Maoz Zur

Pick up some free cultural and religious enrichment at Amazon׃ a traditional Hanukah song which is more than reminiscent of the biblical Psalms.

While listening, try to follow along in the Hebrew. (Please try, if only to justify the time I spent typing it out!)

Hebrew:

מָעוֹז צוּרִ יְשׁוּעָתִי לְךָ נָאֶה לְשַׁבֵּחַ

תִּכּוֹן בִֵּית תְּפִלָּתִי וְשָׁם תּוֹדָה נְזַבֵּהַ

לְעֵת תָּכִִין מַטְבֵּהַ מִצָּר הַמְנַבֵּהַ

אָז אֶגְמוֹר בְּשִׁיר מִזְמוֹר הֲנֻכַּת הַמִּזְבֵּהַ

English Translation:
O mighty stronghold of my salvation,
To praise You is a delight.
Restore my House of Prayer
And there we will bring a thanksgiving offering.
When You will have prepared the slaughter
For the blaspheming foe,
Then I shall complete with a song of hymn
The dedication of the Altar.

Transliteration:
Ma-oz Tzur Y’shu-a-ti Le-cha Na-eh L’sha-bei-ach
Ti-kon Beit T’fi-la-ti V’sham To-da N’za-bei-ach
L’eit Ta-chin Mat-bei-ach Mi-tzar Ha-mi-ga-bei-ach
Az Eg-mor B’shir Miz-mor Cha-nu-kat Ha-miz-bei-ach

Literacy Rates and the King James Version

Literacy in the U.S. is embarrassingly low.

Nearly 50% of the adult US population reads at a 7th grade level or lower. Nearly 25% has reading proficiency so low they cannot read instructions on medication bottles, the manual that comes with a piece of machinery, or a newspaper. This means roughly 40 million Americans cannot do something as simple and critical as read the handout a pharmacist gives them that warns them of lethal drug interactions.

[From Blog Action Day 2008: Attack Poverty Through Literacy]

What does this say about the continued use of the King James Version in American churches?

The kids I have tried to evangelize over the past 10 years can’t even read the New American Standard. I’ve explained the theme verse at my one long-time weekly ministry—”Keep sound wisdom and discretion, so they will be life to your soul and adornment to your neck”—to countless low-income junior highers, and I’m not sure any of them ever understood it.

God used the common language of the day in the New Testament, Koine Greek. Koine (Κοινη), in fact, simply means “common.” We should not fear to do the same. The Bible contains some passages and truths that are difficult to understand (2 Pet. 3:16). Some are impossible to grasp without divine enablement (1 Cor. 2:14). But why make understanding impossible by using a language no one in this world speaks?

P.S.

I’ve already posted a list of a few verses in the KJV that are unintelligible. I just found a new one, Joshua 17:18. “It is a wood, and thou shalt cut it down: and the outgoings of it shall be thine.”

BJU Statement on Racism

I applaud Bob Jones University, my alma mater, for stating this clearly in a statement released today:

Bob Jones University has existed since 1927 as a private Christian institution of higher learning for the purpose of helping young men and women cultivate a biblical worldview, represent Christ and His Gospel to others, and glorify God in every dimension of life. BJU’s history has been chiefly characterized by striving to achieve those goals; but like any human institution, we have failures as well.

For almost two centuries American Christianity, including BJU in its early stages, was characterized by the segregationist ethos of American culture. Consequently, for far too long, we allowed institutional policies regarding race to be shaped more directly by that ethos than by the principles and precepts of the Scriptures. We conformed to the culture rather than provide a clear Christian counterpoint to it.

Praise the Lord for the humility and wisdom of BJU President Stephen Jones. I have prayed for him and the University in the past to do the right thing with regard to this issue, and I prayed for him during the small (Facebook) controversy which gave rise to this statement. My prayers were answered beyond what I expected, and I rejoice.

My Wedding Vows

Originally my thinking about wedding vows ran like this: The Bible doesn’t require a church wedding; it’s more the best of my cultural tradition that I’m honoring when I don a tux and Laura a white gown. That cultural tradition is primarily English, as are the vows which in various mangled forms survive to the present: “for richer, for poorer,” etc. Why not, then, go ad fontes and use the original Church of England vows?

I discovered why not when I looked:

  1. Many contemporary audiences of good Christian people would be confused by the wording.
  2. Thinking Christian people will object to the phrase “with my body I thee worship.”
  3. Admittedly, using the antiquated English of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer sounds elitist, hoity-toity, or even silly in the wrong context.
  4. Non-Christians, inured by custom, will hear only religious drivel.

So I updated some of the language and changed some more. For your perusal, I submit my vows (for comparison to the original, click here). The last vows, the “further pledge,” are the place where I made the most changes. Apparently the Puritans didn’t like “with my body I thee worship” any more than I did, but their replacement was wordy and I wanted to include some Bible truths especially precious to Laura and me.

Ward Wedding Vows

Mark, will you have this woman as your wedded wife, to live together after God’s ordinance in the holy estate of marriage? Will you love her, lead her, comfort, honor, and keep her in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all others, cleave only to her, as long as you both shall live?

The Man shall answer, I will.

Then he shall say unto the Woman,

Laura, will you have this man as your wedded husband, to live together after God’s ordinance in the holy estate of Matrimony? Will you obey him, follow him, help him, love, honor, and keep him in sickness and in health; and, forsaking all others, cleave only to him, as long as you both shall live?

The Woman shall answer, I will.

Then shall the Minister say,

Who gives this woman to be married to this man?

Father:

Her mother and I do.

Then shall they pledge their faithfulness to each other in this manner.

The Minister, receiving the Woman at her father’s hands, shall cause the Man with his right hand to take the Woman by her right hand, and to say after him as follows.

I, Mark, take you, Laura, as my wedded wife, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance. This I pledge in a covenant of love.

Then shall they loose their hands; and the Woman, with her right hand taking the Man by his right hand, shall likewise say after the Minister,

I, Laura, take you, Mark, as my wedded husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, respect, and to obey, till death do us part, according to God’s holy ordinance. This I pledge in a covenant of love.

Then shall they again loose their hands; and the Man shall give unto the Woman a ring. And the Man holding the ring there, and taught by the Preacher, shall say,

By this ring I make a further pledge: by the grace of our God I will love you with the true love of delight. I will love you as my own body, for we today become one. With joy I take my role as head. This I declare in the presence of the eternally rejoicing triune God. Amen.

Then the Man leaving the ring upon the fourth finger of the Woman’s left hand.

Then shall they again loose their hands; and the Woman shall give unto the Man a ring. And the Woman holding the ring there, and taught by the Preacher, shall say,

By this ring I make a further pledge: by the grace of our God I will love you with the true love of delight. I will honor you as my head, for we today become one. With joy I take my role as helper. This I declare in the presence of the eternally rejoicing triune God. Amen.