The purpose of this series is to help Christians think through the doctrine of Scripture and provide practical guidance on not only how to read the Bible but to deal with objections and attacks on the Bible.
The past few years have seen an increase in attacks on the doctrine of inerrancy. These attacks on inerrancy have mostly been focused on the term “inerrancy” itself, or on whether its’ biblical or was even taught throughout Church history. In a fairly recent article David Loose author of Making Sense of Scripture argues that, “At no place in its more than 30,000 verses does the Bible claim that it is factually accurate in terms of history, science, geography and all other matters (the technical definition of inerrancy).”[i]
Before I get into the heart of my response, I appreciate that Mr. Loose accurately represented my position which is the verbal plenary and total inerrancy of Scripture. Mr. Loose says, “Inerrant” itself is not a word found in the Bible or even known to Christian theologians for most of history. Rather, the word was coined in the middle of the 19th century as a defensive counter measure to the increased popularity of reading the Bible as one would other historical documents and the discovery of manifold internal inconsistencies and external inaccuracies.”[ii]
The argument advanced by Mr. Loose are common among those who say that the term inerrancy is too precise and that in an ordinary usage it denotes a kind of absolute scientific precision that we do not want to claim for Scripture. Furthermore, those who make this objection think the term inerrancy is not used in the Bible itself. Therefore, they think it is probably an inappropriate term for Christians to use.
Dr. Wayne Grudem notes, “First, the scholars who have used the term inerrancy have defined it clearly for over a hundred years, and they have always allowed for the “limitations” that attach to speech in ordinary language. In no case has the term been used to denote any kind of scientific precision by any responsible representative of the inerrancy position. Therefore those who raise this objection to the term are not giving careful enough attention to the way in which it has been used in theological discussions for more than a century.”[iii]
Grudem continues, “Second it should be noted that Christians use nonbiblical terms to summarize a biblical teaching. The word Trinity does not occur in Scripture, nor does the word incarnation. Yet both of these terms are very helpful because they allow us to summarize in one word a true biblical concept, and they are therefore helpful in enabling us to discuss a biblical teaching more easily.”[iv] Grudem sttes, “It should also be noted that no other single word has been proposed which says as clearly what we want to affirm when we wish to talk about total truthfulness in language. The word inerrancy does this quite well, and there seems to be no reason not to continue to use it for that purpose.”[v]
Grudem concludes, “Finally, in the church today we seem to be unable to carry on the discussion around this topic without the use of this term. People may object to this term if they wish, but, like it or not, this is the term about which the discussion has focused and almost certainly will continue to focus in the next several decades. When the International Council on Biblical Inerrancy (ICBI) in 1977 began a ten-year campaign to promote and defend the idea of biblical inerrancy, it became inevitable that this word would be one about which discussion would proceed. The “Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy,” which was drafted and published in 1978 under ICBI sponsorship, defined what most evangelicals mean by inerrancy, perhaps not perfectly but quite well, and further objections to such a widely used and well-defined term seem to be unnecessary and unhelpful to the church.”[vi]
Mr. Loose claims that the term “inerrant” itself is not a word found in the Bible but the real question we need to ask ourselves is if his contention is true or whether it is false. Inspiration is an attempt to translate a word that occurs only once in the New Testament. The word is found in 2 Timothy 3:16. The Greek word used in 2 Timothy 3:16 is theopneustos. This term is made from two words, one being the word for God (Theos, as in theology) and the other referring to breath or wind (pneustos, as in pneumonia and pneumatic). It is significant that the word is used in 2 Timothy 3:16 passively. In other words, God did not “breathe into” (inspire) all Scripture, but it was “breathed out” by God (expired). Thus, 2 Timothy 3:16 is not about how the Bible came to us but where it came from. The Scriptures are “God-breathed.”
Two words are sometimes used to explain the extent of biblical inerrancy: plenary and verbal. Plenary comes from the Latin plenus, which means “full,” and refers to the fact that the whole Scripture in every part is God-given. Verbal comes from the latin verbum, which means “word”, and emphasizes that even the words of Scripture are God-given. Plenary and verbal inspiration means the Bible is God-given (and therefore without error) in every part (doctrine, history, geography, dates, names) and in every single word.
The Old Testament writers saw their message as God-breathed and utterly reliable. God promises Moses he would eventually send another prophet (Jesus Christ) who would also speak God’s words like Moses had done. “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.” (Deut. 18:18) Jeremiah was told at the beginning of his ministry he would speak for God “Then the Lord put out his hand and touched my mouth. And the Lord said to me, “Behold, I have put my words in your mouth.” (Jer. 1:9)
Peter and John saw the words of David in Psalm 2 not merely as the opinion of the King of Israel, but as the voice of God. They introduced a quotation from that Psalm in a prayer to God in Acts 4:25 by saying, “Who by the mouth of Your servant David have said: ‘Why did the nations rage, and the people plot vain things?’”
Similarly, Paul accepted Isaiah’s words as God Himself speaking to men: “And disagreeing among themselves, they departed after Paul had made one statement: “The Holy Spirit was right in saying to your fathers through Isaiah the prophet” (Acts 28:25). So convinced were the writers of the New Testament that all the words of the Old Testament Scripture were the actual words of God that they even claimed, “Scripture says,” when the words quoted came directly from God. Two examples are Romans 9:17, “For the Scripture says to Pharaoh,” and Galatians 3:8, in which Paul wrote, “the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel to Abraham beforehand..” in Hebrews 1 many of the Old Testament passages quoted were actually addressed to God by the Psalmist, yet the writer to the Hebrews refers to them as the words of God.
In John 10:34 Jesus quoted from Psalm 82:6 and based His teaching upon a phrase: “I said, ‘You are gods.’” In other words, Jesus proclaimed that the words of this psalm were the words of God. Similarly in Matthew 22:31-32 He claimed the words of Exodus 3:6 were given to them by God. In Matthew 22:43-44 our Lord quoted from Psalm 110:1 and pointed out that David wrote these words “in the Spirit,” meaning he was actually writing the words of God.
Mr. Loose believes that “inerrant” itself is not a word found in the Bible or even known to Christian theologians for most of history.” Rather, according to him, “the word was coined in the middle of the 19th century as a defensive counter measure to the increased popularity of reading the Bible as one would other historical documents and the discovery of manifold internal inconsistencies and external inaccuracies.”[vii]
The problem with the claim by Mr. Loose that “inerrancy was not known to Christian theologians for most of history” and “the word was coined in the middle of the 19th century as a defense counter measure to the increased popularity of reading the Bible as one would other historical documents and the discovery of manifold internal inconsistences and external inaccuracies” is that it is completely false and fails to actually understand that the Christian church has always affirmed the verbal plenary inspiration and total inerrancy of the Word of God.
Dr. Feinberg notes, “The Church has historically acknowledged that the Scripture in its original manuscripts and properly interpreted is completely true and without any error in everything it affirms, whether that has to do with doctrine, moral conduct, or matters of history, cosmology, geography, and the like.”[viii]
The early church fathers to the 16th century Protestant Reformers across Europe, and up to the present day conservative evangelicals, have all affirmed verbal plenary inspiration, and inerrancy. While not all used the terms “infallibility” or “inerrancy” many expressed the concepts, and there is no doubt they believed it. It was Augustine (354-430 A.D.) who first coined the term “inerrant,” and Luther and Calvin (16th Century) who spoke of Scripture as free from error.”[ix] Augustine in a letter to Jerome said “Scripture has never erred” and “I have learned to hold only the Holy Scripture inerrant.”[x]
Clement of Rome in the first century said, “Look carefully into the Scriptures, which are the true utterances of the Holy Spirit. Observe that nothing of an unjust or counterfeit character is written in them.”[xi] Clement of Rome (A.D. 80-100 taught, “You have looked closely into the Holy Scriptures, which are given through the Holy Spirit. You know that nothing unrighteous or falsified has been written in them.” (1 Clement, XLV. 2.3.) Justin Martyr (165 AD) spoke of the Gospels as the “Voice of God” (Apology 65). He stated, “We must not supposed that the language proceeds from men who were inspired, but from the Divine Word which moves them” (1.36). Irenaeus (202) added that the Bible is “above all falsehood” (Against Heresies 3.5.1) and we are “most properly assured that the Scriptures are indeed perfect since, they are spoken by the Word of God and His Spirit” (2.28.2; 2.35). A century later, Irenaeus concluded, “The Scriptures are indeed perfect, since they were spoken by the Word of God and his Spirit.”[xii] Augustine wrote to Jerome (A.D. 394), “It seems to me that most disastrous consequence to follow upon our believing anything false is found in the sacred books, that is to say, that the men by whom the Scriptures have been given to us, and committed in writing, did not put down in these books anything false.” (Cited by James Olive Buswell, Outlines of Theology, 24.) Calvin thought of Scripture as “the sure and infallible record,” “the inerring standard,” “the pure Word of God,” “the infallible rule of His Holy Truth,” “free from every stain or defect,” “the inerring certainty,” “the certain and unerring rule,” “unerring light,” “infallible Word of God,” “has nothing belonging to man mixed with it,” “inviolable,” “infallible oracles.” Inerrancy was the view of Augustine, Luther, and Calvin, as well as of the entire church; inerrancy is the ‘central church tradition.” (John D. Hannah, ed., Inerrancy and the Church (Chicago: Moody, Press, 1984), ix.). The Evangelical Theological Society (ETS) was founded in 1949 and had a singular doctrinal statement at its founding that affirmed inerrancy: “The Bible alone, and the Bible in its entirety, is the Word of God written and is therefore inerrant in the autographs. (“Evangelical Scholars Remove Robert Gundry for His Views on Matthew,” Christianity Today, February 3, 1984.)
The Chicago Statement on biblical Inerrancy (1978) was the written outcome of a consultation by leading evangelicals concerned about the defection among Christians—even a significant number of evangelicals—from belief in Scripture’s complete truthfulness. The statement said much about the doctrine of inerrancy and defined it very clearly arguing for the verbal plenary inspiration and inerrancy of Scripture. The Chicago Statement linked the inspiration of Scripture and its inerrancy: “We affirm that inspiration, though not conferring omniscience, guaranteed true and trustworthy utterance on all matters of which the bible authors were moved to speak and write. We deny that the finitude or fallenness of these writers, by necessity or otherwise, introduced distortion or falsehood into God’s Word.”[xiii]
Indeed, the Chicago Statement affirmed “that the doctrine of inerrancy is grounded in the teaching of the Bible about inspiration.”[xiv] “In response to criticism that he term inerrancy is a poor one—it is the negative idea (“without error”)—the Chicago Statement urged the continued use of the term. It also emphasized that contemporary challenges to inerrancy have not defeated the doctrine.”[xv]
During his ministry Charles Spurgeon the “Prince of Preachers” faced attacks on the doctrine of Scripture on every front but stood firm for the complete trustworthiness of the Word of God. Spurgeon’s example is instructive for evangelicals and evangelicalism at large because if Church history has taught us anything it should be that when a high view (the biblical view) of the Word of God is upheld then Jesus will be brought glory. The example of Spurgeon is especially important in this regard as he had a high view of God’s Word and of His Son Jesus Christ. Spurgeon proclaimed the Word of God in a time when truth was under attack, much like today, but did not compromise.
Spurgeon continues to make an impact even though he’s been dead for one hundred and twenty years, because he did not compromise on the Gospel or the Word of God. Spurgeon was a man aflame with the glory of the grace of God. Spurgeon made an impact because of his passion for and stance on evangelical truth, which he contended for, defended, and proclaimed with all of his might to the glory of God. Men of passion and conviction are needed in evangelicalism today, men and women who will contend, defend and proclaim the truth of substitutionary atonement, the authority and inspiration of Scripture, eternal punishment for unbelievers, original sin, and the absoluteness of Christianity.
Every generation of believers must determine if they are going to stand for biblical truth or lay down their swords and accept the lie of liberalism. While David Loose claims that the Bible and church history doesn’t teach total inerrancy by emphasizing only his opinion in his comments and no serious engagement with what Scripture teaches, or what the Church has taught in its history, he bases his view not on the Word of God but on the shifting sand of his opinion.
David Loose is not alone in questioning the doctrine of inerrancy as many others are questioning the authority of the Word of God either through how they use the Bible, what they think about Adam as a historical person or their stance on gender roles. This generation of believers will have to decide– as did Spurgeon– if they will stand on the Truth of the Word of God and lift up the Son of God among the nations, or whether they will lay down their sword and succumb to the lie of liberalism.
At the end of the day, Spurgeon was right “believers must never adjust the Bible to the age, but the age to the Bible.”[xvi] Believers have been given the Word of God not to speculate on, but to study, to mediate upon, contend for, defend and proclaim to the nations. The Word of God always stands in judgment of men never do men stand in judgment of it. This fact reveals the fundamental problem going on inside and outside the church by exposing as Spurgeon knew in his time that the issues of today are old issues rooted in who is authoritative, God or man. As with every generation before and everyone after it, the Truth of God’s Word will remain authoritative, unchanging and unrelenting as it seeks to lift high the name and glory of Jesus among the nations.
As the Word of God did its work in Spurgeon’s time so today evangelicals can be encouraged that the Word of God is sharper than any two edged sword (Hebrews 4:12). The Word of God is the means God uses by His Spirit to pierce the heart of the convinced atheist, rejecters like Judas, and deniers like Peter. Evangelicals today need to stand firm in the grace of God and the Word by looking to the example of men like Spurgeon and be encouraged that God by His grace is still working to bring people to Himself and build His church for His glory and praise.
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[iii] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994, 2000), 95.
[viii] Paul D. Feinberg, “the Meaning of Ierrrancy,” in Inerrancy, ed. Norman Geisler (Grand rapids: Zondervan, 1982), 294.
[ix] Klaas Runia, “The Hermeneutics of the Reformers,” Calvin Theological Journal 19 (1984), 129-32.
[x] Augustine, Letters of St. Augustine.
[xi] Clement of Rome First letter to the Corinthians XLV.
[xii] Irenaeus, Against Heresies, HVII.2.
[xiii] The Chicago Statement on Biblical Inerrancy, art; 9, in Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1994, 2000), 1205.
[xiv] Ibid., art. 15, in Grudem, Systematic Theology, 1206.
[xv] Ibid., art. 13, in Grudem Systematic Theology, 1206. In pointing this out, the Chicage Statement was keeping with a tradition among evangelicals that recognized this point. John Murray affirmed: “In maintaining and defending biblical inerrancy it is necessary to bear in mind that our concept of inerrancy is to be derived from Scripture itself. A similar necessity appears in connection with the criteria of truth and of right. We may not impose upon the Bible our own standards of truthfulness or our own notions of right and wrong. It is easy for the proponents of inerrancy to set up certain canons of inerrancy which are arbitrarily conceived and which prejudice the whole question from the outset. And it is still easier for the opponents of inerrancy to set up certain criteria in terms of which the Bible could easily be shown to be in error. Both attempts must be resisted.” John Murray “Inspiration and Inerrancy,” in Collected Writings (Carlisle, Pa..: Banner of truth Trust, 1976, 4:25-26.
[xvi] Charles Spurgeon, An All-Around Ministry: Addresses to Ministers and Students (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1906), 230.
On March 15, 44 BC (Ides of March), deception came to Julius Caesar, who was literally stabbed in the back, while he pronounced the now famous words to his friend, “Et tu, Brute”? (meaning, “And you,” or “You too, Brutus?”).
Have you ever felt betrayed by a close friend? What about another Christian? How about an equal, a real companion? How did you react? Psalm 55 helps us deal with anguish and betrayal. In this post, I will provide four teaching points.
This Psalm has been said to reflect the betrayal of Christ, by Judas; however, I believe it was written when King David was double crossed by his true friend and counselor, Ahithophel; when Absalom, David’s son, conspired to overthrow the kingdom. Other than the Passion of Christ; undoubtedly, there is no greater story of treachery, conspiracy, and back-stabbing then that of Ahithophel and Absalom. Instead of going into great detail regarding the overthrow of David’s kingdom, we do need to mention David’s reaction to Ahithophel’s defection and Absalom’s conspiracy:
2 Samuel 15:30-31, “David went up the ascent of the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went, barefoot and with his head covered. And all the people who were with him covered their heads, and they went up, weeping as they went. And it was told David, ‘Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom.’ And David said, ‘O LORD, please turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness.”
Christians portray David as some sort of super-hero with nerves of steel; however, the Psalms illustrate his emotions, joys, and tears. In Psalm 55, David cried out to the Lord, to hear his “plea for mercy” (v.1). Read David’s soulful lament:
“Attend to me, and answer me; I am restless in my complaint and I moan…My heart is in anguish within me; the terrors of death have fallen upon me. Fear and trembling come upon me, and horror overwhelms me. And I say, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest…” (Psalm 55:2, 4-6).
Wow, David moans—have you ever moaned in despair to God? Have you ever felt a heart of anguish? David states that he can’t sleep, his soul literally is trembling with an overwhelming horror. Wait a minute—isn’t this the man who took down the giant Goliath? Isn’t this the man who had “slain his tens of thousands”? The one continuum throughout the Bible is evidencing that each of our “heroes,” are completely fallible, human, and need of God. David is no different. Finding his circumstances out of his control brings him to his knees. How about you? Perhaps as David, you would like to sprout wings and “fly away” from your current problems?
How does David demonstrate a godly way of dealing with anguish/betrayal?
1. Identify the Problem
“For it is not an enemy who taunts me—then I could bear it; it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me—then I could hide from him. But it is you, a man, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend. We used to take sweet counsel together; within God’s house we walked in the throng.” (55:12-14)
David shows that his “enemy” is no enemy at all; in reality, the troubler of his heart is a man who walked with him in “God’s house,” assuredly not a pagan, but a “companion.” It really hurts when the people we dearly love betray us. But, let us not blame others or gossip, but seek to identify the real problem and submit it to God. David reiterates to the LORD:
“My companion stretched out his hand against his friends; he violated his covenant. His speech was smooth as butter, yet war was in his heart; his words were softer than oil, yet they were drawn swords” (55:20-21).
David’s betrayer lived in covenant with him; meaning, he was extremely close. David states that “his speech was smooth as butter…yet they were drawn swords.” Did you catch that? Have you ever had someone stab you in the back with smooth words? This is what David is identifying; his “friend” is a back-stabber! Ahithophel was David’s counselor, confidant, and now conspirator. Ahithophel knows David’s thoughts, feelings, hopes, and dreams…a man who walked in covenant with him. Maybe a loved one has left you, betrayed you, or desires suddenly to see your demise? Look at David’s response…identify your problem and give it to God.
2. Be Honest
David was honest with his emotions, before God. David states, “Destroy, O Lord, divide their tongues…” (55:9); “Let death steal over them; let them go down to [the grave] alive; for evil is in their dwelling place and in their heart” (55:15). Assuredly when people do us wrong, we want revenge; we want to hurt them back; we want them to feel our agony and pain. However, honesty goes a long way; especially, when coupled with humility. David’s exposed heart before God does not hide his intent for violence, and hurt feelings. To the contrary, David’s words express truth to a Creator, who already knows; David does not conceal his heart.
Are you being honest with God concerning someone who has hurt you? If you are struggling with this, ask God to reveal your heart and help you through this difficult time. This leads us into the second to last point.
3. Don’t Take Matters into Your Own Hands
You may be thinking, I thought we are to love our enemies? Yes, David wished evil and death upon his conspirators, but the very next verse illustrates an imperative for us: “But I call to God, and the LORD will save me. Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice” (55:16-17). David never ceased to call upon God. David could have easily taken this fight into his own hands, but he cried out to God, all throughout the day. David acknowledged that God heard his voice. Do you fear that God is not listening? If so, have you poured out your heart before him, with all honesty? If we have unforgiveness, then surely our prayers can be hindered…remember, be honest!
4. Reinforce Your Faith
David knows that he can trust God. He reinforces his faith by reminding himself, “Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you, he will never permit the righteous to be moved” (55:22). Our adversary is a liar—don’t allow him to put thoughts into your head. God is for you, not against you. David ends his lament, “…I will trust in you” (55:23). Let me ask you, where is your trust and faith? Do you let the cruel thoughts, evil actions, and wicked deeds of others to control you? As it has been said, “If you allow someone to anger you, then they can inevitably control you.” Therefore, put your trust in God, meditate on the Word, and reflect upon His saving power.
Let’s recap: (1) identify your problem, (2) be honest with God regarding your emotions/feelings/heart, (3) don’t take matters into your own hands, and (4) reinforce your faith, by submitting to God.
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To say that Christianity and by extension the Word of God is under assault in our world today is arguably the biggest understatement of the century. Seemingly everywhere one looks, biblical truth is viewed as antiquated, intolerant, and subject to the shifting sands of the daily opinion polls of society. In the midst of this furor, believers are called by God to stand firm on the foundation of biblical truth and to be ever ready to give a defense for what we believe. Chris Sinkinson, in his helpful book Backchat: Answering Christianity’s Critics, outlines a number of ways in which believers can provide an apologetic to issues in society, matters of history, the big overarching questions of life, the church, and daily news events.
Sinkinson rightly notes in the introduction to this timely book, “Rather than being meekly apologetic, the Christian is to be confident in putting forward their case and dealing with objections.” Our comportment in doing so is often just as important as the information we provide in our apologetic. After all, we are exhorted in Scripture to provide our apologetic with “gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). It is quite tempting to lash out with ridicule those who themselves ridicule the truth of Scripture. Such an approach should not be a hallmark of the believer’s apologetics toolkit and I appreciated Sinkinson driving home that important point right at the outset.
For those desiring a deep dive into various matters of apologetics whether that is apologetics methodology, in-depth responses to critics of any number of theological matters, or an elaboration of how to respond to the problem of evil, be advised that is not the focus of Sinkinson throughout this book. While he does indeed address a number of important issues, his purpose is not to provide a lengthy thesis on matters of apologetics. Conversely, this book is intended to help the reader understand what some of the current issues facing believers are and how best to formulate a response to such issues.
For example, many willingly or unwittingly jump on certain bandwagons such as the seemingly continual declaration that some archaeologist or hiker has stumbled across Noah’s Ark. While such a discovery would certainly be very interesting if it were true, promulgating unsubstantiated claims of what continues to be in reality nothing more than an internet hoax or a story depleted of actual fact does not serve the apologetical mission of the believer well at all. Sinkinson advises the reader, if they indeed desire to utilize matters of history to defend the faith to focus on actual verifiable historical evidence even if that evidence does not carry the spectacular appeal of discovering Noah’s Ark or the long lost Ark of the Covenant. Such things are the stuff of Hollywood. Sinkinson aptly notes that in response to historians who try to minimalize biblical history such as in the case of King David, the Christian apologist can utilize archaeological finds such as the excavations at Dan and the inscriptions found at that site that reference the “House of David” and “King of Israel.” These are finds that shout from the archaeological rooftops that “King David and his royal dynasty could not be dismissed to the shadows of mythology.”
While Backchat is not as noted earlier a compendium of apologetical facts and methodology, it is a helpful introduction for the new apologist and a helpful reminder to even the most seasoned apologist of remaining focused on the true task at hand. For those who desire to engage in more depth the various issues Sinkinson presents, he does provide an excellent bibliography divided into the various sections he covers in his book. These resources will provide the reader with excellent material as they further develop and hone their apologetical arguments.
I highly recommend Backchat for those new to the effort of apologetics as well as those who have been engaged in the battle for some time. Sinkinson does an excellent job of giving the reader much food for thought on a number of important issues of our day while ensuring that in the middle of the back and forth battles with those who decry the truth of Scripture, we remain vigilant as well as responding with the utmost grace to those who so desperately need to hear God’s message of truth found in His word.
This book is available for purchase from Christian Focus Publications by clicking here.
I received this book for free from Christian Focus Publications for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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The Christmas season is a wonderful time of family traditions to include putting up decorations, gathering together for a sumptuous meal, and unwrapping presents early on Christmas morning. Much has been said about the commercialization of Christmas and the tendency to forget the true reason we even celebrate the occasion. Marty Machowski in his helpful family devotional aptly titled Prepare Him Room: Celebrating the Birth of Jesus, returns the reader to the proper focus of Christmas, namely the incarnation of the Son of God and all that entails.
As noted, this book is a devotional and thus is written in a manner that allows it to be used over the course of the Advent season as part of family devotions. Each week of Advent has three parts devoted to it by Machowski, each focusing on a particular element of the coming of Jesus. In an effort to maximize family participation in the devotions, Machowski provides suggested activities such as listening to Handel’s Messiah or constructing an Advent wreath. Additionally, he outlines a Scripture passage which forms the crux of that week’s devotion to include some very helpful commentary.
I also appreciated the tips for conversation provided by Machowski such as the example provided by Mary the mother of Jesus and her trust of God’s plan. The focus on praying together as a family with suggested prayer topics as well as hymns by which to join together in song and the suggested craft activity round out each week’s insightful devotional material.
Many may already have well established family traditions while others such as my own family are searching for ways to begin what hopefully will be longstanding traditions. Regardless of which of those spectrums you may reside, I highly recommend Machowski’s book as something to either include in what you already do as part of your Christmas traditions or as a great place by which to start a worthwhile tradition. In the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it is very easy to forget the reason for the season. Thus, having a devotional that will help return the focus to its proper place, namely on Christ, will help ensure your family is fully able to “Prepare Him Room”.
This book is available for purchase from New Growth Press by clicking here.
I received this book for free from New Growth Press for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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The purpose of this series is to help Christians think through the doctrine of Scripture and provide practical guidance on not only how to read the Bible but to deal with objections and attacks on the Bible.
Friedrich Schleiermacher was born November 21, 1768 and died February 12, 1834. Mr. Schleiermacher was considered the father of liberal theology. Schleiermacher began not with the Bible, a creed, or revelation, but with personal experiences that happened to the individual and the community. The influence of Schleiermacher is felt today among those who deny inerrancy by placing their opinions about science over the truth of Scripture.
Liberalism, the Church and Inerrancy
At the end of the day what theological liberalism and what biblical Christianity offer are in conflict. Friedrich Schleiermacher is a perfect example of this as he believed that the stories that Moses wrote in Genesis were myths. Schleiermacher was known to place a high emphasis on how he felt rather than on what the Bible teaches. At the heart of this argument by theological liberals is the belief that the Bible is a book full of errors.
Theological liberalism follows in the pattern of Schleiermacher today by placing an emphasis on what they feel rather than on what the Bible teaches. Such errors according to them are either stated or implied by those who deny inerrancy and for many of them the conviction that there are some actual errors in Scripture is a major factor in persuading them against the doctrine of inerrancy. In response to this Christians should challenge this position by asking, “What specific verse or verses do these errors occur?” Asking this question will help to understand whether the person has little or no biblical literacy, but believes there are errors in the Scriptures, because others have told them so.
Christians should respond to any and all objections about problem texts by going straight to the Scriptures. Christians who believe that Scripture is without error should be quick to study and examine what the Scripture under question teaches in minute detail. After careful study of the problem passage many Bible students have found that studying the passage brings to light one or more possible solution to the difficulty. In a few cases some passages may give no immediate solution to the difficulty at which point it may be helpful to consult some commentaries on the Scripture. It’s important to understand that the Bible is two thousand years old and any and all alleged “problem texts have always been there. Highly competent biblical scholars have read, studied and explained these difficult passages and found no difficulty in holding to biblical inerrancy. This should give believers confidence that solutions to problem texts are available, and that belief in inerrancy is consistent with a lifetime of detailed attention to the text of Scripture.
Theological liberalism offers its adherents a version of Christianity which is incompatible with the biblical record. Theological liberalism has proven from church history that when it is adherents take its teachings seriously it has disastrous consequences for not only the health of the local and global Church, but also to the gospel. Liberal theologians by basing their beliefs on their feelings offer nothing new under the sun. The only thing they offer is the same offer Satan offered Adam and Eve in the Garden, the seduction to be gods themselves. Liberal theology has serious consequences that include no foundation for truth, no basis for ethics or morals, which is one reason among others why schools who were once bastions of biblical orthodoxy abandoned inerrancy and sold themselves wholesale to the lie of liberalism.
The root problem with liberalism is that it has no standard by which truth may be measured. When truth is relegated to the arena of feelings, truth is immediately forced out the window, and man sets himself/herself up as a “god” of their own world. This rejection of truth reveals that they don’t want anything to do with the Bible. These are often the same people who come to the Bible to “prove” their scientific, historical and other claims. By coming to the Bible they think is full of errors, liberals expose their inconsistency by revealing that they are spiritually blinded and do not know the Word of God incarnate in Jesus Christ.
The consequences of theological liberalism are devastating on the Church and also on our contemporary society. These consequences are seen every day in America as she turns from her Judeo-Christian foundations in favor of what the world deems wise, popular and right. Theological liberalism is not biblical Christianity. It (theological liberalism) is a wholesale abandonment to secular ideas spawned by Satan. The devil is still killing, destroying and seeking to devour whom he may. The Truth of God’s Word will always stand, because it reveals the truth of Jesus Christ—the God-Man who came to die a bloody death for rejecters like Judas, deniers like Peter and religious people who say they know everything. Jesus died on a bloody Cross, was buried, rose again, and now stands as the High Priest over His people.
While it may be fashionable and popular to fashion nice iron clad proof arguments to deny and reject God and His Word by doing so such people reveal not their intelligence but their foolishness. The Creator who created still stands supreme over man, which means no matter how much man tries to lift himself or herself against God as liberalism does, they will always fail. Liberalism at its root is unhelpful and destructive to society precisely because at its core it has no fear of the Creator God. Instead liberalism sets itself up as the measure of truth for man and teaches man how they can live apart from God. This glorification of the self is why liberalism is more than a philosophy, it is a religion, and as a religion it is proclaimed nightly on news casts, radio shows and blogs the world over.
The truth of the matter is that Christians have a superior Word and Savior than liberalism does. One day rejecters and deniers will all stand before the judgment seat of Christ and be thrown into hell, a place of unrelenting and unending punishment. Jesus the Savior of sinners longs to save rejecters, deniers and sinners. Jesus is the Word incarnate and as such is the basis for all truth. Jesus bound Himself to His Word by giving it to His disciples. By instituting the Church and telling Peter, “On this rock I will build my church” Jesus Christ the Savior of sinners bound Himself and His Word to the Church through its preaching, which the Church is to contend, defend and proclaim to the whole world. Jesus Christ is the Truth, and as such only His Word which is sharper than any two edged sword can piece through the fog by revealing the foolishness of man’s sin and rebellion against God. Jesus Christ is the ultimate answer and reason why His Word is inspired, inerrant, sufficient, authoritative which is why Christians should dedicate their entire lives and ministries to reading, studying, contending and proclaiming its truth.
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 Justo L. Gonzalez, The Story of Christianity: The Reformation to the Present Day, no. 2 (New York: HarperCollins, 1985), 286-287.
 For example Gleason L. Archer, Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1982); William Arndt, Does the Bible contradict itself? (St. Louis: Concordia, 1955; John W. Haley, Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible (1874; reprinted Grand Rapids: Baker, 1977).
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Join Dave as he continues the study on the Gospel of John by looking at John 1:9-11 with the men at his local church. In this study Dave looks at light, world, the Bible and unbelief.
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