The Soul in Cyberspace

While going through some old files, I discovered a handout dated 2004. I, along with several hundred other pastors gathered at Parkside Church in suburban Cleveland, OH, received it as part of the registration packet for Alistair Begg’s annual Basics Conference. After reviewing that canary yellow circular again after all these years, I felt compelled to pass on to you the “meat” of it, excerpts from Douglas Groothuis’ The Soul in Cyberspace (Baker, 1997). I trust you will find them both relevant and insightful as the author makes his case for the old-fashioned, printed book.

The Excerpts:

“The stewardship of the senses is no small matter in our information-overcrowded world. Our perceptual and intellectual capacities are limited; we cannot possibly handle the ever-increasing quantities of information with sufficient wisdom. Therefore, our sensibilities serve as our filters and our guides. They are the editors of the soul and direct our orientation toward good or evil. As Simone Weil said, “If we turn our mind toward the good, it is impossible that little by little the whole soul will not be attracted thereto in spite of itself.” Jesus also underscored the importance of developing appropriate sensibilities when he declared: “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness!” (Matthew 6:22-23). Good eyes behold truth and enlighten the soul. 

Christians and Jews are “people of the book” because they believe God revealed his truth to the varied writers of Scriptures through words that ought to be conserved, understood, and obeyed. Throughout history, the books of the Bible have been meticulously copied, recopied, and preserved so that the faithful would have the Holy Scriptures at their disposal. Of course, the Scriptures are not deemed holy simply because they are inscribed words, but because they are God’s inscribed words to us. 

However, the very form of the book, its conditions of sentience, are not incidental to how we orient ourselves to reality. The nature of the book itself and how we read shapes our souls. 

Neil Postman argues that American culture has been molded by the book in an unprecedented way. The American veneration for literature produced what Postman calls the ‘typographic mind.’ This mind pursues logical coherence and intellectual depth;  it is impatient with superficiality, but is willing to endure long and complex arguments for the sake of finding truth. For these reasons, Postman called the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries in America “The Age of Exposition.” He says:  Almost all of the characteristics we associate with mature discourse were amplified by typography, which has the strongest possible bias toward exposition: a sophisticated ability to think conceptually, deductively and sequentially; a high valuation of reason and order; an abhorrence of contradiction; a large capacity for detachment and objectivity; and a tolerance for delayed response.

Such mature discourse is rare in our agenda of incivility and intellectual impatience. Much of the blame, as Postman and others have argued, can be placed upon television, as we mentioned in chapter one. When a culture moves from typography to an image-based medium as its dominant and normative mode of expression, the very concepts of truth, reason, and evidence undergo a profound shift. Joshua Meyrowitz, a professor of communication at the University of New Hampshire, comments about his students: “They tend to have an image-based standard of truth. If I ask, ‘What evidence supports your view or contradicts it?’ they look at me as if I came from another planet.” Why is this? “It’s very foreign to them to thinking in terms of truth, logic, consistency and evidence.” Might this same erosion of the idea of truth and the ideals of logic, evidence, and consistency be perpetuated in cyberspace? 

…the effect of words on a screen-whether written or read-can depreciate the depth and gravity of language itself. Since I do not turn any pages, but instead scroll through the material, I may lose the sense of linearity reinforced by the book and other printed matter. The screen has less involvement with physical history than does the book. I can easily move about a text electronically without fingering pages. I can “call up” a screen that records my previous work or something I have downloaded. Yet the screen text does not bear the marks of the physical world and the human touch. No pages are worn, no hi-lighting appears, no distinctive smells are evident. The screen is clean, always the same; it has no history and little personality. It is a receptacle for text and images, but is imprinted by none of them. Without power, it is a mere blank, a dead conduit. 

The computer screen-despite its myriad enchantments-may not be a hot house for the soul. The book, that stubbornly unelectric artifact of pure typography, possesses resources conducive to the flourishing of the soul. A thoughtful reading of the printed text orients one to a world of order, meaning, and the possibility of knowing truth. The computer screen, despite its allure, often lacks the resources for making the truth lodge deeply in our souls. 

 -Douglas Groothuis, Professor of Philosophy, Denver Seminary. 

15 Helpful Articles on Biblical Inerrancy

Arguably, the most basic problem within the confessing church today is the rejection of the absolute authority of the Bible. Take any issue, any issue at all, and the heart of the matter will boil down to one question: “Hath God said?” Nothing is new under the sun. The Satanic scheme employed in Eden is alive and well. Whether the heated debate concerns the extent of the atonement or the divine design of marriage as exclusively a heterosexual union, at root is the inerrancy, and thus authority, of the Bible as God’s exclusive written word.

While doing some research on the subject recently, I found the following articles. I think they are valuable and share them with you in order to encourage you in ‘the faith once delivered to the saints.’ If you are not ‘in Christ’ and a skeptic, I encourage you to think through these materials. This is really good stuff.

For you because of Him,

Todd Braye

1. A Response to a Recent Gallup Poll (John MacArthur, Jr.)

Yesterday, the Christian Post published the findings of a Gallup poll designed to gauge Americans’ opinion on the Bible. The findings reveal the utter chaos in our culture regarding the nature and authority of Scripture.

Gallup’s poll found that only 28 percent of Americans believe that the Bible is the Word of God and should be taken literally. And yet nearly 50 percent believe that the Bible is the “inspired Word of God” while insisting that not all of its content be taken literally, but rather as “metaphors and allegories that allow for interpretation.” “Allowing for interpretation” seems to be key for our postmodern, pluralistic society, as 58 percent—representing the majority of self-identifying Christians in America—accept that the Bible is the “actual Word of God” but insist, “multiple interpretations are possible.” …continue reading

2. What Does Inerrancy Mean? (Justin Taylor)

The word inerrant means that something, usually a text, is “without error.” The word infallible—in its lexical meaning, though not necessarily in theological discussions due to Rogers and McKim—is technically a stronger word, meaning that the text is not only “without error” but “incapable of error.” The historic Christian teaching is that the Bible is both inerrant and infallible. It is without error (inerrant) because it is impossible for it to have errors (infallible)…continue reading

3. What Does Inerrant Mean? (Tim Challies)

I find it is often useful to define what a term does not mean before I learn what it does mean, and I will do that with inerrancy. So let’s look at four statements dealing with what inerrancy does not entail. I should note that there is no authoritative body to which we can appeal to define what inerrancy means, for it is not a term that is neatly defined in Scripture. Thus I am presenting information consistent with the way it has been defined by scholars who have pursued the study of this doctrine over the past century and who have drawn what they believe from the Bible…continue reading

4. Some Clarifying Distinctives Regarding Inerrancy (Jeremy Cagle)

While there are many reasons why inerrancy is important, it should be recognized that inerrancy, like many other points of doctrine, is a complex issue. To better understand it, some further clarification is needed. Let me point out a few distinctives…continue reading

5. Is The Bible Really Inerrant? (Stephen Wellum)

The question before us is not only of crucial importance but difficult to address fully in a brief article. There are so many facets to it that have to be reflected upon carefully in order to give an adequate answer. So the approach I will take is first to address four preliminary questions before I turn briefly to the issue at hand…continue reading

6. Newsweek Article’s Attack on the Bible: So Misinformed It’s a Sin (David Miller, Ph.D. Kyle Butt, M.A.)

Abraham Lincoln is credited with the statement: “How many legs does a dog have if you call its tail a leg? Four. Calling a tail a leg doesn’t make it a leg.” With that thought in mind, we turn our attention to the cover story of the December 23, 2014 issue of Newsweek titled, “The Bible: So Misunderstood It’s a Sin.” Kurt Eichenwald, the author, said concerning his article: “This examination is not an attack on the Bible or Christianity.” He says about his writing, “None of this is meant to demean the Bible, but all of it is fact.” Eichenwald may say that his article is not an attack on the Bible or is not designed to demean it, but that claim is simply not true. He boldly states that the Bible is “loaded with contradictions and translation errors and wasn’t written by witnesses and includes words added by unknown scribes to inject Church orthodoxy.” In fact, the bulk of his writing is an effort to prove these errors, contradictions, and discrepancies. Having declared that they are facts (which is the furthest thing from the truth, as we will show in this response), he says, “Christians angered by these facts should be angry with the Bible, not the messenger.” Make no mistake about it, Eichenwald is bashing the Bible, and he does so without the facts…continue reading

7. Can We Trust the New Testament Text? (Matt Waymeyer)

Several years ago I was walking in a park and met a man who identified himself as a pantheist. As I shared the Gospel with him, he raised a series of objections to the Christian faith, the first of which concerned the reliability of Scripture. “The Bible was going along fine,” he explained, “until King James came along and changed it all, and now we have no idea what the original actually said!”

The man’s objection was obviously more than a little misinformed, but it does raise a legitimate question: If the original manuscripts of the Bible no longer exist—and if the existing manuscripts do not completely agree with one another—how can we have confidence in the Scriptures we possess today? Can we really trust the Bible as it has been handed down to us? Can we really insist that it is nothing less than the inerrant Word of God? …continue reading

8. The Witness of the Bible to its Own Authority (Gleason Archer)

Does the Bible actually assert its own inerrancy as the revealed Word of God? Does it really lay claim to freedom from error in all that it affirms, whether in matters of theology, history, or science? Are proponents of this view truly justified in their insistence on this high degree of perfection in Scripture, or are they actually going beyond what it affirms concerning its own authority? These questions have been raised by those who advocate a lower concept of biblical authority, and it is important for us to settle them as we seek to come to terms with the Bible’s own witness…continue reading…

9. Alleged Chronological Contradictions (Eric Lyons)

Since the Bible begins at the Creation with Genesis—the book of beginnings—and ends with the book of Revelation (which many scholars believe was the last recorded book of the Bible), students of the Scriptures often assume that the Bible was compiled chronologically. Many students approach their reading of the Bible with the mind-set that everything in Scripture is arranged “from A to Z.” Since Genesis records what took place at the beginning of time, and it is the first book of the Bible, then the rest of the Bible follows suit, right? Actually, what the diligent student eventually finds is that the Bible is not a book of strict chronology. All sixty-six books of the Bible are not arranged in the order in which they were written. Furthermore, all of the events contained within each book also are not necessarily recorded chronologically…continue reading

10. The Resurrection Narratives (Kyle Butt)

Dismissing the miracles documented in the New Testament is a favorite pastime of many skeptics, and even some religious leaders. However, this “dismissal” game gets extremely complicated, because the miracles are so closely blended with historical facts that separating the two soon becomes like trying to separate two different colors of modeling clay…continue reading

11The Preacher and God’s Word (James Montgomery Boice)

Having recognized the primacy of the word in God’s own dealings with the human race, it is not at all difficult to note the primacy of the word in that early Christian preaching recorded in the New Testament…continue reading

12. Jesus Christ on the Infallibility of Scripture (David Livingston)

There is considerable debate these days concerning the inerrancy (infallibility) of Scripture. The authority of God’s Word is the main issue. But, if one yields to the authority of Jesus Christ (Yeshua HaMashiach), he must, in turn, yield to Christ’s view of the Scripture itself. Anyone and everyone who claims to be a Christian (a believer under the authority of Christ) must hold to the same view He did! What was it? ...continue reading...

 13. Spurgeon on Inerrancy

There are two things I want to say before I sit down. The first is, let us hold fast, tenaciously, doggedly, with a death grip, the truth of the inspiration of God’s Word. If it is not inspired and infallible, it cannot be of use in warning us. I see little use in being warned when the warning may be like the idle cry of “Wolf!” when there is no wolf. Everything in the railway service depends upon the accuracy of the signals: when these are wrong, life will be sacrificed. On the road to heaven we need unerring signals, or the catastrophes will be far more terrible. It is difficult enough to set myself right and carefully drive the train of conduct; but if, in addition to this, I am to set the Bible right, and thus manage the signals along the permanent way, I am in an evil plight indeed…continue reading

14. Are There Two Creation Accounts in Genesis? (Wayne Jackson)

Genesis 1 and 2 provide accounts of what God did during creation. But these two chapters don’t seem to agree. Are there two different accounts of creation under discussion in Genesis 1 and 2?…continue reading

15. Set Forth Your Case: God’s Own Challenge Regarding His Inerrant Word in Isaiah 40-48 – Part 1 (Greg Harris)

The Word of God stands forever because the God of His Word stands forever; they cannot be separated: the Person of God and the Word of God go hand in hand. In the latter part of Isaiah 40, God sets forth this challenge in reference to both His Word and its fulfillment…continue reading

John 3:16

For God so loved the world that he gave his only son…” (John 3:16). That God so loved the world that He gave His Son does not mean He so loved the elect. Nor does it mean God so loved all men without exception. There are those who try to make it say that. But that’s not what it says.  That God loved the world here means that He loved an object full of badness. The ‘world’ (kosmos) in John refers to a wicked, rebellious, God-hating order of things, full of moral darkness. Respected Biblical scholar Don Carson is right in saying:

In John 3:16 God’s love in sending the Lord Jesus is to be admired not because it is extended to so big a thing as the world, but to so bad a thing; not to so many people, as to such wicked people” (The Difficult Doctrine of the Love of God, 17).

Biblical Grace Defined

What is grace? And how does one speak of it to those who have heard of it countless times and sung about it ten thousand times?  Let me make the attempt: 

Grace is like a cool rain on a hot day that washes all my sins away. Grace is me, in my nakedness, in all my shame, covered by the finest royal robes. Grace is my head, bowed to the ground in the presence of the king, fearing for my life, only to be crowned with the gems of heaven.  Grace is when, in the place of slamming iron doors echoing through the halls, where despair holds life in its cruel claws, and death is waiting in the dark across the prison yard, a man with a blinding ray of hope in his eyes, and the sound of repentance in his voice, tells of the One who rescued him from hell, saying: “I’m free. I have been forgiven. God’s love has taken off my chains and given me these wings…” (S.C. Chapman).

Grace, pure grace, is the cross of Christ from which flows “free and liberating grace . . . a grace revealed completely apart from the Law, works, or human effort” (John Dunn). Grace, saving grace, is not a pay cheque from God. It’s not a dividend for our attempts to live for Divine approval. We can never earn God’s approval by Law, by work, by self-effort, or anything else. It’s so true; the real offence of the cross is not so much the cross itself, but that it preaches “Done! You’re free! You’re forgiven! You need not do anything! I’ve done it for you!  You need not do a thing to justify yourself in the sight of God.  The great British preacher of the nineteenth century, Charles Spurgeon, though dead speaks thus:

I know not a word which can express the surprise and wonder our souls ought to feel at God’s goodness to us. Our hearts playing the harlot; our lives far from perfect; our faith almost blown out; our unbelief often prevailing; our pride lifting up its accursed head; our patience a poor sickly plant, almost nipped by one night’s frost; our courage little better than cowardice; our love lukewarmness; our ardor but as ice—oh, my dear brethren, if we will but think any one of us what a mass of sin we are, if we will but reflect that we are after all, as one of the fathers writes, “walking dunghills,” we should indeed be surprised that the sun of divine grace should continue so perpetually to shine upon us, and that the abundance of heaven’s mercy should be revealed in us.


What is grace? Grace is the root of the gospel, as someone said. It draws us, secures us, justifies us, sanctifies us, and keeps us. And if grace is the root, peace is the fruit, peace with God, and thus a quiet, restful conscience. How do we find rest from a guilty conscience? Rivet the eyes of your soul on the cross. Fix your eyes on Christ, not yourself. By faith alone, Christ is our righteousness. By faith alone, Christ is our perfection. By faith alone, Christ is our justification. And by faith alone, He is our assurance and peace.  

-The Blackie Pulpit, Feb. 12, 2012

The Inerrancy Summit

Shepherds' Conference 2015 2015-03-03 13-48-58After tuning in to this year’s Shepherds’ Conference today, I wish to encourage you to do the same (follow the link for live streaming and schedule). Unfortunately, I was pulled away from my computer just before John MacArthur gave the opening address. So, I missed him. But I made it back in time to watch Keith and Krysten Getty lead in song before one of my favorite pastors, Alistair Begg, expounded 2 Timothy 4:1-5. His sermon title, Let The Lion Out, was, as he confessed, borrowed from Spurgeon. It was classic Begg; his “Cleveland accent,” keen sense of humor, and MLJ-influenced expository style was simply irresisitble.

The hunt for words to describe seeing hundreds of men gathered to worship, listen, fellowship, and be encouraged in pastoral ministry fails me. And as I found myself being drawn into the event – though it be some 1200 miles away – I remembered attending Pastor Begg’s very own pastors’ conferences years ago. But now I simply encourage you, reader, to watch this one. In a day and age when the absolute truth of God’s only inscripturated word, the Holy Bible, is under attack from both the world and the professing church, this conference is vital.

As a final note of interest, I must say how amazing the hand of providence truly is. In my work with Pastoral Leadership Development, ACTION I’ve begun a teaching ministry via Skype with some 10 pastors in Tenali, India. Sola scriptura was the topic of our last session just over a week ago. Today, one of those Tenali pastors sits in Sun Valley, CA, under the ministry of The Inerrancy Summit! Could it be that Someone is orchestrating His purpose for Gospel advance to all the nations? Undeniably!

Because He has “exalted above all things [His] name and [His] word” (Psalm 138:2),

Todd Braye

The Enfleshment of Christ

1488114_794556473948369_6941461427037386734_nAs 2014 quickly fades and the dawning of 2015 looms, I wish you every good thing in Christ. May grace and peace be yours in fullest measure!

Some find it difficult to wrap their heads around truths like the inerrancy & infallibility of Scripture, the definite atonement of Christ, the virgin birth, or even the divine creation of the universe. But for me the most mind-blowing truth Holy Scripture reveals is the one the Church focuses upon this time of year: the Word became flesh. The incarnation, or enfleshment, of Christ has always been dumbfounding to me. Think with me for a moment: 

The Sovereign became a servant; the Creator took the form of the creature; the Infinite beyond measure became finite; he who dwells in eternity became time-bound; he who sat upon a glorious, heavenly throne with robe filling the temple laid in a feeding trough with swaddling cloths filling a cradle. Forget the cross for just a moment. Think about the cradle! What child is this! Is this not enough to make much of him? Surely it is. The incarnation of Christ is, in itself, worthy of our uninhibited praise. It is arguably one of the most, if not the most, heart-enlarging and mind-stretching doctrines taught in Scripture. And yes, a thousand times: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. But if no cradle, there would be no cross.

So, allow me to encourage you to think on these things. Behold Christ! As one reportedly wrote: “Remaining what He was, He became what He was not” (Gregory of Naziansen). O wonder of wonders! In becoming absolutely human, Christ remained absolutely divine. So, “Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift” (2 Corinthians 9:15)!

From my home to yours, Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!