Hello Dr. Bock. My name is Justin Daniel and I am currently attending Master's Seminary. My question is not strictly about the New Testament, but about a book you reviewed called "The Unseen Realm" by Michael Heiser. I know you gave the book a positive review, but I am wondering how much of Dr. Heiser's book can be taken as truth? I've emailed at least 6 professors, teachers, pastors, and friends about this and I am quite conflicted. I was wondering if you could comment on how we deal with this particular book as Christians who are so concerned with truth in an age where truth is becoming all the more nebulous.
- Justin: When dealing with any topic like this it is important to ask some core questions. (1) How careful is the writer in handling the Scripture and facing up to interpretative options? (2) Am I nervous simply because this is saying something different than what I have heard and is that fear justified given the biblical evidence the writer presents? (3) On this particular topic, am I at risk in thinking in a more material Western, modernist way and ignoring part of the worldview Scripture presents. What these three questions are getting at is asking honestly if, like a Berean, I am open to examining Scripture in the face of what might be church "tradition" in a less than biblical sense. A fourth question is to consider that some fo these texts are difficult and judgment about what they mean may be in play, but is there anything really problematic in the big scale of doctrinal truth that is at risk here. One of the reasons I reviewed this book positively is because I do think it met that mark especially on questions 1 and 3 above. At the least it is worth seriously exploring. The existential-emotional element you raised is what question 2 probes. It is all to easy to get in a defensive mode in reading Scripture and not be open to learning something fresh from what it teaches. Mike is thoroughly trained in Semitic languages and the background that goes into OT study. His dissertation was also in this area. I am certain it is far more likely that he has spent more time in these texts than anyone you asked about it. So if you have questions about it, ask yourself what biblical evidence would you raise against it or what question worth pondering do I legitimately have, not just well this sounds different.
- Justin, Have you bought the book? If not I would suggest to buy it and then read it and wrestle with what is presented. This way you can determine its value for yourself rather than just relying on the opinions of others. I'm am currently reading it and wrestling with the issues it raises.