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94 Responses

  1. Michael says:

    Warren Wiersbe has died.
    For decades, his work and Chuck Smith were parroted in Calvary Chapels all over the world.

  2. Sue says:

    Ah, yes, I remember our CC pastor in Napa quoting him quite often. I may even have one of his commentaries still on my shelf (“Be Free”?) from those days. Why was/is he considered more acceptable to the CC crowd than other commentators?

  3. Michael says:

    Sue,

    Because Chuck Smith liked him… 🙂

  4. Josh says:

    Wiersbe was great. Influenced a lot of great ministers. His teaching will live on.

  5. Em says:

    Amen, Josh

  6. CM says:

    And because Chuck Smith liked, Wiersbe became the CC pastors’ and members’ go to guy for commentary (other than the Chuck tapes and the stuff from Guzman and others).

  7. Michael says:

    I was never a fan and thought it a stretch to call his works commentaries except in the most basic application of the term.
    Having said that,( because I’m a jerk) he was one of the most influential Christian writers in the last 40 years as he set the theological base for hundreds of non denoms and Baptist churches.
    I think his influence is well nigh immeasurable…

  8. CM says:

    Michael,

    I concur.

    Not to disparage the man or his published work, but perhaps they could be called a Reader’s Digest version of a commentary?

  9. Josh says:

    His commentaries are perfect for a certain person. Not really for pastors, and certainly not for scholars, but my mom, for instance. She reads the bible voraciously, but doesn’t understand much. Always asking me questions that just don’t make sense. I don’t even know where they are coming from. Trying to think of how to help her on a certain issue, I loaned her a Wiersbe commentary. It made all the difference! A technical commentary, or even high-level pastoral commentary would have confused her more. Wiersbe spoke her language.

  10. Michael says:

    CM,

    I think Wiersbe’s gift to that segment was two fold.
    He have uneducated clergy simple commentaries to follow that they can translate into simple sermons for their people.
    He also gave dispensationalists a veneer of respectability that they didn’t always get in Christian circles.

  11. Michael says:

    When I started in CC the go to guys were Wiersbe and Matthew Henry…I think they finally caught on that Henry was a Calvinist…

  12. CM says:

    Josh,

    True. Much like the owners manual to your car and the actual repair and technical documentation to your vehicle.

    And the ability to take complex and technical matter (of any subject with all its jargon etc) and convey it to a widespread audience who does not have a background in that material is very much a teaching gift that is all too rare.

  13. Josh says:

    CM – well said, and true. Apparently the man was a faithful pastor for decades as well. He is also one of the only preachers I could listen to on the radio for any period of time. Nothing but good things to say about Wiersbe.

  14. Sue says:

    We have a Chuck Smith tract on on shelf from our CC days, called “Calvinism, Arminianism, & the Word of God.” Interestingly, he takes a fairly objective, middle-of-the-road position in this tract. (“It seems that the sovereignty of God and human responsibility are like two parallel lines that do not seem to intersect within our finite minds”–a direct quote from the tract.) Not far from my current thoughts on the issue. I guess, though, in practice, a Calvinist position was much less acceptable than this quote would lead one to believe?

  15. Michael says:

    Sue,

    That issue became ground zero in CC soon after that…some of the most ignorant anti-Calvinist screeds since the Reformation came out of CC.
    The current CCA side of the split would affirm those screeds…

  16. Michael says:

    Wiersbe evidently was also a large hearted, generous man who shared his time and opened his home to many people…I have no personal issues with him at all.

  17. CM says:

    Michael,

    Another factor is the if you read works by authors in the 17th to 19th centuries, you see that the way they convey words, structure sentences, etc is at a much higher level of English language than today.

    Try and diagram the sentences (there’s a trip down memory lane) from the some of the works of Hawthorne compared to Old Man and the Sea to see what I mean.

    Again, not to disparage either.

  18. Duane Arnold says:

    I came across this today from Matthew Gunter. I must say, it lands pretty well right where I live with regard to the Scripture…

    “A couple of days ago in a discussion about interpreting scripture, I described my approach as:
    More Luther than Calvin – all Scripture is inspired, but it is not all equally authoritative. Some themes are more central and inform interpretation of the rest. “That which inculcates Christ, Christ compels”.
    More Karl Barth than Carl F. H. Henry – Scripture and the Word of God are not strictly speaking the same thing. The Word of God is God’s revelation, primarily in Jesus Christ, to which the scriptures bear faithful witness.
    More C. S. Lewis than John Stott – The Bible is inspired, but that does not mean ‘inerrant’ in the way some have understood that concept. Myth and legend, sometimes mixed in with actual history can be inspired and “useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”
    More Raymond Brown than R. C. Sproul – Biblical criticism can be embraced without sacrificing the conviction that the scriptures are inspired and authoritative. But, it might call certain ways of understanding inspiration and authority into question.
    More ‘Prima Scriptura’ than ‘Sola Scriptura’ – Scripture is the first and primary authority, but not the only. The Church’s Tradition is also authoritative, particularly the Rule of Faith, i.e., the Nicene Creed. So is the ‘Book of Nature’. So, my approach is more ‘catholic’, more Patristic, more Orthodox, more Jewish than strictly Protestant.
    Of course, there are faithful people, including cherished mentors, who understand these things differently than I have come to understand them. But, my intent is still to deal faithfully with the authority of scripture.”

  19. Michael says:

    I’m closer to Calvin than Luther…but I think I concur with the rest of the comparisons…

  20. Duane Arnold says:

    Michael

    I would guess that… Calvin was a bit more of a poet and you’re very particular when it comes to writing!

  21. Michael says:

    Duane,

    He opened up my mind to possibilities…even those he himself eschewed…

  22. Jean says:

    Michael,

    “Because Chuck Smith liked him…”

    I’m seriously tempted to LOL, but before I do, I would like to know what Chuck Smith’s credentials were to be the arbitrator of good vs. poor theologians. Was Chuck Smith fluent in biblical Hebrew and Greek? Was he educated in the Reformation traditions, EO and RCC? Just why would anyone take his advice about which theologians and theologies are truth vs. false?

  23. Michael says:

    Jean,

    Smith founded the movement and his opinion on everything was revered and copied.
    In fact, most of the early crew had a deep distrust of education and theological scholarship that many still have today.

  24. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean

    When I first came across Wiersbe, I knew neither Greek nor Hebrew (as many don’t) but he provided a very simple, almost devotional, commentary. As to Chuck’s advice, the internet is filled with people lacking a theological education giving advice. I don’t think he was unusual in this regard…

  25. Jean says:

    Michael,

    My understanding from hearing stories is that Chuck’s tapes of his sermons or teachings on the entire Bible were a type of commentary that were promoted by the CC to perhaps thousands or tens of thousands (I don’t know how many). I am not aware of any uneducated theologian who has functioned as a scholar to thousands.

  26. Michael says:

    You have now.
    Those tapes are required listening in some CC Bible colleges today…

  27. Jean says:

    My comments have nothing to do with Wiersbe. I haven’t read a single word by him and have no desire to do so. My curiosity has more to do with Chuck Smith’s credentials.

  28. Jean says:

    Thank you Michael and Duane.

  29. Michael says:

    Smith did attend LIFE bible college a Pentecostal school that did have a couple notable scholars.

  30. Jean says:

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but aren’t bible colleges typically unaccredited?

  31. Michael says:

    Jean,
    Not always…many aren’t but some are.

  32. Jean says:

    I will bring up something, and Duane would be well qualified to respond. The translation committees of the popular modern translations, such as the NIV and ESV, are dominated by Reformed theologians. If you are a Sacramental Christian (and I will say especially if you’re Lutheran), then you need to either be fluent in the biblical languages or you need to read exegetical commentaries from Sacramental scholars, fluent in the biblical languages to get the drift of many passages that the Protestant translation committees have darkened when it comes to the means of grace. IMO.

  33. Michael says:

    The Reformed are sacramental Christians.

  34. Jean says:

    Michael,

    Not by the Lutheran definition.

  35. bob1 says:

    The Reformed are sacramental Christians.

    Yes indeed they are.

    I’m reading a killer book right now co-authored by a professor at Regent, Hans Boersma. Can’t get more (Dutch) Reformed than that!

    Anyway, the book is “The Oxford Handbook of Sacramental Theology.” Goes all the way back to the early church to the present. Many different authors, and at least a couple are Reformed.

    The idea that the Reformed aren’t sacramental is rubbish.

    https://www.amazon.com/Oxford-Handbook-Sacramental-Theology-Handbooks/dp/0199659060/ref=sr_1_8?keywords=hans+boersma&qid=1556925929&s=gateway&sr=8-8

  36. Michael says:

    I’ll refrain from further comment.
    Bit through my tongue …

  37. bob1 says:

    The Gospel according to Issues etc.

  38. Jean says:

    Is anyone surprised the Lutheran and Reformed define sacraments differently? There are 500 years of history testifying to those differences. What’s the biggie?

  39. Michael says:

    The biggie is having the hubris to claim that the Reformed aren’t sacramental Christians. They would not say the same about Lutherans despite the differences.
    Write your own damn bibles…

  40. bob1 says:

    Nobody said Lutherans and Reformed don’t define sacraments differently.

    That’s not what you said.

    You said “you need to read exegetical commentaries from Sacramental scholars, fluent in the biblical languages to get the drift of many passages that the Protestant translation committees have darkened when it comes to the means of grace.”

    That’s wrong. They do believe in the means of grace. Maybe not exactly the way Lutherans do,
    but so what? There are many sacramental theologies out there, not just Lutheran. You may
    believe yours is the only correct one. Knock yourself out. But most other traditions hold
    to the means of grace, if by Reformed you mean the historic Reformation churches.

  41. Jean says:

    bob1,

    Read my next comment where I clarified what I meant.

  42. bob1 says:

    Then why state the obvious?

  43. Michael says:

    Bob1,
    That sounds like a good book…Boersma is interesting…

  44. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    I would say the Reformed are sacramental in it’s own way. This difference became obvious in the early 19th century when the Prussian Union wss forced upon the Lutherans.
    When the Lutherans were not allowed to worship their way, but join the Reformed as the only option, the deficient Christology of the Reformed as it related to the sacraments became a deal breaker as the Lutherans fled Prussia – mainly for America.
    Again an example of familiar terminology with different meanings.
    ***Note to anyone in general – don’t be too quick to be offended. The entire difference is Christology.***

  45. Michael says:

    “Deficient Christology”…. Good Lord…

  46. Jean says:

    Michael,

    I never judged anyone’s beliefs, but only intended to mark the difference, though I may have not written clearly. Just like I am not offended if one of the Reformed or Anglican scholars you follow at one time referred to the belief that Jesus is physically present in the bread and wine as quasi magic or a wizard’s spell (I can’t recall exactly). This is not hubris, because I am not claiming superiority.

  47. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    OK, if you don’t like deficient Christology to define the Reformed, take a shot at us Lutherans – label our’s an overly robust Christology. 🙂

  48. Michael says:

    The only thing robust about Lutherans is their lack of humility and inability to speak charitably with other believers.

  49. Xenia says:

    Warren Wiersbe, may his memory be eternal.

    When I was an evangelical, I read a lot of his commentaries. They were very helpful and I appreciated them.

    Sometimes simple is best.

  50. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    What??? I stood up for the Reformed being sacramental.
    The fact that you refuse to engage the difference is your
    choice. I call it deficient Christology and your boy Packer calls us a bunch of wizards. (as quoted in a famous Sam Storms article.)
    Viva la difference as we used to say when I lived in France. 🙂

  51. Michael says:

    There is no benefit in engaging with fundamentalists of any stripe.
    Period.

  52. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Well at least I am in good company – me, Packer and Storms.

  53. Em says:

    MLD needs push and shove, i think. It keeps his heart going. 😊
    I hope the Lutes appreciate him – he keeps them in the forefront of the denoms…

  54. Sue says:

    Bob 1 and Michael,

    I just finished a book by Hans Boersma, “Heavenly Participation.” It was wonderful. He talked a lot about the retrieval of the “Platonist-Christian synthesis” of certain parts of the early church. It really made me wonder how much of my theology is formed by my moment in history…modernism (now post-modernism I guess.) Made me wish I had majored in Philosophy instead of Psychology.

  55. bob1 says:

    Sue,

    I have that book but haven’t read it all the way through. I think it’s really a “barn burner” of a
    book. So far what I’ve read is fascinating. Like you, I kinda wish I’d majored in philosophy or
    theology (though at the college I graduated from, there were no theology courses).

  56. Josh says:

    As one who knows Greek and Hebrew, and is not Reformed, I can assure you that Reformed scholars have not obscured “the means of grace” in modern translations.

    I wouldn’t keep anyone from learning the languages, or reading whatever commentary you see fit. But there are very good scholars doing very good translation work. We have an abundance of good , accurate translations. In most cases, you can be confident that what you are reading is an accurate refelction of the Greek.

    (Of course, a paraphrase or something like the NLT is not going for word for word accuracy. They still have use though.)

  57. bob1 says:

    Regarding Warren Wiersbe: he was one pastor that didn’t shout or anything. He had a calm,
    reassuring voice and manner. He was pastor of Moody Church for about 7 years. As someone
    here said, sometimes it’s good just to keep it simple!

  58. Duane Arnold says:

    MLD
    “When the Lutherans were not allowed to worship their way, but join the Reformed as the only option, the deficient Christology of the Reformed as it related to the sacraments became a deal breaker as the Lutherans fled Prussia – mainly for America.”

    They also did not wish to be conscripted in the Prussian army… just saying…

  59. Duane Arnold says:

    The idea that translation committees shade the meaning to reflect their own theological position smacks of “conspiracy theory”. Quite simply, there are good translations and not so good translations. Sometimes even good translations fail in communicating the original intent of the text – for example the New English Bible and the Jerusalem Bible. They were wonderfully well done translations but their choices in terms of vocabulary, structure and idiom left them wanting. It was not, however, some deep dark conspiracy! I’ve actually engaged in the translation of an ancient text from the original papyri. You constantly have to make choices. The choices, however, are not about your own point of view, but about clarifying the meaning and intent of the text. You compare to other texts of the time. You look for variant meanings. You consider the context. You examine the sentence structure. Even then you will have arguments with other scholars who will bring other viewpoints to bear on the text. There is very little room for a conspiracy to shade the meaning…

    I should say that the above does not apply to translations by groups such as the JWs who deliberately ignore the received text in favor of an eccentric translation that reflects their own “theology”… These eccentric translations, however, are recognized for what they are by the wider scholarly community.

  60. Jean says:

    Josh,

    I am not saying that modern translation committees are malicious; only that one’s tradition colors their translation. Therefore, if I were able to constitute a translation committee, I would opt for a diverse group.

    I will give one example. In the LXX translation of Leviticus, the holy food that the priests ate (τῶν ἁγίων) is rendered in English “the holy things” (see e.g., Leviticus twenty-two, four. There were strict laws around the eating of the holy things because of the risk of sacrilege. (Paul also warns against desecrating the body and blood of Jesus: “….That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died.”)

    When we come to the New Testament, Hebrews Chapter Ten, verse nineteen reads: “Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places [τῶν ἁγίων] by the blood of Jesus,” (ESV).

    If τῶν ἁγίων was rendered “the holy things”, as it is in the LXX which is used throughout Hebrews, the reader would understand (along with the original hearers) that the preacher in Hebrews is talking here about Holy Communion. He is encouraging his congregation to come to the Lord’s table with confidence to eat the holy things, which in the New Testament are the body and blood of Jesus (just as the holy meat was in the Old Testament a type or shadow of the “better things” that are now available to all people in the New Testament.

    I had to go all the way back to the Wycliffe translation to find this rendering: “Therefore, brethren, having trust into the entering of holy things in the blood of Christ,”

    I think that if more non-sacramental Christians were exposed to these connections and translations, that perhaps more would be open….

  61. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Duane,
    I love your tit for tat logic / theology. Your defense of the deficient reformed Christology is that Walter and the group were 19th century draft dodgers?

    This would be like me during a theological discussion with you throwing up, “well the Anglicans killed Robert Barnes for being a Lutheran – like, so what?

  62. Duane Arnold says:

    MLD

    I don’t doubt the church union aspect… but the conscription issue was real as well. I prefer full disclosure…

  63. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean

    This is the very reason word for word translations do not work, the meaning of τῶν ἁγίων is wholly dependent on context and sentence structure. If you look in Lampe’s Patristic Greek Lexicon (as I just have) there are numerous examples of other meanings in the first through fourth century according to context.

    Now, this does not nullify your approach and/or your understanding of the text. Yet, this is an example of the manner in which a critic or fellow translator would say that you brought your particular theology to bear upon the translation of the text. This, by the way, was a criticism leveled at some of the translators involved with the (mainly) Roman Catholic committee of the Jerusalem Bible.

  64. Josh says:

    Jean, that is just an example of how biased your translation would be. The fact that “the means of grace” is your top priority hermeneutic forces you to read each passage and assume that it says something about the means of grace. τῶν ἁγίων is just “the holy”. In either case, whether using “things” or “place”, the translator is reading context, correlating passages, the word’s usage in other ancient literature, etc. to inform the choice made. In Hebrews 10:19, you already have “enter into” and the earlier talk of the priest system, makes it clear that “place” is a good choice there. “Things” would also be fine, but would only translate to “the means of grace” if you were reading everything through that biased lens.
    I agree that a diverse translation committee is ideal, but the committees on the major translations *are* diverse. There is no conspiracy there.

  65. Josh says:

    Duane beat me to it. 🙂

  66. Michael says:

    As I wrote the other day, this is an attempt to explain the inexplicable.
    We have two thousand years of attempts to define what is really going on in the Eucharist and none of them are provable because we are dealing with the supernatural.
    We will rip each other to shreds with our preferences.

    I have no need to convince anyone that my best guess is straight from Sinai…because I know it’s only my best guess.
    Josh seems to be a wonderful Christian brother despite his guess being different than mine…

  67. Duane Arnold says:

    Josh

    BTW, if you can ever snag a copy of Lampe, do so. It’s a treasure trove…

  68. Michael says:

    As an aside, I’m sure that everyone here is as proud of what Josh has accomplished over the last few years as I am…and I’m very proud of him.

  69. Duane Arnold says:

    Michael

    I’ll second that motion…

  70. Jean says:

    Duane,

    Thank you. I brought context to bear in my comment to Josh.

    However, I am also honest enough to admit that my theology bears on my translation and understanding of biblical texts. How could it not? I LOL when I hear someone claim total objectivity.

    However, in the spirit of a Berean, I do due diligence to the best of my limited ability with sources both within and without my tradition. I do not want to negligently believe error nor lead anyone else into error. Who would?

    When it comes to the area of the Sacraments, I personally believe that without a thorough understanding of the OT ritual legislation, one will not obtain a full understanding of the atonement and the means of grace/Spirit/sanctification. So, in my view, that, in addition to fluency in the biblical languages, is needed.

    I sometimes wonder if in the specialization that now pervades biblical scholarship, some are missing the forest while specializing in one particular tree.

    There is both continuity and discontinuity between the OT and NT. There is the type or shadow, and now there is the fulfillment or better things in Christ. But I believe one needs both testaments to fully understand either one of them.

    The idea that Jesus is going to return to resurrect the Temple rituals, for me, is …

  71. Duane Arnold says:

    Jean

    “However, I am also honest enough to admit that my theology bears on my translation and understanding of biblical texts.”

    There is nothing “criminal” in this, unless it is presented as the “only” understanding. The reading of any text is informed by the reader as well as the writer.

  72. Jean says:

    “The reading of any text is informed by the reader as well as the writer.”

    Of course, IMO, that doesn’t mean that all readings are equally true or that one should not endeavor to find the best reading.

    If I’m going to sit on a stool, I would not opt for a 2 legged stool if there is a 3 or 4 legged stool in the room.

  73. Jean says:

    I see two ends to a continuing conversation. At one end, Duane writes about the loss of church history, tradition and liturgy to the church’s detriment, which is well and good. At the other end, some of us write (in comments) about what is lost in the worship of God and our relationship with Him, through the loss of church history, tradition and liturgy. I see my comments as complementary to the things Duane writes about, FWIW.

  74. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Josh – to your 6:34 this morning, any talk of the means of grace is not an hermenuetical tool, it is just and explanation of how God delivers his forgiveness and grace that he won on a long ago disposed of cross 9,000 miles away to his people.

    Now for hermeneutics we would begin by looking into the two words used by God through the proper distinction of the law and the gospel.

  75. Michael says:

    Jean,

    As it applies to your particular sect, I agree.

  76. Michael says:

    Rachel Held Evans has died.

  77. Martin Luther's Disciple says:

    Sad news. She was far too young and talented.

  78. Duane Arnold says:

    I knew her… far too young with so much more to offer.

    Rest eternal grant unto her, O Lord:
    And let light perpetual shine upon her…

  79. Josh says:

    MLD, Jean at least is using it as a hermenuetic. He is judging translations on how they present “the means of grace”. I’m sure Law and Gospel is huge for Lutherans as well.

  80. Josh says:

    Oh my goodness…Rachel Held Evans. Oh God, help her family.

  81. Xenia says:

    Oh no! Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy.

  82. ( |o )====::: says:

    #RachelHeldEvans
    Your journey here done,
    dance undistracted
    in The Presence.

  83. Xenia says:

    “I’m ready to stop waging war and start washing feet.” ~ Rachel Held Evans

  84. Jean says:

    Rachel has completed her race. She has joined the spirits of the righteous made perfect, that great cloud of witnesses who surround us in worship and who, together with innumerable angels in festal gathering, praise God in the heavenly sanctuary, singing the heavenly liturgy:

    Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of Sabaoth;
    heaven and earth are full of thy glory.

    In the name of Jesus, amen

    Hosanna in the highest.
    Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord
    Hosanna in the highest.

  85. Em says:

    Jean @ 1:50
    I think i can say amen to that – her race is run, God as said, your task is done…

  86. Duane Arnold says:

    Hard for me to say, “Amen”… Rachel left a husband and two small children. I know she is with Christ, but there is a good deal of pain to go round for those who knew her…

  87. bob1 says:

    My thoughts are similar to Duane’s.

    Faith seeks understanding.

  88. Em says:

    Now is the time for those who loved and those who depended on this Saint to seek God, to draw strength from Him. He IS there and He is able to comfort and strengthen. I know that no one here doubts that God knew what sorrows her passing would leave .. He will provide
    There is nothing platitudinous in that truth

  89. Jerod says:

    “I am not aware of any uneducated theologian who has functioned as a scholar to thousands.”

    Peter and Amos come to mind

  90. Jerod says:

    I wish I could apologize to Rachael Held-Evans’s husband for all the stupid that’s about to come his family’s way. I don’t agree with Held-Evans on a lot, but God forgive me if I ever question her salvation. I hope the toilet seat trolls are kept to a minimum for their sake.

  91. bob1 says:

    Well, we have zero control over what rude and insensitive clods say to Rachel’s husband.

    But not contributing to it can be the responsibility of each of us.

  92. Jean says:

    Jerod,

    “Peter and Amos come to mind”

    Are you saying that followers of Chuck Smith consider his theological knowledge to have been directly received from Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit in the vein of the biblical prophets and apostles? That would be special, indeed.

  93. CM says:

    Of course most of the books of the New Testament were written by Paul, especially those we get our doctrine. Paul was a scholar and likely spoke and read at least 4 languages.

    Not only he was familiar with Jewish scholarship, he was from Tarsus (an important intellectual center in the Roman world). He was quite familiar with Greek rhetoric, logic, etc. and debated Greek philosophers (Acts 17).

    But then appreciation of scholarship is not something Calvary Chapel (and many other denominations) is known for.

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