Friday, September 30, 2005

My Good Friend Pix

Chris Pixley was kind enough not only to encourge me with some comments here, but also put some words on his blog, and I just wanted to say thanks. Lest you think this some sort of mutual admiration society, I must tell you that he is, to date, the man who has had the most influence on my spiritual life and ministry. To have kind words like that from someone you admire must be like what Timothy felt like when he got his letters from Paul (or what it felt like for him the day John MacArthur called him on his cell phone).

So thank you, Chris. And in honor of his blog's most excellent return, I'm finally getting around to adding an audio link section, with sermons from him as the one of the first links. Make sure you get Katrina and God's Common Grace before it moves off the page.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

The Bible--without Grace and Propitiation

Thanks to the ESV Blog for their post today about propitiation (and corresponding link). It reminded me of a topic I wanted to address--the removal of theological terms from some Bibles. They are very kind about it, quoting from the ESV Preface that the ESV “retains theological terminology—words such as… propitiation—because of their central importance for Christian doctrine and also because the underlying Greek words were already becoming key words and technical terms in New Testament times.”” They also link to "another view" (read: different) from the Net Bible. Here's the quote from there--"...the English word "propitiation" is too technical to communicate to many modern readers..."--and for that reason they have substituted "atoning sacrifice."

Now I'm not going to claim to know all the implications of substituting other words for propitiation and other theological terms, but I do want to briefly discuss some of my concerns about doing this.

My first is the stated reason for not using the term. What exactly qualifies a word as "too technical?" Does this mean modern readers are incapable of understanding it? Or perhaps it means they are unwilling to learn about it? Why are they incapable of learning a technical word like this about theology, and yet these same people understand other technical words, either in their chosen profession, or even on the Internet? How many people managed to figure out what a "blog" is, for instance?

My second concern is the reason (some) don't use the word: they don't accept the Bible's teaching about the wrath of God. What would they do with a passage like Ps 7:11, where it talks about his daily anger with sinners? (KJV/NKJV even more emphatic--"he hates the wicked every day"). Or in the New Testament--what do we do with Revelation, which talks about unrepentant sinners (Rev 9:20-21), and the wrath of God that will become them (Rev 19:15)? Clearly, not everyone who would substitute words would be of this mindset, but some are, enough that this idea that God is not angry and full of wrath seems prevalent in the modern church. And without those terms, it certainly makes it easier to avoid the issue.

Which brings me to my third concern--the result of this removal. We stop using the word, and pretty soon we start forgetting about the concept. As PJ has so eloquently put it, when the doctrine of propitiation comes under attack, a whole generation of people who don't even know the word have no clue how to defend the doctrine (actually, he puts it more eloquently, but you get the drift).

"Propitiation" is not the only word banned from some modern versions. "Grace" is another one (see note on CEV). And in my mind, to purge "grace" from the Bible seems almost unforgivable.

For instance, look at Romans. Follow the logic of Paul's argument in Chapters 5-6, then go back and substitute "God's kindness" for "grace" (or just read it here). It weakens the argument. In fact, given the way Paul writes, I think it kills the argument altogether.

In Romans 1:5, "Jesus was kind to me and chose me to be an apostle," (CEV), instead of "we have received grace and apostleship" (ESV). In John 1:14, the Word was full of "unfailing love and faithfulness" (NLT) instead of "full of grace & truth" (ESV and most others). Instead of "my grace is sufficient," "My kindness is all you need" (2 Cor 12:9, CEV).

I won't go on, except to say that in a world without grace, we would sing "[God's] Amazing Kindness," John MacArthur would come to us via "God's Kindness To You," and the Reformation would have recovered the "Doctrines of God's Kindness." The loss would be nearly insurmountable.

No doubt, God is kind. But this is God we're talking about here. Is there no word bigger than kindness to express all that He has done for us? Is this really the most suitable way of translating the Greek word charis, after "much careful thought" and utilizing "innovative skill?"

No doubt, it may take some effort to understand that grace means more than "a pleasing quality, attractiveness, seemingly effortless beauty or charm." But, for heaven's sake, what is wrong with a little explanation from the pulpit? Isn't that what preaching is for? Do we really expect that we'll just automatically know all there is to know about this spiritual life that is so foreign to us, so opposed to our very nature, and that it won't come without some effort on our part?

More might be said, and I hope to put out more about translations and translation philosophies, but this seems a good place to stop for now. Understand that I ascribe no motives to those who translated or use the CEV, or any other translation. I am merely pointing out that, intended or not, the removal of these theological terms has detrimental consequences, and it is worth considering issues like this when choosing a translation.

(Note: Scriptures marked as "(CEV)" are taken from the Contemporary English Version Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society. Used by permission. Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved.)

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

More thoughts on Scripture--from Steve Camp

Steve Camp gives us some great thoughts on Scripture. Yet another reminder of what Tim Challies said the other day, that Scripture is a great treasure that we too often take for granted. I'm hoping to post a story that brought tears to my eyes about a man who was converted making fun of a preacher. My tears were for me, as I realized how little I trust the Scripture when it claims to be a sharp, two-edged, piercing sword.

Bonus link--from Michael Marlowe, the Bible Researcher. More quotes about Scripture.

On the verge of greatness?

Got an e-mail today, and at first I was sure it was a joke. But now I'm not so sure. It appears to be from the one and only Frank Turk-Centuri0n, claiming to want to link to my blog. This could be it, the big-time. I may actually have more than one visitor to my blog (not counting spammers).

What's strange about this is, I haven't even had a chance to tell him I was hoping to stop by in December when we head up to JBU for Candlelight Service, and that if I made it, I'd drop off some old comic books for him to scan.

Not only that, but I was also blogspotted by the Pyromaniac himself for a second time.

With all this good publicity, I had to go and get a counter. Now I'll just start watching the numbers roll in.

For the record, I am nothing in the TTLB ecosystem. Maybe a black hole. Or anti-matter. But all that is about to change.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Intelligent Design: 'The Death of Science' - Yahoo! News

I should probably just quit reading stuff like this, because it upsets me, but I never cease to be amazed at the audacity of those who think that evolution is more scientific than creation. This quote is a perfect example of the arrogance involved:

Intelligent Design: 'The Death of Science' - Yahoo! News: "'It doesn't add anything to science to introduce the idea that God did it,' Provine told LiveScience. Intelligent design 'would become the death of science if it became a part of science.'"

Amazing! If this quote is true, I guess we didn't have science at all before Darwin's theory came along. What do we say about all those people (some who were believers in Christ and a Creator) who operated in science prior to Darwin, if their belief would kill it?

Understand the full implications of the thinking here: a finite human being is claiming to understand the universe better than the God who created it. Of course, we see this exact same thing in the church--people will look at the Bible, or the words of Jesus, and say,"Well, they just didn't understand the way the world works the way we do today. They didn't understand things like atoms and subatomic particles and DNA." Really? God didn't understand these things? Perhaps they should read Job 38 sometime, and see what God said to Job about hubris like this.

One final thought--it's a quote from James White. He says,"Why would I trust Jesus for my salvation, my eternal destiny, and not trust him when he testifies about how the universe was made?" Why indeed?

Friday, September 23, 2005

Wrestling with God's Sovereignty

Here's an example of what I've been wrestling with lately. Not so much that it's true, but all of the implications surrounding it--if our lives reflected the belief that God is truly sovereign over everything, would they be radically different than they are now?

Thursday, September 22, 2005

The Value of Scripture

Tim Challies writes an excellent post on the incalculable value of Scripture. I love the analogy he uses to the Antiques Roadshow.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Responding to Katrina

I've been slow to post a Katrina response--partly because I've been reading and thinking, sifting through my own thoughts in order to make sure my response was Biblical. (I posted what I believed were some helpful links earlier, but they were among the posts that disappeared.) I'm not sure I'll ever post a complete response; rather, I will probably post my response to news or others responses that I feel are Biblical or unBiblical. In that vein, here is my first post.

To those who claim that this was God's judgment on New Orleans, I refer to Jesus' words in Luke 13:1-5.

1 There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffered in this way? 3 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem? 5 No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

Saturday, September 17, 2005

How do we distinguish between primary & secondary issues from the Bible?

There is a fascinating thread going on right now over at Phil Johnson's blog regarding, in his words, "the biblical basis for making a distinction between primary and secondary issues." This is fascinating for a couple of reasons. First, because he says he's read very little if anything about it. Although he reads lots, Phil probably isn't the guy who's read the most theological stuff (I'm guessing that honor would go to Al Mohler), but as he admits that this is an area that's of interest to him, I'm sure he's constantly on the lookout for this kind of material, and with all of the resources at his disposal--with all of his knowledge of Church History--he's still come up mostly empty. That's saying something.

The other reason this is so interesting (and important) is the implications it has for all who claim Scripture as our only authority. If we don't know the difference between primary and secondary issues, how do we know when to admonish and when to encourage? How do we know when to focus on unity and when to focus on truth? Are men who suggest breaking fellowship with those involved with ECT overreacting, or are they being Biblical? What is my Biblical basis for making this decision? There are many decisions like this that need to be made, and too often the basis for making these decisions is anything but Scripture.

Interesting issues. I trust Phil will continue working his way through this. After all, it isn't a spur-of-the-moment issue--I just listened to an MP3 from March where he addressed it. I would assume the Shepherd's Conference, but I got it from his GraceLife link. The message title is "Dead Right--the Failure of Fundamentalism" (don't let the title put you off--it is good stuff).

Sunday, September 11, 2005

My Brother on a Team for Katrina Cleanup

My brother's church has sent a team over to Mississippi to help with Katrina cleanup. Updates to be available starting tomorrow on their blog.

Monday, September 05, 2005