Why Our Church Switched To The ESV

Now I originally got this book way back in 2015, when I wasn’t quite sure about all the various translations, and was aiming to just stick with the ESV, since it didn’t seem to be an outright paraphrased translation but also had readability fixes (that got rid of Old English), that I figured were a good thing.

Since then I’ve obviously stopped going down the ESV path, but while cleaning up I found this small book (only 31 pgs. long) and I figured it would be interesting to read and discuss here, since I never heard why exactly pastors may have chosen the ESV for their churches. I was just choosing for me, alone.

All I can say after reading this is … wow. This book, written in 2011 by a senior pastor who had been in that role since 2004, talks mainly about how he has chosen ESV bibles to replace the aging/worn NIV pew bibles. He says many odd things like this: “I grew up using the New International Version. This is what my church used, my parents read around the dinner table…” He then actually lists the number of times he’s read the Bible – ESV (12 times), KJV (3-4 times), NIV (6 times), RSV/NASV (3-4 times) and excerpts of NRSV, NKJV and The Message (so what is that, like 1 verse?). So, if I read the Bible approximately 10-20 times, am I qualified to be a senior pastor (as he was, 7 years before becoming a full-time pastor)? That’s odd. I’ve never heard a preacher actually list actual numbers like this. For all we know, this guy could have read the Bible once or twice total before even getting his job in 2004 and then did all this reading afterwards.

He then continues, in describing other translations: “The KJV/NKV is based on inferior manuscripts.” Uh, what? You mean the most widely read version over the last 400 years is based on inferior text? And secondly, the NKJV has nothing to do with the KJV, except for the name, which is the reason why KJV people refuse to switch to it. The NKJV changed thousands of things, and borrowed heavily from other translations like the NIV, NASV and RSV. How does he not know this? I know this, and I know very little.

Further on he describes how the ESV is better than the NIV, because with the NIV and its poor translation, he has to “unexplain” the English to get the message. He then complains about doing his actual job, explaining the Word of God: “The ESV requires much less correcting in preaching. This may be the most important reason for switching to the ESV. I preached from the NIV for five years. To do careful preaching requires a more careful text than the NIV. The other option is to frequently un-explain the English translation, which is a terrible habit … because it leads people to think they need an ‘expert’ in Greek or Hebrew to really explain the Bible” and “it causes people over time to come to their English Bibles with less confidence.

So … he badmouths the NIV constantly for not being accurate and literal and refuses to explain the text is so wrong people can’t take it at face value .. but earlier on the same page says the NIV “is a good translation in many respects.

How can it be a good translation when you admit for half a decade you had to give people a heavily edited and distorted view of the Bible, because you didn’t want to pull out a Strong’s Concordance or explain how much these modern translations paraphrase things or are based on garbage Greek from Westcott & Hort?

Lastly, on the penultimate page, he throws in this gem: “Choosing a Bible translation is not a life or death decision.” You read that right. A man who works professionally in teaching others about the WORD OF GOD — WHICH IS GOD, just said the Bible itself is “meh” and not really important in the grand scheme of things. Whoa. Whoa!

What do I take away from all this? Apparently anyone can be a preacher if they read the Bible a dozen or so times and openly endorse these modern, heretical translations based on horribly corrupted manuscripts. Just terrible. Gives me even more reasons to not bother with church, period, if crazies like this run them.


LibertyU Blog – Moving On…

Well, in some ways I didn’t write this, but it’s time to. After my current Theological Survey II class ends (which I’m nearly halfway through), I’ll be withdrawing from Liberty University after wrapping up both my Theological Survey courses and Hermeneutics work (I will have completed 3 classes by that point, of the two main topics I wanted to focus on).

A few key things led me to this:

  • The cost is too high now: After my accident last year, and my car getting totaled, my finances (which were on track to be very, very good in 2017) were derailed completely. In the summer I was under the impression a non-working car I had was going to get fixed/work fine (and be my mode of transportation for 12-18 months as I worked on buying a newer used car outright) and so in July/August when I enrolled at Liberty I felt confident I had X amount of money to work with. But, by late October it was clear: The fixed up car wasn’t reliable as a daily driver, and I needed to just suck it up and get a hefty loan to buy a car. So with that expensive car financing and required higher insurance cost, my budget for tuition went away almost overnight. And let’s not even factor in all my still unpaid medical bills from 1 year ago, which I owe on.
  • Time to complete: If I couldn’t take ~6-7 classes annually, the program (20 classes) would take me over 3 years to complete. My original plan? Take 2-3 classes each semester, 3 times a year, so I could finish it up in about 2 years. But now, even at 4-5 classes annually, we’re talking 4-5 years. No thanks.
  • Simplifying: I’ve been working on a minimalism-focused lifestyle, and honestly, this added stress, classwork and money annoyance is making my life overly complex now. I have a full-time job, bills, a house to maintain and other things I want to enjoy (maybe I want to sight-see this year? Or spend time with my family! Or perhaps just save/pay off some older bills?).
  • Tired of formal education: I already have 2 Associate and 2 Bachelor degrees, and have taken hundreds of credits worth of college classes since 2000 (no joke). I’m nearly done, brain-wise. I may one day wish to get a small Masters-level IT certificate or something, but that’s it (I would go for a Bible certificate, but all Bible schools I’ve found are so expensive). Even then, we’ll see. My days of formal academia may just be over. If I do anything, it may be small courses here and there.
  • Self-study: I also have Logos 7 Gold now, and I’m paying that off, at $70/mo. That, I think, will be my primary research/learning/serious study tool overall. I bought that in December thinking Liberty may eventually be going away.

So yeah, it’s a slight bummer about Liberty University, as it is a nice school and I’ve enjoyed the classwork I’ve done … but at this point there are too many reasons now not to do it, at this point in my life. I gave it a good shot, and if the economy was better and I didn’t have an unexpected car note to pay, things might be different. I don’t see it as failing because 1) I was never going to get a formal degree/do it as a career, 2) unexpected life bills and no chance for student loans killed finances (out of my control) and 3) I gave it a proper shot, for the right reasons, and with the right mindset. I also will have completed most of the main courses I wanted to focus on and that interested me the most.

God Moments For Men

A couple months ago I was in Walmart, and in their small Bible book section (Walmart isn’t perfect by any means, but kudos to them for at least carrying Christian books in this day and age) I was looking for something to read that was both fairly short and inexpensive. At just $4.99, “God Moments For Men” fit the bill.

In this under 100 page book, it covers over 95 topics about all sorts of things in life like how to “Learn to be Content,”Perseverance,” and “Put Others First,” just to name a few. The wide variety of things discussed (one per page) makes for a very easy read, and the scripture for each topic along with a quote from a famous person add a nice touch of extra content to each subject.

I was actually expecting lots of pages devoted to being married and being a father (which would do me no good whatsoever), but this author didn’t really do that. So for married and single guys (men of all ages and backgrounds), this book really is a good read. It mixes the author’s personal experiences with many general/well-known observations in a way that help cover a topic in both a Biblical and modern-day sense, that we can all relate to.

My only nitpicks would be that a few of the people quoted are questionable (despite their quotes being good!) and some of the verses shown are using odd translations (like The Message). Other than that, I’d say this is a good buy if you want something light to read and that doesn’t hurt the wallet.

Homosexuality and the Bible – Charlie Campbell

Homosexuality and the Bible: Answering Objections to the Biblical View is the latest video from Charlie Campbell that I’ve watched. In it Charlie mostly focuses on the many issues that non-Christians have with the portrayal of homosexual behavior in Bible, how they perceive Christians treat gay people, why they say the Bible contradicts itself on this subject and how gay marriage is not bad, if gay people are like normal couples, except just two of them happen to be the same gender.

Now, to me this video felt pretty different than Charlie’s other videos about Mormonism, Jehova’s Witnesses, Hinduism, etc. because in those he went into great detail over the origin of that thinking, what caused its eruption/growth in recent times and what is sustaining it in spite of Christianity’s reach all over. Here he does none of that, and I almost wonder if it’s because he wants to avoid upsetting potential gay listeners by avoiding saying not-so-great things that’ll immediately make them want to stop watching (such as the Journal of the Family Research Institute, Vol. 18 No. 1, Feb 2003 study showing that 69% of serial killers were homosexual, making the clear connection between deviant and other extreme/dangerous behavior). He sorta covers potential causes of the lifestyle choice, but doesn’t explain it enough to show the cause (knowing the cause helps with the cure!).

Instead Charlie focuses on the most common questions and objections raised by unbelieving gays, and does a good job through easy-to-read presentation imagery and calm, well-spoken dialogue. He aims to not rock the boat here, and I do understand why, given the highly divisive topic and target rebellious audience.

Obviously this video is aimed at people who are homosexuals and would like more information on things they may have heard … but I do feel like more emphasis should have been placed on why this is such a crucial issue, and how much that lifestyle is tied into other terrible, anti-God decisions people make.

Bryan Denlinger’s YouTube Ministry

I was checking YouTube this evening and saw his most recent video — and in short, Bryan “husky394xp” has shut down all comments on all of his videos.

Now, to me, this is completely unacceptable considering the following things about the channel:

1) As stated by him, he’s had the channel for 9 years, and he’s always had comments on every video.

2) He didn’t choose to simply not do comments on any future videos and leave the rest as-is — no, he intentionally killed comments on every single video.

3) He says viewers can still contact him by email (however he stopped giving out his email years ago), but everyone else? Send snail mail to his P.O. Box.

Now, this is a guy who gained his 23,000+ subscribers due to word of mouth on YouTube, social media, and forums. None of his videos are gigantic hits, but he does many videos a week and each one gets a few thousand views typically. He also doesn’t monetize his videos and is supported by donations on his website.

What bothers me about this is that he is effectively saying what so many false teachers end up saying: “My opinion matters, and yours doesn’t — NEVER question me.” (Though I’m not necessarily saying he’s a false teacher on the level of Steven Anderson or Kenneth Copeland, but he’s on that extremely risky path…)

What I do have a core problem with is that for all the viewers — no matter if comments were good or bad — at least people could have discussions. They could thank Bryan for his work. They could criticize/send info if they had an issue with his sermons. But without a way to respond back to him in an open way or communicate with others watching the same content, he is basically going back to when he was mailing people DVDs.

He wants to preach at others, but wants near-zero feedback.

I will say this — some of his videos have been interesting and helpful. He did a good job exposing Hyles-Anderson College, Amish beliefs and comparisons of KJV bibles, for example. But some of his videos are (increasingly) just bizarre — topics like only eating raw/natural things to stay fit (what!?), no interracial marriage of any kind being allowed (what!?), church buildings being inherently evil (what!?), etc.

I would just avoid/unsubscribe from his channel now.

LibertyU Blog – Semester #2 Begins…

I wasn’t sure if I was even going to be able to do a class this semester due to tight finances in December and January, but over the last two weeks I ran my budget on vapors and was able to squeeze out enough to cover tuition for a class — Theological Survey II.

I appreciate the chance to continue my classes, as there was a very brief time a couple weeks ago where I honestly didn’t think it’d be possible (this semester or perhaps even beyond) — it was pretty depressing. But at this rate, if I can do roughly 6-7 classes annually, I will be able to finish the program in three years, which is basically what I expected and aimed for. Of course, if money gets tight/things come up over time classes will be delayed, naturally.

Wish me luck as I embark on a new class … and I hope God opens my eyes to even more information I likely wouldn’t have encountered via random sermons and readings. I’m even looking forward to writing more papers too! Thank you Jesus.

The Case For Christ

I just got done finished watching “The Case For Christ,” a film about a Chicago Tribune journalist who tries to disprove the validity of the Bible after his wife becomes a Christian. To put it mildly, this film is infuriating.

Throughout the nearly two hour long affair we are subjected to a guy named Lee, a person we know little about (except that he won a writing award for his investigative journalism dealing with crime) and that we care about even less. This is a supposedly biographical true story, and what is painted is that of a really unpleasant individual in the workplace, at home with his wife, with strangers who are impacted by his printed words and even with his own parents. I would say there’s nothing to like about him. Even at the end of the film (which we all know how it’s going to end), Lee as a person seems bizarre. His saving prayer — if we are to take the film as a genuine account of what happened — is also suspect. Why? He doesn’t even ask Jesus Christ for forgiveness of Lee’s sins against Jesus, nor does he say or imply that he’ll repent. For a man who spent months trying to “logically” disprove the Bible, did he even read the Gospels at all? Weird.

The whole story and people presented doesn’t sit well with me, and the fact he then went on to suddenly be a preacher after massive publishing success in the 80s … and then both of his kids went on to become Christian authors and theologians as well makes me feel like perhaps we’ve been played. Just because an average person comes to Christ doesn’t mean they are remotely qualified to be a pastor or Christian author. This all comes across as a family profession.

During my studies last fall I learned of Natural Theology, and even wrote a paper on it. Basically it boils down to this: Even if fact-based searching for evidence of God can be found out/verified, it will not make a person believe in Jesus Christ. Given what I saw on screen, nothing to me indicated Lee made that leap because all he did was research the evidence, and not the humanity or love of Christ. Sure, Lee’s “conversion” happened after he had a major failure at work, he was contemplating divorce and his father died … but none of that ties into him suddenly believing that Jesus Christ is the son of God. All he focused on in his hunt was whether Jesus died and rose as described. That’s … not enough.

Looking online for Lee Strobel after this movie, I found that in 2010 he was invited to and attended the “Break Forth” conference in Canada, which is apparently all about emergent church/new age pastors. Apparently Strobel’s church is also an endorser of “contemplative spirituality,” which focuses on regular Eastern religion-like meditation sessions where one empties their mind, instead of focusing solely on typical Bible reading, traditional prayer, etc.  Obviously I cannot be 100% sure, but my gut tells me Strobel found an angle to make lots of money long ago, and perhaps has been using his knack for writing as a means of sustaining a journalism career that likely would have ended anyways, when he literally got a man imprisoned and beat up for a false attempted murder of a cop, due to Lee’s poor investigative skills. I would stay away from this film, and more importantly, this Strobel character. Something just doesn’t add up.