Last Tuesday I went from Dallas to Providence, Rhode Island, for a meeting of Bible scholars called the Evangelical Theological Society. I took every means of conveyance except a rickshaw.
I took Uber to the airport. Then a plane to Boston (3.5 hours). This was followed by what I thought was a 10 minute bus ride to the train station. But it took over 30 minutes. Thus I missed my Amtrak train and an hour later was off for Providence by train. Once there I walked to the Rhode Island Convention Center and registered. Then I went via Uber with Al and Yami Valdez out to supper. From supper I walked the final half mile to my Airbnb apartment, though it ended up a mile walk since I got lost.
I delivered a paper on Wednesday morning on “The Practical Syllogism and Assurance.” The practical syllogism goes like this:
Major Premise: All who believe in Jesus do good works.
Minor Premise: I do good works.
Conclusion: I have believed in Jesus.
I showed in my message that that behaviorally-based method of assurance was prevalent among the English Calvinists, the Puritans, and it is still widely used by Calvinists today. I was able to point out weaknesses in this approach biblically, logically, and theologically.
We will probably publish my paper in the Spring 2018 journal.
I also was able to attend a number of very interesting papers. One speaker, Dr. Gary Steward of Colorado Christian University, argued that Jonathan Edwards altered and distorted the message of sola fide, by faith alone. I hope we might be able to publish this in our journal.
A surprising talk by Dr. Craig Olson caught my attention. He argued that Abraham did not live to be 175 and none of the patriarchs lived over a normal seventy or eighty year lifespan. He gave various arguments for his position from his recent dissertation. I did not find his arguments persuasive. Nor did I find his suggestion that we must recognize these large numbers as accommodation to the pre-scientific views of Moses’ day.
Dr. Elliott Johnson of Dallas Theological Seminary did a great job defending the view of Genesis 15:1-6 called the promised Seed view. Abraham believing in the promised Seed, the Messiah, as the guarantee of his eternal destiny in Messiah’s kingdom. He suggested that such a view has a profound impact on how we interpret the Bible. I agree. Hopefully we might be able to publish his paper as well.
I also heard some interesting presentations on problems with theistic evolution. They even had four mini-messages that were only 5-minutes each. Maybe we should try that at our conference.
After Uber to the convention center, a short walk to the train station, a train back to Boston, a bus back to the airport, a four-hour return flight, and a ride from Sharon, I finally arrived back home, safe and sound. And tired. It is good to be back!