Friday, January 28, 2005

A Fantastic New Blog

I'm really impressed with the lineup they've gathered over at The Conservative Philosopher. That's going to become an every day visit for me! Check it out!

Thursday, January 27, 2005

A Good Story Recommendation

Brandon at Siris is posting the text of "The Lotus," which is a short story of his. I was take with it immediately, so I thought I'd link the first installment. I may link the other two whenever he posts them. I highly recommend it.

Monday, January 24, 2005

A Haiku Mourning the Steelers AFC Championship Loss

My Steelers have lost
Cruel gambler's fallacy!
I thought they were due

Friday, January 21, 2005

On The King James Only Controversy

Recently I wrote a review of Dr. James R. White's book The King James Only Controversy for a class at Tri-State Bible College (see "ministry links"). White does a good job of putting the arguments of the King James Only crowd to bed. For those of you not familiar with the movement, the basic idea is that the King James is the true word of God, and some even hold that the translators were inspired so even if they made "mistakes" it was really the Holy Spirit restoring the original text (disclaimer: only a minority of KJV Only folks believe this). I don't know how prevalent this belief is elsewhere, but where I live it has a relatively strong presence, so the book is pertinent. If you want to familiarize yourself with this issue, then I highly recommend this book. My full review for my class follows.

Defending the Word of God is one of the most important tasks a Christian can undertake in today’s world. We are faced with attacks from within and without that purport to give us the “truth about the Bible.” Atheists tell us that the Bible is nothing more than the work of men. Cultists tell us it is good, but we need their literature to interpret it for us. Even some who call themselves Christians hedge on the inerrancy of the word, but I suppose it makes sense that the Bible should be one of Satan’s primary targets. It is, after all, one of God’s most powerful weapons (Eph. 6:17; Heb. 4:12).

This all-important desire to defend the Word of God is, I think, the impetus behind the “King James Only” movement. While the motivation is pure, the movement itself is riddled with logical holes, lacking in Biblical foundation, and its proponents often lack the Christian love we should have for one another.

In his book, The King James Only Controversy: Can You Trust the Modern Translations, Dr. James R. White subjects the KJV Only movement to a withering critique in a thorough, rational, and winsome style. He first writes a short history of Bible translation from Jerome to today. Interestingly, Jerome received criticism from no less than Augustine himself for undertaking a new translation of the Scriptures, though not for the same reasons as the worst parts of the KJV Only movement. Fast forward a few centuries and White shows us that Desiderius Erasmus, the father of the Textus Receptus from which the King James was translated, was heavily criticized for departing from none other than Jerome’s Vulgate. I’m sure Jerome would have understood Erasmus’ frustration.

White then assesses the arguments given by the ‘heavy hitters’ of the KJV Only movement (Peter Ruckman, D.A. Waite, Gail Riplinger, etc.). They assert that modern translations have changed the Bible in order to dilute important theological truths such as the deity of Christ. White points out that their arguments are circular in that they see any departure from the translation of the King James as a deletion (or addition in some rare cases) to the very Word of God. They assume from the outset that the King James Version is the standard by which all translations should be judged, sometimes raising it to inspired status. Peter Ruckman, for instance, advocates throwing out Greek lexicons if they contain definitions different from the King James.

The King James Only Controversy does quite a good job at explaining why certain passages have been translated differently or omitted altogether. White shows that there is no “New Age conspiracy” as Gail Riplinger would have us believe. He also denounces the character assassination of godly men attempted by members of this movement without doing the same to the KJV only crowd, so he is to be applauded for that. Also much appreciated is his concise explanation of Granville Sharp’s Rule, which I had heard referenced but never understood until reading the late chapters of The King James Only Controversy.

As for myself, I fully agree with White’s assessment of the KJV Only controversy. The position is foolish and inconsistent. It unwittingly gives shelter to those critics of Christianity who believe that the only way one can remain a Christian is to completely reject critical thinking. Then the rest of us have to deal with the damage caused. I look forward to the day when it goes the way of “the Vulgate Only controversy.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

On the Inspirational Book Section

Recently I was taking a stroll through a big-name Christian Book store. This is something I rarely do (mainly because I can only stand the presence of books by T.D. Jakes or Juanita Bynum for so long), but I was desperate to find a copy of Nancy Pearcy's Total Truth. I did find Total Truth, and much to my surprise, I found a number of important Christian works on another shelf (collected sermons of Jonathan Edwards, Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis and others). As you can imagine, I was thrilled. I bought five books and made sure to compliment the manager on their new "Christian Classics" section. I hope it grows to more that a couple of chest-high bookcases.

This set me to thinking. I usually buy my books in Borders at the local mall (and had indeed tried to find Total Truth there first). I'm sure many of you have noticed this, but many Christian books are listed in the "inspirational book" section in places like Borders. I've always detested the label "inspirational." What does that even mean? Very often it means "mushy-headed feel good books." I'm sorry, but I flatly refuse to be inspired by any book that has "Chicken Soup" in the title.

There are two terrible possibilities about Christian books in inspirational book sections. One, a more tough minded reader might be prejudiced against a good book when it is placed in that section. I know this is the case with me. I tend dismiss out of hand any book that is jammed in that catch all of a section. The second and more terrifying option is that the aforementioned Christian book may actually belong beside the various "Chicken Soups."

That our books can be funnelled into the same category as "Chicken Soup" is a sure sign that we Christians are not using our "noodles."

ps: Let this post-script serve as an apology for the horrible pun above!