Should Differences in Biblical Manuscripts Scare Christians?

biblical-manuscripts

Image: codex-sinaiticus.net

Many Christians are troubled by differences in wording among various Greek New Testament texts: The Bible has scribal errors in it? Then how can I be sure what I’m reading is God’s word?

I have taught New Testament Introduction to beginning seminary students for many years, and I’ve come to realize that there’s a simple path to clarity and comfort regarding this issue—simpler than diving into excessively complicated details about ancient manuscripts written in languages few Christians have the training or experience to assess reliably.

Here are three reasons Christians should not be troubled by textual variants.

[Read more…]

What Does “There Was No Room in the Inn” Mean?

no room at the inn

In last week’s blog post I referenced the Faithlife video, How Accurate Is the Modern Nativity Scene?, in which the teacher said the word translated inn in Luke 2:7 also referenced the upper room where Jesus and the apostles celebrated the Passover.

How did he discover that information?

[Read more…]

What Pop Music Can Teach Us about Interpreting Scripture

frozen let it go bible

“Let It Go” from Disney’s animated movie Frozen (2014) was and is a megahit. The melody is both powerful and catchy, and Idina Menzel can sing icicles off reindeers. The piece won the Oscar for best original song, reached the top five in the Billboard 100, and sold 10.9 million copies. It has now also achieved the status of Christmas song in Spotify playlists, as was written long ago by a prophet on Reddit.

But like some Oedipal monster, the pop song has eaten up the movie that gave it life. Because the Frozen story as a whole stands firmly against Elsa’s choice in that song. And this raises interesting questions about authorial intent in interpretation—both of pop music and of Scripture.

[Read more…]

Was Jesus Really Born in a Barn?

was jesus born in a barn

Christmas is of course a wonderful time of the year as we focus on and celebrate the birth of our Lord. Sometimes, however, if we’re not careful, Christmas cards and carols offer a version of the nativity scene that may or may not be in Scripture.

[Read more…]

Should We Teach the Wrath of God to Children?

magic fire

It took me almost eight months of my dissertation time to exegete and catalog all the passages referencing the wrath of God, the topic of my work. During that same time, I continued to help on the weekends with an evangelistic children’s Bible club in which I’d served for many years. One Saturday morning, about two-thirds of the way through my cataloging project, I was working in Ezekiel. I’d made it to something like line 380 in my Excel spreadsheet on divine wrath language before wrapping up my study and heading off to the Bible study club.

During song time we sang, “My Hope is in the Lord.” The song leader drew the kids’ attention to the line, “No merit of my own, His anger to suppress.” He asked the kids, “Do you think God ever gets angry?” I still remember sitting behind the kids observing in dismay their response: with an unusual level of confident participation, they all answered, “NO!” I just sat there in shock thinking, Oh yes, yes he does…

[Read more…]

How to Use Logos for Your Christmas Sermon Prep

logos christmas sermon

The Christmas season is upon us. Please imagine with me we’ve been called upon to teach a class, preach a sermon, or deliver a devotion regarding the birth of Jesus. We know the subject of the message, but that’s all we’ve got. We don’t have the passage, the outline, or even the handout. We need help!

You’ll be glad to know Logos Bible Software will indeed provide that much needed assistance. Below I’ll outline the major, yet simple, steps to go from concept to outline to handout for the message.

[Read more…]

10 Practical Tips for Family Devotions This Christmas

christmas-family-worshipIf I thought I was a pretty scintillating Bible teacher, the kind that makes people sit on the edge of their seats, the kind that is also able to put the cookies on the lower shelf and interest even kids, that thought was shattered when my own kids got old enough for family devotions (age 2). You have never seen such bored kids, kids achieving new and powerful levels of bored. I confess that this caused no small level of frustration for me. Nothing tests my sanctification more than trying to promote theirs.

But what good is all the stuff I learn about the Bible in my extensive Logos Bible Software library if I can’t teach any of it to the three little people in the world whom I love most? And at Christmas, I feel extra pressure: candy canes, presents, and Rudolph are fun, but how do I stoke wonder and even excitement about what we’re actually celebrating, one of the most precious Christian truths, the incarnation?

After some trial and error, and error, and error, and error, and a few times basically giving up, I’ve been having “Bible time” with the kids with reasonable consistency for a good while now. Here’s all I know.

[Read more…]

How to Create a Lectionary Calendar Using Favorites in Logos

lectionary

At a recent Camp Logos I was explaining how to use Favorites as an electronic filing cabinet and preaching calendar. A pastor from a liturgical tradition excitedly responded, I get it! I can use Favorites as my lectionary calendar to save things as I do advance preparation.

He is 100% correct. Since then I’ve received several emails asking how to set up a lectionary calendar in Favorites so I’ll share those steps with you today.

[Read more…]

Why Do So Many Christians Disagree over the Bible?

bible difficulties
Does widespread human disagreement over Bible interpretation reveal some flaw or weakness in God or his word—or some flaw or weakness in us? Or neither, or both?

This is the third of three articles on the clarity of Scripture. I’ve clarified the doctrine to show what it’s actually claiming, I’ve shown some of the benefits of interpretive difficulties in the Bible, and now I want to go a bit beyond what Protestants have historically agreed on and give a pastoral response to the sometimes very emotional question: why do so many Christians disagree over the Bible?

[Read more…]

How to Easily Convert Biblical Measurements to Modern Equivalents

biblical measurements conversion

Biblical authors often referred to weights, measurements, and distances that certainly were understandable in their context, but are foreign today. For example in Luke 2, 12-year-old Jesus is separated from his parents and verse 46 states after three days Joseph and Mary find him in the temple. Why did it take so long to locate Him? Verse 44 contains a clue. After departing from the Feast of the Passover in Jerusalem they travelled a “day’s journey” before they noticed their son wasn’t with them.

I don’t know about you, but I don’t refer to a “day’s journey” in my normal vocabulary. So how far did they travel? Fortunately for us there’s a simple Interactive in Logos 7 which quickly converts biblical measurements to modern equivalents.

[Read more…]