Friday, April 08, 2022

Posts are now only going to be at the new What is Truth? site

 I am no longer planning to post my new posts here. Please visit, the new What is Truth? site, to read my Friday posts from now on.  Thank you.

Hey everyone, this is Kent Brandenburg.  I'm not posting here anymore either.  This will be available to use, but nothing new is coming here.  It's all at the new site, which really isn't new anymore.  

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Symbols and Identity

My wife and I worked hard for several months on various things without much of a break and we could get away for a day or so.  Utah is a beautiful state.  Little did Brigham Young know, when he said, "This is the place," that it meant five national parks, two of which are thirty minutes apart, Arches and Canyonlands.  They both deserve national park status.

Arches especially means hiking, because you've got to hike to see the greatest scenes.  They laid these out with well done trails.  My wife and I walked miles, people passing us, we passing people, people walking along side of us, and crowds of people together with us looking at amazing views.

I want to take this moment to announce a trigger warning.  Trigger warning to women.  I'm preparing to talk about women wearing skirts or dresses.  In all of those hours, besides my wife, I never saw another skirt.  Not a single other woman in the entire time we were at those two national parks did I see a woman in a skirt or a dress.

I did see many women in skin tight leggings or pants.  Loose ones too.  The temperatures were cool, so there weren't so many shorts, but there were even some of those worn only by women, none by men.

A big occurrence this Sunday night before my wife and I left on our trip was the Academy Awards in Hollywood.  My phone notified me that Will Smith punched Chris Rock.  It came with an unedited video.

The comedian Chris Rock, who apparently hosted the show, added an ad lib joke about Smith's wife, Jada, an actress sitting with Will Smith, who suffers from a hair loss disease.  She's essentially bald, and Rock sarcastically joked about her upcoming appearance in G. I. Jane, making fun of her hairless state.  Some might call this joke, tasteless, because it made fun of a woman's medical condition over which she has no control.  In other words, it's not funny to joke about that, or it shouldn't be.  It's off limits.

Whether you think it was right for Smith to walk to slap Rock onstage in what some might think a chivalrous manner, it's an issue of women's hair length.  Someone in Hollywood slapped someone else for making fun of a woman's hair length.  Being called a "G. I. Jane" was insulting.  None of this means anything if hair length on a woman isn't a symbol of identity, like a skirt or dress is a symbol of identity.

The Bible mentions visible symbols as they relate to identity.  People know they matter.  It's why you see a transgender "woman," biological male, wearing a dress.  The dress is a symbol, as is hair.  "Look at me, I'm a woman."

The girl, who wants to be a boy or thinks of herself as a boy, wants to get rid of her breasts.  Or she prevents them with hormone blockers.  The boy, who wants to be a girl or thinks of himself as a girl, wants those breasts.  Breasts are symbols, even if they don't function except as a symbol.  The Bible treats any kind of reversal of these symbols as an abomination and against nature.  It's also the view held by professing Christians through their entire history until very recently, and one never rescinded by God.

The symbols that speak of identity are not arbitrary symbols.  They aren't a social construct.  They are the "laws of nature and nature's God" of the Declaration of Independence.  Writing about this in 1762, Abraham Williams of Boston said:

The law of nature (or those rules of behavior which the Nature God has given men, . . . fit and necessary to the welfare of mankind) is the law and will of the God of nature, which all men are obliged to obey. . . . The law of nature, which is the Constitution of the God of nature, is universally obliging. It varies not with men's humors or interests, but is immutable as the relations of things.

Rebellion against the laws of nature is rebellion against God in a fundamental or root manner.  The person violating these laws involves himself in a personal offense against the nature of God.  In many of these instances, especially the ones I'm describing, they become an abomination to Him.  You can deny that, but you'll still face God.

Our world reacts to symbols.  The Swastika.  The Hammer and Sickle.  The Gay Flag.  Men wearing skirts.  The symbols mark identity in an elemental way.

The downfall on identity began first with the abdication and then the repudiation of symbols.  Identity confusion and chaos starts with renouncing the symbols.  If you think they're meaningless, then why do they trigger such strong reactions?

Sunday, March 27, 2022

John MacArthur: A Conservative Evangelical Preaches on Separation

A sermon popped up in the notifications on my phone late last week and it said, "Come Out from Their Midst and Be Ye Separate (2 Corinthians 6:14-18)" by John MacArthur.  Apparently it was something preached earlier in March at his Shepherd's Conference, but only posted three days before.  I was very surprised to see the text and especially the title with the word "separate" in it.
In the introduction of his sermon, MacArthur was, what I would characterize as, apologetic to the audience for preaching on "separation," as if merely using the word could trigger them.  He said that he had been thinking about preaching this sermon for a year.   It's always possible and a rare exception, but evangelicals don't preach or write on separation, even though its taught in almost every book of the Bible.  I will comment on MacArthur's sermon, but what caused or motivated him to preach on separation at the Shepherd's Conference?

What got MacArthur's attention was at least two things.  The underlying problem was the corruption of the gospel by means of the social gospel.  MacArthur explained his concern.  When the social gospel came on the scene in the 1920s, it ruined churches and Christian institutions through its perversion of the gospel.  Later, he said, in the 1960s evangelicalism rejected liberation theology, another name or form of the social gospel.  Now evangelicalism is not repudiating social justice, which is a later iteration or relabeling of liberation theology and the social gospel.

MacArthur said that evangelicalism has accepted social justice because of pragmatism.  Between the 1960s and now, pragmatism took over evangelicalism.  Evangelicals embraced social justice for perceived success and to ward away the alienation of the world.  I understand what he's saying, because I've witnessed this personally close-up in recent days.

A second aspect, spoken by MacArthur is the ensuing destruction wrought in evangelicalism.  It divided friends.  It devastated churches in institutions.  He mentioned the Southern Baptist Convention as an example.

I could not help but think of the pragmatism of John MacArthur.  His supporters and other evangelicals laugh at this.  The social justice proponents will scorn MacArthur and MacArthur and his advocates do the same with separatists.  I'm not going to explain again all the ways that MacArthur compromised and compromises with the world to keep his audience.

MacArthur called the Jesus' movement of Lonnie Frisbee a true revival.  The immodest dress, worldly music, worldly entertainment, and lack of ecclesiastical separation all mark pragmatism.  Relying on naturalistic, rationalistic secular, unbelieving textual criticism to modify the Bible fits within the description of an unequal yoke in the very context of 2 Corinthians 6:14-18.

I shared the youtube of MacArthur's sermon, because from a sheer exegetical standpoint, he gives the passage a good treatment.  He used the outline of past, present, and future.  The past looked at Old Testament revelation of separation and how Israel lost because it didn't obey God's command to separate.  The present looked at the first half of the text and the future the eschatological hope for separatists.  The world has no future, so why yoke with such a sinking failure.  For what he said, I didn't disagree with MacArthur's interpretation.

In the end, MacArthur said nothing about applying 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:1 (read A Pure Church).  Sure, it teaches separation.  He got that right.  How does a church practice that passage?  What does it require?  He said nothing.  This itself is a form of pragmatism.  That isn't good preaching either.

Why do evangelicals ignore ecclesiastical separation?  Besides the pragmatism, they do it because of their wrong view of the church.  Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 12:25 "that there should be no schism in the body."  If the true church is all believers, like MacArthur teaches, how can the church separate?  It would disobey 1 Corinthians 12:25.  With the massive amount of teaching on separation in the Bible, it's practice is ignored to keep unity between all believers.  The only true view of the church must harmonize what scripture teaches on unity and separation.

The teaching and preaching of MacArthur will not preserve the gospel.  Evangelicals will need to do more than preach a sermon on separation.  They need to repent for not separating and then begin applying those passages on separation, unlike what MacArthur has done or does.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

In the Long Prayer of Jesus to His Father in John 17, Has "Of The World" Become Meaningless?

The model prayer of Matthew 6 and Luke 11, Jesus didn't pray.  He was teaching His disciples how to pray.  Certain few times the New Testament records that He spoke to His Father, He didn't ask for anything.  He prays for one thing in John 12:28, "Father, glorify thy name."

On the cross in Luke 23:34, Jesus prays, "Father, forgive them."  He prayed three times in the Garden of Gethsemane in Matthew 26, two of which He requested essentially the same thing, and the third time it says he prayed the same thing as the first two.  In verse 39, He prayed, "Not as I wilt, but as thou wilt," regarding His suffering and death, and then in verse 42, "Thy will be done," which was about the same thing.

We know Jesus prayed other times, but those passages don't tell us what He prayed.  John 17 most represents what Jesus prays, because it contains more that He prayed than all the other places combined.  I will focus on one point of His requests in the chapter, which were not many, but of all of those prayers, He uses the words, "of the world," seven times.
Jesus never, per se, prays that believers will not be "of the world."  Not in those exact words.  However, He is asking the Father that in a practical way they will not be of the world.  Let me explain.  John 17:14-16 say (underline mine):

14 I have given them thy word; and the world hath hated them, because they are not of the world, even as I am not of the world. 15 I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil. 16 They are not of the world, even as I am not of the world.

Verses 14 and 16 say something similar that lead into the prayer requests of Jesus in John 17:17-20.

17 Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth. 18 As thou hast sent me into the world, even so have I also sent them into the world. 19 And for their sakes I sanctify myself, that they also might be sanctified through the truth. 20 Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word.

The Lord Jesus Christ has sent His own into the world, which not only includes His disciples at that time, but all of them into the future (v. 20).  Since they are not "of the world," even as Jesus was not "of the world," He prayed that the Father would sanctify them through the truth.  The prayer is that believers would live out in a practical way who they were by nature.  That would occur by sanctification through the Word of God.
Let me further elaborate.  They would be in the world, but since they were not "of the world," Jesus wanted it to continue that way.  Not being "of the world" directly relates to sanctification.  They would need sanctification through the truth to keep them "not of the world" even as Jesus was "not of the world" (v. 14).  By nature they were "not of the world" (v. 16), but sanctification would be required for them to stay "not of the world" in a practical way or manner.
Of all that Jesus could have or may have prayed, He associated a big chunk of it with "not of the world."  It seems that the Apostle Paul understood this when he wrote a crucial command of sanctification in Romans 12:2, "Be not conformed to this world."  It seems that the Apostle John comprehended it, because he wrote in 1 John 2:15-17:

15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world. 17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

Two verses later, he connected these verses with this (v. 19):

They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us: but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not all of us.

"Of the world" and "of us" seem to be a contrast with the other.  If they were not "of us," based on those previous verses, it seems that they "loved the world" and were "of the world" instead.
John says that "the lust of the flesh," "the lust of the eyes," and "the pride of life" are "of the world."  This will enter into the right understanding of worldliness.  In Titus 2:15, Paul says that the grace of God teaches us to deny "worldly lusts."
It also seems for sure that Peter understood what Jesus prayed, when he later wrote in 2 Peter 2:20:

For if after they have escaped the pollutions of the world through the knowledge of the Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, they are again entangled therein, and overcome, the latter end is worse with them than the beginning.

This parallels also with what Peter wrote in 1 Peter 1:14, "As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts."
Much more could be said about the phrase, "of the world," since it is found in the New Testament many times.  Many related phrases also occur with the "the world" in them, that add to this overall teaching.  However, a believer being in a practical way "not of the world" was a prayer of Jesus in John 17, when coupled with His prayer for sanctification.
Since Jesus did not want true believers to be "of the world," should we not assume that we can know what "of the world" actually means?  Since Jesus prayed for this, should we also not surmise that Satan would want believers to be "of the world," especially since John 12:31, 14:30, and 16:11 say he is the "prince of this world."  In John 17:15, when Jesus prays that the Father would "keep them from the evil," this would relate to Satan, as likely Jesus was praying, "keep them from the evil one."  This is how the adjective, used as a noun with the preposition (ek, "from"), might imply the noun, such as "evil thing," "evil person," or "evil business."
What is it to be "of the world"?  If someone is not to be "of the world," then he needs to know what "of the world" is?  Can he know?  I am contending that "of the world" has become meaningless in evangelicalism and much of fundamentalism.  People know the words, but they do not give an interpretation or an application of these words.  "Not of the world" is not some arbitrary concept.  It means something.
The adverb "worldly" can represent the prepositional phrase "of the world."  If someone is not worldly, then he is not of the world.  What is worldliness?  When is someone worldly?  It's nearly impossible for an evangelical or most fundamentalists to be worldly anymore, because they've made it meaningless.
For someone not to be worldly, which Jesus prays for all true believers, he will not think worldly, act worldly, wear worldly dress or have a worldly appearance, listen to or play worldly music, or love worldly things.  For all of that to occur, worldliness must have meaningIt does have meaning.
To love the world (1 Jn 2:15) is not the same thing as loving chocolate cake or donuts.  It is to love the world system, which results in conforming to the spirit of the age (Rom 12:2).  Those who conform to the spirit of the age love the world.  They are of the world.
A vast majority of churches today are worldly.  That means they are not "of God."  They are "of the world."  Because of a particular view of the grace of God, they think they are saved.  It is not the grace of God.  It is the grace of God having been turned into lasciviousness (Jude 1:4).
With worldliness having no meaning, churches can be worldly and it doesn't matter to them.  Professing believers can be worldly and it means little to nothing.  By staying worldly, churches keep their worldly people.  Since they don't preach against worldliness or at least explain what it means, the people most often don't know anything is wrong.  They don't even know that worldliness clashes with being a Christian.  If they stood and preached against worldliness, they would shrink to almost nothing.

Sunday, March 20, 2022

How Even Apparently Conservative Evangelicals Justify Disobedience to Scripture as a Deconstruction

Today churches have gone "woke."  Many accept critical race theory and same sex relations.   Before contemplating those extremes, we might consider something short of that and what leads to it.

A man I know well pastors in the same city as a conservative evangelical does, and the two discussed separation.  The conservative evangelical church accepts membership of many and widely varied doctrinal and practical positions.   Everyone is worldly also to sundry degrees, many very much so.

The conservative evangelical graduated from Masters Seminary and in general follows their way of thinking and operation.  In a conversation, the man who I know well mentioned to the conservative evangelical 1 Timothy 1:3:

As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine.

Paul besought Timothy to charge the pastors at Ephesus that they "teach no other doctrine."  That's very clear.  "Teach no other doctrine" is one Greek word, heterodidaskaleo.  This matches up with what Paul also said in 1 Timothy 6:3-5:

If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to wholesome words, even the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness . . . . from such withdraw thyself.

Here's what the conservative evangelical, who went to Masters Seminary, said:  "We teach that "doctrine" there [in 1 Timothy 1:3] is [or means] 'the gospel.'"

This is the kind of dealing with scripture or teaching that justifies disobedience to scripture.  Is "doctrine" "the gospel" in 1 Timothy 1:3 and in 1 Timothy 6:3-5 among other verses of scripture?  Of course not.  Still, that's how conservative evangelicals will go ahead and understand "doctrine."  "Doctrine" refers only to "the gospel" in that passage.

Calling "doctrine" "the gospel" is a type of deconstruction.  Rather than a verse asserting absolute truth, a person assigns a meaning that he conceives at that moment in time.  In Is There Meaning in this Text?  Kevin J. Vanhoozer writes (pp. 21-22) about the deconstruction of the postmodernist Derrida, the one most associated with it:

The belief that one has reached the single correct Meaning (or God, or “Truth”) provides a wonderful excuse for damning those with whom one disagrees as either “fools” or “heretics.” . . . Neither Priests, who supposedly speak for God, nor Philosophers, who supposedly speak for Reason, should be trusted; this “logocentric” claim to speak from a privileged perspective (e.g., Reason, the Word of God) is a bluff that must be called, or better, “deconstructed.”

A teacher or preacher may dismantle Christianity by deconstructing the language.  Christianity is based upon language, the language of the Bible.  Rather than say you don't believe the Bible, you can just deny a "single correct meaning."

Deconstructing the biblical text allows and even instructs men not to believe and obey the Bible.  They not only disobey, but they disobey while thinking they're obeying, because of the deconstruction of the language of scripture.  A church can grow in numbers from the welcome of plenteous and diverse disobedience, while still labeling it obedience.

Friday, March 18, 2022

Charles Darwin on Evidence for Design in Creation

 Do you know what Darwin said about evidence for design in creation? Find out in my latest post here.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Editions of the King James Version and the Criticism of Not Updating It

I'm sure someone has made this argument, even though I haven't heard it.  Someone might call the five previous editions of the King James Version an argument for another update.  Four editions followed the original 1611.  Why no sixth edition?  Why did we stop at 1769, the date of the last edition, what is called the Blayney Edition?

Benjamin Blayney, English Hebraist, updated the King James Version.  Dot Wordsworth in The Spectator wrote (based on his reading of Gordon Campbell’s Bible: The Story of the King James Version:
Dr Blayney made thousands of changes to the text of 1611. In vocabulary he incorporated amendments from another version from 1743, for example, fourscore changed to eightieth, neesed to sneezed, and the archaic crudled to curdled. In grammar he changed, among other things, number, so that ‘the names of other gods’ became ‘the name of other gods’; and tenses, so ‘he calleth unto him the twelve and began’ changed to ‘he called unto him the twelve, and began’. There were changes in spelling, in punctuation, and in the choice of words to italicise (which had been intended to indicate words not literally present in the original languages).
A highly documented paragraph in the Wikipedia entry on the King James Version says the following:
By the mid-18th century the wide variation in the various modernized printed texts of the Authorized Version, combined with the notorious accumulation of misprints, had reached the proportion of a scandal, and the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge both sought to produce an updated standard text. First of the two was the Cambridge edition of 1760, the culmination of 20 years' work by Francis Sawyer Parris, who died in May of that year. This 1760 edition was reprinted without change in 1762 and in John Baskerville's fine folio edition of 1763.  This was effectively superseded by the 1769 Oxford edition, edited by Benjamin Blayney, though with comparatively few changes from Parris's edition; but which became the Oxford standard text, and is reproduced almost unchanged in most current printings. Parris and Blayney sought consistently to remove those elements of the 1611 and subsequent editions that they believed were due to the vagaries of printers, while incorporating most of the revised readings of the Cambridge editions of 1629 and 1638, and each also introducing a few improved readings of their own. They undertook the mammoth task of standardizing the wide variation in punctuation and spelling of the original, making many thousands of minor changes to the text. In addition, Blayney and Parris thoroughly revised and greatly extended the italicization of "supplied" words not found in the original languages by cross-checking against the presumed source texts. . . . Altogether, the standardization of spelling and punctuation caused Blayney's 1769 text to differ from the 1611 text in around 24,000 places.
With all of the above in mind, why hasn't the KJV been updated like some call for?  It might seem to follow along a pattern already set for the King James Version.  Some today criticize King James Version and Textus Receptus proponents for not giving the King James Version an update to eliminate obsolete or archaic words.
The changes occurring in the past updates or editions of the original King James Version did not retranslate the Hebrew Masoretic text of the Old Testament or the Textus Receptus of the New Testament.  They are still the King James Translation.  The Wikipedia article provided a comparison between the 1611 and the 1769 for 1 Corinthians 13:1-3:
[1611] 1. Though I speake with the tongues of men & of Angels, and haue not charity, I am become as sounding brasse or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I haue the gift of prophesie, and vnderstand all mysteries and all knowledge: and though I haue all faith, so that I could remooue mountaines, and haue no charitie, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestowe all my goods to feede the poore, and though I giue my body to bee burned, and haue not charitie, it profiteth me nothing.
[1769] 1. Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.
Reading that, you can see how Blayney made 24,000 spelling or punctuation changes.  Changing from "feede" to "feed" counts as one of them. 1769 also does not read at all like a retranslation.  Compare that to a different translation of those same verses, the NASV with the above 1769 KJV.
[NASV] 1 If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing.
None of the four editions proceeding from the 1611 King James Versions read like a new translation or an update in the translation.  They didn't do that.  The updates or editions of the King James Version are not a new translation.  They don't look anything like a new translation.
Would another update of obsolete or archaic words in the 1769 Blayney edition represent the spirit of the previous editions of King James Version?  My honest assessment is that it wouldn't.  Critics, who don't prefer the KJV, want something more than a new edition.
I have not read an official explanation for why no continued updates to the King James Version.  No authorized figure said, "This is our last update."  I think that they stopped in 1769 because they were done.  They had done enough.  No one was motivated to update again, because the 1769 Blayney edition accomplished what people wanted at the time.  It hasn't been done again, because no one agreed it was significant to do.
Men like Mark Ward and others criticize people such as myself and Thomas Ross for not endeavoring to update the King James Version.  They see our lack of support for an update as a sign that we really, actually believe the preservation of scripture occurred in the English translation.  If I did, however, I would advocate for foreign translations from the English King James Version. I don't. I support foreign translations from the Hebrew and Greek original language text.  That doesn't sound like someone who believes preservation of scripture in the English translation.
Previous to the King James Version, men made several translations of the English Bible from the original Hebrew and Greek Testaments.  The momentum for translation changed after the completion of the KJV.  Churches acce[ted the King James Version.  Updates didn't continue after 1769.  Churches were satisfied with the updates.
The King James Version was changed after 1611.  The concept of an update is not foreign to the King James Version.  Changes occurred.  Why not further updates to the King James Version?  To be an update, what would need to happen?  The answer to this second question also explains why it hasn't happened and probably won't.


1.    The 1769 Blayney Edition Is Good

Despite the "false friends" of Mark Ward, the existence of words obsolete and archaic to today's English reader, the Blayney Edition of the King James Version is good.  It is a good translation of the preserved original language text.  True churches accepted it.  It has had a supernatural impact over the centuries.  It is still causes a great effect on the souls of men.  The Blayney Edition of the KJV is proven.
Most people still read the King James Version after all these years.  Almost three times the people read the King James Version than read any other single version of the English Bible according to Statista.  A study published in 2014 by The Center for the Study of Religion and American Culture at Indiana University and Purdue University found that 55% of Americans read the King James Version.  Next was the NIV at 19%.

2.    Change Is Worse Than Possible Improvements

Think of the concept of changing the Bible.  Consider how much people already change the Bible.  Think about everything that is changing in the world.  The left wants to change everything and the meaning of everything.
The Bible stands over men.  When men say, "I want to change the Bible," then then are in a sense standing over the Bible.  Yes, updates were made, but it is very serious to change.
Once men were settled on the Blayney edition, they didn't keep updating.  The Bible should be very difficult to change or update.  It should at least be more difficult than changing the United States constitution.
Changing the Bible requires a certain amount of ego.  True scholars translate the Bible.  Someone else comes along and says that they didn't know enough, so they change it.  Later others say they're even smarter, so they change it.  John MacArthur recently led in another translation of the Bible.  He's studied the issues of text and translation, while preaching in his church, and he has the power and resources to create his own translation that favors most or all of his desires for a Bible.  He's got his own Bible now that he reports is the best ever.
Once another edition of the critical text arises and further collation of newly found manuscripts occurs, what will stop changing of MacArthur's Legacy Standard Bible.  These never ending changes take away from the perception of the authority of the Bible.  That is more dangerous by far than anything else.
The constant changing of the Bible looks like a bigger problem than updating obsolete and archaic words.  People who can't explain those words have bigger problems than those words.  Updating those will not take away those problems.

3.    King James Version Churches Don't Want the Update

I hear non-KJV people crying for a change.  I don't hear King James Version churches doing that.  Men like Mark Ward won't motivate KJV churches to change to a different Bible.  He won't impel men like Thomas Ross and I, who know original languages, to set in motion another update.  No one on my side of this issue talks about updating the King James Version.
Mark Ward and men like him incite churches that are already changing.  He's provided some cover for pushing forward changes.  Rick Warren wants changes too.  He's kindled changes to many churches looking for numerical growth.

4.    An Update Is Far From a Priority

Updating the King James Version pales next to other issues and problems for churches.  Before another English translation, churches could work on the first translation into other languages from the preserved text of the Old and New Testaments to get the Bible to millions others.
Churches are declining everywhere.  It's not because of the King James Version.  Even among churches that use the KJV, they deny the necessity of repentance for salvation.  Their people are more worldly.  They are colder toward evangelism. They are more pragmatic.
An update should arise from some movement toward the truth.  It should accompany desire for God and His Word.  It should proceed from a rise of repentance toward biblical belief and practice.


1.    King James Version Churches Would Want an Update

A successful update of the KJV would arise from more than a desire of one church.  A large majority of the King James Version churches would want it.  If 75% of those churches called for it, they might accomplish it.  A poll of those churches, I'm guessing, would receive less than 10% desire for an update.
The Holy Spirit works equally in all true believers.  Faith is "like precious faith" (2 Peter 1:1).  That same Spirit and that same faith will show up in more than one church.  Scripture would give common basis for necessary change.

2.    King James Version Churches Would Unify For an Update

Update would so motivate KJV churches that they unify to do so.

3.    King James Version Churches Would Provide the Good, Qualified Men from their Midst, Who Could Work Together to Accomplish an Update

If the KJV churches want an update, they would gather the men who could accomplish this task.  Those men would stop whatever else they were doing because this was more important.  With me it would take attention off evangelism, discipleship, the gospel, preaching, apostasy, sanctification, and the church itself.  I'm sure that's the same for other men.  They don't want that.

4.    King James Version Churches Would Approve of the Update

After finishing the update, the churches would still need to show approval. They would want the updated translation.  Maybe that would occur if the first three on this list occurred.  We're not close to those and so many other things are more important, I don't see those happening.  Most KJV churches would likely say that on the translation issue, the departure from the KJV is a bigger and more serious priority than the updating of the KJV.

5.    The Updated King James Version Would Become the King James Version for King James Version Churches

KJV churches do not want or use the new translations completed by individual churches and men from the same text as the KJV.  They find very little acceptance.  Why?  KJV churches don't want them.  They don't like them.
If KJV churches represent New Testament Christianity, and they don't want an update of the KJV or a new translation of the underlying text, then New Testament Christianity doesn't want that.  If they are not New Testament Christianity, then that's the bigger issue.  I believe that among the KJV churches is New Testament Christianity.  Only among those is belief in biblical doctrine of preservation of scripture.

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Mark Ward: KJVO "Sinful Anger," the "Evasion" of the Confessional Bibliologians, and Success

Mark Ward wrote, Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible, which I read.  He's taken on a goal of dissuading people from the King James Version to use a modern version of the Bible.  He also has a podcast to which someone alerted me when he mentioned Thomas Ross and me.  I checked back again there this last week and he did one called, "Is My Work Working?"  In it, he said he received three types of reactions to his work.


Ward said he received more than 100 times praise than anything else.  The next most reaction he said was "sinful anger" from KJV Onlyists.  Last, he received the least helpful criticism from opposition.

Critical text proponents very often use KJVO behavior as an argument.  It does not add or take away from Ward's position.  Ward reads his examples of "sinful anger," and well more than half didn't sound angry to me.  They disagreed with him.

My observation is that critical text advocates do not have better conduct.  They disagree in a harsh manner and with ridicule.  Ward himself uses more subtle mockery, sometimes in sarcastic tones.  It just shouldn't come as a point of argument.  Many in the comment section of his podcast use sinful anger.  Ward does not correct them or point out their sinful anger.  It seems like Ward likes it when it points the other direction.

In these moments, Ward talks about his own anger.  He finds it difficult not to be angry with these men.  Why even mention it?  Just don't talk about it at all.  Deal with the issue at hand.  I'm not justifying actions of Ruckmanite types.  They're wrong too.  Both sides are wrong.  This is an actual argument though of critical text supporters -- how they are treated.  It comes up again and again, because they bring it up.


Ward says that few to almost none answer a main argument of his book, which he's developed further since it's publication.  They don't concede to his "false friends" with appropriate seriousness.  He says they don't think about false friends.  He provides now 50 examples of these that appear many times in the King James Version.  He includes the confessional bibliologians in this, which would be someone who believes in the superiority of the Textus Receptus of the New Testament.  Their position might be perfect preservationism, Textus Receptus, confessional bibliology, or ecclesiastical text.  He used the confessional title, referring to men like Jeff Riddle.

I've answered him in depth.  Ward is just wrong.  Hopefully calling him wrong isn't considered sinful anger.  "He said I was wrong!!"  King James Version supporters all over buy Bible For Today's Defined King James Version.  It provides the meaning of those words in the margin.  Lists of these from King James Version proponents are all over the internet, and books have been written by KJV authors (the one linked published in 1994) on the subject.

Ward says that every time he brings that up to Textus Receptus men, they sweep it away like it doesn't matter, then turn the conversation to textual criticism.  That's a very simplistic way of himself swatting away the Textus Receptus advocate.  They turn to textual criticism because the critical text and the  Textus Receptus are 7% different.  Many words differ.  That matters more.  It also denies the biblical doctrine of preservation.

The members of churches where men preach the KJV hear words explained.  Sure, some KJV churches rarely preach the Bible. Talk about that.  Where men preach expositional sermons from the KJV, relying on study of the original languages, they explain words to their people.  They care.  I have been one of those and the KJV doesn't hurt our church in any way.  Personally I read the KJV Bible twice last year and this year I'm on pace for one Old Testament and two New Testament.


Is success how much praise one receives for what he does?  Is that the measurement?  That is a very dangerous standard of success?  That is what Ward uses as his standard in his video.  In Jeremiah 45:5, God told Baruch:  "And seekest thou great things for thyself? seek them not."  We don't succeed when we receive praise.  We succeed when we are faithful to what God said, whether we're praised or not.  Seeking for praise is discouraged in scripture.  Many faithful Bible preachers received far more harsh treatment than Ward.  It's not even close.

True success is finding what God says and doing it.  It's not success to turn a church away from the King James Version to a modern version, even if Ward supports that outcome.

Wednesday, March 09, 2022

The Seriousness of Religious Authority As Illustrated by Russia and Ukraine

Some reading may have heard that the Russia invasion of Ukraine relates to the religion in these two countries.  They might consider it a religious war.  I will go back to give perspective on this issue and then dovetail with something from the last few days.

No one has more authority than God.  In fact, God possesses all authority and any group has authority only because of God.  To say that you have authority means that you function for God and even speak for God.  People who want to stay in good standing with God will do what God's authority says.  It's like God telling them.  Disobeying this authority, since it is from God, is disobeying God.  This could also relate to someone's eternal destiny, this often going along with the authority claim.

The true church authorized by Jesus Christ, the only church, is local only.  Jesus started it in Jerusalem in the first century during His earthly life as seen in Matthew 16:18 and 18:15-17.   The New Testament book of Acts records that first church reproduced other assemblies with scripture as their sole authority.  The Lord Jesus Christ gave the true church authority, autonomy, with Him as the Head of each true church (Eph 1:22, 5:23, Col 1:18).

A true church has authority.  It is serious enough that Jesus says the church looses and binds (Matthew 16:9, 18:18).  It makes authoritative declarations as to whether someone is in the church or out.  If someone is loosed, the true church regards him as unsaved.  When the church sends someone out of the church, 1 Corinthians 5 says the church delivers this person unto Satan (5:5).  These are true or real occurrences.  They aren't games being played.  It's very serious.


In the fourth century AD a counterfeit church arose in Rome.  It claimed Christ's authority through a bogus claim of Petrine successionism (Petrine Theory).  This spurious organization with the influence of Roman Emperor Constantine turned the church into a state church, the Roman Catholic Church, Catholic meaning universal.  One could place the date at 313AD with the Edict of Milan325 with the Council of Nicea337 with the baptism of Constantine, or 380 with the Edict of Thessalonica.  This institution, which preached a false gospel, claimed an authority it did not possess.

Nevertheless, for purposes of rule, Constantine split the empire into East and West in 330AD and the empire divided after the death of Theodosius I in 395AD.  Roman Catholicism was still unified until it split into two in 1054, the Great Schism.  The Orthodox Church (called Eastern Orthodox) formed from the division.  The schism much related to authority, as the Eastern Church rejected the infallibility and unique authority of the Pope.

The authority of Eastern Orthodoxy describes itself a fellowship of self-headed churches, the term "autocephalous."  Orthodox churches recognize the preeminence of Constantinople, called the primacy of the ecumenical patriarch of Constantinople.  This means Constantinople is a first among equals.  The Orthodox hold that God's authority passes down directly to Orthodox bishops and clergy through the laying on of hands.  They consider this apostolic succession and each Orthodox.  Each bishop has a territory, called a "see," that he governs.

Roman Catholicism invented its own authority by procuring a non-existent apostleship.  Eastern Orthodox then appropriated it as its own.  It's difficult to estimate, but stats say 1.3 billion Roman Catholics and 220 million Orthodox in the world, top two of Christendom in numbers.  Neither of them possess authority.  When they talk about authority, it's not true.  They say they have it.  They don't.  Yet, if a religious organization says it is from God, we shouldn't be surprised when it acts like they have authority.

Of all the autocephalous churches of the Orthodox by far the largest is the Russian Orthodox with over 100 million.  It is known as the Moscow Patriarchate.  This Orthodox church started when the early, original Russian prince, Vladimir I, was baptized by the Patriarchy of Constantinople in 988.  The center of Russian Orthodoxy was Kiev.  It remained under Constantinople authority until 1488, when it moved to Kiev as an autocephalous church.  The Russian Orthodox Church moved then to Moscow in 1686 when the region of Kiev came under authority of the Tsars there.

I zoom forward to the period after the Soviet Union.  The atheistic Soviet Empire swallowed religions.  With the collapse of the Soviet Union, the Russian Orthodox Church emerged again.   Alexy Ridiger first became Patriarch of the Russian Orthodox Church in 1990.  This continued under Patriarch Kirill in 2009, who remains in that position.


Not only did and does the Roman Catholic Church not have authority, but it operates with a corrupt system of interpretation of scripture.  The Eastern Orthodox and its autocephalous churches continued that system of allegorization or spiritualization of the Bible.  These denominations within Christendom rationalized themselves with an eschatological and ecclesiological program called amillennialism.

According to amillennialism, the kingdom of God exists on earth in the present age in a universal church, a kind of spiritualized nation Israel.  In the Old Testament passages about Israel, someone can read in the Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox Church.  They then function like a nation that authoritatively enforces the precepts of the Bible as seen through the lens of church authority.  This explains a Christian holy war fought on behalf of the church.

Amillennialism says there is no literal millennium where Christ comes to rule for a thousands years on the earth.  The "a" of amillennialism means "no," as in "no millennium.  This view allowed for a state church that functioned like a kingdom.

An inquisition that tortures or puts to death heretics also comes from authority allowed by an amillennial eschatology.  The church does the work of God by punishing sinners and implementing what God said.


In 2018 the Patriarch of Constantinople, the foremost of the autocephalous churches, gave autocephaly to the Ukrainian Orthodox.  This formed a Ukrainian Orthodox Church, taking the jurisdiction of the Ukraine, the region of original Russia and the initial Russian Orthodox Church from the Patriarch of Moscow.  Not all of the Orthodox Churches operate under the authority of the Ukrainian Patriarch but under the Moscow Patriarch, who now is Patriarch Kirill.

The Associated Press reported that just this week Kirill came out in support of the invasion of Ukraine by saying the following:

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill, leader of Russia’s dominant religious group, has sent his strongest signal yet justifying his country’s invasion of Ukraine — describing the conflict as part of a struggle against sin and pressure from liberal foreigners to hold “gay parades” as the price of admission to their ranks.

Kirill, a longtime ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, had already refrained from criticizing the Russian invasion – alienating many in the Ukrainian Orthodox churches who had previously stayed loyal to the Moscow patriarch during a schism in their country. Several of these former loyalists are now snubbing Kirill in their public prayers, with some demanding independence from the Moscow church even as their country’s political independence is imperiled.

Kirill, in a sermon delivered Sunday before the start of Orthodox Lent, echoed Putin’s unfounded claims that Ukraine was engaged in the “extermination” of Russian loyalists in Donbas, the breakaway eastern region of Ukraine held since 2014 by two Russian-backed separatist groups. [He] focused virtually all of his talk about the war on Donbas — with no mention of Russia’s widespread invasion and its bombardment of civilian targets.

Kirill on Sunday depicted the war in spiritual terms.

“We have entered into a struggle that has not a physical, but a metaphysical significance,” he said.

He contended that some of the Donbas separatists were suffering for their “fundamental rejection of the so-called values that are offered today by those who claim world power.”

He claimed that this unnamed world power is posing a “test for the loyalty” of countries by demanding they hold gay pride parades to join a global club of nations with its own ideas of freedom and “excess consumption.”

God holds all authority.  When He looked down on Sodom and Gomorrah in Genesis 19, he saw the corrupt lifestyles.  This included homosexual or same sex activity.  God destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah.  Within the nation Israel, God expected punishment of death upon such behavior in Leviticus 18 and 20.

The fall of communism in Russia left a vacuum of authority the Russian Orthodox Church filled.  Putin had become antagonistic to communism.  The Russian Orthodox Church filled that void in harmony with his nationalistic thinking.  This mirrors such a historical figure as Henry VIII in England in his role in the Anglican Church.  He put many opponents to death.  This arose from a belief held called "the divine right of Kings."  Henry was also the head of the state church in England, which like the Russian Orthodox, borrowed from the amillennialism of Roman Catholicism.

Putin may rationalize his acts according to an Eastern worldview.  He sees the corruption, decline, and decay of the West.  The West in hypocritic fashion commits its own barbaric acts by murdering its own children through abortion.  Putin sees a Ukraine following in the trajectory of the West with its gay parades and then its separation from the state religion of Russia.  Kirill expresses this.  Many Russians still dwell in the Ukraine both ethnically but also religiously.  They still submit to the Moscow Patriarchy.

I'm not saying I support Putin's position, just that this is a matter of authority.  God is still on the throne.  He's not ruling through the Russian Orthodox, but its strong adherents at least admit that God rules in some manner.  They follow a historical position without a biblical basis.  This is not inferior to those who do not give acquiescence in any way to God's authority, even if they see themselves as having superior values.


God reigns.  Authority exists.  The United States and Western nations reject Divine authority.  They face consequences for their rebellion.

The Orthodox do not possess genuine Divine authority, but many of them recognize it exists.  Indications of belief in Divine authority appear all over historical monuments of the United States.  It is seen in the founding documents.  Statements like "In God we trust" evince these foundations.  Even if a nation stops acknowledging the authority of God, it is still subject to His reign.

Monday, March 07, 2022

The Globalist and Leftist Institution and Media Use of the Russian Invasion of Ukraine

Many reading know President Trump's expressing genius to Putin is his way of playing American leftists.  He is also fond in calling those in power, "our stupid leaders."  Those on the left turn this into Trump and his supporters advocating for Putin and Russia.  When the media calls Trump a Putin supporter, he doesn't back away from his "genius" language, because he won't submit to their lie. This works nicely with the Russia narrative invented by the left between 2016 even until today.  They conform that narrative, which is a lie, to the Russian invasion.  The globalist left supports the Ukraine, which makes the invasion difficult to sort.

The left didn't support Ukraine.  President Obama gave them blankets.  Trump gave them javelins, perhaps the most effective weapon against Russian conventional warfare.  Ukraine did not gain NATO membership under any president.  The country became useful in the Obama years for Vice President Biden to benefit through its corruption.  Ukraine did not gain membership because of a malfeasance utilized by Biden and his son, Hunter.  Trump dug into the corruption by asking Zelensky for help with the investigation, attempting to tie U.S. aid to elimination of criminal crookedness.  The left impeached Trump for that.

Russia took Crimea under Obama and Biden.  Russia invades Ukraine under Biden.  Putin does nothing against Trump.  Trump hurts Putin, because he increased oil production until the United States became energy independent.  The lowered prices hurt Putin more than anything.  Look at the gas prices now.  This helps Putin, and President Biden does not ban Russian oil exports.  The United States then looks to Venezuelan oil production instead of increasing U. S. generation.

Putin in a religious manner sees the Ukraine as Russian.  Russian history started with Kiev, the Rus emerging there in the 10th century AD.  Vladimir I adopted a unique Russian Orthodoxy in 988.  When a cynical Putin became mistrustful of a Communism and a secular state, he embraced his version of religious nationalism, somewhat like a leader of a Moslem nation.  Like conservative Jews see Palestine as Israel, Putin sees Ukraine as Russian.  His version of Russian Orthodoxy plays a role in his aggression, irrationality, and brutality, much like a grand inquisitor burns heretics at the stake.

Trump understood the nationalistic instinct of Putin.  Yes, Putin wants to make Russia great again and with a religious fervor.  I'm sure he saw men like Putin in business.  He could respect his opposition in the business world and on the world scene without supporting them.  He states recognition of their toughness, a trait missing in those who allow homeless to defecate in our streets.

If the media and the Democrat Party cared about Zelensky and Ukraine, why did they not urge Obama or Biden to do more before the invasion?  They care now, because they see an opportunity to blame on inflation and the related high gas prices.  If they care about border security in the Ukraine, why not in our own country?

The underdog Ukrainians stand against Putin.  By nature, Americans reject imperialism.  The United States fought an imperialistic power for its own freedom.  Americans want a free Ukraine.  The left commandeers Zelensky like they did during the impeachment.

The left doesn't represent freedom.  Their wokeness didn't stand for Hong Kong against China.  President Biden and his son Hunter took money from China.  The left rejects freedom of speech.  They're for allowing perversion, a college male swimmer winning medals against women in the name of transgenderism.  They elevate a transgender general wearing a dress in the United States military.  The left doesn't want the freedom of adversarial speech.  They shut-down and cancel political opposition to vaccines, vaccine mandates, Covid origination, Covid restrictions, religious freedom, the Russian conspiracy, critical race theory, and voter fraud.  They don't allow creation in the school system.

First amendment freedom originates for political speech.  The left shuts down speech.  They control the public schools like Putin puts down his protestors.  Theirs and Putins are a religious fervor each with their own totalitarian values.

The United States has its own religion that sacrifices babies to abortion, defunds the police, and stops energy production for their apocalyptic eschatology.  When they pose to support the Ukraine, they calculate this for opposition to Trump.  They see a political opportunity.

I support the Ukraine.  Some doctrine consistent with true American values should guide our present and future involvement.  I'm against Putin.  However, everyone should understand the left's intentions of using this war for furthering its own agenda.  I don't know if Putin is worse than the leftists who appropriate the Ukraine to further their insidious causes.

Tuesday, March 01, 2022

If There Is No Secular State, then It Does Matter What Religion Rules

What do you think?  Is the Constitution of the United States a religious document?  You say, "Nooooo."  Okay, why?  I think many people would say, "Separation of church and state."  One part of the first amendment perhaps someone, maybe you, latches on to.  It's called the "establishment clause."  It reads:  "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion."

Without giving him an endorsement, but instead maybe giving him a disclaimer, perhaps you've seen the "church lady" that Dana Carvey does, and the line she says:  "Isn't that special?!?"  We've got an establishment clause.  Aren't we special?  I mean, we are going to make no law respecting an establishment of religion, cross my heart and hope to die.  Is that true though?

Every nation has a ruling religion.

I grew up being taught great respect of the United States Constitution.  This was an amazing document of government.  You're not a patriotic American if you don't love the Constitution.  It seems a major verbiage of a conservative is, "I love the Constitution of the United States."  You've got your little pocket Constitution.  You could mock someone who doesn't know it, like Jesus with the Pharisees, "Have you not read?"
Everything about the founding of the country, however, connected itself at least at the beginning with the Declaration of Independence, which was the founding document, with God.  Most of all, there's this:  "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights."  And then there's this:  "the laws of nature and of nature's God."
Before the Constitution, the federal government fell under the Articles of Confederation, which didn't do much, but it did result in the Northwest Ordinance of 1787, which included this:
Religion, morality, and knowledge, being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools and the means of education shall forever be encouraged.
As Congress then enacted the Ordinance, it put this into affect by having religious requirements.  I'm not going to go into detail, but there are trails of official government documents in both the federal government in then in the new states for religion.
There's not just that.  You know the argument behind the entire structure of the American government, the three branches, separation of powers, and checks and balances, expressed in the Constitution.  All of this, people say, is about an understanding of the depravity of man.  Man is by nature evil, not good.  Our government protects men from themselves.  It assumes the worst about them.  There's much more to tease out there as far as enumerating powers essentially for the protection of liberty.
If a group of men are saying that the founding of the country is about God, the function of it is about God, and then the structure of it admits that man can't do it, because he's depraved, it's putting religion right at the top.
The Bible shows and history illustrates that all men are religious.  All government is religious.  In other words, there is no such thing as neutrality.  There is no truly secular state.  That is sheer fiction.  It is an idea pushed upon the Constitution by implying, insinuating, or inferring its religious foundation without plainly stating it.
Is same sex marriage secular?  What about abortion, is it secular?  Evolution?  Is hatred of God secular?  No to all of these.  All of these are the evidence of a religion, the wrong religion that is in charge.
The only religion that has dedicated itself to stay out of the public square is true religion.  True religionists allow paganism to reign in the land through many various means.
If we are dealing in truth, which is the only way to deal, then everything revolves around God and His pure revelation, the Bible.  That is the truth.  Lies are also religious, but they are a faulty, failing foundation.  We don't do better by lying to say that the truth is only a religion, and what the state is doing is secular.  No.  They are both religious.  One is religion based upon the truth, and the other is a religion based upon lies.
Men are God's creatures.  God rules over men.  Men should act like it.  When they don't act like it, they are failing.  They are not statesmen.  They are not any term associated with anything good.
As you read this post, you might ask, "Is Brandenburg advocating for a state church?"  I'm advocating for functioning in every realm of life according to God's Word, the Bible.  Men in the government should start saying it.  They follow the Bible.  The Bible is the truth.  If that isn't happening, it doesn't mean there's no state religion.  There's still a state religion. It's just one based upon lies and according to another god, not the one and true God.
Take a modern issue.  Russia and the Ukraine.  It's too late to put all this back in the bottle, but it's impossible to see this in a right way without looking to God for what He wants in it.   A true leader, worth following, should be quoting the Bible and talking about what God would want us to do.  Do you think it's better to leave God out?
If this is going to happen, then everyone should start by talking about God like this in every sphere of their lives.  Be open about your belief in the Bible.  Include God in it all.

Sunday, February 27, 2022

The Repercussions of Jesus Simultaneously Being Both Completely 100% God and Completely 100% Man

All of us know that 100 plus 100 equals 200, not 100.  If a single being is at 100 and Jesus is a single being, then He must be 100, so how can He or could He be 200?  What does all this mean?  How could Jesus effectively be completely, 100% man, when He is completely, 100% God?  This is usually a struggle when teaching about Jesus to anyone.  I've been asked about it many times and in various ways.

From my study and experience, the number one thought that brings together His complete humanity with His complete Deity is the teaching that by becoming man Jesus gave up the free exercise of His attributes, a doctrine that centers on Philippians 2:7, which reads:

But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.

The words "made himself of no reputation" translate two Greek words, eautou kenoo, the second of which translates into the four words, "made of no reputation."  That second Greek word is the basis for a doctrine called, "kenosis."  The two words, eautou kenoo, mean literally, "he emptied himself."  If it means, "he emptied himself," of what did Jesus empty Himself?

The doctrine of kenosis says that when Jesus became man, He was still completely, 100% God, but He emptied Himself of the free exercise of His attributes.  This is saying that He had all these attributes.  He kept all of them.  He did not exercise these divine attributes freely.  This was an aspect of His condescension and humiliation, which is taught in Philippians 2:3-10.

The doctrine of kenosis has its one proof text in Philippians 2, but it also emerges from the Gospels.  It makes sense of certain statements that don't complement the Deity of Christ very well.  You read it and you ask, why?  The doctrine of kenosis answers these, bringing harmony to all of these passages.

Consider God's attribute of omniscience.  God knows everything.  Many times Jesus shows omniscience.  He can read people's minds.  He knows what they're thinking in supernatural way (Matthew 9:4, 12:25, Mark 2:8, Luke 11:17, and John 13:5).  Jesus told the woman at the well things that He could not have known about her unless He was God (John 4).  At the same time, in the Olivet Discourse Jesus said in Mark 13:32,

But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. 

Jesus didn't know this.  Only the Father knew it.  This is an example of Jesus limiting the free exercise of His attributes.  There were other ways that He did, but you get the point.

Theologians call the union in Jesus of the Divine and the human the hypostatic union.  To make sense of the hypostatic union means exploring how He did divine works like forgiving sin (Luke 7:48), while doing things as a human being not characteristic of God, such as sleeping (Mark 4:38), weeping (John 11:35), and hungering (Mark 11:12).  Luke 2:52 says Jesus grew in wisdom.  If Jesus was omniscient, how could that be true?

The purpose of God necessitated the incarnation.  Jesus must become man, while remaining fully God.  He would not fulfill the Davidic covenant without a human lineage.  Jesus rose from dead with Divine power, but He was dead because He was human.  As a human He could pay sin's price for humans and yet rise again as God.  Still a tension exists.

Jesus said in Luke 22:42, "Not my will, but thine, be done."  Wait a second.  Wasn't the will of the Father and the will of the Son exactly the same?  They had the same will, right?  This is where we understand something further in the doctrine of kenosis.  As a human being, Jesus must submit His will, His human will, to the will of the Father.  As a human being, Jesus must learn obedience.  That might sound impossible, but a verse teaches this.  Hebrews 5:8 says,

Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered.

Did Jesus need to learn anything?  Yes.  He didn't need to learn obedience as God.  He and the Father forever had the same will.  His subservience to the Father's will, His submission to the Father's will, was an aspect of His humanity.  Like other human beings, He learned that.  This was again part of His emptying Himself of the free exercise of His attributes.

For awhile and today still an argument exists concerning the eternal subordination of the Son to the Father.  I understand why people have believed it.  The main argument against, and I agree with it, is the following. As both God in essence, the Father and the Son cannot have two wills.  They do not have two wills.  The obedience of the Son, His earthly submission to the Father, represents kenosis, Jesus' emptying Himself of the free exercise of His divine attributes.

God is one, so He has one will, not two.  As human, Jesus learned obedience.  He always obeyed, but that subordination was not eternal.  The subordination of the Son to the Father does not extend previous to His incarnation.   This is a repercussion of Jesus simultaneously being both completely 100% God and completely 100% Man.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

"They Will Reverence My Son"

In a story told by the Lord Jesus Christ during His earthly ministry, He said in Mark 12:6:

Having yet therefore one son, his wellbeloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying, They will reverence my son.
In the story, obviously this son is a representation of Jesus Christ Himself and so communicates the purpose of God the Father sending His Son to the earth:  "They will reverence my son."  They don't reverence the son in the story and this is why they deserve punishment.  Jesus says in verse 9:
What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? he will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others.
The "lord of the vineyard" in the story represents God the Father.  I understand this to be a message to Israel, but it is one to anyone does not respond to the God the Son with reverence.  Should not all of us assume "reverence" is a necessary aspect of saving faith in the Lord Jesus Christ?
The Greek word translated "reverence," a verb, is entrepo, which according to BDAG means "to show deference to a person in recognition of special status," including with that the following references:  Mattthew 21:37, Mark 12:6, Luke 18:2, 4, 20:13,m and Hebrews 12:9.  BDAG provides another translation of the word in other contexts, which means "to cause to turn (in shame), to shame."  Examples given are 1 Corinthians 4:14, 2 Thessalonians 3:14, and Titus 2:8.
In the story Jesus told, the husbandmen should have been ashamed of themselves for what they did to the representatives of the lord, whom we know represent the Old Testament prophets.  Feeling shame can be a part of this reverence unto the Son.  Not reverencing the Son is not reverencing the Father.  This is how someone could take believing in God.  If someone does not believe in the Son, He does not believe in God.
How can someone reverence if there isn't such a thing as reverence or no way to reverence?  Going along with the BDAG meaning "recognition of special status."  How does someone recognize someone for having special status?  Is there a way to do that?  Is there a way not to do that?  A culture where nothing is sacred anymore won't know how to reverence anything, let alone God.  This, of course, completely messes up its people's values, because they won't know how or whom to give special status.
Churches today very often do not reverence the Son with their music.  Their music isn't sacred.  It is worldly, fleshly, and lustful.  The husbandmen thought the lord, the vineyard, the representatives in the story, and the Son were all about themselves.  Because of how important they thought they were, they couldn't reverence the Son.
This reverence of the Son relates to repentance.  It relates to true faith in Jesus Christ.  When churches won't reverence the Son, they are also undermining the gospel.  People cannot imagine or know the true Son of God, when churches do not treat Him with reverence.

Sunday, February 20, 2022

My Acceptance of Hell

Hell is a common atheist argument, usually made with disdain.  It's even got a name, "The Problem of Hell."  You've got to say it in mocking tones, because scorn is part of the argument.  It can be done in one statement something like this:  "You've got to love God or else He'll torture you in Hell."  Or, "If God is so insecure, that He needs everyone to love Him, or He'll send them to Hell, I wouldn't believe in Him even if He did exist."

The Hell argument against Theism sets the atheist up as morally superior to Bible believers and God Himself, justifying atheism.  It could be a kind of dress rehearsal for an argument before God Himself at the final judgment.  It could too serve as an emotional appeal to support a bankrupt position.  Others will cheer this on.

Someone is judging in his judgment of Hell.  What is this standard for judgment in a random world of matter and motion, atoms colliding with one another?  How does someone put even two related thoughts together by a cosmic accident of naturalism?  He doesn't.  How does naturalism cause the ability to provide a nuance of disdain?  It doesn't.  The atheist mocking Hell borrows from theism by using words, which are abstract, nonmaterial ideas.  He constructs a moral system to account for behavior that doesn't exist in the arbitrary world of the naturalist.

Even so, Hell could at least feel difficult to defend in the world in which we live.  The atheist frames it as though you enjoy the future pain and anguish.  For that reason among others, people won't talk about Hell.  They call it perhaps eternal death or just eternal separation from God.  Knowing how offensive it might sound, thinking it might just shut down a conversation, it's given little mention, even though Jesus was the one who talked about it more than anyone.  There is a Heaven.  There is a Hell.

How some people have dealt with Hell is eliminating almost any opportunity for anyone to go there except for someone almost everyone thinks deserves it.  Hitler comes to mind.  A general audience might choose for a child molester or a serial killer.  Almost everyone else goes to, you know, "a better place," even if they don't know what or where it is or why that person will go or should be going there.  It's not helpful to give someone false assurance related to Hell.

I've titled this, my acceptance of Hell, because in a personal way, Hell is acceptable to me.  There are general reasons for acceptability.  The Bible teaches Hell.  Jesus taught Hell.  It is also taught in so many different ways.  The opposition to Hell isn't persuasive.  It amounts to "I don't want it" or "I don't like it," which is a version of rejection of justice for sin.

Here are my personal reasons for acceptance of Hell.

One, how bad we are.

People just don't think they deserve Hell.  This is very common.  When I'm evangelizing, it's the second greatest stumbling point.  I ask, "Do you think you deserve Hell?" 90 plus percent answer, "No."  The idea here is the punishment doesn't fit the crime.  It's way too severe, reflecting on the nature of God, His righteousness, and His justice.  People do not think they're bad enough to deserve Hell.  That's for very bad people, and few think they're that bad.

I say I deserve Hell, and I accept that, because I do think I'm bad.  How bad we are starts with the nature of God.  The Bible compares us to God.  I fall very far short of the glory of God.

God created me for His purpose and not only do I not fulfill that, but I don't want to do it.  I want to serve myself.  I can give many examples of this.  Today at church, while someone was praying, I caught myself thinking about something else.  I was thinking about something temporal and superficial and suddenly I awoke out of that trance, not even hearing what someone was praying.  I've done that many times.

God's judgment turns us over to our own lusts.  Romans 1 uses the language of "gave them up" (vv. 24, 26, 28).  God lets people have they want.  He lets them go.  They're getting what they want.  They don't want God.  They don't want what He wants.  If you get that, it ends in Hell, because that path leads to where God isn't.  His love is absent from Hell.  Where God isn't, it's a very terrible place.  That's how the Bible describes it.  Hell is the final destination for those God gives up.

I think of this aspect too.  In going my own way, I disobey, even ignore, the great command, to love Him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength.  God loves me.  No one is better to me than Him.  It's not even close, but I live for myself.

Two, it's a necessary motivation.

Sin ruined man.  It ruins men.  Men easily live for themselves.  They move from one lust to the next.  This is all so strong, that Hell is a necessary impetus to reject that.

I know there's all the positive too:  Heaven, God's goodness, the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ, and the truth of the Bible.  That's all important.  I still see Hell as necessary motivation in spite of all those good things, on the negative side.  The flesh is that strong.  Human desire is that strong.

You could call all that the world offers, what Jesus calls, gaining the whole world.  Even if man doesn't gain the whole world, the whole world is still out there offering its invitation.  The eternal loss of a soul counteracts the lie of the world.  It's a nagging reality.  Even if someone wants to block it out, it disquiets and afflicts.

When Jesus told the story of the rich man in Hell, someone sees a man who did have everything in his short lifetime, who would gladly give it all up for even a drop of water, while he's in Hell.  If there's one thing he wants to do, even when he can't escape Hell, it's to get a warning to his brothers.  This is a warning to all the living.

Hell is not over the top.  Even with it, people still choose to go there with the knowledge of its existence.  As severe as it is, it's still not enough for a vast majority of people.  Many atheists would rather mock Hell and God than receive the Lord, despite the reality of Hell.

Hell makes total sense to me personally for these two reasons.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

Justin Bieber, The Cross, Evangelicalism, and God's Grace

This morning I was sitting somewhere, not by my choice, that had a television with a Justin Bieber music video playing.  I couldn't understand the lyrics, but I could see some of the action of the video.  I knew it was Justin Bieber.  He stood in a gigantic shallow swimming pool, about two and a half feet deep.  He was wearing white shorts, a dark t-shirt.  Behind him were dozens of women, filling the entire pool, wearing tight, tiny shorts and form-fitting halter tops.  They danced in sync with one another, very sexually.

Bieber drew my attention with a cross he wore.  As he moved in his sensual manner, jerking and twisting in the swimming pool, the cross flung and hopped all around, hanging around his neck.  Justin Bieber made the cross, the cross, a feature of his video.  He associated the cross with all the other lurid features of his production.  This typifies modern evangelicalism.

The two words together, "the cross," appear eighteen times in the New Testament.  Sometimes it speaks of the actual cross, such as Matthew 27:40, "If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross," which is the Gospel usage in Matthew through John.  Other times, the Apostle Paul often uses it as a symbol, as in 1 Corinthians 1:17-18:

For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.  For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

Paul wraps up his argument Galatians by using "the cross" in Galatians 6:12 and then verse 14:

But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.

The Apostle Paul talks about the enemies of the cross of Christ in Philippians 3:18-21:

18 (For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: 19 Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) 20 For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: 21 Who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto his glorious body, according to the working whereby he is able even to subdue all things unto himself.
Paul gloried only in the cross, not in himself or his works.  He addresses that in Galatians.  Then the cross confronts a different problem in Philippians.  "The enemies of the Christ of Christ" have "their belly" as God, "their shame" is their "glory," and they "mind earthly things."  This is another problem, a kind of left winged legalism.  The cross makes a person at home in heaven, not at home on earth.
"The cross" as a symbol of Christianity contrasts with the Judaizers of Galatia and the libertines of Philippi.  It saves and does so by making someone holy.  The cross doesn't ward away vampires, giving a supernatural protection to someone while he sins and promotes sin.  "The cross," the actual cross, with its saving power and holy identification should not hang in the visible cleavage between a woman's breasts. It didn't belong in Bieber's swimming pool with that music, those women, and with him either.  He wraps himself in the cross and so profanes and distorts it.
Perhaps someone convinced Bieber or he deceives himself into thinking that the cross accords with his activities.  "Christians can do this; they have the cross."  The grace characterized by the cross defeats the sin problem, not indulges and promotes it.
The Apostle Paul also directs attention to the cross in Colossians 2:13-15:
13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; 14 Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; 15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
The cross was a means of separation from sin, the sin nailed to it, spoiling principalities and powers.  The principalities and powers, the forces of Satan as the prince of this world system, want more sinning.   The cross provides triumph over sin, not participation in, cooperation with, and association with sin.  As Revelation 12:11 says, the saints overcome Satan by the blood of the Lamb.  On the cross, He crushed the head of the serpent (Genesis 3:15), not assisted the serpent in further temptation and lust.  Those justified through the cross of Christ were buried with Him in His death to walk in newness of life (Romans 6:4).
The activities of Bieber's pool video are not the newness of life.  Old things did not pass away nor all things become new (2 Corinthians 5:17).  The cross in Galatians delivers from the tyranny of the law. The cross in Philippians delivers from both the tyranny of the flesh and of the world.  The tyranny of the flesh and the world, however, badly and sadly harmonizes with contemporary evangelicalism today.  This contradicts the cross.  Many become, as Paul wrote, the enemies of the cross of Christ.

Monday, February 14, 2022

How Does a Culture, Including a Christian Culture, Survive Without a Cancel Culture?

Previous Article

"Cancel culture" has a nice ring to it, a kind of poetic rhythm when one says the two words together.  Go ahead, say them, "cancel culture."  It does now have a Wikipedia article.  When I googled books with the terminology "cancel culture," a glut of books appeared written in 2020-2021 with "Cancel Culture" in the title.  I've not read one of them.  I wanted to know how early the term appeared, because it's been on my radar for at the most two years.

A book, Environmental Impact Assessment, written in 1979, reads:

We have come to the realization---yet again---that knowledge is power, that we need to keep building on our science and be ever mindful that a democratic society is based on genuine public engagement, not the so-called cancel culture that is denying genuine dialogue (author's italics).

Before I graduated from high school, the quote appeared.  Surprising.  That's the first and only usage I found in the twentieth century.  I don't know who popularized it.  I went about trying to trace it, but I don't know who originated the terminology.  Originally, it seems, it was "call-out culture," the idea here being that described by Adrienne Matei on November 1, 2019 in The Guardian:

The contemporary idea of a “call-out”, however, generally refers to interpersonal confrontations occurring between individuals on social media. In theory, call-outs should be very simple – someone does something wrong, people tell them, and they avoid doing it again in the future. Yet you only need to spend a short amount of time on the internet to know that call-out culture is in fact extremely divisive.

She pointed to a statement by former President Obama in an Obama Foundation Summit, which was on October 30, 2019, in which he said:

If I tweet or hashtag about how you didn’t do something right, or used the wrong word or verb, then I can sit back and feel pretty good about myself, because, ‘Man, you see how woke I was. I called you out.’ That’s not activism.

The rise of the term "cancel culture" seems to occur in the middle of 2020, which also happened to be right at the beginning of the Covid-19 'pandemic.'  Now it is well entrenched, and the earliest popular book seems to be Primal Screams, which said:

Consider an example that materialized in March 2019, captured in a New York Times piece called "Teen Fiction and the Perils of Cancel Culture."  It reported the case a (sic) young black man who identified as gay and was employed as a "sensitivity reader" by various publishing houses.  In that capacity, he enforced "cancel culture" (i.e., the flagging that progressive groupthink would deem unacceptable).

Wouldn't it be an interesting job to be a "sensitivity reader"?  I had never heard of it until this quote.  I googled that too, and it appears a lot, 40,000 times.  As a pastor, a chunk of your congregation could take that job while listening to your sermons.  The New York Times article was written on March 8, 2019.

Cancel culture emerged as perhaps one of the top issues for the 2022 mid-term elections.  The cancel culture tried to cancel Joe Rogan on Spotify and failed.  On the other hand, Whoopi Goldberg said something offensive about the Holocaust on her show, The View, and they cancelled her for a few weeks, so she could take time to reflect on her ignorance, stupidity, or callousness.  Another aspect, it seems, of cancel culture is a reaction to the unvaccinated, losing one's job even if he has natural immunity.  This relates to the trucker protest on the U.S. Canadian border, which is bigger than a vaccination issue.

During this last six months I've worked on a lot of writing projects and wrote almost two chapters on sanctification for our book, The Salvation That Keeps On Saving.  The two chapters are "Dedication and Sanctification" and then "The Biblical Theology of Sanctification, the latter of which I'm halfway done, the former I've completed.  For the latter, I am looking at every use of the related Hebrew Old Testament and Greek New Testament words for sanctification, which is almost 1,000.

You reader know that God canceled in the most severe way everyone on earth except for eight people in Genesis 6-9.  He ordered the cancellation of all the Canaanites.  When Israel didn't, Israel suffered greatly for that.  The Assyrians and Babylonians tried to and succeeded greatly at cancelling Israel.  The Bible requires churches to cancel someone's church membership, called by us, "church discipline."  Jesus taught that in Matthew 18:15-17.

God says in Leviticus 20:24, "But I have said unto you, Ye shall inherit their land, and I will give it unto you to possess it, a land that floweth with milk and honey: I am the LORD your God, which have separated you from other people."  Two verses later, He continues: "And ye shall be holy unto me: for I the LORD am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine."  It's not just Old Testament.  Jesus said in Matthew 13:49, "So shall it be at the end of the world: the angels shall come forth, and sever the wicked from among the just."  Many more examples occur.

I'm sure that you would know that cancellation is a biblical teaching, that conservatives were canceling people before liberals or leftists were.  It's tough to say, but our country found it's unity around the ability to agree on who deserves cancellation.  The left wants to cancel anyone who uses "hate speech" against any type of LGBTQ, etc.  You know that.  It's not just that, but also going back into the usage of certain unacceptable words and whether someone appeared in black face in the 1970s.
The John T. Scopes trial, the so-called monkey trial, dealt with cancellation of evolution from the public school.  Now schools cancel creation.  No one can teach creation in public schools.  Conservatives, who once cancelled evolutionists, would like intelligent design at least taught.  The government cancels the ten commandments.  Governments cancel statutes of the founding fathers.  At one time, everyone would have cancelled a statue to Karl Marx.  A tiny few would like a Hitler statue erected.
The story of cancellation seems to be the following.  Cancellation was mainly conservative.  Conservatives supported it.  Now conservatives are cancelled on nighttime television, movies, mainstream media.  Everyone goes to their own network to hear their news.  Both sides cancel each other.  However, in the mainstream conservatives are cancelled.  Conservatives now, putting the first amendment up there in a greater way, accept a foul mouthed Joe Rogan.  In an effort to reject cancellation, they accept what they cancelled themselves.  Does this have a better future?
Some say that sunlight is the best antiseptic.  There is perhaps a scientific point there.  Lysol might argue against it.  If we allow everyone to say whatever they want to say everywhere on every outlet, we will be better off.  Sarah Palin is challenging this in court against the New York Times, who she says, libeled here.  Maybe they did.
What I'm writing is that cancellation is a Christian, biblical position.  I get that we don't like being cancelled.  The better thing might be to practice biblical separation.  Others are practicing a form of separation, that isn't biblical.  If you don't support their sin, they cancel you.  This is the kind of cancellation the Roman Catholic Church did during the Inquisition.  We don't like that.  We should oppose that.
Cancellation defines morality.  What will you separate over?  The left separates over its values.  The right separates over theirs.  Is the solution to accept anything or everything?  This is new too.  An acceptance culture is not the solution to a cancel culture.
Scripture is clear that without cancellation, severing or separation, a culture cannot continue.  It won't.  What we value cannot be preserved without separating it from what will corrupt it.