The Paroikos Bible Blog exists as a resource to those interested in Biblical studies and Koine Greek. It is hoped that this blog will simultaneously provide food-for-thought to the reader while pointing him or her in the direction of valuable resources, both in print and on the internet, that will further help his or her studies in the Word.

Nov 22, 2023

Tweny-three things I am grateful for in 2023!

 1. I am born again by the blood of Jesus Christ, and belong to Him forever.

2. I married the wonderful Franziska Ritschel in June :)

3–15. I married the wonderful Franziska Ritschel :)

16. Did I mention that I got married to my wonderful wife Franziska?

17. We are expecting a baby girl, due in April!

18. My parents, my mother-in-law Petra, and my friends, especially those who were my groomsmen at my wedding.

19. I belong to a good church with good people and good leadership.

20. I get to teach all sorts of cool stuff at a good Bible college and seminary.

21. The Texas Rangers won the World Series! (I have waited 30 years for this, ever since I became a fan when my parents and I returned home on furlough from Japan in 1993).

22. Two peer-reviewed academic articles published this past Spring in solid journals: one in TC: A Journal of Biblical Textual Criticism on 2 Peter 2:15, and one in Themelios on David's census.

23. Coffee (I really love coffee) 

Nov 10, 2023

Sometimes God cares about sports

Note: All comments are moderated before posting. It is the prerogative of this author to not post comments if he does not wish to. 

This post will be a bit out of the mainstream, in a sense, but one that is meant to be taken seriously. I am an independent Baptist, a fundamentalist (more emphasis on "fun" and less on "mental"), but somebody who does not consider himself to be on the front-lines of the "culture wars," e.g., by pushing for boycotts of Target or whatever.

Also, I should point out that what I'm suggesting in all seriousness has already been satirized by Babylon Bee, though in all fairness I was already suggesting this back on October 2nd while the Rangers were a long-shot to win it all (and I'm not criticizing the Bee, since they tend to satirize Christian trends that need to be satirized, like misapplying Philippians 4:13!)

On October 2nd, I published a post entitled "A New Testament professor cheers for the Texas Rangers." Now that the Rangers have won the World Series for the first time in history (an event which I have been waiting for 30 years, ever since I became a fan as a teenager in 1993), I am writing this follow-up post.

In 2023, the Texas Rangers were the only team to not host a "Pride Night" (see this Associated Press post here). Although generally I would be the last person to suggest that God intervenes in sports, nonetheless I believe this is significant.

Now, I will reiterate what I said in the October 2nd post. God loves everybody, including those in the LGBTQ community, and Jesus died to save everybody. Yet God created two genders, and marriage is intended to be the only legitimate expression of sexuality: man and woman, in a committed relationship for as long as both of them are still alive. This is anchored first and foremost in God's creative act (Genesis 1:27) and the words of Jesus about the origins and intended permanence of marriage (Mark 10:5–9, answering a question about divorce), though Scripture abounds with many other passages on this topic (e.g., Romans 1:24–27). Anything that deviates from God's intended norm for sexuality is a sin (this includes, of course, heterosexual lust and pornography, not just homosexuality). So for Christians that take God's Word seriously, there can be no doubt about the issue.

Now for another preliminary theological note. I do not believe that God foreordains every single invent that happens, though I believe He foreknows all things (for a lexical  argument about prognōsis and proginōskō as not meaning foreordination, see my revised dissertation, published by Wipf & Stock). Nonetheless, I do believe that God in His sovereignty reserves the right to do whatever He wishes (consistent with His character), including intervening in history. Consequently, I feel that Christians must acknowledge the possibility that God can answer prayers about even relatively insignificant matters such as sporting events, if it is in accordance with His will. I believe He has done so at least once before in history, the famous story of Eric Liddell withdrawing from the 100-meter dash at the 1924 Paris Olympics due to a matter of conscience, and going on to win the gold and set a new world record in the 400-meter dash.

There are two points of theological tension here. Point one is that, as much as many of us (including myself) enjoy professional sports, especially baseball, professional sports are ultimately irrelevant in the grand scheme of things and oftentimes a hindrance to a character development, whether it be the player or those cheering for him. Sports can even become an idol that can threaten to overshadow more important things in life. After all, how many die-hard sports fans have stuck with their team for 30+ years "for better or for worse," and yet divorced their wives? 

Yet the second point is that, as a general principle, God can indeed react positively to both individuals and even large-scale entities (e.g., nations) that do right (or abstain from doing wrong), even when lacking a specific covenant with Him. God, by His very nature, has a propensity to bless the good and punish the evil. Although this aspect of His character will not be universally fulfilled until all things on earth are put under permanent subjection to Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:24–28), nonetheless there is a principle that remains true until that point, that "righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people" (Proverbs 14:34).

So, did God directly determine or influence in some way the outcome of the 2023 World Series? (Keep in mind I am speaking as somebody who is not a Calvinist, for whom the answer might be a bit more straightforward!). Speaking as somebody who directly prayed for that result, on the basis of the fact that the Rangers in 2023 did not host a "Pride Night" like all other MLB teams, I have to say that yes, I believe He did, even while acknowledging my own biases towards the Rangers.

Now, I could be wrong, of course, and even if I were right this does not diminish the accomplishments of the Rangers, who throughly earned their victories. Yet there are always certain elements (like injuries, weather, crowd noise, etc.) that are out of the control of a particular team, and obviously God can providentially guide matters in such a way that human effort is included in the equation, not abrogated (though surely Ecclesiastes 9:11 is relevant here).

Nor am I suggesting for an instance that the Rangers were somehow a more "godly" team than any of the others. Far from it, I'm sure! 

The point is simply that as a corporate entity in 2023 the Texas Rangers abstained from celebrating a lifestyle choice that displeases God, they were the only MLB team to so abstain, and thus I believe it is no coincidence that they attained their first World Series victory in the history of their existence this same year.