Lucid Books – 7 Writing Tips from Charles Spurgeon

Charles Haddon Spurgeon is the most prolific Christian author of all-time.

Prior to the standardization of typewriters—let alone the development of computers — Charles Spurgeon literally penned a boatload of content. He’s considered to be the most widely read preacher and he produced more written material than any other Christian in history. Here’s a sampling of his production:

Wrote over 140 books
Penned up to 500 personal letters per week
Published a monthly magazine called The Sword and the Trowel
Transcribed his weekly sermons that today fill 63 volumes and total between 20–25 million words

Charles Spurgeon’s work has been translated into multiple languages and has sold millions of copies worldwide.

He can make you laugh, cry, and become awestruck with God with the stroke of his pen and eloquent prose. Here are seven writing tips taken from his life for aspiring writers.

1. Write to Help others

“We are very mistaken, if our work does not prove to be of the utmost value to purchasers of books…no object in view but the benefit of our brethren…it will be remuneration enough to have aided the ministers of God in the study of his word” (Sword & Trowel, March 1876).

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Mark Strauss – Mark (Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament) (Excerpt)

Mark 1

Check out the excellent sale current being offered by my friends at Zondervan Academic. Below is an excerpt from one of the commentaries being offered:

Mark leaves no doubt about the subject of his story. The gospel is about Jesus the Messiah and his role in God’s redemptive plan. Jesus will assume center stage throughout. As the Messiah, Jesus is identified as God’s vice-regent and agent of salvation. Furthermore, by taking OT passages that speak of the coming of Yahweh himself (Isa 40:3; Mal 3:1) and applying them to Jesus, the narrator confirms that
Jesus represents God’s presence on earth and fulfills his purpose. An implicit divine Christology runs throughout this gospel.

The centrality of Jesus in Mark’s narrative is important for how we read and apply the gospel. This story is not first and foremost about the disciples (who mostly fail), or Israel’s response to the gospel, or the defeat of Satan and his demons. It is about God’s purposes through Jesus the Messiah. There is a tendency while reading biblical narratives to seek in every story moral lessons that can be immediately applied to our lives. For example, we might read Mark 1:16 – 20 and conclude that God is calling us to leave everything and follow Jesus, just as the disciples did. While such an application may be a legitimate one (see discussion on that passage), this episode is not primarily about the disciples’ response or our own. It is about Jesus’ authoritative presence, which results in immediate obedience to his call. The good news is about Jesus the Messiah and God, who sent him.

This focus on the centrality of Jesus brings up a third theological point: the role of John the Baptist. As the messenger preparing the way, John denies he is the Messiah and points to the “more powerful [one]” who is coming after him. John acts as a mirror, deflecting all the attention from himself and directing it to Jesus. His status in comparison to Jesus is lower even than the lowest slave. He is not worthy to do the most menial task for the Messiah. John’s water baptism was merely an outward symbol of a person’s repentance and confession of sins. Jesus’ “Spirit-baptism” would accomplish true spiritual cleansing and an internal transformation, resulting in a right relationship with God.

The application for us is evident. Our lives and ministries should be focused not on our own promotion or self-importance, but on Jesus. We are his humble servants whose mission in life is to accomplish his will and follow his purpose.

Taken from Mark by Mark L. Strauss. Copyright © 2014 by Mark L. Strauss. Used by permission of Zondervan. www.zondervan.com.

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Check it Out: Zondervan ebook Gospel Commentary Sale!

Zondervan ebook Sale Collage

On behalf of my friends at Zondervan Academic, I want to share this outstanding limited time sale they are offering. These are excellent books you will find highly useful in your study of Scripture.

For a short time, save up to 80% when you buy eBook editions of Zondervan Academic gospel commentaries!

This new commentary sale features 17 eBooks on Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. These eBooks will help you improve your research, enhance your teaching and preaching, and strengthen your personal devotions.

This is the biggest sale on gospels eBooks Zondervan Academic has ever hosted; you’ll find volumes from several series. Here’s a quick summary of the different series:

1. NIV Application Commentary – Understand the Bible’s ancient message and see how it speaks powerfully today.
2. Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary (ZIBBC) – Full of photos and graphics, this will help you better understand the historical and cultural background of the gospel.
3. Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (ZECNT) – Designed especially for the pastor and Bible teacher (or students with some knowledge of biblical Greek), but this series is a powerful tool for anyone seeking to understand the biblical text.
4. Story of God Bible commentary (SGBC) – Offers clear and compelling exposition in the context of the Bible’s overarching story. Organized in three sections (Listen to the Story, Explain the Story, and Live the Story), this is a new kind of commentary for today’s world.
5. Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Second Edition (EBC) – A comprehensive and succinct commentary that guides you to the text’s core meaning. A vital resource for preachers, teachers, and students.
6. Studies on the Go – These volumes are for the busy youth worker who lacks the time to craft their own Bible study.

Don’t miss this sale! It ends on Thursday, August 11, 2016, at 11:59pm ET.

Check out the sale website and don’t delay!

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Book Review – Israel vs. Iran: The Shadow War

Israel vs. Iran

It is no secret regarding the existence of hostilities between Israel and Iran. While overt war between the two nations as not yet taken place, a shadow war clearly exists with Iran utilizing a number of fronts to include terrorist proxy groups to extend its reach as part of Iran’s continued and established plan to eliminate the nation of Israel.

Yaakov Katz and Yoav Hendel have written a fascinating book aptly titled Israel vs. Iran: The Shadow War in which they outline using their combined years of knowledge as well as first hand interviews and a plethora of information from both Western and Israeli governmental, military and media sources. The overarching purpose of this book is to reveal the tactics used by Iran both directly and through their proxies as well as to demonstrate the responses and governmental policies by Israel.

Essentially, Israel is in a constant state of war. While not always in a declared war status, they have to remain constantly vigilant given the persistent tactics used by Iran to destabilize the region, most notably using Hamas and Hezbollah as the northern and southern fronts of their overall strategy against Israel. The battle takes place through covert means such as the aforementioned terrorist groups establishing footholds in key border areas as well as the often used tunneling and smuggling tactics in an effort to move large caches of weapons into Lebanon and Gaza, weapons supplied eagerly by Iran.

Katz and Hendel walk the reader though the history of this struggle, focusing specifically on events from the period of 2007 to 2012 at which this book was published. They also take a look back in time to how the Israeli military, through a variety of successes and notable failures, has adjusted their military engagement of these terrorist organizations.

Recognizing the need to alter their training methodology following some military failures, the Israeli military embarked on an urgent and focused evaluation of its training procedures, most notably its use and approach to training its reserve units. Katz and Hendel discuss in great detail the vast improvements made and the different approaches and methodologies implemented by Israel’s military leaders in recognition of past failures and in response to the ever increasing methods taken by her enemies to obtain more advanced weaponry.

Perhaps the most interesting element of this book was the description of a number of key military events and covert operations undertaken by Israel. For instance, the focused effort to sabotage Syria’s nuclear reactor and the events leading to the bombing of the nuclear compound. Also of interest was the in-depth description of Mossad’s shadow war and their efforts, along with assistance from the CIA, to take out important terrorist leaders. Furthermore, Katz and Hendel note the continued struggle Israel has in dealing with Hamas and Hezbollah, both in counteracting their efforts to obtain weapons that reach deeper into Israeli territory while trying to ensure they limit civilian causalities so as to not come under the harsh scrutiny of world opinion. This is not an easy line to walk and the intelligence needed to ensure accurate assessments before attacking and engaging, either on land or at sea is paramount. It was interesting to read the means by which Israel has at their disposal to include advanced intelligence techniques. With that said, despite those advanced methodologies, they run the risk of error and increasing the ever present hostilities.

This is a highly informative book and its authors describe in great detail the war that exists between Israel and Iran. Hell bent on Israel’s destruction, Iran continues to use all means at its disposal, most notably terrorist proxies, to achieve its grand designs. Israel is well equipped to respond and has used both her successes and failures to develop a well-rounded strategy for keeping the terrorists and their supporters at bay. It is a constant struggle fraught with potential pitfalls. Katz and Hendel have done an excellent job of providing valuable and interesting information for the reader to have a great deal of insight into the particulars of this struggle. If you are a student of history, especially when it comes to topics such as the Middle East, Israel, Iran, and terrorism, you will find this book to be a worthy read.

This book is available for purchase from University of Nebraska Press by clicking here.

I received this book for free from University of Nebraska Press and 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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Book Review – Diary of a Jackwagon

Diary of a Jackwagon

I don’t often read works of comedy unless I happen to wander across the comic section in a newspaper that may happen to be laying around at work or in the doctor’s office. The “nerdy” section of the local bookstore is where I normally hand my hat. With that said, there are just some comedians that I don’t mind sitting down watching, listening to, or reading their books. Of late, Christian comedian and now author Tim Hawkins is one of those individuals who has found a way to tickly my funny bone.

Hawkins recently released his first book aptly titled Diary of a Jackwagon. It is basically a collection of short and witty commentary on all manner of everyday life issues, most notably things related to marriage and children. As one who more often than not can and should define myself as a jackwagon per the definition provided on the back cover of Hawkins’ book, I found each and every chapter to be filled with stories with which I easily can relate.

In fact, the way in which Hawkins describes everyday life situations will more often than not help you realize you too are perhaps part if not completely in the “jackwagon camp”. Life is full of surprises, some of which we were readily warned about before they happen and some come with no warning whatsoever. For instance, I loved how marriage is described by Hawkins as a roller coaster ride. Now we all probably get that metaphor as life has its ups and downs and loops and times when everything seems to be going backwards. Hold on tight and enjoy the ride as they say. Hawkins rightly notes the early years of marriage are like the initial part of the roller coaster ride – the clackety clack up the incline which of course if full of excitement and anticipation. The ride assuredly is going to be nothing but fun and excitement. We position ourselves in the seat, throw our arm around our newly beloved, and up we go to the pinnacle of the marital experience. Check back in after a couple years of marriage after all the loops and upside down events that are part of life and it is likely the arm is no longer around your beloved and instead, your hands are gripped to the side of the roller coaster car as you hang on for dear life. This is life folks and being able to see and even laugh at ourselves is healthy and necessary.

In this book, Hawkins will help you take that needed chuckle at life’s misfortunes and successes. You will realize that you are not alone in these experiences. We all face them albeit in our own unique ways. But we all go through the same sorts of situations. Often laughter is one of the best medicines and Hawkins is quite skilled and providing just the right dose of that medicine while sharing in the midst of his comedy some important things to think about.

If you find yourself mired in the throes of the daily grind and are looking for a good pick me up and a good laugh, pick up a copy of this book. I think you will find these “diary” entries to be humorous yet helpful and you will most definitely connect to what Hawkins shares from his own experiences. Along the way, you will realize that to get through life we often need a good chuckle. Diary of a Jackwagon by Tim Hawkins was for me a needed dose of laughter. I think it will do the same for you as well.

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Michael Boling – Major Themes of John’s Gospel and Their Application

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John provides the reader of his gospel with six major themes which, when understood within their context, have multifarious applications for the modern reader and to the body of Christ at large. The six major themes of the Gospel of John are God, the Christ, salvation, the Spirit, the new covenant community, and last things. Each has subsumed within it thematic elements which transcend John’s Gospel and which, perhaps more importantly, can be related to the holistic message revealed throughout Scripture.

Andreas Kostenberger avers that God as outlined in John is chiefly characterized by two overarching concepts: “the one who sent Jesus and as the Father of the Son” [1]. These conceptualizations of God are important to understand as the focus of John’s Gospel is relayed through the modality by which John presents God. The focus of John’s Gospel is not on God Himself, but instead on His Son. The Jewish people were cognizant of and had a devout belief in a monotheistic God. This is evidenced by the Shema, the chief prayer of Judaism and an “affirmation of Judaism and a declaration of faith in one God” [2]. The purpose of John’s writing was not to develop additional theology concerning God. His purpose was to reveal, initially to the Diaspora Jews and Jewish proselytes and eventually to the world, that Jesus was the Messiah; a belief which unfortunately has largely not taken root among many Jews. Modern believers can take heart that Jesus took the form of man, experienced all the issues that humanity has to deal with on a daily basis and yet was still without sin. He was the perfect sacrifice for our sins and thus has provided us with a modality by which we can have a relationship with God the Father. This is a message which the church today needs to explicate more than ever not only to the members of the congregation but to the world at large. Continue reading “Michael Boling – Major Themes of John’s Gospel and Their Application”

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Michael Boling – Seeking the Face (Paniym) of God

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A recurring concept and for that matter a declaration found throughout Scripture is that of seeking after God and entering His presence. One vital element of what seeking God and entering His presence that I firmly believe many often overlook is what the Hebrew word paniym means and how it relates to what seeking God and being in His presence is all about. Before we do any analysis of paniym, let’s first take a look at various passages in the Old Testament that use this term in relation to seeking God or being in His presence.

And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the LORD appeared to Abram, and said unto him, I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect. (Genesis 17:1)

And Abraham got up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the LORD: (Genesis 19:27)

And Moses spake unto Aaron, Say unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, Come near before the LORD: for he hath heard your murmurings. (Exodus 16:9)

Thou shalt have no other gods before me. (Exodus 20:3)

Lead me, O LORD, in thy righteousness because of mine enemies; make thy way straight before my face. (Psalm 5:8)

He hath said in his heart, God hath forgotten: he hideth his face; he will never see it. (Psalm 10:11)

Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. (Psalm 16:11)

Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer. (Psalm 19:14)

When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek. (Psalm 27:8)

And I will wait upon the LORD, that hideth his face from the house of Jacob, and I will look for him. (Isaiah 8:17)

For I have set my face against this city for evil, and not for good, saith the LORD: it shall be given into the hand of the king of Babylon, and he shall burn it with fire. (Jeremiah 21:10)

Then shall they cry unto the LORD, but he will not hear them: he will even hide his face from them at that time, as they have behaved themselves ill in their doings. (Micah 3:4)

The above passages represent a small sample of how paniym is used in the Old Testament as this word is used over 2100 times. So let’s define exactly what this word means when it comes to seeking the Lord and being in His presence, or for that matter, what it means for God to set His face for or against someone.

Strong’s Concordance defines the semantic range of paniym as being:

face, faces; presence, person; face (of seraphim or cherubim); face (of animals); face, surface (of ground); as adv of loc/temp; before and behind, toward, in front of, forward, formerly, from beforetime, before; in front of, before, to the front of, in the presence of, in the face of, at the face or front of, from the presence of, from before, from before the face of.

For the purposes of this study, we will be focusing on the definitions of face, presence, toward, in front of, in the presence of, in the face of, and from before.

One aspect of paniym that should be noted first is the root word from which it comes from, the Hebrew word panah. This particular word is a verb that literally means to turn toward or from or away. Right away we begin to see that paniym involves the active turning of God or humanity to or from the presence of each other. Ultimately, paniym is the active movement either toward or away from something or someone.

Keri Kent, in her book Deeper Into the Word: Old Testament: Reflections on 100 Words from the Old Testament, notes “In English, a shining face usually is an idiom for someone who is smiling or happy. In Hebrew, his expression means showing favor.”[1] Kent also notes how paniym is used in relation to the Table of Showbread that was in the Temple, commenting “this bread called the Bread of the Presence or in some versions of the Bible, the showbread, is in Hebrew lechem paniym or literally the bread of the face.”[2] Willem VanGemeren states that paniym or to seek the face of the Lord “was an expression of devotion, often attended by sacrifices or acts of loyalty.”[3]

With these definitions in place, we can begin to notice that paniym involves an active motion that is to be focused on God. When the creation is properly focused on God, the result is God’s favor being poured out on creation. Conversely, when the creation rejects God and turns their face and actions away from God, His favor is also turned away from the creation. Let’s look at some examples from the scriptures provided above as to how this process works to include the proper posture for the believer.

1. Creation turning to God with God’s favor bestowed on the creation:

Thou wilt shew me the path of life: in thy presence is fulness of joy; at thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore. (Psalm 16:11)

In this passage, the Psalmist declares for the reader where fullness of joy can be found. It is important to notice that complete joy, the shalom that we seek as believers is found only in the paniym or the presence of the Lord. There is no other location whereby true joy can be obtained. It cannot be obtained in the fleeting things of this world for Jesus noted these things will be destroyed by moth and rust. Lasting joy is found only in the presence of God. Derek Kidner aptly notes “The joy and pleasures are presented as wholly satisfying (this is the force of fullness, from the same root as satisfied in 17:15) and endlessly varied, for they are found in both what He is and what He gives – joys of His face (the meaning of presence) and of His right hand.”[4]

Those who earnestly seek the face of God will be rewarded with the only thing of true lasting value, the fullness of joy that comes from seeking God knowing that the reward of seeking God is not just the gift of joy, but rather the pleasure and satisfaction of being in the paniym of God.

2. Creation turning away from God with God turning His paniym away from creation:

Then shall they cry unto the LORD, but he will not hear them: he will even hide his face from them at that time, as they have behaved themselves ill in their doings. (Micah 3:4)

Turning to the Minor Prophets, admittedly a book most of us scan over if we read it at all, we see an example of God hiding His paniym from His people. To have God’s face turned away from you meant that His blessings would cease. This was in accordance with the covenant God made with His people, the system if you will of blessings for obedience and faithfulness as well as cursing with these curses impacting both prosperity and blessing in a physical sense and more importantly, their relationship with God. The prophet Micah in this passage was declaring that since Israel had rejected God, His face would be turned from them. Notice also that even though the people would cry out to God, He would not hear Him for His paniym was turned away. Since their cries were merely due to their suffering resulting from their sinful behavior rather than crying out from a posture of repentance, God turned His paniym from them. As noted by scholar F. F. Bruce notes in regards to Micah 3:4, “Those who persistently have done evil must inevitably face the consequence of irrevocable alienation from God.”[5]

3. Proper posture for the believer:

When thou saidst, Seek ye my face; my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek. (Psalm 27:8)

It is important to notice the flow of statements in this passage. It begins with the acknowledgement that God had made a command to His people to “seek His paniym.” Before moving on to the remainder of this passage, let’s first examine why God would make such a command. Is God somehow lonely or somehow needs His creation in order to be complete? The response to that question would be no. This begs the question as to why God created us. While that answer is to a large degree wrapped up in the grand mystery of an eternal God, Scripture does provide some answers. God desires relationship with His creation. It is not due to some lack in God’s character or attributes. This desire is derived from His great love for His creation. We see this played out in passages such as John 15:12 where Jesus declared “This is My commandment: that you love one another, as I have loved you.”

Rooted in the command to love one another is the reality that we do so because God loved us. Moreover, notice that in the beginning God communed or tabernacle with Adam and Eve. Sin marred that intimate relationship resulting in the need for redemption through the Messiah. That intimate relationship between the Creator and His creation, specifically those who are His bride, will one day be restored. All along the timeline of history, we see God acting within history to draw His people to Himself through the sacrifice of His Son on the cross for the purpose relationship, eternal fellowship with God their Creator and the restoration of His creation being in His paniyn, His presence.

Now that we have established where the command to seek His paniym derives from and why it is important, we can then move to the final part of Psalm 27:8. In recognition of God’s command, the Psalmist declares quite simply yet profoundly, “my heart said unto thee, Thy face, LORD, will I seek.” So was it that pounding muscle within his chest that said to the Psalmist, “seek His face”? The Hebrew word used for heart in this passage is leb which literally means the seat of your appetites, the seat of your emotions and passions. So the Psalmist is declaring that everything he is knows the importance of obeying God’s command to seek His face and in acknowledgement of that command, everything within him is focused on being obedient to that command.

Notice also what the Psalmist declares He will seek. Does he state he wants God’s blessings? Does he state he seeks God for something in return? The reason the Psalmist seeks God is simply because God declared the Psalmist was to seek God. It is a very simple command and obedience construct. Furthermore, what the Psalmist seeks is God’s paniym. Why does he seek God’s paniym? Remember back to our discussion of Psalm 16:11. It is in the paniym of God where fullness of joy can be found.

Artur Weiser notes concerning Psalm 27:8, specifically the Psalmist’s response to God’s command, “The poet certainly discerns God’s command in this word of God and is willing to act in obedience to it; but even more distinctly he can perceive the promise it contains, the invitation of the divine love as well as God’s readiness to be gracious to him, as he offers of his own free will to restore the relationship which had been broken through human guilt.”[6]

The seeking of God’s face should be a hallmark of those who are called to be His bride. This perhaps begs the question of how we should seek God’s face. Two important elements are the daily washing of our hearts and minds in the word of God through consistent purposeful Bible study and through a consistent posture of bowing before God in prayer. Seeking God’s face through His word and through prayer will result in a proper relationship with God, a proper perspective towards life, and the movement of the believer from being pĕthiy (foolish, simple, naïve) to being tamiym (mature, complete). It is only by going to that which is tamiym, namely the word of God that is a lamp to our feet and a light unto our path that we also can be a bride that can overcome, endure, and run the race that is set before us.

The question lies before us each and every day. Will we do as the Psalmist did and act in obedience to God’s call for His people to seek His paniym? Is that the desire of your heart or is your treasure found somewhere other than where true shalom and fullness of joy is derived? May we strive as His bride to be a people who constantly seek His paniym. In doing so, we will be acting in obedience to God’s command and we will find ourselves rooted on the path of righteousness for His name’s sake with the result of God’s paniym being turned toward us as we turn our paniym towards Him. May we always have that proper posture in all we do for truly in the paniym of God is where life can be found.

References:

[1] Keri Kent, Deeper Into the Word: Old Testament: Reflections on 100 Words from the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2011).

[2] Ibid.

[3] Willem VanGemeren. “Commentary on Psalms” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms through Song of Songs. Edited by Frank Gaebelein. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 247.

[4] Derek Kidner, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries: Psalms 1-72 (Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 1973), 103.

[5] F. F. Bruce, New International Bible Commentary (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1979), 931.

[6] Artur Weiser, The Old Testament Library: The Psalms (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1962), 252.

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William Barclay Quote

“God is the great savior, the great deliverer of His people. And the deliverance which He gives is not the deliverance of escape, but the deliverance of conquest. It is not a deliverance which saves a man from trouble but one which brings him triumphantly through trouble. It does not make life easy, but it makes life great. It is not part of the Christian life to look for a life in which man is saved from all trouble and distress; the Christian hope is that a man in Christ can endure any kind of trouble and distress…and come out to glory on the other side.”

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Dr. D. A. Carson – Must I Learn How To Interpret the Bible?

Hermeneutics is the art and science of interpretation; biblical hermeneutics is the art and science of interpreting the Bible. At the time of the Reformation, debates over interpretation played an enormously important role. These were debates over ―interpretation, not just over interpretations. In other words, the Reformers disagreed with their opponents not only over what this or that passage meant, but over the nature of interpretation, the locus of authority in interpretation, the role of the church and of the Spirit in interpretation, and much more.

During the last half century, so many developments have taken place in the realm of hermeneutics that it would take a very long article even to sketch them in lightly. Sad to say, nowadays many scholars are more interested in the challenges of the discipline of hermeneutics than in the interpretation of the Bible—the very Bible that hermeneutics should help us handle more responsibly. On the other hand, rather ironically there are still some people who think that there is something slightly sleazy about interpretation. Without being crass enough to say so, they secretly harbor the opinion that what others offer are interpretations, but what they themselves offer is just what the Bible says.

Carl F. H. Henry is fond of saying that there are two kinds of presuppositionalists: those who admit it and those who don‘t. We might adapt his analysis to our topic: There are two kinds of practitioners of hermeneutics: those who admit it and those who don‘t. For the fact of the matter is that every time we find something in the Bible (whether it is there or not!), we have interpreted the Bible. There are good interpretations and there are bad interpretations; there are faithful interpretations and there are unfaithful interpretations. But there is no escape from interpretation.

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Brian Auten – 10 Pitfalls of the Foolish Apologist

A Christian ambassador desires to be tactful, persuasive, sensitive, and thoughtful. Being a good apologist and being able to give good reasons for the truth of the Christian view takes prayer, patience, study, and persistence. For those who have made it their goal to become good defenders of the faith, there are certain positive disciplines and character traits that one would do well to develop. These help you become a wise apologist.

But on the other hand, there are certain pitfalls that can appear that, when left unchecked, can become character traits and make you a foolish apologist. Although there are surely more, here are Ten Pitfalls of the Foolish Apologist:

  1. The foolish apologist speaks before listening. Proverbs 18:13 says, “He who answers before listening – that is his folly and his shame.” Not only does he communicate to others that he could care less about what they have to say, but he also becomes unable to give a well informed answer. The wise apologist is patient, seeks to understand, and avoids monologue.

  2. The foolish apologist overstates his argument. The foolish apologist doesn’t have “good reasons.” Instead, he can prove it. He can show something beyond the shadow of a doubt. His arguments are presented with all confidence — and of course he can’t be wrong. Even when using good arguments, he exaggerates what they actually show. No modesty here, and people balk. The wise apologist argues confidently, yet with modesty.

  3. The foolish apologist wants to win every point. When the conversation gets complex, he needs to make sure to correct every single error he sees with another person’s view. Never mind that his conversation partner is getting offended by his “attention to detail.” This apologist is the fallacy police, the fact-checker, and grammarian all-in-one. If he makes an error, back-pedaling is in order, with little or no admission of wrong. The wise apologist can discern what really matters in a conversation.

  4. The foolish apologist chases red herrings. If the topic is the resurrection, just bring up evolution. The foolish apologist will happily hop down any bunny trail that appears. The conversation goes in all directions. He can’t make any progress in an argument because he can’t spot red herrings, distractions, and non-issues. In fact, he may often enjoy these deviations from focused dialogue, because he’s proud of his expertise in his own pet subject areas. The wise apologist knows how to stick to one point.

  5. Continue Reading

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