Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Men Love Their Jesus Idol, But Hate the Lord Christ

3 But do you suppose this, O man, when you pass judgment on those who practice such things and do the same yourself, that you will escape the judgment of God? 4 Or do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and tolerance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance? (Romans 2:3,4)

There seem to be two great follies that man is guilty of during his life, and a third folly that has the exact opposite result as man would intend. And each of these follies gives birth to a type of vanity when they are played out in each of their own circumstances.

It is folly for men to pass judgment on the transgressions of others and yet believe that the things that they do in secret will avoid any prosecution. For if, with our own skewed vision and sense of justice, we can see the transgressions of men and bring them to account, how much more would the creator of all things, Jesus Christ the Son of God, be able to see, expose, prosecute, and convict you of your secret transgressions. It is this inner knowledge and understanding of the character of God that causes men to hate Christ and His church.

Oh, yes, men like an idea of Jesus or of the church that doesn’t compromise their own life-style or vices. They rally around this man called Jesus, and they sing praises of the great religious and pious man, or of the social revolutionary, or of the man whom they shape into filling any one of their own pet social or political causes. The true Jesus who is revealed in the pages of the Bible was a religious and pious man whose teachings did lead to social change, but this is only a fragment of the picture of the Biblical Jesus. One other portion of His divine portrait is His illuminating light on the sins of men. And it is this that causes men to love their Jesus idol but hate the Lord Christ. For men hate Him and loved the darkness of their own sins because their deeds are evil (see John 3:19).

Men who want to focus on social justice, to the extent that they ignore the teachings of sin and salvation or simply water down what the Scriptures say about His eternal righteousness, run to the beatitudes and Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount for their purely social manifesto. However, it is in this same book leading up to this same sermon that John the Baptist, who Jesus hailed as the greatest of the prophets, made this declaration concerning the two ways in which God will deal with humanity,
“His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (Matthew 3:7)

And when men find themselves under the judgment of God, they recoil and feel wrongfully assailed. This is the pride of vanity to believe that, even though the weight of evidence is utterly against them, they still perceive that they are being wrongfully singled out or that their good intentions are not being accurately weighed in the balance. But if this judgment begins to fall upon this man during his life, he is blessed! Because it is this judgment that can bring a man to understand his sin and see his need for the Savior. It is a measure of God’s grace that He brings sins to light and yet graces the man with time with which he could repent of those sins and fall prostrate before the Savior.

It is folly to for men to experience the blessings of God in life and breath, and even more so, but not exclusively, in prosperity and peace, but yet not acknowledge that they are the recipients of God’s blessings. When men find themselves in any state of temporal blessing, they hail themselves as being wise enough or shrewd enough to have attained such affluence, or they praise the gods of luck or fortune for their luxury. Either way, it is vain pride that sees a privileged position in life and gives praise or thanks to self or the randomness of life. If men find themselves in prosperity, they should see and know that the blessings that we receive in this life are expressions of the kindness of God that should lead us to repentance.
7 Two things I asked of You, Do not refuse me before I die: 8 Keep deception and lies far from me, Give me neither poverty nor riches; Feed me with the food that is my portion, 9 That I not be full and deny {You} and say, "Who is the LORD?" Or that I not be in want and steal, And profane the name of my God. (Proverbs 30:7-9)

It is folly for men to believe that their heart and their good intentions will be a witness in their defense when they stand before the Lord. Whether men are blessed with affluence and the blessings from God that demonstrate His exceeding kindness or whether they are blessed with suffering to show God’s judgment and righteous accounting, man will always believe that his heart and intentions are good. Most men will not assert their perfection, but will excuse the varying degrees of fault as being normal or human. But this perception will be shown as folly by God because the conscience of man will testify against the man in the courtroom of God. The heart of man will show the consistent transgression of God’s eternal and holy standard.

Whether you have prosperity or poverty, freedom or bonds, health or sickness, God is giving you a measure of His grace; both in the fact that you are drawing another breath and that He is kindly revealing truth about Himself in a very applicational way. To be sure, men cannot be saved in their circumstances alone. For how would they know to call on Christ? God in Christ must be proclaimed through the Scriptures, whether read or heard through a preacher, and only then will man have the knowledge of how one is saved. Without the Scriptures, men only know enough and are given enough revelation to justly condemn them before the God of the Bible.

Friday, March 21, 2008

A Glorious Intersection

As Christians, we know and we praise God that on a Friday like this almost 2,000 years ago, our Savior – the God Man Messiah, Jesus Christ of Nazareth – was cruelly beaten, tortured, mocked, humiliated, and died. He died the death of a criminal as an innocent man so that as a criminal, I could be treated as an innocent man.

So many blessed and glorious things that intersect with one another come to mind whenever I think about the cross: justice and mercy, wrath and grace, condemnation and pardon, love and hatred, death and life. One of the things that brought this to mind, of late, was an evangelistic talk by Louis Giglio. In it, Giglio attempted to give his audience some perspective as to how big God is by putting the earth in perspective with some of the known universe. According to Giglio, if the earth were the size of a golf ball, then the biggest star that we are currently aware of, Canis Majoris, would be comparable to the size of Mt. Everest.1 His point was that sin tends to puff us up and make us feel important and powerful, but simply putting our earth in its proper place in the created (known) cosmos, as far as its relative size, should dissuade us from that type of haughtiness.

By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, And by the breath of His mouth all their host. (Psalms 33:6)

It was Christ Jesus who called all things into being by the power of His Word. But it was this same star-breathing God who humbled Himself even to death on the cross. So what could be grander than the glorious intersection of supreme authoritative and unstoppable power with abject torture and mockery?

The glorious restraint of our God is evident in many places, but perhaps nowhere is it more poignant than when our naked Christ was hit, spat upon, whipped, and mocked. Yet, the same restraining power and grace of God that was displayed during the construction of the ark was present again on the day of the cross. Christ would not have had to call for legions of angels to come to His aid; He simply needed to decide to destroy His torturers and they would have been utterly consumed. But it was because of His glorious restraint, for the joy set before Him, that He endured the cross to justify many (cf. Isaiah 53). That God Himself would endure vile torture by His own creation for the glory of God is simply amazing. It is equally amazing that, as a result of His obedience, death, and subsequent total victory, He also accomplished the redemption of men. Soli Deo Gloria.

But thanks be to God that that’s not the end of the story…

1 There is some dispute in the scientific community as to the size of this star. Some estimates make it 1/3 or the size that puts it in this proportion, and I am not nearly knowledgeable to venture a discerning opinion one way or the other.

Video Commentary

I have recently begun a trial run for a new addition to this blog. I am going to do a video commentary on some issues or topics that present themselves to me instead of writing them. My intent and hope is that this will be truly supplemental to the written portion of my blog because I have benefited greatly in spiritual growth from the thinking, reading, studying, and refining of what I have written on this blog in the past two-and-a-half years.


I hope to update the video commentary once a week or so. But, like anything else, this is only a rough plan and not a rigid schedule.


The Video commentary will be prominently placed at the top of the body section of my blog. However, in order to not give the appearance (or less of a one) that the blog is not being updated, I have opted to hide the video player by using a button like the one below. Please click the button below for information on how to operate it.

I have already posted the first video commentary, and you can view it by clicking on the “EJ’s Video Commentary” button near the top of this page.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Did the Bereans use Coliseumpedia?

I recently heard Tony Jones being interviewed on our local Christian radio station in the twin cities. I must say that prior to hearing this interview I had not read anything written by Tony Jones or heard him speak, I may have heard him referred to by others, but none of the specifics of any of these references ever managed to stick in my memory. The only thing that I knew going into listening to this interview was (a) his name, (b) his affiliation with Emergent Village, and (c) that he is, apparently, a big name in the emerging church movement.

There were many things about the interview that caused my blood pressure to rise and caused me to scratch my head, both at Tony Jones and at the apparent unpreparedness of the hosts who, for the most part, don’t seem to agree with much of what the emergent movement stands for. But before I get into the main concern that I have with this interview, I must make a few preliminary comments. Tony Jones seemed to use the same types of thought question evasion and debate tactics that I have heard before from Doug Pagitt, who is another emergent leader and happens to be a leader at Tony Jones’ church.

As a matter of fact, Tony Jones was asked basically the same question that Todd Friel (“Way of the Master Radio” host) asked Doug Pagitt, and it was this: can or will a Muslim go to heaven? Both Tony Jones and Doug Pagitt recoiled from answering this question by stating that they didn’t want to engage in a question regarding some hypothetical person. Jones went on to say that if he could have a conversation with this person and find that this person rejected Jesus as the incarnate Son of God, then he would be able to take a position stating that this person was going to hell. Even as frustrating as this kind of answer was to me, it was better than Pagitt’s response. Pagitt would not even truly engage the question on that level because he was reluctant to agree that heaven or hell were actual real places or states of existence in the afterlife as the Bible describes.

But getting back to Jones; why was his desire for personal conversational confirmation of what an individual Muslim may or may not believe about Christ to be frustrating for me? Simply put, if Tony Jones doesn’t understand that anyone who would consider themselves to be a Muslim therefore implicitly rejects the idea of the incarnation or of the Triune Godhead, then what in the world does he believe that Muslims believe about Jesus? I am not an expert on Islam, but I have never found any sect or any division of Muslims who would hold to an Islamic faith but also believe that Jesus Christ is the Incarnation of the Second Person of the Godhead.

I would even make the argument that anyone who would hold to something even close to the true nature of Christ would be associated with Christen-dom, even if only loosely. That being the case, even many groups inside of Christendom do not understand Christ rightly (I have argued in the past and I will continue to argue that believing in the wrong Jesus means that you are still in your sins). Historically speaking, Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses have always been considered to be cults, but now those lines, at least as far as the culture is concerned, are even being blurred to the point of no distinction. But even if we maintain the understanding that these false religions are not truly Christian, we still have to contend with false and heretical understandings of Jesus Christ inside of our ranks. Oneness Pentecostals reject the Trinity and believe that Jesus is the Father is the Holy Spirit with no eternal distinction in their persons. We can’t even get all who call themselves Christians to pass the Jesus test that Tony Jones wants to personally give to any and every Muslim before making any definitive statement about their eternal inheritance.

Furthermore, show me one religion or a group of people who believe that Jesus Christ is the eternal God, that He condescended to be incarnated as a man, that He claimed to be (and truly is) the only way of salvation and reconciliation with the one and only true God, and you will find a Christian.1 You will not find a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Baha’i, or anyone else. It may seem laughable that I even feel like I have to make this point, but this is an example of the knots that need to be untied when dealing with many people who would be in liberal (in interpretation, not necessarily in political affiliation), or emergent, Christianity. And this type of convolution or blurring the truth of Scripture is, in fact, possibly one of the largest problems with the emergent church.

And it is at this point that my absolute frustration because of the “same old, same old” from the emergent stream of thought turned into something more…focused. After hearing the entirety of the hour long interview, I can safely say that I was aghast by the way in which Tony Jones seems to view the substance of Scripture, the inerrancy of Scripture, and the way of interpreting Scripture. When Tony Jones was asked about what his ultimate authority is, he responded in this way,

“The ultimate authority is God as incarnated in the person of Jesus Christ and represented in the teachings of Scripture.”2

He then went on to clarify his statement by making the meaning of what he had just said more ambiguous that it previously was.
“At every one of those steps, there are multiple interpretive steps that need to be made. How was Jesus representative of God? Christians have been debating that for 2,000 years. How do you faithfully interpret scripture as the inspired word of God? Christians have been debating that for 2,000 years.”3

Tony Jones seemed to clarify his statement of what the ultimate authority by referring some of the debates that have gone on inside of Christendom throughout its history. However, by design, he refrained from making a clear statement about which views inside of the history of the debates of the church correctly understand Christ and the teachings of Scripture. Is the Gnostic understanding of Christ and the Scriptures just as valid and true as the Judaizers or of the Biblical teachings contained in the Pauline letters? Is it just as valid to follow the interpretive methods of Athanasius as it would be to follow in the steps of Pelagius or Arius? As inclusive and intelligent as this type of position appears on the surface, after any quick examining of its substance, it is nothing more than a hollow nothingness of a statement. It lacks any clarity at all. He might as well as said that the ultimate authority is whatever you want it to be. Because, at the end of the day, that is what it ends up being with this perspective.

And when Mr. Jones was asked whether he agreed with a specific statement affirming the inerrancy of the Bible in its original autographs, he did not agree. Furthermore, he dismissed the very idea of affirming something intangible as being ridiculous. Regarding the autographs (the original writings of the Bible), Tony Jones stated that since neither he, nor no one else in the modern world, has ever seen the original writings of the Bible, how could he make a statement affirming what they said?
“I would not affirm a statement about something that no one has and no one has ever seen. It’s a purely hypothetical statement.”4

Again, this may seem to be intelligent and a good position for a Christian to take, but this further compounds the problems with Tony’s ultimate authority. He can’t affirm anything about the inerrancy of the Bible; therefore its role as ultimate authority is compromised. And furthermore, if the question that needs to be asked to a Muslim relates to the person of Jesus Christ, how in the world could you ever say that the Muslim has a view that is wrong if what the Bible itself says about Christ is possibly wrong?

And finally, Mr. Jones went from a vague statement of authority, to questioning the reliability of the only real source (both the autographs that we don’t have and the manuscripts that we do have) of that authority, to then having a complete mob-rule mentality when it comes to communicating the truth of Scripture.

He builds his case for a non-authoritative model for preaching by stating that heresies and cults don’t come from a discussion group atmosphere. According to Mr. Jones, cults and heresies come from figures like David Koresh or Jim Jones.
“I know that when David Koresh got to the end of a sermon, he never was like, ‘Ok, what do you all think about that?’ Jim Jones didn’t open it up for discussion time. He said, ‘ This is it, I preach to you with absolute certainty. I am the messiah. That’s how cults start, that’s how heresies start. When conversation is closed off and there is a single person or an oligarchy, the ruling few of an elite class, who say, ‘we have the Spirit, you don’t. We’re the only ones who get to interpret Scripture. All of you sinners out there, all of you people out there who are struggling with whatever you’re struggling with, you don’t get to. That’s the problem.”5

I have two major problems with what Tony Jones stated. First of all, how does he “know” what David Koresh or Jim Jones did or didn’t do at the end of every one of their sermons? Why should I believe him? What source material is he using for his conclusions? And since I have never seen all of David Koresh’s sermons and I wasn’t there in the Wako compound, how can I know for sure what he did or didn’t say or do? The second problem is Tony Jones’ mixing of the heresies and cults. I think that he is right about the formation of cults, but heresies do not always begin from a singular authoritative figure. They may be first promoted by one man or a small group of people, but they eventually become popular with the masses who, individually, may or may not necessarily be directly associated with the initial purveyor of the ideas. This is fairly a specific distinction, but it is supremely important because we should never be so foolish as to think that heresies only (or even primarily) come into play because of the presence of one dictator-like church boss.

And in an answer to the problems with having any type of authority or authoritative interpretation or communication of what the Bible does say about anything that he had attempted to bring out, Tony Jones puts forward his own idea of how the truth of the Bible should be communicated in sermons.
The sermon [at Solomon’s Porch] is written, is developed, by a group of people on a Tuesday night called the Bible Discussion group, and anyone in the church is able to come – gay, straight, ya’ know…gambling addict, glutton, you name it – they can all come. And they, for two-and-a-half or three-hours, talk about this passage of Scripture that we’re going to be preaching about on Sunday. And it really is an open-source, wikipedia, kind of way to come up with a sermon. And then whoever is charged that week, most often it’s Doug [Pagitt], the “pastor”…they take that and they kind of boil it down to about 30 minutes. And then, at the end of that 30 minutes on Sunday evening, it’s opened up to everyone in the congregation.

We’ve got people at Solomon’s Porch who’ll sit there with their laptop open on their lap…talk about keeping you honest when you’re preaching, their googling what you’re preaching about and looking it up on Bible web sites, wikipedia, and everything else. And people will say, ‘Hey I found this, what do you think about that?’ or, ‘that reminds me of this verse, let me read it to you…”.6

So, both in preparation and in presentation, wikipedia and potentially any other web site or author, has as much influence on the message as the Bible does. And anticipating a question about his wikipedia hermeneutic that wasn’t asked by the interviewers, he said,
"There are people who are still going to want to go to the encyclopedia Britannica because it’s some dude who’s got a Ph. D. from Oxford who’s going to write the definitive entry on Jesus Christ, or the Viet Nam war, or what have you. There are others of us, and I count myself among this group, who I trust the crowd at wikipedia where there are thousands of people editing the entry for Jesus Christ, or the Viet Nam war. I trust the crowd more than I trust the one guy with the Ph. D. from Oxford."7

Perhaps the best commentary that I can give to the main thrust of his above thought is to quote someone else.
"Wikipedia is the best thing ever. Anyone in the world can write anything they want about any subject, so you know you are getting the best possible information."8

The first quote was from Tony Jones, a seemingly intelligent and spiritually mature member and leader of the emergent church movement, and it was said with seemingly a straight face communicating what he really believes. The second quote was from the NBC sitcom “The Office” as stated by the fictional bumbling buffoon, socially inept, and otherwise disaster of a boss named Michael Scott. He also made his comment in utter sincerity, but it was done so in the context of the program to show the utter foolishness of someone using wikipedia for the very reason that Tony Jones lauds its virtue. Whereas that makes the comment on “The Office” funny, it makes Tony Jones’ comments very tragic.

Finally, Mr. Jones’ statement, “I trust the crowd more than I trust the one guy with the Ph. D. from Oxford” was very tragically revealing. It was the wisdom of the crowd, rather than the God ordained authority, that led Aaron to make the golden calf at the foot of Mount Sinai. It was the wisdom of the crowd that led ten brothers to abduct their brother, sell him into slavery, and lie to their father for decades stating that their brother was dead. It was the pressure from the crowd, not an individual, that led Peter to act hypocritically around gentile believers in the young church. It was the judgment and fury of the crowd that called for the execution of the innocent Son of God.

Church leaders are never above question. We must be Bereans when it comes to anything that anyone says about God. Did the Bereans use coliseumpedia or the writings of Plato or Aristotle to test find out if what Paul was saying was true? No, they used the Scriptures. We should use the Scriptures, for they are inspired by God for all things concerning doctrine, life, and godliness (cf. 1 Peter 1:1-3; 2 Timothy 3:15,16). Modern scientific theory does not trump the Scriptures nor does it guide our interpretation. The Scriptures help us in understanding the natural world as well as our place in it. Psychology does not trump the Scriptures, nor do the theories of any psychological school of thought guide their interpretation. The Scriptures help us to understand the inner workings of the mind, knowing the inner workings of the mind does not give us a better insight as to what the Scriptures mean. Scripture interprets Scripture. We just need to be humble enough to see its clarity and teachable enough to change our minds lest we profess to be wise, but truly be fools.

1 And notice that I did not make any statements about man’s sinful nature, the substitutionary atoning work of Christ on the cross, of salvation by grace alone through faith, or any number of other key Biblical truths. Because, if I did, they would become the focus of discussion other than my main point – anyone who affirms Jesus, His deity, and His claims falls into the category of Christendom, if not Christian.

2 Tony Jones interviewed on KKMS Live with Jeff and Lee, 3/10/08 (hour 3).

3 Ibid.

4 Ibid.

5 Ibid.

6 Ibid.

7 Ibid.

8 http://dunderball.com/?q=taxonomy_menu/4/85

Friday, March 14, 2008

Blessed Diversity or Money Changers in the Temple?

On leap day (yeah, I know it’s been a few weeks) my wife and I were blessed to have someone watch our children for us while we went on a date. Our date was nothing extravagant, but if you have (or have had) multiple little children, any excursion without children is extravagant. We went to Subway for dinner and enjoyed some uninterrupted conversation, we then went to Barnes and Noble to look for some books, and then we ended our evening relaxing for a bit at Caribou Coffee.

Our date was wonderful with but one exception. The reason I wanted to go to a book store was to look for a pulpit Bible to use when I’m preaching. The nearest Christian book store was too far away for us to get to, and so the nearest Barnes and Noble had to do. I should have been prepared for something frustrating, but I truly wasn’t. After overhearing a nice, sweet, grandmotherly lady ask a sales associate where to find a book about “The Secret,” we made our way to the religious section.

When I then made it to the few cases of Bibles (four side by side cases), I began to get increasingly disgusted. If I had been able to find what I was looking for, I would have found an NASB about the same size as my current one (perhaps a bit bigger) but with no cross-references or footnotes of any kind. I was not overly optimistic about being able to find one, but I thought that I’d give it a shot. It wasn’t the fact that I didn't find what I was looking that disgusted me; it was what I did find that disgusted me.

Now, remember, that Barnes and Noble isn’t the main place to go peruse all of the various editions and choices for Bibles. They did have a decent selection of sizes, fonts, and other packaging-type variations for some good translations (KJV and NKJV mostly), but they had a ton of other things that just started to turn my stomach. I noticed and counted 40 different versions and editions of the Bible. Here’s a list of the variations that I noticed:

Divine health NT (magazine Bible)
Becoming 2 (NT magazine)
Becoming 2008
Sanctuary – a devotional bible for women
Catholic Women’s devotional bible
Women’s Devotional Bible NIV
New Women’s Devotional Bible
Family Life Marriage Bible
Today’s Devotional Bible
Mom’s Devotional Bible
Recovery Devotional Bible
Couple’s Devotional Bible
The Devotional by Max Lucado
Women of Faith Study Bible
Maxwell Leadership Bible
The Everyday Life Bible:
The Power of God's Word for Everyday Living
John MacArthur Study Bible
Billy Graham Training Center Bible
Sportsman’s bible
Military Bible
Life Principles Bible
Literary Study Bible
Illustrated Study Bible
Harper Collins Study Bible
Essential Study Bible
NIV The Learning Bible
TNIV /The Message Parallel
Archeological Study Bible
New Extreme Teen Bible
NIV Student Bible
College Devotional Bible
Youth Walk (NIV)
Teen Study (NIV)
Student’s Life Application Bible
Catholic Teen Bible
Aspire – the New Women of Color Study Bible
Ultimate Teen Study Bible
Discover God Study Bible
Dead Sea Scrolls Bible
Daily Study Bible for Women

I think that I am just sick of the way that the Bible seems to be dealt with so casually that so many different people are trying to “corner the market” on certain demographics to make a profit on their cleverly marketed Bible. That being said, I am not taking a complete shot at the idea or presence of study Bibles as a whole or even at most of these individually. I happen to think that study notes are helpful (as commentaries are helpful), and if you can find a Bible that has study notes by a trusted group of theologians or an individual pastor or theologian (i.e. MacArthur, Scofield, Geneva, etc.), the notes can be very useful.

One of the chief things that got to me was the intense amount of variations done by the same group. Now, I like to read the NIV. I don’t preach from it or use it as my primary source for study, but I do enjoy the reading of it to help me get a grasp on some things. That being said, just of the ones that I noticed at Barnes and Noble, eleven of them were variations of an NIV Study Bible.1 Now, my concern is not with any one specific edition or study Bible, but I have to wonder what deep and meaningful differences could there be between the “Women’s Devotional Bible”, “New Women’s Devotional Bible”, and “Mom’s Devotional Bible” (perhaps you could even through in the “Women of Faith Study Bible” too). Yes, there are probably some differences, but how much different could they be? They’re all directed toward the same group of people and they’re all in the same translation. So what is the deal? Furthermore,

Almost more disturbing than the variations on study Bibles for women that the makers of the NIV put out is the fact that there are so many for various life situations. I envision a mom wanting to encourage her family in spiritual matters picking up her “Mom’s Devotional Bible” during her own private quiet time (the old “Women’s Devotional Bible” and even the previous upgraded “New Women’s Devotional Bible” are now relegated to the back of a bookshelf), but then when she wants to do a devotional with her husband, they both pull out their “Couple’s Devotional Bible”. Later that same day when it is time to do the family devotions, they all pull out their own “Daily Walk” family devotional Bibles.

I can’t, nor would I want to, judge any one person’s motivation for compiling a study Bible or devotional Bible. I have tried very hard to attempt to think that whenever any one of these study and devotional Bibles were put out, it was with the utmost respect for Scripture and a desire to correctly and effectively articulate and explain what God meant by what He said in His Word. So not judging the motivation of the producers, I do want to sit back and ask a question of the situation: just how much of the motivation to make different Study Bibles for teens, tweens, teen guys, and teen girls was based on the almighty dollar instead of the Almighty?

I have concerns with study Bibles in general (I’ll deal with that at a different time), but is it possible that the truth of the Bible itself is getting lost in the shuffle of all of the accessorizing, marketing, and general commercial exploitation of the Scriptures? I praise God that someone may be brought to salvation by reading through a “Divine Health” New Testament. Like Paul, I want rejoice that Christ is preached – whether it is done in pretense or in truth. But, how much of the muddled state of Christendom today is focused more on the packaging, the benefits, and the various life applications of the Bible instead of the God of the Bible Himself.

In my home, we have two children’s picture Bibles, a story-book Bible, two or three Study Bibles, and probably a dozen or so other versions of the Bible. I love the fact that both of my boys have a Bible that they can carry to Church (initiating habit forming behavior), that they can look at and “read” without my concern that the pages are going to rip too easily, and I love that they can associate with different stories. My oldest son usually turns to the page in his Bible that pictures the back of Jesus’ thorny crowned head to hear about Jesus when we sit down to read from his Bible. I have benefited in reading from the various translations that I have and studying what various theologians and commentators have written in order to expound and articulate what God meant by what He said.

So, again, I am not taking a shot at all different types of ways to communicate the truths of the Bible to different ages of people. I am just unsettled that as a prosperous society, we have produced a huge store of Bibles that, by the way that they are marketed, become outdated and somewhat useless for a new circumstance in life. There is a large difference in the understanding of a three, four, or five-year-old child and that of a man or woman at the prime of his or her mental acuity, discernment, and Spiritual growth. I understand that. And there seems very well to be a place for Biblical materials printed that are written at their level of understanding. But if that gets to a point where a child “needs” a devotional or study Bible for a pre-teen, then a tween, then a teenager (different for girls and boys), then (maybe finally) a college student, I am concerned that the focus tends to be more on the packaging and the commentary rather than on the substance. Is this multiplicity of editions of the Bible an example of a God honoring and blessed diversity, or is it a modern day example of money changers in the temple?

This very well could be a worthless rant of mine. I don’t think so (obviously, otherwise I wouldn’t have written it), but I am willing to be persuaded that my concerns are overblown. May the God of the Word move my heart (and your heart) to become evermore in need of the substance of His Word so that we can know and understand more about the God whom we serve.

1 Women’s Devotional Bible, New Women’s Devotional Bible, Family Life Marriage Bible, Today’s Devotional Bible, Mom’s Devotional Bible, Recovery Devotional Bible, Couple’s Devotional Bible, Women of Faith Study Bible, NIV The Learning Bible, Youth Walk, Teen Study

Copyright © 2005-2010 Eric Johnson