Personal Musing: When good friends move away

People in our life come and go, everything has a time and a season. Sometimes there are times of parting as people go on to their next phase in life. In the past I have had good college friends move on in their life and we still connect or touch base every once and awhile but those relationships are changed, never what they were.  Today, the person who I consider my best friend is moving far away. It is a good thing for him, time to move on, move ahead, and move forward.  Now granted since we have both gotten married we have spent less and less time doing stuff together as we focus on life together, but we were always a phone call away and there was always time to get together as needed. Now he is moving to Oregon, a place a long, long way away. No more getting together to watch a football game or just hang out and talk, that time and season has come to a close. Yet, no matter what the distance he will always be like a brother to me which is interesting because my biological brother lives on the East coast, and he will live now out on the West coast.  

 

The fact is relationships time, people serve their intent and purpose for a season. Some seasons are long, some short.  Some relationships endure but change, others just end. There are many people who have come into my life and left that have no contact with, some cannot even recall their names to look up on Facebook or elsewhere if they were even there. However, that does not diminish at all the value of that relationship.  Some people we let in to the deep stuff others just kept to surface, but the people we come across we touch and they touch us in some manner. 

 

The thing is to be thankful and grateful for the people who come and go and what they give you and you give them.  For each relationship is precious. For those that have been true friends in my life thank you for what you have given me and I have given to you.  So today, a parting as my best friend leaves for Oregon. The question then becomes what is next as move ahead and what the next season brings. The important thing is to stay open and engaged and be willing to move beyond self and connect. For there are blessings for self and others in doing and where God’s love is demonstrated, others are drawn to Him.

Helpful Article: Tim Challies on Inerrancy of Scripture

Recently on Facebook had a minor discussion on the inerrancy of Scripture.  While contemplating putting together a more thoughtful musing on the subject I ran across a reprint of a Tim Challies article on the inerrancy of scripture.  Hope you read it and find it helpful. 

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The Inerrancy of Scripture

by Tim Challies

The Inerrancy of Scripture 

http://www.challies.com/articles/the-inerrancy-of-scripture-part-1

http://www.challies.com/articles/the-inerrancy-of-scripture-part-2

http://www.challies.com/articles/the-inerrancy-of-scripture-part-3

Over the past couple of weeks, inerrancy has become a hot topic in the blogosphere. The interest was ignited, in part at least, by comments made by Michael Spencer (aka Internet Monk and proprietor of Boars Head Tavern). It is difficult to know exactly what Michael believes about inerrancy, and I suspect he is as much in the dark as the rest of us. Whether he dislikes only the term “inerrancy” or the underlying doctrine is difficult to discern, but I suspect both are true, at least to some extent. I had first intended to write this article last week and to make it a direct response to Michael. Family illness and work responsibilities have delayed this article, so that much of the storm has passed. I may direct some comments at Michael, but will largely refrain from writing about him in particular. I feel like a guy who shows up at the party just as everyone else is leaving, but I’ve always been more of a designated driver than a partier, so it may be best this way.

The doctrines regarding the Bible have been discussed and debated at length throughout the history of the church. At the time of the Reformation, the main thrust of the debate had to do with the Bible’s authority, and whether the Bible would be the sole ultimate authority over the lives of Christians over against popes, creeds, councils and the Catholic Church. In more recent days, the doctrine of the Bible’s inerrancy came under intense discussion and scrutiny. In response, several evangelical leaders, including Francis Schaeffer, J.I. Packer, R.C. Sproul, Roger Nicole and James Boice, created an organization called The International Council on Biblical Inerrancy. This organization had as its purpose “elucidating, vindicating and applying the doctrine of biblical inerrancy as an essential element for the authority of Scripture and a necessity for the health of the church of God” (James Boice, Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace, page 68″). Three gatherings were held which produced three scholarly documents, the first of which was “The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy.” The second dealt with principles of biblical interpretation (hermeneutics) and the third with the application of Scripture.

In his book Scripture Alone, James White has a chapter entitled “Definitions: More Than Half The Battle.” He is absolutely right that properly defining terms is often more than half the battle. In reading Michael Spencer’s comments, as well as those of the other contributors to his sites, I quickly found that very few terms received any clear definitions. While a term like “inerrancy” has a consistent theological meaning, this does not indicate that every person who uses the word means the same thing by it, and that the person truly understands it. One of my reasons for not responding on Spencer’s sites was this just this: the terms were not defined so we may well have been comparing proverbial apples and oranges. I will suggest an appropriate definition of inerrancy shortly.

I found also that the issues at stake go far deeper than merely the inerrancy of Scripture. They extended to areas such as the canon of Scripture, the authority of Scripture and the inspiration of Scripture. Perhaps this is because, although inerrancy stands on its own biblical merits, it is also a doctrine constructed from other doctrines. While the Bible contains many passages that prove it true, it is also true that it follows logically from other doctrines of Scripture. So before we can approach inerrancy, I believe we need to step back and examine aspects of these other doctrines.

Authority

When we examine the Bible’s authority, we must begin by answering the question of, “What does the Bible say about itself?”. We find throughout Scripture that the Bible claims for itself a position of unique and supreme authority. In doing so it appeals only to its own authority for proof because there is no greater authority to which it can appeal. After all, if something is the ultimate authority, to what else can it appeal? Were the Bible to appeal to our reason to substantiate its authority, it would implicitly show that human reason is a higher authority. In one of Spencer’s articles I found cause for concern when he expressed one of his main disagreements with inerrancy is that it did not “feel right.” “My problems with inerrancy have been going on for a very long time, and I’ve heard it presented and taught by the best. It’s never sat well with me, probably because I have a lot of literary interest in the text of scripture, plus I don’t like to be bullied. I get a rash.” But as I indicated, the Bible does not appeal to our feelings or our reason for its authority.

We can define the doctrine of Scripture’s authority as follows: “The authority of Scripture means that all the words in Scripture are God’s words in such a way that to disbelieve or disobey any word of Scripture is to disbelieve or disobey God” (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, page 73). I do not know of any Christians who claim that they have the right to disbelieve or disobey what God has taught in Scripture. They may do this in their lives (and we all do, at times) but I do not know of any who believe Scripture gives us such license. This doctrine forms the basis of apologetics, for we can only appeal to the Scripture when we trust its authority.

Inspiration

Closely related to the authority of Scripture is the inspiration of Scripture. Inspiration tells us how the Bible was transmitted from God to men. We find that the Bible draws its authority and inerrancy from the indisputible fact that it is inspired by God. The Bible teaches that “All Scripture is breathed out by God” (2 Timothy 3:16). The words the ESV translated as “breathed out by God” are also translated “inspired” and this is the basis of inspiration. This is explained further by the apostle Peter who writes, “no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Peter 1:20,21). The Holy Spirit was actively involved in bringing God’s words to humans. The actual form this inspiration took is much disputed. We know from reading the Scripture and observing the different styles of writing and differing levels of expertise in writing, that God did not merely use men as automatons. If He had done this, we would expect to find a consistent writing style throughout. Somehow God used the specific skills, backgrounds and situations of the authors to transmit His words. Zechariah 7:12 sheds light on this. “…lest they should hear the law and the words that the Lord of hosts had sent by his Spirit through the former prophets.” We see that the ministry of the Holy Spirit extended to the whole and to the individual parts (…the words that the Lord of hosts…).

What Scripture Says

If it was God who inspired men to write the Bible, what does that teach us about Scripture? Is it possible that Scripture, as it was given from God to men, can be anything less than perfect? Would God lie? Would He write in only half-truths? The Bible tells us otherwise:

2 Samuel 7:28 – “And now, O Lord God, you are God, and your words are true, and you have promised this good thing to your servant.”

Numbers 23:9 – “God is not man, that he should lie,
or a son of man, that he should change his mind.
Has he said, and will he not do it?
Or has he spoken, and will he not fulfill it?”

Psalm 12:6 – The words of the Lord are pure words,
like silver refined in a furnace on the ground,
purified seven times.

Proverbs 30:5 – Every word of God proves true;
he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.

We find a consistent Scriptural witness that God does not lie, for He is incapable of telling falsehood. The men who wrote God’s words, had supreme confidence in the rest of His words. If God is incapable of telling a lie, it stands that the words He spoke to those who wrote the words of Scripture must also be perfectly true. At this point, I trust we have sufficient Scriptural basis to conclude that Scripture is authoritative and that the words given by God to men were without error. But how can we know that the words we have today accurately represent those words?

Canon

Many people do not understand the concept of canon. There seems to be a misconception that when the Bible was compiled as one book made of many different books and letters, people were engaged in gathering together some writings attributed to God and publishing them in one volume, much as one might do with the writings of a favorite poem or playwrite. But this is not how the canon came together. The Bible is more than a “best of” compilation of God’s writings.

The term “canon” originally referred to a stick which was used for measurement. It later came to describe a standard or rule. By extension, it came to describe an authoritative list of something. In the case of Scripture, it speaks of the authoritative list of God’s writings, yet it is more than a mere table of contents. It refers to all the writings that were breathed out by God (2 Timothy 3:16). Thus without the act of inspiration, there could be no canon (James White, Scripture Alone, page 101).

As we have seen, canon refers to the entire body of an author’s work. Allow me to provide an example. If we look at the canon of a man like John Piper, we would say that it includes Desiring God, The Passion of Jesus Christ, Don’t Waste Your Life and so on, from the first book he wrote to the last. The canon of John Piper would only be complete when it included every word he had ever written. But who can infallibly know a person’s canon? In truth, only the author really knows what he or she has written. John Piper may have many books available to us, but who is to say that every word of his has been made available to us? Who is to say that he has not released other books under a pseudonym? Only he infallibly knows his canon. Similarly, it is only God who infallibly knows all He has written. The Scriptural evidence compels us to believe, then, that if we have the complete canon, God helped people find out what it includes. When the Bible was compiled into the book we know and love today, it represented every word God had ever written. So there is a sense in which the primary task of the men who compiled the Bible was to find the complete canon of God. The primary measure they used was whether a book was inspired by God.

This is a topic that could (and perhaps should) be covered at length, but I am not writing today to defend the canonicity of Scripture. As far as I can tell, most people who struggle with inerrancy, do not deny that the canon of Scripture represents God’s words to us.

Transmission

The final topic I will write about today is transmission which describes how the words of God were transmitted from the original documents to what we have today. This is a topic that can only be done justice in a much longer treatment, so allow me to merely point to some of the facts. We posess a wealth of biblical manuscripts in the original languages of Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic. John MacArthur writes, “With this wealth of biblical manuscripts in the original languages and with the disciplined activity of textual critics to establish with almost perfect accuracy the content of the autographs, any errors which have been introduced and/or perpetuated by the thousands of translations over the centuries can be identified and corrected by comparing the translation or copy with the reassembled original. By this providential means, God has made good His promise to preserve the Scriptures. We can rest assured that there are translations available today which indeed are worthy of the title, The Word of God” (John MacArthur, The MacArthur Bible Handbook, page xxii).

And Now…

Having begun to define terms and provide background to the study of inerrancy, I will turn at last to the doctrine tomorrow.

The Inerrancy of Scripture (Part 2)

Yesterday I began a short series on the inerrancy of Scripture. This series is an indirect response to the questions, concerns and doubts about inerrancy raised by Michael Spencer and affirmed by many others at his personal site and at Boars Head Tavern. One of my primary concerns was that there was so much discussion based on so few concrete definitions. When I began to tackle this doctrine, I found that the doctrines of Scripture cannot be neatly seperated, one from the other, for they are intertwined and interrelated. So in the first article I wrote about inspiration, canon, transmission and authority. Today I will turn to inerrancy, first explaining what it is not and then providing a working definition.

What Inerrancy Is Not

I find it is often useful to define what a term does not mean before I learn what it does mean, and I will do that with inerrancy. So let’s look at a few examples of what inerrancy does not entail. I should note that there is no authoritative body to which we can appeal to define what inerrancy means, for it is not a term that is defined in Scripture. Thus I am presenting information consistent with the way it has been defined by scholars who have pursued the study of this doctrine over the past century.

First, inerrancy does not preclude the use of ordinary language. A clear example of this in the Bible is where it speaks of the sun rising. We know that the sun does not rise at all but that the earth rotates to bring the sun into view. However, we can be consistent in our belief in the inerrancy of Scripture despite this type of ordinary, human, geo-centric language.

Another way this happens in the Bible is with the use of numbers. Allow me to provide an example. A few weeks ago a friend was given some tickets to see the Toronto Rock, our local professional lacrosse team. Never having attended such a game before, I had no idea what to expect. I thoroughly enjoyed the sport and was amazed at how many people were there to cheer on the team. At some point there was an official announcement of that evening’s attendance and I made a rough mental note of it. Later, after I got home, my wife asked how many people were at the game and I told her “10,000.” Now the actual number may have been closer to 10,243 or 9,678, but yet I had not told her a lie. My wife was clearly not interested in an exact number, but rather a useful guage to know how many people attend such games.

In the same vein, consider measurements. As many of you know, I live in Toronto, Ontario and my family lives in Atlanta, Georgia. When I make the long drive to visit them, people sometimes ask me how long the journey takes and I tell them it takes me 15 hours. Or they may ask me what the distance is, and I’ll tell them 900 miles. In reality the drive time varies every time we do it based on traffic, weather, the behavior of children and so on, and the distance, according to Mapquest, is 931.96 miles. And while we are clarifying, both my parents and I live in suburbs of our respective cities and I have offered Toronto and Atlanta simply because people generally know the locations of big cities but not smaller towns and suburbs. But have I lied in any of this? Is any of this truly contrary to fact or have I been inerrant in what I have said? Here is the crux of the matter and this is particularly important to our discussion: Inerrancy speaks of truthfulness, not the degree of precision with which events are reported. When I say that I drive 15 hours and 900 miles to get from Toronto to Atlanta, I have not lied. I have been truthful, but not perfectly precise. This is consistent with inerrancy.

Second, inerrancy does not preclude the use of loose and free quotations. Wayne Grudem makes a critical distinction between our culture and the New Testament Greek culture when it came to reporting the words of another person. In our culture we consider it a terrible sin to misquote another person so that precision in quoting a person’s exact words is of tantamount importance. The Greek language, at the time the New Testament was written, had no quotation marks or similar construct. What was considered of utmost importance was to accurately represent the content of what a person said. There was no expectation that a writer needed to transcribe the speaker’s exact words when quoting him. Thus the Bible is inerrant if it accurately and truthfully describes the content of what a speaker said. Whether the actual words Jesus spoke are “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life,” or “I am The Truth, the Way and the Life,” the Bible is still inerrant in how it transcribed these words, for the content remains intact.

Third, the Bible can be inerrant even if it contains unusual grammatical constructions. It is commonly known that there are various writing skills represented in the Scripture. Some authors were stylistically excellent while others were much more rough and common in their style. Sometimes this means the writers did not follow the accepted rules of grammar or used stylistic irregularities. My Greek is not what it once was, but I believe these irregularities show up especially in Revelation. But once more, the issue of inerrancy is not precision but truthfulness.

A Working Definition

Now that we know what we should not expect in inerrancy, let’s attempt to define it. I was surprised to find, as I consulted many books on this issue, that very few clearly and concisely defined inerrancy. Most use the term, as Michael Spencer and others have, without defining it. For example, James Boice, in Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace writes several pages on the topic, but provides no definition. In Scripture Alone, James White refers to the Council on Biblical Inerrancy and the desire of the participants to create a “concise statement on the meaning and importance of inerrancy” (page 68). He turns to and provides commentary on the council’s definition, which may be precise by theological standards, but still extends to 24 articles. Nowhere does he provide a concise definition. Of the few definitions or attempts at definition that I found, Wayne Grudem’s seemed most clear. Here is a solid working definition of inerrancy: “The inerrancy of Scripture means that Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact” (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, page 90). So what we affirm in this definition, is that a perfect God moved human authors, by His Spirit, to perfectly transcribe what He wanted to communicate. It is important to note that this definition does not apply to the transmission of Scripture through the ages and the translation into other languages. We affirm that only the original autographs are inerrant. This definition is based on the clear teaching of Scripture, several passages of which I presented yesterday, as well as the character of God. If God is unable to lie and if he inspired Scripture, it must have been completely consistent with fact at the moment of transcription.

Conclusion

At this point we have defined our terms and indicated what we mean and what we do not mean by inerrancy. Tomorrow, in what I anticipate will be the final installment in this series, we will turn to common objections and to the problems that may arise if this doctrine is denied.

The Inerrancy of Scripture (Part 3)

This is the third and final article in the series on Biblical Inerrancy. Yesterday we defined what inerrancy is not and then attempted to define the term. I suggested the following definition: The inerrancy of Scripture means that Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact. Today we will look at some common objections to this doctrine as well as some problems that may arise if we deny it.

Objections

There are many objections that are commonly raised against inerrancy. For the sake of brevity I will address only the most common objections, and the ones I have encountered in recent discussions on this topic.

We Do Not Have The Original Manuscripts

The first objection has to do with the transmission of Scripture. Many people argue that since we no longer possess any of the original manuscripts, it is irresponsible to speak of inerrancy. What is the purpose in affirming an important doctrine based on documents we no longer have? I answered this, in part, in the first article of this series, when I quoted John MacArthur. “We posess a wealth of biblical manuscripts in the original languages of Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic. John MacArthur writes, “With this wealth of biblical manuscripts in the original languages and with the disciplined activity of textual critics to establish with almost perfect accuracy the content of the autographs, any errors which have been introduced and/or perpetuated by the thousands of translations over the centuries can be identified and corrected by comparing the translation or copy with the reassembled original. By this providential means, God has made good His promise to preserve the Scriptures. We can rest assured that there are translations available today which indeed are worthy of the title, The Word of God” (John MacArthur, The MacArthur Bible Handbook, page xxii). We can be certain that we have accurate copies of over 99% of the inerrant words as they were first transcribed. When we focus on the less than 1% of the text that contains errors, we must realize that these are human errors and that God is in no way responsible for them. The fact that there are some errors in Scripture as we have it today, does not negate inerrancy which speaks only of the original documents.

The Bible is Full of Errors and Contradictions

This is a common objection that has been levelled at the Bible too many times to count. It has been answered just as often. As often as not, this objection is made by people who really have no clear idea of where these errors can be found, as they are merely passing along what they have heard from others. For those who are honestly seeking information on the alleged contradictions, there is a wealth of resources available to prove that there are no errors or contradictions within the text of the Bible.

Many of the alleged errors within the Bible have to do with historical facts. Allow me to provide one example. Only a couple of generations ago, scholars pointed to the Bible’s claim that there was a king of Assyria named Tiglath-Pileser as an obvious error, for archaelogical evidence had not proven that any such king existed. But a few years later, archaeologists excavated Tiglath-Pileser’s capital city and found his name carved into bricks which read, “I, Tiglath-Pileser, king of Assyria…” It is a fact that “the results of sound scholarship have not tended to uncover more and more problems…Rather they have tended to resolve problems and to show that what were once thought to be errors are not errors at all” (James Boice, Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace, page 70). R.C. Sproul writes, “The Christian has nothing to fear from rigorous historical research. Rather, we have everything to gain” (Reason to Believe, page 27).

Consider the following quote from Dr. William Foxwell Albright. “For much too long a time the course of New Testament scholarship has been dictated by theological, quasitheological, and philosophical presupposition. In far too many cases commentaries on New Testament books have neglected such basic requirements as up-to-date historical and philological analysis of the text itself…The result has often been steadfast refusal to take seriously the findings of archeological and linguistic research. We believe that there is less and less excuse for the resulting confusion in this latter half of the twentieth century. Closely allied with these presuppositions is the ever-present fog of existentialism, casting ghostly shadows over an already confused landscape. Existentialism as a method of interpreting the New Testament is based upon a whole series of undemonstrable postulates of Platonic, Neo-Platonic, leftwing scholastic, and relativistic origins. So anti-historical is this approach that it fascinates speculative minds which prefer cliches to factual data, and shifting ideology to empirical research and logical demonstrations” (emphasis mine). The Christian has nothing to fear from scholarship, science or archaeology.

Inerrancy is a Poor Term

Generally people who make this objection believe that inerrancy is too strong a term. They believe that such a word demands a type of scientific precision. And furthermore, they may claim that this term is not used in the Bible and was unknown through much of the history of the church.

To the first objection, I point again to the definition of inerrancy, and that it refers to truthfulness and not precision. The Bible claims to be perfect Truth, but nowhere does it claim to contain perfect precision. As we saw yesterday, the Bible may round numbers, speak in human terms and contain odd grammatical constructions and still be inerrant. In response to the second objection I would point to any number of terms we use that are foreign to Scripture. The word “Trinity” does not appear within the pages of Scripture, yet the doctrine of the Trinity is clearly affirmed in the Bible and the term is very useful in summarizing the doctrines of the persons of the Godhead. The doctrine of inerrancy is taught within the pages of the Bible as clearly as if the word “inerrancy” was used.

Proving Inerrancy is a Circular Argument

The fourth objection is that we can only prove Scripture’s inerrancy by circular argumentation. After all, we say that the Bible is inerrant because the Bible tells us it is inerrant. In Reason to Believe R.C. Sproul addresses circular argumentation in proving the Bible’s infallibility and we can extend this line of reasoning to inerrancy. Consider the following premises and the subsequent conclusion:

  • Premise A–The Bible is a basically reliable and trustworthy document.
  • Premise B–On the basis of this reliable document we have sufficient evidence to believe confidently that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
  • Premise C–Jesus Christ being the Son of God is an inerrant authority.
  • Premise D–Jesus Christ teaches that the Bible is more than generally trustworthy; it is the very Word of God.
  • Premise E–The word, in that it comes from God, is utterly trustworthy because God is utterly trustworthy.
  • Conclusion–On the basis of the inerrant authority of Jesus Christ, the church believes the Bible to be utterly trustworthy; i.e., inerrant.

Where this model of linear reasoning may break down, is that some of what we accept about the Bible we accept by faith. Faith does not render reason invalid, but the Holy Spirit helps us believe in what our sinful, human minds will not accept. Therefore, I do not believe that an unbeliever – one who does not have the Spirit’s help – can accept the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy. But this line of reasoning ought to be sufficient for the believer. I trust that all Christians believe in the first premise, as even most non-Christians, who have made the effort, can see that the Bible is basically reliable and trustworthy. But what the unbeliever cannot do is accept that Jesus is the Son of God and that He is thus an inerrant authority.

Problems With Denying Inerrancy

Having answered some common objections, let’s move on to our final section, which is problems that may arise as a result of denying inerrancy.

First, if we deny inerrancy, we make God a liar. If there are errors in the original manuscripts, that were breathed out by God, one of two things must be true: either God purposely lied or he mistakenly lied. This indicates that God is capable of making errors or of producing errors. We might conclude from this that we are likewise able to intentionally lie, even if only in small matters.

Second, if we deny inerrancy we lose trust in God. If there are errors in Scripture, even if in the smallest detail, and these were placed there intentionally by God, how are we to maintain trust that He did not lie in other matters? When we lose trust in the Scriptures, we lose trust in God Himself and we may consequently lose our desire to be obedient to Him.

Third, if we deny the clear testimony of Scripture that it is inerrant, we make our minds a higher standard of Truth than the Bible. At the outset of this series I indicated a concern I felt towards those who deny inerrancy is when they indicate that the doctrine does not “feel right.” But nowhere does the Bible appeal to our feelings or our reason for its authority or inerrancy. We must submit to the Word, for it will not submit to us.

Fourth, if we deny inerrancy, and indicate that small details are incorrect, we cannot consistently argue that all the doctrine the Bible contains is correct. Admitting error in even the smallest historical detail is the thin edge of the wedge, for we then allow the possibility that there may be error in doctrine as well.

Conclusion

My intent for this series was to do two things. First, I wanted to define inerrancy and seperate it from the other doctrines of Scripture such as authority, inspiration and transmission. While the basic sense of the word “inerrancy” is clear, the theological meaning is not always as lucid. Second, I wanted to answer some objections to inerrancy and show why this is a critical doctrine and why it is important that the church continues to affirm it.

Ultimately, inerrancy is true because perfection is consistent with God’s character and because He has told us it is true. We must be careful with any objections to this doctrine, for if we indicate that we believe there are errors with the original manuscripts, we strike at the very character of God. The Bible is inerrant because it was breathed out by an inerrant God. Because of this we can have full confidence, today and always, that Scripture in the original manuscripts does not affirm anything that is contrary to fact.

Addendum

Before I close this series, I would like to add one brief exhortation: We need to be certain that we do not confuse our issues. In reading ongoing discussions of inerrancy I often found objections to inerrancy based on deeper objections to other issues, and most notably, to young earth creationism. I had to ask myself the question, “Does a belief in inerrancy necessariliy mean that we are forced to believe in a young earth?” I believe that it does not, for I know that many old earth creationists hold a high, inerrant view of Scripture. While I have not researched this issue extensively, and while I affirm my belief in a literal six-day creation, I believe that a case for old earth creation can be built from an inerrant view of Scripture. These differences may owe to hermeneutics or exegesis, but not necessarily from a lowered view of Scripture. Thus we must not confuse the doctrine of inerrancy with other doctrines, allowing ourselves to unfairly do away with one doctrine on the basis of another.


The above is from Tim Challies’ blog. I highly recommend it as he has other good reading and subjects to discuss.

Prayer Request Update: Janie Blake

Well, a couple weeks ago shared the difficult news of Janie Blake retaking up a battle with Cancer. Just wanted to give update of where things are at. After the initial report of the return of cancer cells Janie was giving difficult prognosis. She was informed that she was likely to have “months” to live versus years. It as a pronouncement that was difficult and painful. One filled with grief and despair. My first thoughts came to recalling dogs that my mother has had that have had “short lives” pronounced over them only to live a good long life. Yet, on the other hand there are dogs who did live short lives. The point though is that for each of us, animals or human, it is not up anyone to make “proclamations” over life, as that is in God’s control, ALWAYS.

It is noteworthy that whatever happens with Janie Blake at this point, it is whatever is God’s intent. Janie is not taking any further course of the human generated courses of treatment. Whether the cancers cells grow and consume her life, or turn back on self and implode is in God’s hand. It is one or other. Either Janie will live and serve God in this life or will reach a point of no further suffering and graduate on.

Today, she goes to the doctor, the one making these proclamations and will hear the pain and suffering she will endure of the cancer cells continue to grow and consume. It is a difficult thing to go and hear what suffering may come, what to expect. Yet, ultimately, we all know that whatever is ahead, God is in control. No one else. It is God’s will, not our own. God will make his will clear, in time. All I know that whether life or death is what is to come for Janie Blake, that He who promised is faithful. If ongoing time in this life of suffering is necessary for God to keep His promises, that is what will occur. If God is brought greater glory by His promises being met by her graduation from this life, then this is what will occur. But we can rest in He who promised is faithful. So I ask for prayer that for each person who cares for and knows Janie to be given open eyes and ears to see God’s faithfulness in whatever suffering they encounter. May each encounter be filled with a touch of God’s peace. For ultimately it is not our will, but God’s will that will rule the day. No one can make any proclamation otherwise.

Do you test your own understanding?

This to me is an important question to consider: Do you test your own understanding?  As a Christian and follower of Jesus I believe it is important to constantly examine what I think I understand about God and the Bible.  Now this questioning of ones own understanding is not about the essential matters of doctrine and faith, but rather the thoughts, ideas, practices, and systematic thinking about God and church.  There is a problem that can easily occur in that we can reach a point on a matter where we think “we grasp it.”  In other words being certain that we know fully what God was saying and have made an assessment on the matter and have full confidence in understanding.  Personally it is a temptation for me that once I come to an understanding to consider the matter settled.  Yet, I find God often moves to teach me new aspects or areas of a matter I had not previously grasped.  One example of this for me is the matter of unity as a church.  I have long advocated the need to understand one another and be aware of the fact that we all “got something” wrong in understanding God.  The picture to me has been that of the body of Christ often separating into the different cells of the body rather than working together.  Another picture is that of staying around those that play the same notes and instrument and missing the bigger symphony.  Then God showed me otherwise and awakened my eyes and ears to the depth and level of deception that has infiltrated the church.  There are things that previously passed off as petty and judgmental that truly is identifying significant danger that is serious.  So I find this principle at work, God often will show and lead us in one direction and then when we have engaged in the change and direction he desires, he can show us what we missed or failed to understand.  The thing is our understanding is limited and we inject ourselves and our own thoughts all too often. We also can easily rely on ‘teachers’ who we have respected and can fail to fully examine those who have taught us and impacted us to deeper understanding of God or freedom from something we did not quite understand before.  It is really important to be constantly testing everything, even our own understanding.   The motivation of that examination really needs to come from a desire to understand God and love Him better which in turn also leads to truly loving others.  Anything that comes from any other motive falls short of what God desires regarding our testing everything.  And yes, testing everything even comes down to “testing to see if in the faith. “  In other words, have I truly surrendered myself to Jesus?  Do I accept the words I have received and believe them? There are many other related questions.  So how does one test your own understanding? Start with asking God for wisdom and to reveal that which you think you understand but miss. Also ask for the Holy Spirit to reveal and open your eyes to the ways you have been deceived.  God is faithful and I can verify that He will do just that if willing to surrender you own wisdom and let God show you through His word and even through what others say.  Never be confident or settled that you “got it.”  The disciples did not get it when Jesus was with them.  He had to stay on earth forty days explaining and showing things to the disciples so they did “get it.” And even then, we needed to constant presence of the Holy Spirit to continually show us when we are off on the wrong path.  But we have to surrender and set aside self and be teachable and humble enough to turn and admit error. Remember the Bible does tells us that at our best we can only “know in part.”  So if you feel you have arrived, think you grasped it all and have no inclination to put self-understanding of God to test, you are settling for the incomplete and imperfect.

Musing on Endless Litnanies of Rationalizations for Lack of Intentionality

Sitting here thinking tonight and where I am in various goals and changes in my life.  Started off the year with goal to be more intentional with writing articles for the blog.  Also started being more intentional with spending time in God’s word.  Now with that being said, late last summer and into the fall had engaged in concerted effort to begin making changes to diet and food intake. In the process had managed to lose about 30 pounds. Since the fall and being upset with some things and simply working on own, began to slacken slowly but surly.  Tonight thinking about adding some weight back and the recent increased silence in the blog is the reality of there existing endless litanies of rationalizations.  These actions do require acts of intentionality. It takes intentional effort to change. It takes discipline to stick to diet when rather would surrender to the desires of self.  Now, there are some changes have stuck to such as in general what I have been eating and overall portion sizes.  Yet, the things that are easy for me to let slip in here and there do add up. One extra snack here, one little bit there and soon eating a bit more and gaining weight. I can keep telling myself just a little bit extra today. I am doing okay, it won’t hurt.  It was winter, I am just more hungry than I was, I will  make it up.  These are just sad excuses for giving way to maintaining unhealthy choices. 

The blog silence is another area where making lots of excuses.  “I have too much work to do.”  “I just need to rest.”  “I really need to finish the important article and want to make sure wording just right. ”   These are all rationalizations and excuses.  Here is the thing. When we engage in such rationalizations, self is being put first.  Not only that but lack of the good and healthy is missed.  What person may miss out on reading an article because I simply did not write it sooner.  Did the impact become less because I did not get to it.  There is a need on my part to be more intentional and consistent in direction.  Now one of the rationalizations is that my mind is and has been tracking varied threads of information and ideas so it is easy to get sidetracked from one to another.  It is easy to keep putting things off when you are accountable to your self and God.  This is even true in doing steps of building a psychology practice. I can rationalize and spin things all sorts of different ways, but it comes down to making intentional choices and moving forward in specific directions. 

How about you?  Are there things and ways you are rationalizing or avoiding? Are you walking in less than what God would have of you at the moment? Are there things undone? Are there things unfinished?  Have you slipped back to old patterns from changes you had previously made?   Each  day we need to make a choice.  Even each moment. Are we moving more towards what God is calling us, or do we settle for the comfort and indulge in the unhealthy?  Well, the key is when you recognize slips and lapses to pick up and start over.  One goal at a time.  Tonight and tomorrow and a  new start.  Time to refocus the intentionality. After all, we just celebrated the death and resurrection of Jesus, who gave his life that I may be redeem and free. This perspective is needed, for without that foundation there is no point to any intentionality and the endless litanies and self-deceipt will grow, dominate, and destroy.

Post State of the Union Musings

Tonight the President of the United States gave his State of the Union address. This yearly speech is the one that the President set the legislative goals for the year ahead or uses to set or declare the vision, direction, and agenda for the country in the year  ahead.  Now, the things the President spoke about will please some, anger others.  Certainly those that hold to Judeo-Christian morality will be unhappy with some elements of what the President spoke about.  Personally, it ultimately is irrelevant.

The irrelevancy is not because it will not impact me personally. Certainly it will as this country is where I live and am subject to the laws.  The irrelevancy comes because what matters for me is the state of a different union.  What matters to me is what God is establishing and working in my own life.  What directions is he leading me, am I following his will.  Am I walking fully under His authority.  Do I exercise and walk in adequately the authority of being an ambassador of the Kingdom of God?  What steps do I need to take in the areas God is working in my life? Am I following God’s agenda and in his time or am I off doing my own thing.  Am I sitting passive when I should be active?    For me these matters are far more weighty than the machinations of government and  elements of the power of sword that will be coming ahead. 

Now the questions and reflections are admittedly self-focused.  God does ask us to think and move beyond self.  So there are other questions related to the state of the church as a whole.  The church as a whole, much like this country, is in trouble.  The church is in trouble because of lost focus.  Rather than focus on simply making disciples there get to be other distractions including self-focused Christianity, political enmeshment,  Gospel vacated acts of outreach, and institutional stagnation.  The state of the church is one in need of waking up and remember all that God has revealed and focus on spiritual and eternal matters.  

Now unlike change in this country, changes in the state of relationship with God and in the state of the Church can happen. It involves surrendering to God’s will, walking in faith, and actively pursuing the directions God’s lead in His time.  If you are uncertain of what God is leading, simply pray for wisdom and God will supply, but the answers always involve faith and acting regardless of what is seen.  All in all we need to grow in being aligned and aware with what God is doing with a focus not on the things of this world, but on the eternal matters of God’s Kingdom.

Video Selections: You Gotta Tell Somebody- Don Franscico

This is a video  of  Don Fransico signing his song written from Jairus’s perspective related to looking to have Jesus heal his daughter, instead he raised her from death.  In viewing and listening to the song lots of think about.  Do we limit God?  Does we only praise God when victory is acheived?   How deep is our faith?  Do we truly believe that with God all things are possible?    Do testify to God’s working in our life?   How would you react if you were a mouner? 

Gotta tell Somebody – Don Francisco
     

She kept on getting weaker as day dragged into day
The doctors gave no hope for her; she seemed to fade away
My hours were filled with constant dread; time became a knife
That slowly and relentlessly cut the cord of life

There was a teacher in the region then some of us had heard
That He’d healed the paralytic by the power of just His Word
So with hope again rekindled I went at once to see
If I could find a man named Jesus from a town in Galilee

I began to search the city and soon I saw the crowd
They were pressing in to touch Him and they called His Name out loud
But with the strength of desperation I pushed them all aside
I through myself before Him and from my knees I cried

“Lord, come and heal my daughter, even now she’s close to death
Her fever’s uncontrollable, she fights for every breath
But God’s given You the power; life is Yours to give
If you’ll just lay Your hands on her I know that she will live”
(She will live, she will live)

Well, He’d just begun to go with me when a face I saw with fear
Came towards me with the news I knew I didn’t want to hear
And although I tried to steel myself I trembled when he said
“Why bother the Teacher anymore, your little girl is dead.”

Then Jesus touched my shoulder and He told me not to grieve
The trembling stopped when He looked at me and said, “Only believe”
Then He sent the crowds away except His closest men
And they followed right behind us as we started off again

But we were still a long ways down the road when I heard the sounds and cries
Of the mourners and musicians as they strove to dramatize
My grief they had no business with beneath their loud disguise
My wife just sat there silently and stared through empty eyes

Then Jesus asked the mourners, “Why is it that you weep?
She isn’t dead as you suppose, the child is just asleep.”
It only took a moment for their wails to turn to jeers
“Who does this man think he is? Get him out of here!”

With authority I’ve never heard in the lips of any man
He spoke and every sound rolled out with the thunder of command
And in the sudden silence they all hurried for the door
Wondering what the reasons were they’d ever come there for

Then He called his three disciples that were with Him on the way
He led them and my wife and me to where our daughter lay
He took her by the hand; He told her “Child, arise”
And the words were barely spoken when she opened up her eyes

She rose and walked across the room and stood there at our sides
My wife knelt down and held her close and at last she really cried
And then Jesus told us both to see that our daughter had some food
But as to how her life was saved, not to speak a word…
Not to speak a word…

I got to tell somebody
I got to tell somebody
I got to tell somebody
I got to tell somebody
I got to tell somebody, got to tell somebody, what Jesus did for me
I got to tell somebody, got to tell somebody, what Jesus did for me
I got to tell somebody, got to tell somebody, what Jesus did for me
I got to tell somebody, got to tell somebody, what Jesus did for me