Thursday, February 28, 2013

The Anvil of God's Word

...the word of the Lord endureth for ever... 1 Peter 1:25

Last eve I passed beside a blacksmith's door,
And heard the anvil ring the vesper chime;
Then, looking in, I saw upon the floor
Old hammers, worn with beating years of time.
"How many anvils have you had," said I,
"To wear and batter all these hammers so?"
"Just one," said he, and then, with twinkling eye,
"The anvil wears the hammers out you know."
And so, thought I, the anvil of God's Word,
For ages skeptics blows have beat upon;
Yet, though the noise of falling blows was heard,
The anvil is unharmed--the hammers gone.

By John Clifford (apparently the English minister John Clifford, 1836-1923)

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Criminal Minds Season 8 Episode 15

On Wednesday Feb 20, NBC aired the Criminal Minds* episode "Broken". It featured a homosexual serial killer suffering from an identity crisis. He loves men and cannot love women the way he feels he should. So he kills his sexual partners. Parallel to the plot is the condemnation of the horror of conversion therapy -- an effort to convert or change sexual orientation from homosexual to heterosexual. "Broken" may not refer to the homosexual character, but to the fact that misguided therapy has ruined his psyche. There is an effort to blame the therapy rather than the serial killer, and in the end viewers may even be drawn into sympathetic association with the killer. FBI agents are mortified by the conversion camp and know it must be even more horrendous than they can even imagine. Finally they discover the ostensibly Christian camp uses physical abuse, drugs and forced heterosexual sex therapy as part of their conversion methods. One fan praised the episode for "shedding light on the darkness of so-called fix 'em camps." I expect such a camp is mostly Hollywood fantasy that produces more heat than light.

I am not a proponent of "conversion therapy". It sounds like just one more of the many shady psychiatric treatments that has been foisted on a gullible American people. On the other hand, the American Psychiatric Association promotes many vague and unnecessary psychiatric treatments, while condemning conversion therapy. Why? Because it is "based upon the a priori assumption that the patient should change his/her sexual homosexual orientation." There's the catch. It's not really the "conversion" they object to, but that they believe there is nothing wrong with homosexuality. It's still alright to analyze, therapize and convert alcoholics or fat people -- maybe even hoarders -- even if they were born that way, since society says these things are bad. (Pity the poor fat people; it's always OK to skewer them for any reason or no reason.)

Criminal Minds’ episode "Broken" is one example of the continual Hollywood bombardment against Christian moral beliefs. A belief is caricatured and the caricature then demolished. One down; another to go. Intellectually stimulating shows such as Criminal Minds probably do more damage than the mindless fodder of such offal as The Simpsons or Family Guy.

In keeping with the Bible and centuries of Christian moral teaching, I believe that homosexuality is a sin -- regardless of what Hollywood or the APA says. It is a sin of extra-marital sex and defilement of God's natural creation order (man & woman). Homosexuality is one of many sins perpetuated by depraved sinners. It is not the only sin. Conversion therapy is not the answer to that or any other sin. An experience with God and conversion by the Lord Jesus Christ is necessary for us all.

*Criminal Minds is a "procedural thriller about the FBI's Behavioral Analysis Unit, which profiles criminals to solve crimes."

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

From Mohler to Hendricks to KJV translators

“The written word can do what the spoken word simply cannot do—sit flat on a page and demand attention.” -- Al Mohler

“People tell me they want to make the Bible relevant. Nonsense. The Bible’s already relevant. You’re the one that’s irrelevant!” -- Howard G. Hendricks

"It is amazing how much light the Bible shines on commentaries." -- Howard G. Hendricks

"The Scriptures we are commanded to search...If we be ignorant, they will instruct us; if out of the way, they will bring us home; if out of order, they will reform us; if in heaviness, comfort us; if dull, quicken us; if cold, inflame us. Tolle, lege; Tolle, lege, Take up and read, take up and read the Scriptures..." -- The King James translators, 1611

Monday, February 25, 2013

3 positives of the King James Bible, and a 4th

Many online writings that I have found in favor of the King James Bible are diatribes against modern Bible versions and offer little in the way of positive promotion of the KJV or helpful suggestions to the reader of the KJV. There is also a plethora of “anti-KJV” material readily available. In previous posts I have looked at the accuracy of the “ye’s & thou’s,” sought a little clarity on verb endings, and considered the use of archaic language. This post will be more generic praise of the positive attributes of the King James Bible.

The King James Bible is founded on historic texts. The Old Testament is from the Jacob ben Chayyim Masoretic Hebrew text. Jacob ben Chayyim, a Jewish Rabbi, published this text in 1524.[1]  This text is sound and comparable to other Hebrew texts. According to James D. Price, “The differences between the Bomberg Ben Chayyim edition and Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia (the text used with most modern translations) are microscopic.”[2] Variations between translations more often are introduced from other sources, such as the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Syriac Peshitta. The New Testament is from the Textus Receptus. According to Daniel B. Wallace, “when one examines the variations between the Greek text behind the KJV (the Textus Receptus) and the Greek text behind modern translations, it is discovered that the vast majority of variations are so trivial as to not even be translatable.”[3]   

The King James Bible is an accurate translation. Years ago I remember finding a book in Bible Book Store that trashed the KJV Bible as the worst translation ever. Those who write and repeat such nonsense must either have no clue what they are talking about or have an agenda of promoting some other Bible. Nevertheless, the translators who gave us the King James Bible were well qualified academically -- their language expertise and ability was exceptional. These translators believed in the inerrancy and authority of Scripture. This is recognized even by modern scholars who prefer other translations. Today there are over 5,600 Greek manuscripts preserved and available (fragments, uncials, cursives).[4] These provide greater support of the Textus Receptus/KJV readings. The major variations in modern translations arrive from the Codices Sinaiticus and Vaticanus.

The King James Bible follows a proven method. The method of the King James translators was verbal or formal equivalence (as opposed to dynamic equivalence).[5] Because of differences between original and receptor languages, all translations combine some degree of formal and dynamic equivalence.  But different versions may commit strongly to one over the other. A comparison of First Timothy 5:10 provides a good example of the difference of the two methods.

Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints' feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work. [KJV, showing formal equivalence]
and have a reputation for good deeds: a woman who brought up her children well, received strangers in her home, performed humble duties for other Christians, helped people in trouble, and devoted herself to doing good. [Good News Translation, showing dynamic equivalence]

The Good News Translation is an apt example of preferring dynamic equivalence over a “word-for-word” translation. The Greek text contains the words for “wash” and “saints” and “feet” [ἁγίων πόδας ἔνιψεν] but the translators chose to follow what they believed was the intention rather than the actual words.

Some peripheral issues
The King James Bible is important to the English language. It was instrumental in standardizing the language. It also provides a common bond between its readers around the world. It underlies the meaning of many common things we say. It contributes a musical and poetic quality to our language. Much could be said along these lines which might be of interest. But these are more “niceties”; the larger concern is the Bible as the reliable word from God.

KJV Bible readers should not feel subordinate or inferior to the reader of modern Bible versions. They should not be embarrassed to ask for a KJV Bible when the book store clerk tries to shoo them on to something else. They have a reliable translation of the Word of God. It was reliable in its beginning and is still reliable today. They need to be diligent in study of the Word and have the Spirit of God to lead them into all truth.

[1] It is also known as the Daniel Bomberg edition or the Second Great Rabbinic Bible.
[2] Price, now retired, was Professor of Hebrew and Old Testament at Temple Baptist Seminary, and executive editor of the Old Testament for the New King James Version (Thomas Nelson, 1982).
[3] Wallace is professor of New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, Dallas, TX. He also writes that “over 98% of the time, the Textus Receptus and the standard critical editions agree.”
[4] Norman Geisler & Peter Bocchino, Unshakable Foundations (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers, 2001) p. 256
[5] Though language scholars may attach more nuanced or technical meaning at times, these terms are commonly used to mean a “word-for-word” translation (formal, translating the meanings of individual words and more or less in their syntactic sequence) versus a “sense-for-sense” translation (dynamic, translating the meanings of phrases and sentences).

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Archaic words

One recurring complaint against the King James Bible is that is contains many archaic words. That is something of a misnomer. While many of these accused words may not be commonly spoken today, they are not “archaic” in the sense usually intended – no longer in use, obsolete or outmoded. They may be considered archaic in its definition “surviving chiefly in specialized uses.” These archaic words might be considered “in specialized use” but they are certainly and definitely used on a regular basis in English-speaking churches around the world where the King James Bible is read, studied and preached. And my “NEA Crossword Puzzle” expects me to know the meaning of words such as “anon” whether or not I use them in speech regularly!

A companion complaint to archaic words is the presence of words whose meanings have changed.* Daniel B. Wallace claims “300 words found in the KJV no longer bear the same meaning.” This is again something of a misnomer. Rather than the word no longer bearing the meaning used in the KJV, more likely is that its most common use is no longer the meaning most commonly used in the KJV. Wallace gives as examples “suffer” (permit) and “study” (be diligent). The meaning in the KJV may not be the first meaning moderns think of when they hear the word, but my Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary supports the changed meanings. Suffer means “to allow” (# 4) and study means “endeavor/try” (# 3) – substantially the same definitions given by Wallace which have “changed”. My modern dictionary even tells me that “prevent” means to “arrive before” or “go before” (Cf. I Thess. 4:15).

Words that do not mean what we expect them to mean cause us difficulty in reading and understanding the Bible. I do not ignore that; I have experienced that. But part of being diligent in studying the word of God is to study words and their meaning. This is true whether it is words in a Bible first printed in 1611 or a Bible that has just been translated and made available to the readers. It isn't hard to look up an old word in a good dictionary. All words we don’t understand need to be looked up in some dictionary!

The Oxford English Dictionary is a wonderful tool. It is the largest unabridged dictionary of the English language and especially helpful in ferreting out multiple and changing word meanings. Yet most good basic dictionaries will give definitions that correspond to the meanings of “archaic” words found in the King James Bible. In addition many Bibles have footnotes or marginal readings that are helpful, calling attention to archaic words or words whose meaning has changed.

Though Daniel Wallace and I will not agree on the best texts and best translations, I unreservedly agree when he writes, “The reason unspiritual people do not understand the scriptures is because they have a volitional problem, not an intellectual problem.” This is the first great problem of understanding the Scriptures, for they are spiritually discerned. Changing words may address a person’s intellectual problem, but it cannot address his or her spiritual problem!**

It is true that the King James Bible contains words that are not used much in everyday speech or that are not often used in the way the KJV uses them. It is not true that these must keep one from understanding the Bible. Rather than frighten the KJV reader (who wants to be a KJV reader) towards a modern translation, a valid option is to direct them toward the help they need.

* “Archaic” and “changed meaning” are two different issues, though they might seem one and the same without due consideration.

** Since each individual suffers from different language and knowledge difficulties, it is endlessly impossible to try to accomplish a fix with a new translation of the Bible. It would take a unique Bible for each individual. Rather than falling into this never ending cycle, better that many individuals work together to solve their problems from one common translation.

*** If we were to follow the train of thought used concerning the Bible – that something should not be written with words that some people cannot understand – we could not intelligently write or read much of anything.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Use of "-est" and "-eth" in the KJV

Many people, both friends and foes of the King James Bible, do not understand the use of "-est" and "-eth" verbs in the KJV. Yet how often do we spend time to help those who are trying to read and understand it? The verb forms of the KJV are in simple and consistent pattern. The 2nd person and 3rd person singular verb endings are different than what we encounter in modern writings. What do they mean?

• The –st endings are used with the 2nd person singular (thou). E.g., “Thou lovest righteousness, and hatest wickedness...” (Psalm 45:7).
• The –th endings are used with the 3rd person singular (he/she/it). E.g., “For he that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life...” (John 12:25).
• The 1st person singular (I), and plural pronouns (we/ye/they) use the same endings as modern English forms:
  E.g. Wherefore? because I love you not? God knoweth.” (2 Cor. 11:11)
  E.g. “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” (John 14:15)
  E.g. “...they love him that speaketh right.” (Proverbs 16:13)

Verbs: Use of "-est" and "-eth" in the KJV

I love
We love
Thou lovest
Ye love
- eth
He loveth
They love

Unlike the “ye/thou” differences, the "-est" and "-eth" endings do not provide more accuracy to the text. It is simply a matter of understanding grammar and the verb conjugation if you are reading the KJV. I have not examined every verb. Knowing that the English language is a language full of irregular verbs and exceptions to rules, I would caution that you may run across some exceptions to the above “rule”.

[Note 1.: Some have made claims that the "-est" and "-eth" suffixes on verbs signify continual action (Greek “perfect tense”) as opposed to one-time action (Greek “aorist tense”). In fact these tenses in the Greek language are absent in the English language. So in this case there is no distinction or difference of meaning between old English (he loveth) and modern English (he loves). Following an erroneous explanation for the -est and -eth endings could lead one into errors of interpretation.]
[Note 2. (added 05/2022): A reader pointed out the "-edst" ending on some verbs. Examples of this can be found in Genesis 31:13 (“anointedst” and “vowedst”), Genesis 49:4 (“defiledst”), John 21:18 (“girdedst” and “walkedst”), and Hebrews 2:7 (“crownedst”). This verse also has “didst”, which is a variant. According to “The Kings Bible” advanced search results, 74 Bible verses have words with this "-edst" ending (sometimes more than once in the verse). The "-edst" ending is found with the second person singular verb when it is past tense. It matches with the “thou” pronoun. It is found on words that end in "-ed" and have "-st" added.]

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Why the Ye’s and Thou’s

Back in Jan-Feb 1992, I reprinted in The Baptist Waymark an article from the Plains Baptist Challenger by Bruce Cummons about the use of thee, thou, ye and you. In it Cummons noted that “One of the most criticized characteristics of the King James translation of the Bible” – the use of old English pronouns thee, thou, thy, and ye – is actually “one of the strongest points of the Authorized Version.”

Whether friend or foe, many do not know what to make of such “thee” and “ye” terminology. Unlike modern English, in the original languages of the Old and New Testaments second-person singular and the second-person plural pronouns* are distinguished. Today we do not distinguish them, so that when we speak or write in singular or plural, we choose the word “you.” 

“Where are you going?” Without context we cannot know whether this question is asked of one or many. However, Cummons notes, “in old English there exists a difference just as there is in Greek and Hebrew. As a result the old English used in the King James Version gives far more precise translation than would modern English. In our King James Bible, thee, thou, thy and thine are always singular. You, ye, and your are always plural.”

He follows this with a helpful rule: “If the second person pronoun starts with a “t” (in the English translation), then it is singular. If it starts with a “y”, it is plural. This information helps us to better interpret God’s Word. The thee’s and the ye’s are used also for accuracy and directness of translation...”

It is further worth noting that the words are used based on whether they are nominative, objective or possessive. For example, “ye” is used when it is the subject of the sentence, and “you” is used when the object. Other examples and a chart: 

“Thou art the man” – “thou” is the subject of the sentence.
“What is that to thee?” – “thee” is the object of a preposition.

Use of pronouns in the KJV

My (or mine)
Our (or ours)
Thy (or thine)
Your (or yours)
Their (or theirs)

[Note: I have heard some claim that one of the differences is between “familiar” as opposed to “formal” – as “tu” and “usted” in Spanish. I have found no basis for this claim and it would certainly obscure one’s understanding when reading the King James Version of the Bible. Because of this familiar versus formal dichotomy, some modern translations keep “thee” and “thou” when addressing God and “you” when addressing human beings. This is not based on the original, and is not a correct translation (and causes confusion). I have also read that by the time of the KJV translation in 1611, these singular forms of “thee” and “thou” had already been replaced in conversation by “you” – meaning the KJV translators chose to be “archaic” in order to preserve the singular or plural of the original languages. I cannot verify that, but do notice that in their “To the Reader” the translators seem to use “thee” as singular and “you” as plural.]

In speaking to God in Psalms 51:17, David uses “thou” – “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.” Cf. also Psalms 63:1 – “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: my soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;”

*Pronouns are words that stand in place of nouns. The person or persons TO WHOM the speaker is speaking is called second person (singular or plural based on how many).

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

11 Baptist history blogs

The blogs linked below are written and/or maintained by folks who are interested in Baptist history. In some cases they write about other things as well. If anyone knows of other blogs that are primarily related to Baptist history, let me know and I will link them as well.

The posting of web links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the viewpoints of the posts linked.

A Baptist Perspective
Baptist History and Doctrine
Baptist History and Thought
Christian Thought and Tradition
Historia ecclesiastica
James1948's Blog
Praisegod Barebones
SBC Heritage
Tennessee Baptist Historical Society
Thoughts of a Pastor Historian
Working out Salvation with Fear and Trembling

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Quotable quotes

"You can't back up on a freeway." -- James Dobson, referring to the impossibility of going back to "the way things were."

"Some are Microwave Christians - 30 seconds and they’re done." -- unknown

God placed Psalm 35 in His spiritual medicine chest for the times when the enemy seeks to destroy us. -- Kirby Hill (Not an exact quote, but paraphrased from his radio program)

"Begin with the end in mind." -- Stephen R. Covey

"There is a Holy Spirit and I am not him. It is my job to speak truth but not my job to convince others of it." -- Henry Blackaby

"There is only one Hero in the Church, and it is not the preacher." -- Matt Chandler, Josh Patterson, Eric Geiger in Creature of the Word: The Jesus-Centered Church

"Flimsy sermons will create a flimsy flock." -- Matt Chandler, Josh Patterson, Eric Geiger in Creature of the Word: The Jesus-Centered Church

"God doesn't believe in atheists." -- Ray Comfort

Monday, February 18, 2013

A theology of marriage and childbearing

Is there a theology of marriage and childbearing? What do the Scriptures say? Do the Scriptures present marriage as a covenant between a man and a woman in which children are intended and expected? Or do the Scriptures present marriage as a covenant between a man and a woman in which a choice to have or not have children is part of the covenant they make between themselves? Does it matter one way or the other? The following are some Bible verses that relate to the issue.

1. When we look at the original, we see a lifelong union between one man and one woman with the blessings and responsibilities of bringing forth children. Quote: Gen 2:18,21-24 - And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him...And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. (cf. 1:27,28)

2. Fruitfulness is a blessing and a command to Adam and Eve. Quote: Gen 1:27-28 - So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

3. There is a similar blessing/command motif for Noah and Jacob. Quote: Gen 9:1 - And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth. Gen 35:11 - And God said unto him, I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins.

4. God's creative plan is that the woman should bear children. That she would bear them "in sorrow" is a result of the fall. Quote: Gen 3:16 - Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.

5. The Lord has power over the womb, both opening and shutting. Quote: Gen 29:31 - And when the LORD saw that Leah was hated, he opened her womb: but Rachel was barren. I Sam 1:5 - But unto Hannah he gave a worthy portion; for he loved Hannah: but the LORD had shut up her womb.

6. Children (and even grandchildren) are an heritage (inheritance) and a reward from God. Quote: Psalm 127:3-5 - Lo, children are an heritage of the LORD: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man; so are children of the youth. Happy is the man that hath his quiver full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate. Psalm 128:1-3 - Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD; that walketh in his ways. For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee. Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy children like olive plants round about thy table. Prov 17:6 - Children's children are the crown of old men; and the glory of children are their fathers.

7. Paul exhorts younger women to marry and bear children. Quote: I Tim 5:14 - I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully.

8. Marrying and bearing children seem to be the normal and expected course for the Christian (so much so that Paul assumes the elders will be married with children). Quote: I Tim 5:10 - Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints' feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work. Titus 2:4,5 - That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children. To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed. I Tim 3:2-4,12 - A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife...One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity...Let the deacons be the husbands of one wife, ruling their children and their own houses well.

9. There are exceptions to this "normal course". For persons to devote themselves to remain unmarried in order to give themselves over to the Lord's service seems above average, but certainly a good thing and that is acceptable to God. Quote: Matthew 19:12 - For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it. Compare I Corinthians 7:8, et al.

10. Examples of Jesus' feelings toward children: Quote: Matt 19:14 - But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me: for of such is the kingdom of heaven. Matt 18:2-6 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. 

I would like to keep any discussion impersonal and Scripture-oriented. Regardless of one's personal status in this matter, I hope that we agree that it is Scripture and not our practice that decides the truth. The general tenor of Scripture combined with specific teachings gives strong evidence that children are an intended and expected consequence of marriage. 


Saturday, February 16, 2013

4 categories of qualifications

A bishop's qualifications, stated negatively and positively:

1. As regards his personal status and habits, 1 Timothy 3:2-3.

2. As regards his relationship to his family, 1 Timothy 3:4-5.

3. As regards his relationship to his church, 1 Timothy 3:5-6.

4. As regards his relationship to the world, 1 Timothy 3:7.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Tithing before the law

Tithing1 existed before the Law,2 in the law,3 is mentioned in the New Testament,4 and neither Jesus nor the New Testament writers ever negate it.

Levirate marriage5 existed before the Law,6 in the law,7 is mentioned in the New Testament,8 and neither Jesus nor the New Testament writers ever negate it.

Why do preachers and teachers use this argument to support continuation of the tithe, but not for levirate marriage?

[1] Tithing is giving a tenth of one’s increase.
[2] Genesis 14:18-20
[3] Numbers 18:20-24
[4] Matthew 23:23
[5] Levirate marriage is a type of marriage in which the brother of a deceased man is obliged to marry his brother's widow, when the deceased brother has no children.
[6] Genesis 38:1-30
[7] Deuteronomy 25:5-10
[8] Matthew 22:23-33

Thursday, February 14, 2013

4 traits of time

The Bible speaks of when time shall be no more. But that "time" is not yet. For now our lives are governed according to time -- hours, days, months, years.

When I received my copy of The English Baptists of the 17th Century in the mail, it was packed in old issues of the Western Recorder, the periodical of the Kentucky Baptist Convention. Naturally, I had to scan to the pages! In it I found what I thought was a productive article by Jeff Iorg on the subject of "time". Four of his main points are:

1. God created time and called it good, Genesis 1:3-5,31.
2. God established the time of your life, Psalm 139:16.
3. God calls us to stewardship of time, Ephesians 5:15-16.
4. God models a pattern of time use for His people, Gen. 2:2, Exod. 20:8-11.

Iorg sums up in closing: "God invented time and called it good. He places us at the right time in history and has appropriate timing for events in our lives. We are responsible to use time wisely, including following God's pattern for work and rest." -- From "Do you have a biblical understanding of time?" by Jeff Iorg in Western Recorder, August 16, 2011, p. 5

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Readings on funerals, cremation and burial

Cremation, once a rare exception in this country, is now a popular option. "Should Christians be cremated?" This seems to be a question in the minds of many. Though we cannot answer dogmatically, "No," the imagery of burial is nevertheless a significant and biblical expression of faith that should not be disposed of lightly or for financial reasons alone. The following links add to the Readings on Burial and Cremation that I previously posted. Other links discuss funerals in general, and one even presents a local church's policy guide to conducting funerals.

Ashes to Ashes: Trends in dying
Baptist Funeral Traditions
Conducting Gospel-Centered Funerals
Cremation: Is it a pattern that Christians should follow?
Cremation: What Does God Think?
Harmony Baptist Church Funeral Policy and Guide
Is cremation a valid option for Christians?
To Bury or to Burn? Cremation in Christian Perspective
The Glory of Funerals
What Does The Bible Say About Cremation?

The posting of web links does not constitute an endorsement of the sites linked, and not necessarily even agreement with the viewpoints of the posts linked.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

7 things about the first 7 days

The word "day" is used three ways in the Bible -- an entire revolution of the earth (i.e. 24 hours); the period of time between sunrise and sunset (i.e. daylight); or some unspecified period of time (i.e. figurative). This would introduce the possibility that the "days" of creation -- those mentioned in the first chapter of Genesis -- might theoretically be any one of these. Which is it?

7 reasons that the first 7 days are 24-hour days rather than 1000-year days or extended periods of time
1. Though "day" is sometimes used of prolonged periods, in all five of Moses' books (the Pentateuch) when "day" is used with a numerical adjective, its meaning is restricted to a literal 24-hour day. Genesis One is no exception.
2. The specific mention of "evening" and "morning" indicates that the Bible is speaking of 24-hour days. These terms would be meaningless if referring to some unknown period of time. Evening and morning refer to a 24-hour day; Bible days began at sunset rather than at midnight as our days (Cf. Gen. 1:5; Exod. 12:18; Lev. 23:32).
3. If the evening were the first half of an extended period of time and the morning the second half, what happened to the plants created on the third day when the evening of the fourth day came? Could they survive 500 years of darkness? The same goes for the animals.
4. Adam was 930 years old when he died (Cf. Gen. 5:5). If Genesis One days were 1000-year periods, Adam would have been over 1000 years old on the second day of his existence, and over 2000 by the time he died -- since he was created on the sixth day. The first seven days were the same kind of days Adam lived all of his life, and by which the days of his life were counted. If each day were a 1000 years, Adam would have been around 334,800,000 years old when he died. 
5. Why would it take God 6000 years to create the world? God didn't need 1000-year days -- it's the theistic evolutionists who need that period of time to explain their views. The Genesis account tells of a God who spoke and things came into existence.
6. None said these days were ages before the scientists said the earth was billions of years old. The motive behind lengthening the first seven days is make the Bible conform to science -- to fit the belief that the earth if billions of years old. Many scientific theories oppose God's Word. No proven scientific fact disagrees with the Bible. Should scientists ever arrive at the truth, they will find Bible-believers are already there!
7. Man's six work days correspond precisely to God's six work days. Man's day of rest corresponds to God's day of rest. Man's seven-day week is the same as God's seven-day week. See Exodus 20:8-11. 

The first seven days are the same kind of days as our 24-hour days -- the first week a week by which all weeks thereafter are patterned. The truth is plain and simple in Genesis, if we have eyes to see and aren't searching for something else.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Words-only hymn screen

This subject contains some humor for me. Not unbridled guffawing hilarity. Just a tinge of it that makes the smile turn up a little more on one side.

What is a "words-only hymn screen"? The "words-only hymn book" is a familiar phrase in my circles. It is a small booklet that contains only words of hymns -- no music, no staffs, no shaped notes, no nothing. Nothing but words, that is. The "words-only hymn screen" is my play on words for the large screen or screens hung in the front of churches on which words of hymns are projected to read and sing.

Some think this is very progressive. One blogger remembers how he once viewed projection screens in a church as sign that they "had departed from dead tradition, monotonous hymns, and a church culture geared for the elderly." Those who use and like the projectors and screens likely view themselves and their churches as contemporary, sophisticated, trendy and on the cutting edge of progress.

Some think this is too progressive. While churches using the screens may view themselves as up-to-date, conservative churches that use hymnals likely view those that use projectors and screens as too progressive -- at the least unnecessary & distracting and at the worst even liberal.

It is, in fact, regressive. Yes, while those who promote and those who protest "PowerPoint worship" think of it as progressive, for better or worse -- it actually is regressive, that is, "returning to a former state." Before our churches used projectors or hymnals with printed music, they used words-only hymn books.* One had to read the hymn and learn the tune orally. The state of progressive Christianity and hi-tech hymnody has returned to a former state. The old is new again (says I, as a smile forms on my lips).

Related readings
Advantages of Hymn Books (Cottrill)
Advantages of Hymn Books (Smith)
Danger Of Overhead Hymns
Hymnals or Screens?
Hymn books v data projectors
Powerpoint worship
Projection Screens in Churches: Musings on the Sign and the Thing Signified
Using Screens in Worship: One church's criteria

* And as a matter of fact, many churches (though a minority) still use words-only hymn books.

Saturday, February 09, 2013


"There never was a man in the world without a creed. What is a creed? A creed is what you believe. What is a confession? It is a declaration of what you believe. That declaration may be oral or it may be committed to writing, but the creed is there either expressed or implied."―B.H. Carroll

"Many denominations have so emphasized the professional side of ministry that they have ordained some people with numerous talents but little or no understanding or sense of call in the Pauline sense of the word. The result is that some flocks get fleeced instead of fed." -- Ben Witherington III

"Natural man approves a religion in which man is doing what he will, while God is trying to do what He can. Spiritual man accepts that God is doing according to His will both in the army of heaven and among the inhabitants of the earth." -- R. L. Vaughn

"We need to go back and read the verses that are not underlined or highlighted."  -- unknown

"The Bible is foundational to our faith. But it is more than the written word of God that brings us to that faith. Apart from the Holy Spirit’s witness heard in our spiritual heart, the Bible is just words written about God. By the Holy Spirit speaking to our heart, the words of the Bible become God’s word personally spoken to us. It is one thing to read about God; it is quite another to hear Him spiritually speaking to us. Though the former is factual, the latter is piercing, life-giving and life-changing." -- Ken Hamrick

"If we respond to the 'embarrassing parts' of Scripture by saying, 'That was then, this is now,' we will quickly discover that liberals can play that game more effectively than conservatives." -- Steve Wilkins and Doug Wilson