Maligning the Word of God

There are a few passages in the Pastoral Epistles that warn against “maligning the word of God.” I thought it would be profitable to look at those passages so as to understand the setting in which Paul used them, as well as the different examples he uses to make the same point, which should ultimately provide for us a direct line of application for our context.

First the passages that Paul uses and the context.

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. (Titus 2:3-5 ESV)

Let all who are under a yoke as bondservants regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled.
(1 Timothy 6:1 ESV)

It’s interesting to note that both of the instances Paul uses this phrase has to do with submission. As we mentioned, he is specifically dealing with social constructs, but what implications do these exhortations have for us?

And finally, what is the application for us? In all we do we should strive to uphold the name of God and the teaching that flows from His name. If we profess to be followers of Christ, then our actions (submission) should bring glory to God’s name, as the life of Christ did. He lived to glorify the Father.

Let us then, submit to one another out of reverence for Christ. The implications of this practice for the church body is transformational. Think how our lives and our congregations would be realigned if we truly sought to count others as more important than ourselves.

Designing the Bible

Since Crossway announced their new Single Column Legacy Bible I’ve been intrigued. I appreciate good design, and the language that they used to describe this Bible (e.g. “fresh,” “Renaissance ideal of a perfect page”) really caught my attention. There is something expressed through the beauty of good design that resonates with Creation itself. I suppose it find it’s roots in the fact that God is a creative God. And thus, being made in His image, it’s no wonder we are attracted to the beauty of the creative process as well.

I began thinking through all of this while reading a post on the Bible Design Blog, an interview with Crossway. And as is usually the case when reading or studying something new, I was lead down a rabbit trail of discovery. Here’s how it went. The writer asked a question about the Colophon for the new Legacy Bible. They answered with the following details:

Printer: Legatoria Editoriale Giovanni Olivotto (located in Vicenza, Italy)
Font: Lexicon, 9 pt / 10.75 pt
Paper: 36 gsm Thincoat Plus

I found this interesting because I’m fascinated by typology as well, and I wanted to know more about the “Lexicon” font they are using for this edition, as I wasn’t previously familiar with it. After a little research, I discovered it is the same font that is used in the ESV Study Bible. The font itself was designed by Bram de Does to be read at very small point sizes, and was initially commissioned by Van Dale for his Dictionary of the Dutch Language. The first rough drawings were made with a felt-tip pen, so the story goes.

This satisfied my curiosity concerning the font’s origins. But my interest was further peaked as I continued reading about the design of the typeface. Most people probably take fonts for granted, never thinking about where they came from. Even myself, one who appreciates typography, had no idea how fonts came to be produced.

Traditionally fonts were hand-drawn, though I’m sure many are designed on the computer now. If they are hand-drawn they must be cleaned and marked-up in order to be digitized for use in printing and on screen. One of the programs used to do this is called “Ikarus.” Here’s how the process works:

This involves putting tick marks around any curves at approximately 30 degree intervals along with extra tangent points where a curve blends onto a straight line. Some form of accurate graphics tablet is then used to input three types of points: curve points, corner points and tangent points. Any irregularities (e.g. lumps and flat spots) are then edited out by adjusting the position of the points on the computer… As the computer screen displays a rasterized image at relatively low resolution, high quality print outs  or cuts in film are used to proof the digitized shapes. (source)

That’s just fascinating to me. And this is only a conversation about the font they used for this Bible. I could go on and on about the other details of the the Colophon (i.e. the printer and paper). I’ll end here as my curiosity didn’t extend that far just yet. Needless to say, I’m excited about this edition and believe the attention to detail in the design of this Bible will make for a beautiful reading experience. Now, to get my hands on one!

Here’s where you can find them: Crossway, Westminster, Amazon

 

Book Review: Reverberation

The title of Jonathan Leeman’s new book, Reverberation, makes use of a vivid word-picture to aid the reader in conceptualizing the path of God’s Word in our world. The centrality of the Word of God in our churches is, “the one necessary thing.” It’s his hope that “Christians and church leaders from every polity will be strengthened in faith in the sufficiency of God’s Word.” Let’s follow this path of the reverberation of God’s word with Leeman as our guide.

Jonathan Leeman. Reverberation. (Moody Books, 2011), 197 pages.

The book is organized into three parts: 1. the word, 2. the sermon, and 3. the reverberation.

Leeman uses the first few chapters to show us the role of the Word in the world, that is, how it functions in the life of believers and unbelievers. Leeman pleads with us that words, though they are often abused and overused and distrusted in our society, still matter. Ultimately, God’s Word, because His Word is truth. And these are the only words that can give life. But how? I’ll let the author speak.

“Trusting God’s Word to build our churches is an act of faith. Faith in God. Faith in His Word. And such faith is not natural, even for the Christian. It’s supernatural. God must give it.”

Amazing. And this high view of Scripture is the foundation that Leeman builds on for the remainder of the book.

Next, we’re taken to where the Word is preached and the importance of the sermon. I thought it was interesting that the second part of the book is dedicated completely to the sermon, but it’s really a great section. Leeman emphasizes expository preaching all because of the central role of the Word of God.

Don’t be mistaken that this chapter is written specifically for pastors. It is that, pleading with them to lift up the Scriptures, but it’s also to the church as an example of how we can hold our pastors accountable. It’s to help us realize and understand what we should be hearing as a Christian, and that this is important stuff! Wake up!

Finally, Leeman traces the path of the Word in the congregation after it has been preached. It reverberates through singing, praying and discipleship, all things that occur within the church. Though, this reverberation is much more than what occur within the church. Leeman emphasizes that it’s a message that reverberates outward, beyond the walls of the church, to the world.

The last chapter is a picture of God’s ultimate plan and how the church exists in this world to fulfill it. We gather as his people, but we have to go out, “God’s word must reverberate out the church building door and into the world” to spread the good news of Christ and then return and join together once again, bringing those who heard and accepted the word.

And finally, a great line that speaks much truth, “serve your church and go read your Bible.”

Conclusion

Leeman shares a glimpse of many of his personal experiences in the church in this book, and he writes openly and transparently. I am grateful for his honestly. I pray it will encourage us to be bold and assume the roles that God has given us in the church. It will be a great help for pastors and church members.

I would commend this book to the church that we may once again reclaim a vision for God’s Word and the path that it should travel and reverberate through the life of the church. Let us return God’s Word to center of all we do as God’s people.

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*This book was provided by Moody Publishers as a free review copy. I am under no obligation to write a favorable review.*

Book Review: Scripture Alone

The question of the sufficiency of Scripture has been asked time and time again, almost as long as the Bible has been in written form. James White attempts an introduction to the doctrine in his book:

James White. Scripture Alone, (Bethany House, 2004), 217 pages

I found this book to be very helpful in addressing the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture. It’s written in straightforward language which allows it to be accessible to all believers.

White also uses mock dialogue throughout the book to not only address the issues in clearly understandable terms, but also to give people examples of how to refute the claims against the sufficiency of Scripture. He shows us how to use sound biblical defense to respond to others who teach false doctrine against the Bible. He argues that most who constantly try to pick the Bible apart don’t have a wide enough view of Scripture. Typically they pull verses out of context and use historical arguments that don’t give a complete picture of the citation, only what they want to prove. Most often their claims are refuted simply by engaging context.

The dialogue sections are helpful because White uses Scripture to help defend Scripture. He gives examples of historical theories and focuses on other religions that claim the Bible is false.

Every Christian should pick up this book to grow in knowledge of the Scriptures. We need to cultivate a passion for God’s word. White’s passion for Scriptures is written into every page of this book. Let us learn from his wisdom and the years of study that he has devoted to this topic.

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We Cannot Pick and Choose

I found an interesting parallel in Scripture Alone by James White and Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. Here’s the first quote from White,

“…the corollary of sola scriptura is that all a person must believe to be a follower of Christ is found Scripture and in no other source. If it has been given to us in Scripture by the Holy Spirit then it is binding upon the believer’s heart and conscience. We cannot pick and choose what we will and will not believe: If it is the infallible rule of faith, it must be believed.

and then Lewis,

“Most of us are not really approaching the subject in order to find out what Christianity says: we are approaching it in the hope of finding support for Christianity for the views of our own party. We are looking for an ally where we are offered either a Master or—a Judge.

Both these quotes, while taken from chapters that aren’t remotely similar, seem to be hitting on something that is huge for us when coming to the Scriptures as Christians, or when thinking about Christianity for unbelievers.

We both have to approach them with God as the foundation, not ourselves. We have to leave our human traditions and prejudices behind.