Verily, God Did Not Say “Thou Shalt Not Steal”


The title thou hast lately read art not a clickbait and switch. Verily, I believe it to be one of truth and importance.

Let me put you at ease right away by telling you what I mean by it.

God did not say, “Thou shalt not steal.” He said “You shall not steal.”

He did not say, “I AM THAT I AM.” He said, “I AM WHO I AM.”

Jesus did not say, “Whosoever believeth in him should not perish.” He said, “Whoever believes in him should not perish.”

As linguist Steve Runge has often observed, “Choice implies meaning.” And the choice to use Elizabethan English today adds another message on top of whatever the Bible is saying—a message the KJV translators never intended. It says, “Behold! Thou art reading solemn, elevated, religious verbiage!”
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What Makes a Good Biblical Scholar?

Over on the Logos Academic Blog (theLAB) there’s been a series of interesting pieces from biblical scholars answering the question, “What makes a good biblical scholar.” I thought I’d weigh in here on the Logos Blog, too.

I cannot give a secular answer to the question of what makes a “good biblical scholar,” even though I am deeply grateful for the benefit I’ve derived from non-Christians in the field. “Good” is not a concept whose definition I’m willing to cede to our secular age. There is none good but one (Mark 10:18). So my answer to the titular question is unshakably Christian: it’s love that makes a good biblical scholar—love for God, and love for his image bearers.

Love isn’t enough to make a 1) good 2) biblical 3) scholar, but it is a necessary starting point. To deserve those three descriptions requires loving the Lord with one’s heart, soul, mind, and strength; and loving one’s neighbor as oneself.
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3 Reasons You Should Read the Work of James K.A. Smith

A book series I’ve heard a lot of talk about in recent years is James K. A. Smith’s “Cultural Liturgies” trilogy: Desiring the Kingdom, Imagining the Kingdom, and Awaiting the King (plus the one-volume popularization I really enjoyed, You Are What You Love). Smith is professor of philosophy at Calvin College and editor of Comment magazine.

I will not provide a thorough review of the trilogy here—that might take a few years; they’re the kinds of books that need to percolate. Rather, I will mention just three emphases I have found helpful in his books generally. [Read more…]

What Should New Testament Preachers Do with Old Testament Promises?

Some time ago my wife and I visited a church we’d never been to before and heard a message from one paragraph in Joshua 1. Take particular note of the promises (bolded), because the preacher did:

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.

A stirring passage. And the preacher, who was a gifted speaker, skillfully weaved its themes into a unified sermon. We profited from it. We love to hear God’s word preached with care and feeling.
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One Thing Every True Evangelical Has in Common

Some people doubt evangelicalism exists—it’s too fractured to be called an -ism. And in the last year the value of the label has been fought over more vociferously than ever. What is “evangelicalism”? Is it even a useful concept anymore?

I believe it is still a useful concept, and I’ll tell you why: there’s a little something called “biblicism” which, thankfully, is still recognizable in basically all sectors of evangelicalism. It’s weakened in some places and under threat in all, but I still see it as a unifying center for evangelicalism. [Read more…]

How to Think Like a Christian Should

We rarely think about thinking. Many very smart people fail to see the assumptions hidden underneath their reasoning. How often do news articles assume that the only really reliable way of knowing truth is the scientific method? [Read more…]

Tips on Psalm 2

Put yourself in the shoes of the original readers of the famous second Psalm:

The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the LORD and against his Anointed, saying,
“Let us burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us.”

Who would you, original reader, think the Lord’s “Anointed” is? That depends a good deal on when the psalm was written—and Scripture doesn’t tell us. [Read more…]

What’s the Difference between Lament and Complaint?

What’s the difference between lament and complaint? Or is “lament” just a name we give to complaining when it’s in the Bible?

Recently I attended the national meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society, where I heard Tremper Longman deliver a paper on Psalm 46 that asked and answered that question. [Read more…]

How to Teach the True Meaning of Christmas to Your Kids

The rear seating in our 2004 Yukon must have some kind of magnetic field that provokes good questions from kids. This week it was, “Why do we decorate trees at Christmas? What does that have to do with Jesus being born?” I don’t remember asking such sophisticated questions at age 7.

But at age 37, I have an answer. [Read more…]

Evidence of God’s Grace amidst the “War on Christmas”

What Flannery O’Connor said of the South is true of all America—but it seems truest at Christmas:

While the South is hardly Christ-centered, it is most certainly Christ-haunted. The Southerner, who isn’t convinced of it, is very much afraid that he may have been formed in the image and likeness of God.

In our post-everything, skeptical-yet-credulous world, people may not know Jesus, but they’re not starting from a place of absolute ignorance. By God’s amazing grace, Christ has a cultural foothold in America—through Christmas. [Read more…]