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Archive for January, 2012

Single Column Legacy Bible Interview with Bible Design Blog

Bible Design Blog recently posted an interview with Crossway’s Bible production department on the Single Column Legacy Bible. This is an informative post for those interested in how the Single Column Legacy Bible was produced. Here’s an excerpt:

Q. What is the story behind the Single Column Legacy ESV? How did the idea originate?

The original project was conceived under the working title of “Reader’s Thinline Bible.” The goal was to create a single-column, text-only, reader’s edition that focused on an inviting readable page and beautiful design.

Our Bible typesetter relied heavily on Canadian typesetter Robert Bringhurst’s The Elements of Typographic Style as he developed the page design. Essentially, we tried to follow the “Renaissance Ideal” or “perfect page” layout. This layout refers to a set of principles called the “canons of page construction” that all focus around a 2:3 ration of page geometry. Jan Tschichold reintroduced this typographic ideal in the twentieth century, calling it a method “upon which it is impossible to improve” and which produces “the perfect book.” We stuck closely to this design philosophy, although we did have to make a few adjustments for the sake of overall page count.

Read the whole post here.

Mark Bertrand runs Bible Design Blog, a site “dedicated to the physical form of the Good Book.” In his blog Bertrand reviews high-end, quality Bible editions and processes and has much to say about how Bible design and production impact a reader’s experience. If in the past you’ve wondered about the differences in Bible materials (i.e. bonded leather versus genuine leather), check out his guide for beginners. If you’re a skeptic of high-end Bibles, his FAQ page will probably address many of your questions and objections.

January 27, 2012 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Bible News,ESV,News | Author: Andrew Tebbe @ 8:00 am | (3) Comments »

Praying in Response to God’s Word

by Nigel Benyon and Andrew Sach from Dig Deeper: Tools for Understanding God’s Word

Sometimes people say that prayer is a two-way conversation, where God speaks to us and we speak to God. But the Bible never uses the word “prayer” in this way. Prayer is simply when we talk to God.

Others think of reading the Bible as a conversation, in which God speaks to us, and we bring our own meanings to the text so that in some sense we find a voice, too. That’s not right, either.
We have a conversation when we hear God speak to us in the Bible and then we speak to him in prayer.

There’s a vivid description of that dynamic in Nehemiah 8–9. For seven days Ezra the scribe read the words of the Law of God (part of the Old Testament) to the people. As they heard God speaking to them, the people were deeply moved to sadness and to joy; there were tears as well as rejoicing and great feasting. And in response to what they heard, they poured out their hearts in prayer to God.

In our churches, though, the things that we share “for prayer” at the end of an evening’s Bible study are often completely unrelated to the passage we’ve been studying. While it’s true that nothing is too small to bring before our heavenly Father, it’s a shame when the tiny things—the health of someone’s neighbor’s dog, for instance—take over, and we forget the amazing truths that God has been speaking to us minutes before.

Get into the habit of praying these kinds of prayers:

  • “Sorry for X, which your Word has shown to be wrong in my life.”
  • “Thank you for Y, which you have shown us this evening.”
  • “Please, by your Spirit, give me power to change Z in response to what you have been saying.”

Learn more about Dig Deeper.

January 26, 2012 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Bible Study,Life / Doctrine,Prayer,The Christian Life | Author: Angie Cheatham @ 8:00 am | 0 Comments »

So You Think You Can Understand God’s Word…

These past couple weeks we’ve been focusing on the importance, the motivation, and strategies for reading and meditating on God’s Word. While it is good to have motivation and strategies in place, they cannot be what we ultimately rely on. Nigel Benyon and Andrew Sach give some helpful insight from their book Dig Deeper: Tools for Understanding God’s Word.

We Can Understand the Word of God Only by the Spirit of God. Consider the following:

But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him—” these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. (1 Cor. 2:9–12).

We need to continually express our dependence on God for a right understanding of him and his ways. He is the one who grants insight (2 Tim. 2:7; Phil. 3:15). And so we must pray. Pray before you open the Bible. Pray when you get stuck and don’t understand. Pray again when you do understand it—say thank you! Pray, pray, pray!

Paul’s point is clear: we need God’s Spirit to understand God’s Word. Given that it was the Spirit who inspired it in the first place, that comes as no surprise. There’s another implication, though: The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2:14). Someone who isn’t a Christian (i.e. the “natural person”) won’t be able fully to understand the Bible, no matter how many qualifications or degrees in theology he or she may have.

So while we may employ strategies to do our part (meditating, praying, using Bible study tools, etc), God is the one enabling us to actually understand. Learn more about Dig Deeper. It’s an excellent resource for Bible study principles.

Related posts:

The Book That Is Essential for Knowing God

Modified from Andy Naselli’s chapter in Don’t Call it a Comeback: The Old Faith for a New Day

The Bible is necessary for us to know, trust, and obey God.
You must somehow hear the Bible’s message—whether by reading it yourself or hearing someone else read or explain it—in order to become a Christian. “The sacred writings . . . are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus” (2 Tim. 3:15). “Faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17, NIV).

You must keep hearing the Bible’s message to grow as a Christian.
This means hearing it read and preached, reading it, studying it, memorizing it, meditating on it, and applying it. A Christian needs the Bible like a human needs food and water. The need never goes away. That’s why Peter writes, “Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation” (1 Pet. 2:2). That “pure spiritual milk” is “the living and abiding word of God,” “the good news” (1 Pet. 1:23–25). Can you say with Job, “I have treasured the words of his mouth more than my portion of food” (Job 23:12)?

The Bible is necessary for more than survival. It’s our only infallible guide to navigate life wisely because it reveals God’s will. “How can a young man keep his way pure?” the psalmist asked.

By guarding it according to your word. With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you. (Ps. 119:9–11)

How Should We Then Read?
Of course, our high view of Scripture won’t matter much if we don’t actually read the Bible. But, you may ask, how should we read this holy book? In one sense we should read the Bible like any other book. It consists of different styles of literature that express truth according to the intention of its authors. But we shouldn’t read the Bible merely like any other book because it is unique. There’s no other book like it.

Because the Bible stands over us, it requires reverence, submission, and obedience. Because it is completely truthful, it requires trust. Because its nature contrasts sharply with our finiteness and sinfulness, it requires humble reading that is always open to correction. And because it reveals God and his ways, it requires careful, prayerful reading that situates passages within its grand story of God’s creation, our fall, Christ’s redemption, and the universe’s consummation.

Rejoice with John Newton, author of Amazing Grace, that the Bible is a priceless book—a book like no other:

Precious Bible! What a treasure Does the Word of God afford! All I want for life or pleasure, Food and med’cine, shield and sword:
Let the world account me poor, Having this I need no more.

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January 24, 2012 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Bible Study,Life / Doctrine,Sanctification,The Christian Life | Author: Lindsay Tully @ 8:00 am | 1 Comment »

How to Defend Pro-Life Views in 5 Minutes

By Scott Klusendorf, author of The Case for Life (original post here)

Suppose that you have just five minutes to graciously defend your pro-life beliefs. Can you do it with rational arguments? What should you say? And how can you simplify the abortion issue for those who think it’s hopelessly complex?

Here’s how to succeed in three easy steps:

Clarify the issue.

Pro-life advocates contend that elective abortion unjustly takes the life of a defenseless human being. This simplifies the abortion controversy by focusing public attention on just one question: Is the unborn a member of the human family? If so, killing him or her to benefit others is a serious moral wrong. It treats the distinct human being, with his or her own inherent moral worth, as nothing more than a disposable instrument. Conversely, if the unborn are not human, killing them for any reason requires no more justification than having a tooth pulled.In other words, arguments based on “choice” or “privacy” miss the point entirely. Would anyone that you know support a mother killing her toddler in the name of “choice and who decides?” Clearly, if the unborn are human, like toddlers, we shouldn’t kill them in the name of choice anymore than we would a toddler. Again, this debate is about just one question: What is the unborn? At this point, some may object that your comparisons are not fair—that killing a fetus is morally different than killing a toddler. Ah, but that’s the issue, isn’t it? Are the unborn, like toddlers, members of the human family? That is the one issue that matters. (See the “Toddler Tactics” article for more on this.)Remind your critics that you are vigorously “pro-choice” when it comes to women choosing a number of moral goods. You support a woman’s right to choose her own doctor, to choose her own husband, to choose her own job, and to choose her own religion, to name a few. These are among the many choices that you fully support for women. But some choices are wrong, like killing innocent human beings simply because they are in the way and cannot defend themselves.1 No, we shouldn’t be allowed to choose that.

Defend your pro-life position with science and philosophy.

Scientifically, we know that from the earliest stages of development, the unborn are distinct, living, and whole human beings. Leading embryology books confirm this.2 For example, Keith L. Moore & T.V.N. Persaud write, “A zygote is the beginning of a new human being. Human development begins at fertilization, the process during which a male gamete or sperm … unites with a female gamete or oocyte … to form a single cell called a zygote. This highly specialized, totipotent cell marks the beginning of each of us as a unique individual.”3 Prior to his abortion advocacy, former Planned Parenthood President Dr. Alan Guttmacher was perplexed that anyone, much less a medical doctor, would question this. “This all seems so simple and evident that it is difficult to picture a time when it wasn’t part of the common knowledge,” he wrote in his book Life in the Making.4Philosophically, we can say that embryos are less developed than newborns (or, for that matter, toddlers) but this difference is not morally significant in the way abortion advocates need it to be. Consider the claim that the immediate capacity for self-awareness bestows value on human beings. Notice that this is not an argument, but an arbitrary assertion. Why is some development needed? And why is this particular degree of development (i.e., higher brain function) decisive rather than another? These are questions that abortion advocates do not adequately address.As Stephen Schwarz points out, there is no morally significant difference between the embryo that you once were and the adult that you are today. Differences of size, level of development, environment, and degree of dependency are not relevant such that we can say that you had no rights as an embryo but you do have rights today. Think of the acronym SLED as a helpful reminder of these non-essential differences:5

  • Size: True, embryos are smaller than newborns and adults, but why is that relevant? Do we really want to say that large people are more human than small ones? Men are generally larger than women, but that doesn’t mean that they deserve more rights. Size doesn’t equal value.
  • Level of development: True, embryos and fetuses are less developed than the adults they’ll one day become. But again, why is this relevant? Four year-old girls are less developed than 14 year-old ones. Should older children have more rights than their younger siblings? Some people say that self-awareness makes one human. But if that is true, newborns do not qualify as valuable human beings. Six-week old infants lack the immediate capacity for performing human mental functions, as do the reversibly comatose, the sleeping, and those with Alzheimer’s Disease.
  • Environment: Where you are has no bearing on who you are. Does your value change when you cross the street or roll over in bed? If not, how can a journey of eight inches down the birth-canal suddenly change the essential nature of the unborn from non-human to human? If the unborn are not already human, merely changing their location can’t make them valuable.
  • Degree of Dependency: If viability makes us human, then all those who depend on insulin or kidney medication are not valuable and we may kill them. Conjoined twins who share blood type and bodily systems also have no right to life.

In short, it’s far more reasonable to argue that although humans differ immensely with respect to talents, accomplishments, and degrees of development, they are nonetheless equal because they share a common human nature.

Challenge your listeners to be intellectually honest.

Ask the tough questions. When critics say that birth makes the unborn human, ask, “How does a mere change of location from inside the womb to outside the womb change the essential nature of the unborn?” If they say that brain development or self-awareness makes us human, ask if they would agree with Joseph Fletcher that those with an IQ below 20 or perhaps 40 should be declared non-persons? If not, why not? True, some people will ignore the scientific and philosophic case you present for the pro-life view and argue for abortion based on self-interest. That is the lazy way out. Remind your critics that if we care about truth, we will courageously follow the facts wherever they lead, no matter what the cost to our own self-interests.

Scott Klusendorf is the president of Life Training Institute, where he trains pro-life advocates to persuasively defend their views. A passionate and engaging platform speaker, Scott’s pro-life presentations have been featured by Focus on the Family, Truths That Transform, and American Family Radio. Scott is a graduate of UCLA and the author of The Case for Life and Pro-Life 101.

Notes:
1. Gregory Koukl, Precious Unborn Human Persons (Lomita: STR Press, 1999) p. 11.
2. See also, T.W. Sadler, Langman’s Embryology, 5th ed. (Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders, 1993) p. 3; Ronand O’Rahilly & Pabiola Muller, Human Embryology and Teratology, 2nd ed. (New York: Wiley-Liss, 1996) pp. 8, 29.
3. Keith L. Moore and T.V.N. Persaud, The Developing Human: Clinically Oriented Embryology (Philadelphia: W.B. Saunders Company, 1998) p.2.
4. A. Guttmacher, Life in the Making: The Story of Human Procreation (New York: Viking Press, 1933) p. 3.
5. Stephen Schwarz, The Moral Question of Abortion (Chicago: Loyola University Press, 1990) p. 18.

January 23, 2012 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Culture,Current Issues,Life / Doctrine,The Christian Life | Author: Crossway Staff @ 10:25 am | 0 Comments »