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Proof of what is unseen

Church websites

Mark Ward

I’m designing a new church website and promotional materials for Cleveland Park Baptist Church in nearby Spartanburg, and as part of my preparation I just surveyed some of the work others are doing in this field.

I came across a site which I was impressed with, Their design is relatively spare and clean. It looks a bit formulaic (and I only mean a bit) after you look at a lot of their work, but no one surfing to an individual church’s website would know that.

I have often noted that a church’s website design tells a lot about the church. That’s because a website, like general clothing or decoration or musical styles, is a clear barometers of a church’s (generally socio-economic) culture.

In my years of research for this post (I don’t know how many church sites I’ve surfed in the past five years), I note that there is variation within each category of churches. Not every seeker church has hit the critical mass necessary to include a good web designer. But there are still a lot of messages encoded in every church page. It’s a language you can improve your fluency in.

See if you don’t agree. I made these images smaller so you couldn’t read the words well. Which of the following churches (ok, one isn’t a church) is Emergent? Mainline Protestant? Seeker? KJVO?

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Logos and comps study

Mark Ward

Logos has become a daily companion to me in my studies, and I received special profit from it during recent comprehensive exam studies. Here’s a selection of works I used to study textual criticism and New Testament introduction (these works came with Scholar’s Gold, some Theological Journal Library volumes, and the BECNT and WBC sets):

  • Guthrie’s NT Introduction
  • Darrel Bock’s BECNT volume on Luke
  • Bill Mounce in the WBC on the Pastorals
  • JETS and WTJ articles and reviews by Grant Osborne, Moisés Silva, and others
  • Richard Bauckham in the WBC on Jude
  • Timothy George in the NAC on Galatians
  • Richard Longenecker in the WBC on Galatians

I didn’t use Guthrie as a textbook when I took NT Intro, and I was quite impressed with the level of detail he goes to. Carson and Moo (and, when I took NTI, Morris) have a fine NT Intro as well, but it was very good to check other views.

I encourage you to look at the basic Logos packages and add up the value of the books you feel you would profit from. See which package would be most worth your money.

A little note on the North and South Galatia problem: Check out ch. 7 of Silva’s Interpreting Galatians: Explorations in Exegetical Method.

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Kidner on Ezra

Mark Ward

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Derek Kidner has been a very helpful commentator for me. I know his works (at least the ones I’m familiar with) aren’t technical, but I don’t always need technical. He’s rare among his breed for having such pleasing prose. His style seems just perfect for the OT books on which I’ve read his comments.

More important, of course, he honors the Lord. I thought this little section from his commentary on Ezra 6 (the story where Tattenai tries to stop the Jews from building the temple by telling Darius about them–only to have Darius tell Tattenai to supply the Jews with all they need for building!) was excellent.

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After a while a C feels like a B

Mark Ward

I saw this book on a bibliography for a TEDS course in TC and it looked worthwhile, so I asked BJU’s Mack Library to order it.

Textual Optimism: A Critique of the United Bible Societies’ Greek New Testament
Kent Clarke

I let a teacher of mine know that the book was coming, and he replied:

Yes, I came across Clarke’s name recently and noticed this title. Thanks for requesting it. I think part of his work, at least, is a study in how the certainty ratings in UBS seem to have risen nearly across the board between the 3rd and 4th editions.

I have seen complaints in KJVO literature about ratings changing without MS evidence changing. I suspect that these rating increases probably reflect the comfort we all gain with new ideas over time. That is, a certain reading may seem unsure enough to be given a C rating, but after thirty years as part of the commonly accepted text and with few or no challenges, it just feels like a B.

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Just installed Google Analytics

Mark Ward

I’m watching you now.

If you have a WordPress blog and you’d like to track your hits, you can try an easy-to-use Google Analytics plug-in. Or else you can use a simpler stats plug-in WordPress has developed.

Somebody got to this blog by searching for “Bob Jones University.” Someone else, “Education as a predictor of longevity.” Well.

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Where does this come from?

Mark Ward


I have been mulling over a question for some years now, and this little excerpt from a self-published book makes me ask it again: what sin lies at the heart of being just flat wrong about some aspect of theology?

What is the origin of the spirit that finds immoral conspiracies in the Chronicles of Narnia and writes a liberally underlined!!! and (inevitably) “exhaustively researched” screed about it?

What sin lies at the heart of a King James Only crusader who feels he has to turn Westcott and Hort into demons and the King James translators into super-apostles?

What sin leads an educated man to make preposterous claims? Here’s the boast Peshitta translator George Lamsa made for himself (taken from an article by Edwin Yamauchi in BibSac, 131):

Moreover, the author was educated under the care of learned priests of the Church of the East who knew no other language but Aramaic, and highly educated Englishmen, graduates of Oxford, Cambridge and other famous English schools. The author, through God’s grace, is the only one with the knowledge of Aramaic, the Bible customs and idioms, and the knowledge of the English language who has ever translated the Holy Bible from the original Aramaic texts into English and written commentaries on it, and his translation is now in pleasingly wide use.

As Yamauchi comments, Lamsa is basically claiming a lock on the truth!

There’s a similarity running through all of the examples I’ve cited, a recognizable voice in their writings. But what is it?

I have long posited anti-intellectualism as the culprit, but somehow I don’t feel that’s enough–especially considering that some people get a lot of education and still come out with pseudoscientific views. A respected teacher of mine said in an e-mail that the culprit was the “urge to cling to the known at all costs.”

What do you think?

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