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You, Me, and the ESV
October 13, 2016

You probably heard what happened recently with the ESV, the English Standard Version of the Bible. In August, Crossway, the ministry that publishes the ESV, announced that “the text of the ESV Bible will remain unchanged in all future editions printed and published by Crossway.” In other words, the text had become permanent and would undergo no further changes for the rest of time. Controversy ensued and on September 28, Crossway reversed their decision. President and CEO Lane Dennis wrote, “We have become convinced that this decision was a mistake. We apologize for this and for any concern this has caused for readers of the ESV.” Though I’m sure there were difficult meetings and tough decisions along the way, I believe Crossway should be pleased with the outcry. Here’s why: The ESV controversy shows that the ESV is not their Bible but our Bible.

The ESV controversy was based on two related issues—the permanence of the text and the final changes made to the text. I’ll briefly fill you in on each of them.

A Permanent Text

In their original announcement, Crossway announced that the Crossway Board of Directors and the ESV Translation Oversight Committee had unanimously agreed to make the latest edition of the text permanent. They explained the decision by saying it would ensure that “people who love the ESV Bible can have full confidence in the ESV, knowing that it will continue to be published as is, without being changed, for the rest of their lives, and for generations to come.”

The ESV has changed a number of times over its life and you can always check the small print on the copyright page of your Bible to see what version you have. I have sometimes been frustrated with the reality of a changing text. I find it distracting when someone reads aloud and I find that my ESV has different wording from theirs. Also, I love the idea of purchasing an heirloom Bible, one to read day-by-day, to preach from, and to leave to my children. But every few years the text changes and, especially when teaching or preaching, I feel the need to use the most updated version. How can I ever have that kind of heirloom Bible if I need to replace it every few years?

Yet I also know there is benefit in a non-permanent text. After all, while the Bible is inerrant in its original manuscripts, no translation is perfect or beyond improvement. To lock in the text is to freeze it even while scholars continue to come to better understandings of words, passages, and contexts. Not only that, but it does not allow the translation to change as the English language changes—as words come into use and fall out of use. To lock it is to date it.

Changes To the Text

As Crossway announced that the ESV text had become permanent, they also announced they had made a few final changes—52 words across 29 verses. While most of these changes were minor and unremarkable, at least 2 were quite significant: Genesis 3:16 was changed from “Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you” to “Your desire shall be contrary to your husband, but he shall rule over you” while Genesis 4:7 was changed from “[Sin’s] desire is for you, but you must rule over it” to “[Sin’s] desire is contrary to you, but you must rule over it.” Many opponents and proponents of the ESV found themselves united in their discomfort with this wording, concerned that it reflected interpretation more than translation—interpretation meant to support a complementarian understanding of the text. It was, after all, a unique and controversial translation (though, to be fair, older editions of the ESV did offer it in a footnote as a viable alternate, so it was not completely foreign).

This turned out to be a double-whammy. Not only was the text now permanent, but it also included a controversial and perhaps unsuitable translation of a key text. It quickly became clear that making final changes to the text at the same time as finalizing it was unwise. It allowed no room for debate or discussion. Even worse, it looked to some like a stealthy way of promoting a particular interpretation through translation. There was an outcry and Crossway revisited, then reversed, their decision.

You, Me, and the ESV

But I don’t think this should be at all discouraging to Crossway because the controversy shows that the ESV is not their Bible but our Bible. Millions of people have adopted the ESV, have come to love it, and have deep feelings for it. We’ve spent hundreds or thousands of hours reading it, pondering it, memorizing it. For many, the ESV is the Bible, the only Bible they have ever known. For others it is the Bible that led them to salvation or that led them to a theological awakening. This is especially true of people who have been part of the modern-day Reformed resurgence. In many ways and for many of us the ESV is inseparable from our newfound convictions. We don’t just use the ESV, we are deeply connected to it, deeply invested in it. The outcry was aroused by our love for the ESV and our desire to see it continue as our most trusted companion. It’s our Bible, too!

October 13, 2016

It recently occurred to me that it has now been a year since I began writing on a full-time basis. And what a year it has been! I’m deeply thankful to you for continuing to read the site and for all the encouragement you’ve sent my way. A special shout-out goes to my Patreon supporters and to the many companies and ministries who have been sponsors. Here’s to many more years… 

I Was Pregnant, And Then I Wasn’t

This is a powerful article on miscarriage. 

In Praise of Heavy Providences

This one seems appropriate in light of the last article. “What the church needs and, therefore, what the world needs are Christians who identify as pilgrims, feel like sojourners, and exist as exiles. When people look at us, do they see a people gloriously uneasy in this world because we’re longing for another?”

12 Theses on a Christian Understanding of Economics

Al Mohler: “Regrettably, many American Christians know little about economics. Furthermore, many Christians assume that the Bible has nothing at all to say about economics. But a biblical worldview actually has a great deal to teach us on economic matters.”

The New Culture of Life

Slate has a long and interesting article about the (hopeful) future of the pro-life movement.

Heaven Is a Person

This is a good, simple reminder.

This Day in 1605. 411 years ago today French theologian Theodore Bezi, widely known as John Calvin’s successor, died. *

Balancing Work and Family Responsibilities

Here’s how Wilberforce failed and succeeded at striking a healthy balance of work and family responsibilities.

5 Productivity Tips You Haven’t Heard a Million Times Before

“When it comes to making each day more productive, you’re used to hearing the same tips over and over again. Resist the temptation to continuously check your email. Wake up earlier. Craft a powerful and compelling to-do list.” Here are a few unique ones.

The Mental Health Killer

“There is ONE symptom that almost every person with a mental health problem experiences–repetitive, negative thought patterns. Rumination.”

Flashback: 7 Things Your Church Needs From You

Just like the title says: 7 things your church needs from you. Yes, you!

The Bible characters never fell on their weak points but on their strong ones; unguarded strength is double weakness. —Oswald Chambers 

Danger Signs of an Unhealthy Dating Relationship
October 12, 2016

I expect we have all seen dating relationships go wrong. We have all seen people move from unwise and unhealthy dating relationships into turbulent, difficult, or even doomed marriages. How can we help people avoid this? What are some danger signs of an unhealthy dating relationship? Lou Priolo’s books have often been helpful to me and this has proven the case once more with a little booklet he’s written on this very subject. He offers a long list of danger signs, but I want to focus on just 6 of them, on the ones I’ve seen most often.

Persistent doubts about the relationship. The first warning sign is the existence of persistent doubts about the relationship. There are many reasons people may experience such doubts. Some of these may be legitimate and some may ridiculous, and the difficulty comes in knowing which is which. Priolo warns, “The Bible teaches that, as a follower of Jesus Christ, you should not move forward until you are confident that what you are about to do is not sin” (see Romans 14:5, 23). We can draw from the Bible a “holding principle” that warns us not to act until we are confident that it will not be sinful to proceed. “If you can’t proceed in doing what you would like to do without having the faith (the scripturally based assurance) that you can do it to the glory of God, it’s best to wait until your conscience has been informed by the Word of God.” If you are having serious, nagging doubts about the wisdom of proceeding toward marriage, make time and effort to resolve those doubts biblically.

Subjects that are off-limits. Another warning sign of an unhealthy dating relationship is the existence of subjects that are off-limits. Are there certain subjects that your boyfriend or girlfriend refuses to discuss? Are there subjects you avoid bringing up out of fear of anger or hurt feelings? There are at least two warning signs wrapped up in such a situation: “These kinds of thought patterns may indicate an inability to biblically resolve conflicts on the part of your partner or an inordinate desire for approval on your part.” It could also be fear—fear of the other person’s emotional or even physical response. Either way, a marriage cannot thrive where a couple has subjects that remain off-limits, where relational intimacy can exist only if certain subjects never come up. Learn to talk to your future spouse about anything and everything and be concerned if subjects remain off-bounds.

Increased physical intimacy. A very serious warning sign within a dating relationship is an increase in physical intimacy—intimacy that is appropriate only within marriage. Of course the cultural expectation is that a couple will quickly ramp up the physical component of their relationship until they are sure they are sexually compatible. Only then will they be convinced that they can have a healthy marriage. But the Bible offers many and repeated warnings about sexual intimacy outside of marriage (which includes, of course, sexual intimacy prior to marriage). In fact, 1 Thessalonians 4 goes so far as to call such sexual activity “defrauding” another person, exploiting them for your own pleasure. Be concerned if your boyfriend or girlfriend ramps up the intimacy or pressures you to ramp it up. Take this lack of self-control and lack of desire for sexual purity as a warning sign and seek out help and counsel from others.

Strong opposition from family and friends. It is wise to be concerned about your relationship if it is opposed by family and trusted friends—especially Christian family and friends. The Bible often teaches the importance of seeking out and heeding wisdom from others. Their wisdom is not inerrant, but it may still be valuable. They may see things you do not. They may have the wisdom and insight you lack. “In the multitude of godly counselors there is wisdom. … If the objections are biblical (if there are valid biblical reasons to consider waiting to get married or to reconsider getting married at all), then wait until the issues are resolved before you move ahead. Let the Scriptures be your guide in all matters of faith and practice.” Ask trusted counselors about your relationship and carefully consider their concerns.

Lack of spiritual harmony. The Bible forbids Christians from marrying non-Christians, so the most important spiritual harmony comes by ensuring your future spouse is a true believer. I have spoken to many brokenhearted husbands and wives who have realized too late that they married an unbeliever. Be convinced! Another kind of spiritual disharmony is when major doctrinal differences divide spouses—issues like disagreements on the roles of husbands and wives or on the way God guides his people, whether through Scripture or through other kinds of revelation. Discuss and decide what you believe about infant baptism and about church attendance and membership. There is nothing more important to a dating relationship than communication, so take time to talk about everything. Talk, listen, and pursue harmony.

Inability to resolve conflicts. Another serious warning sign is an inability to resolve conflict. We could go so far as to say that the two essential qualities for a spouse are a shared Christian faith and an ability to resolve conflict in God’s way through God’s Word. If these are in place, everything else can follow. “The difference between a good marriage and a bad marriage is not necessarily that in the former there is little to no conflict and in the latter there is much conflict. The difference is that in a good marriage the conflicts are resolved biblically, quickly, and with a minimum amount of sin.” You will have conflicts and must learn to resolve them in a healthy manner. You also need to understand that conflict is not necessarily bad and, in fact, is often necessary to resolve issues that inevitably arise between sinful human beings. But a healthy marriage depends on a couple learning to work out their issues in a constructive way.

These are just 6 warning signs. For more, and for a workbook approach to identifying and dealing with them, consider picking up Lou Priolo’s booklet Danger Signs of an Unhealthy Dating Relationship.

October 12, 2016

Today’s Kindle deals include three from Christian Focus: A Christian’s Pocket Guide to Sin by Iain D. Campbell, A Christian’s Pocket Guide to Suffering by Brian Cosby, and A Clearing of the Mists by Martin Haworth.

4 Reasons Spurgeon Died Poor

This article tells just how much money Spurgeon made while he was alive (a LOT!) and what he did with it all (also a lot!).

Why It’s Pivotal to Make Room for Reading

Jen Thorn: “The amazing thing about studying God’s word and reading theologically rich books is that it makes me long for more. The more I study God, the more I want to know him. So the more I read, the more I want to read.”

How I Found Freedom from Gender Confusion

“I think I always had the desire to cross-dress. Some of my very earliest memories are of a dress-up box that my brother and I played with. It was probably filled with pirate outfits and funny hats, but there were also a couple of old dresses. I only dimly remember wearing them, but I more clearly remember the disappointment of finding that they’d been removed one day—presumably by my concerned parents….” 

Driving From Duty to Delight

“Let’s cut right to it. Sometimes we don’t feel like reading our Bible, praying, going to church or other things that God tells us are good for us to do. It may not be any one thing, for any number of reasons we just don’t want to do it. So what do we do?”

This Day in 1518. 498 years ago today Martin Luther was summoned before Cardinal Thomas Cajetan to whom he refused to recant the 95 theses he had posted in Wittenberg. *

Why Definite Atonement Must Be True

Geoffrey Kirkland offers 9 reasons that it must be true.

Rose Reading Room

This video is neat. It shows the Rose Reading Room at the New York Public Library being re-stocked and re-opened after repairs.

Why Does Friendship At Times Feel One-Sided?

I’ve spoken to a number of people over the years who are discouraged by friendships that seem weighted to one side. Christine Hoover writes about it.

Flashback: Positive Purity

Sexual purity has two components to it: the turning away and the turning toward, the stopping of one kind of behavior and the beginning of another.

The Bible exhorts us to weep with those who weep. It doesn’t tell us to judge whether they should be weeping.H.B. Charles Jr.

Sexual Morality in a Christless World
October 11, 2016

The times are changing. Sexual morality is undergoing nothing less than a revolution as traditional morality gives way to something radically different. The former morality, based on the Christian scriptures, is being shoved aside by a new one that not only departs from the Bible, but outright rejects it. Meanwhile, Christians who abide by those traditional sexual morals are increasingly seen as outcasts, backward people dangerously hung up on ancient, oppressive principles. It is all very disconcerting.

Into the fray steps Matthew Rueger with his book Sexual Morality in a Christless World. Though the last few years have brought us no shortage of books on how to live on this side of the sexual revolution, Rueger offers something unique in examining and explaining the historical and cultural backdrop to the New Testament’s teaching on sexual morality. In this way he shows that Christian sexual morality has not always been traditional but was at one time its own revolution. In other words, Christians have been here before, and there is much we can learn from our own history.

Rueger turns first to the Roman context in which the early Christians lived and into which the Bible was written. Here he offers a fascinating, disturbing examination of what Roman culture considered good and normal. “Rome’s sexual climate is a model of the utopia for which today’s sexual ‘progressives’ are striving.” Yet it was hardly utopian. He shows that “In the Roman mind, man was the conqueror who dominated on the battlefield as well as in the bedroom. He was strong, muscular, and hard in both body and spirit. Society looked down on him only when he appeared weak or soft.” Respectable men were permitted to have sexual relations with just about anyone, provided they were the aggressors rather than receivers of such sexual acts.

Marriage existed, of course, but was not first about mutual love, but about the provision of an heir. A far purer form of love was the love of a man for a boy, so a culture of pederasty arose in which adult men carried on overt sexual relationships with adolescent boys. Prostitution was rampant. Rape was widespread and accepted, provided a man raped someone of a lower status. In so many ways Roman sexual morality was abhorrent and one of its most prominent features was the strong dominating the weak.

And then Christians showed up. Christians began to teach that men were to be chaste, that homosexuality and pederasty were sinful, that men were to love and honor their wives, that wives and husbands had equal authority over one another’s bodies. Such teaching was not only seen as repressive, but as full-out destabilizing to the Roman system. No wonder, then, that the whole culture turned against Christians. “Though Christian morality promoted genuine self-emptying love and was positive for society, it nonetheless set Christ’s people against the prevailing culture. Romans did not like being told that some of their favorite activities were displeasing to the Christian God, and they pushed back.” And here is where we can draw important lessons for our day, for today, too, Christian sexual morality is seen as destabilizing to the culture around us, as a serious societal sin.

And so far we have only discussed the first chapter. In chapter 2 Rueger sets the Jewish context, showing that Christian morality was almost as opposed to contemporary Judaism as it was to Rome. This was especially true in according equal rights to men and women, in protecting women from divorce, and in putting away notions of sexual purity that harmed women. Again, Christianity offered a sexual morality that was kind and equitable and that protected the weak and marginalized.

And with all of that in place, Rueger now works through the New Testament texts on sexuality. With all of that context, he is able to show how these Christian teachings were full-out counter-cultural, how they were radical, not traditional. He shows how Christian sexual morality helped individuals, it helped the marginalized, it helped society—it was a tremendous blessing to everyone. Yet Christians suffered because their views were seen as destabilizing and harmful. Though today we see that their morality was actually a blessing, at that time it was considered a curse. And Christians suffered terribly for it.

The rest of the book turns from the roots of Christian sexual morality to modern sexual morality, offering the biblical alternative to society’s revolution. Rueger says “My desire in writing this book is to help Christians engage the world around them in reasoned discussion.” He does so very well. And his greatest contribution is helping us understand that this is not the first time that Christians have been at odds with the culture. This is not the first time the biblical understanding of sex and sexuality has caused the culture to turn on Christians, to consider them disloyal, to push them to the margins. For that reason we need books like this one to interpret the times and equip us for today and the days to come. I thoroughly enjoyed this work and highly recommend it.

October 11, 2016

Today’s Kindle deals include: Called Together by Jonathan Dodson & Brad Watson, Sent Together by Jonathan Dodson & Brad Watson, and The Religions Next Door by Marvin Olasky. New from GLH Publishing, and 50% off to start, is The Loveliness of Christ by Samuel Rutherford. 

A Transatlantic Elegy For An American Hillbilly

Mez McConnell has written a very interesting review of Hillbilly Elegy. He writes from a Scottish perspective and shares just how much the book has in common with his context.

The Patriarchy Movement: Five Areas of Grave Concern

I’m glad to see this article at Reformation21 expressing areas of concern over the patriarchy movement.

Planet Earth 2

This is exciting news: Planet Earth 2 is on the way. Watch the trailer at the link.

A Gospeled Church

“You cannot grow in holiness and holier-than-thou-ness at the same time. So a church that makes its main thing the gospel, and when faced with sin in its ranks doesn’t simply crack the whip of the law but says ‘remember the gospel,’ should gradually be seeing grace coming to bear.”

R.C. Sproul’s Warning Concerning Prayer

R.C. Sproul offers a warning about prayer: “The idea seems to be that we have the capacity to coerce God Almighty into doing for us whatever it is we want Him to do, but God is not a celestial bellhop who is on call every time we press the button, just waiting to serve us our every request.”

This Day in 1531. 485 years ago today Swiss reformer Ulrich Zwingli died in the Battle of Kappel. *

7 Tips on How to Survive Your Ordination Exam

Michael Kruger offers helpful counsel on surviving that ordination exam. Though he writes from a PCA perspective, the advice has wider application.

5 Ways Persecution in Iran Has Backfired

This was an encouraging article to read. “Scripture is clear that God often uses his people’s suffering to advance his kingdom. In his providence, the Islamic regime’s strategies to stamp out the Persian-speaking church in Iran have backfired—resulting in further church growth. Here are five examples.”

Flashback: Why I Am a Six-Day Creationist

These are my reasons why I haven’t budged from this position.

Most of us go through life worrying people will think too little of us. Paul worried people would think too much of him.D.A. Carson

10 Reasons I'm Thankful To Be a Dad
October 10, 2016

It does me good to consider what I am thankful for, especially since today is Thanksgiving up here in Canada. There are so many things for which I owe gratitude to God, but near the top of the list, and on my mind today, is my children. I’m thankful to be a dad for these reasons and many more:


I am thankful to be a dad for the cuddles. My sixteen-year-old son doesn’t cuddle me anymore, but my girls still do, and I love them for it. I love to hold them close, I love to tell them they are loved, I love to let them know that they are safe, protected, provided for. I cuddle them gently to know that I treasure them. I gather them in my arms and carry them up to bed to let them know I’m strong. And they cuddle me to let me know I’m loved in return. I think I might need their cuddles just as much as they need mine.


I am thankful for the eyes of a daughter for her father. There is something about the way a girl looks at her daddy, something in her eyes that is pure and sweet and deep and maybe even fierce. Her eyes show love, trust…and is it admiration? It’s not like the love of friend to friend or husband to wife or father to son. It’s not better or worse, but different, unique. It’s a love any good daddy wants to treasure.


I am thankful to be a dad because my children push me to grow in holiness. They push me to grow in holiness by exposing my lack of holiness. They don’t mean to—it just happens as we live life together. They expose my impatience, my irritability, my selfishness, my pride. I know they need a dad who doesn’t just demand holiness but who also displays it. So in their own way they’ve pushed me to grow in the noblest traits while putting to death the ugliest.


I am thankful to be a dad to feel protection toward my children. And as a father I do feel fiercely protective toward them. There is nothing I wouldn’t do to protect them from harm, to prevent them from experiencing pain. Sometimes I read in the news or the history books of a father who has sacrificed his life for his children. I am moved but not surprised. What father wouldn’t trade his life for his child’s? What father wouldn’t throw himself in front of a predator, bus, or bullet to protect his child?


I am thankful to be a dad so I can feel pride in my children. Yes, I know that pride is the chief of sins and that pride comes before a fall. But not this pride. This is the kind of pride God has in his Son, that God has in us, his children. It is a good pride, a pride that desires to give to those children all that they need, a pride that delights in their accomplishments no matter how big or small. This is a pride that seeks the good of the other, that delights in the good of the other. In this way I’m proud of my children, proud to be their dad.


I am thankful to be a dad to grow in humility. Yes, being a dad generates pride (good pride!) but it also generates humility. I see the good traits of my children and know: I can’t take the credit for this. I see their accomplishments and know: They are capable in ways I’m a failure. I see all that they are, all that they do, all that they have become and are becoming, and I have to be humbled, I have to give humble thanks to God for his goodness.


I am thankful to be a dad as it allows me to become a friend. One of the great joys of parenting is experiencing that slow transition through which your children become your friends. What a joy it is to realize that you aren’t only spending time with them because you have to and you aren’t spending time with them just because it’s your parental duty. No, you’re spending time with them because you just plain love them, you love to be with them. Your children have become your friends.


I am thankful to be a dad for the hope my children give. In my children I see hope—hope for the church, hope for humanity. I see children who are kind and moral and growing in godliness. I see children who have been raised in a way that stands out from the world around them. I see children who know that they need to be heavenly-minded if they are to be of any earthly good. I see my children and feel hope.


I am thankful to be a dad to appreciate beauty. What dad isn’t convinced that his daughters are the most beautiful creatures in all the earth? What dad doesn’t love to hear the question, “Daddy, how do I look?” She approaches with her dress on, she does a twirl, her hair flies, her dress puffs. “How do I look?” There is only one appropriate answer: “You look perfect. You look beautiful.” And she does.


I am thankful to be a dad so I can better appreciate the fatherhood of God. God reveals himself to us as Father—Father to the Son and Father to all those whom he adopts into his family. Being a father to my children has given me glimpses—vague and fleeting glimpses, perhaps—of what it means for God to be Father. Seeing God as Father challenges me to love like God loves, to parent like God parents. Seeing God as Father allows me to rest secure, knowing that my children have a bigger, better Father who will provide for their every need.