in the (e)mail form @AccordanceBible – Accordance 11

lamp_finalThanks to Accordance for sending me this software bundle. I’ll speak more about what is in it later. Warning, this is my first Accordance package, so I cannot compare it to 10 or below. My focus will be on the ease of Accordance and what it can do (learning curve, basic operation, etc…). This is the collection I am working with. For those who want to see what is new in Accordance 11, see here.

First, straight out of the box, it downloaded, installed, and “indexed” quick, easy, and without pain to my Mac. Another thing? I get to use Dropbox to store some data.

I am going to spend some considerable amount of time with it over the next few weeks. So, I encourage you to ask questions — what do you look for in a study software platform? Why do you think you need/don’t need it?

For me, the “why” is very simple. Because of the volume of information out there, I need something that will help compile it. I need something I can carry with me. I need a roving library. I don’t really do sermon prep — mainly because when I do preach, I will use the lectionary. But I do do a lot of study and research. So, I need something that aids me in this.

From Accordance,

For the Student

  • Forget Pen and Paper: Highlight and add notes to any book.
  • Leave the Books at Home: Accordance links your grammars and textbooks directly to the Bible.
  • Cite Your Sources: Get instant bibliographic info when you copy and paste.

For the Teacher/Professor

  • Go to the Sources: Explore Biblical Greek and Hebrew, Dead Sea Scrolls, Rabbinics, Church Fathers, and more.
  • Trust Your Materials: Accordance offers research-grade texts and scholarly tools.
  • Present Your Findings: Enhance your teaching with stunning visuals and export options.

Equally, I have downloaded the iOS app for both my iPhone 5c and iPad 3. It is nicely streamed lined on those devices as well.

Again, let me say that I am impressed with this native Mac platform. More to come.

Quote of the Day: Abraham and Watson – “Creedal Faith”

English: Jesus Christ - detail from Deesis mos...

English: Jesus Christ – detail from Deesis mosaic, Hagia Sophia, Istanbul (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In this month’s Circuit Rider (the print magazine of Ministry Matters), Drs. William Abraham. They conclude,

Wesley knew what so many of us have forgotten today: the set of claims that we make about God will shape the ways in which we view the world around us and will come to bear significantly upon the way we live. We all have a way of looking at the world, but not all ways of looking at the world are equally virtuous or healthy. Not all ways of looking at the world are equally true. The witness of the Church through the centuries is that the most virtuous and truest way of looking at the world is through the lens of our creedal faith. For United Methodists these are given in our Articles of Religion and Confession of Faith of the United Evangelical Brethren. The Holy Trinity brought all things into being, created humankind, mourned our rebellion, became incarnate in Jesus Christ, taught us how to live, bore the sins of the world on the cross, rose bodily from the dead, and will come again in glory. That narrative—if you internalize it—will shape the way you view everything. And so, as we say at the beginning of the book, “Belief matters.” It matters a great deal.

They make a few interesting points in this article:

  • Wesley didn’t provide a creed because he was operating within a people for which the Creed was knowledge and accepted.
  • Orthodoxy is what leads us Christians into a fuller life with God. It is not a litmus test, but something like fertilizer.

I am so very thankful I was given the room to grow into orthodoxy, battling it and questioning it along the way. Indeed, there is a difference between orthodoxy and fundamentalism — as much difference as there is between letter and spirit.

The challenge for me is to continue to “think,” “to think and let think,” and yet grow in orthodoxy. (Not to say orthodoxy is not thinking, but like any system, if can become based on the letter). Therefore, I believe we look towards the great mysteries of the faith. Like Clement of Alexandria and others among the Church Fathers, we have to recognize that Christians are on different journeys. Unlike some of them, I don’t think we should judge, coerce, or otherwise those “not up to us” (as in fact, we may be the immature ones if we do this!).

If you get a chance, read their article and their book, Key Beliefs of the United Methodist Church.

i still disagree with Watson about Mark’s Messianic secret… 

20th century reading reveals super-secret details of the life of an allegorical novella

English: Photo of Jonathan G. Meath portraying...

“Snow is the air, election days have passed, the leaves are brown and another non-scholar has a book out with a “startling revelation” about Jesus. It’s almost time for me!” English: Photo of Jonathan G. Meath portraying Santa Claus. Date approximate. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

By now, you’ve read that Simcha Jacobovici  and Barrie Wilson are publishing a new book along with a new documentary proving that Jesus and Mary Magdalene were married and had two sons. This was expected, as this book has been on the “on hold” shelf (or whatever it is you want to call) for a while now.

There are two perspectives you need to see first.

One is Dr. Robert Cargill. I stress the doctor part for various reasons. Unlike others, he has the academic chops, prowess, and beard to actually comment on this. In 2013 he wrote,

Anyone attempting an allegorical interpretation of Joseph and Aseneth, and arguing for anything other than an apology for why Joseph married a non-Israelite (and the daughter of a pagan priest at that), is grasping at speculative straws, and attempting (like the author of the Syriac text) to stretch the text into something it was never designed to do. Whether it be a gnostic interpretation of the text, or an attempt to argue something truly ridiculous and sensational, for example, that the story somehow represents Jesus and Mary Magdalene (as “Bride of God”, requiring an appeal to separate Gnostic texts like Pistis Sophia, the Gospel of Mary, and the Gospel of Philip), and that this allegorical representation from sixcenturiesafter the life of Jesus, relying on the weaving together of multiple Gnostic texts composed a full century after the life of Jesus, somehow provides “evidence” of aspects of Jesus’ actual, historical life – such allegorical interpretations are the height of unsubstantiated speculation.

Cargill has a review (since most of the book is now available online) up.

Another is Dr. Mark Goodacre who actually devotes time to literary practices of early Christianity was on Good Morning America.

More ABC US news | ABC Health News

By the way, Goodacre wrote a piece on this in 2013.

One of the reasons this should be dismissed is the dual claim of lost and gospel attached to this story. As Cargill noted in the linked-to piece, the story has long been known and is not actually a gospel. It simply fits as a novella.

Further, other authors long before Jacobovichi and Wilson has noted supposed parallels, such as Edith Humprey’s excellent book on Joseph and Aseneth, 

Certainly, we have no parallel more exact than that of the Christian Eucharist and Chrismation, and yet the book is lacking in unambiguously specific Christian references. The paucity of evidence concerning Judaisms at the turn of the eras (in which earliest ‘Christianity’ is to be situated), and our access to this time through mostly later texts, adds to our difficulty in making sense of such phrases, and may continue to lead some, such as Ross Kraemer, to decide for a later date for our piece. It is becoming clearer that several concepts that we normally associate with Christianity were more broadly acceptable in this time of formation—for example, evidence for belief in ‘two powers’ in heaven, a mystical teaching later proscribed by the rabbis (cf. A.F. Segal, ‘Heavenly Ascent in Hellenistic Judaism, Early Christianity and their Environment’, ANRW, II.23.2, especially pp. 1352–68; idem, Two Powers in Heaven: Rabbinic Reports about Christianity and Gnosticism [Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1977]). Such fluidity between turn of the era Judaisms (which included formative Christianity) may possibly apply to liturgical language that we now know only in the Christian context….


our considerations of genre forbid that we see in Aseneth simply a hidden apology for an alternate temple.1

Humprey’s book, unfortunately is not cited. Perhaps it is because of her stern and well-evidenced warning against rampant parallelism, hasty interpretation, misunderstanding of genre (as well as the inability to properly access the context).

(Anthony Le Donne, James McGrath, Jim West, Greg Carey, Steve Caruso, Jim Davila, Jimmy Akin)

By the way, there is now a Bingo game for the upcoming press conference.

  1. Edith McEwan Humphrey, Joseph and Aseneth (Guides to Apocrypha and Pseudepigrapha; Sheffield, England: Sheffield Academic Press, 2000), 59–61.

United Methodist Centrist Movement is a Third Way, but it is not Via Media


English: (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There is another plan aiming to combat not the problems of the United Methodist Church but manifestations of those problems. It is put forth by members of an Annual Conference in Ohio. They call it a centrist plan and it is a third way. However, as I must remind you, the middle or third way mentality is not via media.

Let me also say that like others who have taken the time to write a plan, prayerfully, I trust that these authors have crafted this plan with a love of the United Methodist Church and a distaste for the constant wrangling over one issue. Any perceived attacks on them in this post is due not to my intention, but to my inability to fully craft it with as much grace as possible. I am frank, and sometimes that comes across rough. That is not my intention. I honor those who put something forward in good faith.

Others, more capable than I, have addresses some of the issues. My goal in this is to address it from my position, that of via media.1

The first line is likely a deal breaker. It reads:

The United Methodist Centrist Movement is made up of clergy and laity who love our denomination and believe the local church is the hope of the world

Isn’t this one of the problems in the UMC? We has forgotten that we are supposed to proclaim that Jesus Christ is the hope of the world. Second, we have forgotten our connexional foundation and the universality of the UMC’s polity. It should be that what one UMC congregation teaches as doctrine and intent, another does as well.2 Indeed, this very line is at the heart of the problems in the UMC — our increasingly small communities centered not on our connexion but on individual personalities or geographic locations. We even see the rise of individualistic, and often baseless, interpretations of Scripture far, far removed from the greater Christian orthodoxy and Wesleyan orthodoxy not to mention Reason and Tradition. We cannot even agree on the role and definition of “experience.”3

They propose to do away with the General Conference, the only real voice for the United Methodist Church. As Watson has said, there is a bureaucratic mess generated with each GC. Yet, instead of tackling that particular issue, they want to do away with it and instead allow regional conferences to take its place. This would, within a short time, create the bureaucracy of the GC at the regional level. It would also lead to regional conferences becoming denominations within a short time. Not only that, it would likely cause us in the United States to abandon the voices from today’s Central Conferences, given they are more conservative than many of our jurisdictions. This is not the image I want to see promoted. This is colonialism, even if it is a reverse of what we usually understand as colonialism.

Their call to the current itinerant system is interesting. I agree it needs to be overhauled, with something along the lines of forced itinerant systems. One of the issues I believe we face today is the cult of personality, where pastors stay too long to be effective. This occurs in our larger UMC churches, where the pastors suddenly become the dominant voice. Not the DS, the Bishop, or even Staff-Parish. The pastor is now in control. Overall, I am not sure their plan here is all that bad.

Their section on “Mutual Respect” is more American than anything. It gives power to those who break the BoD, ending any responsibility for their actions. What good is it then to have the Discipline if it is merely a soft guide?  Mutual respect is first earned when we share in mutual responsibility. What about the mutual responsibility and accountability of Bishops? What about the respect to the Book of Discipline and our individual responsibility to it.

In the end, this plan is truly a third way plan because it runs away from the actual root of our problems. In effect, if something is a problem, they only seek to change the reaction to it, and not the root. That is not a pattern we need to set.

There is nothing here in rediscovering our doctrine, our creeds, our connection to the Great Tradition. Indeed, there is little in here that actually moves us forward, rather than backwards (congregationalism).

The Centrist Movement is Third Way, but it is not via media.

You can find and you should read the plan here: The platform and beliefs of the United Methodist Centrist Movement.


the best thing about this plan is that it has killed A Way Forward. Rev. Mike Slaughter is one of the authors/supporters of this plan. 

I’ll edit this later, but wanted to put it out there now. 

  1. I do not speak for VMM, but speak as one who believes via media is the correct way forward.
  2. Note, this does not mean conformity in thought, but unity in doctrine.
  3. Experience means the Christian “new life” and it is but a tool in interpreting Scripture.

#UMC Bishops issue statement calling for Unity

: United Methodist Church

: United Methodist Church (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

As bishops of The United Methodist Church, our hearts break because of the divisions that exist within the church.  We have been in constant prayer and conversation and affirm our consecration vow “to guard the faith, to seek the unity and to exercise the discipline of the whole church.” We recognize that we are one church in a variety of contexts around the world and that bishops and the church are not of one mind about human sexuality. Despite our differences, we are united in our commitment to be in ministry for and with all people.  We are also united in our resolve to lead the church together to fulfill its mandate—to make disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. As we do so, we call on all United Methodists to pray for us and for one another.

via Bishops call United Methodists to prayer in human sexuality statement – The United Methodist Church.

My concerns are several. After all, the debate on human sexuality is one portion, but is it the root?

  • Yes, we are all committed to ministry, but this is an issue as well. If you view an LGBT person as a complete sinner, then you will do ministry to them whereas if you don’t view them as a sinner, then you will do ministry with them.
  • There are differences on basic theology. I’m not talking just about Christology, but likewise congregationalism and even soft-Calvinism. It is this that is the root, in my opinion.
  • This ignores a real controversy of people simply ignoring the Book of Discipline at their whim.

It remains to be seen what this will do to the two sides. I suspect the softness of the language will excite the extreme left, destroy the optimism of many in the middle and via media, and anger the extreme right.

However, we pray for unity.

Quote of the day – George Orwell on #Pacifism

Those who “abjure” violence can only do so because others are committing violence on their behalf.

via George Orwell, “Notes on Nationalism,” May, 1945 .

Thought this might start a conversation…

Solution Aversion… goes with Theory of Motivated Reasoning

Fuqua School of Business

Fuqua School of Business (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Imagine if the cure to a problem went against your political leanings… you are then more likely to admit that the problem does not exist.

“Logically, the proposed solution to a problem, such as an increase in government regulation or an extension of the free market, should not influence one’s belief in the problem. However, we find it does,” said co-author Troy Campbell, a Ph.D. candidate at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business. “The cure can be more immediately threatening than the problem.”

via Denying Problems When We Don’t Like the Solutions | Duke Today.

I can see this explaining so many things from climate change to gun control. And also why Moderates are so mistrusted by each fringe.

The worst part about people is their humanity.


Book Review of @Energion’s “Worshiping with Charles Darwin”

There are a few names unmentionable, at least in the positive sense, from the Christian pulpit. One of them, if not the main one of them, is Charles Darwin, the 19th century scientist many accuse of creating evolutionary science. But, there are more than a number of Christians who believe science and faith are co-habitable. This number, we hope, grows every day. And this is where the problem lies. Pastors are having a difficult time presenting science and faith together due to a lack of education on the topic or because they simply do not know how. There are plenty of books about science and faith, but only a few on how to use them together. There is one, however, incorporating them. Cornwall’s book is a book of sermons and essays.

This is a pastoral account, almost like an autobiography, of bringing forth God’s message out of the two books, Scripture and Nature. As one who has read Cornwall considerably, I am neither surprised nor let down at the amount of work in these sermons. They exist, ever etched into someone’s mind, as a real method of worshiping the Most High God by celebrating how he formed the world. The book begins with a lengthy introduction wherein Cornwall tells you of his journey from Young Earth Creationism to this robust faith presented in this volume. Many of us who have traversed the same plane will recognize the same highway pit-stops along the way. This is not a story about someone losing their faith, but one where someone finds a faith richer and fuller than he has known before.

Following this are two parts, one with sermons and the other essays. Cornwall uses these short statements to explain further the relationship between faith and science. The sermons he delivered while the essays are former blogposts, all are crafted for both the subject and the audience. What does Cornwall really do? He doesn’t destroy the Christian faith, as I imagine some of his detractors would accuse him of, but instead leads us along the way to a better, more honest faith.

English: "A Venerable Orang-outang",...

English: “A Venerable Orang-outang”, a caricature of Charles Darwin as an ape published in The Hornet, a satirical magazine Deutsch: Man sieht Darwin als Affen dargestellt, was eine Anspielung auf seine Evolutionstheorie sein soll. Seiner Meinung nach entwickelten sich die Menschen aus den Affen, was damals eine völlig neue Vorstellung war. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

To be frank, it is difficult to review sermons, although not all of the book is made up of sermons. Sermons are meant to be given rather than read. Even the poorest sermon can sound remarkable if given properly. So I will not judge them as such. Rather, when I read them I tried to see if they were accomplishing what Cornwall intended. He does the job well. The sermons are exactly what you expect from sermons — rooted in Scripture, rooted in the Christian faith, and yet applicable to the modern world. No doubt, this is going to be difficult for some to digest, but the sermons (and essays) approach the Christian as a Christian who is in need of moving forward. Yes, Cornwall declares, the Books of God are applicable, practical and compatible. I would hope, and pray, that more pastors seek to implement what Cornwall has done, else we subcumb to St. Augustine’s warning about looking like fools for following superstitions (disguised as theology). God helps us and God bless Robert Cornwall.

Tertullian and St. John Chrysostom on Isaiah 45.7

The Fall depicted in the Sistine Chapel by Mic...

The Fall depicted in the Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo (Photo credit: Wikipedia) WHY DO THEY HAVE BELLY BUTTONS!

The verse in English, Hebrew, and Greek (LXX):

I make the light, I create the darkness;
author alike of wellbeing and woe,
I, the LORD, do all these things. (REB)

יוֹצֵ֥ר אוֹר֙ וּבוֹרֵ֣א חֹ֔שֶׁךְ עֹשֶׂ֥ה שָׁל֖וֹם וּב֣וֹרֵא רָ֑ע אֲנִ֥י יְהוָ֖ה עֹשֶׂ֥ה כָל־אֵֽלֶּה׃ ס

Ἐγὼ ἡ κατασκευάσας φῶς, καὶ ποιήσας σκότος, ὁ ποιῶν εἰρήνην, καὶ κτίζων κακά· ἐγὼ Κύριος ὁ Θεὸς, ὁ ποιῶν πάντα ταῦτα.

This is an interesting discussion to have, considering the the nature of evil.

3.1 Seeing therefore, too, these cases occur in persecutions more than at other times, as there is then among us more of proving or rejecting, more of abasing or punishing, it must be that their general occurrence is permitted or commanded by Him at whose will they happen even partially; by Him, I mean, who says, “I am He who make peace and create evil,”—that is, war, for that is the antithesis of peace. But what other war has our peace than persecution? If in its issues persecution emphatically brings either life or death, either wounds or healing, you have the author, too, of this. “I will smite and heal, I will make alive and put to death.” “I will burn them,” He says, “as gold is burned; and I will try them,” He says, “as silver is tried,” for when the flame of persecution is consuming as, then the stedfastness of our faith is proved.1

St. John Chrysostom says somewhat the same thing. He breaks away sin from evil, suggesting that evil (natural disasters and other things that chastise us) is in fact God ordained.

5. There is then evil, which is really evil; fornication, adultery, covetousness, and the countless dreadful things, which are worthy of the utmost reproach and punishment. Again there is evil, which rather is not evil, but is called so, famine, pestilence, death, disease, and others of a like kind. For these would not be evils. On this account I said they are called so only. Why then? Because, were they evils, they would not have become the sources of good to us, chastening our pride, goading our sloth, and leading us on to zeal, making us more attentive. “For when,” saith one, “he slew them, then they sought him, and they returned, and came early to God.” He calls this evil therefore which chastens them, which makes them purer, which renders them more zealous, which leads them on to love of wisdom; not that which comes under suspicion and is worthy of reproach; for that is not a work of God, but an invention of our own will, but this is for the destruction of the other. He calls then by the name of evil the affliction, which arises from our punishment; thus naming it not in regard to its own nature, but according to that view which men take of it.2


  1. Tertullian, “De Fuga in Persecutione,” in Fathers of the Third Century, ANF.
  2. John Chrysostom, “Three Homilies Concerning the Power of Demons,” in Saint Chrysostom: On the Priesthood, Ascetic Treatises, Select Homilies and Letters, Homilies on the Statues (ed. Philip Schaff; trans. T. P. Brandram; vol. 9; A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church, First Series; New York: Christian Literature Company, 1889), 9182.

The @Logos Digital Hymnal in #Logos6

I am not a singer, but I do like the idea of having a small hymnal at my whim. Plus, this gives me hope of including denominational hymnals one day. Anyway, it plays MIDI files, includes images of the hymns (words and music) as well as printed words. You can find it here.

Here is a screenshot:

Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 11.28.10 AM

The MIDI’s are not available on iOS, however, but honestly… MIDI’s should be used for 2 things: Geocities and hearing the tune.

Conrad Hyers on the Narrative Form of Genesis 1

Chaos (cosmogony)

Chaos (cosmogony) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is something few people get, or accept. It is also why I don’t buy Young Earth Creationism and yet still maintain a high view of Scripture. The language of Genesis 1 (different in order and style from Genesis 2) cannot be removed out of the ancient context.

A basic mistake through much of the history of interpreting Genesis 1 is the failure to identify the type of literature and linguistic usage it represents. This has often led, in turn, to various attempts at bringing Genesis into harmony with the latest scientific theory or the latest scientific theory into harmony with Genesis. Such efforts might be valuable, and indeed essential, if it could first be demonstrated (rather than assumed) that the Genesis materials belonged to the same class of literature and linguistic usage as modern scientific discourse.

A careful examination of the 6-day account of creation, however, reveals that there is a serious category-mistake involved in these kinds of comparisons. The type of narrative form with which Genesis 1 is presented is not natural history but a cosmogony. It is like other ancient cosmogonies in the sense that its basic structure is that of movement from chaos to cosmos. Its logic, therefore, is not geological or biological but cosmological. On the other hand it is radically unlike other ancient cosmogonies in that it is a monotheistic cosmogony; indeed it is using the cosmogonic form to deny and dismiss all polytheistic cosmogonies and their attendant worship of the gods and goddesses of nature. In both form and content, then, Genesis I reveals that its basic purposes are religious and theological, not scientific or historical.

via The Narrative Form of Genesis 1: Hyers.

This is why any debate on interpretations of Genesis 1 must begin and end with an examination of the passage, including context, language, and canonical parallels.

This originally appeared in the Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation 36.4 (1984) 208-15.