Monthly Archives: March 2012

Sam Adams parent company launches new cider nationwide on Monday

Angry Orchard ciders: Crisp Apple and Apple Ginger. At the 4th annual Myrtle Beach Beer Fest.


Photogallery of Greek iconographer working on Saint John the Baptist Greek Orthodox Church in Myrtle Beach

Click here to see The Sun News‘ photogallery of an iconographer at work.

Proposed Ban on Words Assaults Reason and Life

The New York City Department of Education takes a big step toward censorship: Proposed Ban on Words Assaults Reason and Life.

Not an infallible Bible, but an infallible interpretation

Deutsch: Lutherbibel von 1534 English: Luther ...

Deutsch: Lutherbibel von 1534 English: Luther Bible, 1534 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jim Jones. David Koresh. More recently, a crazy couple in South Korea. Not to mention my own experiences growing up in fundamentalist Baptists schools and neo-Pentecostal churches.

Jones, Koresh, and the rest studied and applied the Scriptures — their unique interpretations of Scriptures.

In some minds, the uses and abuses of the Bible in our time strains its very credibility.

The Protestant Reformed view is that the Bible is infallible and inerrant.

But is the Protestant Reformed view of the Bible infallible and inerrant?

If the Protestant Reformed view of the Bible is infallible and inerrant, then something other than the Bible is infallible and inerrant — the point of view humans bring to the Bible can be infallible and inerrant, too.

Can the text be separated from its reader?

Who claims to have a perfect interpretation of the Scriptures?

If the Protestant Reformed view of the Bible is not infallible and inerrant, then the Protestant Reformed view of the Bible’s infallibility and inerrancy could be wrong, too.

If the Protestant Reformed view is infallible and inerrant to the extent that it corresponds to the Bible, then the position is circular: the interpretive tool is used to affirm itself.

Related articles perhaps from cooler heads:

Good ones. . .


Found on Coastal Carolina University’s campus.

Better stand up!

A major – and I mean, huge – Australian study found that people who spend 11 hours each day sitting are 40 percent more likely to die during the next three years.

I don’t know about you, but I just stood up.

Read all of “Stand up — or die!

Originally posted on Contemplative in the Mud:

Father Le GuillouWe must be transparent to Christ, in the light of the Holy Spirit, with the part of humour necessary. We must always have a bit of humour, because understanding presupposes humour!
Marie-Joseph Le Guillou OP (1920–1990)

View original

‘Long-term energy strategy’

What a red herring. “Long-term energy strategy” is a phrase that takes the focus off immediate problems and poor leadership. As David Gregory pointed out to White House Senior Adviser David Plouffe on Meet the Press, presidential candidate Obama promised to address rising gasoline prices — while standing in front of gasoline pumps. When Plouffe says “we need a long-term energy strategy,” viewers ought to ask why we don’t have one yet — and why the President hasn’t led his administration to offer one.

DID JESUS EXIST? The Historical Argument for Jesus of Nazareth by Bart Ehrman (Book Trailer)

Bart Ehrman’s latest argues against the skeptics who say Jesus didn’t even exist.

David Bentley Hart

A classicist questions contemporary nostalgia for the pagan past.


Jan Pehchan Ho – Mohammed Rafi, Gumnaam Song

There’s nothing quite like this.

Footnote on the reliability of the Bible: Let’s say we met 30 minutes ago

Let’s say you and I met 30 minutes ago.

We met in a hotel lobby, and a passing comment about a sports car became a conversation.

I told you, “Hey, I just got a new Jaguar.”

You said, “Wow — that’s cool!”

Then we decided to share a ride somewhere.

We walked up to my car. It’s a Honda Accord.

You said, “Oh, I thought you had your Jaguar with you.”

I said, “No, I just have an Accord.”

You wondered if I’m crazy or a liar or what.

We got in the car, and I started driving.

We passed a convention center, and a sign for an upcoming concert turned the conversation to music.

You said, “I really love jazz.”

I said, “Awesome! I’ve got a massive collection of jazz in the back. We’ll get it out when we pull into a gas station.”

When we pulled into the gas station, I reached into the back and pulled out a small compact-disc holder. I handed it to you. You opened it. Inside, you found five CDs of 1980s pop.

“This doesn’t look like a jazz collection,” you said, a little exasperated.

“Oh, I don’t have a jazz collection with me — I have a few 1980s pop CDs,” I said.

You thought I was crazy or a liar or something.

Now, in the past 30 minutes, twice I’ve told you something, and then I changed my story.

Do you think I’m trustworthy?

Maybe, just maybe, some of the debates about Biblical discrepencies could be described this way:

The “liberal” text critics might say, “Look, in this passage, the Bible clearly says he had a Jaguar, and in this passage, the Bible clearly says he had an Accord. This is a problem.”

The “conservative” text critics might say, “Look, the important thing is that he had a car, just like he said.”

The “liberal” text critics might say, “How can you call this inerrant? He said he had a big jazz collection, and then he said he had a small 1980s pop collection! This is what you mean by inerrancy?”

The “conservative” text critics might reply, “He said he had music in his car, and he did, and that’s the importance of this passage. Ergo, inerrancy preserved!”

Of course, this analogy doesn’t work for every instance of factual discrepency, but it might just apply to some.

Could it be that the “conservatives” have a very broad, liberal view of what makes a text trustworthy?

(And why don’t we talk about this in church? It’s like the elephant in the room.)

Bible study in light of textual criticism

I thoroughly enjoyed this dialogue between “conservative” New Testament text critic Dr. Dan Wallace and a “liberal” counterpart, Dr. Bart Ehrman. The dialogue was organized by The Ehrman Project, where I found the video.

I was surprised to hear how much agreement exists between Wallace and Ehrman.

Once you really, actually watch the video of the dialogue, consider the following:

1. I think Wallace makes a reasonable case for the reliability of the New Testament, but not in the same sense that a Bible study group might count on its realiability. The reliability of available New Testament documents — as discussed by Wallace and Ehrman — seems better applied to broad, thematic (and at times allegorical) views of the Bible. While many of the likely 400,000 discrepencies among available New Testament documents might be minor spelling and grammatical issues, those very discrepencies would seem to be grounds for a reasonable “epistemological humility,” to quote Ehrman.

2. Based on what I’ve said above, Bible studies that are more or less inductive don’t seem like a good idea. Some Bible studies are explicitly inductive, like ones that use the Serendipity inductive study Bibles. Others are implicitly inductive, meaning that they look at specific passages, sentences, phrases, and words in Scripture and try to draw conclusions from those instances within the Biblical texts. On a verse-by-verse basis, however, the available New Testament documents don’t seem reliable enough to bank-on in a rigorous sense. As a whole, the New Testament seems reliable enough to justify, say, the Nicene Creed or the Apostles Creed. In the video, note how Ehrman and Wallace agree that 2 Corinthians was likely stitched together from more than one letter, unlike 1 Corinthians, making an “original” 2 Corinthians difficult to pinpoint. Certainly, a reasonable person might ask, “Why is a collection of two or more letters representing itself to us as a single book?” Such a misrepresentation might be insignificant, but we’re talking about The Word of God doing the misrepresenting here. (Furthermore, in Ehrman’s Jesus, Interrupted, which I’m reading when I have time, Ehrman claims that liberal and conservative scholars agree that about half of the books attributed to Paul were not actually written by Paul.)

3. Consider, too, how some “conservative” pastors and ministers and public speakers address Christianity. Typically, their approach to the Bible is somewhat literary, meaning they seek evidence of certain themes among the Scriptural texts. Also, typically, their approach to the Bible is somewhat historical-grammatical, meaning that each Biblical narrative (with the usual exception of the parables of Jesus) is considered perfectly historical, and that the true meaning of the text can be found through grammatical scrutiny. Furthermore, typically, their approach to Christian apologetics is somewhat abstract, relying on mental reasoning rather than evidence. What Wallace and Ehrman are dealing with is totally different. Text criticism and historical research are more concrete endeavors than literary analysis and abstract arguments. That’s not to say that literary analysis and abstract arguments are of a lesser order — I actually enjoy both and depend upon them to make a living — but instead it’s just to say that those modes are limited compared to the more concrete matters of dating manuscripts and examining changes in various texts throughout history.

46 is the earliest (nearly) complete manuscrip...

46 is the earliest (nearly) complete manuscript of the Epistles written by Paul in the new testament. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Best line from tonight’s ‘The Walking Dead’

“Christ promised a resurrection of the dead. I just thought he had something a little different in mind.” — Hershel, on the AMC series “The Walking Dead”

You convinced yourself in advance: willpower and predetermined conculsions

During spring break, I’ve been reading Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength by Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney (Penguin, 2011).

Baumeister, a psychologist, and Tierney, a New York Times science writer, argue that willpower (a) really exists, (b) predicts success, and (c) depletes with use, whether it’s being used to resist temptation or accomplish ordinary tasks.

They cite a study in which researchers suggest fighting spouses should come home early from work, while they still have reserves of willpower, so they can avoid conflict caused by long hours of disciplined labor.

The below excerpt from the book is particularly loaded and interesting, for reasons that regular readers of this blog should understand. First, two introductory thoughts:

Christian tradition has long held, “we believe in order to know.”

It turns out “we believe in order to do,” too.

People often conserve their willpower by seeking not the fullest or best answer but rather a predetermined conclusion. Theologians and believers filter the world to remain consistent with the nonnegotiable principles of their faith. The best salesmen often succeed by first deceiving themselves. Bankers packaging subprime loans convinced themselves that there was no problem giving mortgages to the class of unverified borrows classified as NINA, as in “no income, no assets.” Tiger Woods convinced himself that the rules of monogamy didn’t apply to him — and that somehow nobody would notice the dalliances of the world’s most famous athlete.

Baumeister and Tierney, Willpower

Jesus takes his own name in vain in canceled Red Bull ad

Did he walk on water, or just drink Red Bull? Watch the controversial Red Bull ad.

Ron Paul wins Coolest Endorsement List

The award for Coolest Endorsement List, however, goes to Ron Paul, who after Tuesday’s primaries in three states has only 66 delegates and a snowball’s chance in Haiti of becoming the Republican nominee.

Who cares? Paul’s libertarian message has drawn the support of freakin’ Snoop Dogg (second only to Chuck Norris), Aerosmith guitarist Joe Perry, rapper Prodigy, Michelle Branch, and Kelly Clarkson.

Read all of It’s hip to be square, again — or Republican, again: GOP candidates get surprising endorsements.

‘You and your holy book’

Nowadays, take a drive on S.C. 378 from Conway to Columbia. Count the number of churches along the way. I’m not accusing them of violence, but guess how many different Biblical interpretations they might represent.

Of course I don’t know how many interpretations in any definitive sense, but I can justify my despair: In the 1990s, according to a United Nations estimate, Protestant denominations alone, globally, numbered around 30,000.

A more recent — and broader — number comes from the 2001 World Christian Encyclopedia: A comparative survey of churches and religions  – AD 30 to 2200, which counts 34,000 separate Christian groups in the world.

“Over half of them are independent churches that are not interested in linking with big denominations,” the encyclopedia says.

So, some of those denominations are redundant or similar in belief and practice, no doubt.

But if there were only 34 differences — two figures instead of five — among Bible-based religions, would that be any saner?

Read the entirity of “You and your holy book.”