In episode 70 of the Rethinking Scripture Podcast. I take the whole episode to memorialize the passing of the theologian and scholar, Dr. Michael S. Heiser. In 2020, Heiser was diagnosed with an aggressive case of Pancreatic cancer. On Feb 15, 2023 he turned 60, and five days later he transitioned to experience the unseen realm he wrote so much about.
Dr. Heiser was a Christian author and biblical Old Testament scholar whose area of expertise was the nature of the spiritual realm, specifically the ANE worldview of the Divine Council and the spiritual order’s hierarchy. He was a scholar-in-residence at Faithlife Corporation (the makers of Logos Bible Software) until 2019. He had his own podcast, The Naked Bible, and a non-profit ministry called Miqlat that is dedicated to the creation and distribution of his content. Heiser very graciously continued his craft until the end. Jan 7 was his last podcast episode.
My only brush with Dr. Heiser was in November of 2011 when I was in Bellingham, Washington for a Logos Bible Software training (interestingly led by Morris Proctor who lost his battle with cancer on January 23… just four weeks before Heiser’s passing. That’s a lot of loss within the Logos Bible Software community in a very short time.
The modern understanding and practical applications attributed to the spiritual gifts are diverse. Specifically, the gift of tongues can be a hotly debated topic. Like most people in the church today, I’ve often questioned whether I’ve really understood the whole of the Biblical teaching on this topic.
Below is a link to a working hypothesis. It does not try and follow any particular doctrinal statement or denominational stance. What follows is an attempt to approach the theology of language considering the entire Biblical narrative (both Old and New Testaments).
This project is incomplete in its current form. I’ve organized my thoughts into an outline of chapter headings.
The Story of Babel
The Language of Paradise Lost and Restored?
The Shadow & Fulfillment of Pentecost
General Overview of Tongues in the NT
General Overview of Current Theologies of Tongues
The Problem of Acts 2:13
Is Acts 10, and Acts 19 the same thing as Acts 2?
Is 1 Corinthians 14 talking about the same sign as Acts 2?
The overall context of the 1 Corinthians letter?
Is 1 Corinthians 12:31 mistranslated in most English Bibles?
Should Paul’s conversion in Acts 9 factor into the discussion?
Other possible verses that might play into the discussion.
I hope to fill in more detail as time allows.
As with any work in progress, I welcome feedback, comments, and questions.
The document can be accessed through the following link:
The Bible talks a lot about faith. Some people seem to have it, some don’t. Sometimes, the people that have it in one story, seem to lose it in the next. Faith is the stuff of salvation and everyone seems to have an opinion about what it is and how to understand it.
One common theme regarding faith is that people tend to see faith as an “all or nothing” commodity. Do you have faith? Yes… or no. In one sense, I suppose you can talk about faith in those terms, but I think faith is much more complicated than that.
Jesus talks about faith in terms, not only of existence (Yes/No), but of quantity and quality as well.
Sometimes He refers to “little faith”…
You of little faith! – Matthew 6:30b
He said to them, “Why are you afraid, you men of little faith?” – Matthew 8:26
… Jesus stretched out His hand and took hold of him, and said, “You of little faith, why did you doubt?” – Matthew 14:31
Jesus said, “You men of little faith, why do you discuss among yourselves that you have no bread?” – Matthew 16:8
He said to them, “Because of the littleness of your faith… if you have faith the size of a mustard seed…” – Matthew 17:20
and sometimes “great faith”…
(Jesus) marveled and said… “Truly I say to you, I have not found such great faith with anyone in Israel.” Matthew 8:10
Then Jesus said to her, “O woman, your faith is great…” – Matthew 15:28
The Bible seems to present faith more like a dimmer switch. You know… the light switches some of us have in our homes that allow us to regulate, on a sliding scale, the amount of light in a room.
My dad, Larry Hall, passed away on Jan 26, 2017. He had a very aggressive type of cancer that moved rapidly through his body over his last two years. On February 18, 2017, his family and friends gathered to celebrate his life. Below are the words I shared that day.
Dad, Jodi and me (the short one) – Seattle, WA, 1971
Memorial to my Dad
On behalf of the Larry Hall family, I’d like to thank each of you for being here today. Some of you are here because you encountered my dad at some point in your lives. I suppose some of you never met Dad but are here to support someone else. Whatever your reason, thanks for taking time out of your life to be with us in honoring and remembering him. We also want to acknowledge there are several good friends and family members that wanted to be here but couldn’t make it today. Their presence is felt even in their absence.
My dad was a big man in many ways. I knew that before he died… and since his death I’ve been reminded again of his significance. We found out a couple of years ago that he had cancer. Part of the beauty of the last two years has been getting to watch my dad fight his cancer. He really had an extraordinary outlook throughout the process. Even when the end seemed obvious to those of us around him… he kept looking beyond his diagnosis. He kept putting events on the calendar. I’m really not sure how he was able to do that.
I have many stories I could tell about my dad, but today I feel compelled to talk about grief a bit. That’s where I find myself this morning. It’s where we all find ourselves at some point.As awful as dad’s cancer was, it did allow us all to grieve a little bit during each season over the last two years.
Grief is an interesting friend. I been trying to find a good analogy for grief. I think it is a type of friend. I suppose we’ve all had a real friend that acted like grief. You know, the one that shows up unexpectedly at your front door… comes in… cleans out your fridge… and stays well past their welcome.
I’d like to share a perspective on communion that has really changed the way I view this sacrament.
At the last supper, Jesus took the bread and the cup and served it to his disciples. When he served the cup he said, “… this is the New Covenant in My blood.” I’m not sure if you’ve thought about those words recently. Those who take communion acknowledge they have, through faith, entered into a covenant with God. A covenant is an agreement, a contract. But what exactly does this mean in the context of communion?
There’s a scene in the Old Testament, in Exodus 24, that I believe foreshadows our New Testament communion. Continue reading →