Monthly Archive for April, 2009

Proverbs 26:4-5

Proverbs 26:4-5
4 Don’t answer the foolish arguments of fools,
or you will become as foolish as they are.
5 Be sure to answer the foolish arguments of fools,
or they will become wise in their own estimation.

Do these contradict each other?

Here is an entry from Adam Clarke’s commentary:

On this and the following verse Bishop Warburton, who has written well on many things, and very indifferently on the doctrine of grace, has written with force and perspicuity: “Had this advice been given simply, and without circumstance, to answer the fool, and not to answer him, one who had reverence for the text would satisfy himself in supposing that the different directions referred to the doing a thing in and out of season;

1. The reasons given why a fool should not be answered according to his folly, is, “lest he (the answerer) should be like unto him.”
2. The reason given why the fool should be answered according to his folly, is, “lest he (the fool) should be wise in his own conceit.”

1. “The cause assigned for forbidding to answer, therefore, plainly insinuates that the defender of religion should not imitate the insulter of it in his modes of disputation, which may be comprised in sophistry, buffoonery, and scurrility.
2. “The cause assigned for directing to answer, as plainly intimates that the sage should address himself to confute the fool upon his own false principles, by showing that they lead to conclusions very wide from, very opposite to, those impieties he would deduce from them. If any thing can allay the fool’s vanity, and prevent his being wise in his own conceit, it must be the dishonor of having his own principles turned against himself, and shown to be destructive of his own conclusions.” – Treatise on Grace. Preface.

Quote of the Day: Theology and Worship

I love this quote because it describes much of my worship and why I like reading through commentaries.

The heart of worship is declaring to God (whether in the second person or sometimes in the third person but with God in mind, as in some psalms) how majestic he is and how great his works are, which in short means articulating the truth about him. Theology can thus be worshipful, though biblical worship is generally not simply rational but affective as well, devoting one’s whole being in attention to God.

–Craig Keener, The NIV Application Commentary: Revelation pg. 196

The NLT’s Redering of Baptism in Romans 6

Gary Zimmerli wrote about why he won’t be changing to the NLT.

I would like to write a little bit of an extended comment as a post of my own here. I agree with Gary and am just going to add some quotes from a commentary.

Please read his post but if you’re pressed for time I’d like to reproduce part of it here:
Well, I guess I like the NLT well enough. It’s certainly easy to read. But I want to let you all know that there’s one thing about it that gives me pause. Take a look at Romans 6:1-4 in the NLT:

1 Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? 2 Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? 3 Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death? 4 For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. (emphasis mine)

Notice those bolded words. They may not bother a Baptist or Church of Christ member, but they bother me as a Methodist, and they should bother us all who are interested that the Bible be translated accurately. And I think this is one place where the NLT translators missed the mark.

Let’s take a look at the same passage in a more literal translation. I’m using the NASB for comparison, but this is true of all the more literal translations including the TNIV:

1 What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? 2 By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? 3 Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4 We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. (emphasis mine)

Do you see the difference? The point of this passage isn’t water baptism at all.
At first I didn’t see the problem because I just assumed that the NLT translators were using different wording to say the same thing.

When I looked at the note in the NLT Study Bible note I saw that I was wrong:

Baptism is the rite of initiation into the Christian faith (see “Baptism” at Acts 2:38, 41). It sometimes symbolizes the entire conversion experience, so Paul refers to baptism as the means through which believers are joined to Christ in his death and resurrection (see also 6:4). However, baptism has no value apart from faith.

The link to “Baptism” goes to a page talking about the ritual of baptism.

In his post on The NLT and the Language of Atonement, Rick Mansfield mentions that the translators of Romans for the NLT are Gerald Borchert, Douglas Moo and Thomas Schreiner.

I have a commentary on Romans by Thomas Schreiner. I think part of the reason I assumed the NLT’s rendering of baptism couldn’t be water baptism is because I read the whole commentary less than two years ago and must have had it in the back of my mind that he believes this isn’t referring to sacramental baptism but baptism at conversion. (I realize that some believe they are one in the same.)

In looking up his commentary on this, he even quotes Douglas Moo, his fellow translator.

The reference to baptism has been understood sacramentally, meaning that baptism itself communicates the power to overcome sin. Verse 3 links dying with Christ and baptism, while burial with Christ is said to occur ‘through baptism’ in verse 4. A sacramental understanding is flawed because it emphasizes baptism rather than the historic and definitive death and resurrection of Christ (cf. Moo 1991: 380-81). Paul’s main concern in this text is not baptism; it is never mentioned again after verse 4. What animates the discussion is the significance of Christ’s death and resurrection for believers. But does not Paul say that Christ’s death becomes effective for believers διὰ τοῦ βαπτίσματος? The issue here is how strictly one should interpret the prepositional phrase. I would suggest that later theological formulations have led many to read the phrase in a sacramental fashion. Paul’s intention in introducing baptism is not to emphasize ‘how we were buried with Christ, but to demonstrate that we were buried with Christ’ (Moo 1991: 381).

I don’t want to go on too long.

So according to Schreiner we may be putting too much emphasis on baptism, but it still begs the question as to why the NLT is worded in that way including what the study note says unless I’m understanding this all wrong.

That’s about all I have to contribute. Discuss amongst yourselves if you’d like.

I’d love to hear what Rick Mansfield’s take on this is and even more, the NLT people but I don’t want to impose on them. It may shed some light on understanding how various people understand this passage.

Here is what a couple of dead people have to say.

John Calvin:

That the mode of baptism,immersion, is intimated by ‘buried,’ has been thought by most, by [Chrysostom], [Augustine], [Hammond], [Pareus], [Mede], [Grotius], [Doddridge], [Chalmers], and others; while some, such as [Scott], [Stuart], and [Hodge], do not consider this as necessarily intended, the word ‘buried’ having been adopted to express more fully what is meant by being ‘dead,’ and there being another word, ‘planted,’ used to convey the same idea, which cannot be applied to the rite of baptism.
‘Buried with him,’ means buried like him, or in like manner; and so ‘crucified with him,’ in Rom 6:6, is the same: συν prefixed to verbs, has clearly this meaning. See Rom 8:17; Col 3:1; 2 Tim 2:11. ‘Into death’ is not to be connected with ‘planted,’ but with ‘baptism,’ it was ‘a baptism into death,’ that is, which represented death, even death unto sin.

Adam Clarke:

I say it is probable that the apostle alludes to this mode of immersion; but it is not absolutely certain that he does so, as some do imagine; for, in the next verse, our being incorporated into Christ by baptism is also denoted by our being planted, or rather, grafted together in the likeness of his death; and Noah’s ark floating upon the water, and sprinkled by the rain from heaven, is a figure corresponding to baptism, 1 Peter 3:20, 1 Peter 3:21; but neither of these gives us the same idea of the outward form as burying. We must be careful, therefore, not to lay too much stress on such circumstances.

American Idol

<curmudgeon mode: on>

Could we please stop with the using American Idol for spiritual illustrations or to show us how bad our society or our youth have gotten? We know the world is ruled by the evil one. (Ephesians 2:2) We know that kids are all a bunch of self-absorbed losers nowadays. (Romans 1:30) (sarcasm) We don’t need American Idol to show us that. Branford Marsalis tells it to us straight (careful, there’s a bad word in there near the beginning):

That video could have as many implications for a lot of us Christian bloggers as anyone else. (1 Corinthians 3:18)

It’s just a talent show for singing. Enjoy watching the competition if you like watching it but don’t try to use it to make salient points about Christianity. It’s just a show.

One other thing: Most people who say they are Christians really aren’t. (Matthew 7:21) So don’t expect your favorite Idol contestant who says they’re a Christian to be the next great ambassador for Christ.

<curmudgeon mode: off>

The Prosperity Gospel

Are you using Jeremiah 29:11 as a platitude? Consider all of what the Bible has to say:

Prosperity Gospel

HT: New Leaven via

For the following, I apologize if what’s shown is overly upsetting to anyone. YouTube shows a snapshot of what’s halfway through any video. The whole thing isn’t like that.

The Real Prosperity Gospel
God’s ways may be hidden, but his purpose for us is not.
John Calvin with Knox Bucer-Beza at Christianity Today

Our High Places

Kevin DeYoung at DeYoung, Restless, and Reformed has done a series called Our High Places devoted to “the areas of obedience that we are almost all missing”. These are things I’ve been thinking about lately, especially (2). Not because I’m on a guilt trip or anything, just been thinking and wanting to want what God wants.

This series will continue to 5. Here are the first three:
Our High Places (1)
Our High Places (2)
Our High Places (3)
Our High Places (4)
Our High Places (5)

HT: Straight Up

New Site: Devotional Christian

Tony Kummer has put created a new site called Devotional Christian. He’s doing a contest and giving away WTS Books gift certificates.

Christ’s Substitutionary Atonement In Scripture

Justin Taylor at Between Two Worlds offers this quote from Tony Jones:

Some people today may find it compelling that some Great Cosmic Transaction took place on that day 1,980 years ago[*], that God’s wrath burned against his son instead of against me. I find that version of atonement theory neither intellectually compelling, spiritually compelling, nor in keeping with the biblical narrative.

I thought I would try to fill in just a small part of that narrative that he may be missing. I know I may be accused of selectively quoting Scripture, but I think we should back up our doctrine with Scripture and not only human logic, or anything “intellectually and spiritually compelling” (Isaiah 55:8-9, 1 Corinthians 2:1). I tried my best to put them in an order or grouping that would make it more “narrative”.

I’m choosing not to provide any other quotes, thoughts or comments since I would like to let Scripture speak for itself.

Leviticus 17:11
for the life of the body is in its blood. I have given you the blood on the altar to purify you, making you right with the LORD. It is the blood, given in exchange for a life, that makes purification possible.

Leviticus 4:35
Then he must remove all the sheep’s fat, just as he does with the fat of a sheep presented as a peace offering. He will burn the fat on the altar on top of the special gifts presented to the LORD. Through this process, the priest will purify the people from their sin, making them right with the LORD, and they will be forgiven.

2 Chronicles 35:11
The Levites then slaughtered the Passover lambs and presented the blood to the priests, who sprinkled the blood on the altar while the Levites prepared the animals.

John 1:29
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!

1 Corinthians 5:7
Christ, our Passover Lamb, has been sacrificed for us.

Romans 8:3
The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins.

2 Corinthians 5:21
For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

Isaiah 53:4-6
Yet it was our weaknesses he carried;
it was our sorrows that weighed him down.
And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God,
a punishment for his own sins!
5But he was pierced for our rebellion,
crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
He was whipped so we could be healed.
6All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.
We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
Yet the Lord laid on him
the sins of us all.

Isaiah 53:10-11
But it was the Lord’s good plan to crush him
and cause him grief.
Yet when his life is made an offering for sin,
he will have many descendants.
He will enjoy a long life,
and the Lord’s good plan will prosper in his hands.
11When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish,
he will be satisfied.
And because of his experience,
my righteous servant will make it possible
for many to be counted righteous,
for he will bear all their sins.

Galatians 3:13
But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree.” (Deuteronomy 21:22-23)

Romans 3:25-26
For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, 26for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.

Romans 4:25
He was handed over to die because of our sins, and he was raised to life to make us right with God.

1 Peter 3:18
Christ suffered for our sins once for all time*. He never sinned, but he died for sinners to bring you safely home to God. He suffered physical death, but he was raised to life in the Spirit. (emphasis added)

* as in “1,980 years ago” by our time frame

Easter Lilly

Click for larger picture

Gotta love free stuff from church. The color of our wall just happens to work very well as a background.

First Sign of Spring

The first sign of spring for us is the first crocus to bloom which happened a few days ago, just in time for Easter. This picture was taken near our doorstep.

I hope everyone is blessed this Easter whatever situation you’re in.

Click for larger picture

Stephen Colbert Talks Sense To Bart Ehrman

The Colbert Report Mon – Thurs 11:30pm / 10:30c
Bart Ehrman

Colbert Report Full Episodes Political Humor NASA Name Contest

HT: Ben Witherington (see BW3’s comment at 5:27 AM)

Bart Ehrman - Jesus Interrupted

Reading Material Recently Mentioned In The Blogosphere

Tony Byrne of Theological Meditations lets us know that Dr. Curt Daniel’s doctoral dissertation, Hyper-Calvinism and John Gill, is now scanned and available for free download at EthOS (Electronic Thesis Online Service) and that there will soon be more to come.

EthOS is something Nick Norelli mentioned not too long ago.

If you haven’t registered, you will need to do so. Then after you’re logged in, search for the paper you’re interested in. Then you can proceed with the shopping cart and download.



Sorry if I left anybody out.

Old Testament Education

I’m now going through Revelation (and enjoying it a lot). I love reading commentaries and have gone from Romans through Revelation having done a lot of reading about Jesus from the historical perspective and also books pertaining to the Gospels.

After Revelation I would like to alternately read a commentary on an OT book with a Gospel and then Acts.

Regarding the OT I’d like to mention what I have and plan on reading. It’s the order of things that I’d like to ask you fine folks about.

I have von Rad’s Old Testament Theology, Creation and Blessing–a commentary/exposition of Genesis, Eaton’s commentary on Ecclesiastes, How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth by Stuart and Fee (which I’ve read once) and The Symphony of Scripture by Mark Strom. Starting next year or earlier I plan on reading through the whole OT. I would also like to buy a commentary on Isaiah and possibly Daniel, the latter just because I like him. I also have the ESV and NLT study Bibles.

Since suffering is a subject of interest, I’ve done a lot of reading on Job and feel I have a relatively good handle on that one.

Given all that, what order would you read these materials? Should I read von Rad’s work first? If so, the whole thing or piece-meal? Something more basic on themes like The Symphony of Scripture? Should I read through the OT first? How would you go about it?

A Prayer: The Blessedness of Posessing Nothing

Right now I know that lately I have slipped back a little in my willingness to abandon myself to God.

A good indicator for me is reading the book The Pursuit of God. The first time I read it, I wasn’t ready to fully embrace it. By the second time I read it, I was ready to get with the program as best as this sinner can with God’s grace.

I have the prayers from the end of each chapter printed out. Here is one of them that is especially relevant these days.

Father, I want to know Thee, but my coward heart fears to give up its toys. I cannot part with them without inward bleeding, and I do not try to hide from Thee the terror of the parting. I come trembling, but I do come. Please root from my heart all those things which I have cherished so long and which have become a very part of my living self, so that Thou mayest enter and dwell there without a rival. Then shalt Thou make the place of Thy feet glorious. Then shall my heart have no need of the sun to shine in it, for Thyself wilt be the light of it, and there shall be no night there. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God, Chapter 2.

The Pursuit of God

Suffering, Grace and Joy

I’m not having a good day. Yesterday was even worse. These days come up without warning. Those of you who deal with this “mental” stuff know what I mean. As for you happy people, we need you too as long as you’re not too obnoxious.

Don’t be alarmed, but I was watching a TV show where at the end they had a message about suicide. It said, “If you or a loved one are thinking about suicide, please call…” If I called every time I thought about it I think they’d get pretty tired of hearing from me.

(As much as I want to get face to face with God, I will not ever commit suicide and I’ve been as low as low can go. I have fantasized about it and ruminated on it but I’ve been able to stay out of the ‘abyss’ for the most part for quite a while, thank God.)

Edit: If you are thinking about suicide and haven’t yet dealt with it or talked with anyone about it, please get help. Go to, call 1-800-273-TALK, talk to a trusted friend or a pastor who understands. If they aren’t helpful, talk with someone else. These thoughts are what Satan wants you to think. (John 10:10).

While I was praying today, during the portion when I thank God, I was overwhelmed with gratitude (which isn’t nearly a strong enough word) for the fact that God chose me to be included in His family (Colossians 1:12-14). There is no reason to choose me, I don’t teach, lead, pastor, write books, evangelize much etc. But for some reason He chose me. God even provided me with the faith to believe, and gave me His Holy Spirit before I was able to understand and believe the gospel message. These things are obvious to me both in experience and in Scripture. (John 17:2, Acts 13:48, Romans 9:16, Ephesians 1:4-5, 2 Timothy 1:9 to name a few that might be a little off the beaten path for some)

To think that God sacrificed His Son to take away our sins is beyond comprehension. (Romans 3:25-26, Romans 8:32, Romans 4:25)

God has provided me with so many things to be thankful for including joy in the midst of suffering. It’s a very strange thing. I’d rather just have the joy, and some happiness along with it would be good too.

Praise God for joy. I don’t know what we would do without it.

I hope this didn’t sound too much like “me and my salvation” as N.T. Wright would put it. But as bloggers we write about our experiences.