Friday, November 19, 2021

How I got convinced by the Textus Receptus

 The Textus Receptus aka Received Text is the basis for the NT part of the KJV and those translations that follow its tradition.

Now, what convinced me that I should standardize on this text?

It was the NKJV!

Yes, that is what happened to me. The NKJV helped me to determine that the TR holds the orthodox teaching of early Christians.

I have heard a lot of conspiracy theories against NKJV because it has these myriad of footnotes about the text. The assertion is that these textual comments lead the reader away from the Received Text. Yet, that is not what happened to me. What happened to me was the reverse.


Many years ago, I bought a leather bound NKJV NT (nice leather actually, you cannot find this anymore, unfortunately, I believe I gave it away to a relative). 


It had of course, some footnotes, but I focus for you only the one that caused me to think.


This NKJV comment here:

NU omit - meaning the Nestle-Aland Union Greek collection omits this word or phrase or passage.


What I did was to highlight all occurrences of these comments, even using a marker.

I discovered that if you follow the said comment, you will miss out in explicit terms some orthodox teachings of Christianity.

An example of this is Mk 16:9-20 being reportedly omitted in the Nestle-Aland.

That involved a support for the Great Commission, the teaching on faith and baptism and signs and charismatic gifts which St Paul experienced.

Another is  1 John 5:13, this is a verse which powerfully supports the promise we now have eternal life for us who believe in Christ.


After this discovery, I seemed to have neglected it. I got affected with Bible translation trends and fell into considering other translations like the NASB, the NRSV and ESV. I used the NRSV a lot. Funny but I got into these translations because the pastor who had an influence on me used the RSV. We should really double check the person we look up to and respect, for after all they are like us, human beings too.


Some maybe 10 years ago, I read that you can re-construct the TR passages from the quotation of the Church Fathers.

This fact and my discovery experience with NKJV led me to conclude - I should stick to the TR. I still have these other translations, as a reference, but I do not use them for my personal Bible Study or personal devotion.


That is what happened.

Sunday, October 10, 2021

Heroes

 

I have been thinking about heroes lately. I was asking myself the question, who is my hero, my example for faith. I have to confess, there was a time when Luther indeed was my hero. Don't get me wrong, I still to this day, respect and appreciate his insights but in all honesty, when I read the writings of St Paul, when I see his meekness, tenderness and gentleness on how he treated those who were straying away from the faith, and how he rebuked false teachers, in love. St Paul was like his Master, Christ. Luther is admirrable but I think he and I would have St Paul as our hero. 


In the academic training I obtained they gave us an unspoken culture that we are to be 'a scholar and a gentleman' - I knew we were being taught how to be one by the way we were to deal and behave ourselves in discussion that involve argumentation. That means, we will only accept as arguments coming from ourselves, and from others, comments with no fallacies allowed.


Today, social media is helping us give in to the works of our flesh. It seems it is a lot more easier today to be impatient and attack those whom we disagree. Most of the comments I see in social medial platforms are down right ad hominem personal attacks rather than addressing the point on the table. Slurs, disdain and sarcasm are promoted and apllauded even by those who claim to be "ordained Ministers of the Word". They do not really give their audience help because these communication devices are so far off from rebuking the false. False is only countered by the True based on evidence, data, facts.


I am for sure am guilty of the same bad form and this blog post is a way of saying, I am sorry at the times I displayed the same  things of which I am rebutting now. I apologise.


Here is an example 



wherein snarkyness is even justified. Examples and allusions to Jesus and Luther are made. One choice verse to even say that Jesus used snark is in Matthew 23 - read all the reference to Scribes and Pharisees there.


My reply:


1. The preacher assumes too much, and is anachronistic in justifying his style. Pretext IMO.

2. Jesus did no such thing, he did not need to insult, rather he was pronouncing judgement on the Pharissees and Scribes - and he has the right to do so because he is the Judge of the Whole Earth, The Lord. It is his assessment of them, no insult but truth. It is argument backed up with facts. Christ weighed their works and he declared their works to be wanting. No snark required.

3. At anyrate, you ain't Jesus.

Well what about Luther - did not Luther use such devices? I think he did. But again, you ain't Luther and I am also embarassed for him at the times he did exhibit the said lowly form.

In actuality, engagement in such poor communication rhetorics prove that the minister is impoverished and poor. We are wiser to admit it in ourselves. I heard some call them "losers" but this maybe a very strong term which I dare not use.

In 1 Peter 3:15 - we are to communicate our position in gentleness and respect. If we look more, this is something very evident in the writings of St Paul and other NT writers, the other Apostles.

All of them preached like their Master, Christ. 1 Peter 3:15 mentions meekness and respect - these are not the works of the flesh but rather they are work of the Spirit - Gal 5:22.


I thank Luther for his wisdom and insights but if I need a human as a role model, a Christian who made it, a person who lived life characterized by love, joy, patience with those in whom he opposed - a Christian who lived the teachings of Christ, I say we got one right there - St Paul. 




Monday, August 23, 2021

We must believe, in Christ we have a gracious God

 

We must trust and believe we have a gracious Father because of Jesus. No matter what trouble God allows to come we must believe He is good. 

Why?

We are sinners there is no requirement for God to be gracious to sinners yet because we know he sent and gave his best, his Son, to die and pay for our sins God can be gracious and is faithful to sinners who believe in the Lord. 

Our prayers in many cases are mixed with our tears, yet, we must look at Jesus, the Gift of God on the cross and we can be convinced - God can be gracious to us.

Watch this promise below. It is so magnanimous our mind find it hard to wrap around it; but it is there, we did not write it, the HS did. It is for us, sinners begging for mercy from an Almighty God. Look at the things you have been provided, food on the table, roof above your head, alive today reading this post. Things could be worst, but if this is not what you are experiencing, turn to God and ask him to be gracious to you on account of Christ. He will and has, you will see all things will work together for your good.

Romans 8:31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? 33 Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written:

“For Your sake we are killed all day long;
We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”

37 Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. 38 For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, 39 nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Monday, April 05, 2021

Thank you, Pietists! I mean it!

 


Many so called “confessionals” are offended with Pietism. Many pastors who claim to being “confessional’ deem them to be the enemy of “the faith”. The pietists emphasized life more than doctrine, it is behaviour over theology. They hate it with vigorous hatred. Indeed, it is to your doom once you are labelled a “pietist”.  There are many bad words amongst “confessionals” you dare not get pinned on you. This probably takes the cake.

 

Whereas to the extreme, some of the Pietists value much, living the faith, that it deteriorates Christianity to a work-based religion, there are some things I respect and learn from Pietism.

I must remember that Pietism is a reaction to dead orthodoxy. Hence, if you do not want pietism to rise in your midst, stop being dead in your faith.

Dead orthodoxy, stinks like a dead church mouse. Pietism is a rightful rejection of it. Pietism did not rise from a vacuum; it arose out of human reflection on one’s life in line with Christ’s teaching in comparison to believing versus the doing. You do not need to look away from you to others, you just look at your own life, and you will agree, it is stale like bland bread. Faith produces works.  Faith without works is dead. Even James 2:14-26.

What I observe with dead orthodox people is that in the main, there is lack of love, when in fact this is what faith is supposed to produce. In the NT, the Pharisees valued observance of rules over love and compassion for the people in need. Jesus’ very actions rebuked this proud idea - we see this encounter in Matt 12: 1-14. For the Lord, doing something compassionate for a person in need, is more important than following the rules.

Dead orthodoxy, does not have faith that leads to love, it just has rules. It prides itself with following rules from tradition. Mk 7:7-13.

Dead orthodoxy does not like talking about demonstrable expressions of faith; when you get emotional with Jesus, that is a no-no. It denies that faith that produces love for God and fellowman does not have to affect you. Correct, I said, affect. It is impossible to say we love Christ and we are indifferent towards him, or to say, we love our brothers and sisters in the faith and not feel their sorrow nor feel their joy. Affection, people who claim “orthodoxy” don’t have this.

In dead orthodoxy, affirming sets of assertions, thus doctrines, is much easier than working on repenting of your behaviour. It is a great substitute for being accepted by your circle and even transposing it to think you are being accepted by God.

To me pietism is really a reaction against hypocrisy.

This love that faith produces according to St Paul in Gal 5:6, he also defines, in 1 Cor 13:1-13. This is the character of this love. He even says, even if I have understanding of all knowledge and have no love, I am still nothing. Even if I have faith to believe the impossible to happen, and yet have no love, I am still nothing.

This love combines mercy and truth together – it is found in our Lord Jesus who is described by St John where grace and truth are found John 1:17. The Psalmist said the same Ps 85:10. Dead orthodoxy has one but does not have the other, which is fake after all because love is not found nor evident in it.

Jesus and his disciples like Paul and John talked about love. If we miss this important issue, we miss the whole point of the Lord’s teaching. St John even says God is love. It is the fruit of the HS. 

You want rules? Only one rule Gal 5:14. All laws are fulfilled in with one word – love.

Love to many is not interesting – having a theological brawl is more exciting. People are bored by this teaching about having love for our neighbour and even our enemies. It is less attractive because it is hard. Indulging in believing this or that is a lot easier, you can do it on the couch.

What the Good Samaritan did was hard. It involved his time, his money and his energy, but it was he who showed love not those who claim orthodoxy such as the scribe who passed by.

To miss a faith in Christ that has no love is to miss the whole point of the Christian faith.

Actually, maybe I should have changed my title of this post.

Maybe it should be -- Thank you, Pharisees! I mean it!

 

 

 

 

Thursday, December 24, 2020

Christianity is Word based

 


This year, I met a new friend. Much younger than me who sponsors my technical seminars I do in a Meet Up group. We discovered we got the same skepticism with what we hear from the MSM. He is very concern with the loss of freedom people in the world are experiencing. 

His ancestry came from East EU background, I detected it through his name. He said, his family came from Russia and they came from a Jewish background. We got to talk about Christianity and how I know about his faith, though he said he is none conformant and follows their ways out of tradition.

In the discussion, I said to him, well you see Christianity, many people do not see is a WORD based religion. He was shock when I said that. He said "hmmmm, that is interesting, with us (Judaism), it is always action based" - I said, I know. I said, we do not deny the need for action, but we do affirm the supremacy first of WORDS.

For example, for how does one become a Christian? We have words, we use our message to tell and that message is the message of Christ, how he answered the Law on our behalf and that faith in his person and work obtains for us, forgiveness of sins.

This is not something you can arrive at through your imaginings and rational reflection. It has to be delivered to you, from another side, outside you. Where as I returned to theism after being an atheist in college through looking at the sky, I would have not known the meaning of Jesus' coming until I heard it preached to me, the meaning of that coming of Christ.

Whenever I read Luther, I come out convinced, he absolutely believed in the transforming power of the Word, of Scripture.

John 6

63 It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life.

Psalm 19: 7

The law of the Lord is perfect, [a]converting the soul;
The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;

2 Cor 4

13 And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed and therefore I spoke,” we also believe and therefore speak,

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Tribal Triumphalism

 We know we belong to some tribe of some category with some name. What do I mean by this. Well, we know we belong to some way of thinking, some school of thought or some form of world view. It will have a label, a name we identify with.

That is the tribe we consider we belong so, the group we gather with.

I mentioned that tribalism has a name. Politically, in the US it can be the GOP or the Dems. Name it in your country, you who are reading this is likely to identify with some grouping of some type.

Here we like to talk about the tribalism applied to religion, particularly in the Christian faith.

It has been said that the denominations where we belong are like tribes in a federation under the Christian banner.

In Lutheranism, it is the synod where one belongs.

Now tack into this the triumphalism. Triumphalism is the idea that you are triumphant above all else, so a supremacist in a sort of way.

Get the two concepts together, you get tribal triumphalism that works this way, your group holds the pure body of truth about faith and practice exclusively and to the exclusion of others.

In other words, your tribe has arrived, you and your group has reached the top, no more need to learn.

This can be observed through pride and often rejects any fair points emanating from groups that don't have the same label as yours. In fact tribal triumphalist ministers reply back with put downs when discussing groups not aligned with their views.

Tribal triumphalists are doomed to disintegrate and to be no more. Christianity will survive but your group you are proud off can disappear.

Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall.


Tribal triumphalists are smug and insult St Paul who never claimed such a thing.


Phil 3: 12 Not that I have already attained,[c] or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. 13 Brethren, I do not count myself to have [d]apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead, 14 I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus


Tribal triumphalists can see without glasses so they know all and can explain all why they are the singularly kingdom of God.


1 Cor 13:12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.


Tribal triumphalists by its very nature cannot be catholic (small c, not big C - because big C are tribal triumphalists themselves) Christians no matter how much they claim to be.  


1 John 3:14  We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren. He who does not love his brother abides in death.


The cure for this disease, is to stop over estimating one's position in comparison to others. We can still learn from people who are mistaken, at least how not to do it their way 


Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.

A very long time ago, I went to a seminar conducted by a minister who experienced burn out in the ministry. It was Pr Jerry Cook. He was selling his book entitled - A Few Things I Learned Since I Knew it All.

In my journey with my Christian faith I often think about the title of this book, the attitude of knowing it all and arriving always spells, you have to stop and stopping to no longer learning, leads to disaster and disappointment. May God help us not to overrate ourselves.

 

Sunday, May 31, 2020

The problem with Evangelicals, Pentecostals and Charismatics

The problem with the brothers and sisters in the Evangelical, Pentecostal and Charismatics movement is not that they don't believe. They do.

In fact, they are sincere and they easily believe in the power of God to alter human and individual historical trajectories. I have been there and I know and have sympathies for their sincere and tender hearts.


The problem is not that they do not believe, the problem is that they BELIEVE EASILY so much so that they become fodder for false teachers who make merchandise of their faith.

False teaching and false teachers thrive in an environment where the spiritual guard of the Christian is not up but down. But we should separate the sheep from the wolves that devour them. Some of their preachers and teachers do not know themselves that they are already abusing Scripture. For sure they are subject always to spiritual seduction. Yet this state of affairs are not only present in this movement, it is also present in old time mainstream denominations and synods. This is not entirely exclusive to the evangelical, pentecostal, and charimatic Christians.

If we be honest not entirely what they practice are not with Scriptural support, like praying and laying hands on the sick, raising their hands in worship, having quiet time for devotions etc.  They are found in Scripture.

2 Peter 2: 1-3
But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction. 2 And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not

The teleevangelists do make use of them for monetary gains because of their gullibility.

However, though some doctrines are abused it does not mean they should not be use, but rather the corrective is to stay on the track of their proper use.

ab abusu ad usum non valet consequentia - Abusive use does not preclude proper use.