Uncategorized

A Snyder’s Soapbox Review of, “Is There Anything Good About Hell?” by Paul Dirks

If you are like me you’ve probably not heard of Paul Dirks. As it turns out, we’ve been missing out. He is a very thoughtful man. Here is a short bio I pulled from Amazon, “Paul Dirks is Lead Pastor of New West Community Baptist Church, where he has served for 12 years. He lives in New Westminster, BC, Canada, with his wife Rachel and their five children. Dirks has published on other topics including sexuality and gender at The Public Discourse.”

When I was contacted via e-mail about doing a review, I was a bit dubious. Most of the people who contact me for reviews are from backgrounds that eschew deeper theological thinking. I refuse some, and others I warn, and ask if they are certain they want me to do a review. After reading a bit about the book’s topic, and corresponding with Paul a couple of times, I became more enthusiastic about his work.

The book was a much more thorough treatment of the topic of Hell than I anticipated. Paul cites many source texts, and they are included in the Bibliography for one to verify. This was a pleasant relief from the hearsay that floods arguments from social media keyboard warriors and, “Biblical scholars.”

The notion of Hell, and the included eternal suffering, is very unpleasant. So much so, that most people attempt to convince themselves it doesn’t exist, or that they are a good person, and would never end up there. As a Christian, it has bothered me, and it was one of the main reasons I began to read the Bible before I was a Christian. Before I understood certain attributes of God, I couldn’t figure out how to make hell fit with what I knew. All I could do, was trust what the Bible said. A book like this might have saved me some time. I don’t want to give away the key arguments against Hell, and for Hell, because Paul does a great job of laying those out in the book. I do want to encourage you to give it a read if you have been struggling to understand how the fact that there is a Hell, and people will end up there, and it is a good thing. This book does a pretty good job of explaining it all. However, at times, it might be a bit too much for some newer Christians, or people who aren’t used to following a thought through. It isn’t as accessible as some other works on the topic, but it is more thorough, and nuanced. On the other end of the spectrum, high minded theologians might see it as an offering for the neophytes among them. Regardless of which end of the spectrum you are on, I do think you’ll agree about the value of this work for the body. With that in mind, I recommend his book. I Think it adds value to the individual Christian’s library, and can be a valuable aid in helping a friend understand as well. Get a copy for yourself, and one to give away. You can buy them on Amazon.

Since Paul was amicable to the idea of doing some Q. & A. I thought I’d include that as part of the review. Those follow below. My Questions are numbered and his answers follow each one.

1. I think understanding God’s authority in juxtaposition to our human subjection to that authority, properly understood, should bring sharp contrast to the monolithic difference between the two. Do you think that this contrast of an infinitely authoritative Creator and His subject creatures, is sufficient for most Christians to understand the justice of an eternal Hell? Why/why not?

I think that goes a long ways to understanding the justice of hell, but there are hurdles for most people in how God’s characteristics (love, goodness, mercy, justice) interrelate. Furthermore, there are questions like those the apostle Paul asks and answers in Romans 9 concerning God’s authority itself. But I think you are generally correct. Cultures which tend towards understanding authority and subjection, even in society, tend to have far less concerns with the doctrine of hell.

2. The thought of going to Hell is very disturbing. There are times when Christians doubt that God has justified them, and they begin to fear that they will end up in Hell. Could you briefly explain where assurance is found?

Eternal torment in hell is indeed disturbing. Praise God that He offers absolute assurance of salvation in an historical and objective work–the substitute death of Jesus Christ upon the cross for our punishment –the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God (1 Pet 3:18). The saint ought to now hear “it is finished” (Jn 19:30) echo in his soul when faced with doubts, and claim passages like Romans 8:1, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” A proper understanding of inherent (if imperfect) righteousness also helps for assurance. When rightly understood, unbelievers do not thank God, acquiesce to His will, or love the brotherhood of believers. All these and more are “green shoots”–signs that a person is a new creature in Christ, in spite of remaining sin and struggles. The book of 1 John is helpful in this regard.

3. Do you hate neck ties? I was just curious. Thought I’d throw you a softball.

Nope! In a different cultural context, I would have no problem wearing a necktie most days.

4. How has the governments response to the coronavirus impacted your local Church?

In my view, our government (and most around the world) significantly overreacted to COVID. There were points over the last year or so that the uneven application of their regulations were unfair towards churches and certainly undermined guaranteed charter rights of worship. At almost every point we have opened to in-person services as soon as possible, while also offering on-line services. I am thankful for the unity of our church and elders, without which we could not have navigated the complexities of this time. Even with that unity, it has been challenging. I do wish I had given more time to doing personal visits during what was a more extended lockdown than I expected, but our church has mostly weathered the storm and is doing quite well. The maturity of our saints has been evident in all this.

5. How has good theology helped keep fear in its proper place?

Yes, it has been crucial. I see so much fear around us, and not only from unbelievers. Truths like the immanence of death, the providence of God in health and healing, the focus we are to have on eternity, the fear of God which drives out the fear of man, are all helpful for peace during these difficult times.

6. What was the deciding factor in determining to write your book?

As I state in the introduction, a statement from a man I greatly admire that he “wished there was no such thing as hell,” really provoked me. As a reformed theologian who believes in God’s sovereignty, election, and that He does all things ultimately for His glory, there was something not quite right about that statement. I think that thought also reflects what I see in practice, that many preachers speak of hell in a biblically imbalanced way, emphasizing the sinner’s choice to be there and describing it as a place apart from God. These things are not untrue, but they don’t capture the centre or balance of Christ’s words on the subject. So I guess that I saw within my own tribe an imbalance that needed to be corrected and a puzzle that needed to be solved. I love digging into theological puzzles and I felt like there was a book in it that had never been written (Hartman’s Divine Penology is probably the closest thing). Since then I have come to realize how many otherwise-mature Christians struggle with the doctrine of hell, and it has been encouraging to offer help and some answers.

7. On page 133 I found Anselm’s argument “…that our sins are worthy of an infinite punishment because they are committed against an infinite majesty…” to be sufficient. This concept is where I stopped when I was looking into the justice of Hell as an expression of God’s love. I found satisfaction there, so I didn’t delve deeper. How difficult was it for you to read many of the other arguments, isolate them, and refute them after dealing with this argument?

I think different people find different arguments compelling or sufficient. Anselm’s argument is brilliant because it ties God’s infinite honor (a somewhat abstract concept) to our infinite obligation to Him and then proves it’s infiniteness by a ratcheting measurement of differing obligations (there are places in Jonathan Edward’s preaching that he also makes many of these connections.) Those who dismiss Anselm’s argument by saying it is tied to his feudal context haven’t understood him at all.

To be honest, I love reading the opposing arguments. It’s another puzzle. I know enough (God’s word is sufficient) to know they are wrong, but there is reward and even enjoyment in discovering how they are wrong and seeing what truths or emphases surface in refuting those positions (as well as which nuggets of truth are there in the erroneous positions.) For instance, I remember coming across Kronen and Reitan’s argument in “Species of Hell” and thinking, “now finally, that is a decent argument against hell–how are they wrong?” (See chapter 9). Conundrums are some of the best aids to developing clarity.

9. I understand that a loving God must also be just. How difficult was it for you to connect in your arguments God’s justice via hell, and His love?

I think the challenge for some people, and a challenge also to communicate, is how justice requires punishment. We live in a world in which the retributive aspect of punishment is routinely downplayed, if not denied altogether. Once you have arrived at the understanding that justice requires punishment of evil, then the connection to God’s love (or goodness) is easier to make. For much of history, starting with the church fathers, it has been an accepted axiom that the one who loves love must therefore hate hate and punish it, as the two are necessarily equivalent. I don’t think most people today, including Christians, would consider that axiomatic.

10. Do you have any other writing projects in the pipe?

My wife would laugh at this question! Yes. The question is what will actually see the light of day anytime soon. I am currently working on a study guide for Is There Anything Good About Hell? Within a month or two I will be releasing L. B. Hartman’s peerless but obscure work on hell and justice, Divine Penology. I wrote an extended biographical introduction for the book, which was very enjoyable. No biography exists of this notable 20th century Baptist pastor and author. I am also doing a significant amount of reading and work for a future book on the Trinity, very tentatively called The Eschatological Trinity, but it may be five or six years before that sees the light of day. I have a couple other smaller projects that might be published prior to that, including a fictional short story which I may release in serial fashion, chapter by chapter, via podcast.

11. What Bible are you currently using, and which one would you like to get in the future? I know this is unrelated, but it is relevant to my platform.

I’m a big fan of the ESV, although I am not dogmatic about translation choices. A year and a half ago I “splurged” on a Schuyler Personal Size Quentel in calfskin. Beauty is a virtue and though I tend towards being economical, I have enjoyed having a bible that is aesthetically pleasing to look at and a pleasure to use. It’s relatively small, but the typography and layout compensates significantly for the font size and its close to perfect for carrying around with me everywhere. Because I use Logos for much of my study, I don’t buy print bibles very often. I was intrigued with the Weidmann ESV journaling bible you recently reviewed, and that might go on the gift list for my wife. I think I can get away with saying that–I doubt she’ll read this!

Bible Rebinds · Bible Reviews · Bibles · Uncategorized

A Review of The Berean Study Bible (B.S.B.)

I was unaware of this translation being available in a printed physical edition until I saw one on social media. One of my online friends had recently been touting it as possibly being, “The one.” He has been looking for an accurate translation that reads well. Many of us are longtime fans of Lockman’s 1995 New American Standard Bible. (N.A.S.B.) It has been a reliable formal equivalent translation since its release. We haven’t been looking for a new translation, but some were not satisfied so the 2020 NASB became a reality.

The 2020 NASB has been well received by many, but others like me, were not happy with many of the translation choices made in this most recent work. Some of us have been looking for a replacement that reads, “better.” This subjective preference is responsible for the majority of NASB readers opting to adopt the 2020 NASB.

Others like myself are waiting for something with a stricter translation philosophy. Enter the Legacy Standard Bible (L.S.B.) Master’s Seminary has been working on tightening up the translation work of the 1995 NASB. They have released a New Testament with Psalms and Proverbs. The entire Bible will be released later this year, God permitting. I’m still in this camp. (For the time being.)

My friend and his like-minded counterparts insist on an accurate translation, that handles the Hebrew and Greek gendered words properly without the addition of modern sociopolitical ideologies being utilized in the interpretive process. Along with these core principles they also want a translation that is more accessible than the 1995 NASB was in their opinion. This is where the BSB comes in.

I really didn’t want to like the BSB, and was looking at sections of scripture, and their translation choices very critically. I wanted to find a reason to not like it. I attribute this bias to the fact that a bunch of the people I know on social media were fawning over it ad nauseam. It was like being forced to watch your friend and his new girlfriend baby talk each other. So, being the reasonable adult that I am, I requested a Bible for review. I hadn’t really considered my bias against the BSB until I began using it for my daily reading. I am usually critical of, “new” translations. Especially given the horrible track record of some new translations. I proceeded to use the BSB the way I normally do when I get a new Bible for review. I try to live with it for a while and use it side by side with my 1995 NASB, and some language tools on my computer. (I like Olive Tree’s Bible Study program. I’ve invested a good amount of cash on these tools, but not as much as my Logos friends.) When I read a section that seems different to me, I compare it the NASB, then I look up the Greek in Novum Testamentum Graece (NA28) in the Bible Study app.

I need to state a disclaimer here. I am not a Koine Greek expert. I have had more Koine Greek than some Preachers, but not as much as I would need to be a translator. With that out of the way, keep in mind that all translation involves interpretation. You can have a valid translation of a section of scripture that is quite different than another person’s. This is why you need to have an education in the original languages instead of simply using concordances, and computer programs. It is like having a semester of philosophy and presuming you can fix all the worlds problems. Without the education, you aren’t aware of the period in history, the idioms, ways in which a specific word was primarily used, other extrabiblical contemporary texts to cross reference usage, regional differences, translation conventions, some textual criticism, and so on.

Since God is the author, and we want to understand what He intended to communicate, we need to seek to interpret what we are translating in such a way that His intended ideas are communicated. Just because a translation is linguistically valid does not necessarily make it a good or bad translation.

I started coming around after the first week of using the BSB. I don’t think it will be, “the one” for me, but it is one that I will use. I am still waiting for the LSB. I’d be very very interested in the Berean Literal Bible. I asked about it in one of my e-mail correspondences with John at Bereanstudybible;

Q: “Are there plans to make a physical edition of the BLB?”

A: “We are hoping to offer the full draft OT and NT of the BLB online around the end of the year or early in 2022. Following that time there will be a period for additional translation input, public comment, and consistency checking. For the full BSB this period was about 2 years before finalizing and beginning the printing process, so a comparable time period is expected before a BLB printing.”

I am excited for this translation. After using the BSB, it seems to me to be more formal than the first era NIV’s, which utilized a dynamic translation philosophy, and less formal than the ESV. I’d add it seems more formal than the CSB in my opinion. I do like the translation, in as much as I’ve been exposed to it. I can tentatively recommend the BSB as a translation.

Beyond the translation we have to talk about the actual physical Bible itself. It was shipped in a card-paper envelope with minimal protection. Inside it was in plastic. I hoped it wasn’t damaged. When I opened it up, it was apparent that the text block was exceptionally manufactured. I was impressed at how flexible it was, as well as the paper’s thickness. My first impression was that the spine was smyth sewn. I thought to myself, “Surely it isn’t sewn since it only costs around forty bucks?” I made sure to ask about it.

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Q: “What process was employed to manufacture the spine?”

A: “The Printer was Sheridan in Grand Rapids MI and the Case Binding for the Softcover was done at Bintech in Nashville, TN. The Bibles are Smyth Sewn Flex bound (Caseside).”

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As many of you know by now, there has been further verification of this by the re-binders who have since posted pictures of the spine to social media. The paper is 45 g.s.m. which is 30.5# with 88% opacity. The inside liner that connected the text block to the cover was a nice change. It was flexible, tough, and didn’t wrinkle as bad as traditional materials.

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The cover material is called, “Alpha Aston” manufactured by Ecologicalfibers Inc. The cover material is already starting to show damage from use. I would not trust this cover material to last a long time. Synthetics can be cost effective, but they are rarely as durable as a good quality leather.

This Bible was printed by Sheridan in Grand Rapids Michigan U.S.A. I am happy about that. I really don’t like it when slave labor is used to print a Bible.

The print is a double column, paragraph format, black text edition, in 10 point font. It is clearly printed for the most part with only a few noticed smears of the text. There are some translation notes at the foot of the page.

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Here are some more questions and answers from my correspondence with them;

Are you structured as a ministry, not for profit, non-profit, or something else?

Bible Hub is privately owned. I would say it is structured as a ministry (but supported by advertising so does not take donations.) The translation work was commissioned using ad revenue from the Bible Hub site.

How important is it to the translators to directly translate, when possible, gendered nouns, and pronouns, and allow the reader, with the surrounding scriptural contexts, to come to the correct conclusions?

The translators seek to be true to the original Scripture text regarding gender. Pronoun clarification was permitted where helpful to the reader. Clarifications, parsing, and variants are indicated in the word by word translation tables which are freely available at: https://berean.bible/downloads.htm

Are there plans to make a physical edition of the BLB?

We are hoping to offer the full draft OT and NT of the BLB online around the end of the year or early in 2022. Following that time there will be a period for additional translation input, public comment, and consistency checking. For the full BSB this period was about 2 years before finalizing and beginning the printing process, so a comparable time period is expected before a BLB printing.

Q: “Are there any plans to produce different text blocks? i.e. single column, verse format, personal size, thinline, so on and so forth?”

A: “Depending on sales, a personal size is most likely next. The other options are also strong considerations for the future, but not likely in the very near future.”

Q: “What has your experience been working with an American printer for this edition?”

A: “We have worked with Sheridan (formerly Dickinson) in Grand Rapids for both the NT and full printing and are very happy with their work. Since we are printing in smaller volumes in this early stage, printing in the US is a cost effective solution. Since we are located in the US we prefer to work locally as long as it is reasonably cost effective.”

Overall, I found the translation to be sound. The Bible size was just right allowing for a very comfortable and legible font size. The binding was my favorite feature. The flexible text block should also prove to be durable. The only negative I really have is about the flexible synthetic soft cover. I don’t think it will last long. The text block really deserves a better cover option. I think many people agree as I have seen numerous rebinds on social media. I am looking forward to their future work. Make sure to check out the rest of the photographs on my Flickr page, and watch the youtube video.

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Bible Reviews · Bibles · Crossway · Uncategorized

A Review of the Crossway E.S.V. Illuminated Bible Art Journaling Edition.

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Crossway was kind enough to send me a copy of the Illuminated Bible, Art Journaling edition. This particular one is a burgundy colored, cloth over board, hard back, case bound Bible. It comes in an ornate slipcase that you should maintain for shelf storage to keep your Bible looking good, and to make it last.

We’ve all seen pictures or videos of books from the dark ages that have ornate drawings, and stylized artistic renderings of plant vines, leaves, fruits, and other various things on the covers, spines, page edges, and on the pages themselves. When a book has these features, it is said to be, “illuminated.” Imagine a monk in an abbey some place in Europe, bent over a page of vellum, (animal skin) using a quill, a dip pen, different colored inks, along with gold leaf, to decorate the page of a hand copied Bible. Books were not mass-produced back then. They were very expensive, and time consuming to make. The most valuable book of all time is the Bible. That is not up for debate.

In today’s era of mass-produced clones, it is nice to see something different, but the nagging truth comes back to ruin the illusion for me. This is a mass-produced Bible. It is a very nice mass-produced Bible, but it is mass-produced. The novelty of having all of the art inside, and on the cover is nice, and many people will enjoy this embellishment.

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The immense upside of having a mass-produced illuminated Bible is that everyone can afford to have one, and enjoy the word along with the supporting art. Even in today’s day and age, if you were to commission a one off Bible to be made to your desired specifications, retained an artist to do the work, and then had the thing printed and bound, you would be spending a small fortune. I can’t even estimate how much it would cost. This Bible can be had for less than sixty bucks.

Here is a link to the product page if you just want to look at the specifications. Here is a link to Crossway’s page about how it was made, and here is one about illumination.

For those of you who are still here, and didn’t skip out, I have some other information for you that isn’t on those pages. I’ve already told you about the slipcase. Now we’ll get into the details of the Bible. The artwork is done in what looks to be a gold colored foil stamping of some kind. It is very pleasing to look at.

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The spine has four raised decorative hubs. Between them we have, Illuminated Bible, Art Journaling Edition, English Standard Version, and the Crossway logo at the foot. The flowers, leaves, and vines harken back to traditional illumination features. The cover is also decorated in a similar fashion. The burgundy colored cloth is pretty typical of cloth covered hardback books. This Bible has cream colored head and tail bands, as well as a burgundy colored ribbon marker. The page edges are gold gilt. The spine doesn’t look rounded. The corners are not either.

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There was an issue with some pages that the corners had folded into the text block during trimming. When that happens, they don’t get trimmed. When you unfold them, they stick out further than all the pages. I believe that would be covered under warranty, but I usually take care of it myself with a razor blade. You have to be very careful. If it is more than a couple of pages, you’re better off sending it back because those pages were not gilt if they were tucked in. Since this was only a couple pages, it wasn’t a big deal. It does happen from time to time though.

I know I shouldn’t like the end papers as much as I do, but I can’t help it. I assume the same artist, “Dana Tanamachi” did the art for them as well. This is a case bound, hard back, with paste down end pages attaching the text block to the cover. Two blank end pages precede the ornate presentation page. The sewn spine’s threads contrast with the darker presentation page, making them easier to see. The darker colors on the presentation page do remind me of some of the illumined books I’ve seen over the years. After that is a burgundy colored title page with gold stamped art. Then there is the publisher’s page, Table of Contents, About the ESV, and an Introduction for this illuminated edition.

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Each book starts with a full page of gold colored thematic art. There is a drop cap at the beginning of each book and full page artistic scripture quotes interspersed. The page numbers, chapter numbers, and address references at the head of the page are all in gold colored ink. The text is laid out in a single column, paragraph format. The font is a uniformly printed 9 point Lexicon type. This is a black letter edition. The page margins are approximately 2 inches wide. They are not ruled. There is art interspersed throughout in the margins as well.

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One of the more impressive features in my opinion is the 42 g.s.m. cream colored paper. It is easy on the eyes, and contrasts nicely with the text. Since it is so heavy it helps to reduce ghosting dramatically. In conjunction with the wide margins the paper is good for taking notes. With all of the bold lines in the art the paper can’t stop it from showing through from the other side. This is only distracting when it is the full page art at the beginning of the chapter as it is visible through the text on the opposite page when it is turned over it. At the end of the Bible there is an Index of Title Pages. It includes explanations of how the art expresses some of the themes found in the book. Finally, at the end there is a page with the names of the people who comprised the team that published this edition. There were also 4 blank end pages to write on if need be.

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I like this edition on an aesthetic level. If that were the only reason to buy it, I think I would probably hold off. If you are like me, that just isn’t enough to warrant the purchase, but when you consider the 42 g.s.m. paper, and the 2 inch margins, as well as the price, it start to make a lot more sense. Perhaps more art influenced thinkers would buy this solely because of the art? I’m sure you folks are out there, and probably already own this one. For some of the more curmudgeonly among us, add a little flair to your life while getting a solid translation along with great print quality, terrific paper, and a good value. You can see more pictures on my Flickr album for this Bible.

ISBN-13: 978-1-4335-7099-5

Book Reviews

Review of the Trinitarian Bible Society Slimline Pocket New Testament in KJV

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The folks over at Trinitarian Bible Society were kind enough to send me a copy of their Slimline Pocket New Testament for review. It has been a while since I’ve written a review of one of the Bibles they produce. I thought it would be a good time to take a look at a very affordable, and lightweight New Testament. This New Testament is shipped in minimal packaging. It was in a sleeve and wrapped with clear plastic. The pictures on TBS’ site look a bit browner than in reality.

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The color is burgundy just like the site states. It is a two-tone cover with the darker color on the bottom. There is one ribbon marker that matches the burgundy of the cover.

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The front cover has, “New Testament” pressed into it. The perimeter of the cover is stitched down. Since the spine is so narrow, there is no writing on it.

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The inner liner is white pasted down paper which joins the text block to the cover. The spine is sewn.

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The page edges are gold gilt. I did encounter a bit of a problem when opening this New Testament. The pages stuck together. I ended up tearing the front page while trying to separate the pages. I wasn’t careful enough. This volume indicates that it is printed in Great Britain by Eyre & Spottiswoode H.M. Printers, Cambridge University Press Cambridge. The paper is fine, and very light weight. It is opaque enough to not cause eye strain. The 8 point font is large enough to be of use, but small enough to keep the size of this New Testament down.

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If you are considering a slimline pocket New Testament, I assume the primary features you are looking for are light weight and portability. This edition is one of the lightest New Testaments I have owned. It is also one of the slimmest. I forget that it is on my person while I am carrying it. I have had some New Testaments that are shorter and thus also thicker. Even though they fit into a pocket, it is evident to me that I am carrying one. This is so light and thin that it doesn’t cause my jacket to wear as if it is burdened. From outward appearances, it would be almost impossible to see that I was carrying it.

If I had to pick my other favorite feature of this edition, it would be the inclusion of a KJV wordlist. There are some English words that have gone out of use since the publishing of the KJV Bible. Peradventure you purchase this edition, you’ll encounter this, and observe that it is commodious to your reading. If you’d like to look at the rest of the pictures of this Bible I took please visit my flickr album.

Here is the product page for the Slimline Pocket New Testament (Vivella) – Burgundy [65E] This page has some of the measurements and other specifications I may have left out.

Bible Reviews · Bibles · Crossway

Review of the E.S.V. Bible with Creeds and Confessions

Crossway was kind enough to send me a copy of the, “E.S.V. Bible with Creeds and Confessions.” This particular Bible has a burgundy, Trutone cover. It comes in a handsome slipcase. I thought the design of the slipcase cross and surround, were excellent. Many people discard the case their Bible comes in. I would caution you not to. It is a very important piece of protective equipment. It stops shelf wear and works to protect your Bible during travel. Don’t waste money on a fancy, improperly sized Bible cases. They never protect as well as the original case, and they often do damage by allowing your Bible to slop around inside. They also tend to encourage people to put things inside them, with their Bibles.

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The case is not the most interesting thing about this edition. Forgive me for going on a tangent about the case 😊 The feature that makes this Bible special is that it includes most of the historic Christian creeds, and confessions in the back. Here are the included creeds and confessions;

“The Apostles’ Creed (ca. 200–400), the Nicene Creed (325), the Athanasian Creed (381), the Chalcedonian Definition (451), the Augsburg Confession (1530), the Belgic Confession (1561), the Articles of Religion (1563), the Canons of Dort (1618–19), the Westminster Confession (1646), the London Baptist Confession (1689), the Heidelberg Catechism (1563), the Westminster Larger Catechism (1647), and the Westminster Shorter Catechism (1647).”

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As you can see, this is a pretty good list for an overview of historic Christian beliefs. If you read all of them, you can see for yourself what doctrines we have always held to be true, and necessary. They can be traced through the history of the Church. We don’t exist separately from our Christian forefathers. If you are interested, and you would like to have all that information at your fingertips in one volume, this is the Bible for you.

You get the excellent English Standard Version. As well as the thirteen creeds and confessions with introductions to them written by Church historian Chad Van Dixhoorn. Also, an easy on the eyes 10.5 point Lexicon typeface font printed on 36 g.s.m. paper. The paper is also coated. This paper has an opacity of 85% Which is quite good for a Bible costing less than fifty dollars. Did I mention that the text is line matched? That means that the lines of text on a page are printed directly behind the lines of text on the other side of the page. This helps the legibility of the text. With a paper that is not completely opaque, you can see the text through the paper. When the printer uses line matching, this mitigates the muddying of the text. This reduces eye strain from reading and makes it more pleasurable.

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This edition has a burgundy colored, Trutone cover. The cover is perimeter stitched to keep it from coming apart. If you are not familiar with Crossway’s Trutone covers, they are a synthetic leather like material. It has been my experience that they are flexible, and durable. They look good for a long time, and do their job protecting the text block. There are five raised decorative spine hubs. “Holy Bible, with Creeds and Confessions, ESV, English Standard Version, and Crossway” is hot stamped in gold colored foil on the spine between the spine hubs. The inner liner is pasted down, brown paper. The inner liner is pasted to the end papers and connects the text block to the cover. The spine is rounded, as well as the corners. There are two burgundy ribbon markers. The page edges are gold gilt. This Bible’s spine is smyth-sewn. For those of you not familiar with what that means, it is when the pages are printed out in stacks, folded over into signatures (think pamphlets) and sewn to binding cord or ribbons in the spine, and also sewn to each other, until a text block is complete. This makes for a durable and flexible text block. This particular edition lays flat right out of the box. No break in time with this one folks!

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There are three end papers in the front. Then there is the presentation page, marriages page, births/adoptions page, and deaths page. These are not for extensive family records but suffice for immediate family.

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Next is the publisher’s page with copyright information. This edition was printed and bound in China. The table of contents is next, along with the preface and explanation of features. At the end we have a weights and measures page, a concordance, the creeds and confessions with an introduction, and eight pages of maps.

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This is a double column, paragraph format, black letter, edition with cross references, and foot notes. I find this volume to be superior in function. The flexibility of the cover, spine, and text block, aid in the holding, and reading of this Bible. The large 10.5 pt. font, the layout, the features, everything about this begs to be used. Considering the finite constraints of Bible design, I’m amazed at how much is packed into this Bible. Even with the large font, and the confessions and creeds this thing still manages to have some cross references, footnotes, a concordance, and maps. This is a great value, and I don’t hesitate to recommend it. You can purchase it directly from Crossway, or you can pick one up from Christianbook.com, Westminster Bookstore, or Amazon. If you’d like to see more pictures go to my Flickr album here.

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Uncategorized

The Origins of Policing in the Untied States of America is not Racist.

NBA LeBron James Is a Coward. : ThyBlackMan.com

Recently, I’ve heard from the woke crowd that policing/law enforcement in America is systemically racist because it originated with slave owner’s needs to recapture escaped black slaves. I’ve also read that it is one of the ways that the rich, white, oppressors oppress the people of color, or poor people. It seems odd to me that they equate being a person of color to necessarily being poor. I remember in history that white immigrants were oppressed. They have completely misdiagnosed the problem, and the root cause, as usual.

There has always been law givers, enforcers, and violators. The first law breakers were Adam and Eve. The only transcendent and just law giver is God Himself. As far as humans are concerned, whoever the strongest thug is makes the law, and his subservient men enforce it. The rest of the people in the area are subjects to it. This does not make it just. Since only God is just, even the most conscientiously written human laws will fall short of God’s laws in terms of justice. Since God is the only omniscient being, He is the only one who can judge justly. Mankind will always only know part of what he can know, and that part will not be known perfectly. His judgments are based on his faulty knowledge, understanding, and communications.

In the earliest times of human history, men have made laws. Monarchs have ruled. Feudal systems reigned. These men were from all tribes and tongues, all colors, and creeds. It is a sad, inane, ignorant, backwards, brainwashed slave, that believes the lies of the woke crowd. Evil, sinners, oppress other evil sinners, at will as long as there is no law written on their hearts to stop them. Only an internal law from God will stop a man from doing evil, and evil continuously. Color does not matter.

When men came here from England, they brought the laws of the English monarchy. The Puritans brought the laws of God. They attempted to govern themselves by employing the scriptures as their authoritative source of law. The Church enforced the laws on the people, but one of the major differences is that they were willing to be governed. The lawless people in America today however don’t want to be governed by what God says is good or evil. They want to make up the laws themselves. They want to subject us to their twisted views of right and wrong. That is where all this woke nonsense is coming from. They don’t care about justice. They only care about themselves. They are selfish children wresting the power away from the adults because they are spoiled brats. When everything is racist, nothing is. They have nothing to complain about so they create problems. They need to look at their own lives first, and get to work there.

Where does justice come from? God. Where does just law come from? God. Where does the notion of law enforcement come from? God. The minister of justice does not bear the sword in vain. The legal system did not start as a racist system to recapture slaves. That is preposterous. Policing did not come from a racist system to recapture slaves. If you want just laws, you must repent of your sins, and trust the true law giver Who is also the only just judge. The laws of our country will only be just when we are a Christian nation. You wanted to depart from your Christian heritage and faith… Look where it has gotten you! Confused, self-loathing, and full of bitterness, and hate.

Uncategorized

Mask Wearing.

HALYARD* Blue Level 2 Procedure Mask with Earloops - Face Masks & N95 Respirators - Facial ...

How often have smart people been wrong lately? Quite often. Why? Because they start with a false presupposition. When a person starts with the belief that God does not exist, then builds their scientific practices on that belief, they end up with wrong assumptions, and conclusions. That is why I don’t agree with them about their conclusions on climate change, evolution, abortion, euthanasia, and mask wearing, or as I like to call them, “Freedom filters.”

There are only a few truly scientific studies out there, but they are wrong to begin with. One of them has a cage of infected mice, opposite a cage of healthy mice, with mask material between the cages, and fans blowing over the infected mice towards the uninfected ones. That is flawed because it is not analogous to human individuals wearing masks and mingling with each other. One of the other studies demonstrates how different freedom filters stop droplets from being transmitted. They only measure droplets, not smaller particles of water vapor. Other studies are even more anecdotal.

Keep in mind, when your freedom filter catches your breath, the droplets, may collect on the surface, but as you breath in and out, evaporative action occurs. You are actually making a finer mist out of your virus laden respirations. You are still vulnerable to pathogens that are very small, like a virus.

I am a man. I am an individual created by God with certain rights and liberties. I have the God given right to self determination. You could call this a religious belief if you want, but it is much more foundational than that. It is the idea that the government cannot tell me how to take care of my health. If I want to drink a pot of coffee, eat ten bacon burgers a day, and lay around, I can do it. I will suffer the consequences as an individual. You don’t have to take care of me out of the public coffer. I have to pay for my medical bills, and suffer the physical consequences. I have the right, as a man, to self determination.

That right is subordinate to God, His will, His law, and His word. My right, is necessary for me to navigate the world that He made. I operate inside of the nature that I am bound to. As a Christian, my new nature allows me to live in the spirit, and die in the flesh. I know that this world is not the be all end all. If wearing a freedom filter gives you the false sense of safety that you desire, go ahead and wear one. I don’t want to wear one because I know the so called science behind their effectiveness is a lie. When I am told to do something that I know is a lie, I get righteously angry. For instance, the world wants me to celebrate gay marriage, divorce, abortion, transgenderism, paganism, perversions of all sorts, and I get angry! With good reason. Because all those things are lies straight from hell.

Don’t expect me to buy what you are selling just because there is some pseudo-science studies, or claims behind it. After all, these are the geniuses who claimed the world would end due to an ice age before I graduated from high school. Then they claimed we’d all be dead due to global warming. Now they call it climate change because they can’t make up their minds. These are the same folks who can’t say definitively what gender a person is, or anything else for that matter. They even believe we evolved from apes, and are getting better, smarter, and longer lived, lol. Good luck with those, “scientific” beliefs fellas. Let me know how that works out for you. Until my end comes, I want to go about without a freedom filter. I am not hurting you by not wearing one. You are a mindless cow following the other cows to the slaughter house. I’ve had the virus and lived through it. If I hadn’t, I’d gone to be with Jesus. Win, win in my book. The only people who fear death, are the ones who don’t know Jesus!

Here is the bad news. We are all sinners, and deserve death and hell. God should kill us right now, and send us there. The good news is that He came to this world, lived a righteous life, laid that life down as a sinless sacrifice, was crucified on a Roman cross. There He took our sin guilt on Himself, and He took the wrath of God, poured out on Him in our place, as our substitute. He paid the penalty that we own in His precious blood. He atoned for us. We are commanded to repent of our sins, and trust the work that Jesus did on the cross so we can be made right with God. Because of what He did, we can be with Him in eternity. Repent, and believe folks. There is no thing on Earth that can stop your death. 100% of us will die.

Bible Reviews · Bibles · Crossway

Review of the Jake Weidmann Artists Series Single Column E.S.V. Journaling Bible from Crossway.

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I hadn’t realized how long I had went in between reviews until recently. I hope to do more reviews, as I will be retiring from my full time job as a Corrections Officer in a few months. Someone I know wanted me to review this Bible, so here’s to you friend. I hope you enjoy the review, and thanks again to Crossway for providing this Bible for the review.

The Artist Series from Crossway highlights the talents of select artists to embellish Bibles. This one has had some line art from Jake Weidmann placed on the outer cover. This is a hardcover Bible. Here is an excerpt from Crossway’s information on the product page about their Artist Series. “The ESV Single Column Journaling Bible, Artist Series is a collection of journaling Bibles meant to celebrate the treasure of God’s Word through the artistic talents of his people. These Bibles feature commissioned cover artwork designed by Christian artists such as Peter Voth, Ruth Chou Simons, and Joshua Noom. Each artist offers a visual entry point focused on a particular biblical theme or passage, setting a tone of reflection as readers engage with the Bible.”

If you are interested in looking at the product page, here is a link. I haven’t written a review on the E.S.V. English Standard Version for a while, so let me reiterate, it is a splendid translation. It is one of my favorite formal equivalence translations. Beside the 1995 NASB, and now the Legacy Standard Bible, it is my next favorite translation. It remains accurate, without watering down the Word, or destroying the majesty of scripture.

This Bible arrived with a slightly dinged corner. I think that is due to the way it was packaged for shipping. It was not in a box with padding, inside another box. It was sent in a sleeve type box. I know this is popular these days, but keep in mind, if your Bible shows up damaged, you can send it back for an exchange. If this happens often enough, the publishers will need to go back to using more expensive packaging. This cost will be passed on to the consumer, but in my opinion, it would be worth it to make sure the customer is happy.

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Instead of having a clam-shell, or two piece box, this Bible is wrapped with a plastic, or cellulose band, that has some information about the Bible’s features, and a bit about the artist Jake Weidmann on it.

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When you open this Bible up, you’ll see a card with a picture of the artist on one side, and an explanation of the cover art on the other. As a fan of the German Bauhaus design philosophy, I was more concerned with the layout, typeface, paper, and other features than the cover art. That being said, the line art on the cover is not gaudy, or in any way excessive, or irreverent. Weidmann’s line art combines nicely with the sparrow. One doesn’t overpower the other.

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I asked a friend who was interested in this Bible due to their knowledge of Weidmann and his work to provide a short note about him. Here is what she had to say,

“Jake Weidmann is a master penman, one of only 14 in the world. He earned his Master Penman in 2011, well before the resurgence in interest in decorative calligraphy and the writing arts. He uses calligraphy in his artwork to “give both the words and the pictures more life and a stronger message”. He was fascinated with art, coloring and drawing by age 3. He was obsessed with making his handwriting beautiful and would take all the time in his classes to practice his handwriting. Even in college he didn’t think he would become an artist; he was getting his degree in psychology and when he applied for an art minor in college, he was told that his work wasn’t right for the department. Before he completed college he received requests for commissions of his work, and has been working as an artist ever since.

He uses single line calligraphy to make graphic images primarily of Christian theological themes, such as hymns, bible verses and portraiture. He notes that his work is a kind of iconography, writing a story in the form of a pictograph. He speaks to the heart of the viewer by layering different images, symbols and texts. They are meant to draw you in, to make you think and consider the image on a deeper level.Several videos have been produced of him creating an image, which can take hundreds of hours to complete. His work can be found on jakeweidmann.com and he has his own YouTube channel.” S. Eddy-Kissell

This particular Bible is a single column, journaling Bible. It is a black letter edition. The spine is sewn. That feature makes for a long-lasting, lay flat, Bible. There is a shiny blue ribbon marker. The ribbon’s blue stands out against the cream colored paper. The paper is a smooth, thin, and cream colored. The smoothness of the paper reminds me of the paper used in premium Bibles, although this one is printed, and bound in China, and sells for a value price. The font is 7.5 pt. lexicon typeface that appears to be line matched. These two features, along with the uniform, and consistent print throughout, make this edition easy on the eyes. If you have older eyes, you might want to think about something in a 10 pt. font, or getting some reading glasses if you want to read anything 8 pt. or under. The corners are square, while the spine looks rounded. There are blue and white decorative head and tail bands. The margins are two inches wide, and ruled. This should be splendid for note taking, or journaling.

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I don’t think the paper is thick enough to write on with a wet fountain pen. Using a fine, or extra fine tip might be alright, but if it is scratchy at all, it might damage the paper. I’d probably stick to pencils, or Pigma Micron pens for note taking, or journaling in this one. Your opinion may be different. If you are looking for a wonderfully laid out, single column, journaling Bible, at a value price, look no further. This Bible would work well in that role.

I have more pictures of this Bible on my Flickr page if you’d like to look at them. Here is the link. Besides being available on the publisher’s site, you can also purchase this Bible from Christianbook.com for a big discount. You can also find it on Amazon.com.

ISBN 978 1 4335 7266 1 list price of $49.99 U.S.

Bible Reviews · Bibles

A Review of the Legacy Standard Bible, New Testament, Psalms and Proverbs, in Brown Shamar Goatskin.

Legacy Standard Bible

I preordered this Bible when I found out it was going to be published. Three Sixteen Publishing/Steadfast Bibles sells it on their site. Master’s Seminary in California, connected with John MacArthur, got permission from the Lockman Foundation to tighten up the translation a bit. I think this was an admirable goal, as I believe the 2020 NASB to be heavily influenced by Zondervan. Zondervan is a major licenser of the NASB from Lockman. I think the 2020 is not as good as the 1995. After looking the LSB over, I can say, I still have some questions about certain translation choices. The LSB does use Yah, and Yahweh, in place of the small uppercase LORD that has been adopted as a convention. Of course in the New Testament where kurious was used, it remained Lord, obviously. I’m sure that will make some cult members mad. I’m not a Hebrew Roots guy, nor am I an Assemblies of Yahweh cult member. I do like the more accurate translation. Doulos has been translated as slave, just like they said it was. My problems with certain choices in translation are few, and not very significant. I just find the translation choices in certain parts to be curious. I would have liked to ask why they did certain things. I was wondering why they didn’t translate Christos as anointed. There was also a spot (I can’t remember where it was now) that inserted the word Jesus into the text, even though in Greek, Insous wasn’t there, but to make the sentence make sense, considering English sentence structure, and context, Jesus was added. It was obvious from the information that was there that the verse was something that Jesus was saying. I guess I was hoping for less italicized words, and an even more strict translation. That being said, it is still a very good translation. So far, I would put it up there with the 1977, and 1995 NASB translations.

The Bible I purchased was printed and bound by Jongbloed in the Netherlands. It is every bit as good as a Schuyler, or Crossway premium that Jonglboed produces.

Legacy Standard Bible

It arrived undamaged, and in a shipping box. Inside that box was a 2 piece box that is pretty well constructed. It should keep your Bible safe for many years.

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As you can see, it was also shrink wrapped in plastic, and double banded with black paper. I unwrapped it before I thought to take pictures. I wasn’t planning on doing a review. Since I was excited to get it, and unwrapped it, I had to kind of put it back in the plastic, and paper bands to take some pictures.

Here are some of the vital statistics from the publisher’s page;

  • Black letter editions only
  • Two-column verse-by-verse format
  • 8.5 pt. font size
  • Line-matched Scripture text
  • French-milled, 32 gsm paper (same as our Preacher’s Bible Handy Size)
  • Sewn binding
  • Gold gilding on page edges
  • Durable foil-stamped cover with perimeter stitching
  • 2 sided satin ribbon marker, matching the exterior binding color
  • 4.5 x 6.2 inches
  • 640 pages

Like I said earlier, if you have had a Schuyler, or a premium Crossway, you can expect the same high quality. The cover is goatskin leather. I chose the deep brown. It is very supple. There isn’t much there as far as texture goes. It is not deeply pebbled. It is pretty smooth, and soft. The edge lined binding makes this Bible a joy to hold in the hand, and yes you can hold this Bible in one hand, and comfortably read it. The line matching, and 8.5pt. font add greatly to this.

The cover is perimeter stitched, and there is a gold perimeter line around the interior cover.

Legacy Standard Bible
Legacy Standard Bible

The spine is hot stamped with, “Legacy Standard Bible New Testament Psalms & Proverbs” It has the logo on the head, and, “Steadfast Bibles” on the tail. The page edges are art gilt. Not simply gilded. The less expensive editions are probably the ones that are simply gilded.

Legacy Standard Bible
Legacy Standard Bible

It is a black letter edition, with a double column layout, in verse format. There are no cross references, footnotes, or any other helps/features in this edition. (No maps or concordance) The idea for a N.T. edition like this is portability, and readability. An elder on the go will be well served by this design.

Legacy Standard Bible

You can check out the rest of my pictures of this edition on my flikr album here.

If you’d like to purchase your own copy, you can do so here, 316 Publishing.