Monday, January 30, 2006

Question of the week: Music to Blog to?

OK, ok, I know I still owe a post on last week's question, but I'm just dying to know: Do you blog to music? If so, what? Please leave comments.

Also, for Kim as well as me, please include any music that you put on to help you concentrate while reading something deep. . .like Charnock.

The JBU Thing

Ok, I'm still sorting through issues on the JBU thing.

If haven't heard, John Brown University, my alma mater, dismissed a student, Michael Guinn, earlier this month for violating the school's community covenant. Normally, this would be of no importance to anyone, but since the he is openly homosexual, it has garnered some media attention around here.

Though some sources are implying that he was targeted and ultimately dismissed due to his "sexuality," the reality is that everyone has to sign a contract when they join, committing to certain behavioral standards (this includes teachers and staff, BTW), and violation is grounds for dismissal.

Here are the articles I've amassed so far. For obvious reasons, the articles run short on details, and ultimately, it seems like there are just a handful of sources--the school newspaper, a writer from NW AR (4 articles), an additional article from a competing NW Ark newspaper, AP (3 articles), and a local TV station, KARK.

JBU's School Newspaper (this one will disappear in a few days, most likely, so read it first.)

Article from Benton County Daily Record. Similar information from and the Siloam Springs Herald Leader (Arkasas Democrat Gazette), all by the same writer. The last article, published Sunday, includes a statement from JBU officials made on Friday.

AP's contributions here, here, and here.

Article from the Springdale Morning News.

This online transcript of a KARK news item (note the local angle as they compare JBU first to Harding, and then to Hendrix).

Finally, here's an editorial from JBU alum Lucas Roebuck.

As my thoughts are still muddy, I refer you to Charlie Sebold's post. Charlie and I might not see eye-to-ey on everything (for instance, it may be a stretch to say that the founder's activity with the Salvation Army has anything to do with what's going on today.), but he asks some good questions, not the least of which is "What is the calling of a Christian college?" and "If they don't require Christians to attend, how can they fulfill that calling?"

I would answer in part by saying that our visit to campus last year was highlighted with a chat with five young men and women that really love the Lord, exactly the kind of thing I had come to expect from the school. I think they are fulfilling that calling, but I wonder just how this episode fits in.

The obvious question, should the school have let him in, is one I'll tackle another day (maybe). My main question at this point is, does the school have a stance on homosexuality, and if so, does it resemble this quote from campus pastor Stan McKinnon in the school newspaper: "I don't condone homosexual activity, but I don't condemn homosexual orientation."

I sent an inquiry into the university this weekend, and hope to hear back from them soon; we have a trip planned about 5 weeks from now to let a prospective student have a look around, and I'd like to know before I go.

Update: Charlie sharpens his thinking, but says his questions remain.

Also, here's the JBU Press Release from Dr. Charles Pollard.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Blogroll Update

Here's a (now long overdue) guide to my long overdue blogroll update.

I added two more of the Shay clan's blogs, Journeys with Sancho Panza and Bug Blaster (should that be one word or two, Buggy?). Journeys is Kim Shay's reading blog, and Buggy is Kim's husband. The Bugman's posts on Leviticus are exquisite. I recommend starting with this one--I especially liked the last four paragraphs. He is also into politics, and has some interesting comments in that regard.

Daniel Calle: my first español link. If you're Reformed & know Spanish, you'll love his posts. Otherwise, well, you'll just have to read them and see.

Rebecca Writes: Have you ever read about someone or something and it's all gushing praise, and you think to yourself "nothing could be that good," but then you check it out for yourself, and sure enough, it is. That's Rebecca. Everything good you've heard is true, and more. She's been very kind to me on more than one occasion, and I've repaid it by not linking to her until now, and being slow on mailing my part the prize for her Out of Canada Christian Blog Showcase. I still don't know if she's received it, but I keep checking her site to see if I've been delinked.

Tim Irvins: A guy from Arkansas who plays chess? How have I missed him all this time?

Colin McGahey: Colin is in seminary in Austin (where I lived for two years before moving to Arkansas). I've seen some of his comments in various places, and we had an interesting discussion on whether traditional seminary was the right model.

Pyromaniacs: Phil Johnson and friends. 'Nuff said. (The old Pyromaniac site is now "Pyro Archives")

Charles Sebold: perhaps the one I'm most excited about. Charlie is a JBU alum, and it took a bit of time for me to remember him (that's not his fault--my memory is like a spagetti strainer). Turns out he's been linking to me for awhile, and mentioning me in posts, but Blogger search doesn't pick it up (Technorati does, but I hardly ever use that one. Hmm. . .)

Anyway, if you've never read him before, get a box of tissues, and start here, follow with this, and finally this. Once you're done crying, read the rest of his testimony. He once described it as the ultimate "where I am now" post, but I don't think so. As I read this, I was reminded of Jesus saying that the sinner who is forgiven the most loves the most. When you read Charlie's work, his love for his savior is evident, because he never forgets what he was saved from.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Visitor Map

This is one of the coolest things about Site Meter. Just wanted to say welcome to my non-US or Canadian visitors--don't worry, I'll be identifying you soon enough.

Of course, the dirty little secret no one tells you is that, for the most part, these blogs are all doing the "Next Blog" boogie, so they're not good hits. All of mine are, except for Peru, which I think is Daniel.

Congrats to Carla

Congrats and kudos to Carla Rolfe, who managed to do something no one has done in quite awhile--come up with an original nickname using my last name: Mr. Gummness.

(I'm not counting Matty Gummpo, although come to think of it, the nickname thing is just more evidence of this observation. Sorry, Carla--maybe it's not something to be proud of after all!)

Evangelical Outpost takes Brian McLaren to Task

Great post from Evangelical Outpost: The Saltless Servant:
Brian McLaren and the “Homosexual Question”

It's scary to me that anyone who calls themselves a pastor can say something like "Frankly, many of us don't know what we should think about homosexuality. We've heard all sides but no position has yet won our confidence so that we can say "it seems good to the Holy Spirit and us." That alienates us from both the liberals and conservatives who seem to know exactly what we should think." and then still think they can be taken seriously.

There are a lot of issues here, but "I'm not sure what the Bible says about homosexuality" is not one of them. At least some liberal churches are honest by admitting what the Bible says, and then saying there is a reason to ignore it (I'm not advocating that; I'm just saying that McClaren appears to be suffering from a deep form of deception).

I'll be saying more about this issue, as I'm sure a few of you are interested in my take on the JBU thing (if you haven't heard about it, you soon will).

HT: Blogotional (who also gives his thoughts on McClaren)

Update: See also Carla's note today, which includes a reminder that she's been talking about this for quite some time on EmergentNo, for those who have had ears to hear. The gals writing there have taken A LOT of flak for their stand on the troublesome teachings emerging from the Emergent Movement. (Carla, if you happen to read this, is there a way to get a sampler of ENO posts that you think encapsulate McClaren's teachings?)

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Join the Discussion

This is possibly my best week for comments so far. If you haven't already done so, please jump in on one or more of the following discussions:

Is Hell for Children? (Updated 01/26/06)

Where is the line between Uniting & Dividing?

and on a slightly less serious note...
Does a 54%-46% margin = "Most people?"

Charles Sebold finds the Quote of the Week

Read “The big E on the eye chart”

Charlie--I agree with you, though I'm not sure any Baptist who wrote like that would be allowed to stay a Baptist.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Apparently, I'll Never Live it Down

Recent search string: "how do you spell brouhaha"

Quantitative Ambiguity

For fun one day at work, I started putting together a list of (mostly) vague quantitative terms. Here is our list thus far:

a couple
a few
a bunch
a majority
a lot
a whole lot
a slew

Somewhere in this list would be other terms like half, super-majority, and bazillion, but I think you get the drift.

In any case, I was listening to the radio this morning, and a reporter was asking a political strategist about domestic wiretapping. The conversation went like this:
"A recent survey showed 54% of Americans against this, and 42% in favor of it. Since a most of the public is against this..."

Most? Look, I would accept over half, a majority, more are opposed, etc., but most? I just don't see it.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

There Must Be a Line Around Here Somewhere!

Where to divide, and where to Unite

A Semi-confessional Essay

This post has its genesis months ago, when Phil Johnson was talking about the fundamentals of the faith, and it resurfaced this weekend in our men's group, when I asked our pastor "Where was the true church during the Middle Ages?" I'm still reeling from his answer.

He said that there was remnant there, one that was faithful despite imperfect doctrine. We aren't saved by perfect doctrine--we're saved by our relationship with our Savior. The point of doctrine isn't to save us, it's to help us understand more fully all that's been revealed to us.

He's right. If perfect doctrine was the entrance exam into heaven, it would be a lonely place indeed. I couldn't make it. . .and neither could you.

The flip-side of this is even more perilous. Consider the demons, says James. They know Christ, and shudder. They have a pretty solid understanding of doctrine, but it does them no good. Know anyone like that?

Being doctrinally right is a zero-sum game. That is, if I'm right, then someone else is wrong. And lets face it, we all think we're right, because if we didn't, we would change. But if I'm right, that means that you Charismatic Arminian Purpose-Driven Paedobaptists are wrong (and, well, vice-versa).

But incorrect doctrine is not an automatic indicator that one is not saved. Has your theology changed since you were saved? Mine sure has. It has changed dramatically just in the last three years or so. So theology isn't a static thing--it grows and develops. How much theology do we really need to be saved? Well, if little children can be saved, perhaps not as much as we might think.

None of this is to discount good and right theology, but merely to acknowledge that theology is never an end to itself, but a means to the end of knowing God better.

So back to the main point: I know there are times when we need to distance ourselves from others. And I'm fine with dividing--when I know where the line is. But at some point, as I'm crawling along the path, I've got to quit kicking the guy who's crawling next to me--we've got to agree to disagree about certain points of theology and help one another to our feet--so we can take the good news of the Gospel out to the world. You and I need to look at that brother or sister who has an immature faith and say,"God loves you, and so do I." I don't want cheap unity. But I sure would like to know where that line is, so I don't spend all my time dividing from anyone who doesn't believe just like me.

One final thought. Blogs by their very nature traffic in ideas. But it's hard to love through a blog. Our blog relationships tend to be intellectual, but our love can be expressed best in the local body. (Thanks to Bryan for pointing this out.)

01/28/06 Update

Cent stopped by on Thursday to leave this message:
... Gumm's gone soft. Must alert JIBBS and Pyro before he gets to them ...

What he may not know about is his own culpability in this alleged "softness." Or has he forgotten about this little blurb, which I copied DI-rectly from his website? (which belongs up there in the first paragraph on the "genesis of this post"...):

* Doug Wilson - some people will find me mad for taking Pastor Wilson out of the nether-depths of Joshua 12:1, but so be it. The differences I have with his theological positions do not blind me to the fact that this fellow has a great apologetic against post-modernism, pride, jealousy, wonkery, prudishness, glummery and frowny-faced "Christian" soldiers. I don't agree with him about everything, but I agree with him about our precious savior, Jesus Christ. After that, we can work out the details.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

An Intriguing Question to Start Your Week

Ron Stewart at the Northern 'Burbs Blog asks this intriguing and important question: When do we tell our kids about Hell?

Feel free to leave comments here, and/or on his blog. Perhaps this goes without saying, but make sure to include why. I will be back later in the week (hopefully) with my own thoughts on this issue.

HT: Christian Carnival @ Dunmoose

(P.S. Bryan--I'm intentionally putting this up early, so that you'll have time to think and respond.)

01/23/06 Update
I was thinking about Carla's comment, and I realized that, implicit in all this is whether or not you should talk about Hell during evangelism at all. I think you should should (and if you disagree, this question probably won't be so intriguing). Restating the question, then, should we handle children any differently than we do others in evangelism when it comes to the notion of Hell?

01/26/06 Update
Ron returns with a clarification on his original question.

Also, on the original post, one of his commenters has this to say:
I would say at that young age it is unnecessary to bring up hell. Leaving it out isn't doing any harm. It's just like when kids ask "where do babies come from?" You don't go into a biology lecture, right?

I disagree with this approach, and I hope to carve out some time soon to address why.

Quotes about writing

Cross-posted from Divergent Reality

I love quotes about writing. I found this one today doing a little browsing around Google.

There are lots of great ones, but I've got to say that this one might be my favorite:
"A metaphor is like a simile."

Kim--you may want to preview this and show it to your boys.

Friday, January 20, 2006

(Mis)Quoting Phil Johnson

I despise both anti-intellectualism and intellectual snobbery with equal fervor. --Phil Johnson

And just in time for the return of Blogspotting. Ok, ok. I didn't do it on purpose. But I just couldn't remember the exact words Phil used, so I did misquote him a few times on the quote above. But, I finally resolved to find it, and took a Sunday afternoon to track down the quote I've been using in conversations for the past few months.

That quote, and the larger context (which you'll read in a minute), are at the heart of what he's trying to do--he's trying to help serious believers who are not academics to understand Biblical truth. It's also at the heart of why I enjoy Phil so much, and why his work is helpful to many. (BTW Phil, I do hope that at some point you get back to Jesus and the OT Law--fascinating subject, and perhaps a bit less emotionally charged that the cessation debate.)

"For the record, I make no pretense of being an academician. I have no impressive degrees and am too old to earn any. I'm happy with that. My interest in doctrine and Scripture is not in any sense "academic." Nor do I demand that my commenters register any academic credentials before being permitted to post here.

Personally, I'd much rather read a great, classic sermon or commentary on the Sermon on the Mount (even from someone at the academic level of Bunyan or Spurgeon) than the typical 21st-century theological journal article by some well-trained but spiritually ambiguous "scholar."

In case anyone is unclear about this: I don't have very a high degree of confidence in the postmodern approach to academics. I despise both anti-intellectualism and intellectual snobbery with equal fervor. And hopefully the blog reflects that. My goal, actually, is to keep it stylistically at the opposite end of the spectrum from the typical theological journal, while maintaining the deepest possible respect for and commitment to biblical and theological truth as objective concepts."

(Quoted from this post.)

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Here's a cool feature even Cent doesn't have

Check out this link. . Unfortunately, you'll have to use IE--Firefox doesn't render it correctly.

What do you think? Would this be too much for a blog?

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

A More Sure Prophetic Word

For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased,” we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:16-21, ESV)

[Spoiler alert: For those in my homegroup--this is tonight's lesson.]

Peter starts off by saying that they didn't follow cleverly devised myths. He says, "Hey, this isn't a made up story." "We've seen," he says (v.16), "and we've heard" (v.18). Because of his experience, he was sure of what he said.

But then Peter goes on to say something extremely interesting. You might think he'd spend more time talking about his own experience, into more depth as to how that made him sure. Instead, he says that there is something even "more sure," and that something is "the prophetic word." Now he's not talking about a prophet speaking a "word from the Lord" in the modern day sense; he is talking about Scripture (cf. v.20).

This passage blows me away. Here Peter is saying that Scripture is so sure that he trusts it even more than his own eyes and ears. And that is how we need to view Scripture, too.

Peter may have gotten this from Jesus. Do you remember the story of the rich man & Lazarus the beggar from Luke 16? The rich man, who was in torment, asked that someone be sent to warn his family. How did Abraham reply? "They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them." (v.29). But perhaps the most sobering is what comes next. "If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead." Isn't that chilling? But that's exactly what happens. Just like the rich man's family, who didn't believe Moses and the prophets, if people today won't believe the testimony about Jesus from Scripture, then they won't even believe after he rises rose from the dead.

I've often wondered what it would be like to travel back in time to Jesus' day. At times I've even thought that my life might be different if only I had seen Jesus. But Scripture says otherwise; both in the passages mentioned above, and in other places, we find that Scripture is so sufficient and complete. I'm so thankful to live in a time where we have God's full revelation--what a blessing!

Some of you may know that I've spent the last few days posting about prophecy over on Phil's blog. For those who believe that prophecy is still active, I hope the message here is clear: instead of spending time chasing around some new revelation, spend some time in what God has already revealed. For those who don't--yeah, it's the same--spend more time in God's word.

Monday, January 16, 2006 258 Theology Questions and Answers

Some interesting questions, though I haven't heard the answers.

(If you need answers to these questions, check with Doxoblogy--I heard a rumor he knows the answers to all the hard theological questions.)

Lessons from the Greeks

My daughter is studying Greeks in history right now, and studying the Greeks isn't complete without studying Greek myths and the Greek gods. We are actually listening to an audio CD by Jim Weiss, who is a masterful storyteller. Here's the Amazon search that shows what's available by him.

As an aside, Weiss also does an Old Testament stories collection as well; they are good, but like any adaptation of the OT, suffer from occasional speculation and unwarranted additions. Nevertheless, they get the message across, and the kids are mesmerized by them (which isn't easy to do in the video age), so we listen to them and periodically go back to read the stories from Scripture.

I loved the mythical stories growing up. There were fantastic creatures, great adventures, etc. But as I grew up, I realized that the Greek gods were petty, manipulative, vengeful--they embodied all the worst parts of humanity. It made me thankful that the God I serve isn't like that. Ultimately, the Greeks fashioned gods in their own image.

Over the last couple of weeks, though, a new thought has occurred to me. While we as moderns may laugh about a gods being assigned to everything from war to love, from the ocean to holding up the world, we do the same thing, if we're not careful. Certainly not to the same degree, but when we hold on to a thought about God that has no basis in Scripture, or is contrary to Scripture, we do the exact same thing the Greeks were doing--fashion God in our own image.

And since our minds are as messed up as the rest of us because of the Fall, we can't trust ourselves to think right thoughts about God, apart from having those thoughts informed by Scripture.

Spend some time today reading God's revelation of Himself.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

If you miss Purgatorio, try this:

Think Sink

The confirmation hearings are particularly funny (but watch out for Pamela Anderson).

HT: Candy (link from Cent's comments)

Unicode Greek fonts

Here's a nice list of Unicode Greek fonts. Download one of these (remember, my favorite is Gentium), and anytime you go to a website with Greek text (that knows what they are doing), you'll see the Greek with all the accents.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Can we ever have an intelligent discussion about "sign gifts?"

Phil Johnson has been trying to discuss sign gifts for quite some time. And each time he writes something, the posts have generated quite a few comments.

In general, I've been frustrated with the response, because it seems like those on the Charismatic side want to argue with Phil before he's ever made any definitive statement of his own position.

I'm not going to give you all the links. I don't have the time right now, nor the energy. Plus, they should be easy enough to find.

I'm interested in clear-headed discussion of this issue (and I think Phil is, too), but so far it seems that most of what's out there has been an emotional response to a perceived threat from Phil. But I do want to give you just a sample of what's out there, along with reiterating my questions on my own blog.

Phil's latest post has generated 138 comments (as of this time), although many of them are just variations on what people have already said in previous comments.

Here is a slightly modified version of my recent comments:

You keep ignoring my basic question. More importantly, though, you seem to be ignoring the basic premise of Scripture that prophets are reliable 100% of the time.

I said:
"And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit." (2 Peter 19-21, ESV).

Where does this verse say prophecy comes from? From fallible man, or infallible God? The Scripture says that prophecy comes from God, not man. If that's true (and I think it is) then there's only two conclusions about inaccurate prophecy: either God was wrong, or the prophecy wasn't from God. And if a person proclaims a prophecy is from God and it's not from God, why would you follow him?

You replied: Your statement says nothing not already agreed to.

But you really haven't. What you're saying is that true prophecy is true 100% of the time. What I'm saying is that true prophets prophesy truthfully 100% of the time.

If prophecy is from God (which you say you agree with), then it must be true, always. It is not, nor has it never been OK, for true prophets to prophesy falsely. Even once. The definition of a false prophet is that they give false prophecies. Why can't you accept that?

To anyone who is interested in a civil discussion, I pose this question: If we can't even agree that true prophets must always prophesy truthfully, and false prophets are those who prophesy falsely (things about which Scripture is completely UNambiguous), how can we ever get to a genuine discussion of what (if any) miraculous gifts are still operative and why?

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Steve Hays on the ABCs of Calvinism

Steve Hays has done a great service by providing a list of founding documents for various Reformed groups, as well as areas of common belief.

There is this tendency to think of Reformed folks as homogenous, but Steve's short but insightful post shows the greater depth of those of the Reformed persuasion. I'm still learning about all this stuff, and for most of my life (frankly) have been somewhat anti-confessional. In any case, this seemed like just the thing to show up on Rebecca's blog, so I thought I'd try to grab it before she did.

Speaking of Rebecca's blog, make sure you go check out the Out of Canada Christian Blog Showcase. And I'm not jus' saying that because I'm shamelessly promoted there--I don't know what exactly inspired Rebecca, but the truth of the matter is, she's the one who is inspiring to so many others. And she put in a great deal of work to pull off the showcase. Hey, it's a collection of great Canadian blogging--what's not to like?

Disagreeing with MacArthur

But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil. (Heb 5:14, ESV)

We've been studying Hebrews in church, and the passage last week, Hebrews 5:11-14, was particularly troublesome. There was some disagreement in the Sunday School class, and it has lingered with me, so I decided to do some digging on my own.

First, the passage (quoted from the ESV)
11 About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

Here's MacArthur's commentary on v. 14:
5:14 of full age [ESV "mature"]. The same Gr. root is translated “perfection” in 6:1 and is elsewhere translated “perfect” (7:11,19,28; 9:9; 10:1,14; 11:40; 12:23). It is used in Hebrews, including this text, as a synonym for salvation. In that sense, it refers to the completion which comes when one becomes a believer in Christ, rather than referring to a Christian who has become mature, as is typical Pauline usage (see marginal note, cf. Col. 4:12). Jesus invited unbelieving Jews to the salvation perfection which came only through following Him in faith (Matt. 19:21). Paul wrote that those who had come to Christ by faith were thereby mature and able to receive the wisdom of God (1 Cor. 2:6). He described believers as “mature” when he referred to those whose righteousness was in Christ (Phil. 3:2–20), as opposed to those who had confidence in the flesh.
[MacArthur, J. J. (1997, c1997). The MacArthur Study Bible (electronic ed.) (Heb 5:14). Nashville: Word Pub.]

Let's read verse 14 again, and I'll substitute the word "saved" to emphasize his point:
"But solid food is for the [saved], for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil."

Now once more, this time back in context:
11 About this we have much to say, and it is hard to explain, since you have become dull of hearing. 12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, 13 for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. 14 But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.

Is the writer really trying to say that solid food belongs to the saved? Or is it more consistent to read this passage as a comparison between immature and mature believers? I'm open to correction if I'm wrong, but it seems pretty clear to me that, despite what John MacArthur (and most other commentaries on this passage say), this reference is not to unsaved people, but to believers who are infantile and need to grow up. This is the plain-sense meaning of the text, and to assert anything else requires some real linquistic gymnastics.

[Note: My original post used the New King James Version, since that is what MacArthur quotes from in his Study Bible and his one volume Bible Commentary. However, when I went to the Thomas Nelson website, and found out that their quotation policy requires that "two complete copies of a work using quotations from the NKJV (except for sermons, church bulletins, orders of service, Sunday School lessons, church newsletters, and similar works) must be sent to the following address: Thomas Nelson Publishers, Attn: Bible Rights and Permissions, 501 Nelson Place, Nashville, Tennessee 37214-1000," I opted for my preferred translation, the ESV. Thomas Nelson, if you read this, please offer an alternative to written copies being sent in--gimme an e-mail address and I'll drop you a note with the permalink to my blog entry; otherwise, I probably won't ever quote from you on my blog. ]

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Calling all Canadians

Make sure you submit a link to your most inspiring post to Rebecca. She's putting together a showcase, and now she's offering prizes. Hurry--deadline is tomorrow night.

If you're not Canadian, you can still link to the showcase (coming on Thursday) and win a prize.

Monday, January 09, 2006

My Political Leanings

For those who are interested (or worried), here is a pictorial summary of my political leanings. I should mention that Bruce Tinsley is a comic genius, and now that Calvin & Hobbes, Far Side, & Charlie Brown are gone, Mallard Filmore is the only strip I read regularly (with occasional forays back into Dilbert). Jewish World Review has Mallard's Current Strip and Comic Archives, and it is some of the funniest stuff around.

Download the Holy Sepulchre Virtual Tour for free

The Holy Sepulchre Virtual Tour is currently available to download for free. Don't know how long it will last. Follow the link on the main page.

HT: Todd Bolen of the new Bible Places Blog (see my previous entry for more about Todd & his ministry).

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Why BBC Beats CNN Every Time

Finding the best online news source is a challenge. I usually read World Magazine, because I like their perspective on things. But their news offering is AP, and you can get that from almost anywhere, so I've found myself looking for more, particularly in the area of international news (which most American sources do a poor job of covering).

Many times, the place I end up is the BBC. The sheer scope of their offerings, along with the commitment to global coverage, makes them very attractive.

But here's a comparison of BBC & one of the leading US sites, CNN, on Sharon's stroke, followed by other reasons I like BBC so much.
BBC's coverage of Sharon's stroke, and CNN's coverage of the same story.

BBC's layout, to me at least, seems cleaner. They have news items, plus links to related stories. CNN has some also, but they also have annoying ads, and in the same color scheme, no less. Not only is CNN trying to sell you something with ads, but they're also slogging their new "pipeline" feature--permium streaming web content.

Here's where the BBC really shines. Over to the left-hand side are links to different languages. Obviously, their offering in English is much stronger. But I love the other language features--including a section on learning other languages. CNN has nothing like this depth of offerings. They offer Korean, Arabic, Japanese, and Turkish, but no other European languages. In fact, although many links exist to CNN en Español, the site is little more than another advertisement--this one for their Spanish programs.

My favorite language offering from the BBC is actually the reverse--taking other views and translating them into English. BBC Monitoring translates a cross-section of commentary on a particular topic from foreign language newspapers and translates it into English. There is nothing else like it on the Web (if you know of something, please let me know.)

To be fair, the Beeb is a quasi-government agency, while CNN is part of a private company. CNN tries to do one thing well, and that's provide news in English (pls the four other languages I mentioned). But at times it seems like their website is setup mainly to push people back to their cable offerings--in a sense, using the news as advertising. It never really seems to exist on it's own, apart from the cable stations.

Before I finish, I'll add a word about bias. Some might complain that there is anti-American bias at the BBC. What I read doesn't seem to appear from that same weakness. The existence of bias at the BBC might be more than American news organizations, and is probably on par with the CBC, but it's certainly less than China or Cuba (all of which I listen to through shortwave from time to time). Ultimately, it's impossible to be completely free of bias, even if it's unintentional; and if you can ferret out a particular organization's bias, it can potentially remain a useful source of information. (Disclaimer here: since I listen to shortwave, and the BBC is the grandaddy of all shortwave offerings, perhaps I'm displaying a bit of bias as well.)

Finally, to make this a bit more interactive, I'm interested in your perceptions of bias in media (particularly those of you reading outside the US), and I'm interested in what web news service you use, if any.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

My Big, Fat, Greek Self-Study Program

Just today in the carpool we were talking about how you could find out all kinds of stuff about yourself and others. So imagine the irony of someone actually doing that very thing and leaving me a comment about it.

William Dicks dug up an old post from the B-Greek list where I saw fit to share a little of the wealth I had gained from the beginnings of my Greek studies. Was that really two years ago?

Not much has changed, unfortunately. I still know just a few vocabulary words and I still use it mostly when the urge hits me. My hope when I started was the mere persistence would eventually pay off. I tried studying vocabulary. I tried just reading passages of scripture. I tried several books, websites, etc. Turns out that even I'm not that persistent.

And there's something particularly difficult about trying to learn Greek by yourself. It's not like you can get a lot of practice, or even find a standard proununciation for heaven's sake!

I figured I would do better in a class, because I could ask questions, and get answers that might take much longer for me to answer on my own (and maybe never, in the case of a language like Greek). I've wanted to take a class for awhile, but it just didn't fit the schedule.

But that's all about to change. I'm pleased to say that I'm going to start "Baby Greek" on Jan 23 at the Bible Church of Little Rock. I'm excited--I'll have the same teacher I had this past semester for Practical Apologetics. Should be good.

This is the book we're using. I've never heard of it, and know nothing about it, but I found a remaindered copy for slightly over half of the new price.

I still think Gentium is far and away the best Greek font, and I'd still be happy to help anyone who'd like help tracking down a cheap copy of the Greek New Testament.

[Oh, and William, re: that Branson link--we try not to talk about those guys at our family reunions. :) ]

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Walking the Bible & Biblical

While some of you are watching the big game tomorrow night (Hook 'em, Horns!), those of you in the US (sorry Canucks) who don't have Wednesday night services might be interested in "Walking the Bible," on PBS. It's a three-hour special based on the book by the same name.

I don't know what kind of slant (if any) will be on there, but I think it's great to be reminded of the substance of the Bible--that these things existed in a real time & place. And the geography of places plays a major role in many of the incidents we read about in the Bible.

Even if you can't watch this show, you can still benefit from a resource like this. There are two actually, from a guy named Todd Bolen: Bible Places & Life in the Holy Land. As he says in a recent post, " give[s] you the here and now, gives you the there and then."

Todd lives in Israel, and takes pictures of the Holy Land. He's put together some amazing shots of different places on CDs. He also has a monthly e-mail that has pictures on a particular topic & commentary (I haven't seen one in awhile--you can probably find info on his site).

So check it out. Homeschoolers, Bible Scholars, and everyone in between will find something of benefit there.

The 2005 Wooden Nickle Awards

My thoughts:

1) Most Improved: Sojourner. Couldn't agree more. Congrats, Brad.

2) Best Sidekick: JIBBS. I demand a recount! Oh, and by the way, I prefer the term "Hero Support."

3) Best Potential Sidekick: Carla Rolfe. Coach Boomer says, "HERO!"

4) Steve Hays Memorial Wooden Nickel: Phil Johnson, for this post. Uh, what post?

5) Best Homeschool Blog: Kim @ Upward Call. I don't know what's worse, her hubby nominating her as a joke, or her being embarrassed by the nomination. But she accepts the award gracefully.

6) Best Blog, 2005: Pyromaniac. Like there was any doubt.
(Phil bought the Awards Committee lunch...twice.)

Monday, January 02, 2006

A Poem for the New Year

A poem from the beginning of a 1610 Geneva NT which sets the stage for the new year.

HT: Running Well

This Sacred Writ, although it be but small,
One day must pass just sentence on us all,
Let life be wicked, loose, or how it will,
Heaven's for the just, but hell for wicked still.
This Sacred Volume then shall be my guide,
Since at my end by it I must be tried.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Blogging in 2006

This being both New Year's Day & my 1-year blogiversary, time to assess

My goals for the blog in 2006 are modest, pretty much unchanged from when I started it a year ago: write about things that interest me, clarifying what I think through what I write, and hopefully finding a few folks out there who like what they hear, all with the ultimate goal of moving Christ to the center of my life in all things.

By Blogger's count, I had 112 posts on this blog, plus 2 more on my buddy Hemsch's creative blog (I hope to put a few more things on there this year, mainly about writing). I should probably blog less, but I'd like to blog more, so I'll probably blog about the same. My big problem is that I am S-L-O-W when it comes to writing.

A quick word on just a few of the many great people I've met this year.

Centuri0n: Cent has become a great friend. His writing challenges me. We have kids that are similar ages. And it probably doesn't hurt that he lives just 3 1/2 hours away, in a place that holds fond memories (my wife & I met and graduated from college there); it's also one of the most beautiful places in the United States.

Phil Johnson: Here is a man whose writing & preaching I appreciate so very much. He eschews both academic sophistry and anti-intellectualism, and as a result appeals to those who think and care about the truth but are mostly ignored by academics (those with initials behind their names). I hope he decides to stick with the blogging thing, because I always look forward to reading him.

Carla Rolfe: Her comments on Pyromaniac (& her fabulous pictures) drew me initially to her blog. What keeps me coming back is her love for truth & her transparency. When I read her stuff, I'm reminded of Paul's letters to the Corinthians--his concern for their forays into sin and their intensely personal nature. I suppose her love for commas makes her writing like Paul's as well (though it's easier for him to get away with writing long sentences in Greek than her in English).

Kim Shay: If Carla can be compared to Paul, then Kim must be Barnabas. And she is. A true encourager. (If you add only one person to your regular readership this year, make sure it's Kim. She will read & post comments regularly.) Her blog is a potpourri of upbeat posts, and the comment section is filled with a neat community of people. She and hubby Bugblaster are also shameless flirts--sort of a Canadian Nick & Nora Charles. They are a wonderful example of what a marriage should be, and a good antidote to what the world thinks marriage is.

(As an aside, I can't believe how much good blogging is coming out of Canada. Two of those above, the last couple of people I've featured on my blog, plus the amazing Daniel @ Doulogos, are all from Canada. I hope that admitting this doesn't make me the quintessential "ugly American.")

Finally, to all who have read and/or linked to me, a big thank you. With few exceptions, I didn't even know you before I started blogging (and very few of those who know me in the real world read me anyway). Someone I read recently advised focusing efforts on making friends offline; that's probably good advice, but it ignores the benefits of this particular medium: you can read & interact with people from literally all over the world--people that you might never have a chance to meet in real time. Don't try to tell me that's not real friendship, especially when you spend that time talking about the Savior.

BTW, everywhere in the writing world I see the advice that you have to know your audience. If I had to add one thing to my list of goals for 2006, it would be to get to know my readers better. Feel free to drop me a comment now & then, and I will try to do the same for you.

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(Though it may go without saying, the thoughts reflected are my own, not my family, employer, pastor, or anyone else.)

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The following are in the public domain:

The King James Version of the Bible. Also known as the Authorized Version. Published in 1611.

The English Revised Version of the Bible. Published in 1885. Facsimile obtained from The Digital Christian Library.

The American Standard Version of the Bible. Published in 1901.

The Geneva Bible. Published in 1560. Facsimile obtained from The Digital Christian Library, and spelling has been modernized.

Douay-Rheims Version, Challoner Revision. Published 1749-1752. Electronic text obtained from Project Gutenberg.