There are few more pathetic lives we see a glimpse of in the Bible than that of the thief on the cross, yet it has fascinated me recently.  Luke mentions relatively little about him, though there are some things that can be gleaned from the passage.  Unfortunately, the center of the story is often overlooked as the passage is usually used to draw implications about the necessity of baptism.  As is so often the case, the debate surrounding the verse completely misses the point.  The setting is the narrative of Christ's crucifixion.  It is obvious that the story is there because it furthers our understanding of who Christ is and what He has done for us all.  The issue of the necessity of baptism an important one, but it is not the crux of this scene.  I digress.

While he has been given the title, "the thief on the cross," we do not actually know what his crime is.  Thievery does seem likely.  We only know it was enough for the Romans to see fit to put him to death.  Before his crime, he must have known the severity of the Roman laws, yet he committed the crime anyway.  It may have been out of desperation, out of stupidity, or both. I have trouble believing this was an isolated incident.  It seems likely - though not certain - that this was the last and greatest of the many misfortunes of his life.  A life that was likely filled with failure, and that was certainly ending in failure.  And ending too soon.
As it is difficult and time-consuming to write an entire post on every interesting idea that one of us comes across in our reading of various authors, we will begin posting occasionally to simply relay longer quotations which we feel convey interesting or thought-provoking ideas.  The following quotation was written by B.B. Warfield, on how hard it is to deny that the Bible itself teaches the doctrine of plenary inspiration.

The effort to explain away the Bible's witness to its plenary inspiration reminds one of a man standing safely in his laboratory and elaborately expounding-- possibly by the aid of diagrams and mathematical formulae-- how every stone in an avalanche has a defined pathway and may easily be dodged by one of some presence of mind. We may fancy such an elaborate trifler's triumph as he would analyze the avalanche into its constituent stones, and demonstrate of stone after stone that its pathway is definite, limited, and may easily be avoided.  But avalanches, unfortunately, do not come upon us, stone by stone, one at a time, courteously leaving us opportunity to withdraw from the pathway of each in turn; but all at once, in a roaring mass of destruction. Just so we may explain away a text or two which teach plenary inspiration, to our closet satisfaction, dealing with them each without reference to its relation to the others: but these texts of ours, again unfortunately do not come upon us in one solid mass.  Explain them away? We should have to explain away the whole New Testament. What a pity it is we cannot see and feel the avalanche of texts beneath which we may lie hopelessly buried, as clearly as we may see and feel an avalanche of stones! Let us, however, but open our eyes to the variety and pervasiveness of the New Testament witness to its high estimate of Scripture, and we shall no longer wonder that modern scholarship finds itself compelled to allow that the Christian church has read her records correctly, and that the church-doctrine of inspiration is simply a transcript of the biblical doctrine; nor shall we any longer wonder that the church, receiving these Scriptures as her authoritative teacher of doctrine, adopted in the very beginnings of her life, the doctrine of plenary inspiration, and has held it with a tenacity that knows no wavering, until the present hour (B.B. Warfield, The Inspiration and Authority of the Bible, 1948, pp. 119-121).
Check out this excellent post from The Gospel Coalition:

"Who cares what Aristotle thinks about a severed hand," retorted an exasperated philosophy student on a wintery night in a Midwestern university. My lecture screeched to a halt. As the class stared at me, enjoying the showdown, the subtext of my student's comment was not lost on them or me: "Aristotle's view of substance provides me with no 'real world' benefit, so it is useless knowledge."

I wish I could tell you my student's comment that night was an exception to the rule. It is not. Her comment highlights a widely held misconception about the discipline of philosophy and those of us who like to think of ourselves as philosophers: philosophy provides no worldly good, no non-cognitive benefit, and is of limited value. Those of us who have committed the double sin of being a Christian and a philosopher risk further marginalization, often viewed with suspicion by the church as well. Like Socrates and his uneasy relationship with Athens, Christian philosophers can be seen by the faithful as unwanted "gadflies" that ask annoying questions in Sunday school and instigate doubt in the minds of young believers.

As we navigate an increasingly pragmatic university setting and the suspicious gaze of the church, it is easy to feel—like a severed hand—a bit homeless. But before you pass the hemlock, I plead my case: the church needs philosophers and philosophers need the church.


The Church Needs Philosophers and Philosophers Need the Church

A recent discovery in cosmology and the associated excitement in the scientific community has stirred up the debate related to the Multiverse Hypothesis.  Let's take a look at the new discovery, how it relates to the multiverse, and some of the shortcomings of the multiverse hypothesis.  But first, a little history.
Next Post Newer Posts Previous Post Older Posts Home