Thursday, March 26, 2015

God and the Eternal Now

“Teach us to number our days that we might gain a heart of wisdom.”

                                                                                      (Psalm 90:17)


In recent days two of my former undergraduate professors have died. Both of these professors were very influential in my life and their deaths have caused me to reflect upon the eternity and the temporality of human existence. Life is so short and fleeting and I need to focus on what God has intended for my life. Life is short and then we die. It's that simple.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Tragic Words from Jim Morrison

                        "I am not sure what is going to happen when I die, but I am going to get my kicks before the  whole sh-t house goes up in flames."

-Jim Morrison 
Circa 1970.

The Cross of Jesus Christ

"Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world!"

                                     (John 1:29)

    Jesus died for me. This simple but profound statement is ultimately the essence of Christianity. Christians of all denominational flavors and stripes believe that God the Father sent His only Son (Jesus Christ) to die on the cross for our sins. We Christians also believe that God raised Jesus from the dead. The concept that Jesus Christ died on the cross for our sins and rose again from the dead is the most profound idea in the history of humanity. I personally believe this truth with all of my heart, mind, soul and strength.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Why I Support Israel

My Ultimate Confession: I am Jewish

by Lee Edward Enochs 

 I think it should be known that I plan to return back to Southern California and make a difference in society. In fact, my plan is to return home to Orange County as soon as I earn my Master's Degree here in Princeton, New Jersey.

Having said this, I think the time has come for me to confess something to my friends and to the entire world. I am Jewish. Through some thorough genealogical investigation of my family origin, I have come to the careful conclusion that on my father's side of the family, I am a direct descendent of Ukrainian Jewish people who immigrated to the United States in the 1880's. It took most of my lifetime to track all this information down, but it is true, I am Jewish. I am of Hebraic descent and this is why I am a vocal and staunch supporter of my ancestral homeland, Israel.

Let me try to explain to you briefly how I discovered my ancient Jewish identity. You see, my last name is Enochs. In 2007, during my year long stay with my father, Thomas Enochs in Honolulu, Hawaii, I came to this conclusion. After intensive questioning of my own father and after a thorough "paper chase" investigation of very old and important family documents, I came to the determination that my paternal family name Enochs is in all actuality an anglicized version of the Biblical and Hebrew name Enoch.

While it took some time to trace all this down, I discovered that my great grandfather immigrated from a Jewish community in the Ukraine during the later part of the 19th Century. When my great grandfather came to this country, he added an "s" to his last name for some reason. For over the last 100 years, my paternal family name has been Enochs. However in all actuality, my original Hebrew family name which endured for centuries in the same essential etymological form was Enoch.

 According to the Hebrew Scriptures, Enoch was the son of Cain and a city was named after him and the Biblical text says,

"Cain made love to his wife, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Enoch. Cain was then building a city, and he named it after his son Enoch.  To Enoch was born Irad, and Irad was the father of Mehujael, and Mehujael was the father of Methushael, and Methushael was the father of Lamech" (Genesis 4:17-18).

 The Book of Genesis says that Enochs was the seventh progenitor of the human race, descending from Adam. Enoch was the son of Jared and the father of Methuselah. Enoch lived and "walked with God" for 365 years until the Biblical text says, "He was not, because God took Him" (Genesis 5:24).

According to the Jewish Encyclopedia and the Targum; Pseudo-Jonathan (Gen. v. 24) Enoch was a pious worshiper of the true God, and was removed from among the dwellers on earth to heaven, receiving the names (and offices) of Meṭaṭron and "Safra Rabba" (Great Scribe). This view represents one and (after the complete separation of Christianity from Judaism) the prevailing rabbinical idea of Enoch's character and exaltation.

Needless to say, my genealogical and family records conclusively demonstrate that I am a direct paternal descendent of a Jewish family with the surname Enoch, that lived in the Ukraine. Eventually, towards the last part of the 1800's, my great grandfather immigrated from Europe and settled in a farming community in rural Illinois until they moved to the Detroit area sometime in the 1930's.

My Jewish roots makes sense to me. I have had a spiritual and emotional connection with the Jewish people all of my life. I love the Jewish people and will defend Israel until the day I die.

I will let you in on something very personal to me. I have encountered antisemitism in several different contexts here on the East Coast and it angered me. I heard someone say that something very bad about Jewish people and the nation of Israel and it outraged me. I think it deeply upset me because at the core of my being I know that I am Jewish. I am not ashamed of this. I am who I am because this is who the Lord God of Israel made me to be.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Broken by God


                          "It has been good that I have been afflicted, that I might learn Thy statutes."
                                                                                                           (Psalm 119:71)

The last few weeks have been exceedingly difficult for me. In fact, I have not been through such affliction, sorrow and hardship in a very long time. However, at the risk of uttering a cliché, I believe this time of suffering was necessary to bring me to the end of my own self-sufficiency. These trials have broken my massive pride and have made me realize that God is God and that I am not.

In other words, these difficulties have brought me to my knees. I have been pushed to the breaking point of human existence and have come out of this trial of faith believing in Jesus Christ. Like one who has been bitten by a snake and must have the snake poison removed in order to survive, I believe I had to to undergo this massive trial in order to purge and prune me my inherent folly and wickedness.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Begin Again

As many of you know, I experienced walking through a raging snowstorm last week. The effects of this snowstorm took a considerable toll on me. I went through something akin to hypothermia and severe shock to my system. I was not myself and have not eaten very much or had many fluids since last Thursday. Despite the raging headache and heightened senses I experienced, the worst thing about it, was the utter feeling of isolation and abandonment I went through. I still cannot believe I did not have one person to call that could have helped me get home in that state of emergency. But, for now, I am not going anywhere. I do want to self-censor myself for a while to heal from the storm and avoid communicating out of pain and discouragement. But I plan to begin again.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

In Search of the Historical Jesus

                                                        A Personal Reflection
                                                       by Lee Edward Enochs
                                                       Part 1 of 4.

Trigger Warning: This blog post deals with the historical Jesus Christ.  

"I am the Way, the Truth and the Life, no one comes to the Father, except by Me."
                                               ~ John 14:6

 This is a topic I most definitely do not want to discuss or write about. I would rather divert our attention from this issue and focus on other issues. I would rather deal with Benjamin Netanyahu's speech before Congress the other day or complain about how the beautiful Dakota Johnson has no business being in that troubling movie "Fifty Shades of Grey." If I am up to it, those topics will be the focus of other blog posts here on Theologian X. I believe I need to discuss something of the utmost importance and is the ultimate outcome of my discussion about the inspiration, reliability and inerrancy of the Bible.

The subject I will now discuss is very controversial. It is divisive. Many people will disagree with me. I am o.k. with that because I am a big boy and can handle my biz. I am also mindful that Jesus Christ of Nazareth came to bring a sword (Matthew 10:34). Sometimes there are issues in life that are worth fighting for. This is one of them. In fact my entire life stands or falls on this issue alone. The Christian faith is very, very precious to me and it is completely predicated upon Jesus Christ and the truthfulness of the Bible. Everything I have ever did and ever stood for is tied to this singular issue. Without further prolonging the suspense, the issue of utmost importance I am referring to concerns Jesus Christ of Nazareth and if the Bible accurately records the life, ministry and teaching of Jesus Christ.

I believe this is of the utmost importance since it concerns whether or not I have an authentic conception of who Jesus Christ is. I believe Christianity is meaningless if we cannot trust the New Testament's description of Jesus Christ. I believe that the entirety of the Christian faith stands or falls on the central issue of the reliability of the New Testament documents. For if the New Testament does not accurately record who Jesus Christ is and what He did in actual time space history, then we are left to complete arbitrary subjectivity concerning Jesus.

This is personal to me because I spent many, many hours studying this issue and have come to believe the Bible accurately depicts the authentic Jesus of History. I was in search of the "Historical Jesus" until I found Him in the pages of the inspired and infallible New Testament.

I am beginning to encounter professing Christians here in the Northeast who are perfectly fine with the idea that the New Testament is riddled with factual errors, discrepancies and contradictions. I am even running into people who say that they do not believe the Bible at all, yet claim to believe in Jesus Christ.

I believe the veracity of the entire Christian faith is bound of up with the reliability of the Bible and in particular the New Testament. For if the New Testament does not accurately record the life of Jesus, then we are left to our own devices as to whether or not Jesus lived and did certain things that are often attributed to Him.

I believe the Bible is a historically reliable document and it accurately records the authentic life, ministry and teachings of Jesus Christ. I reject much of contemporary higher criticism of the New Testament and believe it is an invalid approach to understanding who Christ is.

I believe in the historic Christian Church's conception of Jesus Christ; that He is the Son of God who died and rose again from the dead in actual time-space history. I believe if we cannot trust the New Testament authors' depiction of Jesus Christ, then, we have no idea who Christ really was and is.

I cannot accept an errant view of Biblical inspiration. Either we can trust all of it as God's infallible and inerrant Word, or we cannot trust any of it. I believe those who believe there were factual errors, discrepancies and contradictions within the original autographs of the New Testament, yet cling to the Bible as their guide to faith, are in a tenuous situation at best, since the "errant Bible view" leaves room for a New Testament scholar and skeptic like Rudolf Bultmann or Bart Ehrman to come along and say we cannot trust any part of the New Testament as an accurate guide of who Jesus was and is today. There seems to be a faulty criterion in the minds of those Christians who maintain faith in Christ from the testimony of an errant testimony of Jesus. If we cannot trust the New Testament in many places, why should we trust it in any place?

My "search for the Historical Jesus" ended when I encountered Him as the living and risen Son of God in the pages of God's majestic and perfect Word.

To those who disagree with me on this; I love you. Let's agree to disagree agreeably and appreciate each other's view with Christian charity. If you disagree and want to state your disagreement, that is fine, place your comments below. I believe in free speech and I am not afraid of divergent views from my own.

Next time: What is Biblical Inspiration?


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Thoughts on God and Biblical Inspiration

"The grass withers, the flower fades, but the Word of God endures forever" (Isaiah 40:8).

"Verily I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not one jot or title with pass from the law until all is fulfilled" (Matthew 5:18).

I believe the Bible is the inerrant Word of Almighty God.

Recently, I have been discussing the issue of Biblical inerrancy among some of my classmates here at a theological seminary on the East Coast. I have become, albeit grudgingly, a spokesperson of sorts, for a conservative Evangelical view of the inspiration, infallibility, inerrancy of the Christian Scriptures. It is not my intention to be divisive on this issue but I do have my own personal convictions on the supernatural inspiration and preservation of the Bible, which I believe is alone the Word of God.

In all honestly, I would rather write clever and irenic little blog posts and listen to alternative rock music than debate the issue of modes of inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture. I did not travel over 3,000 miles to get in any theological debates here on the East Coast and do not intend to debate the issue  now. However for me, it is important to delineate the meaning of God's revelation at least to my own mind.

To be honest, I have been burned badly by the Southern Baptist Convention and American Evangelicalism. Yet, while I am deeply wounded by many of the things that happened to me in these fundamentalist circles, I do not have anything less than a conservative view regarding the nature of the Bible.

If I need to go down on record, I side with the reformed scholars such as Francis Turretin, Archibald Alexander, Charles Hodge, B.B Warfield, J. Gresham Machen, Cornelius Van Till on the inspiration and authority of the Bible.

I personally believe that the Bible is the Word of God and that it was perfectly inspired and inerrant in its original autographs. I do not believe the original autographs of Scripture possessed any errors of a factual, historical, chronological and doctrinal nature. I believe God has supernaturally inspired and preserved His Word from error of any kind. I also believe that any alleged discrepancies or contradictions that are seemingly in Scripture, are alleged and not real and due to our ignorance of some sort. I believe that that all seeming discrepancies can be reconciled and harmonized and that there is no real errors in the original text of Scripture.

I operate from the place of total confidence in the reliability, inspiration and inerrancy of the Christian Scriptures and believe the omnipotent God of the universe has supernaturally guided the process of Biblical inspiration and that He has providentially left us with Scriptures that we can trust. I do operate from a presupposition of plenary or full inerrancy of the Bible. I cannot believe in a partially inspired and errant Scripture that God still holds us accountable to obey. The Bible is the inspired and inerrant Word of God. You can trust the Bible and can take that to the bank.

I find it ironic now that I am away from the fundamentalism of the Southern Baptist Convention and the Southern Baptist school I graduated from, that I find myself agreeing with these conservatives on the inerrancy of Scripture.

While I believe in Biblical inerrancy, I am glad to be studying here. It is good for me to hear a different perspective. I want to take this new information and attempt to understand a new perspective.

"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction, for instruction of righteousness that the servant of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work" (2 Timothy 3:16-17).