Sunday, October 28, 2012

A Good Book On Four Bible Translations

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen

    This posting is about a good book to read about four Bible translations. It is called "Which Bible Translation Should I Use?"  The translations considered are the ESV (English Standard Version), the HCSB (Holman Christian Standard Bible), the 2011 NIV (New International Version), and the NLT (New Living Translation).
     If you want to find out the why and how of the making of these translations, read this book. One of the things that makes it interesting is that each chapter was written by a translator from each one of these translations, and in it he explains the philosophy that governed the making of that translation. He also defends that translation against criticism of it from the authors of the other chapters.
     Before buying the book, please understand that it is somewhat technical and complex. But, it is worth the effort to read it.
     What follows is a link to one source for the book.The link will allow you to look at the cover, the table of contents, and reviews of it. Here's the link:

Friday, October 26, 2012

Why We Should Vote in Elections

By Pastor Bruce Oyen and Pastor David Brumbelow

    It is late October, 2012. That means we soon will decide if we keep our current President for another term, or if we get a new one. I certainly hope we get a new one with conservative moral and political views.
    Here in the USA we have the privilege of voting for our leaders, in contrast to many other countries of the world. The following excellent article (in red) is by a Southern Baptist pastor, David R. Brumbelow. It was taken from his blog spot, which is a good resource for thought-provoking articles on Bible-related subjects. Here is a link to Pastor Brumbelow's blog spot:

Why Should I Vote?
David R. Brumbelow, Gulf Coast Pastor, October 24, AD 2012

We have a responsibility to be good citizens. We should do what we can to make this country a better place in which to live. As Christians we are to “render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s (the state), and to God the things that are God’s” -Mark 12:17.

Scripture tells us to be respectful to the governmental authorities: Romans 13:1-7; Titus 3:1; 1 Peter 2:13-17.

In a democracy informed voting can make a real difference for the better.
What if I don’t agree with either of the candidates?
Rarely will you agree on every detail. Ask who is the closest to what you believe on the major issues of the day. Frankly, sometimes we have to vote for the lesser of two evils.
Where can I get information on the issues & candidates?
Newspapers, local & world news broadcasts, magazines such as WORLD (, Southern Baptist Texan (

Ask those you respect about the issues.

Internet sources include:;
Is voting important?
 Yes. In the early days of our country by one vote it was determined that we would speak English instead of German.  Two men became U.S. president by one vote. They failed to receive a majority of electoral votes, so it was determined in the House  of Representatives where they each won by just one vote.Those presidents were Thomas Jefferson and John Quincy Adams. Every vote matters. Even if you lose, you have done the right thing. Let’s do the right thing in the right way, and leave the results to God.
What exactly should I do?
1. Register to vote at least 30 days before the election.

2. Be informed about the candidates and the issues.

3. Pray.

4. Vote your convictions.

“Let each citizen remember at the moment he is offering his vote . . . that he is executing one of the most solemn trusts in human society for which he is accountable to God and his country.” -Samuel Adams, one of the founding fathers of our country.

“The only thing needed for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” -Edmund Burke, British Statesman

"I believe it is vitally important that we cast our ballots for candidates who base their decisions on biblical principles and support the nation of Israel. I urge you to vote for those who protect the sanctity of life and support the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman.” -Evangelist Billy Graham,; 2012.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Good Resource On Cults

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen

     Cults are common, complex, and confusing. Therefore, we need resources to help us know what makes a cult a cult, that tells us what organizations are cults, and how to help someone get out of a cult. There are many resources that provide this information, and here is a link to one of them:
     We who are pastors need to face the fact that one or more persons who attend our church services is very likely to be under the influence of a cult. It might be through their literature, their TV or radio programs, home Bible studies, their internet resources, or in some other way. Therefore, it is our duty to identify the more-common cult groups, and provide information that exposes their false teachings.
     It is also important that we regularly teach Bible doctrines to our congregations. They need more than sermons and Bible studies that will make them feel good and that will help them get along with others. They need Biblical doctrine. A steady diet of Biblical doctrine will help them identify false doctrine when they hear it or read it.

How Cults Work

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen

      The theme of this posting is important: How Cults Work. That is, how they recruit persons to their organization, and what they do to keep them. Here is a link to an excellent article on this subject:

Monday, October 8, 2012

Helpful Books on Interpreting The Bible And Bible Study Methods

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen

     We who read the Bible need help on how to interpret it and how to study it. Here is a list of some books on hermeneutics(interpretation) and Bible study. Some of the books are about more than one subject, but they all deal with hermeneutics (interpretation) and Bible study.
1. Volume 1 of "Systematic Theology," by Norm Geisler
Chapter 10 is called "Interpretation: The Hermeneutical Precondition."
2. Volume 1 of "The Expositor's Bible Commentary" set.
This volume of introductory articles has a chapter called "The Interpretation Of The Bible." Part 4 is called "The Principles Of Interpretation."
3. "The Moody Handbook Of Theology," by Paul Enns.
The chapter on Bibliology has a section called "Interpretation Of The Bible."
4. "Basic Theology," by Charles Ryrie.
Chapter 16 is called "The Interpretation Of The Bible."
5. "Creative Bible Teaching," by Lawrence O. Richards.
Chapter 4 is called "Rightly Divided: The Study Of The Bible." This chapter has a section called "Interpretation: What Does It Mean?"
6. "How To Study The Bible For Yourself," by Tim LaHaye.
Chapter 10 is called "Hermeneutics."
7. "Dispensationalism (Revised And Expanded)," by Charles C. Ryrie. 
Chapter 5 is called "The Hermeneutics Of Dispensationalism."
8. "How to Study The Bible For The Greatest Profit," by R. A. Torrey.
A short but good book on Bible study methods.
9. The 1-volume commentary on the whole Bible by John MacArthur, Jr.
This book has an article called "Principles For Sound Bible Interpretation." This might also be in his study Bible and Bible handbook.
10. "How to Study The Bible," by Richard DeHaan from The Radio Bible Class
This booklet has a chapter on an important subject. It is called "Literally Interpreting The Scriptures."
11. "Principles Of Biblical Hermeneutics," by J. Edwin Hartill.
Chapter 2 is called "The Dispensational Principle."
12. "An Introduction To Classical Evangelical Hermeneutics," by Mal Couch.
The title to Couch's book is self-explanatory. Remember, "hermeneutics" has to do with interpretation.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Some Thoughts About The Bible, And Help In Interpreting It

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen

Some Thoughts About The Bible
     One of the greatest blessings God has given to the world is the Holy Bible. The word "Bible" means "book." So, we are referring to "the Holy Book" when we refer to "the Holy Bible."
     This Book is holy because its ultimate author, God, is holy (see Isaiah 6 for an affirmation of God's holiness). It is a holy book, also, because what we read in it challenges us to be holy in thought, word, and deed. (See 1 Peter 2:15,16 for an example of this challenge to be holy.)  
     The Bible's writers refer to it by different names. Here are a few of them: "the holy Scriptures" ( 2 Timothy 3:15), "the Word of truth" ( James 1:18), "the Word" (James 1:21 - 23),  "the oracles of God" (Romans 3:2), "the Scriptures of the prophets" (Romans 16:26), and "the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God" (Ephesians 6:17).
     There several places in the Bible that give us important descriptions of its contents, and which tell us of the blessings that come to those who apply its truths to themselves. A few of those places are these: Psalm 1, Psalm 19, Psalm 119, and 2 Timothy 3:14 - 17.
     To give an idea of how rich the Bible is in content, here (in red) is a quote of 2 Timothy 3:14 - 17 from the New King James Version: "14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work."
      Consider just a few points about the Scriptures from these verses Paul wrote to fellow-preacher, Timothy: 1) He had known them from childhood. What a privilege it was for him to have learned them at an early age from a mother and grandmother who knew their great value (See 2 Timothy 1:4 and 5). Oh, for more such parents and grandparents! 2) The Scriptures are able to make us wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. 3) All Scripture is given by inspiration of God. That is, it is of divine origin. 4) The Bible is profitable for the things stated by Paul, and profitable for other things stated elsewhere in its pages. It is a bottomless well of truth. It is an ocean of comfort. It is It is an infallible guide for this life. It is divine revelation of the life to come. Therefore, read  it completely, read it again, and then read it some more!
What Theologian John L. Dagg Said About The Bible 
    Dagg was an influential Baptist theologian in the 1800's. Among his writings were his books "Manual Of Theology," and "Manual Of Church Order." The following quote (in red) is taken from his "Manual Of Theology." This quote was obtained from this website:
"A full conviction that the Bible is the word of God, is necessary to give us confidence in its teachings, and with respect for its decisions. With this conviction pervading the mind when we read the sacred pages, we realize that God is speaking to us, and when we feel the truth take hold of our hearts, we know that it is God which whom we have to do. When we study its precepts, all our powers bow to them, as the undoubted will of our sovereign Lord; and when we are cheered and sustained by its consolations, we receive them as blessings poured down from the eternal throne. Nature and science offer no light that can guide us in our search for immortal bliss; but God has given us the Bible, as a lamp to our feet, and a light to our path. Let us receive the gift with gratitude and commit ourselves to its guidance."
Three Important Rules For interpreting The Bible, By Charles Hodge
    Now that we have considered some thoughts about the Bible, we need some guidance in interpreting it. The following helpful rules for interpreting the Bible are by Presbyterian theologian Charles Hodge, who lived in the 1800's. They are taken from volume 1 of his 3-volume systematic theology. This quote (in red) was taken from this website:
"§ 6. Rules of interpretation.
      If every man has the right, and is bound to read the Scriptures, and to judge for himself what they teach, he must have certain rules to guide him in the exercise of this privilege and duty. These rules are not arbitrary. They are not imposed by human authority. They have no binding force which does not flow from their own intrinsic truth and propriety. They are few and simple.
1. The words of Scripture are to be taken in their plain historical sense. That is, they must be taken in the sense attached to them in the age and by the people to whom they were addressed. This only assumes that the sacred writers were honest, and meant to be understood.
2. If the Scriptures be what they claim to be, the word of God, they are the work of one mind, and that mind divine. From this it follows that Scripture cannot contradict Scripture. God cannot teach in one place anything which is inconsistent with what He teaches in another. Hence Scripture must explain Scripture. If a passage admits of different interpretations, that only can be the true one which agrees with what the Bible teaches elsewhere on the same subject. If the Scriptures teach that the Son is the same in substance and equal in power and glory with the Father, then when the Son says, “The Father is greater than I,” the superiority must be understood in a manner consistent with this equality. It must refer either to subordination as to the mode of subsistence and operation, or it must be official. A king’s son may say, “My father is greater than I,” although personally his father’s equal. This rule of interpretation is sometimes called the analogy of Scripture, and sometimes the analogy of faith. There is no material difference in the meaning of the two expressions.
3. The Scriptures are to be interpreted under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, which guidance is to be humbly and earnestly sought. The ground of this rule is twofold: First, the Spirit is 188 promised as a guide and teacher. He was to come to lead the people of God into the knowledge of the truth. And secondly, the Scriptures teach, that “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Cor. ii. 14.) The unrenewed mind is naturally blind to spiritual truth. His heart is in opposition to the things of God. Congeniality of mind is necessary to the proper apprehension of divine things. As only those who have a moral nature can discern moral truth, so those only who are spiritually minded can truly receive the things of the Spirit.
    The fact that all the true people of God in every age and in every part of the Church, in the exercise of their private judgment, in accordance with the simple rules above stated, agree as to the meaning of Scripture in all things necessary either in faith or practice, is a decisive proof of the perspicuity of the Bible, and of the safety of allowing the people the enjoyment of the divine right of private judgment."
Books For Studying And Interpreting The Bible.
     There are many books in print that can help us study and interpret the Bible. Here are two of my favorites: R. A. Torrey's short book is called "How To Study The Bible For The Greatest Profit." What follows is a link to one source for Torrey's book. The link will enable you to look over the book's table of contents. Here is the link: 
     Mal Couch's much-longer book is called "An Introduction To Classical Evangelical Hermeneutics." What follows is a link to one source for Couch's book. The link will enable you to look over the book's table of contents. Here is the link:
      All Bible quotes in this posting are from the New King James Version, and were taken from this website: "Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved."
   The only exceptions are when I quote authors who might quote from other Bible translations.

Friday, October 5, 2012

How Infallible Is The Bible? How Much Of It Is Inspired?

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen
      This posting deals with two questions: How infallible is the Bible? How much of it is inspired? Before we answer these questions, we need to know what the word "infallible" means. The word "inspired" will be defined later in the posting.
The Definition Of "Infallible"
    The following definition of "infallible" (in red) is taken from this website: It says the word means this:
1. Incapable of erring: an infallible guide; an infallible source of information.
2. Incapable of failing; certain: an infallible antidote; an infallible rule.
3. Roman Catholic Church Incapable of error in expounding doctrine on faith or morals.
How Infallible Is the Bible?
    In answer to the question, "How infallible is the Bible?," some persons would say the Bible is not infallible, period. Some would say it is partially infallible, but not completely. Some would say they don't know the answer. Some would say it is completely infallible.
     We who are Christians believe the Bible to be God's Word in written form. Many of us Christians, including myself, believe the Bible, in its original writings, was completely infallible. We also believe that Bible translations are infallible only to the degree in which they accurately convey the message of what originally was in the Bible.
      However, there are Christians who, though they believe the Bible is God's Word in written form, do not believe in its complete infallibility. They believe it is partially infallible, and maybe mostly infallible, but not completely infallible.
      We can get some good guidance on this subject from a respected Protestant Christian theologian from the 1800's. His name is Charles Hodge. The following quotes (in red) are taken from chapter 6 of volume 1 of his 3-volume systematic theology. Chapter 6 is called "The Protestant Rule Of Faith," and is a goldmine of information about the Bible.
     After giving the Protestant rule of faith, Hodge concluded with these words: "From these statements it appears that Protestants hold, (1.) That the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments are the Word of God, written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and are therefore infallible, and of divine authority in all things pertaining to faith and practice, and consequently free from all error whether of doctrine, fact, or precept. (2.) That they contain all the extant supernatural revelations of God designed to be a rule of faith and practice to his Church. (3.) That they are sufficiently perspicuous to be understood by the people, in the use of ordinary means and by the aid of the Holy Spirit, in all things necessary to faith or practice, without the need of any infallible interpreter."
     It is important to note that Hodge said the Bible is "free from all error whether of doctrine, fact, or precept." This means he correctly believed the Bible is completely, not partly, infallible.
     In chapter 6, Hodge has a section titled "The Scriptures are Infallible, i. e. given by Inspiration of God." Immediately after the title he wrote the following: "The infallibility and divine authority of the Scriptures are due to the fact that they are the word of God; and they are the word of God because they were given by inspiration of the Holy Ghost." This is significant because Hodge links inspiration and infallibility. He correctly believed that the two go hand-in-hand.
How Much Of The Bible Is inpsired? 
     Later in chapter 6, Hodge has a section titled "Inspiration extends equally to all Parts of Scripture." In the first paragraph Hodge wrote the following: "It means , first, that all the books of Scripture are equally inspired. All alike are infallible in what they teach. And, secondly, that inspiration extends to all the contents of these several books. It is not confined to moral and religious truths, but extends to the statements of facts, whether scientific, historical, or geographical. It is not confined to those facts the importance of which is obvious, or which are involved in the matters of doctrine. It extends to everything which any sacred writer asserts to be true." His point is very important.
     Immediately after these statements, Hodge gives several proofs for believing inspiration extends to all parts of the Bible. Here is number 1: "Because it is involved in, or follows as a necessary consequence from, the proposition that the sacred writers were the organs of God. If what they assert, God asserts, which, as has been shown, is the Scriptural idea of inspiration, their assertions must be free from error.
     One significance of this statement  is the fact that in it Hodge affirmed belief in the Bible's inerrancy. What else can these words mean, if not that? Read his words again: "If what they assert, God asserts, which, as has been shown, is the Scriptural idea of inspiration, their assertions must be free from error."   
    Here is number 4: "Because Christ and the writers of the New Testament refer to all classes of facts recorded in the Old Testament as infallibly true. Not only doctrinal facts, such as those of the creation and probation of man; his apostasy; the covenant with Abraham; the giving the law upon Mount Sinai; not only great historical facts, as the deluge, the deliverance of the people out of Egypt, the passage of the Red Sea, and the like; but incidental circumstances, or facts of apparently minor importance, as e. g. that Satan tempted our first parents in the form of a serpent; that Moses lifted up a serpent in the wilderness; that Elijah healed Naaman, the Syrian, and was sent to the widow in Sarepta; that David ate the shew-bread in the temple; and even that great stumbling-block, that Jonah was in the whale's belly, are all referred to by our Lord and his Apostles with the sublime simplicity and confidence with which they are received by little children." Hodge correctly disagreed with anyone who said or says that only the Bible's doctrines/teachings are inspired and infallible. The Bible's "great historical facts," and its "incidental circumstances, or facts of relatively minor importance" were/are also inspired/infallible.
     Later in chapter 6 Hodge, has a section titled "Plenary Inspiration," which is a continuation of his previous comments on the subject. In this section, he wrote this: "The Church doctrine denies that inspiration is confined to parts of the Bible; and affirms that it applies to all the books of the sacred canon. It denies that the sacred writers were merely partially inspired; it asserts that they were were fully inspired as to all that they teach, whether of doctrine or fact." The significance of this is that, once again, it reveals that  Hodge correctly believed that even the facts of the Bible were inspired, not just its doctrines.
Infallibility, Inspiration, And Discrepancies And Errors In The Bible
     Later in chapter 6 Hodge has a section titled "Discrepancies and Errors." In the first paragraph he wrote the following: "It is of course useless to contend that the sacred writers were infallible, if in point of fact they err. Our views of inspiration must be determined by the phenomena of the Bible as well as from its didactic statements. If in fact the sacred writers retain each his own style and mode of thought, then we must renounce any theory which assumes that inspiration obliterates or suppresses all individual peculiarities. if the Scriptures abound in contradictions and errors, then it is vain to contend that they were written under an influence which precludes all error. The question, therefore, is a question of fact. Do the sacred writers contradict each other? Do the Scriptures teach what from any source can be proved not to be true? The question is not whether the views of the sacred writers were incorrect, but whether they taught error?"
    His point here is that, even if the Bible's writers had some wrong views on some subjects, God did not allow any of those wrong views to be expressed in their writings that became part of the Bible. We know from clear statements by Hodge that he correctly believed the Bible's writers did not teach any errors. Therefore, he correctly believed in the Bible's infallibility/inerrancy.
     It is hoped that this posting will do one of two things: 1.) Affirm your belief in the complete inspiration and complete infallibility/inerrancy of the Bible. Or, 2.) Lead you to believe in these important doctrines.
Some Further Thoughts On Hodge's View Of The Subject From Dr. Roger E. Olson
     Since first writing  this posting, I gleaned some statements about Charles Hodge's view of the Bible from a contemporary Christian theologian and author, Dr. Roger E. Olson. His information about Hodge's view of the Bible is found in his very interesting book called "The Westminster Handbook To Evangelical Theology."
    For example, on page 214, when dealing with the subject titled "Infallibility/Inerrancy," he makes reference to some theologians and then say this: "These theologians hark back to the leading lights of Protestant orthodoxy and scholasticism, especially to the nineteenth-century Princeton theologians Archibald Alexander, Charles Hodge, A. A. Hodge, and Benjamin Warfield, who responded to growing mainline Protestant liberal skepticism about the Bible with a strong reaffirmation of its supernatural inspiration, unique authority, and factual infallibility.
    Then, on pages 323 and 324, when dealing with the subject titled "Scripture: Inerrancy/Infallibility, Dr. Olson wrote the following: "Both Hodge and Warfield were attempting to protect the Bible from the new higher criticism and from the skepticism that arose with it in the nineteenth century. They appealed to a deductive process of reasoning to defend the Bible's complete inerrancy even in matters of history and cosmology: God is the author of Scripture (through the process called inspiration); God does not lie or deceive; Scripture is inerrant. When examining the actual phenomena of Scripture, they found little disturbing evidence of actual error; when they could not explain an apparent error away, they simply appealed to the ignorance of the wider context of facts that would, if known, explain the contradiction or discrepancy."

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Are There Discrepancies And Errors In The Bible?

By Pastor Bruce K. Oyen   
      Many non-Christians who say that the Bible is not the Word of God, but only the word of men, like to refer to its so-called discrepancies and errors. By doing so, they hope to cast doubt on the Bible in the minds of those who do believe it to be the Word of, or in the minds of those who might be leaning in that direction. 
      But there are also genuine Christians who believe the Bible to be God's Word written, but who, strange as it may seem, also believe the Bible has discrepancies and errors. And they do not mean errors in translations, but errors in the original words of the Bible which, they say, continue to be passed down from one generation to the next in the translations we use, and in the original-language manuscripts upon which those translations are based. 
      Bible-believing Christian theologian Charles Hodge addressed this subject in his systematic theology in the 1800's. What follows (in red) is a quote from Hodge. It is found in Volume 1 of his systematic theology, under the subject of the inspiration of the Bible, under the section called “Discrepancies and Errors.” Here is part of what Hodge wrote: “It is enough to impress any mind with awe, when it contemplates the Sacred Scriptures filled with the highest truths, speaking with authority in the name of God, and so miraculously free from the soiling touch of human fingers. The errors in matters of fact which skeptics search out bear no proportion to the whole. No sane man would deny that the Parthenon was built of marble, even if here and there a speck of sandstone should be detected in its structure. Not less unreasonable is it to deny the inspiration of such a book as the Bible, because one sacred writer says that on a given occasion twenty-four thousand, and another says that twenty-three thousand, men were slain. Surely a Christian may be allowed to tread such objections under his feet. Admitting that the Scriptures do contain, in a few instances, discrepancies which with our present means of knowledge, we are unable satisfactorily to explain, they furnish no rational ground to deny their infallibility.” A few sentences later Hodge wrote the following: “So the Christian need not renounce his faith in the plenary inspiration of the Bible, although there may be some things about it in its present state which he cannot account for.”
     Charles Hodge was right. Just because we cannot answer all questions we might have about certain statements in the Bible does not mean it originally had discrepancies and errors. Many qualified Bible scholars have done us a great service by studying and finding answers to many such questions. Gleason L. Archer did just that in his excellent book of nearly 500 pages. It is called "Encyclopedia Of Bible Difficulties." Get it. Read it. Have your faith strengthened by it. And tell others about it.