1. Dr. Brown,

    I have been a member of the various denominations of Protestantism (15 years) and I find it very hard to fit with both the cultural and doctrinal elements. I was born into the Assyrian Church of the East and am currently struggling with a profound desire to become a part of the Catholic church. I love what they stand for, I love the Apostolic traditions, and I agree with the catechism almost completly. There is a part of me that is deathly afraid of the idea of venerating anyone else but the God of Israel and his messiah i.e. Virgin Mary (according to Matt 1:24 she’s not a virgin) the Saints etc. I know this tradition is also in all of the oldest churches, Assyrian, Armenian, Coptic, and Roman. Where did it come from, and am I right to be scared of it?

    Though I worry about it this issue, I look at the overall benefits of the Catholic Church and feel as though they still hold true to the Bible on all issues. I don’t see the same thing happening in the other Traditional churches.

    Finally, I just want you to know how much I love and appreciate you, and really do consider the word that God has given you to be authoritative. This is a big decision for me and so I’m turning to you for feedback.

  2. Dr. Brown;

    Since this is the q and a section, I wanted to ask a question off the topic.

    In Ezkiel, a temple is described which does not sound like it is the second temple based on the description and surrounding events.

    As a Jewish apologist you must get the question as to why blood sacrifices will be necessary if Jesus’ death atoned for all. Can you clarify this?

  3. S. Johnson,

    Actually, I don’t catch most questions asked here; it’s always best to send through the main website. But since I did catch this one, I take this up at length in vol. 2 of my Jewish Objections series. Have you read the relevant section?

  4. Actually I have read the whole series with the exception of the later portion of Vol. 5 (still working through that). It has been a few years since I read volume 2, and as I was less familiar with Ezekiel at the time, the force of the objection got by me until recently. I just reread the section in volume 2. You make some interesting points.

    The only problem I have with your solution that the vision be taken symbolically is the excruciating detail given for the dimensions of the temple. That just doesn’t have a symbolic flavor but a very literal flavor.

    I like your idea that the sacrifices could look backwards as a memorial better. Although it is not clear to me why recalling animal sacrifices as a memorial would be better than just highlighting the ultimate sacrifice on the Cross.

    Your series is still one of my favorite resources! I have referred back to it many times in my studies. I especially like your examination of Messianic prophecy. It is a logical and a less forced analysis of this topic than I have seen elsewhere.

  5. S. Johnson,

    In passing, the book of Revelation goes into quite some detail as well on several point – but aside from a small minority (Latter-Day Saints comes to mind) I’ve heard very few people argue for a literal 144,000 interpretation of the relevant texts.

    There is no reason why the meticulous details for the Temple (which was how the Israelites of the Old Covenant communed with God and was His medium for dwelling among them) as found in Ezekiel could not be in themselves foreshadowing the perfection of our New Covenant medium for communing with God/His dwelling with us that is Christ.

    “And the Word became flesh and tabernacled among us” – John ch. 1
    Fact is, our new tabernacle/temple is built precisely to God’s specifications – and I’d say the detail in Ezekiel shows how perfect and beautiful that design is!

    That’s my assessment in any case – could always be wrong; what are your thoughts?

  6. I am no expert on such things, but it seems to me that one needs a method to discern metaphorical talk from literal talk; else one can allegorize everything including the resurrection as not being literal but spiritual. Then one ends up like Bultmann trying to demythologize the Bible to find the core of spiritual truth within it. I like what Geisler has said about interpretations, “if the plain sense makes good sense then look for no other sense least you end in nonsense”. If Ezekiel was meant to be taken symbolically would it have not been clearer just to have had him see a glorious vision of the temple without measuring every wall, and the size of every gate? How do such measurements add to the vision of a symbolic glorious temple?

    Perhaps I am wrong but it seems that Dr. Brown was saying in volume 2, that the individual’s perspective influences how a given vision is interpreted. That is, since Ezekiel was a priest restoration was seen in terms of a new temple, as “…for him nothing could be more glorious than a restored Temple. And for a priest like Ezekiel, nothing could more certainly speak of purification and atonement than blood sacrifices” (Vol. 2 p177). I find in this thinking echoes of conventionalism where the recipient of information gives it meaning, rather than the meaning coming from the original meaner. It seems if God wanted Ezekiel to say, someday the temple will be replaced by a temple made up of the Lord’s people, He could have conveyed this more directly.

    Dr. Brown is correct what one says is limited by the language of the time. But, I also find the sections of Ezekiel’s end times vision involving horses and swords and burning of wood for fuel to be problematic when viewed from modern times. It seems that more generic language such as weapons or “strange weapons never seen before” could have conveyed the end times scenario without resulting in this interpretive difficulty. In fact, predicting new weapons unlike any in the day would have made the prediction even more amazing.

    I am just a layman, so perhaps I just don’t have the sophistication to appreciate the rational for the symbolic view. Any thoughts? Perhaps Dr. Brown can give us other rules of thumb for discerning the literal from the symbolic in the Bible without falling into the trap of picking and choosing which is which such that even the resurrection may be allegorized.

  7. Hello dr. Brown,
    please when you labeled Delitzsch’s commentary of Isaiah as your favorite you tought the one from 10 vol. set or the “Biblical commentary on the prophecies of Isaiah”?

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