Monday, September 28, 2009

Funeral Plans for Joshua

Funeral services will be 1:00 pm Friday, October 2, 2009 at the Langeland-Sterenberg Funeral Home, 315 East 16th St, Holland with the Reverend Paul Davis officiating. Visitation will be 5-8 pm Thursday at the funeral home. Burial with military honors will take place at Graafschap Cemetery.

We are also grateful to the Holland Sentinel for the story they did on Joshua. You can find it here. His obituary can be found here.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Update on My Family

Jan and I are now back in Michigan. It must sound odd but we've never been so happy to see Michigan after returning from Hawaii! We are holding up well and we attribute that to God's sustaining power in answer to your many prayers.

We do not have any arrangements yet for local a funeral. Joshua's body is still in Hawaii and will be released soon. As soon as we have any information I will let you know.

We want to say how grateful we are to all of you for your prayers, comments, cards and gifts which have meant so much to us. The pain has certainly been eased by the comfort of so many. I've shared with so many how gracious God has been to us through friends, both old and new, and family. I hope to share some of those with you in the future. God's goodness has been a rock to keep us above the temptation to despair. In the past when I've had to sign a condolence card I have written something I heard in a sermon by E. V. Hill which says "Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal." I can testify that a week after Joshua's death that healing has begun. The tears still come and our grief and pain run deep but God's grace runs deeper.

Friday, September 18, 2009

In Memoriam - Joshua D. McBride

On September 18th my first born son, Joshua, died. They were able to keep him alive (though not conscious) long enough for us to get here so we could be with him when he died.

We have felt the overwhelming support of your prayers and comments. The staff here at the base have made us feel so welcome and comforted. We will be be staying here through Wednesday so we can participate in a memorial service the base is having for him on Tuesday.

Local funeral arrangements will be made after we return home.

I want to say thank you to the staff at Baker who have been with us every minute of this dark time. Thanks to countless others of you who I know only through the wonder of the internet. I knew you were there as well.

Joshua was 23 years old and is survived by his wife, Sarah, and two children: Raven, 3 years old and Hunter, 7 months. He also has a younger brother Adam who is 21, and two sisters: Sarah, 16 and Bethany, 10.

To God be the glory.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009



My name is Chris and I work with Louis at Baker Book House. It is with a heavy heart that I write this blog for Louis. His son Joshua is stationed in Hawaii and was found unresponsive on base. Louis and his wife Jan are headed to Hawaii. The doctors are not very encouraging for Joshua's recovery.

We here at Baker are asking for your prayers for Louis, his family and son. I will try to update as I learn anything new. Thank you for your prayers


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Which Christian Publisher is 211 Years Old?

We are certainly proud to celebrate our 70th anniversary and Kregel Publications is celebrating their 100th anniversary. But we are still juniors when compared to Thomas Nelson which is alive and well at 211. It's a fascinating story which is told here by the current CEO of Nelson Michael Hyatt. I know there are older publishers, but in the world of Christian retail Nelson is truly a great great grandfather.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Bible Translation Wars

Brent Kercheville at the Christian Monthly Standard has posted a "rant" on the "Politics of Bible Translation." While I don't track any where near 100 blogs as Brent does, I have to say I see much of what he is complaining about. Here's part of what he wrote:

"I track about 100 Bible blogs and I am observing a disturbing trend. It is acceptable, in fact even trendy, to crack on, complain about, or trash the ESV. But if someone suggests their distain (sic) for the TNIV, then that person is part of the ESV propaganda machine. What? Why is it acceptable to blast the ESV, but no one can show problems with the TNIV and not be discounted as an out of the loop, ultra traditional fanatic?"

The heat generated in the Bible translation wars comes from all sides. But the tension between the TNIV fans and the ESV fans is particularly strong.

Scot McKnight seeks to shut the mouths of many when he writes, "[U]nless you can read the original languages, you should avoid making public pronouncements about which translation is best. Instead, here's my suggestion: if you don't know the languages and can't read them well enough to translate accurately on your own but you want to tell your congregation or your listeners which translate is best, you need to admit it by saying something like this: "On the basis of people I trust to make this decision, the ESV or the TNIV or the NRSV or the NLT is a reliable translation." (emphasis his)

He continues, "I'm not trying to be a hard-guy or an elitist, but let's be honest: only those who know Latin should be talking about which is the "best" translation of Virgil or only those who know Middle High German should be weighing in on the "best" translation of The Nibelungenlied. This isn't elitist; it's common sense."

While I understand McKnight's sentiment he may be going a bit too far. Can I (with just over two years of Greek but no Hebrew) not make any reasonable judgment between, say, the NLT and the ESV? Or, how about between The Message and the TNIV? I have read countless books on the pros and cons of translations and I have examined the evidence in so far as it was available to me. I have read books on translation theory and a couple on linguistic theory. I have also studied five years of German. Not to mention my 20+ years as a Christian reading and comparing numerous translations and countless commentaries. Does none of this count for anything? I'll grant that my opinion is not as informed and studied as that of Craig Blomberg, D. A. Carson or Scot McKnight but is theirs (and those like them that "know and can read Greek") the only opinion that really counts when it comes to translations? McKnight answers, "If you don't know the Greek, avoid standing in judgment." How much Greek should we have? Is two years enough? How about five? My opinion on the TNIV was greatly helped by an article done by Blomberg. But am I thereby confined to merely saying "because I trust Blomberg I think the TNIV is a good translation"? Can I not (as I did) examine the evidence he set forth and judge for myself the merits of his argument? Blomberg could have written, "I know Greek. The TNIV is good. If you can't read Greek don't bother reading any further because I'm just presenting the evidence for my case and you won't understand it or have the necessary skills with which to critique it. If you trust me then you like the TNIV. If you don't then I can't help you. Go and read something by Wayne Grudem." No, Blomberg made his case citing evidence and arguing for the TNIV as a good translation. I was not persuaded by all of his points but was nonetheless impressed with much of it.

I understand McKnight's primary point and agree with it in principle. Those who have studied a subject are those who know it best. But sometimes a student makes a teacher rethink his expert opinions. Sometimes a novice with skills from another field finds a fly in the ointment. On the other hand in our instant information age we downplay the importance of scholarly research and patient study. Wikipedia becomes the great oracle of truth. There is a balance to be found. But this I've found for sure--most bloggers provide more heat than light in an already white-hot debate on Bible translation. I don't ask for them to necessarily stop but to lower the heat and think twice, or three or four times, before adding another post or comment.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

In Store Now - God in Dispute

We just received this in this week. God in Dispute: "Conversations" among Great Christian Thinkers by Roger E. Olson is a new release from Baker Academic. I started skimming through some of the chapters and already know I'm going to like it. Olson combines a delightful blend of history, philosophy, theology and a great sense of humor.

The book is the product of the author's "imaginary dialogues" he used in various historical theology courses. Olson provides twenty-nine such dialogues. Each dialogue is preceded by a section which provides the setting of the conversation and then is followed by an analysis. Each chapter also offers a couple of books for further reading. I read the third chapter which is a dialogue between Irenaeus, Tertullian and Clement on the subject "Beliefs Necessary to Be a True Christian." There we find Tertullian charging Clement with "advocating a kind of Gnosticism" and offers his "rule of faith" as a guide for Christians to believe. Irenaeus responds with a creed of his own. Clement says "They're both okay, but I wonder if this whole dogma thing can be taken a little too far. I agree that real Christians must believe certain things, but what about those who are ignorant or who have come to believe the same thing in substance but outside the written or spoken Word? What about the philosophically minded Jew or pagan? Can such a person find Christ through nature?"

Sound familiar? This could easily be duplicated with current names like Mike Wittmer and Brian McClaren. I look forward to reading more like the dialogue between Cyril, Apollinaris and Nestorius on the divinity and humanity of Christ (chap 8) or Anselm and Abelard on faith, reason and the atonement (chap 10). Or how about Wesley and Edwards on salvation (chap 16). I did peak at the exchange between Rauschenbusch and Machen on true Christianity, the Bible, evolution, and doctrine (chap 20). Very interesting with an occasional punch like when Rauschenbusch asks Machen "Can you tell me about one doctrine that you judge I mistreated?" and Machen responds, "WELL, VIRTUALLY EVERY DOCTRINE." (205, Rauschenbausch is going deaf so Machen must shout to be heard. Hence, all caps.)

I have already detected Olson anticipating some of the possible knee jerk reactions in a book like this. He notes "keep in mind that is is an imaginary conversation; it did not take place nor would it have taken place exactly as it is written here." (on the dialogue between Celsus, Polycarp, Valentinus and Montanus, p. 17) Also, "Some scholarly readers of this imaginary conversation may object to its portrayal of Montanus." (18) I'm sure these sorts of comments will be repeated throughout the book. But so far it has been a fun read. I will do a more extensive review later. I also would like to think about doing a free give away on this so stay tuned.

The book is available now. It has 302 pages and sells for $24.99.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Coming Soon from David C. Cook - On Guard

I was surprised to see this from Cook Publications. It is a title from William Lane Craig called On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Passion. I don't have much information on it yet but I expect it will be out some time next Spring. In his latest newsletter Craig describes the book as a "training manual for laymen in defending their faith." He also said, "because there are so many graphics in this book in the form of pictures, side bars, boxes, and so on, Cook is taking the unusual step of asking their designers to design every single page in the book to ensure an attractive and engaging appearance."

I expect this will be a great resource for Youth Pastors to work through with their youth. Not only youth but small groups in general could benefit from this work. The field of Christian apologetics has advanced light years ahead from where it was in the past few decades and the more publishers can do to disseminate that into the popular audience should be applauded. As I get more information about this I'll let you know.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Coming Soon from Zondervan - Four Views on Moving Beyond the Bible to Theology

I've said before how much I enjoy the Zondervan counterpoint series. The concept in itself is a good one and when the right contributors are assembled it is a student's or pastor's ideal resource to quickly see a spectrum of opinions of a given topic. Coming this November is the latest in the series entitled Four Views on Moving Beyond the Bible to Theology. The contributors and their positions are:

Walter C. Kaiser, Jr.: A Principlizing Model
Daniel M. Doriani: A Redemptive-Historical Model
Kevin J. Vanhoozer: A Drama-of-Redemption Model
William J. Webb: A Redemptive-Movement Model

The catalog lays out the issues nicely: "The Bible has long served as the standard for Christian practice, yet believers still disagree on how biblical passages should be interpreted and applied. Only when readers fully understand the constructs that inform their process of moving from Scripture to theology—and those of others—can Christians fully evaluate teachings that claim to be 'biblical.'"

The format will follow that of the series with each contributor presenting a case for his position with the other three responding. But this volume has an added bonus. '"Due to the far-reaching implications this topic holds for biblical studies, theology, and church teaching, this book includes three additional reflections by Christopher J. H. Wright, Mark L. Strauss, and Al Wolters on the theological and practical interpretation of biblical texts."

This is an important subject and will be a valuable study for any pastor, student and even small group leaders would benefit greatly from this.

It will be a paperback with 384 pages and sell for $19.99.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

N. T. Wright and Catholicism

Every now and then someone makes the charge that N. T. Wright's views on justification are very similar to those of Catholicism. In a recent panel discussion on Wright the issue was raised again. The panel members included Tom Schreiner, Mark Seifrid, Denny Burk and Brian Vickers and was moderated by Al Mohler. You can find the discussion here. I found it interesting but not much that was new.

But several people responded to the charge that Wright's views were the same or nearly the same as the Catholic view of justification. One of the comments referred to post by Taylor Marshall called "Does N. T. Wright's Theology Lead to Catholicism?" Marshall says "I started reading N.T. Wright at Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia) and along the way through my hiatus as an Anglican priest. I believe that he provided the necessary paradigm shift for me to appreciate the nuances of the Council of Trent regarding justification." He says that Wright is a "Protestant writing like a Catholic." Imagine my surprise then at finding a comment from Chris Castaldo whose book Holy Ground I just recently reviewed. Castaldo agreed with Marshall saying he was "right to suggest that NT Wright’s emphasis on covenantal nomism raises new questions about the merits of the Catholic position on justification." Marshall was so taken with Castaldo's comment that he offered him an opportunity to do a guest post on the subject of “The Four Aspects of Wright’s Pauline Theology." Castaldo agreed and wrote a post called "An Evangelical Perspective on N. T. Wright and Catholicism". Castaldo concludes however, that while he understands why some would take a second look at Catholicism because of Wright, "because the believer’s identity is founded in the risen Christ, God the Father views us as possessing the merits of Jesus’ victory and on that basis declares us 'not guilty.' For this reason, it seems to me, Wright stands closer to Calvin than anyone on the Catholic side of Wittenberg’s door."

Marshall has written a book, The Catholic Perspective on Paul, which is due out Summer 2010.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Michael Horton on Discipleship

In the latest issue of Modern Reformation Michael Horton has an article on "What is Discipleship Anyway?". The occasion for the article is the concern on the part of the younger generation to "follow Jesus." Not a bad desire by any means. But in this he detects this "promising emphasis on discipleship today is threatened by a strong tendency to reduce 'following Christ' to moral and social activism--apart from, and sometimes even against, a concern for doctrine." (15) I couldn't agree more. I see more and more Christians absorbed in social issues but with a disturbing corollary that they be solved apart from any uniquely Christian framework. In fact, for many any action which is deemed helping the needy is equated with being Christian. Horton quotes an article by Dan Kimball who appeals to Mark Oestreicher, "My Buddhist cousin, except for her unfortunate inability to embrace Jesus, is a better 'Christian' (based on Jesus' description of what a Christian does) than almost every Christian I know. If we were using Matthew 25 as a guide, she'd be a sheep; and almost every Christian I know personally would be a goat." (17, quote from The Emerging Church: Vintage Christianity for a New Generation, p. 35) The parable of the sheep and goats has become the paradigm for many as the "be all and end all" in any discussion on what defines a Christian. The argument goes something like this: "The final judgment is based on works. But not just any works. They are chiefly characterized by helping others. Therefore Christians are most fundamentally those who help others regardless of their doctrinal beliefs. There is nothing said here about having faith in Jesus. A Hindu or Buddhist can equally claim to be "Christian" by the standards of this parable." But Klyne Snodgrass in his book Stories With Intent offers some helpful comments regarding this viewpoint. He says, "Here, too, we must remember that parables are not whole systems of theology. They are limited analogies, and we interpret them correctly only when we stay within the analogies they propose." (559) And, "this narrative is not intended to be a complete statement of Matthew's view of discipleship or of the way of salvation. The narrative is a piece of the Gospel, not its whole theology in miniature." Singular appeals to this parable or any other are guilty of reductionism at its worst.

Horton is correct when he says, "When Jesus is turned into a generic moral example and his redemptive work is perceived chiefly in terms of a transforming social vision that we continue and extend, the gospel becomes a new law." (17) He continues, "We have become wordly at the places where we thought we were most pious. It is not a mark of faithfulness but of worldliness to identify Christian discipleship with emotional experience or a moral and social activism that eschews doctrine. It is not a sign of maturity when Christian communities no longer wrestle with the uniqueness of Christ and the objectivity of a gospel that can only be proclaimed and defended because its content is Christ's victorious life and obedience rather than ours." (18)

There is an implicit pride in this form of discipleship as well. It says we are more concerned with what we do for God than what God has done for us. At the end of the day it stands on the pathetic conglomerate of works as our prize to God rather than standing under the work of Christ. But works and faith aren't antithetical. Horton says, "Everything in the New Testament points to instruction in the faith that yields true discipleship, genuine maturity, and generous fruit bearing." (18) Works are the genuine fruit of a real faith. But outside the context of the gospel they are not Christ-exalting works.

(See the recent posts by Paul Adams on the role of faith and works in James chapter 2 and the quote of the day from the Scripture Zealot. Also relevant is the post from John Stackhouse "What Good are Theologians?" and the stinging reviews by Mike Wittmer on the works of Peter Rollins. The posts are called Theological Porn and Theological Chastity.)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Holy Ground - A Review

I just finished reading an advance reading copy of Holy Ground: Walking With Jesus as a Former Catholic by Chris Castaldo. It is due out from Zondervan this October. What first drew me to the book was the endorsements of D. A. Carson and Francis Beckwith. Carson said it was "the best book" he's read that chronicles the pilgrimage of someone from Catholicism to Evangelicalism and that it "was full of godly commonsense." Beckwith (a recent convert to Catholicism from Evangelicalism) said Castaldo "shows respect for the tradition from which he departed while at the same time not shying away from the doctrinal issues over which Catholics and Protestants are in serious disagreement." When two of my favorite authors, who come from different sides of the issue, can give a thumbs up so to speak on a book it immediately got my attention.

The book is divided into two parts. In the first part Castaldo gives five main reasons why Catholics often leave the church. In the second part he offers advice on how to "naturally and winsomely emulate Jesus among our Catholic loved ones and friends." (13, All page numbers are from the advance reading copy and thus may differ from the final printed edition.) The first part also has two "portrait" chapters. The first one is a portrait of Evangelical faith as embodied in Martin Luther and the second one is a portrait of the Catholic faith as embodied in Ignatius of Loyola and Cardinal Gasparo Contarini. Both of these chapters were fascinating and at times riveting to read. In the chapter on the Catholics we are introduced to three types of Catholics: the ex-Catholic (a la Luther), the traditional Catholic (a la Ignatius) and the Evangelical Catholic (a la Contarini). (89-90) Later in the book he also adds the category of a cultural Catholic or those who would be perceived as "nominally" Catholic or also called "'cafeteria Catholics' who pick and choose elements of religion to suit their taste."(ch 10, 152-153).

During the first half of the book Castaldo discusses issues like sola scriptura vs. nuda scriptura, the papacy, the sacraments and most important of all--salvation. Of all the reasons why Catholics leave the church "the chief reason, hands down, was disagreement with the Catholic way of salvation. When ex-Catholics communicated this idea, they often expressed appreciation for the rich symbolism, historical rootedness, and theological depth of Catholic rituals. At the same time, there was frustration and even resentment that one had spent decades in the Catholic Church without ever having heard a clear explanation of the salvation message. They understood how to obtain a relationship with the Catholic Church, but not with Jesus Christ." (108-109)

Castaldo is sensitive in his discussions without either talking down to Catholics or being argumentative. But he is serious in his disagreements. The chapter that transitions part one to part two is called "How Catholics view Evangelicals" and is a critical chapter. The observations and criticisms are not new but they need to be heard--again. Evangelicals are viewed as holding to salvation as little more than "fire insurance." Furthermore, our relationship with God is too "chummy chummy" and we have a glaring absence of unity. Our faith is also seen as superficial which oftens finds its chief expression on coffee cups and t-shirts.

In chapter 11 Castaldo incorporates the illustration of a traffic light in showing "How to Relate in Catholics with Grace and Truth." This chapter is full of concrete advice and sage counsel. Included is a glossary of words that must be used with caution (Yellow Light) to avoid communication breakdown. (174-177) The book concludes with an appendix on "How the Catholic Church Became What it is: Trent to Vatican II." Also included are discussion questions for each chapter along with suggestions for additional reading.

Castaldo states early on he intends to avoid two common problems often characteristic in books like this: 1. They often exhibit an unkind attitude which, while they may be doctrinally correct, are so full of irritation that they "ring hollow and fail to exhibit the loving character of Christ." (12) 2. They often do not explore the "practical dimensions of personal faith." Castaldo is more concerned with "understanding the common ideas and experiences of real-life people" rather than the bare content of catechisms. (12) On this score Castalod succeeds as he interlaces his book with the stories of real people and their experiences. He also demonstrates a love for Catholics and a desire for them to know the gospel.

Castaldo provides a "taxonomy of evangelical approaches" to Roman Catholics. (164-166) It ranges from the "actively anti-Roman Catholic" to the "Internal Renewal." Castaldo finds himself in the middle described as "Positive Identity Position." The position is described as seeking common ground with the Roman Catholic Church and willing to cooperate in isolated social projects (pro-life and disaster relief) but less inclined to cooperate evangelistically since "they reject both the institution and authority of the Roman Catholic Church as well as certain central doctrines. Less central differences, as perceived by these Evangelicals, tend to be minimized." (165)

I like this book and would be very comfortable recommending it to a Catholic or someone who is in dialogue with a Catholic. After reading this I felt I not only understood Catholics better but I understood myself as an Evangelical better. Seeing yourself through another's eyes is sometimes a good exercise.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Coming Soon from Eerdmans - The Psalms as Christian Worship

The Psalms as Christian Worship: A Historical Commentary is due out this December from Eerdmans.

Catalog description follows:

"This unique collaboration by two esteemed evangelical scholars blends a verse-by-verse exposition of selected psalms with a history of their interpretation in the church from the time of the apostles to the present.

Bruce Waltke, who has been teaching and preaching the book of Psalms for over fifty years, skillfully establishes the meaning of the Hebrew text through the careful sort of exegesis that he is especially known for. James Houston traces the church's interpretation and use of these psalms throughout the history of Christianity; as part of his historical approach, he has commissioned fresh translations of numerous Latin and Middle English texts.

A masterly 'devotional commentary,' Waltke and Houston's Psalms will serve to enrich the lives of contemporary Christians and to deepen the church's corporate worship. Displaying their respective strengths throughout these pages, Waltke and Houston bring together the two voices of the Holy Spirit — heard infallibly in Scripture and edifyingly in the church's response — in a rare and illuminating combination."

For the longest time I have used Derek Kidner's two volume commentary as my first choice for a devotional commentary on the Psalms (vol 1; vol 2). Though brief, Kidner has a way of putting a lot in a sentence that may comfort or convict. I look forward to this volume which could well replace Kidner as my number one choice (even though it won't cover every Psalm).

It will be a paperback with 480 pages and sell for $28.00.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The NIV 2011 - 95% TNIV? - Reflections

The dust is settling (a little) and tempers are cooling (by a degree or two at least). Zondervan and Biblica are emphasizing that they want this process to be a transparent one and not to fall prey to allegations of another "stealth Bible" production. For that they are to be commended. Scot McKnight is reassuring readers of his blog by emphasizing the words of Doug Moo that the NIV 2011 will be 95% what the TNIV looks like. Moo also said the NIV 2011 will be 80% what the 1984 NIV looked like (but the TNIV differs from the 1984 edition by only about 7%). So now I'm confused. Moo says on the webcast that it is "very hard to determine right now" what the relationship will be to previous editions including the TNIV. But if the 95% number is even close then it seems the TNIV is by no means going out of print. Depending on how you look at this the press release could have easily read something like this: "Biblica and Zondervan have announced today they will revise the TNIV by about 5% and rename it the NIV ending the production of the old frozen 1984 edition of NIV." But if we think the current controversy is bad that would have been publishing nightmare. Maureen "Moe" Girkins, President and CEO of Zondervan, made it clear in the webcast that the 1984 edition of the NIV and the TNIV will be phased out once production of the NIV 2011 is in full swing. I think we need to take them at their word--this is a revision of the NIV. The NIV will serve as the mother text not the TNIV. But Moo did say in the webcast that some of the TNIV changes will find their way into the NIV 2011. I hope so. I was quite happy with many of them.

What concerns many of the fans of the TNIV is what will happen with the translation of the gender related passages. A number of questions were raised about this on the webcast. Moo stated that they will do a "complete review of every gender related change since the publication of the 1984 edition." The issue, he said, is "back on the table." This is troublesome for many since they don't want this revision to be a step backward. I can respect their concerns. Moo made it clear that they want input from scholars and readers alike. So, speak now or forever hold your peace! Moe emphasized how much they want this 2011 edition to unify evangelicalism. May God bless their efforts.

On a side note the Scripture Zealot is providing a "roundup of links" on the issue and will continue to add to it. It's worth a visit for those wanting more information.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Carbon Dating The Apostle Paul?

Here's news for you. The pope announced that carbon dating on bone fragments suspected to be those of the Apostle Paul confirm the belief as true. The tomb was only recently uncovered (2006) by archaeologists working in the Vatican. Reporting for Reuters, Stephen Brown says,

"Pope Benedict gave details of the discovery, saying a tiny hole had been drilled in the sarcophaguus to permit inspection of the interior, revealing "traces of a precious linen cloth, purple in color, laminated with pure gold, and a blue colored textile with filaments of linen."

"It also revealed the presence of grains of red incense and traces of protein and limestone. There were also tiny fragments of bone, which, when subjected to Carbon 14 tests by experts, turned out to belong to someone who lived in the first or second century," said the pope."

Also discovered was a fresco (pictured here) of what is now estimated to be the oldest existing image of the Apostle Paul which dates back to the 4th century." Also see the article by A. N. Wilson here.

To my thinking the carbon dating cannot prove identity. It can only confirm that they date to the approximate time that the apostle lived. It is a stretch to say they belong to Paul. The role of relics remains an important aspect of both Roman Catholic and Orthodox traditions. John Calvin took serious issue with relics. See the list compiled from Calvin's book Treatise on Relics. Modern day defenses of relics are still worth reading. See here for example.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Thawing of the 1984 NIV

I'm probably in last place when it comes to blogging on the recent notice that the NIV will be updated (the edition that was to be "frozen" is going to get thawed out and revamped) and the TNIV will be put to bed. But here goes. To see the official notice you can go here. The official website is called NIV Bible 2011 since it is due out in 2011.

Perhaps coming in last gives me a chance to comment on the tsunami of responses. Talk of boycotting is way too premature. The final product may be very close to the TNIV. Who knows? Zondervan is also accused of caving into the pressure of conservatives. I don't see this as very realistic either. The fact of the matter is the TNIV has not done very well in sales. I have carried every edition they made and a couple of large churches in my area have adopted it as their official translation and it still has not ranked very high in our sales. Fans of the TNIV have long charged Zondervan with not really getting behind the translation and giving it the support it deserved. Could Zondervan have done more? Probably, but I'm not sure it would have made that much of a difference. I was never happy with the decision to "freeze" the NIV. It was an unnecessary move in light of the gender controversy. I am happy to see Douglas Moo as the chairman of the Committee on Bible Translation (CBT).

I think instead of boycotting anyone and judging motives we should offer our prayers for those involved and ask God to bless their efforts and use the final product for his glory. Do we have too many translations? We do. Could the NIV use some editing? It could. Does the TNIV need to go out of print? I don't think so. Why can't it live side by side with the 2011 NIV? Unless, they will be so close in nature that it would be truly superfluous. But it is far too soon to speculate. I'm sure we will see some preliminary samples as they become available.

Here's the article in Christianity Today.
I first heard about it from the Better Bibles Blog.
Zondervan's blog, Koinonia, has a notice as well.
The list could go on. The Scripture Zealot has put together a couple of the better links.

A Heart Exposed - A Review

Readers of this blog know how much I love the The Bowers Files series (The Pawn, The Rook and The Knight). But now we have a delightful book from Steven James called A Heart Exposed: Talking to God with Nothing to Hide. It is a book of prayers. Some people don't like to read written prayers much less actually pray them. I'm not one of them. In fact, I'm quite the opposite. I find written prayers are often thoughtful, creative, stirring, convicting and inspiring. Think to yourself how often you hear prayers start with "Lord, we thank you for this day." I would venture to say 95% of the spontaneous prayers I hear begin with those seven words or some variation of it. People need to read more prayers because there is so much more to be thankful for and so many other ways to start a prayer. We need to stop rushing into prayer as if a moment of silence would kill us. With that said I commend this book of prayers to you. It's hard to review a book like this but I want to offer a couple of the prayers I found especially moving. (Note: I haven't found one yet that starts with thanking God "this day.") I start each new prayer with the first word or sentence in bold.

I'm ashamed to admit it, but here's my typical prayer:

"God make my life safe, comfortable and easy. Lead me away from the trials that might purify my faith, the difficulties that might teach me perseverance, and the temptations that reveal my true allegiances. Please don't discipline me (even though I know you say it would shape me into the kind of person you desire) because it might not be very pleasant and I want my life to be Happy and Fun All the Time. Be for me a Santa Claus or a Dr. Phil, not the battle-hardened warrior of the ages or the fiercely loving Father you are. Amen."

No more of those prayers, god.
I promise.
For your sake and mine. (142)

O Creator of Beating Hearts,
and Healer of Broken Ones,
I've let my passion grow cold
since those days
when I first began my journey
with you.

You've become a part of my life
rather than the center of it,
a distraction rather than the direction.
And my prayers have grown stale,
stored so conveniently
in the cupboard of my heart.

So here's what I ask:
give me the eyes of a newborn believer;
introduce yourself to me again.
Amaze me with your presence
and upset the comfortable balance
of my numb and stable life
with your strange brand
of fiery grace.

Crack open my courage and my awareness
so that I can finally speak to you
with all of my will and emotions,
with heartfelt needs and honest fumbling,
instead of holding myself back and
offering up such
hollow little prayers. (15)

I regret many things,
but I do not regret this moment with you.
For it will have been a lifetime well-spent
to have lived this single moment
aware of your presence. (41)

To you.

O, Light Above the Darkness,
Truth Above the Lies,
Ruler of the Galaxies,
King Above the Skies,
Mystery of the Ages,
Wonder of the Tale,
calm me in the tempest,
guide me through the gale.

Lover of the Wanderer,
Prince of Those Who Stray,
I bow before your majesty,
rule in me today. (91)

Mysterious One,
take me by surprise.

A normal day and a
normal yawn and then I feel your
Spirit passing across my shadow.
A flash of reassurance,
as sudden realization that you delight in me.
You, the star-speaking poet,
you, the dragon-slaying prince,
you, the battle-scarred carpenter,
actually take delight in me.

You actually do.

So now, at last,
I accept the invitation
to take delight
in you. (103)

These prayers mold the English language into the service of praise and prayer to the Creator of language. They unleash the emotions of the heart and give expression to contrition, praise, devotion and confusion. They unearth our worldliness and reveal our shallow hearts. The unveil the glory of God and plumb the depths of his mercy and grace. I read prayers like these and I find they till the hardened ground of my heart and give balm to my wounds which, if left unattended, would draw me ever so slowly from the great physician.

Read this book. Pray these prayers. Let your heart resonate with them. And never, never start another prayer with "Lord, we thank you for this day." After reading this book you'll have a hundred new things to thank Him for.