Why are there so many versions of the Bible?

Before you read this post, it really would be a good idea to read this article by the same name on The Aquila Report, written by Greg Gilbert. The reasons he gives for multiple Bible versions in this article are all true and accurate. I would add one more reason there are so many English versions. That is the litigious nature of our society.

A publishing company owns the rights to the translation of the Bible that they produced or that they purchased. So when their authors write their books, citing scripture from the owned translation, there is no copyright worry. If they cite a different translation, there may be a fee requested by the owner of that translation, cutting into the profits of the book. Different publishers have different allowances for the use of their translation.

I believe the King James Version is open source, so it can be quoted without worry by any publishing company. That explains why this is the version quoted most often in movies and television shows. That also explains why you can find copies of the KJV in discount stores.

Genesis 50:20 ESV
As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good

The litigious nature of American companies did play a role in the multitude of translations. And while it is not good that we are so quick to let a secular court settle differences between Christian publishing houses, God has used this to provide many faithful translations of the Bible, which can be used in a myriad of ways to build His church.

To whom much is given, though, much is required. As the body of Christ, we have resources that were unimaginable in past generations. We have a responsibility to study the word diligently, to meditate on the light that has overcome the darkness, to use these translations to the glory of God. And this message must reproduce both locally and afar.

If I profess with loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except that little point which the world and the Devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefield besides, is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.

Martin Luther

Macro Theology

First, allow me a moment to clarify terms. I imagine we’ve mostly heard of systematic theology. That is the practice of taking a variety of topics and gathering all of the biblical data available and then reaching a conclusion about each topic. The most faithful ones will describe how the author came to his or her conclusion while presenting a fair explanation of alternate opinions. Then there is natural theology, which is derived largely from nature and reason. The phrase “nature and nature’s God” from the American Declaration of Independence looks to the order of God’s creation in contrast to the chaos of despotic rule. Biblical theology looks at the information given in the Bible with minimal input from elsewhere. What set the Pharisees and the Sadducees against each other? Biblical theology will get you the pertinent information. Historical theology studies the merging of ideas over time. Francis Schaeffer’s “How Then Shall We Live” is a fantastic look at the ideas that shaped culture in the last two thousand years. Dogmatic theology takes all of the above concepts and funnels them through an organized agreement within a body of believers. All of these are good and useful.

This post is one where I will be looking at a repeating pattern in the Bible, and it will be using a little of each of these categories. I’m not sure it fits in the dogmatic definition though. For lack of a better name, I’m going with the working title of “Macro Theology” as this takes a broad brush for the painting, again for lack of a better descriptive phrase. There is natural observation, biblical information, historical concepts, and is undergirded by a systematic study. If there’s a proper name for this, I’d love to know it.

I believe that all of history is demonstrated in the Bible with Chaos compared to Order. Wisdom vs Vanity. Good vs Evil. As fallen humans, we are prone to look at things in shades of grey. Or is it spelled gray? Anyway, we are prone to accomodate any and every stance to one degree or another, assuming that in different places and times different things are more tolerable than others. But God shows in His word that things are much more black and white. When given a look at the world through the lens of Revelation there are not varities of people on a spectrum of good to evil. There are the earth dwellers and there are the overcomers. We are not in one camp or the other because of our commitment to order over chaos. We are in the order camp because we repent and believe in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins. The Holy Spirit is given and we begin a lifetime work of sanctification. Even as we have the righteousness of Christ from the first moment, our lives gradually trend toward that direction, never achieving perfection on this side of glory.

This order vs chaos look begins at… the very beginning. Genesis 1:1-2 states that in the beginning, the earth was without form and void. That description comes from a word that can also be translated as “confusion” or “difficult to grasp” or “chaotic.” Immediately, God brings order to the chaos by separating light from darkness. The next day, He separated the waters from the waters, sky and sea. The next day He separated the land from the sea. Once creation was taken from chaos to order, He began to populate it.

The order vs chaos picture doesn’t come into play again until Genesis chapter 3 when the fall of all of mankind takes place. From that point forward, the chaos of fallen humanity is at odds with the order of the people of God. This order vs chaos is shown in the seven generations from Cain and Seth in chapters 4 and 5. In the flood of Noah, all of the earth (the people of disorder) was swept away. But 8 people were left behind. And they inherited the earth (the land) as their home. It is later shown in the patriarchs learning to walk by faith and not by sight, often finding that this leads to conflict with the world around them.

God gave His law through Moses so that His people would contrast from the world, and so the nations would marvel at how great their society was (Deut 4:6). The original mandate was for them to spread the name of the Lord to all the world, but they quickly looked only inward. Patterns of going back and forth between God and the allure of the sinful world are seen for the remainder of the Old Testament. After demonstrating that all of humanity was prone to such lunacy and chaos God sent His son so that the sinful heart could be addressed.

Ever since then, the gospel message and Christian worldview has been used to contrast with that of the world. We preach the gospel and know that it is a message in conflict with a defeated foe. The foe knows this, and knows that the time is short (Revelation 12:12). As time progresses, more and more chaotic worldviews will be shown for what they are as they pass away. On the last and final day, it is the people of God who will be left behind. Blessed are the meek.

1 Corinthians 15:24-25 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.

We are observers and participants in this battle between the wisdom and order of God and the foolishness and chaos of the world. Many of the problems we have today are overflow events from this spiritual battle. Many competing ideas throughout the last 2000 years have been shown to be insufficient to fit within reality. Some more than a few times. Many more enemies will be revealed and placed under the feet of Jesus. Most of these ideas will be placed there after a struggle. It is the struggle that we see in the moment, not unlike Peter only seeing the chaotic waves beneath his feet when Jesus was right there in front of him.

Finally we have Practical Theology, which emphasises how you live out your understanding of any of the theologies in the first paragraph. It’s where the rubber meets the road. As you go through your day, I hope something in this post helps you navigate the storms of life and maintain your perspective on Jesus, who is reigning right now, and who will continue to do so until the end, when he delivers the completed kingdom to God the Father, having destroyed every rule, authority and power.

The Slippery Slope Is Undefeated (but not forever)

What Is The Slippery Slope Fallacy? Definition and ...
The only problem with this definition of the slippery slope fallacy is that lately the slippery slope predicts future events pretty darn accurately.

In my lifetime, short as it seems, there have been several occasions where Christians sounded the alarm. Some new event happened and we were concerned about the ramifications. If this were allowed to stand, there would be no logical reason for another event to be allowed and celebrated. And time after time we were dismissed as slippery slope worry warts, only interested in interfering with the “rights” of others. How hateful!

You know the kinds of occasions. Gay “marriage” was allowed in one state or another, later nationwide by Supreme Court edict, and Christians warned of logical problems with basing who you were allowed to marry by something as fickle as love. What would prevent polygamy? What would prevent incest? We were shouted down, labeled as hateful fear mongers, and told that our slippery slope arguments were illegitimate. God was seen as intolerant for disallowing certain unions as the state was interposed between God and man in order to give man a greater sense of autonomy. Which is ultimately where this is going, but then that sounds too much like a slippery slope…

I really don’t want to be the guy to say that I told you so, but… well… the slippery slope has proven to be an extremely accurate indicator of future events because the doctrine of Total Depravity has been proven time and again. Humans are fallen, and do not seek after God. (Romans 3:11) So you can look at the logical conclusions of any God-rejecting societal event in the most negative ways, and given a little time these slippery slope conclusions are what happens. Without fail. Demons can’t help but demon, if i could coin a verb here.

So now we have a case where some pervert wants to enter into a legally recognized mirage with their own biological descendents. Because love is love, right? And they aren’t planning to procreate and bear any children. So why shouldn’t we all just mind our own business? Because what happens in their bedroom has no effect on your life, right? Right?? RIGHT???

Move along. Nothing to see here.

Do any of these shaming statements sound familiar? They were all used when gay mirage was being shoved down our throats. Christians have tried to argue against such things using secular sandy arguments like the chromosomal health of resulting children or societal norms vs “ickyness” when we should have pointed to the bedrock of the Bible as the fount of our reason to make such determinations. Do we agree with the unbelieving opponents when they say that Leviticus 20:10-16 is a hateful section of the Bible? If not, then perhaps it is time for us to stop assuming the validity of argumentation brought about by people lacking any spiritual awakening. If we have been given the mind of Christ, then perhaps we ought to try using it. Just an idea.

And since this blog is ultimately based on biblical fealty and my love for the church, it would be out of character if I didn’t close with a few… ahem… suggestions for the church, both local and universal.

  1. Churches and church leaders need to resign their status as marrying agencies with the state. Individuals are licensed by the state to preside over legally binding marriages, based on standards that the state chooses to recognize. You may have a marriage that was performed by your pastor in your church, but in order for that marriage to be recognized legally, the state had to approve it. So ultimately, the pastor and the church are operating as agents of the state. I am not trying to undermine the legitimacy of your marriage. I am just stating facts. My solution is simple. Your pastor should refuse to fill out any paperwork for the state and should request to have their legal standing to perform marriages be rescinded. Marriage doesn’t belong to the state, i.e. the Beast. Marriage belongs to God. Retaining a state license may be super convenient to the young lovebirds in your church, but that convenience will eventually come with the horrible price of coercion or penalty. It’s better to just get ahead of it.
  2. Churches need to only recognize marriages that are God honoring. To hell with the emotional outbursts that will result. For thousands of years, there was no organized religion as we would recognize it. There were those who called upon the Lord and there was Melchizedek, who was given a tenth of all that Abram had after bringing out bread and wine. After that a formal priesthood was not constituted until three generations plus 400 years had passed. And yet there was marriage and giving in marriage, with the first marriage recorded in Genesis 2:18-25. Based on the universal gift of marriage from God to our covenant head, we are able to respect any marriage that meets the criteria revealed in scripture. So if an eligible couple is married before a justice of the peace, the church should honor that marriage. Likewise, if any eligible couple wishes to be married in the church the church should celebrate their nuptials. But in so doing, the couple should be told that the church is not recognized by the state. God will honor their marriage, but the state will not, so a follow up with a judge or other person with state credentials might be a good idea at some point. As far as the church is concerned, these people are not living in sin. Radical, right?
  3. Churches need to proceed with confidence, knowing that ultimately the foes who are attacking her will not prevail over her. That’s right. Confidence. Our bridegroom sees what is being done to his bride and He is returning. Even now He is battling a foe that knows it is defeated, but rages all the more. (Revelation 12:12:) And when He comes those who have persecuted the church will know that they were actually persecuting Jesus. (Acts 9:1-6) We have confidence in the future sense, but we also need to maintain perspective that these troubles are the rumblings of Jesus placing every enemy under His feet. 1 Corinthians 15 is a chapter that deals mainly with the topic of resurrection, first of the resurrection of Jesus and then of the general resurrection. This resurrection takes place at the end of this age, coinciding with Jesus returning to deal with those who honored Him as well as those who persecuted Him. (Matthew 25:31-46) That makes 1 Corinthians 15 an explicitly eschatological chapter of the Bible. In closing, I’ll share from this chapter in the ESV, which is my preferred translation. Emphasis mine.

22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ shall all be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ. 24 Then comes the end, when he delivers the kingdom to God the Father after destroying every rule and every authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 

At the last day, Jesus will DELIVER a completed kingdom to God the Father. This happens AFTER he has destroyed every enemy and foe. This battle wages right now. To realize this and not expect a little blowback would be wishful thinking indeed. Also, Jesus is reigning right now and will continue to reign and to do battle until all of his enemies are under his feet (Psalm 110:1) and we will know when that battle is concluded when the final enemy, death, is destroyed. This optimistic view of eschatology does not require a steady stream of awesomeness as we draw closer to the return. It does provide a lens by which we can understand the present trials and tribulations as the thrashings of enemies who know they are defeated, and are just hoping to do as much damage as possible on the way down.

At this point, I’m only confused when I ponder whether we should refer to these pushes against Christian and societal norms as the Gaystapo or as the Rainbow Jihad. They both have such a nice ring to them.

The T’s vs the L’s B’s and G’s

Note to the T’s: If you change your name to appropriate the gender you are assuming, then you are agreeing with cultural norms that your new name belongs to that gender. If names weren’t gendered, if there weren’t a traditional order to them, you wouldn’t see any need to change it.

Ellen Page, actriţa din filmul "Juno", nominalizată la ...

Let me explain. The LGB’s all have one thing in common. They assume a duality of gender. They may now deny it, but in so doing, they deny their very identifying characteristic, that being who they are in relation to who they are sexually attracted to. And sexual attraction requires some sort of definition if it will also serve as identification.

To be an L, you must first accept that you are a woman. Following that, you must be sexually attracted to other women. To be a G, you must first accept that you are a man. Following that, you must be sexually attracted to other men. Rocket science, right? To be a B, you must first accept that you are either a woman or a man who is attracted to both women and men. If that weren’t true, you wouldn’t identify as Bi, which is a prefix meaning “two.” Like a bicycle. Or a biannual event. Or binary code.

In contrast, the T’s reject the binaryness of sex and gender. They say that gender is on a scale that goes from here to infinity and beyond, to steal a phrase. Facebook allows you to select from over 50 genders, last I looked, and if that isn’t enough it allows you to self define your own gender. I’m a “dude” on Facebook, for example. You can look me up if you want to be sure, but don’t expect any interaction from me on there. Gab is where to go when you’re tired of being “fact checked” by people who can’t decide if they’re LGB or if they’re just on some bizarre scale of confusion.

J.K. Rowling Slammed for Defending Woman Who was Fired ...

A foundational aspect of their worldview is in dispute, not a tertiary aspect. Foundational. If the LGB’s were to reject the T’s based on this, as well as any further additions to the non-word acronym, they could reassume a level of respectability, at least in intelligencia circles. But they allow competing worldviews under their banner, a banner that is already falling to the banner of the T’s, showing the confusion they all share. This may be enough to be celebrated by our culture, but celebration is not the ultimate goal they are after. They long to be worshipped for their confusion. And that is a confusion ultimately stemming from their rejection of God and His word.

Earlier, I highlighted the factors that these people, all made in the image of God, use to define themselves. That pride of self-identification is the root of their error. Well, a root. They have redefined God, a violation of the first commandment. They have made themselves into objects of worship, second commandment. They demand that we speak untruths, 9th commandment. I could go on. Here’s the deal though. We are all created in the image of God. Our identity has always been based on that, whether we choose to admit it or not. We are all in covenant with God whether we like it or not. The only difference is whether your mediator is Adam or Jesus.

The Bible speaks clearly about those who reject the clear truths laid out in nature and in scripture. Such actions are condemned. Such feelings are a direct result of the fall and are to be contested against. The Bible also speaks with hope for ones such as these. The best story that comes to mind is that of Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch in Acts 8:26-38. A eunuch was someone who could be trusted completely with anything his master had, including the master’s wife. This is because the eunuch was castrated prior to puberty. This castration would result in a highly reduced level of testosterone, so the eunuch would eventually be recognized by others based on the results of this development alteration. A slight build, reduced body hair, probably also differences in voice and mannerisms. The eunuch was not necessarily trying to change from male to female, but he was dramatically changed in much the same way some evil people want to change confused children in our culture.

This eunuch was trusted by his master and had a high position in his country, but that was only because of irreversible body modifications. Many in the church today would take one of two approaches. The first would be to ignore such a person, thinking he was lost beyond any hope for the gospel. The second would be to speak out against him, though he was not an opponent or rival. In fact, this man was reading the scriptures and trying to make sense of them. It is noted that God put Philip in place to have a conversation with this man, and to explain what he was reading. And once he believed, Philip did not hesitate to accept and baptize him. A gentile with his sexual organs disfigured was loved in the same way many others were. That is how we ought to approach such people, whether they are T’s or LGB’s.

So pray for opportunities to share the gospel with whoever God has in your paths. Look for these opportunities to present themselves. Do not deny God by agreeing to the errors that contradict the word of God. Be patient, gentle and kind. Remember just how much God has forgiven and continues to forgive you.

1 Corinthians 6:11
And such were some of you. But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.

Who Can Stop the Lord Almighty?

Isaiah 14:27, "Who can stop the Lord Almighty" | Wonderful ...

Who can stop the Lord Almighty? That is the repeating question we asked in song this last Sunday. Most likely, you are familiar with the song if you attend an Evangelical church. It’s fairly popular and has been for several years. Our God is the lion, The Lion of Judah. He’s roaring with power. And fighting our battles. And every knee will bow before Him. Our God is the lamb. The lamb that was slain. For the sins of the world. His blood breaks the chains. And every knee will bow before the lion and the lamb. Every knee will bow before Him.

As I repeated that question (I view it as more of a hypothetical question then as a statement) my mind went to the book that I’ve been reading. That book being “Paradise Restored” by David Chilton. This book is available in paperback on Amazon, but is less expensive in hardcover at American Vision, so do yourself a favor and pick this one up there. It will stretch your assumptions and get you thinking in ways that may surprise you. If that wasn’t true, I wouldn’t be writing this post right now.

One assumption that is being tested is that of WHEN these things will take place. Not necessarily a date, but more of an order of things. Is God fighting our battles now or will he fight one day? I can’t imagine a Christian who would say that they are left to their own devices today. Every knee will bow before the lion and the lamb. When? Before or after the second coming of Christ? Until pretty recently I thought that the only Christian response was that victory on a scale larger than a remnant could only make sense at the second coming. But what if we are truly to be salt and light in this time? Here? Now? What if we are to preserve and improve things for others and not just try to woo people into life rafts for a ship that is destined to only sink?

And don’t forget that Jesus identifies with and AS his people.

Acts 9:3-5 ESV
Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him. And falling to the ground, he heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” And he said, “Who are you, Lord?” And he said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting.

This “both directions” identification isn’t absolute. The church did not atone for sin. The head of the church, Jesus, did. And it is the body, us, who spreads the good news of this victory over sin and death to those whom we come into contact with. All authority on Heaven and Earth have been given to Jesus, and in direct causality we are instructed to go and make these disciples and to baptize and teach. To refuse to go and also to go in such a way that disregards the fact that Jesus holds all authority in His hand are both equally sinful.

Who can stop the Lord Almighty? That’s a good question. I also ask this. Who can stop the bride of the Lord Almighty? She has been given a task. She has been empowered to fulfill her role. Her bridegroom has been given all authority. Not most. All. As we go through the good works set before us (Ephesians 2:10) let’s keep this in mind. We are part of an unstoppable kingdom. To approach the tasks that our Lord has ordained for us as tasks that are doomed to fail is to have the mind of one who doesn’t believe He holds all authority or that we have not been empowered to fulfill them. How can such an approach be anything but sinful?

Still reading. Still learning. Still stretching.

God wins. The controversial part is that we get to be a part of it.

Returning to Worship: Progress Report

One Another Christianity - Ottawa Church of Christ

Today was our church’s first “normal” service in a year. We had been meeting with every other row blocked off and having spacing in the remaining rows between family groups. Today, that was all removed. The only abnormal thing was that we were given a card to put at either end of our group to signify a space between you and others. Historically, setting down your coat or Bible served this function just as well, so I see the card as redundant.

There were people sitting in front of and behind me. There were people not far away to my right. I could hear other people as we sang.

That sounds kinda trite, but hear me out. There are what I like to call “one anothers” found primarily in the epistles. These are expectations that God has for those who call upon His name when they gather together. Most of those expectations have been adjusted to comply with governmental requirements and to assuage the fear of death that some of the attendees might have. Sorry, I couldn’t not include that one.

Being in attendance and participating in the service doesn’t complete the instructions given in these “one anothers” but it goes far further than you may think. Societies have been paused now for a good year. Even those like myself who try to live as normal a life as I can in the midst of this plandemic are feeling the fatigue of life. We are more isolated from real human contact than before and the divisiveness just gets exhausting. Being able to actually hear someone near me singing about Christ and Him crucified right along with me and my family is a step toward removing that isolation.

We were created to be in community with our creator and others worshiping that same creator. The church should never again allow the state to dictate what that looks like. The church is the gathering of God’s people, not a commercial for unbelievers to see how cool we are. We need each other. We have always needed each other.

So as you attend services, looks for opportunities to “one another” someone. Shake a hand. Sing it out. Be there. It matters now more than ever before.

Churches, it is (past) time to begin or expand your support of homeschooling

In every church I’ve ever been a part of, there is a ceremony where a young child is presented before the Lord. Some churches baptize babies, some have dedications. I’m not here to debate that one. Either way, the children are presented, the parents vow to raise the children in such a way as to lead the children toward Jesus, the church agrees to support this raising in any way possible.

OK then. Sounds good. However, church in America, I have this against you. I have never been a part of a church that had any initiatives that were specifically designed to assist the families with home schooling, and of the churches I have researched in my area, support for home schooling is seldom discovered. I find this to be a big miss in a vast majority of churches. Especially ones that sit mostly empty during the weekdays, with WiFi humming along but nobody on it except the pastor who is preparing a sermon or answering emails.

“We cannot continue to send our children to Caesar for their education and be surprised when they come home as Romans.”

Voddie T. Baucham Jr., Family Driven Faith: Doing What It Takes to Raise Sons and Daughters Who Walk With God

There are churches that offer private schooling, and I think that’s great. But there are many more churches who neglect this key period of time in the lives of their youngest responsibilities. And this isn’t a big ask. It can begin with a general offer to provide a place where homeschool families can network and combine resources in a Co-Op fashion. This can later evolve within the church as other considerations are discovered.

A while back, I was an elder in a small church that would have 130-150 attendees on an average Sunday. I mentioned this very idea in an elder’s meeting and it went nowhere. We didn’t have any expertise in the area and had enough going on at the time. Meanwhile, at least two of our families were actively homeschooling their children. We had another family who had recently enrolled their kids into government schools because they were advancing into grades the parent wasn’t comfortable teaching.

If religion is primarily about making disciples, government schools are the established religion of America.

Toby Sumpter

Let me rephrase. They handed their kids to be discipled by the government because the homeschool parent felt overwhelmed and the church did nothing to assist. That same church that loves to make vows to assist in the discipling of the child toward salvation in Christ.

For additional reasons, I am no longer even attending this particular church. But I grow more and more convinced that churches need to allow for the facilitation of homeschooling if they are to fulfil their mandate to make disciples and to let the world see that we belong to Jesus by how much we love one another. I have written before about the theological malpractice of using “loving your neighbor” as a pry bar to coerce Christians to do things that are a matter of conscience. This doesn’t fall into that category. Vows were made. And then discarded just as soon as we saw that it was time to start rolling up our sleeves.

Larry Flynt has died

Like many of you, I have just learned of the death of Larry Flynt, founder of Hustler magazine. My first thought was that whatever he thought about God in life is probably very different than his thoughts now. I mentioned this to my wife and she wondered aloud if Mr. Flynt ever became a Christian.

I don’t know of any repentance of his sins. I don’t know if he believed in Christ alone for his salvation. I just don’t know.

This isn’t a post warning you against the products or living the lifestyle of a pornographer though. It’s a post warning you against a different temptation we all share. You see, I can compare myself to Larry Flynt or Hugh Heffner all day long and feel really good about myself.

But these men aren’t the standard. They never were the standard. The standard has always been perfect righteousness. God is thrice holy and will not, can not, must not accept any less.

You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
Matthew 5:48 ESV

All of a sudden I’m not thinking about how great I am when I compare myself to Larry Flynt. There is an unbridgeable gap between me and the standard that I continue to fail on a constant basis. My only hope is to have that perfection given to me. I have fallen short and desperately need to be justified.

I am not the standard. Jesus is. I require His perfect righteousness and nothing less. So do you.

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
2 Corinthians 5:21 ESV

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/obituaries/larry-flynt-hustler-magazine-founder-dies-78-n1257383