Friday, December 04, 2009

Kudos to Dr. Timothy Paul Jones and The Southern Seminary

MSNBC is reporting that Andy Schlafly (pictured here), the founder of, is now investing in a new project. He is developing a new "conservative" translation of the Bible. This translation of the sacret text will be develped online, using amateur conservative readers as the translation committee, and their goal is to counter what Andrew Schlafly calls a "liberal bias." Dr. Schlafly's mother, Phyllis Schlafly, is a longtime conservative activist, known for her opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment, and her friendship with many high-profile Southern Baptist leaders. Andy Schlafly tells of his motivation behind the new, conservative translation,
"Professors are the most liberal group of people in the world, and it's professors who are doing the popular modern translations of the Bible..."
Evidence of this "liberal bias," says Andy, is seen in Jesus calling his disciples to be "fishers of people" rather than "fishers of men," and words like "comrade" and "laborer" being used more often than the conservative-friendly word "volunteer." The translators have already decided to leave out controversial passages in Luke, and that Jesus words, "Father, forgive them for they know not what they do" represent a liberal, social gospel of the translators and not the words that Jesus actually spoke.

Enter Dr. Timothy Paul Jones, Associate Professor of Leadership and Church Ministry and the Editor of The Journal of Family Ministry and Family Ministry Coordinator for Southern. Dr. Jones says of this new translation project ...

"It is not making scripture understandable to people today, it's reworking scripture to support a particular political or social agenda. Ironically, there's a long tradition of the liberal twisting of scripture. Scholars have rightly deemed those translations illegitimate, and this conservative Bible is every bit as illegitimate."
Kudos, Dr. Jones.

My prayer is that we Southern Baptists would remain true to the text and ignore attempts at distorting the Scriptures from both the far left and the far right. Maybe Dr. Jones' words represent the dawning of the day when we as a Southern Baptist Convention move away from the Schlafly philosophy that has dominated our leadership for the past 20 years.

In His Grace,

Wade Burleson


  1. Hey,

    Jesus was once asked if, when He came into His kingdon, whether certain persons could grasp the status of being seen sitting beside Him.

    I wonder if the same kind of thinking has driven so much of our man-to-man competition among those who have already been told to be servants first.

    To be seen as the "correctest" translator, or the "leading" allocator of mission funds, or the "most inside" selector of the next leaders - are these just lead-ups to Jesus' beautiful, devastating answer?

    From the humble pew-sitter waiting here with my feet showin'.

  2. "using amateur conservative readers as the translation committee"

    This is the real issue, whether this method were to be employed by the left or the right, it is wrong.

    Scripture was given to us in a language not our own. Those languages had rules when the Bible was written, and our language--whether that is English, German, or French, has rules. The amateur reader knows little of the rules of their own language must less one that is dead.

    Anti- scholasticism is neither liberal nor conservative--it is just plain stupid!

  3. It's an interesting idea, to ask amateur translators to join in. It really depends on what "amateur" means. In the professional world the only difference between an amateur and a professional is the paycheck -- look at the Olympics for examples of amateurs.

    As I was reading a commentary one day, it struck me how often the author brought in his own translation of particular words. I wondered to myself why he had to do that. Among the dozens of translations available today, could there not be one faithful translation?

    So I did a little sleuthing and discovered that every commentary I have (I have maybe twenty or so) does this.

    I decided that the only way I was going to be able to find out what the Bible really says is to learn ancient Hebrew and Greek for myself. But then I realized that if I go to a seminary and learn these languages, I'm going to get that particular professor's bias as well as the bias of previous theologians (hence the continued use of "servant" designation for Phoebe, but "deacon" designation for Stephen, for example).

    So I figured I'd have to go to a secular institution to learn ancient Greek and Hebrew where the professors could have no possible religious agenda (I'd have to do a background check, I suppose, and make sure they were athiests!).

    Though I don't share Schlafly's bias, I do share his frustration.

  4. "I do share his frustration."

    We can rest however in the fact that something like 90-95% of Scripture is not in question (i.e. Translators basically agree).

    Rule #1 when choosing a translation: Find out why the publisher/committee felt the need for a new translation. In other words, find out their beef with previous translations to see if they have legitimate translatory issues or if existing translations simply do not fit their theology.

    Nothing wrong with updating language and idiomatic phrases. But to say Jesus did not say mean what the English phrase: "Father forgive them for they know not what they do" is to simply ignore the text. I just spent a half hour from my amateur armchair and the phrase is nearly word for word. So now we are going to have amateur readers do manuscript analysis? Wow!

    Here is how it is going to go down: Conservative instructor preaches for an hour the instructions to a web cast of amateur readers who will then be indoctrinated to cast the vote the "conservatives" want.

    Do not be fooled: this is NOT conservative. This is satanic.

  5. That sounds like one of the most reasonable, down-to-earth things I have heard come out of an SBTS leader in recent history...

    Kudos indeed!

  6. Here is an example of what Schlafly and company are up to:

    "ACTS 2:44

    King James: And all that believed were together, and had all things common.

    English Standard: And all who believed were together and had all things in common.

    Conservative Bible Project: Everyone who believed was together and shared values, faith, and the truth."

  7. I do think that attempts at fidelity to the original meaning are important, or else the Bible loses its unique point of view. I like the method of not only studying the text of Scripture but texts across the spectrum during that time period, from Greek authors to uncovered papyri of grocery lists and personal notes.

    The Bible is the product of its time and place. It seems important to TRY to preserve the original impact it was meant to have - if one is interested in studying it that is.

    I have really enjoyed reading some of Gary Wills' translations of Paul in his book "What Paul Meant". For instance he translates "Ekklesia" as "gathering" instead of "church" since our concept of the word "church" has 2,000 years of connotation that Paul did not write from. "Gathering" perhaps comes closer to the original impact of the word.

  8. The lie:

    "and shared values, faith, and the truth."

    The Greek:

    kai eikon hapanta koina

    Kevin's Literal Translation:

    and [they] had all (things) common.

    This is not the first time in literature we find this phrase "hapanta koina." It is always referring to people having all things in common. NOT just values, faith and truth.

    A Greek professor should feel free to jump in I. Even after 5 semesters of Greek, I consider myself quite below amateur status.

  9. Allow me to add, possibly in the tiniest of defense to the amature committee (though I still think they are stretching), "all things" does have to be taken in context. "All things" CAN be a subset of ALL THINGS (literally) and so all things (that Luke had in mind) is what they had in common. So, they had their belief in common, they had an adherance to the Apostle's teachings in common, they had location in common, they all were amazed at the wonders and signs, and they were all fellowshipping.

    But they were not all conservative fundamentalists. :) "Values, Faith and Truth" is imposing a bit too much on the text and takes away the readers ability to decide for themselves just what "all" they had in common.

    L's shows us the danger of a translator's making of too many decisions for the reader.

  10. Seems like merely an agenda - driven thing to me! Now, if you're so "conservative" that all present versions of the Bible are too "liberal", you really need to look if you're "conservative" or a far right radical!

  11. I went to seminary with Dr Jones in the 90's. Very briliant man.

    I wonder, when we interpret and translate “and [they] had all (things) common”
    How much license are we taking by adding “they” and “things”.

    I am not a Greek scholar but at what point can/should all added (presumed) words be suspect?

    In one sense, aren’t all words added to the literal, word for word interpretation somewhat suspect?.

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  13. I'm so glad we have the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth. What is really scary are those who are scared of the Holy Ghost. :)

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  15. This famous warning in the Apostolic teachings of the Church is found in Colossians Chapter 2:

    "6 So, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in him,
    "7 rooted in him and built upon him and established in the faith as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.
    8 See to it that no one captivate you with an empty, seductive philosophy according to human tradition, according to the elemental powers of the world and not according to Christ. "

    Very likely, because of this famous warning, the 'Conservative Bible Project' will NOT be taken seriously by mainstream Protestant, Catholic, or Orthodox authorities,
    and so will not be given much attention or deemed to be worthy of public comment.

    I must agree with Bryan Riley: the people to be concerned about are those that are afraid of the power of the Holy Spirit. For those who live on the 'fringes' of Christianity and are too much impressed with 'the world' and its workings, the Gospel according to Schlafly may find a home.
    We shall see.

    As for those Christians who prayerfully seek the leading of the Holy Spirit, their journey into the mysteries unfolded in the Holy Writings will continue unharmed.

  16. The Council of Nicea was, in a way, this same kind of fearful group.

    First they set up the Nicean Creed as the measure for what scriptures would be included in the Canon. Then they did a good "Baptist vote" on which ones to include and which ones to exclude.

    The Gnostic Gospels were kicked out although they add a dimension to the text, especially with Gospels written by women--God forbid!

    I think they will end up with a text filled with "religious presupposition" just as the Holman Bible contains.

    You don't re-write the Bible to sustain your BF&M stupidity. That is called "redaction." Just stick with the Nestle Greek Text translation as did the "Good News / Today's English Version."

    Many Baptists may not like it, but that is based on bringing the Greek into contemporary American English COMMUNICATION!

    Who really understands many of the KJV terms from 1611 when the English language, itself, has evolved over the centuries?

    By the way, there is an excellent article in the December National Geographic about English language transition.

    Since when has "like" become a good substitute for "he said."

  17. Here are some re-translated Bible verses that have discovered by various groups and denominations in the church:

    Baptists have found this verse:

    Mark 1.8
    I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with water too. Water is important.

    "Free Grace" proponents have found this verse:

    Mark 1.15
    The time is fulfilled and the Kingdom of God is at hand; just believe the gospel and you will be saved - you can repent later if you want to.

    Christian members of the NRA discovered these verses:

    Matthew 5.38-39
    "You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' And I say to you resist strongly against the one who is evil. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, you slap him harder and on both cheeks. Take him out."

    Christian Republicans discovered this verse:

    Luke 20:22-25
    And they asked Jesus "Is it lawful for us to give tribute to Caesar or not?" But he perceived their craftiness, and said to them, "Show me a denarius. Whose likeness and inscription does it have?" They said "Caesar's." He said to them "With-hold all taxes and tributes from Caesar, for the rich are blessed by God for their hard work and provide employment for the poor. By with-holding these taxes, Caesar will somehow get more money."

    Theonomists discovered this verse:

    John 18.36
    "My Kingdom is of this world, and my servants will fight to the bitter end to make sure I stay king".

    Oral Roberts found this verse:

    Acts 9.3-6
    Now as Saul went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed around him. And falling to the ground he heard a voice saying to him "Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?" And he said, "Who are you Lord?" and, lo, Saul's eyes were opened and he beheld before him a 900ft tall man. "I am Jesus. Go and build me a medical center in Tulsa, Oklahoma. After a few years of running massive financial losses, I will shut it down. If you do not do this I will kill you."

    Dispensationalists found this verse:

    Galatians 3.29
    But if you are Christ's, don't somehow think you are Abraham's offspring or heirs according to the promise. All Israel is Israel.

    Open theists found this verse:

    John 13.38
    Jesus said to Peter, "Will you lay down your life for me? Truly, truly I say to you that I honestly don't know. I suppose it is possible."

    Hal Lindsey found this one:

    1 Thessalonians 5.1-2
    Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you need a lot more written to you. You may be aware that the day of the Lord will not come like a thief in the night, but be preceded by Soviet and Chinese tanks invading Israel to steal their valuable store of potash, as well as some guy from Europe who will be the antichrist. And all this will happen some time before 1990.

    Tony Robbins found this one:

    Matthew 5.2-12
    Unfulfilled are those who are poor in spirit, for they have not reached their full potential.
    Unfulilled are they who mourn, for they do not know that they have chosen to be this way.
    Unfulfilled are the meek, for they do not know they have the potential to reach higher things.
    Unfulfilled are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they are obviously looking in the wrong place.
    Unfulfilled are the merciful, for their actions only hurt those they try to help.
    Unfulfilled are the pure in heart, for they have yet to buy my new book.
    Unfulfilled are the peacemakers, for they have failed to reach their goal.
    Unfulfilled are those who are persecuted, for they have chosen to bring this upon themselves.
    Unfulfilled are those who are reviled and insulted, for they have not been able to convince others of how wonderful my program is.

  18. Darrell,

    I am not a Greek scholar myself, though I took it in seminary. And I learned enough to be able to say that implied words added to a word-for-word translation are NOT all suspect, because the Greek language works very differently from English. Greek is an inflected language, which means that the word endings change depending on the part of speech and function they serve. (In English, word order is critical: "The man ate the fish" is very different from "The fish ate the man." But in Greek, the subject has one ending and the object a different one, so that word order is not critical because you cannot mistake one for another; in fact, words are often arranged for their poetic qualities, rhythm, rime, etc.) Likewise, a pronoun which is the subject is often omitted since the form of the verb carries the force of the appropriate pronoun--number, gender, and person. This carries through occasionally in English in commands ("You do so-and-so" is rarely spoken because "Do so-and-so" means the same thing); and what is occasional in English is common in Greek. In situations like these, not only would a word-for-word translation be inadequate, it would also be outright wrong.


  19. I love the humor creeping in. Let me share a marvelous story told by Ed Young when he was pastoring in Greenville, SC. He had taken a trip toward Ashville where there are small radio stations on each hillside. He happened to tune in on a vibrant man preaching.

    He started out saying, "Brothers and Sisters I want you to know when I come in this studio I bring with me only the word of GAA-A-A-U-U-D! I have not notes. I have no fancy commentary books. Only the word of G-A-A-A-A-U-U-U-DUH!

    I open this Bible and put my finger on the page and that is the word for us today.

    In theological circles I'm what's called a SUPOSITORY PREACHER!!!!

    I think this is what we are going to produce with the new approach to Bible redaction.

  20. So, are women allowed to take part in the interpretation and translation of scripture for this conservative Bible...or is that part of the liberal bias they are trying to get rid of?

  21. Brothr John,

    Thank ou for the graceful response. I understand what you have stated, however, my "suspect" comes from the observation over 40 years of Bible study and hihstorical data. Translations and interpretation almost always follow the bias of the one doing the interpreting.

    Ever since men took over control of the text, they have been manipulating the text.

    With very rare exception.

    God Bless

  22. Note to self,

    Never type right after a nap without careful proof reading



  23. Darrell,

    I think the "rare exception" is the manipulation. Be suspect, but be faithful, and I know you are my friend.


    I have very thick skin and love to joke. That is who I am. But I am wondering if we can, on the subject of women in ministry not include the condescending jokes and opinion stretching that has been so rampant over the past months.

    I am a Complementarian; I believe women should not be Senior Pastors. I find no great fault in calling a female an associate pastor yet I would not do it personally. I believe that SOME women are not capable of teaching men, yet others are. Just like I believe that some men are not capable of teaching women. I do not agree that there was ever a justifiable time to have slaves and find no correlation to my logic of women in ministry.

    I have spent a lot of time on the subject, analyzing the Greek of various passages in timothy, Titus, and Corinthians.

    God has given women in the Body wonderful gifts and abilities including the ability to translate. A very good friend of mine is a Biblical Languages major at Missouri Baptist University; I frequently call here up for her insights. God has gifted her unlike many men. She would be welcome at any of my lecterns or pulpits to speak on this matter which an authority she will soon one day be.

    Please do not assume that the sum of "Southern Baptist" and "Conservative" equals everything you read from those in the Convention with whom you disagree.

    The party line is quite blurred these days the farther you are from Nashville. Considering I have never been there, I will be free to choose what confessions I follow, what doctrines I affirm, and which of those I choose to alter and then affirm, to line up with my own learned biblical understanding.

    In case I don’t see you; good afternoon, good evening, and good night!


  24. Kev, Exactly where do you find "senior" pastors anywhere in the NT?

  25. Hi KEVIN,
    When you responded to 'Poly', you wrote this: "The party line is quite blurred these days, the farther you are from Nashville."

    Yep. It has been. for a while now.
    About ten years ago, Dr. Calvin Miller wrote an article in 'Christian Ethics Today'.

    He had this opinion after traveling around the world:

    "I met on a recent round-the-world trip four steel magnolias who impacted forever my view of women in missions and ministry and their right to do it. . . . The first was a woman in Xian, China, whose heroic and courageous ministry had won many beautiful converts. She did all this really without much human support, and she was unmarried, so she ministered alone.
    Secondly, I met a woman in Mother Theresa’s house for the dying, who was not a Baptist (I think she was an Episcopalian, although most of those who come there to die, aren’t really all that interested in American denominations) and she was married. She left her super-executive-CEO husband in the United States and served alone among a team of volunteers in India. She worked tirelessly day after day, and her ministry made very few converts, but she so resembled Christ, it didn’t matter, overmuch.
    Thirdly, I met a woman in Calcutta who passed out day-old bread to the hordes of insane who roam the midnight streets of Calcutta. She was assisted always by her husband, and their ministry goes unrecorded since most of the insane are not likely to be Baptists (at least in India).
    Finally, I was in India at the time of Mother Theresa’s passing and happened to see her as she lay in Calcutta. I cannot tell you the full range of my emotions. I can say this: I was struck by her bare feet, protruding from under the flag of India, and I wept when I realized that she had literally worn them out in ministry.

    What man would be so presumptuous as to say that God has no place for women in ministry? Not, I. “

  26. Is there a christian marriage in the NT? Is there a christian divorce in the NT? Isn't the only divorce in the Bible God divorcing Israel? Does the Bible actually say that a woman can't pastor? no, we infer it. Does it actually say a divorced man can't be a pastor or deacon? no we infer it.

    These 2 things ae common abuse things. I am not here to argue but if we are really going to be true to the text then all the arguments from silence must be thrown out. We cannot say "I don't find it in the Bible" Because we don't find hundreds of things in the Bible that are acceptable teachings in the practices of todays religious organizations.

    Most theologians are part time "then and now" experts. Shouting that the women issues are for now and the tongues are not for now.

    The practice of inconsistant hermunutic is one of the most pronounced things hurting the body of Christ today.

    If we say tht Timothy says "one woman man" and infer it means marriage, it is opinion. If it means only one wife we have added the word "only". If it is OK for some to add words, (only) then can I add the words words "at least" Only is not in the text. It is added and infered by scholastic opinion.

    I wonder how much better if a group of people with PHd's gave us an interpretation without any of their notions or preconcieved ideas in the interpretations. Also, If we would all be taught all our lives from a Bible that has ONLY THE ACTUAL WORDS from the text as we learn.

    Most people become the believers the pastor teaches him to be. Most Seminary students become clones of their professors.

    As my friend KMC says, "Alas, I digress>"..........2000 years of men trying to control hearts, minds, and money is a powerful force deeply intrenched.

    Fearing the one who rules all


  27. Excellent post. I tried to convince Dr. Patterson that adding new statements on women in the B F & M to counteract radical feminism was, in a sense, allowing culture to dictate interpretation. In this example, it is forcing an interpretation that will oppose culture, but this is just as bad a reason to accept a particular position as trying to "bend" scripture to condone cultural norms. Objective analysis over time with open discussion should be the standard. With regard to the role of women in church, how is it that during the period of greatest growth, this issue was left strictly to local churches and not regarded as a defining feature of Southern Baptists?

  28. xcellent post. I tried to convince Dr. Patterson that adding new statements on women in the B F & M to counteract radical feminism was, in a sense, allowing culture to dictate interpretation. In this example, it is forcing an interpretation that will oppose culture, but this is just as bad a reason to accept a particular position as trying to "bend" scripture to condone cultural norms. Objective analysis over time with open discussion should be the standard. With regard to the role of women in church, how is it that during the period of greatest growth, this issue was left strictly to local churches and not regarded as a defining feature of Southern Baptists?

  29. I think it is worth mentioning that for women with a broader knowledge of culture and history than just here today, the women on my street ...

    Us women, as mentioned above, we find an uncanny similarity between the expanding p*rn culture and the teachings of some of these Christian churches and institutions.

    The submission of women appeals to the lowest animal nature of man, and is one of the most consistent themes in all of human history.

    There is no way that the submission of women is counter cultural. Many men, unredeemed men, in many cultures, still fantasize the subordinated woman.

    I am always amused at the handwringing of the whatever percent of users of porn in the church, and the handwringing about keeping women submissive.

  30. "What man would be so presumptuous as to say that God has no place for women in ministry? Not, I."


    If you can find where I have said even something close to that, then I promise to never post here again.

    But thank you for proving my point to poly. I have one view, you and others stretch my mouth open and pour in words I do not say.

    I do hope I see Ven. Mother Teresa in heaven one day. But if I do it will have nothing to do with all the wonderful things she has done on earth, but for one act of mercy that would have been shown to her on the cross.

    Love and blessings,


  31. Hi KEVIN,

    If I misunderstood your words to Poly,
    I apolygize.
    I liked that quote though, and there's more to the article, if you are interested, but I won't push. Never that. :)

    Love you dearly,

  32. "What man would be so presumptuous as to say that God has no place for women in ministry? Not, I".

    L's quote comes from here:

    Christian Ethics Today > The Slow, Slow Art of Urgency for Women in Ministry
    By Calvin Miller

  33. I believe the Bible is a work of man, but if I did consider it inerrant here would be some thoughts I would have to consider on women pastors...

    1. The ultimate authority is ourselves. If you argue it's the Bible and not ourselves, then we must ask who is deciding that the ultimate authority is the Bible? You.

    2. I believe women are capable of leading any group or congregation. That is from me, based on personal experience and learning from the experiences of others.

    3. Now the Bible is in conflict with what I believe - but who gave the Bible the authority? I did.

    Here's the problem if I believe in inerrancy:

    a. I believe the Bible is the ultimate authority based on my feelings and reasoning.

    b. The Bible disagrees with other conclusions of my feelings and reasoning.

    c. I cannot trust my feelings and reasoning

    This is self-refuting.

    Add to this

    1. The pastoral epistles, which speak the most strongly against women's roles, are probably later forgeries (or pseudonymous letters - the more polite term) attributed to Paul.

    2. The passages in 1 Corinthians 14 against women's roles are quite probably a later scribal interpolation - they directly contradict Paul's instructions for women when they prophesy, in many early texts verses 33-35 (approximately) are moved around in different locations suggesting a later addition, and the text reads better without those verses.

    3. Paul advocates a more radical approach to equality in Galatians and in his frequent addresses to women in all his letters.

    thanks for the interesting thoughts to read!


  34. Thank you THY PEACE, so much. :)
    Love, L's

  35. Hi KEVIN,

    You wrote this about Mother Theresa, of blessed memory:
    "I do hope I see Ven. Mother Teresa in heaven one day. But if I do it will have nothing to do with all the wonderful things she has done on earth, but for one act of mercy that would have been shown to her on the cross."

    I think Mother was aware of the great loving-kindness and mercy of Christ, so much so, that, out of gratefulness, she sought to be of service to Him.
    Apparently, she took Him at His Words quite literally, as recorded in the Gospel of St. Matthew, Chapter 25:

    37 "Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink?
    38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'

    40 "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'"

    She will be there in heaven to meet you Kevin. She'll be the one with the worn-out feet, and kind of bent-over, don't you know. Love, L's

  36. Gene,
    You mentioned humor.

    What do you think about Holman is the only translation that ‘restored to life’ the ruler’s daughter TWICE?
    Last time Matthew 9:25; first time 9:18?

    Also, Christiane mentions Acts 2:44 “…had all things common.”

    This old couple had one singe hamburger that he was eating A stranger asked if he could buy another for his wife.

    “No thanks, we don’t eat much and we have all things common.”

    When he ate half the hamburger, he pushed the plate to his wife with the remainder and the false teeth.

  37. Christiane,
    I know you mean well, and your words are kind, but in heaven I believe all is perfect.

    John the Baptist won’t be carrying his head on a platter, Jesus won’t have scars, and Mother Teresa will look lovelier than she ever looked on earth.

    But we will know her and everyone and what they’ve done for God: “…then I shall know even as also I am known.” (1 Corinthians 13:12)

    I thank you for your wisdom and many comments. Some of the best advice I’ve ever received was you telling me not to react.

  38. Hi REX RAY,

    I think you are right: no more suffering, no more tears.
    But, you know something Rex, I think that there is something very beautiful about those worn-out feet. The story is that she kept getting the same pair of shoes fixed again and again, so she wouldn't have to spend any money on herself. That way, she could do more for the ones who 'really needed it'. Yes, there is something very beautiful about those worn-out feet, just maybe not in the eyes of THIS WORLD. :)

    Much love and many prayers,

  39. Rex, old sport--

    I don't know what you are talking about in the Holman "healing the daughter twice" incident. Please explain.

    I assume you are aware that no matter what the translation there are 2 stories of Creation in Genesis!

    As to the joke--if I didn't visualise so clearly those filthy false teeth sitting beside the man's half being passed to the wife, it might be funny. Further, it is factual that women have smaller bone structure then men so his false teeth would hardly fit.

    Why is it she didn't pass her set of teeth and let him struggle with eating---instead of it always being the sacrificing female accomodating the commanding male???

    Your presuppositions even get into your jokes, brother!!!!

    L's---do you think he will be nice enough to get a toy from Santa????

  40. L's--I tried to contact you on your blog, but there is no connect. If you would come to mine, and drop me a line, I would appreciate it.

    I have recently added some things about abusive males I think you would appreciate:

  41. Gene,
    On the serious side, all translations except the Holman have the ruler’s daughter DEAD in Mathew 9:18. (“My daughter is even now dead, but come and lay thy hand upon her, and she shall live” in King James)

    Holman has: “My daughter is near death” which is what Mark and Luke record in their accounts when the ruler first met Jesus.

    When I asked Paige Patterson if ‘Criswell’s Study Bible’ answered all the ‘errors’, he yelled to the crowd, “WE GOT ALL OF THEM”, but when I asked about this verse, he said for my ears only, “We got all we could.”

    I keep on record what you said on Wed Nov 25, 10:57 PM 2009: “Paige Patterson is the best 25-cent word liar I have yet known. It is hard to believe the same people who figured out Jim Baker have not yet seen through the "smoke and mirrors" master!!!”

    Gene, about that joke. I hope you weren’t eating when you read it. But the ‘presupposition’ was 'THE' teeth. Still, you’re right on who ate second.

    Reminds me of the ‘pecking order’ when we were growing up in taking a bath in a washed tub that had heated water from a wood stove. We didn’t think much about it then, but now – 4 kids – ugg. And about air/condition. We had an open window – no electricity, and the only door was held shut with wire.

    Gene, how’s this for a true story? My uncle passed away, and the funeral home told my aunt no one had given them his teeth and it was too late.
    She didn’t believe them and hours later my mother helped her get them in even if they didn’t look very good.
    Three days went by and her daughters told her she had to get out of her depression and start eating. She replied, “I can’t eat. Claude has my teeth.”

    Thanks again, and I’ll add love

  42. Rex--

    The family story is one where we laugh to keep from crying. My family was exactly the same!

    My Grandfather Scarborough was a tenant farmer after a possible murder and crime took his father from him. His father, Redden Scarborough was reputed to be the wealthiest man in Madison County (Athens area) GA. Interestingly, he got that way be being the "official brewer of spirits" for Federal troops stationed down south before the Civil War.

    Anyway, my daddy said they were so poor that even the poor folks didn't want their daughters anywhere near those "poor boys named Scarborough". My grandaddy being a spoiled child worked himself literally to death because he did not know how to oraganize that work for efficiency.

    Out of such poverty and a ignorance-blessing rural church, my father felt his call and went to Mercer, hitchiking and arriving with .10 in his pocket. He was told he could not metriculate. He broke down and cried in front of the President. He had dropped out of school to tend the farm so his other siblings could get a high school education. He went back after 3 years and graduated with honors. Now, he could not complete his call to ministry and the education he felt was necessary!

    The President sent him to a kindly couple who loaned money where there was my dad's kind of situation. In addition to the loan he cut hair and peeled potatoes in the College dining room and made his way through.

    The old black cook noticed how his starvation upbringing had him looking like a scarecrow--nothing but skin and bones! That old man said, "Boy, we're gonna put some meat on those bones." There was an extra big plate waiting for him after every meal and dishwashing were completed.

    We are definitely brothers in Baptist background poverty, Rex! Of real interest to me is that my father's given name was Claude as well! He went on to earn his Masters at Andover-Newton and a ThD after that. My father was such a sharp debater he earned the nickname of "Socrates" at Mercer.

    His tactic, like his namesake, was to keep asking questions until his intellectual opponent cut the limb out from under his own argument! I think you did just about that with "DR" Paige Patterson. His .25-words belie a mind filled more with political shenanigans than theological truth.

    We are much the worse for it as the Baptist monkey has climbed mighty high in the tree to show how we have no other real program these days but putting down women / jumping on gays / and beating up on women already feeling guilty over abortion. We are now so perfect we left the BWA!

    We once were respected for having one of the best Greek scholars at Southern Seminary. Clarence Jordan was a graduate of Suthern and decided to live what the Bible taught rather than pastor that great colonial columned FBC in the South.

    The head of the translation panel for Today's English Version was a classmate of my Greek professor at SEBTS. He was so sharp the professors of his orals had to ask him to slow down so they could follow his translation from the Nestle Text with no notations handed to him as he entered the room.

    Now we have the Holman Bible with its "stuff" you cited. Redaction is king for those who try to re-write Baptist history and now the Bible to fit their BF&M Creed!

    If you have to re-write history and the Bible to support your winning team, it might just be a political takeover with little real theological meat attached to it--just power politics!

    What a shame.

  43. Steven,

    "1. The ultimate authority is ourselves. If you argue it's the Bible and not ourselves, then we must ask who is deciding that the ultimate authority is the Bible? You."

    No, no, no...:) We "receive" it as the ultimate authority. We do not decide in the sense of "determine" that it is the ultimate authority. Calvin dealt with this in the Institutes and I agree with him on this point. Hence, I think #'s 2 & 3 fall to the ground.

    "Here's the problem if I believe in inerrancy:

    a. I believe the Bible is the ultimate authority based on my feelings and reasoning."

    No. You would believe it based on it being the word of God. Through the illumination of the Spirit you would receive it for what it is. There is no "basis" for belief that is to be "higher" than Scripture itself. If there was anything higher [i.e., man's reason, man's ideal dressed up as Jesus, Darwin, a god named equality, socialism dressed up in Christian garb, feelings, and especially Elvis], then it would be higher than Scripture and thus Scripture would not be the highest authority.

    "b. The Bible disagrees with other conclusions of my feelings and reasoning.

    c. I cannot trust my feelings and reasoning

    This is self-refuting."

    While the Bible is not against "reason[ing]", it is against reason [as content]. It says "lean not" on your own understanding. It also speaks of "reverence" being the "beginning" of knowledge. Reverence humbly receives God's word. Reverence does not exalt man's feelings and reason above God's word to decide that it is God's word. It seems like you might be trying to reject the perspecuity [i.e., see through ableness] of the basics of Scripture. 1 John clearly communicates that Christians knew at least the basics of Christian teaching via the Spirit. I would consider the full trustworthiness of Scripture to be one of the "basics".

    "1. The pastoral epistles, which speak the most strongly against women's roles, are probably later forgeries (or pseudonymous letters - the more polite term) attributed to Paul."

    The evidence you provided for this assertion is overwhelming:).

    "2. The passages in 1 Corinthians 14 against women's roles are quite probably a later scribal interpolation - they directly contradict Paul's instructions for women when they prophesy, in many early texts verses 33-35 (approximately) are moved around in different locations suggesting a later addition, and the text reads better without those verses."

    Not sure what you are getting at here.

    "3. Paul advocates a more radical approach to equality in Galatians and in his frequent addresses to women in all his letters."

    Well, he does mention that they are one in Christ along with men. But I have a hunch you are "inferring" something [i.e., equality of functions] from that. :)

    Part 2 below

  44. Steven,

    While I do not believe all of the "Westminster Confession of Faith", I do agree with these statements that I think relate to your comment.

    "The authority of the holy Scripture, for which it ought to be believed and obeyed, dependeth not upon the testimony of any man or is to be received, because it is the word of God."
    (emphasis mine)

    "...our full persuasion and assurance of the infallible truth, and divine authroity thereof, is from the inward work of the Holy Spirit, bearing witness by and with the word in our hearts." (emphasis mine)

    "All things in Scripture are not alike plain in themselves, nor alike clear unto all; yet those things which are necessary to be known, believed, and observed, for salvation, are so clearly propounded and opened in some place of Scripture or other, that not only the learned, but the unlearned, in a due use of the ordinary means, may attain unto a sufficient understanding of them." (emphasis mine)

    Admittedly, the last statement concerns the perspicuity of Scripture and does not include the full trustworthiness of the Scriptures that I can see, but what must be known for salvation. Therefore, my idea of perspicuity above is broader than the Westminster's I think.

    However, I don't think someone could "justify" that they are saved if they reject the full trustworthiness of Scripture even if they are saved. If Scripture has "holes", then those clear statements concerning salvation might be erroneous.

  45. Gene S. makes some erroneous remarks about the Canon of Scripture and the Council of Nicea. It seems he has fallen for the nonsense Dan Brown sets forth in the DA VINCI CODE. So here are some facts, on the Canon and on the Council:
    Irenaeus (c.140-200 A.D), in his book, AGAINST ALL HERESIES, enumerate three tests the Church, prior to 325 A.D., used in determining what religious text were or were not canonical and authoritative Scripture:
    1. Test of Apostolic Origin of the book: Was this book either written by or approved by an authentic Apostle, or was it written by and approved by one of his closest associates. If not, it was not to be regarded as canonical and authoritative.
    2. Test of Eccelsiastical Utilization: In those churches known to have been founded by the Apostles and their associstes, had this book, since Apostolic times, been known and used for preaching and teaching in congregational worship? If not, it was not canonical and authoritative.
    3. The Rule of Faith Test. According to Irenaeus this was the "deposit of truth," the definition of the Faith, in both oral and written form, which the Apostles themselves had passed on to the Church. Ireneaus says of this Rule of Faith: "Now the Church, although scattered over the whole civilized world, received from the Apostles and their disciples its faith in one God, the Father Almighty, who made the heavens, the earth, the seas, and all that is in them; and one Christ Jesus, the Son of God, who was made flesh for our salvation; and in the Holy Spirit, who through the prophets proclaimed the dispensations of God--the comings, the virgin birth, the resurrection from the dead, and the bodily reception into the heavens of the Beloved One, Christ Jesus our Lord. Moreover, they also passed on to the Church that he will come from the heavens in the glory of the Father to restore all things, and to raise up the whole human race, so that evey knee may bow, of all creatures in heaven and on earth and under the earth, to Christ Jesus our Lord and God and Savior and King, according to the pleasure of the invisible Father, and confess him, so that he may execute righteous judgement on them all: The angels who transgressed and fell into apostasy, and the wicked and lawless and blasphemers among men he will send into the eternal fire. But to the righteous and holy, to those who have kept his commandments and remained in his love, he will by his power give life incorrupt and clothe them with eternal glory. Having received this preaching and this faith from the Apostles, as I have said, the Church, although scattered in the whole world, carefully preserves it, as if living in one house...For though the languages of the world are different,...the meaning of the Christian tradition is one (Against All Heresie, Book 1:10)
    And since the Gnostic writings did not meet any of these three tests, as outlined by Irenaeus, that was why they were rejected from the NT canon, long before the Council of Nicea convened in 325 A.D.

  46. Kev, Since you have refused to show me in scripture where it teaches 'senior' and 'junior' type pastors, I wil try another angle.

    Since 'pastor' is a spiritual gift does 'senior' pastor mean that person is always more spiritually gifted than junior?

  47. As for the Council of Nicea itself, its primary concern had to do with settling the Christological and Trinitarian issues that resulted from the Arian controversy.

    Arius was essentialy a unitarian subordiantionist, who argued that the Father, as the Divine and Transcendant Monad, could not share his essence or glory with another coequal and coeternal Being. Nor could he directly relate to created and material enties. So he created the Son, a lesser god, to be the creative and redemption intermediary with both creation and humanity. And since the Son did not fully share the Being and attributes of the Father who generated or created him, the Son was not coequal and coeternal. As Arius constantly defined it, "There was when the Son was not."

    Of course, Athanasius, deeply steeped in the Hebrew OT and the Gree NT, and himself well-versed in philosophy, immediately saw the adverse implications of Arius' teaching: If the Son was not consubstantial with the Father, as well as distinct from the Father, then he could not either truly reveal God to us, nor truly redeem and reconcile us to God. And so it was for these reasons that Athanasius so fiercely argued that the Father and Son were consubstantial and therefore coeternal and coequal as regarded both their divine unity and diversity, living in and through one another, having communion with one another. And then some years later, dealing with the Macedonians, he used the same arguments to substantiate the full deity of the Holy Spirit, whom the Macedonians regarded as a creature and servant of the Son.

    The only connection of this Council with the Scriptures, that in a previous persecution, all the copies of the Bible in the churches of Constantinople had been destroyed. So he gave the royal order that 50 new copies of the Greek Bible be made and distributed to the churches, so as to replace those that had been destroyed.

  48. Hi FRANK,

    I thought your writing about the Arian heresy was interesting. I have, on occasion, felt that there was still present in the beliefs of some Baptists, a little bit of the Arian heresy. In no way, have I seen this across the board. But, on occasion, there would be a backing-away from the sacredness of Christ the Lord, and from His Words and His Actions in the Holy Scriptures. As though, that part of Christianity 'was over-with' and there was another form of Christianity that developed after Christ rose and ascended into Heaven. And some seemed to believe that the 'replacement' contradicted the Gospel messages of Our Lord.
    This has shown up in the debates over the 'eternal submission of the Son'. It has also emerged in the quoting of scriptures written by St. Paul and others, in ways which 'down-play' the Beatitudes, the Lord's Prayer, the teachings found in the interaction of Christ with others, and in the four Gospels, especially the Gospel of St. John.

    I was also impressed with your knowledge of Irenaeus' writings. My Church has always put great store in the ways of praying and in the beliefs taught by all of the five original first centers of Christianity. The fact that a belief or a liturgical practice was 'universal' among all five centers supported the Apostolic validity of those early beliefs.
    And, yes, the canon was developed according to consideration by the bishops who represented all of the major Apostolic early centers of Christianity.

    Interesting how much you know. Are you perhaps a scholar of the early Church Fathers and have you read the 'Didache'?

    Pax Christi,

  49. Lady L's

    You said,

    "She will be there in heaven to meet you Kevin. She'll be the one with the worn-out feet, and kind of bent-over, don't you know."

    She is one of my hero's

    Thank you for the kind thoughts about a great Saint.


  50. Hi DARRELL,

    Ah, Mother Theresa, how she was able to let Jesus go very deeply into her life. . .
    Maybe that is why, at just four foot eleven inches, and with a bad heart, she was still given the gift of strength to lift the dying out of the gutters of Calcutta.

  51. Frank,

    Enjoyed your comments. I always appreciate a man who has taken the time to learn history and has a reverence for Scripture. Are you a pastor or professor? Whichever, I'm sure you are a great teacher.


  52. Wade,
    This Pearl Harbor Day seems to be forgotten by many, just as forgotten as the First Church Counsel.

    How many sermons have NOT been preached about that Counsel in Acts 15?

    This Christian Counsel met to establish the most important question in the world – how is man saved?

    As in all meetings when over, most of what is remembered is what is in writing.

    Gentiles were waiting to find if they needed to be cut on. Besides Jesus, they received three food laws and one moral law.

    The devil could not keep Christ from the Cross, but he could/did confuse what Calvary accomplished.

    Two views were present at the Counsel.
    Christ plus WORKS.
    Christ plus NOTHING.

    The majority were raised since birth to obey the Law of Moses for salvation.

    The minority believed to have Jesus was everything.

    Peter told how GOD accepted man.

    James’ judgment was confusing because he told how JEWS accepted man.

    Each group left the Counsel believing the same as before they came.

    The majority believed James’ judgment was necessary for salvation.

    The minority believe James’ judgment was necessary for Gentiles to eat with Jews.

    The majority started baptizing babies for salvation in 251 AD.
    The minority withdrew fellowship and was hated for letting their babies that died go to hell.

    All Counsels afterward came from the majority.

  53. Christine and Wade,

    Thanks for your warm welcome and words of appreciation. The short answers to your questions are:
    1. Yes I have studied the Early Church Fathers up to and including St. Augustine, as well as the writings of the Reformers and the Puritans. And I am familiar with the Didache.
    2. Though I was trained as a pastor in Bible college, I have never been an ordained pastor. But I was called and served two years as a deacon and adult Bible teacher in a small Calvinistic Baptist church. And for the last 15years I have been active lay-minister at Grace Covenant Church of Lakewood, serving in a variety of ways.

    I not only love studying the Scriptures, but also history, philosophy, theology, science, art and music. And I am bird-watcher and an amatuer astronomer. And for the last six years I have been writing two books: a commentary on Jude and a book on the origin, preservation and translation of the Scriptures. Not bad for an old man of 59, eh?

    For the last year or so, I have been a regular commentator on Cheryl Schatz's blog, "Women In Ministry," and it was there I learned about Wade's blog. And so I come and visit and read postings that are of interest to me. But since this seems to be mainly an SBC blog addressing mainly SBC concerns, I try not to comment unless it is a discussion of a subject which I have studied and to which I can make meaningful and helpful contributions. But again, thanks for the warm welcome,

  54. Frank,
    You said, “I have studied the Early Church…”

    Since you posted your comment 17 minutes after mine, you probably didn’t read my comment before you posted. Anyway, I’d appreciate your take on Acts 15.

    From the private meeting: “Then the apostles and the elders assembled to consider this matter” (verse 6 Holman), I believe Peter gave the meeting’s conclusion/decision in verses 7-11 when they reassembled with everyone.

    “We believe we are saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, in the same way they are.”

    Note that Peter’s speech which concluded the question at hand (how were Gentiles saved?) was omitted from the letter to the Gentiles.

    Frank, the question is: was James’ “judgment” discussed at the private meeting, or did he wait till later, and if so, why; and why was Peter’s words omitted from the letter?

    I’m going to Oklahoma today for an appointment. I believe they love to yank teeth from Texans. :)

  55. Benji,

    Thanks for the response!

    "We "receive" it as the ultimate authority. We do not decide in the sense of "determine" that it is the ultimate authority"

    But why not accept the Book of Mormon because of a burning in your breast? It seems we are talking about personal feelings here. Even if some of our feelings were indeed divinely sent by the Holy Spirit, we would have to discern which ones were and which ones weren't. To quote verses about the "fruits of the Spirit" (however beautiful) would be logically circular - Scripture justifying our discernment concerning our view of Scripture!

    A person may just as well say that the Holy Spirit has said that the Bible is not perfect but rather another "phase" in God's continuing revelation. Or that these are all human feelings we are talking about.

    As to the authorship of the pastoral epistles, I won't get into it too much. It's a common view that the true author(s) wrote them in the name of the Apostle Paul - a common practice back then, so admittedly "forgery" may be too strong a word in its present meaning.

    I have written about the 1 Corinthians 14 alleged interpolation. I will try to post it at my blog later if anyone is interested.

    The Westminster Confessions of Faith look to be a great example of using reason and feelings to justify a position concerning Scripture. Even choosing to suspend reason would be a decision made by our reason.

    thanks again for the exchange,


  56. Steven,

    Thanks for the response.

    "It seems we are talking about personal feelings here."

    I don't think so. I think Calvin articulates it well here:

    "As to the question, How shall we be persuaded that it came from God without recurring to a decree of the church? it is just the same as if it were asked, How shall we learn to distinguish light from darkness, white from black, sweet from bitter? Scripture bears upon the face of it as clear evidence of its truth, as white and black do of their color, sweet and bitter of their taste." [Institutes of the CR; Translated by Henry Beveridge; Hendrickson Publishing; Pg. 31]

    I think Calvin is right here. In other words, to say that one believes the Bible based on "feelings" would be like saying one believes that the "black" darkness of night is black based on feelings. If Duke loses a basketball game, I don't feel that they lost. It's evident and actually "contrary" to my feelings [i.e., I don't like it].

    Another way of looking at it is to compare it with what Paul says in Romans chapter 1 concerning folks knowledge of God:

    "Everyone" knows that "the" [the definite article is in the Greek] God exists and yet they supress the truth. Hence, there is a sense in which athiests are true believers for example. It is knowledge based on what is clearly revealed through creation.

    I have no problem with circular logic when it comes to justifying Scripture. "Any" claim to ultimate authority uses circular logic ["reason" is ultimate based on "reason" for example].

    Take Care,


  57. Benji,

    You make some good points here.

    "I have no problem with circular logic when it comes to justifying Scripture. "Any" claim to ultimate authority uses circular logic ["reason" is ultimate based on "reason" for example]"

    I agree completely. However, even if all systems of thought are, in the end, self-refuting at their base, most people claim reasons for their choices in thinking. For instance, the scientific method produces results which are concretely beneficial - even if logical positivism has problems.

    "to say that one believes the Bible based on "feelings" would be like saying one believes that the "black" darkness of night is black based on feelings. If Duke loses a basketball game, I don't feel that they lost. It's evident and actually "contrary" to my feelings [i.e., I don't like it]."

    Can you show me two people who honestly disagree on whether night is black or not? I can show you many people with many, many views on Scripture. Your conclusions are correct on the Duke scenario - "it's evident" - meaning there is evidence that they lost. We can objectively measure "black" and whether Duke won or lost. So we are back to reason.

    Many "atheists" (I do not claim that term for myself, but tend to have a lot in common with them!) claim that we see the natural world today more accurately than the Apostle Paul did in his day. And the hiddenness of God, the problem of evil, the discover of algorithmic processes which lead to complexity, etc. contribute to alternative viewpoints than to the traditional Christian one.

    I agree that we cannot reason everything together perfectly as humans, but we can do our best.

    Thanks for the thoughts!


  58. Steven,

    An/The argument for the full trustworthiness of Scripture has been called "the impossibility of the contrary".

    Part of the idea is that apart from one believing in the all knowing God revealed in Scripture, one would be left to his own finite knowledge and would not be able to justify "anything". Why? Because there could always be some "fact" or "truth" or "evidence" out there that he does not know about that would contradict what he thought he knew with certainty.

    What Christian apologists like the late Greg Bahnsen could do is take you on a survey of different worldviews other than what is revealed in Scripture and "go on the offensive" to knock them all down.

    Since the God revealed in Scripture is both all knowing and controls all things, then there is no "fact' or "truth" or "evidence" out there behind some trash can that ever catches Him off guard. Therefore, the Christian can justify whatever knowledge he has based on the Scriptures since it comes from this particular kind of God.

    "For instance, the scientific method produces results which are concretely beneficial - even if logical positivism has problems."

    If the scientist did not believe in the "uniformity of nature", then he could not do science in the first place. The "Bible" teaches the uniformity of nature. He can't base the uniformity of nature on the past since he can't "prove" that the future will be like the past. The believer in Scripture does not have this problem.

    "beneficial"? According to whose values? How can we [in and of ourselves] justify what is beneficial or not? There might be something behind the trash can we do not know about that will prove us wrong.

    Also, if the Bible is wrong and all I am is "material", then why should the unbeliever argue with me in the first place? I'm just being "biologically determined" to believe Christian Theism just as the unbeliever is being "biologically determined" to believe in nonChristian Theism.

    "I can show you many people with many, many views on Scripture."

    That's not the point. It's validity is not based on the "approval" of man. The Scriptures themselves declare that men don't believe because of "sin". It's not the "Bible's" fault.

    I appreciate how you have articulated your thoughts.

    I would encourage you to read Cornelius Van Til and Greg Bahnsen's material on presuppositionalism if you have not.

    Take Care,


  59. Benji,

    First of all, If you are interested I posted about the 1 Corinthians 14 passage here.

    The first part of your comment seems to be addressing the problem of induction. It is true that we should be very humble in what we think we know. It's a good point. Since we cannot know things fully, Karl Popper promoted the idea of "falsifiablity". A scientific theory can never be known to be completely true, because we can never know everything, but we can identify hypothetical findings which could potentially falsify a theory.

    Is there any way that your view of Scripture could be falsified?

    "Since the God revealed in Scripture is both all knowing and controls all things..."

    That's some serious determinism implied there.

    Determinism vs. freewill is always interesting - but the former doesn't mean we don't make our own decisions - it means that we make decisions because of causes. To say we are all robots is not accurate, because it implies an outside point of view that does not exist. Determinism means that we are connected to everything around us. Things cause us, we cause other things, etc.

    " then there is no "fact' or "truth" or "evidence" out there behind some trash can that ever catches Him off guard. Therefore, the Christian can justify whatever knowledge he has based on the Scriptures since it comes from this particular kind of God."

    OK - I think your view of Scripture is unfalsifiable. Please correct me if I am wrong. If there is little criteria to go by, then it's difficult to speak about God in any meaningful way. I can appreciate this - I am thinking of the tradition of the Brahman in Hinduism.

    "How can we [in and of ourselves] justify what is beneficial or not?"

    By saying that the scientific method is beneficial, I meant that microwaves are really nice to have! ;) But I think "objective" values can be sought through personal experience, studying the collective experiences of our species. I realize this is problematic in ways, but deciding that the Bible is the basis of morality is no less problematic. If you believe that the Bible's "correctness" is self-evident, then why can't a person argue about the "benefits" of anything in such a way?

    For instance - It is self-evident that all people should give me $1,000. If you disagree, then it's because you are sinful.

    "It's validity is not based on the "approval" of man"

    The level of validity you ascribe to Scripture is based on your approval of it.


    You seem to have an unfalsifiable view of Scripture. And you put forth that people who think differently than you, do so because of a greater level of "sin" in this regard.

    I ask you to just hold open the possibility that some people disagree with you, not because they are more sinful (necessarily!), but because they have reasons.

    Or at least we should acknowledge our limitations and approach possibilities with an open heart. Perhaps the "self-authentication" of Scripture that you see, is not what others see. Can you acknowledge that views different from yours can be reasonable, and even equally valid?

    thanks, this is a good time,


  60. Rex,

    I'm sorry I haven't responded sooner. I wanted to carefully read through the passage and consult some commentaries before giving my take on this passage.

    My view is that this Council occurs after the confrontation between Peter and Paul on this very issue in Antioch (cf. Gal. 2:11-21); that between the confrontation at Antioch and the Council, Peter has "seen the light" and come to fully embrace Paul's understanding of the Law and the Gospel, snd his view of the unity and equality of Jew and Gentile in Christ (Cf. Acts 15:7-11 with Gal. 3:26-4:7). Otherwise, his positive defense of Paul and Barnabas' direct ministry to Gentiles, and his refusal to side with strict Jewish Christians that their Gentiles had to be circumcised and had to obey the Mosaic Law before they could be considered members of Messiah's people, seems incredible.

    As for the sequence of events, in 15:4-5, there is a public meeting of the Jerusalem church, where Paul and Barnabas present their work to all the leaders and the congregation. During this meeting, Jewish Christians converted from Pharisaism, and who believed Gentiles had to become Jews before they could become followers of Messiah, were scandalized by what they heard Paul and Barnabas saying about their ministry to Gentiles. So in angry protest, they rose up and shouted, "The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to obey the Law of Moses!" (Acts 15:5)

    Then the apostles and elders called a special meeting to discuss this matter, Acts 15:6-21. The sequence of events here is this: A very lively, even heated debate among the apostles and elders on this issue, vv 6-7a; then Peter takes the floor and as missionary testifies how his ministry to Cornelius, as he was specially called and directed to do by God, signaled that God wanted to reach the Gentiles for Christ, and that in principle already supported the ministry being carried on by Paul and Barnabas, vv. 7b-11; after, Barnabas and Paul spoke of the signs and wonders which accompanied and confirmed God's approval of their ministry among the Gentiles, vv. 12-13a. Then lastly James, as the Presiding Elder and the one expected to make the final analysis and judgment as to what decision was called for, quoted prophetic Scripture showing that in the last days, the redeemed people of Messiah will be composed of two concentic groups, Jews and Gentiles, vv. 13b-18. Richard Longnecker, in his commentary on Acts, explains it this way:

    In the end times, James is saying, God's people will consist of two concentric groups. At the core will be restored Israel (i.e., David's rebilt tent), gathered around them will be a group of Gentiles (i.e., the remnant of men) who will share in the messianic blessings but will persist as Gentiles without necessarily becoming Jewish proselytes. It is this understanding of Amos's message, James insisted, that Peter's testimony has affirmed, the result being that the conversion of Gentiles in the last days should be seen not as proselytizing but in an eschatological context ("Acts," THE EXPOSITOR'S BIBLE COMMENTARY, Vol. 9, p. 446).

    And out of concern for of unity between Jews and Gentiles, and the unnecessary offending of Jewish Christians by their Gentile bretheren, James, in vv. 19-20, gives some guidelines that are very much in keeping with what Pauls says about love and not offending the weaker brother in Romans 14. Well, this comment was bit longer than I originally intended. But, Rex, that is how I understand this passage.

  61. Steven,

    There is a difference between hypothesis and presupposition.

    A hypothesis is held tentatively and can be tested whereas a presuppositions are our most foundational commitments that we are not interested in budging from--even an inch.

    According to Romans 1, "everyone" either has the presupposition of rejecting or honoring "the" God revealed in creation and Scripture. Not any kind of vague theism, but specifically Christian theism.

    If I did not believe that unbelievers rejected God because of sin, then I would have to reject my presupposition--the Bible.

    So because I don't reject my presupposition then that has consequences as to how I see things. On the other hand, the presuppositions of the unbeliever means that they have their own way of seeing things as well.

    In fact, there is a sense in which the unbeliever and myself do nto agree on "anything". Why? Because I believe that everything has been created by the specific God in the Bible and the unbeliever rejects that. If the unbeliever accepted that truth, then he would have to bow the knee to the God I believe in. But that is exactly what he does not want to do. He wants to "rule the roost" of his own life. This does not necessarily mean he goes out and shoots people. But it does mean he calls his own shots.

    If my wife and I disagreed on which road led to K-Mart, then we might just settle it by getting in the car and seeing which one led there. And of course the one who would in up wrong [myself] would have to admit wrong. However, there is a reason why I could admit wrong.

    Because the stakes are not high.

    However, when it comes to heaven and hell, now we are talking about the stakes being very high. And therefore, "presuppositions" come into play for both the believer and unbeliever.

    However, what guys like Bahnsen do is get onto the ground of the unbeliever and say "let's assume that what you are saying is true, then that would mean..." and reduce the unbelievers worldview to absurdity.

    For example, if an unbeliever says that the only thing that exists is that which is material, then if we assume that is true, then the unbeliever has forfeited his right to use logic. Why? Because logic is not material. You can't hit it with a bat or anything.

    Therefore, the unbeliever cannot even say "I don't believe the Bible" because to say that would be to use logic.

    However, what guys like Bahsen also do is get the unbeliever to come on the ground of the Christian and look through that lens so that based on those presuppositions one should be able to see how the Christian worldview allows one to makes "sense" out of life.

    But again, if the unbeliever still remains committed to his own presuppositions, then he will still reject Christ.

    I want to put comment I have made on another comment stream to someone else down below:

  62. I would also say that the Bible is silent on many things "directly". However, I would also say that the Bible is not silently on anything in what it says either directly "or" indirectly.

    I would also say that there is no such thing as true science differing from Scripture. I don't have a "rigid" view of the age of the earth [though I do at least lean in one direction]. However, I also don't believe that scientists come to what they study with a "blank slate" mind. They are either biased for God or have an axe to grind against God. Romans 1 applies to them as well--either honoring or suppressing the truth. There is no such thing as a "neutral" scientist [or any other flesh and blood person]. Accordingly, this has consequences for how "bones" [for example] are interpreted by scientists.

  63. Steven,

    Some other thoughts:

    I, of course, am not claiming that I am all knowing and controls all things.

    However, what I am appealing to is the God who is all knowing and does control all things.

    If I base my beliefs on what "He" says, then I can be "certain" of that knowledge since it is based on the word of the God of whom nothing catches Him off guard.

    Determinism: I do believe in determinism--Christian determinism. The Bible teaches that God controls all things and that man voluntarily does what he does.

    Now, there is a big difference between "voluntary" and "ability". I do not believe that man has the moral ability to do anything. Since man hates God naturally, he does not want to love God and thus "cannot" love God. One cannot do what one does not want to do.

    Now, when it comes to "how" God controls all things, there is a good amount of mystery I think. However, even though I don't think I could exlain "how", that does not mean that I reject "that" God does control all things. I believe it by faith in Scripture. Even God controls the outcome of something like a flipped quarter [Proverbs 16:33].

  64. Benji,

    I kind of agree with you that we all start with presuppositions that are difficult to justify. But these are very basic like "Things can be known" or "all things should be doubted" (which is self-refuting. I do not think that accepting the Bible as inerrant is one of these "presuppositions".

    "However, when it comes to heaven and hell, now we are talking about the stakes being very high"

    You are appealing here to Pascal's Wager. We may as well believe because if God exists, he will punish us if we do not.

    But this only works if we assume that there is a God who punishes those who don't believe in Him. What if we assume that there is a God who punishes those who cannot provide good evidentiary reasons for their beliefs?

    The idea that logic is not material is interesting. The mystery of our consciousness certainly reflects our inability to know everything, since we are a part of everything - we are not outside observers of reality. But logic is inference based on observation. The number 1 only exists as a description to label something in the world. Logic comes from our observations of the material world. So why shouldn't the Bible, as material, be subjected to the logic which has been developed to describe this material universe?

    Besides, while I tend to be a materialist (very open though), if I admit that certain things are not material (like logic), how does that lead me to the idea that the Bible is correct? Especially if I hold it to standards provided by logic.

    "He wants to "rule the roost" of his own life. This does not necessarily mean he goes out and shoots people. But it does mean he calls his own shots."

    We all call our own shots at the base of our decisions. It's what you call "presuppositions." But most non-believers do believe in objective standards of morality - ethical theories abound. Accepting the Bible is no different than accepting social contract theory or utilitarianism. And of course accepting the Bible leads to absurdities as well.

    Is God good because he is God? The "good" has no meaning. "God is good" equals "God is God."

    or is God good because he conforms to what we call goodness? Now we have an outside standard by which we measure God - which is similar to what non-believers use to measure goodness apart from God.

  65. "However, I also don't believe that scientists come to what they study with a "blank slate" mind."

    Absolutely true.

    "They are either biased for God or have an axe to grind against God."

    If carbon 14 dating suggests a different chronology than Scripture, what is the scientists' obligation to report?

    thanks for the exchange!


  66. Frank--

    I did not pull out my seminary notes nor text books to review the particulars of each Council. However, I distinctly remember the lecture for the first details I had heard about the "Textus Receptus."

    Best I recall there were 3 criteria or hurdles for a text admitted to the Canon. Prior to that there were a lot of "writings" floating around and controversy raged. The Church as it had organized decided to put a stop to is.

    Here were the criteria cited to me:

    (1) Written by an Apostle
    (2) Accepted by a majority of the churches
    (3) In agreement with the Apostles Creed

    You will notice 2 of the 3 were "man made" criteria. When Paul wrote that "all scripture is inspired by God and profitable..." he was refering, not to our Canon, but to all the writings (scripture) circulating at the time he wrote Timothy.

    This knocks massive holes in any theory of Inerrancy and places "theology of the Church" over writings inspired by God according to Paul.

    You can come at it in several theoretical ways, but the truth cited above holds no matter what the writer or what the criteria. It still holds true when one does historical research on the Christian Church and its history.

    Prior to the Canon people would far rather take the word of an Apostle as he spoke it. After the death of the Apostles their deciples took on the task of sharing by word of mouth--still the preferred method--over anything written. For the most part people were illiterate and could not read anyway.

    The last feature of the Textus Receptus is that whatever faction of the church won the vote or politics of the day, their version of the entire story was passed with the hope that those excommunicated would die out--they DID NOT!

    Gnostic texts resurfaced and Dan Brown build his fiction of this fact backed by actual texts discovered in the last 50 years. I don't use Dan Brown for my source, rather actual Church History.

  67. Gene,

    You sure you don't have some actual notes FROM the councils? :)

    "I don't use Dan Brown for my source, rather actual Church History"

    May I respectfully submit that "actual church history," unless you have witnessed it first hand (and I jokingly submit that above) is given to us in much the same way as the Bible itself. Written down. Yet history changes the further we get from the source date. The Bible has remained nearly perfectly consistant as far as our manuscripts and fragments and writings of 1st century historians account for.

    Also, a couple points of order if I may. Was not the origin of the Apostles Creed unknown, but pops up somewhere btwn 300-400 AD? And the Nicean Counsel (NC) 323 AD?

    And is it not true that we do not consider the NC to have truly given us the complete canon of Scripture. For the Apostolic Church had alread given to us that which Christ had deemed His truth and nothing else. In fact Apocryphal texts were never used by the early church, nor quotes by Christ or the Apostles, and did not receive canonization until much later--1520's?

    I for one love the age old parallel to the book of Isaiah--the Idex to the 66 canonical books. Or my deeply held belief that our God delivered and preserved His revelation to man without question and doubt.

    But, here is what I does knows fur shur. If the Good Lard dat saved me ain't fur real, 'den da burnin' fires'a'hell you won't feel...

    lol (I should get an "A" for that one the spot poetry.)


    "If part of it is false, then all of it is false." ~Me

  68. Gene, Welcome back. I hope you had a good time in Oklahoma. Now let me answer your response to my previous comments about the Canon of Scripture.

    It seems from what you say that you and I have different views regarding the inspiration, inerrancy and authority of Scripture; the formation of the NT canon and its confirmation by the Church; and the preservation and translation of the text of the Greek New Testament. So I will begin with my understanding of the inspiration, inerrancy and authority of Scripture, then say some more on the canon in a later comment.

    I understand inspiration as that supernatural influence of the Holy Spirit, whereby the sacred writers were divinely supervised in their production of Scripture, being restrained from error and guided in the choice of words that they used, consistent with their own disparate personalities and stylistic peculiarities. The Spirit's influence and supervision involved not only concepts and ideas, but the choice of appropriate words; in their choice of essential grammatical and syntactical relationships; and according to their historical and cultural milieu, in the choice of the literary genres best suited to communicate the ideas and concepts the biblical authors desired and intended their original readers to grasp and understand. And again, while every word, sentence structure, and genre form was utilized under the Holy Spirit's influence and supervision, yet the Spirit did so without violating any writer's unique personality and writing style. This view of inspiration is designated as the verbal, plenary inspiration of Scripture, and is supported by these NT texts: 2 Tim. 3:14-17; 2 Pet. 1:16-21; John 12:44-50; 14:9-11, 23-26; 1 Cor. 2:6-16; 14:36-39; 1 Tim. 5:17-18; and 2 Pet. 3:14-16.

    And by inerrancy, I mean that the entire corpus of Scripture, as originally written and published by the prophets and apostles, contains neither errors of fact (material errors), nor internal contradictions (formal errors). Inerrancy, properly speaking, is attributed only to the autographa, or original writings of Scripture, when they were edited and published in the final form approved by the original authors and their associates. Indeed, this has been the predominant view of biblical inerrancy held by all branches of orthodox Christianity up until the nineteenth century, when liberal critics began challenging this view. For example, in their correspondence, by which they had been discussing the problems connected with Bible translation and interpretation, Augustine had written to Jerome these words about apparent contradictions: "I decide that either the copied text is corrupt, or the translator did not follow what was really said in the [original] text, or that I failed to understand it." Later, in Puritan England, on this same issue Richard Baxter, Anglican pastor and theologian, stated, "There is no error or contradiction in Scripture, but what is [found] in some copies, by failures of preservers, transcribers, printers, and translators."

  69. And Samuel Wakefield, the great 19th century Methodist pastor and theologian, regarding this matter, wrote: "But if it is once granted that they, the Scriptures, are in the least degree alloyed with error, an opening is made for every imaginable corruption. And to admit that the sacred writers were only occasionally inspired, would involve us in the greatest perplexity, because, not knowing when they were or were not inspired, we could not determine what parts of their writings should be regarded as infallible Word of God" (All three quotes from John D. Woodbridge's Biblical Authority: A Critique of the Rogers/McKim Proposal, Zondervan Publishers,1982). Now, the underlying presupposition of this evangelical view of biblical inerrancy is this: If the Bible is indeed the inspired Word of the unchanging God of grace and truth who never lies (cf. Num. 23:19 and Jas. 1:16-18), then, as of logical necessity, Scripture must also be inerrant and infallible in all that it truly teaches about the Triune God; about his works of creation, providence, and redemption; about the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, etc. Otherwise, how could we confidently accept it as God's Written Word, the final rule of all Christian belief and practice?

    Thirdly, by infallibility, I mean that Scripture, because it is the inspired and inerrant Word of God, is a reliable and trustworthy source of truth. Therefore, it cannot itself mislead or deceive anyone who truly understands and lives by its teaching though, as Peter warns us, false teachers can and do distort the teaching of the Scriptures (cf. 2 Pet. 3:15-16) . And, most evangelical Christians would argue, its true teaching can be known and understood by anyone who makes the effort to learn and consistently use the proper methods of biblical interpretation, which have been derived from the Scriptures themselves. As a whole, the Scriptures are clear enough and coherent enough that anyone, who will make an earnest effort to read and study it, using the historical-cultural-grammatical method of interpretation, can understand and appropriate the Bible's central message of redemption through Jesus Christ. But, admittedly, some texts are harder to understand than others, and so if these difficult texts are divorced from their proper historical, cultural and literary context, their meaning and significance will most certainly be misunderstood and misapplied. As one Bible teacher plainly put it, "Any text without its proper context is nothing but a pretext." If we quote verses and passages without any reference to their contexts, we will miss or misread these texts' true, infallible message. So this is the predominant my view regarding Biblical inspiration, inerrancy, and infallibility as an orthodox, evangelical Christian and egalitarian.

  70. Frank,
    I see the events in Acts 15 as:
    1. General assembly.
    2. Private meeting.
    3. General assembly.

    A very important fact is what verse did the private meeting end and the last general assembly begin?

    For many years I believed just as you explained it, but the question arises: Who heard Peter’s speech (verse 7-11)?

    Verse 12 gives the answer: “Then all the multitude kept silence…”

    Frank if the multitude heard Peter’s speech, then his speech was not made at the private meeting.

    Thus the private meeting ended with verse 6 and there was no record of what was said at the private meeting.

    I believe when “the multitude kept silence” (that would include Christian Pharisees) if Peter had said, ‘I move the meeting is adjourned’ there would never have been salvation obtained by Jesus plus works but salvation obtained by Jesus plus nothing.

    But that didn’t happen. James’ judgment switched the subject from salvation to requirements needed for acceptance by Jews.

    This ‘smoke and mirrors’ was accepted by Peter and company as a RESULT of being saved, but the majority looked upon the requirements as NECESSARY to be saved.

    That’s why through the years more and more rules were added to form the Catholic religion.

  71. Gene,

    Well, I agree with you as to the general outline of Acts 15, but not as to the actual breaks, which I see as follows:

    1st General Assembly: Acts 15:1-5. In this section, Paul and Barnabas, as envoys of the Antiochian church, come before the Jerusalem church to deal with two distinct but related issues, one stated and one implied, that have arisen as a result with their debates with the Judaizers: 1) How does one enter into the true people of God, by grace through faith in Christ, or by becoming converts of Judaism first, then believing in Messiah? And what are the marks of the true people of God: Strict adherenece to the Mosaic Law or to the Law of Christ Z(cf. Isa. 42:1-7 and 1 Cor. 9:19-23) After the outburst by the strict Jewish Christians, then it becomes clear to the apostles and elders that this is a very serious problem that must be resolved if the Christian is not to be divided, and so they have the private meeting, which begins in vs 6 and ends in vs. 21
    The Private Meeting Between the Apostles and Elders, vv. 6-21. In this meeting, as I have already said in my previous comment, Peter first testifies how God used him to win Gentiles to Christ without first making them "good" Jews, which was proof that God already approved the message and ministry of Paul and Barnabs, vv. 6-11. Next Paul and Barnabas go on to explain how their message and ministry had been divinely vindicated by the signs and wonders that accompanied, and which were expected to accompany, true messengers of God who faithfully proclaimed God's word, v. 12 (cf. with Heb. 2:3-4). Once they finished speaking, James, as the president of the elders, then spoke on how, first, it had been prophesied how Gentiles would become members of the true Israel, constituted around Messiah and his law, then he gave the judgment that agrees with what Paul also teaches in Romans 14 about love and not offending the weaker Christian's scruples.

  72. 2nd General Assembly, vv. 22-35. After the apostles and elders have reached a full consensus on the two issues, they bring the whole congregation together, explain the how's and why's of their pastoral letter, as well as their choice of envoys to go with Paul and Barnabas to Antioch. Then after the whole congregation agrees and affirms both the pastoral letter and the envoys, then they go to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas.

    Now my understanding is based on the different words for the different groups which Luke chose and used, under the superintendence of the Holy Spirit. In 15:3,4 and 22, he uses tes ekklesis, "the church,"which refers to the whole congregation. But in vv. 6-21, when describing who is involved in this meeting, Luke uses a different word, to plethos, in v. 12, which means "the whole group," with its antecedent in v.6, "the apostles and elders".

    So, on this basis, since I believe Luke did not choose his words caressly, I would argue that vv. 6-21 must not only be understood as a description of the private meeting and all that was discussed therein, but shows how all the apostles and elders, when they called the second general assembly, were able to present a document on which they were all agreed and hoped the congregation, after some further explanation, would approve also.

    Now, Gene, you certainly may disagree with my interpretation. But I think it best intergrates and explains this text, and so I commend it to you for due consideration,

  73. Steven,

    I'm not saying that presupposing Scripture is difficult to justify. I'm saying that apart from presupposing Scripture one could not justify "anything."

    The laws of logic and the laws of math are not "material". Therefore, there is no justification for the materialist to believe in these laws and use them. In fact, "empiricism" cannot be justified by the materialist becase the nonmaterial "concept" of empiricism cannot be examined by the five senses.

    However, the Christian can justify the laws of logic [for example] because the Christian can appeal to God's word which says that man is made in the image of God. Accordingly, since God is consistent with Himself [Jesus did not say "I am the way and I am not the way at the same time" for example], then man may reflect God's consistent thoughts.

    The justification for logic arises from the Bible. Therefore, logic is not imposed on the Bible but arises from the Bible.

    The Bible teaches the existence of both that which is material and that which is immaterial. Hence, the Christian does not have the problem of the materialist.

    "What if we assume that there is a God who punishes those who cannot provide good evidentiary reasons for their beliefs?"

    I'm not sure what you are askig here. What I am saying is that the particular God who does punish sin has been clearly revealed according to Romans 1. I am not interested in defending or assuming any other God but that particular God. I do not defend "generic" theism ['a' God stuff]. I only defend Christian Theism.

    "since we are a part of everything - we are not outside observers of reality."

    Good point. But the God revealed in Scripture "does" observe reality outside of being a part of the creation since He is not a part of the creation. Therefore, God has a "transcendent" perspective. And part of that transcendent perspective He has revealed in His word so that those who are a part of the creation can have the "heavenly" perspective.

    "But most non-believers do believe in objective standards of morality - ethical theories abound. Accepting the Bible is no different than accepting social contract theory or utilitarianism."

    It is very different. The utilitarian bases his morality on what? Something/Someone finite and thus subject to being "caught off guard" by some unknown truth or fact out there.

    The Christian bases [or should base] His morality on Scripture which comes from the infinite God. Big difference.

    Of course, you might come back and say "Well, you are just assuming that and not proving that." However, what I am trying to illustrate is that if one "didn't" assume that, then one would be left to grounding morality in something or someone finite. And that's a problem [see above].

    "or is God good because he conforms to what we call goodness? Now we have an outside standard by which we measure God - which is similar to what non-believers use to measure goodness apart from God."

    There is no "outside" standard of goodness that God has to conform to. For finite man to impose his own finite standard of goodness on the infinite goodness that belongs to the being of God would be absurd.

    I appreciate the tone once again.

    I think you might find this interesting:

  74. Frank,
    My name is Rex,
    We both agree that SOMETHING is omitted in the blow by blow account of Acts 15.

    I claim what is omitted is the ‘private meeting’ and you claim it’s the words that convinced the Christian Pharisees to quit arguing and be silent. Is that correct?

    Let’s look at Peter’s speech if it was in the private meeting. Who was he talking to?

    We would probably agree that he wasn’t talking to Paul, Barnabus, or the other apostles. The other apostles didn’t jump on Peter for eating with the Christian Gentiles; it was the Jewish believers in Jerusalem. (Acts 11:2)

    So was Peter talking to James and the elders since they would be the only ones left?

    I think not because there is nothing recorded that they have said anything.

    What is recorded is the demands of the sect of Christian Pharisees. Their words match what Peter addresses when he said, “Are you going to correct God/tempt God/question God/challenge God/make God angry?” (different translations)

    I believe when the private meeting announced their decision in the general assembly, the same sect of Pharisees started howling as in verse 7 “After long discussion/much disputing.”

    I mean these Pharisees wouldn’t go down without a fight, but when Peter finished his speech with verse 11, verse 12 says the multitude was silent.

    I’ll bet they had been giving a lot of amens to the Christian Pharisees before Peter's speech.

  75. Gentlemen (we need L's to join in with her insights)--

    I appreciate the good and educational points all are bringing to this conversation.

    Frankly, I hate the fine details of history, but tend to try and draw general conclusions of the process which gives us what understanding we have today. For this, I thank Dr. Majors of Emory University who took me from "memorizing dates" to seeing "cause and effect" from historical events.

    The bottom line on most history is ego / power / money! These things have guided more political decisions and wars than anything else. The debate on the nature of Christ with the Greek word, homoion vs homoousian, was just an excuse like "Inerrancy" to let the folks in Rome rule over those in Constantinople. Rather than to be ruled, they split!

    Hence, the first major division among organized Christians. The average church member could care less about the "fine print" and technical details. The Pharisees of the new church fought like cats and dogs for one to win over the other and the Church sub-divided itself between Greek Orthodox and Roman Catholic.


    With respect to Inerrancy--now we speak of "original autographs" which no one has and it is doubtful anyone ever will!

    So---why the killer instinct with my Professors at SEBTS pre-1979???? They just told all us students the truth as best they knew it at the time.

    Interestingly, I have a classmate who is an avowed fundy always medling in local church business when calling a new pastor. NOT ONE went through the process without him and several fundy buddies recommending the same fundy as the greatest person "God could direct them to call."

    That is not God, rather political manipulation, long distance conspiring by phone, AND it led to a horrible split in my local Association. The fundies now own it! They also "own" the NCBSC!

    In the process we now have an SBC which is admitting falling membership and declined giving to the point we are now having to cut back on Missions! Sorry, but this is the truth / whole truth / nothing but the truth as I know it by personal experience.

    If we have NO ORIGINAL AUTOGRAPHS then why the "straw dog" argument which has cost untold numbers of good SBC Professors and Missionaries to either kiss the feet of BF&M 2000 or hit the road???

    I realize a lot of you like to obsess over fine details, but I'm just trying to get you to see the big picture and recognize human ego and power to be what it was before Christ / during Christ / after Christ.

    My greatest question is: Do we have honesty / love / forgiveness / faith / the present direction of the Holy Spirit---or do we have Pressler/Patterson followers trying to make sure their split britches don't show too much underwear---or, if you are from the heat of Texas---some bare skin trying to stay cool in the blistering South Texas heat!!!

  76. Hey Benji,

    "The laws of logic and the laws of math are not "material". Therefore, there is no justification for the materialist to believe in these laws and use them. In fact, "empiricism" cannot be justified by the materialist because the nonmaterial "concept" of empiricism cannot be examined by the five senses."

    This is all true and it's a good example of how all ways of thinking can self-refute. Your analysis of empiricism seems correct to me. But I can apply the same to your view of the Bible. Here are two examples of self-refuting statements that I feel describe your position:

    “I have decided that the Bible is the ultimate authority.”

    “What I believe is true, whether I believe it or not.”

    Once again, we are a part of reality, not outside observers. BUT if mathematical laws and logic do not conform to physical reality, then they are useless. We learned "A cannot be non-A" from observing material reality. So even if “ultimate” grounding for a worldview is difficult, there are many premises and criteria for success we can all agree upon.

    “The Bible teaches the existence of both that which is material and that which is immaterial. Hence, the Christian does not have the problem of the materialist. “

    But what does “immaterial” mean? If it simply means ideas and concepts, like logic and math, then does that mean that spirits and God are ideas and concepts?

    “However, the Christian can justify the laws of logic [for example] because the Christian can appeal to God's word which says that man is made in the image of God. Accordingly, since God is consistent with Himself [Jesus did not say "I am the way and I am not the way at the same time" for example], then man may reflect God's consistent thoughts. “

    I am not sure of this thinking. I could say that “I am me and I am not ‘not-me’ so my existence grounds my logic.” Plus the God of the Bible is not always so consistent.

    “There is no "outside" standard of goodness that God has to conform to. For finite man to impose his own finite standard of goodness on the infinite goodness that belongs to the being of God would be absurd.”

    This idea renders the statement “God is good” a meaningless one. Rather it means “God is God”. And God does not need to be consistent, or loving or anything like that to be declared “good” under this version of divine command theory. God is “good” because of power, not because of anything we would consider good.

    “I'm saying that apart from presupposing Scripture one could not justify "anything."”

    But Scripture falls firmly in the category of “anything.” We could just as easily have presupposed anything else.

    I think one of our biggest differences is your view that Scripture is a foundational presupposition. My foundational presuppositions are more like “The world I sense is real” or “I exist” or “individuals have value”. Stuff like that, very basic. I can imagine a communist calling Karl Marx’s works a foundational presupposition, or a Muslim claiming the same of the Koran. There is no discernible difference that I can see if no reasons are given.
    I agree with you that objectivity is difficult to argue when we are subjectively in the middle of existence. But longing for an objective, external ground, and deciding that something is it, does not make it true. At least for other people.

    It’s a tough world to walk through, and an impossible one to “figure out.” Thanks for talking about it!

  77. Rex,

    I am sorry I mixed you up with your friend Gene. Since your views on the inspiration of Scripture and the formulation and confirmation of the NT canon are so similar, I guess I subconsciouly blended you two together. I'll try not to do that again.

    However, as regards Acts 15:1-35, other than that Luke wrote this passage, and condensed his material so that he could give us the essential details and not bog us down with endless,boring details--I don't see that we agree on much else.

    In my previous comments on this passage, I've not only given my version of "the big picture," but have also show why I believe 15:6-21 is a single, unified periocpe that describes the entire private meeting between the apostles and elders; the principle character in this "religious court" (for that is what this group really was) and what was said by them; and how the decision in favor of Paul and Barnabas and their ministry came about. For Peter is acting as Counsel of Defense for Barnabas and Paul, who are the defendants on trial before the court of elders, vv.6-11; Barnabas and Paul, calling upon God as their witness, as they testify on their own behalf, v.12; and then James, acting as president and judge, gives the Scriptural basis, much to the shock of some of the elders who were probably converted Pharisees, upon which he JUDGES IN FAVOR of the defendants and their ministry. Then the pastoral letter, which now sets forth this judgment and with which everyone agrees, including Barnabas and Paul, is placed before the entire congregation for review and approval before it is sent to Antioch, vv. 22-35.

    Furthermore, I have already shown that "the congregation" (tes ekklesias) of 15:4 and 22, and "the whole group" (pan to plethos) of 15:12 are not the same groups. Also, v. 12 forms the heart of this pericope and its only proper antecendent is "the apostles and elderso of v. 6, not "the congregation" of v.4. So unless you give me a better, exegetical explanation of this text, I'm sticking with my guns and insisting that mine is the better interpretation.

  78. Gene,

    Okay, now that I distiguish you and Rex from each other, let me respond to you. First, since I have already indicated that I am an egalitarian, I encourage the women, as they wish to do so, to join in our conversation and add their comments. At least three of them, Lydia, Suzanne and Thypeace I have encountered on Cheryl Schatz's; not only are they serious students of Scripture, but in many of their comment, they have demonstrated Spirit-given wisdom and insight, and I have learned from them, as well as from Cheryl herself.

    Secondly, I would like to explain why I believe the inerrancy of the Scriptural autographs is neither a trivial or unimportant matter. However, I do so with this caveat: While I firmly in the inspiration, inerrancy and infallibility of Scripture, I don't believe our interpretations can be granted the same status, especially when, after careful and thorough examination, they are proven to be incompatible with the true teaching of Scripture itself.

    So let me now give three reasons why I believe the doctrine of the inspiration and inerrancy of the Scripture is vital for our confidence in the Bible as the sure and certain Word of God.

    First, to trivalize this doctrine would be an attack against the veracity, or truthfulness, of God himself. God is not only just and good, but he is also truthful and faithful. He never lies; he always says and does what is true, good, just, and right (Cf. 1 Sam. 15:29; Jer. 9:23-24; Isa. 45:18-19; Tit. 1:1-2; Heb. 6:16-20). But if God's Word, as originally given through prophets and apostles, contained errors and falsehoods, then we could not confidently testify to his truthfulness, faithfulness, and trustworthiness. "Only with an inerrant autograph can we avoid attributing error to the God of truth. An error in the original manuscripts would be attributable to God Himself, because He, in the pages of Scripture, takes responsibility for the very words of the biblical writers. Errors in copies, however, are the sole responsibility of the scribes involved, in which case God's veracity is not impunged." ("The Inerrancy of the Autographa," INERRANCY, Zondervan, 1979, p. 172)

  79. Secondly, if the autographa of Scripture were full of errors and falsehoods, which have been perpetuated in our present texts and translations, then the Protestant doctrine of sola Scriptura is destroyed. If we could not trust the original writings as a religious authority, how are we to trust later, slightly flawed copies and translations that rest on those original Hebrew and Greek texts? "If the original manuscripts of Scripture were errant, then we could not possibly know the extent of error in them. The range of possible faults is virtually unbounded, for who can say at what point an errant God stops making mistakes? Who could presume to know how to set God's mistakes in order?" ("Inerrancy of the Autographa,INERRANCY, p. 180).

    Thirdly, the denial of the inerrancy of the Scriptural autographa jeopardizies the science of biblical textual criticism. For, as everyone who has studied the matter knows, in the copying and translating of the Bible, demonstratable scribal errors, both intentional and unintentional, are to be found in the later, extent copies of the Biblical text. Indeed, various Christian scholars and commentators throughout the centuries, as they have recognized this problem, have practiced the science of textual criticism, seeking to recover the original text. And as they have engaged in this scientific enterprise, their work has rested on three distinct yet mutually dependent axioms: 1) The original text of Scripture itself was inerrant; 2) For the most part, ancinet scribes, because they were handling a sacred text, sought to be faithful and accurate in their copying of Scripture; and 3) despite the copyists errors, the original text of Scripture, by careful and consistent use of textual critical principles, is recoverable beyond reasonable doubt.

    Yet if, as many insist, the original Biblical texts themselves were full of errors and falsehoods, then what hope is there ever discovering the pure, unadulterated truth God first revealed to the prophetsj and apostles? And so what would be the point of seeking to recover the original, inerrant text as the basis for our modern Bible translations and versions? "If error had permeated the original prophetic-apostolic verbalization of God's revelation, no essential connection would exist between the recovery of any preferred text and the authentic meaning of God's revelation" (cf. Carl F.H. Henry, GOD, REVELATION AND AUTHORITY, Vol. 2, p.14).

    Therefore, seeing how the concept of God's veracity, the principle of sola Scriptura, and the science of textual criticism stand or fall together with this doctrine, I believe it is very important to believe, teach and defend the inerrancy of the autographa of Scripture. There is nothing trivial or unimportant about it at all. For only by maintaining this doctrine can we confidently say with Frederick Kenyon, NT scholar and textual critic, "The Christian can take the whole Bible in his hand and say without fear or hesitation that he holds the true Word of God, handed down without essential loss from generation to generation, throughout the centuries" (Cf. F.F. Bruce, THE BOOKS AND THE PARCHMENTS, REVISED EDITION, p. 180)

    I know, Gene, that you and others may strongly disagree with me. But I believe absolutely that Scripture itself teaches this about its own inspiration, inerrancy, and infallibilty, even though I know of others who have misused and twisted this Scriptural teaching to fit their own self-serving agendas. And I will live by this teaching, come hell or high water. Amen!

  80. Frank,
    I like a man that sticks to his guns, but I’m afraid you’ve run out of bullets. :)

    WOW! It’s hard to find a starting point. Let me say first that I printed my first article on Acts 15 twenty three years ago. I’ve subtracted and added different thoughts through the years as I keep studying the Bible.
    You seem at a disadvantage for lack of time spent on the subject. BTW, it would help if you quoted Scripture to back your opinions.

    This about blew my mind as you said:

    “For Peter is acting as Counsel of Defense for Barnabas and Paul, who are the defendants on trial before the court of elders, vv. 6-11.”

    The First Church Counsel was not a trial for anyone except to settle the question how Gentiles were to be accepted as Christians as show below in (Acts 15: NLT)

    v.1 “…some men from Judea (“...some friends of James came.” Galatians 2:12) arrived and began to teach the believers: “Unless you are circumcised…you cannot be saved.
    v.2 …the church decided to send Paul and Barnabas to Jerusalem…to talk to the apostles and elders about THIS QUESTION.”

    Let me back up and see if you agree with what I think was the attitude of the “multitude” (v. 12 KJ) toward Gentiles. There were probably thousands. I’ve written what I think might have been a conversation:

    “Can you imagine our leaders wanting us to decide if Gentiles can become Christians? We are God’s chosen people. Not those pagans. They’re dogs!”

    “But they say God’s Spirit has been given to everyone.”

    “Well, they will have to obey all our laws.”

    “Paul and Peter say anyone can go to heaven by the gift of Jesus.”

    “Outrageous! That’s what you can expect of a man who lives with Gentiles. Paul helped kill Stephen and put us in prison, now he’s blaspheming God’s laws. We ought to stone him. Men who came from James got Peter in line until Paul brainwashed him. Let’s get them to object to this nonsense.”

    Frank, if the multitude didn’t hear Peter’s speech, but were told the decision of the private meeting, do you think they would have agreed without a fight?

    I believe they were silent because they were made ashamed of themselves when Peter told them they were trying to correct God.

    But I believe they were like that saying:

    ‘A man convinced against his will is of the same opinion still.’

    And that’s why they probably gave James a standing ovation for the rules he gave the Gentiles.

    Frank, if you have more bullets, I’ll try to duck. :)

  81. Frank--

    You sound like a fearful man who has to have a "super weapon" to make sure the "bad guys" are defeated.

    For me, Faith is not going to live or die should the physical content of the Bible have a logical flaw or physical distortion. That just proves man is involved in the process.

    God and his universe are not physical--rather spiritual. The fact that every culture has a spiritual element shows me we humans have a spiritual dimension which no other man can destroy.

    Pascal called it "our God shaped vacuum."

    Communism tried to stomp out religion and Marx declared it "the opiate of the people." You could be killed or imprisoned if you practiced religion, BUT people were still compelled to be brave. The second Communism was reduced, the churches were full of those who had been hiding since the Russian Revolution.

    This, by itself, proves to me our God is authentic and the Bible is INSPIRED. I refuse to use a word like "inerrant" when "inspired" is so much more accurate and--more important--makes sense to me. With and inspired Bible you don't have to make a stretched logic like "the original autographs were inerrant."

    What difference does it really make that imperfections can be found along with inconsistencies? The Bible is a witness to faith rather than something worthy of being the object of the faith. God is the perfect object and that is enough for me. I am confident in my views for they answer logical questions far better than an inerrant approach for many.

    In the same way Communism sounded good on the surface--worker equality--it just didn't work because all workers are not equal. Some put out more and think better so why should the weak be rewarded the same as the strong? That is why it ultimately failed.

    Our Capitalist way can fail just a badly. In fact, bailouts and bonuses undergird position rather than actual production. Those who want a free interpretation of the Bible or economy, must risk possibly being wrong. Time will prove them a success or failure. All the shouting of fundamentalists will never overcome the human participation in scripture transmission and translation.

    By admitting to differences in words / texts / human redaction we don't deny our faith. Knowledge only goes so far, no matter what the field of discussion or debate. At some point everyone has to allow for the verbal usage of FAITH rather than using it as a noun (a thing) all the time.

    What I am saying is actions speak louder than words. You can have all the perfect texts you want, but if your collection is bound into a giant book just to beat your adversaries to death, it accomplishes nothing as Paul clearly stated in I Cor. 13-16: "If I have no love, I am nothing."

    CR may be an attempt at perfection in thinking, but if it has no love or AUTONOMY, it is nothing.

    As Southern Baptists ways are examined by me in my 63 years on this earth, I make the following conclusion / observation:

    When we majored on Missions and minored on Theology, we grew and got along. As soon as we started majoring on Theology (a man-made THING expressed in man-made words) and minoring on Missions, we began our journey down the slope of a failed organized church.

    People want God, and not a self-proclaimed present day King Pastor / Pharisee. Too many of these "kings" have proven to walk on clay feet.

    Is it possible those who major on gay-bashing might, themselves, be latent homosexuals?

    Is it possible those who must have a perfect Bible do not have the capacity to "faith it" with a living God---instead they want just another idol? Isaiah pointed out the foolishness of taking a piece of wood (parchment is made of wood) and using it for furniture / fire / idol.

    He pointed out the foolishness of the practice. Even worse, he said, is the the dumb fool does not even know the difference!!!!

    Those observing us know we are foolish, but we keep on making fools of ourselves: "The higher the monkey climbs the tree---the more you see his tail!!!!!

  82. Rex,

    Well, my friend, I think we are at the point where, as regards Acts 15:1-35, we are at a loggershead and aren't going to get much further in our discussion. And though I may stick to my guns, I see no point in continuing a "gunfight" in which the contestants are aiming at and shooting the wrong targets.

    As far as quoting Scripture, I have quoted from the Greek NT in Acts 15:4. 12, and 22 at least twice. And I have asked you, on the basis of the Greek text, which clearly uses two different words (ekklesias, plethos) to refer to two different groups, on what basis you equate the two. I don't disagree with you that one group is a subset of the other; what I want you to prove to me, on the basis of the Greek text itself, is a)your reason for equating the two groups and b) why you say the private meeting ended in verse 11, when on the basis of the words used in 15:22, the private meeting, in which both Barnabas and Paul were present, did not end until James made the judgment in 15:21.

    And quoting various English translations to make your point, however it might impress others, does not sway me to change my mind one bit. I would think you would know from reading the Baptist Confession of 1689, for example, that in disputes regarding the meaning of a text of Scripture, and one or more of the disputants questions the adequacy of the English translation, then appeal is to be made to the original Hebrew or Greek, the inspired and authoritative text upon which all translations rest. So Rex, quote all the English translations and versions you want. But unless you can prove to me from the Greek New Testament that I am wrong, and why I am wrong, I don't think your interpretation has a single leg to stand on.

    As regards my being a "fearful man," I suppose that, in reality, I am no more fearful than you are. I fear God alone, not human beings. They make kill me, but only God has the power to cast me, spirit and body, into hell. Or says our Lord Jesus Christ in Matt. 10:28. That is why I can say, as did the Psalmsist, "The LORD is my helper, I will never be afraid. So why should I fear mere human beings?" (Ps 118:6-7, my rendering).

    Wade and company, thank-you for letting me share my thoughts regarding the inspiration, preservation, and translation of Scripture. But I have pressing personal concerns, and so must leave this lively discussion for the present. When I have a chance, I'll come back and discuss some other subject of common interest. Until then, may the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father, and the communion of the Holy Spirit be yours in abundant measure. Amen!

  83. Frank,
    Do you print comments that you reply to, or do you depend on memory?
    I think you haven’t heard

    “Knowledge knows something;
    Wisdom is writing it down.”

    Gene’s first sentence to you was; “Frank, you sound like a fearful man…”, but you replied to me: “As regards my being a “fearful man,” I suppose that, in reality, I am no more fearful than you are.”

    Did you forget again that you were replying to me?

    BTW, I wouldn’t call you a “fearful man” about Acts 15; I’d call you an ‘uneducated man’.

    On Thur Dec 10, 5:12 AM, I wrote, “Thus the PRIVATE meeting ended with verse 6 and there was no record of what was said at the private meeting.”

    But you wrote, “I want you to prove to me…why you say the PRIVATE meeting ended in verse 11...” Duhh
    You continued, “…the private meeting…did not end until James made the judgment in 15:21.”

    Excuse me, but I’ve already mentioned “the multitude kept silent.”

    15:12 says, “And all the multitude kept silent…” (NAS); “Then all the multitude kept silence…” (KJ); “Then the whole assembly fell silent…” (Holman)

    Oh, I forgot, you don’t accept English, it must be Hebrew or Greek.

    How about from Google?
    Acts 15:12 Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience ...
    ΠΡΑΞΕΙΣ 15:12 Greek NT: Tischendorf 8th Ed. with Diacritics ... Acts 15:12
    Hebrew Bible ויחרישו כל הקהל וישמעו אל בר נבא ואל פולוס מספרים את האתות והמופתים

    I guess your ‘private meeting’ got pretty crowded.

    After reading Acts 15:1-2, are your guns still blazing the Counsel was a trial about Paul and Barnabus?

    What happened to your wishes that “the ladies” join the conversation?

    I could go on but what’s the use? You said goodbye to Wade and act as if you’re the cowboy riding into the sunset.

    But in reality, when Gene got through with you with his excellent comment on ‘inerrancy’, you’re riding fast out of town with a posse on your trail.

  84. Yiipie ky yo ky yeah!!!!

    Hey--Texas cowboy language is as fascinating as Greek when you try to write it down!!

    Do ya think Frank will ever get it???

  85. Hey there, Rex and Gene,

    So you thought I rode off into the sunset, like a beaten dog, never to return, eh? You didn't believe me when I said I had other business to take care of and that I would be back? Well, here I am. First, let me apologize for using the metaphor "gunfight" for our little debate; I should have used "turkey shoot." By using "gunfight," I implied, unintentionally I assure you, that our disagreement was personal. Well, I have been in enough debates in the past to know that I don't like people bullying me or intimidating me by using ad hominen arguments, and I'm sure you feel the same way. So if I came across that way, again, I am sorry. Also in my last comment, in an attempt to address you both, I forgot to head the second part of my comment, the "fearful man" reply, with Gene's name. I don't why it is, but sometimes, in your head you think you have typed something on the computer, but when you save the document you realize you didn't actually type what you thought you had typed. It was all in your head, after all! That was a blunder on my part, but it won't happen in this round of the "turkey shoot."

    Rex, you say you have refuted my view regarding the inspiration, inerrancy and authority Scripture. Just how, exactly, do you think you have done so? While I agree with you that the oral teaching and the written instruction of the Apostles was essentially the same, you seem not to recognize the importance of 2 Thess. 2:1-15; 3:14-18; and Gal. 6:11-18 to our discussion. The rise of false, deceptive teachers made it necessary for the Apostles, not only to write down their teaching in permanent written form, but in a personally authenticated form. This clearly the case as regard this Pauline epistle. In the beginning of the second chapter, Paul first tells the church, which has apparently been receiving false teaching that is being attribute to either what Paul has said or written elsewhere: "Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him, we ask you, brothers and sisters, not to become easily unsettled or alarmed by the teaching allegedly from us--whether by a prophecy or by word of mouth or by letter--asserting that the day of the Lord has already come" (2 Thess. 2:1, TNIV). Then in vv. 2-10, he reminds them what he did and did not teach them regarding Christ's Second Coming and the Day of the LORD; in vv.11-14 he rejoices in how God effectively called them to new life in Christ by their believing the Gospel and being regenerated and sanctifed by the Holy Spirit. And then Paul gives them the charge to firmly hold to the Gospel they received from him. whether orally or in written form: "So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter" (2 Thess. 2:15, TNIV). Lastly, after giving them instruction in 3:1-13 on how, in light of Christ's Second Coming and the End of the Age, they are to live holy and productive lives, Paul closes the letter with his customary summary and benediction, written "in his own hand," 3;14-1. And in Gal. 6:11-18, Pauls tells that this "authenticating" conclusion and signature of his is very distinct and easily recognizable: "See what large letters I use to write to you with my own hand!" (Gal. 6:11, TNIV) So long before they were dead and cold in their graves, because these false teachers were forging documents in the Apostles' name, the Apostles themselves took steps to enable the churches to determine authentic Apostolic writings from forged ones.

  86. And then you have Paul confirming that Luke's two volume history is inspired and authoritative Scripture on the same level as the OT (cf. 1 Tim. 5:17-18, where Paul quotes both Deut. 25:4 and Lk. 10:17 as Scripture), and Peter affirming that Paul's own letters, which both he and the readers of 2 Peter are familiar with, is Scripture on the same level as the OT. Here's what Peter says about these Pauline writings: "Bear in mind that our Lord's patience means salvation, just as our dear brother Paul also wrote you with the wisdom God gave him. He writes the same way in all his letters, speaking in them of these matters. His letters contain some things that are hard to understand, which ignorant and unstable people distort, as they do the other Scriptures, to their own destruction" (2 Pet. 3: 15-16, TNIV).

    And though I have read liberal authors who have argued against my view, I have not found their arguments rationally and morally compelling to the point that I have had to give up my view, even though I may have modified some minor aspects of it. Furthermore, Bishop John Robinson, who certainly was no Bible-thumping fundamentalist, in his book Redating the New Testament (1976), argued that not only were many liberal arguments against the authenticity of the NT books fallacious, but also that there is no firm historical or scientific evidence that existed that could show that any NT book, even Revelation, was written after 75 A.D. Indeed, Robinson takes a good portion of this book to argue, that John, and not Mark, was the first of the Gospels to be written. So, fellows, it seems I not only have Scripture and the tradition of the Early Church on my side, but even Bishop John Robinson!

    And Rex, you say that, unlike Gene, I am not a "fearful man," but an "uneducated" one. I am not sure what to make of that. I earned a B.D. in Bible college; went to a local university and earned a B.A. in Liberal Arts; and though I was unable to complete training due to financial reasons, I studied one year at a Reformed Episcopal seminary here in Colorado. So I don't know what you mean by calling me an "uneducated man," unless by that you mean I am not, like you and Gene, an "open-minded, free thinker"? Well, I don't know you two personally, but I have met many so-called "educated" people who were such "open-minded, free thinkers" that they had let their "brains fall out." And by that I mean they had lost the capacity to truly distinguish truth from falsehood, right from wrong. If that is what it means to be "educated" these days, then thank God I am not that kind of man!

    Well, I have ridden my horse hard today. And I not only need to feed and bed him for tomorrow's tasks, I need to rest myself. So, partners, if you don't mind, I'll continue our "turkey shoot" on Acts 15:1-35 within the next day or so. Until then, "Adios mi amigos!"

  87. Gene!
    Looks whose back; Yippee!

    He says it’s a “turkey shoot”; but is it two turkeys or one? I think he’s right about it being singular…maybe more like a target for gun practice. :)

    I’ll have to hand it to you on one thing; you sure are a glutton for punishment, but your comment of over a 1,000 words reminds me of a preacher without preparation taking two hours to say it.

    I will say I like very much your friendly attitude.

    I’d think after lecturing yourself on mixing Gene and my names up, you’d be more careful. But you said,

    “Rex, you say you have refuted my view regarding the inspiration, inerrancy and authority Scripture.”

    See how easy that was to copy paste. If you had done that to my reply it would have been:

    “When Gene got through with you with his excellent comment on ‘inerrancy’…”

    So, most of your reply was made to the wrong guy AGAIN.

    You quote me again by saying,
    “Rex, you say that, unlike Gene, I am not a "fearful man," but an "uneducated" one.”

    If you had copy paste, you would have read:
    “I wouldn’t call you a “fearful man” about Acts 15; I’d call you an ‘uneducated man’.”

    Frank, I’ll say it in stronger words:

    When it comes to your explanations of Acts 15, not only are you not educated, once you have really given time to study this important chapter, you will probably agree some of what you’ve said is on the ridicules side.

    Frank, I hope you’re back to stay.

    I believe Acts 15 is the start of the Big Picture that leads up to the present.

    I believe very much in most of what J.M. Carroll wrote in his Trail of Blood that’s been outlawed by ‘Inerrantists’.

  88. Howdy partners!!! Good to see Frank back.

    Actually, it's Christmas and time for some Peace on Earth!

    We have all pretty much explained the "what" and "why" of our positions. If I could afford to, I would recommend we meet at some central place and exchange presents.

    Both you guys have reasoned through the issue. Our good Baptist right is to agree to disagree.

    One of the most important things discussed in my Theology class under Dr. John Eddins was the idea we all come to any issue with PRESUPPOSITIONS. It is more important to recognize what they are than to continue intellectual battles speaking past one another.

    My presupposition on Inerrancy is that common sense tells me God did not sit the writers down on a rock and dictate each word to them. If they could prove that some might get a free visit to the mental hospistal! I have yet to hear an audible voice coming to me from the heavens dictating what I must do.

    On the other hand, I have had deep thoughts in which I felt God was directing me. In one instance it was to get even with a couple of men in the church who had taken me to task over something silly. I was mad over it.

    In that case, I was sure my way of "setting things right" was "of God." I did it. It was stupid. It only produced worse brokeness--and my goal was to bring peace which was respectful to me as "The Preacher."

    I'm glad Rex understands why I don't think "Inerrant" is a good word to describe the Bible. I am much more happy with "Inspired."

    Going back to my own experience of hearing a wrong spiritual voice directing me----who is to say some of the hatred and vengence stuff from the OT and even Jesus' disciples was not "Inspired" by a wish to be superior---rather than an "Inerrant Dictation" which Jesus, the Christ, would never say his father could say.

    Those who claim an inerrant scripture and their interpretation as infallible are handing me a pile of horse hocky and pretending it is a good grilled steak.

    I don't think so!!!!!!!!!

  89. Frank,




  90. Howdy, Gene and Rex,

    After resting for a couple of days, I will make another brief response to Gene's critique of my view regarding the inspiration, inerrancy and authority of Scripture. And after that, Rex, I will make a further attempt to address your guestions regarding Acts 15:1-35. Though I may not be able to answer every question, I will do my best to address the most important ones. So here we go.

    Gene, I find that we have much in common. Like you, I am not a defender of the "Received Text," or Majority Text. Nor am I among those who are "KJV Only" advocates. Rather, on the basis of my view regarding the origin and preservation of the NT text, coupled with my understanding of the science of textual criticism, I agree that the Nestle and Aland edition of the Greek NT, as a critical and ecclectic text, is superior to the TR. And so like you, both in my study and in my teaching, I prefer using those English translations that are based on this text: NASB, NIV, NLT, TEV and TNIV.

    I assume we would also agree, in principle, that because Scripture is the “inspired” Word of God, not only is it the final rule by which all Christian belief and practice is to be measured, but that it, along with the Spirit’s gifting and calling, is the primary means by which God trains and equips us to be ministers in his kingdom. For surely this is what Paul meant, when he wrote the following words: “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you can trust those who taught you, for from the earliest childhood they have taught you the holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise in the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses the Scripture to prepare and equip his people to do every good work” (2 Tim. 4:14-17, my rendering).

    Yet it is from this point on that our respective views of Scripture begin to diverge. This is because we differ as to the connection between the inspiration, inerrancy, and preservation of the autographa of Scripture, and the trustworthiness and authority of the various English translations, which is founded on their faithfulness to, and in their correctly expressing the meaning of, the extant and recognized copies of these autographa. In my previous comments, I briefly discussed this connection between the autographa, the extant copies, and our translations.

    But instead of rehashing that material, I will sum it up with this quote: “Inspiration is that supernatural influence of the Holy Spirit whereby the sacred writers were divinely supervised in their production of Scripture, being restrained from error and guided in the choice of words they used, consistent with their disparate personalities and stylistic peculiarites...If error had permeated the original prophetic-apostolic verbalization of [God’s] revelation, no essential connection would exist between the recovery of any preferred text and the authentic meaning of God’s revelation” (Cf. Carl F.H. Henry. God, Revelation, and Authority, Vol 2., pg. 14).

  91. For argument’s sake, though, let us say that instead of excellent copies, we actually had the original manuscripts by Luke, Paul and John. If these original manuscripts, after a comparisan with other contemporary historical and religious sources, were demonstrated to be full of factual errors and outright falsehoods, would they still be accepted as the true and sanctifying Word of God? Did not Jesus pray concerning us, “Sanctify them by the truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17, NIV)? Could Jesus have seriously asked that we be sanctified by Scripture, if he believed the Scripture, in any way, failed to tell the truth about who he was and why the Father sent him into the world?

    Later, regarding the apostles and the message he entrusted to them, and which they would ultimately pass on to us in written form, Jesus had prayed, "Now [my disciples] know that everything I have is a gift from you, for I have passed on to them the message you gave me. They accepted it and know that I came from you, and they believe you have sent me..I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message" (John 17:7-8,20, NLT). Now could Jesus have prayed that way if he did not truly believe that, as he himself had earlier declared, the Holy Spirit would not only remind the apostles of all that he had said and done among them, but would also reveal additional truths from their Risen Lord that were to be passed on in written form (cf. John 16:12-15)? I do not believe he could have done so apart from his high view of Scripture. For he did not divorce the inspiration and inerrancy of the Gospel message, in its original written form. Both his teaching and prayer indicate he saw them as inseparable though distinguishable, since the Gospel had his Father, the God of truth, as its origin.

    Lastly, the only other thing I would want to say about the inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture is that it not only does it pertain to the truthfulness and trustworthiness of the contents of the Scripture, but also to the truthfulness and trustworthiness of the interpretative keys that are to be found in the Scriptures themselves. David F. Wells explains as follows: "It is dangerous to assert that God the Holy Spirit inspired the Scriptures, but somehow omitted to give us the key(s) to understand them! Systems of understanding are legitimate and proper only to the extent they arise from the biblical Word and are themselves disciplined by it. No one can legitimately impose a system on the Word...If we do not assert the right of Scripture to stand in authoritative relationship to every presupposition, custom and tradition; every teaching, practice, and ecclesiastical organization, then that authority will be co-opted either by an ecclesiastical magisterium or by a scholarly one" (Cf. The Use of the Bible in Theology, ed. Robert K. Johnston, p. 187). Of course, an example of this would the symbolic visions of Daniel 7 and the interpretative keys given to the prophet by the angel. So would the kingdom parables and the explanation Jesus gives of them in Matthew 13 and Mark 4.

    Well, Gene, there's a lot of food for thought here. And I don't expect an immediate response from you, especially so near to Christmas. However, I hope I have given you a fuller and more satisfactory answer to some of your original questions and objections regarding my view on the inspiration, inerrancy and authority of Scripture. Now I'm going to move on to finish my response to Rex and post that as soon as I am done with it.

  92. Frank--

    I am honored that you would take your time and energy to share your views in such a clear fashion. If only our SBC leadership would be so forthright and kind to those of us who share most of your views, we would still be together!!!

    Remember the Conference on Inerrancy bravely called together in the 80's by the Seminary Presidents: Lolley / Dilday / McCall /etc. Each one of these men had a pastoral heart. Duke McCall was furthest away from Pastor toward Administrator. None of them was stupid. McCall probably enjoyed exercise of executive power the most, but it was not the excess of a Mohler or Patterson.

    From that Conference should have come a mutual understanding that we were more alike than alien in our views of Scripture. I have yet to meet a "Liberal" professor who was past a middle-of-the-theological-road sharer of truth and research at the time he taught. Few of those exist anymore thanks to CR under the pretense of Inerrancy.

    I think I know whereof I speak because I was President of the Emory University BSU the year Altizer did his "God Is Dead" stuff. I saw, first hand, what "Liberal" is all about. In that case it involved thoughts which were not really that radical couched in words undefined ("dead" the main one) which got the front cover of Time Magazine. 1967 was the year and I entered SEBTS that Fall after Altizer in the Spring.

    I percieve in your position a desire to make the Scriptures, themselves an object of worship for their validity. Without that object being perfect, you would probably say all your religious belief falls apart. I prefer to worship the Living God using the Scriptures as my "measuring rod (CANON)." At the same time recognizing them as a witness to their expierience with God in their day and time.

    The transference of the experience of the Bible writers was by word of mouth first. It was subjected to some verbal alteration as no story is ever told exactly in the same way twice. This does not invalidate it. It simply adds a human touch and explains, for example, why the Gospels are not 1:1 replications of each other. There is "truth" in that transmission, but it is not "absolute perfect truth" because man is involved along with his imperfect mind and voice.

    The verse you quoted from Paul stating "all scripture is inspired . . ." is the basis of my preference of "inspired" over "inerrant." Further, the "writings (graphe)" to which he refers are the non-canonical writings, many of them termed "Gnostic Gospels."

    Yesterday, on National Geographic TV there was an excellent presentation of the Gospel of Mary perported to be written by Mary Magdelene. I doubt it would be shown at one of our seminaries today because it hardly follows BF&M 2000. To our loss, it contains valuable information which boadens our understanding of who Mary was and what relationship she had to Jesus---yet we don't want it recognized as a new discovery sheding new light on Jesus!

    Our orthodoxy makes us afraid of anything new which shakes its perfection. In my position of scripture reverence, I welcome the new stuff, measure it in terms of the old stuff serving as my measuring rod, and consider it also in light of how the Holy Spirit guides me in having a balanced and real faith today and into tomorrow.

  93. (cont.)

    Frank, I just noted the time marker on your thoughtful treatise as 3:00 a.m. and I am responding at 6:00 a.m. of this same day. My mind is freshest at the beginning of my day and, for all I know, your day might begin before mine does around 4:00 each day.

    Carl C.F. Henry is quoted by you at the end of treatise 1. He has long been recognized as an outstanding Conservative Biblical Scholar. I agree that I would not say what he says because I do not see it as totally accurate.

    It does not take into account all the variances I cited before and you covered in your exposition. For me, it does not require a perfect dictated text to a perfect scribe from a perfect God and written in a perfect form transmitted down through the years so I can worship and use that perfect "recieved text" to have a perfect orthodox statement of faith with a Bible-----so perfectly big------it can be used to bash out the brains of anyone not believing in the perfection!

    Frankly, I know of no one the Bible claims to be perfect outside of Jesus--who, through faith, we believe to be the Messiah. Although the Bible gives reliable witness to this, the facts of scripture pale in comparison to the joy of salvation when one is willing to turn those facts into a living faith.

    If, today, an original manuscript were found, for example, which clearly stated: "Jesus and Mary Magdelene were lovers and married," it would not destroy my faith. It would simply enlarge my understanding of who Jesus really was and how our orthodoxy covered it over because Paul, for one, had serious sexual hang-ups and fully expected the End of the Age to come in his lifetime.

    Then the Catholic Church turned his words into creed, said Peter was the first Pope (irregardless of how Peter and Paul had to part ways rather than fight all the time), made local priests lord and master of superstitious illiterate masses, raked in millions from each church, and still could not get along with the Greek segment of the Catholic Church.

    When my professors pointed out how Paul's position softened in his older letters, it did not destroy my "perfect orthodox complete" faith--rather it gave me the knowledge that any real faith changes over time. Sometimes our perfect and arrogant theology of youth needs to grow an become more open to that which God is showing us every day.

    I rejoice in getting a "C" on my Bible course at Emory, although I was "preacher's kid mad" at the time. It was on 2nd Isaiah's Suffering Servant--Was He The Christ?" I had used dad's concordances and Pulpit Commentaries--including C.F. Henry's books you quoted--in diligent research. I had "Jesus is the Suffering Servant" nailed down, annotated, all cross-referenced. I could win any debate on that issue with my paper.

  94. (cont.)

    I found my reason for an "average" grade when I read the note from the professor, son of the head of the University's Department of Religion, Dean Reese, which said: "You did an excellent presentation on the first half of the issue. You did NOTHING on the other side of the issue that Jesus might not be the Suffering Servant, therefore you got this grade. Just do better on your next paper! You have great potential."

    That got my attention after the shock of a "C" when I knew I had given the best "A" paper ever--after all I was a life-long Baptist with perfect SS attendance and my daddy had every reference book a great preacher should have! Daddy was no dummy and could debate with the best of them. His belief was that heart and brain both needed to be baptized and dedicated to letting people know--in plain language--who God and Jesus really are.

    To back this truth-telling up you need to know I was fired from 2 large churches of FBC caliber because I kept preaching the Bible, telling the truth in simple terms, convicting church leadership of their own state of sin and social exclusion, and I was not so fearful as to simply tell them what THEY WANTED TO HEAR! My dad had the same experience.

    It proves to me we are often too busy kissing the feet of orthodoxy instead of seeking a living and breathing relationship to God and Christ with the Holy Spirit guiding our daily quest for truth, love, and peace.

    I have found that peace despite severe disappointment with the Southern Baptist demonimation and its ignorant, egotistical, judgmental approach to religion. Too often we are attending a "Glorified Country Club" instead of a fellowship of believers who worship and work together in a "FELLOWSHIP OF FAITH AND LOVE."

    Our growth is in decline. Our giving is to the point 600 IMB missionaries/staff will have to go because we can no longer support them.

    Meanwhile, the heads of agencies are earning 3-figure incomes with perks and benefits doubling what actually shows. Our reasonable HMB headquarters on Spring Street (downtown Atlanta) has been transferred to a mega-million dollar campus in affluent Alpharetta---far removed from the street people of Atlanta / the airport / or anything resembling the poor and outcast Jesus associated with.

    I fail to see how God could be happy with our arrogance and judging and doing what our Baptist founders despised most----having a Creed instead of an Autonomous general agreement on Theology while we sacrificially give to Missions as our prime goal.

    We have drastically changed using Inerrancy as the rally cry. Our humble and dedicated leaders of the past--with a servant attitude--have been replaced with "little kings" at every corner. They would rather fly First Class everywhere and stay in 4-star Hotels than walk with dusty feet among the poor who need the Gospel.

    If you and I truely believe in Autonomy, we will simply be friends with a slightly different view of Scripture. Otherwise, we will be bitter enemies so stuck in our different positions that we cannot appreciate how your view appeals to certain people while mine appeals to others.

    Together we could reach 10,000 when our 2 churches are added up. Otherwise we are leading 5,000 away from the other 5,000 who could and should be helping one another fund missionaries to win the lost we cannot win from our large church facility!

    I think we will be friends!!! I pray we both have a special Christmas filled with love, joy, and peace!

  95. Gene,

    Sorry I haven't got back to you and Rex sooner. One main reason is that, unfortunately, I am among the 10% of unemployed Americans you've heard about on the news, and so a good portion of most of my days is spent in pursuit of good, steady employment. I'm signed up with four temporary services, but have only been able to get sporadic work through them over the last year. And I have also been ill the last couple of days, too. Consequently, I wasn't expecting such a quick and full response from you to my last comment. And you said quite a few good things that I'll have to think about.

    However, while I have a high view of Scripture as a true and reliable revelation of the Triune God and his work of redemption, I do not think of myself as a Bible worshipper. Since I regard it as the inspired, inerrant and authoritative Word of God, I give the highest place to Scripture as the rule of all I believe and do as a Christian. But the Scripture is never to be understood to stand in the place of the Living, Triune God, but only as the means by which the Holy Spirit leads us to know and have fellowship with this God through Jesus Christ, the Word of God, to whom the Scripture testifies.

    If you remember, this is what Jesus himself told the Pharisees whom, I think you and I would agree, came close to being Bibliolators. He said, "You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! Yet you refuse to come to me to receive this life...Yet it isn't I who will accuse you before the Father. Moses will accuse you! Yes, Moses, in whom you put your hopes. If you really believed Moses, you would believe me, because he wrote about me. But since you don't believe what he wrote, how will you believe what I say?" (John 5:39-40, 45-47, NLT)

    So Gene, even here, as regards the true function and purpose of the Scriptures, we are more in agreement than we are in disagreement, I think. However, I owe a further replay to Rex about our differences on Acts 15:1-35, and I will only be able to give a partial reply today. So maybe we can discuss some on the nature and function of Scripture later?

  96. Rex,

    If you've read my last reply to Gene, you'll understand the delay in my getting back to you on Acts 15:1-35. But now I think I’m ready to carry on with our discussion regarding Acts 15:1-3. I may not be able to answer all your questions regarding my interpretation of this passage, but I will do my best to answer the most important ones. Let me begin with a review of the major pericopes, or logically and grammatically connected segments of this passage. Then I will address some of the questions you raised earlier.

    In Acts 15:1-5, the first segment of this passage, we have the story of how certain Judaizers, falsely presenting themselves as emissaries from the Jerusalem church (cf. 15:24), were causing a great disturbance at Antioch. They were teaching that for Gentiles to truly be part of God’s Messianic people, the true Israel of God--in addition to faith in Jesus as Messiah, they had to be circumcised and obey the Mosaic Law. But Barnabas and Paul, having previously confirmed the true position of the Jerusalem leaders regarding the essentials of the Gospel that was to be preached to Jew and Gentile during their earlier famine relief visit (cf. Acts 11:27-12:25; Gal. 2:1-9; and 1 Cor. 15:1-11), immediately entered “into sharp dispute and debate with” these false teachers (Acts 15:2, NIV).

    Here let me briefly point out the "essentials of the Gospel" that Barnabas and Paul shared with the Jerusalem leaders, and which also formed "the traditions" shared by all Christians, whether Jews or Gentiles. These "Gospel essentials" included not only an adequate account of the teachings and miraculous works of the historical Jesus, along with guidelines and principles of Christian conduct, but a firm and consistent testimony to his sacrificial death and victorious resurrection, which confirmed Jesus as the Son of God with full divine power and authority, As Paul himself sums it up, "The Good News was promised long ago by God through his prophets, as written in the Holy Scriptures. It is about his Son, our Lord Jesus Christ: As to his humanity, he was born a descendant of David; as to his divine holiness, he was shown with great power to be the Son of God by being raised from death. Through him God gave me the privilege of being an apostle for the sake of Christ, in order to lead people of all nations to believe and obey [him]" (Rom. 1:2-4, TEV).

    Moreover, these "traditions" also contained an essential outline of early Christian preaching that must be both believed and held fast if believers were to experience full salvation in Christ. Listen again to Paul: "Now brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you firmly hold to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas,and then the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, James, then to all the apostles, and last of all, he appeared to me also...Whether, then, it is I or they, this is what we preach, and this what you believed" (1 Cor. 15:1-11, TNIV). So whatever differences in emphasis Peter had as the Apostle to the Jews, and Paul had as the Apostle to the Gentiles, the heart of the Gospel they both proclaimed was the same: "Repent and be baptized, everyone of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off--for all whom the Lord our God will call" (Acts 2:38-39, TNIV).

  97. Now, as I see it, the major issue that had to be dealt with at the Council of Jerusalem, a vital aspect of our salvation in Christ and for which Paul and Barnabas were then contending,and of which Paul more fully goes on to explain in Gal. 3:26-4:7 and Rom.4:13-17, is that all who are united with Christ and are members of his Body, the Church, are truly and fully coheirs of the promises made with Abraham and his Seed, the Messiah--promises that involve not only redemption, reconciliation and spiritual membership in the Messianic community, but also full equality and partnership as regards their serving and ruling with Messiah in his kingdom--which is on the basis of both their union with Christ and the Spirit's gifting and calling, not on the basis of their race, nation, age or gender.

    "God's promise to give the whole earth to Abraham and his descendants was based not on his obedience to God's law, but on a right relationship with God that comes by faith. If God's promise is only for those who obey the law, then faith is unneccessary and the promise is pointless...So the promise is received by faith. It is given as a free gift. And we are all certain to receive it, whether or not we live according to the law of Moses, if we have faith like Abraham's. For Abraham is the father of all who believe...For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ in baptism have put on Christ, like putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus. And now that you belong to Christ, you are the true children of Abraham. You are his heirs, and God's promise to Abraham belongs to you" (Rom. 4:13-17 and Gal. 3:26-29, NLT).

    So whatever racial, national, social and gender barriers have existed, and were even permitted under the Mosaic Law, which have restricted people in their fellowship with God and in their service of God and his people--in the New Age inaugurated by the coming of the Messiah and his outpouring of the Holy Spirit, these distinctions, in the sense of restrictive barriers, no longer pertain among the New Covenat people of Christ, who walk in the Holy Spirit and live according to Christ's law, even as prophesied by Isaiah in Isa. 42:1-7 and by Joel in Joel 2:28-32.

  98. What we have recorded in Acts 15:1-35 is where, in the early Church, there arises the first conflict between the Gospel as tradition and as the Gospel as revelation. And so now we need to discuss what Paul understood the Gospel as revelation, in distinction from the Gospel as traditon.

    Since I have already mentioned the common view of the Gospel as traditon, shared by both Paul and the Jerusalem leaders, let us consider how the Gospel as revelation was understood by Paul. F.F. Bruce gives this excellent explanation:

    Paul was aware of a sense in which he had not received the gospel by tradition, and a sense in which he had. What, then, was the relation in his mind between the gospel as revelation and the gospel as tradition? The gospel as revelation was what accomplished his conversion. Others had confessed Jesus as the risen Lord before he did, but it was not their testimony that moved him to make that confession his own. Their testimony moved him rather to oppose them with might and main; it was blasphemy in his ears. The one thing that could have convinced Paul that Jesus was indeed the risen Lord was the Damascus-road revelation: the risen Lord appeared to him in person and introduced himself as Jesus. This was henceforth the heart of his gospel: he owed it to no witness on earth but to that of the "revelation of Jesus Christ" (Gal. 1:16).

  99. Wrapped up in that revelation, as Paul proceeded to unpack it, was much that was distinctive of the gospel as he understood it and proclaimed it. His concept of the church as the body of Christ, for example, and of individual Christians as members of that body, may go back to the implication of the risen Lord's complaint: "why do you persecute me?" With this was bound up his understanding of Christian existence "in Christ"--an existence in which social, racial and other barriers within the human family were done away with. Among those barriers none was so important in Paul's eyes as that between Jew and Gentile. If before his conversion, he looked upon it as one that had to be maintained at all costs, after his conversion he devoted himself to demolishing it, doing in practice what had been done in principle by Christ on the cross (Cf. Ephesians 2:14-16). This insight was implicit in his call to preach Christ among the Gentiles, which was contemporaneous with his conversion. As he himself, a Jew by birth, had received new life in Christ through faith, apart from the works of the law, so they, Gentiles by birth, could similarly receive new life in Christ through faith, apart from works of the law, and thus enjoy an equal status in the redeemed community with himself and other believing Jews (Cf. F.F. Bruce. "Paul and the Jerusalem Tradition," Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free, Eerdmans, 1999, p. 87)

    And while Peter and James, as we shall see below, had not only come to agree with Barnabas and Paul that not only both Jew and Gentile were saved by grace through faith in Christ, but also that Jews and Gentiles shared equal status within the Messianic community, the majority of Jewish Christians still thought of Gentiles as "second-class" citizens in God's kingdom. Many still thought of the Messianic community not only as a spiritual remnant among the Jewish nation, but as the core of a "restored national Israel" which would, eventually under Messiah, conquer and rule the Gentile nations. And in most of their minds, if the Gentiles were to become true members of the Messianic community, they had to become Jewish prosyletes first, being required to be circumcised and to obey the Mosaic Law. It was these Jewish Christians apparently who, without any approval by Peter or James, and being scandalized by "Law-free" mission of Barnabas and Paul, secretly supported the mission of the Judaizers to Antioch. This is the "story behind the story" in Acts 15:1-35.

    Well, Rex, that's all I am going to be able to discuss today. I've got some important errands to run, and the snow storm is dumping on us here in Colorado. So, if you don't mind, I get back with you on this on Dec. 26. Adios mi amigo!

  100. Frank,
    Today’s the day you said you would get back with me: “Adios mi amigo!” :)

    So, I thought I’d reply to what you have already written in your last comment to me.

    I’d like for us to agree on the number of Christian Judaisers that were in the Jerusalem Church. I know we’ll never know, but there were enough to be called “sect” (KJ) or “party” (Holman).

    It seems they were influential enough that (Acts 21:20 Holman) “You see, brother, how many thousands of Jews there are who have believed, and they are all zealous for the law.” (Some say “thousands” should be “tens of thousands”.)

    “Zealous for the law” would mean they believed in ‘circumcision’ as Paul was accused of preaching against in (Acts 21:21) and was facing possible stoning by the congregation. (“So what is to be done? They will certainly hear that you’ve come.”)

    You mostly wrote of the background we agree on except for this.

    You wrote: “In Acts 15:1-5 the first segment of this passage, we have the story of how certain Judaisers, FALSELY presenting themselves as emissaries from the Jerusalem church (cf. 15:24), were causing a great disturbance at Antioch.”

    I believe you should have said: ‘Christian Judaisers’ since the word “Judaisers” alone refers to non-believers. Webster- “Judaize: to conform…to the doctrine of the Jews.”

    But you clarified they were Christians by them saying, “in addition to faith in Jesus as Messiah…”, so we agree on that.

    I have a problem with “…falsely presenting themselves as emissaries from the Jerusalem church.”

    I know you refer to James saying, “…some to whom we gave no authorization…”, but like Gene, I don’t believe in ‘inerrancy’.

    I see James not only as a Christian but also as a politician. That means what he says may be from God (truth) and it may only be from man and can be untruth.

    So the question arises, ‘who were these men?’ You reference them being false teachers (Acts 15:2), but where did they come from?

    Acts 15:24 and Galatians 2:12 answers that question. In acts 15:24, James says: “Some…went out from us and troubled you with their words…” and (Galatians 2:12 Holman):

    “For he [Peter] used to eat with the Gentiles before certain men came from James. [Living says “friend of James.”] However, when they came, he withdrew and separated himself, because he feared those from the circumcision party.”

    This Scripture does a lot of filling in between the lines. If these guys were of the circumcision party/sect and they came from James and were his friends how in the world would James NOT be of the same party?

    To add more light on this question is in Acts 21:20 where Paul meets with the leaders of the Jerusalem Church and their pastor. Were they complaining or bragging on how many believers believed in circumcision?

    Frank, in a nutshell, I believe the guys in Acts 15: 2 went back to Jerusalem with confidence they’d be proven right by the strong party of Pharisees and James, but after Peter whipped their ears down (all were silent), James switched the subject of how men were saved to how Gentiles were to be accepted by Christian Jews, and to be politically correct or be on the ‘winning side’ separated himself from his former friends by saying, “…we gave no authorization…” (Acts 15:24)

    As for further proof in the days that went by, the party of the circumcision kept teaching their doctrine to Paul’s small churches by showing their ‘authority’ with “long letters of recommendation” from WHO?

    I can think of no other source other than the Jerusalem Church and its pastor.

    “Are we beginning to be like those false teachers of yours who must tell you all about themselves and bring long letters of recommendation with them?” (2 Corinthians 3:1)

    Looking forward to your comments.

  101. Frank--

    My sympathies over your work situation. As a small business owner I am doing 30% of what I did 3 years ago and the same statistic: 10-40% applies to most of us! We are all starving and this Christmas had nothing but love involved in giving with my wife and our 2 children and 6 grandchildren.

    I try not to get into too much detail with theological words and concepts as they mean very little to the average church member these days. They usually only provide a source of debate over things which will never really be known to any of us 2000 years removed from the original discussions.

    If you will notice, most of the theological debate is more about "who will win the ego battle" than about searching for truth! When it comes to FAITH everyone must make a leap sooner of later. I would rather say, "My faith and common sense land me here" than to debate endlessly over things we will never "KNOW."

    To involve ourselves too much in "knowing" simply turns all of us into Gnostics trying to be superior with "special knowledge" no one else has the privilege of having.

    What we do know is that all the disciples had problems with ego and lust to sit at the right and left of Jesus in God's Kingdom. Because of this his last instructions were that "The kingdom of God is in you!" They still didn't really get it.

    Early after Jesus' ascension people began to follow their favorite disciple to the point Peter cautioned, "Some say 'I am of Paul / Apollos / etc." No matter how many times one declares "I am or Christ" it is still "my interpretation of Christ" which would be a more realistic appraisal.

    Personally, I always try to have an honest view of who Christ was based on the 4 Gospels--and my father's life which reflected Christ more than any other human I have known. Anything after that is looking back and trying to get failing churches and individuals to return to a true spirit of Christ!

    To debate the fine meanings of certains words of a Creed, again, brings man's mind into the picture and his rational powers as well as a constant presence of ego. Too often we all forget that Jesus took a towel and bowl to wash the feet of waring disciples and boiled the law and prophets into "Love the Lord your God and your neighbor as yourself."

    If only the battle for the Bible were more about spreading the Gospel in Christlike humility, I might have some respect for BF&M 2000. Frankly, I DO NOT!!!

    It is a creation of men trying to gain political power to the deficit of mission giving.

  102. Gene,
    Good to hear from you.

    I was beginning to worry a tree had fallen on you.

    I was first in a hospital bed to be named the "Tree Bed".

    I'd fallen from a tree.

    The second guy had a tree fall on him.

    And the third guy hit a tree with a car.

    On Wade’s post of Dec 23, I wrote:

    Wed Dec 23, 02:45:00 AM 2009

  103. Hello, again, everyone. I hope you all had a joyous Christmas celebration with family and friends. I certainly did. But I took most of today to rest from yesterday's activities. And I see Rex and Gene have already posted some more comments which, because of the time, I won't be able to fully respond to today. But I'll make a start.

    Previously, we had discussed the conflict at Antioch between both the Judaizers and Barnabas and Paul in 15:1-3; the "essentials" of the Gospel commonly shared by both Paul and the Jerusalem leadership; the distinction Paul made between the Gospel as tradition and as revelation; and that the contention between the envoys from Antioch with the Judaizers, and on which the Jerusalem leadership had to make a clear and definite pronouncement.

    Then we had pointed out that on the previous famine relief visit that both Barnabas and Paul, along with the Jerusalem leaders, had already agreed that it was the same Gospel of grace that was to be preached to both Jews and Gentiles (cf. Acts 11:27-12:25 with Gal. 2:1-10). So contrary to popular opinion, this contention in Acts 15 regarding the status of the Gentiles in the Messianic community was not simply a matter of "salvation by grace vs. salvation by works." It was more sophisticated than that.

    At the heart of this contention was a) do Gentiles, by faith in Christ and by the regeneration and sanctification of the Spirit, have full and equal membership in the Messianic community, with all the privileges and duties connected with such membership, or must they go through a "judaizing" process first; and b) due to their cultural differences, how is it possible for Jews and Gentiles to fellowship, worship and work together in loving unity and harmony? Unless we understand the story of Acts 15 in this way, we will fail to see its real significance, not only for the preaching and practice of the Early Church, but also for preaching and practice the Modern Church as well.

  104. Hello, again, everyone. I hope you all had a joyous Christmas celebration with family and friends. I certainly did. But I took most of today to rest from yesterday's activities. And I see Rex and Gene have already posted some more comments which, because of the time, I won't be able to fully respond to today. But I'll make a start.

    Previously, we had discussed the conflict at Antioch between both the Judaizers and Barnabas and Paul in 15:1-3; the "essentials" of the Gospel commonly shared by both Paul and the Jerusalem leadership; the distinction Paul made between the Gospel as tradition and as revelation; and that the contention between the envoys from Antioch with the Judaizers, and on which the Jerusalem leadership had to make a clear and definite pronouncement.

    Then we had pointed out that on the previous famine relief visit that both Barnabas and Paul, along with the Jerusalem leaders, had already agreed that it was the same Gospel of grace that was to be preached to both Jews and Gentiles (cf. Acts 11:27-12:25 with Gal. 2:1-10). So contrary to popular opinion, this contention in Acts 15 regarding the status of the Gentiles in the Messianic community was not simply a matter of "salvation by grace vs. salvation by works." It was more sophisticated than that.

    At the heart of this contention was a) do Gentiles, by faith in Christ and by the regeneration and sanctification of the Spirit, have full and equal membership in the Messianic community, with all the privileges and duties connected with such membership, or must they go through a "judaizing" process first; and b) due to their cultural differences, how is it possible for Jews and Gentiles to fellowship, worship and work together in loving unity and harmony? Unless we understand the story of Acts 15 in this way, we will fail to see its real significance, not only for the preaching and practice of the Early Church, but also for preaching and practice the Modern Church as well.

  105. Now in 15:4-5, we saw that Barnabas and Paul, along with the other representatives from Antioch, arrived in Jerusalem, and in an open congregational meeting, started giving a report of the nature and success of their mission among the Gentiles. And it was during this first general assembly of the Jerusalem church, with both leaders and congregation, when the converted Pharisees rose up in protest, demanding "The Gentiles must be circumcised and required to keep the law of Moses" (Acts 15:5, TNIV). And then in 15:6-21, we have the pericope where, following this protest against the Gentile mission by strict Jewish Christians, the Jerusalem apostles and elders, along with the envoys from Antioch led by Barnabas and Paul, "met together resolve this issue," (15:6, NLT).

    During this private meeting, after a long debate, that Peter stood up and testified how in his previous ministry among Cornelius and other Gentiles, that God had already demonstrated that it is was by faith in Christ and by the regenerating and renewing work of the Holy Spirit were not only saved, but also made full and equal members of the Messianic community. "God, who knows the heart, showed he accepted them by giving the Holy Spirit to them, just as he did to us. He did not discriminate between us and them, for he purified their hearts by faith. Now then, why do you try to test God by putting on the neck of Gentiles a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear? No! We believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus that we are saved, just as they are." (Acts 15:8-11, TNIV) And up to this point, Rex, you and I more or less agree.

    However, it is the last half the pericope, vv. 12-21, where we have our major disagreements, one theological and one exegetical. Whereas you see the focus of the debate simply as "salvation by grace vs. salvation by works," I see at the heart of this debate in 49 A.D. regarding the Jew and Gentile in Christ what is at the heart of the debate today that rages over Man and Woman in Christ: "Equally Saved, But Different in Status."

  106. Again, let me remind you, that it was during their previous visit to Jerusalem on a relief mission, that Barnabas and Paul met with the key Jerusalem leaders--James, Peter and John--and both discussed and agreed upon, at least in principle, that it was the Gospel of grace that was to be preached to both Jew and Gentile.

    Paul, in his Letter to the Galatians, which was written after the confrontation with Peter at Antioch but before the Jerusalem Council itself, states regarding this agreement: "Then fourteen years later I went back to Jerusalem again, this time with Barnabas; and Titus came along, too. I went there because God revealed to me that I should go. While I was there I met with those considered to be leaders of the church and shared with them the message I had preaching to the Gentiles...And they supported me and did not even demand that my companion Titus be circumcised, though he was a Gentile...In fact, James, Peter, and John, who were known as pillars of the church, recognized the gift God had given me, and they accepted Barnabas and me as their co-workers. They encouraged us to keep preaching to the Gentiles, while they continued their work with the Jews. Their only suggestion was that we keep on helping the poor, which I have always been eager to do" (Gal. 2:1-3, 9-10, NLT).

    No, the debate was not so much over "salvation by grace vs. salvation by works" as it was over the question, "If both Jew and Gentile are saved by grace and accepted as equals in the Messianic community, do the old lines of discrimination and restriction stay in place?"

    Rex, I think I've addressed what I perceive as our differences regarding the theological focus of the passage. And I know you would like me to discuss our exegetical differences and come to an agreement as to the identity and size of the groups addressed by Peter, Paul and Barnabas, and James in 15:12-21.

    Well,my friend, it's getting late. And I need to get to bed within the next 20 minutes. So I'll have continue our discussion on the exegetical disagreemets in another day, or so. Ciao!

  107. Gene,

    Yes, these are rough times for employers and employees. But thanks for you words of sympathy and support. They are greatly appreciated.

    Because it's late, and I need to go to bed, my comments to you will be short and sweet, I hope.

    Most of the time, I don't like to get into fierce debates with people. I see myself more as a Barnabas, called to teach, instruct, encourage, and build up God's people. However, like Barnabas, I realize that when the truth of the Gospel and the honor of the Lord Jesus Christ are at stake, then that's when I have "to contend for the faith that the Lord has once for all entrusted to us, his people" (Jude 3, TNIV).

    But even when contending for the faith, I try to do so following the advice of Paul in 2 Tim. 2:24-26 and of Peter in 1 Pet. 3:15-1. And I also try to do so, remembering this little dictum, "Truth without love kills; but love without truth is a lie."

    And like you, I have met people who were more concerned about their image and prestige, or about winning the debate, than about defending the truth. But I certainly do not desire to be such a person. I agree with Francis Schaeffer, who said that since truth and people mattered most to God, then truth and people should matter the most to Christians, and nothing else.

    Well, Gene, my friend, the clock says its 11:06 pm. So I'm going to bed and sleep. Good night to you and God bless you.

  108. Frank,
    For all who read the Bible the Living Bible Preface states an all important point:

    “The Bible writers often used idioms and patterns of thought that are hard for us to follow today. Frequently the thought sequence is fast-moving, leaving gaps for the reader to understand and fill in, or the thought jumps ahead or backs up to something said before without clearly stating the antecedent reference. Sometimes the result for us, with our present-day stress on careful sentence construction and sequential logic, is that we are left far behind.”

    I believe “…leaving gaps for the reader to understand and fill in,” is what happened between Acts 15:6 and 15:7.

    What the Bible writer should have said in verse 7 with our present reading logic would be:

    ‘At the assembly with the multitude, Peter gave the private meeting’s conclusion. After long discussion, he stood and addressed them…’

    Frank, your thinking would have the Bible writer leaving a gap between Acts 15:11 and 15:12 which would be something like this:

    ‘After the private meeting, Peter gave his speech again to the multitude and there was no further discussion…”

    One reason I believe the ‘gap’ was between verse 6 & 7 is there is nothing recorded in the Bible that the apostles had said anything as the Christian Judaisers had in demanding circumcision.

    Now, the elders may not have thought exactly as Peter, but that’s beside the point.

    Frank, I believe we need to settle this point before going on to bigger things.

    BTW, I like your friendly attitude.

  109. Gentlemen, I appreciate being missed. Any of you have read my blog know of my daughter's personal problems so I was there.

    As if the economy wasn't bad enough, my old 1990 F-250 diesel truck didn't want to crank in the cold because the block heater would not connect. If you want to loose what little religion you have left, try cranking a diesel in cold weather!!! It will make you say bad words while praying as never before that God will help you!

    Anyway, getting the truck finally cranked cost me a $250 starter, but it got me to my daughter's house. It's innerds obviously melted together from the heat. So what's new in my life over the last 3 years since this Depression--er'--Recession (if you still believe in the "R" word, I have some ocean front property in Arizona to sell you).

    Relative to our subject and who gets to believe in what Scripture / how much / who wrote it / how accurate was he / which on got elected Pope / etc., I heard a commedian the other night describing the Catholic Church and its garb and rituals:

    "Think about it," he said. "Here is a bunch of guys dressed in fancy gowns and wearing pointy hats while they walk around with people bowing and kissing rings and singing chants. Does this seem a little gay to you or what?!?!

    The above to say, "Maybe it is never as simple, clean, intelligent, and worshipful as we really think!!! Maybe, it's just plain wierd and the world is laughing its tail off at our gesturing / posturing / fistfighting over social hierarchy!!!

    I will carefully avoid the "tree bed." At least I have sense enough to go after mine with an 8,000# Bobcat, 23,000# rope, with an elasticized mooring line which was discarded from the USCGC Diligence which docks in Wilmington, NC. If it will hold a Coast Guard Cutter in 7 knot currents of the Cape Fear River, by golly---it will make a tree go where I want it: ON THE GROUND!!!

  110. Since I have been missed and we are having one of the most civil discussions yet on important matters, I'll lay some humor on you relative to this giving season:

    There was a man who worked for the Post Office whose job was to process all the mail that had illegible addresses.

    One day, a letter came addressed in a shaky handwriting to God with no actual address. He thought he should open it to see what it was about.

    The letter read:

    Dear God,

    I am an 83 year old widow, living on a very small pension.

    Yesterday someone stole my purse. It had $100 in it, which was all the money I had until my next pension payment.

    Next Sunday is Christmas, and I had invited two of my friends over for dinner. Without that money, I have nothing to buy food with, have no family to turn to, and you are my only hope. Can you please help me?

    Sincerely, Edna

    The postal worker was touched. He showed the letter to all the other workers. Each one dug into his or her wallet and came up with a few dollars.

    By the time he made the rounds, he had collected $96, which they put into an envelope and sent to the woman.

    The rest of the day, all the workers felt a warm glow thinking of Edna and the dinner she would be able to share with her friends.

    Christmas came and went.

    A few days later, another letter came from the same old lady to God.

    All the workers gathered around while the letter was opened.

    It read:

    Dear God,

    How can I ever thank you enough for what you did for me?

    Because of your gift of love, I was able to fix a glorious dinner for my friends. We had a very nice day and I told my friends of your wonderful gift.

    By the way, there was $4 missing.

    I think it might have been those bastards at the post office.

    Sincerely, Edna

  111. Sirs: an interesting discussion. That translation leans too far to the right. They have created filters, causing them to read into the text a sexual preference that is not there. My address, "The Genius of Orthodoxy: Eldresses" in '85 as chairman of the Historical Committee of the Baptist State Convention of NC was attempted to develop the case Sandy Creek Baptist Church, Shubal Stearns, and Daniel Marshall must have offerd for Eldresses. Since the records burned (both Assn. and church) around 1800, it was not known how they justified such a view while holding to verbal inspiration, inerrancy, and infallibility.So I sought to reconstruct the case. The communications Dept of the BSC use to have video tapes of my address in the visual historical collection). In any case, thereason was the rule of exception as in Matthew Poole's comment on I Tim 2, "I suffer not a woman to teach or usurp authority over the man," this is true (Poole states) except she be a specially called, gifted, and endowed woman such as Huldah, Anna, Phoebe, and etc. Another Puritan said much the same thing, but I only saw his quote once and do not remenber his name and have been unable to locate his writing since. The gender neutral (in modern terms) is very clearly implied as in the case of salvation - so that the term man, whosever, etc., can easily be understood to refer to either male or female. Interestingly enough, a more accurate translatin of I Tim 5:2 would not be aged women but eldresses, if the law of usuage for similar meanings is employed.(The elder of 5:1 should be followed by eldresses in verse 2 as the greek term is the feminine form of elder. Years before (in 1970-71) while writing about the Baptist doctrine of ministerial qualifications in American Social and Intellectual History, I stumbled across the fact that the scientific method was not very scientific, namely, due to being too analytical. Some times the Null Hypothesis as well as the thesis it seemsto deny could be true. Itrequired in such instances a synthetical method that allowed for the recognition of ideas that were apparently contradictory. It is sort of like Dr. Paul Halmos' theory of creative dissonance, Two apparently contradictory ideas are both true though they cannot be reconciled. Both held together produce a tension in the human mind which enables the believer to be flexible, creative, and balanced. This is the secret of orthodxy and of the Great Awakenings. I learnd some of this from mulling over my ordaining pastor, Dr. Ernest R. Campbell, a supralapsarian, hypercalvinist (his words), who was a soul-winner par excellence, pastored many good churches, had many called to the ministry under his preaching, and was so respected by Dr. Robert G. Lee that he put it in his will for Dr. Campbell to preach his funeral. While there were many preachers for Dr. Lee's funeral as Dr. Campbell use to laugh and say, "The only one that was legal was me. He had it in his will that I was to preach his funeral." Dr. Campbell was the founder of the American Race Track Chaplaincy. One of the things I came to respect was that some of the most conservative, bible-believing, orthodox people can be the most liberal. True liberalism (not post modern irrational narrow-minded political correctness) comes out of the Bible believing background. Remember it was Roger Williams and Dr. John Clarke who put religiousliberty into actual law and the United States would follow their example. Washington and Patrick Henry offered a compromise in Va., to make every one the state church. The Presbyterians who had been going along with the Baptists up to that point wanted to accept the offer. The Baptists said no and they had the vote, so Jefferson drew up the religious liberty statue. As the Methodist historian William Warren Sweet of the University of Chicago stated back in the 40s/50s, "to the Baptists belong the credit for religious liberty."

  112. James Willingham,
    You said:
    “Sirs: an interesting discussion. That translation leans too far to the right. They have created filters, causing them to read into the text a sexual preference that is not there.”

    I can understand you saying, “Sirs: an interesting discussion” but everything after that I don't have a clue to what you’re talking about.

    Did you make your comment on the wrong post?

  113. Rex,

    I had hoped to get back with you before the end of 2009. But between Christmas and New Year's Eve, I've been distracted with various holiday activities and errands I couldn't put off. Anyway, now that I have the time, I am going to try to bring our discussion on Acts 15:1-35 to an end. This is because we both have spent quite some time on this subject, and so perhaps we need to move to some other topics of mutual concern. In addition, I must work on some other writing projects, which I temporarily put aside for the sake of our discussion. But now I must work on them and complete them for publication. So if I still don’t answer all your questions on this passage, we may have to discuss it at a later time when it’s more convenient for both of us.

    Since I’ve already addressed what I consider our “theological” differences regarding this text, I now wish to focus on our exegetical differences regarding the second pericope, 15:6-21. We both agree that beginning in v. 6, following the protest made by the Judaizing party in 15:5, the apostles and elders of the Jerusalem church, along with the envoys from Antioch, “met together to resolve this issue” in a private meeting of all the leaders representing both churches. We also agree that, from vv. 7-11, after a long debate, Peter got up and testified that not were both Jews and Gentiles saved by grace through faith in Christ, but also that both were equally regenerated and sanctified by the Holy Spirit. However, I further argued in my previous comment that the point of Peter’s testimony, in support of the mission to Gentiles by Barnabas and Paul, was not only that both churches preached the same Gospel of grace, but both churches must see since both Jew and Gentile are fully and equally accepted by God in Christ, all previous discriminations and restrictions between the two groups, due to race and the Mosaic Law, were now at end in the new Messianic community. And this agrees with Paul’s teaching in Gal. 3:26-4:7.

  114. Now, correct me if I am wrong, but it appears that on the basis of the HCSB translation of 15:12, “Then all multitude became silent…,” you argue as follows: a) The private meeting, that began in 15:6, ends with the conclusion of Peter’s speech in 15:11; and b) that suddenly, without any clear transitional indication, we are in the second general assembly where, before both the congregation and its leaders, Barnabas and Paul testify as to how God confirmed both their message and ministry among the Gentiles, when James suddenly gets up, apparently ignoring all they have said, and then makes a judgment on the mission to the Gentiles on the basis of an OT prophecy which confirmed a private testimony by Peter—a testimony which was private and none of which the congregation heard? Is that indeed how you understand 15:12-21?
    Well, I do have one or two problems with your argument on the basis of the Greek text itself.

    I do appreciate your quoting Tischendorf’s critical text and the Hebrew equivalent in your initial reply. But I think you misunderstood what I meant when I said we needed to resolve this problem by consulting the Gk text. First of all, when proceeded by the definite article, plethos, according to Thayer’s Lexicon, means ” the whole number [present], the assemblage.” Therefore, the TEV translates it as “the whole group,” while the TNIV translates it as "the whole assembly."

    But, in the context, and in accordance with Gk grammar and syntax, the question to be answered is: What previous subject does to plethos refer back to? Well, it is a masculine nominative noun, so its antecedent must be masculine nominative, for when one noun is used as pronoun for another noun, they must agree in case and gender. Since tes ekklesias (“the church, the congregation”) 15:4 and 15:22 is a feminine nominative noun, it cannot be the antecedent to which to plethos refers. However, the compound noun “apostles and elders” in 15:6, has the same case and gender as to plethos. Ergo, the private meeting includes not only Peter’s testimony, but also that of Paul and Barnabas, and also Jame’s judgment and counsel.

    Furthermore, we do not have another reference to both “the apostles and the elders, and the church” together until 15:22, where the second and final general assembly is actually convened. "Then the apostles and elders, with the whole church, decided to choose some of their own men and send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas" (15:22, TNIV). If Luke had meant for us to understand that the private meeting ended in 15:11 and that a second general assembly had started in 15:12, then why did he use the masculine nominative to plethos instead of the feminine nominative tes ekklesias to indicate this? As I have said before, I believe that, under the influence and superintendence of the Holy Spirit, he chose his words wisely and carefully to express what he wanted his readers to know and understand.

  115. Luke meant for us to understand that the private meeting between the envoys from Antioch and the Jerusalem leaders began in 15:6 and ended with the judgment and counsel of James in 15:21. And I believe Luke intended us to understand it was the combination of Peter's testimony, vv,7-11; Barnabas and Paul's account of how God had confirmed his approval of their ministry among the Gentiles, v. 12; and both the advice and judgment given by James on the basis of Scripture, vv.13-21, that brought first the leadership, and then the congregations of both Jerusalem and Antioch to this common understanding:

    Not only did they all agree that both Jew and Gentile were saved by believing the same Gospel; but also to agree that since God, by equally regenerating and sanctifying them by the Spirit, accepts both as equal members of the Messianic community. The restrictive discrimination between Jew and Gentile, though necessary when the Mosaic Law was in force, can no longer be maintained. For under the New Covenant and its Law, ratified by the blood of Christ and internalized in the hearts of Messiah's people by the Holy Spirit, such restrictive discrimination has been done away with (cf. Gal. 3:15-25; 4:21-5:1; Eph, 2:11-22).

    And so one did not have to become a good, Torah observing Jew to become either a Christian, nor, I will affirm again on the basis of Gal. 3:26-4:7 to qualify for leadership and ministry. Both were justified by faith in Christ, sanctified by the Spirit, and made fully and equally heirs of the Abrahamic promises because of their union with Christ, the Seed of Abraham.

    Now that understanding of the Gospel of Christ not only applied to Jews and Gentiles in Paul’s day, but it also applies to men and women in Christ today. And for those who would preach a gospel that reduces women to second class citizens and denies them their full inheritance as heirs of Abraham and heirs of God through their union with Jesus Christ, let them take to heart the warning of Paul in Gal 1:6-9. Amen!

    P.S: Rex, I realize you may still disagree with me on this interpretation of Acts 15:1-35. That is fine. And perhaps, for now, we can agree to remain friends even though we still disagree as to our intepretation of this text. Though I don't think my interpretation is any less biblical or rational than yours. Anyway, since I have other commitments to keep, and must now get on with them, I promise to visit this website more often than I have in the past. Adios mi amigo. Hasta luego!

  116. Gene,
    Have you loaned Frank any money?

    I’ve never liked to fire anyone; so I’ve found if you want them to go away, advance money.

    In the case with Frank, I believe he has made himself an example of his statement “…love without truth is a lie” by failing to return.

    And I believe he’s described himself with his saying: “who is more concerned…about winning the debate, than about defending the truth.” [with him it would be ADMITTING]

    Since it’s been a week since he said, “Well Gene, my friend…I’m going to bed and sleep”, I believe he’s made an escape over the border on that horse of his.


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