Noah Webster and the Vulgar King James Version

The King James Bible is too vulgar.

This was the opinion of Noah Webster, best known for his dictionary of American English.

Webster thought there were too many vile things not suitable for reading in the King James Version. He wasn’t talking about the stories of rape and murder; he literally meant some King James phrases.

For instance, the King James’ phrase describing men as those who “pisseth against the wall.” Or the people in Isaiah 36:12 who will “eat their own dung and drink their own piss.”

Webster thought this was crude, so he just called them “males” instead of referring to their direction of pissing. Instead of eating dung and drinking piss, he went with “they devour their vilest excretions.”

Webster also eliminated the names of certain body parts and avoided such words as “stinketh” in order to be pure. He said the King James phrases were “so offensive, especially to females, as to create a reluctance in young persons to attend Bible classes and schools.”

Noah Webster’s Bible initially sold for $3. Then for $2. Eventually it sold for $1.50. It was reprinted once before disappearing from book stores.

It was a nice try. I appreciate the attempt. But, in all honesty, this is where Puritan ideals implode. Humans are humans, and humans are gross.

There’s a lot of stuff in the Bible about bodily discharges. We can puritanically pretend it’s not there, or we can be real.

At the same time, there is too much flippancy and stuff done for shock value over bodily discharges. Finding someone who has enough sense to be polite is nice.

The Hebrew text does say those “who pisseth against a wall.” That’s the literal translation. That’s how men were described. It’s life. Should we then go around referring to other men as wall-pissers?

No, there is decency. Ephesians says we should put away from us foolish talking and jesting. There is a line of decency. There are cultural terms that are offensive to the next generations. But there is also a maturity that understands that and goes with it and treats it as maturely as possible.

I don’t think we should edit God’s word. I think we should rejoice that our God understands humanity and that humanity is represented realistically in the Bible. There is no sentimentalism attached to God’s view of your humanity.

Use this realism about humanity, which is gross, to drive us to God who is pure. Let us all anxiously await the day we can put off this body of our humiliation!

Calvinism and a House Divided

If there were a sixth point to Calvinism’s TULIP, it would be Meticulous Determinism. Unfortunately, this would make it TULIPM, which doesn’t sound right. Perhaps TULIMP?

Meticulous Determinism is best defined by The Westminster Confession of Faith like so:

God from all eternity did by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass.

This includes sin and bad stuff.

One of the particularly bad things that has occurred in the course of human events is demon possession. Demons make people crazy. They throw them into fires and convulse them and all manner of other physically harmful things.

Jesus took the opportunity to demonstrate His divinity by casting out demons.

On one particular day, Jesus was charged with being a tool of Satan. Various Jewish religious leaders said the demons were cast out by the power of Satan.

Jesus said that was silly.

How can Satan cast out Satan? And if a kingdom be divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand. And if Satan rise up against himself, and be divided, he cannot stand, but hath an end.

If Satan casts out Satan, then Satan is divided and he will fail.

The Calvinist, who believes God has ordained whatever comes to pass, thinks it’s the exact opposite: God has cast out God.

Satan gets little playtime in Calvinist/Reformed Theology. That’s because in that system, Satan is rather superfluous. God seems to be messing things up quite well on His own, thank you very much.

If The Westminster Confession of Faith is true, then people are demon possessed because God made them be demon possessed. Then Christ came along and cast out the demons God put in them.

Therefore, God is casting out God. God’s Kingdom is divided against itself and His house cannot stand.

If God is ordaining sin, making people do what He Himself says He hates, then God is divided. The Calvinistic skewed view of sovereignty says that if anyone else (Satan, man, etc) is doing things in the equation, then God isn’t sovereign.

Therefore, the only solution (since changing your theology is apparently not an option), is to distort the character of God and contradict the teaching of Jesus Christ.

It seems like a heavy price to pay.

Atheism, Rationality, and Miracles

The Bible calls on us to believe some pretty weird stuff: Creation Week, worldwide floods, pregnant old women, burning bushes, Red Sea parting, resurrection, and on and on.

Does a person have to believe in these miracles? If you think God doesn’t lie and the Bible is God’s Word, then yeah, you do. If you don’t care about God or the Bible, then I guess you are free to ignore miracles.

I recently listened to an interview with an atheist who denies miracles. He wrote an entire book about how irrational it is to believe in miracles.

His underlying assumption is that we only have reason to know things. Rational people can detect what is rational, and the rational is what we should believe.

Rational conclusions include the fact that dead people stay dead, water doesn’t turn into wine, Egyptian armies don’t drown in recently parted seas, etc.

Since miracles are a giant diversion from the norm, believing in them is not rational.

I agree that miracles are a deviation from normalcy, rather than this making them irrational and not worthy of belief, I would say this is what makes them miracles. He is using the very definition of what a miracle is to say there are no miracles. If they weren’t highly unlikely, they wouldn’t be miracles.

Believing in miracles has a touch of irrationality to it, because miracles, by definition, are irrational. But is it irrational to believe that nothing out of the ordinary could ever occur?

The real conundrum for the atheist is that they typically believe we all got here by a series of random, chance mutation. A process of random, chance mutation would have to have random, chance events happening all the time.

If random chance is the process we live by, how is there any rationality? Wouldn’t miracles–random, chance acts–be par for the course?

The evolutionist who believes in random chance evolution would be highly irrational to stake all on that theory and yet eliminate the possibility that something random and chance could happen.

The only way miracles make any sense is if we live in a rational and orderly system, one where we can rationally observe normal, repetitive behavior. The atheist author thinks we do live in a rational system. My question is: where did the order come from for miracles to violate?

The author admits in his interview that he cannot disprove the existence of miracles. To me, the rational step here then would be to believe that miracles could happen. Since they can’t definitively be proven to not occur, rational thinking would leave open a little bit of room that they could.

Rationality would realize that an irrational, chance, random process would eliminate miracles out of hand, because all sorts of irrational, random things (miracles) would happen.

Instead of seeing random chance all around us, the rational mind observes the order and rationality of the world and concludes that there must be a rational mind behind it all.

Once there, the rational choice would be to believe that the rational mind behind it all could violate the order at any time to make a point, maybe to get rational people’s attention, because they are too busy denying the existence of their rational source.

Miracles seem rather rational to believe in.

Great Name in Church History: Mesrop Mashtots

I am reading a book about the history of Bible translation and came across one of the greatest names in all of Church History: Mesrop Mashtots.

I conclude that it is impossible to improve upon this name.

It also reminds me of Napolean Dynamite.

Not only does Mashtots have a great name, he actually was an incredible person, one worthy of emulation, and also one most have never heard of.

Mashtots had a dream to translate the Bible into the Armenian language. Only one problem: the Armenian language had no alphabet.

But this didn’t stop Mashtots. He got on his donkey and rode around Armenia paying attention to the common sounds of their language. He teamed up with a calligrapher who associated Greek letters to these sounds and developed the 36-letter Armenian alphabet.

Alphabetizing the language didn’t solve the problem, because no one knew how to read it! So, get this, Mashtots persuaded the government to establish a nationwide school system!

Finally, after years of effort, Mesrop Mashtots created a literate Armenian nation able to read the Bible. Mashtots also invented the Caucasian and Georgian alphabets! Busy guy.

That my friends, is a life well spent. Makes my life look pretty pathetic.

Let Mashtots inspire you today: Find something helpful to do and go do it.

God’s Determinate Counsel and Other Things People Can Mess Up

A particular branch of Calvinism believes that everything is a result of God’s determinate counsel. Everything that happens, even sin, is a result of God’s ordination.

God said it should happen, therefore it happens.

In this elaborate structure, God, who makes people sin, is also released of blame. I have never been able to figure out why, nor has the Calvinist. “It’s a mystery” is the closest they will come to explaining it.

Which is fine, probably their safest answer, but it may also signify that the initial doctrine is illogical.

“Determinate counsel” appears one time in the Bible in Acts 2:23:

Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain

The “Him” is obviously Christ. “Determinate,” according to Thayer’s Greek Definitions, means, “to mark out the boundaries or limits, to ordain, determine, or appoint.” Counsel means purpose or will.

Therefore, Acts 2:23 says that Christ’s crucifixion, rather than being a massive mistake in an otherwise pretty fantastic Messianic life, was part of God’s plan.

The Calvinist concludes that the people who killed Christ had no choice. God made them do it because His determinate counsel (His marked out boundary of His will) forced them to kill Jesus.

Continue reading “God’s Determinate Counsel and Other Things People Can Mess Up”

What does the “Goodness of God” Mean?

Romans 2:4 says that people repent because of the goodness of God. To not repent, to continue on your own way, is to despise the riches of God’s goodness.

Goodness means, according to Thayer’s Definitions, “moral goodness, integrity, benignity, kindness.” According to Strong’s Dictionary it means, “usefulness, that is, moral excellence (in character or demeanor): – gentleness, good (-ness), kindness.”

God’s goodness is what brings people to Him. If God were bad, if He did morally questionable things where His kindness was fickle and couldn’t be counted on, who in their right mind would take a chance of approaching Him?

Some of you had bad fathers. You never knew what dad you were going to get. You never knew what would set him off next. Living in that situation made you tentative to approach your dad. You probably stayed as far away from him as possible.

We would do that with God too, if He were not good. But He is good. Paul also assumes that we know He’s good, because this is what brings us to repentance. We didn’t see He was good sometime after we repented, but beforehand, which led us to repent. In other words, even a non-believer can see that God is good.

Knowing that God responds to us out of His goodness is what gives us the confidence to approach Him.

In order for people to know that God is good, God must do things that we recognize as being good.

Continue reading “What does the “Goodness of God” Mean?”

Doctrinal Convictions and Spiritual Growth

In my years of listening to Christians, I have become aware of a fascinating phenomena: One person’s heresy was another person’s life-giving doctrine.

Let me illustrate.

Not long ago I saw a couple of Christians rejoicing in their Calvinism. They both claimed that they did not see the power of the Gospel until they were taught Calvinist doctrine. Since that day their faith blossomed.

I also know other believers, myself included, who say that ever since they were shown the errors of Calvinism and were taught non-Calvinist doctrine they saw deeper beauty in the Gospel and their faith blossomed.

I have seen this with churches–one group claims massive spiritual growth due to their church, while other people found growth by leaving that church.

I have seen this with adhering to a pastor or professor or author. I’ve seen this with Charismatic experience and deliverance from Charismatic experience. I could go on and on. Each side worked growth for opposite groups.

So, what gives? Here are some possible answers, solely based on my experience and observation of the phenomena.

Continue reading “Doctrinal Convictions and Spiritual Growth”