Saturday, February 28, 2009

Role model

My father was a great role model in many ways. He was patient, kind and loving, even when Mum was mid-flight in criticism. He never retaliated and would say "At
least I married a real, live girl" [referring to a song from Bye, Bye
Birdie, I think].

Dad was industrious and methodical. He worked long hours and then came
home and did a lot of vegetable gardening. He wouldn't let me join in,
because he didn't want me to damage my supposedly precious pianist's

Dad was diligent in reading his Bible each night and filling in the
little five year diaries we gave him.

If you have ever thought of keeping a diary, I recommend it as a great
gift to your family one day. *Someone* will be interested, I'm sure.

Dad gave me a model that is more than I could ever live up to, but I'm
trying. I've even kept a diary going these past four years.

More on my Dad

Dad had a favourite sermon illustration:
The minister said that some
people come to church with a pitchfork, and others come with a rake.
The first group use their pitchforks to toss the message they hear
over to all those other people, who need it more than they do. "That's
a great message for Andrew," they say to themselves. "I'm glad he's
here today. It's a good thing Maryanne's here when he's warning us
about gossip!"

But the second group eagerly rake it all in, and say to themselves "I
need this message about God's forgiveness. I need to forgive others as
he has forgiven me. Don't we have a great God?"

Do you take a pitchfork or rake to church?


My father, Stanley Lewis McKay was born 100 years ago today.
There is much to admire about him, but I am especially grateful that he took me to church to hear the Word of God. He was a good role model in many ways. He was a loving husband (even when his wife was dishing out criticism,) industrious, kind, thoughtful ... and he thought the world of me, as revealed by his diaries.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Look to the Rock

I've been listening to Preaching Christ in a Postmodern World, lectures by Tim Keller and Ed Clowney, and in the course of these talks, Keller has warmly commended Clowney's books, but also Alec Motyer's Look to the Rock, which is written to give an overview of the Bible.

The link in the title will point you to the book on Google books. I'm not sure if it gives the whole book, but the parts I've read are all Tim claims for them.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Tel Aviv and Ethiopia

I'm enjoying my go-slow project of reading through the ESV Study Bible, after having read rapidly through other versions and packagings over the past few three years.

This morning I found this interesting comment at Ezekiel 3:15
The term Tel-abib means “mound of the flood,” but its precise location has not been determined. It was near the “Chebar canal,” and therefore it should not be confused with modern Tel Aviv in Israel.

I had always assumed Tel Aviv is Tel Aviv. I think all Bibles should have a footnote there, so that we aren't misled.

Another thing I've discovered is that the biblical Ethiopia is in northern Africa and is not to be confused with modern Ethiopia. I think the Bible calls its Ethiopia Cush.
Also interesting was the note about Ezekiel 3:14
The Spirit lifted me up and took me away, and I went in bitterness in the heat of my spirit, the n hand of the Lord being strong upon me.

It is tempting to think of going in bitterness in the heat of my spirit simply as a state of agitation following this traumatic encounter, and the translation “in the heat” leaves open this possibility. But this idiom appears 30 times in the OT, and the esv generally translates it “in wrath” or “in fury” or the like. Probably this nuance also applies here. Ezekiel has gained a divine perspective on his people's sin, and his anger reflects that shared viewpoint.

I'd be interested to trace these other instances, but have been unable to use BibleWorks software to do so. But it should be possible, shouldn't it?

Saturday, February 21, 2009

What I mean By Reformed

I like this from DeYoung, Restless and Reformed. I wish I could affirm this part of his magnificent statement:
I rest secure in God's covenant love, depicted in both the Old and the New Testament, showing me the incomparable blessings of knowing that the Lord is my God and I am his beloved son, that God is a God to me and my children after me.

But I know too many believers whose children have not followed in their footsteps.

I'd like to affirm it, too, but heartily concur with the rest.

Machen's warrior children

This is a great article by John Frame, showing how Christians are still fallible and how tragically they have often divided over minor issues. Don't think all the differences were insignificant or unimportant, though.

Imago Dei church position on women's ministry

I participate in a forum called Complegalitarian, which was set up by Wayne Leman, long-time Bible translator for the Cheyenne people through Wycliffe Bible Translators. It is not easy to find a common ground between Christians who believe the Bible gives men and women distinctive roles in the church and home in some situations, and those who see this as oppressive and believe that everything is up for grabs for males and females.

This statement comes from a church called Imago Dei Community and is intended to be both biblical and conciliatory. I think it's a good one, and would agree with a lot of what is said here.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Just You and ...?

One of my pet peeves is the loss of the expression you and me. People don't say it any more, but repeatedly say "you and I" where they should say "you and me."

But where did this begin? I think I've found a clue.

In Series Two of Get Smart, in the episode A Spy for A Spy, Max says to the chief at the end of the episode,
That just leaves you and I, Chief.
Tsk, tsk. The old nominative confused with objective trick.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Tim Keller Talks

Tim Keller has been greatly influenced by Ed Clowney, for whom he has enormous respect. In 2001, they share a seminar on Preaching Christ in a Postmodern World.

You can download the talks via Itunes, and get seminar notes [all 189 pages] here.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

God told me?

Yesterday I went to Alan's 70th birthday party. We met Alan around about 1992, I suppose. I love Alan's twinkling eyes, his sense of humour, his caring nature, but above all his commitment to growing in his understanding of God and his Word.

Alan once told me that he came to Glenbrook Baptist Church, the place we met and where he still serves Christ, because God told him to go along and cheer someone up.

Does God still speak to people in this way today? I'm suspicious of claims of direct divine guidance, and so is Alan. But I believe that when we put our lives in God's hands, we can look back on our lives and see that he was leading us.

I think the results of Alan's involvement at Glenbrook give us confidence that he was directed by God. I wish everyone would get involved in churches for similar reasons. So often people join churches to meet their own needs, or because they like the style of music there.

We wish Alan many more years of cheering people up.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Point to ponder

I have been reading and pondering Hebrews for a few years and I found this comment in the middle of S M Baugh's review of Sparks' God's Word in Human Words worth reflecting on:
The view of Scripture itself in Hebrews is most striking. For Hebrews, God speaks to us directly and personally (Heb. 1:1-2) in promises (12:26) and comfort (13:5) with divine testimony (10:15) to and through the great "cloud of witnesses" of OT revelation (see 12:1 which refers to the inscripturated testimonies of Hebrews 11). In Scripture, the Father speaks to the Son (1:5-6; 5:5), the Son to the Father (2:11-12; 10:5) and the Holy Spirit to us (3:7; 10:15-16). This speaking of God in the words of Scripture has the character of testimony which has been legally validated (2:1-4; so Greek bebaios in v. 2) which one ignores to his peril (4:12-13; 12:25). This immediate identification of the biblical text with God's speech (cf. Gal. 3:8, 22) is hard to jibe with the reputed feebleness of the biblical authors.

The highlighted part intrigues me, and I've posted it here, hoping I'll be able to find it again.

Concerning Sparks' book, Baugh shows decisively that we can trust the Bible. It is written in human words, but these were superintended by the Holy Spirit. The Bible does have unity and is not a mishmash of human fallible ideas.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Serious mistranslations?

It bugs me when people accuse Bible translators of bad motives. I wonder how often a translator would deliberately mistranslate a passage?

I think it is more likely that a translator sincerely believed his translation was accurate, and rendered the text in a particular way because he thought it would make it easier to understand, because it maked this verse harmonise with the rest of Scripture, or because he had to opt for one of a number of ways of translating it, and he felt that this was the likely meaning.

Every now and then I read comments that a particular translation is inaccurate. Sometimes it is made by a new student of Greek, or rarely of Hebrew. Other times it is because the translation doesn't say what a person wants it to say, or because it is different from their favourite translation.

Worst of all is the person who says that a translation is inaccurate because it is different from the King James Version, which is a great Bible translation which I love, but which is not perfect.

Over the past 3 and a half years I have read seven versions of the Bible through completely and am now reading through the ESV Study Bible. Each of the Bible versions I read is accurate and reliable I believe, though I was not happy with the study notes in one of the seven versions. All of them are helpful, but imperfect. There are no infallible tranlations. But we are so fortunate that we have so many terrific English translations.

I have enjoyed reading the TNIV [= Today's New International Version, which is an updated NIV] in a text only version, and in The Books of the Bible: a presentation of Today's New International Version, a specially created version which removes the verses, chapters and headings and even rearranges the books. This version has the books arranged partly chronologically and partly thematically. It is interesting that the arrangement of the reading plan in the ESV Study Bible has a similar schedule for the New Testament.

This version is an improvement on the NIV, because it reflects current evangelical scholarship in a few places and removes gender-specific language which was not intended by the authors. In a very few places this may be overdone, but mostly it helps us to see that the New Testament authors intended to include men and women when they wrote to their fellow Christians, despite using words such as "brothers" as a synonym for our family of male and female believers.

I enjoyed reading the NIV Archaeological Study Bible and learnt quite a bit about ancient Bible manuscripts and artifacts which help to confirm the reliability of the Bible, as well as filling us in on the background of the world of the Bible.

The ESV Reformation Study Bible gives us insights into the theology of the Bible and is well worth your time.

I also enjoyed reading through the New Living Translation, 2nd edition and the Good News Bible, Australian edition. Some Christians are wary of these versions because they think the language is loose. But I've learnt things in these versions which I had never seen in the so-called literal versions. It is good to have a version which tells you what the Bible says, and leaves interpretation ambiguous where it is ambiguous in the original [which the New American Standard Bible and ESV supposedly do], but it is also very helpful to have a version which tells you what the translators think the Bible means, such as those I have just alluded to.

The New Jerusalem Bible is helpful because it gives fresh renderings of the familiar renderings of the Wyclif-Tyndale-King James Version tradition. Although upon reflection, you may wish to stay with the traditional renderings, it is worthwhile taking the opportunity to think about the possibilities. It is also interesting for a dyed-in-the-wool Protestant to consider the extra chapters and books in the Roman Catholic Bible. They are good for reading, as the Anglican Thirty-Nine Articles reminds us and do give an insight into the thinking of people from the time of the writing of the biblical canon, though they are not part of it.

However the study notes are not very helpful, as they so often tell us that the Scriptures are not reliable, and merely echo discredited theories, such as the Documentary Hypothesis of the composition of the first five books of the Old Testament.

It was interesting to read through the ESV and TNIV. Some people read one, but wouldn't dream of reading the other, but both are well worth reading regularly and they are much more similar to one another than their promoters would ever admit. They are both firmly in the King James Version tradition and are much more like one another than any other recent version, I think.

I believe we can trust the versions I have discussed here. I don't think any of the translators had sinister plans to distort the Word of God when they did their work. I am very grateful to God for all of them.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The day the music was born

I was always told that 3rd February was the day the music died. [Thanks Don.] But I only discovered a few weeks ago that it is also the day that Felix Mendelssohn was born 200 hundred years ago in 1809.

Now I like Buddy Holly's music very much, but I do think Mendelssohn eclipses him somewhat. I hope to remember that this is his birthday from now on.

Wedding March, anyone?