Welcome! It is good to have you visit this month. With a little of this and a little of that on tap, perhaps you will find something interesting and inspiring—or, at least, challenging.
Tebow gets Tebowed
“Teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom” (Psalm 90:12).
I would say our days are indeed numbered! The days that we can freely speak our minds in public or online are rapidly coming to a close. We are losing our basic human rights because of their abuse by a few. The pastor of the influential First Baptist Church of Dallas, Dr. Robert Jeffress, has spoken out publicly and is paying the price. Simply because he upheld to a reporter the traditional position of historic Christianity and Jesus being the only way to God, but particularly on marriage and homosexuality. The media is calling him a “hate” pastor, an anti-semitic homophobic, and his church a “hate-spewing” church, even comparing his church with the Westboro Baptist Church in Kansas. (Yes, the one that pickets military funerals and carries signs that “God hates fags.”)
Jeffress recently scheduled professional football player Tim Tebow to speak and give his testimony. Tebow accepted the invitation but later declined when the news media got wind of it and torched him for his willingness to speak at a “bigoted, hate-spewing church.” Bloggers, radio talk guys, and leftist entertainers can label believers with some really nasty names but they aren’t called out as “haters.” Evidently only Christians can hate. Our top national leaders have set the stage for serious divisions in our society—purposely.
Ministers who teach the Bible are considered “radical.” But who is radical, really? Virtually every culture in the world for 6000 years has held the same views. It is the current culture that has gone radical, not Christians!
Are we really ready for what is ahead? When they can virtually shut down the Boy Scouts because they won’t hire or enlist gays, how long before you will not be able to perform weddings unless you succumb to the liberal line? Events are brewing that will criminalize any church or denomination or pastor who takes the biblical stand and verbalizes it. This is virtually the case already in Canada. I never thought when our government passed the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in 1996 that only 16 years later a sitting president would be calling on the Supreme Court to strike down that law.
They—atheists, the news media, leftist entertainers, and most liberal politicians—are aligned in the effort to destroy the influence of the church in America. Should we be afraid? No, but we had better be prepared, and have our people prepared for difficult times. Let us be “strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man” (Ephesians 3:16) to face the challenges ahead.
We are encouraged when we remember that it was in times of duress that the church made some of its greatest advances.
Church Growth: the Evil and the Good
“The only multiplication of the Church of God that is to be desired is that which God sends: ‘Thou hast multiplied the nation.’ [Isaiah 9:3] If we add to our churches by becoming worldly, by taking in persons who have never been born again; if we add to our churches by accommodating the life of the Christian to the worldling, our increase is worth nothing at all; it is a loss rather than a gain. If we add to our churches by excitement, by making appeals to the passions, rather than by explaining truth to the understanding; if we add to our churches otherwise than by the power of the Spirit of God making men new creatures in Christ Jesus, the increase is of no worth whatsoever.”
– Charles Haddon Spurgeon (1834-1892); Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, vol. 38 (1892)
The man who couldn’t make up his mind
The English King Henry VIII assumed the throne when he was only 18. That much power in the hands of an immature youth was a recipe of disaster. England loved her kings, however, regardless of their immaturity, peccadillos, indiscretions, and foolish pride. Decisions made during his wishy-washy reign still affect us today.
Was he a Catholic or Protestant? He was a Catholic when coronated in 1509, and married Catherine of Aragon. When she could not seem to produce a healthy male heir, and his illegitimate son died before he could be approved as an heir, he decided to annul his marriage to Catherine and marry a young woman in the Queen’s entourage, Anne Boleyn, whom he had been trying to seduce. He had other mistresses but when she refused his advances, he decided she was the one he wanted to marry. The pope would have none of it, however, so Henry took a course of action that changed England’s history.
In 1531, Henry had Catherine moved out of her chambers, which were immediately turned over to Anne Boleyn. They were secretly married in 1532 but had a public ceremony a few weeks later. Henry’s appointee as Archbishop of Canterbury then declared the marriage to Catherine null and void. Henry’s chief minister, Thomas Cromwell pushed legislation through Parliament that guaranteed Royal Supremacy over the church. The church was forbidden to pass any regulations without the king’s approval. All of these developments motivated Pope Clement to excommunicate Henry and Cromwell. The king then took steps to consolidate power over all things ecclesiastical in 1936 and laws were passed that required the clergy to elect only bishops that Henry approved of. Death was decreed for anyone who failed to acknowledge that the king was the sole head of the Church of England. So, Henry was no longer a Catholic but in effect a Protestant. Although himself a Protestant, Henry couldn’t make up his mind about other reformers. Some he tolerated, particularly those who approved of his marriage annulment; others were burned at the stake.
He couldn’t make up his mind about his marriage. Anne was displeasing him in several ways, the least of which was not her inability to produce a male heir. One was miscarried in 1534 after only 15 weeks when she heard of an accident he had that almost took his life. Henry decided that his marriage to Anne had been tainted with witchcraft, and began an affair with Jane Seymour. Anne was formally accused of adultery, incest, and high treason. She was beheaded on May 17, 1536. In less than two weeks Henry married Seymour.
Jane Seymour died from the complications of childbirth in 1537, after giving birth to a son, the future Edward the VI. He then married Anne of Cleves but found her unattractive and had the marriage annulled so he could marry someone else. He subsequently married Catherine Howard in 1540, Anne Boleyn’s first cousin. She was accused of an adulterous affair and was beheaded. Next he married his sixth wife, Catherine Parr, in 1543, a wealthy widow and a friend of the reformers.
Another thing the king couldn’t make up his mind about was Bible translations. At first he was adamantly opposed to them, even having William Tyndale burned at the stake. Tyndale’s last words were a prayer that Henry’s eyes would be opened to see his mistakes and allow the freedom to translate and print Bibles. The king relented and permitted the publication of the Coverdale Bible in 1535 and Matthew’s Bible in 1537, both based on Tyndale’s work. In 1539 Henry authorized the Great Bible to be published. It was Coverdale’s revision of Matthew’s Bible.
Henry probably was influenced by his second wife, Anne Boleyn, to be tolerant toward Miles Coverdale’s Bible translation. Had she lived it might have become England’s officially approved Bible. The king said to his bishops, “If it contains no heresies, let it go [be published].” Coverdale’s Bible gushed with praise for the king in the Dedication pages. Late in life, however, the king had another change of mind and attacked the Bible translations of both Tyndale and Coverdale. In 1546 he ordered that no one could possess either version on pain of death, and the bishops conducted public Bible burnings. Later London Bishop Bonner burned a number of Protestant martyrs at the stake, and came to be known as “Bloody Bonner.”
King Henry couldn’t make up his mind which road to travel, but he came to a place where he had no choice. Modern doctors have determined that he probably developed Type II diabetes, which untreated may have contributed to his mood swings and erratic lifestyle. I saw his personal body armor once and marveled at its size. He was huge. Henry’s obesity likely contributed to his death in 1547. Death made up his mind for him this time.
Bible translations continued, however, after his death. Taverner’s Bible in 1539 was a revision of Matthew’s Bible. William Whittingham’s NT came along in 1557, followed by the Geneva Bible in 1560 (published in Switzerland). The Bishop’s Bible, a revision of the Great Bible, was published in 1568. The King James’ Version was published in 1611, and after a few decades became sufficiently popular that no other major translations were published in England for more than 250 years.
Some things even a fickle king can’t stop.
A useless controversy
If controversy is inevitable, let’s have it over something significant. The King James Version vs. Contemporary Versions is NOT one of them. It should not be confusing and dividing us. The issue over Bible translations is providing no incentive to unify in the effort to evangelize the world.
In 1993 a woman by the name of Gail Riplinger published a book titled New Age Bible Versions, the premise of which was that Bible versions later than the 1611 KJV which reflected the oldest biblical manuscripts were somehow inspired by the New Age. Many objective reviews from both camps corroborate that the book is filled with misrepresentations, errors, deceptive out-of-context quotes, and extremely shoddy scholarship. It is unworthy of anyone’s time to read. However, it found its way into many ministerial libraries, including those of Apostolic ministers. That book, along with booklets, articles and pamphlets by a few other extremists like Peter Ruckman, D. A. Waite, and Samuel Gipp, have influenced a number of men to assume a hardline position on the Bible translation issue. Defending the Bible is commendable, but we must not forget what the Bible is—the autographs written by the apostles and prophets under the inspiration of God (II Timothy 3:16), not necessarily every word of the translation and interpretation of a group of men using a different, relatively new language over 1500 years later.
Do we have the Word of God today? Absolutely. I believe we have what is very close to those original apostolic manuscripts. It is trustworthy, and “is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness.” To declare, however, that one English translation that differs slightly from all others, drawn from manuscripts that are all different, and is even different from its original edition, and whose extreme advocates cannot even agree among themselves, is the “perfect” Word of God alone to the exclusion of all others is a misguided conclusion. If we could calm ourselves long enough to sit down around a table and objectively look at the real facts, we could avoid a great deal of suspicion and division the conservative Christian movement is experiencing today.
The slight differences in the manuscripts can mostly be credited to copyist errors and emendations, and in part to having access to earlier/older manuscripts. However, the differences are so minor as to be of virtually no consequence. Even the Dead Sea Scrolls and the very latest manuscript discoveries dating to the second century verify that what we have is God’s Word. By virtue of hindsight and objective textual analysis, we can also clearly see the source of any minor variants. The bugaboo of New Age conspiratorial liberals slicing and dicing the Scriptures for the sake of their doctrines is sensationalism run amok. It is easier to prove that words have been inserted/added to Byzantine MSS (from which the KJV was translated) for the purpose of protecting and defending certain doctrines. The “words left out of modern versions” matter resolves itself when we realize that excising or footnoting the relatively few words that were added to MSS later and evidently were not a part of the original Scriptures is not wrong but right (Deuteronomy 4:2; Revelation 22:18,19). The Apostolic doctrines of God, salvation, and holiness are actually clearer and stronger in the major new versions than in the KJV.
Extremists like Lloyd L. Streeter claim, however, that if there is proven to be one error in the Bible (any variation of wording, case, gender, etc., is considered an error), none of it can be trusted. Is that true? Of course not. The autographs (the original Bible writers’ manuscripts) were error-free, but in thousands of copies made by hand over the centuries copyist errors and emendations occurred. You can verify this yourself since you can now view many of the manuscripts online. By Streeter’s standards even the KJV cannot be trusted. For King James Only advocates, who believe that God must have preserved His Word in absolutely perfect form if at all, the variants present an obstacle that cannot be overcome.
Remember, this rumble didn’t start by critics “attacking” the KJV. If someone prefers that version only, great—but they shouldn’t misrepresent the facts about it or unduly excoriate credible contemporary versions. As author James May once said, “History does not need to be falsified in defense of an indefensible theory.”
We are endangering the faith of our constituencies if we merely parrot the unsubstantiated claims of extremists without doing our own research. “Prove all things,” Paul said (I Thessalonians 5:21). Someday readers will learn the facts and wonder why they were misinformed. Technology and serious inquiry has laid bare the truth and to ignore it is to create a credibility gap we may never be able to close.
We should never fear truth. It will stand. As Thomas Paine said, “It is error only, and not truth, that shrinks from inquiry.”
For objective thinkers only
I recently ran across an article written by a couple of conservative, self-described Fundamentalist Baptists. The majority of KJV Only adherents and the core of the Bible translation controversy is among that group. This division is wrecking their fellowship. This particular article, however, seems to be written from an objective standpoint by sincere men. It is very informative and their appeal makes a lot of sense. The title of the article is “Demystifying the Controversy Over The Textus Receptus and the King James Version Of the Bible.” You can access the article by clicking here.
The Magdalene Manuscript
The fragments of Scripture that are known today as the Magdalene Manuscript came to light in 1901 and were purchased by Rev. Charles B. Huleatt. The fragments had been part of a codex, or book of papyri manuscripts, and contained portions of Matthew 26:7-8, 10, 14-15. Huleatt gave them to Magdalene College, Oxford, hence the name. There they are catalogued as P. Magdalene Greek 17 (Gregory/Aland p64). One papyrologist dated the fragments to approximately mid-first century, but the consensus among paleographers is that the fragments were copied around 200 A.D.
The scriptures were originally part of Matthew 26.
“7 προσῆλθεν αὐτῷ γυνὴ ἔχουσα ἀλάßαστρον µύρου ßαρυτίµου καὶ κατέχεεν ἐπὶ τῆς κεφαλῆς αὐτοῦ ἀνακειµένου.
8 ἰδόντες δὲ οἱ µαθηταὶ ἠγανάκτησαν λέγοντες, Εἰς τί ἡ ἀπώλεια αὕτη”.
“7 To him came a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head; he was reclining at table,
8 seeing this, they became indignant, and said: To what purpose is this waste?”
“14 Τότε πορευθεὶς εἷς τῶν δώδεκα, ὁ λεγόµενος Ἰούδας Ἰσκαριώτης, πρὸς τοὺς ἀρχιερεῖς
15 εἶπεν, Τί θέλετέ µοι δοῦναι κἀγὼ ὑµῖν παραδώσω αὐτόν; οἱ δὲ ἔστησαν αὐτῷ τριάκοντα ἀργύρια.”
“14 Then one of the twelve, that was called Judas Iscariot, having gone to the chief priests, 15 said to them: What are you willing to give to me, and I will deliver him to you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver.”
Greek text: “γνοὺς δὲ ὁ Ἰησοῦς εἶπεν αὐτοῖς, Τί κόπους παρέχετε τῇ γυναικί ἔργον γὰρ καλὸν ἠργάσατο εἰς ἐµέ·.”
“10 When Jesus understood it, he said to them, Why do you annoy this woman? She has comply a good work with me.”
The point of sharing this is to express the fact that relatively recent manuscript discoveries continue to verify that our Bibles today are the same that were used by the early Christians.
Out of the mouths of babes
Questions on marriage with answers by kids
—You got to find somebody who likes the same stuff. Like, if you like sports, she should like it that you like sports, and she should keep the chips and dip coming.
– Alan, age 10
—No person really decides before they grow up who they’re going to marry. God decides it all way before, and you get to find out later who you’re stuck with.
– Kristen, age 10
2. WHAT IS THE RIGHT AGE TO GET MARRIED?
Twenty-three is the best age because you know the person FOREVER by then.
– Camille, age 10
3. HOW CAN A STRANGER TELL IF TWO PEOPLE ARE MARRIED?
—You might have to guess, based on whether they seem to be yelling at the same kids.
– Derrick, age 8
4. WHAT DO YOU THINK YOUR MOM AND DAD HAVE IN COMMON?
—Both don’t want any more kids.
– Lori, age 8
5. WHAT DO MOST PEOPLE DO ON A DATE?
—Dates are for having fun, and people should use them to get to know each other. Even boys have something to say if you listen long enough.
– Lynnette, age 8
– Martin, age 10
6. WHEN IS IT OKAY to KISS SOMEONE?
—When they’re rich.
– Pam, age 7
—The law says you have to be eighteen, so I wouldn’t want to mess with that.
– Curt, age 7
—The rule goes like this: If you kiss someone, then you should marry them and have kids with them. It’s the right thing to do.
– Howard, age 8
7. IS IT BETTER TO BE SINGLE OR MARRIED?
—It’s better for girls to be single but not for boys. Boys need someone to clean up after them.
– Anita, age 9
8. HOW WOULD THE WORLD BE DIFFERENT IF PEOPLE DIDN’T GET MARRIED?
– Kelvin, age 8
9. HOW WOULD YOU MAKE A MARRIAGE WORK?
—Tell your wife that she looks pretty, Even if she looks like a dump truck.
– Ricky, age 10
Source: Bulletin of First UPC of Euless, TX
How’s that again?
Headlines from around the world
Police Begin Campaign to Run Down Jaywalkers
Now that’s taking things a bit far!
Panda Mating Fails; Veterinarian Takes Over
What a guy!
Miners Refuse to Work after Death
Union members, no doubt!
Juvenile Court to Try Shooting Defendant
See if that works any better than a fair trial!
War Dims Hope for Peace
If Strike Isn’t Settled Quickly, It May Last Awhile
What a revelation!
Cold Wave Linked to Temperatures
Al Gore strikes again!
Enfield (London) Couple Slain; Police Suspect Homicide
Britons are great sleuths!
Red Tape Holds Up New Bridges
And I thought it was the paint!
Man Struck By Lightning: Faces Battery Charge
He probably IS the battery charge!
New Study of Obesity Looks for Larger Test Group
Weren’t they fat enough?
Kids Make Nutritious Snacks
Do they taste like chicken?
Local High School Dropouts Cut in Half
Texas chainsaw massacre?
Hospitals are Sued by Seven Foot Doctors
Boy, are they tall!
And the winner is….
Tornado Rips Through Cemetery; Hundreds Dead
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Cartoons tell it like it is
Some things I’ve noticed
The easiest way to find something lost around the house is to buy a replacement.
If you smile when things are going wrong, it may be that you are thinking of someone to blame.
The sole purpose of giving children middle names seems to be so they can always tell when they are really in trouble.
The older we get, the fewer things seem worth waiting in line for.
“How are we to handle this sword of “It is written” (referring to Matthew 4:4)? First, with deepest reverence. Let every word that God has spoken be Law and Gospel to you. Never trifle with it; never try to evade its force or to change its meaning. God speaks to you in this book as much as if again He came to the top of Sinai and lifted up His voice in thunder. I like to open the Bible and to pray, Lord God, let the words leap out of the page into my soul, Thyself making them vivid, quick, powerful, and fresh to my heart.” – Charles H. Spurgeon