On College Expos and Returning to the Creation Museum

This past Saturday I took a group of teens to the Creation Museum for the College Expo they were having.

A note to college reps: I know why you are there. You know why you are there. But there is a way to politely cut off talking with a pastor so that you may talk to a prospective student. Again, I know why you are there, but being overly rude to pastors, or youth pastors, etc isn’t exactly going to help your cause in the long run.

It was funny to watch the reps from Fairhaven. Whenever a girl would walk up, the eyes of the reps would ever so quickly drop down to see what sort of garments were covering (or not covering) the legs. (Both the reps were female BTW. They weren’t being pervs…)

It was good to talk a bit with the reps from an Alma Mater. And a bit sad. I am praying for you.

As for the Creation Museum…

It was the second time I have visited. The last time was about three years ago. The facilities and displays are beginning to show their age. I don’t know how one goes about dusting some of those dioramas, but it should probably be done. Same things goes for man of the life-size displays.

Hey guys: before you sink 25 million into to a boat (pun somewhat intended) you might want to give a little attention to what you already have.

I had a very good time with a group of kids that I could not have been happier about.

How to prove Paul did not write certain New Testament books

In studying Titus 3:3-8 I came across this fine example of exegetical haberdashery from Raymond F. Collins[1]:

“Works of righteousness” (ergon ton en dikaiosyne) has a Pauline ring, but the apostle did not actually use the phrase “in righteousness” (en dikaiosyne). Writing about righteousness or justification, Paul occasionally used a prepositional phrase that includes “righteousness” as the object of the preposition, but the preposition is either eis, “in,”…or dia, “through,” “on account of”… The prepositional phrase used by the Pastor is, however, found in four pseudepigraphic epistles all influenced in some degree by the writings of Paul (Titus 3:5; 2 Tim. 3:16; Eph. 4:24; 2 Pet. 1:1; . . .

By way of explanation, Collins refers to the author of Titus as “the Pastor” since Paul-obviously!- did not write it. And note the unassailable logic that is used to demonstrate that Paul did not write Titus: “We know Paul did not write Titus because the author uses the same phrase found in other books that Paul did not write- Ephesians and 2 Timothy.” Ah yes. Well of course.

I believe this is what is called “begging the question.”

And the poverty is noteworthy.

In contrast to Collins, Donald Guthrie[2] comments of the same passage:

The negative statement not by works of righteousness which we have done is intended to bring out by way on contrast the absolute character of the divine mercy in the next phrase. RSV has a better rendering of the Greek, ‘not because of deeds done by us in righteousness’. The word dikaiosune (righteousness) here denotes observance to the Mosaic Law, in complete agreement with Paul’s general usage.

[1] Raymond F. Collins, I & II Timothy and Titus (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2002), 363.

[2] Donald Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1984), 204.

Rob Bell Love Wins Plagiarism!!!

There, while they stood in a green wood
And marvelled still on Ill and Good,
Came suddenly Minister Mind.
‘In the heart of sin doth hell begin:
’Tis not below, ’tis not above,
It lieth within, it lieth within:’
(‘Where?’ quoth Love)

‘I saw a man sit by a corse;
Hell’s in the murderer’s breast: remorse!
Thus clamored his mind to his mind:
Not fleshly dole is the sinner’s goal,
Hell’s not below, nor yet above,
’Tis fixed in the ever-damned soul—’
‘Fixed?’ quoth Love—

These two stanza’s are from Sidney Lanier’s poem, How Love Looked For Hell. As I read the poem it seems to be a pretty vanilla late 19th century work, technically sound, lyrically overwrought, philosophically shallow. Like Bell in Love Wins, Lanier wants his readers to believe that wherever Love is, hell cannot be.

Rob Bell has not said anything new. Nor has he said anything profound. We can only hope his teaching meets the same fate as Lanier’s poetry- destined to be relegated in forgotten books.

New Christian History issue 100: Happy 400th Birthday KJV

Yesterday the mailman was kind enough to deliver my issue of Christian History. As explained in the editor’s note, the publishing rights of the magazine have reverted to the Christian History Institute after Christianity Today gave them up in 2010. This being 2011, the issue is devoted to the initial publishing of the King James Bible in 1611.

While I might offer a more in-depth review later, here are some initial thoughts.

Wow! The magazine is attractive. There are pictures on nearly every page. Print media are struggling with viability in today’s digital world-all should consider what CH has done. The pictures are article-relevant (not just pics for pics sake) and while they are numerous, they are not obtrusive in the text. The page stock is thick and glossy. This is not a magazine put together on the cheap.

The magazine is informative. I knew the Geneva Bible remained more popular than the KJV for some time, but never realized one of the reasons was the typeface each version used. The Geneva had a simpler, easier-to-read font. The Geneva Bible was so popular and well-respected that the Translators of the KJV quoted the Geneva Bible in their preface, not their own translation! I had never heard of the “Bible riots” in the 1840’s. I hope contemporary KJV-only folks don’t get any ideas!

I encourage you to check it out. As the editorial states, the publishing of future issues of Christian History is not a guarantee. Check it out and support this valuable effort. You can go to www.christianhistorymagazine.org to get a taste of the new product.

The Trials of The Trials of Theology- A Negative Review

The Trials of Theology is categorized by many as a “must buy.”  The book is glowingly endorsed by Reformation-theology luminaries John Piper, Thomas Schreiner, and Keith Mathison and is favorably reviewed by Nathan Pitchford and Mike Leake.  Aside from Leake’s slight misgivings (which I agree with) I have not seen any “negative” criticism of it.    I think it is deserving of some.

The Trials of Theology is weakest where the hands of the editors are most apparent.  When I got the book and surveyed the contents I was looking forward to reading the chapter from Bonhoeffer entitled Becoming Real Theologians.  I have not read a lot of Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, Life Together, and Psalms: The Prayer book of the Bible are the only works I can think of, but I have enjoyed what I have read.  Knowing something about his life and death, and seeing the title I was hopeful when I came to it.  Unfortunately the German has suffered greatly at the hands of his translators.

I found the translation of Kay Avery and Brian Rosner…distracting:  which is about the kindest thing I can say.  Throughout, the reader has forced upon him the dreaded language of 21st century PC-speech rather than that of a man who truly struggled with the implications of his faith and the implication of holding to his faith.  The first sentence is representative of most of what is wrong—grammatically and ontologically—with the inclusive language movement:

However, the person who actually thinks that he or she is only able to study theology should not imagine that they are better in any way than other students.

I am not sure whether this “person” in question is a hermaphrodite (“he or she”) or suffers from multiple personality disorder (“they”); but whichever the ailment is, he/she/they might have greater trials than simply theology.  Was Bonhoeffer this unambiguous when he wrote in 1933?  I have not noticed this tendency is his other works that I have read, so I am prone to attribute it to his translators.  Perhaps a chapter on the ever-advancing feminization of the faith would have been warranted in this work.

The very next chapter in the Voices Past section is supposedly by C.S. Lewis.  I wish that it were.  Rather, Inner Circles and True Inclusion is Andrew Cameron’s commentary on Lewis’ treatment of the topic with selected Lewis quotes scattered throughout.  I read the essay with sighs and shaking of head.  At the risk of falling into the same error I am about to outline, I offer a quote from Lewis’ famous introduction to Athanasius’ De Incarnatione Verbi Dei

There is a strange idea abroad that in every subject the ancient books should be read only by the professionals, and that the amateur should content himself with the modern books. Thus I have found as a tutor in English Literature that if the average student wants to find out something about Platonism, the very last thing he thinks of doing is to take a translation of Plato off the library shelf and read the Symposium. He would rather read some dreary modern book ten times as long, all about “isms” and influences and only once in twelve pages telling him what Plato actually said. The error is rather an amiable one, for it springs from humility. The student is half afraid to meet one of the great philosophers face to face. He feels himself inadequate and thinks he will not understand him. But if he only knew, the great man, just because of his greatness, is much more intelligible than his modern commentator. The simplest student will be able to understand, if not all, yet a very great deal of what Plato said; but hardly anyone can understand some modern books on Platonism. It has always therefore been one of my main endeavours as a teacher to persuade the young that firsthand knowledge is not only more worth acquiring than secondhand knowledge, but is usually much easier and more delightful to acquire.

I know nothing about Andrew Cameron except what is written on the author blurb on the back of Trials.  But he seems to be pretty familiar with Lewis, so I find it hard to believe he is not familiar with this quote or its source.  I cannot help but wonder why Cameron did not heed Lewis’ counsel and just include Lewis’ own essay on the subject rather than his own commentary on it.  Lewis seemed to have a pretty good career by clearly communicating profound truths.  I’m prone to think he could have done just fine explaining himself without Cameron’s help.

Would I recommend this book? No, not really.  I think it is somewhat a waste of money considering:

  • The entries of Augustine, Luther, Spurgeon, and Warfield are available free online.
  • The Bonhoeffer translation is an inclusivistic mangle (But if you are not put off by PC language, you will have a different reception than I.)
  • The Lewis chapter isn’t Lewis

If “this is the book that so many of us have been waiting for,”  I think we have set our sights a bit too low.  In place of this book I would highly recommend Thielicke’s A Little Exercise for Young Theologians.  It is of similar size and price, but the material is much more even and was much more beneficial to me.