On Bible Translations

Most people either think too much about which translation of the Bible to use or don’t think about it at all; I fall into the former group. In High School, I pretty much only knew of two translations – the New International Version, which seemed to be a standard, and then the old King James. Sometime in college, I also found out about the New Living Translation. I don’t think I dug into the differences or philosophies of translations until around my mid to late 20’s, when I started trying to take studying the Bible seriously. I assumed the best thing to do was to get the ‘most accurate’, which actually the original languages, but most people mistakenly believe is the ‘most literal’. This led me to the New American Standard Bible, which I rarely used after reading. I was also my foray into Study Bibles (more on that in a later post), specifically the Apologetics Study Bible, where I ended up with the Holman Christian Standard Bible (they have since dropped the Holman). I actually really liked this translation, but the truth is, I only ended up with it because it was cheaper than some of the others. Joining a PCA church in 2012, the standard seemed to be the English Standard Version, which is what my current church uses exclusively. A few years later (with a few more study Bibles) and I realized, I don’t really like the ESV. So, right now, I’m in the market for a new (non-study) Bible, and I’m unsure which translation I may buy. I’ve also considered writing a short series on Bible study, one on translations, Study Bibles, and Commentaries; so I guess now is as good a reason as any.

You may have some awareness, as I did years ago, that some some translations are more literal and some just try to give the general idea (there are also paraphrase, but I get into that later). The terms most often used are formal equivalence and dynamic (sometimes called functional, because alliteration helps to confuse people) equivalence. People also like to call this word for word vs. thought for thought. Now, there really is no such thing as literal, as Greek/Hebrew word order doesn’t match English, or sometimes words do not have a clear translation (which is why there are so many). So, some work is needed to make it readable. The readability is often the reason given for moving from word for word. There is also the issue of idiom. If I said ‘his nose was red’ or ‘their teeth will be clean’ or Samaritans don’t share pottery with Jews, you probably don’t know what that means in English. Now, if I said, ‘her belly was enlarged’, you might realize it means pregnant. So, how should translate the idiom ‘literally’. You could use the old language, you could try a more modern one, like ‘with child’ (which just sounds weird), or maybe ‘she was showing’. Or just say pregnant.

Two other issues in translation are reading level (compare to grade level) and what I’ll call churchyness (or using poetic/odd/archaic language, just because it ‘sounds’ right). Grade level is an important consideration. If you have a middle-schooler, someone who doesn’t like to read, or someone who’s first language is not English, something like the NASB or NRSV, 11th and 10.5, respectively, might not be helpful (let alone the King James). Similarly, if you find the Old Testament confusing, trying the NLT (6.5) may be helpful. I think this is an often overlooked matter when people do look for translations and ‘readability’. Though, generally speaking, the more thought for thought, the easier it will be to read. Churchyness would is typically going to fall into the idiomatic issues I mentioned above, like ‘with child’, others include – lead us not into temptation, or valley of the shadow of death, or darkness is my only companion – when those are more familiar or ‘sound right’, while not being the best translation. These are the issues that come with translation of any kind. I found this chart here, which also has other valuable charts and comparisons.

Briefly, I want to hit a few stats for you, then go into what I consider to be the five main translations, and then two other popular ones that are just bad, and you probably shouldn’t use them. Like many things, the answer to which is the most popular translation will vary depending on who (and how) you ask. In my moderately reformed world, ESV is about all there is. However, it is rarely used outside of the US. If you asked English speakers, my guess would be that NRSV would be by far and away the most known, as it is authorized by the Catholic and Anglican churches; as well as just about the only translation used in scholarship. For America, The Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture at Indiana University and Purdue University asked American’s which Bibles they read and it found King James was first at 55%, NIV (19%), NRSV (7%), New American Bible (6%), The Living Bible (5%) as the top five with all others equaling about 8%. I am skeptical about the methodology, but that is beyond the scope of what I want to discuss here.

My main focus is American Evangelicalism, which is also the group that uses the widest variation, so I will give you a few stats from them. That National Association of Evangelicals asked their members for their preference, and the top five were the NIV (39%), NASB (20%), ESV (13%), NKJV (9%), and NLT (7%), with all others being under 2%. Thom Schreiner has an interesting article about the change from 2011 to 2020, as reported by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association. The NIV and KJV reamined 1 and 2. The NLT moved from 4 to 3, the ESV moved from 5 to 4, the NKJV dropped from 3 to 5. Other notes in the top 10, the H/CSB stayed at 6 both times, the Reina Valera (RV, a Spanish language Bible) went from unranked to 7, which is kind of cool, and the NASB dropped from 7th to 10th.

You’ll notice below my big five doesn’t necessarily line up with the most used, but I will explain why in each, and then hit on two others that are worth noting. However, all seven are in the top lists (depending on definition). In each section, I will list the acronym, link to the Wiki article, which is actually pretty good for history and overview, then the reading level, then I will jump into why the translation is important and my general thoughts. Since this is how so many people think in terms of how to pick, I will start with the most word for word and move to the most thought for thought.

New American Standard Bible (NASB, History, 11) – This is the most word for word of the 25 or so most popular translations (there is one or two more ‘literal’, but they are hard to find and you won’t see them published from major groups or used in any study Bibles). I’ve heard this is considered the ‘academic’ version for conservative scholars. This translation can be valuable for study, especially if you are trying to get to the most literal version. However, as an everyday reader or devotional, I think it would be tough. It is a hard read (rated hardest to read from one site I found), and has the second highest ‘grade’ rating of all major translations (King James is higher, more on that below). It is generally considered a good version for conservative Evangelicals.

English Standard Version (ESV, History, 7) – This is the one I have the most familiarity with and the one that seems to be gaining in popularity the most. They refer to themselves as ‘essentially literal’. It seems that they are almost as word for word as the NASB, but tries to keep some of the churchyness of the King James. For me, that makes it even clunkier to read than other translations. I don’t like archaic language mixed with literal approach. The readability suffers from this approach, though the level isn’t that high.

Outside of that, my major issue is the amount of harmonization that occurs in the translation (which is kind of the opposite of ‘literal.’ I won’t go much into it here, but if you compare something like Kings vs. Chronicles, or Paul’s conversion accounts in the ESV to other translations, you’ll notice that it doesn’t match often. This is because the translators specifically chose to change the meaning from the Hebrew and Greek for theological reasons or for fear of ‘contradictions’ in the Bible.

This is considered a good version for people who are moderately reformed. People will also point positively and negatively that it is good for complementarians. It is also a common choice in conservative Evangelical churches.

New Revised Standard Version (NRSV, History, 10.5) – I am probably the least familiar with this version, and I don’t think I’ve ever heard it in a church setting. I do have one copy and have to say, I think it is the best in terms of readability. It is a little more thought for though than the ESV (both versions are revisions to the RSV of the 70’s, with something like 96% agreement between), but still ‘essentially’ literal. It also drops old idioms and uses modern English. It is often attacked for being ‘liberal’ due to be being the standard in Mainline denominations and academia.

It is the also the only major version that was ecumnical in the translation committee, having ‘conservative’ and ‘liberal’ Protestants, Catholic, Orthodox, and Jewish members. Due to this, it is pretty straight reading (in some ways more ‘literal’ in the sense that it may be closer to the actual words of the text) because there was no dominating theological bent (this also explains it’s use in academia). It is famously criticized for translating ‘young woman’ in Isaiah. However, that is what the Hebrew says. Interestingly, the LXX (pre-Christian Greek vision of the OT) translates to virgin in Greek. But if you are truely after the most accurate, then ‘young woman’ seems to be what the text calls for. I won’t get much into the ‘gender language’ issues here (nevermind, a few notes below).

I’ve read more than a few people say they wish the ESV was just a reorientation of the theological bend of the NRSV, because, well, they wanted a conservative translation, but also because it has superior readability. This versions is generally considered good for everyone except conservative Evangelicals (not that it is bad for us), though you can find quite a few conservative study Bibles that use this text (though not nearly as many as the ESV or King James).

New International Version (NIV, History, 8) – Many consider this to be the true mid-point on the word for word and thought for thought spectrum. It is a little newer than the NASB, but with far superior readability, which was why it because the stand replacement of the King James in most Evangelicals circles. While they harmonize Paul like the ESV, there are at least footnotes explaining the original Greek. They do not harmonize Kings/Chronicles, but instead note the apparent contradictions, which I find to be a far better treatment than simply change the words of scripture out of fear. They do make a few odd choices, especially in Timothy regarding the husband of one wife, which the translate as being faithful to one’s wife. I guess the translation committee considered this to be the thought (interestingly the NRSV says married only once). This is considered a good translations for conservative Evangelicals, but with broader theology than the ESV.

New Living Translation (NLT, History, 6.5) – I was actually a little surprised to see this make so many top five list. I actually really like it. It is the newest (including updates) of the ‘living’ or ‘modern’ English, though I believe it is an older translation than all the above. It is probably the premier example of a thought of thought translation, it is certainly the best one, in my view. At a sixth grade level, it is also one of the simplest to read and usually ranks as one of the easiest to read. It is great for middle/high schoolers and new Christians. I actually use it often for Old Testament readings, and I recommend it to people trying to read the prophets or Job. They also have a few of my favorite OT scholars, at least one of whom is an expert in Hebrew poetry. Relatedly, as they aren’t going word for word, they have more leeway to be poetical in the Psalms and Wisdom literature. You can find many good study Bibles that use this, but not many in depth or scholarly ones. People seem to be torn whether this is considered good for study or not, but most people find it valuable for devotion or day to day reading. You won’t like it if you want ‘literal’ or disagree with the translation philosophy. It is generally considered good for conservative Evangelicals, and like the NASB or NIV, there isn’t a particular theological bend.

I want to briefly mention two other versions that I think you should avoid, the King James and the Message. First, the King James (KJV). I was surprised to see how popular this still is. It is a version to avoid for two reasons – the language is hundreds of years old, and it is not based on the best available copies. The grade level is actually 13, because you are essentially reading Shakespeare’s English. I know that is the appeal to some people, and if that is you, then this might be a good supplement, but updated language is needed. Not only do some of the words not exist anymore, but in some instances words have completely different meanings than they did, rendering the text inaccurate. There are also many mistranslations due to lack of knowledge of the original languages, especially Hebrew (there are Unicorns in the Psalms). Some KJV only people will tell you that it is based on the best text. This is patently false, and no scholars agree; no other translations use the Greek text used (all the above use the same as each other, as this is the consensus among everyone except KJV only people). There are so many better options, please choose one.

The Message is not a translation, it is a paraphrase and one not meant to be scholarly or accurate in anyway. Paraphrase is well past the thought for thought concept. No scholar or pastor would recommend using this as your everyday reader, not even the translator. You are basically getting one guy’s thoughts on how to paraphrase what he things one verse means to him. If you are curious, it is written at a third grade level. I have heard a few people say this could be helpful in study, but only if viewed/used as something like a commentary. It is not an accurate example of the Bible. If you don’t like reading or are looking for a simple version, please do not choose this, use the NLT.

Hope this was helpful. I’d love to hear from anyone on which versions they prefer and why.

You can see the chart below for more translation philosophy/comparisons. You can also go here and here for more comparisons/summaries of different translations. I did go too much into the ‘gender neutral’ controversy, mostly because I think it is pretty overblown. For one, people were really mad in the 90’s and early 2000’s, but even the ESV uses some ‘gender inclusive’ language now, so, to some extent it has blown over. I’m fine with ‘brothers and sisters’ when it is a group, especially as we know it was read to everyone, and even within some letters there are specific call outs to men, and then also to women’. Something like teach your ‘children’ instead of ‘son’, also makes sense in light of modern English. I don’t have that particularly liberal, and more to the point, find the harmonizing mentioned above to be more egregious. I won’t say any more about that, but Bill Mounce has a good article on it, plus a note on literalism.

Edit: I forgot to mention another issues I have with literal or churchyness, using old measurements. I cannot understand how or why, in modern English, we’d use cubits and baths instead of feet and gallons (or meters and liters, for the rest of the world). Similarly, saying the 6th hour, instead of around noon. Those on the more word for word side should at least translate in footnotes, i.e. ‘9 feet’, not ‘a cubit is roughly 18 inches’; the worst are those that give no conversion metrics. Thought for thought versions tend to translate to modern measures and footnote the original.

Modern Cloister: Impact of Covid on Community

Modern-Cloister-NEW

Slightly different, and shorter, pod today. We wrap up our series on community by discussing the impact of Covid-19. This similar to our Future of Community episode, in that we try to predict what may happen, with the biggest impact being that Covid is certainly accelerating existing trends. We also discuss church and family life over the past year, and a few positives that have seemed to emerge. The main one being people meeting new neighbors, this is true for us, but is also a trend that surveys have show. 

We hope you enjoy this final episode being a bit of excursus and that the series overall was beneficial.  Community is something that is quite important to us, and it only seemed fitting to start the Cloister cast with this topic. If you haven’t listened yet, you can find all the episode in the player below and every where podcasts are found. You can find my commentaries about our previous episodes – History of Community, Decline of Community, and Future of Community. You can find all episode, show notes, and more at ModernCloister.com. We’d love to hear any comments, questions, or criticisms you may have. 

Wisdom and Kingship In The Psalms Modern Cloister

In this episode, we take a closer look at wisdom and kingship psalms and the ways they have been and continue to be used by Christians and the church. This includes reading select psalms in these categories that are meaningful to us. This is the 6th and final episode in our series on the psalms.  In the 1st episode in the series, we provided an overview of the psalms, including their history, organization, difficulties, themes, language style and poetic nature, along with our personal stories in coming to love and appreciate the psalms. In the 2nd episode, we discussed how the psalms were used historically within the church and shared practical insights into how to use the psalms today in both corporate and private worship and prayer, including several on-air, live examples of praying and singing the psalms. In the 3rd episode, we explored praise and thanksgiving psalms. In the 4th episode, we talked about lament and confessions psalms. In the 5th episode, we discussed confidence and remembrance psalms.  You can listen to those episodes below: A Guide to Understanding the Psalms How To Use The Psalms Praise and Thanksgiving In The Psalms Lament and Confession In The Psalms Confidence and Remembrance In The Psalms If you're new to the Modern Cloister, check out our first full series on community via the links below and listen to our introductory episode to learn all about the "why" behind our podcast.  Welcome to the Modern Cloister A History of Christian Community The Decline of Community The Future of Community The Impact of COVID-19 on Community Remember to rate, review and subscribe to be the first to get our newest episodes! And connect with us to share your thoughts and feedback at moderncloister@gmail.com. 
  1. Wisdom and Kingship In The Psalms
  2. Confidence and Remembrance In The Psalms
  3. Lament and Confession In The Psalms
  4. Praise and Thanksgiving In the Psalms
  5. In The News: Supreme Court Takes Up Abortion, Russell Moore Leaves SBC, God Bless the USA Bible, and CDC Guidance

Modern Cloister: Future of Community

Modern-Cloister-NEW

I was out of town last week, so this is a little old, but the most recent Modern Cloister Podcast is up and live. We continue out series in Community and discuss the future of community. Most of it is speculation, but also following various trends. A week or so ago, a Gallup survey came out that shows that church membership dropped below the 50% threshold for the first time since they have tracked. It is worth noting that it is not the lowest in US history, most Historians peg Colonial to pre-Great Awakening membership to something like 20-30%. The survey points to many of the things we discussed in out Decline of Community podcast, such as the rise in the 30’s and the peak in the 50’s, with major changes come in the 70’s and 80’s. They also have a few speculations about the future, and the implications.

I personally do not believe we will drop to the 10% mark in other post-Christian democracies, mostly due to immigration; however, a return to the pre-revival American age of 20-30% seems imminent. I wouldn’t be surprised to see those levels be 2050. We will talk in the next Pod about how we believe Covid will accelerate the trends of the declince.

Wisdom and Kingship In The Psalms Modern Cloister

In this episode, we take a closer look at wisdom and kingship psalms and the ways they have been and continue to be used by Christians and the church. This includes reading select psalms in these categories that are meaningful to us. This is the 6th and final episode in our series on the psalms.  In the 1st episode in the series, we provided an overview of the psalms, including their history, organization, difficulties, themes, language style and poetic nature, along with our personal stories in coming to love and appreciate the psalms. In the 2nd episode, we discussed how the psalms were used historically within the church and shared practical insights into how to use the psalms today in both corporate and private worship and prayer, including several on-air, live examples of praying and singing the psalms. In the 3rd episode, we explored praise and thanksgiving psalms. In the 4th episode, we talked about lament and confessions psalms. In the 5th episode, we discussed confidence and remembrance psalms.  You can listen to those episodes below: A Guide to Understanding the Psalms How To Use The Psalms Praise and Thanksgiving In The Psalms Lament and Confession In The Psalms Confidence and Remembrance In The Psalms If you're new to the Modern Cloister, check out our first full series on community via the links below and listen to our introductory episode to learn all about the "why" behind our podcast.  Welcome to the Modern Cloister A History of Christian Community The Decline of Community The Future of Community The Impact of COVID-19 on Community Remember to rate, review and subscribe to be the first to get our newest episodes! And connect with us to share your thoughts and feedback at moderncloister@gmail.com. 
  1. Wisdom and Kingship In The Psalms
  2. Confidence and Remembrance In The Psalms
  3. Lament and Confession In The Psalms
  4. Praise and Thanksgiving In the Psalms
  5. In The News: Supreme Court Takes Up Abortion, Russell Moore Leaves SBC, God Bless the USA Bible, and CDC Guidance

Covid: One Year

Depending on how you count it – the pandemic had already been called, I was still at work for a week, but Mrs. MMT had just shut down, and schools shut down this week – it has been a year with Covid in our lives. I have written a few thoughts during the past year about Covid and the impact on my life. I don’t have much more to add. As of this writing, more than 530,000 Americans have died from the virus, and while numbers are down, there are still more than 1,500 people dying a day. It didn’t have to be this way, we have the second or third highest per capita death rate, depending on the source. Meaning, we are literally one of the worst three, none of which include Sweden, whose entire plan was to do absolutely nothing. We committed to neither lockdowns and safety measures, nor to completely running the economy as normal, but with distancing and masks. For that, our economy has suffered more than most others (our GDP drop again puts us in the worst performing five). The Republican president at the time recommend we ‘inject bleach’ for the virus, while many Democratic governors in blue states have shuttered their schools (but kept casinos and bars open) against almost all science and pediatric recommendations. I won’t rehash the politics of the past year (most of which are still ongoing), suffice it to say, it is an embarrassment.

I do want to point to one thing, quite disconcerting as David French noted in an earlier article, white evangelicals are the least likely to take the vaccine (though some churches and ‘leaders’ are actively promoting the vaccine). Anti-vaxx isn’t really part of the white evangelical culture, so it seems to be the influence of politics (Trumpism, QAnon, etc.) more than anything else. In some senses, it is ‘fine’ (I guess), to not want the vaccine, but is worst of all, is that white evangelicals were the least likely (only 48 percent, while most others were in the high 60’s) to say that concern for others welfare mattered. Between this and the currently trending argument that empathy is sinful, I don’t know what else to say, so I’ll just leave the words of Christ.

Luke 10:27; Matthew 22:36–40; Mark 12:28–31
 
27 And he answered, sYou shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and tyour neighbor as yourself.

36 Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law? 37 And he said to him, gYou shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And ha second is like it: iYou shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 jOn these two commandments depend kall the Law and the Prophets.


The Great Commandment

28 uAnd one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, Which commandment is the most important of all? 29 Jesus answered, The most important is, vHear, O Israel: The Lord our God, wthe Lord is one. 30 And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. 31 xThe second is this: yYou shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment zgreater than these.

On Inerrancy and Literal Interpretation.

A while ago, I wrote a review on Five View on Biblical Inerrancy, which is a book I cannot recommend enough. It had been on my list for quite some time, and I just never got around to it. I really wish I had read it earlier, because the mainstream Evangelical framework for reading the Bible is shaped by Inerrancy far more than you may think. It isn’t even really just inerrancy, but instead, the Chicago Statement on Inerrancy. The issue with this statement is that it isn’t as natural as it appears to be, and doesn’t just defend the Bible, it pushes a very specific hermeneutic framework and interpretation. Specifically, what some call ‘literalistic’ or ‘literalism’. This is the overly literal view of scripture, that is taking it ‘literally’ even when the text may not call for it. 

That was the defensive cry I heard most of my Christian life, ‘I take the Bible literally.’ It was supposed to be a short, definitive statement about your Biblical beliefs. I certainly took the statement seriously, but it wasn’t until I was probably 30 that a pastor asked me, ‘how do you take poetry literally?’. Depending on how you count it, between a quarter and a third (or even more) of the Bible is poetry. I had never really thought about that; and of course, most of the poetry is in the Old Testament, which is usually skimmed or skipped by Evangelicals. 

It seems that the fight over ‘literal’ mostly comes as a response to the overwhelming evidence of the fact that the universe is billions of years old and that evolution is true. Some defenders of the Chicago statement, which is Mohler in the book, point out that the statement says, ‘rightly interpreted,’ which gives room for different interpretations of chapters/verses such as Genesis 1. However, it goes on to say that science cannot overturn scripture. I can’t think of a clearer signal to say, you must interpret Gen 1 (please don’t ask about Gen 2, which doesn’t match creation order of Gen 1) as straight literal than that. Mohler can act like a politician and point to the statement, but when see a book/article/podcast/video with something like this in the title- ‘are science and the Bible in conflict?’, you know exactly what they are talking about. So, embedded in the statement is the interpretive framework. For good reason, Mohler’s article was criticized by all the other authors for arguing inerrancy of his interpretation. 

But he wasn’t really wrong, in a sense, as he is only conveying the message of the statement. The issue for us today, is how the statement was used and pushed and trickled down to all of us in the pews, because it tied a particular view to inerrancy, and inerrancy was view as protecting the Bible, and even more so, God himself. As Mohler points out, when the Bible speaks, God speaks. This is absolutely true, I believe this, as do most Christians, but you can see through the simple flow of thought, that if you don’t interpret passages a certain way, then you don’t believe in God. It looks something like this: a particular interpretation – that interpretation as implied by the Statement – inerrancy as a concept – the writers who were inspired by God – God Himself speaking – the goodness, omnipotence, etc of God; so that a particular interpretation equals belief in God. I don’t know if this was the original intent of the authors of the statement or just how it ended up being abused. 

The damage of literalism cannot be overstated. It is something I really wish people cared more about, unfortunately, it often seems that people have to leave the Evangelical work entirely, before they can say much about it. Or maybe they left because of it, and then write about it. The biggest problem, is it really is fear based. Fear is a pretty big motivator for most people, but it appears to be the easiest way to get Evangelicals to move on something. We’ve seen this in politics, with devastating effect, for decades, but rapidly accelerated over the past five or so years. We see it in the attack on public school and education in general. But our fear for the Bible and God is not necessary. We can’t protect them, nor need we to do so. When we try, we end up putting them in small boxes of protection that leads us to weak faith. 

Fighting for a particular view of inerrancy comes from the fear that if one thing is ‘wrong’ then the whole Bible is wrong, and we need to throw it out. To me, that is an incredible weak faith. There seems to be a fear that if you admit that ancient writers believed the world was covered in a dome, that we have to abandon the resurrection. As if we should only believe God if the Bible is written and read like a factual report coming in from the AP wire. To not admit the different (non-modern) views of the authors, or that scribes could err seems ridiculous. Especially, when we know there are essentially typos (actually, transcription) errors in our manuscripts. Look at 1 Thessalonians 1:7 for example, about half say infant, the other half says gentle; clearly one of them is an error (though it really doesn’t change much, see my study notes here). Other prominent examples included the longer ending of Mark or the extra few lines of the Lord’s Prayer, both of which have since been thrown out in most translations.

That brings us to the ‘autograph’ argument, which says the Bible is inerrant in the original documents. It is used in some ways as an argument against in perceived errors or contradictions. We can just wave them away and say that out there, in some unknown (and unfindable) document rest the fix to all that ails. It, again, is just a reach for the hope that God must have, at some point, given us a perfect (in our modern sense) document. We know that it is not perfect, and even if we were given something that was, you would still have to question why God would allow it to become ‘corrupted’. Right? This is another error in thought that comes from literalism, that the book was just handed to us and God isn’t really involved anymore and allowed issues to happen so that we, in some senses, most not really know what is happening now. Alternatively, isn’t it possible that God used imperfect people, who existed in a world different than our own, but then actually intervened in the millenia so that we have a Bible today that pretty well reflects the original writing?

Of course, the other issue is that some ‘errors’ aren’t really errors, or conflicts.  Is the Bible in error or in conflict with science the world was created in a literal, 24 hour, six day sequence? No, because, that isn’t what the Bible is trying to say in Genesis 1. But that is really the problem with literalism, we’ve put ourselves into a tiny box that leads to odd interpretations or readings or understandings of part of the Bible. The sub-title of one Enns’ books points to the problem well: Our obsession with defending the Bible has left us unable to read it. I want to talk about a few specifics, then probably wrap up.

I was thinking about this yesterday while listening to a sermon on Proverbs at my church service. He points out what Proverbs is (are), that they are wisdom, not promises. That was probably a shock to some people, but as he rightly pointed out, how many children have been ‘raised as they should go’, but left the ‘path’? I know people in the fundamentalist world that have this transactional view of God, if I do X, God should do Y. However, if we read the Bible as a collection of different genres (still, all inspired by God, that is not something I doubt/reject) with different purposes, we might not need a preacher to explain that wisdom poetry is not a literal, transactional promise. However, this is the clear consequence of  ‘taking the Bible literally’. 

I’ve said/written much on Genesis and the age of the Earth/evolution question over the last few months, which I won’t repeat here, you can go watch this video and/or read the notes underneath. I will point out that the overly literal (again, in our modern western version) has had two negative impacts. One is that people will just leave the church altogether, they go to college or read a book and see the fact of evolution and then throughout the whole Bible, because that is the weak faith with which they’ve been conditioned. Second, they reject science in some whole disciplines. Of course, all of us believers reject some level of science, but we have a name for that – miracles. Science says you can’t be born of a virgin, yeah, we know, thank God for the Incarnation. Science says you can’t be resurrected, again, yeah, that is why it is a big deal that Christ did come back to life. That’s not what I’m talking about here, it is the rejection of whole disciplines (biology, geology, etc.). Unfortunately, it is another step in that line that causes so many issues, not just rejection, but conflict. Seeing the ‘other side’ as against you, or evil. Evolution is a lie and only told by atheistic scientist out to get you and even worse, your children. Which inexplicably leads us to reject other forms of science (or be susceptible to conspiracy theories related to them) such as climate change or (currently) pandemics/vaccines. 

Interestingly, one oddity from literalism, is that it actually reduces belief in the miraculous. This isn’t always the case, but it pops up now and then, where someone will want to defend a point by explaining how it can happen naturally, to show that it could be ‘literal’, but in a way that downplays God’s involvement. I’ll give two types of examples. One is Jonah and the what? Fish? Or was it a whale? It has to be a whale, right, because you couldn’t live inside a fish. I find this to be a strange line of thought. Of course you can’t live in a fish, but also, a plant can’t grow up in a few hours that is big enough to give a man shade, not can it shrivel enough to no longer provide shade from a worm ‘attack’ in a few hours. Jonah says all these things happened, I take it be actual events with God’s intervention. Another example is natural but literal ways that things like the 10 plagues could have happened (blood in the river caused all the frogs to leave then they died and had swarms of bugs) or the walls of Jericho falling (could it have been some sonic acoustic weapon from the horns?). 

We see instances like this in a way with Revelation, especially the ‘Left Behind’/Dispensational view. Remember, we have to take the Bible literally, so when it says hornets attacked, then they must have, it can’t be apocalyptic imagery, it must be literal, so clearly, those are fighter jets. Wait, what? Is it literal or no? Yes, it is literal, things are attacking, by John didn’t really know (erred?) what he was seeing, they are jets or attack helicopters. 

Some of those last few are amusing, but the worst is when we just straight up change the text. Two quick examples, the mustard seed and one wife. Jesus says the mustard seed is the smallest of all seeds. Well, it isn’t. If the Bible must be ‘without error’ in a modern literalist sense then we have a problem. The solution, well, learn to read the Bible in historical context, right? No, our translations will just add ‘of your’ to the text. Paul tells Timothy an elder should be a man of one wife, but we don’t want context and to ackwonwled that polygamy existed, so…let’s just change that to be ‘married’ or ‘faithful to his wife’, neither of which is what the text says. I said two, but also, go read Acts and Paul’s conversion stories, most translation change hear to understand in the last instance; again, despite the actual text. We are literally (in the actual sense) adding words to the Bible to protect the … Bible? We should probably take literally what Revelation says about adding or taking away from the book. 

This ended up being a lot more about the problem of literalism than inerrancy, I should probably change my title. However, the two (in the modern, American, evangelical context) have become nearly synonymous. Unfortunately, the word inerrancy has become nearly meaningless. People use it to mean too many things, or too narrow a thing (literalism) that discussions have almost become worthless. Often this causes people to jump around, redefine it, or use other words like inspired or authoritative. Some treat those words as synonymous, and we go around the circle again. I had no idea this issue came pretty much all from the Chicago Statement. It has greatly influenced my life, in mostly negative ways, where I feel like after years of thinking I knew the Bible pretty well, I’m having to actually study and learn basics in my 30’s. Add all this up, and I don’t think I can call myself an inerrantist. The word inerrancy is too lied to a hermeneutic (let alone a political ideology) that I don’t fully support and often find problematic. Maybe that puts me on the outside of current evangelical thought, but I think I’ll stick with inspired. As Bird points out in the book, this is the word use both by the Westminster and London Baptist confessions. 

 

 

Thoughts on the attack at the US Capitol

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Like many people, I couldn’t sleep last night. I laid in bed, honestly just confused. It is surreal. I thought of all the things I wanted to say. Wrote this post in my mind, you know? Kind of lack reenacting an argument in your head after you’ve had some time. I felt like I had a few good things going. Of course, today, after not sleeping and then an odd day at work, I feel as confused as ever. 

This was wild (which, to be fair, is what the president called for), shameful and embarrassing. You can go here for a pretty good group of pictures. Mrs. MMT and I wondered last night, which ones will end up in the history textbooks. 

I’m not typically an emotional person, but it was hard not feel that way watching this. Our capitol was under siege, lawmakers were being escorted at by secret service members while wearing dollar store gas masks, non-American flags were raised, including the Confederate Battle Flag (something that never even happened during the Civil War) and, perhaps more frightening, flags with Trump’s name on them. 

Cult of Personality

It was a sight to behold. People, with no sense of irony (or, apparently, logic, grammar, history) stormed the capitol building, broke windows/doors to stop a ceremonial democratic process (the definition of sedition), carried a treasonous flag, all while chanting ‘USA’. It was truly bewildering for everyone watching at home, and around the world. We weren’t the only ones confused, it seems, the insurrectionist didn’t seem to know what to do next. Like a dog that finally catches a car, they seemed lost as to what to do with it. I was watching TV live (while on a Zoom call) and you could see people just, milling about. Walking around, taking pictures, stealing things and engaging in general jackassery. 

Their dear leader had held a rally earlier in the day, told them to march to the capital and inhibit democracy and overturn the election. The did just that. Then, well, not much for bit. Then their leader tells them they are special and he is proud of them, and to go home peacefully. They do just that. They actually just walked away. Nothing else happened that night. I guess they are awaiting orders, and again unironically, et. al, posting online that people who wear masks are sheep. 

To their credit, I suppose, if you can say that about sedition, there was no more violence last night or so far today. I honestly don’t expect there to be. Not until Trump gives the order to attack again. If you can stomach the cesspool of Twitter, go look at the comments under hardcore Turmpers such as Pence and Cruz, when they call this a terrorist attack, the ask why they are backing down, they are asking what about the storm, and they are accusing them of turning on America. If you want even more unhinged, look at the replies to Trump telling them to go home. You get some of the same questioning, but no attacks, and then the most loyal try to decipher of the other, less informed, by pointing out that ‘they’ must be regrouping and encourage everyone to go back and wait. 

I don’t know how to describe this as anything other than a cult. This is pure cult of personality. The live and, now actually, die on his every word. They are not America First (while misguided, is at least arguable) they are Trump First. Even worse, they are Trump only. 

Rewriting the Narrative

As they had no plan, there is no coherent narrative coming out of the attack. Once the Capital Building was clearing, the Senate and Congress came back in and finalized the election. Again, this is a ceremonial display. They only count the votes toward the electoral college. The states have already certified. The people voted long ago. People can object, which rarely happens (one person attempted in ’16, but was gaveled down by none other than Biden). Ted Cruz had recently finished his long, rambling speech which said nothing at all and continued the lie of ‘stolen election’, which has been heard in over 60 court cases, in which the Trump team has won one case (election observers were allowed to move from 10 feet away to six, kraken indeed). 

Then the attack happened. Interestingly some of the of the lawmakers changed their mind and decided not to object. They were never willing to stated that they bought of the lies they had been spewing and were only doing it for political theater. Of course, they never explained why they changed their minds. Either you believe, whith no basis in facts whatsoever, that the election was stolen, or you don’t. I doubt we will hear from any. Cruz continues his QAnonsense attacks on democracy during the counting, but today called the attacks terrorist actions. That is some fine tight rope walking.

So, what is the narrative? Claim victory? Not quite. As nothing could happen regarding the election, nothing did happen, other than the counting of certified votes. However, they claim blue lives matter and to be for law and order, so the whole violent sedition, death and destruction thing is a bit problematic. Pretty quickly, these were the lines:

  1. It was a non-violent protest. Well, no. Right now it looks like dozens of officers were injured, 15 of which were hospitalized, one of which is in critical condition (curiously, many of the blue light houses were dark this morning on my way to work, not sure if they are ashamed Trumpers or no longer support the police). This should also dispel the myth that the police opened the doors and let everyone in. Though, there were clearly some shaking hands and taking pictures, but they are easily identifiable, and should be fire and arrested. Even worse, four people are dead. One lady, in her 30s with two kids, was shot by secret service for getting too close to Pence. Which I suppose it what happens when Service and police barricade a door with furniture, point guns at the door and then say if you break the door, they will shoot. She apparently tweeted that she can’t be stopped, before being killed. This is a tragic loss of life for an unbelievably stupid reason. Over night, there are reports for three other deaths, all from ‘medical issues’. Not many details out yet, but it seems like a fellow Georgian, in her 30s, was trampled in the attack, and another person was testing his taser, which he apparently didn’t know how to use, tased himself and had a heart attack.  I am actually skeptical of this one, because it just can’t be real. No word on the fourth death. All tragic and entirely unnecessary and directly caused by Trump. 
  2. So, clearly there was violence, what does that mean? Wasn’t us. It was obviously Antifa (it is always worth noting that according to Trump’s FBI director, all law enforcement, facts, and reason, Antifa is not a group), or Black Lives Matter. It doesn’t matter, apparently, that many of these people are social media famous maga and Q-Anon people, most of which recorded themselves. It doesn’t matter that there are videos of people stating they are taking the people’s house back (I hadn’t heard this term before, I could be wrong, but I feel like that should be the white house), all of which are easily identifiable (from prior posts, years worth in some cases) on social media. Most people have probably heard of Elizabeth from Knoxville. She seems absolutely incredulous that she would be maced while breaking into a federal building to, in her words, start a revolution. 
  3.  Alright, obviously violent and obviously Trumpers, so now what? Kind of a mix of random things, but mostly conspiracy theories and false equivalencies (all at once, even the ones that contradict each other, and why not, especially if 1 & 2 above are both out there at the same time). The former is vast, so I won’t go into them (some include lizard people), other than my favorite – the police let this happen. I literally saw some of my Trumper friends calling for an investigation. Not because of the absence of support that was requested, but because, apparently the absence of police made people violent. Essentially, the police made us violent by not stopping our violence. Poe’s law, y’all. I’ll hit false equivalencies below, since the new, dumber, unwieldy version of wordpress doesn’t let me have a second paragraph with my number. 
  4. Actual honesty? We did it, we caused the deaths, we were seditious, but it is because we are starting a revolution, saving America, stopping the steal, etc. I don’t have much else to saw for that.

False Equivalency

There are two false narratives within this, once is people have objected/not conceded before or, once violence has been admitted, what about Antifa/BLM. The former line might be a little more popular where I am, but I’ll get to that shortly. There were objects to Ohio electors being counted in the 2000 election and some unclear objection in 2016 (mentioned above). No president has even not conceded. Should also be noted that none of the people making the political stunt of objecting  believed the election was stolen or advocate sedition. I might have heard the conceded line more, because Stacey Abrams never conceded. It is beyond me that she is a national media star, but here in Georgia, no one thought much of her. Same as Trump, she telegraphed her play from the beginning, and did what most people expected her to do, ignore the middle, lose, claim fraud, leave Georgia (she isn’t from here) and get a tv show/book deal. That is largely what happened. Quick excruses on Georgia. I do not know how elections are handled in other states, but Kemp was the Sec of State when the election happened. Now, that is a bad look, he should have resigned, but he cannot impact polling locations. Elections are held by local county boards of elections. For the record, I think he won legitimately, even if it had a bad look for democracy to oversee your own election. Back to Abrams, it is true she never conceded, but, I feel like this should be obvious, she never attempted an overthrow of democracy. 

*For an additional side note on Georgia, Gabriel Sterling (the COO of Sec of State for Georgia) has right pointed out that if Republicans had spent less time attack him, Kemp, and Raffensperger (current SoS) and more time getting out the vote, Republicans would have won. The seems to be right, as turnout was down, relative to the main election, in rural areas and by white voters. Also, if many of them were in DC yesterday, they might not have actually been here two days ago to vote in the election, which is a wild thought. For the record, I think even without election fraud nonsense, Warnock still would have won. Georgia has never elected a yankee (Leoffer bought an appointment from Kemp). On a sadder note, Sterling pointed on almost six weeks ago that if the dangerous conspiracy theories continued, someone would die.

Back to Antifa/BLM. People point to their violence and destruction. These actions were condemned by the right (not sure why it changed, if it is wrong, it is wrong) and most of the left. I’ve seen different numbers, but it appears well over 10,000 people were arrested. Not sure if it is the case, but I don’t think law enforcement was forced to kill any of them. No one was trampled. Maybe by those points, they are equal, maybe not, it is debatable. Here is what isn’t, none of them were looking to overthrow democracy. None of them were driven by the president and Q Anon to attack and take over the government. There is a big difference between breaking a window at Target and stealing TV and breaking a window in the Capitol Building to overturn democracy. I don’t feel like I should have to write this.

Christian Response

Not that the basics are out of the way, what should any of this mean for Christians? It is one of the reasons I don’t care as much, am not as deeply hurt by, BLM (again, Antifa is not an organization) is not a Christian group. Other than calls for equality, which are based on general revelation, nothing about them is religious. Nothing, no one says you aren’t a real Christian if you don’t support BLM or that our only moral choice is BLM, most say quite the opposite, actually. Among other aspect of idolatry yesterday, there was a cross and gallows put up on the steps. Think about that. People with ‘Jesus Saves’ flags were violently opposing an election they lost. There were flags with stars and stripes crosses and ichthys overlaid with the American flag. This is the very definition of syncretism. The mob that attacked America yesterday, unfortunately, think they did it in God’s name. They certainly attempt to wrap the rhetoric in ‘Christian language’. There are myriad examples, most people are familiar by now. If you want to see some good reporting/responses, head over the Gospel Coalition. I’ve written about them before, and I’m tired. 

I’m tired, because we are part of this. We as conservative Christians follow these Court Evangelicals and celebrity pastors/political commentators, often uncritically. Albert Mohler, who was a never-Trumper, until his family members were hired by the administration, then he said Trump was the only moral choice for Christians. Then the terrorists attack of yesterday happens, and now he is opposed. Unsurprisingly, though he typically tweets all day, he only had one yesterday (none yet today, as I write this). As I’ve said, he is well known for lying in public, but he this actually shocked me, a report today (behind a paywall, unfortunately) he made the ridiculous claim no one could have seen this coming. As I mentioned above, Sterling predicted death, also there have been actual death threats to all the top Republican officials in Georgia. Even worse, Eric Metaxes held a rally and stated he was willing to give his last drop of blood to overturn the will of the American people.

Mohler will, of course, never repent and his rhetorical flourishes and debated skills are nearly unparalleled, no one will be able to hold him accountable. He should resign from Southern Seminary and if he is actually elected president of the SBC, it will be the end of them. I’m still waiting for CRT to place pipe bombs at both the RNC and DNC headquarters (something that has really been under reported). Which brings me to his buddy, fellow cower-er in fear, and Doctrine of the Trinity denier, Owen Strachan. He was also oddly quiet yesterday and today. He stated months ago that anyone who was ‘woke’, whatever that is, needed to be excommunicated. I wonder if he feels the same about QAnon or seditionist, terrorist or insurrectionist. My guess is no, but of course, I pray for these men, they are influential leaders and their repentance or admission of quilt would be incredible.

Speaking of denying orthodox Trinitarian beliefs, Wayne Grudem. What happened to this man? I’ve written much about him, because I am truly confounded. He has literally stated that he does not believe Trump has told a lie while in office. It is a good reminder that Trump once said he has never asked for forgiveness, because he has never done anything wrong. Technically, Trump said this while campaigning, so I guess Grudem gets to ignore it. Just like the ‘Christian Ethicist’ ignored the man that said you can grab women by the pussy (language!) if you are rich (so sexual assault, and different rules for the rich, if only there were a book that disagreed with this) or who paid off a pornstar to be quiet about their affair or the man who called sitting secretaries of state, threatened them, and told them ‘find votes’, a clear admission of disbelief in fraud (but Raffensperger is wrong for recording it), supported that man and said that morals/character don’t matter for the president (contra prior public statements, the Bible, common sense). 

Where do we go from here?

Am I hopeful for the future? No. Not really. Or, rather, only in the eschatological sense. We will have Trump apologist and enablers and Trump himself, for years to come. I fear the Christian language that goes with it may only get worse (there are Patriot Churches now, their trinity is Trump, guns, and dying from preventable diseases). One problem is that even non-Trumpers still support Trump Republicans. I was talking to a friend just yesterday, who state he had voted for a Trump supporting, election denying Republican in the runoff (one, but not the other). We didn’t get a chance to talk much, but I did find it curious. There are QAnon people at my church community. Who knows? Hopefully, I am wrong. Hopefully repentance comes to those in the church and we stop worshiping Trump. More likely, it will swept away. I full expect a lot of, ‘time to move on’, ‘heal’, ‘come together’, ‘stop the division’. Not talk about what brought us here. Ignore all the crazy conspiracy theories our brothers and sisters go into. No calls for change. If anything, we will go the other way, ignore the plank in our own eye, and spend much of the next four years attacking the nonsense left. 

Outside of the church, I do think there is a longshot hope in politics. Trumpers want to start their own party, to break away from conservatives in the Republican party. I say, let them keep it. The conservatives need to break away and take the middle. The need to reach across the aisle and get the moderate (often pro-life) Democrats, typically the middle of the country ones. If this group happened, I think it would dominate. Democrats don’t want the middle, they don’t want me, they’ve said so and I’m center right, at most. They think they need to keep going crazy, while the moderate Dems blame them for loses. Take the middle make a new party, be the most powerful influence in American politics. Both sides would need them to do anything, and the extremist would be cut off, because they wouldn’t have votes.  

Then I could be done with politics. I think Christians would find their home in this middle. More importantly, I want Christians to rediscover the Bible and read it with the intensity with which they read twitter. That is why, as I’ve said before, I’m dropping some of my current news/political writing to focus on another project. Hopefully, I’ll have more details soon. Unfortunately, a coup attempt warrants some thoughts. 

Thanks if you’ve made it this far. I hope you enjoyed, please feel free to share any thoughts. 

Edit – One of the capital police officers has died; over 40 injured. Also, apparently, the taser thing is real; the guy gave himself a heart attack trying to use it. 

Looks like many are sticking with Antifa (see above, if you skimmed to the bottom). Of course, much talk of moving on, buzz words seem to be – ‘no need to re-litigate’ and ‘healing’. On twitter today, I saw both Russell Moore and Tim Keller attacked (virtually, sadly, I have to note that now) for speaking against the violence. Marxist and Globalist are some of the terms I left off my bingo card. I have even more respect for these guys, because, of course, the left/non-church people who have no idea who they are, are hitting them with ‘too late’ and you are just ‘jumping off a sinking ship’. Y’all, they were never on it, praise God. 

I’ve said it before, but I should note here. Clearly there is nothing wrong with voting Republican. I think the moral issues and problems with Trump makes voting for him questionable, but obviously not sinful. What I completely disagree with, is the all Christians must vote Trump or that he is somehow the Christian candidate  mentality and statement put out by so many Christian leaders. Of course the idolatry of him is sinful, as is QAnon (Gospel Coalition has a great primer on them here). 

Here is the best part, though, some of them will be back in our churches on Sunday. I know some of them have refused because masks wearing is the sign of the beast or government control or some nonsense, but I do believe some will be back, maybe not this Sunday but soon. They are waking up to the realization of what QAnon and Trump are. They are realizing the lies Trump told about the election, that he never cared for them, and that he used them for political gains. We need to welcome them back with open arms. We need to avoid saying anything political, as much as we may want to. They followed a false prophet, and now are coming back to the Truth, knowing that the only true power comes from the risen Christ. We must pray for them. 

Edit 3 – Leaving edit 2 below this one, because of the pictures. Also, this will be the final edit. Another police officer has died, apparently by suicide. No reason know yet. Other officers are still hospitalized, hopefully no more die. It is important to remember that the one who died was beaten to death. I want to link two good articles, one from David French called Only the Church can truly defeat a Christian insurrection, and one from Ed Stetzer about the Evangelical reckoning. Both of these say better than I, what many are feeling now and what needs to happen for use to move forward.

On a lighter note, this post brought me my first troll. In my 6+ years of meandering ramblings, I’ve not had one. It accused me of not thinking and being destroyed by the propaganda machine. No idea if it was a bot or a person, but I deleted and marked as spam, because back in my formative years of the early internet, there was one thing on which everyone agreed – don’t feed the trolls. 

Edit 2 –  A few of these collections are floating around online. I think they are interesting from a historical perspective, especially the photos used. Just thought I’d share. 

 

 

Critical Race Theory vs. Eternal Subordination of the Son

Critical Race Theory (CRT) has been making the Christian Twitter rounds the past month or so, a few months after making the right-wing politics Twitter rounds. I don’t have a great deal to say about CRT, mostly because I don’t think it much matters. Some people in my world are quite panicked about it, and I’m honestly a little unsure where all their fear is coming from. CRT is an academic theory used by some academics, sometimes, in some subjects as a tool of criticism. You can find a good summation of CRT here, from John Fea, who is an Evangelical Christian that works as a Historian at a conservative Christian College. He explains it as used by academics and points out someone else’s definition, in which I believe most people would agree with at least one or two of the points. 

I personally think he is being too charitable to the theory, however, maybe that is the problem. Maybe he is exactly right. The problem comes from when an academic exercise becomes ‘popular’, but at that point it loses all meaning. I feel like at this point, CRT has become one of those things were you ask 10 people to define, you’ll get 10 different definitions. Even more problematic, the far side of the democrats/left have weaponized it in the ever escalating war of identity politics. Of course, predictably, the far side of the republican/right (and far too man Evangelicals) have then responded with their typical cowering and fearmongering. Somewhat famously now, all six presidents of the SBC seminaries have written a joint declaration condemning CRT. I find it odd to see so many serious academics (mostly theologians) fear a secular academic theory that has noting to say about theology, Biblical studies, Greek/Hebrew, etc. Surely they know better. The truth of the Gospel is eternal, while CRT will probably be replaced by a new more ‘interesting’ theory in, what?, 10 years at the most. 

In some sense, we’ve been here before. Luckily, we didn’t run in fear, but instead adopted it and found it wanting. That is what happened with ‘Higher Criticism’ (also called Biblical Criticism) of 150 years or so, ago. It was the trendy thing, also out of the Frankfurt school, to attack the Bible, partly based on Enlightenment ideas, Schleiermacher, and a mix of archaeology/geology. Most academic Christians (seminary professors) adopted many of the ideas, found some useful, and rejected/disproved the other aspects. However, we didn’t cower, and where would Biblical studies be today without it? We’ve grown so much in our knowledge and proof of the Biblical truth since then. 

I’ll quickly say something about two other things related to CRT before moving on. First, while CRT is overrated, I think we should pay attention to intersectionality. That is a theory that is a race to the bottom in the turtles all the way down sense that I believe will have a far wider impact than CRT. I couldn’t seem to find a good link, but Albert Mohler’s podcast interviewed a guy, maybe back in the summer (June-ish) that really dove deeply into the topic. He was a British guy, I believe, and while he leaned a little too heavily on the familiar boogeyman of Marx, his explanations and real life examples were wild and fascinating. Second, wokeness. Woke is a nonsense term that has no meaning. It is similar to CRT in a sense, except it has no background or standing in academia. It is just a lazy twitter meme that vaguely means you support every changing far left politics (or sometimes it just means you don’t think black people should be shot by the police). The ‘concept’ if you can call it that, is so devoid of meaning and substance that it seems unnecessary for theologians to even address.

Which brings me to Owen Strachan, who a few months back, had a bizarre sermon/chapel speech where he stated that anyone ‘woke’ must be excommunicated. Again, woke is too ill-defined to even sense of what he is saying. But this is my main issue and the reason I want to write this – Strachan believes in the Eternal Subordination of the Son (ESS). This is Semi-Arianism (at best) and does not comport with the Nicene Creed. ESS means that all persons of the Trinity are not equal, that the Son (and Holy Spirit?) are subordinate to the Father. Historical orthodox belief is that the Son gave up His equality in His condescension and incarnation, but now reigns again, co-equal with the Father. Full Arianism believes that the Father created the Son and Holy Spirit, meaning they were lesser beings. This was condemned as hearsay over 1,500 years ago (I do no believe Stachen et al supports Arianism). He isn’t alone the recently problematic Grudem also supports ESS. For a good article go here, Carl Trueman thinks that this may come from an odd defense of complementarianism (which is clearly Biblical without needing to rely on ESS), a timeline on the arguments with many links for a pretty deep dive, Michael Bird describe in a video the issue and then his thoughts

This was a few years ago, so why bring it up now? Because it made maybe a ripple in Christian Twitter to the tsunami of fears related to CRT. Maybe a tenth of the ink (pixels?) were spilled in defense of the orthodox view of the Trinity than was used for an opposition to the secular academic theory. Which matters more? Your doctrines of the Triune God or a social argument? My guess is most of those in your pews have never even heard of CRT, and if they have, it wasn’t in the true academic sense (see above). You know what else they don’t know – that God chooses those whom He saved before the foundation of the world (50% Evangelicals disagree), that God saves you, you don’t earn it (52% disagree), and most frighteningly about a third reject the Deity of Christ. Read these two surveys for stats and sadness. 

So, what is my point? I am deeply saddened and distressed that these leaders (some of home apparently don’t hold orthodox views) send so much time letter politics drive their message with their congregations don’t know Biblical basics or even the simple Gospel. 

*An addendum of sorts, I’ve been playing around with this article for about 10 days, unsure if I would even post anything (I actually stated on my last post that I likely wouldn’t post anything again). However, this has blown up even more on Christian Twitter/Bloggersphere, so I felt compelled to post, but with an edit here and a rework of my ending (which I guess I’ll just delete and end here). Many black pastors/professors have spoken out against the SBC statement on CRT. Many of them do not support CRT, and have written against it, but their arguments seem to fall into to camps. One right-wing political ideology is driving this, which seems pretty self evident, and two, that many fear that this blanket condemnation is a just a way to avoid any discussion of race, by then calling it CRT. This seems a bit hyperbolic, but then Twitter kind of proved it to be true. 

Edit – Like I said, I’m pretty done with politics. I don’t believe this post is about politics. I see it is a plea for our leaders not to fear the world and to do a better job pastoring their flock. Again, I can’t say this enough, who cares about the 10% or so that have even heard of CRT (and already rejected it), when half of your congregation doesn’t believe that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the light and that no one comes to the Father except through him? Why do we spend so much time arguing about a secular, liberal, academic theory when orthodoxy regarding the Trinity is now longer settled?

Of course, many people who attack me for being political because I say things that doesn’t fit their political view. If I say transgenderism is incoherent and dangerous, people say ‘amen’, when I say Metexas claiming he will fight to his last drop of blood to defend a conspiracy theory and Trump is clearly Caesar worship, people say ‘I don’t like when you get political, stick to book reviews.’ You can tell what people truly worship by what you are not allowed to criticize. 

Discussing politics is exhausting, though, and I’m done, even though I can predict what will be written over the next four years. After four years of only the government can protect us and Romans 13, Christians will write endless articles about when/why/how to defy the Government. Then when republicans when again in 2024 (which I think they will if they take back the center, which I think the far left will easily abandoned with their nonsense) and we’ll all be about Romans 13 again. We’ve got to stop putting politics first and letting it drive our theology. I’ve retweeted a few things from people about CRT and most (not all, you know who you are) of the criticisms are the ‘hurr durr why don’t you think the Bible is truth/reject the Bible, you are the real racist, DEMOCRAT (clever, I know)’. Most things I’ve seen are intellectually lazy or disingenuous, at best.  So, if you read this and you have some brilliant thoughts on the evils CRT or want to no read anything and just ignorantly ask why I support it, keep it to yourself. However, if you have thoughts on ESS (either for or against), I’d love to hear them. Also, also love hearing any studies or classes or anything your church is doing to help educate your congregation on the basics of Christianity. Feel free to let me know. 

Edit 2 – If you don’t think people are overreacting, check out this tweet from a few weeks ago when Jared Wilson (a professor at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary) said something about race as it related to Jonah and Peter/Paul, and the reactions he received.

Final Edit – Our sermon from this past Sunday (last Sunday of Advent) was from Isaiah 9 and our preacher discussed some of the current political issues (of sorts). I will post it when the audio is available, please listen if you have time because he rocked it, and I think it is a good reminder to all of us.

Covid Thoughts – Family Back to Church

Our church first opened back up to people, with limits, masks, no childcare back on Father’s Day this year, but as of November 1, we are back with childcare. Without childcare, we were unable to go together, as we can’t sit for an hour and half with a five year old and two 18 month olds. We still have limitations for service, and only a small number of kids in each classroom. I believe the toddler class is limited to five or seven, and I need two slots, so I’m usually pretty quick to sign up. I don’t think any of the classes have been full yet, neither has the service.

I think that is good, because I know people are being cautious, but I am also concerned that some people are just contented to stay home, or are being lazy. I know this is case for some, they have told me, however, there is more of the worrying trend of people sitting back and watching our service (or finding new, better services) while not meeting together as a body anymore.

It was significant for me the first day I went back on Father’s Day, and then again to finally sit with Mrs. MMT during the sermon, but not communion as she was leading worship that day. However, the two rows behind me were people from our community group. We often sit together or relatively close in normal times (the couple directly behind us typically sits with us, in the same row, back when that was a thing). So, there was an emotionally aspect two it, be able to be normalish and ‘together.’ Last week Mrs. MMT and I were able to take communion together for the first time since March.

This past Sunday, and this upcoming one, we were actually the people to do the scanning and checking in of kids. We take everyone’s temp (though this hasn’t been shown to be necessarily effective), which is pretty funny. In one case a friend of ours and her two daughters had the exact same temperature. It was more enjoyable than we thought, because we were able to talk with almost everyone who came in. Right now, we are not allowing people to linger and talk in the lobby, and ushers walk people back and forth to their seats.

So, we take temperatures, as people how they are doing, Sprout was actually the one handing out the stickers (for names/identifications). The nuggets were there, they didn’t help, but people thought they were cute and hadn’t seen them in months, so that was cool. We wore gloves, and of course all people wore masks, even kids from three and above.

It was just a sign of the times, I’d squat down to take a temperature and a three year old would move their hair back and they would be wearing little Disney or superhero masks. The masks didn’t seem to bother them, the only people that seem to struggle are 50-70 year old men. One of whom was told a few weeks ago he would have to wear one and hasn’t come back since. I hope he will repent and drop his idolatry soon and return.

What has also been fortunate is that they weather has been great, not particularly warm or cold since the beginning of October and very few days of rain (though when it has rained, it has poured, or worse such as when the tropical storm came through and schools were closed, which was the most 2020 thing of 2020), so they kids are able to play outside and when service is over everyone can stand outside (distanced) and talk/catch up.

I think it is important for kids to be able to see each other and have that social contact. Our church draws people from three or four counties, so the schools are doing different things. I think it is ridiculous that schools are closed but bars and restaurants are open. Where are our priorities? Even more idiotic is Nevada, apparently there, casinos are open but churches have to remain closed, a policy so dumbfounding that it actually make Fox News look credible.

Luckily where I am, school and churches are open (as is everything else) and it seems many people are taking precautions and doing the right thing. I feel very good about the way things are handled at our church. We intend to keep attending until either conditions (which are worsening every day) or executive order takes the childcare option away.