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Rob Bowman, A Recommended Scholar

Robert M. Bowman Jr. is the director of research at the evangelical Institute for Religious Research.


  • On Jonah’s message to Nineveh. “Jonah’s message to Nineveh was not a predictive prophecy, but a judgment warning. Jonah was not predicting that Nineveh would be overthrown or destroyed in 40 days. He was warning Nineveh that it was subject to judgment. As a warning, the threatened consequence was conditional. It is like a parent telling a child, ‘I’m going to count to three and then you’re getting spanked!’ The whole point of the counting to three is to give the child an opportunity to repent. Likewise, the whole point of the 40-day warning was to give Nineveh an opportunity to repent. Jonah himself understood this, because after Nineveh repented and was spared, he went off to sulk and complained that he knew God was planning on being merciful to Nineveh (Jonah 4:1-2). You say that Jonah tried to avoid going to Nineveh because he was certain they would not repent, but the narrative tells us otherwise: Jonah didn’t want to go to Nineveh because he realized God was intent on sparing Nineveh and Jonah didn’t want to be a party to their salvation. The bottom line is that the book of Jonah does not give us an example of a ‘prophecy’ that did not come true. One cannot cite Jonah as precedent for a divinely inspired prediction failing to come to pass, because Jonah’s message to Nineveh was not a prediction.” (MDDB, 2/12/2011)
  • “There’s an interesting tension in Mormonism. On the one hand, the Book of Mormon was and still is touted as clarifying all sorts of theological and practical issues about which orthodox Christians had differing views. Infant baptism? The Book of Mormon says no. That sort of thing. On the other hand, Mormons today cannot agree on all sorts of theological questions, such as whether God was ever not God, and the difficulty in correlating later LDS doctrine with the Book of Mormon has made the Book of Mormon appear to be less clear than we were told–at least, less clear in teaching current LDS doctrine. Many Mormons do as you suggest and conclude that some of these theological questions should be left suspended because the standard works just aren’t clear enough. This makes those of us on the outside wonder why the current Prophet doesn’t just provide explicit answers to those questions and relieve the tension.” (FB, 2/15/2012)

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