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Friday, December 31, 2021

On my birthday, I believe

I BELIEVE the Bible is the word of God. I believe in its

  • Eternal origination, Psalm 119:89 For ever, O Lord, thy word is settled in heaven.
  • Divine inspiration, 2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
  • Providential preservation, Psalm 33:11 The counsel of the Lord standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations.

I believe revelation has finished, and that the canon is closed. The modern critical method effectively creates an open canon that will never be completed.

I believe the very real and pressing problem of our day is that some people (even those denominated Christians) do not believe the words they read in the Bible, neither in the original languages nor in whatever translation in whatever language that they read.

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Marcion and his Bible

In the 2nd century AD, a church leader divided over his views of the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments. To the congregation in Rome, Marcion supposedly said, “I will divide your Church and cause within her a division, which will last forever.” His history comes primarily from the surviving material of those who wrote against his heresies. There are some discrepancies in the history, but generally, it is as follows.[i]
 
Marcion
Marcion was born in Sinope of Pontus, in Asia Minor. His father was the bishop/pastor there.[ii] This congregation possibly excluded Marcion for immorality (though some think his seducing a virgin is meant metaphorically).[iii] The exclusion story may be incorrect. Marcion appears to be recognized as a bishop when he reached Rome. Regardless, he left Sinope and went to Rome around AD 140. Rhodon and Tertullian describe him as a ship owner, and he apparently was a man of some means.[iv]
 
Marcion separated and founded his own church in AD 144, and created canon of biblical texts that same year. Marcion compiled an abbreviated New Testament, consisting of a gospel and ten letters of Paul (edited by Marcion). He also wrote a work called Antithesis. It is possible that the “Antithesis” is simply Marcion’s writings over time in which he promoted and defended his position.[v] If it is a single book, it is lost. However, much of what Marcion taught can be found in what other writers wrote against him, and Epiphanius provides much comparison of his Bible verses.
 
The church of Marcion appears to have been a widespread competitor with the early churches of Christ.[vi] This church persisted for several centuries after his death. Once well established politically, the Roman Catholic Church gained the upper hand, as they did with others, by persecution of the people and destruction of their writings. It lived much longer in the East. In recent years there has been a move to restore or reconstruct the Marcionite Church.
 
The primary writers and writings against Marcion include:
Justin Martyr refers to the Marcionites in his first Apology.[vii] He mentions that Marcion is still alive at the time of his writing (circa AD 150-160), and that Marcion taught “his disciples to believe in some other god greater than the Creator.” This acknowledges some of the differences in belief regarding the Old Testament. Marcion thought that God of the Old Testament was the creator, but not the same as the God of the New Testament.
 
Irenaeus (circa AD 176) refers to Marcion a number of times in Against Heresies, especially in Book III. He recounts:
And Polycarp himself replied to Marcion, who met him on one occasion, and said, “Dost thou know me?” “I do know thee, the first-born of Satan.”
Rhodo of Asia (or Rhodon, circa AD 180-192) wrote a treatise against Marcion. It is lost. However, Eusebius refers to it in his Church History (Book V, Chapter 13) and gives some references.
 
Tertullian (active writing circa AD 197-220) is a primary source of information about Marcion. He wrote his Adversus Marcionem – in five books – in AD 207. According to Tertullian, Marcion forbids marriage as sinful.
To put a complete stop, however, to the sowing of the human race, may, for aught I know, be quite consistent for Marcion’s most good and excellent god. For how could he desire the salvation of man, whom he forbids to be born, when he takes away that institution from which his birth arises? How will he find any one on whom to set the mark of his goodness, when he suffers him not to come into existence?
Hippolytus of Rome (circa AD 220) speaks of Marcion in his Refutation of All Heresies, Book VII (See Ante Nicene Christian Library, Volume VI, The Refutation of All Heresies, by Hippolytus of Rome).
 
Epiphanius of Salamis wrote his work against heresies in AD 374 (see The Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis: A Treatise Against Eighty Sects in Three Books, Chapters XLII-XLIV). Epiphanius cites Marcion’s Bible texts, showing where his New Testament differs from the canonical text. Marcion’s original text is in Greek, but not extant, so far as I know.[viii]
 
Marcion’s Bible
Marcion’s Bible contained a truncated Gospel of Luke (called The Gospel of the Lord, or the Evangelicon), ten epistles of Paul (the Apostolikon), edited by Marcion—and no Old Testament.[ix] According to Marcion and his church “The Hebrew bible (Old Testament) and the carnal deity portrayed within it, is antithetical to the words and teachings of Jesus Christ - the proof is self-evident. It represents an alien culture and religion diametrically opposed to the God revealed to us through Jesus Christ and The Gospel of the Lord.” It seems that Marcion did not deny the history of the Old Testament, such as the creation of the world, and the story of Moses and Israel, but rather denied it had anything to do with the Christian God. Below is an example of Marcion’s editing of Paul:
Laodiceans 3:9: “…the mystery, which has been hidden from the ages; hidden from God, that is, the one who created all things”
Ephesians 3:9 “…the mystery,  which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ”
The original Bible manuscripts of Marcion have not survived to the present. Modern day Marcionites have reconstructed the Marcionite text in recent times from quotes by early Christian writers. The reconstruction work hinges on the idea that the anti-Marcionites focused on the passages that were different and controversial, while in other places the Marcionite text likely was the same or very similar to the text of the canonical Bible accepted by a majority of Christian denominations. Therefore, they use the known text of the canonical Bible to fill in the gaps of the Marcionite Bible. It is my assumption that the restored Marcionite Christian Church created their recently printed The Very First Bible in this manner.  
 
However, when the Vatican Library (Biblioteca Apostolica Vaticana) began digitizing many of its ancient manuscripts, a possible Latin copy related to Marcion’s Bible emerged – titled S. Pauli apostoli epistolae, with author listing as Hieronymus (Jerome) and Marcion di Sinope. It differs from the Marcion Canon by including First and Second Timothy, Titus, and Hebrews, as well as having the title of one book Ephesians rather than Laodiceans.[x] This Manuscript is displayed on the Vatican Library web site.
 
Concluding thoughts
Concerning the religion of Marcion, it proves the need of the warning of the Paul the apostle, “Take heed…after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.” Heresies rose early and often. Unlike Marcion, Paul knew, loved, and used the Old Testament.
 
Concerning the true Bible, Marcion’s Canon reveals some things of interest. First, it should teach us that the followers of Jesus knew and considered the apostolic writings canonical very early. Despite taking penknife in hand to cut the writings of Luke and Paul, Marcion left a mark that Luke’s Gospel and Paul’s writings were already accepted as canonical by the churches before AD 144. Knowing that he pared down Luke’s Gospel and Paul’s epistles, we know that Marcion likely started with a larger body of writings accepted as inspired, then removed entire books from the list in addition to editing the ones that he kept.[xi] By rejecting and removing other New Testament books such as the synoptic Gospels and the writings of Peter, James and John, Marcion proves they were in use and accepted by many as scripture.

Marcion did not canonize the first Bible. His work and the responses against it, rather, suggest that he adulterated and falsified the original New Testament as it already existed.



[i] Adolf von Harnack (1851-1930), German theologian and historian, produced what may still be the definitive work on Marcion – Marcion:  Das  Evangelium  vom  fremden  Gott (or, Marcion and the Gospel of the Alien God) in German in 1921 and enlarged in 1924. I only point to it. I have not read it.
[ii] Now known as Sinop, in Turkey. Note also, re the father of Marcion, that the “Romanized” forbidding bishops to marry was not in existence in this church at that time.
[iii] Epiphanius says that Marcion sought to join the church in Rome, but they refused him because the church in Sinope had excommunicated him. Modern Roman Catholics reject the story because it implies that the Roman Church could not or would not override the decision of the church in Pontus. However, remember, there was no such thing as the Roman Catholic Church in AD 140! See The Antiquities of the Christian Church (Joseph Bingham, p. 416).
[iv] According to Tertullian, Marcion gave the church at Rome a gift of 200 sesterces soon after his arrival. See The Prescription Against Heretics, Chapter 30.
[v] Perhaps to a large degree, the antithesis is between what he saw as the different “Gods” of the Old and New Testaments. The Marcionite Research Library gives this reconstruction of Marcion’s Antithesis.
[vi] By churches of Christ, I mean biblical churches like the ones in New Testament founded by the apostles. In Marcion’s day, other heretics of various stripes also vied to be recognized as the church of Christ.
[vii] Irenaeus mentions a writing by Justin Martyr that he calls Syntagma pros Markiona. It is not extant.
[viii] When I inquired about the provenance of Marcion’s Bible, the Outreach Director of the Marcionite Christian Church was a bit tight-lipped about it. However, this seems to be the case of the matter. As we know, Paul wrote his original in Greek. Marcion transcribed and edited Paul’s letters, also in Greek. Portions that had been found in early Christian writings and translated into English, combined with missing parts of the Marcion Canon which we have in English in standard Christian Bibles, made up an English version of Marcion’s Bible. The reconstituted Marcionite Christian Church has translated this into Spanish. Apparently the discovery of the possible Latin translation of Marcion’s Bible is too recent to have had any impact on scholars’s knowledge of it.
[ix] The ten edited epistles of Paul are: Galatians, 1st and 2nd Corinthians, Romans, 1st and 2nd Thessalonians, Laodiceans (our Ephesians), Colossians, Philemon and Philippians.
[x] Ad Romanos, Ad Corinthios I, Ad Corinthios II, Ad Galatas, Ad Ephesios, Ad Philippenses, Ad Colossenses, Ad Thessalonicenses I, Ad Thessalonicenses II, Ad Timotheum I, Ad Timotheum II, Ad Titum, Ad Philemonem, and Ad Hebreos. The present-day Marcionites conclude that Jerome added I Timothy, II Timothy, Titus, and Hebrews. In other words, Jerome translated the Greek Marcionite Bible, at least Paul’s epistles, into Latin and edited it. See “First Bible ‘vindicated’ after Vatican release shows Epistles based on Marcionite scripture”.
[xi] For example, Paul quotes from the Gospel of Matthew as scripture in 1 Timothy 5:18, showing both that it was already written at the time and considered scripture.

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

The Four Gospels in the canon of Scripture

By the end of the second century, there is clear evidence of a fourfold collection of the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Christians, by and large, accepted these four as a completed canon of the life and work of Jesus Christ.

These gospels carried apostolic authority.

 “So then ‘let us serve him with fear and all reverence,’ as he himself commanded us, and as did the Apostles, who brought us the Gospel...” Polycarp of Smyrna, (circa AD 110-140) Letter to the Philippians, 6:3

 “...the words of the Saviour...possess a terrible power in themselves, and are sufficient to inspire those who turn aside from the path of rectitude with awe; while the sweetest rest is afforded those who make a diligent practice of them.” Justin Martyr (circa AD 150-160), Dialogue with Trypho, Chapter 8

Tatian created a “Harmony of the Gospels” known as the Diatessaron (Latin, “harmony of four” or Greek “through four”) around AD 170. He used Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.

The Muratorian Fragment or Muratorian Canon (circa AD 170) speaks of four gospels. The beginning of it is missing, so that it starts with the end of a sentence probably about the Gospel of Mark. Then it continues, “The third book of the Gospel is that according to Luke...The fourth of the Gospels is that of John...”

Irenaeus accepted four in number, which he names as Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John (11:8).

“So firm is the ground upon which these Gospels rest, that the very heretics themselves bear witness to them, and, starting from these [documents], each one of them endeavours to establish his own peculiar doctrine…These things being so, all who destroy the form of the Gospel are vain, unlearned, and also audacious; those, [I mean,] who represent the aspects of the Gospel as being either more in number than as aforesaid, or, on the other hand, fewer.” Irenaeus of Lyons (circa AD 175-185), Against Heresies, Book III, 11:7,9.

Clement accepted four gospels as what had been handed down.

In replying to the arguments of Julius Casinos, Clement speaks of “the four Gospels that have been handed down to us” pitting them against “the Gospel according to the Egyptians” which Julius was using. “In the first place we have not got the saying in the four Gospels that have been handed down to us, but in the Gospel according to the Egyptians.” Clement of Alexandria (circa AD 182-202), Stromata, Book III XIII.93

Tertullian accepted the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John as authoritative.

“We lay it down as our first position, that the evangelical Testament has apostles for its authors, to whom was assigned by the Lord Himself this office of publishing the gospel. Since, however, there are apostolic men also, they are yet not alone, but appear with apostles and after apostles; because the preaching of disciples might be open to the suspicion of an affectation of glory, if there did not accompany it the authority of the masters, which means that of Christ, for it was that which made the apostles their masters. Of the apostles, therefore, John and Matthew first instil faith into us; whilst of apostolic men, Luke and Mark renew it afterwards.” Tertullian (circa AD 197-220), Against Maricion, Book 4, Chapter 2

In these four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, the churches of the Lord Jesus Christ have heard and do yet hear the voice of their Shepherd (John 10:27).

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

The Missing “Book” of the Bible

Based on a search at BibleGateway.com, all the following New Testament verses (except Mark 16 and John 8) are missing in English Standard Version and New International Version Bibles.[i] The Mark 16 and John 8 passages are included in brackets with the warning that they are not included in “the earliest manuscripts.” Supporters of the modern Critical Texts believe Mark 16:9-20 and John 7:53-8:11 do not belong in the Bible. However, the purveyors of this line of thought usually do not have the audacity to omit the words altogether from their line of text.[ii] These omitted verses together contain nine hundred and fifty-four (954) words, according to Microsoft Word “Word Count”[iii] – fifty-eight more words than the entire three-chapter epistle of Paul to Titus.[iv]

Thirty-two passages in the King James translation and 1881/1894 Textus Receptus Greek text that are rejected by the Critical Text, the ESV, or the NIV

  • Matthew 6.13b: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.[v]
  • Matthew 17:21: Howbeit this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting. 
  • Matthew 18:11: For the Son of man is come to save that which was lost. 
  • Matthew 23:14: Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation. 
  • Matthew 20:16b: for many be called, but few chosen. 
  • Mark 6:11b: Verily I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Sodom and Gomorrha in the day of judgment, than for that city. 
  • Mark 7:16: If any man have ears to hear, let him hear. 
  • Mark 9:44: where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 
  • Mark 9:46: where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched. 
  • Mark 10:24b: for them that trust in riches 
  • Mark 11:26: But if ye do not forgive, neither will your Father which is in heaven forgive your trespasses. 
  • Mark 15:28: And the scripture was fulfilled, which saith, And he was numbered with the transgressors. 
  • Mark 16:9-20: Now when Jesus was risen early the first day of the week, he appeared first to Mary Magdalene, out of whom he had cast seven devils. And she went and told them that had been with him, as they mourned and wept. And they, when they had heard that he was alive, and had been seen of her, believed not. After that he appeared in another form unto two of them, as they walked, and went into the country. And they went and told it unto the residue: neither believed they them.  Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen. And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; they shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen. 
  • Luke 4:8b: Get thee behind me, Satan 
  • Luke 9:55b–56a: and said, Ye know not what manner of spirit ye are of. For the Son of man is not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them. 
  • Luke 17:36: Two men shall be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. 
  • Luke 23:17: For of necessity he must release one unto them at the feast. 
  • John 5:3b–4 waiting for the moving of the water. For an angel went down at a certain season into the pool, and troubled the water: whosoever then first after the troubling of the water stepped in was made whole of whatsoever disease he had. 
  • John 7:53–8:11: And every man went unto his own house. Jesus went unto the mount of Olives. And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. And the scribes and Pharisees brought unto him a woman taken in adultery; and when they had set her in the midst, they say unto him, Master, this woman was taken in adultery, in the very act. Now Moses in the law commanded us, that such should be stoned: but what sayest thou? This they said, tempting him, that they might have to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground, as though he heard them not. So when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and wrote on the ground. And they which heard it, being convicted by their own conscience, went out one by one, beginning at the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. When Jesus had lifted up himself, and saw none but the woman, he said unto her, Woman, where are those thine accusers? hath no man condemned thee? She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. 
  • Acts 2:30b: according to the flesh 
  • Acts 8:37: And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. 
  • Acts 9:5b–6a: it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks. And he trembling and astonished said, Lord, what wilt thou have me to do? And the Lord said unto him 
  • Acts 15:24: saying, Ye must be circumcised and keep the law 
  • Acts 15:34: Notwithstanding it pleased Silas to abide there still.
  • Acts 18:21: I must by all means keep this feast that cometh in Jerusalem 
  • Acts 23:9: let us not fight against God. 
  • Acts 24:6b–8a: and would have judged according to our law. But the chief captain, Lysias, came upon us, and with great violence took him away out of our hands, Commanding his accusers to come unto thee 
  • Acts 28:29: And when he had said these words, the Jews departed, and had great reasoning among themselves. 
  • Romans 16:24: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen. 
  • Colossians 1:14b: through his blood 
  • 1 Peter 1:22b: through the Spirit 
  • 1 John 5:7b–8a: in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth,
In this post, I will not attempt to discuss the reasons these verses should or should not be included in the Bible. (Suffice to say I think they should be in it.) However, I want to make one point. Some people enjoy debating about the original language texts and competing translations. Despite bearing down against certain Bible versions, at a certain point in the “debate” they often feel a need to say something like this:
“I really don’t care which version of the Bible you use. It doesn’t matter. All Bibles say and mean basically the same thing.”
This seems quite flippant for someone to say this after they have been strenuously arguing (usually against our embracing the King James translation, the TR Greek text, and/or the Bomberg Hebrew text). O, the magnanimity! It sounds so laissez faire, perhaps intended to elicit an agreement from us that it really doesn’t matter.[vi] But does it? Fact is, comparing the KJV to the ESV and NIV in the above cases, they have diminished some 1000 of God’s words or we have added some 1000 to God’s words. To me, that sounds like it matters.
 
“For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: and if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.” Revelation 22:17-19
 
Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you. Deuteronomy 4:2


[i] This conclusion does not apply only to the ESV and NIV. I compared these two because of their relative popularity in “evangelical” Christian circles.
[ii] Excluding several paragraphs is much more attention getting that leaving out a verse here and there.
[iii] This list does not include all omissions. Generally, I include the longer or more notable ones. In my study of the book of Acts alone, it appears that such textual differences will near 200 (I have not yet completed the study of the differences).
[iv] These omitted words in total make their content more than either the book of Obadiah, Titus, Philemon, 2 John, 3 John, or Jude. Additionally Mark 16:9-20 (12 verses, 255 words) and John 7:53-8:11 (12 verses, 245 words) are roughly equivalent in size to 2 John (13 verses, 298 words) and 3 John (14 verses, 294 words).
[v] I have used “a” and “b” after the verse numbers to indicate where only part of a verse may be missing. The intent is to suggest to “first half” or “last half” of the verse – though this is not an exact correspondence. Some verses could rightfully be divided into more than two parts.
[vi] After which they will take their fight about the KJV, etc. to someone else. Internet apologist James White (The King James Only Controversy, p. 67) makes the no big deal point this way, “The reality is that the amount of variation between the two most extremely different New Testament manuscripts would not fundamentally alter the message of the Scriptures.” Interesting admission. For all the strife they stir up, by their own standard, they say they are fundamentally accomplishing nothing.

Monday, December 27, 2021

A Textual Key, 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.

An inconvenient truth

Often lost in the heated rhetoric on this issue is an inconvenient truth: In certain circumstances, abortion—even when performed under the least dangerous conditions—can cause lasting damage to a woman’s health and the health of her future children.

Consider the high risk of pre-term birth that results from surgical abortion. A woman who has had just one abortion has a 30% increased risk of pre-term birth while a woman who has had two abortions has a 90% increased risk of pre-term birth.

To put these numbers in perspective, researchers estimate that more than 100,000 American children have died since 1973 from pre-term births linked to prior abortions. And the crisis has influenced minority communities disproportionately hard. Nearly half of these deaths were black children, even though blacks comprise only 14% of the population.

Tragically, I have worked with multiple women over the course of my career who were unable to carry their babies to term due to complications arising from previous abortions. In almost every case, my patients told me they were unaware of the risks they were assuming when they chose to have an abortion so many years before.

Why? Because abortion providers had simply failed to inform them. 

Dr. Donna Harrison, who is a board-certified obstetrician-gynecologist; excerpt from The Daily Signal

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Gracious Spirit, Holy Ghost

Christopher Wordsworth (1807-1885) wrote the hymn “Gracious Spirit, Holy Ghost,” properly titled “The Grace of Charity, or Love, as described in the Epistle.” It is Hymn XXVIII for Quinquagesima in The Holy Year; or, Hymns for Sundays and Holydays, And for other Occasions​ (London: Rivingtons, 1862, pp. 47-48).[i] In some (perhaps many or most) liturgical churches, “Quinquagesima” is the last Sunday of Shrovetide, the Sunday before the beginning of Lent, Ash Wednesday. The original printing has eight stanza, but most hymnals use no more than six. Wordsworth relates his hymn to the first epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, chapter 13. Some have also noticed a similarity in stanza 8 to Psalm 68:13.
 
Christopher Wordsworth was an Anglican Bishop, and a nephew of the famous poet William Wordsworth.
 
1. Gracious Spirit, Holy Ghost,
Taught by Thee, we covet most[ii]
Of Thy gifts at Pentecost,
Holy, heavenly Love.
 
2. Faith, that mountains could removed,
Tongues of earth or Heaven above,
Knowledge—all things—empty prove,
Without heavenly Love.
 
3. Though I as a Martyr bleed,
Give my goods the poor to feed,
All is vain—if Love I need;
Therefore, Give me Love.
 
4. Love is kind, and suffers long,
Love is meek, and thinks no wrong,
Love than death itself more strong;
Therefore, Give us love.
 
5. Prophecy will fade away,
Melting in the light of day;
Love will ever with us stay;
Therefore, Give us love.
 
6. Faith will vanish into sight;
Hope be emptied in delight;
Love in Heaven will shine more bright;
Therefore, Give us love.
 
7. Faith and Hope and Love we see
Joining hand in hand agree;
But the greatest of the three,
And the best, is Love.
 
8. From the overshadowing
Of Thy gold and silver wing
Shed on us, who to Thee sing,
Holy, heavenly Love.
 
Tunes (in 7.7.7.5. meter) paired with this hymn include Charity by English composer John Stanier (1840-1901), and Capetown by German composer Friedrich Filitz (1804-1876).

North-eastern Daily Gazette, March 21, 1885, p. 4


[i] In some (perhaps many or most) liturgical churches, “Quinquagesima” is the last Sunday of Shrovetide, the Sunday before the beginning of Lent, Ash Wednesday.
[ii] Note: Wordsworth included a footnote with his second line, first stanza: “Covet earnestly the best gifts, and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.”—I Cor. xii. 31.

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Words are...

“Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.” -- Solomon, Proverbs 16:24

“Words, like arrows, once launched, cannot be recalled.” -- Unknown

“Our words have wings, but fly not where we would.” -- George Eliot 

“Words have wings and fly where they please.” -- Rodney W. Kennedy

“Good words are worth much, and cost little.” -- George Herbert

“Raise your words, not your voice. It’s lightning kills and not thunder.” -- Unknown

“Where words are restrained, the eyes often talk a great deal.” -- Samuel Richardson

“Words are chameleons, which reflect the color of their environment.” -- Learned Hand

“Colors fade, temples crumble, empires fall, but wise words endure.” -- Edward Thorndike

“I like good strong words that mean something.” -- Louisa May Alcott

“A picture is a poem without words.” -- Horace

“Words are free. It’s how you use them that may cost you.” -- Kushand Wizdom

“A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.” -- Solomon, Proverbs 25:11

Abortion is a problem, 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, December 24, 2021

In other words, equivocal equivocity

  • abrasive, adjective. Causing damage, wear, or removal of surface material by grinding or rubbing; causing irritation.
  • cavil, verb or noun. (intransitive verb) Make petty or unnecessary objections. (noun) An objection seen as petty or unnecessary.
  • epistemic, adjective. (Philosophy) Relating to knowledge or to the degree of its validation.
  • epistemology, noun. (Philosophy) The theory of knowledge, especially with regard to its methods, validity, and scope; the investigation of what distinguishes justified belief from opinion.
  • equivocal, adjective. (of a word or term) Subject to two or more interpretations and usually used to mislead or confuse; uncertain as an indication or sign.
  • equivocity, noun. The state or character of being equivocal in signification or predication.
  • filé, noun. Pounded or powdered sassafras leaves used to flavor and thicken soup, especially gumbo.
  • intuitive, adjective. Using or based on what one feels to be true even without conscious reasoning; instinctive.
  • lachrymabund, adjective. Weeping profusely; full of tears.
  • lacuna, noun. An unfilled space or interval; a gap; a missing portion in a book or manuscript.
  • lemma, noun. A subsidiary or intermediate theorem in an argument or proof; a heading indicating the subject or argument of a literary composition, an annotation, or a dictionary entry.
  • macadamize, verb (used with object). To pave by laying and compacting successive layers of broken stone, often with asphalt or hot tar.
  • moribund, adjective. Being in the state of dying, approaching death; being in a state of inactivity or obsolescence
  • noetic, adjective. Of or relating to mental activity or the intellect.
  • pericope, noun. An extract from a text, especially a passage from the Bible.
  • periscope, noun. An optical instrument for observation over, around, or through an object, obstacle, or condition that prevents direct line-of-sight observation.
  • phantastikon, noun. Imagination; also, a product of the imagination.
  • plurivocal, adjective. (of a word or term) Having different interpretations; ambiguous (also, multivocal).
  • plurivocity, noun. The state or character of being plurivocal.
  • provenance, noun. The place of origin or earliest known history of something.
  • scare quotes (aka quibble marks, shudder quotes, and sneer quotes), noun. Quotation marks placed around a word or phrase to signal ironic, referential, or otherwise non-standard use; quotation marks used to elicit attention or doubts.
  • solecism, noun. A grammatical mistake in speech or writing.
  • taffeta, noun. A fine, crisp, and usually lustrous fabric of a plain weave in which the weft threads are thicker than those of the warp, originally of silk and later also of a silk mix, or other fibers.
  • tentamen, noun. A careful endeavor; attempt; effort (Latin).
  • univocal, adjective. (of a word or term) Having only one possible meaning; unambiguous.
  • univocity, noun. The state or character of being univocal (that which speaks with one voice).

To paraphrase Abram Kuyper, 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.)

“To paraphrase Abram Kuyper, no square inch of this world where Christ does not say, ‘Mine.’ This includes textual criticism. Thus, to exclude Christ’s lordship and His elect body from the process of textual work is to practice an idolatrous form of textual criticism.” -- Peter Van Kleeck Jr.

“The line between good and evil doesn't have anything to do with Mason or Dixon.” -- Mark Ward

“The line between good and evil runs not between cultures, religions or creeds, but through every human heart.” -- Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

“If Satan has brought us to the point where we are arguing about the infallibility of Scripture, then we are already out from under the authority of Scripture.” -- Abraham Kuyper

“If we do not know what the Bible is, we cannot know what the Bible says.” -- Jeff Riddle

“We’ve gone from teaching Latin and Greek in high school a century ago to teaching remedial English in college today.” -- Joseph Sobran

“...God became Man. Every other miracle prepares for this, or exhibits this, or results from this.” -- C. S. Lewis

“In all my perplexities and distresses, the Bible has never failed to give me light and strength.”  -- Robert E. Lee

“I am profitably engaged in reading the Bible. Take all this book upon reason that you can, and the balance by faith and you will live and die a better man.” -- Abraham Lincoln

“I contend we must take up the motto, ‘It’s epistemology, stupid!’ The Bible is indeed the epistemic foundation of the Christian faith. How can we affirm that Scripture is our preeminent source of authority, if we are not sure of what the text of the Bible is?” -- Jeffrey T. Riddle

“Let us recall the time when God first enveloped himself in mortal form, and tabernacled amongst the sons of men. Let us not blush to go to so humble a spot, let us stand by that village inn, and let us see Jesus Christ, the God-man, become an infant of a span long.” -- C. H. Spurgeon

“You contribute nothing to your salvation except the sin that made it necessary.”  -- Jonathan Edwards

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Joseph...Behold, this dreamer

Like his namesake (cf. Genesis 37:5-20; 42:9), Joseph the husband of Mary was a “dreamer.” Four times, he received direction from God in a dream, related to the life of “God with us,” Jesus the Christ.

In a dream, Joseph is directed to take Mary as his wife.
  • But while he thought on these things, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream... Matthew 1:20
In a dream, Joseph is directed to flee into Egypt, because Herod will seek to kill the young child Jesus.
  • And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream... Matthew 2:13
In a dream, Joseph is directed to take Mary and Jesus, and go back to the land of Israel.
  • But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph... Matthew 2:19
In a dream, Joseph is directed to go to Galilee (and they dwell in Nazareth).
  • But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judæa in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream... Matthew 2:22

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

The end of the Gospel of Matthew, wokedly

The linked video (below) and transcribed words exemplify the wacky taffy foisted on religious congregations as so-called Christian theology by so-called pastors parading as Christian theologians. According to findachurch.ca, Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Newmarket, Ontario, Canada is an “ELCIC” Church (Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada). The ELCIC is also in “Full Communion with the Anglican Church of Canada.” Their pastor is Dawn Hutchings, who you will see in this video clip posted on “Woke Preacher Clips.” The heading notes that Hutchings teaches, “The Great Commission Is Fake and Racist,” and “asserts (without textual evidence) that Matthew 28:18-20, ‘The Great Commission,’ is a fabrication that has been used to justify racist colonization for far too long.”

Hutchings discusses that the “prescribed reading is known by the church as the ‘great’ (scare quotes) commission” which she doubts she will ever read again or claim it as the gospel!

“Over the course of many years of study, I have come to believe that the so-called ‘great’ commission is anything but the gospel. Indeed, I have come to believe that this particular ending to the gospel according to Matthew may be the source of the systemic racism which permeates not just the church, but also all of the Western cultures and institutions which arose out of what history has dubbed the Holy Roman Empire.”

Hutchings sets the stage for the basis of her claims – what she has come to believe “over the course of many years of study.” Never mind what anyone else has come to believe “over the course of many years of study.” She sets herself up as the authority. She will circle back around to this method as she goes on. After saying she would not read it or claim it as the gospel, she reads it to lambast it.

“Hear the words prescribed for this Trinity Sunday.”[i]

The Eleven made their way to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had summoned them. At the sight of the risen Christ they fell down in homage, though some doubted what they were seeing. Jesus came forward and addressed them in these words:

“All authority has been given me both in heaven and on earth; go therefore, and make disciples of all [the] nations. Baptize them in the name of Abba God, and of the Only Begotten, and of the Holy Spirit. Teach them to carry out everything I have commanded you. And know that I am with you always, even unto [until] the end of the world!”

This reading is taken from Matthew 28:16-20 in The Inclusive New Testament.[ii]

“Here ends the reading, not according to the anonymous gospel storyteller which we call Matthew[iii]. No! (wags finger) You can’t get out of first year New Testament classes and not learn that the vast majority of New Testament scholars agree that this particular ending of this anonymous gospel was added much later.”

Again, Hutchings appeals to authority. This time not her own, but to “the vast majority of New Testament scholars” and “the preponderance of evidence unearthed by New Testament scholars.” However, it is a false appeal based on skewed numbers – or maybe just made up numbers. I have been unable to find that any “vast majority” of “New Testament scholars” have reliable evidence that the ending of Matthew is a late edition. What is readily available primarily is anti-Trinitarians claiming that not the entire ending, but that the “Trinitarian formula” or “tripartite phrase” of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost has been inserted into Jesus’s “commission.” There are no available manuscripts of the gospel of Matthew before the 3rd century – only fragments. However, all manuscripts that contain the end of Matthew contain what Hutchings refers to as absent, the Great Commission, and even the tripartite phrase or designation.

“The so-called ‘great’ commission was added to the gospel by the Christian community sometime around the year 325, to bring this gospel into line with the brand spanking new creed which the church had just written, which we know as the Nicene Creed.”

In addition to manuscript evidence, references to this ending of Matthew is found in numerous early Christian writings, including The Epistle of Ignatius (died ca. AD 110) to the Philadelphians, Chapter 9, Longer Recension, Tertullian (ca. AD 155 – ca. Ad 220), Against Praxeas, Chapter 26, and Hippolytus (ca. AD 170 – ca. AD 235), Against the Heresy of One Noetus, paragraph 14. Tatian the Syrian included it in The Diatessaron (a compilation or harmony of the four Gospels, circa AD 170). The compilers of The Didache (circa AD 70) knew the traditional ending of Matthew. All of these occur and prove its provenance before the time Hutchings says the Christian community added the great commission around AD 325.

“…you still must begin to understand that these words, whether Jesus said them or not, these words became the justification for the doctrine of discovery.”

This statement highlights the liberal grounding of Hutchings. She does not really care “whether Jesus said them or not.” Let that sink in. How these words may have been wrongly interpreted and used holds much more importance to her than their being the words of Jesus, and meaning what he meant. A little exercise in theological gerrymandering may make people feel better by the “possibility that Jesus never actually issued the great commission.” Ultimately, it does not matter to her whether or not he did. Critical Race Theory trumps Jesus.

However, those of us who hold verbal plenary inspiration, the inerrancy of scripture, and its providential preservation do not interpret – much less dismiss – the words of Jesus based on how someone may or may not have abused them. They are the words of our Lord and Saviour. This possess all authority, his authority. They must be accepted and obeyed on that basis.

Hutchings signals her wokeness, personal virtue, and white loathing – no doubt hoping for absolution and acceptance, channeling George Floyd and the weight of her “knee of privilege pressing down upon their necks.” There is no absolution, no forgiveness. She will always and forever be white, a white “privileged” descendant of white “privileged” ancestors – at least judging from the perspective of Critical Race Theory.

There is so much that could be said, but let us hasten on to the conclusion. “On this Trinity Sunday when the church celebrates its creeds,” Hutchings rejects “ the Apostles’ Creed, the Nicene Creed, or—God-forbid—the Athanasian Creed” to look for a vague and anonymous “very first creed” of the Jesus followers who held “no view” of him as the son of God, but a “high view” of things that surprisingly support the teachings of modern woke culture.[iv]

“This nascent Jesus movement understood well the tendency of humans to resort to tribalism. In the teachings of Jesus, they came to understand that race, class, and gender are typically used to divide the human race into us and them, to the advantage of us. This evolving Jesus movement declared in their creed there is no us nor them, we are all children of God. The Jesus movement was about solidarity, not cultural obliteration. New Testament scholar Stephen Patterson has studied the early manuscripts in an attempt to uncover the words which the apostle Paul quoted and then adopted. His unearthed version of that first Christian creed reads like this, ‘You are all children of God, there is no Greek or Jew, there is no slave or free, there is no male and female, for all are one.’”

In her conclusion, Hutchings makes another appeal to authority, this time “New Testament scholar Stephen Patterson has studied the early manuscripts in an attempt to uncover the words which the apostle Paul quoted.” (Seemingly no one else with a different view has ever studied anything.) Stephen J. Patterson is a professor of Religious Studies at Willamette University in Salem, Oregon, and the author of The Forgotten Creed: Christianity’s Original Struggle Against Bigotry, Slavery, and Sexism. Prior to this he served at the Eden Theological Seminary in St. Louis, affiliated with the ultra-liberal United Church of Christ. Patterson probably is not a “New Testament scholar” in the way that terminology would first strike my readers. It does not appear that he is immersed in the study of the manuscripts of our New Testament, but rather is a student and proponent of writings of that period which do not appear in the New Testament.

Following her authority, Hutchings takes on Patterson’s “us” and “them” motif. She swallows hook, line, and sinker a creed that is not found in the inspired New Testament, making it the apex of her talk, guiding her followers not down a biblical path, but a primrose one of her own making. Such preachers should admit they do not believe the Bible and find an honest job. If they want to sell this stuff they should sell it under their own banner, and not that of a church heritage that claims to be following Jesus Christ.

For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. (Acts 20:29-20)

Take heed, watch, and remember.

Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen. (Jude 24-25)


[i]Woke Preacher Clips” posted this video November 1, 2020, so the address is probably from around June 7, 2020. Trinity Sunday for the ELCIC is the First Sunday after Pentecost (the ELCIC “Worship” website links this lectionary).
[ii] The Inclusive New Testament, Priests for Equality, Lanham, MD, 1996, p. 55. Under the heading “To use terminology that acknowledges the many forms in which God appears in our lives,” they explain, “We wanted to retain the idea of intimacy of relationship while de-emphasizing the idea of fatherhood, so we substitute the term Abba God—hearkening back to Jesus’ own appeal to God as Abba in the garden of Gethsemane. Our terms for Jesus also stress relationship rather than hierarchy. We use Only Begotten, Firstborn, and God’s Own in place of ‘Son’ to express Jesus’ relationship to the Godhead.” p. xviii.
[iii] Notice also that Dawn Hutchings rejects the traditional authorship by an apostle and eyewitness, calling the writer rather ”the anonymous gospel storyteller which we call Matthew.”
[iv] Hutchings does not discuss whether Jesus was the Son of God in this clip, but her source, Stephen J. Patterson does so in his book. One might also misunderstand that she holds some high view of Paul and his writings. However, her source clearly debunks Paul buying in to the teachings of the so-called early Jesus followers, and in addition claims someone else forged the writings of Paul, as we know them. “The Early Christians Were Focused on Solidarity Across Race, Class and Gender. Then Things Changed” in Time magazine demonstrates that this “authority” also appeals to authority, making her appeal a double meal deal without proof.