So Nimm Denn Meine Hande...

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Textual Statistics of the Bible...

Here's some of those numbers I mentioned last night at C&C. I've taken this from a short paper I wrote a few years ago regarding the textual credibility of the Bible as it relates to inerrancy. Enjoy...

I know that some "fundamentalists" (I use the term in the negative, anti-intellectual sense of the word, not in the 'historically fundamental' sense) try to suggest that our current translations are inerrant (…the red text in the KJV is the same color as Jesus’ blood! All who disagree are liberals!), but I don’t know of any reputable scholars that would suggest that. Inerrancy has always been understood as applied to the original autographs alone. Now when I draw that line, you may ask “well who cares then? If it only applies to the original manuscripts, what’s the use?” This is where critical scholarship comes in. Though we cannot make the absolute claim that our Bible is completely free from every miniscule error (like a missing comma somewhere), we can say with confidence that the Bible I read is as close to the original manuscripts as possible, within the bounds reasonable and meticulous scholarship.

With all ancient documents, historical criticism attempts to trace the history of all the various manuscripts to ensure that the current translations are reflective of the original. An example of this would be the historical criticism of Homer’s The Illiad. The Illiad is generally regarded as one of the best preserved ancient documents. Homer was the most widely read author in antiquity (according to E.G. Turner) and there exist 643 extant manuscripts (ancient copies) of The Illiad, the earliest of which is dated at 400 B.C. though The Illiad was apparently penned around 900 B.C.

In contrast, there are somewhere around 24,500 extant manuscripts of the New Testament (more are discovered every year), the earliest of which is dated at around 125 A.D., and the bible was apparently finally completed (Revelation was written) around 100 A.D.

Now if you were to walk into the department of Classical Studies at any university and attempt to toss out The Illiad from the curriculum, or even challenge the textual credibility of it, you would be laughed at. There are agreed to be 764 (depending on who you talk to) lines of contested text in The Illiad, but in the New Testament there are 40. Yet, every Classical scholar that I know would tell me that I’m misinformed if I suggested that my Dover Thrift Edition (I AM a cheap Mennonite!) of The Illiad were far removed from the original text of The Illiad. They would tell me that my claim shows a complete ignorance of the massive textual evidence for the historical credibility of the modern translations of The Illiad. This is especially true when compared with the miniscule textual evidence for other ancient documents like The Annals of Tacitus (20 extant manuscripts) or Thucydides’ History (8 extant manuscripts). They would not claim that modern scholarship had Homer’s autographed copy (little joke there), but they would contend strongly that the modern translation of Homer was what Homer wrote (or relatively close), and there was sufficient textual evidence to transport my suspicions into the realm of foolishness.

Now, when one considers the New Testament in this same light, there is around 38 times more textual evidence that is 4 times less removed from the original date of authorship. Also, if one were to take all the quotations on Scripture from the letters and writings of just Justin Martyr, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, Tertullian, Hippolytus and Eusebius, one could rebuild the New Testament several times over again, short of a few dozen verses. Those 7 early church fathers quoted the New Testament 36,289 times. In a nutshell, there is such a literary tsunami of evidence for the historical reliability of the New Testament that we can say, with exponential confidence, that we have more reason to believe in the historical reliability of the New Testament all other ancient works if all their respective textual evidences were combined and multiplied by 10. If secular scholarship is confident that The Illiad has been accurately preserved and that the modern translations are accurate, I am 152 times more confident in my New Testament. The Bible is so amazingly preserved in history that I can say with confidence that the Bible sitting on my shelf is tremendously close to the Bible that was originally penned, or at least much closer to its original manuscript than The Illiad, (or all other ancient Hellenistic literature combined!) which is itself relatively uncontested historically. If the original manuscripts were inerrant and inspired, I have every reason to trust my Bible and read it with confidence.

If you want to check into the historicity of the Bible further, read Evidence that Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell and A General Introduction to the Bible by Norman Geisler William Nix. McDowell also cites several dozen other wonderful works on the textual criticism of the Bible that are worth investigating. If you have questions about inerrancy, I suggest reading Inerrancy by Norman Geisler and Theological Challenges to Inerrancy By Gordon Lewis and Bruce Demarest.

Until Next Time,

The Armchair Theologian

Some thoughts on the hypocrisy of the carnal mind...

I recently posted this as a comment on somebody's blog. I figured I'd share it with my readers.


Also, I can see your problems with the existence of natural and moral evil in the world. That is often a difficult problem that gets much attention.

The answers aren't anything new though:

1. The world was made perfect.

2. Sin brought death and suffering to a perfect world, which is now corrupted.

3. God has a plan for all creation that includes the temporary allowance of suffering and death for all, but will ultimately result in everlasting pleasure and life for some.

I have a question for you though. I hear many an atheist talking about how they cannot believe that this sovereign God is responsible for all the BAD (natural and moral evil) that occurs in creation.

But, I'm wondering if you stop to thank God for all the GOOD (natural and moral) that occurs in creation too?

It seems to me that many who 'cry wolf' against a sovereign God who allows death and suffering are totally inconsistent and reveal a horrible hypocrisy.

Now if it IS true that if God is totally and utterly sovereign and sustaining of creation, then he is currently allowing for evil and suffering. More than that, he is ultimately the one who ordained that evil and suffering be, since nothing happens outside his sovereignty.


Every baby that dies, dies because he allows it.

Every rape that occurs, occurs because he allows it.

Every flood that occurs, occurs because me allows it.

I will definitely concede those points, as hard to swallow as they are.


If God is sovereign over and sustaining of all creation, then every good thing that happens ALSO happens because he ordains that it happens.


Every beat of every heart happens because he commands that heart to beat.

Every birth of every infant occurs because he commands that infant to be formed and born.

Every good feeling, every laugh, every hug, all music, poetry, literature, love and joy all all exist and occur due to his sovereign will that they would be so.

You may 'cry wolf' at every death and every injustice, but I would suggest that if you gave God glory for every heartbeat, every breath and every letter in every word of this post (language too would only exist because God willed that it would be), your ratio of "wolf" to "worship" cries would be a few million to one.

Why then do you only complain about the bad and not thank for the good?

Until Next Time,

The Armchair Theologian

Thursday, June 22, 2006

For those who have nothing to pray about...

Yup. For those who don't know, I'm a geek. I listen to music nobody has ever heard of (Buckethead? Bumblefoot? Ayreon? Angra?), I am familiar enough with anime to talk about it without sounding too stupid, I work at a computer store and know how to talk L337, I can quote more than a few lines from a few 'typical geek' movies (Search for the Holy Grail, Army of Darkness, etc.) and I enjoy Star Trek (among other Sci Fi shows).

That last one though, that is almost done. I've been watching through Deep Space 9 for the last several months (an episode a day on my lunch breaks is a GREAT break from the insanity of work) and I've just about had enough with their blatant attacks against Biblical Christianity. Why doesn't anyone make a Sci-Fi series where everyone isn't flamingly aggressive evolutionists and the Bible isn't openly and totally mocked? I mean, if the world lasts much longer, it's going to be because some Christians help it limp along. Gene Roddenberry was a complete (proverbial) fool with a fantastic immagination. I love the visual candy and the adventure, but the stupid philosophy/theology is getting outright annoying. Just venting. So here's an idea: I'm going to start praying for the conversion of Sisko and the rest of the crew of Terok Nor. God's grace is WIDE and you never know; the series isn't done yet. Maybe they all become Christians when Jesus comes back in season 7?!

Until Next Time,

The Armchair Theologian

Surprise! Surprise!

I found this online; definitive proof that Oprah Winfrey has bad theology. I gotta say, knowing that Oprah (according to Forbes, she's the 3rd most influential celebrity in the U.S.) has bad theology will most likely keep me up all night long. I mean, how could a woman who hobnobs with Dr. Phil (who is quite possibly the third member of the unholy trinity of the anti-Christ along with Deepak Chopra and Bono) and lives with her boyfriend (and they probably dance together in the sinful privacy of their own homes) have BAD theology? HOW! I NEED ANSWERS! DANG IT!

Until Next Time,

The Armchair Theologian!

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Some thoughts on Christianity and Art...

Okay. Here's a total break from the norm. I was writing a post for the blog of a friend, and ended up writing so much that I thought "Why don't I use this as a post for MY own blog, seeing that I haven't posted in like 2 weeks or more"? So, basically there were 6 questions about art, though it seemed to be talking more about music. Here they are:

1. What is it that makes a song Christian? Lyrics? Lifestyle? Record label indentification?

2. Does the immoral lifestyle of a certain artist deem his art unworthy?

3. To all those who think that we should only listen to "Christian" music, what about other art forms? Do we only watch, "Christian" dance? Only view "Christian", Thomas Kinkade paintings? Do we only watch "Christian" film starring Kirk Cameron?

4. Would it be ok for a person who is a Christian musician to write and record a CD that never mentioned the name of Jesus and just simply talked about life issues of family, love, sex, pain and suffering, growing older, politics, etc? Or does being a Christian demand that you only produce music that directly communicates something about God?

5. Is music as sound amoral?

6. As an artist is it helpful to only expose oneself to "Christian" art?

7. Is it possible to rejoice in art that does not explicitly glorify the Creator since all creativity stems from being made in His image?

******************Now I know that there are several artists (or at least ONE) that read this, so I figured that he would be interested...or hate my guts. Either way, here's what I had to say:

Off and on, as necessity requires or time permits, I have been a semi-professional musician. I've taught and performed on both percussion and guitar, and I'm quite a paradox for most people: I'm a pastor/teacher/theologian (well, kinda…I’ve pastored and I'm in seminary) who loves music, and REALLY loves power/prog/extreme metal.

In the past I've been playing drums or guitar on Sunday morning and had people walk up to me and tell me "that was the most worshipful drumming I've ever heard in church" and then be completely shocked when they learned somehow that I was playing a gig on Saturday night with some crazy metal band. I've had the "That music sounds like Satan" rebuke from more than my share of people. (And honestly, my question to them is always the same: "I'm curious as to how you're so familiar with the Devil that you recognize his voice?")

Here's my answers to the questions though:

1. A Song is a "Christian" song in as much as it corresponds to truth. I've heard "Amazing Grace" performed by both DcTalk and Destiny's Child. The second version wasn't any less true than the first; though the second band didn't have a clue what they were singing about.

2. I think I've already answered this one. An artist who lives an immoral lifestyle is simply sad, but their hypocrisy doesn't invalidate the truth of the songs they sing. If Glen Danzig would sing the song 'amazing grace', it wouldn't make the song all of a sudden untrue. Glen Danzig would simply not have a clue what he's talking about.

3. As for the "only Christian music" question, I grew up listening to 'secular' rock. Then in Grade 9 I started going to a Baptist youth group and learned what a 'CD burning party was'. So long to Van Halen. Then, in my Bible School years, I learned that many 'Christian' musicians are pagans and really lousy musicians. Eventually, I came to the conclusion that I want to fill my head with truth (whether positive or negative) and beauty.

I find that I love listening to Fernando Ortega, Petra, Point of Grace, Tourniquet, PFR, Glad, The Cathedrals and Narnia because their music is filled with truth. I've probably sung along with "Crown him with many Crowns" by Glad (Acapella Project III) or "A Dog's Breakfast" by Tourniquet (Psycho Surgery) a thousand times, and been encouraged and built up every time. I've also listened to the "Sin" by Megadeth (Cryptic Writings) dozens of times and had that song speak truth to me as well, knowing where Dave Mustaine was in his life when he wrote it. That song asks the question of Romans 7; "Why can I not seem to keep from sinning though I hate it so?" It's a very negative song, but a very true song as well.

As for beauty, I've learned a TON about melody, harmony, composition and arranging from thousands of strange places. I’ve had people often comment on how they loved some arrangement of a worship song. I wonder what would happen though if I would tell them “Well, that was a cool trick, hey? I stole that musical idea from Alexi Laiho and he’s a Finnish musician who probably worships Satan.” I’m guessing they would be slightly stunned…but I never tell them. They’re just happy that the music in church was beautiful.

As for the whole 'Christian' movies and dance question, I'd say that the same applies in other forms of art. If you can learn the technical side of art from a good pagan artists, do so and then use that art to communicate God honoring truth, in a beautiful vehicle served with technical excellence. If their art is so wicked that if causes you to stumble stay away. (On a side note, all the 'Christian' dance and television/movies I've ever seen are so horrible that I don't know how anyone would learn those art forms without seeking to learn from 'secular' sources!)

This question is a nonsense question. Everything you do communicates something about God, and “out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:33). If you don’t care much about truth or Christ, you don’t usually talk about them.

Music as sound is as amoral as words not organized into a sentence. I can use ANY word, even the most innocent or vulgar word, in a ‘proper’ AND improper context. In the same way, I can use a guitar, drum set, bass guitar and keyboard to write the greatest worship song ever written, or, I can use those instruments to write a sound track for a pornographic movie. Music can be USED morally and immorally, but music doesn’t have inherent moral properties.

As an artist, it’s important to expose oneself to truth and beauty, as well as technical excellence. ‘Good’ art is art that corresponds to God. God is truth, beauty and perfection (among other things). Truth is that which corrseponds to God, and God has revealed himself generally in nature and specially (propositionally) in the scripture. Art that doesn't correspond to God, as revealed in nature and Scripture, but is instead blasphemous or immoral isn't "good" art; it's "bad" art (though it may be excellently made/performed). Beauty partially comes from the individual culture of the composer/performer (ie. Music that is considered ‘beautiful’ in Calcutta isn’t considered ‘beautiful’ in Connecticut and vice versa) and perfection comes from the standards of the individual discipline (a ‘good’ guitarist will have the technical side of guitar ‘down’; hand positioning, posture, scales, arpeggios, phrasing, feel, rhythm, dynamics, etc.) If any art causes one to sin/stumble, then avoid it. If it has truth or beauty or technical excellence and one can learn from it, then by all means one should glean what one can for the sake of making better "good" art.

7. The question “Is it possible to rejoice in art that does not explicitly glorify the Creator since all creativity stems from being made in His image?” is again a nonsense question. Everything glorifies Christ (some things glorify his justice and other things glorify his grace) and I don’t rejoice in music because creativity comes from the ‘imago dei’. I rejoice in art because it communicates truth in a way that I find beautiful, with excellence. Whether it's a landscape painting that captures the beauty of the landscape or a song that exhalts Jesus Christ;
I rejoice in art that corresponds to God.

Until Next Time,

The Armchair Theologian

Friday, June 16, 2006

Praise the Lord!

Tonight, after several phone calls to California, I got a place lined up in Burbank, Ca. Praise the Lord for that! Now I kow where I'll be living, and that's one MASSIVE headache to check off the list! Sweet potatoe PIE! It's gonna cost me a fair bit, but it's close to school and it sounds pretty sweet. I'm apparently going to be sharing a house with one other seminary student, so I won't have to be renting a room with a family and staying 'out of their way' all the time. I'm pretty stoked about this all! Now I just need $5,200 for 8 months rent, and enough to hold the place through the summer (I plan on coming back and trying to hit the rigs next summer...not a whole lot of choices there...doh!) Seeing that enlisting the prayers of my millions of readers (all 8 of you) has produced such fruit, I now need prayer for either student loans, a student line of credit or a massive donation to my student account from someone! (Oh, and if anyone wants to donate some money to my schooling fund, I'll post some information sometime as to where cash can be sent) Okay! Off to bed for me! God is good! Until next time,

The Armchair Theologian

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Something to pray for...

Hey y'all. As I'm getting sorted out and making plans to head down south to Master's Seminary, I'm working on finding a place to live in California, as well as raising some support and sorting through the mountains of paperwork involved in such a trip. I figured that I'd simply post this and ask you, my readers, to remember me in prayer regarding housing and finances and paperwork. I'd definitely appreciate it, and don't worry. The next installment in the whole "cessationism" post is coming soon enough. Life has been busy and I've been sick for quite a while, but things are going again. God bless everyone who stops by. Until Next Time,

The Armchair Theologian

Friday, June 09, 2006

A Good Resource...

I have had a few friends who asked me about the Emergent Church movement. I've also had several emergent philosophers stop by and throw around several postmodern philosophical terms (and ideas). So, for those who wonder where Armchair sits (as if that's in question), I'd like to hand the task off to men more capable than me. The Master's Seminary had a lectureship series on the Emergent Church this year, and the MP3' s of that series are here:

Richard Mayhue's tackling of the Emergent Church is pretty scalding, but definitely not shooting in the wind. I challenge all his critics to get a copy of the literature he's quoting from. John MacArthur's take on it is pretty strong too. Until Next Time,

The Armchair Theologian

Friday, June 02, 2006

More late night rantings...

Last night I was lying awake, unable to sleep, seeing that I was sweating like an Amish boy in a Casino. The sickness...I mean plague...still hasn't left me. SO? What was the Armchair Theologian doing?

Well, I will admit that I tried praying for people for a while. I honestly did. I don't know how long I lasted though seeing that I couldn't see the clock, but I think I made it through work, church, school, family and many friends by the time I started to completely lost focus. I'm guessing that's like 20 minutes or so. I kinda kept fighting the unholy trinity of insomnia, low attention span and 500 mg's of ultra strength Tylenol, but after a while I kinda gave up and said "amen".

Yeah...I'm a horrible person. I'm sure every death in Saskatoon was directly my fault today.

Anyway, so guess where my crazy mind went next?

I started thinking about oil spills.

I don't have a clue why, but I started thinking about oil spills. And oiled sea-birds. And wondering "there must be thousands of oiled sea-birds every year that are saved. I wonder where all the washed off oil goes? I mean, I always see videos of hippies washing off ducks that are covered in oil. And I'm no expert on ducks, but I'm just guessing that an average sized duck can absorb somewhere around 16 ounces of oil? That's like half a litre of oil! (Next time I'm at the zoo, I'll take along some Castrol and confirm that)

Now think of that number, times around 10,000 birds? I'm sure Greenpeace saves 10 times that many birds, based on their silly films. So 1,000,000? Okay. Now there's 500,000 litres of oil on said oiled-birds. And there's 160 litres (42 gallons) of oil in a 'barrel' of oil (used to work in the oil patch...random fact moment), and oil is currently somewhere around $72/barrel (x 3,125 barrels?).

That means that Greenpeace is making around $225,000 per year of the backs of freaking DUCKS! I've heard of employers making money of the backs of immigrants and children, but ducks can't stand up for themselves! I'm freaking telling on Greenpeace...I'm ratting them out to PETA! Let's put both those organizations in storage room at Smith & Wesson and let them 'negotiate' with each other!"

(That's all one long quote of what I was thinking) At that point I realized I'm almost as nuts as Captain Insano, my other roomie. He would be proud, but I needed performance enhancing drugs and several days of broken up sleep. Anyway, something funny for y'all. Until Next Time,

Greenpeace is non-profit? WHAT EVER! (The Armchair Theologian)

Finally! My Blog's first convert!

Yes folks...this blog has turned from a moron writing about theology into an actual ministry! Today, this blog has turned into a fruit producing ministry of the Lord! Hallelujah!

...Well, sorta...

...Well, not really...

...Fine. I'm not sure. I'm just declaring that I have made a convert because he hasn't shown up here and he hasn't met the terms of a bet. Remember the post The Divinci Gong? Well, my as yet favorite ranting maniac, Seven Star Hand, showed up there and posted some insanities (and prompted me to put on the comment verification). So I issued a challenge. For those who don't remember, here's what it was:

If YOU can overcome ALL my doubts and offer my a systematic SUPERIOR equivalent to Christianity, then I will reject all that I have believed and give my entire being to follow you. If you can meet MY criteria, then I'll be your most devoted disciple. (Post has all the rest of the content and need to re-post that much stuff)


It's been 29 days (close enough to a month), and I'm basically calling the bet 2 days short of a one month deadline (that I didn't even set). Seven Star Hand hasn't come back, even though I DID go and download his book and I horse-whipped myself through the first chapter (70 pages of insane rambling on how he's the Messiah and Jesus is not because of his birthdate...what a freaking crock!). But now, seeing that he hasn't written anything back and hasn't responded, the Jig is up and I'd like to welcome Seven Star Hand into the flock for it's obvious to me that his silence IS an admittance of defeat and a bowing before the true Messiah; Jesus Christ of Nazareth.

Well, every knee's gonna bow anywho, so I'll just pretend this one actually happened and chalk it up to election (without confirmation...I don't know who he is or where he is or if he's a real person, but if he's elect he'll be saved someday by somebody, so I'll just celebrate it now!).

Oh do I pre-baptise the pre-destined over the internet? Technology makes like SO tough! DOH! Until Next Time,

The Armchair Theologian

Wait a minute...I'd like to call dibs on Gordon Hinkley, Brian Warner, Tom Cruise, Milton G. Henschel, the Dalai Lama, Hu Jintao, Madonna and the whole nations of Haiti and Cuba too...just in case any of them ever get saved. Now I sound like I'm part of the third wave of the Charismatic! "LORD! I Claim JESUS BLOOD over Milton G. Henschel, president of the Watchtower Bible and Tract Society!" Let's see how well that works.

I've gotta stop posting stuff while I'm on (legitimate, pharmacy purchased) drugs.