The Meaning of Success in Joshua 1:7-8

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The rise of the prosperity gospel—a teaching which elevates earthly success and prosperity as significant signs of God’s blessing—has led to much confusion as to the role of success in the Christian life. Many Christians may read a passage like Joshua 1:7-8, where God commands Joshua to obey in order that “you may have success wherever you go,” to mean that Christians will be successful in all their endeavors (Howard 1998, 86-87), which naturally implies that a lack of success must indicate some disobedience that has caused God to withhold his promised blessing. This paper, therefore, will utilize Hebrew language study tools to examine the meaning and usage of the word תַּשְׂכִּֽיל (H7919) in Joshua 1:7-8 in light of its context and other relevant material. Attention will be given to the word’s semantic range, its usage throughout the Old Testament, and finally to how the word was translated in the Septuagint, and a conclusion will be reached as to the precise meaning of the word for the passage in question. Continue reading The Meaning of Success in Joshua 1:7-8

Book Review: The Briarpatch Gospel

The Briarpatch Gospel: Fearlessly Following Jesus into the Thorny Places By Shayne Wheeler, Tyndale Momentum, 2013, 272 pp., $14.99 paperback.

Briarpatch Gospel coverIt was a bad sign that I found myself echoing the Preacher’s lament that “there is nothing new under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9) very early in Shayne Wheeler’s The Briarpatch Gospel: Fearlessly Following Jesus into the Thorny Places, the latest book in the Hipster-Christian genre of publishing (where authors condemn “Holier Than Thou” Christianity only to replace it with “Cooler Than Thou” and “More Tolerant Than Thou” versions). I know absolutely nothing about Wheeler or his church so I have tried to constrain my critique to his book, without extrapolating it to his person or ministry, but I must admit that it is difficult to judge the latter without assuming that the former must logically be influenced by the views the book betrays. Continue reading Book Review: The Briarpatch Gospel

Falling into the Gap (Theory)

"The Creation of Light" by Gustave Doré
“The Creation of Light” by Gustave Doré

As part of an assignment this past week for a class on the Old Testament, we had to decide and defend which view of creation we support (as they are outlined by Mark Driscoll here). Most of the students chose historic creationism or young-earth creationism, which is probably to be expected since it is a relatively conservative Christian school. What did surprise me, however, is the number of people who chose gap theory as their personal view of creation.

Gap theory (also known as restitution theory or the Divine Judgment interpretation) was popularized by C. I. Scofield‘s notes on the Bible and holds that Genesis 1:1 describes an original creation by God, performed at an indeterminate time in the past (perhaps billions of years ago). Some event (most likely the fall of Lucifer) caused God to judge the earth, rendering it “formless and void.” Genesis 1:2, then, describes a second event, that took place at some point between Genesis 1:1 & 1:3, where God’s spirit prepared the corrupted earth for the creation described in 1:3-27. Thus, an earth and fossils that science tells us date back billions of years are said to be from the first creation and not from the six days of creation described in the latter 25 verses of Genesis 1. Support for this theory is drawn from the fact that: Continue reading Falling into the Gap (Theory)