All posts by Joel L. Watts

Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

My latest “#art” attempt 

I washed the canvas with Crimson red. The blue, cadmium I think, is mixed with a heavy gloss paste. It is acrylic paint. 

I like oil but acrylic allows me to paint fast and to do more abstract stuff. It’s great for a quick brain dump at the end of the day.





Review, @AccordanceBible 11 (and Original Languages Collection)

NA28 on Accordance

Introduction

Preachers and students of the bible once made tedious use of concordances, church libraries, and multi-volume editions of well worded reference sets as they slowly prepared sermons, researched topics, and wrote their own books. It was almost impossible to own everything a real student of Scripture needed. It was more than impossible to have your library with you, wherever you went. With the introduction to the information age, the bible and bible study has taken a new form. Rather than heavy books, stacked library shelves, and hidden resources wasting many hours that could be devoted to actual research, the computer promised new ways to insure bible study was quick and relatively painless. After all, digital pages rarely leave students with papercuts.

Let me give you some technical details before I proceed. I run Accordance 11 on my (late 2012) Mac, with 8Gb of ram. I have several current bible study software programs, but this post will try to avoid comparisons. I run the Accordance iOS app via my iPad 3 and iPhone 5c. I have spent considerable time learning and testing Accordance 11, which was given to me free of charge for an honest review.

Features:

Smoothness:

Straight out of the box it downloaded and installed quick, easy, and without pain to my Mac. Rather than the titles needing to be indexed, each title is pre-indexed — meaning there is no lag time in using a freshly purchased, or updated, module. Indeed, Accordance beats nearly every program I have in operation speed, agility, and resource management. Those are big words for “It fits like a glove” with my Mac. This is extremely important for me, because it means my Mac and I will be able to use Accordance 11 for sometime without having to worry about excess loads causing damage to my machine. Start-up, close-down, and moment to moment operation happens without crashes, glitches, or lags. Even native Apple apps sometimes do not meet this goal.

Software Updates

Like any software program, updates are required. Accordance updates are the easiest of all of the bible programs I own. I am not sure of what happens behind the scenes, but if there is an update, it tells me when I open up the program. The downloads are quick. The installation is even faster. Once they are installed, there is nothing else to do. Simply, there is no requirement of the program to index the new updates. There is no load placed on your machine.

Internal Features

I’m not going to review every feature of Accordance 11, but highlight those that matter to me. You can find the full list here.

One of the features I really like is the way you can categorize your resources. This comes in handy when, say, I want to organize my Greek sources or, in the future, my Wesleyan resources. If I want to create a category removing all devotional material, without removing them from my library, I can do that so that I no longer have to worry about having them searched. I can create a category, say for Wesleyan modules/tools, and search only that category. I can, perhaps, discover that Outler improperly named the third leg “Experience” when he should have named it “Assurance.”

Speaking of searches, Accordance 11 has 2 types of search available to us. The first is flex. It allows you to take a shot in the dark. It is like google, but for the bible. What I mean is this: you ever think you know what you want to search for, but do not know how it is phrased? Sometimes, searches require you to make an accurate guess. I rarely ever get this to work for me because I am always hearing things differently. I mean, if you read Scripture in a variety of translations, you will eventually mesh this together. Flex search prevents that and allows you to look for close connections to what you are searching. It also changes numbers and senses so you aren’t stuck with “search for plane” (when you mean “search on the planes”).

The second type is the exact search. When they say fast, they mean fast. Granted, my library is (for now) small, but the search feature seems almost instantaneous. Added to this, you can modify the exact search to look for tags, syntax, and other varieties. This is not the flex search, as it is really geared to the original languages.

A related feature is the topic search. Thank of Nave’s, but better and faster. A lot faster. Sort of like a highway in Montana. You type in a topic — say, baptism. You will get verses associated with baptism (ranging from dipping to baptism). If there isn’t a topic exactly like you want, there are usually others provided that come close to it. Accordance bills this as perfect for topical preachers. That’s fair, but it is also helpful for students who want to follow a thought around Scripture while working on their dissertation. This feature is actually new in Accordance 11.

A new feature, important for several reasons, is the Research Tool (formerly Search All). The first reason is because it allows you to maximize your library. Second, it shows you just how fast Accordance 11 is (albeit, this may not be your primary reason for using this tool, much like buying a Corvette is not simply because the leather seats look cool). I searched several words (sex, suicide, Jesus) and quicker than I’ve just typed this sentence, I had my entire library combed through, with the results presented to me in prompt fashion. Again, the speed in which this happened is astounding.

This is what it looks like:

Accordance 11 Research toolThe Research Tool makes something like journals beneficial, efficient, and usable. You can see the results, scrolling through them, almost immediately. This is greatly helpful in cutting down the time wasted in exploring every resource individually to find what you want.

Original Languages Collection

The Original Languages Collection is designed to provide a better-than-entry level package enabling novices, students, and seasoned learners the ability to learn, relearn, and maintain the ability to study Scripture in its original languages.

A huge draw for me here is the New English Translation of the Septuagint (which only a few of the bigger bible software systems have available). Unlike other programs, the NETS is divided into two different modules (sold together), allowing the user to focus either on the introductory material or the text of the Septuagint itself. The introductory material is important to the NETS and to the study of the LXX.

Other modules include the basic English translations such as the King James, the English Standard Version, and the New English Translation. Like the NETS mentioned above, the NET includes copious notes, highly prized among textual studies students. Added to this are commentaries such as the IVP New Bible Commentary and the Eerdmans Dictionary. Included as well are German, Italian, and Spanish bibles.

But, that’s not really the goal of the Original Languages Collection. While the focus seems to be on the Greek side of Scripture,  the collection includes several Hebrew modules as well:

HMT-W4
BHS Guide
BHS Latin Key
BDB
Concise DCH
Jenni-Westermann
Hebrew Strong’s
KM Hebrew Dictionary
Waltke Hebrew

Not only are several modules directed to the LXX in the original Greek but there are numerous modules aimed at the Greek New Testament, including lexicons, dictionaries, and critical texts. One of my favorites is the Louw and Nida Semantic Domains set.

Also include are resources aimed at bringing all parts of Scripture together, such as Gospels parallels and a tool designed to show how the NT uses the OT.

The entire package is $299.00 before any applicable discounts (if there are any) with the print value topping $2000.00. Not only is the cost nice, especially for students, but so is not having to use the space these books in print would occupy. Added to these factors, the tools included herein come in quite handy if you are going to engage in serious study of Scripture in its original languages, not to mention how Scripture uses and reuses itself (or, perhaps, how one author would reuse another author).

Discounts

There are numerous types of discounts available to the purchaser. You can find them and the process here. My only issue with the discounts program is that the price, once the discount is approved, is does not show up on the product page. The discounted price is available only in the cart. This is more of a convenience thing, really. There are also payment plans available.

Conclusion

Accordance 11 gives me, in an affordable way, the ability to have my library at my fingertips. While it is expansive, it does not overload my Mac. Rather, it acts very much like a native Apple app (if not better in many instances). I cannot express this enough, really. The speed, efficiency, and resource management Accordance 11 offers is, by far, the best in the business. Added to this is a non-taxing learning curve, Accordance 11 is ideal for anyone seeking to engage Scripture and biblical studies in the 21st century while building a library that is expansive, manageable, and always present.

upcoming sequel to MineCraft – UnderMineCraft

did you all hear about the sequel to minecraft?

under-minecraft

It’s called UnderMineCraft.

You join a leadership team that as a team is supposed to build a kingdom, grow that kingdom, and then protect that whole world from evil entities bent on destroying anything good.

You will have the same enemies.

You’ll have cave spiders,
creepers,
blazes,
magna cubes,
skeletons in the closet,
slime,
wolves (although they will often times where sheepskin)
and iron golems…

They are all out to get you, carve up your kingdom, and take away your subjects to dark dungeons in the middle of the earth.

church minecraftBut, instead of actually fighting these enemies, your real goal is to make sure your team doesn’t succeed unless you get all the credit. The intrigue comes in how to form alliances within the team against team leaders, each other, and parts of your world.

You work, mostly individually, trying to destroy the team from the inside out! You know you have won when the world is destroyed, your teammates are dead, but you get credit for trying really to be the leader! It’s like king of the mountain. If you aren’t the leader, no one else is safe.

You will build walls around yourself, around others, and make sure no one can get past them. You can construct hospitals too! Yup, in the sequel you will be able to construct real working hospitals to take care of the wounded escaping other UnderMineCraft worlds, but unfortunately, due to a glitch in the system, you automatically make the wounds worse. This becomes a benefit, really, because you get to know their weaknesses and use it against them!

While there are rules, you really get to write them yourself. I mean, there was a book, but it is outdated and honestly, you learn so much playing the game yourself, you can rewrite the code of the game’s maker.

I can’t wait to see this game hit the iOS.

a plug for Dr. @Steve_Runge’s resources on @Logos

Logos has a lot of Runge’s works on Sale:

Dr. Steve Runge wants to help everyone grasp the intricacies of biblical text, whether they know the original languages or not. To that end, he’s spent years studying discourse analysis and presenting his findings in ways that anyone can understand.

Filled with custom-designed slides and helpful illustrations, his High Definition Commentaries examine the linguistic and literary clues in the text, highlighting what you need to know. Each commentary follows the flow of a biblical book, presenting the big ideas of each passage and applying Dr. Runge’s linguistic and exegetical expertise to guide your study.

via Save on the Latest Resources from Dr. Steven Runge | LogosTalk.

I have several of them and highly recommend them. His newest commentary strikes significant blow to reading Romans as a singular voice of St. Paul — and not just because I’m mentioned in the book. Indeed, the High-Def NT is a must have.

So, if you are able, check them out, and pre-order the newest work on James. I promise you, nothing by Runge is made of straw.

The 6th day and Noah’s Rainbow Covenant

Landscape with Noah's Thank Offering (painting...
Landscape with Noah’s Thank Offering (painting circa 1803 by Joseph Anton Koch) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Genesis 1 contains a mystery.

1.26 reads, “Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.'”

Who is this “we”?

The answer(s) is simple, right?

For Christians, it is the Trinity. God is speaking to the Son and the Holy Spirit, although we never see this replicated, even in the New Testament.

For some, this is simply the so-called Royal We used by people like Queen Victoria.

The ArtScroll edition of the Tanak I have makes it into a question of Moses’s recognition of monotheism.

Academics point to this, mirror it with Babylonian usages and certain passages from Psalms to suggest Elohim is speaking to the divine court (sons of God, angels, etc…). I am inclined to agree with this.

But, one Rabbinical interpretation has it that God is speaking to the animals. After all, on the fifth day the first living creatures were brought forth. These living creatures populated the waters and the air (fish and fowl). On the beginning of the sixth day, God brings forth, again, living creatures but this time, on land.

And God said, ‘Let the earth bring forth living creatures of every kind: cattle and creeping things and wild animals of the earth of every kind.’ And it was so. (Genesis 1.24)

If Adam is a living soul (Genesis 2), then perhaps God is speaking to the living creatures — which makes the scene in the Garden (before Eve) look worse than it did before. After all, if “helper” is better translated as “correspondent” and after Adam could not correspond with any animal, God had to make an almost-man… well, you get my drift.

Anyway, fast forward to the flood, or rather, after the flood. There is a covenant made between God and Noah and Noah’s sons. Yet, that is not all. The covenant is not merely between Noan and all of his descendents, but…:

‘As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you,  and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. (Genesis 9.9–10)

The covenant between God and Noah is not merely with God and Noah, but included all animals. The language is similar to the original Creation accounts (Genesis 1 and Genesis 2–3).

By the way, the Noah story is actually another creation account.

So, maybe God is speaking to the animals when He says “let us…” (which, again, expands the scene in Genesis 2, doesn’t it?)

How closely are we connected to the animals (or, perhaps, the environment?)

Wesley, Sermon 134 , on the importance of doctrine

John Wesley Quote

There is this notion that John Wesley somehow cared very little for “orthodoxy, or right opinions,” and yet, we see throughout his sermons (which are official doctrinal standards in the United Methodist Church) a sound footing placed not on experience of emotions and subjective ideas, but on these right doctrines as expressed best in the three creeds (Apostles, Nicene, and Athanasian).

If his sermons are doctrinal standards (and they are) then this means we should based our doctrine moving forward on these sermons. In as such, I want to focus on one in particular (for now). This one, True Christianity Defended, has the basis of Wesley’s vision for the individual Christian. What we see is not a turning, or loosening of, from doctrine to nothing but good works (i.e., recent definitions of Social Justice). Rather, what is seen is a concrete call to these right opinions as matters of the heart and practice.

This post will be done in two parts. One focusing on Wesley’s view of doctrine and the second, focusing on Wesley’s view of practice. You can find it here if you would like to follow along.

Wesley is distressed at the lack of sound doctrinal teaching. If you look at the collected sermons, you will not teachings on various doctrinal points — The Trinity, Justification, etc… — and not just good works. Anyway, this part really nails it, I think.

We have likewise cause to give thanks to the Father of Lights, for that he hath not left himself without witness; but that there are those who now preach the gospel of peace, the truth as it is in Jesus. But how few are these in comparison of those (hoi kapeleuontes) who adulterate the word of God! how little wholesome food have we for our souls, and what abundance of poison! how few are there that, either in writing or preaching, declare the genuine gospel of Christ, in the simplicity and purity wherewith it is set forth in the venerable records of our own Church! And how are we inclosed on every side with those who, neither knowing the doctrines of our Church, nor the Scriptures, nor the power of God, have found out to themselves inventions wherewith they constantly corrupt others also!1

That last line is a doozy, ain’t it? Those who know nothing of the foundation of the Christian Church make up things as they go along. (I honestly blame the seminaries here who seem more intent on teaching innovation and bureaucracy than Scripture, Tradition, and Reason). First, this should tell us Wesley understood well the reasoning behind Tradition. Second, it tells us Wesley did not care for “new” or “innovative” because they more often than not betray the lack of connection the inventor has with Christianity.

What had gotten Wesley so riled up is that he believed the Anglican Church (and perhaps the Church Universal) as infected with debasing doctrines. Just before this quote, he has harsh words for his community, words I dare say would never be uttered today by many United Methodists,

How faithful she was once to her Lord, to whom she had been betrothed as a chaste virgin, let not only the writings of her sons, which shall be had in honour throughout all generations, but also the blood of her martyrs, speak;—a stronger testimony of her faithfulness than could be given by words, even

By all the speeches of the babbling earth.

But how is she now become an harlot! How hath she departed from her Lord! How hath she denied him, and listened to the voice of strangers! both,

I. In respect of doctrine; and,
II. Of practice.

Honestly, though, imagine a pastor standing up in a local UMC congregation and telling it that we had gone astray because we had not listened to Scripture (writings of her sons) and Tradition (blood of the martyrs).

In what areas did we go astray, the Staff Parish committee would say, as they were preparing the letter to tell the Bishop the pastor had gone insane.

The pastor, watching the Trustees nominate from the congregation people who can only be bivocational bouncers-slash-pallbearers, says simply,

In doctrine and in practice.

Doesn’t that (the seemingly sole focus on Scripture) sound a bit… fundamentalist! Hardly.  While we can imagine Wesley was a “man of one book,” Wesley did not discourage many others books besides — but actually recommended many, many books.  He writes,

It cannot be said that all our writers are setters forth of strange doctrines. There are those who expound the oracles of God by the same Spirit wherewith they were written; and who faithfully cleave to the solid foundation which our Church hath laid agreeable thereto; touching which we have His word who cannot lie, that “the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” There are those also, (blessed be the Author of every good gift!) who, as wise master-builders, build thereon, not hay or stubble, but gold and precious stones,—but that charity which never faileth.

Believe it or not, Wesley valued Tradition, albeit a firm — apostolic — Tradition. He knew that Scripture and Tradition could be expounded upon (the former) and expanded (the latter) — but when one dismissed either of them, substituting their own ideas and experiences for the Christian message, then this was what actually damaged the Church. “Babblings of the earth” are those things separated from Christian Tradition.

After detailing some issues with Bishops of the Anglican Church who had tried to focus more on works than on faith, Wesley concludes:

But why should we seek further witnesses of this Are there not many present here who are of the same opinion who believe that a good moral man, and a good Christian, mean the same thing that a man need not trouble himself any further, if he only practises as much Christianity as was written over the Heathen Emperor’s gate, — ” Do as thou wouldest be done unto;” especially if he be not an infidel, or a heretic, but believes all that the Bible and the Church say is true

Oh snap. You mean Wesley believed there was a difference between morality (of which anyone could have) and Christianity? In other sermons, Wesley went far to say atheists had better morality and works than Christians! Indeed, Wesley believed there was a difference between morality and Christianity, separated by doctrine. Notice the last line here. Wesley honors both Scripture and Tradition (that…the Church say is true). Fr. John is pointed here. It takes more to be a Christian than morality — it takes more to be a Christian and moral than to simply honor the “golden rule.”

I would not be understood, as if I despised these things, as if I undervalued right opinions, true morality, or a zealous regard for the constitution we have received from our fathers. Yet what are these things, being alone What will they profit us in that day What will it avail to tell the Judge of all) “Lord, I was not as other men were; not unjust, not an adulterer, not a liar, not an immoral man” Yea, what will it avail, if we have done all good, as well as done no harm, — if we have given all our goods to feed the poor, — and have not charity How shall we then look on those who taught us to sleep on and take our rest, though “the love of the Father was not in us” or who, teaching us to seek salvation by works, cut us off from receiving that faith freely, whereby alone the love of God could have been shed abroad in our hearts

Does this need explanation? Wesley honored the Tradition he received as needful, the doctrines he received as just and required, but demanded morality equally. In the next section of the sermon, he turns to practice (orthopraxy).

We are condemned if we consider ethics as equal to or primary to doctrine. Equally, we are condemned if we consider doctrine as unimportant. 

If this is our (United Methodist Church) doctrinal standard, then why do we suffer through those who do the exact thing condemned herein?

Wouldn’t those who think that nothing exists outside of Scripture find a better home in the Southern Baptist Convention while those who think subjective experience and emotionalism reign find a better home in the UCC?

What makes us Wesleyan if Wesley would not recognize us?

  1.  John Wesley, Sermons, on Several Occasions (Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc., 1999).

Response: Is it better to be faithful or to love?

I do not believe in censoring and I believe differences of opinion are essential to growing as people. Yesterday, my friend and co-blogger Scott wrote a post that my other friend, Bob Chapman, took issue with. I invited Bob write a response. Below is that response. 


 

debate

So, how should a person of devout belief who owns a store act when a customer wishes to make a purchase for something that you feel goes against your beliefs?

Scott Fritzsche gave one answer to this question. Is his answer the only answer from the point of view of faith?

My initial answer to Mr. Fritzsche on the blog post was an answer looking at the question from a legal standpoint. However, I am going to answer this time from the standpoint of faith. Let’s use the law as Paul said to use it, as our nanny preparing us for grace, and move on to looking at this from the point of view of Scripture.

So, how did Jesus teach those outside his community of faith? There are multiple examples of Jesus being engaging and welcoming of those who were outside the community.

In one case, Jesus engaged with a Samaritan woman. Which is more surprising for a Jewish male when Jesus lived: talking to a woman or talking to a Samaritan? Yet, Jesus actually identified himself as the Messiah to the Samaritan woman at the well. This was a shamed person living with a man outside of marriage. Who else did Jesus directly self-identify as the Messiah?

In another case, Jesus called a Canaanite woman a dog (or maybe a bitch who was pestering him?). Yet, Jesus granted her request by healing her daughter.

Does this sound like not engaging with someone outside your tradition because that person isn’t living the way you would like? Is that what Jesus did?

I wonder how Barronelle Stutzman would react if, for an important life event, a person of a progressive position with whom she had done business with for around a decade decide to stop doing business with her support of her support of something on an election ballot. Washington State has had a few things besides marijuana that has separated the liberals and the conservatives in the state:

  • Support for Clint Didier. I don’t know if Stutzman supported Didier, but he is a religious conservative living in a nearby county.
  • Saying that she voted against Referendum 74 (Benton County rejected gay marriage with 63% of the voters).
  • Having an Ellen Craswell for Governor sign in her front yard back in the 1990s?

My guess is that Stutzman would not care to listen to anything the progressive had to say to her again. Maybe that is one of the reasons for Summary of the Law?

When the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together, and one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. ‘Teacher, which commandment in the law is the greatest?’ He said to him, ‘“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself.” On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.’

If we are to be leaven to change the world, we have to be living with people in the world. We have to be taking part in what is going on in the world. We have to treat others with the same respect with which we want to be treated. Only then will our point of view be given a hearing.

As a whole, the people of Washington State are among the least religious in the country. Can Christians, whether progressive or conservative, afford to alienate those who aren’t Christians in such a climate?

There is also another reason to treat others with the same respect with which we would want to be treated. We just might be wrong. Being wrong from a position of faith is still being wrong.

Has Stutzman considered the implications of what it might mean for “…the soul of Jonathan was bound to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul” (1 Samuel 18.1)?

(As some of you are having a knee-jerk reaction right now, I’ll remind you that the definition of homosexuality does not require a person to have sexual relations with another person of the same sex, only to love a person of the same sex. And David’s statement in 2 Samuel 1 about Jonathan should give you even more pause when you know the actual definition of homosexuality.)

Maybe, in the end, Stutzman needs to consider what Paul said. “And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing” (1 Corinthians 13.2).

Actually, that is good advice for all of us. It isn’t enough to be right or mean well. Do we love? My guess is that all of us come up short in that department. God isn’t finished with any of us yet, I’m afraid.

(All scripture quoted from the New Revised Standard Version, Anglicized Edition.)

Robert Chapman is an active Episcopalian living in Everett, Washington—about 30 miles north of Seattle. He has been a technical communicator for 25 years, mostly working for IT and aerospace firms during that time. When he can’t do it, he dreams about riding his Honda VTX 1800 motorcycle through the second best scenery in the United States (only second to West Virginia).