This column is intended to be a weekly column, wherein I assemble a list of interesting links to other web-based content for your consideration. This is not creative. It is perhaps the most uncreative thing one can do in a blog to simply point to other people’s content rather than crafting your own.
In a potentially vain attempt to distinguish this list from any of the other hundreds of similar link lists you can find anywhere in the blogosphere, my intent is to provide more substantial discussion on any of the links provided here, clarifying what I believe to be the interesting issues raised by the content, potential concerns with error, particular virtues which possibly exist amidst error, connections to contemporary issues, etc…. Hopefully this is not simply a list of content in which you might be interested, but the start of a guide as to how to engage meaningfully with that content.
That all being said, here we go:
ESV-P Reneg – Since starting off with something controversial is always a good move for a new blog…. I will say, in writing this, that I’m not willing to enter into the critical text/textus receptus/ecclesiastical text/etc… arguments. If you think that a CT approach is inherently bad, this announcement changes nothing about that assessment. I, however, have been greatly blessed by the ESV as an extremely useful and accurate translation of the Word of God. I do not intend to defend the ESV as an approach to text and translation at length here, but know that I’m both a fan of the translation and in agreement with its approach to textual issues.
Many of you are probably aware of this issue addressed by the article already. If you’re not, essentially, Crossway declared an intention to establish a concrete, permanent edition of the ESV text, instead of executing periodic revisions. They caught a lot of flak for this, partially because of aggressively misleading headlines which sparked hostile reactions, partially because of issues which people had with the details of some of the recent changes to particular verse translations, partially because people on the internet like to grouse, you can take your pick. Apparently, it was enough flak that they reversed the decision, which is what the article states.
First, I’ll say that I think that going back on this is a lousy decision driven by public pressure and misunderstanding more than actual, coherent reasons.
Second, I do wish that they would solidify the translation, as having a particular translation which continually evolves simply means that I never quite know what a person is reading if they’re holding an ESV Bible. What you end up getting is more a school of translation, rather than an actual, particular text which is the result of such a school of translation. This seriously hinders its usefulness.
Third, I’ll urge you simply to avoid polarized rhetoric on this issue. No one anywhere near this conversation is claiming that the ESV is the singular, unique, exclusive Word of God as opposed to other translations. Language is a soft thing, – usage shifts, textual issues are clarified, translation philosophies change – but none of that makes the Word of God anything other than the Word of God, when translated faithfully, truly, and honestly by his people.
And if you’re still not happy about all this, I’ll say that Calvin would preach from the naked Greek and Hebrew, without any sermon notes or manuscripts. Were we all so dedicated and capable!
Should we expect conversions? – I mention this primarily as a topic which has come up to me in several conversations recently: when we preach, are we to preach to unrepentant sinners or to the church? I realize that the way this question is phrased is loaded, but this is usually the way the question is put. Also, I realize the writer is speaking from a Baptist context (some of you probably murmured “that explains it” when I wrote that, but that reveals some of our presuppositions), but it is not a balance which we are very good at striking in Presbyterian circles either.
First, we should acknowledge that the opposition is not entirely true. There are unrepentant sinners in the church, and we should absolutely be preaching in such a way as to call them out of their sin and into the life of Christ. The visible church is a mixed body, and to fail to recognize that fact is to simply deny the reality we live in.
Second, 1 Cor 14 seems to presume that we should expect unbelievers or outsiders to enter in and witness the activity of the church, even suggesting that the exercise of tongues in that context is primarily for their benefit. While we do not hold to the persistence of tongues in the church today, certainly there is a principle here that we would have a burden to address those unbelievers who may come in to see the church body.
I confess that, as I am about to plant a church, these questions are of particular interest to me, so I would legitimately covet your input on this point. It seems to me to be a great mistake to presume that we cannot meaningfully speak to the nonbeliever in the context of a Sunday morning sermon. Certainly, they are there, and certainly we should speak to them.
All this being said, the article holds up Whitefield as the example par exellence of preaching for conversions, yet his method of open air preaching is not much in evidence in our circles. Should it be? Is there another method which addresses the same impulse to evangelism, with the relative destruction of the public forum due to the atomization of the internet in our day? Whatever’s one read on the situation, it seems obvious that we are woefully derelict in our duties to actually call unbelievers to Christ (myself entirely included).
Can we play games? – Those of you who know me know that I like board games. I’m not exactly subtle about it. While this article is primarily about video games, I think that basically all of the same logic applies to board games, or indeed any type of leisure/recreation/hobby/etc…. Indeed, that is one of the points mentioned by the author.
I have comparatively little to say about this article other than to recommend it for its mature understanding of the issues involved. Challies doesn’t assume, as many do, that gaming is inherently good or inherently evil, but suggests several concepts which can be used to guide our interaction with this particular hobby. It is a legitimate corrective to those who would mock as childish anyone who plays games, as well as the apologists of the gaming community who deny the damage gaming can do and praise it as an unmitigated good.
The Culture of Death – This is a podcast from Mortification of Spin (who are great, by the way – you should be listening to them if you do podcasts at all) which discusses bioethics in some depth. I confess that I tend to think that the church overdoes the doom-saying about the current state of culture in some quarters, but the discussion here is legitimately chilling. This is so frightening not simply in terms of the trajectory of medical ethics, but simply the current status quo.
Did you know that doctors don’t take the hippocratic oath anymore, in most situations? Modern medical ethics honestly demands it, as “do no harm” is simply too restrictive.
Did you know that the eugenics laws in Nazi Germany were based upon eugenics laws in California? You’ve heard about Godwin’s law, haven’t you? I confess, one of the quickest ways to get an argument dismissed on the internet is to compare your opponent to the Nazis, but in this case, the parallels are legitimate, specific, and completely apt. Our society has proved to have no memory of the mistakes of yesterday, and we are making them all again.