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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

On Christian Service




καὶ ὃς ἐὰν θέλῃ ἐν ὑμῖν εἶναι πρῶτος ἔστω ὑμῶν δοῦλος.
Matthew 20:27         


It's hard to deny that out of all the well-known preachers on the airwaves today John MacArthur is one of the best, albeit of a bad lot. His sermons are usually well thought-out and his unabashed apologetics on shows like Larry King are nearly always exciting to hear. Most of the problems I do have with him are related to how he manages his ministry's commercial interests...ah, but this is not the time to get into that.

Recently I watched another of his highly capable sermons and it got me thinking. In the sermon, MacArthur examines some of the unfortunate ramifications stemming from the majority of English Bible's having translated the Greek word δουλος [doulos] as “servant”, rather than “slave”:



In thinking about this mistranslation in most English New Testaments, I realized that the very concept of Christian service is now suspect. It is only because of the semantic differences between "servant" and "slave" that the whole transforming of service to God into service to unbelievers thing happened. The term "Christian slavery" would've evolved in an entirely different way. We'd be much more careful about who we slaved for; and rightly so (Romans 6:16). Being Christ's slave is one thing, enslaving yourself to the wicked of the world is a whole other prospect altogether.

Hah! Another blow to the Ghoul of Calcutta, eh?



Tuesday, December 20, 2011

התורה יהוה -- The Journey of Jehovah



Just this morning I came across a fascinating series of videos on Youtube called A History of Hebrew, by Jeff A. Benner.
Since 1996, [Jeff Benner has] researched the Ancient Hebrew alphabet, language and culture of the Tenach (Old Testament) to uncover the original and sometimes startling, Hebraic meanings of the Hebrew text that lay hidden behind thousands of years of translations, interpretations and misunderstandings. [He has] authored several books related to the Ancient Hebrew language including the Ancient Hebrew Lexicon of the Bible and A Mechanical Translation of the Book of Genesis.
In November 1999, Jeff and his wife began The Ancient Hebrew Research Center "for the purpose of promoting and teaching the Ancient Biblical Hebrew langauge, alphabet and culture to bring about proper interpretation of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) and the B'rit HaHhadashah (New Testament)."

And it certainly does that! Although Benner isn't a Greek scholar, his wonderful reading of the Tanach through the lens of Ancient Hebrew symbolism brings out metaphors which seamlessly conform to those in the Greek New Testament. Here's an example of this from Part 14 of
A History of Hebrew:
The Hebrew word תורה [Torah] is usually translated as "law", but is more literally translated as "journey".

The Hebrew word מצוה [Mitzvah] is usually translated as "command", but is more literally translated as "the direction to take on the journey".

The Hebrew word צדיק [Tzedyk] is usually translated as "righteous", but is more literally translated as "traveling on the path".

The Hebrew word רשע [Rasha] is usually translated as "wicked", but is more literally translated as "lost from the path".
I immediately thought of the Lord announcing that He was "not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Mat 15:24) to tell them all to follow Him because He is the only way to the Father—the only path on the Journey of Jehovah!



Saturday, December 17, 2011

Update on the Deconstructing Doctrines Series

It never occurred to me until today to just post each installment in the DD series on the Pages tabs above, thereby leaving the blog free for smaller, more regular posts. After each page goes up, I'll announce it here on the main blog.

I've just put Installment 1 up, so if you've got any questions or comments about it, just put them on the installment itself or on this post.

God bless!
μαρτυς

Saturday, December 3, 2011

A Decalogue of Deconstructed Doctrines



μάτην δὲ σέβονταί με, διδάσκοντες διδασκαλίας ἐντάλματα ἀνθρώπων.
Matthew 15:9


With this introductory post I begin a detailed deconstruction of the erroneous ideas and hazy concepts cluttering the communal Christian mind today. I’ve wanted to deal with these things ever since I arrived here in America and can put it off no longer. Judging from the services I've attended, and the sermons I've heard on Christian radio here in Alaska, there seems to be a wide gulf fixed between my Christian beliefs and that of every other Believer in the U.S. In many key areas, our doctrines appear completely different and contradictory, and I feel a tremendous need to address, in writing, this large impediment to fellowship.

My plan is to deconstruct ten doctrinal statements, some composite and some actual, that contain what I consider to be critical theological errors, which would be, or are being, espoused by most American Christians today. I am convinced that the unenlightening church services I’ve attended in Fairbanks (and elsewhere) are a direct result of the faulty, unscriptural notions produced by these poorly founded doctrines.

Thinking about how lengthy this series will be if done right, it seems unlikely that I’ll post each of the ten statements in succession; there are bound to be other things I want to blog about in between them. It’s also conceivable that I might want to revisit the same statement in several posts. Hopefully any long gaps between installments won't obscure the theological continuity of the whole series. Yes, each post should be able to stand on its own, because one of my strongest criticisms of the other doctrines out there is how unsystematic and incoherent they are—it’d be nice if my own were seen to be systematic and coherent.

So, my next post will kick off the series in earnest and it’s a classic! Here’s a quick sampler:


1.          God loves everyone.

No greater disservice has been done to English-speaking Christendom than the translating of the New Testament Greek verb ἀγαπάω [agapao], and it’s noun form ἀγάπη [agape], into the single, unqualified word “love”. The damage done to the foundation of Christian understanding with regards to the commandments of our Lord, and His character and purpose, by that one tiny under-translation is simply incalculable. Entire denominations have been established on the basis of it. Countless heresies have been concocted from it. Millions of people are wallowing in error because of it. How is it possible that so many theologians, preachers and otherwise sensible churchmen have come to accept that, when the God of the universe says He “loves” us, He’s talking about a feeling; some kind of squishy, feminized, milquetoast super-like?



Friday, November 25, 2011

A Pause for Thanksgiving



ἐν παντὶ εὐχαριστεῖτε: τοῦτο γὰρ θέλημα θεοῦ ἐν Χριστῷ Ἰησοῦ εἰς ὑμᾶς.
1 Thessalonians 5:18
εὐχαριστοῦντες πάντοτε ὑπὲρ πάντων ἐν ὀνόματι τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ τῷ θεῷ καὶ πατρί: ὑποτασσόμενοι ἀλλήλοις ἐν φόβῳ Θεοῦ.
Ephesians 5:20-21



NOTE: The following post is a commentary on American Thanksgiving and doesn't deal directly with the unsound doctrine to be found in the local Fairbanks churches. However, there is a great deal of overlap between the underlying carnality of the two activities. It is the same uncritical and unscriptural adherence to culturally-approved rituals that perpetuates them both.


I am not a fan of holiday rituals. I don't look forward to gathering with (mostly) unbelievers and gorging en masse, so I'm particularly averse to the Thanksgiving ritual. I don't really care that people do these things, mind you, I just don't want to be part of their celebrations. Besides, I can never quite figure out what exactly it is they're celebrating. I'm also convinced that the Lord expressly forbids His children from partaking in the pagan revelries of unbelievers.

Of course, there are those who say that Thanksgiving is a day for giving thanks to God, in the generic sense, for all the blessings He bestows upon us. Still others will say it is a Christian day of thanksgiving to Jesus for all our blessings--the idea being that, since it is based on the thanksgiving of the Christian Pilgrims, Thanksgiving is itself Christian.

Well, first of all, the only one who can institute a "holy-day" in which to give thanks to the God of the Bible is the God of the Bible; and He didn't institute Thanksgiving. So, it must be some other god all those American agnostics, atheists, Muslims, Buddhists, Mormons, B'hais, Satanists, New Agers, et al, are giving thanks to.

Secondly, with regards to the Christian basis for it, Thanksgiving is no more a Christian day than America is a Christian country. If all it takes for something to be Christian is for it to be based on the activities of a group of (self-identified) Christians, then torching Synagogues full of Jews, killing English translators of the Bible, and hanging witches are all equally Christian.

"But it's a day for FAMILIES," I hear some of you scream, "And Jesus LOVES families!"

Oh, does He? I know He loves His family, but I'm pretty sure He doesn't love our earthly families; not if Matthew 10:33-37 is any indication:

33 But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven. 34 Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. 35 For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. 36 And a man's foes [shall be] they of his own household. 37 He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.

And, in case you think the relative term "more than me" (instead of the more correct translation "above me" or "over me") offers some hope, the exacting Greek of Luke 14:26 puts a finer point on the Lord's meaning:
If any [man] come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.
The Greek word translated "hate" in these verses is μισέω [miseo], meaning "to hate, pursue with hatred, detest". It doesn't mean "to like less" or "to love less". If Luke, whose Greek diction is much richer than the other Gospel writers, wanted to say "like or love less", he would've said precisely that.

These are probably some of the "hardest sayings" of our Lord for most Christians to come to terms with. They know they're true--they just have to be--but most Christians will go into a mental panic (sometimes visibly) and will do theological Parkour to avoid engaging honestly with the clear and obvious meaning of His words (see how Jews for Jesus do this here). Go ahead, try this at home. Go to the nearest Christian with these verses and ask, "Are we supposed to hate our fathers and mothers?" and listen to the stuttering stream of spin, prevarication and piffle. Wear a salad guard, though, it will be messy.

Even the translators applied hermeneutical sleight of hand to lessen the impact of these words. Along with the weaselly "more than me" phrase, note the bracketed shall be in the Matthew quote above. They're in brackets (and italics in the actual books) because they aren't in the original text. There is no form of the verb to be in the Greek of Matthew 10:36:
καὶ ἐχθροὶ τοῦ ἀνθρώπου οἱ οἰκιακοὶ αὐτοῦ.
This is literally, word for word, "and enemies of-the of-human the household-ones of-him" (the hyphens indicate a single Grk word expressed in two Eng words). In Greek, when you have two nominative (subject) nouns without a verb between them, the verb "to be" is implied. "Shall be" is a form of the verb "to be", certainly, but it's a future tense form and the grammatical convention is that a present indicative tense should be used. The present indicative form of "to be" when dealing with plural nominatives is "are being". The sentence should read:
And a man's foes are being they of his household.
Of course, the "are being" construction is clunky in English, even though it is correct and the tense and sense of the Greek verb is best served by it (I remember when I worked at Toronto Airport, a few Sikhs, with otherwise impeccable English, would occasionally form a sentence that way. It is being incorrect or some such; they were clearly translating the Indian verb form they had in their heads into the correct English equivalent. I could almost see the long list of Punjabi-English conjugation tables they memorized in school.). You can't blame the translators for avoiding "is being", but why didn't they opt for the next best thing?
And a man's foes are they of his household.
As a matter of fact, nine of ten Bible versions at Blue Letter Bible use the future tense forms "shall be" or "will be". Only Young's Literal Translation uses "are". Why?

Well, I think the answer is plain, the translators wanted to leave a kind of loophole for people. Saying this horrible state of affairs between a Christian and his earthly family will occur in the future rather than being a present, continuing, unchanging reality, gives the impression that it doesn't necessarily have to happen; that somehow it might not come true.

But it is true; right now. It was true the second the Lord came for us. Those who believe in Jesus are the enemies of those members of their families who don't; and they are to hate them for their unbelief. And, furthermore, if the unbelievers in a Christian's family don't hate them for their belief in Jesus, then the Christian isn't keeping the commandments of Christ. They are doing something wrong, because Jesus said they should "be hated of all men for [His] name's sake" (see Matthew 10:22; Mark 13:13; Luke 21:17). That's "all men"; there are no exceptions for relatives.

Finally, with regards to Thanksgiving being in some way spiritual, as the two verses at the top of this post show, we Christians aren't supposed to set aside a single day to thank Christ, but should be doing so EVERY day. And we aren't supposed to give thanks just for the good things we get, either. We are to thank Him for everything, the good and the bad. Does that sound the same as muttering a quick "thanks for the paid day off work, Gawd" right before you stuff your face full of food and/or drink yourself into oblivion on some random day in November?

I didn't think so.

However, all that being said, there is one good thing about Thanksgiving; at least it doesn't have a name that associates it directly with the Lord, thereby fooling the ignorant into thinking all that greed and gluttony is somehow approved by Him.

Yeah, at least it's not Christmas!



Friday, November 11, 2011

The Separation of Church and State

Veteran's Day Edition


ὁ δὲ εἶπεν αὐτοῖς, Ἀπόδοτε τοίνυν τὰ Καίσαρος Καίσαρι καὶ τὰ τοῦ θεοῦ τῷ θεῷ.
Luke 20:25

Last post I mentioned how my wife and I had been disappointed in our search for a place to fellowship amongst the Baptist churches of Fairbanks. I wrote that I had intended to devote the next couple of posts to “describ[ing] the disappointing services we found and unpack my reasons for believing they [were] the result of the faulty, unscriptural notions produced by poorly founded doctrines”. I had in mind a chronological journal entry-style report & commentary on each service we attended, but have now decided to write a series of short essays on the problems I see with how church is “done” here.

In fairness, before I begin, it should be noted that I am probably one of the least “churched” Christians you’re liable to come across. By nature, I am repelled rather than attracted to groups, clubs, teams, organizations and, yes, even small get-togethers or parties, so I’ve never had, nor have now, any real desire to attend church. I only ever went because I thought I would learn how to live righteously there; I only go now because my wife needs to go and I accept the admonition of Paul regarding “forsaking the assembling of ourselves” (Hebrews 10:25). This personality trait could be seen as good or bad with regards to the objectivity of my insights in the following series. Bad in that every church is in my bad books before I even go there; and good in that my vision is unclouded by any feelings of wistful nostalgia or cravings for acceptance and community.



One of the first hints you get that the church you just walked into might have a serious problem with regards to their understanding of basic Christian doctrine is the degree of prominence the membership have given to that ubiquitous icon of American secular authority, the U.S. flag. The more prominent the flag, the more likely the service will include the national anthem or some paean for U.S. military personnel.

Now, in light of the cultural propensity for Americans in general to overindulge their nationalist sentiments (which they will always label “patriotism”, supposing this characteristic to be more admirable), it’s not surprising that American Christians will wave the flag a good deal more than those of other nations, but surely even they can see the idolatry inherent in having a church gazing adoringly at a piece of colored cloth while reciting a jingoistic ditty that celebrates a non-Biblical military campaign.

Displaying the Stars and Stripes is one thing, but one church we visited had every national flag you could name hanging from the top of the side and back walls of the sanctuary. Talk about idol overload! And yes, they even had the new flag of Iraq, which has “Allahu Akbar” (Allah is greater) written across its center bar:



And, worse still, the Saudi Arabian flag was there, too. You know, the one with the Shahada on it, the Arabic declaration of faith:

"There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah"

Now, just what are we supposed to make of that?

Of course, Fairbanks is an Army Town. As I noted on my last post, it is home to Fort Wainwright, so you'd expect to find a higher than average number of military families in church. But 1st Century Jerusalem and Rome were also Army Towns, yet you don't read in the NT about any of the Apostles blessing the local garrison or thanking God for the Sacrifice of Fallen Centurions.

During one service we attended, they spent about 10 minutes running through a slideshow of the week’s fallen heroes and asked the congregation to pray and thank God for their “sacrifice”. I thought it was a memorial for the members of the church who had been killed in Iraq, but Sandy informed me later that they were all the U.S. military casualties of the past week. I was shocked. Praying for dead Christians is bad enough, but memorializing people who could’ve been anything—atheist, Muslim, Satanists, whatever—just because they were killed while wearing an American uniform is outrageous!

This overt pandering to militarist sensibilities occurred in every church we went to, even the most liberal seeming. It is clear that the culture’s hyper-nationalism has crippled the church’s pacifist, anti-establishment stance.

Pagan enculturation of the church is certainly not new, nor is it peculiar to America. Like many of the other unhealthy elements of Protestant church worship, it’s a vestigial limb of the Roman Catholic Church, a modern outworking of the blasphemous idea that men could realize Christ’s Kingdom on Earth, complete with a human monarch or pope, that was first brought into being through Galerius’ Edict of Toleration, Constantine the Great and the Holy Roman Empire.

In most English-speaking countries today a strong tendency has developed for Protestants to see the worldly success of the Anglo-American socio-political systems as incontrovertible proof that their nations have been blessed by God, that, contrary to Scripture, the material wealth and military victories of their self-styled “Christian countries” means that now, along with bearing witness to the Kingdom within, they are to work to preserve the Kingdoms without.

So, while it might not be unique to America, because its maintenance is contingent upon the high value the Christian citizenry place on the perceived “goodness” of their nation (which itself is simply carnal pride in its preeminence in the world), this unholy convergence of Church and State reaches its apogee here.



Thursday, October 27, 2011

On the Dispiriting Doctrines of Fairbanks



πᾶσα γραφὴ θεόπνευστος καὶ ὠφέλιμος πρὸς διδασκαλίαν πρὸς ἔλεγχον, πρὸς ἐπανόρθωσιν πρὸς παιδείαν τὴν ἐν δικαιοσύνῃ, ἵνα ἄρτιος ᾖ ὁ τοῦ θεοῦ ἄνθρωπος πρὸς πᾶν ἔργον ἀγαθὸν ἐξηρτισμένος.
2 Timothy 3:17



Last Sunday marked the 6th church service I've attended here in Fairbanks, Alaska, and I'm having a real hard time coming up with a reason to attend a 7th.

My wife Sandy and I are just moving into the third month of our ten-month stay here in America’s Last Frontier, the magnificent state of Alaska. We’re living in Fairbanks, the Golden Heart City, the largest city in the interior, second largest in the state (behind Anchorage). Fairbanks is home to the University of Alaska Fairbanks, the US Army’s Fort Wainwright, two Fred Meyer stores (including the only one in the country that sells firearms), and Carlile Transportation Systems of Ice Road Truckers fame—last August the company put on a meet-the-drivers event in the Airport Way Fred Meyer’s.

Fairbanks is also home to at least 130 different houses of worship. We saw these looking in the paper for a place to fellowship. That online list at the link is duplicated in the dead-tree version of the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. Christians are certainly in the majority here, but two of the three largest “church” groups are Mormons and Roman Catholics, neither of which can be said to be truly Christian, given the Catholics' non-Sola Scriptura stance and the Mormons founding upon "another gospel". Baptists make up the largest denomination by far, with most of these being affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention. It was among these that Sandy and I searched for a "church home-away-from-home".

In the next couple of posts, I'll describe the disappointing services we found and unpack my reasons for believing they are the result of faulty, unscriptural notions produced by poorly founded doctrines. Is the "great falling-away", the ἀποστασία of 2 Thessalonians 2:3, well and truly under way in Fairbanks?


Monday, October 17, 2011

Holocaust-ing


Here's a really thought-provoking film of Ray Comfort talking to (mostly) young people on the streets of the U.S. (CA, Maybe?). He starts out paralleling the Holocaust with the American abortion epidemic, then ends up evangelizing. It's fascinating watching these kids get tied up in the loose-ends of their own moral relativism [hat-tip to Jeff Riddle at the Stylos blog):

(BTW, as a Greek Geek, I have to explain that the word "holocaust" is from the Greek compound ὁλόκαυστον, which means "completely burned". A noun form of this word, ὁλοκαύτωμα [holokautoma], is found in Mark 12:33, Heb 10:6,8. The KJV translates it as "whole burnt offering".)







Personally, I don't subscribe to Comfort's Free Will doctrine, nor do I agree with his politicizing the Gospel, but I do support his positing moral dilemmas from a Christian perspective to our dumbed-down, philosophically-lazy, theologically-ignorant youth.



Saturday, October 15, 2011

God is a Heretic

The more I listen to Jim Brown, the more I like him. If you're one of God's Elect, you'll find this a breath of fresh air:




How long did you last...?


Repent,
μαρτυς

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Jobs is Dead



For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.
1 Corinthians 1:26-29





The oh-no's and you'll-be-missed's are streaming in from around the world as more and more people hear the news of Steve Jobs' sudden death from pancreatic cancer. Jobs, the brilliant wunderkind behind the Apple colossus, is being rapidly canonized by an ungodly public eager to find exceptional men to venerate and revere. What does it say about the dearth of erudition, insight and personal revelation of the U.S. public when the most profound expression of condolence most people can muster is to wish the pagan Jobs (he became a Buddhist way back in 1974) "godspeed" sans destination? To where exactly should Jobs be sped by the God he didn't believe in? Zombie Cupertino?

I'd be interested to know where Jobs thought he would end up. He knew his time was short; evidenced by his departure from Apple last August. If he considered himself a good Buddhist, with heaps of stored up positive karma, I guess he expected to be reborn into a rich fami--oh, wait, he was already very wealthy, he'd have to be rewarded with something greater than that. Hmmm? Maybe he figured he'd be the next Dali Lama or something.

Well, regardless of where he and his co-religionists imagined he'd go, let me tell you where he actually ended up. Having never been given the gift of belief in the Lord Jesus Christ, the proof of which would've been his proclaiming the Gospel, it is clear that Jobs was not a child of the living God, not a spiritual Jew with a circumcised heart, not an inheritor of eternal life. So, despite the many disturbingly misinformed Christians praying for his soul (how horribly Catholic is that nonsense?), we are assured by the Word of God that Mr Jobs' soul has just begun his eternal torment in Hell.

A finer example of someone gaining the whole world but losing his soul (Mark 8:36) is scarcely to be found today.


In Christ,
μαρτυς



Thursday, July 7, 2011

New Links & Blogs

I just added two new links and two new blogs to my link & blog rolls...

Advent of Messiah is the blog of David M. Cook, whose thoughts I first encountered on the Rosh Pina Project site. His blog's "About" page opens with the following:

This blog is about the arrival of the promised Messiah.  These posts are by David M. Cook the author of the book Advent of Messiah, the astonishing account of the arrival of the promised Messiah and the early years of His life on earth.  This book brings in history from the Jewish nation, the Roman Empire and the Gospel accounts of Saint Matthew and Luke to provide a vital and full spectrum of the advent of the Christ Child.

[NOTE 03/04/12: The links to both Advent of Messiah and Rosh Pina Project have been removed]

Grace and Truth Ministries is Jim Brown's website. Jim is a very unorthodox preacher, as I said on another site:
Jim’s teaching style is a bit screechy and aggressive at times—an unorthodox mix of edgy brilliance and Southern-fried iconoclasm—but if you can stand the heat, you’ll come to love the kitchen. A major proponent of “define, define, define”, Jim is a no-nonsense, serious-as-cancer Expositor of the Word of God.
Those words were from the new link My Bible Study Course, How To Study with the Greek NT. I ran the course over 10 Sundays at Paihia Baptist Church in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand. Each lesson covered a general principle for studying the Bible. All the Lesson notes are available there and I have no problem emailing any documents or handouts to anyone that wants them. I'm also more than happy to explain or clarify any of the teachings there.

PBC Greek Class was a first year Koine Greek course that I ran at Paihia Baptist Church. There were 20 lessons on that course which covered 32 weeks! As with the course above, the Lesson Notes are available on the site and I'd be delighted to send any of the other documents to whomever wants them. 


T'sollfernow,
μαρτυς

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Back to Hebrew

Took a 6 month hiatus from studying Hebrew--well, beginning to study Hebrew; hadn't really got that far--but now I'm back at it and going very well. Things are a bit more complicated this time around though. I feel certian the Lord wants me to learn modern, conversational Hebrew as well as OT Hebrew. So, needless to say, I am very busy. I'd love to have more time to do nothing but study, but it's just not gonna happen. Still have to earn a crust and run my Sunday Bible Study class--at least till my wife and I jet off to Alaska in two month's time (a long story, but basically she'll be teaching for a year and I'll get to hang around and watch the Northern Lights).

A quick Praise Report re:Hebrew: My prayers before going to sleep last Monday included a request/acknowledgement that the Hebrew Lexicon I'm now sorely in need of would materialize. The very next day, my wife was on a mission wholly unrelated to the buying of foreign language tomes. She happened to stop into a place called "The Jerusalem Cafe" (or, as that other language would have it: ירשלים קפה) for a take-out falafel. While waiting for it, she decided to go into the second-hand (pre-loved?) bookstore across the mall from the Cafe. A year ago I bought a Hebrew Bible (both the תנ"ך & the ברית החדשה) there for only $14! So she happened to remember my prayer the evening before and asked the man at the counter if he had a Hebrew dictionary. He said he didn't, but he did have a "Hebrew Lexicon"...

It's a beautiful, mint condition Brown Driver Briggs Hebrew English Lexicon and she got it for a song. Isn't HaShem the Best!

ברך הבא בשם יהוה ישוע המשח המלך העולם

Just found out this morning that my Beall and Banks Old Testament Parsing Guides are keyed to my new BDB Lexicon, too!


Lehitraot,
μαρτυς

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Cast Out Even a Little Leaven

In the study of Another Gospel, we learned that the sin in our “outer man” is removed through suffering in the flesh for Christ’s sake and that we are thereby perfected and made righteous—pleasing and acceptable—to God. We are purified by the fiery trials; as it says in 1 Peter 4:12-15:
12 Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: 13 But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy. 14 If ye be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you. On their part he is evil spoken of, but on your part he is glorified. 15 If any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf.

And we must understand that the phrase “for His sake” has two senses: One, directly, as when we preach and confess Christ (the Truth) and are persecuted for it; and, two, indirectly, meaning “the opposite of our own sake”—denying our selves (E.g. “turning the other cheek”).

By the way, we see a great example of this process in 1 Corinthians 5, where the Apostle Paul is telling the Corinthian Church what to do with the member who is committing “such fornication that is not so much as named among the Gentiles”. From verse 5:5, we read:
In the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, when ye are gathered together, and my spirit, with the power of our Lord Jesus Christ, to deliver such an one unto Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
So even this heinous sin can be removed through suffering in the flesh. In verse 7, Paul chastises the Corinthians for keeping the man in their midst:
Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened.
As we know from Jesus in Matthew 16:11-12, “leaven” is “pride or self-serving doctrine”:
11 How is it that ye do not understand that I spake it not to you concerning bread, that ye should beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees? 12 Then understood they how that he bade them not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.
This man’s self-serving doctrine convinced him that it was okay to fellowship even while living in unrepentant sin. Paul tells them to “purge out” (“purge out” is one Greek word meaning to “clean out” or “prune”) this “old leaven” so the Church would be “unleavened”—clean.

We have here an analogy of the individual human body with the Church. As sin must be purged out of our flesh to cleanse it, so too must corrupt doctrine be purged from the Bride of Christ to cleanse her; both involve suffering, “mortifying the members”.

By the way, this story of grievous sin in the Corinthian Church might possibly have had a happy ending. If we look at the 2nd Chapter of Paul’s next letter to the Corinthians, we read from Verse 4 on:
4 For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you. 5 But if any have caused grief, he hath not grieved me, but in part: that I may not overcharge you all. 6 Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. 7 So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. 8 Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him.
If the person Paul is speaking of here is the same man—and there was certainly no one else Paul wrote about in 1 Corinthians who was to receive a “punishment” “inflicted of many”—then it would appear that the fellow repented sufficiently to move Paul to instruct the Corinthians to let the poor wretch back into the fellowship.



Sunday, January 16, 2011

Bible Study Update


Just added another Bible Study to my Pages*--the tabs at the top of the blog marked Home, Against Another Gospel and, today's addition, The Parable Key. I delivered the study last Wednesday at my church. The version posted here has been slightly, but not meaningfully, edited (mostly punctuation).

Hope you enjoy it!



*NOTE 03/04/12: These Bible Studies have been taken down, but anyone interested can ask for copies. μαρτυς



Wednesday, January 5, 2011

I Heart Antioch & the Great Falling Away

I no longer hold the ideas expressed in this post with regards to modern Bible versions and the critical Greek NT (see here for more details). I'm leaving this post up as a reminder to me as to just how deeply immersed in error I can be and not know it. It is hoped that I'll remember this lesson should I ever be tempted to deal dismissively with an erring brother. J.K. 21/04/14





Time to look up, folks, the Great Falling Away is in its 11th hour…

The road from Antioch to Alexandria is hot, dry and full of vipers, but this hasn’t stopped what appears to be the majority of the North American (online?) Church from turning their backs to the sun en masse and heading for Egypt. Yes, with a mighty resolve, they divorced themselves once and for all from the Great King James Bible and took up with a harlot—the ESV.

Actually, the ESV is the second harlot, a lot of them shacked-up with the NIV first, then, developing a taste for strange flesh, traded her in for this new one. But they traded down, as the sports scouts say, and have no one but themselves to blame for the apostasy to follow.

It’s astounding just how many people have fallen for the relentless marketing tactics of Crossway Publishers (Jeff Riddle at stylos was too much of a gentleman to call it “relentless” on his blog last November, but he implied it). I’m sure many of the same people now quoting from the ESV would’ve turned their noses up at the RSV just a few year ago. What a difference a slick ad campaign can make, eh?

Well, thank God for people like the Dean Burgon Society. But not for fighting against this latest example of spiritual adultery. No, fighting the will of God isn’t such a good idea, so I don’t thank them for that, per se. I thank the Dean Burgon Society, and those like them, for cataloguing the slide and keeping the story of the True Original Greek Scriptures available for people like me to discover. What a hopeless generation we would be if it wasn’t for these Watchmen on the Walls.

And I personally would be in a heck of a state—I just knew there was something wrong with those Bibles, but didn’t know exactly what it was. I can’t thank them all enough!

Naturally, though, there are those who take the whole King James Only thing too far. Such a one is bibleprotector over on YouTube. While I admire his zeal for the KJB, I have to part company with him on his English Primacy theory:



To me, this just sounds like an English-speakers' ethnocentrism writ large. History tells us that most of the diaspora Jews spoke Greek in the 1st Century; more of them even reading the OT in Greek (the LXX) than in Hebrew. Koine Greek was spoken by the whole world 1500 years before English was developed and, along with Latin, for many years after that. A strong argument could be made that the Zephaniah prophecy was telling the Jews that YHWH would eventually use Greek to speak to His Elect; Koine Greek, the language of the Apostles, and a much purer language than English ever was (and much richer, deeper, more nuanced, etc). And lets not forget how the Ante-Nicene Fathers, such as Iranaeus, fought like terriers to preserve the wording of the Greek manuscripts. They were under no illusion as to what the real Λογος του Θεου looked like.

Still, at the end of the day, if everyone erred in favour of the KJV like bibleprotector, the reeling English-speaking Church would be a darned sight better off than it is now. Better for thee to enter into life with one eye, rather than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire...(Mat 18:9 KJV)



Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Chick Gospel Traktate

Still tooling around on my Who's Using the Wrong Bible tour. Naturally, this took me to the ugly-but-good Dean Burgon Society website (more on that in the next post). From there I followed a link to this Chick Tract (still going strong after 40 years!) about The Attack on the Word of God.

I also found this link to Chick Tracts IN GERMAN! I noticed they use the Luther Bible for all their quotations; I guess that's the Teutonic KJV. Süßer:



Ausgezeichnet!

Monday, January 3, 2011

What's Wrong with Dr John?

UPDATE 12/12/2016

This post is just an embarrassment now. It was only six years ago, but it's like looking at something you wrote when you were a teenager. Whew. Sorry ESV and sorry John MacArthur. Glad God brought me to a clearer understanding of Textual Criticism before I closed this blog (see here and here). Whew.




The ESV, because it is translation from a corrupt, heretical, non-canonical text, is a counterfeit Bible just like the NIV; just one more modernistic substitute for the Word of God in English.
—Howard King, Foundations Ministries

Just listened to a sermon by Howard King on SermonAudio.Com entitled “What’s Wrong with the ESV?” and am very glad I did! Highly recommended for anyone interested in evidence of how far the poison of apostasy has spread in the Church. (It is truly astounding how far the Great Falling Away has progressed.) King does a masterful job of refuting, not only the proponents of the ESV, but the giant hydra-headed mushroom of Textual Criticism itself.

I became aware of the Text Family controversy when I started studying Koine Greek a year ago and have been marvelling at the deceptions on the Critical Text side ever since. It took me a while to decide finally which side I was on, but, as a KJV advocate and despiser of the NIV, I'd heavily favoured the Textus Receptus/Majority Text arguments from the start. King’s sermon gives all the intellectual reasons why I'm firmly in the TR/MT camp now (just like crazy Jim Brown of the last post), but the deciding factor was the Greek NT that the Lord eventually put in my hands.

You see, I desperately wanted a Greek NT, but didn't want to get the wrong one. So, instead of just buying the first one I could find, I prayed and waited, prayed and waited, then, about two months into my Greek lessons (I was teaching myself via the internet, J.W. Wenham's Elements, and James Voelz's podcast), I had occasion to buy a used, inexpesive copy of Scrivener's THE NEW TESTAMENT IN GREEK ACCORDING TO THE TEXT FOLLOWED IN THE AUTHORISED VERSION TOGETHER WITH THE VARIATIONS ADOPTED IN THE REVISED VERSION (man, I love that title). Talk about a two-fer!

Anyway, I found King's sermon while googling for info on the presumptuously titled English Standard Version, after hearing that a disreputable outfit called the National Council of Churches [spit] was sitting somewhere down the murky ESV profit track. King’s sermon confirmed this rumour (apparently they hold the rights to the RSV which the ESV is based on; in fact, less than 10% of the RSV was altered to produce the ESV), along with many others.

Actually, I’d only become acquainted with this warmed-over RSV very recently; first as the RefTagger Bible Version over at Pyromaniacs (see the link on my Blog Roll), then as the text of the John MacArthur Study Bible, in luxurious Tru-Tone® Blue for only $55, where “John’s goal is to let the Bible speak for itself—nothing more, nothing less” by including notes “based on [his] verse-by-verse approach to the Bible and nearly forty years of careful study”.



Is the reason for this clear approval of the ESV by MacArthur (and his friends at Pyro) as obvious as it is worrying? The publishers of the ESV are Crossway Books (the book publishing arm of Good News Publishers) who proudly proclaim on their website that “Since its inception in 1979, Crossway Books has been privileged to publish more than 1,500 different titles, including books by…John MacArthur”. Here’s John’s page on Crossway’s Authors listings. Has John MacArthur, or someone very high up in his Ministry’s brain trust, made a deal with the Devil and agreed to promulgate a deceiving, antichrist translation of the Λογος του Θεου in order to sell a pile of his marginal pencil scratchings?

Okay, that last question might've been a bit unfair, but you have to admit that something stinks at Grace to You. Maybe Dr John has become too famous. I mean, all his supporters will tell you how godly and educated and un-PC "Doctor John MacArthur" is and point you to all his Larry King appearances and YouTube sermons, but, please, at the end of the day, he did put his name on the cover of the Bible. The Holy Bible. To sell it and make money.

And his name's in the larger font.
Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets. (Luke 6:26)
Then again, given all that, it's probably a good thing for his sake that the MacArthur Study Bible isn't a real Bible after all...


UPDATE: Since posting about the ESV & John MacArthur, I've been wheeling around the intertubes seeing how common the ESV is and getting more creeped out by the minute. Seems like I've been hopelessly out of the loop here in New Zealand; looks like everybody and his little brother in the US is using the ESV!

Oh well, thank God for Howard King above and the well-researched Terry Watkins.