Sunday, August 31, 2008

Article: Christless Christianity - Getting in Christ's Way

An excellent article by Michael Horton on the pseudo-Christianity that exists in the world today.

What would things look like if Satan actually took over a city? The first frames in our imaginative slide show probably depict mayhem on a massive scale: Widespread violence, deviant sexualities, pornography in every vending machine, churches closed down and worshipers dragged off to City Hall. Over a half-century ago, Donald Grey Barnhouse, pastor of Philadelphia's Tenth Presbyterian Church, gave his CBS radio audience a different picture of what it would look like if Satan took control of a town in America. He said that all of the bars and pool halls would be closed, pornography banished, pristine streets and sidewalks would be occupied by tidy pedestrians who smiled at each other. There would be no swearing. The kids would answer "Yes, sir," "No, ma'am," and the churches would be full on Sunday ... where Christ is not preached.

Not to be alarmist, but it looks a lot like Satan is in charge right now. The enemy has a subtle way of using even the proper scenery and props to obscure the main character. The church, mission, cultural transformation, even the Spirit can become the focus instead of the means for "fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith" (Heb. 12:2). As provocative as Barnhouse's illustration remains, it is simply an elaboration of a point that is made throughout the story of redemption. The story behind all the headlines of the Bible is the war between the serpent and the offspring of the woman (Gen. 3:15), an enmity that God promised would culminate in the serpent's destruction and the lifting of the curse. This promise was a declaration of war on Satan and his kingdom, and the contest unfolded in the first religious war, between Cain and Abel (Gen. 4 with Matt. 23:35), in the battle between Pharaoh and Yahweh that led to the exodus and the temptation in the wilderness. Even in the land, the serpent seduces Israel to idolatry and intermarriage with unbelievers, even provoking massacres of the royal family. Yet God always preserved that "seed of the woman" who would crush the serpent's head (see 2 Kings 11, for example). The story leads all the way to Herod's slaughter of the firstborn children in fear of the Magi's announcement of the birth of the true King of Israel.

....

In The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis has the devil (Screwtape) catechizing his minion (Wormwood) to keep the Christians distracted from Christ as redeemer from God's wrath. Rather than clumsily announce his presence by direct attacks, Wormwood should try to get the churches to become interested in "Christianity and...": "Christianity and the War," "Christianity and Poverty," "Christianity and Morality," and so on. Of course, Lewis was not suggesting that Christians should not have an interest in such pressing issues of the day, but he was making the point that when the church's basic message is less about who Christ is and what he has accomplished once and for all for us, and more about who we are and what we have to do in order to justify all of that expense on his part, the religion that is made "relevant" is no longer Christianity. By not thinking that "Christ crucified" is as relevant as "Christ and Family Values" or "Christ and America" or "Christ and World Hunger," we end up assimilating the gospel to law. Again, there is nothing wrong with the law-the moral commands that expose our moral failure and guide us as believers in the way of discipleship. However, assimilating the good news of what someone else has done to a road map for our own action is disastrous. In the words of Theodore Beza, "The confusion of law and gospel is the principal source of all the abuses that corrupt or have ever corrupted the church." When God's Law (and not our own inner sentiment) actually addresses us, our first response should be, "God, be merciful to me, a sinner," not the reply of the rich young ruler, "All this I have done since my youth."

Another way we distort the proclamation of Christ in the "Pharasaic" mode is by what has sometimes been called "the assumed gospel." This is often the first stage of taking our eyes off of Christ. Even where Christ is regarded as the answer to God's just wrath, this emphasis is regarded as a point that can be left behind in the Christian life. The idea is that people "get saved" and then "become disciples." The gospel for sinners is Christ's death and resurrection; the gospel for disciples, however, is, "Get busy!" But this assumes that disciples are not sinners, too. There is not a single biblical verse that calls us to "live the gospel." By definition, the gospel is not something that we can live. It is only something that we can hear and receive. It is good news, not good advice. The good news is that, "But now, apart from law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the Law and the prophets, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe," since sinners "are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, received through faith" (Rom. 3:21-25).

...

Many conservative evangelicals and emerging "post-evangelicals" display their common heritage in an American revivalist tradition that Dietrich Bonhoeffer described as "Protestantism without the Reformation." In a recent issue of TIME on Pope Benedict's critical relationship with Islam, conservative Catholic scholar Michael Novak was quoted as saying concerning the pontiff, "His role is to represent Western civilization." There are a lot of evangelical leaders who seem to think that this is their job, too. The mission of the church is to drive out the Romans (i.e., Democrats) and make the world safe for democracy. The Emergent movement's politics are different: they lean left rather than right. For many reared on the "Christian America" hype of the religious right, this may seem like a major shift, but it's just a change in parties rather than a deeper shift from moralism to evangelical mission. The Emergent sociology is different, too: Starbucks and acoustic guitars in dark rooms with candles rather than Wal-Mart and praise bands in bright-lighted theaters. Yet in either case, moralism continues to push "Christ crucified" to the margins.

We are totally distracted, on the right, left, and in the middle. Children growing up in evangelical churches know as little as unchurched youth about the basics of the Christian faith. They increasingly inhabit a church world that is less and less shaped by the gospel through Christ-centered catechesis, preaching and sacrament (the means that Jesus instituted for making disciples). The songs they sing are mostly emotive, rather than serving to make "the Word of Christ dwell in [them] richly" (Col. 3:16), and their private devotions are less shaped by the practices of corporate prayer and Scripture reading than in past generations. Nothing has to change on paper: they can still be "conservative evangelicals," but it just doesn't matter because doctrine doesn't matter-which means faith doesn't matter. It's works that counts now, so get busy!

So now people are called to be the "good news," to make Christ's mission successful by living "relationally" and "authentically." Where the New Testament announces a gospel that changes lives, now the "gospel" is our changed life. "We preach not ourselves but Christ" (2 Cor. 4:5) has been exchanged for a constant appeal to our personal and collective holiness as the main attraction. Church marketing guru George Barna encourages us to reach out to the unchurched on the basis of our character: "What they are looking for is a better life. Can you lead them to a place or to a group of people that will deliver the building blocks of a better life? Do not propose Christianity as a system of rules but as a relationship with the One who leads by way of example. Then seek proven ways to achieve meaning and success." I am not at all implying that we shouldn't follow Christ's example or that the church shouldn't have models and mentors. What I am suggesting is that discipleship is teaching others, and teaching them so well that even when we falter as role models, the maturity of their own discipleship will not fail because it is grounded in Christ and not in us.

No matter what we say we believe about Christ's person and work, if we aren't constantly bathed in it, the end result will lead to H. Richard Niebuhr's description of Protestant liberalism: "A God without wrath brought men without sin into a kingdom without judgment through a Christ without a cross." According to University of North Carolina sociologist Christian Smith, the working religion of America's teens-whether evangelical or liberal, churched or unchurched-is "moralistic, therapeutic deism." And the answer to that, according to many megachurches and emerging churches is "do more; be more authentic; live more transparently." This is the good news that will change the world?

(Bold added)

And that is the precise reason why we should always focus on the Gospel. We must always turn our eyes to the Cross and make it our focus and the focus of all that we are and do for Christ. One of the major errors of Warren's PD paradigm is precisely the jettisoning of the Gospel for a moralistic message of "Deeds, not creeds". Sure, the creeds are there, but they and Christ are NOT the center of Warren's movement. Ditto for the Emergent and Seeker Sensitive movements. Christ is NOT placed in the center of the focus of the Church, while Man and Culture takes center stage. And thus they all have a Christless Christianity and a functional moralistic deism that is anything but Christianity.

[HT: The Art of Theology]

Slicecast: A Word to Christians Online

Very good interview with Pastor Dustin Segers in the latest slicecast here, especially with regards to the potential pitfalls for those of us who take Jude 3 seriously.

When we as Christians interact online, how do we keep from becoming distracted by the mockery, scorn and sin that dominates in much of the blog world? Does it matter if we neglect our families in pursuit of “sound doctrine?” How do we keep our focus on Christ when we face constant attacks from those who are enemies of the cross? Pastor Dustin Segers of Shepherd’s Fellowship in Greensboro, North Carolina minces no words on this podcast today. Christians have to be on guard against those who would draw us into foolish debates and arguments, gossip and time wasting pursuits. Psalm 1 provides the guideline: don’t waste time with the scorners. We are to be like Nehemiah, refusing to leave God’s work for fruitless debate and argument with those who will not acknowledge the truth. In this Slicecast, there is something for everyone who spends time online. We need to examine ourselves regularly to make sure our conduct is Christ-honoring and focused on the tasks God has given us. We’re not wrestling against people. This is a spiritual battle, and that is easy to forget.

Click here to download this episode.

See also Loving the Lord while avoiding Distractions

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Lakeland fiasco discrediting the New Apostolic 'Reformtion'?

With the Lakeland revivalist Todd Bentley having being discredited as he as "an unhealthy relationship on an emotional level, with a female member of his staff", it seems as God as usual as used this event for the greater good of the Church. For years, the Church has been plagued by the heresies of the New Apostolic 'Reformation' spawned by people like "Chief Apostle" C. Peter Wagner and company, and I at one time have been personally sucked into the movement, to the detriment of my spiritual walk with God. The false apostles and prophets of the NAR have had a commissioning service for Bentley previously. Now just months after the commissioning, this fiasco has happened so soon that it has landed them with egg on their faces, and now they are attempting to back-peddle and spin the "prophetic words" they have uttered during that commissioning ceremony itself. As Marsha West points out:

Such notables as C. Peter Wagner, leader of the International Coalition of Apostles, his wife, Doris, Ché Ahn, John Arnott, Bill Johnson, Rick Joyner and several others came to the 10,000-seat tent to support what Todd Bentley and Fresh Fire were doing and to commission him as an evangelist. There was only one problem. The leaders failed to put Bentley through a proper vetting process to find out if he was deserving of their high honor. Turns out he wasn’t. Now they have egg on their collective faces and everyone knows it.

As a result, many in the Charismatic church are furious with them -- but it’s too late. The damage is already done and cannot be undone. What’s worse, thousands of people believed there was a “revival” going on and traveled from all over the globe to be a part of it. Some went hoping to be healed. They weren’t. Now they realize they were duped and have fallen into despair. People are wondering if they are even saved! (For those who doubt their salvation, remember that anyone who comes to faith in the real Jesus Christ is saved.)

And West concludes:

Some good has come out of the “Lakeland Outpouring.” It brought to light the highly unorthodox beliefs of the NAR. Those who are a part of this movement should commit 2 Timothy to memory. Another good thing that came out of it is that the Charismatic church leaders who participated in Todd Bentley’s coronation ceremony have been exposed as false prophets and fools.

The chickens have come home to roost.

Amen to that. God in His sovereign timing has delivered the heretic revivalist Tod Bentley to the devil, and now that he has committed an undeniable moral sin, the "apostles" and "prophets" of the New Apostolic 'Reformation' have came out discredited for endorsing and commissioning such an individual. May it be that this would signal the beginning of the end of this heretical movement. Maranatha!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

The ever-present dangers of Soft Legalism

With respects to a previous post regarding the seriousness of the doctrine of Sola Fide, and the dangers of works-righteousness aka Legalism, I have came across some interesting quotes which I would like to share on this topic. The quotes come from a book entitled The Future of Justification: A response to N.T. Wright by John Piper (IVP, Nottingham, England, 2008) which is his official response to the error of the so-called New Perspective on Paul. Part of the error of New Perspectivism lies in an inherent legalism which is quite nuanced but at its root is indeed promoting works-righteousness. It is in this context that the error of Soft Legalism is addressed.

The essence of legalism is the belief that our right standing with God is based on, comes by means of, or is sustained by our works — regardless of whether these works are self-produced (hard legalism) or whether they are completely produced by God's grace in us (soft legalism). (p. 152, Footnote 14)

...while legalism involves the view that 'salvation consists of the observance of precepts,' boasting and self-righteousness may, but do not always, accompany this motion. When they do not, we may speak of a 'soft' or 'torah-centric' form of legalism; when they do, we have a 'hard' or 'anthropocentric' legalism. To this, we may add that 'soft' legalists, who try to obey God's law because they believe that God has commanded them to do so, may not believe that they are thereby 'earning' their salvation, still less that they are 'establishing a claim' on God based on their own 'merit'. Surely love for God, or even fear of his judgment, are adequate motives for obedience to his commands. No such explanation as hypocrisy, self-seeking, merit-mongering, and outright rebellion against God need be invoked to explain why religious people would attempt to do what they believe God has commanded them. To think otherwise is to insist, for example, that Psalm 119 expresses the religion of a sham, and that Deut. 30:16 commands it.

Unfortunately, in most definitions of legalism by New Testament scholars, the possibility of 'soft' legalism is not even considered. The 'legalist', for Cranfield, is the one who tries to use the law 'as a means to the establishment of a claim upon God, and so to the defense of his self-centeredness and the assertion of a measure of independence over against God. He imagines that he can put God under an obligation to himself, that he will be able so adequately to fulfil the law's demands that he will earn for himself a righteous status before God.' For Moule, legalism is 'the intention to claim God's favour by establishing one's own rightness.' For Hübner, those who see righteousness as based on works define their existence in terms of their own activities, leave God out of consideration, and, in effect, 'see themselves as their own creator.' For [Daniel] Fuller, legalism 'presumes that the Lord, who is not 'served by human hands, as though he needed anything' (Acts 17:25), can nevertheless be bribed and obligated to bestow blessing by the way men distinguish themselves.'

Such definitions would be innocent enough if they were accompanied by an awareness that 'legalists' of this kind represent only some of those who interpreted Deut. 30:16 as saying that obedience to God's law was the way to life. But all too frequently there is no such awareness. The alternative to faith is not (as it is in Paul) simply 'works', whether they are 'good' or 'bad' — a statement which embraces both 'soft' and 'hard' legalism — but rather the sinful, self-seeking, merit-claiming works of the (necessarily 'hard') legalist. Whereas Paul can contrast faith in Christ with 'the works of the law', and mean by the latter no more than the deeds commanded by the law, the very notion of 'works' is so inextricably in the minds of some scholars with self-righteousness and pride that (as we have seen) the 'works of the law' can only be conceived as sinful. It is no surprising that for such scholars, the 'law' whose works are conceived as sinful cannot be seen as divine, but inevitably becomes the legalistically distorted form of God's law which prevailed (we are confidently told) among the Jews of Paul's day. But — it must be emphasized — in Paul's argument it is human deeds of any kind which cannot justify, not simply deeds done 'in a spirit of legalism'. Paul's very point is lost to view when his statements excluding the law, and its works from justification are applied only to the law's perversion. (Stephen Westerholm, Israel's Law and the Church's Faith: Paul and His Recent Interpreters [Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1998], 132-134)

(p. 158-159, Footnote 24)

As it can be seen, soft legalism is seen in the fact that one does works even in a spirit of obedience as part of one's standing before God. And as Westerholm states so clearly: Paul's very point is lost to view when his statements excluding the law, and its works from justification are applied only to the law's perversion. Therefore, it is not even a distortion of the Law that Paul is against, but even the fulfilment of the Divine and Holy Law in obedience for one's standing or justification before God. And that is why King's Kid and all who believe similarly to her are legalistic heretics in the same spirit as the Judaizers. For anyone to demand the keeping of the divine and holy Law as being contributing to one's standing before God (not even necessarily salvific) is to commit the deadly error of legalism, and depending on the consistency upon which this position is held, can damn the person who believed it to eternal hellfire (cf Gal. 1:8-9).

As I have said before, so I will say again, it would do very well for all of us to look hard at the book of Galatians and see exactly what was it about the Judaizers that merited them an anathema from the apostle Paul. All legalists, and in fact many Christians also, have a wrong view of the heresy of the Judaizers. The Judaizers are NOT teaching salvation by works, nor even salvation by faith plus works technically speaking (though in reality it is salvation by faith plus works), but they are teaching salvation by faith plus obedience to the Law.

With this, I would conclude this post there. However, I would be starting some expositions on the book of Galatians on the topic of Law and Gospel, showing forth the true New Covenantal relations between them as stated explicitly by Scripture as written by Paul himself.

Weekly Meditations: Is. 11 (2)

In that day the root of Jesse, who shall stand as a signal for the peoples — of him shall the nations inquire, and his resting place shall be glorious.

In that day the Lord will extend his hand yet a second time to recover the remnant that remains of his people, from Assyria, from Egypt, from Pathros, from Cush, from Elam, from Shinar, from Hamath, and from the coastlands of the sea.

He will raise a signal for the nations and will assemble the banished of Israel, and gather the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth. The jealousy of Ephraim shall depart,and those who harass Judah shall be cut off; Ephraim shall not be jealous of Judah,and Judah shall not harass Ephraim. But they shall swoop down on the shoulder of the Philistines in the west, and together they shall plunder the people of the east. They shall put out their hand against Edom and Moab, and the Ammonites shall obey them. And the Lord will utterly destroy the tongue of the Sea of Egypt, and will wave his hand over the River with his scorching breath, and strike it into seven channels, and he will lead people across in sandals. And there will be a highway from Assyria for the remnant that remains of his people, as there was for Israel when they came up from the land of Egypt. (Is. 11:10-16)

The Messiah at the initiation of the Messianic Kingdom will stand forth "as a signal for the peoples" (v. 10), and therefore this refers to the public nature of the coming of the Messiah on that day. The nations will come to submit (inquire) to Him and and His restful reign will be glorious, as He will subdue all His enemies under His feet.

Verse 11 tells us about the ingathering of the people of God who are found in various nations, which is made more explicit in verse 12 that are from the four corners of the earth. It must be noted that the Lord will extend His hand a second time, thus showing that this does not refer to the first prophesied and fulfilled gathering of Israel during the time of the Persian Empire. This gathering therefore is to be seen at the end of ages as the Messianic Kingdom intrudes physically into history, therefore telling us that the people of God, the elect, from all nations will be gathered by the Lord to Himself before that dreadful day, both believing Jews and Gentiles.

Ephraim and Judah represented the northern and southern kingdoms of Israel, and they generally detest each other. Yet verse 13 shows forth that on that day, God Himself will unite all who are called by His name. Jealousy is the characteristic attitude of Ephraim towards Judah with its temple worship, while Judah was uncharitable of their northern cousins who have abandoned God. But in that day, God Himself will purge the church and purify her finally, and only then will the people of God be one. Visible unity in the churches, as it can be seen, is impossible this side of heaven. Visible churches are plagued with varying degree of compromise and apostasy, and only until Jesus returns will He make us wholly one. This is of course not to take a laid-back attitude towards ensuring the purity of the Church, but it most definitely should show us that there is no such thing as a perfect church, and we shouldn't expect one either. Perfection and perfect unity among believers will only exist when Christ returns, and we should long earnestly for that day.

In verse 14, we can see that that day would be the day of defeat of our enemies and oppressors. While on earth, the Church and individual Christians will always be persecuted (2 Tim. 3:12). Only when Jesus returns will there then be total relief. Using the language of military victory and conquest of Israel's bitter and most immediate enemies figuratively, God depicts the ultimate victory of the church, NOT in literally plundering and killing people, but as those who will stand over them by the blood of Christ over the defeated rebellious reprobates who have no hope but only the stark reality of destruction and utter damnation in hellfire. Showing Himself strong, the Lord vindicates His people on their behalf against their enemies (v. 15) and delivers them once more from their persecutors. Just as the Lord has previously delivered them from Egypt, the Lord will also deliver them from Assyria and from other "Assyrias" that the people of God are found in (v. 16), removing all obstacles from their coming to Him (ie striking the Euphrates into seven channels) Broken but not crushed, subjected but not destroyed, the people of God under persecution will experience the power of God on that day in supernaturally delivering all of them, while God Himself will simultaneously destroy all His enemies, the oppressors of the Church, on that day of judgment.

Amen. May we yearn and long for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will vindicate us and bring all things to an end. So come, Lord Jesus (Rev. 20ff). Amen.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

John W. Robbins (1948-2008)

OK, enough aboout Dynamic Equivalence. Just to pass on the information from the Biblical Thought website that John W. Robbins, founder of the Trinity Foundation, went home to be with the Lord after months of battling with cancer by chemotherapy. Here is the unofficial statement from Tom Juodaitis regarding this sad state of affairs.

Dear Friends,

Thank you all for the outpouring of support and expressions of condolences to John Robbins’ family. We are very appreciative.

Many have asked about the future of The Trinity Foundation. I want to assure all that the Board of Directors and the Vice President are committed to continuing the work that Dr. Robbins began and continued for over 30 years. We will continue to publish The Trinity Review each month, as well as continue publishing books, especially the Works of Gordon Haddon Clark. We will continue to maintain The Trinity Foundation’s presence online (www.trinityfoundation.org), updating and expanding it as the Lord blesses.

Thank you for your concern, support, and especially your prayers.

In Christ,

Tom Juodaitis
Vice President
The Trinity Foundation
The Bible alone is the Word of God.
August 15, 2008

A few more reasons why we should disavow the Dynamic Equivalence versions

Here is an excellent article by Tim Challies on the problems with the NLT, CEV, Message and basically with all dynamic equivalence (hereafter short formed D-E) versions of the Bible. It is truly amazing that there are people who are so blind as to say that there is nothing wrong with tampering with God's Word.

Let's just take one example — Rom. 13:4. The presence of Rom. 13:4 allows the reader/ preacher to make a case for capital punishment since the sword is meant for killing. Yet, as Tim has succinctly put it, such D-E versions have made it such that "there is nothing to discuss", and no case for capital punishment can be made from them. Furthermore, this is NOT because the underlying Greek text do not teach it (because if that was the case, then we must accept it since we should not add to God's Word), but because some "translator(s)" decides that the sword imagery is too literal and thus interpret it in various ways without any reference to capital punishment. This shows the error of the D-E versions which subtract from God's Word on this matter as their interpretation causes an unwarranted narrowing of the exegetical possibilities due to the removal of the word "sword".

Our critic seems to have problems comprehending what it means to be accurate in terms of translations. In his article, he states that the "goal of any translation is to render accurately the meaning of the original language in its receptor language". But exactly WHO decides what is the "accurate meaning of the original language in its receptor language"? For example, the DE translators translates Rom. 13:4 as omitting all mention whatsoever of the possibility of capital punishment in these verses, while I contend that the accurate meaning of the original language does include the teaching of capital punishment. So, IF it is indeed true that Rom. 13:4 through the use of the word "sword" is intended to convey the idea of capital punishment, then all the D-E versions shown as examples (NLT, CEV, Msg) do not convey the "accurate meaning of the original language in its receptor language".

In a journal article by Professor Robert L. Thomas by the Master's Seminary pointed out to me by my brother-in-Christ Vincent Chia, the issue and fallacies of the translational philosophy of D-E have been addressed as follows:

The traditional method of translation adopted the source message as its control and sought to bring the contemporary reader back to that point. Most recent preferences in translation [D-E] express the opposite goal, that of bringing the source message into the twentieth century to the contemporary reader. The new aim is to relate the text to the receptor and his modes of behavior relevant within the context of his own culture, a controlling factor called "the principle of equivalent effect." The traditional method of taking the receptor to the text seeks to help the reader identify himself with a person in the source-language context as fully as possible, teaching him the customs, manner of thought, and means of expression of the earlier time. With D-E, comprehension of the patterns of the source-language culture is unnecessary

...

Such a release from restraints of the original text coincides with varying degrees of subjectivism that characterize contemporary hermeneutical systems. These recent schemes dismiss the traditional system of letting the author be the determining factor in interpretation. In so doing, of necessity they force a judgment of the Bible's meaning through the eyes of something or someone contemporary. Hirsch notes that the text has to represent someone's meaning; if it is not the author's, then it must be the modern critic's meaning that is drawn from the text. Hirsch's terminology distinguishes the author's meaning from the critic's by calling what the author intended "meaning" and by using the term "significance" to refer to a relationship between that meaning and a person, concept, situation, or anything else. (Bold added)

As for the serious questions created by the D-E philosophy:

A Linguistic Question

Nida and other linguistic authorities are quite specific in telling translators to abide by the referential meanings of words, meanings they identify with those found in standard dictionaries. In Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary the relevant definition of the word "translation" is, "an act, process, or instance of translating: as a: a rendering from one language into another; also the product of such a rendering." There is little doubt that, in the minds of most people who use the English language, the term "translation" used in a cross-cultural connection suggests the simple idea of changing from one language into another. Yet this is only one-third of the process of dynamic equivalence, the step that is called "transfer." The question is then, "Is it proper linguistic practice to use the word `translation' to describe the product of a D-E exercise?"

More recently, de Waard and Nida use "associative meaning" in lieu of "referential meaning" to describe lexical definitions. They point out, for example, the hesitancy of most translations to use "Yahweh" because in the minds of many Christians, it has become associated with a modernistic attitude toward the Bible and God.

Should not the same precision be shown in use of the word "translation"? The use of "translation" to include implementation of all the principles of hermeneutics and exegesis reflects an insensitivity to the associative meaning of that word in the minds of most English-speaking people. Perhaps "commentary" is too strong a word to describe a D-E product, but it seems that something such as "cultural translation" or "interpretive translation" would be more in keeping with principles espoused by linguistic authorities.

An Ethical Question

A closely related ethical question may also be raised: Is it honest to give people what purports to be the closest representation of the inspired text in their own language, something that intentionally maximizes rather than minimizes the personal interpretations of the translator or translators?

Graves has observed that every translation is a lie in the sense that there are no identical equivalents between languages. This problem is alleviated by an understanding in the minds of most that translation is done by means of near equivalents rather than exact equivalents. But if a translator goes one step further and intentionally incorporates his personal interpretations when he could have left many passages with the same ambiguity as the original, has he done right by those who will use his translation?

It is not our purpose to pursue this ethical question further, but simply to raise it as a matter for possible discussion.

A Practical Question

A last question for consideration relates to the use of a D-E product in ministry: How shall I deal with the problem that the high degree of interpretation in a D-E work makes it unsuitable for close study by those who do not know the original languages? The answer to this question will depend on the type of preaching and teaching one does. If his approach is general, dealing only with broad subjects, he perhaps will not be too bothered by this characteristic.

But if he at times treats specific doctrinal issues and wants to stress this or that detail of the text, the presence of a large interpretive element in his basic text will pose problems. He will inevitably encounter renderings that differ from the view he wants to represent in his message`a problem that is largely precluded in using a formal-equivalence translation. If a preacher has to correct his translation too often, people will soon look upon it as unreliable and reflect doubts about either the translation itself or the larger issue of biblical inspiration.

These are only three questions that emerge because of an intentional incorporation of hermeneutics into the translation process. Others could be proposed. It seems that precision in discussing English versions of the Bible has been largely lost. If more exact terminology is not adopted, the church may some day incur the besetting ailment of a confusion of tongues that is self-inflicted.

(Bold added)

Amen.

To round off this discussion, it is simply amazing to see a pro-TNIV-er attacks those who are against D-E as "ESV-only" folks, while all the while using KJVO style argumentation to attack the ESV. It seems that certain people simply cannot comprehend the issues at stake in this TNIV controversy. [Hint: the fundamental issue is not just the TNIV, but the entire issue of D-E. The TNIV is only the flashpoint]. Not to mention that I have no problems with people using the NKJV, NASB, HCSB, and minor problems with the KJV and NIV.

Oh well, judging by the devolution of culture, I would be waiting NOT for the D-E philosophy to run its logical end into creating the "Soft Porn Sex Outreach version", featuring a graphically and vocabulary-enhanced Songs of Songs version which properly give us the "accurate meaning of the original language in its receptor language", and thus shows forth the sexual overtones in Solomon's love song to his lover.

Or how about the Hokkien Beng version. Maybe we can translate Mt. 23:13 this way:

F--- you, scribes and Pharisees, wayang-kings! You b-----ds stop people from going to heaven. You m-----f---ers dun wan go in still stop others from coming in.

I apologize for those who are offended, but this is the type of logical end of the D-E methodology of "render[ing] accurately the meaning of the original language in its receptor language". So if the receptor language is the degenerate street language peppered with at least one vulgarity per sentence, then the "bible version" should be made so that we can "render accurately the meaning of the original language" in THAT particular receptor language as well. A "bible" peppered with vulgarities? Probably not that far off if the visible Church continues to degenerate.

Monday, August 18, 2008

My response to the Dynamic Equivalence translational methodology

After having a discussion on Bible versions and the TNIV, it soon became obvious that the fundamental issues at hand has nothing whatsoever to do with the TNIV or gender-neutrality/ inclusive language. Rather, it seems that there are many more fundamental problems with those who attempt such a defence, which are as follows:

1) Their practice of Dynamic Equivalence Methodology practically denies the doctrine of Verbal Inspiration of Scripture.

The whole idea of translating the "sense" of the verse and passage causes one to interpret them and tailor them to the audience or culture. While there is always an element of interpretation in translation, such interpretation should be minimized in order to preserve as much as possible the exact words in the original. This is not to translate it as some sort of wooden literalism, but the governing principle should be: Minimize interpretation unless absolutely necessary, NOT Use as much interpretation as you think necessary!

2) Committing the error of lexicography.

For example, the attempt to defend the translation of anthropos (ανθρωπος) to 'people' in Mk. 2:27 is based on the possible meaning of anthropos to mean both men and women in the lexicon (whether BDAG or Liddell-Scots). However, this ignores the fact that the phrase huios tou anthropou (υίος του ανθρωπου) in the consecutive verse Mk. 2:28 is translated as 'Son of Man'. The traditional rendering of anthropos as 'man' in Mk. 2:27 can thus flow with Mk. 2:28 with the rendering of 'Son of Man' in Mk. 2:28 , whereas such an analogy cannot be seen in inclusive versions like the TNIV which translates anthropos in Mk. 2:27 as 'people' yet retain the traditional translation of anthropou in Mk 2:28 as 'man'. Somehow the defence always comes down to a defence based upon lexicography independent of the entire context of the passage the verse is found, thinking that somehow since a broader semantic range of the word anthropos is included in Mk. 2:27, therefore the TNIV in Mk. 2:27 is "more literal" and has higher fidelity to the original.

3) The move towards a Protestant magisterium, and Neo-Gnostic tendencies

The suggested move towards the usage of many different versions sounds innocent enough, until one probes deeper beneath the surface. While it is indeed correct that not one version can give the total sense of the Scriptures, and thus it may (not must) indeed by helpful to utilize various translations, over-emphasis on the plurality of translations in a manner that shows total disregard whether any single translation is truly a legitimate translation would cause confusion to the flock. And who is to say which translation is better than the other, since there are no real guidelines in place? The only option is to study the Greek/ Hebrew/ Aramaic, which is good. However, if one insists on this as to truly know the sense of the verse and passage of Scripture, without which it cannot truly be known, then it must be asked if such a position smacks of Neo-Gnosticism reminiscent of the position of the Roman church seen at the time of the Reformation. Will there come a time when only those who are educated in the original languages will constitute an unofficial Magisterium on what the true senses of the texts are?

4) The refusal to set strict guidelines for translations and the primacy of the Essentially Literal style of translation, and instead depend on multiple translations, is a decadent and sinful luxury of the English-speaking Church

Let's face the fact: the English-speaking world has many many Bible versions to choose from. In effect, we are spoilt rotten with choices! We have the KJV, NKJV, NASB, RSV, NRSV, HCSB, ESV, NLT, NIV, NIVI, TNIV, GNB, TEV, CEV, Ph, Msg, LB , and possibly others I miss out. We have tons of Bible commentaries in English and a similarly large number of study Bibles. Yet in many other languages, having more than 3 translations would probably be a luxury, not to mention commentaries and study Bibles! In fact, there are still people groups without even a Bible in their native language. In such scenarios, surly the priority would be to have a good Bible which preserves as much as possible the text of Scripture so that they can use that one version (which may be the only one they have) for all purposes starting from evangelism to basic discipleship to even theological training? The "check out many versions" excuse so that poor versions are acceptable is surely a sign of the decadent indulgence of the English-speaking world especially in America.

5) The laziness in wanting a commentary-Bible version hybrid

The argument over having a Bible version that fits with the culture is legitimate to a certain extent only, in that the language must not be alien to the culture (ie 'thees' and 'thous' are not exactly commonly used words). However, when one goes further than that and desires a Bible version that expands upon a particular point or word that is perfectly understandable, then one has confounded the purpose of a commentary or study Bible with the text of Scripture. The entire gender-neutral/ inclusive language debate boils down to the fact that certain phrases which are perfectly understandable using modern English are stated to be not clear enough because it for example did not mention the opposite sex. Such clarifications should however be placed in a commentary if the problem is really that serious, because the problem is not with the language but with the worldview of such people. It is an attitude of laziness indeed in wanting to have a commentary in the text of Scripture itself (not just in the Bible as in study Bibles), as opposed to separate from it.


So, in application, the exact same reasoning of lexicography would result in certain translation decisions being unassailable. As long as the variant rendering you are proposing is a legitimate alternative based upon the variants of a lexicon, there is no legitimate reason whatsoever to reject it. With that, let us look at a good example of this principle at work.

It may be remembered by some that when the RSV came out, there was a huge uproar over the change in Is. 7:14 (a Messianic prophetic verse) of the word "virgin" with "young woman". Yet, the word there almah according to the lexicon is legitimately translated "young woman". Worse still is the fact that the word "young woman" is indeed the preferred meaning in other areas where the term is used in Scripture, and there is another term betulah which could be used if "virgin" is indeed to be made more explicit.

The question, and my challenge to all TNIV supporters who utilize such defence of lexicography, is for them to attempt to prove that the term almah in Is. 7:14 should be rendered "virgin" instead of "young woman" according to their own principles of translations. I doubt they can though.

So with that, I conclude this response to the Dynamic Equivalence methodology which seems so prevalent among the supporters of the TNIV. I am eagerly awaiting their attempted defence of the traditional rendering of Is. 7:14, but I am not holding my breath for their success.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Announcement (UPDATE!)

Due to certain national commitments, I would be away for about 2 weeks from my blog. I will prepare perhaps one or two posts but that's it, and comments will be moderated during that time.

UPDATE: Due to some really stupid admin fault, it seems that they have canceld the ICT without informing me by any means whatsoever. So I lugged all my stuff (about 20kg I think) to camp on the other side of the Island, went there, and was told to go back because my name was not on the list as they have rescheduled my ICT!!

Weekly Meditations: Is. 11 (1)

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse, and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. And the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding,the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. He shall not judge by what his eyes see, or decide disputes by what his ears hear, but with righteousness he shall judge the poor, and decide with equity for the meek of the earth; and he shall strike the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips he shall kill the wicked. Righteousness shall be the belt of his waist, and faithfulness the belt of his loins.

The wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, and the calf and the lion and the fattened calf together; and a little child shall lead them. The cow and the bear shall graze; their young shall lie down together; and the lion shall eat straw like the ox. The nursing child shall play over the hole of the cobra, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the adder's den. They shall not hurt or destroying all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea. (Is. 11:1-9)

The Messiah will come, and in this passage Isaiah prophesied with more details regarding this Messiah. For He alone is the hope of Israel, and of the remnant that remains (Is. 9:1-7). He shall come forth from the family line of David, of the stump of Jesse (v. 1). We can see here that He would come in a day when the southern kingdom of Judah was no more, since the Davidic line was likened to a stump, thus showing forth that the Davidic dynasty have been brought to an end politically.

The Messiah who comes will have the Spirit of the LORD resting upon Him, of which it can be seen that this is the Holy Spirit who is the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, counsel and might, and of knowledge and fear of the Lord (v. 2). The Messiah delights in God's law and will judge impartially (v. 3-4), judging not merely by appearances or what others say (v. 3), but in true righteousness and equity, meting out punishments against the wicked (v. 4). In fact, so righteous is the Messiah that righteousness is as it were part of his nature; part of his daily clothing (v. 5)

The prophecy then continues into describing the characteristics of the Messianic Kingdom (v. 6-9; in fact till the end of the chapter). In the historical context of Isaiah's time, this prophecy is truly a description of paradise. As opposed to wars and rumors of wars, the prophetic vision tells us of the wolf dwelling with the lamb, thus showing forth the contrast with peace in the Messianic Kingdom that extends even among Creation's predator and prey. Ditto for the leopard and the young goat, the calf and the lion and the fattened calf, which through repeated emphasis on this theme shows forth the great peace and tranquility of the Messianic Kingdom to come (v.6).

And a little child shall lead them. Nature would finally be placed back under the dominion of Mankind with even someone as small and powerless as a little child having dominion over the animals in leading them. Whereas before the curse was brought about by sin and is in effect, the Messianic Kingdom will bring the curse to an end and bring back the Creation order unpolluted by sin. The animals will similarly stop eating each other and have peace among themselves (v. 7), and such will be the recognition of Man's dominion over them that the cobra and the adder, both snakes, will not harm children who even intrude into their living spaces (v. 8). Since the snake/ serpent was the one used by Satan to tempt Eve and Adam into sinning, the curse on the serpent as Satan's instrument is that snakes in general are at enmity with Man (as a type of the spiritual reality of the enmity of Man against the Devil). Therefore, this language in verse 8 portrays to us explicitly that the Messianic Kingdom envisioned here refers to a kingdom where the effects of sin are totally reversed. Verse 9 carries on in showing us and emphasizing once again that there would no violence in God's Holy Mountain which symbolizes the place where God reigns. This turns out to be everywhere on that day, when "the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord as the water covers the sea". The whole earth will be filled with God's glory and praises as the elect remnant left rejoice in His holy name and revel in the knowledge of Him.

So what exactly is this Messianic Kingdom? As it can be seen, the description of this Kingdom can be nothing more the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ at His second coming, for only after sin is destroyed can there be the reversal of the effects of the fall and the glory of God and the knowledge of God filling the whole earth. Yet, we have seen in earlier passages (cf. Is. 9) that the coming of the Messiah must not be too far off in the future, bring born of a virgin (Is. 7:14). When one looks at Jesus' first coming, the prophecy makes little sense until we see it as the Messiah coming two times (which is made necessary by passages such as Is. 53). Therefore, in Jesus' first coming, this Messianic Kingdom has already come spiritually in the hearts of Man for all who believe through submission to and believing in Jesus Christ, who are the firstfruits of redemption, and they will experience for themselves the peace of God in their hearts; peace between them and God. This same peace and submission would be extended to all of Creation when Christ comes again to set up His kingdom, which we have seen is without end (Is 9:7). Putting all of these together therefore shows us the identification of the Messianic Kingdom stated here with the reign of God at the end of ages, and this Messiah must therefore be very God Himself, since God will not have an equal king beside Him.

As a slight diversion, this passage is totally inconsistent with the traditional Dispensationalist scenario of the end times. For if the Messianic Kingdom was merely an earthly kingdom ruled by Christ for a thousand years, following which would arise the last great apostasy followed by the Great white throne judgment, then it must be said that sin was still present in that "millennial" kingdom, and therefore verses 6-9 cannot be used to describe it. For if we are called the firstfruits of salvation (Rom. 8:23), then we must be excised of sin and its effects before the Creation will be set free from the bondages of sin, and therefore such peace and tranquility in Creation would not happen unless we the people of God have been fully sanctified and glorified by God first.

So dearly beloved, are you therefore eagerly awaiting your Messiah and Lord? Are you seeking His second coming? Are you weary of this world with its depravity and wickedness and injustice? Look therefore unto Christ, and may He be your hope all your days. Amen.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Monogamy is Euporean culture?

This article leaves me speechless. Wow, it seems that in Nigeria, "conservatism" has resulted in at least one Christian leader claiming that the Bible does not teach monogamy because you cannot find the command 'thou shalt marry one wife' in the Bible. With the Anglican communion almost torn apart by the homosexual issue, the conservative movement don't seem to be doing so well either. Reactionism and radicalism is on the rise it seems.

Poll: Gender-neutral Bibles

I have just created a new poll on this topic of Gender-neutral Bibles. The question is: What is your view on "Gender Neutral" or Inclusivist Bibles ie the TNIV? Do go over and vote accordingly.

P.S.: I would be addressing the results of the second poll later. As in later when I have the time to do so.

A discussion on Bible versions and the TNIV

Over at Contemplations of a Young Calvinist, Douglas posted some random thoughts on Bible versions, and the thing quickly evoled into a pro-TNIV, anti-TNIV roundtable. I am for the anti-TNIV position, agreeing with the stand of the Council of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood and Wayne Grudem (the author of this article) that the gender-inclusivity expressed ubiquitously throughout the translation is severely detrimental to the text of Scriptures, and therefore the TNIV is a bad translation. CMBW even created an interesting website decrying the emergence of "Gender-neutral Bibles" which is rather interesting.

So what do you the readers think about this?

An examination of the Word-faith teachings of David Yonggi Cho

I have just finished my paper examining the Word-faith teaching of Korean megachurch 'pastor' David Yonggi Cho (or better known as Cho Yonggi in Asia). With 'pastors' like this in Korea, is it any wonder that the visible churches in Korea are beginning to falter? The paper can be found here on my website, or for those who loves to read it in PDF format, it can be found here.

I am feeling rather pleased with myself because this is the first paper that I have done without the need of Internet resources... and I have all the books at hand. [My book quotes from reliable sources on the Internet at various places as evidences, and most definitely when it comes to the Creeds and Confessions]

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Book recommendation: Tender Warrior

In line with the previous post, I have decided to recommend a simple practical book (for men of course; sisters please find your own book =P) espousing the complementarian position. It is a book that I have bought and read quite a long time ago (>5 years ago), but anyway it should be good for those who want to have an easier to understand and practical book on biblical manhood.

So anyway, for those who are interested, Stu Weber's Tender Warrior: God's Intention for a Man is indeed an interesting, practical and good book on the topic of biblical manhood. It really helped me back in my teenage years when I was struggling with such issues.

Evangelical Feminism and liberalism

I have just finished reading one of Grudem's latest book (published in 2006) on the subject of Biblical Manhood and Womanhood entitled Countering the Claims of Evangelical Feminism: Biblical Responses to the Key Questions. Coupled with the views expressed by Mary A. Kassian in The Feminist Gospel: The Movement to Unite Feminism with the Church, which I have reviewed here, I think it is safe to say that Feminism is the offspring of Liberalism, and that ultimately the embrace of egalitarian principles will open the way for the destruction of the church from within, not to mention the flood of false doctrine that would enter due to the erosion of biblical authority brought along by egalitarianism.

Before I continue, a brief explanation of the biblical view of Complementarianism on the issue of Gender Roles should be made plain.

Complementarianism teaches that men and women are equal in value and worth, but different in role. The roles they place are not set in terms of one being superior or inferior to another, regardless of what the world or other professing Christians may think. Men and women thus complement each other in their contributions to the family unit and to the church. The man in the family is the head of the household, having authority over his wife and children, and 'has the God-given responsibility to provide for, to protect, and to lead his family' (p. 21). The women in the family is to be a helper fit for her husband, joyfully and intelligently submitting to the authority of her husband "as to the Lord" (Eph. 5:22), and using her talents for the good of the household. In the churches, the teaching and governing aspects of ministry in the church (and parachurch organizations as well) are to be limited to male leadership, except for the teaching/counseling of other women and youths/children. Therefore, the offices of the church (ie Elders, Deacons) are to be all men. All other ministries however are open to both men and women.

Egalitarianism is the widening the ministry boundaries to all regardless of gender. Therefore, women can be pastors, elders, deacons, even "apostles". In the home, egalitarianism practises "mutual submission", which is supposed to mean that each party submits to the other out of love [and I still cannot fathom out how this is supposed to work out].

Anyway, with that, here are some interesting quotes from that book:

Regarding women in teaching or ruling ministry

If a woman goes on serving as an elder or pastor, I believe she is doing so outside the will of God, and she has no guarantee of God's protection on her life. By continuing to act in ways contrary to Scripture, she puts herself spiritually in a dangerous position. I expect that eventually the measure of blessing God has allowed on her ministry will be withdrawn (though I cannot presume that this will be true in every case) (p. 273)

On the feminization of Christianity advancing under egalitarianism:

Having women as pastors or elders erodes male leadership and brings increasing feminization of both the home and the church. It could also erodes the authority of Scripture because people see it being disobeyed

...

4. A Church with female elders or pastor will tend to become more and more "feminized" over time, with women holding most of the major leadership positions and men constituting a smaller and smaller percentage of the congregation (p. 275-276)

Like it or not, the presence of women pastors and elders will inevitably precipitate a decrease in the percentage and number of men in the congregations, and Grudem has in a footnote listed one such survey which shows exactly this fact. It is a fact that women in leadership generally function differently from men in leadership, and as such does not exactly rule the Church as it should be done. Furthermore, God will not bless this work if it is done out of rebellion against his commands regarding gender roles.

I have visited a Singaporean church [which I shall not named] that has a totally dysfunctional congregationalist church polity bordering on anarchy, and has about probably 70-80% women in the congregation as compared to men. They have one woman elder, and the men who are supposed to be leaders there are not behaving like men ruling the church of God. For whatever reason, they seem not to believe in having a church ruling and governing structure, probably because they dislike hierarchy and want to be more like what they perceive to be the model of the early church in being loving and caring instead of ruling over te flock. It must be stated that they are very passionate for the Gospel, yet it can be seen that the unbiblical dysfunctional government of the church is creating many problems as the church cannot grow qualitatively, and mainly women are attracted to it. Such indeed is a sad example of a thoroughly feminized church, and when I tried to talk to the male leadership (whatever there is of the leadership) about it, they refuse to listen. That is truly a sad example of what a feminized church looks like, and how it just crushes all virility in the church, thus rendering it a sad shadow of what the church is supposed to be as it is portrayed in the Scriptures.

Grudem here also approvingly quotes Thomas Schreiner in his view of 1 Tim. 2:14[1]:

Generally speaking, women are more relational and nurturing and men are more given to rational analysis and objectivity... Appointing women to the teaching office is prohibited because they are less likely to draw a line on doctrinal non-negotiables, and thus deception and false teaching will more easily enter the church. This is not to say that women are intellectually deficient or inferior to men... Their kinder and gentler nature inhibits them from excluding people for doctrinal error. There is the danger of stereotyping here, for obviously some women are more inclined to objectivity and are "tougher" and less nurturing than other women. But as a general rule women are more relational and caring than men. The different inclinations of women (and men!) do not imply that they are inferior or superior to men. It simply demonstrates that men and women are profoundly different. Women have some strengths that men do not have, and men have some strengths that are generally lacking in women.

Sadly to say, the feminized churches will find it very difficult to resist when heresies come their way and ravage the flock.

Regarding the dangers of liberalism, Grudem gave a summary of some disturbing warning signs that show that evangelical feminism is becoming a "new path to theological liberalism for evangelicals in our generation" (p. 282). Summarizing the points he had written extensively about in his book Evangelical Feminism: A New Path to Liberalism, Grudem states the following points:

  1. Liberal Protestant denominations were the pioneers of evangelical feminism, and evangelical feminists today have adopted many of the arguments earlier used by theological liberals to advocate the ordination of women and to reject male headship in marriage. By contrast, the strongest opponents of women's ordination are found among groups most firmly committed to the inerrancy of the Bible.
  2. Most prominent evangelical feminist writers today advocate positions that deny or undermine the authority of Scripture, and many other egalitarian leaders endorse their books and take no public stance against those who deny the authority of Scripture. In twenty-five chapters in Evangelical Feminism: A New Path to Liberalism?, I document and explain twenty-five different ways in which the authority of Scripture is undermined or denied in current egalitarian writings.
  3. Once the authority of Scripture is undermined or denied, certain consequences have predictably followed in denomination after denomination, and a number of these are already seen among evangelical feminists, as noted in the following points:
  4. Recent trends now show that evangelical feminists are heading towards the denial of anything uniquely masculine, an androgynous Adam who is neither male nor female, and a Jesus whose manhood is not important. This step is already common in evangelical feminist writings.
  5. The next step, also taken first by liberal Protestant denominations, is to advocate calling God "our Mother in heaven". Leading evangelical feminist writers have now taken this step and some writings promoted by evangelical feminists even warn against the harm that comes from calling God "Father".
  6. The next step that has happened in liberal denominations is incremental movement towards an endorsement of the moral legitimacy of homosexuality. Through only a small number of evangelical feminists have taken this step to this point, and I though I am thankful that the egalitarian group Christians for Biblical Equality has remained clearly opposed to the moral legitimacy of homosexuality, this next step has been followed in liberal denominations as a predictable outworking of (a) the same methods used to undermine the authority of Scripture in order to deny any uniquely male leadership roles in the home or in the church, (b) the denial of differences between men's and women's roles in marriage and the church, and (c) the strong pressure for approval of homosexual conduct in the general culture.
  7. The final step is the ordination of homosexuals and the promotion of homosexuals to high leadership positions in the church.

Summarizing these points, Grudem states:

The common thread running though all of these trends is a rejection of the effective authority of Scripture in people's lives and that this is the bedrock principle of theological liberalism. That is why I believe the matters discussed in this book are so important for the future of the church. (p. 283-284)

Indeed, the issues are important. The denial of distinct roles between men and women have caused gender identity crisis in our youths, and aids in the spread of homosexuality in a society that does not know what manhood and womanhood really is.


References:

[1] Thomas R. Schreiner, "An Interpretation of 1 Tim. 2:9-15: A Dialogue with Scholarship," in Köstenberger, Andreas J. and Thomas R. Schreiner, Women in the Church: An Analysis and Application of 1 Timothy 2:9-15 (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House, 2005), pp. 145-146, as quoted by Grudem, p. 38

Monday, August 04, 2008

Reflections on DA Carson talks at the Living Word Conference 2008

I have managed to prepare my personal reflections on DA Carson's 3 evening talks at the Living Word Conference 2008, and the PDF file can be accessed on my website here. Thank God for bringing in DA Carson to speak to us, and may we continue to grow deeper in Christ for the glory of His name and the fulfilment of the Great Commission.

Note: I have decided to go ahead without the audio clips which I will make later after I have the MP3s, since they are meant just for illustration purposes, but the essence of the issues have been discussed already in my article.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Short notes on DA Carson's talk

I have been feeling quite distracted recently, so I will just leave links to the notes from a sister-in-Christ Denise on DA Carson's evening talks for now. Please do note that the extra thoughts in those notes do not necessarily reflect what I believe.


1. 29 July (Tuesday) Rage, Rage, Against the Church (Revelation 12:1-13:1)

In apocalyptic language, John tells us what we learn elsewhere in the New Testament: the Christian's most fundamental enemies are not other people, but the powers of darkness. How then shall we cope and triumph?

UNCONFUSING - Detailed Notes Night 1

2. 30 July (Wednesday) Antichrist and False Prophet(Revelation 13:1-18)

Some Christians around the world face brutal opposition and outright persecution; other Christians around the world are in danger of being seduced by false teaching and transient glitter. The dangers are different, yet they are one. How are we to respond?

UNCONFUSING - Detailed Notes Night 2

3. 31 July (Thursday) Trajectories(Revelation 14)

There is a perennial danger of thinking that Christian life and thought pertain primarily to this world. But the whole of the New Testament is against this reductionism: there is a heaven to be gained and a hell to be shunned. These opposed trajectories mean that everything in this life has far more significance than we sometimes think.

UNCONFUSING - Detailed Notes Night 3


Check out also my friend Huaizhi's blog here where he has done some aggregation of the various reflections on all of the Carson's talks in Singapore. As an aside, it has been nice meeting Ken Mattson and Huaizhi (and his wife Cindy) as well as others during the course of these three days.

Norman Geisler's Farmer Parable: Examined and Refuted

Here is an interesting video by Dr. James White refuting the false parable of the farmer created by Dr. Norman Geisler with regards to the latter's attack on Calvinism:

It's very sad that Dr. Geisler refuses to be corrected on this issue, and this thus distracts from the good work he has done on the topic of the Verbal Plenary Inspiration and Inerrancy of the Scriptures.

[HT: Aomin.org]

Friday, August 01, 2008

The Purpose Driven distortion of 1 Cor. 6

When one of you has a grievance against another, does he dare go to law before the unrighteous instead of the saints? Or do you not know that the saints will judge the world? And if the world is to be judged by you, are you incompetent to try trivial cases? Do you not know that we are to judge angels? How much more, then, matters pertaining to this life! So if you have such cases, why do you lay them before those who have no standing in the church? I say this to your shame. Can it be that there is no one among you wise enough to settle a dispute between the brothers, but brother goes to law against brother, and that before unbelievers? To have lawsuits at all with one another is already a defeat for you. Why not rather suffer wrong? Why not rather be defrauded? But you yourselves wrong and defraud—even your own brothers! (1 Cor. 6:1-8)

Warren apologist Richard Abanes, after using the threat of lawsuit to indirectly shut down Pastor Ken's website for some time before he switches over to a new ISP, and thus showing forth the fruit of the PD paradigm, has been spinning the facts and doing damage control ever since. Part of the spin is his denial that he is in violation of 1 Cor. 6:1-8, or of disobeying Mt. 18: 15-20. And as we will see, Abanes is using the exact same form of reasoning that lawyers use in attempting to get himself off the hook. Unfortunately for him, however, the commands of God are more comprehensive than the laws of the land.

Abanes' major objection to the application of 1 Cor. 6 to this situation can be seen in his own words:

So if anyone was threatened with a lawsuit, it was IPOWER!!! It was not you because that email was not to you! Pleeeze tell me, therefore, where 1 Corinthians 6 says that we, as Christians, cannot sue heathen, godless, worldly institutions when a wrong has been committed. I eagerly await your exegesis

And

Again, for the record, I did NOT:

1. File a lawsuit against Mr. Silva.

2. Threaten to file a lawsuit against Mr. Silva.

3. Contact an attorney about threatening a lawsuit against Mr. Silva

Abanes in this instance uses a strict literalist interpretation of 1 Cor. 6 and then deny that he has violated it because he did not fulfil the specifics violations stated therein. He did not file a lawsuit against Pastor Silva, or threaten him, or contact an attorney about threatening him with a lawsuit. But does this therefore take him off the hook?

The context of 1 Cor. 6:1-8 is specifically regarding conflict resolution within the Body of Christ, and must be read as such. The entire passage is telling us not to settle conflicts between believers by suing each other and thus making unbelievers judges over conflicts within the Church. This is not of course saying that we cannot judge a "Christian" who ie murders someone we love, but this is more for personal offences against each other and not for violations of the law of the land. With regards to slander/libel/ defamation etc, these are considered personal offences which the State decides to punish, and therefore although it is a violation of the law of the land to do such, it is to be regarded as a personal offence primarily.

Abanes in this instance attempts to use the evasion tactics of lawyers to escape the force of this passage as it applied to his deplorable action. First of all, he denied that he had threatened the IPower ISP with legal action, stating that the legal language placed there is his usual email template. I guess if your usual email template has death threats on it, then you can deny that you have ever send death threats to anyone based on such inane reasoning? Nonsense! Abanes' email template, if what he says is correct, is implicitly threatening people that 'failure to obey Abanes's instructions would make one liable to a potential lawsuit'. It does not really matter whether Abanes actually desires to sue or not to sue, as if a person who threatens to kill another can just get off Scot-free by stating that he actually has no desire to follow through on his threat and was 'just joking'! Abanes therefore has a bigger problem on his hand, in that his emails are always threatening the recipients with a lawsuit if they ever make any errors. I guess this fits in nicely with the litigious atmosphere of America, but somehow this does not quite fit in with the standard of Christian living expected of Christians who are called to holiness.

Abanes next tries to play around God's law by getting to Pastor Ken via a third party and then claim that he did not sue Pastor Ken, as if that means anything other than Abanes did not disobey the letter of the command. But the Scriptures are not easily subverted, for God's Word does not function like the laws of the land which must be very precise and have loopholes. Rather, God's Word functions as principles which focuses on the spirit of the Law rather than the letter of the Law, which extends beyond the mere letters of the Law. According to the ridiculous reductionistic and literalistic reading of God's Word by Abanes, it is morally permissible to lust after images of Bothans, Falleen or what have you, since they are obviously not human nor animals in any sense. Hey, the Bible does not say anything about email copyright issues either, you know!

In today's digital age, it has become possible for third parties to "settle personal conflict" by pulling articles and posts from their servers, whereas there was no such thing in the ancient world whereby everything was handwritten and you must silence the writer to do so, who typically happens to be the author also or his scribe. The Scriptures do not therefore talk about disinterested third party involvement in personal offences because there was simply none. Any 'third party' involved then would be involved in this matter and therefore not disinterested in how the conflict is resolved. With the printing press and now the Internet, such disinterested third parties exist which have the power to settle such personal conflicts/ offenses against one or both parties. Abanes' attempt to circumvent the commands of Scripture through running around it therefore exploits this "loophole" in Scripture.

God, however, is not mocked. Abanes can protest all he wants, and even use commentaries (which cannot even comprehend the modern situation and so have little if any to say about the matter) in an attempt to make himself seem biblical and righteous, when all the while he is doing a most wicked action. Abanes can run through this "loophole", but God who is all-knowing and all-just will judge him according to the spirit of the Law, not the letter. And in this, Abanes is found guilty of going to unbelievers and threatening them even in order to settle conflicts with believers, which is the principle behind 1 Cor. 6:1-8.

As for Mt. 18, I will just respond briefly here that Abanes is long on assertions and short on truth. Abanes cannot prove that Pastor Ken has truly violated the TOS of the ISP, especially since he has implicitly (knowingly or unknowingly) threatened them with a lawsuit. The whole issue is over Abanes' role and conduct as a Warren apologist which is NOT a secular matter, so Mt. 18 still holds. Well, perhaps in the event that Warren succeeds in re-creating the dominion and power of the Roman church-state, then perhaps the entire differentiation between the religious/personal/ secular does not really matter anymore.

See also:

Battles in the blogosphere ... when conflicts arise how should we respond and work towards resolve? by Steve Camp