How to Choose a Bible for Preaching

Today’s guest post is by Randy Brown, creator of BibleBuyingGuide.com. Randy reviews Bibles in all price ranges to help people make the best choice for their budget. His mission is to promote Bible reading and study, and to share quality publishing.

Shot of a bible with a very small depth of fie...

Shot of a bible with a very small depth of field. Not quite focusing on the extremely fine Bible paper used, but it should help get the point across. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve never been one to just pick a Bible at random. A Bible has to suit a specific purpose. It has to meet certain needs.

You don’t just pick any bowling ball, bat, glove, club, bow, shoe, tire, car wax, gasoline, car, house, suit, television, DVD player, or computer when you have a specific job to do. You choose them for your specific need or purpose.

A Bible is no different. Sure, you can preach from any Bible you can get your hands on. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a better choice for your purpose—one that will make you a more effective preacher.

Answering practical questions can help you determine what kind of Bible to use:

Do you need something you can read from while it lays on the pulpit?

Do you want to hold it and walk around?

Do you need to hold it in one hand while you hold a microphone in the other?

Do you need room for notes?

Do you need a modern translation?

Do you need clear section headings?

Do you need alternate translations?

Do you need a verse-by-verse format?

Do you need your sermons outlined beside the text?

Do you need large print?

Every preacher I know will answer those questions differently—because we all have different needs. The best Bible for me won’t necessarily be the best Bible for you. With the amazing number of choices we have today, how do we decide?

What you don’t need

While preachers do need tools for study and sermon prep, they don’t necessarily need those tools in the Bible they preach from. Some of these features get in the way of the text. They can make the text small and the Bible large. You have enough to worry about when you’re preaching. Don’t add to that worry with a Bible that’s awkwardly large or text that’s awkwardly small.

Just because a Bible has amazing features doesn’t mean it’s a good Bible to preach from.

english-standard-version

 

Why you need multiple Bibles

Not every Bible does everything equally well. It’s why you own more than one pair of shoes. The shoes you wear to funerals aren’t the same shoes you wear for running and hiking.

I recommend having different Bibles for different purposes. It’s possible to use just one Bible for everything, but you’ve heard the saying: “Jack of all trades and master of none.”

What you want inside

You have to decide how much and what kind of information you need in your Bible.

Do you want complete sermon outlines?

Do you want chain references?

Do you just want the text?

Do you want someone else’s commentary?

Do you need book introductions?

Regardless of what tools a Bible contains, the most important thing is the text. You will have to decide what else you need. Remember—this is a Bible for preaching, not for biblical scholarship.

Where you put it

Consider how and where the Bible will be used. Do you preach in more than one location?

Pulpit

English: A Bible next to the pulpit of Orchard...

A Bible next to the pulpit of Orchard Road Presbyterian Church in . (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Pulpits come in all sizes and angles. Some will have room for a large Bible and a notebook and others only have enough room for a small Bible. Some churches use music stands for pulpits. Laying the Bible on the pulpit keeps your hands free. This is more important if you’re holding a microphone.

Larger print makes it easier to see from a distance. Some like to use larger print so they can see it from a few feet away.

A disadvantage to not carrying it around with you as you move around the room is you have to go back to the pulpit to read.

Hand

Holding your Bible when reading has the advantage of moving around without having to go back to the pulpit to read. A disadvantage is that you have to go back to the pulpit to read your notes if they’re not in your Bible.

To preach with a Bible in hand, the Bible needs to be easy to handle.

How you preach

How do you prefer to organize your notes? Do you tuck them in your Bible, a notebook, or a separate page?

If you’re preaching without a notebook or separate outline, you’ll want room for notes. If you use a notebook, you should consider how you’ll handle it during your sermon. If you preach from a page, the page can lay next to your Bible or even be a loose sheet that you move from page to page.

Getting the right size

The ideal Bible is compact enough to handle and large enough to read. It might even have some room to write notes. In my experience, most people prefer ultrathin large print or personal size large print.

Larger Bibles either have more information in them or larger print. If the Bible is only used on a large pulpit, then you won’t have to worry about the size of the Bible. However, large pages can be awkward to turn.

If you carry your Bible around to read from, then a large Bible will get heavy after a while. It might not feel heavy to you when you first pick it up—after all, it’s only four pounds. But after about 20 minutes of holding a four-pound Bible, your mind might not be on your message.

Small Bibles are great for carrying, but they usually have small text. The more extra content they have, the smaller the text.

Many preachers prefer a personal-sized Bible with large print for preaching. They’re easy to carry and have readable text.

If you’re holding a microphone and a Bible while you’re preaching, it’s essential to have a Bible that is easy to hold in one hand.

Many preachers like to use an 8.5″ x 11″ sheet folded in half for their notes. They want this folded sheet to fit perfectly within the Bible when it’s closed. This means the pages need to be larger than 8.5″ x 5.5″.

Many people I’ve worked with consider the optimum size to be around 9″ x 6″ x 1.5″ for laying on the pulpit and around 8″ x 5″ x 1.5″ for holding in the hand.

Finding your place

A thumb index is helpful for turning to a book quickly. Most thumb indexes have three books per tab. This gets you in the ballpark, but you still have to turn pages until you find the book. Some indexes, such as the one found in the Cambridge Concord, have one book per tab for the most popular books.

An alternative is adding your own tabs. The advantage of tabs is there is one tab per book so you can turn directly to the book you want. A disadvantage to tabs is they can tear the page with use.

Another alternative is marking the edges of the pages or using sticky notes.

Keeping it open

Laying flat is a must for a preaching Bible. It’s frustrating to open to your text just to have your Bible close on you when you move your hand away.

Sewn bindings allow the Bible to lay open and stay open. Some that are edge lined might take some breaking in but they will lay flat at Genesis 1:1.

A Bible that you have to hold open to preach from will work against you and not for you. This can be especially difficult if you’re holding a mic in one hand and the Bible in the other.

One alternative is to lay something across your pages to help hold it open while it lays on the pulpit. I don’t recommend this practice as you will constantly be moving and shifting things around in order to turn pages and this will interrupt your train of thought.

To really be useful it needs to lay flat on its own.

Holding the Bible

Some like to fold their Bible in half so they only have to deal with half the width. Others like to roll it up like a newspaper. This way they can hold it in one hand with relative ease. This is especially helpful when the wind is blowing. Sewn bindings are a must for holding up to this type of abuse.

Layout

The layout is how the text and information is presented on the page. There are two major choices for modern Bibles: paragraph and verse by verse.

Paragraph

Paragraph format sets the text in paragraphs, much like a novel. Poetry is usually set to verse format and sometimes Old Testament quotes are in an offset text. Paragraph format is easier for reading and is great for keeping things in context. However, verse numbers are usually superscript, which can make finding specific verses difficult during a sermon. Some paragraphs are also wider, which can make reading from them a little difficult for those with bifocals.

Verse by verse

With a verse-by-verse layout, each verse begins on a new line. This is easier for finding specific verses quickly. Many preachers prefer to preach from verse-by-verse format as verses in paragraphs might take extra time to find.

Column width

Français : Bible Chouraqui.

Bible Chouraqui. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Text that is presented in two columns usually have narrow columns that are narrower than text presented in a single column. This will affect readability—especially if you wear bifocals. You might have to move your head from side to side to read single-column layouts. Also, if the column is too wide it might be difficult to find which line to read next. This is especially true if you’re reading at an angle.

Section headings

Section headings are short descriptions of the passage that follows, usually covering a paragraph or two. They are great for scanning the pages quickly. They help break up the text into shorter, readable sections. I find this visually appealing as it gives the page more white space.

I’ve added to a sermon on the fly because a section heading caught my eye. I’ve also used them to find something that I kind of knew where it was but I needed a little help finding it as I was scanning the page.

One problem with section headings is that preachers tend to stop at the end of a section. Sometimes you will want to continue on. It’s up to your text and topic to decided, but don’t let section headings do the deciding for you. They can also be distracting and can include theological bias.

Chapter summaries

Rather than having section headings within the text, some Bibles, particularly KJVs, have chapter summaries at the beginning of every chapter. They are essentially the same as section headings, they’re just not placed within the text.

The advantage of chapter summaries over section headings is they don’t break up your text. This helps keep passages together and can help keep them in context. The disadvantage is they can be harder to use because they’re not placed on the page with the text they correlate to. They’re less distracting but can contain the same theological bias.

Running header

Many KJVs, such as the Concord, have page summaries at the top of the page. These can be used to scan the pages quickly. You can even mark them to find the pages and topics with less effort.

Choosing the print

The quality of the print makes a big difference on how easy the text is to see. Is it large or small, faint or bold? We all have different needs for font size and boldness and our needs might change with age.

Boldness

Lighting varies and you will need a font you can see easily. A font that isn’t bold enough will increase eye fatigue. Higher contrast reduces eye strain. Font size for preaching is usually larger than font size for study.

Font size

There are two numbers to be aware of for font size. The first is the size of the font itself and the second is the leading—the size of the font plus the space between the lines of text.

For example, a 10-point font with one point between the lines would have an 11-point leading. It would be described as 10/11. Sometimes only the size of the leading is given.

This is why two Bibles can have the same size font but one is called an 8-point and the other is called a 9-point. They are both 8/9.

Line matching

Text that lines up to the text on the other side of the page improves readability. Thinner paper that has line matching looks better than thicker paper that does not.

Italics

Some Bibles have italics for supplied words. Many preachers like to point out when a word was not in the original text.

faithlife-study-bible (1)

Lectern Bibles

Lectern Bibles have giant print and are large. They often span 24” when opened. This might not leave room for a notebook. They usually have great paper and print quality, but they are very expensive—often $300 or more.

Study Bibles

Study Bibles are big, and the notes can be distracting. It can also be annoying trying to find a verse when one page has 30 verses and the next has two. Another problem is having to flip through 10–20 pages of articles to get to the next verse in the chapter.

Find one that fits you

A preaching Bible is specialized. It doesn’t have to have everything you need for study and day-to-day ministry.

Look for the balance between the size of the Bible and the size of the text that works for you.

Your Bible doesn’t have to do everything. It just needs to do one thing and do it well.

* * *

Additional reading:

  1. Obstacles to effective evangelism
  2. What English Bible do you use?
  3. Words to push and pull
  4. Appointed to be read
  5. Good or bad preacher
  6. Writers needed to preach to non-believers
  7. Some one or something to fear #7 Not afraid for Gods Name
  8. Depression, Anxiety, Pressure and megachurches
  9. Being Religious and Spiritual 8 Spiritual, Mystic and not or well religious
  10. Caricaturing and disapproving sceptics, religious critics and figured out ethics
  11. Some one or something to fear #3 Cases, folks and outing
  12. Accuracy, Word-for-Word Translation Preferred by most Bible Readers
  13. The Most Reliable English Bible
  14. NWT and what other scholars have to say to its critics
  15. The Divine name of the Creator
  16. Use of /Gebruik van Jehovah or/of Yahweh in Bible Translations/Bijbel vertalingen
  17. Hebrew, Aramaic and Bibletranslation
  18. Some Restored Name Versions
  19. Anchor Yale Bible
  20. The NIV and the Name of God
  21. New American Bible Revised Edition
  22. Bible translated into Jamaican Creole Patois
  23. 2001 Translation an American English Bible
  24. Bibletranslation in Lingala
  25. The Metaphorical language of the Bible
  26. Record breaking preaching in Mount Dora

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  • The main benefit that is obtained by preaching is (memoirandremains.wordpress.com)
    Jonathan Edwards is famous for many things, among them is his statement about the necessity of the heart being moved during the preaching of the word of God:

    The main benefit that is obtained by preaching is by impression made upon the mind in the time of it, and not by the effect that arises afterwards by a remembrance of what was delivered….Preaching, in other words, must first of all touch the affections” (Jonathan Edwards, A Life, Marsden), p 282.

  • Florida preacher’s sermon breaks Guinness record at 53 hours, 18 minutes (fellowshiproom.org)
    Did I hear Richard Mansel say he was going to break this record next week during his regular sermon? 😉
  • Suppository preaching (onedaringjew.wordpress.com)
    Much preaching today does not attempt to relate the Old Testament to Jesus but to their narcissistic audience: Get rid of the frogs in your life, purge yourself of poverty, find your purpose, live your  dream, reach your po-tential. What they don’t do is expository preaching, that is, preach the Bible, verse by verse and connect it to Jesus.
  • Preaching should be awe-FULL (wheelsms.wordpress.com)
    When a pastor treats the Scriptures as one more academic subject, his sermons will sound dry and boring. When the Bible fails to grip his heart, it will seldom go beyond his listener’s ears, let alone grip their hearts. Such is the theme of pastor Erik Raymond’s insightful post, The Missing Ingredient in Many Sermons.” He compares preaching to cooking a good meal when he says,Like cooking, preaching can become bland. It can fail to have that freshness worthy of the gospel table. There are many reasons why. One could identify a lack of preparation, lack of understanding, poor delivery, and shallowness. We would not disagree that under-cooking the homiletical meal is a problem. But there is something else that can make preaching bland: the deadly reality of not being personally wowed by the subject.
  • What Should I Preach ? (faithinspires.wordpress.com)
    One of the most frequent questions I get especially from new minsters is how do they know what to preach. It can seem daunting at first. A new topic every week for the next several decades of their career. First of all nobody can handle a career’s worth of decisions all at once But I wanted to commit some ideas to paper for those who might find themselves stuck for a sermon topic.
  • Preaching Big Books (biblicalpreaching.net)
    Perhaps you shy away from preaching series from the bigger books in the Bible?  Maybe it would help to think differently about big book series.  There is more than one way to preach a series from a big book (like a major prophet or Acts):
  • Identifying with Bible Characters (biblicalpreaching.net)
    The Bible is full of stories.  Stories are very effective ways to communicate.  When a story begins, people tend to do two things – first, they identify with (or disassociate from) characters, and second, they feel the tension in the story, anticipating the resolution.  So when we preach Bible stories, let’s be sure to help listeners connect with what is going on.
  • Pastor preaches for 53 hours, claims world record (christiantoday.com)
    Pastor Zack Zehnder from The Cross church in Mount Dora preached for 53 hours and 18 minutes, smashing the previous record which was a mere 48 hours and 31 minutes.Zehnder, whose father, grandfather, and great-grandfather were all ministers in the Lutheran Church, undertook the challenge to raise funds for an addiction recovery ministry run by the Hand in Hand charity.

The Genre of the Gospels

We not only have to look at the Gospels as historical documents and eye witnesses to the events. The main part of the writers was to give an idea who Jesus was, what his teaching comprehended and to teach the world the importance of following those teachings of their master teacher. As Phillip J. Long writes, the Gospels should best be described as historical-theological documents.

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For the writers it was perhaps less important to give a historical view about the events, and therefore the chronological part of their writings was not as important as the part of giving a picture of who Jesus was and what the essence of his teaching was.

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  • Surprise! It’s Possible Jesus Never Existed (awaypoint.wordpress.com)
    Most antiquities scholars think that the New Testament gospels are “mythologized history.”  In other words, based on the evidence available they think that around the start of the first century a controversial Jewish rabbi named Yeshua ben Yosef gathered a following and his life and teachings provided the seed that grew into Christianity. At the same time, these scholars acknowledge that many Bible stories like the virgin birth, miracles, resurrection, and women at the tomb borrow and rework mythic themes that were common in the Ancient Near East, much the way that screenwriters base new movies on old familiar tropes or plot elements. In this view, a “historical Jesus” became mythologized.
    +
    For a variety of reasons, the practice of pseudonymous writing was common at the time and many contemporary documents are “signed” by famous figures.  The same is true of the New Testament epistles except for a handful of letters from Paul (6 out of 13) which are broadly thought to be genuine.  But even the gospel stories don’t actually say, “I was there.” Rather, they claim the existence of other witnesses, a phenomenon familiar to anyone who has heard the phrase, my aunt knew someone who . . .
  • Did the historical Jesus exist?: 5 Reasons to suspect Jesus never existed (sott.net)
    For over 200 years, a wide ranging array of theologians and historians – most of them Christian – analyzed ancient texts, both those that made it into the Bible and those that didn’t, in attempts to excavate the man behind the myth. Several current or recent bestsellers take this approach, distilling the scholarship for a popular audience. Familiar titles include Zealot by Reza Aslan and How Jesus Became God by Bart Ehrman.
    +
    More academic arguments in support of the Jesus Myth theory can be found in the writings of Richard Carrier and Robert Price. Carrier, who has a Ph.D. in ancient history uses the tools of his trade to show, among other things, how Christianity might have gotten off the ground without a miracle. Price, by contrast, writes from the perspective of a theologian whose biblical scholarship ultimately formed the basis for his skepticism. It is interesting to note that some of the harshest debunkers of fringe Jesus myth theories like those from Zeitgeist or Joseph Atwill (who tries to argue that the Romans invented Jesus) are from serious Mythicists like Fitzgerald, Carrier and Price.
  • Jesus Did Not Speak in Parables – the Evidence (vridar.org)
    In The Five Gospels Robert Funk, Roy Hoover and the Jesus Seminar confidently point to the triadic structure (groups of threes) as well as the repetitions and catchwords — all characteristics of oral sayings – in the Parable of the Sower (Mark 4) to assert that this parable most likely originated as the very words of Jesus himself. The same year (1993) saw Barry Henaut’s publication, Oral Tradition and the Gospels: The Problem of Mark 4, that comprehensively demolished the claim that triadic structures, repetitions and mnemonic catchwords are unique to oral communications and demonstrated that the same features were also characteristic of ancient literary compositions that were written to be read aloud to audiences.
  • Comparing Paul’s Epistles to Augustine’s Letters (vridar.org)
    Reacting to Dr. Richard Carrier’s recent article over at The Bible and Interpretation website, the beloved Doctor of Whoville, James McGrath has offered up yet another dog’s breakfast of red herrings and dead horses.
    +
    There is no serious doubt that Augustine thought that Jesus had lived as a real human being. And yet if you read his letters, you will find far more places where Augustine doesn’t refer to Jesus/Christ at all, much less in a way that makes unambiguous that he viewed him as a historical figure, than places where he does. One can make the same point with most ancient correspondence. (emphasis mine)
  • Christian identity comes from Holy Spirit, not ‘theology degrees’ (catholicnewsagency.com)
    Jesus was not a “commonplace preacher,” the Holy Father said, because his “authority” came from a “special anointing of the Holy Spirit.” Jesus is the “Son of God, anointed and sent out” to “bring salvation, to bring freedom.” Pope Francis added that there were those who were “scandalized” by his style of preaching.
    +
    Saint Paul did not preach because he took a course at a pontifical university, such as the Lateran or the Gregorian, Pope Francis said. The source of his preaching was “the Holy Spirit,” not human wisdom.A person might have five theology degrees, the Holy Father said, but not have the Spirit of God. “Perhaps you will be a great theologian, but you are not a Christian, because you do not have the Spirit of God! That which gives authority, that which gives you your identity and the Holy Spirit, the anointing of the Holy Spirit.”“Paul preached with the anointing of the Holy Spirit,” the Pope said, “expressing spiritual things of the Spirit, in spiritual terms. Man, left to his own devises, cannot comprehend the things of the Spirit of God. Man alone cannot understand this!”
  • Answer Number 2: Jeannie’s Question When Did Jesus Know (pattyperkowski.com)
    Most scholars believe that the Gospel of Mark was written by a second-generation Christian and Mark’s material was dictated to him by St. Peter, who later compiled it into his, (Mark’s), gospel.  He seems to not be from the area, because much of the geography was wrong, but that does not take away from the importance of the message.

Reading Acts

Various explanations of the possible literary genre of the four gospels have been offered.  Most Christians approach the gospels as biographies of Jesus.  The do have some biography-like elements, but they are not biographies by the standards of the modern world. Only two show any interest in his birth, only one story occurs before his public ministry, and the majority of the material comes from the last week of Jesus’ life.  Most biographical questions are left unanswered.

A few scholars have suggested that the gospels are patterned after Greco-Roman Aretalogies.   This is a “divine man” biography, the history of a famous hero that has been built up to make him a god-like person (a biography of a god-like person, Julius Caesar, for example.) The Greek word aretai means “mighty deeds.”  Aretalogies are the records of the mighty deeds of a god or hero.  An example from the second century is…

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Not to speak is to speak

The reason why we want or are not afraid to speak on this website, and give our thoughts on many ideas, even when necessary, sometimes on political ones.


“Silence in the face of evil is itself evil: God will not hold us guiltless. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”

“Salvation is free, but discipleship will cost you your life.”

“Whenever Christ calls us, His call leads us to death.”

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“The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children.”

“It is very easy to overestimate the importance of our own achievements in comparison with what we owe others.”

“One act of obedience is better than one hundred sermons.”

“Only he who believes is obedient and only he who is obedient believes.”



Dietrich Bonhoeffer, German Lutheran pastor, theologian, writer and poet, hanged by the Nazis two weeks before his camp was liberated for his involvement in the Abwehr plot to kill Hitler. He refused the opportunity to escape in order to protect others from retaliation. (rw)

Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “The ultimate test of a m...

Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “The ultimate test of a moral society is the kind of world that it leaves to its children.” (Photo credit: elycefeliz)

 

  • Review: Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas (veritasdomain.wordpress.com)
    Bonhoeffer was indeed among the most interesting theologian of the twentieth century and his experience with so many countries while also being a leader of the Confessional church inside Nazi Germany put him at a whole different level beyond mere academic contribution.
  • Day 82: Dietrich Bonhoeffer (February 4, 1906 – April 9, 1945) (civildisobedience100.wordpress.com)
    Apart from his theological writings, Bonhoeffer became known for his staunch resistance to the Nazi dictatorship. He strongly opposed Hitler’s euthanasia program and genocidal persecution of the Jews. He was also involved in plans by members of the Abwehr (the German Military Intelligence Office) to assassinate Adolf Hitler.
  • Book Review: Interpreting Bonhoeffer (diglotting.com)
    How could the church support the anti-semitic propaganda, cast out Jewish-Christians from churches, and support the Nazi’s clear war-policy of aggressive offense? These are great questions that can not, and should not, be swept under the carpet of church history with an “oops”. Robert Ericksen’s essay also discusses similar topics, though with more of a focus on Bonhoeffer.
    +
    Something Hockenos points out is how many leaders of the German Evangelical Church (post-1945) considered Bonhoeffer’s willingness to engage in a plot to overthrow Hitler should make him be viewed as a traitor rather than a martyr! I know there is some debate over what exactly was Bonhoeffer’s role in the resistance, but assuming that he was directly (rather than indirectly) involved in the planning of an assassination attempt on Hitler’s life (and that he vocally supported the use of such violence to take out Hitler), I can see how that would make one question whether Bonhoeffer was standing on solid theological ground, but to go the next step and say that his actions meant he was only a national traitor and not a Christian martyr seems quite bizarre to me! But, alas, it appears the Confessing Church was not completely divorced from nationalism as it should have been.
  • Unbowed: (brothersjuddblog.com)
    Hans soon brought on board Bonhoeffer, who was to use his foreign contacts to gather intelligence for the resistance. Together they coordinated a daring rescue operation–brilliantly conceived by Dohnanyi–that allowed more than a dozen Jewish refugees to escape to Switzerland using false papers. Bonhoeffer called on Swiss friends, including Karl Barth, to help secure their passage.

    It wasn’t long, however, before the Gestapo had the pair in its sights, as more and more evidence linked them to the rescue operation and multiple failed attempts on Hitler’s life. After they were arrested in early April 1943, their resistance took another form: withstanding isolation and harsh interrogations and refusing to name names. Both men found sustenance in their Bibles. And their families provided indispensable support, sending letters and packages with hidden messages that helped them coordinate their responses to questioning. Unbowed to the last, they were finally hanged in April 1945.
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer – German Lutheran pastor, theologian, dissident anti-Nazi (deadcitizensrightssociety.wordpress.com)
    +Dietrich Bonhoeffer – German Lutheran pastor, theologian, dissident anti-Nazi
    “It is the fellowship of the Cross to experience the burden of the other. If one does not experience it, the fellowship he belongs to is not Christian. If any member refuses to bear that burden, he denies the law of Christ.”“In ordinary life we hardly realize that we receive a great deal more than we give, and that it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.”
  • Bonhoeffer the Assassin (iheartbarth.wordpress.com)
    here is newly published volume by Baker Academic that is worth checking out for those interested in the theology and life of Bonhoeffer and particularly how he steered the waters of his pacifist declarations (found most clearly in his 1937 Discipleship) and his involvement with the Abwehr‘s conspiracy to assassinate Hitler.
    +“Ethical Foundation for Resistance” – an Excerpt from Bonhoeffer the Assassin?
    Bonhoeffer gives us an “ethical foundation for resistance.” Almost immediately after Hitler assumed power, Bonhoeffer gave his radio address “The Führer and the Individual in the Younger Generation.” A few months later he wrote a prophetic essay, “The Church and the Jewish Question,” which was published in June. But even before these more obvious examples, Bonhoeffer was articulating an ethic for resistance. It was manifest in his life, his commitments, and his writings.
    +
    About the book: Bonhoeffer the Assassin?
  • 138) Cheap Grace (emailmeditations.wordpress.com)
    Cheap grace is the mortal enemy of our church.  Our struggle today is for costly grace.

         Cheap grace means grace as bargain-basement goods, cut-rate forgive­ness, cut-rate comfort, cut-rate sacraments; grace as the church’s inexhaustible pantry, from which it is doled out by careless hands without hesitation or limit.  It is grace without a price, without cost…

  • The Dietrich Bonhoeffer Story – podcast (songsofhope883.com)
    Today, Sunday 16th March on Songs of Hope, at 8:45 am we heard the story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
  • Bonhoeffer – Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy (lindentreelibrary.wordpress.com)
    In Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy—A Righteous Gentile vs. the Third Reich, Metaxas presents the fullest accounting of Bonhoeffer’s heart-wrenching 1939 decision to leave the safe haven of America for Hitler’s Germany, and using extended excerpts from love letters and coded messages written to and from Bonhoeffer’s Cell 92, Metaxas tells for the first time the full story of Bonhoeffer’s passionate and tragic romance.Readers will discover fresh insights and revelations about his life-changing months at the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem and about his radical position on why Christians are obliged to stand up for the Jews. Metaxas also sheds new light on Bonhoeffer’s reaction to Kristallnacht, his involvement in the famous Valkyrie plot and in “Operation 7,” the effort to smuggle Jews into neutral Switzerland.

    Bonhoeffer gives witness to one man’s extraordinary faith and to the tortured fate of the nation he sought to deliver from the curse of Nazism. It brings the reader face to face with a man determined to do the will of God radically, courageously, and joyfully—even to the point of death. Bonhoeffer is the story of a life framed by a passion for truth and a commitment to justice on behalf of those who face implacable evil.

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Book Review: Ann Gauger, Douglas Axe & Casey Luskin, Science & Human Origins. Seattle: Discovery Institute Press, 2012.124pp.

Michael Behe, professor of biochemistry at Leh...

Michael Behe, professor of biochemistry at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania, Intelligent Design proponent. Lecture at DPC, University of Maine. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The latest publication from the Discovery Institute (the organisation that promotes Intelligent Design theory) is somewhat of a departure from their previous coyness regarding religion. As the introduction by John West describes, “intelligent design focuses on whether the development of life was purposeful or blind” and not on common descent (p11); indeed many ID advocates accept common descent (e.g. Michael Behe). This book not only challenges the idea that humans and apes share a common ancestor but also explores whether there is evidence that all mankind is descended from an original couple (who are frequently labelled “Adam and Eve”). The motivation for this foray into common descent is the claims being made by theistic evolutionists, particularly the BioLogos Foundation, which, it is claimed, encourages Christians to revise “traditional Christian teachings” (pp9-10, 105-6).

In the debate over evolution it defenders and its critics often argue past each other. Evolutionists claim evolution did happen because of such things as the similarities in morphology and DNA, distribution of fossils, and apparent ancestral vestiges. Creationists claim evolution could not happen because of such things as irreducible complexity, symbiotic organisms, and the sheer improbability of invention by random mutation. Science & Human Origins fits within this mould, though it does cite some new evidence.

The first two chapters centre on an experiment conducted by Ann Gauger and Douglas Axe, in which they identified two proteins with similar morphology but different function and tried to estimate how one could evolve into the other by neo-darwinian processes. They concluded that it would require seven coordinated mutations to occur, something too improbable to have occurred within the history of the universe (p20). From this finding they argue that, firstly, unguided processes could not have produced the changes necessary to evolve humans from apes, and, secondly, similar morphology is not a reliable indicator common ancestry. This research is interesting and the sort of evidence that anti-evolutionists need to produce if they are to affect a shift from the current neo-Darwinian paradigm. But, at most, this kind of experiment demonstrates the ineffectiveness of random mutation; it does not, of itself, rule out common descent. And, as has often been pointed out, it is difficult to prove a negative. Maybe it didn’t happen this way; that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen.

The third chapter is an interesting review of the literature regarding the fossil record. It highlights the vast uncertainties about the earliest hominin fossils (4-7 million years ago). Then it presses the differences between the australopithecines (1-4 million years ago) and the homo genus (0-2 million years ago); the former are considered an extinct form of ape, the latter are considered part of the family of humans. The fourth chapter considers two genetic arguments for common descent, so-called “junk DNA” and chromosomal fusion. It was previously argued that large regions of non-coding DNA within the human genome made intelligent design unlikely. Recent research has demonstrated that much that was previously considered junk is now known to be functional. The more interesting argument is that the 23rd human chromosome-pair seems to be fusion of two ape chromosome-pairs (apes have 24 chromosome-pairs). Casey Luskin challenges this argument saying that at most it shows that a human ancestor had 24 chromosome-pairs, not that this ancestor was a common ancestor with apes; this response does not seem to be particularly strong. Luskin also suggests that the similarity between the 23rd human chromosome-pair and ape chromosome-pairs is not as compelling as it might appear; it is difficult for a non-scientist to judge.

In the final chapter Gauger challenges an argument from population genetics put forward by Francisco Ayala, which implies that there was never a bottle-neck of a single human couple in our ancestry (Ayala assumes common descent with apes). This chapter is quite technical, but in brief, Gauger reveals the hidden assumptions in Ayala’s argument, cites other studies that focused on other parts of the gene, and concludes that it is possible that there was such a bottleneck. Gauger then goes further and considers the possibility that humans and apes did not have a common ancestor, citing some examples that would not be expected on current evolutionary models (e.g. regions of the human genome that are closer to gorilla than ape sequences).

This is an interesting book and, at very least, sketches the relevant issues in the ongoing debate over common descent. Its inadequacy, and the inadequacy of much of ID research, is that it does not present a unified alternative to the current evolutionary narrative. Reading between the lines, there is equivocation over the whether to just reject unguided neo-Darwinian processes or to also propose an act of special creation as an alternative to common descent. (This equivocation is probably representative of the equivocation within the ID community). It seems incumbent on those who would reject common descent to propose an alternative narrative for the distribution of fossils and the variation with the human genome. It seems the authors are sorely tempted to say that God created Adam and Eve as a distinct genus (including Home erectus and Home neanderthalensis, as well as Homo sapiens) and that some evolutionary process is responsible for the variation found within the genus, but this is never stated explicitly (nor is it likely to be).

Those who believe in the special creation of a single human couple from whom all humanity descends are likely to take comfort from these scientific challenges to the current neo-darwinian paradigm, but this is not the book that will cause a paradigm shift.

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  • How to Test for Intelligent Design (str.typepad.com)
    Casey Luskin of the Discovery Institute writes an interesting article in response to a scientist’s statement that “the Intelligent Design hypothesis is untestable by science, exactly because we can never empirically know or understand the actions of God or any other Intelligent Designer.”Luskin points out that, on the contrary, we can understand when actions are being taken by intelligent designers (such as human beings), and from that, make testable predictions.
  • Genes (slideshare.net)
    Each cell in the human body contains about 25,000 to 35,000 genes. Genes carry information that determines your traits.
  • The Discovery Institute gets terminally desperate: considers evolutionary rebuttals of creationist arguments as “condemning religion” (whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com)
    The Discovery Institute, losing its battle for Intelligent Design (ID) on all fronts (they can’t even get it taught in a Texas community college!) has resorted to a desperation move: attacking the characters of evolutionary biologists.  How this will give evidence for ID is beyond me: perhaps they think that if they show character flaws in evolutionists they thereby discredit our discipline. But whatever happened to their promise to that “scientific” evidence for ID was “right around the corner”? They seem to have forgotten that one.And they should be mindful of the beam in their own eye: despite their claim that ID isn’t religiously motivated, virtually everyone at the Discovery Institute is religious, and some of them (like Paul Nelson and William Dembski) unwisely proclaim their religious motivations when they think they’re out of earshot.
  • Casey Luskin’s latest take on junk DNA – is he lying or is he stupid? (sandwalk.blogspot.com)
    The issue of junk DNA is a case in point. We’ve been trying to explain the facts to people like Casey Luskin. I know he’s listening because he comments on Sandwalk from time to time. Surely it can’t be that hard? All they have to do is acknowledge that “Darwinians” are opposed to junk DNA because they think that natural selection is very powerful and would have selected against junk DNA. All we’re asking is that they refer to “evolutionary biologists” when they talk about junk DNA proponents.
  • Discovery Institute’s Triumph #5 for 2013 (sensuouscurmudgeon.wordpress.com)
    The Discoveroids were proclaiming the good news of a book — Discovering Intelligent Design — published by their in-house vanity press, the Discovery Institute Press, and written by “home school educators Gary and Hallie Kemper [of whom no one ever heard], and Discovery Institute research coordinator Casey Luskin.”
  • Discovery Institute Embraces Martyrdom (sensuouscurmudgeon.wordpress.com)
    Some of you may not have been around back in 2010 when your compassionate Curmudgeon honored him — see Casey Luskin Is Named a Curmudgeon Fellow. Most of his long post today is just a copy of what he posted a few weeks ago, about which we wrote Discoveroids Suffer a Crushing Defeat.Yes, Casey is claiming that the Discoveroids’ defeat at Amarillo College, a state-run, two-year community college in Amarillo, Texas, is one of their big highlights of the year. They were apparently embarked on a stealth campaign to infiltrate two-year community colleges with their kind of creationist course, using their books, thinking that no one would notice. But their plans were thwarted when the non-credit course was cancelled.
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