Ad Gloriam Dei

"Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God." - 1 Corintians 10:31

"Let us pursue the things which make for peace and those by which one may edify another"- Romans 14:19

"As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend." - Proverbs 27:17

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Watch that American Beef!

See this article on how the U.S. Government's tolerance of growth hormones in beef, e.g. testosterone and progesterone, is affecting American fertility. Quel surprise! Thankfully the EU ban all growth hormones.

Please note this comment from a senior lecturer in andrology at the University of Sheffield (which is common knowledge for those in the know any way):

"Scientists have been concerned for a number of years that oestrogen mimicking chemicals in water supplies, plastics or make-up can affect the critical stages in the development of young boys' testicles."

There's a lot of female hormones in our water supplies since the introduction of the Pill, so no wonder sperm counts are down generally!

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Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Discipline in Changing Lives

The following is extracted from Jay Adams' Ready to Restore:

Too many counselling failures are the result of the lack of discipline in the life of a counsellor. Most counselees, whatever other problems they may have, in addition, have a problem with undisciplined living. They may not be aware of this as a problem, but the counsellor should; whether or not a counselee states lack of discipline as a contributing or complicating prob­lem, the counsellor should look for it in his life. In some counselees, lack of discipline is itself the fundamental difficulty.

The nature of the situation is such that, when problems go unsolved for any length of time, they eat away at whatever structure and discipline one has. Even normally well-disciplined persons may see this happening; when they do, it only aggravates the situation for them. There is a tendency in those whose problems have continued for some time to give up on many responsibilities and interests. Even when this spirit of "what's the use?" doesn't spiral down into serious depression, it can play havoc with whatever life structure remains. Add to this the fact that many (not all) of the persons who need counselling lead rather undisciplined lives anyway and you have all the ingredients for a rather nasty stew. Either way, when they begin counselling, most counselees are in dire need of help in the area of discipline. REMEMBER THIS FACT.

At the very core of the problem of the undisciplined life is lack of structure, and often that results from lack of purpose. The disciplined person knows where God wants him to go and structures his life to take himself there. Moreover, he structures into his life ways of reminding himself of obligations and methods for assuring himself that he will meet them. He plans ahead, makes commitments, sets deadlines, schedules his life, and sticks to his schedule no matter how he feels. The undisciplined person rarely does any of these things.

Instead, an undisciplined person gets himself into trouble by following feelings instead of obligations. Since his life structure is minimal, he finds it relatively easy to fall into the feelings trap, has a hard time saying' 'no," and allows circumstances or other people to run his life. He may set goals but rarely reaches them because he fails to erect those structures that are necessary for attaining them. He avoids making commitments because he knows that he is likely not to keep them. Then, he wonders why he never gets anywhere. He may blame God and others for his failure, but until he is shown the true nature of his difficulty he will never attain his goals.

Now all of this is of the utmost importance to the lay counsellor. If he is largely going to be working with people like that, and if it is necessary for him to help counselees to discipline their lives for godliness (I Tim. 4:7), he must know all about discipline. He must be able to suggest ways and means for counselees to discipline their lives, he must plan to regularly monitor their progress to be sure that they meet their responsibilities, and he must do this in a highly disciplined manner throughout the course of counselling. The only way to develop new biblical patterns of life is through structure leading to structure. Scriptural analyses and answers, the best intentions in the world and even commitment to biblical goals—though all good and necessary—will fail if these are not a part of an overall structure designed and motivated to produce what God intends. But even that often bogs down unless the counsellor encourages, rebukes, demonstrates, explains, praises, etc., all along the way.

When failure occurs because of lack of structure or monitoring, it is almost worse than if no attempt had been made. Counselees then may become discouraged with what they see clearly to be biblical goals and solutions that failed—for lack of discipline! Such discouragement can be­come the occasion for despair, doubt and defeat. So you must not fail here!

From all of this, you can see that the counsellor himself must be disci­plined. Discipline is a two-edged sword that cuts both counsellor and coun­selee. The counsellor must live a disciplined life to teach disciplined living. In counselling and in his personal life (this carries over into counselling) the counsellor must learn to structure life by God's priorities and principles. It works the other way too: doing concerned counselling helps to discipline the counsellor.

God planned His work, then worked his plan. Christ's ministry was carried out according to a schedule: He came "in the fullness of time," spoke of the fact that His' 'hour had not yet come," and died for sinners-. right on schedule. Who are we, creatures made in the image of God, to think that we can get along without planning and scheduling?

Read the rest...

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Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Case for Byzantine Priority

One of the best-known advocates of the Byzantine Priority approach to NT textual criticism is Maurice A. Robinson, Senior Professor of New Testament at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. He summarises his theory as follows (extracted from here):

What is the leading argument in your mind for the inferiority of the Alexandrian text type?

“Reasoned transmissionalism”! Had any texttype other than the Byzantine more closely represented the autograph form of the text in any nt book, that texttype should have thoroughly permeated the primary Greek-speaking region of the Empire beyond the first few centuries. Any later-developing “new” texttype would fail to dominate against a presumed liturgically entrenched and widely disseminated “original” Textform. One need only consider in this regard the failure of the “Western” text to gain a substantial hold within the Greek ms tradition; similarly, one can consider the limited and apparently “localized” nature of the Alexandrian texttype.

Westcott and Hort acknowledged that the Byzantine Textform dominated the Greek-speaking Eastern Empire from the mid-4th century onward. They also noted that such dominance could have occurred only in two ways: either (1) the Byzantine Textform was the product of a formal, ecclesiastically sanctioned revision, promulgated with full ecclesiastical authority behind it (the Alands’ “Byzantine Imperial Text”); or (2) the Byzantine Textform reflects the autograph form of the text, which — under a normal process of transmission — would be expected to produce an overwhelming number of descendants “at each stage of transmission” (W-H, Introduction, 45). W‑H argued the first alternative, without which their preferred B-א type of text could not be maintained.

The W-H “revision” hypothesis generally has been discarded, due to lack of historical corroborating evidence. A “process” view is now instituted in its place, suggesting that, over a lengthy period of time, the Byzantine Textform slowly evolved into what finally becomes a relatively fixed form during the post-ninth century minuscule era. But, as Zane Hodges long ago pointed out:

“No one has yet explained how a long, slow process spread out over many centuries as well as over a wide geographical area, and involving a multitude of copyists, who often knew nothing of the state of the text outside of their own monasteries or scriptoria, could achieve this widespread uniformity out of the diversity presented by the earlier forms of text. Even an official edition of the New Testament — promoted with ecclesiastical sanction throughout the known world — would have had great difficulty achieving this result as the history of Jerome's Vulgate amply demonstrates. But an unguided process achieving relative stability and uniformity in the diversified textual, historical, and cultural circumstances in which the New Testament was copied, imposes impossible strains on our imagination” (Hodges, Appendix C, in Wilbur N. Pickering, The Identity of the New Testament Text, 166).

Other claims, such as the influence of Chrysostom, the Constantinopolitan Church, or the supposed destruction of Alexandrian mss due to the Islamic conquest, are discussed in my full-length essay, “The Case for Byzantine Priority”, available on the internet and as an appendix to the R-P Byzantine Greek nt. I might observe that, if the Alexandrian text could have been wiped out by the Islamic conquest, that predominantly Egyptian text was not widespread, but reflected only a more localized tradition; also, for either Chrysostom or Constantinople to effect such a significant change in the Church’s base text, full ecclesiastical authority and proclamation would have been necessary in order to accomplish its general acceptance throughout the Eastern Empire. No such proclamation or imposition of ecclesiastical authority seems ever to have occurred. The implication returns to Byzantine originality as the more probable cause of that Textform’s dominance within the transmissional history of the nt.

Click to expand...

His full essay, The Case for Byzantine Priority, is here. At last, a textual critical theory and methodology that makes cogent sense and isn't top-to-toe with plausible arguments, which on further examination evidence logical fallacies and inconsistencies.

See also this discussion of the theory, although after reading both documents, there is much misunderstanding and other flaws in Waltz' discussion of the matter.

Any way, I'm back off to bed with my laryngitis...

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Saturday, March 17, 2007

The End of Mark's Gospel

In my consideration of whether to transfer from the NKJV to the ESV, I have been doing a lot of study of NT textual criticism again, after quite a number of years. One major difference between the Alexandrian Priority Eclectic Text (i.e. UBS and Nestle-Aland) and the Traditional Text stream is the ending of Mark. Is Mark 16:9-20 part of Scripture? I have always been convinced that it is and my recent research continues to confirm this belief.

A very good summary of the arguments for the Longer Ending are set forth by Jim Snapp here. Pastor Snapp is not pro-Byzantine, but is purely Eclectic, which is evident from his summary of textual criticism here.

Metzger's basic argument for rejecting the Longer Ending ("UBS orthodoxy") is here, along with Schriver's arguments. Burgon's longer defence of the Longer Ending can be found here. (See also Scaff's discussion here.)

Interestingly, even Metzger is suspicious of the abruptness of ending at verse 8 as he states in The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption and Restoration (3rd Edition, p. 228):

"It appears, therefore, that έφοβουντο γάρ of Mark xvi. 8 does not represent what Mark intended to stand at the end of his Gospel. Whether he was interrupted while writing and subsequently prevented (perhaps by death) from finishing his literary work, or whether the last leaf of the original copy was accidentally lost before other copies had been made, we do not know."

Such a statement is typical of Metzger's unorthodox (higher-critical) beliefs about Scripture (e.g. that the Shepherd of Hermas and the Epistles of Clement were inspired, but not canonical), while professing to be Evangelical. (I am not trying to make an ad hominem argument against Metzger, but trying to neutralise the ad hominem arguments which try to say, "How can you disagree with an expert like Metzger?")

To those who argue that the Longer Ending is a different narrative style to the rest of the Gospel, I would note two things (n.b. there is much more that has been said on this):

1. There is an abrupt change in narrative style at the end of John's Gospel, but it is not rejected due to the "afterglow" of W&H's glorification of Codices Sinaiticus and Vaticanus as the end of Mark is.

2. As my wife pointed out, what could be more Markan than beginning nearly every sentence with the word και (i.e. "and")? The non-Markan theory of the Longer Ending is plausible from a neutralist perspective, but the arguments, e.g. words not used elsewhere in the Gospel, are very weak.

Read the rest...

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Monday, March 05, 2007

Dawkins Advocates Eugenics

We were watching Schaeffer on the Scientific Age yesterday and he was talking about some of the wild ideas on topics such as eugenics coming from the academics in his day. Little did I suspect that when trying to get a sermon to listen to on the way to work that I would find an article about good ol' Dawkins and his dangerous atheistic friends still advocating this today. See this article.

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