Posts by Theoblogian “Brian Beers.”

August, 2006


A trading-post for books

Posted Thursday, August 24, 2006 by Brian Beers
Categories:    None
Show Introduction

Due to tasks such as bringing this website into a more carefree state August has been somewhat of a dry month for reading material here at Theoblogian. To compensate for this, I would like to introduce you all to This site is for trading books. You offer some of your books for trade, and when someone decides they want it, you slap a shipping label on it, and send it off to the lucky new owner. For each book you put up for trade, you get a certain number of points based on the value of the book. You can trade these points in for that book you have always wanted that someone over in Tennessee put up for trade. Those points plus $3.99 gets the new book.

Read more of Bookins.Com Reopens

Posted Sunday, August 20, 2006 by Brian Beers
Categories:    None
Show Introduction

Welcome to the new and improved

Many of you may have noticed that the site was unavailable some of the weekend. This was due to a change in our name servers. Since you are here reading this, you may be confident that the change was successful!

On the surface looks much as it always has. The biggest change is in how you make comments. You must log in before you can make comments, and in order to log in, you must first become a theoblogian.

In my eagerness to eliminate spam in the comments (web-graffiti) on Theoblogian, the site is up minus some features. The archives will be added back in soon, and various others odd and ends will be corrected too.

This means that over the next several weeks, you may find the site temporarily unavailable as new things get moved out. Updates will take about 15 minutes, so if you find the site unavailable, please try back a little later.

Read more of Reopens

Lack of Activity

Posted Monday, August 14, 2006 by Brian Beers
Categories:    None
Show Introduction

Lack of Activity

You may have been noticing a lack of activity here at Theoblogian this month.

My excuse is that I have been reprogramming the website. We have been getting about 8 spam comments a day for the past three weeks. So I decided to upgrade my knowledge of ASP.Net to version 2.0 and eliminate the possibility of the spam at the same time. Consequently I haven’t had a lot of time for writing interesting stuff.

If any of you are burning with curiosity you may go and see the upgraded site, but the visible differences are very minor. The biggest difference is that you will need to log in to make comments. I am interested in any suggestions or comments that you may have. Please leave any comments here, but if they start with “Nice Site,” “Cool site,” or anything Italian, I may think it is just more spam.

Read more of Lack of Activity

July, 2006


The Difference Between Interpretation and Application

Posted Monday, July 31, 2006 by Brian Beers
Categories:   Bible  Comments: 4
Show Introduction

How does application differ from interpretation? Or does it differ? I was certain that they did differ. I even came up with a term merging interpretation and application into “interprecation.” This clever term not only represent the blurring of the distinction between the two activities, it also reminds me of “imprecation,” something appropriately directed at one who doesn’t distinguish between application and interpretation. I enjoyed my own cleverness until I read the very helpful “Making Sense of the Old Testament, Three Crucial Questions” by Tremper Longman III. In it he states, “It may be possible to distinguish between meaning and application on a strictly theoretical level, but it is never possible to do so in practice.”

Well clever isn’t very satisfying if I’m just plain wrong so I decided to take a closer look at the differences that I thought I perceived.

Read more of Interprecation

An Israelite indeed speaks his mind

Context in John 1:43-47

Posted Monday, July 24, 2006 by Brian Beers
Categories:    Comments: 3
Show Introduction

Context. Context. Context.

What good is context anyway?

According to Merriam-Webster, it is: “1 : the parts of a discourse that surround a word or passage and can throw light on its meaning”

What is does for most of us is to limit meaning.

Almost any isolated statement may have a fabulous range of meaning. For example a politician taken out of context can sound even wackier. But when we have context even a politician may sound reasonable. With context meaning is constrained, and we have confidence that we understand what a person really meant to say.

In Scripture we usually have context. Occasionally, though, the context is missed and statements are misinterpreted. Jesus’ statement about Nathaniel is one example of this. I had always considered Jesus’ statement concerning Nathaniel’s character to be an example of Jesus’ deity showing. Jesus genuinely knew Nathaniel’s character because he was God. But reading the statement in context, I think that it is a bit more ordinary, more human, and a more humorous conversation.

Read more of An Israelite indeed speaks his mind

My Lump Is Done Taken Away

Posted Thursday, July 20, 2006 by Brian Beers
Categories:    None
Show Introduction

Thank you all for your prayers. My partial thyroidectomy (surgery) went well. The Dr. removed half my thyroid, but I didn’t get to bring it home in a jar to show my boys. My folks came over from Idaho for the surgery, and they got to spend lots of quality time with four adorable, well-behaved children. Before dinner tonight the Dr. called and told me that the pathology report had come back already, and my lump was benign. This means that I only need to go in to get my stitches out and then live happily ever after.

Everything else is going well as well. Recovery is progressing at a break-neck pace (that is not the same as a cut-throat rate), and in only four weeks I will be able to pick up my children again. That is going to be the toughest part of convalescence. My three-year-old loves to be “walked to sleep” a ritual in which I walk around our yard with his head resting on my shoulder. This is ritual we both enjoy, and often it results in him falling asleep.

Read more of My Lump Is Done Taken Away

The Shy Savior

Posted Thursday, July 13, 2006 by Brian Beers
Categories:    None
Show Introduction

Throughout the gospel of Mark Jesus repeatedly instructed people to keep quiet about Jesus’ miracles. At first glance this may seem a bit contradictory. Jesus went through the countryside, preaching, but whenever he did something amazing, he tried to hush it up. He didn’t want celebrity or even servants. He desired to be loved. He sought friends. This and a bit of reflection on human nature makes Jesus shyness understandable.

Read more of The Shy Savior

C.S. Lewis on Patriotism

Posted Tuesday, July 04, 2006 by Brian Beers
Categories:    None
Show Introduction

On Independence Day, Lewis’s thoughts on the love of country is a breath of fresh air. In these days of strident discourse on America’s role in the world we need a right understanding of our love for our country. We cannot throw out patriotism as some would do. Neither can we equate love for our nation with love for justice. The rest of this post is an excerpt from The Four Loves by C.S. Lewis.

Patriotism has, then, many faces. Those who would reject it entirely do not seem to have considered what will certainly step—has already begin to step—into its place. For a long time yet, or perhaps forever, nations will live in danger. Rulers must somehow nerve their subjects to defend them or at least prepare for their defence.
Read more of C.S. Lewis on Patriotism

June, 2006

Authorial Intent

The First Step Toward Understanding Scripture

Posted Friday, June 30, 2006 by Brian Beers
Categories:    Comments: 4
Show Introduction

When scripture appears to be open to different interpretations depending upon interpreters’ presuppositions than the task at hand is no longer interpreting scripture, but arguing opinions.

The interpretation of scripture transcends what we bring to the text. Authorial intent does not change. Some discard authorial intent as an impossible standard. It may appear subjective. One may claim to find authorial intent with only a cursory examination of the text. Another believes that his speculations about the circumstances of the author establishes a better authorial intent. Neither trusts the text of the scripture they wish to interpret. Mistakes in interpretation are much easier to perpetuate in isolation. The community of faith is a guard against such misinterpretation.

Read more of Authorial Intent

It’s Cancer

Posted Monday, June 26, 2006 by Brian Beers
Categories:    Comments: 2
Show Introduction

Back in March, the doctor noticed that the left side of my thyroid was enlarged. Last Wednesday, I had a second biopsy because the first came back “non-diagnostic,” a technical term for “didn't get the bad stuff with all that pokin’ around.”

This biopsy came back diagnostic, and the diagnosis was cancer. If you were told that you were gonna get cancer, but you got to pick which kind...this would be a good choice. It doesn't metastasize (spread and kill all of you), but it is cancer, and it will be cut out.

The exorcism is July 19th. So I have three weeks. And I have committed these three weeks to a reflection on life vs. sin & death and my role in this conflict. Sidelines are non-existent in this conflict so I really have no idea where I have been sitting.

Read more of It’s Cancer

Mark: The Gospel of Frustration

Posted Tuesday, June 20, 2006 by Brian Beers
Categories:    None
Show Introduction

Mark has an amazing percentage of stories that reveal Jesus’ frustration during his ministry: healings ending with commands for silence that were ignored, escaping crowds only seeking healing, continual conflict with the religiosos, and amazement at the pandemic lack of faith. Mark reveals Jesus as a man whose ministry did not go as he wanted it to go.

Read more of Mark: The Gospel of Frustration

Theoblogian not Hung Over

Posted Monday, June 12, 2006 by Brian Beers
Categories:    None
Show Introduction

If you tried to visit yesterday, you would have seen an ugly error message saying (in essence) that you didn’t get to enjoy the brilliance that is It said it in very precise computereeze, but may have appeared incoherent, and you might have thought Theoblogian partied a little too hard on its birthday.

The truth is that Sunday morning, sometime after 7AM one of the servers here where we host Theoblogian died a gruesome death. Official cause of death is “failure on its hard drive controller.”

Thank you for your patience and for checking back to make sure that is virtually OK.

Read more of Theoblogian not Hung Over

Happy Birthday

One year and counting

Posted Saturday, June 10, 2006 by Brian Beers
Categories:    Comments: 2
Show Introduction
June 10th, 2005 Theoblogian was unveiled. Thank you to all of you who have come by and enjoyed, endured or otherwise read what we have written. This has been an interesting year. Most of you appreciated what we have written, a few have even been offended. I understand this could be considered a badge of honor, but I just want to acknowledge each of my fellow theoblogians. Read more of Happy Birthday

Review: Why Men Hate Going to Church

Posted Wednesday, June 07, 2006 by Brian Beers
Categories:    Comments: 1
Show Introduction

David Murrow's book, Why Men Hate Going to Church is an amazing book that actually answers the question of the title. I learned of the book while writing Is God Manly? and picked it up hoping to gain another man's perspective on the intersection of manliness and godliness. I was a bit disappointed, though. Murrow answered the question implied by the title, but not mine. His assumption appears to be that godliness is the automatic result of involvement in church.

The other day Adam contributed to the discussion on Is God Manly and asked, “If the leaders of the church are men, how did feminine values become predominant?” Murrow asks the same question, “How did a faith founded by a Man and his twelve male disciples become so popular with women, but anathema to men?”

Read more of Review: Why Men Hate Going to Church

Translating Lincoln

Translation Challenges Seen Through the Gettysburg Addess

Posted Tuesday, June 06, 2006 by Brian Beers
Categories:    None
Show Introduction

Before four notch and seven years our fathers got further, after this continent, a new nation, understood in the liberty, and the affair inaugurated that all men are caused on an equal footing.

This is the opening sentence of the Gettysburg Address translated both to and from German. It is recognizable, yet nothing like the original. The U.S. Department of State website says of the Gettysburg Address

Few documents in the growth of American democracy are as well known or as beloved as the prose poem Abraham Lincoln delivered at the dedication of the military cemetery in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.

This makes it ideal for demonstrating the difficulties of translating the Bible. Unless you know a second language, the difficulties and pitfalls of translating between languages may be difficult to grasp, but thanks to the Babel Fish we may understand the difficulties through a truly American text.

Read more of Translating Lincoln

The Error of the Pharisees

The Failure to Keep Reading

Posted Saturday, June 03, 2006 by Brian Beers
Categories:    Comments: 2
Show Introduction

The error of the Pharisees and scribes was the failure to distinguish between their teachings based on Scripture and the Scriptures themselves. Generations of men had treasured and pored over the Scriptures and contributed their insights into the meaning of the Scriptures. These became the Talmud, the record of Rabbinic discussion and the fundamental source for rabbinic legislation and case law. Jesus condemns them for giving greater authority to these  interpretations and applications of Scripture than Scripture. “For the sake of your tradition you have made void the word of God, you hypocrites!” (Matthew 15:6)

Read more of The Error of the Pharisees

May, 2006

God’s Manly Men: Job

Trash-talking, boasting, and fishing

Posted Thursday, May 25, 2006 by Brian Beers
Categories:    Comments: 1
Show Introduction

With the outright attacks on manliness represented by gender-neutered translations, and the general unconcern over this issue, I have decided to highlight example of manliness in Scripture. My first example comes from the book of Job in which Job goes toe to toe with God like an ancient Greek hero. God, for his part, comes back at him with a blast of undiluted masculinity.

Read more of God’s Manly Men: Job

Is God Manly

Posted Friday, May 19, 2006 by Brian Beers
Categories:    Comments: 15
Show Introduction

On a scale of 1 to 10, how manly is God? This is an idea that has been growing on me for some time now. I want God to be manly. During our men’s Bible study at church a man at my table put a label on his notebook that reads, “Biblical Leadership for Men.” The “for Men” leapt off the page at me. This Bible study isn’t the ordinary, gender-neutralized Bible study. It is for men. Our pastor is determined to lead the men of our church to be leaders of our families. It was during our weekly men’s Bible study that I realized the scope of this need. We have forty to fifty men at a men’s Bible study in a church of 200.

I suggested the idea to my wife that men want God to be manly, and a pained look flickered across her face. She considered “manly” a belittling adjective for God. But God repeatedly identifies himself as Father. I crave a hero, someone whom I can pattern my life after. Can God be this hero?

Read more of Is God Manly

April, 2006

Missing the Point

An Examplary Interpretational Method from the Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture

Posted Sunday, April 30, 2006 by Brian Beers
Categories:    None
Show Introduction

In my continuing series on interactions with the church fathers via the Ancient Christian Commentary on the Scripture volume IV I have found an interesting interpretational method. When seeking a life of ease whether in ancient Christendom or modern, citing Scripture may be a supremely effective technique for getting your way. In order to accomplish this you will need to become skilled at interpretational methods overlooked by many so-called leading theologians. To complete the commercial cliché: these are methods the leading theologians don’t want you to know about. They provide great power to the self-important, and since that is what we are all about here at, I will describe one of these methods for you.

Read more of Missing the Point

Feeling Sorry for Myself

Do you want your thyroid with one lump or two?

Posted Thursday, April 27, 2006 by Brian Beers
Categories:    None
Show Introduction

Two weeks ago I wrote about the season of sorrows and changes of the season, and last week I found out that I have a 3cm lump on my thyroid. This is very treatable, and I may only lose half my thyroid. Whew! So I have nothing to worry about except the biopsy next Thursday and the surgery to remove the thing. Now I am on the prayer sheet at church, but I don’t want to need prayer. Last night I realized that I have been giving God the cold-shoulder. While I heard my name coming from various groups of praying people, my own prayer concerning this lump was reluctant, petulant and blind to God’s character.

Read more of Feeling Sorry for Myself

Real-time Sermon Commentaries

The Up Side of Passing Notes During the Sermon

Posted Tuesday, April 18, 2006 by Brian Beers
Categories:    None
Show Introduction

Sunday following our Easter dinner an unusual topic of conversation came up: congregational comments during the sermon. I don’t mean the loud “Amen!” or “Preach it!” comments. I mean the passing of notes or leaning over to your neighbor and whispering kind of comments. Strict etiquette may forbid such exchanges, but perhaps they aren’t all bad. Maybe they can even be beneficial.

Read more of Real-time Sermon Commentaries

Changes of the Season

A new bottom line.

Posted Thursday, April 13, 2006 by Brian Beers
Categories:    Comments: 4
Show Introduction

Through my grief God turned my understanding of him on its side. Before my baptism of grief, I may have said that “sin” or “his glory” was God’s bottom line. Yes. I may have considered God’s glory to be the organizing principle of God’s activity in the world and in history. I viewed God, first and foremost, as transcendent, abstracted from the world—unfamiliar with sorrow. This appears obvious to me now in the question I voiced one night in that first year after Nancy’s death. The answer I received changed my relationship with God.

Read more of Changes of the Season

Season of Sorrows

Posted Tuesday, April 11, 2006 by Brian Beers
Categories:    None
Show Introduction

How has sorrow changed you? Has it affected you r relationship with the Lord? Stiffened your resolve to serve him? Sapped your strength? Or has the effect of sorrow become a tangled mess? Perhaps it is a tangle that you have grown tired of, and now you try to live as you did before the sorrow. I am turning back to this tangle again. I have no expectation of sorting it all out, but I do wish to consider what changes have taken root and grown up in my life. Perhaps some have borne good fruit.

Read more of Season of Sorrows

And Jesus Deceived the Crowd

Misdirection in Mark 5

Posted Wednesday, April 05, 2006 by Brian Beers
Categories:    Comments: 1
Show Introduction

In the story of the raising of Jarius’s daughter from the dead, Jesus intentionally deceived the crowd of professional mourners. This troubles me. Lying is never it? I always feel guilty when I deceive, but my wife pointed out that Jesus deceived of the crowd in Mark 5, and I believe that her conclusion is justified. Jesus didn’t want the knowledge of what he had done to be spread, and he deceived the crowd to conceal the fact that he had just raised a girl from the dead.

Read more of And Jesus Deceived the Crowd

March, 2006

Honey, I Want an Ark

What would you do with an Ark if you had one?

Posted Friday, March 31, 2006 by Brian Beers
Categories:    None
Show Introduction

Now that my office is (mostly) done, I think I need another project. Johan Huibers of the Netherlands is building his own 1/5 size replica of Noah’s Ark. He intends to stock it with farmyard animals and sail it on the interior waters of the Netherlands.

This isn't just a lark though. Huiber's is building this replica as a testimony of his faith. The line from the BBC article which I found most poignant was:

Mr Huibers, who plans to open the vessel as a religious monument and zoo, hopes the project will renew interest in Christianity in the Netherlands.


I struggle to comprehend that European nations have so utterly forgotten the truth. But I do like Huiber’s approach. “This will speak very much to children” he says, â€œthey'll hear the creak of the wood, smell the smell of the dung.”


Honey…I want one. We could sail it around Puget Sound.

Thanks to Todd at Bible Places blog

Read more of Honey, I Want an Ark

It's 2006. Do *You* Know Where Your Strong's Concordance Is?

Posted Friday, March 31, 2006 by Brian Beers
Categories:    Comments: 2
Show Introduction

Where is your Strong's concordance? If you are reading this you have a computer, and you probably have at least one Strong's Exhaustive Concordance. So where is it? Do you still use it or have you switched to an electronic concordance?

Read more of It's 2006. Do *You* Know Where Your Strong's Concordance Is?

“Got Fish” or “Fish Fight” or “To Fish or Not To Fish”

IM Smack-down

Posted Wednesday, March 29, 2006 by Brian Beers
Categories:    None
Show Introduction

Sam and I just had a big smack-down over my spot-on fisherman post. Surprisingly, we both made cogent arguments. Early on Sam appeared to be hung up on a point about exegesis, but in the end he came to a rather startling conclusion.

Below is the transcript of the exchange, edited slightly to make us sound even more cogent. What do you think of Sam’s conclusion?

Read more of “Got Fish” or “Fish Fight” or “To Fish or Not To Fish”

What Kind of Fisherman Are You?

Posted Monday, March 20, 2006 by Brian Beers
Categories:    Comments: 4
Show Introduction

I don’t mean, “Are you a good fisherman or a bad fisherman?” Are you a commercial fisherman or a recreational fisherman? For the first time yesterday it dawned on me that our understanding of evangelism may hinge on that question. Before that realization struck, fishing with a pole was as good as fishing with a net. I have not done much of either. Now I see that they are poles apart. Peter, James, and John were net fishermen—commercial fishermen, and that makes for a very different relationship with the fish.

Read more of What Kind of Fisherman Are You?

Do not forget this!

2 Peter 3:8

Posted Wednesday, March 15, 2006 by Brian Beers
Categories:    Comments: 2
Show Introduction

This morning in Sunday School we covered 2 Peter 3:8 on our journey through 2nd Peter. Peter wrote in certain terms, “Do not overlook this one fact…”(ESV) in relation to God’s faithfulness to his promise (interesting that “promise” is singular!). It is important not to demand that God act according to my timeline or my interpretation of his timeline. His plan is beyond my scope of understanding, and I must fall back to trusting him.

So how do I keep this one fact before me?

Read more of Do not forget this!

Samuel, the Collection of Sermon Illustrations

Ancient Christian Commentary: 1 Samuel 5-6

Posted Thursday, March 09, 2006 by Brian Beers
Categories:    Comments: 5
Show Introduction

Lo, it has been nearly two months since I wrote anything about the Ancient Christian Commentary. I began this project eager to interact with these ancient Christians about 1st and 2nd Samuel. Since I wrote on Augustine, however, I have not spent much time with them nor have I found much to interact with. In order not to let this project die completely, this installment will address this disappointment.

Following Hannah’s Song we have numerous rich pericopes: the decline and fall of Eli and his sons; the call of Samuel; the capture of the Ark and its sojourn in Philistia. In almost none of them, however, did I find good exegesis. These stories appear as illustrations for sermons. Gregory the Great seemed close in his analysis of the afflictions of the Philistines (1 Samuel 5-6), but, in the end, he used it as an illustration of dying to sin.

Read more of Samuel, the Collection of Sermon Illustrations

Do I Trust Pakistan?

Rhetorical Questions from Cyberspace

Posted Saturday, March 04, 2006 by Brian Beers
Categories:    None
Show Introduction

The government of Pakistan has added itself to the ranks of those natians censoring the internet. Scott over at Magic Statistics commented on this turn of events. Western Resistance started the discussion, but here I will take advantage of this opportunity to reveal the most amusing thing that has happened to me while surfing the net.

I was taking a course on Islam from Dr. Vreeland in which he required us to read through the Koran. I decided to use the database compiling feature in Bibleworks so that I could quickly search for phrases that I half-remembered. I only needed an electronic version of the Koran that I could reformat for the BW compiler and that is how my adventure began.

Read more of Do I Trust Pakistan?

February, 2006

So What Do I Get?

The Reward for Seeking God

Posted Tuesday, February 28, 2006 by Brian Beers
Categories:    None
Show Introduction

Hebrews 11:6
If you are going to come to God you must believe that
1. He is
2. He rewards those who seek him

What is the reward for seeking God? I have never really tried to answer this question. Maybe it is my aversion to a "contract based" relationship with God. Maybe it is my Baptistic upbringing. Perhaps I have considered this a which-came-first kind of question. It was a question that shouldn’t really be asked. But once I admitted that I was asking the question, I was able to seek an answer. Context is always a good place to look when I don’t understand a portion of Scripture, so I read the rest of chapter 11. I read Hebrews 11, keeping verse 6 at the front of my mind: “What is this reward?”

I understand why many so-called exegetes prefer proof-text to context. I do. Context muddies the waters. I, for one, am uncomfortable with the answer I found to my question, “What is the reward for seeking God?”

Read more of So What Do I Get?

Recipes for disaster

Mal-handling the Word of Truth

Posted Tuesday, February 21, 2006 by Brian Beers
Categories:    Comments: 1
Show Introduction

The last time I wrote something here, I decried the disconnect between Scripture and doctrine. Then I went off and worked 70+ hours a week to complete a major project at work. But now I am a free man again, and I wish to address how Scripture is used in the pulpit. “The pulpit” is shorthand for any occasion in which the man of God teaches or preaches. On these occasions, he teaches how to handle the Word of Truth by example.

As with any sincere endeavor, it is much easier to identify ways of missing the target than it is to actually describe the target. So in the interest of ease, and some light-heartedness, I bring you the Scriptural equivalent of lutfisk, a cookbook of recipes to avoid. Each of the following “recipes” is a way to mal-handle the Scriptures. You don’t have to merely read about my…err-no…make that “others’” efforts. You may experience them yourselves.

Some preachers cook up full-course meals, filled with the meat of the Word. Other preachers provide all the meat of a can of Ham & Beans. These recipes are in the style of the latter. If you have sampled or even prepared such recipes, please add them to my cookbook. Give a catchy title, and brief directions, and we will all be edified.
Read more of Recipes for disaster

January, 2006

Theology on Rocky Ground

Posted Tuesday, January 24, 2006 by Brian Beers
Categories:    Comments: 5
Show Introduction

In many churches today you can find a pastoral infatuation with “application.” They are disenchanted with “doctrine.” The goal is to preach the Scriptures in a way that is relevant to the congregation. The overly-academic sermon is considered boorish, and people must be able to take something home with them

The “doctrine” of such churches is that doctrine is not relevant to folks living Godly lives. Their effort then is to take Scripture and refine it into high quality fertilizer. People are emerging from these churches incapable of benefiting from Scripture. We need to remember the connections between doctrine and daily life. The fact that most people don’t remember the connection does not mean that it has vanished.

Read more of Theology on Rocky Ground

In 1967

A Cause of the Decline of the Church

Posted Tuesday, January 17, 2006 by Brian Beers
Categories:    None
Show Introduction
The decline of morality in the US over the past 30+ years is clichéd. It has been bemoaned from pulpits and used as a popular vehicle for Christian guilt-trips. I have felt the guilt. I have taken the trip, but I had never heard the cause of this moral decline identified as I did in Michael Medved’s recent book, Right Turns. Read more of In 1967

Augustine and the Prophet Hannah

Ancient Christian Commentary: 1 Samuel 2:1-10

Posted Tuesday, January 10, 2006 by Brian Beers
Categories:    Comments: 1
Show Introduction

In his writing on Hannah’s Song in 1 Samuel 2 Augustine confirmed the value of this series. Contemporary commentaries are filled with catalogues of controversies. Ancient writers came to the Scriptures one on one and shared  their wonder and excitement. Over the years controversies have grown over their insights and now they are all but forgotten.

In the final verse of her song, Hannah says, “The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces; against them he will thunder in heaven. The LORD will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king and exalt the power of his anointed.” (1 Samuel 2:10). These words were spoken some 40 years before Israel was inflicted with her first king. I want to contrast Augustine’s reaction to this verse with the reacton of Robert Bergen, the author of New American Commentary’s Volume 7 on 1-2 Samuel.
Read more of Augustine and the Prophet Hannah

Pardon me, your ASP is showing

Posted Wednesday, January 04, 2006 by Brian Beers
Categories:    Comments: 2
Show Introduction


Over the past few days there have been some troubles getting to some of the pages here at Theoblogian. I believe that I have resolved them to the satisfaction of all parties involved.

Read more of Pardon me, your ASP is showing

December, 2005

Origen is Mr. Allegory

Ancient Christian Commentary on 1 Samuel 1

Posted Thursday, December 29, 2005 by Brian Beers
Categories:    Comments: 2
Show Introduction
Did you know that wives were virtues and that we should understand the allegorical patriarchs to have had multiple virtues? If you want to know which virtue Peninnah represented and which virtue Hannah represented, read on… Read more of Origen is Mr. Allegory

The Eyes of the Lord Strike Again

Anonymity vs. Intelligent Design

Posted Saturday, December 24, 2005 by Brian Beers
Categories:    Comments: 2
Show Introduction

The eyes of the LORD preserve knowledge, But He overthrows the words of the treacherous man. Proverbs 22:12.

I had several proof-texts to choose from once I settled on a title for this post, but this was by far the most apt.

A month ago, over Thanksgiving, we had a visit from a pseudonymous Dr. Valtor. She swept in fresh from her studies in theater arts at UC Santa Cruz and criticized Dr. Vreeland for his review of Amy Coomb’s review of “The Privileged Planet.” Dr. V became curious about why a piece that he posted 6 months ago was getting any kind of attention. To answer that question, I reviewed the logs of visitors to Theoblogian to find out more about Dr. Valtor. I was amazed at the amount of information that I could piece together. Read more of The Eyes of the Lord Strike Again

Introduction to Ancient Christian Exegetes

Happy Birthday to Me

Posted Friday, December 23, 2005 by Brian Beers
Categories:    Comments: 2
Show Introduction

For my birthday I received the Ancient Christian Commentary  on Scripture Volume IV – Joshua through 2nd Samuel. Through seminary I spent many hours in these books under the tutelage of Dr. Vreeland. He may eschew responsibility for my conclusions, but feel free to blame him any way. Having spent time in the former prophets I am eager to interact with Ambrose, Athanasius, and the others.

The ways these men interpreted and applied Scripture shaped doctrine and defined how the church approached for generations. Their methods and conclusions are often different and even at odds with current exegetical standards. This allows us to examine our own methods and assumptions, learning and gaining wisdom for our own exegesis. Michael Spencer, the Internet Monk describes theology as an ongoing conversation spanning millennia. I invite you to listen in and even participate in a conversation with these ancient scholars.
Read more of Introduction to Ancient Christian Exegetes

Psalm 23 in the Feeding of the Five Thousand

Wifely observations in Mark

Posted Friday, December 23, 2005 by Brian Beers
Categories:    Comments: 1
Show Introduction
As my wife read through Mark 6 she found a fascinating allusion to Psalm 23. She first noticed a speck of color in the otherwise visually-drab narrative, “Then he commanded them all to sit down in groups on the green grass.” (Mark 6:39). The mention of color only occurs 9 times in the Gospels. Five of them are the purple robe that Jesus was given during his trial. Two of them are the red sky that indicates weather in Matthew 16. One is green wood in Luke 23:31, and the green grass in Mark 6:39 is the ninth. Read more of Psalm 23 in the Feeding of the Five Thousand

Are you king enough?

Terms of surrender in Luke 14:26-33

Posted Monday, December 12, 2005 by Brian Beers
Categories:    Comments: 2
Show Introduction
The crowds around Jesus are swelling and it is time to thin the ranks of the insincere. So Jesus delivers a hard saying, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.” That’s right, “If you can’t hate your family don’t even bother trying to be a disciple.” While this invitation to discipleship is inviting, I still think I can better stomach drinking blood. My purpose today is to reveal the opposing challenge that begins in verse 25. The difficulty of Jesus first statement has overwhelmed the opposing challenge which is, “If you think being a disciple is too hard, you ought to consider the alternative—which is impossible.” The traditional view of Luke 14:25-32 interprets verses 28-33 as two illustrations of how hard it is to hate your family and how you should think really hard about it before committing to being a disciple. I suggest that they illustrate the foolishness of rejecting this invitation to discipleship. Read more of Are you king enough?

November, 2005

In Reverence or Defeat

Bow your heads to pray...

Posted Thursday, November 10, 2005 by Brian Beers
Categories:    Comments: 2
Show Introduction
Last night in our prayer meeting we had a man who…gloated in his certainty that God did not intend to bring physical healing for those on our prayer list. Lest you think that I exaggerate, this man cited a woman who expressed confidence many years ago that God would heal her daughter. He then said that he “wouldn’t rub her nose in it” that her daughter has yet to be healed.
The pastor’s direction for the evening was that we ought to pray with the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16; Philippians 2:5), and this man’s gloating illustrates the idea that having the mind of Christ means that we try to guess what God is going to do. The earliest example of prayer-to-ascertain-God’s-will may be found in Acts 1:24-26 with the selection of what’s-his-name to replace Judas.
If the disciples couldn’t guess God’s will even with a pious, humble prayer what hope do we have?
Read more of In Reverence or Defeat

Externalized Theology

Avoiding the pitfalls of doctrinal statements

Posted Tuesday, November 01, 2005 by Brian Beers
Categories:    Comments: 6
Show Introduction

Six months ago I turned in and defended my personal doctrinal statement to fulfill my final requirement for graduation. This was a painful process for me and one that convinced me that I needed to spend more time examining the scriptures. I had to include a couple of things that I am not fully convinced of – things to which I can only say that I aspire to believe.
Since then I have begun considering how this institution of formal doctrinal statements relates to what we truly believe. Every church I have ever been involved with has had one. Right out of college I even encouraged my church to adopt one. I thought the litigious atmosphere in our society made it a necessity. They provide grounds on which to maintain the moral purity of a church. They are also a 4 page litmus test for whether or not I have to fellowship with you – whether or not I have to consider you credible.
The exercise of writing my own comprehensive doctrinal statement made me painfully aware of the pitfalls accompanying this institution. I believe that doctrinal statements are a valuable tool to help us communicate our understanding of theology. We should not do away with doctrinal statements, but we need to understand their limits and the pitfalls they present.

Read more of Externalized Theology

October, 2005

Grump Is a Noun, the MP3

Posted Wednesday, October 19, 2005 by Brian Beers
Categories:    Comments: 2
Show Introduction

Charlie...Just remember you asked for it.

In Introduction to Biblical Grumps: Jacob Dr. Vreeland revealed that he had regaled a hapless congregation with his personalized rendition of that old-time favorite, Love Is a Verb.

Thank you, Mike up in Silverdale,  for providing this eagerly anticipated audio of Dr. Vreeland rapping. For those of you longing for edification, he also provided the complete sermon.

Read more of Grump Is a Noun, the MP3

September, 2005

We Interupt Our Regularly Scheduled Program

Posted Tuesday, September 27, 2005 by Brian Beers
Categories:    Comments: 1
Show Introduction

 There is nothing like an authoritative voice speaking from the pulpit. So for the next two weeks we will publish the other two sermons in Dr. Vreeland's series on grumpy old men. This hiatus from his ongoing review of The Privileged Planet is due to the dearth of public acclaim that has befallen the good doctor. Yes. He has chosen to fulfill his responsibilities at the seminary rather than devote himself solely to improving the writing quality here at I am sure that this is not because he considers that task to be a lost cause.

For those of you who wish to continue thinking about Intelligent Design (ID), I point you to a couple of interesting posts.


Read more of We Interupt Our Regularly Scheduled Program

What Do We Have Here?

Reconsidering the Nature of Scripture

Posted Thursday, September 22, 2005 by Brian Beers
Categories:    Comments: 10
Show Introduction

I grew up in Protestant, usually Baptist, churches. I have heard the Bible preached nearly every Sunday of my life. And there I learned to cherish the Bible and read it. During this time I also observed the ongoing battle over the inerrancy (truthfulness) of the Bible. I find that this habit of reading my Bible created dissonance even between me those who vigorously defend the inerrancy of my Bible. Their methods distort the nature of the Bible. Over the past several years, I have discerned flaws within the methods of those defend the inerrancy of the Bible, and I seek to correct their methods.
I realize now that if I am to succeed I must do more than try to dismantle current methods of defending the truthfulness of the Bible, I must offer an alternative. These methods have been used for generations now. In the future I will attack those methods directly, but expounding on those can only be half of the process. I want to provide a positive statement about the nature of the Bible not based on the elaborate, unstable arguments in vogue.

Read more of What Do We Have Here?

August, 2005

“My Truth Have I Hid in My Word”

Posted Thursday, August 25, 2005 by Brian Beers
Categories:    Comments: 9
Show Introduction

For nearly a month now I have been mulling over this post on the idea of truth being hidden in Scripture (Yes. That is why posts are so few and far between), and just this morning yesterday morning I came across this Deep(ish) Post on those Magic Eye posters that…um–insightful folks such as myself enjoy. It is an illustration of how people can approach Scripture.

There is an idea that I have heard in Bible college and seminary. For lack of a better term, I will call it "the superficiality of Scripture." The basic purpose of this idea is to reassure Christians that they should continue to read Scripture. Bible school and seminary professors have observed that some folks are intimidated by references to the original languages. "The Greek means this...The Hebrew means that...and aren't you lucky I went to seminary so I could tell you..." And we certainly don't want to become like the 16th century Catholic Church with an elite clergy and ignorant peasants being told what to believe. We're Protestants. We agree with Luther that everyone should be able to read the Bible and this means in their own language.

Read more of “My Truth Have I Hid in My Word”

July, 2005

Sitting Shiva with James

Posted Wednesday, July 27, 2005 by Brian Beers
Categories:    Comments: 3
Show Introduction
For the past few weeks, and for however long it takes, my wife has been sitting in James. She confessed that doesn’t like James. So she decided that she either needed to tear it out or sit in it until she understood the reality of what James wrote. Two years ago we held our son in a quiet room behind the ER, as his body gave up his three-month fight against his congenital heart-defect. This year, ten days after the 2nd anniversary of Joseph’s death, my wife’s father entered the ER, and two days later we again recognized this valley.
So when James says “count it all joy” he is either completely ignorant and a real jackass or he knows something and is trying to share it. We choose door number two. How we respond to Scripture is a microcosm of how we respond to God. My wife has chosen to allow James to poke and prod her heart –to open her wounds and, she trusts, bring healing. She wants to know God as James did. She wants James 1:2 to ring true in her heart rather than as a clanging cymbal.
Read more of Sitting Shiva with James

Scientists Getting Smarter

Posted Monday, July 25, 2005 by Brian Beers
Categories:    None
Show Introduction

No this is not a joke, last Thursday World Net Daily posted a press-release from the Discovery Institute, a proponent of the Intelligent Design theory, based in Seattle.

-Who knew we had sane people in Seattle?

More than 400 scientists have now signed onto the DI’s “Statement of Dissent from Darwin.” which now includes “two prominent Russian biologists from Moscow State University.” Scientists who have now officially submitted their resignation from the category of “respected” scientist.

Read more of Scientists Getting Smarter

The Moon God Gave Us

And a Tasteful Tribute by Google

Posted Wednesday, July 20, 2005 by Brian Beers
Categories:    None
Show Introduction

Dr. Vreeland has been reviewing The Privileged Planet in which the moon's contribution to our scientific discoveries as well as the habitability of terra firma (or not so firma - for those of you reading chapter 3) is lauded. 
And for those of you interested in learning more about our moon...
Today is the anniversary of the the first manned lunar landing, and Google Maps has added some Nasa imagery so that you can surf our nearest celestial neighbor.


Read more of The Moon God Gave Us

Question Church Growth

Posted Sunday, July 10, 2005 by Brian Beers
Categories:    None
Show Introduction
This past weekend my family went down to Oregon to visit a couple of friends of ours from college. Both of these friends attend (or don’t attend) the same church. They feel completely marginalized by the pastor’s emphasis on church growth. Both couples are struggling with a myriad of issues brought on by misguiding leadership.
While we were down in Oregon our home church in Washington may have set an attendance record for our Sunday Morning service: 159. We normally run 90-110 and have room for 140 –of course “normal” was before a church across town began hemorrhaging Christians. This “other church” is also suffering from issues similar to our friends’ Oregon church. Both pastors have recently spent 40 days purposizing their churches.
While I could spend a lot of time discussing how an obsession with growth is unnecessary and harmful, I would like to take a few moments to discuss the toll that growth –even healthy, natural growth takes on a church.
Read more of Question Church Growth

June, 2005

The Matter of the Heart

The place of the heart in Scripture

Posted Tuesday, June 21, 2005 by Brian Beers
Categories:    Comments: 4
Show Introduction

A close reading of Scripture is a dangerous activity. A year ago, I was prompted to examine how the heart is discussed in the Bible. This prompting was to go beyond the direct statements about hearts such as Jeremiah 17:9 (The heart is deceitful above all things). What I found was disturbing.  The good news is that we already know that the heart is the “inner man.” The bad news is that those pesky Hebrews used “heart” in a way that doesn’t fit with my anthropology. The good news is that we have translations to smooth out the oddities and obscure otherwise distinctive differences between passages. The bad news is that I decided to dig into the actual Hebrew text. The good news is that I have decided to confess.

My preliminary observations have lead me to believe that the heart was not simply a vague notion of the “inner man.” In the Scriptural understanding of human nature the heart had a particular role. What also fascinates me is that Scripture describes God interacting with his heart in the same way it describes a man interacting with his heart. As we examine these passages, I challenge you to refrain from immediately Westernizing the Scriptures—reducing them to concepts that we already know. This can be disconcerting because they were written thousands of years ago and not according to Western sensibilities. But if we change their meaning by substituting a concept that is easier for us to understand, we forfeit the authority of Scripture.

Read more of The Matter of the Heart

A New Theoblogian

Welcome to Sam Yeiter

Posted Tuesday, June 14, 2005 by Brian Beers
Categories:    None
Show Introduction

I am pleased to announce that Sam Yeiter from some where far, far away will be contributing to Sam graduated from NBS two years ago and has been a true friend to me throughout my time at seminary. Sam is a pastor, and we can look forward to his emphasis on pastoral theology.


Read more of A New Theoblogian

A Venerable Theoblogian

We welcome Dr. Gerald Vreeland

Posted Tuesday, June 14, 2005 by Brian Beers
Categories:    Comments: 1
Show Introduction

Dr. Vreeland is a professor at Northwest Baptist Seminary, and that is just the latest of many places of ministry for him. He has been at Northwest for 4 years, and his courses in Old Testament literature have had a profound effect on my approach to Scripture.

At last Thursday's senior banquet when all the professors were asked to share what they were thinking when they graduated from seminary as well as a "pithy bit of wisdom" Dr. Vreeland shared the following.


Read more of A Venerable Theoblogian


The definitive beginning

Posted Friday, June 10, 2005 by Brian Beers
Categories:    Comments: 1
Show Introduction

the·ol·o·gy (thE-'ä-l&-jE) noun
1 : the study of religious faith, practice, and experience; especially : the study of God and of God's relation to the world

theo·lo·gian (thE-&-'lO-j&n) noun
1 : a specialist in theology

theo·blo·gian (thE-&-'blO-j&n) noun
1 : a theologian who has discovered the art of blogging.

Read more of Introducing