Daily Archives: December 8, 2013

Richard Bartholomew’s Take on the Mark Driscoll Plagiarism Affair

Zwinglius Redivivus

Richard summarizes things as they presently stand and then adds a couple of points that are new to me:

However, this [i.e., Tyndale Publishing House] is not the only source of pressure on Mefferd: some of Driscoll’s previous books are published by Crossway, and Wartburg Watch observes that Crossway’s VP of Editorial Justin Taylor took to Twitter to warn that “I wouldn’t recommend authors go on @JanetMefferd’s show after she pulled this during an interview with @PastorMark”. What is this, if not the “machine” of which Schlueter writes?

Indeed.   Taylor’s remarks are appropriate only for a person who is clearly trying to silence any opposition to Driscoll’s plagiarisms.  They are, in fact, nothing but a thinly veiled threat.  Taylor might as well come out and honestly say as he implies, ‘… if you go on Mefferd’s show, we won’t publish your stuff’.  Taylor is a part of the strong-arming mafiosa mentality which…

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I Thank God For Publishers Who Act In Honesty

Zwinglius Redivivus

There are publishers who will publish anything so long as they think it will make them a dollar.  They will foist upon the world the most inane rubbish and the most blatant plagiarisms without care or concern simply because the ‘authors’ of those works make them money.

Thank God in heaven above, there are publishers who won’t stoop to those levels and who instead care about accuracy, honesty, truth, and scholarship.  And these are them:

There may well be others but I don’t know them. These, I know. These, I trust.  These, I value.  These, I patronize.   I thank God for these.

UPDATE:  In comments Cliff mentioned Baker Academic and Mohr Siebeck.  I agree completely.  I would also happily add Logos, and

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Questions about the Holy Spirit: Is the Holy Spirit a Male or Female?

A common mistake made with regard to the Holy Spirit is referring to the Spirit as “it,” something the Bible never does. The Holy Spirit is a person. He has the attributes of personhood, performs the actions of persons, and has personal relationships. He has insight (1 Corinthians 2:10–11). He knows things, which requires an intellect (Romans 8:27). He has a will (1 Corinthians 12:11). He convicts of sin (John 16:8). He performs miracles (Acts 8:39). He guides (John 16:13). He intercedes between persons (Romans 8:26). He is to be obeyed (Acts 10:19–20). He can be lied to (Acts 5:3), resisted (Acts 7:51), grieved (Ephesians 4:30), blasphemed (Matthew 12:31), even insulted (Hebrews 10:29). He relates to the apostles (Acts 15:28) and to each member of the Trinity (John 16:14; Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14). The personhood of the Holy Spirit is presented without question in the Bible, but what about gender?

Linguistically, it is clear that masculine theistic terminology dominates the Scriptures. Throughout both testaments, references to God use masculine pronouns. Specific names for God (e.g., Yahweh, Elohim, Adonai, Kurios, Theos, etc.) are all in the masculine gender. God is never given a feminine name, or referred to using feminine pronouns. The Holy Spirit is referred to in the masculine throughout the New Testament, although the word for “spirit” by itself (pneuma) is actually gender-neutral. The Hebrew word for “spirit” (ruach) is feminine in Genesis 1:2. But the gender of a word in Greek or Hebrew has nothing to do with gender identity.

Theologically speaking, since the Holy Spirit is God, we can make some statements about Him from general statements about God. God is spirit as opposed to physical or material. God is invisible and spirit (i.e., non-body)—(John 4:24; Luke 24:39; Romans 1:20; Colossians 1:15; 1 Timothy 1:17). This is why no material thing was ever to be used to represent God (Exodus 20:4). If gender is an attribute of the body, then a spirit does not have gender. God, in His essence, has no gender.

Gender identifications of God in the Bible are not unanimous. Many people think that the Bible presents God in exclusively male terms, but this is not the case. God is said to give birth in the book of Job and portrays Himself as a mother in Isaiah. Jesus described the Father as being like a woman in search of a lost coin in Luke 15 (and Himself as a “mother hen” in Matthew 23:37). In Genesis 1:26–27 God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, after our likeness,” and then “God created humankind in his own image, in the image of God he created them, male and female he created them.” Thus, the image of God was male and female—not simply one or the other. This is further confirmed in Genesis 5:2, which can be literally translated as “He created them male and female; when they were created, he blessed them and named them Adam.” The Hebrew term “adam” means “man”—the context showing whether it means “man” (as opposed to woman) or “mankind” (in the collective sense). Therefore, to whatever degree humanity is made in the image of God, gender is not an issue.

Masculine imagery in revelation is not without significance, however. A second time that God was specifically said to be revealed via a physical image was when Jesus was asked to show the Father to the disciples in John chapter 14. He responds in verse 8 by saying, “The person who has seen me has seen the Father!” Paul makes it clear that Jesus was the exact image of God in Colossians 1:15 calling Jesus “the image of the invisible God.” This verse is couched in a section that demonstrates Christ’s superiority over all creation. Most ancient religions believed in a pantheon—both gods and goddesses—that were worthy of worship. But one of Judeo-Christianity’s distinctives is its belief in a supreme Creator. Masculine language better relates this relationship of creator to creation. As a man comes into a woman from without to make her pregnant, so God creates the universe from without rather than birthing it from within … As a woman cannot impregnate herself, so the universe cannot create itself. Paul echoes this idea in 1 Timothy 2:12–14 when he refers to the creation order as a template for church order.

In the end, whatever our theological explanation, the fact is that God used exclusively masculine terms to refer to Himself and almost exclusively masculine terminology even in metaphor. Through the Bible He taught us how to speak of Him, and it was in masculine relational terms. So, while the Holy Spirit is neither male nor female in His essence, He is properly referred to in the masculine by virtue of His relation to creation and biblical revelation. There is absolutely no biblical basis for viewing the Holy Spirit as the “female” member of the Trinity.[1]


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Characters in the Bible: Who Was Absalom?

Absalom was the third son of King David, by his wife Maacah. The bulk of Absalom’s story is told in 2 Samuel 13–19. He had a strong influence on his father’s reign.

The first recorded event defining Absalom’s life also involved his sister Tamar and half-brother Amnon. Tamar was beautiful, and Amnon lusted after her. When Tamar rebuffed Amnon’s advances, he arranged, through subterfuge, to have her come to his house, where he raped her. After the rape, Amnon put Tamar out of his house in disgrace. When Absalom heard what happened, he took his sister in to live with him. For the next two years, Absalom nursed a hatred of his half-brother. Then, using some subterfuge of his own, Absalom invited Amnon to his house for a party. During the festivities, in the presence of David’s other sons, Absalom had his servants kill Amnon in cold blood.

Out of fear of his father, Absalom ran away to Geshur, where he stayed for three years. During that time, Scripture says that David “longed to go out to Absalom,” but we’re never told that he actually did anything to reconcile the relationship. David’s general, Joab, was ultimately responsible for bringing Absalom back to Jerusalem. However, even then, Absalom was not permitted to enter David’s presence, but had to live in a house of his own. He lived this way, presumably never contacting or being contacted by his father, for two years. Finally, once again by way of Joab’s intercession, the two men get back together, and there is a small measure of reconciliation.

Unfortunately, this peace did not last. Possibly resenting his father’s hesitancy to bring him home, Absalom began to stealthily undermine David’s rule. He set himself up as judge in Jerusalem and gave out promises of what he would do if he were king. After four years of this, he asked to go to Hebron, where he had secretly arranged to have himself proclaimed king.

The conspiracy strengthened, and the number of Absalom’s followers grew steadily, such that David began to fear for his own life. David gathered his servants and fled Jerusalem. However, David left behind some of his concubines and a few informers as well, including Zadok and Abiathar the priests and his advisor Hushai.

Upon entering Jerusalem as king, Absalom sought to solidify his position, first by taking over David’s house and sleeping with his concubines, considered an unforgiveable act. Then he laid plans to immediately pursue and attack David’s forces, but the idea was abandoned owing to the advice of Hushai. This delay allowed David to muster what troops he had at Mahanaim and mount a counterattack to retake the kingdom.

David himself did not take part in the counterattack, having been persuaded by his generals to remain behind. He did give explicit instructions to the generals to “deal gently” with Absalom, in spite of his treason. Scripture makes the point that all the troops heard David’s orders concerning Absalom. However, the orders were disobeyed. As Absalom was riding under some trees, his long hair became entangled in the branches, and he was unhorsed. Joab found Absalom suspended in mid-air and killed him there. Thus, the rebellion was quelled, and David returned to Jerusalem as king.

David mourned deeply over his son, so much so that it affected the morale of the army. His grief was so great that their victory seemed hollow to them, and they returned to the capital in shame rather than triumph. It was not until he was rebuked by Joab that David was restored to a measure of kingly behavior.

Much has been said about David’s neglect of Absalom in this sad incident. It is possible that parental responsibility is a lesson we can take from this episode, but Scripture does not expressly teach it here. We do know that David did nothing about Amnon’s rape of Tamar, although he knew about it. If David had avenged Tamar, would Absalom have taken it upon himself to mete out justice? And what was the impact on Absalom’s soul of carrying hatred for Amnon for so long? We don’t know the answers to those questions, but it seems that David’s inaction had a deleterious effect in Absalom’s life.

What we can say with certainty, however, is that pride goes before a fall (Proverbs 16:18). Absalom’s self-promotion led to nothing. Also, God is sovereign. God foiled Absalom’s plan to overthrow his father’s kingdom (see 2 Samuel 17:14). All events are settled in eternity, and nothing, not even the Absaloms of the world, can thwart the power of God to do as He pleases in history.[1]


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about the Christian Life: Is ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ (WWJD) Something We Should Seek to Live By?

“What would Jesus do?” is a popular religious expression on bracelets, necklaces, and T-shirts with the initials WWJD. The idea behind WWJD is that to know how to do the right thing, we simply ask ourselves, “What would Jesus do?” At first glance, this appears to be a good idea. However, is this something Christians should live by?

First, to claim we can conclusively know what Jesus would do in any situation is somewhat presumptuous. If we were to ask ten people what Jesus would do in a given situation, we would probably receive nine different answers. People conjure up in their minds their own image of who Jesus is and what He would do. Sadly, WWJD often becomes WDIWTD (“What Do I Want To Do?”). Simply put, we justify our behaviors, actions, and reactions by falsely imagining that Jesus would agree with us.

The following is an example of this: During the time Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem, the people thought “that the Kingdom of God was to appear immediately” (Luke 19:11). However, what was lost on them was the fact that, though Jesus was the Messiah, He would suffer horribly and die for their sins. They should have known this from reading Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53. Instead, they wanted Him as their new king, on their terms, one who conformed to their image, their plans. Their idea of a king bent on destroying the oppressive yoke of Rome was not who Jesus really was nor why He had come. His kingdom was not about destroying Rome. His kingdom was about providing salvation from sin and its consequences. Their idea of “WWJD” was false.

Many do not know what Jesus would do because they simply do not know what Jesus did do. They know the stories about His life. However, they know little or nothing about what He taught or the example He left for us to emulate. Jesus is about denying oneself, taking up a cross, and following Him (Matthew 16:24).

Second, it is presumptuous of us to believe that we know the mind of Christ: “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8–9 ESV). Can we comprehend the mind of God through our own limited intellect? Are we capable of probing into areas that God has not revealed to us? There is a point where we must draw the line between what the Bible reveals and what we do not know. God Himself draws the line for us: “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29). Going beyond what He reveals can be deceptive (Psalm 75:5; Matthew 7:21).

Instead of WWJD, JWSID “Jesus, what should I do?” would be better. We cannot always know the mind of God. We cannot always conclusively know what Jesus would do in a given situation. Further, what Jesus would do might not always be the same thing as what God wants us to do. As God in human form, the Messiah-Savior, Jesus had a mission and calling higher than ours. Yes, of course, we are to follow Jesus and seek to emulate Him. But that might not always mean doing the same thing that He would do, even if we could conclusively know what He would do. So, while WWJD is an infinitely better method to decision-making than most people use, it is not a fully accurate representation of how God wants us to live our lives.[1]


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.