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Shadows of Divine Things

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Location: Texas, United States

This site is devoted to theological and philosophical investigations of the spiritual meanings of life, current events, music, spiritual growth, nature, and learning to be attuned to listening to the 'language of God.' The name of this blog comes from one of Jonathan Edwards's journals which he called 'Shadows of Divine Things,' and later renamed 'Images of Divine Things.' As a Christian I am continously on a spiritual journey to grow more into the image of Christ, to understand what it means to be crucified with Christ. To seek the truths of the Christian Faith is of upmost importance, and to know that any truths that are found outside of Christianity are present there because they ultimately point to God. I have an M.A. in theology and apologetics and I completed one year of graduate studies in Philosophy at Marquette University.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Recommending a Blog Site

If you are interesed in ethical issues which pertain directly to politics and current events (i.e. the abortion/pro-life issues), then let me recommend Pro-Life Blogs.

At Pro-Life Blogs there is much discussion about the abortion issue from every posible angel you could imagine. Participants include political sites/blogs, religious sites/blogs, etc., current events pertaining to the issue of abortion/pro-life/pro-choice are presented, cloning, political activities, supreme court issues, FDA and abortion pills, dates for certain meetings, conferences, presentations, etc. are present as well. You know, all things contraversial - its actually a real hoot reading some of this stuff.

This is, essentially, a virtual hodge-podge of everything pertaining to the issues of life/abortion, and I even saw a few posts or places which discuss the death penalty. The site is so large it would keep you busy for months on end.

So, go check it out when you can.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Is Jesus Merely 'a god?'

When I was in seminary at SES my wife and I lived around the corner from a group of Jehovah's Witnesses (JWs). Needless to say, we would get frequent visits. In one of my many conversations with these JWs, one of them asked me if I believed Jesus was 'a god' or God. Now I have had many encounters with JWs long before moving to North Carolina for seminary, and never had any JW ask me that particular question (usually the topics discussed are on other issues and then lead to the deity of Jesus).

However, on this occasion, that question was thrown at me by one of these JWs. I answered the question, and of course was quickly "corrected" by the JW that I was wrong to believe that Jesus is God.

(*Now, when witnessing to JWs my approach is never to start with the deity of Jesus since most JWs have heard every objection out there. I believe there are better approaches to witnessing to a JW than to begin with the deity of Jesus.)

When I was told I was' wrong' the JW who pointed out my 'error' quickly pulled out his Watchtower edition of the Greek Scriptures (of course this the New World Translation of the Greek Scriptures, and is wrought with serious problems). He quickly turned to John 1:1 to point out to me that the 'Greek Texts' actually declare that Jesus is merely 'a god' and not Jehovah God.

Well, needless to say, this 'hacked me off.' So I went into my house and grabbed my own copy of the Greek New Testament. I then proceeded to explain to this JW the argument that I have posted below as to why I thought the Watchtower translation of the Greek New Testament was in serious error. Needless to say, when I was detailing my argument it went in one ear and right out the other. The JW had no grasp of New Testament Greek, and he was merely parroting what the Watchtower had taught him.

Below is the argument I used to defend the deity of Jesus from John 1:1. I also presented this as a paper at the National Conference on Apologetics, Cults, and Other Religions in the year 2000, sponsored by SES.

While I do not recommend this as a witnessing approach to JWs (there are better ways to build up to the essential doctrines of Christianity), I post it here since I think it is a good tool for better understanding the errors in the Watchtower's Greek New Testament.

(You might want to get a copy of the Greek New Testament in front of you as you read the argument below - and if you have a Watchtower edition of the Greek New Testament then that would be helpful to have in front of you as well)

Here is the argument:


An Exposition of John 1:1

I. The New World Translation of John 1:1

A. The Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs) in the text of John 1:1 focus their attention upon arthrous (the definitive article “the” before the noun) and anarthrous (the absence of the definitive article “the” before the noun).

B. In the text of John 1:1 the outcome of the JWs focus on arthrous and anarthrous is a distinction between the divine (theos) as qualitative or quantitative. (keep a close eye on these distinctions)

1. To say that “divine” (theos) is qualitative is simply a description of quality about the Word or Logos. This qualitative description in no way describes that theos (in John 1:1) was in fact Jehovah God. (For a description of why the New World translation (NWT) believes this to be the case refer to The New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures (Brooklyn, NY: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, Inc., 1950), 773-774).

2. To say that “divine” (theos) is quantitative is to actually declare what the noun is, namely, Jehovah God, in a universal or regular usage as in John 1:1 (theon) and subsequent passages. (Refer to parenthesis note after 1 above).

3. The NWT translators conclude from John 1:1 that theos is qualitative and theon is quantitative. This conclusion is due to the definite article that is used with theon but not used with theos.

C. The JWs draw a distinction between theon and theos in John 1:1.

1. This distinction is drawn by an emphasis being placed on the definite article before theon and the fact that there is no definite article before theos.

2. The JWs conclude that since theon contains the definite article “the” that this is actually referring to “The God,” namely Jehovah God. Thus this is to declare that theon is indeed quantitative. However, theos does not include the definite article thereby drawing a specific distinction between two nouns. Therefore, theos must be merely qualitative.

3. According to the NWT “it is presumptuous to say that such a definite article is to be understood so that the sentence should therefore be translated ‘and the Word was God.’ That would mean that the Word was the God with whom the Word was said to be. This is unreasonable; for how can the Word be with the God and at the same time be that same God?” (The New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures (Brooklyn, NY: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, Inc., 1950), 774, emphasis mine)

II. Responding to the New World Translation of John 1:1

A. For the sake of argument, assuming that the NWT is correct (which I emphatically do not agree that it is); it is still incorrect to conclude that the anarthrous theos could be translated as “a god.” This is so for several reasons.

1. There is no indefinite article in the Greek Language.

2. Theos itself is a predicate nominative noun. Therefore, to attach the meaning “divine” to it is improper semantics (meaning). There is another Greek word which carries the meaning “divine,” theias (2 Peter 1:3-4) or theion (Acts 17:29) depending on the context in which it is used. Both uses are adjectives, not nouns, while theotes (meaning Divinity, divine nature) is a noun and is used in Romans 1:20. Therefore, if John meant to communicate the idea or meaning of “divine” one of those words would have been employed, not the actual word theos.

3. Also, for the sake of argument, if theos were admitted to be qualitative, one must ask if John actually meant by this use:

a) that which was attributed to the Caesars as being “divine.”

b) that which was attributed to Satan, “the god of this world.”
(II Cor. 4:4)

c) that which is attributed to God as being divine.

d) another category of divinity which the NWT has discovered and given its meaning to Jesus in the verse.

(I owe the above four points to Robert H. Countess and his work titled The Jehovah’s Witnesses’ New Testament Phillipsburg, New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1982).

Therefore, the NWT along with the JWs must ultimately unpack more than is necessary to simply defend their claim that theos is used qualitatively. Not to mention the fact that the JWs are placing meaning upon a word that is actually not there in the Greek texts (i.e. Theos ≠ “divine”).

B. If the NWT is going to maintain that theos is qualitative then they must do so consistently. In other words, there must not be any uses of the anarthrous theos referring to Jehovah God in the entire New Testament Text (especially the Gospel of John). All that is needed is one reference and their conclusion can be proven false. In John 8:54 anarthrous theos is used in reference to Jehovah God. Hence, the NWT is wrong in their conclusions.

C. Granting agreement with the NWT that arthrous theos is quantitative due to the definite article, the JWs are left with the problem of explaining all the uses of arthrous theos with reference to Jesus. For example, John 20:28 describes Thomas as crying out, “The LORD of Me, and the God of me.” (literally translated). In this passage, arthrous theos is used with reference to Jesus. But this contradicts the NWT claim that arthrous theos is quantitative and is used only to describe what the noun is, namely Jehovah God.

D. Another problem that the NWT must confront is the fact that the definite article which is used with theon denotes a quantitative use in John 1:1. This must be consistently the case if it is a hard and fast rule as the NWT has made it. However, it is not used, for example, in John 1:18 with the same noun (theon). If we conclude, as the NWT has, that the definite article is what causes the noun to be quantitative, and it is not used in John 1:18, but yet the NWT renders that noun as referring to Jehovah God, then the NWT committee have not only contradicted themselves, but their translation is also unreliable and we have further grounds to dismiss it as erroneous.

Works Consulted:

The Complete Biblical Library, Springfield, Missouri: World Library Press, Inc. 1986.

Countess, Robert H., The Jehovah’s Witnesses’ New Testament, Phillipsburg, New Jersey: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1982.

New World Translation of the Christian Greek Scriptures, Brooklyn, NY: Watchtower Bible and Tract Society, Inc., 1950.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Which Philosopher are you?

St. Augustine-
Born a Roman in a fading Empire, Augustine spent
his life trying to figure out what it was all
about. He asked questions and investigated
many possibilities but in the middle of his
life he was called by God and became a
Christian. He was a powerful thinker about
varied moral and metaphysical issues.
Augustine is the kind of philosopher you might
turn to in a time of doubt for comfort and

Which Philosopher are you?
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My intellect is hardly even close to St. Augustine's, but I am very honored that my test results ended up being closer to him than anyone else in the realm of philosophy. He did write one of my all time favorite works, "The Confessions of St. Augustine." Below is a link to the most popular translation of this work.

Quote of the Week

"Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result."
-- Winston Churchill

An Article at the "Eleysium" Blogspot

There is an article at Elesyium that really caugt my attention and has actually sparked some good exchange between several other bloggers. The article is titled "Epistemology and Scott Hahn". This issue was originally about Scott Hahn's conversion to Roman Catholicism and why perhaps, he converted the way he did, etc. But lately, the conversation, or comments, have turned to the issues of Tradition and Scripture.

As of this morning, November 28th there are 26 comments (quite a few).

It has really got me to thinking again about the issues of Tradition and Scripture. David from a blog called Nelmezzo has posted some of his thoughts on the issue as well.

Go check it out when you have a chance. I've enjoyed the exchange.

Viola! (Let Me Know What You Think)

Ok! I got that 'parchment' background off and now have a fully beige/tan background. I would love to hear your input about the changes.

Everyone leave me a comment and let me know what you think!

Sunday, November 27, 2005

More Changes

As you can see I have been trying to tweak my blog template. In fact, I have tried to widen the margins for months but could never figure out how to do this until today. Steve Weaver made changes to his blog and I liked the changes so much it inspired me to go into my own template and try to expand the margins, and fix a few other details.

Now, if someone out there can leave me a comment explaining to me how I can get that tan 'film' like background (you can see the edge of it going down the right part of the text) that did not expand when I expanded the margins I would greatly appreciate it. I have tried everything to remove that altogether.

Please be patient with me as I continue to work the kinks out!

Friday, November 25, 2005


Hello everyone. I hope you all had a blessed Thanksgiving and were able to give praise and thanks to almighty God for all that He has provided, and to spend some quality time with your families.

Just a quick note to let you know that this blog will be undergoing some changes in the way I have structured my sidebar (the area to your left where everything is listed - other blogs, other sites, etc.). I have intended to make the sidebar much more formal and structured. So over the next week or so when you visit be sure and look at the progress and changes that will be occurring in that area.

Be patient, as I will also be trying to post some upcoming articles and papers as I revamp the sidebar. Busy, busy, busy, but as they say, "Idle hands are devil's workshop." So busy I will be!

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Happy Thanksgiving!

Mr. Gato says, "Happy Thanksgiving and be sure to grab a beer, get the remote and enjoy a game!"

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

A Mere Caricature

Now that's a genuine 'caricature' of a Calvinist!

To see more go to The Hall of Contemporary Reformers.

Here's one of my favorites (Sinclair Ferguson):

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

In Memory of . . .

Forty-two years ago today, C. S. Lewis died. His influence in the areas of literature, mythology, apologetics, and Christianity is too overwhelming to measure. He wrote several standard Christian texts such as Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, The Weight of Glory, and others. He is also the author of several fantastic fantasy and science fiction works such as The Chronicles of Narnia, and Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra and That Hideous Strength.

The very first books I ever owned was a complete set of Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia given to me when I was 9 years old (in the summer of ’75). His influence on my thinking and life has been profound since the first time I read that first series of books given to me so long ago. His influence on Christianity has crossed many religious boundaries from Protestants to Roman Catholics and even Greek Orthodox.

Lewis died the same day two other well know people died. On November 22, 1962, John F. Kennedy was assassinated (this news, of course, won the attention of the whole world), however, along with C. S. Lewis, Aldous Huxley (a philosopher) died that same day. In fact, Peter Kreeft wrote an interesting book titled Between Heaven and Hell (see pic and link below) about these three men and what it would might have been like if they were all in the same room (of course, if I remember correctly Kreeft places them together in Purgatory) and what their conversation/exchange would be like (simple, but interesting book). Nonetheless, Lewis is remembered and missed.

If you have never read any of his works then below are some suggested readings.

Soul Device

Below is a web site created by a fellow seminary friend of mine named Doug Beaumont. He and I went to Southern Evangelical Seminary around the same time. His web site contains articles and information regarding theology, apologetics, philosophy, cults, the occult, movie reviews, book reviews, music reviews and much more.

His site is predominately Apologetics in scope, however there are a lot of other very interesting topics on hand. When you have a chance, go check it out.

Soul Device Apologetics

Monday, November 21, 2005

Quote of the Week

"Individual men are mortal, and wholly so, but all the true, all the good and all the beautiful of which they partake for a little while is immortal in its own right."

-- Etienne Gilson

Sacrament and Liturgy

A good friend of mine, who graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary, wrote a wonderful post on his blog regarding worship. As of late (late being the last year or so) I have come to the conclusion that many Protestant Churches (at least most that I have visited) have removed themselves from true worship. Worship services have turned into more entertainment oriented self-help seminars rather than genuine reflection and focus on Almighty God. Singing and praise bands have replaced regular sacramental and liturgical practices.

Church services no longer provide a time or place for members to confess their sins. Rather, members are forced to merely turn inward and reflect on how better they can feel about themselves through swift 15 or 20 minute ‘pep talk sermons.’

In this post, my friend declares, “If the bare reading of the Word (the Church's primary narratives and documents) and the taking of the bread and cup (the sign and reality of Christ’s very presence) are not present then I have doubts as to whether it can be properly called “worship.” In other words, we may do many things as we are joined together in gathering, but not all of them are worship. We might conduct a class, or we might participate in a sing-along, but are these worship? If these two events can be called worship at all, then at least they are incomplete.”

In fact, the whole post is a wonderful assessment of contemporary worship services and how, perhaps, they have removed themselves from worshipping God through the Lord’s instituted means. I highly recommend this post if you are at all interested in the issue of Church worship.

You can read the whole article here: Sacrament and Liturgy

Thursday, November 17, 2005

A Protestant View of Tradition (Introduction)

Having been raised a Protestant, in a Southern Baptist Church, I can safely say that the issue of Tradition, in my life anyway, has been either greatly misrepresented, or greatly misunderstood by many Protestants. Moreover, tradition has, for the most part, simply been ignored altogether. In fact, the issue of tradition, in the Southern Baptist Church of my youth, was not even an issue. It was never mentioned nor ever talked about as far as I can remember.

I was never introduced to this thing called tradition as it relates to the Church until I became a Presbyterian. It was actually through Presbyterian scholars and theologians that I was introduced to tradition. The first time I ever met R.C. Sproul (in 1995) he wrote a list of theologians from the past who he recommended that I read. Three of these men on R.C.’s list were St. Augustine of Hippo, St. Anselm of Canterbury, and St. Thomas Aquinas. It was through this list and these famous theologians/philosophers that I was introduced to the Church doctrine of tradition.

But even at that time, upon reading R.C.’s recommended list, I was still confused about tradition. Was it necessary? What was its purpose? What did it mean? Could it possibly be infallible contrary to so many well known conservative pastors and theologians in certain Protestant “evangelical” circles who declared that the Catholic Church placed tradition on par with the Scriptures? This is a big ‘no, no’ in certain Protestant circles. But what does it mean? These were the questions I was asking myself as I was growing in my knowledge of Christianity and Christian Church history.

Therefore, having been influenced by certain Protestant thinkers, I concluded, quite dishonestly I must add since I really never did the research and merely took what certain men said at face value, that tradition, in my meager understanding of it, was simply something that Protestants rejected altogether. And rightly so, since we as Protestants hold to Sola Scriptura, and anything beyond the written authority of the Bible is simply the ‘words of man’ and suspect. So tradition certainly was suspect.

But then I would read certain passages from the Bible which seem to declare, contrary to my position of tradition at the time, that perhaps there is something here of larger weight and importance than I had first concluded. The apostle Paul, for instance, certainly places a very high degree of importance on the tradition of the apostles. In Paul’s second epistle to the Thessalonians he declares, “So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.” (2 Thess. 2:15; ESV) In this passage Paul declares several important things.

First, we as Christians are to “stand firm and hold fast.” But what are we to stand firm and hold fast to? The answer is, ‘the traditions that you were taught by us [the apostles].” Second, how were these traditions taught by the apostles? Well, the text says these traditions were taught in two ways. First, “by our [the apostles] spoken word,” and second, “by our [the apostles] letter.” Of course, “by our letter” would be the written word.

This one passage certainly raised several questions in my mind. For instance, what is the tradition of the apostles? What does Paul mean when he uses the word tradition?
The Greek word Paul uses here is paradoseis. In this context the word is plural and in the accusative case which means that paradoseis is a transmission of a doctrine or doctrines (since the use is plural), or depending on the context, it can mean the doctrine itself. However, we see in Mark’s gospel, chapter 7 verses 8-9 Jesus holds a certain contention with the notion of the Pharisees' idea of tradition.

In these verses, Jesus states, “You leave the commandment of God and hold to the tradition of men. And he said to them, ‘You have a fine way of rejecting the commandment of God in order to establish your tradition!” (Mark 7:8-9 ESV) Prima Facie this verse seems to declare that Jesus is rejecting the notion of tradition altogether. But this certainly cannot be the case for it were then Paul would be contradicting Jesus. However, Jesus is certainly using the same word as Paul, only in Mark’s gospel, the word is now singular instead of plural, but it is certainly the same word. But we must take into consideration the most basic rule of hermeneutics—context, context, context!

In Mark, Jesus is certainly rejecting the “tradition” of the Pharisees. But according to the context of Mark, the tradition that the Pharisees held to is quite different from the tradition of the apostles (as Paul describes). The tradition of the Pharisees was a tradition that was established by man, this is indicated in verse 9 when Jesus plainly declares the tradition of the Pharisees was one that is of man. How do we know this? Well, two ways; first Jesus contrasts the Commandment of God and the tradition of men (this is seen in both verses). Second, Jesus states that the commandment of God is rejected for the tradition of men. This certainly means that the Pharisees have elevated their doctrine or tradition over and against God’s commands. This is clearly sinful and would indicate that what God established is rejected for what man established.

Moreover, this demonstrates there is a difference between the two, and one is certainly established by God, while the other can only be established by man, otherwise, it need not be scorned in this passage. Jesus would certainly not scorn or warn against anything that was established by God. So the Pharisees’ “tradition” was outside of the scope or realm of the divine. By this I mean that is was not established by God. This being the case, we know it runs contrary to God’s word or commands. However, in Paul’s passage he tells his reader to hold fast to the traditions of the apostles. The big question here is what are these traditions?

If the tradition Paul is speaking of in 2 Thessalonians was a tradition established by man then Protestants, as well as Roman Catholics would certainly be warranted in rejecting it. However, as Protestant’s believe, Paul was writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and Paul tells his reader to hold fast to the traditions of the apostles. Therefore, for us to hold fast to this ‘tradition’ it must have been one that was established by God in the new covenant of Jesus and transmitted to the apostles and thus passed on to us, the Church. Otherwise, Paul would not tell us to ‘hold fast to it.’

I have heard this passage from Mark used by Protestants to declare that Church tradition should be rejected because it is a tradition of man, and not a commandment of God. I purport that this conclusion drawn from these verses in Mark is simply poorly performed hermeneutics, and to hold to such a view seems to ultimately lead to big trouble when dealing with other passages such as 2 Thessalonians 2:15 or I Corinthians 11:2.

So what are we as Protestants to think about Church tradition? What are we to think about holding fast to the traditions of the apostles? What, in fact, does this mean? And can Roman Catholics and Protestants ever see eye to eye on this issue? These are but a few questions I hope to answer in a few upcoming posts. How should we, as Protestants, view tradition? Keep checking back for more posts on this issue.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

To Which Race Of Middle Earth Do You Belong?

Do you enjoy Tolkien's Lord of the Rings? Then take this test and see to which race of Middle Earth you might belong. This was a fun 'test.' The interesting thing about my results (I am Elvish) is the fact that all of my favorite characters from The Lord of the Rings are Elves. Hmmmm!!!


To which race of Middle Earth do you belong?
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A Puritan Prayer

Thou Eternal God,

Thine is surpassing greatness, unspeakable goodness, super-abundant grace; I can as soon count the sands of ocean’s ‘lip’ as number thy favours towards me; I know but a part, but that part exceeds all praise.

I thank thee for personal mercies, a measure of health, preservation of body, comforts of house and home, sufficiency of food and clothing, continuance of mental powers, my family, their mutual help and support, the delights of domestic harmony and peace, the seats now filled that might have been vacant, my country, church, Bible, faith.

But, O, how I mourn my sin, ingratitude, vileness, the days that add to my guilt, the scenes that witness my offending tongue; All things in heaven, earth, around, within, without, condemn me —
the sun which sees my misdeeds,
the darkness which is light to thee,
the cruel accuser who justly charges me,
the good angels who have been provoked to leave me,

I deny them not, frame no excuse, but confess, ‘Father, I have sinned’; Yet still I live, and fly repenting to thy outstretched arms; thou wilt not cast me off, for Jesus brings me near, thou wilt not condemn me, for he died in my stead, thou wilt not mark my mountains of sin, for he leveled all, and his beauty covers my deformities.
O my God, I bid farewell to sin by clinging to his cross, hiding in his wounds, and sheltering in his side.

This prayer comes from the book The Valley of Vision, If you benefited and enjoyed this prayer, then let me recommend to you that book. It is a wonderful devotional tool for Christians. Click on the title of the work above and that will take you to Amazon where you can read more about it, or purchase it if you like.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Quote of the Week

"When I get a little money I buy books; and if any is left I buy food and clothes."

- Desiderius Erasmus

Sunday, November 13, 2005


Do you love books? I know I do! Yes, I must admit, I am a bibliophile. I love to buy books, I love to collect books, and I love to be around books. In fact, I love to be in my study, where most of my books are, and just sit there and stare at my books. Perhaps you think me strange. But, I love books.

However, my love for books does not stop at merely collecting them, buying them, wanting to be around them or simply staring at them. I do love reading them as well. I have been reading books since I was 9 years old, and this is due mainly to the influence my step-father (who was a grade school teacher for over 45 years) had on me when I was very young. He instilled in me a desire to read books. He gave me my first set of books when I was in the third grade, The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. Moreover, my step-father influenced the way I think about books and their importance in my education outside of the classroom. Along this line of thought, I think Thomas Carlyle said it best in The Hero as Man of Letters when he declared,

If we think of it, all that a University, or final highest School can do for us, is still but what the first school began doing,—teach us to read. We learn to read, in various languages, in various sciences; we learn the alphabet and letters of all manner of Books. But the place we are to get knowledge, is the Books themselves! It depends on what we read, after all the manner of Professors have done their best for us. The true University of these days is a Collection of Books.

This is so true. I've had classes with several talented and well known professors who would constantly say that nothing can substitute for a good library in one’s home. I cannot think of any scholar I have ever read who did not in one way or the other write something about the importance of books and learning from books. Most of my favorite fiction authors such as C.S. Lewis, J.R.R. Tolkien, Victor Hugo, Mark Twain, Herman Melville, and others, all have written about the influence that books have had upon their lives. The importance books had on them at a young age, or at some point in their lives is always stressed to one degree or another. So if you too love books, know that you are in good company.

My love for books and my desire to purchase books is so strong that sometimes I will actually forego buying the things I need, such as new shirts, or shoes, etc. to buy books. Of course, this drives my wife up the wall, but to me, clothes are far less important than books. I reason that I can get much more out of several books than I can out several shirts and a pair of shoes. What is more, those shirts and shoes will soon wear out, but my books I’ll have, God willing, until I die. I actually feel the same way Edward Gibbon (author of The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire) did when he stated in his work Memoirs of My Life,

From this slender beginning I have gradually formed a numerous and Select library, the foundation of my works and the best comfort of my life both at home and abroad. On the receipt of the first quarter a large share of my allowance was appropriated to my literary wants: I cannot forget the joy with which I exchanged a bank-note of twenty pounds for the twenty volumes of the Memoirs of the Academy of Inscriptions; nor would it have been easy by any other expenditure of the same sum to have procured so large and lasting a fund of rational amusement.

Some of my favorite memories are similar in the finding and purchasing of certain volumes which I could hardly wait to buy after I got a paycheck. However, there is nothing like the hunt. Some of the most enjoyable moments in my life are finding out about a certain book and its contents, knowing that this book will be very beneficial and then beginning the hunt. There is a certain amount of pleasure in the actual act of tracking down books, especially those which have been out of print for ages and are very difficult to find. The excitement of such activities is only highlighted by time. What I mean by this is the fact that certain books have taken me months to find, and during that time frame there was an enormous amount of pleasure in attempting to call, visit, and search online or on the street, for that one particular book. Perhaps, this is strange to you, but I am certainly not alone is this odd world of bibliomania: Refer to the book Patience and Fortitude.

There are but a few things that I can think of that give me joy as much as buying and reading a great book. Call me ‘old school’ but the notion of buying an author’s or scholar’s work on CD-Rom is quite unappealing. I am of the mind that actually having the book there in front of me, feeling the grain of the paper pages as I turn them, seeing the print on the actual page, and being able to mark, if I so desire, in the margin of the book is much more enjoyable than staring at a computer screen in order to read what was put on the disc. I would much rather have the actual book.

So, if you are a bibliomaniac like me, then know that you are in very good company with a whole host of other well known and not so well know bibliomaniacs throughout history. Even God had His words put into book form! So here’s to the booklovers, may you forever find enjoyment and happiness in your reading and collecting of various books.

Here are some famous quotes about books:

“Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested.”
—Francis Bacon

“Good friends, good books and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.”
—Mark Twain

“I find television to be very educating. Every time somebody turns of the set, I go in the other room and read a book.”
—Groucho Marx

“It is from books that wise people derive consolation in the troubles of life.”
—Victor Hugo

“Books are the legacies that a great genius leaves to mankind, which are delivered down from generation to generation as presents to the posterity of those who are yet unborn.”
—Joseph Addison

“The things I want to know are in books; my best friend is the man who'll get me a book I ain't read.”
—Abraham Lincoln

“All my good reading, you might say, was done in the toilet. There are passages in Ulysses which can be read only in the toilet -- if one wants to extract the full flavor of their content.”
—Henry Miller

“It is far better to be silent than merely to increase the quantity of bad books.”

“Some books are undeservedly forgotten; none are undeservedly remembered.”
—W. H. Auden

“Buy good books, and read them; the best books are the commonest, and the last editions are always the best, if the editors are not blockheads.”
—Lord Chesterfield

"I cannot live without books"
- Thomas Jefferson

“A good novel tells us the truth about it's hero; but a bad novel tells us the truth about its author.”
—G. K. Chesterton

“Read, read, read. Read everything - trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You'll absorb it.”
—William Faulkner

Friday, November 11, 2005

Ten Year Anniversary

Yesterday, November 10, 2005, was my 10 year wedding anniversary. My wife, bless her heart, has put up with me for ten years. Wow! I am truly blessed to have such a wonderful bride! We have been through many ups and downs, trials and joys, good times and rough times, but through it all our love for each other and our love for Christ Jesus have been steadfast.

For those of you just starting out or those who have been married for years all I would say is put your marriage into the hands of God and trust that he will nurture and protect it. Also, it takes work to be married in today’s world. There are so many things attempting to rip apart and destroy marriages in this country. I firmly believe that any marriage a part from Christ Jesus is going to be way more difficult to keep.

However, I must admit, that even after ten years, I am still trying to learn how to love my bride like Christ loves His Church. This is an ongoing struggle, but well worth it! Happy anniversary honey, I love you very much!!!

Ephesians 5:22-33

Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Death – Is it Natural?

In the final instillation of the second Star Wars Trilogy (the first in sequence, the last by release), Yoda tells Anakin Skywalker that death is a natural part of life. Prima Facie this seems correct. Everyone who is, in fact, born, eventually dies. No one lives forever in this life. We have on countless occasions witnessed death. In fact, no one would be of sound mind if they believed they could or would live forever in this life and never experience death.

Since death is such a frequent event that we empirically witness, it only seems natural that death is in fact a part of life. However (and this is a big ‘however’), this simply is not the case. According to the Christian worldview, we were not created, in the beginning, to die. Death was not a part of God’s created effort in this life. In fact, all one needs to do is go back and re-read the first few chapters of Genesis in the Old Testament to see that when God created the universe, death was not a part of what He created.

So then, you might ask, from where did death come? This answer is quite simple. Death is a result of rebellion against God. We die because we disobey God. But even more so, we die because Adam disobeyed God, and that disobedience, that sin, is passed to us in our own conception. God in fact warned Adam, in Genesis 2:16-17, that if Adam disobeyed Him, he would surely die.

Now, regarding the above passage, debate has abound about whether God meant that Adam would die ‘instantly’ upon eating the forbidden fruit, or whether Adam would eventually die. The reason this issue arises is due to what the text actually declares, ‘. . . for in the day that you eat from it you shall surely die.’ (emphasis mine) It should first be pointed out, quite simplistically, that if in fact God meant that Adam would die instantly upon eating the fruit (that very day), then that would have actually occurred. However, Adam did not physically die instantly upon eating the fruit, nor did Adam physically die soon after. However, Adam did die (in more ways than merely physically).

Therefore, it would seem that God meant that death would be introduced to Adam, and when the text says in the day, it cannot possibly mean that very day, but must mean something else (such as an expanse of time exceeding a 24 hour period – like in the day of the depression, which we know lasted 10 or so years) and therefore, Adam would eventually die. This, of course, is a mere cursory rendering of the text and does not contain any in depth hermeneutics to further expound the text.

That being said, we see that death is actually introduced as an act of disobedience to God. Never was it an actual event or ‘thing’ included in God’s creation. It pains me when I go to a funeral and someone looks at the body on display in the coffin and states, “Oh, they look so natural.” Well, no they don’t. Death is not a natural part of life. If it is, then Christ died in vain. If death is a natural part of life, then so is sin, and if that is the case, Christ needed not die for our sins. Moreover, Christ needed not die period, because as a natural part of life, death would not need to be conquered (I Corinthians 15:54-57). Don’t be fooled by the philosophy of this world (or at least the philosophy of George Lucas), death is not a natural part of life.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

New Features on This Blog

If you look to the left of my blog (under 'Archives') you will notice that I have added a few new features. First, I have added "Books I'm Currently Reading." This shows the titles of the books I am currently reading linked to Amazon.com (for detailed descriptions about the books and for purchasing options). Most of the time I am reading anywhere between 4 to 5 books simultaneously. If that is the case, they will all be listed. Moreover, this list will change periodically, as I finish each book, of course. Along with this, I am going to add a feature that includes a list of recommended reading. The 'Recommended Reading' list will link titles to Amazon.com so if you are interested in reading one you can purchase it via the link (if you desire). This 'linking' will also allow you to simply click on the title and go to Amazon to read about the book if you like.

I am always reading. I usually read about 40 to 70 books per year and review books at Amazon (click My Amazon Reviews to take you to my review page at Amazon and see my reviews). I love reading, I love books, and I always have people asking me what books I would recommend. Therefore, in the future, look for a new section to the left of the main page of this blog where can find what I am currently reading and books for recommended reading. I will also, periodically, post book reviews and provide links for you to read about or purchase these books if you so desire. Happy reading to all!

Monday, November 07, 2005

Quote of the Week

"Those who deny a first principle should be beaten and burned until they admit that to be beaten is not the same as to not be beaten and to be burned is not the same as to not be burned."

-- Avicenna (Medieval Islamic Philosopher)

Are People Basically Good? (Continued)

In my previous post (see the intro to this topic) I detailed a conversation I had a few months back regarding the question whether people are basically good. I explained that I did not think so since empirically I see ‘basically good people’ performing essentially ‘evil’ or ‘sinful’ acts.

If people are basically good then where does the desire, motive, or inclination to perform evil acts come from? I have another answer to that basic question. I do not believe that people merely perform sinful/evil acts. Rather I think that all people in all times are ‘sinners.’ When I say this, I am not deliberately trying to be pejorative toward people. This is merely something that I witness and something I have learned over the years.

The Apostle Paul, in a letter he wrote to the Roman Church over 2000 years ago declared, “. . . all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) This is a telling and profound truth, but it is only part of the overall story of mankind. Certainly all people have sinned . . . as Paul declares, and certainly all people commit acts which are ‘wrong’ to a certain degree or another. However, the over all problem of the issue of whether people are ‘basically good’ does not stop at the idea that ‘all have sinned,' but that all are in fact sinners. Later in this same letter to the Roman Church, Paul declares, “I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh; for the wishing is present in me, but the doing of good is not.” (Romans 7:18). Here, Paul plainly declares that no good dwells in him. But that only applies to Paul you might say.

Well, perhaps, but the Bible is replete with examples that all, meaning all people, are evil inherently. For example, Romans 3:10-12 states, “as it is written, ‘There is none righteous, not even one; There is none who understands, there is none who seeks God; All have turned aside, together they have become useless; there is none who does good, there is not even one.” In Jeremiah we learn that “the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can understand it?” (17:9) King David, in one of the Psalms declares, “I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin did my mother conceive me.”

It is here that I think David has described not only the state in which he himself was conceived, but also the very state into which every single human was conceived, namely, sin. We are all conceived in sin. These are passages and points that I brought up in my discussion with this person a few months back. Points that seem to ring aloud a truth that is inherently undeniable, at least empirically so, and indicates that all people are in fact, not basically good.