Archives For Josiah Grauman

With several new books out on the subject of the authorship of Hebrews, we thought it would be helpful to blog on the topic. Today, Josiah will argue that the authorship of Hebrews is unknown, and that Christians err when they ascribe it to others (like Paul or Luke). Tomorrow, Jesse will argue that Paul wrote Hebrews, and we should give credit where credit is due. Please note that no counter-arguments are given since the articles were written independently of each other.

There are four reasons why I think Hebrews should be left in anonymity:

  1. No one signed it.

Paul begins all thirteen of his letters with the same word — “Paul.” Every time. Without exception.

Hebrews is the exception you say? This is possible, but I find it even more noteworthy that Paul explicitly states that he wrote all of his letters in the same way, so as to weed out any impostors (2 Thes. 3:17). If Paul wrote Hebrews, it seems likely that the evidence from the early church would be as overwhelming as it is for his other letters, but alas, it is not. In fact, some argue that Pauline authorship was only ascribed to Hebrews to make sure it was included in the canon of Scripture (It was not included in the Muratorion canon, 170 A.D.). Continue Reading…

November 15, 2013

Considering suicide

by Josiah Grauman

image001Suicide – “the act of killing yourself because you do not want to continue living” (Merriam Webster).

When it comes to Theology, it’s easy to ponder and solve life’s great mysteries in the realm of the hypothetical. We pose the question: “If a believer commits suicide, will he go to heaven?” Then we embark on our theological excursion, perhaps never even giving a thought to that bruised and battered soul who is so dejected that he is actually considering the unthinkable. So, as a former hospital chaplain, I’d like to start our theological discussion in the realm of reality.

Will you be saved if you take your own life?

My heart aches as I consider what might drive someone to this point, and words seem unfit to bring the sort of comfort needed. I only know that God is merciful, and that at His right hand stands a Man, who by virtue of His genuine humanity understands our lives completely, and by virtue of His complete divinity has the omnipotent power to help. If you ever face such dark temptations, run to Him, and you will find rest for your soul… and not only rest, but also hope and joy, even through the toughest of times (1 Pet. 1:3-6). There are so many other things I would like to say, and hugs that I would like to give, but alas, a blog is not suited to such things. I can only urge: If you are struggling, please find help in a Biblical local church.

Yet there are a few more things I should say.

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FootstoolGod does not need us, nor is He impressed with any of our works. In fact, Isaiah 66:1-2a demonstrates that all of our efforts are downright silly in light of His greatness.

Thus says the Lord:
“Heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what is the house that you would build for me, and what is the place of my rest? All these things my hand has made, and so all these things came to be, declares the Lord.

Would we build Him a house? The earth is His footstool! Even more, what material would we use in our service to Him? The oxigen we breath is His, along with every other molecule we touch! We are like the 4 year old girl who buys her parents a gift and boasts about how rich she is because she can buy such things – not recognizing that her parents gave her the money for the gift in the first place!   Continue Reading…

“Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared” (1 Tim. 4:1-2).

When you read these verses, what do you picture the Spirit describing? What images come to your mind when you think of these later times? In what activity will these deceitful spirits and demons be involved? In other words, when you hear of demonic activity, what is the worst thing you can imagine?

imagine2

Were you imagining pentagrams and candles, human sacrifice and such?

If so, I’m afraid you might be outwitted by the devil’s schemes. Paul explicitly tells us in the next verse what demonic activity he is concerned about: “[those] who forbid marriage and require abstinence from foods that God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and know the truth” 1 Timothy 4:3.

What?!? Doesn’t that seem like a bit of an exaggeration? A bit over the top to say that the most demonic activity possible in the latter days is a teacher forbidding his congregation from eating a certain food?

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“You’d better behave, or daddy will lose his job.”

ducks in arow

What does a pastor tell his children (or wife) concerning the reality that their conduct has a direct bearing on his livelihood? Obviously it is a conversation that will probably happen, but I propose that it is a mistake to tell your family that if they misbehave, the man of the house might end up on unemployment. Telling your children to stay in line so that you can stay at work may seem necessary, but the reality is that such comments seem indicative of the kind of thing that a pastor who is disqualified might say to his family. Let me explain.

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carA father has two children. His boy is 8, we’ll call him Judah; his little girl is 2, we’ll call her Rahab. The father decides to give Judah the coolest toy imaginable: a remote control car. However, in the moment he is about to hand him the wrapped present, Judah throws a terrible tantrum, hits his sister, and angrily throws himself on the floor.

The father wants his son Judah to enjoy the present, and so, in an unexpected twist, he hands it to little Rahab, hoping to provoke Judah to obedience. She opens it up joyfully, chews on the wrapping paper a bit, gets the car out of the package and begins to roll it around. Of course, little Judah is fuming by this point… mainly because he is wicked, but also because he knows what the car is capable of: “Rahab isn’t doing it justice”, he’s thinking, “If she’d just put the batteries in, if she’d just…” but then he remembers how mad he is at his dad, and storms off with a frown.

Continue Reading…

teetering logUnfortunately, when discussing Biblical interpretation, we often spend much of our time making philosophical statements instead of explicitly biblical ones. Having interpreted the Bible symbolically for most of my life, I remember the first time I was forced to ask myself: How does God tell me to interpret His Word?

Though my first conclusion was: “Symbolically, of course, that’s how the New Testament authors interpret the Old…” not being an inspired author myself, I began to question how legitimate it was for me to be coming to such subjective conclusions. I wondered: “Can one text really mean one thing ‘to me’ and a different thing ‘to you’, and don’t we rather want to believe what it means ‘to Him'”? Then Isaiah 40-44 brought clarity.

I now take the Bible ‘literally’ because according to YHWH, if His Word is not fulfilled in the normal way that the original audience should have expected it to be fulfilled, then He, by His own definition of divinity, is no better than a teetering log (Isa. 40:20).

How did I make that logical leap you ask? Three quick steps from Isaiah 42-44:

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mutation

I have a genetic mutation called Loeys-dietz syndrome, which in addition to physical and external complications, also weakens my arteries and causes them to rupture easily (depending upon the location of the artery, this is both life-threatening and faith-strengthening). My wife and I have three beautiful children named Abigail, Noah Jay and Silas, two of whom also have Loeys-Dietz. Frequently, we get ‘asked’ about why we chose to have children knowing that they would likely be born with a life expectancy of 26 (though with the surgical replacement of arteries, this number can be significantly improved).

Non-believers ‘ask’ us why we did not abort.

Believers ‘ask’ us why we wouldn’t have chosen to adopt instead.

Doctors ‘ask’ leading questions about our family history. When they realize we chose to have children knowing that my mutation would force half of them to live with physical pain, their faces make it obvious what terrible parents they think we must be.

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edifyYesterday we looked at three simple instructions from 1 Corinthians 14:27, today we continue…

4. Tongues are only to be exercised in the church if they edify others. “Let all things be done for building up” (1 Cor. 14:26). Everyone agrees. However, how are we edified? Paul is very clear: edification only occurs through understanding (1 Cor. 14:5-12, 19, cf. Rom. 12:1-2). This, of course, is why translation was not optional. If we do not understand, we cannot be edified. If something does not edify, it has no business in Christ’s church.

error5. All tongues’ spoken messages must be obeyed. If the Holy Spirit speaks, we must obey (Isa. 66:2; Heb. 12:25), thus the need for discernment (1 Cor. 14:32). The implication of this truth is immense, because not only are tongues a gift of the Spirit, but their translation as well (1 Cor. 12:10). This is where things get tricky for the requisite tongues’ translator (Which could be the tongues’ speaker or another, 1 Cor. 14:13). If the translation contains any error whatsoever, or is a prophecy that fails to come true, or in any way contradicts the Scriptures, then the Holy Spirit cannot be the one speaking. This is why Biblical tongues cannot be fabricated in a way that obeys 1 Corinthians 14. I can’t speak for 10 seconds without making some sort of error with my tongue (Cf. Jas. 3:6), and if my tongue makes an error, I cannot truthfully claim the Holy Spirit was in complete control of it. Could you? And what would you call someone who attributed an erroneous quote to you that you did not actually say?

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tongues of fireAs someone who loves and works alongside many charismatic brothers, I am frequently asked by my cessationist brethren: What is the best way to prove to charismatics that the gift of tongues has ceased? I believe the question is ill-formed and often creates division instead of unity in truth. So here is my quick answer:

But first, a list of things NOT to do:

a. Do not be haughty, but rather humble (Eph. 4:1-3). This probably goes without saying, but it’s a good reminder nonetheless. Do not speak down to a brother, but rather love him as yourself, speaking truth with kindness and gentleness. Of course, if you are speaking to a Oneness Pentecostal who denies the Trinity, or someone else who is not a believer, they need the Gospel, not cessationism, but even that should come with gentleness (2 Tim. 2:25). Continue Reading…