Saturday, October 31, 2020

WM 181: Review: K. P. Yohannan: Never Give Up


WM 181: Review: K. P. Yohannan, Never Give Up is posted. Listen above. Here are my notes:

There was an old Monty Python gag line, “And now for something completely different” that I might employ today. In recent days we’ve been covering a lot of things related to text criticism, but one of the bread and butter content elements of this blog has been book reviews. So, in WM 181 I am going to be offering a review of K. P. Johannan’s book Never Give Up: The Story of a Broken Man Impacting a Generation (Gospel for Asia, 2020).

I picked up and read K. P. Yohannan’s Revolution in World Missions decades ago. The book was first published in 1985 by Gospel for Asia, Yohannan’s parachurch mission organization. There are millions of copies in print. I have used anecdotes and illustrations from the book over the years.

Two things stood out about this book:

First, and most importantly, Yohannan critiqued the whole Western missionary enterprise and its sending of Western missionaries into the third world and suggested instead support for indigenous Christian workers.

Second, he critiqued the whole idea that doing “good works” (or social work) is equal to preaching. A typical statement: “Substituting a bowl of rice for the Holy Spirit and the Word of God will never save a soul and will rarely change the attitude of a man’s heart” (112, thirtieth printing, 2004). I knew Yohannan did not share my Calvinism but saw him, nevertheless, as an earnest evangelical and resonated (especially as a former missionary) with many of his critiques of Western missions and the substitution of the social gospel for the preaching of Christ crucified.

I had lost track of Yohannan until recent days when I saw this video of his conversation with Hank Hanegraaff and Francis Chan. It was obvious that some major changes had taken place in Yohannan’s life and ministry both by his personal appearance (long hair and beard, large cross around his neck) and his new title “Metropolitan” and even new name (Moran Mor Athanasius Yohan). Had he become Eastern Orthodox, as has Hanegraaff? I followed up by listening to Hanegraaff’s interview with Yohannan on his Unplugged podcast.

Mention was made in the podcast interview of Yohannan’s memoir Never Give Up: The Story of a Broken Man Impacting a Generation (GFA, 2020). I ordered a used copy and read it.

This is quite a different book than Revolution in World Missions. Yohannan begins by describing and responding to charges of financial corruption and mismanagement that had been lodged against Gospel for Asia.

See this 2019 online article from the Time of India. If you want to dig a little deeper read various blog posts on Yohannan and the GFA scandal posted by Warren Throckmorton.

Yohannan begins by describing his despair in dealing with this scandal and even confesses that he suffered suicidal thoughts during this time. He is, on one hand, seemingly open, but on the other, rather vague, not only about the whole financial scandal but also about the momentous spiritual changes that have taken place in his life.

The man who wrote Revolution in World Missions was a Protestant evangelical. It is clear that the man who wrote Never Give Up has gone through some profound changes in his convictions. Let’s consider two: (1) his transition from evangelical Protestantism to what might be called Evangelical “Orthodoxy” [“Orthodoxy” is in quotes because Yohannan’s church does not appear to be part of mainstream Eastern Orthodoxy—see below] ; and (2) his embrace of social ministry apart from gospel preaching.

The move to Evangelical “Orthodoxy”:

For more biographical information, I turned to Yohannan’s Wikipedia page. It notes that Yohannan (b. 1950 in Kerala, India) had worked with the parachurch ministry Operation Mobilization in India for eight years (from age 16) and came to the US in 1974 to study at (what was then) the Criswell Bible Institute in Dallas, TX, upon the personal invitation of W. A. Criswell. After a short stint as pastor of an ethnically  Native American SBC church, he and his German-born wife started Gospel for Asia.

I also noted that according to the Wikipedia article states that Yohannan had grown up in the Mar Thoma Syrian church in Kerala India, an offshoot of the St. Thomas Christians. The Mar Thoma church is an apparent example of an Eastern (Oriental) Protestant church, which emerged in the nineteenth century. This church, under the influence of Anglicanism, attempts to meld Protestant theology with Orthodox liturgy.

This helped me understand his pilgrimage and how his itinerant church planting ministry, under Gospel for Asia, has now issued in the establishment of the Believers Eastern Church, over which Yohannan is now Metropolitan (leading bishop).

There are references to this transition in Never Give Up, but the details are sometimes vague. There is no “linear” narrative of how exactly he made this transition from American-style evangelical para-church Protestantism to this new episcopal, Eastern-influenced liturgical denomination came about.

Here are a few of the interesting statements made about Yoahannan’s new theological conviction in Never Give Up:

The headwaters analogy (136-137): KPY uses the analogy of needing to return to the “headwaters” of a stream to find water that is “still clear and clean and pure.” He adds, “We can’t simply go back 500 years to the Reformation and think we’re at the beginning. We need to return to the real beginning, the early centuries” (137).

On theosis: KPY affirms the Eastern Orthodox concept of theosis (deification) over against the Protestant concept of sanctification/glorification (142-143).

On the acceptance of the Nicene Creed and its recital in Sunday liturgy in the Believers Eastern Church (160-167): He writes, “It is our plumb line of faith” (160).

On ecclesiology: He writes, “The true church is not just individuals worshipping God on their own” (161).

On problems of “individual interpretation” of the Bible: After affirming that the Bible “is God’s primary way of speaking to us” he adds, “At the same time, we must keep in mind that the Scripture is not meant for individual interpretation, for each of us to just read it and do what is right in our own eyes” (163). He continues with an argument common with Roman Catholic and Orthodox apologists, arguing that when Christians began to interpret the Scriptures individually the result was “42,000 denominations” each claiming “to be the one true church” (164). He closes, “Almost all cults started as Bible study gatherings…” (164).

On Western Protestant intellectualizing of the faith: “Years ago, in my journey, I found my heart and my head were in two completely different worlds” (165).

On the centrality of the Eucharist: “If you are seeking for the truth, I think you will eventually arrive at the reality that Holy Communion (the Eucharist) is an important, unexplainable mystery” (169).

The embracing of social ministry apart from gospel preaching:

KPY confesses, “There was a time when I was a radical, calling only for preaching the Gospel and forgetting about any kind of social work. I’ve since had to repent and change my ways from saying social work cannot be mission work” (173).

He does nuance this by saying that the Great Commission cannot be fulfilled through social ministry alone but now lauds this type of ministry (174).

He later shares that he even added a new chapter to the latest editions of Revolution in World Missions to reflect his repentance in this area (202).

How it Ends:

Never Give Up ends with a Biblical quote from the NLT of 1 Corinthians 4:4-5 that seems more than a little ambiguous: “My conscience is clear, but that doesn’t prove I’m right. It is the Lord himself who will examine me and decide” (224). Does he have a clear conscience even if not proven right (guiltless) with respect to charges of financial mismanagement?

Final Thoughts:

Let me return to the two big transitions in Yohannan’s life and thought:

First, what do we make of his transition to Evangelical “Orthodoxy”? On one hand, we might say at KPY has simply come full circle in returning to his childhood roots after a long detour through American Protestant evangelicalism. So, his story could be seen as a personal journey.

It can also be examined for its wider implications. Yes, there are many glaring weaknesses in evangelicalism: ecclesiologically, theologically, and liturgically. Yes, the Western, Enlightenment influenced approach to the faith too often addresses the head and not the heart. These things finally caught up with KPY. Along these kinds of lines, one might compare my previous review of Thomas Howard’s Evangelical Is Not Enough.

Yes, broad and vacuous evangelicalism too often results in spiritual anemia in those hungry for substance, which sends them to Rome or Constantinople or Canterbury looking for substantial nourishment. Former Christianity Today editor Mark Galli’s conversion to Roman Catholicism in September 2020 is but the latest high profile example of this (see this article).

In KPY’s case, however, it seems he has not gone over to Orthodoxy but to something like an “Orthodoxy” by way of Canterbury. By founding a new church could he not be charged with just adding to the supposed 42,000 plus denominations?

It is also interesting that despite his critique of the failures of evangelicalism, Never Give Up has a forward written by George Verwer, founder of Operation Mobilization and the back cover has an endorsement blurb from Calvary Chapel pastor Skip Heitzig (as well as Hannegraaff, now Orthodox).

As a confessional Reformed Protestant, I also take exception to his statement, “We can’t simply go back 500 years to the Reformation and think we’re at the beginning. We need to return to the real beginning, the early centuries.” By going back to the classical Reformed confessions, however, are we not attempting to go back to the apostles and also back to the classic creedal statements of the early church related to the doctrine of God and Christ (as affirmed in the WCF and her daughter confessions)?

Rather than move to Rome, or Constantinople, or Canterbury, can one find perhaps a more serious and meaningful expression of the faith by going to Geneva (or London)?

Second, what are we to make of his embrace of “social ministry”? Though Christ certainly taught that we are to love our neighbor as ourselves and Paul taught in Galatians 6:10 that we are to do good to all men, but especially to those who are of the household of faith, I still think that the “old” Yohannan was right strongly to challenge the idea of social ministry apart from the preaching of the gospel.


Friday, October 30, 2020

The Vision (10.30.20): But he giveth more grace


Image: Sunrise, North Garden, Virginia, October 30, 2020

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on James 4:5-7.

James 4:6: But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.

In James 4:1-5, the apostle describes man’s dilemma in sin, including the lusts that war in his members (v. 1).

In v. 6, however, there is relief: “But he giveth more grace.” This refers to God’s saving grace (cf. Eph 2:8-9). He gives to those who are his own grace that is greater than all our sin. John 1:16 says: “And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.” Some modern versions render that last phrase in John 1:16 as “grace upon grace.” The idea here is grace piled on grace, grace heaped on grace.

What if you had a huge debt. It was like a cloud hanging over your head every day. It made you to lose sleep. The harder you worked the further behind you got. But then someone comes along and says, I have paid off all your debt and, what is more, there is a huge surplus left over, and I have transferred this to our account also.

Our sin is great, but God giveth more grace.

James cinches his point by citing Proverbs 3:34, “God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” This fits with Christ’s teaching in Matthew 23:12: “And whosoever shall exalt himself shall be abased; and he that shall humble himself shall be exalted.”

Likewise, in Matthew 18, we are told how Christ once set a child into the midst of his disciples and said, “Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 18:3-4).

A child is generally not too proud to ask for help. An infant will, in fact, wail and cry till his needs are met. Even though a toddler cannot articulate the words, he can extend his arms and ask to be picked up and comforted. It seems the older we get, the more prone we are to pride. The man who stiffens his back in pride against God will be broken in his obstinance, but the man who humbles himself will be saved.

Yes, our sin is great, but God giveth more grace. Let us then humble ourselves, child-like, and extend our arms to him.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Thursday, October 29, 2020

Eusebius, EH.10.4 (part three): The Panegyric of Eusebius (part three)

This is an occasional series of readings from and brief notes and commentary upon Eusebius of Caesarea’s The Ecclesiastical HistoryBook 10, chapter 4 (part three).

Notes and Commentary:

This section continues and completes the lengthy chapter 4 which records the Panegyric of Eusebius dedicated to Paulinus of Tyre at the end of persecution under the tyrants and the rise of Emperors sympathetic to the Christians.

The occasion of the Panegyric is the dedication of a magnificently restored and expanded church building.

This final part begins by continuing a comparison between the physical restoration of the building and the spiritual restoration of the people.

Eusebius notes, with thanksgiving, how God first raised up the Emperors (Constantine and Licinius), “dearly beloved of God” in order to cleanse “the whole world of all the wicked and baneful persons and of the cruel God-hating tyrants themselves.” Next, he raised up his disciples, including the church leaders, whom he had secretly concealed from the storm of persecution.

Eusebius takes up a spiritual allegory using the idea of locations of various persons in the church building to describe how God had “duly divided the whole people according to their several abilities.” Some were at the entrances. Others were at the pillars becoming acquainted with “the letter of the four Gospels.” Still others were on the inside taking in “the innermost mystic teachings of the Scriptures.” The whole temple was adorned with “a single, mighty gateway”, the praise of God.

He also describes Christ as being the “unique altar” and as standing by it as “the great High Priest of the universe.” The Word has created not only this temple but the whole universe.

He closes the panegyric with a call to worship “the Author of the present assembly … even the Ruler of the Assembly Himself.”


This final part concludes this lengthy speech that comprises EH 10.4. Eusebius continues to celebrate and give thanks to God for the removal of the tyrants and their replacement by the sympathetic emperors. We also see his use of spiritual allegory in taking the dedication of the restored building to describe the restoration of the Christian community with Christ, as their altar, in the center.


Saturday, October 24, 2020

Eusebius, EH.10.4 (part two): The Panegyric of Eusebius (part two)

This is an occasional series of readings from and brief notes and commentary upon Eusebius of Caesarea’s The Ecclesiastical History: Book 10, chapter 4 (part two).

Notes and Commentary:

This section continues the lengthy chapter 4 which records the Panegyric of Eusebius dedicated to Paulinus of Tyre at the end of persecution under the tyrants and the rise of Emperors sympathetic to the Christians.

In this section Eusebius recalls the pagan attacks on the Christians, and especially how the “books [no doubt, including Bibles] they destroyed and set on fire the sanctuary of God” adding “they profaned the dwelling place of His name to the ground.”

He also notes that this trial served as divine chastisement for the church, as discipline from “a careful father.” The end result was that the church emerged even stronger.

Paulinus is also highly praised as “our new and goodly Zerubbabel.” Taking Christ as his “Ally and Fellow-worker”, who alone can quicken the dead, Eusebius says that Paulinus “raised up her who had fallen.”

Eusebius next gives a detailed description of the church building that had been restored by Paulinus. It was built on the foundations of the previous building and expanded. Oulton calls this “the earliest account that we possess of the structure and furniture of a Christian church” (421, n. 2).

He begins by describing an outer porch, “great and raised aloft,” so that “even strangers to the faith” could gaze inside. The building thus served as an “evangelistic” tool to encourage pagans to enter. Between the entrance and the temple were “four traverse colonnades, fending the place into a kind of quadrangular figure.” An open space let in the sun and fresh air and fountains supplied “copious streams of flowing water.”

Within the temple were the “innermost porches,” adorned with “rich materials” including “costly cedars.” One entered through three gates, the central one of which was larger and ornately decorated.

The building was ordered with “perfect wisdom and art” leaving those who saw it in awe of “the surpassing beauty of every part.”

The temple was also fitted with thrones, “very lofty, to do honour unto the presidents”, and with benches.

In the midst was the “holy of holies,” an altar, protected “with a fence of wooden lattice-work.”

The pavement was of “fair marble.” Various chambers and buildings were also erected outside the temple.

After the description of the church building, Eusebius says its beauty is fitting since Christ had taken the church (both people and building) and changed its “foul body” into “His splendid and glorious body.” This also anticipated what will happen at the resurrection, when believers receive their glorious resurrection bodies.


This panegyric is essentially a building dedication speech or sermon. As Oulton points out it serves as the earliest written description of an early Christian church building. Whereas, according to the book of Acts and the letters of Paul, the church of the first century met in the homes of believers or in rented school buildings (cf., e.g., Acts 18:7-8; 19:9; Rom 16:5) the Christian movement of the early fourth century meets in spacious and prominent public buildings. The church building is described in terms taken from the OT temple. There is a strong emphasis on the pleasing aesthetics of the architecture of the building. The early Christians are concerned that their churches be places of beauty and order. They are taking a new place in the Roman public square.


WM 179: Refuting James White's Four Internal Arguments Against Mark 16:9-20


Recorded this WM last Saturday (10/17/20) but just getting around to posting it.


Friday, October 23, 2020

The Vision (10.23.20): Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss

Image: Rose, North Garden, Virginia, October 2020

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on James 4:1-4.

Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts (James 4:3).

James here suggests that one reason for unrest in the heart is faulty prayer, immature prayer, self-serving prayer, described here as “asking amiss.”

He reminds us that mature prayer, born of mature faith, does not center on the satisfaction of our good pleasure but in doing God’s will, giving him glory and in giving blessing to our neighbor.

So, Christ taught: “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son” (John 14:13; cf. John 16:23; 1 John 3:22).

The reason to pray for an education is to love God with your mind.

The reason to pray for a job is to serve God with your vocation.

The reason to pray for a good salary is so that you can be a faithful steward for the kingdom of the resources with which you have been entrusted.

The reason, if single, to pray for a spouse is so that you might serve him or her and establish a household where Christ is at the center.

The reason to pray for a home is so that you can extend hospitality in the name of Christ and wash the feet of the saints.

The reason to pray for children is so that you might be able to raise disciples for the Lord.

The reason to pray for good health is so that you might serve him with your body.

The reason to pray for a church is that you might join with like-minded brothers and sisters to worship the Lord and serve the brethren.

The reason to pray for the peace and security of the world is that the Great Commission might be fulfilled.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Taylor DeSoto: The Textus Receptus: A Defense Against Postmodernism in the Church

Image: I don't know who created this meme, but just grabbed it off Google images.

Taylor DeSoto has been at it again on his Young, Textless, and Reformed Blog.

He just dropped another article noting how the Textus Receptus represents an emphatic "No!" to the encroachment of postmodernism into traditional Christianity.

He writes:

My goal here is to convince you that the discussion of textual criticism is not only Postmodern in nature, but that its impacts are far reaching well beyond which Bible you read. Starting with the Critical Text, we have to understand that the process of reconstructing a Bible is at its core a fruit of Postmodernism. It begins with the assumption that the previous structure must be torn down and replaced with empirical methodologies. The faith based systems of the past were good for their time, but the modern men of science know better. We shouldn’t be enslaved to the chains of tradition and the narrow thinking of the men of old.

Enjoy, JTR

Vince Krivda: Which Textus Receptus?! A Response to Mark Ward's Critique of Confessional Bibliology

My friend Vince Krivda has written a solid and detailed response to Mark Ward's "Which TR?" objection to the Confessional Text position. He shared this with me in August, and I am just getting around to doing a post on it. Sorry for the delay. You can read the full article here on

The conclusion to the paper begins:

Although Ward’s paper is to be welcomed for thoughtfully engaging CB, his insistence to forge the position as a kind of KJV-Onlyism is overreaching. If anything, his argument is a sure warning for CB proponents not to fall into the motions of KJV-Onlyist tendencies that ignore the slight differences in the micro-TR editions or to view Scrivener’s GNT as a diplomatic text. Perhaps, besides any typographical misprints, the latest Scrivener revision is a perfect replication of the authentic NT texts. But to assert so dogmatically risks the type of special pleading that Ward accuses CB proponents of committing because it is not a claim that is necessitated by the position. Rather, CB proponents may pragmatically appeal to the Scrivener GNT prima facie, recognizing that any defeaters to this position are not sufficient to upset the authority of the macro-TR or its baring on matters of faith and practice. 

Glad to see Vince makes use and reference to some of my material in WM 140: Responding to the "Which TR?" Objection and that he pointed out Ward's reluctance to engage with it.

Enjoy, JTR


My friend and fellow RB Ernesto Rodriguez Cruz is a student  at the Seminario Reformanda Latinoamericano.

He shared a recent paper he wrote for his NT class offering a Confessional Text position on Matthew 5:18, titled EL TEXTO INSPIRADO NO NEGOCIA CON LA CRÍTICA TEXTUAL (THE INSPIRED TEXT DOES NOT NEGOTIATE WITH THE TEXTUAL CRITICISM).

You can read the original paper in Spanish here and an English translation here.

It is encouraging to see that men studying for the ministry are embracing the Confessional Text position.

Ernesto also reports that the seminary instruction he is receiving is friendly to the Confessional Text position. He writes:

This Seminary is one of the few that still teaches good doctrines on this topic. I would recommend watching clases 20 through 24 here (Class 20Class 21Class 22Class 23Class 24).

He also shares the following on some of his ongoing ministry:

I have a channel in Youtube where I am uploading reformed audiobooks in Spanish. So far I published The Attributes of God by A. W. PinkCalvin's catechism, and the whole New Testament in audio. For the New Testament I used a good version of the Biblia in Spanish, it is called Reina Valera Gómez 2010, this is a revision by Dr. Humberto Gómez, he restored all the missing/changed words in 1909 version and he updated the grammar and language but keeping the beauty of the original translation made by Casiodoro de Reina (1569).

Blessings, JTR

Monday, October 19, 2020

Andrew Warrick: A Systematic Defense of the Textus Receptus

Andrew Warrick, an RB brother here in Virginia and a contributor to the Particular Baptist website and podcast, has written an article worth reading, titled "A Systematic Defense for the Textus Receptus" (find it here).

This article hones in on the overlooked but key theological issue when considering issues related to the text of Scripture: epistemology.

To borrow James Carville's mantra from the 1992 Presidential election ("It's the economy, stupid!"), we can say that the mantra most likely to open the eyes of conservative Reformed men to the dangers of wholeheartedly embracing the modern critical text is, "It's epistemology, stupid!"


The Tale of a Great Puzzle: An Allegory on the Preservation of the Text of Scripture

Poul de Gier, an RB pastor in Alberta Canada has written the "The Tale of a Great Puzzle," an allegory on the preservation of Scripture, turning the modern critical text puzzle analogy on its head.

The allegory begins:

Many centuries ago, there was a wise man, named Dominus, who lived in a large castle with four majestic towers. Each of these towers was commissioned as a testimony of the amazing feat Dominus had accomplished in his realm. Dominus ordered a painting to be made of his castle. In the background, the painting portrayed a magnificent landscape with rolling hills and a beautiful forest.  Carving the painting into an exact one thousand pieces, he made it into a grand puzzle.  Dominus bequeathed the beautiful puzzle to his twelve sons, who received the majestic work with much joy and care.  He explicitly promised his family that the puzzle would always be part of their family, a part of what identified them....

Read the rest of the story here. 


Two Views of the Transmission of the Bible: A Farmer's Perspective


Here is a meme shared by my friend Poul de Gier, RB Pastor at Grace Fellowship Church, Pononka, Alberta Canada. In addition to his work as a pastor, Poul is also a farmer, so he knows something about baling twine.

Enjoy, JTR

Friday, October 16, 2020

The Vision (10.16.20): The Wisdom that is From Above


Image: Pear tree, North Garden, Virginia, October 2020

Note: Devotion taken from last Sunday's sermon on James 3:14-18.

But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy (James 3:17).

James 3:14-18 describes two types of wisdom. First, there is the false “wisdom” from below, that is “earthly, sensual, and devilish” (v. 15). In contrast, there is the true wisdom that is from above (v. 17). It is marked by seven characteristics:

First, it is pure.

It is not sullied. It is not cynical. It is not suspicious. Christ said, “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God” (Matt 5:8).

Second, it is peaceable.

Christ taught, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God” (Matt 5:9). In Romans 12:18 Paul exhorted, “If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live at peace with all men.” Above all we must have peace with God (Rom 5:1).

Third, it is gentle.

The wise man is not like the proverbial bull in the china shop. He is not a steamroller. He is not a “it’s my way or the highway” type of man. The same term is used in Philippians 4:5 to promote “moderation”, and it is used in 1 Timothy 3:3 to describe a bishop as one who is “patient.”

Fourth, it is easy to be intreated.

The man who has this wisdom is eager for reconciliation and swift to pursue it. When reconciliation is achieved, he keeps no record of wrongs. The NKJV renders the term here as “willing to yield.” It refers to one who has a teachable spirit, rather than insisting on his own way.

Fifth, it is full of mercy and good fruits.

Christ taught, “Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy” (Matt 5:7) and “Be ye therefore merciful, as your Father also is merciful (Luke 6:36).

Good fruits are good works that overflow and abound from the life of the man that is truly converted (cf. Eph 2:10).

Sixth, it is without partiality.

The wisdom that is from above is not judgmental. Yes, there is a place for judgment and discernment (1 John 4:1). But the wisdom that is from above is not overbearing in judgment of others. It is impartial in the sense that is not quick to jump to conclusions without first weighing all the evidence. It is a spirit that hopes for the best in the other, rather than assuming the worst.

Seventh, it is without hypocrisy.

It does not teach one way, then act in another way. It does not have an integrity gap between words and actions (cf. Matt 7:1-5).

May the Lord give us the grace to live with the wisdom that is from above.

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

CCP "Updates" the Woman Taken in Adultery Passage

A friend sent me a link to this news article on a Chinese textbook that "updates" John's controversial account of the Pericope Adulterae (PA) or woman taken in adultery (John 7:53-8:11).

In the new CCP version of the story, Jesus oversees the stoning of the woman and announces, "I too am a sinner."

This story has never been popular with unbelievers, legalists, and oppressive rulers. Though modern scholars (like Knust and Wasserman) continue to tell us that there was no attempt to suppress the narrative in early Christianity, Augustine tells a different story, and this recent attempt to mangle the PA's content is yet more anecdotal evidence of the perennial scandal represented by the sacred record of Christ's deeds and words [both "He that is without sin among you, let him cast the first stone at her" (v. 7) and "go and sin no more" (v. 11)].


Taylor DeSoto Responding to 20 Common Claims Made Against the TR

Taylor DeSoto continues his prolific blogging pace over at his "Young, Textless, and Reformed" site (He's probably written three articles in the time it's taken me to post this one!). He recently posted an article with convenient links to 20 of his past articles addressing various objections to the TR position. Read the post here. Sample some of the articles below:

Common Claims Made by Critical Text Apologists Answered:

  1. TR Advocates are more skeptical than Bart Ehrman
  2. Treating Text and Canon the same is a category error
  3. P75 proves that Vaticanus is early and reliable
  4. Beza was doing the same thing as modern textual critics
  5. The CBGM can get us to 125AD
  6. There is a “fatal flaw” in TR argumentation
  7. The CBGM is going to give us a Bible more accurate than before
  8. The CBGM is “God’s gift to the church”
  9. The TR position offers no meaningful apologetic to Bart Ehrman
  10. The TR position is “anachronistic”
  11. The TR position starts with the TR and is circular
  12. Adopting the critical text is consistent with presuppositional apologetics
  13. There is no doctrine affected between the TR and CT
  14. The TR position is “textual mythology”
  15. Learning textual criticism is necessary for apologetics
  16. The burden of proof is on the TR advocates
  17. The Bible does not teach providential preservation
  18. There is no difference between Critical Bibliology and Reformed Bibliology
  19. It is possible to reconstruct the original autographs with extant evidence
  20. The TR position is just fundamentalism, emotionalism, and traditionalism

Monday, October 12, 2020

The Particular Baptist Podcast Debate: Is the Textus Receptus the Word of God?



The Particular Baptist podcast is a ministry of some young men from a sister RB church (Covenant RBC, Warrenton) in the Reformed Baptist Fellowship of Virginia. This episode from 10/3/20 features a charitable and collegial debate on the topic: "Is the Textus Receptus the Word of God?" Sean Cheetham did a very able job in defending the TR and Daniel Vincent represented well the modern critical text side. Glad these types of conversations are taking place.

Enjoy! JTR

Debate follow up: Steven L. Anderson reviews the Mark 16:9-20 debate


Saturday, October 10, 2020

Eusebius, EH.10.1-3: The Triumph of Christianity


This is an occasional series of readings from and brief notes and commentary upon Eusebius of Caesarea’s The Ecclesiastical History: Book 10, chapters 1-3.

Notes and Commentary:

Chapter 1 of book 10 begins with an expression of thanksgiving to God for bringing an end to the persecution against the church and the restoration of peace.

Eusebius dedicates the entire Ecclesiastical History to Paulinus, bishop of Tyre. Oulton notes that he also dedicated his work Onamasticon to Paulinus, whom he admired greatly.

He expresses his intention to lift up a panegyric (discourse of praise) to God in this closing book, in light of the removal of enemies of the churches of Christ.

Chapter 2 notes that whereas all men had reason to rejoice at the fall of the tyrants, the Christians had even more cause for rejoicing. They were revived after a time of destruction and were able to build temples to boundless heights.

The emperors issued enactments on behalf of the Christians and the bishops received personal letters and gifts (including money).

Chapter 3 begins by noting in particular the dedications of new houses of prayer and the free assemblages of bishops coming together from many lands that were now able to take place. The Christians enjoyed great unity as they came together in worship and the leaders offered “panegyrical orations.”


The tone of these opening chapters of book 10 is indeed celebratory as Eusebius notes the fall of the tyrants Maxentius and Maximin at the hands of Constantine and Licinius. These chapters anticipate Eusebius’s own extended panegyric, dedicated to Paulinus, which will follow in the next chapter.


Friday, October 09, 2020

The Vision (10.9.20): Taming the Tongue


Note: Devotional taken from last Sunday's sermon on James 3:6-13:

James 3:7 For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind. 8 But the tongue no man can tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.

James begins by describing the mastery that God has given to man over all the other creatures (v. 7). This takes us back to the dominion mandate given to man on the sixth day of creation (see Gen 1:16-27). Genesis 2:19-20 even describes how God brought the animals to Adam and had him name them.

“But,” James continues, in v. 8, “the tongue no man can tame.” Massive animals, elephants, rhinos, giraffes man can subdue. Fierce animal, lions, tigers, and bears (Oh my!), man can subdue. But he cannot tame the tongue. I imagine a lion tamer standing with his whip and chair before the tongue, but not able to tame it!

Notice James does not say it is very difficult for a man to tame the tongue. Nor, it takes a lot of work and practice and patience and humility and discipline to tame the tongue. No. He says that no man can tame the tongue. That is, no sinful man will be able in this life fully to manage his tongue.

He adds two more very, very vivid metaphors:

First, the tongue is “an unruly evil.” The word unruly (akatastatos) can mean restless or disorderly. Imagine an incorrigible child running around in a grocery store knocking items off the shelves, taking bites out of fruit, upsetting shopping carts. The tongue is like that. It is an unruly evil.

Second, the tongue is “full of deadly poison.” It is lethal. It can bring about the ruin of a man’s life.

James description is strong, vivid, and foreboding. Little help is offered men, apart from God’s grace, in the management of the tongue.

But there was one man who perfectly tamed the tongue.

This is best exemplified when he went to the cross, fulfilling Isaiah 53:7, “as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.” That took perfect self-control.

Peter says he did not sin and no guile was found in his mouth (cf. 1 Peter 2:21-25). When he was reviled, he did not revile in return. When he suffered, he did not threaten, but he committed himself to the one who judges righteously.

Christ controlled the tongue so that we, as his followers, might be conformed unto his image (cf. Rom 8:29).

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle