Grieved beyond Words… and Resolved

The Houston Chronicle has published part one of an extensive investigative report on sexual abuse within Southern Baptist Churches (there will be two more installments in coming days). They uncovered 250 ministry leaders and volunteers who have been convicted as sex offenders and over 700 of their victims. Those numbers alone are horrid, but I agree with the report that there are likely many other such instances that were not uncovered by this investigation.

The report reveals horrors that have long been out of the light of day. Without question, the most difficult parts to read are the testimonies from the victims. They are beyond heartbreaking. I can hardly imagine what some of these dear souls have been through and how difficult it must have been to come forward. But I am grateful that they did. Continue Reading →

Pro-choice semantic games: Don’t fall for them

Thanks to two Virginia politicians and the President’s state of the union address, the country has fixed its attention on the brutality of late-term abortion. Pro-choice advocates are responding as they usually do by trying to distract everyone from the reality of abortion:

Pro-choicer: “Nothing to see here, move along.”
Casual observer: “But that really seems like a small person being killed in an abortion.”
Pro-choicer: “You sound like you’re against women’s healthcare. And also, science.”
Casual observer: “But the baby…”
Pro-choicer: “Don’t you believe your lying eyes. It’s just a clump of cells… you know, because of science and stuff.”

The problem for pro-choicers is that the later the abortion occurs, the harder it is for them to succeed with the “clump of cells” evasion. Anyone with eyes can see what is happening, and the old dodges fall a little flat.

The recent focus on political leaders who support the right to kill unborn humans at any point up until birth (and in Northam’s case, perhaps even after birth) means that they are having to come up with new evasions—the silliest of which I just read this morning. According to Axios, these are “The Facts” about abortion that should mitigate your concern about late-term abortions:

• In an interview with CNN, Barbara Levy, the vice president of health policy at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said, “The phrase ‘late-term abortion,’ is medically inaccurate and has no clinical meaning.”

• Jennifer Conti, a fellow with the advocacy group Physicians for Reproductive Health, also told CNN: “In obstetrics, we don’t divide pregnancies into terms. ‘Late term’ is an invention of anti-abortion extremists to confuse, mislead and increase stigma.”

Did you catch the argument? It goes like this: Pro-lifers aren’t using the medically correct terms to describe late-term abortion. Therefore, you shouldn’t care that it’s legal to kill unborn human beings at any time up until the point of birth.

If that seems like a non-sequitur to you, that’s because it is. It is also one of the most pedantic and lame evasions that I have ever heard out of the pro-choice side. They are playing semantic games and hoping the casual observer will be too stupid to notice.

To all the casual observers of the abortion debate: Your eyes aren’t lying. Little people are killed in late-term abortions. Some people think it should be legal to kill those little people all the way up to the point of birth. Don’t let anyone distract you from that simple, central truth about abortion—especially those who think you are too stupid to know any better.

Democracy Dies in Darkness: Misinformation from both Washington Post and NY Times about the President’s remarks on abortion

President Trump just finished his state of the union address moments ago. The speech was wide-ranging, but I have to say that his remarks about abortion were the most hard-hitting that I have ever heard in a state of the union address. He exposed the Democrats’ extremism on the issue by referencing their support for late-term abortion and (as in the case of the Governor of Virginia) their support for allowing some babies to die after birth.

The New York Times already has a “fact-check” posted on this part of the President’s speech, and the “fact-check” is in error. Here it is: Continue Reading →

David French to lecture at Boyce College and SBTS

David French is coming to Boyce College and Southern Seminary next week to deliver a series of lectures titled, “What Is Intersectionality? Understanding How Intersectionality and Identity Theory are Shaping College Campuses and the Nation.” Here is the where and the when of the event:

Date: February 13, 2019
Time: 10am – Session 1
11am – Session 2
1:30pm – Session 3
Place: Heritage Hall (on SBTS campus)

I cannot tell you how eager I am to have David on campus. He has long been one of my favorite writers and thinkers, and it is a real privilege to have him as our guest. I had the opportunity to hear David lecture on Intersectionality a few years ago, and it was phenomenal.

If you are in or around Louisville next Wednesday, I cannot recommend these talks highly enough. I hope to see you there. Continue Reading →

Senator Ben Sasse introduces legislation to protect infants who survive abortion

Senator Ben Sasse just delivered an impassioned statement to the United States Senate. In it, he introduced a piece of legislation and appealed to Senators to come to the floor of the Senate to pass an “Abortion Survivors Protection Act.” This is a direct response the vile remarks made by the Governor of Virginia over the last two days. Here is a rush transcript of Senator Sasse’s statement: Continue Reading →

How seared is our nation’s conscience that she tolerates this cruelty?

Two items have appeared in the news this week out of Virginia that ought to shock every decent person who sees them. Both of them involve elected officials in Virginia arguing for infanticide. And, no, I’m not being hyperbolic. I want you to see this for yourself to establish exactly what happened.

First, Virginia State Delegate Kathy Tran has proposed a bill that would guarantee a right to abortion even when the mother is in the process of giving birth in the 40th week. Republican legislator Todd Gilbert pressed the point in a hearing with Tran. You can watch the exchange above or read below:

Gilbert: So how late in the third trimester could a physician perform an abortion if he indicated it would impair the mental health of the woman?

Tran: Or physical health.

Gilbert: Okay. I’m talking about mental health.

Tran: I mean, through the third trimester. The third trimester goes all the way up to 40 weeks.

Gilbert: So to the end of the third trimester?

Tran: Yes. I don’t think we have a limit in the bill.

Gilbert: So where it’s obvious that a woman is about to give birth, she has physical signs that she’s about give birth, would that still be a point at which she could still request an abortion if she was so certified? [pause] She’s dilating?

Tran: Mr. Chairman, you know, that would be a decision that the doctor, the physician, and the woman would make.

Gilbert: I understand that. I’m asking if your bill allows that.

Tran: My bill would allow that, yes.

Yes, you read that correctly. Tran argues that it ought to be legal to kill a child at the 40th week as the child is coming through the birth canal. If it is surprising to you that such a thing is legal (even if rarely done), be surprised no more. This is exactly what Roe v. Wade and its companion decision Doe v. Bolton have established. Roe makes this kind of barbarism into a “constitutional right” through every stage of pregnancy—right up until the point of birth.

Second, if Tran’s testimony didn’t send chills up your spine, then this certainly will. The Democratic Governor of Virginia Ralph Northam went on a radio program this morning to defend Tran’s 40-week abortion bill. The host asked Governor Northam about Tran’s remarks the previous day. He was asked specifically about whether the bill allows a woman to have an abortion after she has gone into labor at the 40th week of pregnancy. This is what the Governor said:

If a mother is in labor, I can tell you exactly what would happen. The infant would be delivered. The infant would be kept comfortable. The infant would be resuscitated if that’s what the mother and the family desired, and then a discussion would ensue between the physicians and the mother. [emphasis mine]

You can watch Gov. Northam’s statement below:

Now just think about what this means. Governor Northam is going even further than Tran. He is saying that a fully delivered baby could be left to die on the operating table if that is what the mother and the physician want. A fully delivered baby!

How did we get to the point that we are considering whether or not to throw away the life a fully delivered baby? How did we get to the point that a fully delivered baby’s life may not be protected in law? I thought every person had an inviolable right to life under our Constitution? Well, apparently not according to Governor Northam.

If you have been paying attention to the abortion debate in America at all, none of this will be surprising to you. The pro-choice position excludes the unborn from the human community. It gives no consideration at all to the human life that is growing inside a mother’s womb. It says that a woman’s so-called “right to choose” trumps the right of another person not to be killed. That is the pro-choice position. It is no surprise that we now have a governor who is saying that a fully delivered baby’s life is disposable and subject to a woman’s “right to choose” as well.

The United States of America has the most liberal abortion laws on the planet, and that is due to Roe v. Wade. That infamous decision makes it legal to kill unborn people at any point during pregnancy up to and including the point of birth. Because of that, Roe v. Wade has presided over the killing of 60 million unborn human beings since 1973. That is the holocaust times ten. And now there is a Democratically elected governor who would expand this barbarism to include those children who survive birth. How seared is our nation’s conscience that she tolerates this cruelty?

The state of New York has recently passed a similar bill, and the state legislature cheered after its passage. It was an abominable display. I hope and pray that the same ugliness won’t make its way to the state of Virginia. If you live in Virginia, you need to call your representatives and oppose this with all your might. You need to flood their phone lines until this bill is stopped.

I am reminded that the pro-life cause has a long way to go. So many people in our nation have hardened their heart to the humanity and dignity of the weakest among us. Today is proof of that.

UPDATE: Senator Ben Sasse is virulent in his response to Governor Northern, and I sympathize with his consternation. He writes,

This is morally repugnant. In just a few years pro-abortion zealots went from ‘safe, legal, and rare’ to ‘keep the newborns comfortable while the doctor debates infanticide.’ I don’t care what party you’re from — if you can’t say that it’s wrong to leave babies to die after birth, get the hell out of public office.

Why you should consider using LOGOS in your Bible Study – Part 2

Over the years, Bible Software has become an integral part of my research, sermon preparation, and classroom instruction. As I explained yesterday, I have used many products over the years, but over the last year and a half LOGOS has begun to assume a central place.

The first thing you need to know about LOGOS is that it is first and foremost a digital library. It is a program designed to give you access to books—and lots of them. The size of your library depends upon what base package you buy. The higher the base package, the more books you get. As I noted yesterday, I have used LOGOS for about 13 years, and right now I have an upper level base package (Diamond). In addition, I have purchased some books that aren’t included in my base package, which expands the library even more. Recently, for example, I have been writing a commentary on 1 Corinthians. So I have purchased commentaries on 1 Corinthians not included in my package, and I will probably end up purchasing more.

The resources that I have at my fingertips in LOGOS 8’s Diamond package are immense. The commentaries on the Bible include the NAC series, NIGTC, ICC, Black’s, Pillar, and a host of others. There are countless English translations available, including all of the major ones that ordinary readers would wish to have access to. For me, the most valuable books are the original language texts—in particular the Greek and Hebrew Bibles. As usual, these are morphologically and lexically tagged so that you can use them with the lexicon of your choice. I use BDAG and LSJ for the New Testament and HALOT and BDB for the Old. In addition to that, there are a number of very good Greek grammars available, including A. T. Robertson’s classic work and Stanley Porter’s Idioms of the Greek New Testament.

The resources available on LOGOS 8 far surpasses those that were available in software I have used in the past (like Gramcord and BibleWorks). In fact, there is no comparison on that front. Nothing replaces a good bricks and mortar library in terms of biblical and theological research. But the only software that even competes in the area of biblical studies is LOGOS.

I cannot overstate the value of being able to access these materials at any place and at any time. Over the last several years, my work has come to include a great deal of travel. Being able to have a significant portion of my library with me wherever I go is huge. And at this point, I haven’t even said one word about the features in LOGOS, only the library. But that aspect alone makes LOGOS an indispensable tool for me.

The user interface in LOGOS has improved dramatically over the years, but I think that LOGOS 8 may be the best yet. It does feel more intuitive and up to date than previous versions. As I mentioned yesterday, the software runs more swiftly than previous versions, with searches being about ten times as fast as they were in LOGOS 7.

In part one yesterday, I wrote that I have been looking for a replacement for the now defunct BibleWorks program that I had been using. One of the things that is really important to me is recreating the workspace that I had in BibleWorks. The LOGOS “Layouts” have infinite flexibility and can be customized and saved. The folks at LOGOS have already created a “BibleWorks” layout for folks like me who are transitioning from BibleWorks. So you don’t even have to set it up for yourself. Below is a screenshot of mine:

BibleWorks users will notice that the logic of the three-pane interface looks very much like BibleWorks, with search pane on the left, original text in the middle, and analysis on the right. This information is the bread and butter of exegesis, and LOGOS 8 puts the information at your fingertips faster than it ever has in the past.

The above layout is what I might use when trying to mimic the workflow of BibleWorks, but LOGOS 8 allows me to go way beyond that. What LOGOS 8 does that BibleWorks does not do is that it also gives me immediate access to a vast array of resources. And for me, that means that access to commentaries is paramount. So in addition to the BibleWorks layout, I have also created separate layouts for individual books of the Bible that I am studying. Those layouts have all the relevant commentaries that I use for a given biblical book in addition to some of the analytical information in the above layout. To give you an idea what this looks like, I will show below what my layout for 1 Corinthians looks like:

In this layout, I have Richard Hays’ commentary open on the left, the NA28 open on the top right, and BDAG open on the bottom right. Each of the panes has other resources open, and all I have to do is click the tabs to access them. Notice that when I am reading commentaries, I always keep the Greek text and lexical analysis within my line of sight. This saves so much time—to have this all on one screen rather than have to switch back and forth among hard copies of several different books.

If I were to expand on all the feature included in LOGOS, it would push this review far past any reasonable length. There is a sophisticated note-taking system within LOGOS that many users value very highly (I haven’t used it yet). There is also a graphical interface called “Canvas” that allows users to make their own analysis of biblical texts. I mention them here not because I’ve used them but simply because many users love them (see here for example).

One feature that I really enjoy and that I have used in my classes is the Psalms explorer. This tool allows users to analyze the Psalter by genre, book, authorship, musical style, structure, and tags. It is difficult to show how this works, but here is a screenshot:

Notice that the left pane has hyperlinked information about genre, authorship, etc. You can see, for example, exactly how many lament Psalms there are under the genre section. You can then click on the lament Psalms and all of them will appear in the graphical interface to the right. Once you start clicking around in here, you will be amazed by how much information is packed in. That is why I use this when introducing the Psalms to my students. It really helps them to see the big picture within the Psalter. Again, this is just one helpful feature among countless others that I cannot fit into this review.

I love LOGOS 8 and am currently using it all the time in my studies. For me, it has become a regular part of research, sermon preparation, and even classroom instruction. The packages range in price from $294.99 to $10,799.99. That is a wide range, but the cost to you is going to depend on how much you can afford and how big you want your library to be. Most people are not going to pony-up more than ten grand on a computer program. But many will find it reasonable to look into some of the lesser expensive packages that are nevertheless packed with many useful resources. You can compare packages here and price them here.

The good news is that LOGOS is offering a launch discount on Logos 8–10% for first-time base package purchasers or 25% for upgraders. This deal only lasts until February 7, so if you’re going to order you’ll want to do so before then.

LOGOS 8 has become an invaluable resource for me. I am certain that it will prove to be valuable for many who read this review. Therefore, I give this software my highest recommendation.

Why you should consider using LOGOS in your Bible Study – Part 1

There are some professors of Bible who have an allergy to Bible software. I am not one of them. But those who do object do so mainly because they fear their students may use such a resource as a crutch and as a result may never really learn how to read the Bible in the original languages. Their concern is that students may rely on the software’s instant parsing and glosses so much that they never actually learn how the language works. While I agree that this is a legitimate concern, I do not agree that eschewing Bible software altogether is the answer.

Students of Hebrew and Greek do in fact need to learn the elements of the languages and how to read the scripture without having to rely on software. Having said that, once the baseline skills have been mastered, software can be used with great profit for exegesis and research. That has certainly been my experience over the years, both as a student and as a professor and pastor. I have been using Bible software to aid in research and sermon preparation since the late nineties, and I have never looked back.

Early on, my program of choice was the now-defunct GRAMCORD. GRAMCORD was lean and mean, focusing on Bible Study in the original languages and little else. I have always worked on a PC platform, and back then GRAMCORD was the closest thing to Accordance that was available for those of us not working an Apple platform. In the early 2000’s, I made the switch to BibleWorks, which had much better user interface and which also focused narrowly on original language study without too many bells and whistles beyond that. But as of last summer, BibleWorks has become defunct too. Ever since then, I have been on the lookout for something to replace it.

The truth is that I have been a Logos owner for about 13 years, but I have only been a bona fide Logos user for about six years. The main reason for that is primarily technical. I have been using PC’s that have been issued by my employers over all these years. For whatever reason, I never could get LOGOS to run well on those computers. The program was slow to load and slow to use. And I don’t have time for slow. For that reason, I steered clear of the program. Even though I had LOGOS loaded onto my machine, I rarely used it. It just took too much of my PC’s resources to be practical.

But all of that changed about six years ago when I bought my first iPad. I began to use LOGOS’s mobile app on my iPad, and it was a game-changer. I was able to access any book in my LOGOS library without all the sluggishness that had bedeviled my use of the program on my PC’s. It was at that point that I actually began using the program. But still, I was only using LOGOS on my iPad and very rarely accessing it from my main workstation, which was where I carried out the majority of my research and sermon prep.

But then all of that changed about a year and a half ago when I got a new PC from work. Currently, I am using a Dell machine with a speedy processor and (more importantly) eight gigs of RAM. The bottom line is that, for the last year and a half, I have had a work station that runs LOGOS like greased lightning. On top of that, the new LOGOS 8 is about ten times as fast at LOGOS 7 when it comes to searches. As a result, LOGOS has become an integral part of my research, sermon prep, and classroom instruction. It has become such a fixture in my work that it is hard to imagine how I would be able to do what I do without it.

Last year, LOGOS rolled out a new version of its software—LOGOS 8. LOGOS 8 is by far the best iteration of this tremendous tool. It is for that reason that I want not only to commend the use of Bible software but also to recommend LOGOS in particular. In my post tomorrow, I will give you my review of LOGOS 8 and explain why it is such an integral part of my daily study of scripture.

NOTE: LOGOS is offering a launch discount on Logos 8–10% for first-time base package purchasers or 25% for upgraders. This deal only lasts until February 7, so if you’re going to order you’ll want to do so before then.

The Incredible Adoption Story of Deland McCullough

Stop whatever you are doing, and watch this video. Do not pass go. Do not collect two-hundred dollars. Go straight to watching this incredible story.

I just finished it, and I am still reeling. Seriously, watch every bit of this.
NOTE: The quality of the YouTube video above isn’t that great. If you are a cable subscriber, you should be able to view a higher quality stream at the following link: “Deland McCullough.” You can read ESPN’s companion story here.

About those Catholic School boys

I don’t have a great deal to add to the voluminous online commentary about confrontation between some Catholic School boys and protestors at the March for Life. At this point, it is clear that the initial viral narrative condemning the boys was an embarrassing whiff on the part of the media (see here and here). It appears that many people were willing to believe the worst possible interpretation of a brief video clip simply because some of the boys were wearing MAGA hats. I wonder if the video would have gotten any attention at all had the boys not been wearing those hats.

In any case, I was just thinking that it is probably a good time for all of us who use social media to remember how toxic and destructive a rush to judgment can be. People can be targeted and doxed with swift effect. Lives and livelihood’s can be overturned in a moment by an unthinking social media mob. For that reason, all of us should be careful that we not get carried away by the passion of a mob and forget basic biblical justice:

“The first to plead his case seems just, Until another comes and examines him.” –Prov. 18:17

This text is telling us that we need to reserve judgment on a matter until all sides have been heard. We need this instruction because we are sometimes tempted to believe initial reports on an event—especially if they are compelling. We also are prone to believe things that confirm our biases. And let’s face it. This was a charged political event, and almost every viewer is going to have a political bias that impacts his evaluation of evidence. That was certainly the case here. Sometimes the temptation to virtue-signal can overcome us before we even realize what we’ve done, and that failure is only exacerbated when a declaration is made before all the facts are in.

I do not mean to foreclose the possibility of spirited commentary about controversial ideas or events. All I’m saying is that Biblical wisdom would simply have us slow down. Remember your own biases. Remember that there is another side to the story. Sometimes the truth is more complicated than our biases would let us admit. And sometimes the best course of action is simply not weigh-in when so many variables are unknown. Sometimes the best course of action is not to weigh-in even when the variables are known.

Again, we would all do well to learn from this. I hope we do.

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