Monthly Archive for November, 2010

Bible Contradictions

At the risk of offending some people, I think that to look for and believe there are contradictions in the Bible is because of unbelief. I would rather really look into it and find ways of defending the living and active document that God inspired than be suspicious.

I’ve also always believed that there are difficult portions to cause us to trust it by faith as opposed to judging it. Matt Perman has a different take on that idea and writes about the Bible’s “contradictions”.
A Few Thoughts on the Fast Company Article, “What the Bible Got Wrong”

HT: Justin Taylor

Crossway’s Marketing of the ESV

The most important part of this post is at the bottom.

Crossway has done a lot of innovative and helpful things for those who like the ESV translation. They’ve made free modules for e-Sword, The Sword Project, mobile devices etc. and many other things I listed here (and got completely misunderstood and slammed for it here).

Lately a video has come out that really send negative vibes through me to put it nicely.

ESV Trusted By Leaders from Crossway on Vimeo.

A commenter on TC’s blog named Ronald (raddestnerd) wrote a comment that sums up how many of us feel. Both him and I respect many of the people in the video but don’t have warm happy feelings about it. He says, “I am not attacking or disparaging these individual Christians. I am sure they love God and care about people as much as any believer. I am trying to critique Crossway’s marketing message. Enjoy the tongue-in-cheek!”

An example:

Tullian Tchividjian:
What I love about it, is that it’s both accessible [except for Millenials, but screw them], and accurate [all other translations are inaccurate]. It’s both readable [but, if you weren’t brought up in church hearing Christianese, sorry], and the product of rigorous scholarship [because the NIV — even though it was a fresh translation from the original language that started from scratch, unlike the ESV that was a revision of the RSV — is not a product of rigorous scholarship. Sorry Doug Moo and the CBT, your scholarship is not rigorous.]

Two things that bother me about the video are one person who says there are “word for word” (of which there is no such thing but maybe it’s just an antiquated term some people still like to use) and ‘paraphrastic’ translations leaving people who aren’t educated in these things to believe those are the only two types and you definitely want the type the ESV is.

The other is John Piper saying the ESV is the best ‘version’ of the Bible. That’s quite a statement to say the least!

I don’t need to say anything else that’s negative. You’ll find a lot of that and maybe for good reason. Here are some positive things.

Stan has a positive spin on the video in his comments on his blog post about it.

Keith Williams of Tyndale/NLT writes about the value of endorsements.

I would like to leave you with the most important part of this post and that is a link to an open letter to Crossway from Stan McCullars at his blog. If Crossway sees this that would be great.

An open letter to Crossway re: the marketing of the ESV

With the new NIV coming out, we don’t need another round of Bible translation wars.

Also see:
It is time for a truce…

Reading Proverbs in The Message (!)

I’ve been reading through Proverbs repeatedly (aren’t I great) as we study it in our small group and while reading through Waltke’s commentary. I read it in the NLT, my secondary translation first, which is easier to understand but misses many Hebrew-isms, which is fine because then I read through it about four times in the HCSB, my primary translation.

I wanted to try other translations so I chose the REB next, an excellent literary translation which I’m almost finished with. Other than either some big words or words they use over dere in da UK that we don’t in the U.S., it has been a great read and I like the REB a lot.

I was re-reading Rick Mansfield’s blog post on his favorite translations and read this about The Message:

While I would never recommend it as a primary Bible, the Message is easily the best pure paraphrase of the entire Bible ever produced. Those who detest it don’t “get” it, in my estimation. Eugene Peterson essentially redefined the word paraphrase, which had previously been applied to works reworded from existing translations, since Peterson created his paraphrase directly from the Hebrew and Greek texts.

Some parts of the Message are admittedly troublesome and some parts are genius. I particularly like the Old Testament wisdom literature (especially Proverbs) in the Message.

I used to think the Message was abominable. But some of my blogging friends who are very knowledgeable about the original languages and translations said I should give it a chance, just as another one to use for comparison. Much of it makes me laugh (on the inside), which isn’t good, but some of it surprises me. See Psalm 119:92 with a surprise ending.

So at the risk of turning off some of you to this blog, I will be reading through Proverbs this time around in The Message translation. I know some of you think it’s from the devil, but Eugene Peterson is definitely one who is very serious about Scripture and has written a number of highly regarded books on the subject.

If anyone has done this or would like to do this with me, let me know.

Any silly comments will probably be deleted unless we want to have fun ridiculing them.

Around the Web

Bible Gateway and the Gospel Coalition Create Online Bible Translation Blog and will have a contributor from the HCSB

Announcing NLT.to

public domain bible project – Mitchell’s blog has a renewed focus on the Bible (yay) and takes us into the WEB translation

Best bug pictures I’ve ever seen, by Thomas Shahan

Black Soldier Fly Head - (Hermetia illucens)

As mentioned here before, I believe that God created most things mainly for his own enjoyment in addition to ours. We will never see the vast majority of it. Macro photography can help us see a little more of the smaller things God created.

I chose one of the more pleasing photos to post here so as not to gross people out too much. If you can’t stand bugs you’ll want to skip the site. I have a mild phobia with spiders and some other bugs but when they’re that close they look less gross to me for some reason, and make me think twice about smooshing them. I can take pictures of them if there’s a camera between me and them. Otherwise I keep my distance.

Calvinists and God’s Sovereignty

Us Calvinists say and do have a ‘high view’ (which I know can sound prideful) of God’s absolute sovereignty in all of life. That’s our doctrine and our belief. (I’m not going to use those silly head and heart terms.) But do we act like it, really believe it and in conversation talk like we do? Some do which is fantastic. (I hate it when preachers and authors make sweeping negative assumptions bordering on wholesale accusation.) But I would guess that the majority don’t, and for most of us this is mainly because of our sinful nature, not willful disbelief or hypocrisy.

There are two things that bring this to mind.

In reading Genesis, I was struck by how all of the people who believed in God spoke of God as if he has complete control over everything. Opening and closing wombs, weather and climate, good and bad things happening etc., not just Joseph and Genesis 50:20, as good of an example as that is. Then compare that with how most of us talk nowadays. To me it sounds very different.

The other is when faced with major suffering. I’ve had plenty of opportunity to have this tested and while the book Trusting God was life changing and I’ve been improving in this area, I’ve taken a step backwards lately and realize I don’t believe God is as sovereign as I’d like to or I at least know it, but don’t ‘rest in it’.

So if we’re going to tout our high view of God’s sovereignty, which we really do sincerely want to believe, we should always be striving to act on it and pray earnestly that God will give us the grace to trust Him more and more because it will get tested sooner or later. This will also better prepare us for the inevitable suffering that will come our way.

I guess I’ll never be one of those “the best is just around the corner” type of writers because as I say, things can always get worse. Have a great day.

NIV, HCSB and ESV

This is mainly search engine bait because I know people will search for it. Some people would like to know about the new NIV vs. HCSB vs. ESV. And maybe NLT but that’s not in here.

The link is here:
NIV 2011 Arrives!

HT: Near Emmaus which has a listing of NIV related posts

I like the Seinfeld-like “So… is Jimmy a proponent of the NIV 2011?” in the third paragraph of the post in the first link.

His opinions of the HCSB and ESV are exactly the same as mine so he saved me some writing.

I do have one more thing to say about the NIV. Mostly about the name. They’re keeping the same name–NIV. Most evangelicals who read their Bible but don’t know anything about various translations (which is perfectly fine) will go to the local Christian book store when it’s time to buy a new Bible. They will of course choose the NIV because that’s what they’ve used for however many years, what their friends use and what their pastor uses. They’ll look at John 3:16 to verify it’s the right one and still think it means that God loves the world sooooo much instead of ‘this is how God loved the world’ as it does in English that isn’t 400 years old. Then at some point during church or Bible study they’ll notice that their new Bible has some different wordings than other people’s Bibles. What’s going on? They investigate (by looking at the copyright maybe) and find out it’s something new. If I bought something new why does it sound old? Some may notice the gender inclusive/neutral/accurate language and think they got a super liberal Bible from the devil. I think there will be confusion. If basically 42 years go by (the 1984 revision was hardly anything) between changes of something of the same name you’d think it would warrant a change.

There is precedent for this with the NASB, NLT and even the KJV making major changes without changing the name, but I think this will be confusing. Hopefully people will read what’s before the Bible part but not many do. I’m sure the publisher has their reasons and if they explained them, maybe I’d be embarrassed after writing this post. I’m sure people writing about it will use some sort of a distinctive name like NIV2011 like people did with NLTse and NASB95 and then later on that will just go away after the old has been firmly supplanted by the new.

This has nothing to do with the fine translation, only the name.

Quote of the Day: Fear of the Lord

“The fear of the Lord” is closely equivalent to what R. Otto labeled “the idea of the Holy.” Upon encountering the Holy One, one is filled with both fear and trust and gives expression to that awe by submitting to the ethics entailed in the purity of the Holy One. Wisdom consists in transcending the fallen human world and participating in the divine, the holy.

–Bruce Waltke, The Book of Proverbs, pg. 441-442

Proverbs 9:10 HCSB
The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.

Seeker Sensitive Mega Churches Aren’t Learning

A meandering post.

Willow Creek made basically a thirty year mistake that lead untold thousands or more down the wrong path. It’s not nifty programs and growth in numbers that’s important or what the people of the congregation need.

spiritual growth doesn’t happen best by becoming dependent on elaborate church programs but through the age old spiritual practices of prayer, bible reading, and relationships.

It seems that Saddleback hasn’t learned from them either. But the pastor admittedly isn’t much interested in theology, learning how to interpret the Bible or scholarship. And on it goes.

This may be why there is some sort of a resurgence in Reformed theology. There seems to be a backlash of the post-modern (I can’t believe I used that term) way of thinking and a need to clear unwavering truth from people who aren’t afraid to lay it all out there. Of course a congregation doesn’t need to be Reformed to teach solid Biblical truth. There are plenty of all types are offer sound Biblical doctrine from pastors and teachers who care very deeply about helping people to know God better through the Bible.

What I like about Reformed theology is that the leaders talk about their beliefs without sounding defensive or having any qualifiers. (I like this one too.) They also don’t have any “best kept secrets” that some denominations seem to have. (I’m not going to name them.) People know exactly what they believe in. Again there are other denominations that offer the same conviction. When listening to or reading about Reformed doctrine, one can know pretty quickly if it’s not to their liking and move on to something else pretty quickly.

And contrary to popular belief, Reformed people have a sense of humor.

Here is a comment I found on a post by an Arminian to “those” types of Calvinists. It relates to relativism and certainty (regarding certain doctrine–we obviously can’t be certain about everything and need to embrace mystery and paradox) as mentioned above but it also speaks about Calvinists/Reformed being more gentle.

Religious hard liners are often those who have been victims of chaos. Religious softies are often the children of religious hard liners. Children of skeptics often seek certainty. Children of the certain sometimes wish for the freedom to doubt.

Being patient, kind and gentle is not necessarily the result of relativism but can be a product of deep faith because anger, violence and a need to control or silence others is usually the product of fear. I like it when Calvinism helps people become old and gentle because they have a deep seated belief that our God is all understanding, just and generous. Only such a God can address this world because we both can’t because we don’t know and can’t because we don’t have the power.

— paulvanderklay – link to comment

Calvinists–behave!

Post HT: Brian Fulthorp via Billy Birch on Facebook (not sure how to link that)

Also see:
Spurgeon: A Defense of Calvinism (and Arminians)

New Web Site – Jesus.org

This site looks interesting with some good people answering questions. Let me know what you think.

From an email message:

Dear Friend [they don’t know me, but I guess I made a new friend],

Our team has been hard at work building a new online destination that seeks to advance the Gospel and ministry of Jesus Christ. Jesus.org is a rich database of answers to some of the most perplexing and frequently questions asked about who Jesus is and what He means to us today. Whether reading an article, listening to an audio clip, or watching a video, visitors to Jesus.org will be engaged with solid Biblical theology.

I wanted to let you know about this website for a couple of reasons

  1. The answers on Jesus.org are provided by well-known biblical scholars. We can support the work of teachers such as Alistair Begg, RC Sproul, Greg Laurie and others by encouraging interaction with their contributed answers on Jesus.org.
  2. No other website offers such comprehensive collection of questions and answers on the life of Jesus Christ. It is our hope that Jesus.org will serve as a source of Biblical truths and historical accuracies, but most importantly as a tool for expanding the Gospel Message.

Around the Web

Autumn is coming to a close here. Click for a larger one.

Photo of Aster Bush in Autumn

Photo of Marigolds in the Autumn

A thought on the new NIV

I used the NIV for a couple of decades, got tired of it, switched to the NRSV for three years and am now using the HCSB as my primary translation and NLT as my secondary, which is the first time I’ve had a secondary translation that’s always close by in addition to using many others for comparison. (These are the same as Rick Mansfield who is quoted below but this is just coincidence.)

So I don’t have much interest in the new NIV. It’s nearly the same as the 1984 NIV and the TNIV. I’m sure it has some improvements and compromises here and there. I’m neutral on the gender neutral (or gender accurate) issues and aside from that I liked every change I saw in the TNIV. But one thing that bugs me is they still have a need to stick to the 400 year old English with John 3:16. They are just scaredy cats when it comes to that verse–no two ways about it. I try to keep things positive here but this just irks me. Will that many people not buy this Bible because this well-known verse is finally changed to modern language?

Rick Mansfield explains it very well and I too look at this verse when a new translation comes out for the same reason.

I look at John 3:16 in a new version, too, but not for the same reason. I always hope that it corrects traditional wording and communicates to a modern audience what the words that the gospel writer originally intended. When William Tyndale translated οὕτως γὰρ ἠγάπησεν ὁ θεὸς τὸν κόσμον as “For God so loveth the world…” (adapted by the KJV translators as “For God so loved the world…), his rendering was perfectly acceptable for his time. But for today’s audience, the meaning is wholly misunderstood.

People tend to read this verse as “God SOOOOOO loved the world…” but that’s not what it means. The word οὕτως, which is translated as the so in John 3:16 does not mean the understanding I described in the previous sentence. It means “referring to what precedes, in this manner, thus, so” (BDAG). Therefore, it’s not that the traditional rendering is incorrect. Tyndale intended his use of so to be understood in this regard, but today it’s almost always misread.

Every time a new revision of the NIV is released (and remember the 2011 edition is not the first revision; there have been two before it), I always hope that John 3:16 will be corrected from it’s potential to be misread. However, it remains untouched in this new version. Incidentally, the HCSB and NET Bible get it right, while the NLT actually reinforces the misreading!

Rick Mansfield, This Lamp

Here is the NIV (which even kept the antiquated word shall) and two that get it right:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.

For God loved the world in this way: He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. (HCSB)

For this is the way God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. (NET)

At what point can people let go of this? The HCSB and NET are not freer, thought for thought, dynamic equivalent, or whatever term you’d like to use. They aren’t as formal (equivalent) as some, but they are more on the literal end, or between the two philosophies which I suppose would be median translations, but don’t quote me on that and just ignore it if it’s gibberish.

The same goes for softening certain words like servants vs. slaves, which I won’t go into but is another reason I like the HCSB. (We are slaves of Christ, bought at a price.)

Sorry for the negativity. I most likely won’t be posting about the new NIV again because of lack of interest, although it’s a great translation and is very interesting and exciting to those who are considering switching. I also don’t think this issue is leading people astray or changes any important doctrine. I would just like to get into the 21st century as far as the language our Bibles use. We are so blessed to have so many to choose from and nobody is making me read it, but I do have to hear it and read it when it’s quoted. Then take some deep breaths.

Scripture Memory: My Story – Part 2 of 2

Link to Part 1

If I were to give advice I would say that obviously memorizing Scripture is implicitly commanded many places in the Bible. You’ve probably read about them. (If you’re unfamiliar, see the links below.) To hide God’s word in our heart and to meditate on it we at least need to be very familiar with it. Meditating can be formal, concentrated mulling over a passage but it can also be just having it in your mind throughout the day. This is a value of the watch beep method. Every hour you have some Scripture in your head.

In experiencing chronic suffering, I can’t tell you how valuable it is to hang on to certain passages that pertain to various situations I’m in and already have them in my head.

There is no hurry or timetable. If memorizing is very difficult, you can just do one verse a week or even one a month. The Bible is a big book and you’re not going to get much of it memorized in your lifetime anyway. Whatever you memorize will be valuable.

If you have such a hard with it that you just can’t do it, especially if you have major cognitive problems, God isn’t going to be unhappy with you because of it. This is not something to feel guilty about. The main thing is reading or hearing the Bible through audio or whatever way you can. If you had to choose reading or memorizing of course reading would be the most important. But most people don’t have an excuse. It’s written about too much in the Bible and too valuable not to very seriously give it an effort.

If you aren’t able to use any kind of watch beep method or if memorizing a few words at a time throughout the day doesn’t work for you, some people will repeat a verse ten times in a row once or twice a day. This ends up being a dismal failure for me because I just immediately forget it but works for others.

Regularly reviewing what you memorized is imperative. You will forget most of them unless you’re in the minority. Some say if you review for a month you’ll have it forever. Ha. Maybe if you only have four verses memorized. It doesn’t do a lot of good to spend the time memorizing and then forget it.

I also advocate memorizing and reviewing word perfect. No mistakes. You may feel a word or two doesn’t make a difference, but at some point a word can be very important. (Inside joke: just ask John Piper) The more mistakes you let go, the more you’ll make.

Work on your new verse longer than you think you need to. You will make mistakes pretty soon when it gets into the review “pile” after you’ve started a new one. This is normal. That’s why it needs to be reviewed every day for a while until it gets into the every-few-days stack.

I’ll reiterate again–if you memorize single verses, make sure you interpret them in context and don’t quote them out of context! This does more harm than good. I’ve had verses to memorize assigned in Bible studies and they got it totally wrong. Rick Warren is an expert at this.

Don’t use them as a source of pride like I used to. Everybody used to know how much I had memorized and I felt really good about this in a way. On the other hand, I overcompensated and for years I often didn’t even let people know I have Scripture memorized and didn’t quote it much. Sometimes I even looked at my Bible while I was quoting what I had memorized, which is actually deceitful if you really think about it. A friend encouraged me to just quote it as it comes up when it’s useful.

I hope this post was helpful and encouraging. I hope it didn’t sound prideful. I really didn’t know any other way than to just write my story and hope that through it people who have difficulty can see one way how it can be done, how God can help people who aren’t so smart (me) and how valuable it is, especially young people who have the same opportunity I did. If you have difficulty, remember to pray about it.

As an aside, those of us who review Scripture often will go through it faster in our head while reviewing than if we’re speaking. Reviewing Scripture isn’t a time of meditation, it’s an exercise in keeping it memorized. So if someone has Scripture memorized and they rattle it off:

  1. Ask them to please slow down!
  2. Please realize they’re not dispassionate about Scripture. Otherwise they probably wouldn’t memorize it. You know how Scripture says to never judge anyone. (Not really.)

I could go on but this has gone too long for most people’s interwebz attention span. Thanks for reading and please feel free to comment or criticize. I always want to learn.

Also see:

Scripture Memory: My Story – Part 1 of 2

Ever since I started this blog I’ve been trying to figure out how to write a post about Scripture memory, which has been an extremely important part of my life. I’m either afraid of sounding prideful or trying to write advice that others have already given. I’ve posted some quotes and links to what other people have said on the subject to try to be helpful.

For those who regularly memorize Scripture these posts aren’t for you unless you’re interested in reading and letting me know what you think.

What I’ve decided to do is just write about my experience with Scripture memory and let it be and write about some things I would have done differently and hopefully some things that will be helpful for others who have trouble with it.

In college, a person from the Navigators helped me to become saved. I read the book of John and the Holy Spirit entered, opened my eyes, and I came to believe. So I have the world’s most boring testimony. It was through no effort or decision of my own and it was only through believing what Scripture says.

The Navigators are big on Scripture memory and as I became involved with them I went through the Topical Memory System. I eventually used the ‘watch beep’ method where every time my watch beeped on the hour, I would review a few words of whatever my current verse is and acknowledge God while I was at it. (Some of my friends who knew about this would say, “Hi God.”) By reviewing a few words at a time, I was getting to where I was memorizing one verse a day. After memorizing a verse, it would get put in a stack that I reviewed every day. As the amount grew, after a couple of weeks, it would get put in with two stacks that were reviewed every other day and so on.

This to me is obviously a gift from God because I just can’t memorize stuff this way. I had a very hard time in school, eventually dropping out even though I had a music scholarship.

After I was done with the Topical Memory System I memorized every verse and passage that God used to speak to me, that I liked, that I relied on–everything. I can’t tell you how valuable this is to have all that Scripture in my head, ready for the Holy Spirit to use (John 14:26), to know where many things are in the Bible, to have Scripture for almost every subject etc. There are so many valuable uses for this I can’t begin to remember them all.

Then for a while I stopped memorizing and more importantly reviewing. I had everything word perfect and could review everything in my head in order without having to look at anything. If I became blind I would have had this all in my head. After starting again I had to look at them. That was the worst decision I ever made in my life. (The second was switching from hockey to basketball as a kid.)

After a few years I put all the verses and passages in the order that they are in the Bible, in a sense re-memorizing the order and doubled my time reviewing, now using the computer. Now I’m back to being able to go through them in order and have them almost perfect but I make a couple of mistakes each reviewing session. I review Scripture with a cup of coffee and this is a special time each day. I started taking a medication that reduces memory and this is part of the reason why it’s more difficult. This is very frustrating but God knows and it’s humbling which God seems to need to do a lot of with me.

A few years ago I started reviewing longer passages instead of one or two verses at a time. I went along at a pretty good clip, although not as much as in college, and after a year I had to slow way down because I had a hard time keeping them up when reviewing. Which brings me to where I am now a little more than a couple of decades after I started.

A regret I have is only memorizing one or two verses and not really looking at them in context and getting a very good understanding of the verse I was memorizing. In the last few years I’ve rectified this by reading a commentary on nearly every book of the New Testament (plan on finishing next year) and having a much better understanding of each of them in context. I really need to go through the ones in the Old Testament that I haven’t done this with, which isn’t a whole lot at this point.

I now advocate only memorizing passages that are a whole idea. Sometimes a single verse is a whole idea but they usually need context. There are some who advocate only memorizing whole books of the Bible starting with smaller ones. I think this is great. I think an advantage of memorizing smaller passages is you get to know where things are and get a feel for what’s in a paragraph or chapter in various places in the Bible. It’s also good to have something for various topics which is how the Topical Memory System mentioned earlier works.

As time went on I would get so used to the watch beep that I wouldn’t hear it. I think God protected me from that for the first few years. After the computer age, I put an hourly chime on my desktop computer, which I can hear all through the house, and I change the chime whenever I get used to it, and only use those my understanding wife can tolerate.

So that’s my story.

If you’d like some unsolicited advice, more links and more of the story, see Part 2.

Quote of the Day: Augustine

St. Augustine writing to St. Jerome:

“For, I admit to your Charity that it is from those books alone of the Scriptures, which are now called canonical, that I have learned to pay them such honor and respect as to believe most firmly that not one of their authors has erred in writing anything at all. If I do find anything in those books which seems contrary to truth, I decide that either the text [particular copy] is corrupt, or the translator did not follow what was really said, or that I failed to understand it.”