Angus Buchan at Ein Gedi, Debunked

Maybe you’ve watched a YouTube video of Angus Buchan, at Ein Gedi, which claims to show a miracle of Acts 2 importance? It is a Hollywood fabrication. This is footage of the night with comments and notations.

You can find this ministry (The 5 Minute Theologian) on Facebook:

Let’s start at the very beginning, A very good place to start

So on Friday I received a Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB). I was planning on reading through Genesis to Psalms starting this Sunday night, but I was too excited and couldn’t wait, so I read Genesis 1 – 11 to Liezl on Friday night and the rest of Genesis on Saturday morning.

This is interesting: I’ve been inundated with emails, Facebook messages and comments from pastors endorsing the HCSB. And not just any pastors, pastors I look up to. Like Brent Meyers, from Sandton Bible Church, who says, “Its a great translation and one my whole family uses. Its philosophy is to begin with a literal translation and then consider how to best express the literal in an understandable way – which is how I translate. It also doesn’t have the theological bias that the ESV has. I hope you enjoy it.” And Steven Murray, blogger of Daylight, and a cool guy in general (keeping me on my theological toes), makes this excellent point, “I like the look of HCSB but I wonder if most of my folk are going to just go out and buy the updated NIV next time they need a new Bible.” And Fr Robert, a Reformed Anglican (wish there were more), and one of my few overseas readers, says “I love the Hebrew and Greek Word Studies! And we are on the same page as to Bible Translations also. Indeed the “Cognitive equivalence” of the literal translation approach!”

Time will tell if I too decide to adopt it, but for now I can say that I’m finding it very easy to read, I’m enjoying the translative decisions that have been made and the interpretive decisions so far match my own theological leanings.

I’m reading the text out loud, with a notebook and pen sitting next to me. I’ve jotted down interesting verses which I think deserve a mention or more research a little later on (I’ve put down about a third below, highlighting what it was about the text that drew my attention). Oh, and I’ve not read anyone else’s review or endorsements yet, but I will, once I’ve done reading the Pentateuch, tonight, hopefully.

Have you read the HCSB? Thinking of reading it? Using it in your church? Hate it passionately? I’d value any comments or concerns that you may have.

Verse Holman Christian Stand Bible (HCSB) New International Version (NIV) New American Standard Version (NASB) Comment
1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. One of my favourite verses.
4:26 A son was born to Seth also, and he named him Enosh. At that time people began to call on the name of the Yahweh. Seth also had a son, and he named him Enosh. At that time people began to call on the name of the LORD. To Seth, to him also a son was born; and he called his name Enosh. Then men began to call *upon the name of the LORD. I love the use of YAHWEH for the covenant name of God.
12:1 – 3 The Lord said to Abram: Go out from your land, your relatives, and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 I will make you into a great nation, I will bless you, I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, I will curse those who treat you with contempt, and all the peoples on earth will be blessed through you. The LORD had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. I will make you into a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing.I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you.” Now the LORD said to Abram, ” Go forth from your country, And from your relatives And from your father’s house, To the land which I will show you;And I will make you a great nation, And I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing;And I will bless those who bless you, And the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.” The establishment of the covenant relationship between God and the Seed of Abraham.
22:12 Then He said, “Do not lay a hand on the boy or do anything to him. For now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your only son from Me.” “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” He said, “Do not stretch out your hand against the lad, and do nothing to him; for now I know that you fear God, since you have not withheld your son, your only son, from Me.” This might just be me, but I’ve really enjoyed the capitalizations of the Theophonies. This is a interpretative decision rather than a translative one, and I like it.
25:30 He said to Jacob, “Let me eat some of that red stuff, because I’m exhausted.” That is why he was [also] named Edom. He said to Jacob, “Quick, let me have some of that red stew! I’m famished!” (That is why he was also called Edom. ) and Esau said to Jacob, “Please let me have a swallow of *that red stuff there, for I am *famished.” Therefore his name was called *Edom. I love the easy readablity of the text. There of tons of examples of this throughout the text like the way apostraphies are used to shorten words.
26:20 But the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with Isaac’s herdsmen and said, “The water is ours!” So he named the well Quarrel because they quarreled with him. But the herders of Gerar quarreled with those of Isaac and said, “The water is ours!” So he named the well Esek,because they disputed with him. the herdsmen of Gerar quarreled with the herdsmen of Isaac, saying, “The water is ours!” So he named the well *Esek, because they contended with him. I love the transliteration of the names of proper nouns. They don’t do it with all of them, but do do it where it makes sence. This is a translative decision, and I like it a lot.
29:17 Leah had delicate eyes, but Rachel was shapely and beautiful. Leah had weakeyes, but Rachel had a lovely figure and was beautiful. And Leah’s eyes were weak, but Rachel was beautiful of form and *face. I immediately realised the distinction that had been made here.
31:53 The God of Abraham, and the gods of Nahor-the gods of their father-will judge between us.” And Jacob swore by the Fear of his father Isaac. May the God of Abraham and the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge between us.” So Jacob took an oath in the name of the Fear of his father Isaac. “The God of Abraham and the God of Nahor, the God of their father, judge between us.” So Jacob swore by the fear of his father Isaac. I The pluralisation of the gods (el) which makes translative sense given that chapter 1 was translated as plural.
32:26 Then He said to Jacob, “Let Me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me.” Then the man said, “Let me go, for it is daybreak.” But Jacob replied, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” Then he said, “Let me go, for the dawn is breaking.” But he said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” Another example of capitalisation of a Theophony.
33:19 He purchased a section of the field from the sons of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for 100 qesitahs, where he had pitched his tent. For a hundred pieces of silver,he bought from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem, the plot of ground where he pitched his tent. He bought the piece of land where he had pitched his tent from the hand of the sons of Hamor, Shechem’s father, for one hundred *pieces of money. Quesitahs. Going to have to go away and add that to my Biblical dictionary.
43:34 Portions were served to them from Joseph’s table, and Benjamin’s portion was five times larger than any of theirs. They drank, and they got drunk with Joseph. When portions were served to them from Joseph’s table, Benjamin’s portion was five times as much as anyone else’s. So they feasted and drank freely with him. He took portions to them from *his own table, but Benjamin’s portion was five times as much as any of theirs. So they feasted and drank freely with him. This was interesting spin on a story I’ve read a number of times before. Maybe a little more cutting that I expected.
46:25 These were the sons of Bilhah, whom Laban gave to his daughter Rachel. She bore to Jacob: seven persons. These were the sons born to Jacob by Bilhah, whom Laban had given to his daughter Rachel—seven in all. These are the sons of Bilhah, whom Laban gave to his daughter Rachel, and she bore these to Jacob; there were seven persons in all. Now this raises a major concern I’ve got, the online HCSB doesn’t line up 100% with the printed HCSB I’ve received. In fact two of the verse I choose to highlight here weren’t the same in the two formats. This will be a big problem.
50:9 Horses and chariots went up with him; it was a very impressive procession. Chariots and horsemenalso went up with him. It was a very large company. There also went up with him both chariots and horsemen; and it was a very great company. I much prefer this rendering.



God’s Word, God’s people, my joy

Today a Holman Christian Standard Bible (HCSB) arrived on my doorstep via courier. Why is this important to note you may ask? Not a bad question dear reader, not a bad question at all.

There is a tension at Crystal Park Baptist Church. Let me explain lest you fear church split. Half of our congregation is second/third language English speaking black folk; quarter of the congregation second language English speaking white folk; the remainder first language English speaking white folk like me. A quarter of our congregation on any given Sunday is under the age of twelve. And the paster is a student, trying hard to crack the Biblical languages.

The variety in last paragraph sounds so encouraging doesn’t? So why’s there tension? Great question!

Well, being a student of God’s Word, I favour a literal interpretation (King Jimmy, the New King Jimmy, English Standard Version ect). I preach from a New American Standard Version.

The kids, under twelve, who’s parents don’t come to church, and who are second language English speakers are encouraged to use a Good News Bible as it’s really easy to read and simple to understand.

The first language English speakers are recommend to get a literal translation for themselves.

And to the rest, the adult second/third language speakers, we encouraged the use of the New International Version.

Now variety is the spice of life (did you notice the variety excluded the Message, the Amplified, the Voice, Today’s New International Version?). I’d not have a problem with this as the status-qua, except things change.

Firstly, my bible is falling apart. I bought a Thomas Nelson bonded leather John MacArthur Study Bible back in the day. Well, I read my Bible, so if there was a fault in the manufacturer it’d always come to the fall. Because I now need to replace my Bible I am thinking of changing the interpretation I use.

Secondly, the NIV is falling apart. Oh, OK, that might not be fair. I had read through the 1984 NIV translation a number of times and I was happy enough with the translation. But it’s no longer in print :(. That means I must now adopt a new standard for half my congregation.

And so I’m out shopping. Where will we settle? I don’t know right now. I do know that I’m excited after reading the HCSB’s translation philosophy as it might serve the needs of my church. I’m also delighted after reading the gender language policy they’ve employed. As I’ve gone through the Bible I’ve been sent I’ve also been impressed by the great features in the edition I’ve been sent.

On Sunday evening, Monday evening and Wednesday I’ll be reading from this translation, hopefully I’ll be able to cover a fair portion of the Pentateuch and History up to the Psalms. Then I’ll be able to say if I’m excited about the translation itself. Nothing beats readings God’s Word. I’m looking do forward to my week ahead.

Have you read the HCSB? What did you like about it? What did you dislike? What cautions might you give? I’d love to hear from you.

Rezolution Conference, South Africa

I’ve loved the focus on Scripture on the Rezolution Conference Promo Slides. Thought I’d load all of them up into one place.

Will you be at the conference? I’m looking forward to catching up.

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Thoughts about Origen: Deviant Doctrine (Part 3)

3. Abiding in the Doctrine of Christ


Origen Adamantius, I don’t quiet know how to value the beauty of one icon over another; but Macrina Walker assures me this is a step up from the previous two I posted. Click image to enlarge.

“Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son” (2 Jn 1:9).

Origen’s impact on the early church, even extending to present day evangelical thinking, cannot be understated. As discussed above many of his contributions where of great value and laid a firm foundation for others to subsequently build upon.

It is now to his doctrinal views which went beyond the apostolic teaching that we turn. This paper does not have scope to deal with every theologically errant view however I will evaluate those I feel are most relevant and demonstrate how his doctrinal influence reaches beyond the early church – even to the present day.

3.1. Mystical Mystifications

Clement reigned as bishop of Alexander until 202 AD when he was forced to flee due to persecution. He was formally training in philosophy and actively “sought to reconcile two worlds, to persuade Christians of the wisdom of Greek philosophy, and to persuade philosophers of the truth of Christianity… …Clement read Scripture as more allegorical than literal” (Roy 13:2012).

Under Clement’s oversight the Catechetical School in Alexander had “become famous for its use of the allegorical method in biblical interpretation” (Pillay 16:1999) “An allegory is a symbolic representation… …and is usually resorted to when the literal sense seems unacceptable to the interpretator” (Ryrie 125:1999).

It was this school of thought which birthed the mind of Origen and his more fanciful (heretical by another name) doctrines spring out of his use of allegory.

3.2. Erroneous Eschatology

The Last Judgment by Michelangelo

The Last Judgment is a canonical fresco by the Italian Renaissance master Michelangelo. It is a depiction of the Second Coming of Christ and the final and eternal judgment by God of all humanity. Click image to enlarge.

Up until Origen the early church had stressed a literal hermeneutic. As such the Fathers were premillennialists (they expected Christ’s imminent return followed by a literal 1000 year reign). According to Ryrie Origen was the first to spiritualise the future kingdom, understanding “it to be the present Church age from Adam on. This amillennial eschatology was popularised by Augustine” (Ryrie 520:1999).

All Covenantalists, who apply an allegorical interpretation to unfulfilled prophecy as it applies to the nation of Israel, can therefore trace Origen as their theological forbearer.

3.3. Anti-Accepted Atonement

In his wonderful book, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (which ironically is an allegory), in chapter 14, titled The Triumph of the Witch, C.S. Lewis depicts Aslan, the lion, suffering young Edmund’s penalty by paying the price for him to the White Witch (Lewis 150 – 161:2005).

Origen held that in “the cosmic struggle between the forces of good and evil, Satan established control over man…. …Satan now is the governing power in the world.” The ransom therefore “must have been paid to the evil one, for it was he who held us captive until the ransom, namely, the soul of Jesus, was paid” (Erickson 793:1988).

The Biblical view, called The Satisfaction Theory is that the atonement was as compensation to the Father. The key verse being, “For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Rom 6:23). The concept has been articulated so beautifully in the hymn In Christ Alone (Getty 2001) as:

Till on that cross as Jesus died
The wrath of God was satisfied
For every sin on Him was laid
Here in the death of Christ I live

3.4. Sacrilegious Souls

What got Origen branded as a heretic was his views on the pre-existence of the human soul. He taught God created spiritual intelligences before the foundation of the world. At first devoted to their creator over time these created beings’ first love waned. Those whose love diminished most became demons, those whose love diminished less became human and those whose love diminished least became angels.

The charge against him was comprehensive and spanned numerous councils and anathemas however the key indictment reads, “IF anyone asserts the fabulous pre-existence of souls, and shall assert the monstrous restoration which follows from it: let him be anathema” (IMSB 2012).

3.5. Unorthodox Universalism

Rob Bell

baaaaaa, baaaaaa, bleated the wolf (picture is of Rob Bell). Click image to enlarge.

William Barclay, the prominent Church of Scotland theologian, boldly declared, “I am a convinced universalist” (Barclay 65 – 67:1977). By this he expressed belief “that in the end all men will be gathered into the love of God.” In the same paragraph he writes “Origen was the great name connected with universalism… …Origen did not eliminate hell; he believed that some people would have to go to heaven via hell.”

Origen’s influence and legacy continues to this day. Rob Bell, in his New York Times Bestseller Love Wins (Bell 2011), writes, “Whatever objections a person may have of [the Universal Reconciliation view], and there are many, one has to admit that it is fitting, proper, and Christian to long for it.”

4. Conclusion

Origen towers in history as an academic giant and dedicated scholar. He should be remembered for the contributions that he made to textual criticism, exegesis, systematics and other practical theologies.

Negatively, his desire to be relevant to the society around him (specifically the Hellenistic Greek academics) meant he sacrificed the apostolic tradition. His method of approach to Scripture, allegory, resulted in many heresies spilling off his pen.

Origen’s was a massively influential figure in the early church and his impact can be felt even today as the church continues to “contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered unto the saints” (Jude 1:3).

Thoughts about Origen: A word regarding cultural relevance (Part 2)


Origen Adamantius, was one of the most distinguished writers of the early Church. Click image to enlarge.

In yesterday’s post I tried to impress the enormous contribution Origen made to scholarly pursuit, in the early church, but impacting us even to the present day. Macrina Walker in the comments of yesterday’s post said I should have said something of the piety of the man; and I agree, that was oversight on my part.

Today’s post is short, a brief comment regarding the cultural context Origen found himself in, a context he spoke to, and an evaluation of the discussion he engaged in. It lays the foundation for tomorrow’s post which tucks into some of Origen’s more wayward doctrine.

2. In the World not of the World

“If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” (Jn 15:19).

2.1. Christian Hellenism vs Hellenised Christianity

Whilst Christianity rejected the Graeco-Roman religion they adopted the Greek language to communicate the Gospel to the educated Greek-speaking world. There was also a degree of adaption of Greek philosophical concepts.

At times during the formation of the early church, whilst the state of doctrine was still in flux (one could argue that this has never adequately stabilised) this adaption of Greek philosophical concepts certainly bordered on synchronistic; “Concurrence of two or more events in time” (Webster 1463:1913).

Pillay and Hofmeyr (18:1991) write, “At times, Christianity was Hellenised rather than Hellenism becoming Christianised… …It was Origen who carried this integration of platonism into Christian theology so far that the Church later condemned some of his main ideas and doctrines.”

The post-modern emergent church today ought to be warned. Origen, desiring to proclaim the Gospel to the Greek intellectuals of his day, in their language and on their terms, sacrificed the apostolic tradition for a platonic deviation. His desire to have a relevant method of reaching his generation impinged on the pure message he’d been tasked to proclaim.

Thoughts about Origen: Old Dead Guy with Stacks to Say (Part 1)


Origen, church father. Click image to enlarge.

This guy has been dead for almost 2000 years yet his legacy still has a voice today. I’m sure you’ve heard of him? (if not your nerdy pastor probably has) Over the next three posts I take a look at the good (this post) the bad (next post) and the ugly (last post) of the Church Father called Origen.

1. Knowing God

“And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God” (Jn 17:3).

Origen’s contribution to the church was profound. He excelled “in multiple branches of theological scholarship, including textual criticism, biblical interpretation, philosophical theology, preaching, and spirituality” (Wikipedia 2012) and as such is regarded as one of the Church Fathers. Pillay and Hofmeyr affirm that he “did provide the Church with theological language and categories of thought which were to gain a permanent place in the eastern theological tradition” (18:1991).

Origen eagerly desired to know God; and this pursuit of knowledge was his greatest legacy. According to Epiphanius (277) Origen wrote about 6000 works. His literary efforts fall into four classes: 1) Textual Criticism; 2) Exegesis; 3) Systematic, Practical and Apologetic Theology; and 4) Letters.

1.1. Textual Criticism

Of the Fathers Origen was second only to Jerome in eminence regarding textual criticism. Although he never wrote definitively on the subject he made frequent references to manuscript difficulties and variant readings in his other writings.
His magnum opus was the Hexapla (which translated means ‘Six-fold’). Much like a modern parallel Bible it placed side by side the Old Testament Hebrew text and five Greek translations.

1.2. Exegesis

Origin wrote scholia, homilies and commentaries on nearly every book of the Bible. A scholia is a brief note, a commentary is “a book of explanations or expositions on the whole or a part of the Scriptures” (Webster 284:1913) and a homily is a “discourse or sermon read or pronounced to an audience; a serious discourse” (Webster 701:1913). 197 of Origen’s homilies have been preserved; 158 on Old Testament Books and 39 on Luke’s Gospel (Wikipedia 2012).

1.3. Systematic, Practical and Apologetic Theology

Origen’s attempt at systematising the theology of the early church was compiled into four volumes called On First Principles. The primary content of each volume was: 1) God, the Logos, the Holy Ghost, reason and the angels; 2) the world and man; 3) the doctrine of sin and redemption; and 4) the Scriptures (New Advent 2012). His practical writings included the works On Prayer and On Martyrdom. He wrote an eight book refutation titled Against Celsus in reply to the pagan philosopher.

1.4. Letters

It is said that Eusebius had 100 letters written by Origen and Jerome had several epistles; yet, save a few fragments, all are lost.

In my view his written work stands as Origen’s greatest redeeming quality. For all the wayward ideas he sprouted his pursuit of God must be remembered as an endearing quality worthy of commendation.

Macrina and Steve; I did think of you as I pushed enter. I would value you input… the content is more solicitory in the posts that follow.