Saturday, January 24, 2015

The Owl the Hawk and the Cuckow – Spiritualizing Run a Fowl

The title of this post comes from an allegorical sermon Spurgeon once heard on the text of Lev 11:16, which reads in the KJV, “and the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckow, and the hawk after his kind.”  The venerable sermonizer related this text to three types of people: (1) night hawks were cheaters/stealers, (2) owls were drunkards, and (3) cuckoos were preachers who always said the same thing whenever they entered the pulpit!  These birds were all unclean and thus represented these three groups of unclean sinners.  Even Spurgeon, who relates this story in his Lectures to My Students (“On Spiritualizing”) in a somewhat positive manner, had to admit, “Was not this rather too much of a good thing?”   

Indeed!

Spurgeon is well known for sometimes spiritualizing the text but he does offer several warnings about the practice:
  1. Do not violently strain a text by illegitimate spiritualizing
  2. Never spiritualize upon indelicate subjects
  3. Never spiritualize for the sake of showing what an uncommonly clever fellow you are
  4. Never pervert Scripture to give it a novel and so-called spiritual meaning
  5. In no case allow your audience to forget that the narratives which you spiritualize are facts
Ironically, spiritualizing actually undermines each of these very legitimate concerns. Whenever a man does this, the sacred text becomes secondary and what we get is the mind of the preacher rather than the mind of God.  
 
Now to be fair, and I think Spurgeon hints at this in his defense, the truths that are preached are often biblical truths and presented in a way that is compelling and memorable.  The very fact that Spurgeon could remember a sermon preached from the Levetical minutia of clean and unclean animals shows how effective such preaching can be!  Those truths would be better preached from texts that actually teach those truths, however.

If you want to teach your listeners the mind of God and how he reasons and thinks, then you need to explain the flow the passage and how each part contributes to the overall idea that God wants us to get from a particular text.  You can’t do that if you are preaching on things that the text doesn’t say anything about.  If you want to make the text big and important in the mind of your listeners, then you need the text to be big and important in the preparation and delivery of your sermon. When they have finished listening to what you have said, their response should NOT be – “Wow, I never would have seen that myself!”  Instead, it should be, “Wow, how did I ever miss seeing that – it’s so clear!”*

*Modified and expanded from a section in Iain Duguid’s introduction to his commentary on Ezekiel (which is a book often given over to allegorical interpretation). 

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Saturday, November 29, 2014

Is Perfect Preservation the Historical Position?


Over on Kent Brandenburg's blog, I commented on his post, Honesty About the Historical Position on Preservation, that I agreed with B. B. Warfield regarding the Westminster Confession of Faith and the significance of the phrase, "kept pure in all ages."  My point was that so-called "perfect preservation" was not the historical position of the church but one that was debated back in those days, just like it is in ours.  Kent asked me to consider several posts, including a fairly lengthy paper by Paul Ferguson, that purports to show that his position is correct and that I am unaware of the true historical position.  I tried to leave the following in the comment field of his blog but I was limited in the number of characters in my response, so I am posting my response to Kent here on my blog:

Kent

There is certainly a lot to respond to, especially Paul’s very lengthy paper on the subject. Let me start by saying that I appreciated the time and effort that Paul put in on that, and while I don’t agree, I better understand where you guys are coming from.  I don’t have time to respond to everything so I think I will limit myself primarily to the issue of the WCF and then Muller’s comments that you quote.

Paul writes on page 40 of his paper that “the Westminster Divines never argued for the preservation of a copy, but the preservation of the Words, because that is what the Bible teaches.”  I tend to agree with that statement but I’m not sure that you guys are consistent with what that says, because later on Paul argues for a “reformation text” (p 42) which was “immediately inspired by God because it was identical with the first text that God has kept pure in all the ages” (p 43) with “no mistakes in the Hebrew Masoretic texts or in the Textus Receptus of the New Testament” (p 43).  These later quotes argue for the perfect preservation of a copy, not the preservation of words within the available manuscript evidence. But let’s move on to what the WCF actually claims.

The Westminster divines “were men of prodigious learning and were aware of many minor textual disagreements going back to the days of the Early Fathers” (p 42).  This quote corresponds with what B.B. Warfield says, and what I highlighted in my first comment to you, that the WCF recognizes a difference between the original autographs (“immediately inspired by God”) and subsequent copies (by God’s providence, “kept pure in all ages”). When the WCF states that the scriptures have “by his singular care and providence [been] kept pure in all ages” it can’t mean that every copy has been kept free from all error or alteration, or that a single copy always exists that has been kept free from all error or alteration. It must mean that the scriptures have been kept pure within the multitude of extant copies.  In other words God has kept his word pure providentially so that no one group, person, church, or government could corrupt the reading of the text without those changes (intentional or unintentional) being noticed and correctable through the process of textual criticism.

Warfield is not the only one who suggests this about the WCF wording.  Writing before Warfield, in 1857, Robert Shaw, in his An Exposition of the Confession of Faith of the Westminster Assembly of Divines, writes, “Copies we now possess generally coincide with the originals . . . Every succeeding age increase the difficulty; and though the comparison of a multitude of ancient manuscripts and copies has discovered a vast number of various readings, occasions by the inadvertency and inaccuracy of transcribers, yet not one of these differences affect any one article of the faith and comfort of Christians.” 

In my previous note I mentioned that Brian Walton contended against Owens’ position after his publication of the Polyglott. Here is what Walton said in his Considerator Considered, “that the special providence of God hath watched over these books, to preserve them pure and uncorrpt against all attempts of Sectaries, Hereticks, and others, and will still preserve them to the end of the world, for the end for which they were first written, That the errors or mistakes which may befall by negligence or inadvertency of Transcribers or Printers, are in matters of no concernment (from whence various readings have risen), and my by collation of other copies and other means there mention be  rectified and amended” – so he agrees with Warfield and me.

I think it is fair to say that both your position and mine requires the use of textual criticism.  You just use different criteria (giving priority to TR texts and KJV readings), while I would make use of more manuscripts and use a different method of textual criticism.  Warfield says the same when he says, “Men like Lightfoot are found defending the readings of the common text against men like Beza; as there were some of them, like Lightfoot, who were engaged in the most advance work which up to that time had been done on the Biblical text, Walton’s Polyglott, so others of  them may have stood with John Owen, a few years later, in his strictures on that great work; and had their lot been cast in our day it is possible that many of them might have been of the school of Scrivener and Burgon, rather than that of Westcott and Hort.” (PRR, 644).

Contra to this, Paul Ferguson tries to argue that the Westminster divines were referring to a “perfectly preserved TR (as cited in the confession)” (p 44) by supplying several quotes from men of that era to that effect.  Of course, any text they might be talking about was surely an edition of the TR because that was the Greek text currently printed and in use at the time.  However, to say that they uniformly viewed the TR family or any particular version of the TR as the perfectly preserved text identical with the autographs is not quite right. I don’t doubt that some thought that way.  It appears that some like Turretin and Owen believed than any corruption in the text throws the entire text, words, message, and all into doubt.  This argument, though, is not sound and does, as Wallace says, paints them into a corner.  The quote from Lightfoot (p 46) does not identify where God preserved “every part so that not so much as a tittle should perish.” His participation in Brian Walton’s Polyglott makes me think Lightfoot did not have a particular text in mind when he wrote that quote. I’ll have more to say about Lightfoot’s views below.

Same goes with Paul’s quote from Capel (p 45-46). Warfield quotes Capel as saying, earlier in the same document that Paul quotes from, “we have copies in both languages which copies vary not from the primitive writings in any matter that may stumble any. This concerns only the learned, and they know what by consent of all parties, the most learned on all sides amongst Christians do shake hand in this, that God by his providence hath preserve them uncorrupt [AE – he goes on to explain what he mean by this -- ] What if there be variety of readings in some copies? And some mistakes in writing or printing? This makes nothing against our doctrine, sith for all this the fountain runs clear.”  Capel admits that “Translators and Transcribers might erre, being not prophets nor indued with that infallible Spirit in translating or transcribing, as Moses and the prophets were in their Original Writings” but says that doesn’t matter because “the fountain runs clear”, meaning that the original were perfectly inerrant, and any such errors do not effect doctrine (“this makes nothing against our doctrine”).  So you cannot appeal to Capel, who basically takes the same position as I do.

In fact, Warfield quotes several WCF era theologians to show that they were aware of errors in the texts and the need for textual criticism to restore the text. 

“That Divine Truth in English, is as truly the Word of God, as the same Scriptures delivered in the Originall, Hebrew or Greek; yet with this difference, that the same is perfectly, immediately and most absolutely in the Orginall Hebrew and Greek, in other translations as the vessels wherein it is presented to us, and as far forth as they do agree with the Originalls. . . We do not say that his or that Translation is the Rule and Judge, but the Divine Truth translated; the knowledge whereof is brought to us in the Translation.” (William Lyford, The Plain Man’s Senses Exercised, 1657).

This quote highlights confidence in the original manuscripts and the fact that no one translation should be considered the sole final authority – others are valid and authoritative as they correspond to the original Hebrew and Greek.

Samuel Rutherford says in 1651 that “for  through scribes, translators, grammarians, printers, may all erre, it followeth not that an unerring providence of him that has seven eyes, hath not delivered to the Church, the scriptures containing the infallible word of God.” In other words, just because we have “only copies written by men, who might make mistake” that does not mean God was unable in his providence to nevertheless preserve his infallible word for us, in spite of the presence of those mistakes.

“How shall we hold and keep fast the Letter of Scripture, when there are so many Greek Copies of the New Testament? And these diverse from one another? . . . For though there are many received copies of the New Testament, yet there is not material differences between them.”  (William Bridge, Scripture Light the Most Sure Light, 1656).

“Consider how many copies were abroad in the world. The Old Testament was in every synagogue and how many copes would men take of the New Testament. So that it is impossible but still Scripture must be conveyed. . .  .It was their [the Masorites] care and solicitude to preserve the text in all purity . . . yet could they not, for all their care, but have some false copies go up and down among them, through heedlessness and error of transcribers. . . To which may be added that the same power and care of God, that preserves the Church, would preserve the Scriptures pure to it, and he that did, and could, preserve the whole could preserve every part so that not so much as a tittle should perish.” (John Lightfoot, Works) – Here Lightfoot connects the many copies of scripture with God’s providence to preserve each part, even though careful copyists still make mistakes.  In other words, he is basically saying the same thing as us – that God preserves his word within the multitude of extant copies.

All this to say that I believe Warfield is right concerning the WCF and “kept pure in all ages” terminology.  So much so, that my belief regarding preservation is satisfactorily expressed in this and similarly worded confessions.  Now, when I had a hand in writing a church doctrinal statement, we used the terminology “essentially pure”, so there would be no confusion, but I think they both mean the same basic thing.

I’ve been going on for quite some time, so instead of adding all my comments from Muller, maybe I’ll just close with what I consider to be his “money” quote concerning this issue.  Here is what he says on page 401:

“…scholars have tended to overlook the fact that the practice of most exegetes of the seventeenth century was somewhere in between the fairly radical conjectural emendation on the basis of ancient versions recommended by Cappel and the virtual denial of the usefulness of text-critical efforts that can be elicited from Owen’s attack on the London Polygot.” (Muller, 401)

In other words, Owen’s position did not represent a consensus but an extreme. Honestly, how could it be otherwise? It’s not surprising that people would use the TR text of the day for their work, as there was no real printed competition. Textual scholars of that day, though, knew the TR was not the “be all and end all.” 

As far as your basic premise goes, that your position is the historical position, that just cannot be sustained.  In my last post, I jokingly referred to Erasmus and Luther and their exclusion of the Comma, but in all seriousness, how can your text (based on your position) be the historical text when it wasn’t always the historical text and when there was no consensus among 16/17th cent believers for your position or text? There was controversy, just like we have today.

So with that I think I will end.

Hope you had a great Thanksgiving,

Andy

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Monday, November 24, 2014

Martin Luther and the German Bible

Emory University in Atlanta has recently completed a new building that houses their theological seminary and library.  It is a wonderful, state-of-the-art facility and almost makes me want to take a few more classes so that I could take advantage of their vast theological resources in this marvelous new complex.  Emory is proudly ecumenical but nevertheless maintains a remarkably diverse library such that I have been able to find nearly anything I've ever had occasion to search out, from Buddhist theology (when I needed to research such for an apologetics class I was taking) to Richard Muller's Post-Reformation Dogmatics volume on Holy Scripture (for examining the historical view of preservation for a blog discussion).

Pitts Theological Library, Emory University, Atlanta

One of the most special parts of the new library is a  small museum that displays various items of historical significance on a rotating basis. The current exhibition, Martin Luther's Reform of University and Church, draws from their vast holdings of Reformation era materials. Of particular interest to me, and what I consider to be probably their most noteworthy treasures, are a 1516 first edition and a 1519 second edition of the Greek New Testament produced by Desiderius Erasmus, along with a 1522 copy of Martin Luther's German translation of the New Testament.  Luther, of course, used an Erasmus 2nd edition Greek NT to translate the New Testament into German for the first time. See the photos below:

Greek New Testament (Erasmus, 1516)

German New Testament (Luther, 1522)
For being nearly 500 years old, these documents are in remarkable condition. Click on the pictures for a larger view.

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Monday, August 04, 2014

Koinonia and the Lord’s Table

“Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.”

How many times have I heard this phrase repeated by the pastor as we partake of the first element of communion? Certainly hundreds of time by now. It’s so common and familiar that I barely give it a second thought. I am beginning to wonder, though, if I have not completely understood the significance of this element of communion all these years.

Often I have been asked to pray prior to the giving of either the bread or cup, and occasionally wonder what difference I should highlight in my prayer regarding the two elements.  Normally what I end up doing is equating the bread with the death of Christ and the physical pain he suffered on my behalf, and then seeing the cup as the blood shed on my behalf.  That distinction, though, has never been very satisfying to me because, ultimately, I view both of those things – dying and shedding his blood -- as the same thing, basically the propitiatory act that Christ suffered on my behalf to secure my redemption.

Recently on Wednesday nights our church has been studying the subject of koinonia or True Fellowship, as Jerry Bridges refers to it in his book by that title.  Our study of this concept reminded me of a place in 1 Corinthians where this terminology is used in conjunction with the Lord’s Supper. It is this passage that makes me think that maybe there is a more significant distinction in the symbolism of the elements than I had recognized before.  Here is the relevant portion of the passage:

1 Corinthians 10:16-17 (ESV)
The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation [koinonia] in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation [koinonia] in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread.

The point of the passage is that the Corinthians should not knowingly eat meat offered to idols because it identifies you with or makes you a participant with the false god the idol represents.  You should purposely avoid fellowship or koinonia with demons (1 Cor 10:20). 

One of the illustrations Paul uses in his explanation is the symbolism of the Lord’s Supper. When we drink of the cup, we are showing our participation or identification with Christ on the cross. There is this koinonia with the blood of Christ in which we share.  I would say it goes further than just a remembrance and includes an affirmation of our union with Christ.  When I take the cup, it is as if I am saying, “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by the faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20). This fact by itself is noteworthy to me because it tells me that what I am doing during communion is very significant because of the koinonia with Christ and his sacrifice that it represents.

Now, though, look at what Paul says is the meaning of the bread. It is participation or koinonia in the body of Christ. While it might be possible to take “the body of Christ” as Christ’s physical body that he sacrificed on the cross on our behalf, Paul’s clarifying statement in verse 17 shows that he is thinking about the church as the body of Christ. It is the church that is the one body that is made up of the many.  The one bread symbolizes that one body, and the breaking of the bread (so that each person may partake) shows that each person is a part of that body.  When we break the bread and eat we are showing our koinonia or fellowship in that body. Just like taking the cup affirms our union with Christ, so the taking of the bread affirms or identifies us with the body of Christ.
If this is true, then the two elements of communion picture two different but important aspects of the koinonia we enjoy – our union with Christ and our membership in the church. There probably is a universal aspect to this but since the ordinance is administered in the conjunction with a local church, I think the primary membership it affirms is that of the local church. Nevertheless, even a visitor can partake and affirm that he is with his brothers and sisters in Christ and have true fellowship with them.

When I first noticed this, I wondered if any of my commentaries mentioned anything along these same lines.  The analysis above seems obvious to me, but if it is correct, why hasn’t anyone bothered to mention it before? Well, lo and behold, someone has.  Here are Gordon Fee’s comments on this passage from his commentary on 1 Corinthians:

“What is unique here is that Paul will go on to interpret the bread in terms of the church as his ‘body.’ Nowhere else in the NT is the bread interpreted at all [footnote 30]. Paul does so here probably because in this context the emphasis lies here. Thus he does not mean that by eating the bread believers have some kind of mystical ‘participation in’ the ‘broken body’ of Christ, but, as he clearly interprets in v. 17, they are herewith affirming that through Christ’s death they are ‘partners’ in the redeemed community, the new eschatological people of God.” (Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, 468-469).

His footnote 30 says, “Although there is no evidence for it in the NT itself, the close association between the ‘broken bread’ and Jesus’ ‘broken’ body on the cross caused the bread eventually to be interpreted in this way (see the textual gloss in 11:24, ‘my body which is broken for you’).”  Now, Fee can sometimes go overboard in claiming that certain (inconvenient) statements are textual additions – his claim in this same commentary regarding women keeping silent in the church (1 Cor 14:34-35) comes to mind. In this case, however, there seems to be good support for his conclusion and the ESV, NASB, HCSB, and NIV all omit the term “broken” in 1 Cor 11:24. The gospels mention that Jesus broke the bread and that the bread refers to his body, but only here in 1 Corinthians 10 does the NT explicitly interpret the symbolism.

Other commentators appear to agree. Leon Morris, for example, says, “Believers are many but they are one body . . . communicates are united to Christ and united to one another” (Morris, 1 Corinthians, 144). Similarly, David Garland writes, “The disparate believers gathered around the table represent the one body of Christ – a theme that Paul will develop further in chapters 11-12” (Garland, 1 Corinthians, 478).

Anthony Thiselton, on the other hand, seems reluctant to abandon the idea that the broken bread refers to Christ’s broken body on the cross. Thus whatever ideas about church fellowship within the body of Christ these verses may teach, we should not limit ourselves to that one sole meaning, in his opinion (see his discussion on pages 763-771 of his commentary).  Thiselton bases many of his conclusions on scholarly monographs that he references without fully recapping their arguments, so without access to those resources, it is hard to tell how strong his position is. Nevertheless, even if Fee goes too far as Thiselton suggests, it is still true that verse 17 brings the unity and koinonia of the church into play on at least one level, even if it is not the sole intended meaning.

Interestingly, when he gets to chapter 11, Fee himself will also acknowledge that the bread does refer to Christ’s body, given for us as a vicarious atonement in fulfillment of Isaiah 53:12 (“he bore the sin of many”). So, if that is true, then my original understanding of the elements was not wrong so much as it was incomplete.  The bread does refer to Christ’s body, given on the cross for us, but we should not neglect the further significance regarding the church that Paul gives it in 1 Corinthians 10.


Therefore, taking all this into consideration, I would suggest that when we take communion at the Lord’s Table, we remember what Christ did on the cross for us, certainly, but that we don’t lose sight of the koinonia we enjoy with Christ our sacrifice and his body our church family. I see it as an opportunity for regular affirmation and appreciation that we are united, not only with the crucified Christ, but also with the body of Christ to which we are joined.

Saturday, April 20, 2013

On Seminary


Today I turned in my final project for a Masters in Biblical Studies from Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Virginia Beach. I’ve been working on this degree since 2009, so it has taken about 4 years. This is a 36-hour degree – 12 classes – that I was able to complete entirely online. In fact, I have been on campus there just once, over four years ago, when I was still just thinking about going to seminary. We just had CBTSVB grad Michael Carlyle in at our church for a missions conference and he showed me around and introduced me to several of the professors. Ironically, even though we were there over a Sunday, I never met Dan Davey, the president and professor from whom I took the most classes – Acts, Romans, and Pastoral Epistles. There is no question that live, on-campus training is the far better option if you can do it. The online process has many limitations and frustrations but I am VERY thankful that CBTSVB offered an online option that has allowed me to graduate with a solid seminary degree.

Since I’m a numbers guy, I like to keep track of what I’ve done. For these 12 classes, I’ve read (not skimmed) over 15,000 pages and written papers and projects totaling just about 500 content pages. So that is roughly 1250 pages and two 20-page research-type papers per class. This will not come close to matching what those who get their MDiv or ThM have to do but it does give me some satisfaction to look back on what I have accomplished. It really helped to work at Emory University during this time so that I had access to their excellent theological library. I have no idea how I would have been able to complete some of these assignments without that resource.

One of the nice things about graduate work is the opportunity to research and write on many topics that are interesting to me. Because I want to be accurate and thorough, I tend to be a very slow and methodical writer. The hardest part for me is getting started but once I do things tend to start flowing and next thing you know I have a full-length paper on my hands. It always seems miraculous. At any rate, my most rewarding papers included, one I wrote on textual criticism and the majority text, two on Baptist history (the Downgrade Controversy and the Anabaptist influence on the origin of General Baptists), and an apologetics paper analyzing the atheistic writings of Daniel Dennett and the religious worldview of Tibetan Buddhism. Emory, by the way, has tons of resources on Tibetan Buddhism, no doubt partly due to the fact that the Dalai Lama is an official adjunct professor.

I really enjoyed the apologetics class I took last summer. Now that I’m done with classes, I’d really like to develop an adult Sunday School class/curriculum covering apologetics from a presuppositional approach. We’ll see how that goes.

At least one reason why I haven’t blogged much lately is the time I’ve been spending on my seminary course work. Perhaps with that being over I will have more time to do this type of recreational writing.

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Monday, May 28, 2012

The Mission of the Church

I have been reading What is the Mission of the Church? Making Sense of Social Justice, Shalom, and the Great Commision by Kevin DeYoung and Greg Gilbert. They sum up their book with a great quote from J. Gresham Machen:
This, then, is the answer that I give to the question before us. The responsibility of the church in the new age is the same as its responsibility in every age. It is to testify that this world is lost in sin; that the span of human life—no, all the length of human history—is an infinitesimal island in the awful depths of eternity; that there is a mysterious, holy, living God, Creator of all, Upholder of all, infinitely beyond all; that he has revealed himself to us in his Word and offered us communion with himself through Jesus Christ the Lord; that there is no other salvation, for individuals or for nations, save this, but that this salvation is full and free, and that whoever possesses it has for himself and for all others to whom he may be the instrument of bringing it a treasure compared with which all the kingdoms of the earth— no, all the wonders of the starry heavens—are as the dust of the street.
J. Gresham Machen, excerpt from “The Responsibility of the Church in our New Age,” originally published in Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science (1933) and reprinted in D. G. Hart’s J. Gresham Machen: Selected Shorter Writings, 376; and reprinted again by DeYoung and Gilbert, What is the Mission of the Church?, 248-249.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Modern Technology and another way I'm NOT like Jonathan Edwards


Our pastor asked me to preach this past Sunday night, as he was going out of town on vacation. As I was preparing for the message Saturday morning, I noticed a unusual pop-up error message on the system tray of my PC. It said something along the lines of “No audio available because no audio hardware has been found.” I thought that was peculiar since I listen to audio on my PC all the time. Since 99% of all computer problems are solved by rebooting, that is exactly what I did. However, this issue turned out to be one of those 1% problems and my computer never booted back up! There was nothing I could do to revive it and I instantly went into panic mode.

You see, I understand that in the old days it was actually common for men to prepare sermons without the aid of a computer. I have it on good authority that Jonathan Edwards never once touched a computer. Sadly, though, I'm not one of those people. I am completely dependent on my computer. In fact, I've gone totally paperless and preach and teach from an iPad (although I still use old-fashioned real books when I consult commentaries). Thankfully, though, I work in IT and not only did I have a work computer I could use as a backup, I even had a SATA-to-USB adapter that I got from a Computer Security Forensics class I took a couple years ago that I was able to use to transfer the contents of my old dead laptop's hard drive to my work computer. In no time, I was back in business – finished the message, converted it from Word to PDF, sent it to Dropbox, and then imported it from Dropbox to my iPad and stored it in my GoodReader iPad app. I was good to go, albeit it took up more of my Saturday than I anticipated.

This whole episode got me thinking about how Jonathan Edwards might use modern technology. I've read several accounts of his preaching style and techniques. One thing he did was write out his sermons on small 3x4 (or so) sized pieces of paper that he could hold in the palm of his hand. I think he wanted his notes to be as unobtrusive as possible. So, my guess is he would be more inclined to preach from an iPhone than an iPad, if he had the choice.

I've been reading Douglas Sweeney's recent book, Jonathan Edwards and the Ministry of the Word, and discovered another interesting fact regarding the notes Edwards used in the pulpit. Instead of writing out Bible verses in his notes, “Edwards frequently substituted long, squiggly lines, trusting his memory to provide the missing text while he was preaching.” (Sweeney, 97) Evidently, Edwards was the original “walking Bible.” Me? I write out every line of every verse I plan to use in my message. It's so easy to transfer the text from Bibleworks to Word and it frees me from sounding like a “squiggly line” when I try to quote verses from memory while I'm speaking. For me it's just something about standing in front of a crowd of people and trying to recall a verse from memory that just never goes as well as planned!

Oh, in case you were wondering, here is my text from yesterday's message, written in the style that Jonathan Edwards might have used: