Saturday, February 29, 2020

The problem, and other quotes

The posting of quotes by human authors does not constitute agreement with either the quotes or their sources. (I try to confirm the sources that I give, but may miss on occasion; please verify when possible.)

“The problem with a living sacrifice is that it keeps crawling off the altar.” -- Steve Brown

“He who lays up treasures on earth spends his life backing away from his treasures. To him, death is loss. He who lays up treasures in heaven looks forward to eternity; he’s moving daily toward his treasures. To him, death is gain.” -- Randy Alcorn

“Try to remember – the greener grass across the fence may be due to a septic tank issue.” -- Unknown

“Now go back and read the verses you don’t have underlined and highlighted.”

“Death says you are less important than you’ve allowed yourself to believe. The gospel says you are far more loved than you’ve imagined.” -- Matthew McCullough

“God does not give us everything we want, but He does fulfill His promises, leading us along the best and straightest paths to Himself.” -- Dietrich Bonhoeffer

“Nothing is written in stone. Except tombstones, monuments, and such like – and the law of Moses!” 

“The best and most beautiful things in this world cannot be seen or even heard, but must be felt with the heart.” -- Helen Keller

“Fallen man is not a pure receptor of neutral data.” -- Steve M. Schlissel

“God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supplies.” -- Hudson Taylor

And for my last quote of the day:
“One original thought is worth a thousand mindless quotings.” -- Diogenes Laërtius

Friday, February 28, 2020

Founders Religion

The opinions writers to “Letters to the Editor” of the Nacogdoches Daily Sentinel newspaper provide an ongoing source of entertainment, if not knowledge. On Sunday February 23,[i] correspondent Ron Hurst regaled us with the fact that the United States is not a theocracy, supported by half-truths such as:
  • “Furthermore, not once is the word ‘god’ mentioned in the Declaration of Independence, or the Constitution.”
  • “The majority of our forefathers, including George Washington, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine and James Monroe were not Christians. Most of them were deists or theistic rationalists.”
On Tuesday Robert Ault countered, telling us that “Nature’s God” and “Creator” are found in the Constitution. He felled the final blow – We know the founders were Christians based on their appearance in a vision to Mormon Apostle Wilford Woodruff.[ii] I am certain that non-Mormons of every stripe (religious and irreligious) were quite convinced!!

On Wednesday Hurst was back, picking Ault’s nits. Assuredly, “the words ‘to which the laws of nature and natures God entitle them’ and ‘that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights’” were not in the Constitution. “They were in the Declaration of Independence instead.”[iii] True enough, though Hurst was not man enough to admit that he had it half-wrong on Sunday just as much as Ault was half-wrong on Tuesday!

The Declaration mentions God. The Constitution does not. The first document tells us why our founders separated from England. The second document establishes the laws of those who separated from England.

The United States is neither a theocracy nor an atheist-ocracy (which seems to be what some like Hurst want). The United States is a Constitutional Republic that guarantees freedom of religion.

The Founders’ religious beliefs are found in their writings. Their religious connections are found in their church affiliations or lack thereof. Read their writings. Look up their church memberships. These facts, found, will not support Hurst’s “most of them were deists or theistic rationalists” theory. The fact that “most of them were Christians” would not mean they started a theocracy. Baptist preachers, in fact, were some of the most avid opponents of anything that smelled like a theocracy. They did not, however, promote the popular nonsense of this day that Christians should sit inside their churches and shut up!

Yes, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin were Deists. On the other hand, most signers of the Declaration were active churchgoers, including at least one Christian minister![iv]Here is a quote from one of our founders, President George Washington, at his first inaugural address:
Such being the impressions under which I have, in obedience to the public summons, repaired to the present station; it would be peculiarly improper to omit in this first official Act, my fervent supplications to that Almighty Being who rules over the Universe, who presides in the Councils of Nations, and whose providential aids can supply every human defect, that his benediction may consecrate to the liberties and happiness of the People of the United States, a Government instituted by themselves for these essential purposes: and may enable every instrument employed in its administration to execute with success, the functions allotted to his charge. In tendering this homage to the Great Author of every public and private good I assure myself that it expresses your sentiments not less than my own; nor those of my fellow-citizens at large, less than either. No People can be bound to acknowledge and adore the invisible hand, which conducts the Affairs of men more than the People of the United States. Every step, by which they have advanced to the character of an independent nation, seems to have been distinguished by some token of providential agency…I dwell on this prospect with every satisfaction which an ardent love for my Country can inspire…Since we ought to be no less persuaded that the propitious smiles of Heaven, can never be expected on a nation that disregards the eternal rules of order and right, which Heaven itself has ordained…
Washington’s inaugural address is not quite the blatant rationalistic deism Hurst would have us accept! It is clear that George Washington believed in a Creator, in prayer, in God’s providential dealings in history, in eternal truth – and that he thought most of the citizenry shared his beliefs.

[i] “Founders views on religion,” Ron Hurst, The Daily Sentinel, Sunday, February 23, 2020, page 5B.
[ii] “The Founding Fathers told us their views on religion,” Robert Ault, The Daily Sentinel, Tuesday, February 25, 2020, page 5A.
[iii] “More on church and state,” Ron Hurst, The Daily Sentinel, Wednesday, February 26, 2020, page 6A.
[iv] Presbyterian minister John Witherspoon. Benjamin Rush was co-founder of the Philadelphia Bible Society. Many other such religious connections can be easily discovered by those willing to do so. A good list of the church affiliations of the signers of the Declaration, Articles of Confederation, and the U. S. Constitution can be found at

Thursday, February 27, 2020

And Can It Be, and other worship links

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

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Lent should not be

Lent should not be observed in biblical Baptist churches:
  • Lent is an invention of popery. It is part and parcel of the Roman church calendar and holy week observances. These are not found in the Bible.
  • Lent contradicts the Bible view of holy days (e.g. Colossians 2:16-17). The Lord’s day is the “holy day” to be biblically observed (cf. Acts 20:7).
  • Lent disagrees with the biblical principle of worshiping according to God’s revealed will (Regulative Principle). There is no positive command in the New Testament to observe any day or season as holy.
  • Lent restricts certain matters of separation and holiness to a certain time of year. Personal holiness should be a daily Christian practice (cf. Luke 9:23).
[Based on my thoughts and thoughts I have heard others present.]

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

3,700-Year-Old Babylonian Stone Tablet, and other links

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

Monday, February 24, 2020

“Begotten” in Baptist Confessions

Around the middle of the 20th century, the tide turned toward translating the Greek word monogenes (μονογενες) in John’s writings as “only,” “unique,” or “one and only.”[i]  Prior to that, “only begotten” held sway.[ii] The Baptists freely adopted and used the “only begotten” language.[iii] The use in Confessions does not prove right or wrong, but it does prove the wording was fairly consistently used in many available Baptist Confessions across several centuries.

That Jesus Christ is He which in the beginning did lay the foundation of the heavens and earth which shall perish; that he is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last, He is the wisdom of God, which was begotten from everlasting before all creatures... Propositions and Conclusions concerning True Christian Religion, 1614 (John Smyth party that stayed in Holland)

In this Godhead, there is the Father, the Son, and the Spirit; being every one of them one and the same God; and therefore not divided, but distinguished one from another by their several properties; the Father being from Himself, the Son of the Father from everlasting, the Holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son. First London Confession of Faith, 1644/1646

That there is one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, who is the only begotten Son of God, born of the Virgin Mary;  yet as truly David’s Lord, and David’s root, as David’s Son, and David’s Offspring, whom God freely sent into the World (because of his great love unto the World) who as freely gave himself a ransom for all, tasting death for every man, a propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole World. The Standard Confession, 1660

The Father is of none, neither Begotten nor Proceeding; the Son is Eternally Begotten of the Father; the Holy Ghost is of the Father, and the Son, proceeding. All Infinite, without Beginning, therefore but one God, who is Indivisible, and not to be divided in Nature, or Being, but distinguished by several Properties and Personal Relations... The Orthodox Creed, 1679

In this divine and infinite Being there are three subsistences, the Father, the Word (or Son) and Holy Spirit, of one substance, power, and Eternity, each having the whole Divine Essence, yet the Essence undivided, the Father is of none neither begotten nor proceeding, the Son is Eternally begotten of the Father, the holy Spirit proceeding from the Father and the Son, all infinite, without beginning, therefore but one God, who is not to be divided in nature and Being; but distinguished by several peculiar, relative properties, and personal relations... Second London Confession of Faith, 1677/1689

We believe, That there is but one only living and true God; that there three Persons in the Godhead, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, Who are equal in nature, power, and glory; and that the Son and the Holy Ghost are as truly and properly God as the Father. These three Divine Persons are distinguished from each other by peculiar relative properties. The distinguishing character and relative property of the First Person is begetting; He has begotten a Son of the same nature with Him, and Who is the express image of His Person; and therefore is with great propriety called the Father. The distinguishing character and relative property of the Second Person is that He is begotten, and He is called the Only Begotten of the Father, and His own proper Son; not a Son by creation as angels and men are, nor by adoption as saints are, nor by office as civil magistrates are, but by nature, by the Father’s eternal generation of Him in the divine nature; and therefore He is truly called the Son. The distinguishing character and relative property of the third person is to be breathed by the Father and the Son, and to proceed from Both, and is very properly called the Spirit or Breath of both. These three distinct Divine Persons, we profess to reverence, serve and worship as the one true God. Declaration of the Faith and Practice of the Church in Carter Lane, 1757 the Divine existence is the fountain from which he proceeded, and was the only agency by which his body was begotten, he is called the Son of God; being the only begotten of the Father, and the only incarnation of the Divine Being...the reason why the Divine Father and his only begotten Son are but one Being, is, their nature and attributes, being the same, are infinite and consequently can neither be local nor limited; but what one knows the other knows, and the mind of one is the mind of the other. A Treatise on the Faith of the Free-Will Baptists, 1850

The Mediator, Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, is the divinely appointed mediator between God and man... The Abstract of Principles, 1859

We believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son, miraculous in his birth, sinless in his life, making atonement for the sins of the world by his death. We believe in his bodily resurrection, his ascension in to heaven, his perpetual intercession for his people and his personal visible return to the world according to his promise. “Goodchild Confession” of the Fundamental Fellowship of the Northern Baptist Convention, 1921

We believe God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son to be the propitiation for the sins of the world, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have eternal life. Eastern District Primitive Baptist Association

We believe that Jesus Christ was begotten of the Holy Ghost in a miraculous manner; born of Mary, a virgin, as no other man was ever born or can ever be born of a woman, and that He is both the Son of God, and God, the Son...We believe that Jesus Christ was begotten of the Holy Ghost in a miraculous manner; born of Mary, a virgin, as no other man was ever born or can ever be born of a woman, and that He is both the Son of God, and God, the Son... Articles of Faith, Baptist Bible Fellowship

We believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son, conceived by the Holy Spirit. We believe in His virgin birth, sinless life, miracles and teachings. We believe in His substitutionary atoning death, bodily resurrection, ascension into heaven, perpetual intercession for His people, and personal visible return to earth. Converge (Baptist General Conference)

[i] RSV of 1946/1952 goes with “his only Son.”
[ii] From Wycliffe (one begotten) to NASB. The King James verses are: John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. John 1:18 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him. John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 1 John 4:9 In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
[iii] To me it seems like a lot of people in modern times, unfortunately, are swayed one way or another based on their opinion of the doctrine of eternal generation – rather than the linguistic evidence concerning monogenes. The use of these confessions together does not suggest that they mean the same thing regarding eternal generation.

Upon the cross, Son and Spirit

As the Son suffered physically upon the cross, the Spirit sustained his life until the time he uttered that it was finished and he died…From his conception to his crucifixion the Spirit was with him, moving him forward from baptism to temptation, from temptation to his ministry of proclamation and healing, and from proclamation to his encounter with the religious authorities and ultimately to his death. In the Spirit’s power, Jesus preached liberty to the captives, a liberty that could only be gained by way of the cross. There is no indication in Scripture that the Spirit, in some gnostic-like manner, departed Jesus before the crucifixion. He was with him throughout the physical torment he underwent. There is also no indication in Scripture that physical suffering is the Spirit’s work. Jesus’ physical death, however, is directly related to the withdrawal of the Spirit’s life-giving function. In order for Jesus to die physically, the Spirit’s sustaining and preserving power must have been removed from his body.
Rustin Umstattd in The Spirit and the Lake of Fire: Pneumatology and Judgment, p. 139

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Wake the Song

“Wake the song,” “or Anniversary Song,” was written by William Fisk Sherman.  A Baptist, Sherman was born in 1826 in Masschusetts and died in 1886.

1. Wake the song of joy and gladness,
Hither bring your noblest lays;
Banish ev’ry tho’t of sadness,
Pouring forth your highest praise,
Sing to him whose care has brought us
Once again with friends to meet,
And whose loving voice has taught us
Of the way to Jesus’ feet.

2. Joyfully with songs and banners,
We will greet the festal day;
Shout aloud our glad hosannas,
And our grateful homage pay.
We will change our Saviour’s glory
While our tho’ts we raise above,
Telling still “the old, old story,”
Precious theme Redeeming love!

3. Thanks to thee, O holy Father, 
For the mercies of the year;
May each heart, as here we gather,
Swell with gratitude sincere,
Thanks to thee, O loving Saviour,
For redemption thro’ thy blood:
Breathe upon us, Holy Spirit,
Sweetly draw us near to God.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Dirty clothes

...a matter of perspective?

A young couple moved into a new neighborhood. The next morning as they were eating breakfast, the young woman saw her neighbor hanging the washing outside.

“That laundry is not very clean; she doesn’t know how to wash correctly. Perhaps she needs better laundry soap.”

Her husband looked on, remaining silent.

Every time her neighbor hung her washing out to dry, the young woman made the same comments. A month later, the woman was surprised to see a nice clean wash on the line and said to her husband, “Look, she’s finally learned how to wash correctly. I wonder who taught her this?”

The husband replied, “I got up early this morning and cleaned our windows.”

Friday, February 21, 2020

61 Million Babies, and other links

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

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Autonomous Christonomy

In an article titled “What’s this inconsistent use of autonomy, anyway,” the author concluded with the statement, “It is looking like ‘autonomy’ is less and less understood.” He meant it in the Southern Baptist context in which he wrote. Nevertheless, I believe it is spot on in the broader Baptist context in the United States. I fear that “autonomy” is neither well taught nor well understood.

The words “autonomy” and “autonomous” come from two Greek words (αυτός and νόμος), which mean “self” and “law.” According to English dictionaries, autonomy is a noun that means “independence or freedom; the right or condition of self-government.” Its corresponding adjective, autonomous, means “self-governing; independent; having the freedom to govern itself or control its own affairs.” As an ecclesiological term, church autonomy means that there is no earthly organization, headquarters, or oversight beyond or above the local church.[i] This is in contrast to congregations set within hierarchical systems, such as Methodism, Presbyterianism, and Roman Catholicism. These are governed from outside the local body.

The church is independent and autonomous in relation to other churches, but is not independent and autonomous in relation to God and truth. Jesus Christ is the head of the church, its lawgiver (Colossians 1:18). The Bible is the faith and practice of the church, its law (2 Timothy 3:16-17). A local church is not autonomous in an absolute sense. The local congregation must recognize the control and authority of Jesus as Lord, as exercised through his word and the leadership of the Spirit (Proverbs 30:5; John 16:13). Malcolm Yarnell suggests it would be better if the term “autonomy” was replaced with the term “Christonomy.”[ii] It is unlikely the old term will be exchanged for the new, but it is incumbent on all autonomous – self-governing – churches that they be self-governed only in the sense that no one governs them other than their Master and Head, the Lord Jesus Christ.

“No servant can serve two masters.”

[i] The autonomy of the local church refers to self-determination as opposed to answering to a higher church authority on earth. It is but one part of local church governance. The term “congregationalism” also refers to local congregations as self-governing.
[ii] He writes, “This would help correct the idea that Baptists may rule themselves. Looking to Christ as our ever-present Governor would subvert inappropriate power claims.” Christonomy means “Christ-rule,” which is more biblically accurate than autonomy, literally “self-rule.” There is nothing wrong with the theological use of autonomy, properly understood – but all too often, it is not properly understood.

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Should χριστός be translated Messiah?

Since new translations are not a major blip on my radar, I often miss new directions to which the translation world in turning. In their update “Improvements to the Christian Standard Bible,” the CSB website mentions the translation of χριστός as “Messiah.”[i]
In a few instances, due to helpful feedback from Mark Strauss, we changed “Christ” to “Messiah.”
There is no further information or explanation regarding which verses were changed or why. However, we might guess – because of the involvement of Strauss, Vice-Chair of the NIV Committee on Bible Translation – that the verses may correspond to verses translated that way in the NIV 2011. In another place, Strauss tells us:
While the 1984 NIV used “Christ” throughout,14 the 2011 revision introduced “Messiah” whenever the term carried a titular sense (66 times). The HCSB similarly followed this pattern, introducing “Messiah” for χριστός 112 times in the NT,15 while retaining “Christ” 419 times.
The CSB retains this policy, but reduces the number significantly, using “Messiah” only 55 times for χριστός.
The apparent main argument for translating χριστός as “Messiah,” per Strauss, is to recognize the “titular sense” – that is, used as a title, relating to, or denoted by a title. The trend suggests transliterating names but not titles.[ii]
The rendering “Messiah” for Greek χριστός when the latter is used in a titular sense
An example of the difference is found in the translation of Matthew 16:16.
  • CSB:  Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
  • NIV:  Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”
  • KJV:  And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God.
  • NASB: Simon Peter answered, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
Strauss describes this as a decision between either translating or transliterating.
Deciding whether to translate or transliterate Greek χριστός is a challenge.
This is an unnecessary “challenge,” as well an inaccurate statement of the “problem.” First, both “Christ” and “Messiah” were brought into the English language as transliterations. Christ was a transliteration of the word most commonly used in the Greek manuscripts, Christos, χριστός. Messiah is a transliteration of a word used twice in the Greek manuscripts, Messiah, μεσσίας. Second, describing words that have been part of the English language a thousand years or more is anachronistic at best. When we discuss the “egg” (other than for pedantic purposes) we do not describe it as a transliteration of the Old Norse word egg (though it is). When we eat a bagel we do not worry about it being a transliteration of the Yiddish word beygl or the German word böugel (though it is). Rather, what the words mean to us in English receive first place. The English words Christ and Messiah both mean “anointed” or “anointed one.”[iii] They have been part of the English language so long that their use in modern translations should not be regarded as transliteration.

A secondary reason for translating χριστός as “Messiah” is found where Scot McKnight, in Not “Christ” but “Messiah”: NT Wright on Translating Christos, sees a problem. Some regard “Christ,” McKnight writes, as part of Jesus’s name. He finds in this a reason to use “Messiah” instead.
One of the more interesting features of NT scholarship is a widespread (radical) minimization of “Christ” meaning “Messiah.” Instead of a direct royal perception this term is understood by many scholars to mean a second/last/family name, that is Jesus Christ is little more than Jesus’ name.
In other words, McKnight thinks “Messiah” is better understood as a title, while “Christ” is often mistaken for a name. Therefore, the lesser-known, less used term might help. Quoting from N. T. Wright’s book, he cites Matthew V. Novenson:
“For a start, there is the linguistic evidence, set out recently by Matthew Novenson, that Christos is in fact neither a proper name (with denotation but no necessary connotation) nor a ‘title’ as such (with connotation but flexible denotation, as when ‘the King of Spain’ goes on meaning the same thing when one king dies and another succeeds him). It is, rather, an honorific, which shares some features of a ‘title’ but works differently.”[iv]
The view of McKnight, Novenson, and Wright, then, vies for the use of “Messiah.” However, their view may be distinguished from Strauss and others who hold that “Messiah” is (sometimes) a title – while they view it as an honorific.”[v]

Thirdly, translating χριστός as “Messiah” may be related to a desire to return the church to some of its Hebrew roots, and/or to highlight her Jewish connection. David Bivin of Jerusalem Perspective agrees with McKnight about the surname issue, but adds another dimension. He writes:
I think “Messiah” more accurately conveys in English what the Greek authors of the New Testament meant to convey with the Greek “christos.” See my article, “Messiah” (Jerusalem Perspective 26 [May/June 1990]: 6). See also my “Messianic Claims” (Jerusalem Perspective 27 [July/August 1990]: 11), where I wrote: “Many Christians seem to think that ‘Christ’ was Jesus’ surname, while non-Christians often use it as a swear word. ‘Christ’ is an English transliteration of a Greek translation of an original Hebrew word—a good example of the influence of Greek language and culture on our culture. It also is an example of the Church’s loss of its Hebraic and Jewish roots.”[vi]
The use of “Christ” and “Messiah” as explained in the Introduction to the Holman Christian Standard Bible adds a fourth reason given for translating χριστός as “Messiah” – that of pairing the word to the context (or perceived context).
The Holman CSB translates the Greek word Christos (“anointed one”) as either “Christ” or “Messiah” based on its use in different NT contexts. Where the NT emphasizes Christos as a name of our Lord or has a Gentile context, “Christ” is used (Eph 1:1 “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus...”). Where the NT Christos has a Jewish context, the title “Messiah” is used (Eph 1:12 ...we who had already put our hope in the Messiah). The first use of “Messiah” in each chapter is also marked with a bullet referring readers to the Bullet Note at the back of most editions.
The HCSB explanation is somewhat related to Strauss’s title concept and Bivin’s return to Jewish roots. On the other hand, contra Bivin and McKnight, the editors of the HCSB seem to accept that “Christ” is sometimes used as a name in the New Testament (“Where the NT emphasizes Christos as a name…”).

The International Standard Version Bible pulls out all stops, using only the English word “Messiah” and never “Christ.” Their website explains:
In the ISV New Testament, the word Christos (itself a Greek language translation of the Hebrew word moshiach) is translated as “Messiah”. For example, the ISV renders the name and title traditionally rendered as Jesus Christ as Jesus the Messiah in order to emphasize the unique claim made by the New Testament writers that the things about which they wrote pertained to Jesus as the claimed fulfillment of the hope of Israel’s Messiah. The alternate rendering “Christ” appears in footnotes. The rarely utilized NT Greek transliteration messias of the Hebrew language moshiach is rendered in the ISV NT as “Anointed One”. [That is, John 1:41 and John 4:25, rlv.] [vii]
The argument to change “Christ” to “Messiah” must be weighed and found wanting – whether as a change in certain contexts (CSB, HCSB, NIV) or a thoroughgoing change for the entire New Testament (ISV, TLV).

“When used in the titular sense”
This creates an artificial standard, one that exists in the minds of certain translators rather than in the mind of God. The words “Christ” and “Messiah” both have the same meaning. From that standpoint, one is neither better nor worse than the other. The stress on changing “Christ” to “Messiah” constitutes changing the primary and consistent word of choice of the inspired New Testament writers – therefore the word of choice of the Holy Spirit who inspired them. Christ is a current English word. Messiah is a current English word. Messiah is based on μεσσίας, and is a nearer transliteration of the Hebrew word משיח (mashiach). Nevertheless, the word written in the New Testament, being translated or transliterated – whichever one chooses to call it – is not μεσσίας or mashiach, but χριστός! If God inspired the New Testament writers to use χριστός  rather than μεσσίας (and he did), then why should we prefer μεσσίας over χριστός?[viii]

“Jesus Christ is little more than Jesus’ name”
The reasoning is substantially “the provocation of the lesser-known” – that is, the use of lesser-known terminology will call attention to and work toward fixing the problem. Yet, this builds on a false narrative. It is likely that some biblically illiterate folks think that “Christ” is Jesus’s last name. Despite McKnight’s portrayal of the problem concerning Christ and Jesus’s name as “widespread” and understood that way “by many scholars,” I cannot confirm that such is true. Most Bible scholars and Bible students of whom I am aware know the difference. Still, we can take the corrective suggestion and apply when needed, without taking the suggested translation. If someone states or implies that Christ is simply the surname of Jesus, then we should correct that. This can be done in preaching, teaching, and writing. A new translation is not needed.

“Loss of Hebraic and Jewish roots”
This is an unnecessary requirement. The church is rooted in its “Jewishness;” that thread runs throughout the Bible. Those who miss it will not likely find it by us throwing in the word “Messiah.” On the other hand, we must remember the church, as Christ’s assembly, is neither Jew nor Gentile (1 Corinthians 10:32). Our guideline is not to imagine how we might need to return to our Jewish roots, but to stand in the distinct culture of the church of God – a culture that can grasp the promise of the Jewish Messiah and describe him faithfully in Greek words!

“A Gentile context, a Jewish context”
Using χριστός in “a Gentile context” and μεσσίας in “a Jewish context” creates another artificial standard. Though it seems sane in the minds of some translators, such “matching the context” was not used by the New Testament writers, who were led to use χριστός consistently throughout their writings.[ix] The Greek language was the lingua franca of the day. The writers did not drop back into a so-called Jewish context and use μεσσίας indiscriminately. John used it in two places and gave a proper explanation for any readers who might not understand. Determining what context is used and choosing which word to use is simply toying with the Bible in a way that is not present in the text itself.

In addition to these considerations, the Messiah-instead-of-Christ philosophy rejects biblical orthopraxy. In the churches the Spirit places teachers to help us understand the word of God. Seeing that the reader understands the nuances of words like Christos is the calling of teachers, not translators. Translators often desire to stray from their jobs as translators and insert themselves as teachers in the churches.

The long-standing translation practice of rendering χριστός as Christ in English is not improved upon by the new passion for rendering it Messiah instead.

[i] This is not the first time this has been done. I never paid much attention to it. This practice (translating χριστός as Messiah) may have originated in “mainstream” Bibles with the NASB. The NASB in four places in the gospel of Matthew translates χριστός as Messiah, Matthew 1:1; 1:16-17; 2:4.  Other “mainstream” translations may have done it prior to the NASB doing so, but I have yet to find any.
[ii] This distinction is somewhat hard to comprehend, since Christos is not a proper name, but rather a title of position.
[iii] The words simply have different origins. “Christ” is from the Greek χριστός (or Latin Christus) and “Messiah” is from the Greek μεσσίας (or Latin Messias) – which is in turn a transliteration of the Hebrew word משיח (mashiach).
[iv] N. T. Wright, Paul and the Faithfulness of God, Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2013, p. 824.
[v] A word of status or respect.
[vi] There is no evidence that the New Testament was originally written in Hebrew.
[vii] Translation Principles of the ISV Bible, No. 4 under the heading “Textual Aspects of Translation.”
[viii] John 1:41 and John 4:25 use both μεσσίας and χριστός. A cursory look at the verses explains why.
[ix] If the word Messiah (mashiach) were used frequently in the Old Testament, it might provide more support for this argument. Further, it appears that many or most Jews in New Testament times knew the Messiah by the Septuagint translation’s term χριστός.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

The QJV, a derivative Bible

Though sometimes charged, nothing has happened or is happening in the realm of mainstream Bible translations as far as removing the sin of homosexuality.[i] I would be surprised if any of the current crop head down that road anytime soon. However, this does not mean some new translation will not do so. The mysterious originators of the Queen James Version in 2012 have perhaps fired the first volley. Who knows when someone will take up that mantle. I do not consider the QJV either mainstream or even a real translation, but it reflects the desire to water down, change, or remove Bible texts that deal with homosexuality.

The Queen James Version of the Bible is a niche Bible, sort of like the Holy Name Bible and the New World Translation. Niche Bibles work over verses to suit their own beliefs. According to their own propaganda, apparently there are only eight verses that concern them: “The Queen James Bible seeks to resolve interpretive ambiguity in the Bible as it pertains to homosexuality: We edited those eight verses in a way that makes homophobic interpretations impossible.”[ii]

The Eight Changed Verses, KJV and QJV compared.
Genesis 19:5
“and they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them.” (KJV)
“And they called out unto Lot, and said unto him, ‘Where are the men which came in to thee this night? Bring them out unto us, that we may rape and humiliate them’.” (QJV)

Leviticus 18:22
“Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.” (KJV)
“Thou shalt not lie with mankind as with womankind in the temple of Molech; it is an abomination.” (QJV)

Leviticus 20:13
“If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” (KJV)
“If a man also lie with mankind in the temple of Molech, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them.” (QJV)

Romans 1:26–27
“For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.” (KJV)
“Their women did change their natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, left of the natural use of the woman, burned in ritual lust, one toward another; Men with men working that which is pagan and unseemly. For this cause God gave the idolators up unto vile affections, receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was meet.” (QJV)

1 Corinthians 6:9
“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,” (KJV)
“Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolators, nor adulterers, nor morally weak, nor promiscuous,” (QJV)

1 Timothy 1:10
“for whoremongers, for them that defile themselves with mankind, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;” (KJV)
“For whoremongers, for them that defile themselves, for menstealers, for liars, for perjured persons, and if there be any other thing that is contrary to sound doctrine;” (QJV)

Jude 1:7
“Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” (KJV)
“Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after nonhuman flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” (QJV)

This work is far out on a limb, and no other current Bible version is out on that limb with it. However, the mindset is there, even among some so-called evangelicals. If new Bibles move in that direction in the future, it should not be surprising. Matthew Vines has been in the forefront of leading evangelicals in this Bible-doesn’t-say-that direction. He writes about it in Why I Left College and Spent Two Years Finding Out What the Scriptures Really Say, and in another place says, “The Bible never addresses sexual orientation or same-sex marriage, and its references to same-sex behavior are to lustful, fleeting acts, not loving, committed relationships.”[iii]

The Queen James Version of the Bible, also known as the Gay Bible, is direct frontal assault on biblical orthodoxy and biblical morality. Its efforts are niched and narrow. However, it will be no surprise to me when there is a future attempt to bring a gay-friendly Bible into the “mainstream.”

[i] However, changing gender-specific words in the original language to gender-neutral or gender-inclusive translations is seen by many as the first step in that direction.
[ii] In addition, the unknown editors added many thoughts about the Bible and homosexuality in their introductory pages, in order to support their changes. For example, concerning Genesis 19:5, the editors write, “Rapes such as this one are common between men in prison; they aren’t sexual acts, they are power-dominating acts.”