Faith and Healing in Jesus’ Ministry: Nabeel Qureshi and Healing, Part 8

James Tissot, The Possessed Boy at the Foot of Mount Tabor (ca. 1890)

James Tissot, The Possessed Boy at the Foot of Mount Tabor (ca. 1890)

Part 1 of this series, “A Failed Experiment,” provides the necessary background and explains my purpose in critiquing the late Nabeel Qureshi’s views on healing.

 

In at least three of Nabeel Qureshi’s vlogs, he spent some time commenting on the role of faith in the healings that Jesus performed. I appreciated his cautiousness on this subject. He acknowledged more than once that some people who appear to have faith are not healed, and he candidly admitted he didn’t know what to do with that fact. He agreed that it would be improper to blame a person’s lack of healing on his or her lack of faith.

On the other hand, Nabeel argued that in many instances it was the faith of those around the sick person, not necessarily the faith of that sick individual, that was instrumental in his healing. He went so far as to suggest that when Jesus was performing healings he excluded from his presence people who lacked faith or who doubted, presumably (if I understood Nabeel’s point) because their unbelief or doubt would interfere with or impede the act of obtaining the person’s healing. The healing accounts he mentioned in these comments were those of the paralytic, the deaf-mute man, Jairus’s daughter, and the demonized boy (##15, 29, and 32).

Before looking at individual texts, I think it would be helpful to distinguish three categories of miraculous works: healings, exorcisms, and resurrections from the dead. In both exorcisms and resurrections, the affected individual cannot ask for help and cannot have faith. In all of the Gospel accounts, the demon-possessed person has no control over his or her faculties and if anything, due to the demon, is frightened of Jesus. Dead people cannot believe and cannot request help, obviously. This leaves the matter of healings, in which the sick, ill, or infirm person is physically capable of asking for help and is constitutionally able to believe (whatever his or her moral and spiritual condition). So in practical terms accounts of exorcisms and resurrections are not going to involve the beneficiary having faith. Continue reading

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The Resurrection of Lazarus and the Christian Hope: Nabeel Qureshi and Healing, Part 7

Sebastiano del Piombo, The Raising of Lazarus (ca. 1518)

Sebastiano del Piombo, The Raising of Lazarus (ca. 1518)

Part 1 of this series, “A Failed Experiment,” provides the necessary background and explains my purpose in critiquing the late Nabeel Qureshi’s views on healing.

 

In one of Nabeel Qureshi’s vlogs (#28), he spent considerable time reflecting on Martha’s words to Jesus four days after Lazarus had died: “But even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you” (John 11:22). Those words “even now” express a confidence in Jesus of his ability to overcome death itself. Martha’s faith in Jesus was remarkable considering that this had taken place before Jesus had died and risen from the dead.

I think Nabeel was right in thinking that Christians should have this kind of faith in Jesus, that is, that we should trust him even in the wake of death. The question I would like to explore is what we should take away from this account of the raising of Lazarus with respect to miraculous healing today.

One place to start is with the fact that what Jesus did was to raise Lazarus from the dead, which is something much different than healing someone who was sick. Certainly we can say that if Jesus could raise the dead he could make a sick person well; such an argument a minore ad maius (from the lesser to the greater) seems quite sound to me. Continue reading

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Jesus’ Healings as Types of Salvation: Nabeel Qureshi and Healing, Part 6

James Tissot, Jesus Stilling the Tempest (ca. 1890)

James Tissot, Jesus Stilling the Tempest (ca. 1890)

Part 1 of this series, “A Failed Experiment,” provides the necessary background and explains my purpose in critiquing the late Nabeel Qureshi’s views on healing.

 

In one of his YouTube vlogs (#15), Nabeel Qureshi cited Matthew 8:17 in support of the belief that Jesus came to free us from sickness. I quite agree. However, as explained in Part 5 of this series, we receive that freedom from sickness in the future resurrection to immortality. The redemption accomplished through Jesus Christ comes in stages. First we are freed from the condemnation of sin; later we will be freed from the effects of sin. Between these two stages of redemption, we live in what theologians call the “already—not” yet tension in which the effects of sin are sometimes ameliorated but never eliminated.

 

Suffering for Our Sins: Matthew 8:17 and Isaiah 53:4

Let’s take a closer look at Matthew 8:17. Matthew is actually quoting Isaiah 53:4. Here is what Isaiah says in context (my literal translation of the Hebrew text):

Surely our sicknesses he carried
And our sorrows he bore;
Yet we considered him stricken,
Smitten by God and afflicted.
But he was pierced because of our rebellions,
He was crushed because of our iniquities;
The chastening for our peace was upon him,
And by his scourgings we were healed. (Isa. 53:4-5)

This text, part of the famous “Suffering Servant” passage, strongly echoes the opening lines of the book of Isaiah:

Children have I reared and brought up,
But they have rebelled against me….
Ah, sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity,
Offspring of evildoers, children who deal corruptly!…
Why will you still be smitten?
Why will you continue to rebel?
The whole head has sickness,
And the whole heart is faint.
From the sole of the foot even to the head, there is no soundness in it,
But bruises and scourgings and raw wounds… (Isa. 1:2-6).

I have translated five key Hebrew words that appear in both texts with the same English words and italicized them for ease of comparison. One of these words, notably, is the word “sickness” (holî), found in both Isaiah 1:5 and 53:4. In Isaiah 1:5, there is no doubt that sickness is a metaphor for the sinful condition of the nation of Judah and the devastating effects of that sinful rebellion against the Lord. This metaphorical use is surely evident also in Isaiah 53:4, since the rest of the text clearly states in several ways that the Servant suffered because of the sinful rebellion of the people. The Septuagint reflects this understanding by actually translating the word for “sicknesses” with the Greek word ἁμαρτίας, meaning “sins.”

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Glorifying God through Healing: Nabeel Qureshi and Healing, Part 5

Mario Minniti - Miracle of the Resurrection of the Son of the Widow of Nain (ca. 1640)

Mario Minniti – Miracle of the Resurrection of the Son of the Widow of Nain (ca. 1640)

Part 1 of this series, “A Failed Experiment,” provides the necessary background and explains my purpose in critiquing the late Nabeel Qureshi’s views on healing.

 

One of the reasons Nabeel Qureshi gave for thinking that it would be God’s will to heal him was that in the Gospels, God was glorified by people being healed, not by enduring their sickness or disease well (vlog #29). I think his intended argument could be stated deductively as follows:

Premise 1: God was glorified through people being miraculously healed.
Premise 2: God should be glorified today.
Therefore,
Conclusion: People should be miraculously healed today.

I agree with both of the premises of this argument:

  • We do find references in all four Gospels to God being glorified on account of Jesus’ miracles of healing and resurrection (Matt. 9:8 / Mark 2:12 / Luke 5:25-26; Matt. 15:31; Luke 7:16; 13:13, 17; 18:43; John 2:11; 11:4, 40).
  • And of course I agree that God should be (and is) glorified today and forever (Rom. 11:36; 15:6-9; 16:27; 1 Cor. 6:20; 10:31; 2 Cor. 1:20; 4:15; 8:19; 9:13; Gal. 1:5; Eph. 3:21; Phil. 1:11; 2:11; 4:20; 1 Tim. 1:17; 2 Tim. 4:18; Heb. 13:21; 1 Peter 2:12; 4:11, 16; 2 Peter 3:18; Jude 25; Rev. 1:6; 4:9, 11; 5:12-13; 11:13; 14:7; 15:4; 19:7).

However, the conclusion simply does not follow from the premises. Continue reading

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If Jesus Healed Everyone Then, Why Not Now? Nabeel Qureshi and Healing, Part 4

James Tissot - Healing of Ten Lepers, Brooklyn Museum (ca. 1890)

James Tissot – Healing of Ten Lepers, Brooklyn Museum (ca. 1890)

Part 1 of this series, “A Failed Experiment,” provides the necessary background and explains my purpose in critiquing the late Nabeel Qureshi’s views on healing.

 

Perhaps Nabeel Qureshi’s main argument for thinking that it is always God’s will for us to be healed was that Jesus healed everyone who came to him for healing. He made this point in several of his vlogs. If Jesus healed everyone then, Nabeel reasoned, we should expect him to heal everyone now if they go to him for healing. Jesus clearly wanted to heal all of them, and of course he had the ability to heal them—and he did heal them. Just as obviously, Jesus has the ability to heal anyone now; so why wouldn’t he heal anyone who came to him today? It seems intolerable to suggest that Jesus doesn’t want to heal people today. So why should we think anything has changed?

Nabeel’s argument can be set forth simply in the following deductive form:

Premise 1: Jesus was willing to heal everyone who went to him for healing.
Premise 2: Jesus is the same today as he was then.
Therefore,
Conclusion: Jesus is willing to heal everyone who goes to him for healing today.

It may seem cold to put the argument in such a formal way, but doing so will help us think more clearly about the matter. So let’s look at this argument, beginning with the two premises.

 

The True but Ambiguous First Premise: Jesus Healed Everyone Who Went to Him for Healing

As I read the Gospels, Nabeel’s premise here is correct: From what we are told in the Gospels, it appears that while Jesus was engaged in his public ministry on earth, he healed everyone who came to him, or who was brought to him, for healing (Matt. 4:23-24; 8:16; 9:35; 12:15; Luke 4:40; cf. Mark 3:10; Acts 10:38). I agree that Jesus did not make inscrutable judgments about which petitioners to heal and which not to heal, a point Nabeel nicely illustrated with the healing of the ten lepers in Luke 17:14 (vlog #15).

Similarly, in response to the leper who asked Jesus to heal him if he was “willing,” Jesus responded by affirming that he was indeed willing (Matt. 8:2-3 / Mark 1:40-41). The text does not make the generalization that Jesus was willing to heal everyone who asked, as Nabeel implicitly inferred (vlog #17), but it is a natural inference to make in light of the several statements in the Gospels that Jesus healed everyone who came or was brought to him for healing.

Continue reading

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Apostles, Prophets, Disciples, and Healing: Nabeel Qureshi and Healing, Part 3

Rembrandt, Jesus and his Disciples (1633)

Rembrandt, Jesus and his Disciples (1633)

 

Part 1 of this series, “A Failed Experiment,” provides the necessary background and explains my purpose in critiquing the late Nabeel Qureshi’s views on healing.

 

A key argument in Nabeel Qureshi’s vlogs about healing is that not only did Jesus heal people but so did his disciples. The argument can be stated formally as follows:

Premise 1: Jesus’ disciples were able to perform healing miracles.
Premise 2: We are Jesus’ disciples.
Therefore,
Conclusion: We are able to perform healing miracles.

In vlog #32 Nabeel made this argument explicit. However, I think he also acknowledged a glitch in the argument when he affirmed that we are also Jesus’ disciples but then added, “in a certain way.” The problem is that the argument equivocates in its use of the term disciples.

 

Apostles and Prophets

The first generation of the Christian movement had special leaders whom Paul called apostles and prophets (1 Cor. 12:28-29; Eph. 2:20; 3:5; 4:11). As I stated in Part 2, the apostles were a foundational group of Christian leaders who functioned as witnesses to the risen Christ in the first generation of the church. All four Gospels report Jesus speaking to the apostles about their coming role as witnesses giving testimony to him (Matt. 10:18; Mark 6:11; 13:9; Luke 9:5; 21:13; 24:44-49; John 15:25-26; 19:35; 21:24). This understanding of the apostles as special, authoritative witnesses to Jesus is a significant theme in Acts (1:8, 21-26; 2:11, 32; 3:15; 4:33; 5:31-32; 10:39-42; 13:30-31; 22:14-15; 23:11; 26:16) and appears in various epistles (1 Cor. 9:1; 15:5-8, 15; 2 Thess. 1:10; 2 Tim. 1:8; 1 Peter 5:1; 1 John 1:2; 4:14). The apostolic witness functioned in conjunction to the prior, prophetic witness of the Scriptures, our Old Testament, to the coming Messiah (Acts 2:30-32; 3:18; 10:43, cf. 10:39-42; Rom. 3:21; Heb. 7:17).

Note that the apostles were not limited to twelve men, although the twelve were the core group of apostles. In addition to the twelve, the NT identifies as apostles Barnabas (Acts 14:14; 1 Cor. 9:5-6; cf. Gal. 2:8-9), Paul (Acts 14:14; Rom. 1:1; etc.), James the Lord’s brother (1 Cor. 15:7; Gal. 1:19; 2:9; cf. James 1:1), and possibly Andronicus and Junias/Junia (Rom. 16:7). Thus, the total number of apostles of Christ seems to have been no less than fifteen and possibly seventeen (that we know by name). In the upper room after Jesus’ ascension and before Pentecost, Judas’s replacement was chosen from a pool of up to 120 persons present at the time, and Paul refers to a group of some 500 individuals who were witnesses of the risen Christ, any of whom potentially could have been given apostolic commissions (1 Cor. 15:6).

In addition to the apostles, other individuals whom Luke and Paul called prophets (Acts 11:27; 13:1; 15:32; 21:10; 1 Cor. 14:29, 32, 37) were associates of the apostles and were also inspired to deliver special messages from Christ.

In part 2, I made the generalization that the New Testament gives accounts of healings performed by Jesus, apostles, and prophets, but not of healings performed by other individuals. There are two persons in the Book of Acts that might be considered exceptions: Stephen and Ananias. Let’s look at both of these men.

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Cessationism versus Continuationism—4 Reasons to Reject both Extremes: Nabeel Qureshi and Healing, Part 2

Nicolas Poussin - Saints Peter and John Healing the Lame Man (1655)

Nicolas Poussin – Saints Peter and John Healing the Lame Man (1655)

 

Part 1 of this series, “A Failed Experiment,” provides the necessary background and explains my purpose in critiquing the late Nabeel Qureshi’s views on healing.

Throughout this series, I will be citing Nabeel Qureshi’s video logs, or vlogs, simply by their number as they are listed on his YouTube vlog page. All of his vlogs were recorded and uploaded to YouTube from September 2016 through September 2017, the month he passed away.

A basic premise of Nabeel Qureshi’s thinking about healing and miracles was that there is no biblical basis for thinking that miracles ceased after the NT era (vlog #14). I fully agree with him on this point. I have never found the view that miracles ceased after the apostolic era plausible. But I would suggest this is simply one of two extreme positions.

At the “cessationist” end of the spectrum is the view that miracles simply do not and will not happen in our time. This position maintains a complete discontinuity between the apostolic era and the rest of church history with regard to the miraculous.

At the “continuationist” end of the spectrum is the view that miracles should happen in our time in just the same ways as in the New Testament era or more narrowly in the same ways as in the public itinerant ministry of Jesus. This position maintains a complete continuity between the apostolic era and the rest of church history with regard to the miraculous.

I would suggest that both of these extreme positions bear the burden of proof. That is, we should be prepared to find both some continuities and some discontinuities between the apostolic era and our time. Consider the following four reasons for adopting this view rather than total continuity (miracles should happen today just as they did in the NT period), yet without going to the opposite extreme of total discontinuity (no miracles should happen today). In what follows, please note that I frequently make various qualifications or distinctions without which it is likely that my position will be misunderstood in an overly simplistic way (perhaps by readers from both sides of the spectrum). I beg the reader’s indulgence if these qualifying comments seem repetitive.

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Learning from a Failed Experiment: Nabeel Qureshi and Healing, Part 1

file.jpgNabeel Qureshi, who passed away on September 16, 2017, was a good friend of mine. He was a well-known convert from Islam to Christianity who went on to earn two Master’s degrees as well as his M.D. degree. I met him around 2010 or 2011, I think, sometime before he finished his second M.A. (from Duke University) in 2012.

Over the next several years Nabeel and I enjoyed seeing each other at least once a year at the Evangelical Theological Society annual conventions with a group of Christian apologists that included David Wood (who had led Nabeel to Christ) and Marie Wood, Abdu Murray, Michael Licona and Debbie Licona, MaryJo Sharp and Roger Sharp, Guillaume Bignon, Ed Komoszewski, and Alex Blagojevic. Whenever this group would get together, I spent a lot of time looking up—Abdu, David, Guillaume, Mike, and Nabeel were all so tall that they looked like more like a basketball team than a group of bookish Christian intellectuals!

From 2013 to 2016, Nabeel wrote three books and spoke all over the world with Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM). The last time that I saw Nabeel in person was in June 2016, when he and Abdu Murray (who was and is also with RZIM) both spoke at a conference in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

On August 30, 2016, Nabeel announced on Facebook that he had been diagnosed with stage 4 stomach cancer. At that stage the odds were overwhelmingly against his recovery, as he himself stated. Over the next year he pursued all medical options available to him and also actively sought miraculous healing.

Throughout the year he posted a series of over forty video logs, or vlogs, on YouTube, most of them discussing his medical condition and treatments and his prayers for healing. In seven of those vlogs from January through May 2017, Nabeel discussed his pursuit of miraculous healing and shared his understanding of various New Testament passages, mostly accounts in the Gospels of specific healings performed by Jesus.

Nabeel’s videos were painful to watch in two ways. It was difficult to watch his physical health declining, and it was difficult to hear him advocating ideas about miraculous healing that had the potential to produce some severe disappointment and even disillusionment if it turned out that he did not recover or get healed from his cancer.

On June 21, I sent Nabeel by email a lengthy letter (some 20 pages) commenting at length on the interpretation of the biblical passages. Understandably, given his rapidly deteriorating condition at that time and the difficulty of the issues, he did not respond to the letter. In my cover email, I had written the following explanation for my letter:

I take you seriously when you said, which you said more than once in your vlogs, that if someone thinks you are mistaken on these things you are open to correction. At this point I am sending this to you privately. Hopefully we can have a good discussion about these things. At some point, I think it is likely that I will want to make this material public, perhaps as an open letter or perhaps in a different form, for the benefit of those who have been following your vlogs and may have questions about the subject of God’s will in regards to healing. The body of the letter is rather academic because I am focused on the exegetical and theological issues, but my motivation is really concern for you. In no respect is this letter a rebuke or personal criticism, but only my attempt to address the substance of your reasoning on the subject at hand. I dearly love you and want the best for you, my friend.

As Nabeel came closer to death throughout the summer, I decided to refrain from commenting publicly about his views on miraculous healing until he recovered or was healed or until he passed away. It was rather clear that one of those things was going to happen fairly soon. I would have been ecstatic if Nabeel had survived the cancer and we could have discussed the theological issues with each other, but sadly that opportunity did not come.

If ever anyone was going to be healed through the concerted prayers of Christians it would have been Nabeel Qureshi. Tens of thousands of Christians (perhaps a hundred thousand or more) prayed for Nabeel. He had hands laid on him numerous times, including by Christians reputed as being the conduits of amazing ministries of miraculous healing. Many individuals publicly stated that they “knew” that God was going to heal Nabeel, sometimes claiming to have received a “word of knowledge” to that effect. And the need was obviously great: a young man in his early thirties, with a wife and baby, potentially decades of fruitful ministry ahead of him, and a large number of Muslims prepared to gloat over Allah’s judgment on the infidel if he died.

And yet he died.

Following Nabeel’s passing, some authors blogged on the question of why God didn’t heal Nabeel. The general theme of these pieces was that we don’t know. God is good and to be trusted even though he could heal people like Nabeel but usually doesn’t. This is just one of those things we can’t understand.

I respectfully disagree with these authors. I think we can know why God usually doesn’t provide miraculous healing for the sick, even godly individuals such as Nabeel.

Over the next several days, I will be posting the material from my lengthy letter to Nabeel. Nabeel had many good and right things to say and he tried to avoid extremist and overconfident claims that his healing was certain. Nevertheless, some of the things he said fostered the presumption that he would be, or at least should be, healed. My concern at this point is to help Christians understand why such presumption is not based securely in the teachings of Scripture or in the ministry of Christ in the Gospels. I maintain that God can and sometimes does heal people, either providentially or (less often) miraculously, but he does not promise to do so all the time even for people who have faith. I will defend this position by presenting eight main arguments for it based on the teachings of Scripture, along the way responding to Nabeel’s arguments for the view that it is always God’s will to heal people who ask him in faith.

In this series of articles, I will be presenting the same material as in my letter to Nabeel, including the more academic points with regard to the exegesis of NT passages, though hopefully in a way that will be understandable and meaningful to everyone interested in these issues.

Nabeel Qureshi’s death is a tragedy, as in a sense all death is. Death is the last enemy that Christ will finally defeat at the end of the age (1 Cor. 15:26). In the meantime, God promises to work all things together for good to those who love God and are called in accordance with his redemptive purpose—a promise that extends even to death (Rom. 8:28-39). Perhaps out of this tragic loss and disappointment can come a better understanding among Bible-believing Christians of faith, healing, and the miraculous. Out of love for Nabeel, his family, and all those who have been blessed through his life, we have an obligation to pursue the truth about Jesus and to speak that truth in love (Eph. 4:15). Nabeel would want us to do nothing less.

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Top 12 Books on the Resurrection of Jesus

Caravaggio - The Incredulity of Saint Thomas (ca. 1602)

Here are a dozen of the very best modern Christian books on the subject of the historicity of the resurrection of Jesus. I have attempted here to refer to as many different authors as I can while still listing what I think are the most important books on this subject.

Copan, Paul, ed. Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up? A Debate between William Lane Craig and John Dominic Crossan. Moderated by William F. Buckley, Jr. With responses from Robert J. Miller, Craig L. Blomberg, Marcus Borg, and Ben Witherington III. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1998. Perhaps the most interesting published debate on the resurrection of Jesus; Craig and Crossan are leading defenders of their positions.

Craig, William Lane. The Historical Argument for the Resurrection of Jesus during the Deist Controversy. Texts and Studies in Religion 23. Lewiston, NY: Edwin Mellen Press, 1985. Only work of its kind, with preliminary material on the history of historical reasoning about the Resurrection from the first century up to the early modern era leading into the period of Deism.

Evans, Craig A. Jesus and the Remains of His Day: Studies in Jesus and the Evidence of Material Culture. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 2015. Most recent book by Evans on the evidence surrounding the death, burial, and empty tomb of Jesus.

Fuller, Daniel P. Easter Faith and History. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965. Includes an important argument for the historicity and authenticity of Paul’s encounter with the risen Jesus.

Habermas, Gary R., and Michael R. Licona. The Case for the Resurrection of Jesus. Grand Rapids: Kregel, 2004. Two of the leading scholars on the Resurrection teamed up to produce this readable, solid defense of its historicity. The most “user-friendly” defense of the resurrection of Jesus (written as an apologetic manual for Christians); includes a CD with games to help learn the content of the book.

Licona, Michael R. The Resurrection of Jesus: A New Historiographical Approach. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2010. Protégé of Gary Habermas advances the evidentialist “resurrection apologetic” by grounding it in a careful study of modern historiography.

O’Connell, Jake. Jesus’ Resurrection and Apparitions: A Bayesian Analysis. Eugene, OR: Resource Publications, 2016. Recent work of scholarship arguing that the Resurrection is a better explanation of the facts than the claim that the disciples experienced subjective apparitions.

Quarles, Charles, ed. Buried Hope or Risen Savior: The Search for the Jesus Tomb. Nashville: B&H Academic, 2008. Probably the best response to the claim that the Talpiot tomb was the tomb of Jesus and his family.

Swinburne, Richard. The Resurrection of God Incarnate. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. Consummate philosopher’s examination of the evidence for the Resurrection.

Walker, Peter. The Weekend that Changed the World: The Mystery of Jerusalem’s Empty Tomb. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox Press, 2000. Interesting exposition of the events surrounding the discovery of the empty tomb, offering numerous specific details based on archaeological research.

Wenham, John. Easter Enigma: Do the Resurrection Accounts Contradict One Another? 2nd ed. Grand Rapids: Baker, 1993. The best attempt to harmonize the Resurrection narratives.

Wright, N. T. The Resurrection of the Son of God. Christian Origins and the Question of God 3. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress, 2003. Tour de force defense of the physical resurrection against liberal reinterpretation; Wright at his best.

 

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Does the Book of Revelation Teach that Christ Is an Angel?

Dore, Vision of John on PatmosGustav Doré, The Vision of John on Patmos (ca. 1880)

 

I recently finished reading Paula Gooder’s book Only the Third Heaven? 2 Corinthians 12.1-10 and Heavenly Ascent, an academic monograph published in 2006. In the course of discussing other ancient texts about ascents into or visions of heaven, Gooder makes the surprising claim that the Book of Revelation identifies Christ as “an exalted angel.” She offers two arguments in support of this claim.[1]

First, the opening vision of the Book of Revelation describes a figure “like a son of man” surrounded by “seven golden lampstands” (Rev. 1:12-13).[2] Gooder jumps hastily to the conclusion that these seven lampstands “must be equated with the seven torches of fire burning before the throne of God.” This argument is quite peculiar. If the seven lampstands were equivalent to the “seven torches of fire” that were “before the throne” (4:5), one would think that the figure in the midst of the seven lampstands would be deity, not an angel. That having been said, the seven golden lampstands are definitely not to be equated with the seven torches of fire. Continue reading

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