Skip to content

Is a Baby in the Womb Alive?

October 25, 2012

I saw this and in light of the controversy around Richard Mourdock’s statement I had to share it.

Bottom Line: If the child in the womb is a human being then killing him or her is wrong! Notice the tap dancing that is typical of the pro abortion crowd when dealing with this issue…

God bless.

Basic Christian Positions

October 19, 2012

In this day and age of relativism and political shifting and maneuvering it is important to remember what basic Christian positions are or should be. In the political landscape of America I have heard that many Christians stand on opposite sides of many issues. Some of these are issues of preference or personality but many are issues that the Bible speaks quite clearly on. Given that we are supposed to all be operating from the same rule book (The Bible) it seems to me that we should be cross-referencing our opinions with the Word of God. So here is a list of relevant issues that I think gets confused all too often.

All People are Sinners
This one should not cause us to much disagreement but unfortunately it does. We are ALL guilty sinners before a Holy God. Even without considering God’s perfect standard all we have to do is tune into the nightly news to get a taste of mankind’s state of depravity. All of us, even Christians, are sinners. We are not better than others just because we are Christian and our message is not irrelevant just because we are not perfect. This is one of the major points of the Bible. “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23 NASB). This is why we need Christ’s sacrifice and His righteousness because without it we cannot stand before this Holy God.

The scary part is there are people (even Christians) who will say they do not sin. The Bible speaks to this as well, “If we say that we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves and the truth is not in us.” (1 John 1:8 NASB.) Thankfully, this is followed by, “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 NASB.) We are all guilty so let’s stop saying that we are not. Also, while it is important to act in obedience to Christ we must understand that perfection will not be found in this life but that our sin should always drive us to repentance and faith in Christ. This is where our hope and assurance lies.

Abortion is Murder
I am truly sorry if you or someone you love have been touched by abortion. I do not stand in judgment over anyone for this or any other sin they may have committed. All I can say is what the Word of God says on this issue. It is very clear that the Bible considers the murder of another human being to be one of the more heinous sins. Truthfully, we would have to agree with that otherwise we need to set free all the people currently in jail for murder. So is the baby in the womb a human being? If so then abortion (which ends the life of the baby) is murder. The truth is that it is a human being. Life begins at conception. Once conceived, the embryo has a distinct human nature and will never become anything else if not interfered with.

The Bible could not be more clear on this. “For You formed my inward parts;
You wove me in my mother’s womb.” (Psalm 139:13 NASB). The direct implication here is that even in the womb a human being is a human being. There is even provision in the law for punishment of a person who kills an unborn (Exodus 21:22-23). In Scripture the unborn possess personal attributes and are known by God from conception. There is no realistic way to read abortion at will into the pages of Scripture. To do so is to do violence to the Word of God. Abortion ends the life of the unborn child and is therefore defined as murder in the Bible. If you don’t like it, fine, but don’t say it is not in there.

The next thing people usually want to do here is make those who hold my view on this chase them around several other issues such as rape, incest, the decline of the family, etc. To be honest, I simply refuse to give chase. The issue is simple. Is the unborn child a human being or not? If not then when does it become so? After the first trimester? The second? After birth? Two years later? When? If it is a human being (and all evidence says it is) then to end the life of an unborn child is murder. It does not matter if this is legal or not. In God’s eyes it is still murder.

Homosexuality is a Sin
This is probably one of the most controversial subjects in our day, both inside and outside of the church. We are bombarded with claims that homosexuality is just as valid as heterosexuality and that people are born this way and to say that it is wrong is a violation of their civil rights. This has leaked into just about every area of our lives to the point that it has become almost impossible to avoid. Furthermore, this is one of the most volatile issues from a political perspective. People who say that homosexuality is a sin or that homosexual marriage is wrong are immediately labeled as bigots and religious fanatics and such. Well, if you are going to write people off as religions fanatics who say that homosexuality is a sin then you might as well stop reading now. However, if you want to be a little more open minded than that then please continue.

The Bible, contrary to what some would have us believe, is abundantly clear on this issue. Leviticus 18 and Romans 1 are just a couple examples of where the Bible clearly states that homosexuality is a sin. It is not held up as the greatest of sins nor is it passed over. It is simply against God’s moral law and His intention for human relationships. Some also will argue that Jesus didn’t address this issue but that is also false, “And He answered and said, “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, 5 and said, ‘ For this reason A man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh ’? 6 So they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.” (Matthew 19:3-6 NASB) Here, Jesus clearly proclaims God’s intention and design for marriage. He does not say the words, “homosexuality is sin,” but He does not have to. There is the clear teaching that the proper relationship in this context is between a man and a woman. Jesus also clearly states and affirms the content of the Old Testament (Matthew 5:17-19.) If He wished to make an exception regarding the laws against homosexuality, He had ample opportunity to do so but He did not.

Homosexuality is sin. I am sorry but it is, and it is not me saying this but God. You can hate me for saying it all you like but the only reason I do is to point you to Christ who can redeem you from this sin and all others just as He redeems me for my sins. I am not judging, I am merely one sinner proclaiming to others how to be clean from your sin and stand before a Holy God.

Jesus is the Only Way
Surprisingly, this is an issue that actually causes strife among professing Christians. Is Jesus the only way to be reconciled to God or not? Sounds like a simple question with a simple yes or no answer. And, in fact, it is. This comes down to simply whether you believe the Bible or not. “Jesus *said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6 NASB) “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”” (Acts 4:12 NASB) Seems pretty clear to me. To deny that salvation is in Christ alone is to deny the Bible itself. At that point, why call yourself a Christian?

Looking at this logically we have to ask that, if there are other ways to be reconciled to God then why did Christ endure the severe pain and humiliation of the cross? Seems like a pure waste of a life and death. No, my friends, He went to the cross because a holy and righteous God has to punish sin and that punishment will either be paid by the sinner or one acting on the sinner’s behalf. No one but a sinless savior can be our substitute since anyone else would be paying for their own sin. Only Jesus, the lamb of God and God in flesh, can do this. Praise be to God for His gift.

I realize that I have been harsh in many parts of this article. But I hope that I have also been clear. You cannot be a consistent Bible-believing Christian and oppose these things. We can and do disagree on may things within the camp of Christianity (end times, fiscal policies, church government, etc) but we dare not compromise the basic premises of the faith and those things that God’s Word is clear on, to the altar of political or social expediency. No more compromise and no more retreat.

God bless.

Christians are Hypocrites?

October 12, 2012

We have all heard it before. In fact, if you have been living and paying attention at all in the past couple decades I can promise you have heard this once or twice before. The claim is made by opponents to the faith as well as those within. “Christians are a bunch of hypocrites.” We hear this from atheists, followers of other faiths, and Christians themselves. People use this almost universally as an argument against Christianity and/or the Church. But is it true?

The first logical step is to define what is meant by hypocrisy. Basically the essence of hypocrisy is to say one thing and do another. An easy example of this is the Christian who claims to believe the Bible’s teaching that it is wrong to lie and steal (which is true) and then is found to be cheating on their taxes. That person is then behaving like a hypocrite. Another example would be someone who claims to value tolerance but knows for sure that Christians are racist, bigot, homophobes (there’s another article there somewhere.)

With this basic definition, and the undeniable evidence that there are those people in the world who claim to be Christians and do not act in a consistent manner with their faith, we have to conclude that this claim of critics is absolutely right. Christians have been guilty of hypocrisy. When faced with this challenge most Christians have no idea how to respond. They usually have one of two reactions. Lets look at each:

Reaction #1: Denial
This is a fairly basic “defense.” To simply deny the claims and evidence that Christians are guilty of hypocrisy. This is done in variety of ways but probably the most common is to point out that not all people who claim to be Christians actually are Christians. This is true in itself and is a valid point. However, can the person making this claim apply it in their own life? This supposes a type of Christian perfectionism which is clearly not what the Binle teaches. We all struggle with remaining sin in our lives even after God gives us a new heart. Even the apostle Paul struggled with this (see Romans 7.) If the great apostle to the Gentiles can struggle with sin dare we think ourselves any better? I think not.

Because we still struggle then there will be times when we say one thing and do another. We agree with the Bible that stealing, lying, and lust are wrong. Ever stole? Ever said something that was not true? Ever looked at a woman (or man) in an inappropriate way? If you can say no to these then you may be guilty of the second one. Doing this is an example of hypocrisy and we are all guilty from time to time. Bottom line: denying does not work.

Reaction #2: Capitualtion
The other response is one of complete agreement and capitulation to the charges. These are the people who roll over and apologize whenever this accusation is levied. They basically give up, tuck their tail firmly between their legs, and go home. I am being a little dramatic here but it sickens me when we simply cave under the pressure of the world and let the enemies of Christ take away our witness.

What is the answer here? If we capitulate to these charges then what? Do we go back and try and do better? This takes us back down the path of perfectionism. Don’t forget that we still struggle with sin and will never be perfect in this life. We cannot support the message of Christ if we think we have to completely clean up our act first.

Responding to the Charge: Use Your Weakness
There was a little known movie that came out in the early 90’s called “By The Sword” (starring Eric Roberts if such things are important to you.) It was a story of two fencing instructors. I can guarantee that most people reading this have never heard of it but, as a former fencer, I enjoyed the movie very much. There is a scene where we see the significant differences in the styles of the two instructors. The first teaches his students to probe for their opponents weakness and, when they find it, strike. The second teaches his students to be aware of their own weakness and use it. He says, “the good ones try and cover their’s up. The great ones use their’s. Use your weakness.” This is the message I would give to those responding to the charge of hypocrisy in the Christian faith, “use your weakness.”

Rather than denying or capitulating to this accusation, we need to acknowledge it and then use it as a springboard for the gospel. The fact of the matter is that we are not perfect and THAT IS THE POINT!!! The Bible clearly teaches that, “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” (Romans 3:23 NASB). All includes Christians. We still sin and are still in need of the grace of God. There is no magic that happens when we become Christians that makes us perfect and holy. Tough we are regenerated and should take no joy in sin, we are still infected with it. I believe that God allows this so we will never rest on our own righteousness and lean completely on Him. Don’t get me wrong, we should be seeing growth in our lives and a moving further from sin as we mature in faith. But it will never be gone and as we grow we will be continually confronted with areas of sin that we never realized. This should bring us to our knees in repentance, worship and gratitude to Christ.

We have a great message to tell those who accuse us of hypocrisy. We are not perfect, we don’t do enough good and the truth is that no one does and that is why we need Christ. That is why He bled and died on the cross so that our sin would be cleansed and His righteousness would be upon us. This is the good news of the gospel which is impossible to understand outside of the bad news of sin.

The best example of this approach I have seen was done by Todd Friel during what I think was one of his college discussions. I am not certain where or when this took place but he does a great job in using his weakness and driving the gospel straight home. I leave you with this good example.

God bless.

“Christian” is Not a Bad Word

September 13, 2012

Sometimes I like to comment on the deeper theological issues and sometimes I like to touch on things that impact the Christian life. At other times I feel compelled to comment on things I observe in the church at large. This is one of those times.

I have been noticing a trend over the last several years in the church here in America (speaking generally here.) This trend is interesting in that it seems to cross denominational and cultural boundaries. I have no idea where this started but it seems to be everywhere. This trend is the apparent avoidance of using the term “Christian.” Instead, it seems that people prefer to substitute “Follower of Christ,” or “Christ-Follower,” or even “Disciple of Christ.” It seems that you do not hear the term “Christian” used to describe those who have been redeemed by the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. The question is, why?

Do not misunderstand. I am not against the alternative terms I mentioned. These are acceptable, adequate, and fairly descriptive. While I do not find the term “Christ Follower” to be fully comprehensive it is ok in general but lacks a depth to indicate our direct association with Christ. I also think that our culture does not comprehend what it meant to be a follower in the first century. This was a very literal term back then. It meant that you followed the rabbi wherever he went, saw to his needs, and learned from his teaching. To our modern ears the term “follower” simply refers to someone who agrees with the statements and teachings of another. A charismatic leader or a sports figure can have many followers but I doubt they would seek to learn from them as the disciples in the first century would. Still, in the proper context, this is not a bad word for those who are in Christ. It may be lacking in depth as it speaks nothing to the redemption or the identification we have with Him but it is not wrong. The real question is, why is the historic term “Christian” avoided so often?

Before we look at what I believe the reasons for that are, I think we need to better understand where the term “Christian” came from…
19 So then those who were scattered because of the persecution that occurred in connection with Stephen made their way to Phoenicia and Cyprus and Antioch, speaking the word to no one except to Jews alone. 20 But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who came to Antioch and began speaking to the   Greeks also,   preaching the Lord Jesus. 21 And the hand of the Lord was with them, and a large number who believed turned to the Lord. 22 The news about them reached the ears of the church at Jerusalem, and they sent Barnabas off to Antioch. 23 Then when he arrived and witnessed the grace of God, he rejoiced and began to encourage them all with resolute heart to remain true to the Lord; 24 for he was a good man, and full of the Holy Spirit and of faith. And considerable numbers were brought to the Lord. 25 And he left for Tarsus to look for Saul; 26 and when he had found him, he brought him to Antioch. And for an entire year they met with the church and taught considerable numbers; and the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch. (Acts 11:19-26 NASB)

That’s right, the term is Biblical! That means the argument is over, right? Not exactly. The term we use for Christian is actually a transliteration of the Greek term used in this passage. Strictly speaking it does mean “Follower of Christ” and as I explained earlier this was originally a very accurate term and is still valid if understood in the proper context. Christians have called themselves Christian for centuries from this origin right here. It is a valid and accurate term for those who believe in Christ. It has come to mean one who has been redeemed by Christ and who follows Him in his everyday life. Taken in that context, there is no reason we wouldn’t call ourselves Christians.

By big issue with most people who avoid the term Christian is the implied reason why they do so. There are a few options to look at:

1. “The name Christian has lost its meaning because there are so many who call themselves Christian but are not.”
This seems to be rather common and the same logic is used to justify changing the name of many things. My response to this is, so what? There will always be people who name Christ but are not truly believers. This is not new and is not going away anytime soon so why give up the name now only to give up the new name in another 20 years for the same reason. It is a concern but does not justify the change.

2. “The unchurched people do not understand what the term Christian means.”
We have spent far too much time as a church being concerned with what the unchurched think. We need to be more focused on how God sees us not how the world does. The rest will deal with itself. How long does it really take to explain what being a Christian means? You can do it with the character limits on Twitter. There is no reason to abandon the name because of this. Frequently, this just means we are too lazy to make an explanation.

3.”Christians have done horrible things in history (crusades, inquisition, etc.) and we do not want to be identified with that.”
I can be somewhat sympathetic to this since the church and individuals calling themselves Christian have committed grievous sins. But it is a double standard. Many people of many faiths throughout the ages have done horrible things and we are told not to characterize a group for the actions of some. The same should apply to us. Why do we have to abandon our identification just because some have abused it. In many ways this is no different that the response to the first argument. Why not redeem the name instead of abandoning it?

“Christian” is not a bad word. We should stop treating it like it is and stop avoiding it for the wrong reasons. It is fine if you prefer to call yourself a follower of Christ. Just be aware of why you avoid the name Christian and don’t do it for the wrong reasons.

God bless.

Christian Knight – Service

August 29, 2012

What does it mean to be a knight in the service of Christ? I introduced this concept of Christian knighthood some time ago by stating that the Christian life mirrors the knights of old in three ways: Service, Conduct, and Warfare. For review, here are the explanations of these:

Service: We have a duty to serve our Lord. As a Christian, my life is not my own, I have been bought with a price (1 Co. 6:20.) Christ is the King whom I serve.

Conduct: One cannot think of the knights of old without thinking of the code of chivalry. This code governed the life of the knight and their conduct with others. As a Christian I also have demands on my conscience that my King has required. We are free from the curse of the Law but we are under obligation to Christ for the salvation we have in Him. Our conduct does not earn our salvation but it does reflect the gratitude we have in the salvation He has provided and demonstrates that we are His. (James 2:26.)

Warfare: A knight’s primary duty was in the arena of war. He was no mere foot soldier but a specialized warrior and commander. He defended his king and lord with the sword and lance. As a Christian I am not involved in physical warfare for His Kingdom but I am a soldier in my King’s army for the ongoing spiritual war. I am called to arm myself (Ephesians 6:12-20,) defend the truth (1 Peter 3:15,) and protect those in need (Galatians 2:10.)

This first area of service is what we are addressing today. A knight is committed to serve his Lord. As a Christian my live is defined by service to Christ. That is one of the many things in the Bible that is easy to say but hard to do. What does it mean to be in the service of Christ? Fortunately this is not a question the Bible leaves us hanging on. He are many passages we could look to but I think this concept is best said in the Gospel of John:

15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you. 18 “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me. Because I live, you also will live. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” 22 Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, “Lord, how is it that you will manifest yourself to us, and not to the world?” 23 Jesus answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. 24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. 25 “These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. 26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. 28 You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. 29 And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. 30 I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, 31 but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us go from here. (John 14:15-31 ESV)

It is the first requirement that is simplest, and hardest, obey. As Christians, we want to obey but with the constant battle against our remaining sin nature, obedience can be a hard thing. Sometimes we sin even when we don’t want to (see Romans 7) but that should not be seen as an excuse. Each of us is accountable for his or her actions. Still, obedience is our goal regardless of our imperfect walk. This is why verses 16-20 are so precious. We are not left alone. Christ has given us the Holy Spirit indwelling in us to be our helper. For left-brained people like me this is hard to understand but it is the only thing that explains how we can resist the temptations we do resist and how we can obey to the extent we do.

The commands of Christ are not a burden, nor are they hidden. We can find how He wants us to live and serve right in the pages of Scripture. This is why being a student of the Bible is so important for the Christian. To put it simple, a knight must know what his Lord expects of him. However, I do not want anyone to misunderstand. This is after we are in Christ. We do not obey to earn a spot in God’s grace. Such an idea would be abhorrent to the very concept of grace. We are saved by grace alone through faith alone. Period. our good works are done out of gratitude and by the enabling of the Holy Spirit.

In addition to obedience, we are also called to serve each other. Jesus gives a magnificent example in the previous chapter in John when He washed the disciple’s feet (John 13:1-17). I won’t take the time to provide the entire passage but the last couple verses sum up the point nicely:

15 For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. 16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. 17 If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. (John 13:15-17 ESV)

If the sovereign Lord of the universe can humble Himself in one of the most menial tasks of the time then what right do I have to claim any task is beneath me? None. We serve where there is a need and to the extent of our abilities. Maybe that means teaching a Bible study and maybe that means helping a widow by changing the oil in her car. The examples could go on and on but I think the point has been made.

A knight cannot ignore this aspect of his life. To do so is to offend his Lord and bring dishonor to His name. How can we do this when He has done so much for us. Yet I see so many people who name Christ and have no time in their busy lives for even the smallest service. We live like the world and care for the things of the world and ignore our responsibilities. Enough is enough. The church needs to wake up and stop treating Christianity like an addition to our lives and embrace it as the transformation of our lives. This can only happen if individual Christians behave like the idyllic knight and as the Bible teaches. Leaders can’t do it, church programs can’t do it, only we can.

God bless.

American Reformation – Repost

August 17, 2012

I wrote he following post awhile ago. It was applicable then and I think even more applicable now so I thought I would update and repost. As a member of the church in America I can easily say that we have lost our way (speaking in generalities here) and need to return to our roots and get back to the basic principles our Reformer forebears rescued from medieval Christianity. American Christians need to get back to the basic principles of the Reformation what are these principles? Glad you asked…

Reformation Principles:

Scripture Alone: The Bible is the only infallible rule of faith for the Christian and the Church. We appeal to Scripture not feelings or subjectivism. The Bible is true whether you believe it or not.
Faith Alone: It is by faith, not works, by which we come to God and this faith is only able to be exercised through an act of divine grace. Nothing we can do of ourselves is sufficient to earn divine mercy.
Grace Alone: Divine grace is the only way we are able to know God. Salvation is only possible through His grace.
Christ Alone: Salvation is only through Christ. There is no other way through which we can gain Salvation. We cannot simply add Christ to our lives. He is Lord.
To the Glory of God Alone: Our Salvation, our lives as Christians, and all of creation itself is only for the glory of God. He has preordained all which comes to pass for the express purpose of demonstrating His glory through justice and mercy.

The American Christian church has been the cornerstone of Christianity for the last 200 years. But we now see a severe degradation and compromise due to the influence of semi-Pelaginism, easy believism, seeker sensitivity, post modernism, and compromise. We are at risk of losing the cornerstone through neglect and forgetfulness. American Christians are consumed by mediocrity with regard to their faith. Evidence of this can be easily seen in the attitudes and beliefs of those who claim to represent Christ. Is it any wonder that our brothers and sisters in foreign countries are looking to send missionaries to us?

I speak as one just as much affected by this culture as those who I call to account. I am not innocent nor are any of us but we all have an obligation to the truth of the Gospel even if we have not always upheld it as we should. It is not only the responsibility of church leaders to stand up for the truth, it is the responsibility to everyone who names Christ as savior to uphold and learn the truth. While we have been waiting for the next great leader to come along the world has passed us over as irrelevant or has tried to remake us in its own image. And they have largely been successful! However, this is not who we are. We have been bought with a price and are called to behave in a manner worthy of the King who bought us.

It is my fervent belief that the only way to bring about change in the American Christian Church is to return to the Reformation. We must walk in the steps of men like Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Knox, William Tyndale, John Wycliffe, Jon Huss, Augustine, Polycarp, and the apostles Peter, John, and Paul. All of these men were willing to sacrifice everything for the Gospel and many gave the ultimate sacrifice. Of course, by walking in the path of these giants of the faith I am simply speaking of following the first principle of Scripture Alone. We have given up a consistent, objective study of the Bible in favor of a subjective approach that sees truth as something that we feel rather than something that is.

For too long have I seen brothers and sisters in Christ embrace the ways of this world and follow the desires of their hearts rather than listening to Christ and following His word. We give up too much when we embrace the attitude of mediocrity and lose the battle by forfeit. It is time for this generation to reclaim the American church and put things back on the path of the Reformers. The American Church must reform or I fear that it will be unrecognizable to my grandchildren or maybe even my children’s generation.

I hope this is an encouragement (or at least a kick in the pants) to my fellow believers (and myself) to settle for nothing less than the pure Word of God and accept no compromises to it. The Bible is a reliable source of history and faith and there are consistent and relevant arguments to bring against those who claim otherwise. It is not enough in this day and age to simply say that we believe the Bible on pure faith and nothing but faith. Faith like this is wonderful but unless we understand what we have faith in we will not be prepared to give an answer to those who ask. We must also constantly remind ourselves that we are not alone. We stand on the shoulders of giants who have come before us and to whose memory we are indebted. No matter what denomination we come from we cannot allow ourselves to forget that Christianity did not come into being in the last 200 years. We have a history dating back thousands of years that is worthy of our attention (warts and all.)

May this serve to encourage, admonish, and bolster my brothers and sisters in the faith. May it be a reminder to all of us (myself included) to hold onto the truths we confess as precious. We may also have a bit of fun along the way.

Semper Reformanda (Always Reforming)

God bless

Review: ESV Verse by Verse Reference Bible

August 16, 2012


I have always been a fan of function taking precedence over form. Not that form is unimportant, merely that if something is not useful it does not matter how aesthetically pleasing it is. It is a rare and wonderful thing when these two meet. The question here is, does this happen with the new ESV Verse by Verse (VbV) Reference Bible?

This latest edition stands in the legacy of the original ESV Single Column Reference (SCR) Bible. It has the same format setting and is roughly the same size as the original. Unfortunately, the original SCR did not do well in the market. It was initially plagued with very thin and translucent paper which made for a difficult reading experience. Once they upgraded the paper the Bible became extremely thick (about 2″ or so) making it difficult to carry easily. It has been said the Crossways shot themselves in the foot with the problems in this edition and hurt the reception of what could have been their best reference Bible on the market. All that being said I had a copy of the original edition in trutone and found it fairly adequate despite the translucent paper.

The VbV is very much like the original SCR with a few minor differences. It is a single column format with the references in the inside margin. The original had 10pt font and about 1.125″ outside margins. The new edition has about 9pt font and slightly less than 1″ outside margins. The overall size is roughly the same as the original SCR edition. Personally, I do not find this to be overly large but your mileage may vary.

Also, like its predecessor, it is printed in verse format which means that each verse starts a new line. There has been much dispute about this format. Some like it and others detest it. For my part, I like both. The verse format does have the advantage of making looking up verses very easy. It does take a little getting used to for a smooth reading experience you have to learn to ignore the line breaks and focus on the text. If all you are looking for is a reading Bible then this format is probably not for you. However, it is very nice for reference and study which is exactly what this Bible was made for. If your pastor likes to reference other passages during the sermon as mine does then this will make it easier to look up his references.

There have been some people who would claim that the verse format contributes to taking verses out of context and cherry-picking. To be honest, I flat out reject this assertion. People have been misusing the Bible long before thre was such a thing as verse of paragraph formats. Blaming the format as a contributor to this is not a valid criticism. Just because someone can misuse the format is no reason to blame the format.

One of the things that is not so great about this new edition is the binding options. It comes in two favors of trutone and genuine leather there is no premium leather option currently available. I purchased the genuine leather edition because I did not think that the trutone material would provide enough support for a Bible this size. Plus at only $50 I did not see a reason not to get the leather. While Crossway’s genuine leather is not as fine as some of the other options out there and it does, admittedly, feel a little like plastic, it seems to be very durable. From past experience with this kind of product, I expect it to soften and break in over time.

The binding is sewn and the Bible opens easily to any page you want. Unlike other products I have seen, the pages do not stick together. Whatever process Crossway’s used to place the gilding on this edition it did not cause this phenomenon. Overall I can say that this edition opens easily and lays flat for easy reading on a tabletop or lap.

Probably one of the most important features in a good Bible edition is the paper. It need to be thin enough to make for an edition that doe not cause a strained muscle when carrying but also thick or opaque enough that one cannot read the parable of the sower from Genesis. For the VbV Bible I must sa that they have done well. The paper is good without being too thick and opaque enough for normal use. There is some of the text on the opposite page visible as you would expect but it really is minimal and seems mostly limited to the text on the opposite page. Personally I find it more distracting when I can actually read the text as opposed to text that is backwards. I a single column Bible like this you need to expect some ghosting but I think this edition does a fine job. Not perfect but certainly an improvement over other editions.

When all the features are evaluated I am left with a simple question, would I recommend this edition to someone else? To that I have to give a resounding yes. It is a good Bible that is versatile without being overly cumbersome. I am quite pleased with this purchase and plan on using this as my primary Bible for the foreseeable future.

For those who like such things (like my wife) here is a brief list of pros and cons:

– Layout: great for reading and study.
– Binding: strong and made of good material.
– Paper: good quality, white, and feels thick.
– Price: you can’t go wrong for $50.

– Size: it is a little big if you are looking for something to carry around.
– Cover: no premium leather option. Candidate for a re-bind later.
– Ribbons: only comes with one. I wish publishers would figure out that we like at least two on Bibles like this.