Friday, March 30, 2018

Archaeological Evidence for the New Testament

I am working on a book dealing with archaeological, historical, and prophetic evidence for the Old Testament and the New Testament. The book is intended to be a helpful overview and introduction that can help both skeptics of Scripture see the intellectual evidence for Christianity and help normal Christians without much background in the subject understand the great evidence for God's Word.

A while ago I published on my website a version of the Old Testament evidence:  Archaeological Evidence for the Old Testament as the Word of God.  I have now added a New Testament section: Archaeological Evidence for the New Testament as the Word of God.  The book is not yet completed, but I believe there is enough useful information there to help both skeptics and the people of God.  (Much of the information in it was used in my recent debate with Shabir Ally, which is not yet live, and which went very well by the grace of and blessing of Jehovah, and in answer to the prayers and fasting of the saints.)  I have included a number of helpful and interesting pictures also, and intend to add some more of these.

If you are not sure of answers to questions such as the following, I would recommend the book to you:

1.) What evidence exists that Matthew wrote the Gospel of Matthew?

2.) What evidence exists that Mark wrote the Gospel of Mark?

3.) What evidence exists that Luke wrote the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts?

4.) What evidence exists that John wrote the Gospel of John?

5.) Did one or more of the synoptic Gospel writers copy from the others, as in the modern liberal idea that Mark and "Q" were the sources for Matthew and Luke, or were the synoptic Gospels independent accounts?

6.) Is there any evidence that "Q" ever existed?

7.) When were Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John written?

8.) Was there legendary, evolutionary development in the Gospels?

9.) What is the earliest manuscript evidence for the Gospels?

10.) Is there unmistakable evidence for predictive prophecy in the New Testament?

11.) What are the earliest testimonies to Christ's death and resurrection?

12.) How strong is the historical evidence that Jesus Christ rose from the dead?

13.) Are the New Testament books accurate history?

14.) How does the New Testament compare to other works, such as the Quran or Buddhist writings, that claim to be Divine revelation?

Important features of the book include its Bible-believing Baptist perspective; its acceptance of the testimony of early Christianity on the dates of the Gospels (which, sadly, one can even graduate from a supposedly evangelical or fundamentalist Bible college and be entirely ignorant of); and its acceptance of the testimony of early Christianity on synoptic independence and rejection of liberal theories that many in evangelicalism and now even in fundamentalism are willing to adopt. May it be a blessing.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The Meaning of Fideism, the Preservation of Scripture, and King James Only

When people don't believe in hell, why don't they believe in hell?  Scientific studies don't show hell exists.  There is no empirical evidence for hell.  You can't tunnel somewhere or take a ship somewhere to find it.  I don't know of any expeditions in the works or future digs to find hell.

Hell is eternal torment.  Even annihilation, the belief of some, is preferable.  I think most would say far preferable.  It's so horrible, hell, that the invention of a kind of holding tank for hell, purgatory, was invented as an alternative.  Except scripture doesn't teach annihilation or purgatory.  They might make sense to someone, but they aren't in the Bible.  We believe in hell, what it actually is, because of what the Bible says.  That's all we've got for it.  It's fideistic -- no empirical evidence, against human reasoning, just based on scripture alone.

The hardest things to believe require faith.  You can believe some easy things that don't seem like they are faith.  I believe sin is destructive.  That's not hard.  I can see it.  The Bible teaches it, but it's not hard to believe.  Some you just believe, even though it's hard, and that's how you know you're operating by faith.  I agree that scripture has to teach it, but you believe it anyway.  Someone can be weak in faith and believe all the easiest things to believe.  The hard things to believe are also usually where the faith is attacked the most.

God told Noah to build an ark.  He had never seen it rain.  Everyone in the world was against him.  He just built it and kept building it.  Evangelism is like that for me.  I just keep preaching the gospel.  People are not believing it.  I still talk about it like it's the greatest thing ever.  It's pretty great, maybe the greatest thing ever.  I'm basing it totally on the Bible, not my reasoning and not based upon empirical evidence.

Instead of preaching the gospel today, I see marketing, which is more empirical and makes more sense as a strategy.  It's what happens when someone moves outside of faith, fideism.  Offering small toys or a gift for coming takes almost no faith, but it's where evangelicalism and fundamentalism are at.  I can go to a local evangelical church, bring the ad, and get a free gift (not salvation)!  That's instead of evangelism.  This is what you get when people are not living by faith.  There's evidence that it works.

Everything I believe doesn't have to make sense to me.  I figure it will make more sense at some future date.  For instance, the Trinity doesn't make sense to Jehovah's Witnesses, so they reject it.  As a result, they're lost.  Sad, huh?  How hard is it to believe the Trinity?  It's something that you've got to believe with nothing to see.  Is that fideistic?  In other words, you believe it just because of God's revelation.  There isn't anything historical or archaeological to that.

I claim that the perfect preservation position is fideism.  Mike Harding said, "Fideism is not Faith."  Why not?  Fide is Latin for "faith."  In a way, I don't care if something is fideistic.  I care that it is biblical, because the Bible is the basis of faith, but I do think that reason messes people up on this one.  I'm saying that faith bypasses our lying eyes.  With God there is no shadow of turning.  It's something just dependent on scripture, and you just believe it without something in the nature of total back-up in history and observation.  I'm not saying there's nothing, because I believe there is something always in history, but it's a real test of faith.  Everyone.  Everyone who is truly a Christian practices this sort of faith to hold to a lot of what he believes.  A lot.

Here's what the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy says about "fideism."  I'm not trying to make anything up.
“What indeed has Athens to do with Jerusalem?” (246) This question of the relation between reason—here represented by Athens—and faith—represented by Jerusalem—was posed by the church father Tertullian (c.160–230 CE), and it remains a central preoccupation among contemporary philosophers of religion. 
“Fideism” is the name given to that school of thought—to which Tertullian himself is frequently said to have subscribed—which answers that faith is in some sense independent of, if not outright adversarial toward, reason. In contrast to the more rationalistic tradition of natural theology, with its arguments for the existence of God, fideism holds—or at any rate appears to hold (more on this caveat shortly)—that reason is unnecessary and inappropriate for the exercise and justification of religious belief. The term itself derives from fides, the Latin word for faith, and can be rendered literally as faith-ism. “Fideism” is thus to be understood not as a synonym for “religious belief,” but as denoting a particular philosophical account of faith’s appropriate jurisdiction vis-a-vis that of reason.
If you look at a definition of rationalism.  It seems the opposite of fideism.  Is the right view actually some combination of rationalism and fideism?  I think of a couple of verses that make the point of this post relating to faith.  Romans 4:19-21 and John 20:29. 
19 And being not weak in faith, he considered not his own body now dead, when he was about an hundred years old, neither yet the deadness of Sara's womb: 20 He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; 21 And being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. 
29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed. 
Douglas Groothuis in Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith contends (p. 72),
I will neither presuppose Christianity is true apart from the need for positive evidence (fideism, presuppositionalism or Reformed epistemology) or suppose that by amassing legions of historical facts we can convince someone of Christian truth (evidentialism). Rather, I will offer a variety of arguments that verify or confirm the Christian worldview as superior to its rivals, thus showing that Christianity alone makes the most sense of the things that matter most.
Groothius says fideism is presuppositionalism and Reformed epistemology versus evididentialism.

C. Stephen Evans in Faith Beyond Reason (pp. 17-19) classifies famed presuppositionalist Cornelius Van Til as an irrational fideist.  Then Evans also classifies Alvin Plantinga as a responsible fideist (pp. 41-47).  In a Dictionary of Christian Theology (p. 129), Alan Richardson defined it as “a pejorative term."  Even though I think people should claim fideism in a legitimate way, and it shouldn't be considered poisonous as a label, it is very often weaponized to deligitimize a biblical belief and teaching.

Fideism rests on the self-authentication of scripture.  The Bible bears evidence within itself of its own divine origins.  I've talked a lot about this on this blog (here and here and here).

I'm not saying reason is not involved.  You believe the Bible.  The Bible itself is true.  What God says is true, so you just believe it.  This is the tripping point of the rationalist and those who mock fideism.

In order to discredit fideism, I've read people who have misdefined it or given it their definition for their own purpose, to make it seem like a bad thing.  They do this at great destructive detriment to faith and to the faith.  I read an example that said that the fideism of perfect preservationism is believing that the ark is still frozen on Mount Ararat.  One can believe that, but that doesn't mean it is biblical faith.  I agree with that example, but it isn't what fideism is.  Fideism is the simple idea that we get our faith from God's revelation.  He said it, so we believe it.  That leaves the Bible as final authority for what we believe, which is unlike the critical text crowd.  They do not start with scripture.  They don't even rely on scripture for their position at all.

In a comment at SharperIron, Tyler Robbins told the world that I believe that the very words of God are found in 1598 Beza.  You will not find my having said that in any place in the world.  I've never said that.  It's close to what I believe, but what I do believe is that God's words have been preserved and available for every generation of believers.  1598 Beza, I believe, is very close.  I say that it is essentially Beza, and that should be easy to understand if you look at Scrivener's  annotated Greek New Testament.  He has all the words of all the textus receptus there.

Every word of God was available to every generation of believers before the English King James translation.  They translated from something and all five Beza editions existed before that (1556, 1565, 1582, 1589, and 1598).  Robert Stephanus had four editions before the King James Version (1546, 1549, 1550, and 1551).  My position, like the Westminster divines of the 17th century, is that the original manuscripts of the Bible are not distinct from the copies in possession.  What is an error in one copy is corrected in another.  The words are available.  You don't believe in preservation if you believe there is no settled text and that the text is in ongoing need of restoration.  You don't believe what scripture says about preservation if you believe that.  Scripture is evidence.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Not Believing God Is and Should Be A Problem in Denying Perfect Preservation of Scripture

Among interviews for his book, Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible, Mark Ward said that the arguments from textual criticism were going nowhere in persuading people to stop using the King James Version.  He wanted to make progress, and that wasn't doing it.  So, if the Greek texts that someone used were different, that was totally fine, according to Ward, not really a big deal at all to him.  To him, you would be fine to use a contemporary translation of whichever text you think is best.  He doesn't want to fight about that, because he doesn't think the differences are very great.

I would join Ward in his unhappiness with people mangling the meaning of the Bible with whatever translation they use and if it is because they don't understand the words of the King James Version.  If you have the right words of the Bible, but you don't understand them and teach a different meaning than what they actually mean, that is really, really bad.  I hate it when it is someone reading it and messed up in his understanding and especially when someone preaches something wrong because of his misunderstanding.  I also join Ward in saying that the power of the very words of God are found in their actual meaning.  If you have the right words and the wrong meaning, it is like having the wrong words.  He's right on that.

I would not join a church that used something other than the Hebrew and Greek text behind the King James Version.  However, if I had a choice to attend a church where someone preached something wrong from the King James Version or preached something right from the English Standard Version, I would choose the latter.  Getting it right is more important.  I agree with that, enough that I would be far more chagrined -- by far -- with someone who was massacring the meaning of the King James than someone who was getting the meaning of the English Standard Version exactly right.  I believe the power is in the meaning and in the substance.

Mark Ward is a critical text proponent, which has different words in the text underlying the modern translations than that of the King James Version, up to 7% total difference in the underlying original language words of the New Testament.  He says he doesn't care about those differences and that there isn't enough that matters, because what does matter is the meaning of the words.

I want to focus on Mark Ward's problem as it applies to the doctrine of the preservation of scripture.  I don't care what accurate translation of the Bible one uses, he will find that it teaches the same exact doctrine on the preservation of scripture.  You can find the historical and biblical teaching on the preservation of scripture in whatever Bible you happen to use.  Let's say you were using the English Standard Version to come to your position.  What you would learn from the English Standard Version would stop you from using the English Standard Version.  You would have to believe in the perfect preservation of scripture, knowing that it is an actual doctrine of scripture.  The meaning is so important, just like Mark says.

As a church and an individual believer, I get all of my doctrine from the Bible, not from experience or feelings.  I know I'm depraved because scripture says I'm depraved. In the same way, I know I'm justified because the Bible says I'm justified.  I trust the Bible, which God says pleases Him.   This is called living by faith.

Scripture is inspired, and I know that and believe that because scripture says it's inspired.  God says His Word is inspired.  If I deny inspiration of scripture, I'm denying what God says about His Word.

Then we come to the preservation of scripture.  The historic doctrine of scripture has reflected what scripture says about itself, what it says about its own preservation.  The doctrine of preservation of scripture, like justification in the doctrine of salvation, comes from God's Word, not from experience or feelings.

So God says He preserved every Word and every Word is available to every generation.  If you are saying that God didn't do that, when He said He would, then you are, first, calling Him a liar, and, second, saying that not everything we're reading is inspired by God.  Inspiration applies to words.  If a word isn't inspired, it isn't inspired.  Third, you don't have a Bible without error if the words are changed from what God gave originally.

A lot of what the Bible says, one believes without any proof except the Bible itself is true.  I can't tell if my sins are gone.  I didn't see creation.  I didn't see the flood.  I haven't seen anything the Bible prophesies and it prophesies a lot.  It hasn't happened yet.  You believe the Bible because it is true and it has already been validated as true.  Whatever it says about anything is true.

The authority of scripture relies on its truth.  What it says is true.  If something outside of the Bible can invalidate it, then it isn't true.  This is serious.  For history, Christians believed God inspired and then preserved every word, based upon scripture.  They got their doctrine of preservation from scripture.  For them, that outdoes or trumps anything that occurs outside of scripture or that people feel or experience.  They knew about textual variations of the copies.  That didn't change what they believed.  They wouldn't allow something outside of scripture, whether it seemed like evidence or not, to stop them from believing what God said.  This is conservative theology, where the beliefs come from scripture.

Doctrine doesn't change.  If the Bible ever taught something, then it will continue to teach that.  It can't suddenly start meaning something different.  There can't be a new teaching.  When what it teaches is changed, people become in authority over the Bible, instead of the Bible over people.

It is a problem not to believe what God said He would do.  If He didn't do what He said He would do, then He is lying, and He doesn't lie.  There's more than that.  I want to illustrate.  I've talked to many Muslims through the years.  I've talked to a lot of other religions far more, but the biggest argument of Muslims against Christianity is that our Bible has errors in it.

If you were Mark Ward, you would need to say to that Muslim, you're right Mr. Muslim, the Bible has errors, but it doesn't matter!  We've got the meaning!  If he was a sharp Muslim, which they are by nature more sharp than your average professing Christian, he would bring up the problem I'm talking about.  He says his book is divine, so it doesn't have any errors.  Mark would say, my book is divine too, but it has errors.  Ooops!

There are many people turning from the faith today because they've lost trust in scripture.  I've talked about the story of the famous, atheist textual critic, Bart Ehrman, and what happened to his faith when he became convinced that God didn't preserve His words, like He said He would.  Ward doesn't want to talk about this.  He says it doesn't matter, because the meaning is all that matters.  God didn't inspire a meaning.  I'm not saying Ward believes that, but in a practical way, he does, and it's a kind of neo-orthodox position on the Bible.  Scripture puts the emphasis on words, and Ward against that emphasis, puts it on meaning, because he doesn't believe in preservation of words.

Scripture promises all the words.  I believe we have all of them.  I have no problem talking to the Muslim man.  I know my position is biblical and historical.  There is a big problem for someone like Ward though and everyone else like him.  This is where the faith itself is under attack, the faith which is actually the meaning of scripture.

Friday, March 23, 2018

Evan Roberts & the Welsh Revival of 1904-1905: His Education & "Preaching": Part 2 of 22

The content of this post is now available in the study of:

1.) Evan Roberts

2.) The Welsh Revival of 1904-1905

3.) Jessie Penn-Lewis

on the website. Please click on the people above to view the study.  On the FaithSaves website the PDF files may be easiest to read.


You are also encouraged to learn more about Keswick theology and its errors, as well as the Biblical doctrine of salvation, at the soteriology page at Faithsaves.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Destructive Instinct of Evangelicalism and Now Fundamentalism for and with Celebrity

This is an unrelated post related to the one below, but I wanted to draw attention to it here by Victor David Hansen, titled, Camouflaged Elites.  I wish evangelicals would take into consideration, and now fiundamentalists, as they mime the culture.  They should be leading, but they conform.  Sad.


When I attended a Bible college and seminary in the 1980s, the founder and president incessantly talked about its grads going into "full time service" and touted full time service, full time service, and more full time service.  He may have been wrong on his statistics, but I heard him all the time talking about 90 plus percent going into full time service.  The words "full time service" are not in the Bible.  I would contend that every Christian is in full time service for and to the Lord, but I also get what Dr. Cedarholm, as we called him, B. Myron Cedarholm, was talking about.  He wanted the students in full time Christian service, meaning pastors, missionaries, "evangelists," Christian school teachers, and any other positions like that.

At that time in fundamentalism, at least at Maranatha Baptist Bible College, full time service was normal talk.  I don't remember any celebrity syndrome, at least in the circles I was in.  At Maranatha, we did have a gold medal wrestling coach, Ben Peterson, who was also a Maranatha seminary graduate, married to a Maranatha graduate.  While I was there, Mike Houk, one of our wrestlers, became the first world champion in United States history for Greco-Roman wrestling.  Even though we had celebrities in that sense, these men were not lauded much for those accomplishments.  You might say they were just regular dudes on campus, no different than anyone else for those accomplishments.

At Maranatha at the time, there was no push at all for people to go out into the world and work a "secular job."  That's not what Maranatha was for.  It was to produce full time Christian workers, church workers, and Dr. Cedarholm emphasized that in no uncertain terms.  It was pushed and pushed and pushed.  It wasn't whether you would go into full time service, but where and how you were going to serve.  I don't think that whole idea was proven scripturally ever to me, but it had an influence on all of us who there in that era.  I don't remember, let's call it, "celebrity-ism" being a problem in fundamentalism at that time, unless I was missing something.

Yes, there were celebrity Christians, in the sense of big-named preachers.  You could become a big fish in a small pond, but there were no "worldly" celebrities that anyone pointed up.  In my consideration, as I remember it, I would have been ashamed of myself if I didn't go into full time service.

The reasoning for going Christian and not secular, which is how it hashed itself out, was in no given order: time is short, the laborers are few, eternity is long, God is worth it, people are going to hell, nothing is more important, you only have one life, nothing is better, everything else is temporal, the church is the most important and greatest institution, Christians are different, believers judge importance differently, among many other related reasons.  All of these still apply when you start to decide what you will do with your life.

With everything I just said, in my entire Christian school class of around 40 more or less, only two of us are pastors.  I know of at least one other pastor's wife, I think, and I'm not trying to miss anybody.  I attended Maranatha Baptist Academy in Watertown, WI.

Maranatha had a sports program:  football, basketball, soccer, baseball, volleyball, softball, a little bit of track and field and cross country.  I lettered four years in football and basketball and track and field, the latter at the college wasn't taken seriously.  We didn't have a track or field.  We just ran.  I didn't practice the high jump or long jump.  I just jumped at meets to get more points.  But I remember looking over and seeing Dr. Cedarholm standing on the side of the track alone, watching us run.  No one else was there.  It did make an impression at the time.  Dr. Cedarholm was a bit of a celebrity himself.  He was a giant in the history of fundamentalism, had himself participated in the starting of hundreds of churches, but also graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1940, having lettered in football, track, baseball, tennis, and water polo.  We all knew this about him, but he never ever brought it up.  He would mention sports, but I don't remember him talking about his personal accolades.

Things have changed today, and mostly not for the better, especially related to celebrity.  I think there is evidence for this all over.  I see it with Bob Jones University invitation to Tim Tebow to come to campus there.  In a bigger picture, cultural way, I'm a Tim Tebow fan.  He gets attacked for his faith by the public.  We should defend that aspect of and for him. However, I think it's a blatant, serious error that BJU is inviting him to campus, promoting him in a fundraiser, because of his celebrity.  Sure, they can raise more money, but there are other ways this will cause serious damage, because it sends the wrong message about what is important.  Tebow himself is a compromiser and contrary to the historic values of fundamentalism and by having him, it really doesn't matter if someone compromises like him.

Maranatha now has its celebrities with Nate Oats coaching Buffalo men's basketball and Tom Allen coaching Indiana football.  In and of themselves, there's nothing wrong with having a job in the secular world, and these are high paying jobs, which determines a certain amount of success on their part.  When I was in college, what they've done would have been discouraged for all the reasons I gave above.  Dr. Cedarholm would not have emphasized these accomplishments, because it's not what he wanted.  He wanted full time Christian servants.  You will get more of what you emphasize.  If I was good enough to have "gone on to succeed in the world," Maranatha would have seen that as a sort of failure and would have mourned the loss.  Instead of preaching, he went for the worldly success is how it would have looked and been framed at the time.  I would have agreed.  I still do.

I don't think we should promote worldly success.  I think we should be lifting up mainly those who give up their lives to preach and evangelize.  I don't think we should be pushing our Christian kids in a different direction.   I believe that Jesus had this in mind when He said on various occasions something like, "let the dead bury the dead."  Unbelievers can bury the dead.  Only believers can do the work of the Lord.  We need more Christian workers.  There is more to what I'm saying than just going on to worldly success.  It includes the temptations for these celebrities that are emulated.  How many of them stay pure in their secular roles?

I would assume that Nate Oats or Tom Allen would have benefited from their time at Maranatha.  I'm sure that the biblical teaching still helps them and comes out in what they do.  However, can they really live all of the Bible and remain in those positions?  Should this not be taken into consideration in what they do?

I'm talking about this kind of thing, now probably required to be in this position, but is it true?  As a Christian can you represent the truth as a celebrity?

Scripture doesn't exalt the tentmaking of the Apostle Paul.  When the disciples came back from evangelism in Luke 10 and they talked about the devils being subject to them in Jesus' name, the Lord said, "Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven."  Even certain good things He did not want them to promote.  Paul's celebrity he called, "dung."  Whatever he could glorify in a secular sense, he counted as loss.  None of it was important.

If someone is a hardworking breadwinner, of good character, and a faithful husband and father, celebrity will not come from that.  As churches, we don't want to emphasize what the world sees as popular or important.  In certain instances, we want to rebuke it or repudiate it.  Celebrity should not stop us from doing that, just because we feel the glow from the celebrity or the knowledge of the celebrity.  It adds nothing to the value of Christ, His life and truth, and His institution.

I include in this essay my own son.  He graduated first in his class from a charter school and was accepted at West Point.  He served in the United States embassy in Poland.  He's a Captain in the U. S. Army, who has qualified for special forces at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.  What difference does any of that make if he's not faithful to God?  Is any of that any better than if I reported that he was a local manager at a 7-11 and in his church, evangelizing weekly and living for Jesus Christ?  I don't believe so.  All of his accomplishments should be nothing but a means to an end.  If it gets in the way of his faithfulness to God, it should not be celebrated.  Like I said above, it should be mourned.  If he can't and is not going to use it for God, then it is worthless.  It means nothing.  I see the Army as a potential threat of what is eternal and of true importance.  I tell him that all the time.  He assures me he wants to be used of God.  I will be happy if that is the case.  If I say anything on this blog about what he's doing, it's because I have people read here who know the family and would want to know what's happening.

The instinct in evangelicalism and now fundamentalism toward celebrity is a destructive one.  It won't help.  It could only hurt.  If believers reach celebrity, we should not celebrate the celebrity.  We should rejoice only that their names are written down in heaven.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Masculine Pastors: The Battle They Face and Will Face Even More

The two most common observations I read and hear about manhood today are some kind of (1) tortured masculinity and then (2) decreasing masculinity.  Men are either participating in a type of warped manhood or are more effeminate.  The two are related.

I like writing and talking about tortured or warped manhood, under which is a category I call, "fake manhood," but for now I want to focus on something else I've covered in recent days (herehere, here, and here), effeminacy, and especially as it applies to pastors.  When I was a child, we watched a television series called, The Waltons, which was a church going family in Virginia.  The "Baptist" pastor was soft speaking, appearing, and acting.  Most movie presentations of Jesus make Him the same type of character.  I'm finding that this is now what is expected of a pastor, if he truly is in a modern estimation to manifest the 'virtues of Christ.'  He must take on that pop understanding of Jesus.

I observe and sense myself a major societal push toward a pastor can't be both a real man and a pastor, because many, if not most today, buy into the concept of "toxic masculinity," where real masculinity is seen as unacceptable.  Since I've been a pastor, I've been clued into this for awhile, but I've been reminded of it again and again.  Many times, people pull out an expectation of softness or gentleness, essentially capitulation as a fulfillment of pastoral qualification, to fit my office.

At 55 years of age, I no longer participate in competitive sports.  When I did, if, as a pastor, I competed hard, like a man, some took offense to that kind of intensity, and would suggest this wasn't fitting of the office. Should the activity or manner of a pastor be conformed to others' perception of what they think he should be?

Manly talk manifests characteristics of manhood:  strength, confidence, and tenacity.  My experience with the men of my generation and older is that as a whole they speak in a different way than younger generations of men, the same for pastors.  In general they lack the before ascribed qualities.

In addition, the old way of talking as a man is now not tolerated, especially by the younger generation.  They don't want the kind of talk that comes from older men.  When the younger generation wants to say whatever it wants to say, it expects capitulation from the older.  The younger may term the older, "thinskinned."  What I often hear from the younger generation is what my generation calls a "smart mouth," which has a definition:  "an ability or tendency to make impertinent retorts; impudence."  My generation didn't tolerate a smart mouth.  Today it is expected.

Today many of a softer generation would see the strength of a former to be an instinct to authoritarianism.  Every generation sees some tendency to authoritarian leadership.  Today talking with a command voice and speaking with authority is confused for authoritarianism.  Authoritarians do both, but being a leader necessitates authority, which also requires both command voice and authoritative manner.

I understand that there are verses that taken apart from the rest of scripture might seem to portray a softer view of a church leader.  Two come to mind.
2 Timothy 2:24 And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, 
Proverbs 15:1 A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.
"Be gentle" and "soft answer" are popular requirements for pastors from people who want gentleness and softness.  I'm not rejecting those two verses.  I'm saying they've got to be taken into the context of much more required of the other kind of speech or style for men.

A lot of places in both the Old and New Testaments remind me of what a younger generation doesn't want to hear.  There are so many of them from the Lord Jesus and the Apostle Paul.  The latter, writing about the false teachers among the Galatians, said in Galatians 5:12, "I would they were even cut off which trouble you."  Concerning those who said that circumcision should be added to grace, Paul would that they would be mutilated, in essence a botched circumcision to paint the picture.

The Apostle Paul informed Titus (2:15) to "speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee."  As much as Titus might receive opposition for teaching what Paul wrote in Titus 2, today it might be worse.  We need men who will rebuke, like Paul did when he withstood Peter to the face, with all authority.  Then, how does a pastor obey the command, "let no man despise thee"?  People go ahead and despise, so what do you do about that?  You either don't allow it, if possible, and then stand up to it.  That's the kind of strength of manhood that we need from leaders in churches that we are getting so seldom today, in part because of a challenge against manhood in this culture.

Friday, March 16, 2018

Kethiv / Qere and King James Only (KJVO) or Perfect Preservation

Sometimes anti-perfect preservationists, opponents of the perfectly preserved Word in the Hebrew and Greek Textus Receptus, argue that the presence of the kethiv / qere in the Hebrew Old Testament proves that Scripture has not been perfectly preserved.  While this is not the easiest issue to address for someone who does not know Hebrew, the Christian who accepts God's promises of preservation (Psalm 12:6-7; Isaiah 59:21; Matthew 28:19-20; Revelation 22:18-19, etc.) should have an answer to people who attempt to cast doubt on God's promises to keep His Words from the presence of the kethiv / qere.

In the Hebrew text, the kethiv / qere are notes indicating that a given word is written (kethiv) one way but is to be read (qere) a different way. Anti-preservationists typically assert that the kethiv / qere are textual variants, similar to the footnotes in a NA27 or UBS5 Greek NT.  The vast majority of the time this is simply assumed, not proven.  However, anti-preservationists must justify this assumption. Why is there always only one qere / kethiv pair if the qere is a textual variant?  Were there never, ever multiple variants?

Anti-preservationists must also prove that the traditional Jewish view of the kethiv / qere is incorrect (see my essay Evidences for the Inspiration of the Hebrew Vowel Points for sources):

The Talmud clearly speaks of the Kethiv/Qere distinction and other textual distinctions considered Masoretic, and traces them to Moses at Sinai.

Said R. Isaac, “The correct text of Scripture deriving from the scribes, the embellishments of the letters derived from the scribes, the words that are read in the text not as they are spelled out, the words that are spelled out but not read—all represent law revealed by God to Moses at Sinai.”

“The correct text of Scripture deriving from the scribes”:  These are the words in Hebrew for land, heaven, Egypt [where the tone vowels are lengthened, but nothing in the lettering indicates this change].

Up until quite recently the Kethiv/Qere were “by all writers, allowed to be, at the least, nearly as old as the Times of Ezra;  and by many of the ancient Jewish Writers they are taken to be as old, as the Text, to which they belong” (pg. 286, Whitfield, A Dissertation on the Hebrew Vowel-Points).

Note as well that a variety of explanations can be made by for the kethiv / qere by advocates of perfect preservation other than (alleged) corruption in the Hebrew text by following the standard harmonizing practice of old Jewish interpreters such as Kimchi, to explain the existence of both readings.  For example, Whitfield explains the three instances in Psalm 71:20  of the same kethiv / qere by writing:  “I cannot think it probable, three Mistakes of the same kind could, any how happen in the Compass of one Verse.  Supposing the points as ancient as we are endeavouring to prove them, I believe this Diversity in this, and some other places, betwixt the reading by the Letters and by the points, was originally designed by the Holy Penman, perhaps to shew that the Import of the place might be applied to himself as a single Person, or to the Community whereof he was the Head” (pg. 198, A Dissertation on the Hebrew Vowel-Points).

There are "things hard to be understood" in the kethiv / qere, and no one explanation (including the modern anti-preservation one) easily explains all the data.  I believe a perfect preservationist would do well to take seriously the traditional Jewish view that both readings were present from the time Moses gave the law at Sinai, although I think it is also possible that (under inspiration, as for the book of Ezra itself, etc.) Ezra could have put at least some of them in because, perhaps, of pronunciation changes over time.  After all, Ezra is about 1,000 years after Moses and pronunciation can change in 1,000 years very, very easily.  Why could not (for example) the kethiv / qere ("to him," English) in Job 13:15 have represented a way to convey the idea of "to him" in Hebrew in the time in which Job (as I believe) penned the book of Job (the kethiv) but by the times of Ezra the qere have represented the way to convey this same idea, and so both accurately be represented in the KJV translation?

Jews and Christians have been aware of the kethiv / qere in the Hebrew Old Testament for millennia without adopting the modern notion that their presence indicates a failure on God's part to preserve His Words or the presence of corruption in the text.  There is no need whatsoever to abandon traditional explanations for their presence and reject the plain meaning of texts on verbal, plenary preservation because of their presence.

Please see my essays The Battle Over the Inspiration of the Hebrew Vowel Points and Evidences for the Inspiration of the Hebrew Vowel Points for more information.  (Note: material in these essays, especially the second one, can get technical and difficult to follow unless one knows Hebrew.)

Sunday, March 11, 2018

Why Should Men Protect or Defend Women If They Aren't or Can't Be In Charge of Women?

I want to protect and defend women, but I can't when they don't do what I tell them to do (and I'm not talking about something in disobedience to scripture).  If I have to protect my daughters, and I tell one of them not to go somewhere, that means they shouldn't go where I tell them not to go.  You can't have it both ways.  If we live in an egalitarian society, women don't need men's protection -- they can protect themselves.  If they can't protect themselves, then that's not egalitarian.  The truth is, women need men's protection.  Egalitarianism itself has resulted in the abuse of women.  It's only natural that this has occurred and is occurring.

The secular state would have you believe that women are equal with men; they just haven't caught up in their evolution.  It's nothing that has ever been proven.  It's a theory that can be and has been proven wrong, however.  It isn't happening.  If someone invades the United States, our country wouldn't and couldn't win with an egalitarian military, unless the invaders agreed to do the same.  For sure, Russia wouldn't do that.

I can argue the position of this post from scripture.  That's easy.  I'm saying it's true even without scripture.  I know women want protection.  That's easy to see.  They don't want to be told what to do, and we can see that all over, including in churches.

The contradiction about which I'm writing here is obvious to anyone, so why do men abdicate headship?  That's more complicated.  The Bible has the answer to that too, right at the beginning, but the answer is also very natural.  From a certain perspective, it doesn't make any sense that men would give up their authority to women, when they are stronger and more dominant than women.  I'm sure some men ask themselves on a regular basis why they do that.

Not in any order, first, men don't want the conflict required to take charge.  Women use means to make life difficult for a man who takes charge and protects.  Some of you men reading this post know of your experience of kneeling in the mud attempting to fix something in the yard, laying in the tight place under the sink to fix plumbing, and multiple other hard tasks.  You do those all the time.  When you're done, you don't want to go into the house and fight with your wife, because she wants her way.  You just give in because it's hard.  You shouldn't, but you do.

Second, many men prefer being liked by women to being their head and protector.  This is the situation that we in society today with the conflict between truth and kindness.  It's not kind to tell the truth.  A transgender wants the right pronoun, and you can't tell the truth.  It's against the law in some parts of the world now.  Men won't get the treatment they want if they act like a man, so they succumb to the wives.  Today they then justify their soft behavior by explaining that they are not authoritarian and they are choosing to respect their wives. 

Men have fooled themselves into thinking that they receive their authority with the consent of women.  No, they've been given their authority from God.  They look to their wives permission to be a man.  Women put on the pressure -- silent treatment, emotional fits, the cold shoulder -- and men abdicate.

When women get their way as I've described above, they think they are getting something, but what they lose, even by any way of reasoning, is much more.  Men are disrespected and they don't treat their women with respect.  The sons don't see a future as a man.  They have no role, so they are without position and aim.  Women have sons.  What do they say to their sons?  What role are these boys to take?

Women lose the strength of manhood they need.  They know it.  Men step back and stand back, waiting for women to lead.  Men don't take the initiative to lead.  They want sex, which isn't manhood, but it's what they are left with.  Men manipulate women like women do men.  Women want men by nature, but can't have them without sex.  Men lack the conviction of headship and protection.  They expect sex without commitment.  What's the use of being a man?  What's the reward of it?  Why would being a man be worth it with today's women?

I could draw a direct line to the high school mass murder in the Florida high school among all the other mass murders by young men.  These young men are without purpose or direction.  They don't have leadership, because there is little to nothing to tell them.  They don't know what to do.  They pursue a type of fake manhood.  The option is to control them either by imprisoning them or drugging them.

Part of the attraction for men for men and women for women is a lesser degree of men wanting women and women wanting men.  It even explains the drop in sperm volume today in the American male.  There is less masculinity today.  Men are choosing to be women and even reward effeminate men for being women.  I know I would be a more attractive pastor if I was more sensitive and softer.  I know that.

The rise of homosexuality also traces, I believe, to the role reversal or elimination, depending on the perspective.  Women take women in place of men and men take men in place of women.  The interchangeability allows for interchangeability.  Women take women and men take men.  They have their reasons.  None of it is right, but it's an obvious fallout.

I'm not blaming the above on women.  Men could change it.  My own position is that they won't without the gospel, but they do need to change it.  There can't be any compromise. You can't take this position and believe that's it's permissible to have women in the military.  Women can't share the engineering positions with men.  They can't be the CEO in charge of America's company, working themselves up the power triangle.

Men need to take charge again. They shouldn't be celebrating the diversity, the glass window being broken, yearning for the first female president.  None of this is good.  It's not good for men or women.

If women are going to be in charge, then they should jump into the hole in the ground to repair underground sewage.  When the large electrical line goes down because of a tree falling, call out the women.  I don't want them to, but I'm also going to be in charge if I'm expected to do all these grunge jobs.  I want to jump in that hole, but I'm not going to jump in for women who don't want my authority.

You could say that women can't have it both ways.  It's true in one sense, because they might want it both ways, but they'll never have it both ways.  They want authority and protection, but they won't have the latter without recanting the former.

Friday, March 09, 2018

Evan Roberts & the Welsh Revival of 1904-1905: His conversion (?): Part 1 of 22

The content of this post is now available in the study of:

1.) Evan Roberts

2.) The Welsh Revival of 1904-1905

3.) Jessie Penn-Lewis

on the website. Please click on the people above to view the study.  On the FaithSaves website the PDF files may be easiest to read.


You are also encouraged to learn more about Keswick theology and its errors, as well as the Biblical doctrine of salvation, at the soteriology page at Faithsaves.

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

The Epistle to the Galatians and Evangelicalism or New Evangelicalism: Slaves or Sons

Paul parks on a very helpful metaphor in his epistle to the Galatians to deal with the problems with the churches there, the slave and the son.  The characteristic distinction between the slave and the son does not above all deal with content or the standard.  Both slave and son have the same requirements of them.  The slave does them because he has a schoolmaster, tutor, or governor over him, making him do it.  The son does them because he wants to do them, out of love.  The slave can't do them.  The son can do them with the differentiation of faith.

The slave and the son are the same person in Galatians.  The Master and the Father are also the same Person.  It's a matter of perspective.  Slavery isn't a goal.  It's a means to an end, and parents can understand.  You want a child who believes in what the parents are telling him, so that he'll do it on his own.  He'll do it out of love because he believes.

The son has a change in nature.  The theology of it is that he is a son because of the work of the Holy Spirit in his life, so that he now has the nature of a son, instead of a slave.  He can keep the requirements now and he wants to keep them now too.  If you don't see him keeping the requirements, you can question his sonship.  He can't or won't fulfill them on his own.

Evangelicalism and new evangelicalism have as a whole spotlighted the content or the standard, which isn't the issue in Galatians.  Those who focus on the standard do so because they either want to add or take away from the standard, which occurs in one of two ways in Galatians.  However, both are fixating on the standard.

The corruption of Galatians, where the standard is the focus, occurs one of two ways.  The two ways could be reduced to just one.  The false teachers added either circumcision, dietary restrictions, or calendar.  Those three were not even requirements any more and this is where the two ways dovetail.  The other way is not keeping requirements, which is turning liberty into license.  Why circumcision, dietary restrictions, and the calendar?  These were things you could do as a slave, they weren't hard to practice.  You could easily conform to those standards.

Once you were circumcised, nothing was required, which would have been the occurrence for every Jewish male.  If you were female, no requirement there.  Dietary restrictions were how you grew up eating, if you were a Jew -- that was only hard for a Gentile, who wasn't accustomed to it.  The days were also just how you lived.  What was impossible was fruit of the Spirit and abstaining from works of the flesh.  Those were impossible as a slave.

When you reduce righteousness to the keeping of a few requirements, then you are all set to opt out of other requirements.  Love doesn't drop requirements.  It does them with a different perspective.  It does even more than if it was just a requirement.  The son, differing from the slave, keeps all of the requirements because he wants to do them, but it is even more.  He's got a great attitude while he does it, because he can, due to his new nature, and because he really wants to please His Father.

Galatians is a reminder of the story of the prodigal son, because slave and son are both part of the story.  As an unbeliever, a son feels like a slave.  When he chooses sonship, he wants the slavery.  Paul said he was a bondslave, which is a slave, who wants to be a slave.  You get to be one, because you want to be one.  And you can perform as a slave, because you are really a son, with the nature of a son.  Ironic for the prodigal before he returned as a son was that he was a slave in the hog lot of this world, forced into a slave relationship to sin.

Galatians isn't make room for the lasciviousness of evangelicalism and new evangelicalism.  It isn't changing the requirements for Christianity, but empowering or allowing the performance, proceeding from faith in Christ and out of love for Him.

Monday, March 05, 2018

Point of 2 John: Truth the Boundary of Acceptance

The Lord Jesus Christ came in due time, the Pax Romana, koine Greek, and Roman roads. Christianity grew, spread by evangelists, who were welcomed into homes of fellowshiping churches. Following upon true preachers came false ones, posing as true to take advantage of the generosity of church families, including ladies like the one addressed in 2 John.  Hospitality was essential for the furtherance of the gospel.

With repeated mention and magnified emphasis on hospitality came warning.  You couldn't accept just anyone into your home.  False teachers would come along too and required necessary screening.  Truth was the boundary of acceptance.  This was the pattern set by Jesus and then followed by John the Apostle himself in his second epistle.

We love one another.  Hospitality was necessary, but it wasn't love if it wasn't compatible with the truth.  Love itself by definition is walking according to the Lord's commandments.  John rejoiced that the children of the lady addressed in 2 John were walking in the truth.  Hospitality is important, but not at the expense of truth.  Truth is the boundary of acceptance.

Men arrived impersonating true evangelists, looking for a place to stay and then preach.  They were not to be accommodated.  At that time, deceivers were getting around and saying that Jesus Christ was not come in the flesh.  This would be a typical false doctrine at that time in the Roman world.  We can read about something similar that damaged the Corinthians into a denial of bodily resurrection (cf. 1 Cor 15).

Hospitality was a first century form of missions support.  Evangelists weren't getting bank checks, but they were taking lodging and food from church people.  Hospitality was good, but it was horrendous if it was subsidizing damning doctrine. Truth prevails over love.  Love without truth isn't love.  Hospitality without truth causes harm.

John moves to a specific example from a general principle.  No error, no lie should be accepted.  Love isn't walking in selected commandments.  Characteristic of a true preacher is that he preaches the truth.  Truth is a larger category than fundamentals or just the gospel.  John loved in the truth, not in some truths or essential truths.  If you want to preserve the truth, you can't let any truth go by the wayside.  You shouldn't allow any lie to be taught and preachers of any lies should not be given opportunities to tell their lies.

Friday, March 02, 2018

Help the Homeless: Buy Them Drugs, Alcohol, and Tobacco?

Especially in large cities, substantial numbers of homeless people are found.  The Bible makes statements such as: "As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith" (Galatians 6:10).  We are, therefore, to do good to the homeless.  We also have texts such as: "He that hath pity upon the poor lendeth unto the LORD; and that which he hath given will he pay him again" (Proverbs 19:17); "Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away" (Matthew 5:42), and others.  On the basis of these texts, many Christians believe that they should give money to the homeless. But what if, at the very least in the United States, giving money to homeless people who are begging actually does them harm instead of good? What if, while it might make the person giving the money feel good, it actually does not help the homeless person?

Recently at my workplace, where I am part of the Public Safety department, we had a training session on outreach to the homeless.  We deal with homeless people regularly and have had a number of training sessions on how to work with them.  This last session was led by the assistant district attorney for our city, someone who does a lot with the homeless in our area to help them get off the street.  Near the end of the session we had time for questions, and I asked the attorney whether she thought that money given to the homeless was used for an illicit substance such as drugs or alcohol c. 90% of the time.  Her response was eye-opening--my 90% figure was too low.  She said that money given to the homeless is used for drugs, alcohol, or tobacco c. 100% of the time.  

Image result for homeless people drugs
Most homeless people are not as honest as this.
She pointed out that homeless people in the United States do not lack resources for food, shelter, and other basic needs.  In our area, there is a homeless outreach team that helps connect the homeless with appropriate resources.  She asked when it was that we saw a homeless person who was clearly starving (ribs showing, emaciated, etc.).  I have not seen homeless people like this (in the United States--in a third-world country things can be different--but even there evangelizing and planting churches so people can be born again, or, if one wants to deal only with the physical, giving Kiva loans or things of that sort, is better than random amounts of money to people begging). Why no actual starvation among the homeless?  They have numbers of options to get food.  Their food is provided for, even if they do not work for it or lift a finger for it, despite the Biblical statement: "if any would not work, neither should he eat" (2 Thessalonians 3:10).

When a homeless person asks you for money and says he needs a sandwich or food, you can be nearly 100% sure that he is lying, and that he will use the money for what private charities or the government are not going to provide--drugs, alcohol, and tobacco--that is, the things that got a huge percentage of the homeless on the streets in the first place.

So, when you give a homeless person money, you are almost surely buying him heroin, cocaine, LSD, beer, pot, cigarettes, whisky, etc.  Do you think that you can buy him those things for the glory of God?  Do you think that buying him those things does him good and shows him compassion?  Do you think you should be funding the drug trade, helping to create more corpses from overdoses, murders by cartels, and other horrible wickedness?

Image result for dont't give homeless money donate to charity helps more

It is not a sufficient response to say "I am giving him the money and he is responsible before God for what he does with it."  Yes, he is responsible before God, but why do you get to be a fool here and deceive yourself about what is happening?  If--God forbid--your son was lying to you and was buying drugs with money you gave him, would you keep buying him drugs and believing his lies?  Would that be loving him?  Should you not love the homeless person as yourself, and not fund his drug habit and drunkenness, and both harm him physically and contribute to his eternal damnation as a drunkard and a drug abuser (1 Corinthians 6:9-10; Revelation 21:8, Greek pharmakeia includes drug abuse)?

So what should you do instead of giving him money?

What I do is keep the address and phone number of the city rescue mission that preaches the gospel on my phone.  If you have more than one option, you can pick the most conservative option that is available.  You can then tell the homeless person where this place is and how to get there, telling him he will have both his physical and spiritual needs met there.  You can also preach the gospel to him.  You can give him a ride to church, while being wise as serpents and harmless as doves in doing so.  You could help him find a job--if he wants one.  Find out what resources are available to help the homeless in your area--if there is a particular number they can call to get connected with people that can help with the drug abuse, housing, food, etc., you can give him that number and direct him to these resources.  By giving him the gospel and pointing him to a rescue mission, while refusing to give him money, you are showing him much more love than if you give him money.

Image result for dont't give homeless money donate to charity helps more
Do not give money to the homeless.  You are buying them drugs, alcohol, and tobacco.  You are not loving them, but hating them, when you give them money.  Instead, preach the gospel to them, the gospel that can deliver them from their sin when they repent and trust in Jesus Christ, and point them to as conservative a rescue mission as there is in your area.  That is showing the homeless true love.

If you do not like the facts I mentioned in this post, you can, if you want, say that I wrote it because I have no compassion and just want to keep my spare change.  You can attack me and keep giving the homeless money.  If that is what you do, though, be fully aware that you are buying them drugs and other wicked things, and what you are doing is about making you feel good--it is not about helping them.