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Hip and Thigh: Smiting Theological Philistines with a Great Slaughter. Judges 15:8

Saturday, December 30, 2006

The Heavens Declare the Glory of God...

Space.com has the top space pictures of 2006. I especially love the one of Saturn, as well as the Zombie Crab Nebula.

I still think this one is the most spectacular of all and should have earned a mention on the Space site.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Answers that KJV onlyists are afraid you will provide (pt 2)

I have undertaken a response to the 33 Questions that modern Bible version advocates are afraid they will be asked. The author of these questions is under the mistaken notion that his questions are stumper questions designed to shut down anyone who dares to raise an objection against King James onlyism. I emailed the site administrator to alert him to my responses to his questions but have yet to receive a reply. Perhaps I will have him interact in the comments.

My first set of responses can be read here.

Moving along to the next set of questions:

Number 11 is a long one that contains some sub-questions, so I will not cite it in its entirety.

11). Are you aware that if you reject the Greek Text which underlies the King James Version, that you are rejecting the Bible and the Validity of the Bibles, and undermining the credibility and witness not only of the historic christian [sic] martyrs who were English, but also those from Spain, and From [sic] Holland, and from France, and from Germany and from Switzerland, and from Italy, since they all also rely on the Greek Textus Receptus that the King James uses?

The question suggests that if you are reading a MBV instead of the King James, then you are choosing a translation that stands opposed to the historical translations from the period of the Reformation. Because those versions were translated from the Textus Receptus, or the Received Text, and the King James was one of the final English translations based upon the Received Text, to use a MBV instead of the King James means you are rejecting all of these other historic translations, as well as the one favored by the Christians who died for their faith during the period of the Reformation.

The author then goes on to list some of those translations, including the Geneva Bible in among the list of the other foreign language translations based upon the Received Text and tying it to the American Pilgrims and Puritans.

We need to consider some important historical facts and have them set into context.

Keep in mind that when Erasmus first published his Greek text that would eventually be called the "Received Text," textual criticism of any serious nature was still in its infancy. Principles of textual criticism were still being hashed out by scholars and it wasn't an exact science just yet.

Additionally, Christians were also recovering their knowledge of the Hebrew and Greek languages. Any serious study of the ancient biblical languages was primarily limited to the professional clergy and even then the languages were not necessarily studied with any depth, especially to uncover meaningful exegesis of the biblical text.

Furthermore, the collection, collation, and editing of Greek manuscripts into one textual apparatus from which a person could translate was also severely limited. I noted last time that Erasmus only had 10 or less to start with and even those manuscripts were incomplete. As the Reformation expanded across Europe, so also did the knowledge of Christian scholarship with regards to textual criticism.

Thus, for our questioner to suggest that the only viable Greek text is to be found in the Received Text alone and the only viable translation is the King James alone is not being honest with the historical facts of how textual criticism developed. Moreover, there is a reasonable explanation for why only the Received Text was utilized in the translation of those other foreign language Bibles:

Putting together a textual apparatus from which to translate is just plain hard.

Once the work had been accomplished by Erasmus, no one else necessarily had the "know-how" or the resources to compile an alternate text. For the growing Protestant Reformation all that the Christians cared about was getting the Word of God into the hands of the people. The Received Text was used, not because it was considered orthodox and the pure Word of God over other rival texts, but because it was the only one really accessible to the general public for use in translating.

As for the claim about the Geneva Bible being used by Puritans and Pilgrims, I noted in my final two articles examining the claims of King James Onlyism (here and here), that the Puritans rejected the KJV because it was in their minds a Conformist Anglican produced Bible. They choose the Geneva, not because it was based upon the Received Text, but because it had strong ties to the Protestant Reformation and because it wasn't the KJV.

A couple of excellent questions to pose to our KJV onlyist in return would be:

Which edition of the Received Text do you have in mind? You do know there are nearly 25 editions/revisions of the Received Text? And, Are you a King James Onlyists or a Received Text Onlyist? If you only care about the Received Text being preserved, would you favor an up-dated English translation based upon the Received Text to replace the aged KJV?

Let me treat these next 4 questions together because they address similar things:

12). Do you know (a) the life, (b) the character, and (c) the teachings & (d) beliefs of the Bible translators of the Modern Versions that you are defending? Do you know - for example - what they believed about Jesus Christ?

AND

13). Do you know - for a fact - what they believed about the Deity of Jesus Christ?

AND

14). Do you know - for a fact - whether or not they believed that Mary should be worshiped?

AND

15). Do you know - for a fact - what they believed about the Trinity?

[how would you prove or demonstrate your answers to others ... like us?]

This series of questions implies those scholars who were involved in the textual criticism that produced the Hebrew and Greek texts used to translate our MBV like the NASB and the ESV, were really heretical in their theology and their work cannot be trusted. Generally, questions like these are aimed at Westcott and Hort who are considered by KJV onlyists to be the arch-heretics who displaced the Received Text.

Heretics, however, rarely corrupted the physical text of either the OT or the NT. What they did do is to keep the text intact, but pour their heretical teaching onto the Bible. They twist the scriptures, as Peter says, to their own destruction.

So, how exactly do I go about proving or demonstrating what it was these individuals believed? Well, probably the easiest way to "prove" or "demonstrate" what any group of individuals says about these issues is to go to their works where they have written about Christ's Deity, Mary worship and the Trinity. Sadly, KJV onlyists rarely do this type of leg work before offering their personal attacks against the textual critics who have provided so much excellent historical work for the Church at large in the area of our Bible. Even if citations can be provided that do prove the person was orthodox in all of these areas, the KJV onlyists rarely except the citations as convincing.

I, in turn, would asked the KJV onlyist if he was aware that Erasmus, who gave us the Received Text, was a staunch Roman Catholic priest who did believe in the power of the Eucharist and worshiped Mary. I would further ask him if he was aware of the fact that the KJV translators were staunch Anglicans who believed in infant baptismal regeneration.

16). Do you know - for a fact - WHY they rejected the Textus Receptus, that underlies the King James?

It would be helpful if our author would stick with either using the Received Text or the Textus Receptus. He assumes his readers are familiar with these two terms and the history behind them.

Any way, it is a tad dishonest to suggest these textual scholars rejected the Received Text. What they did was to improve NT textual scholarship and part of that was laying aside the Received Text as the most accurate NT text. As I have already noted in the previous post on this subject, as well as in my series on KJV onlyism, many scholars have documented the problems found in the Received Text. The key one being that it was based upon inferior textual witnesses to the original autographs.

What the question implies is that scholars rejected the Received Text because it was "orthodox" and they were liberal heretics who couldn't stand for God's Word. Nothing is further from the truth.

17). Do you know who their professors were in their colleges & universities were, and how those college professors influenced them?

AND

18). Do you know who their professors were in their colleges & universities were, and what the Biases of those colleges professors was [sic] - in terms of being in favor of (a) God, (b) Christianity, and (c) the Bible?

My first challenge back to any KJV apologist who asked me these two questions would be simply: Do you? I would be willing to wager a Costco ice cream bar dipped in chocolate and rolled in chopped almonds that he would be clueless as to who the professor were who taught these suspect NT scholars and what biases they had against the faith, if any at all.

The only point to these two questions is to try to increase the severity of these scholar's heresy. Not only were they personally heretical in their beliefs, but they also learned from heretics. Thus a person should throw out any MBV quicker than he was going to do before.

Of course the burden is upon the KJV onlyists leveling these charges to demonstrate the heresy of the professors and universities in question, and then to demonstrate that if any heresy did exist how if at all did it impact the scholars who handled the NT documents in question.

19). Do you know - for a fact - whether or not those translators even believed that the real and true Word of God (the Bible) could be found within the manuscripts either (a) that they used or (b) that the Historic Christian Church has used for 1900 years?

AND

20). Do you know - for a fact - whether or not those translators - of the modern versions you rely on for your spiritual growth and communion with God - believe in the fall of mankind (Genesis 1-3) and the Biblical Doctrine of Original Sin?

AND

21). Do you know - for a fact - whether or not those translators - of the modern versions you rely on for your spiritual growth and communion with God - believe in the same historic Christian teachings that you believe in? Do they even claim to believe in the historic Christian teachings?

Again, my first challenge back to the KJV onlyist would be the same as above: Do you? Here our author has switched from bashing the scholars who put together the Greek text to bashing the translators. The reader may not catch the switch, but the NT textual scholars are not necessarily the same as the NT translators. There have been translators who have translated MBV that even I would say are unorthodox and liberal. However, those liberal translators did not tamper with the physical Hebrew and Greek manuscripts, they merely translated their work to reflect their bias.

Moreover, the translations usually targeted by KJV onlyists are conservative and were translated by conservative, God fearing and Bible believing men. I happen to personally know some of the translators involved with the production of the NASB and they most certainly do believe in the historic Christian teachings of the Church, contrary to what our author suggests with his questions. Additionally, the ESV was translated by many godly men, including Wayne Grudem, who has been a strong apologist for the biblical perspective on manhood and womanhood. I would encourage our author to visit a wonderful little website called the Bible Researcher that traces the historical development of many of our English versions. He will discover that most of them do not have the sinister background that he believes they have.

I will finish up my responses with the next post.

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Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Musical Tastes: My Personal Adventures in Music (pt. 3)

Introducing CCM

Every now and then I have been writing about my musical tastes and convictions.

With the last post on this subject I wrote about my love for secular rock and roll and pop-music and how that love came into conflict with attending a fundamental Baptist style church. Because dislike for secular music ran high where I attended, I kept my secular music interests pretty much between myself and my bedside alarm clock radio that was set to the local, popular music radio station.

In the summer of my 9th grade year of school in 1983, I attended a Methodist youth camp in Missouri. There I was introduced for the first time to Contemporary Christian Music. It wasn't much; just Amy Grant's album, Age to Age, that contained the El Shaddai song everyone who was into sappy sounding mellow music really liked. The female youth/choir director at our Methodist church thought Amy was "the bomb," and everyone who loved Jesus should love her equally as well. The feeling was never mutual with me. I still preferred my Duran Duran and Police over Amy "Grunt."

Then, in the summer before my 10th grade year, my family moved from Missouri to Arkansas. This is when we started attending the more solid but fundamentalist church that didn't care for secular music. Interestingly, they didn't care for CCM either. I don't know if that was a matter of preference or the fact CCM was still gaining popularity among Christians and they weren't familiar with it.

When my family moved to Arkansas from Missouri, I left behind a really good friend. This friend also shared my enjoyment of popular rock and roll music. I kept in marginal contact with him during the first 6 months or so in my new home. One weekend, my family and I returned to my former hometown to visit my grandmother and move down some items we had left at her house. When I arrived, I called on my old friend and discovered he had become a "Christian" and attended a Pentecostal holiness church with several of my other previous friends. I also was stunned to see he had grown his hair out really long and listened exclusively to CCM. He gave me a major lecture on the wickedness of secular music and that as a Christian he only wanted to listen to rock and roll music that praised Jesus.

Being an impressionable young man, I took his anti-rock preaching to heart and thought I would give this CCM alternative a listen. In fact, I took his preaching so much to heart that I even "rededicated" my life to Christ at my new church and had myself baptized.

One of the bands he suggested I should listen to was Petra. I gave my mother a list of CCM albums I wanted and I received three for Christmas: Petra's Beat the System, Michael W. Smith's 2 and Bryan Duncan's Have Yourself Committed. As time went on, I accumulated several others, like Mylon Le Fevre, Carmen, and Whiteheart. Eventually, I picked up the Christian metal bands like Guardian, Whitecross, and Stryper (which I will go into more detail with a later post). Yet, all the while I was collecting this Christian music, I was thinking I was being spiritual because I listened to it over the secular stuff.

There is one amusing side note to my new found CCM interest. My old friend told me when he graduated high school he was moving to Nashville, becoming a roadie for Petra, would learn the CCM business, and then form his own Christian rock band. He invited me to join him. At the time I thought that sounded awesome. In order to completely accomplish this venture, my friend had started learning to play the guitar. I in turn came back to Arkansas and began taking piano lessons from the church organist, because I wanted to play one of those really cool Yamaha keyboard sets I saw in all the videos. I even stopped cutting my hair so I could get it that "rock and roll" performance length.

My parents were extremely supportive of my new found cultural interest in learning piano until I told them I was planning on using my piano playing to start a Christian rock band after I graduated high school, rather than attending college. They quickly crushed my Christian band plans with my buddy. I kept growing my hair out long, however.

At any rate, even though I liked CCM, I always felt as though it was a step or so below secular music in quality and performance. I would even say that some of it was just outright lame. The music was poorly performed by the bands and the albums were terribly produced. CCM fans always suggested that these albums could be used as witnessing tools, like an audio tract that shared the gospel. A troubled youth who would otherwise not attend a church or read a Bible would at least listen to a rock album, even if it were a Christian rock band. But I was embarrassed by the quality of some of the music that I didn't want my lost friends to necessarily know I listened to it. So, even though I purchased CCM, I still had a stash of my favorite secular stuff I also listened to.

In the fall of 87, I went to college and one of my first objectives I had was to find a group of Christians who also shared my enthusiasm for CCM. I found them at the Baptist Student Union at Arkansas State. God, however, in His irony, used my BSU experience to bring me to Christ and genuine salvation. The final week of my freshman year, God was pleased to save me, and then my perspective on music entirely changed.

Upon giving my life to Christ, some of my supportive friends held a "barrel burning" where I took all the secular music I still clung to and trashed it. My music library was now only CCM. But, a few months or so after I started my sophomore year of college as a brand new Christian, a couple of my friends challenged me about my CCM. They gave me a book by a guy named Jeff Godwin called Dancing with Demons: The music's real master. In this book, the author, a Jack Chick taught disciple, argues that all rock music, regardless if it is sung by secular pagans or zealous Christians, is Satanic in origins and is designed to only enslave those who willing listened to it. He cataloged many CCM groups of that time (late 80s) and wrote anecdotal, hearsay style stories about how they really lived corrupted lives and lied about the true intentions of their so-called music "ministries." He even alleged that Petra's lead singer often gave Satanic signals to the audience when they performed.

I was stunned. I couldn't believe many of my CCM heroes were really deceptive liars. Thankfully, I took his claims with the proverbial grain of salt. I also came in contact with KJV onlyists hyper-fundamentalist, David Cloud, who wrote exposes' and taught about the evils of CCM. His website to this day still has many of his articles and essays condemning all CCM as detrimental to the Christian faith. In a similar fashion that Godwin does, Cloud will list anecdotal stories about how these performers really live double lives or are involved with some false teaching or some supposed Christian compromise that only leads young minds away from the Lord.

Jeff Godwin and David Cloud are not alone in their criticism of CCM. There are several, mainly from the independent, fundamental camp, who act as theological mullahs warning of the dangerous CCM poses to Christian youth.

Three things always troubled me about these CCM critics:

First is the second and third hand testimony about what a certain CCM performer did or said. Anecdotal and hearsay stories is exactly the best way to describe what really amounts to gossip on the part of these critics. Rarely is there any firsthand accounts substantiated by genuine facts. David Cloud, for example, will still publish an occasional article on his Daily Article Listings page that criticizes various CCM artists. The weird thing about his critiques is how often they will be 10 years out of date. He may complain about something the lead singer from the CCM group Third Day said in an interview in 1998. Cloud then infers what he thinks is compromise on the part of the person's statement and proclaims him and his CCM group as apostate in this present day. The problem with this approach is not only is it out of date, but often it is misinformed as to the current day status of the person under review. What a person said or did 10 years ago may not reflect what that same person, after 10 years of spiritual maturity, says or does now.

Second is how these CCM artists are judged and condemned according to fundamentalist preference standards. Independent fundamentalists have a ridiculous understanding as to what constitutes compromise and who is allegedly involved in compromise. Generally it stems from their inadequate beliefs about a contrived doctrine called "the doctrine of separation." A person's actions or affiliations are considered "worldly" and according to independent fundamentalists, anyone who is a sober-minded and seriously spiritual Christian will recognize the person's worldliness and thus separate from him or her. The separation is practiced by not having any personal affiliations with the "worldly" individual, and is extended to not having any affiliations with other Christians who may have affiliations with the "worldly" individual.

Independent fundamentalists apply this inept view of "separation" to CCM artists and any contemporary music that may be used as worship in a local Church. Hence, if Steve Camp performs at a venue where a Catholic moral activist may have given a lecture the day before, Steve Camp is to be separated from because he compromised the gospel by participating and performing at the same venue. If at a later time, Steve Camp ministers at a local Church, that local Church is to be separated from because they had Steve Camp perform.

Additionally, independent fundamentalists equate contemporary music with worldly music and if a Church uses contemporary music in a worship service, then the Church is compromising with the world according to "the doctrine of separation." It doesn't matter if the Church is solid doctrinally and theologically and proclaims high the Gospel of Jesus Christ, the fact that contemporary music is considered "worldly" and the Church uses it on occasion in the worship service places them in the position of compromise. This view of CCM is not only unsupported by scripture, but is based solely upon what has become the accepted preference on the part of fundamentalists critical of current day events.

And third, rarely do these CCM critics provide examples of the kind of music a Christian should listen to and enjoy. Some critics are so harsh that a reader is left with the impression a Christian should never listen to any music what so ever. It is almost like an Islamic view of musical arts. For instance, I am yet to read from David Cloud what he believes is a positive example of good, God honoring music.

Again, those CCM critics who will suggest the kind of music Christians can listen to without sliding down into apostasy, tend to only offer their preferences as to what THEY believe is good music. Because of their misguided view of what constitutes "worldly" and "compromise," they by default believe anything performed in a contemporary style is "worldly." As a substitute, they will suggest gospel quartet performers who happen to come from fundamentalist backgrounds. But, as I will explore in greater depth later, the style of music performed does not necessarily equate with "good" and "God-honoring." In fact, much of it is, at least in my opinion, just as lame, if not worse in performance quality, than some of those CCM bands I listened to back when I was in high school. Moreover, the lyrics have deplorable theological content and only make me angry when I hear them sung.

Is CCM artists above criticism? Of course not. I believe CCM artists have done and do plenty to raise concerns for Christians. However, we must have a proper, scripturally informed criticism of CCM, not one born out of personal preferences that have been shaped by a phony fundamentalist spirituality. Judging CCM according to this false standard only serves to damaged the credibility of the one leveling criticisms, and if those criticisms are legitimate, no one will take them seriously.

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Monday, December 25, 2006

Happy Boxing Day

For all my U.K. and British commonwealth readers: Happy Boxing Day!

Correct me if I am wrong (this may be my American stupidity showing itself), but isn't boxing day, the day after Christmas, when all your servant staff celebrated Christmas because they were busy on the 25th waiting on you all hand and foot, stuffing gooses, filling your plates with plumb pudding, and decking the halls?

If anyone has further info... Maybe those fine chaps at Free St. George's?

My Visit to Mark Martin's.















Besides being the second official town in Arkansas state history, my hometown of Batesville also boasts of being the hometown of NASCAR champion, Mark Martin.

To the NASCAR uninitiated person like myself, who cares, right? But, it dawned on me how significant a celebrity Mark Martin is when last week as we sat in the Minneapolis airport waiting on our flight, a fellow passenger asks us where we were headed and when I said "Batesville Arkansas" he immediately responded by saying, "Oh, that's where Mark Martin is!."

My mother tells me that when Mark was a teenager, he use to come over to my uncle's salvage shop to buy spare parts for his racing cars. He has come a long way since being a rural kid from Batesville, Arkansas, racing junker cars at county fairs. According to his NASCAR page, he has 35 career wins. I am thinking that may be a good thing.

When he decided he wanted to open up a Ford dealership, several major cities wanted him to come to them, but Mark wanted to bring his dealership to Batesville where he was raised and started his career. Technically, his dealership is located in Southside, which means the community south of Batesville, across the White River and up Ramsey's Mountain. I understand from local hearsay that the city council gave Mark the cold shoulder when he announced plans to open his dealership and they refused to allow him easy access to build in town, so he had to come out into the "unincorporated" part of town (where I lived) to build his place. Now that it is one of the major tourist attractions for NASCAR fans, the city is kicking themselves. The new mayor has plans to attempt annexing next year.

Well any how, when we told my mother we were going to visit her at Christmas, one of the planned outings was taking us down the road to see Mark Martin's. He has a personal museum in the dealership with many fine displays.

Here is the wall of his car driving suits. I am sure there is probably a more "technical" name than "car driving suits."















Here is the interior to one of his many cars he has raced.
















And here is one of the major displays showcased in his museum















The displays were really well done. They had a large pictured collage background in a "C" shape with the winning car sitting in the middle. There is a large, HDTV touchscreen monitor standing out in front of the display that provides the last 5 minutes of video when Mark won whatever race with this particular car. I watched the video for every display where he won, and though I had absolutely no clue exactly how it was that he did win, the announcer was exciting as he described the cars racing around the track. There were even some with wrecks. Apparently, I learned later, there is some point system that brings the driver to a place of winning. I read the NASCAR page that explains the system, but I am still mystified as to how it works.

And like all well done museums, there is a fully stocked souvenir shop right outside the display area selling all sorts of Mark Martin merchandise. Wouldn't you know it, they have all the little Matchbox cars right down low to the ground where 3 and 4 year old boys can see them and pick them off the shelf.

It is such marketing genius.

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Saturday, December 23, 2006

Whatdaya know

I happened to click on my blog moments ago and found myself to be the 15,000 "visitor" to Hip and Thigh. Fifteen thousands. That is bigger than my mom's hometown. I have quite the little club going on over here. I thought I would take the moment to brag a bit.

Merry Christmas

This is Your House on Crystal-Meth


My mother tells me that this past summer one day, she heard a loud BA-BOOM! and her windows rattled. Outside over the horizon a large, black mushroom style smoke cloud sailed into the air.

Come to find out later that some "genius" decided to play drug chemistry in his house and built himself a home-made crystal-meth making machine. He didn't realize how dangerous those things can be and one afternoon while he smoked a joint, as he later told police, the whole thing went KA-BLEWY! His neighbor's in the next field over had all the windows facing his home blown out, all the windows in the houses for a radius of 2 or 3 miles rattled to the explosion (my mother's house is about 1 1/2 miles away), and the fellow was blown through the front door and through the air across his lawn like a scene out of an action movie. He was only bruised a bit, but other than that, he was fine. The picture is what is left. I reckon he hasn't gotten around to cleaning up the place just yet.

Remember Kids: SAY NO! TO DRUGS

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Friday, December 22, 2006

Answers that KJV onlyists are afraid you will provide (pt 1)

Bible Discernment is a KJV only website and the website owner has laid down the gauntlet.

On his crudely designed website with the seizure inducing flash animation, the owner has compiled a list of some 33 questions that modern Bible version advocates are afraid they will be asked. Apparently, the "Bible Discerner" believes he has put together a list of silver bullet questions that will just shut the mouths of non-KJV onlyists and if they are asked any one of these 33 questions, they will close their modern Bible version, bow their heads, and with proverbial tail stuck between their legs, make a hasty retreat for the nearest exit.

Welp, I am made of greater substance, so I will answer every one of our challenger's questions in a series of posts. Additionally, I will take the opportunity when presented to ask our KJV onlyist questions he is afraid I will ask in response.

1) Have you done research on the KJV/other version controversies yourself?

Yes I have. And I would add, probably more so than many KJV onlyists who tend to only read literature published from within their own circles, just as I did when I was a practicing KJVer. The question is meant to "expose" some alleged fatal flaw in the arguments of the non-KJV onlyist. It is suggested that a person reads and uses a modern Bible version (MBV) because he or she doesn't know any better and is blindly following a favored teacher or what was taught at the Bible college where the person attended. Many KJV onlyists believe this about the non-KJV onlyists. It is assumed they are ignorant, but this is merely a strawman objection. I would throw back a question to our KJV onlyist:

Have you done research on the KJV-MBV controversy in sources OTHER THAN KJV publications? Have you read the research found at such sites as The King James Resource Center?

I would venture a guess that you have not, or only selectively.

2) If you are not in favor of using the KJV, and if you are in favor of using Modern Bible Versions, are you sure you understand the major points about the philosophical/theological position you are advocating?

Well, if I have done my own research as I acknowledged under the first question, then yes, I am quite aware of the philosophical-theological position I am advocating. It is called biblical Christianity.

You see, it is being suggested by the question that if a person reads from and recommends study in a MBV, then that person is advocating some alternative Christian faith or a devil inspired philosophy. Moreover, it is implied with the little phrase are you sure that if I am using a MBV, then I may be ignorant that I am using a new age Bible version. However, if we were to dig a bit under the revisionist top soil the KJV onlyist as laid down as the "fact" of how our English Bibles came about, it will reveal that much of it is contrived and has nothing to do with the facts.

A question in response: If you are not in favor of using any MBV and will ONLY use the KJV, are you aware of the Anglican theology that lies behind its production and the church-state politics that forced its translation?

3) Have you thought through the premise that - if you insist on using Modern Versions only - you must accept to go against 95% of the Bible Manuscripts that have been used by the Christian Church throughout the centuries (until 1904) ?

AND

4) Are you aware that the KJV is still supported by 95% of the Bible Parchments and Manuscripts which exist all over the world?

I treated these two questions together because they both address a common KJV myth about the biblical texts that support the KJV and how KJV onlyists understand textual criticism. They will present this idea that the KJV is translated from a biblical text that is supported by 95% of the evidence. The claim suggests to the textually uninitiated that the MVs are translated from entirely different manuscripts and presents an entirely different Bible.

A few things are important to note.

First, when he makes this claim, what is in view here is the New Testament documents, not the Old Testament documents. That is because we have more copies of the NT documents than we have of the OT. Though it is true our OT is translated from solid OT documents, the NT is different in that the manuscripts are many and wide spread from many areas of the world.

Secondly, the "95%" figure is only including the manuscripts that come from the Byzantine empire where they were copied. These manuscripts are called the Byzantine family and because the Byzantine Christians did such an excellent job of copying and maintaining them, they produced so many of them that it became the dominant family of manuscripts, and the ones from which much of the earlier translating work was taken. Hence, this family has the nickname of the Majority Text. But the title of "majority," contrary to KJV only claims, does not equate the best.

Third, later finds in the 1800s of older biblical texts helped to revolutionize the textual criticism of the NT. One of the things these new finds did was to push back the original reading of the NT in the Greek language to the 2nd century, nearly 200 years after the first NT documents were written. These new finds also uncovered some different readings than what was in the current textual apparatus of the day, the Received Text from which the KJV was translated. These different readings didn't alter the message of the Bible, neither did they take away or weaken any key doctrines of scripture as KJV onlyists would have people to believe. Thus, when textual critics of the NT in the 1800s wanted to provide a new translation of the NT, they determined to use some of the different readings because they were considered closer to the originals.

King James only apologists will often confuse the Received Text with the Majority Text as being one and the same. They are not. The Received Text is a working translational apparatus that was edited from manuscripts in the Majority Text family. The Received Text also has gone through at least 26 revisions since it was first published in the early 1500s by Erasmus. When Erasmus edited his first Greek text that became known as the Received Text, he used just a handful of incomplete manuscripts for his work. Many KJV onlyists are unaware of this fact. Additionally, the KJV translators used a variety of other sources for their translation work, which was really a revisionist work of the former Bishop's Bible. That included the Latin Vulgate, the Septuagint, and other ancient translations of the Old and New Testaments.

Hence, a couple of questions a person can ask a KJV advocates is: Do you know the difference between the Majority Text and the Received Text? Do you know the first handful of Received Text editions were based upon just a small amount of manuscripts? Did you know that the KJV translators did not use the Received Text exclusively, but used many other textual sources for their translation work?

5) It is true that the KJV translators relied on the manuscripts that were available in their own day and time. And it is also true that more Bible manuscripts were found since the early 1900s, than in all of the other centuries combined. Here is the key question: Are you aware that almost all these ancient manuscripts - those found in the 1900s - have accomplished, is to support, authenticate and validate the King James Version of the Bible?

AND

6) In other words, despite finding many more manuscripts of the Bible since the KJV was translated, more than 95% [sic] the new manuscripts found in the 1900s continue to support the King James Version, and disagree with the Modern Version. Are you aware of this?

I'll treat these two questions together as well.

First of all, I am not sure what the author has in mind when he writes about ancient manuscripts found in the 1900s. The bulk of the ancient manuscripts in question and that are the focus of so much KJV only scorn were discovered in the 1800s, not the 1900s. To give the author the benefit of the doubt, he may have in mind the "19th century," not the 1900s, but I could be wrong about that.

Anyhow, he makes the claim that all of these manuscripts supposedly support the Received Text that underlies the KJV, but this is not entirely accurate. Again, his claim suggests that the MBVs present an entirely different NT than what is found in the KJV, but this is only inaccurate, if not dishonest.

The manuscripts on which the MBVs are based are almost identical in content as those manuscripts that were used to put together the Received Text. However, there is maybe 10% where the modern texts dissent in reading the same. What textual critics have done, and with good reason, is to side with those dissenting readings that differ with the Received Text in a variety of places because those manuscripts are hundreds of years older and closer to the original writings than those that were used to translate the KJV. King James apologist make a big deal over these dissenting readings by asserting that they introduce heresy or take away important biblical doctrine. But this is exaggerating the facts.

What's more, most KJV advocates ignore the fact that the Received Text has unique readings that are not found in any other NT manuscripts, even with in the Majority Text. The main reason for this anomaly is when Erasmus edited his Greek apparatus, he had only a few incomplete manuscripts to utilize. For example, he did not have a complete copy of Revelation and had to translate the Latin Vulgate into Greek in order to complete Revelation so as to be published first. Many of these unique readings stayed with in the Received Text and were even translated into the King James. In fact, it is important to ask a KJV only apologist about these unique readings.

7) Are you aware that Modern Versions Reject the Greek Text which underlies the English King James Version, and that this is really what the crux of the matter is - about the King James Version Debate?

That is not true. Those who translated what became the modern versions did not reject the Received Text just because it was orthodox and they were heretical as is suggested by this question. They chose to edit a newer apparatus that used the readings they believed better reflected what was originally written by the biblical authors. The issue for them was purity to the original text, not corrupting the Bible or throwing away the King James.

8) Do you realize that the Protestant Greek New Testament Textus Receptus, was used not only be they English speaking world in the KJV, but also by almost all other countries in the spread and propagation of the Bible - until 1904?

I personally would like to see his documentation on the Received Text holding sway until 1904. Westcott and Hort's text was published in the mid-1800s and began to be used in the translation of the Revised Version in the 1880s. Before that, several other textual scholars like Johann Bengel, began editing his own NT text as an alternative to the Received Text a couple of decades before then.

The author also fails to take into consideration the popularity of the Latin Vulgate, which was used by many protestants, like John Wycliffe and his Lollard friends, as a base text for their translations.

9) Do you therefore understand that to disagree with the Textus Receptus, is to place yourself against the true history of the Protestant Historical Teaching (in the choice of the Bible Versions that they recommended)???

Our author must believe this is a vital question because he places three question marks at the end. At any rate, he is selective in his history, because before the King James was translated the number one preferred translation for Protestants was the Geneva Bible. All the Protestants preferred it because it had been translated in Geneva, the heart of the Protestant Reformation and was the first true study Bible with Reformational footnotes. When King James the first authorized the publication of the new Bible that would carry his name, he specifically ordered that it not have footnotes and that it reflect no Reformed theology. In a manner of speaking, it was a counter-Reformation Bible. I wonder if our KJV proponent is aware of this fact?

10) Have you really stopped to think about the Motives WHY someone might [from a spiritual point of view] have an interest in getting modern Christians to reject the Bibles that upheld their Churches and their Doctrines for nearly 2000 years?

There are a number of statements of misinformation with this question.

First is the idea of questioning someone's motives from a spiritual point of view. Why is it automatically assumed that there are sinister motives behind anyone who wants to update and revise the Bible based upon the latest finds and textual criticism? Their motives could be for the sake of purity and integrity in maintaining God's Word.

It is also speculative to claim these nameless "someones" want to get modern Christians to reject the KJV. This borders on being conspiratorial in nature and wrongfully equates the KJV as being the only Bible that upholds the doctrine in the church.

Moreover, by asserting that the KJV is the one doctrinally pure Bible, the author has erroneously made the claim that the Received Text has always been in existence since the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost. Does he really believe it has been around for 2000 years? Basically he is saying that if you refuse to use the King James Bible, you are rejecting the Bible in whole. Never mind the fact that there were numerous other foreign language translations for the first 1500 years of the Church, then Erasmus edited his NT, and then that NT edition went through numerous revisions and wasn't even called the "Received Text" until 1633, nearly 20 years after the KJV was first published. This question places the author in the precarious position of defending a falsehood and making his faith look foolish.

Those are the first 10. I'll tackle the next group coming up soon.

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Thursday, December 21, 2006

Good ole Nativity Scenes

Unlike my stricter, 10 commandment brethren, I happen to enjoy seeing a well done recreation of the life of Christ. I noted this about Passion Plays earlier this year during the Easter season. I am equally delighted with Nativity scenes.

I loved setting up our Nativity scene when I was a kid. First, we had to climb up into the attic and haul down all the Christmas stuff without killing ourselves by falling through the ceiling. Then my dad had to separate all the tree limbs for our fake tree and my brother and I would hover over his shoulder while he fidgeted and wrestled to get the tree together. After we put on the lights, ornaments, and garland, my mother would arrange our tree skirt and then I set up the Nativity scene.

It was a small little wooden barn with plastic figures, including an angel that was suppose to hover over the barn, but the slanted roof prevented Gabriel from properly balancing over the baby Jesus. One little bump would cause him to slide down the side of the barn and under a chair. Usually, I would put him up on the window sill. I would arrange Joseph and Mary on each side of the baby Jesus. Then the "lowing" cow behind Joseph and the donkey behind Mary. The shepherds were to one side of the barn, just outside on the carpet, as were the three wisemen on the other, with the one plastic camel right behind them.

The one thing I liked about our Nativity scene was the fact our baby Jesus actually looked like a newborn baby. I appreciated the attempt at some realism. However, this past week as I was walking through my mother's church, I noticed that some "size and image" problems with the characters in the Nativity scenes. For example, take a look at the baby Jesus:










The baby Jesus in these pictures appears to be nearly 3 years old. He has a full head of curly dark hair cut in a shaggy, 70s era style that would make Shawn Cassidy and Willie Aames envious. Also, the baby Jesus is just a wee bit too big for his manager. One false turn and he will go tumbling on to the straw strewn floor of the barn. And what is with the large, flowing sheet strategically covering him? A kid could strangle himself or suffocate.

Moving along, the baby Jesus in the Nativity scene down the hall was also interesting,















First off, he has shorter hair, which is good, but I do not believe baby Jesus wore silk boxers that holy night. Moreover, why is this baby Jesus wearing make-up and lipstick? He looks like either a Campbell's soup kid, or the younger brother/sister of that Davey boy from "Davey and Goliath."

A couple of other things I learned from these Nativity scenes:

Samuel L. Jackson was present at the first Nativity:















As were the Viking Norsemen:

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Tuesday, December 19, 2006

The Al Mohler is a U.N. agent people are back.

Phil Johnson alerted me to a comment page from the Pulpit Live blog where some old gadflies were buzzing around. It was some folks from the same crew I debated earlier this year on Al Mohler's alleged affiliation with the U.N. I recognize "The Pilgrim" who hasn't stopped by here since I did my Tin-Foil Hat Theology series.

Phil pretty much put an end to their comments, but directed folks to me to get more information. I have two large posts dedicated to answering these guys, including the comments found under each post. I will link them for easy access to help those coming here for the first time via Phil's direction:

My Interview with a Crackpot

Mending Chipped Ceramics

The second one has more relevant information to the accusations made by these conspiracy theorists and is an expanded discussion with the "Bob" fellow from the first post.

See also my related Tin-Foil Hat series: Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 that deals with theological conspiracy theories. Also, I had a special address to a fellow named "Surfer Boy" whom I am convinced is the same person as "the Pilgrim" commenting on the Pulpit Live blog.

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Monday, December 18, 2006

The Dangerous, Thin-line Between Human Reason and Biblical Authority

Sorry, this is a few weeks old and has been sitting in the cue collecting dust. Busy and all you know.

My anonymous blogging critic who thoroughly dislikes my apologetics has responded to me again.

If I could be allowed a soap box rant before going on any further. I have been finding it increasingly difficult to respect anonymity. Anonymous blogging mystifies me. If a person has a website or blog that will host articles critical of others, it is only in the person's best interest to tell us who he or she is. Providing a personal name demonstrates that you care about those with whom you disagree and that you respect them as opponents to your own particular beliefs. It also lends credibility to your comments and criticisms.

I realize some people don't care about a person's anonymity; they only desire to deal with the ideas put forth. I am perfectly happy to deal with the ideas, but I am left with the impression an anonymous blogger has something to hide, or maybe is an outright coward. The people who ran the now defunct Baptist Fire were anonymous and I still believe their lack of truthfulness sorely damaged their credibility as critics of the Founders.

Anyway. Moving along...

I was a tad disappointed with this particular response by the Evangelutionist, as he calls himself, because he still fails to interact with my points. Instead, he makes generalization about the authority of human reason to discover God and truth, how the gospel message transcends human reason, accuses me of saying Christianity is reduced to rationalizations, and dismisses the citations from theological apologists who side with me.

There were several things that would have been nice of him to do, but never got around to it.

For example, I would have liked for him to provide some response to my exegesis regarding the noetic effects of the fall. In other words, the clear biblical teaching that the mind of all men are darkened in sin (1 Corinthians 2:14 and Ephesians 4:17) and no person has the ability to "reason" to God.

He claims my apologetics are "circular" argumentation, yet with out any meaningful interaction with the citations I listed. Certainly he took the time down load Dr. Krugers article on the myth of neutrality before he began accusing my of circularity? (Which by the way is a circular argument because it assumes some unquestioned propositions about how a person is to argue).

But more to the point. He had the typical evidentialist comments about how special revelation (the Scripture) and general revelation (the created world that displays God's glory and holds all men accountable to God) are compatible and should not be in conflict. "All truth is God's truth," so says anonymous, and this is where his arguments begin to fall apart.

He assumes general revelation is to be equated with modern day science, i.e. evolutionary constructs, and as a result is committed to theistic evolution as a worldview. Yet, general revelation was never meant to function as being a guide to draw men to God. It only shows forth God's glory.

Additionally, the evolutionary constructs our blogger believes are scientifically accurate and is suppose to be "God's truth" were conceived by non-Christians, in many instances atheists, who are hostile to God. In these many instances they intentionally invent fanciful excuses with this so-called "truth" so as to have a means to conveniently dismiss God from His creation.

In my opinion, our blogger gives too much to human reason, unaided by a supernatural intervention, to provide for men a proper interpretation of the world. Human reason, which is already darkened in sin and opposed to God, according to scripture, will be as a habit mis-informed by its mis-understanding of the fallen world. Sure, fallen men can problem solve, do medicine, and figure out how to send probes to Jupiter, but you don't need to be an evolutionist to do these things. However, when it comes to interpreting earth's past so as to give meaning to mankind's existence in today's world, they will only lead to disaster.

Steve Hays, who is a virtual gift to the church, has been giving our anonymous blogger's theistic evolutionary ideas a rubber hose style beating for the last few weeks. See here, here, here and here for examples. He does a superb job of demonstrating the precarious thin-line between fallen, human reason and God's Revelation.

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The True Happiest Place on Earth


This past weekend my wife, the youngest boy, and I made a 3 hour trip north to Springfield, Missouri, to see my friend Skip and his family. Way back a few months ago I told him I wanted to come see him and visit his church when I was in Arkansas visiting my mother. He agreed to the visit, but then asked me if I wanted to teach his Sunday school class. I told him I would love to do it and then he told me to do something on apologetics. Forty-five minutes on apologetic methodology? I snorted a laugh.

Well, I managed to boil down a two part study on 1 Peter 3:15-17 to a one part study. When I arrived to visit my friend on Saturday, another one of his Sunday school teaching buddies had asked if my friend's class and his class could combine for the morning because he wanted his singles to hear my teaching as well.

I was a bit nervous being in front of total strangers, especially the one class who were not expecting me, but the Spirit blessed and I thoroughly enjoyed the time. I am not sure about all the folks who endured listening to me. I received positive feedback after I said "amen" and they paid attention during my teaching, but when I left a few minutes for Q and A, no one wanted to ask a question. That doesn't necessarily mean anything. It was about 5 minutes before noon and I imagine everyone was ready to shut down and go home. Believe me, nothing is more annoying than a teacher opening up the class for questions 5 minutes before it is time to leave and some pin-head raises his hand and asks some long, rambling question that requires the teacher at least 12 minutes to answer in full detail. These were the folks I wanted to hurl a book at when I was in seminary.

Over all, it was a fabulous time of fellowship with those dear saints and I look forward to meeting up with them again in the future sometime.

Knowing I would be traveling to Springfield, I told my buddy I wanted to go to the Bass Pro Shop. On top of the largest number of Chinese restaurants in the Mid-west, Springfield also boasts of being home to the Bass Pro Shop, a gigantic mall dedicated to every outdoor sport imaginable, like fishing, hunting, camping and hiking. It is an undescribable visit. That is why it says the "Granddaddy of all Outdoor Stores" on the sign.

Not only do they have gear for outdoor sporting, but they have large collections of fish and wildlife on display. For example, the fish on the left was part of the "10 pound tank." It contains fish that are only 10 pounds and above in weight.





There was even a massive catfish floating in one tank (barely visible in this picture on the left)







and a humongous alligator snapping turtle who kept his head stuck in a corner of his tank the entire time we were here.

In fact, they had a man-made creek running through the place with little fish and ducks swimming along it.




And, if you needed to pick up a giant, novelty fish pillow for that giant fish pillow collector in your family, Bass Pro had a big bin of them. Only 14.99 a piece.

Recently, my wife picked up some old Lone Ranger episodes on DVD. My two oldest boys love them because the people on the show shoot guns. Also, we have the first season of Andy Griffith on DVD and in several episodes, Opie carries around his cap gun attached to his hip. My two boys, being "brained washed" by the TV, have turned our vacuum cleaner attachments into rifles and shotguns and they run around our place "shooting" me, their mother, and each other. I bet some of my readers are horrified at such a notion.
Anyhow, we thought it would be fun to get them some toy guns for Christmas (even at the risk of having social services kidnap our children). In California, we hit every store looking for some plastic cowboy rifles and six shooters and none could be found anywhere. Even Wal-Mart has succumbed to the anti-gun lobbyists and only sell water soakers that don't even really look like guns.

The thing I love about Bass Pro, they have all sorts of guns. Real ones that can explode a water melon into a million pieces or maybe a deer's head. There was one room that had a wall of guns from floor to ceiling in a beautiful glass case. And down at one end of the store, there was a firing range where a technician can sight your rifle. We stood in rapt amusement as we watched him load rifle after rifle and shoot it into this long, underground tunnel that ran under the store. The sound of the gun being fired into the tunnel was, in one word, "cool."

I tell you. Living in L.A. can make you forget how the rest of the U.S. is "normal." That is why I love stopping by a Bass Pro Shop if I have the opportunity. It is like taking a bath to cleanse me from all the anti-gun, PETA non-sense, blue state propaganda I am exposed to on a regular basis. It truly is the happiest place on earth.

Apologetic Evangelism methodology 101 (pt 4)

Evangelism Woes

I wrote in my first post on this apologetic series that Christians have a difficult time evangelizing. Speaking personally, I know when I was in college as a brand new Christian I dreaded the thought of evangelizing something awful. I saw evangelism as needlessly hassling people at a laundry mat on Saturday mornings who otherwise wanted to be left alone to fold their clothes. There was also the interrupting of a family's Tuesday evening supper time or their watching Wheel-of-Fortune just in order to engage them in a conversation as to the state of their spiritual condition that merely led to pressuring them to attend our church.

I was always nervous during these encounters, primarily because I was clueless as to what to say and that was on top of my awkward anxiety I was feeling at the time because of my perceived, unwanted intrusion. Additionally, I always left with a heavy heart of guilt because rather than putting the person into a spiritual head-lock and holding him down until he cried uncle by praying a sinner's prayer to receive Jesus into his heart, I just wanted to end the conversation with a pleasant "thank you for your time" and then exit as quickly as I could. A true lover of men's souls would never struggle with cold-turkey evangelizing, yet here I was struggling, because I didn't know what to do really and I felt these encounters were improperly manufactured.

During the first semester as a junior in college, I was asked by my college pastor to participate in an Evangelism Explosion class being taught at our church. Our college pastor was preparing a mission trip of sorts the following spring during our spring break and he wanted me, along with a select group of other kids, to prepare ourselves for the trip by having some "evangelizing" knowledge and experience. I was some what willing to take the class, because I thought it would help me overcome my dislike toward evangelism, especially the cold-turkey variety.

Evangelism Explosion, or E.E. as it is popularly known, was a simplistic evangelism outline developed by D. James Kennedy. The gimmick driving the E.E. presentation was two opening questions designed to break the ice with the person being evangelized, as well as provide a starting point for the evangelist to introduce his presentation.

The first question asked something like, "If you died tonight, would you go to heaven?"

Pretty much every person to whom I asked this first question responded positively with a "yes." I don't believe I can recall any one I asked responding with, "No, I'm headed to a devil's hell in a hand-basket and loving every minute of it."

The second question, however, was meant to add the rub that was to get the presentation going. It asked, "If you were to die tonight and stand before the LORD, and he were to ask, 'why should I let you into my heaven?' what would you say?"

The question is suppose to expose what it is exactly a person places his or her confidence for salvation. This second question, unlike the first one, received a variety of unique responses, anywhere from "my good works" to "I walked an aisle at a revival service when I was eight." I can recall one time on one of those spring break mission trips to the Detroit area asking a 13 year old kid this second question. His reply was classic: "What would I say to God if he asked me why He should let me into heaven? Well, its your job." What do you say to that exactly?

Any rate, I took the class. It was a 10 week or so course that met once a week. For the bulk of the folks, it was on Tuesday evening. I had a college class on that night, so I had to take it on Saturday mornings. It was myself and another fellow my age who had even a greater dislike for evangelism to the point of being emotionally paralyzed. At first, the two of us were enjoying the class, because it was taught by one of our Sunday school teachers who did a good job. Plus, the first 2 or 3 weeks did not involve any door-to-door or laundry mat evangelism I dreaded.

But maybe the 4 week into the session the teacher couldn't do it any more for some reason or another and a popular lady from our church took his place. When that happened, my evangelistic fervor was extinguished. This lady had a reputation of being charismatic friendly (she loved to attend James Robinson crusades if you know who he is) and she was heavily influenced by Bill Gothard, a man I believed only caused havoc in congregations who used his teaching materials. During the lecture portion, that lasted about 45 minutes in her living room, she spiritualized the biblical text at every turn and spent a good 10 minutes binding devils and calling up hedges of protection around us as we prepared to go out into the world.

When we started the personal evangelism portion, we were suppose to only visit those folks who had visited our church and filled out a card. Come to find out that Saturday mornings are a terrible time to visit with people. Go figure. Worse still were those college students, particularly the frat boys and sorority girls, who were required by their fraternity and sorority to visit a church at least twice each semester. Believe me, a 19 year-old nursing a hang-over from the previous night's party who is just getting out of bed at 11 AM and meets you at the door in his underwear could care less about sitting through an E.E. presentation. Since most, if not all, of the people we were suppose to visit were never around on Saturday mornings for us to present our evangelistic outline, guess where our lady teacher thought the best evangelism fodder existed? We made a bee line to the laundry mat.

The evangelism and outreach pastors were always trying to find inventive ways to introduce the E.E. presentation into a conversation. During the spring of 91, after the start of Desert Storm, one of our clever pastors put together a faux survey that started out asking the person his opinion about war and international politics, but then moved to abruptly introducing the two E.E. questions. Most folks would hang with you if you stuck with the war and politics portion of the survey, but immediately shut down as soon as you turned to "religion." I hated these surveys because I felt they were outright dishonest and painted the person presenting it as a liar. In fact, I had some guy call me dishonest to my face and I believe he was right to say so.

Churches in my college community had similar outreach/evangelism programs. Many of them would have folks going door-to-door in the neighborhood evangelizing Christians who just returned from their own evangelism efforts. One church in my area had the manager of the Kroger grocery store as a member. He allowed a group of young musicians from his church to set up a rock and roll stage on a tractor trailer flatbed and play loud, cacophonous music with the name Jesus sprinkled through out the lyrics way into the late hours on Friday and Saturdays in order to reach out to the high schoolers driving up and down the main drag.

Other churches took to what they called street preaching. With street preaching, a guy or two with bull horns or some other public address system would bombard the shopping public by shouting at them to repent from the cultural ills of our society all the while holding crudely made signs with Bible verses scrawled across them, or hideous picture of Jesus, or the Pope, or maybe Joseph Smith.

These personal anecdotes are how I understood evangelism in the early days of my Christian walk. Thus, I had an aversion toward what I thought was hit-and-run evangelism: Hit the person with a canned gospel presentation or a Chick tract and then run off to hit still another person with the same canned material. Sadly, these methods are how many Christians today view evangelism and apologetics and they call it "soul winning."

But this hit-and-run "soul winning" is the exact method we should seek to avoid for at least four reasons:

Hit and Run soul winning is built upon shallow theology. Rarely does the presentation or the tract hand to the person fully explain the need and purpose of the gospel. All that is shared is how a person is a sinner, God loves him or her, and he or she needs to pray a prayer asking Jesus into his or her heart. For the scrawny, red-neck guy wearing the devil horns hat that I presented a hit-and-run style message to one night in that Kroger grocery store parking lot, being a sinner is a fun thing, because it means beer and women. Going to church is not only boring, but it makes him have to give up his beer and women.

Rarely do these hit-and-run presentations explain fully WHY a person is a sinner, WHY being a sinner offends God, and WHAT it was exactly that Christ accomplished on the cross. Unless a Christian is firmly grounded in the theology of redemption so as to expand upon the presentation, the person never fully knows WHY it is exactly the gospel is truly a life and death proposition.

Hit and Run soul winning is designed to illicit only a response, not develop disciples. The end goal of the presentation is to get the person to "pray the prayer." Never has the Christian giving the presentation thought beyond what happens AFTER the person really prays the prayer. That is a vital question, because Matthew 28 says to go into all the world an "make disciples" not "get people to pray a prayer." The true end goal of apologetics and evangelism is to get the person to submit to the Lordship of Christ and then begin the renewing, sanctifying process. However, that will be most effectively accomplished if the one who led him to Christ now gets involved in his life to help him live out his new faith. Sadly, most "soul winners" don't have this in mind when they "soul win" nor are they trained to think in terms of discipling these new converts.

Hit and Run soul winning is concerned with numbers over people. Expanding upon the last point, the emphasis placed upon "soul winning" is getting a significant cache of people to pray after the end of the presentation. In other words, it is gathering numbers. For instance, after our E.E. teams returned from the "field" everyone gave a report. There was a competition of sorts as to who could one up the other by telling how many people prayed the prayer. I can recall a guy from another church in town bragging about how he had won twenty souls this particular week. But this is a numbers game, not a genuine concern for the "souls" of those people. After this fellow boasted about his trophies, a friend of mine had the wisdom to ask him, "So you have twenty people to disciple now?" The guy's response was "That's the churches duty, I just win'em." People are not trophies to be earned in large quantities and our gospel presentations must not be viewed as a means to that end.

Hit and Run soul winning presents the gospel in a frivolous manner. Cheap, manipulative gimmicks, rock and roll bands on the back of flatbeds, crudely made signs, and hollering at the public from a bull horn is not evangelism and it cheapens the savor who gave his life as a ransom for many. Christians must be honoring to their Lord when they present the gospel and that is accomplished by handling accurately the gospel message. We cannot be presenting a partial gospel message; it must be the full doctrinal content of why Christ had to die. Nor do we hand out tracts that give a theological incorrect presentation of salvation, and we certainly must respect those to whom we are sharing our faith.

I am not opposed to E.E. or the handing out of tracts to the lost. They can be effective tools for the Christian. I believe, however, that Christians need to keep in mind the gravity of the message they are presenting. It must be presented clearly, concisely and with an attitude honoring to God, and I think those are qualities lacking in many evangelistic encounters.

In the next post, I will begin to unpack the practical ins and outs of evangelistic apologetics.

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Friday, December 15, 2006

From One Narrow Mind to Another

I finally had opportunity to call into Gene Cook's Narrow Mind Broadcast. Usually, I am at work when he does his Internet program and so I am confined to listening to the Podcast version. Being on vacation in Arkansas gave me the time to shoot him a call.

I was a bit nervous, and after I got off the phone with him, I thought I must have sounded stupid. Listening to the MP3, I wasn't that bad, but maybe next time I need to have something specific to say than just "Hey Gene." The MP3 can be downloaded here for a short while before it is moved to the archives. I come on about 4 minutes into the broadcast.

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Thursday, December 14, 2006

Christmas at GTY

...and he was a plain man, dwelling in tents (Genesis 25:27)

This past Tuesday the Grace to You ministry held a lovely Christmas party brunch for the 100 plus volunteers who serve us twice a week throughout the year. I have the privilege of directing and co-ordinating these folks every week. Along with suffering my preaching, they mail out countless tapes, CDs, DVDs, books and this year, Study Bibles. I think the count was something like 900,000 pieces of mail.

The Christmas parties are the highlight for our volunteers. Not only do we provide them with a high class meal, but John and his family attend. However, in order to have the high class meal, we have to transform my work room into a make-shift banqueting hall. All day on Monday, I helped the other GTY staffers set up my room for the Christmas party. Bill Fickett, one of my GTY cohorts, captured a rare picture of me acting all domesticated with folding some fancy, cloth napkins. See it now, for this may never happen again.

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Downfall

Hat tip to Evan May at Triablogue who links us to a book review of Richard Dawkin's The God Delusion by a disappointed atheist. Worth the time reading.

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Land Fall

Well, my family and I are safe and sound in Arkansas without any major incident.

I always love it when things are what I call "non-eventful." There was a bit of an ordeal going through the security screening at LAX with 3 children and a stroller. I can't begin to tell you about the serious pressure a person feels with a line of people shuffling anxiously behind me as they waited for me to break down the stroller and place all our belongs in these plastic tubs. We finally made it to our gate with time to spare for me to stop by the Starbucks in the concourse and pick-up a grande peppermint mocha.

The flight was a tad crowded. My wife and I were separated by a row of seats. I had the middle boy with me and she had the oldest and youngest with her.

One thing that was a bit trying, and you readers with toddler aged kids may appreciate this, was the need to get up and down for the restroom. My second oldest boy is just now getting potty trained. I have already experienced one "accident" with him in public and I was fearful that we would all experience another one on this flight. So, as soon as we get situated in our seats and the flight attendants are going through their routine of demonstrating the safety features of a 757, my boy says, "I go peepee." Shock immediately crossed my face. Now, anyone who has ever flown know that those stewardess are not going to let you get up as the plane is rolling to the runway to let a 3 year old go "peepee." He would just have to hold it. Thankfully, nothing happened and we managed to get him to the facilities right after we got airborne.

Of course, the poor business traveler on the aisle seat had a rough go of it as he had to stand up holding his lap top every half hour. And, as soon as I would sit back down with the second boy, get him buckled in, the first would turn around two seats in front of me and yell so everyone in our immediate area could hear, "Daddy, I need to go poohpooh!" Thus, I had to excuse myself again to take him.

One interesting note. I met my first professional presidential impersonator. As I returned from taking one of my kids from the restroom (yet again), my wife says, "You need to meet this guy." I was introduced to Steve Bridges who impersonates George Bush. I thought "how quaint" and my immediate reaction was that he was some moonbat leftist who regularly spewed anti-Bush rhetoric with his comedy. My wife told me how he travels around and does his performances in many places and has even met the president. I first asked him, "You're not one of those bitter leftist anti-war impersonators are you?" He laughed and replied no. Then surprisingly, he asked me, "So, you attend Grace Church and work for John MacArthur at Grace to You?" I said "Yes, you know about him?" Sure enough he did. He told us he graduated Talbot and regularly works Republican fund raisers with his impersonations. When we got to Minneapolis, he turned to wave good-by as he left and I gave him a thumbs up and told him to "stay the course." My desperate attempt at political humor.

Minneapolis was a long layover; nearly 3 hours. I like their airport. It has plenty of scaled down restaurants and a kid's play area. (We didn't see any angry Muslims). We found some Chinese food at the "Wok and Roll," ate, and then let our kids run around in a giant fiberglass jet plane jungle gym contraption.

We finally touched down in Little Rock at 11:30 pm local time. We switched the kids into their p.j.s, loaded the rental van, and headed home for a hour and twenty minute drive. All the kids had hit the "wall" hours before this time, so they were angry, cranky, whiny and sleepy all wrapped up in one. The baby was so tired, he wouldn't go to sleep and giggled all the way home. I think he crashed about 10 miles out of town.

This morning, the two oldest ones woke us up. "Look what nana gave us! A big flash light. See! and daddy, listen, it has a whistle on it." Way to go nana. Let the spoiling commence.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Christmas time is here














This week the fam and I head across country to visit my mother in Arkansas. I am genuinely excited for the opportunity to visit with the kinfolk; I am, however, a tad apprehensive of the plane flight with 3 children four and under. My two oldest boys are thrilled at the thought of flying in a big plane as they call it. But, I am fearful that joyful anticipation will probably wear off about 45 minutes into the flight if not sooner. Then, we have a lay over in St. Paul/Minneapolis and my thought is of being snowed in, unable to depart for Little Rock, and spending Christmas at the airport. It is situations like these where my Calvinism becomes reeeaaallly practical, if you know what I mean.

We have a lot of packing to do on top of preparing for a big Christmas party brunch for my volunteers which can be viewed here in the mid-morning on Tuesday the 12th, so I will not be blogging anything substantial until after I make landfall in Arkansas.

But, if I may have a moment for a personal rant...

My wife and I have been receiving the yearly Christmas cards from the family and friends of by-gone years. I always enjoy receiving the cards from old friends, especially the ones with a picture card attached. However, I have been noticing a trend recently. Our old friends will send us a picture card, but it is only of their children. I think this is weird. The other day I received a Christmas card from an old college buddy and when I opened it up it was a picture of two strange children I have never seen before. The oldest boy some-what resembled my old college friend and I imagine the girl looked liked the mother.

Rule number one for sending out picture cards:

Include everyone in the family!

I am sorry. Even though your kids are cute as buttons and I am sure they are sweeter than Christmas tree shaped sugar cookies, I don't know them!

I know you. I want to see you and what you look like now. Perhaps these friends are embarrassed for how they look now, I don't know. They could very well be lazy and don't want to take the time to figure out how to use the timer button on the camera. What ever the case, even if the wives are fluffier now and the husbands have a round, jelly bowl like tummy and no hair, I want to see you in all your present day glory warts and all.

Please remember that for next year!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Remembering Pearl Harbor

I am a bit strapped for time to blog. It has been a busy couple of days as I prepare to leave for Arkansas this next week. In the meantime, I thought I would comment on this being Pearl Harbor day.

When most people think of Pearl Harbor now, it is in reference to a dopey love triangle movie with a big middle section about World War II. Many of the volunteers who serve out at Grace to You radio ministries are WWII vets. I asked them today if anyone was actually at Pearl Harbor the day it was bombed. One guy raised his hand. His name is Marv and he is the second person I have ever met who was at Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941.

He got up and re-told how he was in the Coast Guard at the time. He can remember how he was on his ship getting ready to cast off for a patrol when he looked up to see three planes heading toward them. Everyone thought it was a drill, but he noted how they had "meatballs" hanging on them, which means the Rising Sun insignia. The three planes came in and laid down some machine gun fire, but flew over to head toward Pearl. He remembers vividly the smoke rising from the ship fires and the major explosions.

Probably the one blessed story to come out of Pearl Harbor is of Mitsuo Fuchida who led the bombing run. He was involved in many battles in the Pacific until he was injured and returned to Japan. Sunk into despair as to all the horror he had seen, the Lord brought him to Himself in 1949 when he gave his life to Christ and became a missionary to his own people in Japan.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Choices

During our lives we are faced with many important choices.

For example:


Should I keep a pet?


















Or should I be a parent?




















How will you choose?

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