, including Neil Kinnock of the British Labour Party and American President John F. Kennedy.

And that’s not all. Martin Luther King Jr., rocker Led Zeppelin, and composer John Williams all stand accused in varying degrees of taking other people’s creative work and calling it their own.

So, how do we deal with the reality that portions of Jude and Peter’s second epistle are uncannily similar? Are we dealing with one or more plagiarists claiming divine inspiration?
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