WELCOME to the March edition of our blog (actually our monthly E-zine). If you find something inspirational or usable, rejoice. If not, tell me and I will try to do better next month.
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16).
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Pandering to the Present Age
“Today much of the professing church has gone in for theatrics, running a showboat instead of a lifeboat, staging a performance instead of living an experience, a ‘form of godliness without the power thereof.’ We are playing to the grandstand of a pagan age. What a different ‘show’ from the apostles and early Christians dying for Christ before howling thongs in the Coliseum! We are not sufferers in the arena; we are spectators in the grandstand. We have come a long way from the catacombs!”
– The Vance Havner Quotebook, p. 22; compiled by Dennis J. Hester
American colleges are overrun with liberal faculty
Three such studies, conducted by two sets of researchers, analyzed the politics and ideologies of college faculty. Across the board, results indicate that our institutions of higher learning, both private and public, are thoroughly dominated by political and cultural liberals.
In “Politics and Professional Advancement Among College Faculty” by Stanley Rothman, S. Robert Lichter and Neil Nevitte, 72% of professors describe themselves as “left/liberal.” That’s about four times as liberal as the general public. Among elite universities, that number was 87%.
The same study, published in the March issue of The Forum, an on-line political science journal, indicated that professors’ beliefs translate into strong support for controversial issues. These include the acceptance of homosexuality, abortion rights and extramarital cohabitation. – Rusty Benson, AFA Journal, June 2005
One wonders: Do Pentecostal parents ever think of these issues when pushing their sons and daughters to go sit at the feet of fools (atheistic professors, Psalm 14:1). Could that be one of the reasons we are losing over three fourths of our youth to the world?
In pre-WWII Germany, those who did not stand together against the Hitler Nationalist Socialist regime, paid the ultimate price.
They came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist.
Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant.
Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.
– Martin Niemoeller, on a monolith at the New England Holocaust Memorial
Wedding or marriage?
That’s about all a bride-to-be can think about in the final few months before a wedding. But after the wedding comes a marriage. The average girl hasn’t given much thought to that. That is why the first few months and years of a marriage, when reality sets in, can be rocky indeed. “I didn’t know it was going to be like this,” she might loudly proclaim.
That is not too different from coming to God. The elements of conversion might seem exciting to some. Pray, repent, get baptized and receive the Holy Spirit. What a wonderful gateway into the kingdom of God.
But—again—after the wedding comes a marriage. Learning to live together is the difficult part. Self-denial. Humility. The relinquishing of sole authority. The disciplines of lordship. “I didn’t know it was going to be like this,” we have all heard folks say.
A survey was taken among couples who had been married fifty years or more. What was the primary reason they were able to stay together for so long? Invariably, the answer came back: good communication.
Wouldn’t that answer be the same for those who are trying to live successfully for God? Good communication would include prayer, patience, love that transcends circumstances, and thoughtful understanding. That is why pre-marital counseling is so vital.
Will multiculturalism work any better in the church than it does in the culture?
In a recent interview (2/10/11), French President Nicolas Sarkozy declared that state multiculturalism is a failure. German Chancellor Angela Merkel, also recently threw in the towel on the socio-ethnic experiment. Merkel declared in a speech (CNN) to a group of young people that multiculturalism has been totally unsuccessful in Germany. “The approach of saying, ‘Well, let’s just go for a multicultural society, let’s co-exist and enjoy each other,’ this very approach has failed, absolutely failed,” she said. UK Prime Minister David Cameron joined ranks with Merkel and Sarkozy by declaring Britain’s multicultural policies a “failure.”
Britain is in a major crisis because of lax immigration procedures. When immigrants want to establish a state within a state for their particular ethnic group to “protect their heritage and culture,” the end of that path is pluralism, which means an end to that country’s national identity. Immigrants should be willing to become a part of the host country’s “melting pot” or be denied entrance and citizenship. We still have the melting pot but nobody’s melting!
Of course, those who hold to that view are apt to be falsely dubbed as racists and haters, or worse. But if no one speaks out, who will be motivated to stand against multiculturalism, or be prepared to face its inevitable consequences? Already Americans are seeing the evidence of ethnic battle lines being drawn in the sand. Collapse is only a matter of time if we do not wake up to the dangers of multiculturalism and pluralism. Right now someone is writing America’s obituary.
The spirit at work in society is also at work in the church. A “live and let live” philosophy is becoming pervasive. The “big tent” ideology is popular. Everyone doesn’t have to believe and preach the same thing. As long as folks behave themselves morally and pay their dues, leave them alone. Someday that philosophy will be our downfall unless it is curbed while there is still time. Voices of those who refuse to uphold doctrinal and lifestyle standards will be as strong as those who are solid and committed. Christian pluralism is the goal of some well-placed liberal thinkers. Only fools count diversity as a strength. The Bible teaches us it is unity. More stringent licensure procedures, enforcement of our Articles of Faith, and avoidance of ecumenicalism represent our only hope.
I am reminded of the hollow, wooden box carved in the shape of the Virgin Mary, found in the basement of the headquarters of the local Catholic inquisition in Toledo, Spain. In the middle ages, “heretics” were placed inside it and the lid closed. Inside were steel spikes. The closing of the strange “sarcophagus” drove them deeply into the heretic’s body. The procedure was called “the embrace of the Virgin.”
If Pentecostals adopt a pluralism stance, embracing many views as equally orthodox, it will be the embrace of death.
There are consequences to everything
“The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.” —Herbert Spencer, English Philosopher (1820-1903)
What is the “kingdom of God”? Is it different from the “kingdom of heaven?”
The kingdom of God is the spiritual realm where He reigns and exercises kingly authority, presently in the hearts of Christian believers (Matthew 4:8; Luke 4:5; Matthew 24:7; Mark 6:23; Revelation 16:10). God’s kingdom will take on more literal attributes after the Second Coming of Christ ushers in the Millennium (Revelation 20:1-10).
The scope of the present kingdom of God includes those who have been born again and who have submitted to His authority. While God is the ultimate sovereign over all of creation (I Timothy 6:15), His kingdom does not include unbelievers. They are in the kingdom of darkness (Ephesians 6:12; I Thessalonians 5:4; Colossians 1:13; I Peter 2:9), serving under Satan’s rule. It is the task of the church to give visible witness to the invisible kingdom of God. This witness takes the form of “righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost” (Romans 14:17).
There is an “already” and a “not yet” aspect to the kingdom of God. The invisible, spiritual kingdom is already here, but the “not yet” aspects of earthly rule are still future and will be consummated when He returns to judge the world (Matthew 24:30; Luke 21:27; Revelation 19:11-20; 20:1-6). The ultimate fulfillment of the kingdom will occur when Christ finally triumphs over all evil and opposition (I Corinthians 15:24-28).
The “kingdom of heaven” is an interchangeable term used by Matthew, considered by most Bible scholars to be a linguistic variation of the same idea (Matthew 19:23,24).
– Source: The New Cyclopedic Theological Dictionary
We should have known
Finally, Rob Bell reveals who he really is—a universalist. In his new book Love Wins, Bell explains that there is no hell for lost sinners, and that no one should worry about being lost—“a loving God would never sentence human souls to eternal suffering.” All those who are drooling over the mega churches like his have to realize that such leaders probably have a side of themselves they won’t show you early on. God help young pastors to quit following and reading after men who are not Christians, who have never won a soul to God, who may have gathered crowds but never made Christian believers out of them.
People of all faiths need to remember these Four Great Religious Truths:
1. Muslims do not recognize Jews as God’s chosen people.
2. Jews do not recognize Christ as the Messiah.
3. Protestants do not recognize the Pope as the leader of the Christian world.
4. Baptists do not recognize each other at Hooters or the liquor store.
What’s going on?
Something strange is happening in American medicine. No longer is it being used merely to cure illness. Medicine is now being used in the pursuit of happiness. Americans take Viagra at bedtime and Ritalin before work. We inject Botox into our wrinkled brows and rub Rogaine on our balding heads. We swallow Paxil for shyness, Prozac for grief, and Xanax for anxiety. For stage fright we use beta blockers; for excessive blushing and sweating, we get endoscopic surgery. We ask surgeons to trim down our noses, suck fat from our thighs, transform us from men to women, even amputate our healthy arms and legs in the pursuit of what some people believe to be their true selves. Twenty years ago, most doctors said no. Now many have changed their minds.
A translation for the atheists?
Missions agencies operating in Muslim countries have for more than a century complained that their work is hindered by the Bible’s reference to Jesus as “the Son of God.” The Qur’an specifically forbids any suggestion that God could have a biological son. Muslims claim that Christians are saying that God had sexual relations with Mary. To them that is blasphemy. They do not recognize Jesus as the Son of God, failing to comprehend the incarnation of Christ.
To remedy this situation and make the Bible more palatable to Muslims, a new translation has been published. Christianity Today reports that “the new translation calls Jesus ‘the Beloved Son who comes (or originates) from God.’”
Others suggested to nuance it with a more descriptive phrase, such as “spiritual Son of God” or “beloved Son who comes from God.” These phrases have been shown to clear up the biological misconceptions, they said.
Some of the earlier attempts at accommodation of Muslim apologists include referring to God as “Allah” in biblical texts. That would be blasphemy. Allah is not the Jewish or Christian God. He is not the God of the Bible. He was one of plethora of gods worshiped by the desert Arabs prior to Muhammad. Muhammad unilaterally declared Allah to be the only God and built the Muslim religion on that premise. “Converts” were made at the point of a sword.
Jesus was “declared to be the Son of God with power” (Romans 1:4) and we should be careful not to lose that singular distinction. If we contextualize the Scripture in this instance, what is next? A translation for the Buddhists? The Wiccans? The atheists?
There are some practices and behaviors the body of Christ can do without. The number of new fads and trends that stealthily creep in among true believers is growing exponentially. Here are a few on a potentially long list:
Low rise jeans on men and boys. Has the fad reached the point where they are required to wear their shirttails out to cover their derrière when they pray at the altar?
Cell phone Bibles in church. It’s OK to have a Bible program on your phone for use during the day or when you are witnessing. But for church…bring your Bible. That way you won’t be tempted to receive or make calls during the service, respond to emails, etc., figuring that folks will think you are looking at your Bible on your phone screen.
Chewing gum in church. No one would dare be chewing gum when they went in for an audience with the Queen of England, the president of the U.S., or even the pope. So why is it fine to come before the Lord and try to worship and sing and listen to preaching while being distracted by bubble gum? Chewing gum in church says, “Really, I am not too serious about all of this.”
Grunge clothing. It is amazing that folks feel fine coming to church in clothes they would never go to the workplace in. If we ever dress up (not flashy) for any event, church should be it. The more casual we dress, the more casual we worship.
Black fishnet/patterned/textured hose that shout, “Look here.” Do women of God know that for nearly two hundred years cheap streetwalkers have worn fishnet hose because they attract attention to their legs? Patterned hose are merely a variation of that theme. They are called “sexy” by sellers. All wearers aren’t “cheap” or immoral, but why give comfort to practitioners in the world’s oldest profession? (For more on this issue, click here.)
False fingernails. Every strip center has at least one sign shouting “Nails.” The stark white nails are readily identifiable as pasted on. Is white a color? Do such nails make those who color their hair more comfortable? Do unchurched folk wonder what else is false about the wearer? Sinful? That is the wrong question. Is it the direction we want to go? Is it the example that young girls need to follow?
Facial hair and hairstyles that copy Hollywood bad boys or millionaire sports figures. Such persons are making a statement by their hair. Should our men identify with their rebellion and worldly ways? What’s wrong with clean shaven and a man’s haircut?
Crazee spelt names. Caitlina Fuller in the October 2010 issue of the Reader’s Digest joins me in dissing those who insist on giving their children strangely spelled names. Why is “Madysyn” replacing “Madison”? And why spell “Drusilla” as “Drusylla,” or use “Binjamen” for “Benjamin,” dooming the children to a lifetime of respelling their names for people? And what is going to happen to a boy named “Dweezle” or “Jermajesty”? With a name like the author’s, I figured she knew from experience how difficult having an unusually spelled name can be.
Happy Birthday, KJV
This year the King James Version of the Bible is 400 years old. The venerable 1611 edition has been able to hang around and is still popular with some Protestant groups. It is not the oldest English Bible, being preceded by Wycliffe’s, Tyndale’s, Coverdale’s, the Bishop’s Bible, the Great Bible, the Douay-Rheims Bible, and the Geneva Bible, and some lesser knowns. We have learned to jump through rhetorical hoops to dig the pure doctrine of Christ out of it since much of the language has become obsolete and the translation of many words and phrases leave much to be desired. The translators were protective of the Trinity doctrine, of the policies and practices of the Church of England, and of King James’ personal wishes.
Can truth still be mined there? By developing hermeneutical skills, linguistic competency, and research adeptness we can still find the identity of God there, as well as the plan of salvation, the Second Coming, Heaven, Hell and all the primary points. Our kids still memorize it (although they don’t understand much of it), and most of us still take it to our pulpits primarily because we are aware of some who are fearful of newer translations—they might not understand and be offended. We are afraid to ever mention any problem with it publicly thinking that someone will lose faith in the Word. Some may fear a “liberal” label because extremists like David Otis Fuller, J. J. Ray, Peter Ruckman, Gail Riplinger, and a plethora of fundamentalist Baptists have decided to be KJV Onlys and condemn anyone who even picks up a modern translation. If one will toss their unscholarly books and pamphlets in the trash and do his own research, he might find it to be very enlightening—and faith building, by the way.
In the meantime, happy birthday to the KJV.
In 1380 John Wycliffe translated Jerome’s Latin version of the Bible into English. In 1525 William Tyndale submitted another English translation based on the Greek testament. During the next fifty years over a half-dozen other versions appeared. Then in 1611, King James authorized yet another translation, commonly called the King James Version. The cultural and religious climate of the day eventually gave the KJV wide popularity, ultimately prevailing over previous versions in the marketplace.
No major internationally acclaimed translations appeared after that until late in the nineteenth century. In the next 100 years a spate of translations came on the scene using revisions of the Greek text based on new manuscript evidence. Relatively minor adjustments were called for as this new evidence basically supported our English Bibles. It changed no fundamental doctrines; however, it did point up a few passages that were lacking in early manuscript evidence.
A series of new revisions was produced by individuals in the twentieth century like James Moffatt, R. T. Weymouth, C. B. Williams, E. J. Goodspeed and J. B. Phillips. Among the new cross-denominational translations were the New American Standard Bible (1971), the New International Version (1978), the New King James Version (1982), the New Revised Standard Version (1989), and the English Standard Version (2001). These later versions are achieving wide acceptance among Protestants—the NIV becoming the most popular, outselling all others, including the KJV, in recent years. A number of paraphrases have also enjoyed some popularity among nominal churchmen and laymen but are generally shunned by those interested in serious study (including me).
• They offer a fresh, modern language rendering of the text. Any version that achieves the age of 400 years will likely need an update since word meanings change over time. The last major revision of the KJV was the 1769 edition and is the one still in use today.
• They take advantage of earlier manuscript discoveries that were not available to the KJV translators. Those manuscripts are evaluated as others have been in the past to determine their “weight”—the level of credibility of any variant reading.
• They largely omit or update the obsolete idioms inserted by the KJV translators. All English versions incorporate some measure of “functional equivalence” when translating the Bible. Try reading a word-for-word transliteration of the Scriptures and you will see why even the KJV uses idioms to clarify passages for their readers, plus inserting thousands of other words in italics for the same purpose.
• They omit or footnote the interpolations included in the KJV and some earlier versions.
• Overall, they are considered by most scholars to be more accurate than medieval versions.
• The fundamental doctrines are still intact; actually, in many instances they are much clearer on Apostolic doctrine, as are passages on holiness and sinful practices.
• I respect majestic language, but I want people to know what was actually taught in the law and the prophets, and understand the message of our Lord and His apostles. Some important verses are overlooked and misunderstood when they are rendered in the medieval tongue. It is time to “write the vision and make it plain” (Habakkuk 2:2) because “the word of the Lord is right, and all his works are done in truth” (Psalm 33:4). Plain truth and understanding trumps literary grandeur any day when our souls are at stake.
“So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading” (Nehemiah 8:8). This is the responsibility of preachers and teachers today. If the Word is clear, it makes our task much simpler.
Should the word “baptize” be in our English Bibles?
The word baptize appears in our English Bibles because it is a transliteration rather than a translation of the Greek word for immerse. By the time the Latin Vulgate was translated by Jerome, the practice of sprinkling or pouring for the rite involving water had become a common practice in the Roman Catholic churches, replacing the original act of totally immersing the convert. This made infant baptism practical.
The word that appears in our English Bibles as baptize (baptizo) forms) has its root in the Greek word bapto. The meaning cannot suggest anything in a Christian context but total immersion. Since the institutional church did not prefer to immerse, a form of the Greek term was chosen to be used instead of the actual translation, allowing baptism to be construed to incorporate other modes.
Jerome used the Latin baptizare in the Vulgate. When Wycliffe published the first English Bible, he did not go to the original languages but merely translated the Latin Vulgate. He wrote baptisid in Acts 2:38, basically following the Vulgate’s. Tyndale then copied this pattern and put a stamp on virtually every English Bible since that time.
The question is: Why not translate the word rather than carry the same word over or provide a transliteration? Again, the Greek word meant nothing but to “immerse, dip, plunge totally under,” etc. A translation would have removed any justification for infant baptism by sprinkling or pouring. I have read the KJV Only’s weak attempts at justification, but the primary reason had to be to accommodate other modes of baptism held by the Church of England.
The Preface of the KJV is called The Translators to the Readers. It was an important part of the new Bible in 1611 and was printed in all or most Bibles for hundreds of years. They were quite candid about the procedures that marked their work.
In the Preface, the KJV translators scored the “Romanists” for using terms like “azimes, tunike, rational, holocausts, praepuce, pasche, and a number of such like, whereof their late Translation is full,” claiming their purpose was “to darken the sense, that since they must needs translate the Bible, yet by the language thereof, it may be kept from being understood. But we desire that the Scripture may speak like itself, as in the language of Canaan, that it may be understood even of the very vulgar [common person]….” They wanted the KJV to reflect the common language of their day. “If we be sons of the Truth,” [emphasis mine] they said, “we must consider what it speaketh, and trample upon our own credit, yea, and upon other men’s too, if either be any way an hindrance to it.”
They also said, “Truly (good Christian Reader) we never thought from the beginning, that we should need to make a new Translation, nor yet to make of a bad one a good one…but to make a good one better, or out of many good ones, one principal good one, not justly to be excepted against; that hath been our endeavor, that our mark….Therefore as St. Augustine saith, that variety of Translations is profitable for the finding out of the sense of the Scriptures: so diversity of signification and sense in the margin, where the text is no so clear, must needs do good, yea, is necessary, as we are persuaded….They that are wise, had rather have their judgments at liberty in differences of readings, than to be captivated to one, when it may be the other.” Hmmmmm….
They went further: “Now to the latter we answer; that we do not deny, nay we affirm and avow, that the very meanest translation of the Bible in English, set forth by men of our profession…containeth the word of God, nay, is the word of God….No cause therefore why the word translated should be denied to be the word, or forbidden to be current, notwithstanding that some imperfections and blemishes may be noted in the setting forth of it. For whatever was perfect under the Sun, where Apostles or Apostolic men, that is, men endued with an extraordinary measure of God’s spirit, and privileged with the privilege of infallibility, had not their hand?” They knew that what they had done was not “perfect” as some now choose to affirm.
If you have never read the KJV Preface, you would find it contains many interesting facts about the method of translation, their human judgments, and their attitude toward future translations. To read the Preface, just click here.
America’s “Terminal Generation”—is it here?
“Caught in the relaxing interval between one moral code and the next, an unmoored generation surrenders itself to luxury, corruption, and a restless disorder of family and morals, in all but a remnant clinging desperately to old restraints and ways. Few souls feel any longer that ‘it is beautiful and honorable to die for one’s country.’ A failure of leadership may allow a state to weaken itself with internal strife. At the end of the process a decisive defeat in war may bring a final blow, or barbarian invasion from without may combine with barbarism welling up from within to bring the civilization to a close.”
Will and Ariel Durant, The Lessons of History, p. 93
I am not promoting the Durants but they were the authors of the massive eleven-volume set, The Story of Civilization. The little book, The Lessons of History, was written to summarize the general lessons that their protracted study of the history of Western civilization had taught them. Though written in 1968, this is an almost prophetic description of the present day in America and Western Europe. In context, the Durants were describing the typical final generation in a society before that civilization dies. How close are we to that precipice?
Warm and fuzzy
Forgive the personal word that follows as I am not one to toot one’s own horn. Our books have reached into some homes and hearts that we could have never reached personally. That is what writing and printing is all about.
Recently this report from Brother Dave McLane made our day. He sends our materials into prisons for the inmates and has had encouraging results. The excerpt below is from an inmate’s letter who received a box of our books from Brother McLane:
“I want to let you know that I have already passed along a couple of the books you sent me from Brother Ensey. As they have blessed me I know they will also help others to know some of the many matters within God’s Word which establish all truth…. At present I have been in A Hill To Die On. There’s some deep stuff in this book. That may be a crude description, but I hope it puts forth the point. The spiritual truths stand out boldly regarding the doctrine; so boldly, in fact, I can sense his personal concern in them.”
That inmate is now teaching Bible studies to his fellow inmates in the prison.
Books for leaders
This may be the most practical and complete Bible you can own—the King James Version (KJV) in one column and the New International Version (NIV) in the other on the same page!
Immediate comparison! Includes a concordance for both versions! A beautiful Bible you will be proud to take to the pulpit with you, or to just keep on your desk for quick, easy reference. Parallel Bibles are becoming one of the most popular sellers, and for good reason. Isn’t it time you owned one? Hardback $39.95 Leather $59.95
A Hill To Die On
by J. R.Ensey
Is truth worth dying for? If so, which truth? Which doctrine? This new book, which will be available this week, suggests that there are some things worth risking our reputations, our resources, and perhaps our lives for. Six months ago we would never have thought we would be where we are today as a nation. The Christian faith is rapidly being dismembered and deconstructed to make way for Islam. The rush of endtime prophecy fulfillment should stiffen the backbone of every Christian and make us realize there will be a price to pay for our faith. The nine chapters of this new book include:
• Truth in an Age of Deception
• Unity in an Age of Division
• Righteousness in an Age of Hedonism
• The Church in an Age of Spirituality
• Absolutes in an Age of Relativism
• God and Government
• Is American Christianity Returning to the Social Gospel?
• Our Finest Hour
AM price $12.95
Laugh—it helps your digestion
“If Obama was the answer, how stupid was the question?”