Tag Archives: church fathers

Naked Bible Podcast Episode 163: Other Gods and Other Religions with Gerald McDermott

Gerald R. McDermott (PhD, University of Iowa) is Anglican Chair of Divinity at Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama. Before joining Beeson, he was the Jordan-Trexler Professor of Religion at Roanoke College. He is also associate pastor at Christ the King Anglican Church and Distinguished Senior Fellow in the History of Christianity at Baylor University’s Institute for Studies of Religion.

In this episode of the podcast we discuss two of Dr. McDermott’s books: God’s Rivals: Why Has God Allowed Different Religions? and Israel Matters: Why Christians Must Think Differently about the People and the Land.

God’s Rivals raises the question of why there are other religions—why would God permit that? The content of the book takes note of the Deuteronomy 32 worldview discussed so often on the Naked Bible Podcast – that, for biblical writers, the gods were real and allotted to the nations (and vice versa) in judgment at the Babel event (Deut 4:19-20; 17:1-3; 29:23-26; 32:8-9 [per the Dead Sea Scrolls “sons of God” reading]; 32:17). Dr. McDermott surveys early church thinkers reflections on this situation and what it meant in God’s plan of salvation.
Israel Matters discusses the diversity of opinion (positive and negative) in the believing Church toward the people, land, and state of Israel.

Books referenced:

  1. God’s Rivals: Why Has God Allowed Different Religions? Insights from the Bible and the Early Church
  2. Israel Matters: Why Christians Must Think Differently about the People and the Land
  3. The New Christian Zionism: Fresh Perspectives on Israel and the Land

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The Origin of Sin in Irenaeus and Jewish Pseudepigrapha (Enoch, Jubilees, Etc.)

Readers of this blog know that several people who’ve commented in the past about my views on Romans 5:12 have thought that plain reading of the text out of step with traditional Christianity. Below is an article (not publicly accessible) that shows that Irenaeus wrote several things that are consistent with my take (humans are sinners estranged from God because of their own guilt, not Adam’s) and which are in step with the 2nd Temple Jewish view of how evil/sin proliferated throughout the human race due to the sin of the Watchers (“sons of God”) in Gen 6:1-4.

D. R. Schultz, “The Origin of Sin in Irenaeus and Jewish Pseudepigraphical Literature,” Vigiliae Christianae, Vol. 32: 3 (Sep., 1978), pp. 161-190

In a nutshell, the view of all this that’s consistent with the biblical text taken in its own context is that sin began in Eden (the first divine and human rebellions), which estranged humanity from God because all humans were then cut off from the divine presence and would invariably and inevitably sin. However, the worldwide depravity known to Christian theology  occurs in the wake of the sin of the Watchers (which has a “causative” effect in the sense that 2nd Temple material views the sin of the Watchers, by example and by design, as a catalyst to human rebellion on a grand scale). The proliferation of sin and a human’s individual guilt before God is not laid at the feet of Adam.

I would point out that, in the stream of orthodox Christian theology, Irenaeus was obviously no heretic.

Though the article by Schultz is not publicly accessible, the PhD dissertation he wrote upon which that journal article is based is:

D. R. Schultz, “The Origin of Sin in Irenaeus and Jewish Pseudepigraphical Literature,” PhD thesis, McMaster University, 1972 (216 pp)

*Note: the link will ask you to save the file named “full text” — just save it and then open and rename it.  It’s all there and web-accessible.

Here are some screen shots of the shorter article (click on them for emlarged viewing):

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