Monday, May 31, 2021

An exhaustive listing, 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.

In Remissionem Peccatorum

Balthasar Hübmaier on baptism:
“Therefore the baptism in water is not what cleanses the soul, but the ‘Yes’ of a good conscience toward God, given inwardly by faith.[i]
Therefore, the baptism in water is called a baptism in remissionem peccatorum (Acts second chapter),[ii] that is, for the pardon of sins. Not that through it or by it sins are forgiven, but by the virtue of the inward ‘Yes’ of the heart, which a man outwardly testifies to on submitting to water baptism, saying that he believes and is sure in his heart that his sins are forgiven through Jesus Christ.”
“Concerning Christian Baptism of Believers,” by Balthasar Hübmaier (1525, trans. By G. D. Davidson) as quoted by William R. Estep in The Anabaptist Story (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1996, pp. 89, 210). For a biography of Hübmaier, see Balthasar Hübmaier, the Leader of the Anabaptists, by Henry Vedder.

[i] Cf. 1 Peter 3:21 – The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
[ii] From the Latin translation of Acts 2:38 – Petrus vero ad illos: Poenitentiam, inquit, agite, et baptizetur unusquisque vestrum in nomine Jesu Christi in remissionem peccatorum vestrorum: et accipietis donum Spiritus Sancti.

Sunday, May 30, 2021

What a Great Day

This song was written by my father, Charlie Vaughn, around 1980. It was published as Number 22 in Sing It Out! the song book of the Jeffress/Phillips Music Company, Crossett, Arkansas for 2007.

What a Great Day. 8s.7s. w/refrain (circa 1980)

1. When we’re carried o’er death’s valley
We’ll live on forever more;
There to be with Christ our Saviour
Over on the other shore.
Jesus Christ our blessed Saviour
Will protect us on that day;
And will lead us on to heaven,
There forevermore to stay.

2. What a day of great rejoicing
When we see our Saviour’s face
We will praise His name forever,
For His great amazing grace.
He will be the light that shineth
Throughout all eternity;
No more sin and no more sorrow,
When our Saviour’s face we see.

Oh, come now friends, and go with me
Our blessed Lord, for-e’er to see;
For He will lead us to that home,
To ever praise Him ‘round the throne.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Was Infant Baptism Practiced, 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.

Friday, May 28, 2021

Authority, but which?

In “The Bible in the Time of the Reformation,” Stanko Jambrek discusses three common forms of authority found in Christian circles.
  • Theological authority – doctrinal beliefs or “creeds” as the sources of faith and life.
  • Ecclesial authority – the church, with the Pope as the head, holds ultimate authority in all standards of faith and life. 
  • Canonical authority – the Bible or Scripture as God’s authoritative revelation. The Bible is the inspired, inerrable, and ultimate in authority in all the standards of the faith and life. 
Jambrek concludes “the Scriptures (canonical authority) as the inerrable Word of God [are] above any human’s opinion or conclusions (theological authority) and the church tradition (ecclesial authority).”

Stanko Jambrek, “The Bible in the Time of the Reformation,” Biblijski institut, Zagreb. 2010, p. 108. Jambrek is a professor at the Bible Institute in Zagreb, Croatia, as well as the founder and editor of Kairos: Evangelical Journal of Theology. This periodical is published biannually, in both the Croatian and English languages.

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Reading the Bible aloud

Reading the inspired words of Scripture aloud to and in the congregation is too often a subject met with indifference in our churches. How often do we read Scripture for the sake of reading Scripture? When we read Scripture, do we read with respect, gravity, and attention to detail? Indeed, considering our failings along these lines, we need to read the Scriptures aloud more often, and we need to read them aloud more effectively! This is an important point for those of us who support and promote the King James translation as the one Bible that we should use. Do our actions actually accord with that affirmation? Does reading the Scriptures seldom and sloppily declare loving and honoring the Word?

We tout the King James Version as the best. We point out problems in modern versions. If we do not read it at all, how much does it matter what version we have? If we read it so sloppily that hearers cannot comprehend what it says, did we not practically change it into a different translation?

In the King James Version, we have a Bible that was translated with an “ear” for its hearers. The title page (see HERE) tells us that it is “Appointed to be read in Churches.”[i] The first printings by the King’s Printer Robert Barker were large folio pulpit Bibles (about 16 inches tall).[ii] Even enemies of the King James Bible often recognize its sonorous sounds for remarkable reading to the ear better than its friends. The Anglican-turned-Catholic Frederick W. Faber wrote, “It lives on in the ear like a music that can never be forgotten, like the sound of church bells which the convert hardly knows he can forgo.” [iii] “The KJB has rhythm, balance, dignity, and force of style that is unparalleled in any other translation,” declares modern Bible and texts proponent Daniel B. Wallace.[iv]

We preachers can make a mess reading aloud.[v] If we believe the King James Version is God’s Word, it behooves us to treat it as such, honor it, and to read it out loud to the best of our abilities.

We need to read aloud more often.

The Scriptures, in both the Old and New Testaments, emphasize reading the Scriptures aloud, as well as being ready to hear “when thou goest to the house of God” (Exodus 24:7; see also Ecclesiastes 5:1). Jesus himself stood up to read the Scriptures aloud in the synagogue (Luke 4:16). Paul charged the first Thessalonian epistle be “read unto” others (i.e. aloud, 1 Thessalonians 5:27). The book of Revelation pronounces a blessing on “he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy” (Revelation 1:3). See also Deuteronomy 31:11; Joshua 8:34–35; 2 Kings 23:1–2 (Cf. 2 Kings 22:8); Jeremiah 36:13; Colossians 4:16; 1 Timothy 4:13.

We need to read aloud more effectively.

The text of Nehemiah 8:1-8 shows Ezra the scribe (and others with him) reading the book of the law of Moses. This provides a striking example of how we might approach public Scripture reading. The people were gathered to hear the reading of the book of the law of Moses (v. 1). The people listened attentively (v. 3). The leaders read in the book in the law of God distinctly (v. 8). The people gathered purposefully, and listened attentively while the book was read distinctly (clearly, with definiteness). There was clarity in the reading itself, with commentary to help the hearer understand. This shows due respect and reverence for the Word of God.

Writing of the weekly worship of Christians in his day, Justin Martyr (circa AD 100 – circa AD 165) indicates that Scripture reading, instruction, and exhortation were an integral part of early post-apostolic era gatherings.
“And on the day called Sunday, all who live in cities or in the country gather together to one place, and the memoirs of the apostles or the writings of the prophets are read, as long as time permits; then, when the reader has ceased, the president verbally instructs, and exhorts to the imitation of these good things.” (Justin Martyr, First Apology, Chapter LXVII)
The preacher or reader is not authoritative – but the book is! Texts should be read for themselves, and they should be read as part of Bible lessons. When preaching, we should not move through the text hurriedly and carelessly as if it is less important than what we have to say. Treat the book respectfully and authoritatively. If it were not for the Scriptures, we would have nothing to say!

[i] Bold emphasis mine. 
[ii] What we might consider a “normal” or “personal” size Bible (roughly 6" X 9") came off the presses about a year later. 
[iv] And continuing writes, “Or, as Leland Ryken says, its touchstone is memorability. No translation today lingers in the mind like the King James of old does.” The Reign of the King James, by Daniel Wallace.
[v] I am not talking about those who are doing the best they can. I am talking about being haphazard or careless.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Scripture dictation, mechanical or otherwise: Quotes

As a companion to the post yesterday, copied below are a few quotes from the past, regarding the subject of inspiration of the Scriptures and dictation.

Indeed, a couple of cautions are required: 1. Some of these excerpts, inspected closely in their contexts, might be interpreted differently by various readers. 2. Many old quotes appeared first in some other language, and have been translated. A quote with some context will probably give the sense well. A quote merely using the word dictation might need to be viewed with much more scrutiny.

Justin Martyr (circa AD 100 – circa AD 165)
“For neither by nature nor by human conception is it possible for men to know things so great and divine, but by the gift which then descended from above upon the holy men, who had no need of rhetorical art, nor of uttering anything in a contentious or quarrelsome manner, but to present themselves pure to the energy of the Divine Spirit, in order that the divine plectrum itself, descending from heaven, and using righteous men as an instrument like a harp or lyre, might reveal to us the knowledge of things divine and heavenly. Wherefore, as if with one mouth and one tongue, they have in succession, and in harmony with one another, taught us both concerning God, and the creation of the world, and the formation of man, and concerning the immortality of the human soul, and the judgment which is to be after this life, and concerning all things which it is needful for us to know, and thus in divers times and places have afforded us the divine instruction.” Hortatory Address to the Greeks (Roberts-Donaldson Translation, Chapter 8)
Augustine of Hippo (AD 354 – 430)
“Therefore, when those disciples have written matters which He declared and spake to them, it ought not by any means to be said that He has written nothing Himself; since the truth is, that His members have accomplished only what they became acquainted with by the repeated statements of the Head. For all that He was minded to give for our perusal on the subject of His own doings and sayings, He commanded to be written by those disciples, whom He thus used as if they were His own hands.” Augustine’s De Consensu Evangelistarum Libri Quatuor (Harmony of the Gospels, S. D. F. Salmond translation) In Systematic Theology, Norman Geisler gives this translation: “When they write what he has taught and said, it should not be asserted that He did not write it; since the members only put down what they had come to know at the dictation of the Head. Therefore, whatever He wanted us to read concerning His words and deeds, He commanded His disciples, His hands to write. Hence one cannot but receive what he reads in the Gospels, though written by the disciples, as though it were written by the very hand of the Lord himself.”

John Calvin (1509 – 1564)

The Spirit of God, who had appointed the Evangelists to be his clerks, appears purposely to have regulated their style in such a manner, that they all wrote one and the same history, with the most perfect agreement, but in different ways. It was intended, that the truth of God should more clearly and strikingly appear, when it was manifest that his witnesses did not speak by a preconcerted plan, but that each of them separately, without paying any attention to another, wrote freely and honestly what the Holy Spirit dictated.

An editor points out that the word translated clerks is the French word “‘greffiers.’—Clerks, not Authors in the ordinary meaning of that term, but persons who wrote to the dictation of another.” Commentary on Matthew, Mark, Luke - Volume 1, by John Calvin
Gisbert Voetius (1589 – 1676)
“It must be held that the Holy Spirit dictated in unmediated and extraordinary fashion, everything which was, and was to be, written. Both things and words, matters which the authors previously did not know or could not remember, as well as things which they did truly know, both historical and particular details, and universal dogmas both theoretical and practical, they learned these things, whether by sight, by hearing, by reading, or by meditation.” As cited by Karl Barth, Church Dogmatics I/2, London: T & T Clark, 1936
Johannes Andreas Quenstedt (1617 – 1688)
“The Holy Spirit not only inspired in the prophets and apostles the content and the sense contained in Scripture, or the meaning of the words, so that they might of their own pleasure clothe and furnish these thoughts with their own style and their own words; but the Holy Spirit actually supplied, inspired, and dictated the very words and each and every term individually.” Johannes Andreas Quenstedt, Theologia didactico-polemica, as cited by Horst Dietrich Preuss, Old Testament Theology, Volume I, Westminster John Knox Press, p. 281
Benjamin Keach (1640 – 1704)
If the Scriptures were not what they pretend to be, viz., the Word of God, and dictated to the writers thereof of his Holy Spirit, it would be the greatest affront to the Divine Majesty, and the grossest cheat towards mankind, that ever was put upon the world. Tropologia: a Key to Open Scripture Metaphors, Benjamin Keach, p. 207 (First published in 1681), p. xiii

...they affirming that God himself inspired them to write it, and that it was no product of their own, but every part of it the genuine dictate of the Holy Ghost. Tropologia, p. xviii

...God is the real Author of the scripture, and immediately both spoke and wrote it by the prophets, who were his ministers and amanuensis... Tropologia, p. 207

The following quote is attributed to Keach in “The Role of Metaphor in the Sermons of Benjamin Keach” (James Christopher Holmes, 2009, p. 89), and “Public Worship and Practical Theology in the Work of Benjamin Keach,” (James Barry Vaughn, 1989, p. 115), but I have not found the original source (which they cite differently). “The Mysteries which God proposes to be believed in his holy word, as they are in themselves most true and best, although all humane Reason, which Judges by its own wisdom or carnal conclusions, should otherwise determine. So their Eloquence (an inseparable companion of Divine Wisdom) is to be esteemed the best and most elegant by the faithful, unless we suppose that God who immediately dictated them to his Amanuensis, spoke nonsense, and is inferior to his Creatures in that qualification, which is down right Blasphemy, and an assertion that deserves not only derision, but the severest castigation.”
Robert Haldane (1764–1842)
Nor does the difference of style which we find among these writers at all conclude against their having the words they were to write imparted to them. The style that God was pleased to employ was used, and to the instruments he chose that style was natural, and flowed like the words with their full consent, and according to the particular tone of their minds, while they yielded to the impression as voluntary and intelligent agents. The Holy Spirit could dictate to them his own words in such a way, that they would also be their words, uttered with the understanding. He could speak the same thought by the mouth of a thousand persons, each in his own style. Is it, then, because we cannot comprehend the mode of such an operation, that we should dare to deny the obvious import of Scripture declarations? Because one peculiar cast of style distinguishes every man’s writings, is it thought impossible that the Spirit of God can employ a variety of styles, or is it supposed that he must be confined to one particular style? The simple statement of such an idea contains its refutation. It is evident, too, that variety of style militates no more against the verbal inspiration of the Scriptures, than against the idea of the writers being superintended, elevated, or controlled; for if the Holy Spirit sanctioned variety, it was equally consistent to dictate variety. And it might be shown that such variety is of essential importance in the Gospel narratives, in bringing out very interesting views, that could not be so well exhibited in a single narrative.

Scottish Baptist theologian Robert Haldane in The Evidence and Authority of Divine Revelation: being a View of the Testimony of the Law and the Prophets to the Messiah, with the Subsequent Testimonies (Vol. I, 3rd edition, London: Hamilton, Adams, & Co., 1839, pp. 213-216)​
François Louis Gaussen (1790 –1863)
“Yes (and we gladly, in this point, concur with objectors), in one place we have the phraseology, accent, and voice of a Moses, in another, of a St. John; here of an Isaiah, there of an Amos; here of a Daniel, and here of a Peter, Nehemiah, or Paul. We recognise, we hear, we see them; it is impossible to be mistaken. This fact we admit, we delight to contemplate it, we admire it greatly; and we see in it (as we shall have occasion to reiterate) a proof of the divine wisdom which has indited the Scriptures.” pp. 47-48
“If then God himself declares to us his having dictated the entire Scriptures, who will venture to say that this fifth verse of the 11th chapter of St. John is less from God than is the sublime language in which that Gospel begins, and which describes to us the Eternal Word?” p. 54
“Well! such is the Bible. It is not, as you venture to say, a book which God has charged men, previously enlightened, to write under his superintendence: it is a book which God has dictated to them; it is the word of God; the Spirit of the Lord spake to its authors, and his words have proceeded from them…
“9. That the style of Moses, Ezekiel, David, St. Luke, and St. John, may, at the same time, also be the style of God, is what a child could tell us.” p. 57
Louis Gaussen in Theopneustia: the Plenary Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures (1841, pages cited). Perhaps Gaussen falls between the views of dictation and more free speech of the human writers. On the other hand, perhaps the 20th and 21st centuries brought new concerns that were not overly bothersome to past generations.

John R. Rice (1895 – 1980)

Face it honestly, if God gave the very words and men wrote them down, that is dictation. It was not mechanical dictation. It ought not to be hard for us to understand that God, who could give the very words by a miracle, could also express the feelings and character and personality of the men whom he had formed and through whom He gave the words.

Baptist preacher and editor John Richard Rice, in Our God-Breathed Book: The Bible, pp. 287-288.

These quotes indicate the idea of dictation of the Scriptures by God to his writers of the Scriptures, is neither a new nor obscure idea. In my opinion, we have been frightened off by the threat of our appearing “unscholarly.”

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Scripture dictation, mechanical or otherwise

When you get older, your mind plays tricks on you (or so I am told). I thought I had recently posted an essay on biblical inspiration and the dictation theory. I looked and looked and did not find it, so I guess my mind was playing tricks on me. I did find I had written a bit nine years ago, HERE and HERE.

For information, dictation in dictionary terms:

  • dictate, verb. lay down authoritatively; prescribe; say or read aloud (words to be written down, typed, or recorded on tape).
  • dictation, noun. the action of saying words aloud to be typed, written down, or recorded on tape; an utterance that is typed, written down, or recorded. the action of giving orders authoritatively or categorically.

Dictation seems an unpopular term in the current climate of the discussion of inspiration. Added to that unpopularity is the tendency of detractors to use the term “mechanical dictation.” It seems likely that liberals invented and used the term “mechanical dictation” to mock the views of evangelicals and fundamentalists. Two additional considerations are that:

  • 1. Fundamentalists and evangelicals have changed their expressions in reaction to liberal attacks on biblical inspiration (e.g., older writers do not seem afraid of the word dictation, neither of describing writers as musical instruments played by God or God’s secretaries).
  • 2. Fundamentalists and evangelicals have now adopted the liberal term “mechanical dictation” as a pejorative descriptor of a view they themselves claim is false. Conservative writers often set it over against and different from verbal plenary inspiration. That is unhelpful.

Verbal plenary inspiration, at its simplest, means that all the words in Scripture are God’s words, completely true and without any error. Those who hold a dictation theory of inspiration hold that just as firmly as those who verbal inspiration but not dictation. Dictation is simply one explanation of how the process of inspiration took place.[i]

God did indeed dictate at least some of his word (for speaking or writing; Isaiah 38:4ff.Jeremiah 30:2; 36:2, 27-32; Revelation 2:1, 8, 12, 18; 3:1, 7, 14). That seems to be a fact that few to none who hold verbal plenary inspiration would dispute. The disagreement for most, then, is whether God did this consistently with the total revelation of scripture. Those on the contrary-wise point out that the writings show variations in style, word choice, grammar – revealing the personalities of each individual writer. So, say they, if the words had been dictated by God to the writers they would show a consistent style throughout the Bible. Is this a necessary inference?
  • Could God have infallibly guided men to write his word perfectly and without error, while allowing them to express their own language, emotions, backgrounds, and personalities?
  • Could God have dictated his word to men perfectly and without error, while preserving the language, emotions, backgrounds, and personalities of the writers?
I am reviewing the idea of dictation. I have usually been among people who do not regularly use the term. Additionally, I have never thought the how of God giving the Scriptures was so important as long as we understand that the finished product is the perfect word of God, totally true without any mixture of error. However, we can find in the scriptures that at least some of the word is given by what might be called dictation (that is, in the way the Bible describes it being given in specific instances). It seems the majority view is that since the Bible does not say that about all of it on every occasion, then it must only be true concerning the times when dictation is specifically mentioned. On the other hand, might it not be more likely that God gives us specific examples of what he did on a regular basis? And which view might best accord with 2 Timothy 3:16 and 2 Peter 2:21?

The prevailing view (that God did not dictate the words of Scripture) seems not primarily based on the scriptures saying what happened, but mostly on the observation of how the styles – the writers’ own language, emotions, backgrounds, and personalities come out in the writing. This is based on an a priori assumption that God could not dictate the word in a way that each writer’s “style” could or would be preserved. Why not? If God is able to allow the writers to express their own language, emotions, backgrounds, and personalities while infallibly guiding them to write his word perfectly and without error, why is he not able to dictate his word to men perfectly and without error, while preserving the language, emotions, backgrounds, and personalities of the writers? That different writers wrote in different “styles” only proves that they wrote differently, not how they came to do so.[ii] It is not outside God’s ability to give his word to men perfectly and without error, while preserving the language, emotions, backgrounds, and personalities of the writers.

Is it possible that we argue over something where there is not a “dime’s worth of difference” in the outcome? God is the source. He made sure we got his words. Perfectly. Without error. Do you believe that?

Many people do not like the appeal to “mystery.” (Yes, sometimes it can be an excuse.) However, in things relating to Almighty God and puny man there is reason to realize we do not or cannot fully comprehend the power of God. He can do things that we struggle to explain. We try to explain using ideas/things to which we can relate. It is more important to agree on the results of what God did with inspiration – God made sure we got his words. Perfectly. Without error – even though we may struggle expressing how he accomplished it. All Scripture comes from God. 100%!

[i] There can always be exceptions to the rule. However, I have never known anyone who held an idea of God dictating the scriptures to the writers who denied that inspiration is verbal and plenary. They merely disagree on the details with others who also believe inspiration is verbal and plenary but processed in a different way. 
[ii] 2 Corinthians 10:10 at the least suggests that the writing style of Paul was not the same as they perceived of him in person.

Monday, May 24, 2021

Dirty coppers are like weeds, 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 if possible.)

“Dirty coppers [policemen] are like weeds; you get rid of one and another one pops up.” -- Heard

“We’re not supposed to expect the church to be large, influential, and respected.” -- Alistair Begg

“It is unnecessary to explain the unexplainable.” -- Heard

“No proven fact in nature is opposed to revelation.” -- Charles H. Spurgeon

“The pretty speculations of the pretentious we cannot reconcile with the Bible, and would not if we could.” -- Charles H. Spurgeon

“A politician thinks of the next election. A statesman, of the next generation.” -- James Freeman Clarke

“Let your credo be this: Let the lie come into the world, let it even triumph. But not through me.” -- Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

“A church without a pastor is a ‘non-prophet’ organization.” -- Heard

“Don’t communicate your storm to the wrong people. They will just drag you down.” -- Chris Mathis

“Not unto us, not unto us, but unto thy free, thy unmerited, thy sovereign, distinguishing love and mercy, O Lord, be all the glory.” -- George Whitefield

Clothed, and in his right mind

“Sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind.” Luke 8:35 
Look at this man, my soul, and see whether thou canst find any resemblance to thyself. Before that he heard the voice of Jesus, he was under the possession of the evil spirit. It is said of him, that he wore no clothes. He dwelt in no house, but abode among the tombs. He was cutting himself with stones. No man could tame him, neither fetters nor chains bind him. Poor miserable creature! And yet, my soul, was not this a true emblem of thy state; and indeed, of every man’s state by nature? Had not Satan full possession of thine heart and affections, my soul, before that thou becamest savingly acquainted with the Lord Jesus Christ? Did he not lead thee in the pursuit and gratification of thy lusts and pleasure at his will? Thou mightest truly be said to wear no clothes; for so far from having on the garment of Jesus’s righteousness, in those days of thine unregeneracy, thou wert naked to thy shame, in the filth of nature.
Thou didst not dwell in the house of God, nor even delight to go thither. And, as this poor creature abode among the dead, so didst thou live and abide with characters like thyself, dead in trespasses and sins. And as this miserable man was wounding himself with stones, so wert thou; for thy daily commission of sin was giving wounds to thy soul, infinitely more alarming than the wounds he gave his body. And could no chains or fetters be found strong enough to bind him? So neither did all the solemn commands and threatening judgments of God’s holy law act with the least restraint upon thine ungoverned passions.
Pause, my soul, over the representation, and acknowledge how just and striking the similarity. Then ask thyself, art thou now sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in thy right mind? Yes! if so be like this poor man, thou hast heard the voice of Jesus, and felt the power of his grace in thine heart. If one like the Son of God hath set thee free, brought thee to his fold, opened thine ear to discipline, and thine heart, to grace, then art thou free indeed. What sayest thou, my soul, to these things? Is there this change, this blessed change, from dead works to serve the living and true God? Oh then, will not the language of thine heart be like Jesus, and his church of old? “I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God: for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation, he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decketh himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.” 
Robert Hawker​ (1753-1827), in Poor Man’s Portion

Sunday, May 23, 2021

I’ve Found a Friend

James Grindlay Small was born in Edinburgh in 1817, and died at Renfrew in 1888. He joined the Church of Scotland in 1834, and became minister of the Free Church at Bervie in 1847.

1. I’ve found a Friend, oh, such a Friend!
He loved me ere I knew Him;
He drew me with the cords of love,
And thus He bound me to Him.
And round my heart still closely twine
Those ties which naught can sever,
For I am His, and He is mine,
Forever and forever.

2. I’ve found a Friend, oh, such a Friend!
He bled, He died to save me;
And not alone the gift of life,
But His own self He gave me.
Naught that I have my own I call,
I hold it for the Giver;
My heart, my strength, my life, my all,
Are His, and His forever.

3. I’ve found a friend, O such a friend!
All pow’r to Him is given,
To guard me on my onward course,
And bring me safe to heaven:
Th’eternal glories gleam afar
To nerve my faint endeavor;
So now to watch, to work, to war,
And then to rest forever.

4. I’ve found a Friend, oh, such a Friend!
So kind, and true, and tender,
So wise a Counsellor and Guide,
So mighty a Defender!
From Him who loves me now so well,
What power my soul can sever?
Shall life or death, or earth or hell?
No? I am His forever.

By James Grindlay Small (1817-1888). Jesus, the Friend was first published in The Revival Hymn Book in 1863 and then in Small’s Psalms & Sacred Songs, 1866.

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Three Practical Ways to Teach, 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.

Friday, May 21, 2021

God’s thoughts and our thoughts

Isaiah 55:8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord.
  • Proverbs 11:24 There is that scattereth, and yet increaseth; and there is that withholdeth more than is meet, but it tendeth to poverty.
  • Proverbs 24:17 Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth:
  • Matthew 19:30 But many that are first shall be last; and the last shall be first.
  • Matthew 23:11 But he that is greatest among you shall be your servant.
  • Mark 8:36 For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?
  • Luke 14:11 For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.
  • Luke 17:33 Whosoever shall seek to save his life shall lose it; and whosoever shall lose his life shall preserve it.
  • Acts 20:35 It is more blessed to give than to receive.
  • Romans 3:26 To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.
  • Romans 6:22 But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God.
  • Romans 8:36-37 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
  • 1 Corinthians 1:27-28 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are.
  • 2 Corinthians 8:9 For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his poverty might be rich.
  • 2 Corinthians 12:10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.
  • Philippians 3:7 But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ.
  • James 1:2 My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations.

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Biblical singular and plural you

In his book Authorized: the Use and Misuse of the King James Bible;, Mark Ward wrote a good deal about “false friends.” In this context, a “false friend,” loosely, is a word that you expect to mean something that it doesn’t.

I have never noticed any supporters of modern Bibles or detractors of the King James Version call out their own very false friend – the English second person pronoun “you.” Unlike some of the so-called false friends that appear randomly in the King James Bible, the false friend “you,” is repeatedly strewn throughout modern translations from front to back, from Genesis to Revelation.

As our English language “progressed,” where it once distinguished between second person singulars and plurals,[i] it devolved into a morass of “yous” which are indistinguishable. On the one hand some dismiss this as an irrelevant concern. As one man recently told me, “You can tell by the context.” While that may be true on occasion, in fact very often we cannot tell by context. Perhaps we can tell better in face-to-face conversations than when reading – but even then our own practices belie that claim. We modern English speakers, despite what they may teach us in school, have created numerous ways to let our hearers know we mean “you plural” – y’all, you’uns, youse, and you lot, for examples. We know instinctively that we need to make the distinction, even though our modern language has betrayed us.

So, when modern translations are made, they extend that betrayal to us once again. You, you, you, you, and we don’t know which you! Unlike my friend who brushed it off nonchalantly, Greek scholar Bill Mounce admits the problem. Writing about “You” and “You” - Singular or Plural he says, “I wish modern English had a different form for ‘you’ plural. It would solve some sticky translation problems.”[ii] In portraying this problem, Mounce provides an example from John 1:50-51 in the New International Version:

Jesus said, “You believe because I told you I saw you under the fig tree. You will see greater things than that.” He then added, “Very truly I tell you, you will see ‘heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on’ the Son of Man.” 

Speaking of a shift from second person singular to second person plural, he explains “There is no way you would pick that up from the English.”[iii]

Examples of verses

Below are some examples of verses where we lose the singular-plural second person distinction in modern language, but are noticeable in the King James translation. Take a look at these and see whether you have caught the distinctions before.[iv]

Exodus 3:12 And he said, Certainly I will be with thee; and this shall be a token unto thee, that I have sent thee: When thou hast brought forth the people out of Egypt, ye shall serve God upon this mountain.

Exodus 4:15 And thou shalt speak unto him, and put words in his mouth: and I will be with thy mouth, and with his mouth, and will teach you what ye shall do.

Exodus 29:42 This shall be a continual burnt offering throughout your generations at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the Lord: where I will meet you, to speak there unto thee.

2 Samuel 7:23 And what one nation in the earth is like thy people, even like Israel, whom God went to redeem for a people to himself, and to make him a name, and to do for you great things and terrible, for thy land, before thy people, which thou redeemedst to thee from Egypt, from the nations and their gods?

Deuteronomy 6:14-15 Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you; (for the Lord thy God is a jealous God among you) lest the anger of the Lord thy God be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth.

Job 42:7 And it was so, that after the Lord had spoken these words unto Job, the Lord said to Eliphaz the Temanite, My wrath is kindled against thee, and against thy two friends: for ye have not spoken of me the thing that is right, as my servant Job hath.

Psalm 27:8 When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, Lord, will I seek.

Isaiah 7:11,14 Ask thee a sign of the Lord thy God; ask it either in the depth, or in the height above…Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Malachi 1:8 And if ye offer the blind for sacrifice, is it not evil? and if ye offer the lame and sick, is it not evil? offer it now unto thy governor; will he be pleased with thee, or accept thy person? saith the Lord of hosts.

Matthew 26:40 And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour?

Matthew 26:64 Jesus saith unto him, Thou hast said: nevertheless I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.

Luke 22:31-32 And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: but I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.

John 1:50-51 Jesus answered and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these. And he saith unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter ye shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.

John 3:7 Marvel not that I said unto theeYe must be born again.

1 Corinthians 3:16 Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

1 Corinthians 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

1 Corinthians 8:9-12 But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak. For if any man see thee which hast knowledge sit at meat in the idol’s temple, shall not the conscience of him which is weak be emboldened to eat those things which are offered to idols; and through thy knowledge shall the weak brother perish, for whom Christ died? But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ.

2 Timothy 4:22 The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit. Grace be with you. Amen.

Titus 3:15 All that are with me salute thee. Greet them that love us in the faith. Grace be with you all. Amen.

Philemon 1:21-25 Having confidence in thy obedience I wrote unto thee, knowing that thou wilt also do more than I say. But withal prepare me also a lodging: for I trust that through your prayers I shall be given unto you. There salute thee Epaphras, my fellowprisoner in Christ Jesus; Marcus, Aristarchus, Demas, Lucas, my fellowlabourers. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. Amen.

A quick explanation of the “ye’s” and “thee’s”

There are ten second person pronouns used in the Early Modern English of the King James Version of the Bible.

The words beginning with “T” are second person singular:

  • Thou = Nominative case (as in “Thou art”)
  • Thee = Objective case (as in “to thee,” “of thee”)
  • Thy = Possessive (usually used before a noun that begins with a consonant, as in “thy brother”)
  • Thine = Possessive (usually used before a noun that begins with a vowel or vowel sound, as in “thine eyes”; or in place of a noun, as in “this is thine”)
  • Thyself = Reflexive singular pronoun (used as the direct or indirect object of a verb or the object of a preposition)[v]

The words beginning with “Y” are second person plural:

  • Ye = Nominative case (as in “Ye are”)
  • You = Objective case (as in “to you,” “of you”)
  • Your = Possessive determiner (used in front of a noun, as in “your generations”)
  • Yours = Possessive pronoun (used in place of nouns, as in “all things are yours”)
  • Yourselves = Reflexive plural pronoun (used as the direct or indirect object of a verb or the object of a preposition; or as an emphatic appositive, see Luke 13:28)[v]

[i] As do the Hebrew of the Old Testament and the Greek of the New Testament, and even many modern languages. 
[ii] Like many who dismiss the possibility of English-speakers learning a bit about Early Modern English, Mounce quips, “I guess we all have to learn some Greek.” 
[iii] That is, the English of the NIV. The English of the KJV makes it clear (for those who understand the “thee” and “you” pronouns). “Jesus answered and said unto him [Nathanael], Because I said unto thee [singular], I saw thee [singular] under the fig tree, believest thou [singular]? Thou [singular] shalt see greater things than these. And he [Jesus] saith unto him [Nathanael], Verily, verily, I say unto you [plural], Hereafter ye [plural] shall see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of man.” 
[iv] Some examples have both “ye” and “thee” in them, while a few are examples of only one – but in a place where the number matters to the interpretation. What some decry as archaic (or obsolete) is really a great boon to Bible study.
[v] In modern English, this form is distinguished by “yourself” and “yourselves.”