Even though the Fall has marred the image, all humans nonetheless still in one way or the other reflect a glimpse of who our Creator is. The accusation we experience by our conscience is one of them. We innately know right from wrong, even when our culture teaches a different morality, because God has put that imprint in our conscience. When our conscience indicts us, naturally we will strive to find a way to regain equilibrium. All CCP (Chinese Communist Party) leaders were involved in bloody struggles to maintain their power. This must have weighed heavily on their conscience. How do they regain their equilibrium?
Recently I watched a series of videos depicting the 100-year history of the CCP (Voice of America Chinese Language). According to the videos, Mao at various points engaged in political purges to eliminate potential enemies inside the party. Those expulsions were deceptive and cruel, and in the effort to remove future potential trouble, a large number of CCP members and their families were implicated in each purge.
Over the course of these events, few within the party were able to escape those agonizing ordeals. However, for the overwhelming majority of the CCP members, the horrifying traumas they had experienced did not make them reject their party or its beliefs. On the contrary, the tribulations they had endured strengthened their conviction, making them the most fervent followers of communism. This feature profoundly struck me for it seemed to go against one’s better judgment.
A Privileged Life
In normal times, CCP leaders along with their families lived a privileged life completely different from that of ordinary citizens. They had both power and wealth and did not experience any material shortage even during the Great Famine. However, those times were few and far between. The history of the CCP is replete with political purges. In each purge, some were condemned, others promoted. The ones who benefited from a given purge could become the target of the next one. Uncertainty, capriciousness and volatility were among the most recognizable traits of the CCP.
A daughter of a CCP high ranking leader recalled her experience after her family was banished to the countryside as the result of a political purge. The degree of poverty she saw in the Chinese countryside shocked her. She would not have imagined that there had been people living in such an abject condition. Previously, she had believed that the CCP was the savior of Chinese peasants who had lifted the poor farmers up from the abyss of misery and brought prosperity to their lives. However, the reality proved otherwise.
At the same time, she was also greatly distressed by the news of a close family friend who had committed suicide after repeatedly becoming a political target and suffered through tortures in multiple purges. She began to question the goal of the CCP and wondered why communism could only produce abominable results regardless of its claims and its original dreams and aspirations. She came to the conclusion that communism itself as a political system is totally corrupted, unworkable and cannot be reformed, and thus, must be completely rejected. She said that any person with limited intelligence would come to the same conclusion.
But her mother, a first generation CCP member and an intelligent person, did not share her conclusion. She believed that her mother had been systematically brainwashed, so the doctrine of communism exerted such a dominant influence that rendered her powerless to think outside the system.
Absolute Power — and the Fight to Keep It
However, I think there is another reason that might have played a far greater role in shaping her mother’s commitment to the party.
You Might also like
Does the Accuracy of its Second-Person Pronouns Commend the Continued Use of the AV in Public Reading and Preaching?By Christian McShaffrey and Mark Ward — 3 months ago
The ongoing debate over Bible translations is often marked by more heat than light. This is unfortunate and can also lead to unlawful divisions in the Body of Christ. Mark Ward and Christian McShaffrey are no strangers to the debate and have recently decided to conduct an experiment: Arguing a specific point in a calm and charitable manner. The following exchange is the result and we publish it here in good hope that it will serve as a model for all who find themselves standing on opposite sides of the issue (or anywhere in between).
Resolved: The Superior Accuracy of its Second-Person Pronouns Commends the Continued Use of the Authorized Version in Public Reading and Preaching
Christian (Affirmative Constructive)
Confusion over inspired pronouns is as old as the garden. When Satan first questioned God’s word, he also misquoted it by using a plural “ye” when God had spoken singularly, saying, “thou shalt not eat of the tree.” Eve, being deceived, repeated the wrong pronoun (cf. Gen. 2:17, 3:1-3). The discussion was over what God had said, so Eve should have quoted God’s word more accurately.
That is what this debate is about: accuracy. Modern translations of the Holy Bible no longer distinguish number between pronouns, and that compromises their accuracy.
Some readers may not remember what they learned in grammar school, so here is a quick review: second-person pronouns indicate the person, or people, being addressed by a speaker. The languages of original inspiration (Hebrew and Greek) distinguish the number of people being addressed, but contemporary English cannot. Our generic “you” can refer to an individual or a multitude.
The translators of the Authorized Version eliminated such ambiguity by using t-pronouns for the singular (thou) and y-pronouns for the plural (ye). These pronouns also distinguish case, but it may suffice for this debate only to focus on number. In that era, the ordinary “man on the street” did not speak this strictly. It was a translational decision intended to preserve accuracy, which is crucial when it comes to interpretation.
Besides the aforementioned example (which might have doctrinal implications concerning Adam’s federal headship), another example of the interpretive usefulness of numbered pronouns is found in Luke 22:31-32.
If you read the passage in a modern version, it appears as a personal conversation between Jesus and Peter. It certainly starts out as that, and also ends as that, but when Jesus says, “Satan hath desired to have you…” he was addressing all the apostles. Nothing in the context hints at that shift. Only a y-pronoun can convey it.
There are not many solutions when it comes to solving the problem of scriptural pronoun confusion, and all of them involve education. Here, it seems, are the options:
“Explain it, preacher.” This is an unacceptable solution because it makes people dependent upon fallible, and oftentimes incompetent, teachers. Every Bible reader deserves immediate access to the inspired words of God.
“Insert a footnote.” This option is definitely better, but it may overestimate grammar proficiency levels in America. A footnote that reads, “The original Greek employs a second-person nominative singular” may actually be less intelligible than an archaic pronoun.
“Teach the pronouns.” This is easier than most people imagine. Simply let a kindergarten teacher write the words thee and ye on the chalkboard, and ask the children about each: “How many points are on top of the first letter?” The students now know and, thanks to the added visual mnemonic, will never forget. More importantly, the kindergartener now has more immediate access to the inspired Hebrew and Greek than a professor of biblical languages who is reading the English Standard Version. By retaining the use of numbered pronouns, nothing is lost and much is gained.
Mark (Negative Constructive)
There is a sense in which I agree with the resolution as currently stated: the KJV’s second-person pronouns are more accurate—if what we mean is “closer in form”—to the Hebrew and Greek than are the second-person pronouns used in contemporary English.
But one must ask: what do we mean by “accurate”? I grew up in the fundamentalist world, where fornication is frowned upon because it leads to dancing; so I can’t say for sure how many people it takes to tango. But I’ve heard it’s two. A tango dancer may get all the steps “right,” but if he’s dancing by himself, what’s the point?
Likewise with communication: it takes a sender and a receiver. So I think clear communication of what God said _to the audience you actually have_ is the goal of translation. What else could it be? We are called to disciple the nations, and I’m going to have to presume that Christ intended each of us to reach the nations existing during our own lifetimes, or he would have outfitted us with time machines.
Do people in English-speaking nations understand the older forms thou and ye? Yes and no.
Yes: many contemporary English speakers understand that thou in “Thou shalt not kill” was a second-person pronoun. I think that many of them grasp, too, that thou was singular (and not plural) back then. Thou has hung around today in ways that bolled and bewray and many other Elizabethan words have not.
But no: I believe that a proper study would demonstrate that even experienced KJV readers have a hard time remembering that you in the KJV is always plural. Alas, I have a scientific study ready to go to check this, but I have no funding. I am stuck describing my own experience and making educated guesses at others’. I, for example, always misunderstood, “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus.” I always assumed it was singular, even for decades after I was formally taught that you in the KJV is plural. Why? Because it’s very difficult to make oneself forget what an incredibly common word means—and in our English, you “means” SINGULAR-OR-PLURAL-SECOND-PERSON-PRONOUN. I think the KJV is tangoing by itself in Phil 2; I think a lot of English speakers aren’t getting the message.
This, too, is key: older forms like ye don’t just communicate SECOND-PERSON PRONOUN; they also inject a note of solemnity, of archaism, perhaps even of humor. Imagine saying to a friend, “Art thou coming?” He would likely understand the strict literal meaning, but he’d (rightly) detect that you were trying to communicate something else. Who knows quite what? I think that making God sound like an Elizabethan does, yes, make him sound more grand. But it also makes him sound more grandiloquent. God did not choose archaic Greek in Paul’s day; he chose the common variety. We should do the same in English and use footnotes for clarification where needed.
Christian (Affirmative Rebuttal)
Yes, it takes two to tango and there is actually something worse than dancing alone: Allowing a third party to cut in. Due to the nature of inspiration, Bible translators should be concerned primarily with two parties: God and the original audience.
Per your example, unconverted nations need to hear what God said to the saints at Philippi. Explaining and applying those inspired words to a contemporary audience is properly the work of teaching, not translation (Matt. 28:19-20).
Your example also seems to bewray a deeper problem than misunderstanding pronouns. Namely, literary imperception. If the immediate contextual emphasis on like-mindedness, being of one accord, and esteeming others (vv. 2-4) does not incline the reader to anticipate a communal exhortation (vs. 5), nothing probably will.
As for the alleged difficulty of remembering the meaning of the AV’s pronouns, my previously suggested t/y mnemonic device has proven extremely effective in my congregation.
The “Art thou coming?” illustration is as ironic as it is unpersuasive because you employ humorously grandiloquent expressions often in your YouTube videos without any apparent concern over alienating the plowboys who are watching on their iPhones.
Your proposed solution of adding explanatory footnotes is simply not reasonable. I actually did this with the plural verb conjugations and pronouns in Phil. 2 and ended up with more footnotes than there are verses!
All personal anecdotes aside, you have essentially conceded the debate by agreeing that the AV’s pronouns are indeed superior in formal accuracy and offering no reasonably executable alternative.
Mark (Negative Rebuttal)
I plead guilty to occasional humorous grandiloquence on my YouTube channel. It’s other people’s fault if they come hear me—or the fault of algorithms (which, and this is a little known fact, get their name from a former US vice president cum tech inventor). But I learned long ago not to use obscure humor while preaching in church. Why? Well, nobody laughs. And a herald should not have only two audiences in mind; he needs, as I said earlier, to speak to the audience God gives him.
Bible translators, too, must translate not for the ideal reader who knows all they know but for the plow boy.
The answer KJV defenders always give to my English readability concerns is teaching. The plow boy must be taught to understand the more accurate and beautiful English of the KJV. And one would think that the second-person pronouns in the KJV provide a perfect opportunity. Many people already sort of know them from exposure to Shakespeare.
But in my experience, this teaching usually doesn’t happen. I can’t demonstrate this except from experience, however. So, in a way, I must admit defeat on the technical accuracy point of this debate (as I knew I would going in!)—if KJV preachers will do what Christian does and teach their people to understand archaic second-person pronouns. If KJV preachers can get their congregations to the point where 80% (?) of their members and regular attenders know that “let this mind be in you” is plural, I’ll willingly lose. My goal is just to see people understand God’s word! I think the number is rather at about 5%—but, again, I lack the resources to prove it (anyone want to fund a Barna study?).
But I don’t think Brother McShaffrey has answered my point about what the inclusion of archaic forms does to the overall feel of the language—the way it makes not just the humor in Scripture but practically every single line sound grandiloquent. He took my suggestion of footnotes and applied it woodenly. Contemporary translations don’t need to footnote every plural, anymore than they need to footnote “whom” in “knowing of whom thou hast learned them” (2 Tim 3:14).
What do I mean? Old English used to distinguish, as Greek does, between singular and plural relative pronouns (like “whom”), not just personal pronouns (like “you”). But KJV and modern Englishes have no way of making this distinction; the very finest grammatical details just don’t always come over easily from one language to another—but God’s truth still does.
Meanwhile, a value most people aren’t actually getting—accuracy—is trumping a value they have a right to, the Bible in their own English. Again I say, God had a chance to use archaic Greek but chose the language of the people. We should do the same, and use footnotes where careful Bible teachers judge that a little extra help might be beneficial for the plow boy.
Christian (Affirmative Rebuttal)
My opponent has admitted technical defeat, so I will simply tie up loose ends, agree on one point, and advocate for today’s plowboy.
As for loose ends, the language of the AV is technically Early Modern, not Old English. Also, I did not address the “overall feel” because that is entirely subjective. It does not “feel” quaint, humorous, or grandiloquent to me and, even if it did, why should I be surprised that an ancient book might actually sound ancient?
One point of agreement is this: If most preachers today are failing their people as alleged, they should repent or resign.
When it comes to the proverbial plowboy, let it be noted that Tyndale was not arguing for colloquial translations for the un-intelligentsia when he said, “If God spare my life, I will make a plowboy know more of the scripture than thou dost.” He was denouncing papal authority and, as a schoolmaster, simply wanted to help working-class folk understand scripture better than the priests. He succeeded.
Why should we effectively undo his work by making people dependent on a new priestly class of “careful Bible teachers” who “judge” whether and where to grant occasional insights to the inspired original via footnotes? Every man deserves immediate access to the inspired text and the grammatical precision of AV pronouns affords just that.
Finally, as one who homeschooled six children and pastored dozens more, I have personally seen the old adage proven: Most students rise—or fall—to the level of expectation.
Mark Ward (PhD, Bob Jones University) is the editor of Bible Study Magazine and author of its back-page column, “Word Nerd: Language and the Bible.” He is the author of several books and textbooks including Biblical Worldview: Creation, Fall, Redemption (BJU Press, 2016), Basics for a Biblical Worldview (BJU Press, 2021), and Authorized: The Use and Misuse of the King James Bible (Lexham Press, 2018), which became a Faithlife infotainment documentary. He is also an active (read: obsessive) YouTuber.
Christian McShaffrey (M. Div, Mid-America Reformed Seminary) is Pastor of Five Solas Church in Reedsburg, Wisconsin and also serves as Stated Clerk of the Presbytery of Minnesota and Wisconsin (OPC), editor-in-chief of the Text & Translation webzine, vice-chairman to the Bahnsen Institute, and on the Board of Visitors of Seminario Reformado de las Americas in Quito, Ecuador. He recently co-edited the anthology: Why I Preach from the Received Text.
By Staff — 1 year ago
Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) pastors Dominic Aquila and Fred Greco sat down in early September 2021 to discuss overtures 23 & 37 which are related to the Revoice/SSA officer controversies. They explained the background to them, answered questions posed about them, and clarified why these amendments should be passed.
Watch the video here.
The Intent of the BCO Amendments
BCO 16-4 Deals with Standards for Ordination for Church Officers.
BCO 21-4 and 24-1 Deal with Standards for Examinations For Church Officers.
There amendments do not deal with communicant members, their views and their membership in the church.
The General Assembly approved the wording on Overture 23 (which is the wording for BCO 16-4) by a vote of 77%. The vote for Overture 37 (the wording for BCO 21-4 and 24-1) was approved by a vote of 62%.
These BCO amendments add specific wording because of current issues in the culture that require clearer definitions of qualities like “above approach,” “a good reputation,” and “respected.” It is the nature of the development of creeds, confessions and internal church orders, that clarifying wordings may be added to affirmations in light of current issues.
The Proposed Amendments to the PCA’s Book of Church Order as approved by the PCA General Assembly
BCO 16-4. Officers in the Presbyterian Church in America must be above reproach in their walk and Christlike in their character. Those who profess an identity (such as, but not limited to, “gay Christian,” “same sex attracted Christian,” “homosexual Christian,” or like terms) that undermines or contradicts their identity as new creations in Christ, either (1) by denying the sinfulness of fallen desires (such as, but not limited to, same sex attraction), or (2) by denying the reality and hope of progressive sanctification, or (3) by failing to pursue Spirit-empowered victory over their sinful temptations, inclinations, and actions are not qualified for ordained office.
BCO 21-4 e. In the examination of the candidate’s personal character, the presbytery shall give specific attention to potentially notorious concerns, such as but not limited to relational sins, sexual immorality (including homosexuality, child sexual abuse, fornication, and pornography), addictions, abusive behavior, racism, and financial mismanagement. Careful attention must be given to his practical struggle against sinful actions, as well as to persistent sinful desires. The candidate must give clear testimony of reliance upon his union with Christ and the benefits thereof by the Holy Spirit, depending on this work of grace to make progress over sin (Psalm 103:2-5, Romans 8:29) and to bear fruit (Psalm 1:3; Gal. 5:22-23). While imperfection will remain, he must not be known by reputation or self-profession according to his remaining sinfulness, but rather by the work of the Holy Spirit in Christ Jesus (1 Cor. 6:9-11). In order to maintain discretion and protect the honor of the pastoral office, Presbyteries are encouraged to appoint a committee to conduct detailed examinations of these matters and to give prayerful support to candidates.
BCO 24-1. In the examination of each nominee’s personal character, the Session shall give specific attention to potentially notorious concerns, such as but not limited to relational sins, sexual immorality (including homosexuality, child sexual abuse, fornication, and pornography), addictions, abusive behavior, racism, and financial mismanagement. Careful attention must be given to his practical struggle against sinful actions, as well as to persistent sinful desires. Each nominee must give clear testimony of reliance upon his union with Christ and the benefits thereof by the Holy Spirit, depending upon this work of grace to make progress over sin (Psalm 103:2-5; Romans 8:29) and to bear fruit (Psalm 1:3; Gal. 5:22-23). While imperfection will remain, he must not be known by reputation or self-profession according to his remaining sinfulness, but rather by the work of the Holy Spirit in Christ Jesus (1 Cor. 6:9-11). In order to maintain discretion and protect the honor of church office, Sessions are encouraged to appoint a committee to conduct detailed examinations into these matters and to give prayerful support to nominees.
Reasons to Vote in Favor of Approving These Amendments
The focus is on church officers with an emphasis on their developing a Christlike character. The amendments recognize that it is possible for a man’s character to undermine or contradict the focus on Christlikeness in a number of ways, which may become hinderances to being qualified as a church officer, EITHER
By denying the sinfulness of fallen desires (such as, but not limited to, same sex attraction); or
By denying the reality and hope of progressive sanctification; or
By failing to pursue Spirit-empowered victory over their sinful temptations, inclinations, and actions
Why Are These Statements Important?
“By denying the sinfulness of fallen desires (such as, but not limited to, same sex attraction).”
The Westminster Standards teach the all-encompassing reality of the Fall and its effects on all mankind (WCF 6). Sin affects our total being such that we are dead in sin, and wholly defiled in all parts and faculties of soul and body and inclined to all evil.
WCF 6.5 states, “This corruption of nature, during this life, does remain in those that are regenerated; and although it be, through Christ, pardoned, and mortified; yet both itself, and all the motions thereof, are truly and properly sin.” No professing believer is perfect in this life and because it is possible for remaining sin to prevail in a professing believer’s life, church courts should examine men for church office carefully in life as well as in doctrine.
“By denying the reality and hope of progressive sanctification.”
WCF 13.2 states, “This sanctification is throughout, in the whole man; yet imperfect in this life, there abiding still some remnants of corruption in every part; where arises a continual and irreconcilable war, the flesh lusting against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh.”
Since professing believers are not perfect, the Scripture teaches and the Standards affirm, that their growth in grace is progressive. Those being considered for church office should demonstrate a maturity of life by a regular pattern of growth in Christlikeness. Even the most mature church officer continues to progress regularly in his sanctification and maturity in his life and faith.
“By failing to pursue Spirit-empowered victory over their sinful temptations, inclinations, and actions.”
WCF 13.3 states, “In which war, although the remaining corruption, for a time, may much prevail, yet, through the continual supply of strength from the sanctifying Spirit of Christ, the regenerate part does overcome; and so, the saints grow in grace, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.”
Professing believers are incapable by their own strength to overcome the effects of remaining sin; they must depend on the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit to put to death the works of the flesh and by the Spirit put on the character of Christ. Church courts are to examine candidates for church office to inquire into how they put off the old and put on the new by the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit.
Professing believers can say, “I was once a sinner struggling with—-, but Christ washed me. Some corruption remains, but the Spirit enables me to put it off the old and to put on its Christlike opposite.” If this is our true understanding for all professing believers, it is just as true for church officers.
The Amendments Will Guide Church Courts
These amendments are beneficial to guide church courts in their duty to examine church officers with respect to their Christian character. These amendments provide the following:
Amplify the Scriptural requirements for church office found in many passages, such as in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1.
Encourage courts to be diligent in examining both theological views as well as character. “Watch your life and doctrine closely. Persevere in them, because if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers” (I Tim 4:16). “Keep watch over yourselves and of all the flock of which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers” (Acts 20:28).
Encourage courts to ask appropriate questions on a variety of areas: such as, marital issues, child abuse, racism, sexual purity, use of time, friendships, and financial management.
Use the language of “reputation,” which is in line with the Pauline language, and touches on qualifications such as to be “respected” (1 Tim 3:2), “well thought of by outsiders” (1 Tim 3:7), and “above reproach” (Titus 1:7).
Apply our biblical understanding of our theology and practice to church officers.
Define general moral thinking and behavior specifically to reflect and apply current realities facing the church.
Understand and apply the teachings of the Westminster Standards, especially as delineated in Larger Catechism questions 138 (What are the duties required in the seventh commandments?) and 139 (What are the sins forbidden in the seventh commandment?).
While the debate on questions about biblical sexual ethics gave rise to these amendments, the intent and content of the amendments cover the whole spectrum of character qualities for church officers.
As one outside observer noted: Seen in the context of the 2,000-year history of the church, the PCA’s deliberations were hardly revolutionary. But in 2021 cultural revolutionary America, the language commissioners proposed be added to the PCA’s Book of Church Order ring with Christian bravery before a hostile world:
Those who profess an identity (such as, but not limited to, “gay Christian,” “same-sex attracted Christian,” “homosexual Christian,” or like terms) that undermines or contradicts their identity as new creations in Christ, either by denying the sinfulness of fallen desires . . . or by denying the reality and hope of progressive sanctification, or by failing to pursue Spirit-empowered victory over their sinful temptations, inclinations, and actions are not qualified for ordained office.
Watch the video here.
By David L. Mobley — 4 months ago
Written by David L. Mobley |
Tuesday, August 9, 2022
I’m commanded to first take the log out of my own eye. I’m told that it’s there, and that I’d better deal with it first. So, I must get on my knees before God, metaphorically or literally or both, and ask God to help me see the log in my own eye and get it out.
As a father of six, I often feel like I’m constantly involved in conflict resolution —though not as much so as my wife, since she’s full-time with the kids whereas I have a “day job”. I suppose some of this conflict is almost inevitable —with eight people in the household, that means there are 28 different pairs of people who could have a conflict at any given time. But I digress. All this conflict keeps bringing me back to Matthew 7:3-5 (LSB):
“And why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.”
This text is so simple, yet so deep and profound. Here, in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus addresses our natural propensity to judge others, and to judge them unfairly. When it comes to others, we’re ready to make a huge issue out of even something very small, which he describes here as a speck in their eye. But when it comes to ourselves, we’re ready to overlook even huge glaring issues, so much so that he takes it almost to a comical level and pictures us being willing even to overlook having a log in our eye. Imagine someone with a whole log in their eye, trying to help someone else remove a tiny speck! Clearly that would be impossible; if I have a log in my eye, there’s no way I’m going to be able to closely inspect someone else’s eye to help them get a speck out of it. It’s obvious —yet how much do we fail to do what this says?!?
So often, when there’s a conflict, our first response is to think of all the things the other person did wrong. This is how my kids often communicate to me about their problems —they bring a list of the ways they were wronged, and of course they must be an innocent victim. But it takes me back to my first year or so of marriage, when Maura and I fought so much —and I remember having all the same thoughts myself. If there was conflict, I could clearly see all the ways she had been wrong, but of course I was innocent, or at least I had good excuses for how I had acted. But I kept coming back to this passage, and to Ephesians 5:25-27:
Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she would be holy and blameless.
Here, husbands are called to love their wives as Christ loved the church, wanting what’s truly best for them. This call to love isn’t limited to marriage, though —it extends to siblings and beyond. Earlier in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said (Matthew 5:44, LSB):