December 1, 2020

Saturday Ramblings 6.18.11

What a week. Chaplain Mike is a grandpa again. My Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup. My Reds swept the Dodgers. With all this excitement, we’ve left a bit of a mess around the iMonastery. Saturday is when we tidy up, starting with these Ramblings…

Speaking of baseball, there is a man whose ministry is handing out bottled water to fans of the College World Series in Omaha each year. The water has John 6:35 on it (“Jesus said, ‘and he who believes in me shall never thirst”). The founder of this ministry relates how this water led to the salvation of a man who, after he was saved, became a “really nice guy. He came to our church – driving [all the way across the city] and he even sang in the choir.” Does it bother you that the fruit of this man’s salvation was he became a nice guy, went to church, and sang in the choir?

Zondervan can forget marketing their updated New International Version of the Bible to Southern Baptists. The SBC has gone on record saying it “cannot commend” the new NIV because of gender references in the NIV. Is it a big deal to you that this updated translation now refers to “brothers and sisters” rather than just “brothers”?

Well, we all know God is against nudity. That’s why he created the Gap. One pastor wants to take it a step further and ban all art with naked people. “Since we sinned, as it said in the book of Genesis, the human body has certain parts that are private,” the outspoken pastor said. “We should keep them for more intimate settings like people’s bedrooms.” I guess I should cancel my trip to the Louvre, right?

Wow. The cost of having a priest pray for you has gone up. Or maybe they are just trying to keep up with inflation. The interesting thing here is the picture used for this story. It is not from Romania, but from … Tulsa. It is the praying hands statue in front of Oral Roberts University.

When we misplace or lose something, or something is stolen from us, we pray and ask St. Anthony to help us recover it. So what if what was stolen was St. Anthony himself? Who do we pray to then? Fortunately we don’t have to worry about that any more–St. Anthony found himself.

Nancy Pearcey, a sometime collaborative writer with Chuck Colson, says that Christianity is a science-starter, not a science-stopper. A good and well-reasoned article. Your thoughts?

Harold Camping continues to recover from a mild stroke he suffered last week. Let’s lift him in to God in prayer as he works to regain full health.

Birthdays this past week were celebrated by Jacques Cousteau; Vince Lombardi; Gene Wilder; Frank Beard (the only member of ZZ Top who doesn’t wear a beard); George H. W. Bush; Jim “Gomer Pyle” Nabors; Chick Corea; Jimmy Rogers (I met his great-granddaughter this week); Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen; Burl Ives; Harry Nilsson; Stan Laurel; and Venus Williams.

So what do you do when you can’t come up with a bonus video based on a celebrity’s birthday? You default to the Stones, that’s what you do. I was at this concert in ’95 or ’96 (can’t remember which year). The Stones are great entertainers. Enjoy.

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  1. Aidan Clevinger says

    I’m not a Baptist, but the whole “dynamic equivalence” thing is enough to make me “not commend” the NIV

    • Isaac (the poster occasionally still known as Obed) says

      Yeah, that’s pretty much my take also. The NIV just isn’t very accurate a translation. This “gender inclusive” thing is just another inaccuracy to add to that list.

      • nice little tweak to your name…a sense of humor!

        • Isaac (the poster occasionally still known as Obed) says

          lol I did that after our last little exchange. Thought it might be good for a few giggles 🙂

      • How is the NIV inaccurate?

        • Isaac (the poster occasionally still known as Obed) says

          Needless omission or addition of words, breaking up complex sentences into little bites, random acts of paraphrase, glossing over technical theological terms that are obviously used in a technical way in the Greek, elimination of metaphors/idioms from the source languages, eliminating the ambiguity of certain texts . . .

          All of which end up forcing the interpretation in a particular direction and make the NIV useless for serious study. While the big-picture message may be intact, the details get all screwed up. It’s readability may make it a good translation for folks with little exposure to the bible, but it’s completely inadequate for serious study of God’s word.

          • The “gender inclusivness” aspect of the NIV is perhaps its greatest contribution to accuracy. I agree with Isaac’s diatribe and fully concur with his conclusion; “…it’s completely inadequate for serious study of (the Bible).” I also agree with Isaac that the over-arching picture is intact within the NIV, but dang, just can’t trust it in a lot of the particulars.

            One of the most misleading mistranslation is Romans 6:1;

            Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase?

            All of the older translations get it right; “continue in sin” with “sin” understood as a NOUN, and not a verb.


      • I like the gender inclusiveness. Greek also uses a masculine plural to refer to both men and women. Being inclusive actually increases the accuracy, rather than decreases it.

        • MelissaTheRagamuffin says

          I agree. I like the gender inclusiveness, and not having it is a huge stumbling block to many women and serves to keep them out of church. But, I guess we don’t care about women do we?

        • MelissaTheRagamuffin says

          I’d also point out that the NLT also uses gender inclusive language but it is somehow the little darling of evangelicals and it’s not 1/2 the translation that the NIV is.

        • Isaac (the poster occasionally still known as Obed) says

          English uses the masculine to refer to mixed-gender or non-specified gender groups also, especially using “man” as a stand-in for “mankind” or “humankind.” While this may be going out of style in recent years, it’s definitely part of our linguistic heritage and history. Folks with a hang-up in this area will have troubles dealing with anything but the most recent literary, legal, etc. works in the language.

          The problem I have with translating the parts of the Greek Text that use the masculine to refer to mixed-gender into gender-inclusive English is that if often requires the translator to mess around with the syntax of the Greek to do so. Also, it seems to me that this puts the translator into the role of interpreter more than is necessary.

          • This used to be the case with English. Any linguist will tell you that language evolves and that we should keep up with it. Also, many women have faced a lot of discrimination and pain due to sexism in and out of the church – do we really not want to help these women have a full understanding of God?

    • david carlson says

      lol – all english language bibles are “dynamic equivalents” You couldnt possibly understand a literal translation

      • Isaac (the poster occasionally still known as Obed) says

        But some are more literal than others. The distinction between dynamic and formal equivalence in translation isn’t arbitrary. Granted, it’s not a black-and-white issue, but they do reflect differences in translation philosophy that are important for study and interpretation of Scripture.

  2. “Since we sinned, as it said in the book of Genesis, the human body has certain parts that are private,”

    Now there’s some fine exegesis.

    • Brother Buford says

      Like the lips…?

    • Don’t take this personally but when I read that article in USA Today for me it just raised more questions about Christianity. Why would anyone want to join and be a part of a movement that is so strict and lacks common sense? Who would want to join a faith where articles like this only remind me why I walked away? Why are evangelicals so obsessed about sex? Why do some criminalize it? I find it hard to believe that some would get worked up about something such as Michaengelo’s David where they would want to outlaw it! What’s next are we going to see Christians publically destroy statues that they see offensive. If they want a strict “moral” code (how do you define that?) they are living in the wrong country…maybe they should migrate to Afghanistan or Saudi Arabia.

      Here in Washington, D.C. the culture war is always being waged. When John Ashcroft became Attorney General in the Bush regime one of the acts he did was to cover up a statue in the Department of Justice building. If its wasn’t so sad I’d be on the floor rolling around in laughter.

      The sad part is that there are homeless needing help, gay men suffering and approaching death because of AIDS, mentally ill people needing help, families whose lives have been adversely affected due to out economic situation, etc.. There are people in dire straights and broken in the world. Can Christians focus on such people? Can they shower a gay man infected with HIV with love? Can they support a child and help them grow up if their father is prison? Can Christians leave behind the culture war bullshit and move forward? Is that possible?

      • David Cornwell says

        Some of the above reminds me of the mindset of some of the Cromwellian reformers, although it is controversial whether he himself were involved or not. In the last US. administration we heard a lot of Puritanical stuff when it came to sex. It’s still out there waiting in the wings for another try.

      • I would probably argue that what you are describing is more generally idolatry. The idea that we can impose certain physical boundaries to make us good people is not only laughable, it is unchristian. Fundamentalism strikes back.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          The idea that we can impose certain physical boundaries to make us good people is not only laughable, it is…


      • No offense taken Eagle (I think your rock!), but consider this:

        A christian or group of christians that spend their times dedicated to helping ill people (for instance gay men with HIV), helping children with parents in prison like Kairos Outside does, walking daily through the ups and downs of mental illness with someone, and working on behalf of the poor doesn’t make news. Even when a ministry like Compassion hits a number like 1,000,000 that isn’t news to the outside world, even though it represents mostly middle class and lower people sending 32 million a month out to support extra food, school fees, etc to poor kids in every region of the globe.

        I have a gay friend with a mental illness that I shower love on, a mentally ill husband to help, a woman I counsel over the phone weekly through debilitating anxiety, and a kid in Mexico I support financially and mentor via letters. That’s not crazily impressive or anything, maybe not the best I could be doing, and most fellow christians I’ve met could put together a list like that easily. Christian organziations work tirelessly at this stuff. But I tell you to make this point: you’ve NEVER heard of me. I haven’t been on TV, and a media crew isn’t going to come to my house.

        Please don’t let the media’s choice of focus choose your beliefs for you. Christans only make news when the do stupid stuff.

        • Headless Unicorn Guy says

          That’s not crazily impressive or anything, maybe not the best I could be doing, and most fellow christians I’ve met could put together a list like that easily. Christian organziations work tirelessly at this stuff. But I tell you to make this point: you’ve NEVER heard of me. I haven’t been on TV…

          Neither have I. If I ever get on TV, it’ll probably be as part of one of those “Everyone Laugh at the Freaks” Reality Shows about Those Stupid Gamers/Furries/Bronies.

      • All the more reason to not pay too much attention to what other Christians are doing. We don’t follow Christians, or churches, or movements. Find out what Jesus said and did, and decide if you want to follow HIM. Then move on from there.

      • There are many Christian organizations that do exactly the things you describe on a daily basis: The Salvation Army, The Red Cross, Samaritan’s Purse, Operation Blessing, Compassion International, Prison Fellowship, etc. Not to mention countless homeless shelters and soup kitchens. Also many churches have a benevolence program of some kind to assist those in need.

        As someone else said, Christians do these things all the time. But it’s somewhat taken for granted that they do so. So its the “sensationalistic” stories that get the headlines.

        Don’t let the words of one pastor keep you away from faith.

        • Donalbain says

          Just to nitpick. The Red Cross is not a Christian organisation. It is a very important part of their work that they are not religious at all.

  3. Considering that the King James was translated to defend the monarchy, I have to believe “brothers and sister” isn’t that big of a deal.

    • MelissaTheRagamuffin says

      My Greek is pitifully limited, but I know in Latin and the romance languages when you’re addressing a group that includes both male and female you use the male form. I am taking a wild guess that Greek is similar. Therefore, to translatte “brothers” in Greek to “brothers and sisters” in English is correct.

  4. Regarding the relic of St. Anthony, there’s been a long tradition of stealing relics. As the website for the Basilica of St. Mark puts it delicately:

    “On 31st January 828 the relics of the Patron Saint Mark were brought from Alexandria, not without adventure, to Venice where they were received by the Doge Giustiniano Particiaco.”

    Not without adventure, indeed. Venetian merchants robbed the body of St. Mark from Alexandria, which had then fallen under Muslim control, as depicted in this painting by Tintoretto. According to legend, they hid the body in a barrel of salt pork to prevent the Muslim officials from searching the cargo and finding it.

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      Cue theme from James Bond or Mission Impossible…

      • The Orthodox are still steamed (and really, you can’t blame them) over the translation (robbery) of the relics of St. Nicholas from Myra by sailors (or pirates or thieves, depending on which version you follow) who brought them back to Bari in south-east Italy.

        There seems to have been a lively history of relic-stealing (for local pride, for attracting pilgrims and thus the money they would generate, for vaunting one church over another by getting a top-class saint, and so on) that went on throughout the Middle Ages 🙂

  5. The SBC is being selective in their commendation. The ESV, which they do commend, also has ‘brothers and sisters’ in their version. It’s in the footnotes as a legitimate alternative to ‘brothers.’ It is also a ‘gender neutral’ translation in several places, but they ignore it. Otherwise, are only’men’ justified by faith and all women going to hell? (Look up Romans 3:28, compare ESV with NASB.) Even the ESV translators admit that it is necessary in places, and it’s the new official version of the Colorado Springs group.

    • As I understand it, the ESV is the product of official SBC organs. Perhaps they are concerned with the profit loss from the new, updated competition. And besides, you wouldn’t expect Apple to recomend Windows would you????

      • Isaac (the poster occasionally still known as Obed) says

        I’m pretty sure that’s not the case. Neither Crossway or Good News Publishers (the companies behind the ESV) are denominationally affiliated. And the general editor was J.I. Packer, who (as far as I know) was an Episcopalian at the time.

      • The SBC official version is the Holman. That was because of NIV royalties.

        But now more and more SBC leaders are promoting the ESV. And many from the CBMW (including SBC’ers) were paid to be in on the ESV translation.

    • Steve Newell says

      The Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod has adopted the ESV as the “official” translation that they use. There is both a doctrinal issue and a financial on why many have adopted the ESV over the NIV.. The NIV charges royalties for the use of the NIV and they are requiring that all new uses of the NIV use the current version, not an older version. The ESV does not have the same royalties issues.

  6. As for Patrick, the man who was given that bottle of water, let’s all rejoice that he is now with God in Heaven, since the article you noted mentioned he eventually died from cancer. We really don’t know what the “fruit of his salvation” was since none of us lived in his world. And frankly, I’m a little more concerned about my own spiritual fruit.

    I LOVE iMonk and want to thank all the writers here. It’s a daily must read for me!

  7. “Does it bother you that the fruit of this man’s salvation was he became a nice guy, went to church, and sang in the choir?”

    In a word, yes.

    “Well, we all know God is against nudity”

    That made me giggle really early in the morning. And I love giggling. Thanks!

    After finishing the short article on the online prayer service offered in Romania, I found it interesting that the church didn’t approve because it could lead to laziness, which I took to mean people would become lazy and not actually attend church. Right, that would be just awful! And paying for prayer isn’t?

    • “Well, we all know God is against nudity” made me giggle, too! That’s hilarious.

      • Man, good thing for us he created us with implanted clothes. 😉

        • “Man, good thing for us he created us with implanted clothes. ”

          Wait- God created us with clothes? I thought it was fig leaves like in the pictures. EVERYTHING I KNOW IS A LIE! 😉

      • Which is why good Christians shower with clothes on.

        True story.

        Back in late sixties a group from my church went to a Baptist run camp area for a picnic and swim in the pool at said camp. Reservations required for large groups. When we got there the pool was very occupied. Our pastor went in and asked when it would be available for us. He came out and explained that the previous group was running a bit long and could we wait about 30 minutes or so. Sure everyone said. Someone asked if there was a problem OUR pastor said the church group using it didn’t believe in mixed bathing and so they had to split into two groups and thus were taking longer than expected. So someone asked what our pastor thought about mixed bathing. His comment was best I can quote it was “Well I really love my wife but I mostly like to shower alone.” Daa Bump.

  8. “Does it bother you that the fruit of this man’s salvation was he became a nice guy, went to church, and sang in the choir?”

    No. The article also stated that Patrick “developed a deep concern for his neighbors.” Obviously, the gospel transformed him.

    • I understand that, Bella. It’s what Jay Dess, the man handing out the water, said. He is the one who described his transformation as “being nice, going to church, and singing in the choir.” I am glad you read to the end and saw that Patrick’s life was being changed.

  9. David Cornwell says

    “Does it bother you that the fruit of this man’s salvation was he became a nice guy, went to church, and sang in the choir?”

    It sounds shallow, but where was he coming from? He may have been a horrible guy, mean to his wife and children, and spent all his money in bars. To me that sounds like quite a significant conversion (if that’s what happened).

    I’ve known some people who found salvation and rather than abusing the family while holding the whiskey bottle, switched over to swinging a bible around and still intolerable around everyone. Sometimes they became preachers.

    • “I’ve known some people who found salvation and rather than abusing the family while holding the whiskey bottle, switched over to swinging a bible around and still intolerable around everyone. Sometimes they became preachers.”


  10. Kelby Carlson says

    Does it bother you that the fruit of this man’s salvation was he became a nice guy, went to church, and sang in the choir?

    I usually love iMonk articles, so take this with a grain of salt. It bothers me that you’re judging a (now dead, and thus incapable of defending himself) Christian’s sanctification as inadequate based on an Internet article. Who are you, exactly, to make such a judgment? To me, saying “this man’s fruit isn’t good enough” is pretty close to denying the efficacy of someone’s salvation.

    • Kelby, please read my comment on this above.

    • Kelby,
      Let’s be careful here. I quickly re-read the article and did not see where Jeff made a judgement or said that “this man’s fruit isn’t good enough.” All I saw was that Jeff simply asked a question. Nothing more. Let’s not read more into the sentence than what’s there. The translators of the new NIV are fully capable of doing that.

    • I might even add this: There are days I wish most christians would simply bear that kind of fruit: Be nice, go to church, and sing in the choir (which i direct :P). On second thought, if we could just get that first one, being nice, for all people in our church, we would be significantly ahead of the curve.

  11. I suppose he would ban Michelangelo’s David as well. Some people can’t discern art from pornography. Frank Schaeffer mentioned when he was filming his father’s documentary “How should we then live,” some there objected to Francis Schaeffer standing by the David statue.

    Oh, horrors! The dog in the picture of Saturday Ramblings is nude Cover it! 😛

    • Headless Unicorn Guy says

      I understand the Ashcroft veiling of the statue was partially due to media photogs who kept going for a camera angle framing Ashcroft between the statue’s tits. Over and over and over.

      • I heard that as well; press photographers used to contort themselves into all kinds of positions to snap the Attorney-General and the nude bits in the same frame, the idea being (apparently) that the press couldn’t get over “This guy is a Conservative Christian, yet his place of work has Naked Images, hur-hur-hur!!!” so finally they veiled the statues to get a break.

        • cermak_rd says

          I think that goes back to the Meese commission on pornography…which report was delivered with all its righteous pomposity in front of the naked statue.

  12. “…he became a nice guy, went to church and sang in the choir.” When I read this it didn’t sound to me at all like Jeff was questioning the man’s salvation, but rather that he was pointing out how we often judge people by such concrete, external things (maybe even Sunday morning behaviors only) instead of looking for the fruit of the Spirit in a person’s life. But maybe that’s just me. Jeff’s a big boy; he can speak for himself.

    Now I have to tell my St. Anthony story. A friend gave me a St. Anthony medal, which I wore on a chain around my neck. After a walk at the track one day I noticed that the chain had broken and alas, St. Anthony had gone and lost himself. I wasn’t yet Catholic, and still felt pretty weird about asking saints to pray for anything. But I hated to lose the medal, mostly because it was a gift. Meanwhile, I bought myself a new St. Anthony medal and, not knowing I’d done that, another friend also bought me a replacement. So now I had two. But still…maybe I should ask St. Anthony for help…Finally I bit the bullet and asked him to help me find the original medal. A day or two later I was again walking the track — which I had, mind you, walked many times since the medal went missing — and there was a sudden glint of silver in the sunlight. Right smack in the middle of the track was the medal winking up at me. Sound too strange to be true? Yep. But I swear it is. And yes, that experience put me over the hurdle of asking the saints for help. 🙂

  13. Jeff, Nancy Pearcey’s article is a day-maker …maybe a week-maker …and needs to be shouted from the rooftops. Our general ignorance of history (and even disdain for it) is at the root of the deepest fractures in our culture. I have always maintained that “science versus faith” is a false dichotomy, and it feels good to find such a superb articulation as found in Nancy’s work. Every iMonker should read it.

    I never would have found this one without you and iMonk. Thanks so much!

  14. “Is it a big deal to you that this updated translation now refers to “brothers and sisters” rather than just “brothers”?” Straw man. The SBC’s own Holman footnotes “brothers” as referring to brothers and sisters. The real issue with the new New International Version lies in other passages. Perhaps the convention is taking it this too far, but it has got nothing to do with brother/sister language.

  15. joel hunter says

    The irony of Pearcey defending Christianity as a science-starter rather than a science-stopper should not be lost on those who’ve read her views on evolution. She participates in the culture war against sound science education (she’s buried her anti-evolution views in footnote 5). Despite her protests for the intrinsic compatibility of Christianity and science (a position with which I agree) much of her public work is aimed at underscoring the intrinsic incompatibility of evolution and Christianity. She perpetuates the outmoded conflict thesis articulated by Draper and White by insisting on an ID/creation science framework for explaining natural history.

    • Yes, Yes, Yes!!!

      I felt the same way about the Pearcy article. She is correct in a broad sense. The views of Christendom mixed with Greek thought defiantly allowed for the development of modern science, (although, I would argue that Gutenberg’s printing press had a massive impact as well). She undermines her view with her own claim that modern science is wrong when it comes to evolution and the age of the Earth.

      She also engages in one of my pet peeves, ‘worldview’ thinking. In this article, and others I have read by her, she places Confucianism, Buddhism, Taoism and Chinese Animism, all in the worldview of “Eastern Pantheism.” In other words she takes the religious thought and philosophy of billions of people over thousands of years into one simple strawman that she then pushes over. It is just sloppy thinking. I have long found ‘worldview’ apologetics as a way for its proponents to categorize all other human religion and philosophy into a few easy categories than can than dismiss without having to do all that annoying reading and study.

      • Excellent observation. Yes, the popular world view teachers engage in the strawman tactics you mention. In addition, the resulting “Christian” world view is a narrow sectarian view which leaves little room for variation. It conveniently defends cultural war politics. It includes revision of American history, casting the founding fathers as born again evangelicals. It’s indoctrinization and propoganda.

    • The story about science shouldn’t be all that surprising, at least when you remember that Science does not equal “evolution and embryonic stem-cells.” The field’s pretty wide out there.

      And yes, Christians should have a better relationship with science. But to acquiesce to the myth that Christianity has been sitting with a Bible ready to thump anyone with a test tube is to concede parts of Christianity’s history as well as science’s.

  16. On the science article, thank you for posting this. I shall be “favoriting” this, as it really helps me. It seems to me that some of our brothers have said that we avoid science. It seems that it’s action without a base; i.e., they’re saying that we avoid science out of fear and not with any well-reasoned response for avoiding it.

    On the SBC and the NIV, I’m just going to be honest. I don’t see the problem with a woman preacher. If what she says is Biblical, why shouldn’t she say it to a man? Doesn’t the Lord look at what’s in the heart and not what’s outside of the heart? I’m not a feminist (in the way I understand it). It just seems to me that there is no logical basis for not letting a woman preach/pastor. How does it hurt us? “It’s in the Bible” is an excuse, but it seems to me that God gave us a moral code for a reason; not just because He felt like it. Besides, didn’t one of the early churches have female pastors co-leading it?

  17. The prayer thing might seem less weird if you know that orthodox often buy a candle and light it in prayer on Sunday mornings. There also isn’t a plate-passing culture for the support of the church. After the blessing, as we leave there are baskets to contribute, which could from the outside look very quid pro quo. I guess what I mean to say is that many orthodox churches are not financially supported in the same mannner as western evangelical churches, nor do most have direct financial support from a heirarchy as some catholic churches do in addition to whatever is collected. While there is a general pledge for the year, it is often given in the form of micro transactions, including when offering a private prayer in church.

  18. cermak_rd says

    Wouldn’t you know I’d miss the posts that mention Fra Angelico and Rublev. Both artists in egg tempera painting, which is something I’ve started playing with. My normal medium is oils, but tempera has some interesting effects that are possible.

    In fact, the pigments I’m using are a brand name of Rublev. I believe Orthodox icons are still typically done in tempera on hardboard panels that have been coated with gypsum or marbled gesso.