Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Did Jesus Descend to Hell: Interacting With Grudem and Bird - Part 1

One of the great theological mysteries of Christianity regards what happened between the death and resurrection of Jesus. Theologians of all stripes fall on different sides of this debate and recently I wanted to explore a few respected theologians, Wayne Grudem and Michael Bird, both conservative theologians, who offer opposite answers to the above question and explore who offers the best answer.

When the Descent to Hell Becomes Heretical

Before we begin exploring Grudem and Bird's argument for/against Jesus's spiritual descent to hell between his crucifixion and resurrection, we need to draw the line of when we go too far on the positive side of this formula. A number of prominent voices (I hesitate to refer to them as theologians) within the prosperity gospel movement have turned the view that Jesus's descended into hell as the means by which we are saved. Thus they have, heretically I believe, taken the focus off of the cross and onto the descend of Jesus.

Consider a number of examples. First, in his book Ever Increasing Faith Messenger (first published in 1980) Fred Price wrote the following:
Do you think that the punishment for our sin was to die on a cross? If that were the case the two thieves could have paid your price. No, the punishment was to go into hell itself and to serve time in hell separated from God. Satan and all the demons of hell thought that they had Him bound and they threw a net over Jesus and they dragged Him down to the very pit of hell itself to serve our sentence. (163)
Likewise, Kenneth Hagin argued in El Shaddai:
I'm certain that all the devils of hell raced up and down the back alleys of hell rejoicing, "We've got the Son of God in our hands! We've defeated God's purpose!" But on that third morning, the God who is more than enough said, "It is enough! he has satisfied the claims of justice." (7)
Kenneth Copeland has argued the same:
Jesus was the first man to ever be born from sin to righteousness. He was the pattern of a new race of men to come, Glory to God.” You know what he did? The very first thing that this reborn man did, see you have to realize that he died, you have to realize that he went into the pit of hell as a mortal man made sin, but he didn’t stay there. Thank God he was reborn in the pit of hell.” (source)
This is not the only time Copeland made this suggestion. In "The Gates of Hell Shall Not Prevail," Copeland claims:
The power of the Almighty God began to stream down from heaven and the break the locks off the gates of hell. . . . Jesus began to stir. The power of heaven penetrated and re-created His spirit. He rose up and in a moment of super conquest, He kicked the daylights out of the devil and all those who were doing his work. . . . Then Jesus came up out of that place of torment in triumph, went back through the tomb, into His body, and walked out of there.
The arguments laid out here are problematic for a host of reasons. As usual, the prosperity heretics reveal their tendency to allow their imaginations to shape their theology more than Scripture. Consider the final quote from Copeland. Where in Scripture is Jesus described as kicking "the daylights out of the devil and all those who were doing his work?" Even more troublesome, in the same quotation, is the assertion that "The power of heaven . . . re-created His spirit" and mirrors the first Copeland quote given above. This is nothing short of rank heresy.

In addition to these one will note that for the prosperity heretics, their Christology, soteriology, and understanding of the atonement is woefully in err. The emphasis for them is not on what Christ, the unblemished God-man, accomplished at the cross ("It is finished!") but on what he accomplished in the tomb. Regardless of where one lands on the question of Jesus's descend into Hades, no doubt transferring the focus of salvation from Jesus's work on the cross to the grave is troublesome to say the least.

So before exploring both Grudem and Bird, we need to start here. Holding to Jesus's descend is not heretical barring certain conclusions. The focus must remain on the cross and the resurrection and not on the descend.

All Around the Web - January 31, 2017

Joe Carter - The FAQs: President Trump’s Executive Order on Immigrants and Refugees

David French - Trump’s Executive Order on Refugees — Separating Fact from Hysteria

Denny Burk - Sorting through the aftermath of the executive order heard round the world

David Platt - How to Respond to the Refugee Crisis

Gerald McDermott - Six of the best-kept secrets about abortion

Chuck Lawless - 12 Things Pastors Can’t Do

Thom Rainer - Five Reasons You Should Use Goal Setting for Evangelism

Sam Storms - 10 Things You should Know about the Lord’s Supper from 1 Corinthians 11:23-34

JD Greear - Performing a “Time Audit” of Your Life

Reformation21 - Remembering Dr. Iain D. Campbell

The Blaze - Watch: Amazing time-lapse captures the massive crowd marching through D.C. at the March for Life

Google -  The Year in language 2016

Babylon Bee - Confused Man Unable To Find Any Mention Of Himself In David And Goliath Narrative

Monday, January 30, 2017

"Beowulf" Translated by Dick Ringler: A Review

My favorite work of fiction is the ancient English tale Beowulf - considered to be the oldest surviving English poem. Since first being exposed to this fascinating and rich narrative, I have enjoyed reading various translations and interpretations of the poem. More recently I read Dick Ringler's translation of Beowulf and consider it to be one of the best Beowulf volumes I've read.

First, Ringler's introduction alone is worth the price of the book. In this lengthy introduction, the translator walks the reader through various themes of the poem itself as well as insights into the background, the world of the narrative, and some of its primary characters.

Ringler makes as strong of a case for a theological reading of poem as anyone I have come across. Next to Doug Wilson, I have not come across anyone who has made as clear a case for the worldview and message of the poem. Being that the poem's current form was likely written, or at least edited, by monks, there is a clear agenda of the editors. The story begins and ends with a funeral and between those two bookends we find Beowulf triumphing over three monsters who serve as types of mirrors of humanity. Grendel seems to represent jealousy (a perpetual outsider), his mother seems to represent revenge, and the dragon clearly represents greed. The beauty of Beowulf is that though these monsters may provide the primary action of the story, the sins they represent are in humanity. That is why the book begins and ends in a dirge. The hope of the narrative is not that one Beowulf-like hero will arise with each new generation, but that the cycle of monstrous revenge, greedy pillaging, and violence will only end when Christian missions speak of a crucified Savior.

Indirectly Ringler walks the reader through some of these themes. Again, the introduction itself is worth buying the book.

In addition to the lengthy introduction, Ringler provides the best translation I've come across thus far. I suspect most new to the poem prefer to read Beowulf as prose as opposed to poetry, but certainly it is a story that is much richer as poetry. Ringler provides a poetic reading of the story with each line featuring a limited range of syllables.

A sample might suffice. Here is how the poem introduces Grendel:
When darkness came
the demon set out
for the silent hall
to see how the Danes
had bedded down in it
    after their beer-drinking.
They were sound asleep,
sated and carefree
   after the banquet
a band of warriors
slumbering softly
without sorrow or dread.
He attacked them at once
with terrible swiftness,
grimly, greedily
grabbing from their beds
thirty unlucky
thanes of the king,
gloating, glorying
int he grisly deed,then shambling home
with his shameful spoil. (lines 229-250, pg 9)
The language is rich, the flow is wonderful, and the translation highlights the beauty of the original writing. I love it.

If you are a fan of this poem, I highly recommend this volume. Though I thoroughly enjoyed Tolkien's take on the poem, Ringler's take has officially become my favorite.

For more:
"Beowulf" Translated by Dick Ringler: A Review
"Beowulf": A Review
A Shrewd Apologetic: Doug Wilson's Take on Beowulf
Beowulf: Resources and Links
Clash of the Gods: Tolkien's Monsters Documentary

Theology Series:
We Are All Descendants of Cain: A Theology of Beowulf - Introduction
We Are All Descendants of Cain: A Theology of Beowulf - Why Beowulf Matters
We Are All Descendants of Cain: A Theology of Beowulf - The Story, Part 1
We Are All Descendants of Cain: A Theology of Beowulf - The Story, Part 2
We Are All Descendants of Cain: A Theology of Beowulf - The Story, Part 3
We Are All Descendants of Cain: A Theology of Beowulf -  The Theology Part 1
We Are All Descendants of Cain: A Theology of Beowulf -  The Theology Part 2
We Are All Descendants of Cain: A Theology of Beowulf -  The Theology Part 3
We Are All Descendants of Cain: A Theology of Beowulf -  The Theology Part 4
We Are All Descendants of Cain: A Theology of Beowulf -  The Theology Part 5
We Are All Descendants of Cain: A Theology of Beowulf -  The Theology Part 6
We Are All Descendants of Cain: A Theology of Beowulf -  The Theology Part 7
We Are All Descendants of Cain: A Theology of Beowulf -  Conclusion

All Around the Web - January 30, 2017

Evangelical History - The Historic Connection Between Eugenics and Abortion

John Stonestreet -  Pro-Woman, not Pro-Abortion

Wardrobe Door - 15 Stats That Show Americans Are More Pro-Life Than You Think

Hershael York -  How to Follow a Long-Tenured Pastor

Gospel Coalition - Meet the Pro-Life Group Cracking Planned Parenthood’s Favorite Market

Tim Challies - Do Children Have a Financial Obligation Toward Their Parents?

Preachers and Preaching - Why Pastors Must Pray

Gospel Coalition - 4 Reasons to Soak Yourself in the Psalms

Jared Wilson - 3 Ways Pastors Fail to Be Jesus-Full

Chuck Lawless - 7 Reasons God Leads Leaders into Tough Situations

Babylon Bee - Top 5 Most Hilarious Christian Comedies Of All Time | Satire

Friday, January 27, 2017

Canaanite Baby Killers

Doug Wilson's recent article on the recent women's march is stinging especially the following paragraph:
These are the people who, if you were talking to them about the authority of the Scriptures, would protest that the Bible cannot be taken as the Word of God because it required the extermination of Canaanite men, women and children. These are the same people who, just two days ago, were out there marching in the defense of their own right to slaughter their own children. In short, they do not object to taking of human life, but rather they object to the taking of Canaanite life by the God of Scripture. They object to this because they are obviously Canaanites, and so the whole set up makes them nervous. They do agree that the deity has the right to take life as the deity wills it—they just insist on the right to be the deity.
Once again we see that idealogy, including political and moral idealogy, is religious in nature. The debates of the day are not social but theological. The Canaanites of our day, as Wilson aptly describes them, are aghast of a God who condemns and judges - even kills - the wicked but does not hesitate to sacrifice their own children to the gods of individual expression.

Larry Bird - A Basketball Legend

HT: Steve Weaver

All Around the Web - January 27, 2017

Justin Taylor - Scientifically, When Does Human Life Begin?

The Gospel Coalition - 5 Reasons I’m Glad I Went to Seminary

Kevin DeYoung - The Case for Boredom

John Stonestreet - Are We 99% Chimps?

Chuck Lawless - 8 Traits I See in Good Worship Leaders

Thom Rainer - Six Current Trends in Land Purchases by Churches

Ligonier - The Early Symptoms of Spiritual Danger

The Point - Science? What Science?

Christianity Today - God Wants You to Get Some Sleep

The Blaze - Vast majority of Americans want 2nd and 3rd trimester abortions banned according to Marist poll

Observer - Despite What You Heard, The E-Book Market Never Stopped Growing

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Basil the Great on What the Holy Spirit Does

As quoted in Francis Chan's book Forgotten God.
What does the Spirit do? His works are ineffable in majesty, and innumerable in quantity. How can we even ponder what extends beyond the ages? What did He do before creation began? How great are the graces He showered on creation? What power will He wield in the age to come? He existed; He pre-existed; He co-existed with the Father and the Son before the ages. Even if you can imagine anything beyond the ages, you will discover that the Spirit is even further beyond. (61)
-St. Basil the Great, On the Holy Spirit

All Around the Web - January 26, 2017

Joe Carter - Planned Parenthood’s Most Misleading Statistic

Evangelical History - The Best Books to Read for Reformation 2017

Doug Wilson - Nasty Canaanite Women

John MacArthur - 8 Characteristics of the Decree of God

LifeWay Pastors - 8 Things You Need to Know About Pastor Search Committees

Justin Taylor - 4 Things to Remember When Thinking about the Curses in the Psalms

Chuck Lawless - 9 Ways to Pray about Church Opposition

Eric Metaxes - Political Correctness Is Killing Colleges

Erik Raymond - The Value of Christian Protest

Trevin Wax - Introducing the Christian Standard Bible

CNS News - 47.9%: Obama Had Lower Average Approval Rating Than Nixon or Bush

Babylon Bee - Researcher Discovers Only Bad Charles Spurgeon Sermon In Existence

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

From Spurgeon's Pulpit: Death

From his sermon Though He Were Dead:
There is an essential difference between the decease of the godly and the death of the ungodly. Death comes to the ungodly man as a penal infliction, but to the righteous as a summons to his Father's palace: to the sinner it is an execution, to the saint an undressing. Death to the wicked is the King of terrors: death to the saint is the end of terrors, the commencement of glory. To die in the Lord is a covenant blessing. Death is ours; it is set down in the list of our possessions among the "all things", and it follows life in the list as if it were an equal favour. No longer is it death to die. The name remains, but the thing itself is changed. Wherefore, then, are we in bondage through fear of death? Why do we dread the process which gives us liberty? I am told that persons who in the cruel ages had lain in prison for years suffered much more in the moment of the knocking off of their fetters than they had endured for months in wearing the hard iron; and yet I suppose that no man languishing in a dungeon would have been unwilling to stretch out his arm or leg, that the heavy chains might be beaten off by the smith. We should all be content to endure that little inconvenience to obtain lasting liberty. Now, such is death—the knocking off of the fetters; yet the iron may never seem to be so truly iron as when that last liberating blow of grace is about to fall. Let us not mind the harsh grating of the key as it turns in the lock; if we understand it aright it will be as music to our ears. Imagine that your last hour is come! The key turns with pain for a moment; but, lo, the bolt is shot! The iron gate is open! The spirit is free! Glory be unto the Lord for ever and ever!

All Around the Web - January 25, 2017

Albert Mohler - Impossible to Believe — Preaching in a Secular Culture

Owen Strachan - Gospel Hope in Hookup Culture

Salty Believer - Partnering with a Domestic Mission Field

Chuck Lawless - Steps Toward Evangelism

Thom Rainer - Seven Steps to Take If the Cartel and Bullies Run You Out of the Church

RC Sproul - The Reformation Rescued the Gospel

Ligonier - What Do We Mean When We Speak of the “Sanctity of Human Life”?

Ross Douthat - The Tempting of the Media

Pew - Almost all U.S. presidents, including Trump, have been Christians

TIME - 10 Days That Defined Barack Obama’s Presidency

CNN - Trump Inauguration Gigapixel

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Living As a Christian in a Trump Administration

Donald Trump is officially the President of the United States. Typing that still seems unreal and unbelievable. As we explore the early days of his administration let us explore how a Christian ought to approach the Trump administration.

1. Preach the Gospel

The most important work we can be engage in advancing the Kingdom of God by preaching the gospel of Christ. This is our highest calling and all that follows flows from this.

We serve our community and nation best when we love our God the most. Faithful to the gospel is, I believe, the only hope for our great nation. President Trump, like all his predecessors, is a poor savior. He will fail to deliver on all of his campaign promises. Christ, however, is forever faithful and calls on us to walk in the light as he is the Light.

As such let us continue the work of the gospel. Who occupies the nation's highest office has no effect on the mission of the church as the history of the church and present spread of Christianity even in hostile nations proves. In order to do so we must learn to not confuse the gospel with Republicanism, Trumpism, or Americanism. Let the gospel be saturated with Jesus and Jesus alone. He alone saves.

2. Pray for Our Elected Leaders

Regardless of who our leaders are, we are commanded to pray for them. Scripture is clear to this regard. Both Peter and Paul encourage their Christian audience to make supplication for Caesar even though he was one of the most godless, vile, and violent men of his day. Furthermore, it was this Caesar, Nero, who (according to tradition) had both apostles executed and other Christians tortured and killed on false pretenses. Regardless of what you may judge about President Trump, he is no Nero and Scripture demands we pray for him.

One of the best models I have come across in this regard comes from the pen of Martin Luther. In his book A Simple Way to Pray, he models a prayer by which we pray (1) for the salvation of the lost, (2) the protection of the innocent, and (3) the judgment of the wicked. Such a prayer reminds us of the role the church plays in society and the important role the state plays. God does use the state to protect the innocent and to judge the wicked and thus let us pray that God will grant our elected officials the wisdom necessary to fulfill their office.

One helpful ministry in this regard is pray1tim2.org which allows you to pray for state and national leaders. You can search by your state.

3. Promote Gospel Justice

It remains too common for many Christians to presume they can take a break from advancing the gospel and gospel causes while "their candidate" is in office. From my perspective, Donald Trump is no representative of orthodox Christianity. Nevertheless, I fear that many will think we will have to work less in the broader culture because "our guy(s)" is in power. That is not the case.

It is not the responsibility of a politician to promote Christianity and its message but the church. No administration will be able to pull back the depravity of the culture of death or the confusion of our oversexualized culture or increasing darkness. The church must advance regardless of who sits behind the Resolute Desk.

The church must continue to promote a robust pro-life message that encompasses every stage of life from conception to burial. We must continue to model and promote gospel marriages. We must continue to defend and promote religious liberty for all and not just for us. We must continue to articulate our belief that everyone is made in the image of God including our neighbors, our enemies, the unborn, the immigrant, the prisoner, the poor, and the rest.

This work will require speaking prophetically to both the culture and to elected officials including the President. Trump is bombastic and lacks moral character. As such we must speak against any verbal or political abuse of others for our loyalty is with Christ not Republicanism.

4. Prepare For the End

Scripture exhorts believes to pray "Come Lord Jesus quickly!" Such a prayer, first, reminds us that our citizenship is in heaven. Certainly the command to love our neighbor compels us into the culture and the public square (see the previous point), ultimately we must remember that our hope does not lie here but in Christ.

Secondly, preparing for the imminent return of Christ draws us to greater holiness today. Faith that Christ is coming, and coming soon, is a hope with present realities. Let our lives reflect it.

Finally, being heavenly minded makes us earthly good contrary to what others may say. CS Lewis made this point brilliantly when he wrote in Mere Christianity:
A continual looking forward to the eternal world is not (as some modern people think) a form of escapism or wishful thinking, but one of the things a Christian is meant to do. It does not mean that we are to leave the present world as it is. If you read history you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven. It is since Christians have largely ceased to think of the other world that they have become so ineffective in this. Aim at Heaven and you will get earth “thrown in:” aim at earth and you will get neither.
So let us look to heaven so we can get earth thrown in.


Though I have made some initial predictions of what a Trump presidency will look like, our hope should never be in princes or presidents. Let our hope rest solely in Christ who reigns from the right hand of God the Father.

All Around the Web - January 24, 2017

Joe Carter - 9 Things You Should Know About the Health Effects of Marijuana

Denny Burk - Did President Trump just eliminate the contraceptive mandate on the first day?

For the Church - What if You Aborted a Future Janitor?

Trevin Wax - “Alternative Facts” and Christians as Gullible Skeptics

Tim Challies - 5 Marks of a Good Funeral

Christian Post - Over 900,000 Christians Martyred for Their Faith in Last 10 Years: Report

Denny Burk - President Reagan’s stunning statement of pro-life conviction

Christianity Today - Mark Noll: My Top 5 Books to Spark Interest in History

Open Culture - Hear Beowulf Read In the Original Old English: How Many Words Do You Recognize?

Politico - President Tyler's grandkids still alive

The Hill - Trump reinstates ban on US funds promoting abortion overseas

Atlas Obscura - Sold, for $100: A Massive Shopping Mall Once Valued at $190 Million

Babylon Bee - 7 Effective Strategies For Fighting Sin

For some reason, I find this entertaining.

Monday, January 23, 2017

"Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley: A Review

Bernard shrugged his shoulders philosophically. "Anyhow," he said, "they've been doing it for the last five or six thousand years. So I suppose they must be used to it by now."

"But cleanliness is next to fordliness," she insisted.

"Yes, and civilization is sterilization," Bernard went on, concluding on a tone of irony the second hypnop├Ždic lesson in elementary hygiene. "But these people have never heard of Our Ford, and they aren't civilized. So there's no point in …"

"Oh!" She gripped his arm. "Look."

An almost naked Indian was very slowly climbing down the ladder from the first-floor terrace of a neighboring house–rung after rung, with the tremulous caution of extreme old age. His face was profoundly wrinkled and black, like a mask of obsidian. The toothless mouth had fallen in. At the corners of the lips, and on each side of the chin, a few long bristles gleamed almost white against the dark skin. The long unbraided hair hung down in grey wisps round his face. His body was bent and emaciated to the bone, almost fleshless. Very slowly he came down, pausing at each rung before he ventured another step.

"What's the matter with him?" whispered Lenina. Her eyes were wide with horror and amazement.

"He's old, that's all," Bernard answered as carelessly as he could. He too was startled; but he made an effort to seem unmoved.

"Old?" she repeated. "But the Director's old; lots of people are old; they're not like that."

"That's because we don't allow them to be like that. We preserve them from diseases. We keep their internal secretions artificially balanced at a youthful equilibrium. We don't permit their magnesium-calcium ratio to fall below what it was at thirty. We give them transfusion of young blood. We keep their metabolism permanently stimulated. So, of course, they don't look like that. Partly," he added, "because most of them die long before they reach this old creature's age. Youth almost unimpaired till sixty, and then, crack! the end."

But Lenina was not listening. She was watching the old man. Slowly, slowly he came down. His feet touched the ground. He turned. In their deep-sunken orbits his eyes were still extraordinarily bright. They looked at her for a long moment expressionlessly, without surprise, as though she had not been there at all. Then slowly, with bent back the old man hobbled past them and was gone.

"But it's terrible," Lenina whispered. "It's awful. We ought not to have come here." She felt in her pocket for her soma–only to discover that, by some unprecedented oversight, she had left the bottle down at the rest-house. Bernard's pockets were also empty.

Lenina was left to face the horrors of Malpais unaided. They came crowding in on her thick and fast. The spectacle of two young women giving breast to their babies made her blush and turn away her face. She had never seen anything so indecent in her life. And what made it worse was that, instead of tactfully ignoring it, Bernard proceeded to make open comments on this revoltingly viviparous scene. Ashamed, now that the effects of the soma had worn off, of the weakness he had displayed that morning in the hotel, he went out of his way to show himself strong and unorthodox. (110-111)

Given our Presidential choices last year and the ongoing decay of the broader culture, I found myself reading several classic dystopians. Among those was the future portrayed by Aldous Huxley in his novel Brave New World which is primarily set in London AD 2540 (or 632 "After Ford").

Huxley describes a society - a civilization that is - that has largely perfected humanity. Life is likened to an assembly line first set forth by Mr. Ford himself which is why the new dating system of this civilization begins with the founder of Ford Motor company. Children are not produced by a mom and dad (such terms are considered smut) but in factories. There, each child's life, vocation, intelligence, etc. is predetermined. Huxley goes into intricate detail describing this system of biological predestination.

This civilized society is also very debase and consumed with entertainment. This manifests itself primarily in open sexual relationships and the consumption of "soma" - a hallucinogenic drug that allows the characters to escape both reality and any fear and pain they may be experiencing.

This world also decries independent thought. In this regard, Huxley's world is similar to that of Orwell's in Nineteen Eighty-Four. In the latter book, heterodox thought is considered a "thought crime" and was punishable by death. In Huxley's world, those who chose heterodoxy are banished to an island where their thoughts cannot infect others ("God in the safe and Ford on the shelves" [231]).

An example of this is made evident in the twelfth chapter. Huxley writes:
"A New Theory of Biology" was the title of the paper which Mustapha Mond had just finished reading. He sat for some time, meditatively frowning, then picked up his pen and wrote across the title-page: "The author's mathematical treatment of the conception of purpose is novel and highly ingenious, but heretical and, so far as the present social order is concerned, dangerous and potentially subversive. Not to be published." He underlined the words. "The author will be kept under supervision. His transference to the Marine Biological Station of St. Helena may become necessary." A pity, he thought, as he signed his name. It was a masterly piece of work. But once you began admitting explanations in terms of purposewell, you didn't know what the result might be. It was the sort of idea that might easily decondition the more unsettled minds among the higher castesmake them lose their faith in happiness as the Sovereign Good and take to believing, instead, that the goal was somewhere beyond, somewhere outside the present human sphere, that the purpose of life was not the maintenance of well-being, but some intensification and refining of consciousness, some enlargement of knowledge. Which was, the Controller reflected, quite possibly true. But not, in the present circumstance, admissible. He picked up his pen again, and under the words "Not to be published" drew a second line, thicker and blacker than the first; then sighed, "What fun it would be," he thought, "if one didn't have to think about happiness!" (177)
For Mustapha Mond, the Resident World Controller of Western Europe, every society must choose between happiness and truth. His has chosen happiness (made evident in their licentiousness and soma) as a means of perfecting life. Truth requires inquiry, trial and error, and pain. And that world is simply unacceptable and dangerous. Therefore, books like the one featured above must be banned and the author must be supervised and perhaps even banished.

This paradigm comes to a head when one character, named Savage who mirrors both this civilized world and the world of pagan Native Americans, insists that the Brave New World read Shakespeare and Othello. The Controller scoffs at the idea. He explains:
"And it's what you never will write," said the Controller. "Because, if it were really like Othello nobody could understand it, however new it might be. And if were new, it couldn't possibly be like Othello."

"Why not?"

"Yes, why not?" Helmholtz repeated. He too was forgetting the unpleasant realities of the situation. Green with anxiety and apprehension, only Bernard remembered them; the others ignored him. "Why not?"

"Because our world is not the same as Othello's world. You can't make flivvers without steel–and you can't make tragedies without social instability. The world's stable now. People are happy; they get what they want, and they never want what they can't get. They're well off; they're safe; they're never ill; they're not afraid of death; they're blissfully ignorant of passion and old age; they're plagued with no mothers or fathers; they've got no wives, or children, or lovers to feel strongly about; they're so conditioned that they practically can't help behaving as they ought to behave. And if anything should go wrong, there's soma. Which you go and chuck out of the window in the name of liberty, Mr. Savage. Liberty!" He laughed. "Expecting Deltas to know what liberty is! And now expecting them to understand Othello! My good boy!"

The Savage was silent for a little. "All the same," he insisted obstinately, "Othello's good, Othello's better than those feelies."

"Of course it is," the Controller agreed. "But that's the price we have to pay for stability. You've got to choose between happiness and what people used to call high art. We've sacrificed the high art. We have the feelies and the scent organ instead." (220)
This is the world described in Neil Postman's Amusing Ourselves to Death. In pursuit of entertainment and risk-free happiness, Huxley understands you cannot have freedom . . . and books. This comes to a head later in the following exchange:
"But I like the inconveniences."

"We don't," said the Controller. "We prefer to do things comfortably."

"But I don't want comfort. I want God, I want poetry, I want real danger, I want freedom, I want goodness. I want sin."

"In fact," said Mustapha Mond, "you're claiming the right to be unhappy."

"All right then," said the Savage defiantly, "I'm claiming the right to be unhappy."

"Not to mention the right to grow old and ugly and impotent; the right to have syphilis and cancer; the right to have too little to eat; the right to be lousy; the right to live in constant apprehension of what may happen to-morrow; the right to catch typhoid; the right to be tortured by unspeakable pains of every kind." There was a long silence.

"I claim them all," said the Savage at last.

Mustapha Mond shrugged his shoulders. "You're welcome," he said. (240)
This is dystopia and it is the world we are heading toward. We do, in fact, desire risk-free entertainment apart from truth, knowledge, and genuine freedom. In this sense, Postman is right when he writes:
What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism. Orwell feared that the truth would be concealed from us. Huxley feared the truth would be drowned in a sea of irrelevance. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy. As Huxley remarked in Brave New World Revisited, the civil libertarians and rationalists who are ever on the alert to oppose tyranny "failed to take into account man's almost infinite appetite for distractions". In 1984, Huxley added, people are controlled by inflicting pain. In Brave New World, they are controlled by inflicting pleasure. In short, Orwell feared that what we hate will ruin us. Huxley feared that what we love will ruin us. (foreword, Amusing Ourselves to Death)
Overall, this work is a classic for a reason. It is a scary world and one can see why many see it as prophetic. The irony, and tragic beauty, of the tale is that their "freedom" is their slavery. One could easily argue we already live in that brave new world.

All Around the Web - January 23, 2017

Russell Moore - Christians, Let's Pray for President Trump

Justin Taylor - Bonhoeffer on Why God Does Not Fill the Emptiness When a Loved One Dies

Chuck Lawless - 12 Problems in Church Nurseries

Tim Challies - Reading Out of Love for Others

LifeWay Pastors - Pastor, You Need Some Friends

Steve Weaver - One Thing I Did Right in Ministry: “Expository Preaching”

TIME - Life at 1600

SCOTUS Blog - Timeline to confirm Scalia’s successor

CS Bible - Introducing the Christian Standard Bible

CNS News - Obama Leaves U.S.A $9,335,000,000,000 Deeper in Debt

Babylong Bee - ‘Religion Is A Parasite,’ Says Guy Living In Mom’s Basement

Saturday, January 21, 2017

President Donald Trump Inaugural Address

January 20, 2017

President Barack Obama Inaugural Addresses

January 20, 2009

January 21, 2013

President George W. Bush Inaugural Addresses

January 20, 2001

January 20, 2005

President Bill Clinton Inaugural Addresses

January 20, 1993

January 20, 1997

President George HW Bush Inaugural Address

January 20, 1989

George H.W. Bush inaugural address: Jan. 20, 1989 by cbsnews

President Ronald Reagan Inauguration Addresses

January 20, 1981

January 21, 1985

All Around the Web - January 21, 2017

Ross Douthat - The Obama Legacy

Trevin Wax - Faithfulness in the Age of Trump

Baptist21 - When You Feel Dead On The Inside: 10 Questions Every Struggling Christian Should Answer

LifeWay - How to Preach a Funeral for Someone You Do Not Know

John Stonestreet - Saving Private Manning

Chuck lawless - What People Expect from the Pulpit

Thom Rainer - Six Reasons to Consider Avoiding Cute Sermon Series Titles

The Blaze - New Iowa bill may be the most effective method ever to reduce abortions

Daniel Darling - Sanctity of Life Sunday Resources

Sean McDowell - Why Being "Blessed" is Better than Being "Happy"

Tim Challies - Praying Together

New York Times - Is Your Digital Life Ready for Your Death?

SBTS - What is the best English Bible translation?

Friday, January 20, 2017

Watch the Donald Trump Inauguration Live

Is This the Change We Needed?: A Reflection on the Obama Presidency

The Obama administration has come to an end. To some, this is a great tragedy especially with the inauguration of Donald Trump as his successor who promises to undue much of what Obama accomplished in his eight years in office. To others the day could not have come soon enough. Our nation is so divided that most are either clearly on one side or the other.

As a believer in Christ, who reigns from his glorious throne above, I cannot and will not put my hope in armies and princes. Therefore inauguration day is a significant day in the life of the nation I love, but in the grand scheme of things, it is the Lord who is sovereign over the nations. Nonetheless, this should not prevent us from reflecting on the Obama administration and certainly a few words are worth sharing on this day.

1. The Criteria Obama Should Be Judged

President Barack Obama was thrust to the scene in 2004 during the Democrat National Convention which met to officially recognize John Kerry as its candidate. Obama, himself running for his first (and only) term in the US Senate, promised to be a different kind of politician. He presented himself as a uniter who, mixed in race, could bring the various races together and lead us beyond America's history of racism. We are, as he told us, not Blue America or Red America, Black America or White America but the United States of America.

Four years later he ran for the nation's highest office under the mantra of "Hope" and "Change." It was the perfect slogan for the time as many, including conservatives and Republicans, were exhausted from the Bush administration. The Iraq War drained the American conscience and Hurricane Katrina was a microcosm of the Bush second term. America was hungry for hope and change.

Yet Senator Obama never clearly defined the terms relying instead on his own charisma and ability to read from a teleprompter. The rhetoric of "hope and change" became comical even though the electorate ate it up. In his nomination victory speech in early June 2008, Obama assured us:
The journey will be difficult. The road will be long. I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people. Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth. This was the moment - this was the time - when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves, and our highest ideals. Thank you, God Bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.
This produced the "Obamessiah" meme on the conservative side. During the 2008 campaign there were endless pictures of halo-like pictures of the candidate to go along with the promises.

In short, Obama promised everything and represented all the hopes and dreams of America. He was the incarnation of American Utopianism and it could all be yours if the speech was right. Little substance was offered, just the rhetoric. As such, Obama and his campaign were able to shield the means and their ends. While promising hope and change, they never fully showed how it would come about.

Regardless of what one believes about the Obama administration, his eight years in office should be judged by the promise of "hope and change." Did he deliver? I think not. The economy continues to stagger, we are somehow more divided as a nation, the national debt doubled, world affairs is a worse mess than before, terrorism has increased, racial harmony remains a dream, the federal government was used as a weapon against dissenters especially Christians and conservatives, and on and on it goes.

After eight years, Obama must be judged by the standard he set for himself. Much has changed, but is this the change we hoped for? Is this the change we needed? We are not better off than we were a decade ago by any measure. At the end of his administration, it is difficult to imagine that this is the hope everyone hoped for.

2. The Campaign That Never Ended

There is a very real possibility that President Trump will unravel much of President Obama's legacy. Much of what Obama "accomplished," especially in his second term, was primarily through executive orders. Those can easily be repealed. In fact, President Obama achieved less legislatively than his predecessors including the one-term Jimmy Carter.

Yet perhaps Obama's most enduring legacy will be the politicization of presidential leadership. Americans suffered through both a lengthy 2008 and 2016 presidential campaign yet between them, there was daily dose of campaign leadership from the Oval Office. Obama was always running against someone or at least the opposing party and their constituents. Republicans want children to starve, Paul Ryan is giving in to special interests, talk radio is guilty of spreading lies, the Tea Party is full of racist bigots. Instead of transcending the gutter of politics, the President was often the instigator of it thus contributing to the ongoing divide of the country. For eight years (ten if you count his first run for the presidency), Obama never ceased campaigning.

The strategy, one could say, was a smart one. By constantly campaigning, Obama kept the focus on the failures and miscues of Republicans and his predecessor. According to the 2012 election exit polling, most Americans still blamed Bush for the stagnant economy even though Obama had spent a trillion dollars in stimulus and promised that better days were ahead. To this day the economy remains dull. How often, especially in the first term, were we told that the mess was bigger than he anticipated and that his administration had to do all the mopping (signifying he's cleaning up the mess of Bush and the Republicans), etc.?

Such a leadership style, if one wants to call it that, accomplishes little and manages to demonize one's opponents over one's enemies. Case in point is President Obama's rhetoric following the Iran nuclear deal signed in 2015. Before it was presented to Congress, Republicans made it clear they did not support it. The President then said (and later doubled down on):
I realize that resorting to force may be tempting in the face of the rhetoric and behavior that emanates from parts of Iran. It is offensive. It is incendiary. We do take it seriously. But superpowers should not act impulsively in response to talks… Just because Iranian hardliners chant ‘Death to America” does not mean that that’s what all Iranians believe. In fact, it’s those hardliners that are more satisfied with the status quo. It’s those hardliners chanting “death to America” who’ve been most opposed to the deal. They’re making common cause with the Republican Caucus.
Such rhetoric is unbecoming of the presidency yet was too common in the Obama administration.

Obama's political gift is campaigning, not leadership and thus a constant campaign was his leadership style. As a result, he accomplished less and divided us more. It is easy to blame the division of America exclusively on Trump but that is a narrow view. In many ways, Donald Trump is President Obama's child.

3. Racism Increased

Obama came on the scene promising an end to racial strife in America and was the hope of most Americans including staunch conservatives. Eight years later, however, the racial divide is worse. Obama understood that his identity as the first Africa-American president was a political advantage. The Democrat Party has since become the party of demographics as the 2012 presidential election illustrated. Under his leadership, Americans were defined by their love of country, but by their demographics. Now we are black voters, female voters, white voters, Christian voters, Hispanic voters, young voters, etc.

This is the issue that will likely befuddle many Americans. No doubt his election brought with it the hope of racial reconciliation yet the opposite took place. Throughout his administration, Obama showed his propensity to view the world racially. Early in his first term Obama entered into a local matter commenting on the arrest of Professor Henry Louis Gates thus making it a national issue. Obama's initial reaction was to suggest that the police officers "acted stupidly." Later he would repeatedly comment on open cases before all the evidence was considered presuming guilt on the non-minority persons. Add to this the actions of the attorney general and no wonder racial strife increased under his campaign leadership.

If Obama is wondering why a high percentage of Caucasians voted for Trump (I was not one of them), then he need not look past his own reflection. For many, to be a white, conservative male was to be a target of the Obama administration.

It is clear to me that when it comes to race in America, there is no other answer than the gospel of Christ which understands that we are neither Jew or Greek, male or female, but one in Christ. Hope and change will clearly not come down from the Resolute Desk.

4. Religious Liberty Threatened

President Obama's so-called evolution on same-sex marriage has resulted in the most serious threat to religious liberty in our nation's history. One can no longer be a conscientious objector to the Obergefell oligarchs without being punished, to the full extent of the law, by local, state, and federal laws, courts, judges, and executives. To be a Christian or a person of faith is to be an enemy of Obama's America.

From the perspective of many conservative Christians, erotic liberty is an idol that the state demands we all bow down to at the sound of the music. To refuse will result in bakeries being shut down, photographers being fined, CEOs fired, and forever to be branded a cultural heretic.

The Obama administration has pursued so-called bigots with a sort of focus that most wish he had toward our true enemies. Although all of this was predicable in 2008 (surely no one really believed he evolved on the marriage issue right?), few believed the speed in which the state would target its own people who still have a conscience.

Moving forward, America must rekindle a traditional understanding of religious liberty. This is more than a matter of who occupies the White House, but reshaping how Americans think on this issue.

I am officially a two-issue voter: life and (religious) liberty.


I have often wanted to compare the Obama administration to that of the Woodrow Wilson administration. Both presidents led America down a progressive path it never recovered from. Both Wilson and Obama are progressive radicals that many Americans still refuse to believe they are who they are. Though I believe Obama's eight years has been largely negative for America in virtually every way, one must admit that Obama has largely been free to do most of what he wanted to. What remains to be seen is if the change Obama brought (I see little hope mind you) will be lasting. The answer will come from his successor: newly inaugurated Donald J. Trump.

In the end, as a Christian I am reminded of the eternal truth that hope and change does not rule from the West Wing but from the right hand of the throne of God. That is good news indeed and it is a gospel I would rather spread than that of Obamaism or Trumpism.

For more:
What Is To Be Our Response? Living as a Christian in an Obama Administration (Published January 20, 2009) 

All Around the Web - January 20, 2017

Kevin DeYoung - 9 Myths about Abortion Rights and Roe v. Wade

Christianity Today - Compassion Has 'Very Little Hope' for India, Sets Deadline to Shut Down Sponsorships

Gospel Coalition - How Did America’s Founding Generation Read the Bible?

Eric Metaxes - Gender and Gravity as Social Constructs

Chuck Lawless - 10 Lessons about Ministry and the Internet

Practical Shepherd - How does a pastor know when to make changes in his church?

LifeWay Pastors - Calling a Ministry Time-out

Triablogue - Why I'm not Catholic

Yahoo! News - Schedule of events for Trump's inauguration

Washington Times - Obama scores the worst legislative record in history

Lexington Herald-Leader - How Donald Trump came up with 'Make America Great Again'

BBC - The man who tried to photograph thoughts and dreams

Babylon Bee - Holy Spirit Empowers Man To Make It Through Christian Movie

Thursday, January 19, 2017

4 Predictions for the Trump Presidency

Not since incumbent President Harry S. Truman upset Thomas Dewey in the 1948 Presidential election has the American people, let alone the American press and pundits, been shocked by an election's results. Donald Trump's defeat of Hillary Clinton is nothing short of astounding. From the beginning, the former Secretary of State was expected to waltz into the White House especially after the GOP chose a loose canon for their candidate. Yet it was not to be.

Donald J. Trump is the President-elect.

I have already offered a few initial thoughts on the election (you can read those here). I now want to consider a few predictions regarding the Trump administration. I confess I am not a prophet nor a son of a prophet, but I am confident some of these will come true.

1. The First 100 Days Could Be an Exciting Time for Conservatives Thanks to Obama

I have little confidence in politicians or elected officials - even outsiders like Donald Trump. The reason is rather simple. First, politics is a swamp (to use the term Trump used widely during the campaign). Secondly, the system is built to prevent change. Our founders developed a political system of checks and balances where one branch, theoretically at least, does not have more power than other, as a means to delay the increase of government. The problem with this is that it works against downsizing government. It has taken progressives a century to lead us where we are today, conservatives are foolish to believe Trump can clean out the swamp in 100 days. Thirdly, politicians and those in power are corrupt and there is, frankly, nothing in Trump's character or past that suggests to me he is a man of integrity or humility.

Nevertheless, there is one major advantage Trump has on day 1. Much of Obama's progressive agenda he implemented, especially after 2010 when Republicans won the House of Representatives, via executive order. Obama, one may remember, famously told Congress he didn't need them because he had a pen in one hand and a phone in another. As a result, President Obama achieve very little legislatively. Beyond Obamacare, which will be extremely difficult to dismantle, what really passed? Thus on day 1 Trump can override a number of key Obama agenda items from immigration, to health care, to foreign policy, to national security, etc. This could make the first day exciting for conservatives.

Beyond that Trump may have some leeway during the first 100 days. Some, though not much. It is very likely he will appoint a new Supreme Court justice during that time. It is very possible he can take the first steps in initiating some of his key campaign promises. If he does these things, these first hundred days could be magical for conservatives much in the same way the first one hundred days of the Obama administration where wonderful for progressives eight years ago.

2. Trump Derangement Syndrome Will Be Far Worse Than Bush Derangement Syndrome

The eight years of the Bush administration were frustrating as a conservative American for the simple reason that the left, and their supporters in a liberal press, were on edge constantly. They loathed Bush and blamed him, literally for everything. Furthermore, they demonized Bush in unpatriotic ways. I will never forget how the left praised a movie about the assassination of the sitting president.

If the "fallout" of the 2016 election has shown us everything, from outlandish headlines to riots in the streets from snowflake college students, it is that Trump Derangement Syndrome will be far worse than it was during the Bush administration. The reaction has been so outlandish that many #NeverTrumpers, I are one mind you, are beginning to become more sympathetic to Trump and are more excited about the possibilities in a Trump presidency. Once again the left is overplaying its hand.

The difference between Bush and Trump in this regard should be obvious. Bush refuse to sully the office of the president - a position I continue to respect him for. Even his post-presidency is one that is admirable. Trump, however, is not wired that way. He is combative and values loyalty over everything. He will be constantly waging war against the American press and any detractors including those in his own party. Remember that Trump won, he believes, largely without the support of many in the Republican party. He also knows that the press did all that it could to stop him (after he got the nomination mind you).

I anticipate that the next four years will be an ugly four years on both sides and after a promising first few days and weeks, little will actually get accomplished domestically.

3. The Return of the Body Counts

Daily life during the Bush administration was the press's daily updating of deaths in both Iraq and Afghanistan. I am not entirely against this though clearly it these reports had an agenda. However, once President Obama was elected, these reports, though still readily available, are not are prominent as they once were. When was the last time the press pressed the President on foreign policy in general and Afghanistan in particular? Iraq is a mess largely due to his decision to pull troops prematurely.

From my research Afghanistan was far bloodier for American troops during the Obama administration than the Bush administration. Between 2001 and 2008, 464 soldiers died with 2008 being the bloodiest with 153 American military lives lost (the least bloodiest was 2001 with 7 and 2007 with 11). During the Obama administration, from 2009-2014, 1,679 American military lives were lost. The bloodiest year was 2010 with 496 which is more than the entire Bush campaign and yet the American people were not inundated with these numbers the way they were during President George W. Bush's administration.

Expect a return to the deluge of body counts the second President Trump decides to mobilize American troops overseas.

4. Trump Will Be Trump and this Will Hurt Republicans in the Midterms

Traditionally the party in power suffers in the midterm elections. Clinton suffered greatly in 2014 and Obama was "shellacked" (his word) in 2010. President Bush faired well in 2002 but was destroyed in 2006 when the Democrats took control of both houses of Congress. Expect the same to happen to Republicans in 2018.

Even more than that though, Trump's temperament will likely hurt him. If he spends more time warring against his own citizens and other politicians rather than moving the country forward, he will be decimated in the midterms and Republicans will blame him for it.

While now may be a glorious time to be a Republican, I believe it will quickly fade. That is the way of politics especially when you choose a man like Trump as your party's standard bearer.

For more:
A Few Thoughts on the Election of Donald Trump

Doug Wilson on the Election Aftermath

All Around the Web - January 19, 2017

Russell Moore - Should We Celebrate the Falling Abortion Rate?

NPR - U.S. Abortion Rate Falls To Lowest Level Since Roe v. Wade
John Stonestreet - Prosperity Prayer at the Inauguration

Trevin Wax - Christians Must Be Myth Busters

ERLC - Where do we go from here? Racial reconciliation in 2017

Wardrobe Door - When a Women’s March Doesn’t Want All Women

Chuck Lawless - 16 “Leadership Pauses” that Matter

Erik Raymond - The Kingdom Consoles and Compels Us

Thom Rainer - Should a Staff Person Fill the Pulpit When There Is No Pastor?

New York Times - Chelsea Manning to Be Released Early as Obama Commutes Sentence

Kentucky Today - Lexington abortion clinic – 1 of 2 in Kentucky – is closing

Babylon Bee - Joel Osteen Signs Endorsement Deal With Colgate

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

What Expository Preaching is Not

About a year before becoming a student at Boyce College, the undergraduate arm of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, I picked up a book edited by John MacArthur entitled Rediscovering Expository Preaching: Balancing the Science and Art of Biblical Exposition. I bought the book because it was a preaching book from John MacArthur - pure and simple. I had no idea what "expository" meant and looking back I realize that this seasoned book was my first exposure to expository preaching.

Today, I am primarily an expository preacher.

In the first chapter, Richard Mayhue defines what expository preaching is and is not.

First, what expository is not:
1. It is not a commentary running from word to word and verse to verse without unity, outline, and pervasive drive.

2. It is not rambling comments and offhand remarks about a passage without a background of thorough exegesis and logical order.

3. It is not a mass of disconnected suggestions and inferences based on the surface meaning of a passage but not sustained by a depth-and-breadth study of the text.

4. It is not pure exegesis, no matter how scholarly, if it lacks a theme, thesis, outline, and development.

5. It is not a mere structural outline of a passage with a few supporting comments but without other rhetorical and sermonic elements.

6. It is not a topical homily using scattered parts of the passage but omitting discussion of other equally important parts.

7. It is not chopped-up collection of grammatical findings and quotations from commentaries without a fusing of these elements into a smooth, flowing, interesting, and compelling message.

8. It is not a Sunday-school-lesson type of discussion that has an outline of the contents, informality, and fervency but lacks sermonic structure and rhetorical ingredients.

9. It is not a Bible reading that links a number of scattered passages treating a common theme but fails to handle any of them in a thorough grammatical, and contextual manner.

10. It is not the ordinary devotional or prayer-meeting talk that combines running commentary, rambling remarks, disconnected suggestions, and personal reactions into a semi-inspiration discussion but lacks the benefit of the basic exegetical-contextual study and persuasive elements. (10)
I will add only slightly to this list.

First, expository preaching is not a sermon on what I think about the text. Expository preaching forces the preacher to take the text seriously. If at any point you contemplate on what the text "might mean to me" then you are doing it wrong. The sermon is not the place for personal preference or opinion.

Secondly, expository preaching is not a lecture on the hermeneutics of a text without a clear application of the text. This is the opposite extreme of the previous point. Many young ministers listen to pastors like John MacArthur and Martin Lloyd-Jones and are under the delusion that great preaching ignores practical application. Every sermon should be about Jesus and therefore it should convict the heart and transform the lives of those humbly listening. Exegesis without application is not proper exposition.

Thirdly, expository preaching is not the only type of preaching one should explore. I consider myself an expositor but that does not mean I bounce from one book to another throughout my ministry or try to spend more time in a given book than all of my expository preaching friends. Just because you spent three weeks more in Colossians than the next guy doesn't mean your a better preacher.

Furthermore, we ought to take advantage of other type of sermons including, but not limited to, doctrinal preaching, social engagement preaching, stand alone sermons, holiday and special occasion sermons, and even the occasional topical sermon.

All Around the Web - January 17, 2017

Evangelical History - Reading King’s Letter from Birmingham Jail

Kevin DeYoung - Simplicity in Preaching

Denny Burk - Should we avoid praying for Donald Trump by name in public worship?

LifeWay Pastors - 5 Truths About Great Ministry Leaders

Daniel Darling - Editor Series: How writing changed Marvin Olasky’s life

Cal Thomas - Not so Golden Globes

Chuck Lawless - Why and How My Wife and I Give to the Church

Thom Rainer - Seven Questions to Ask if You Barely Receive a Positive Vote to Go to a Church

The Blaze - Droves of Middle East Muslims are converting to Christianity

Quartz - A lawyer rewrote Instagram’s privacy policy so kids and parents can have a meaningful talk about privacy

Tim Challies - How Well Do You Know Your Hymns? (A Quiz)

Fox News - New evidence suggests D.B. Cooper may have worked for Boeing

Monday, January 16, 2017

"NKJV Word Study Bible": A Review

I have an abundance of Bible's in my library consisting of multiple translations, styles, and types. We truly live in a wonderful age when it comes to access and understanding God's Word. Recently I was given a copy of Thomas Nelson's NKJV Word Study Bible which is unique from the rest of Bible's on my shelves.

The Word Study Bible helps the reader better understand the deeper meaning of important words of the biblical text. It promotes itself as possessing "1,700 easy-to-understand Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek word studies, plus thousands of cross references to word studies." Being that this is the primary feature that sells that Bible, perhaps a few examples be helpful.

In Genesis 1:1, the Word Study Bible highlights "create" which the note tells us:
(Heb. bara) (Gen. 1:27; 6:7; Is. 45:18; 65:17) 1254: God alone has the power to create everything out of nothing, whether it's 'the heavens and the earth' (Gen. 1:1), people (Gen. 1:27), or everything in between. Of course, God also has the power to destroy, as happens during the Flood (Gen. 6:7). The book of Isaiah is filled with references to the creative power of God (Gen. 40:26; 41:20; 42:5; 43:1, 7; 45:8, 12), emphasizing His uniqueness and superiority over all earthly gods. God promises that he will create a 'new heavens and a new earth' for us to dwell in, a promise that is initiated with the birth of Jesus and finds its fulfillment in the prophecy in Revelation. (1)
On "Eden" in Genesis 2:15:
(Heb eden) (Gen. 2:8; Ezek. 36:35; Joel 2:3) H5731: This word is a proper noun designating the place where God planted a garden for Adam and Even (Gen. 2:8). It is probably based on a word indicating luxury, delight, pleasure, and bliss. This base word expresses the feelings of Sarah at the prospect of finally bearing a child (Gen. 18;12), as well other pleasures that come from God (Ps. 36:8). Economically, it denotes luxurious clothing and other delicacies (2 Sam. 1:24). While the expression Garden of Eden is prevalent, Ezekiel speaks of the "trees of Eden" four times (Ezek. 31:9-18). It truly was a "Garden of Bliss." (3-4)
Finally, on "propitiation" in Romans 3:25:
(Gr. hilasterion) (Heb. 9:5) G2435: Used twice in the New Testament, this term is derived from the Greek verb hilaskomai, a word that has three meanings: (1) "to placate" or "to appease"; (2) to be propitious and merciful"; or (3) "to make propitiation for someone." The New Testament never describes people appeasing God. Instead as Luke 18;13 and 1 John 2:2 make clear, the New Testament describes God as being merciful to, or making propitiation, for us. God provides a merciful expiation, or atonement, of the sins of believers through the death of Christ. But since Paul also speaks of God's wrath, it must also speak of the conciliation of God's anger by means of a sacrifice - namely, the sacrifice of His Son. John states that God demonstrated His love to us by sending His son to become "the propitiation for our sins" (1 John 4:10). Just as the blood of the sin offering was sprinkled on the altar, so Christ's death brings us into fellowship with God. (1296)
This entry is important because of the theological implications. I believe the editors got this one right.

Overall, this is a helpful resource to have on your shelf especially if you are interesting in a deeper study of God's Word. Though word studies can be abused, they are crucial to "rightly dividing the" Word of God. Resources like this go a long way to help us do just that.

I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

All Around the Web - January 16, 2017

Albert Mohler - Secularism, Preaching, and the Challenges of Modernity

Christianity Today - ‘Worst Year Yet’: The Top 50 Countries Where It’s Hardest to Be a Christian

Joe Carter - Why Christians Should Support Rehabilitation for the Charleston Church Shooter

Owen Strachan - The Hot ‘New’ Church Growth Method

The Gospel Coalition - The Rise of Reformed Christianity in the World’s Largest Muslim Country

Washington Post - If colleges keep killing academic freedom, civilization will die, too

Charlotte Observer - Gay teacher who lost job at Charlotte Catholic High sues, alleging discrimination

Read more here: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/loca l/education/article125835989.html#storylink=cpy

Thom Rainer - Five Church Communications Questions for the New Year

Danny Franks - Don’t Waste Your Welcome Center

Chuck Lawless - 10 Questions I Have for Small Group Leaders

Logos Talk - Why the Ark of the Covenant Will Never Be Found