Logos: Best time ever to make the jump? + Seminary tips

If you’ve been thinking of getting into Logos, now might just be the best time ever to do so. One of the criticisms I’ve had of them in the past is that they’ve claimed to be giving you lots of resources when you buy a base package, but in reality you wouldn’t want most of them. That’s all changed however with their introduction of Reformed base packages. Reformed Platinum gives you all Logos features, some great commentaries (PTW, Calvin, Exegetical Summaries, UBS translators’ handbooks, Poole) loads of Puritan stuff eg works of Owen, Warfield, Charles Hodge, Samuel Rutherford etc etc) (mostly public domain but having it properly formatted, searchable and synced to your tablet/phone is worth it) plus some stuff that’s not public domain: Muller’s Post-Reformation Reformed Dogmatics, lots of Geerhardus Vos, Bavinck’s Reformed Dogmatics, Battles’ translation of the Institutes and more. The only essential things missing from regular Platinum are BDAG and Metzger’s textual commentary. They’ve also taken out the NAC, but most of its commentaries aren’t must-haves – and they can be bought individually.
And all the base packages are 15% off till 12th May. If you already have a base package, dynamic pricing will make it cheaper and you’ll get a lot more stuff (some of which hasn’t been released yet).

For more reviews see Trueman, James White and the Reformed Media Review podcast.

The other reason to jump in now is March Madness – the biggest Logos discounts of the year! It’s not finished yet, but already includes Gordon Fee’s NICNT commentaries for 50% as well as books by Beale, Moo, Mounce, Wiersbe etc. Don Carson looks set to win (again).

While I’m at it here are some:
Seminary tips: Book buying and Computer software – based on mistakes I’ve made or narrowly avoided!

Unless you’re absolutely convinced you’re not going to go down the road of electronic resources (and are sure you’re going to end up somewhere you can easily bring all your paper books):

- Don’t buy paper commentaries.
- Don’t buy kindle commentaries (unless they’re a few pounds) – even then you may not use them / remember you have them.
- Don’t buy paper (or kindle) Bible dictionaries, lexicons etc (basically any reference works) unless you just want them to look nice on your shelf.
- Don’t spread yourself across multiple platforms (eg don’t buy stuff on Olive Tree or Accordance just because it’s cheaper/on offer (if most of your books are in Logos – or vice versa) – it’s a massive hassle not to have it all in the one ecosystem.

Specific Logos tips:
- Sign up for academic pricing.
- Sign up to Logos sooner rather than later. You don’t have to buy a base package but you can get things really cheap on Community Pricing and you can get keep an eye on the big annual sales (March Madness, Black Friday, Christmas) and one-off deals to get things that aren’t on academic pricing (BDAG/HALOT etc).
- Keep an eye on Community Pricing. Eg if you act now you will get Symington’s Messiah the Prince (along with another 27 books you may or may not want) for $30 or less, but if you wait you’ll have to either pay $300 for the whole set or wait a year or so till it’s broken up, and then pay about $30 for each individual book!).
If you had been in a couple of years ago you could have got commentaries from the likes of John Brown, Andrew Bonar, Charles Bridges, James Durham etc for peanuts!
- Keep an eye on Ebay where you can get some resources a lot cheaper – especially if they’ve been available for a long time on Libronix CDs: eg Word Biblical Commentary, Preachers’ Commentary (Jackman on Judges/Ruth & Ferguson on Daniel). A $20 admin fee applies per transaction – but then if Logos ever updates the resouces you’ll get the latest versions.

If you do sign up, make sure and help get these Reformed / Covenanter works into production!

A Kist o Wurds on the Psalms

The latest BBC programme to feature RPs and Psalms was their Ulster Scots radio programme A Kist o Wurds (Series 34 – Episode 13)

“Not so long ago, every service in an Irish Presbyterian Church featured the singing of at least one “metrical Psalm” – Psalms rewritten into poetic verses to make them more singable – and often sung in four part harmony. It’s a musical tradition going back to the reformation – but these days, Presbyterian churches are more likely to be singing modern Christian songs. In a special programme Kist o Wurds will be looking at where the Metrical Psalms came from – and where they’ve gone.”

It features Prof Norris Wilson and members of the Northern Presbytery Choir. It covers a lot more of the reasons for exclusive, unaccompanied psalmody rather than just focusing on the practice.

“Christ himself said the psalms all speak of him, so we should see Christ in every psalm.” – booyah!

It will be available on iPlayer for 5 more days, but for posterity here’s an mp3.

Related posts:

Make a Joyful Noise: The Metrical Psalms (2003 BBC TV Programme)
An Independent People (2013 3-part BBC series on Ulster Presbyterianism)

NI set for first Sunday home game

Northern Ireland look set to play their first Sunday match on home soil on 29 March 2015, as part of a Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, after UEFA introduced Sunday fixtures and then used a computer to pick the dates, rather than leaving it up to the teams to choose as in the past.

TUV leader Jim Allister has questioned the decision, while former Northern Ireland winger Stuart Elliott has urged the IFA to fight it (video here) (although he’s being slammed in social media for opposing it despite having played on Sundays himself in the past). DUP MP Jeffrey Donaldson called for the game to be moved.

The Belfast Telegraph say protests are feared over the decision. But IFA President Jim Shaw has said moving the game is not an option:
“There is no option given in the contract for moving the game,” Mr Shaw said.
“I can understand the anger but we have to accept the situation. The way the European Championship has been set up means we have no say in when the matches are played.”

Northern Ireland have played on a Sunday before in a friendly with Trinidad and Tobago in 2004 and during España 82 when Glentoran winger Johnny Jameson refused to play against France because of his faith. However this will be the first time a Sunday game has been played at Windsor Park, whose owners, Linfield FC, have previously voiced their opposition to Sunday Football.

The Sunday games will in Hungary (7 Sept 2014) and then home and away to Finland (29 Mar 2015 and 11 Oct 2015).

It doesn’t seem like there is much appetite among the footballing authorities to fight this. I would imagine that the best we could hope for would be a significantly reduced attendance which would send out a message and hit the IFA in the pocket.

Bit ironic they’ll still be singing God Save the Queen.

Recent Criticisms of the Westminster Confession

That’s the title of a helpful article by Roland Ward which was part of the proceedings of the ICRC in 1993. Here’s a sample of what he has two say on a few issues which keep coming up:

Church and State

“The underlying principle [of the The American modification of the WCF] is at best that the state’s duty does not extend to anything but the encouragement of a lowest common denominator Christianity, and at worst that the state has nothing to do with religion but to protect people in the free exercise of it – The actual current practice in the United States. In other words, the vision of a thoroughly Christian state was somewhat dimmed by a pragmatic acceptance of the denominational ideal, and secularising influences since 1788 have contributed to a pluralistic view of the state with law derived from the will of the people.”

“…In 19th century Scotland the Voluntary controversy at root was concerned with the same issue: the sovereignty of God over the nation was downplayed or rejected and the modem secular state foreshadowed.”

“…The Confession in the form adopted in Scotland recognised the distinct government in the church but held that the nation living in the light of special revelation was accountable to God and had certain particular responsibilities in reference to the encouragement of the truth, and the provision of a framework of law, education and welfare agreeable to Scripture.”

The Claim that Inerrancy belongs only to the “Received Text”

“Whatever the superficial attractiveness of the logic of this claim, it is contrary to the plainest facts. It arises from a simplistic logic (not unlike that among some of the Anabaptists of the 17th century) coupled with a reactionary conservatism. Matthew 5:18 (the jot and tittle passage) is not referring to the transmission of the text of Scripture but to the authority of God’s claims upon us, The transmission of Scripture is not such that the sources have been preserved with exactness in any particular manuscript but, as Owen noted [see earlier in Ward's article], in all the manuscripts. And we cannot say that providence has preserved only some manuscripts since providence extends to all events and thus to the preservation of all the manuscripts. Nor can we say that providence tells us which manuscripts are the best ones: only manuscript comparison and analysis can do that. In short, “pure” does not mean “without any transcriptional errors” but it means something like “without loss of doctrines and with the text preserved in the variety of manuscripts.” Thus, in affirming that “the original texts of the Old and New Testaments come down to us pure and uncorrupted” Francis Turretin (1623- 87) states:

“The question is not, Are the sources so pure that no fault has crept into the many sacred manuscripts …. ? For this is acknowledged on both sides and the various readings clearly prove it. Rather, the question is have the original texts (or the Hebrew and Greek manuscripts) been so corrupted by copyists through carelessness (or by the Jews and heretics through malice) that they can no longer be regarded as the judge of controversies and the rule to which all the versions may be applied? The papists affirm, we deny it … for besides being in things of small importance and not pertaining to faith and practice … they are not universal in all the manuscripts; or they are not such as cannot be easily corrected from a collation of the Scriptures and the various manuscripts.” [Institutes, II: 10: 3, 8 (pp. 106, 108-9 of 1992 edition]

The “jot and tittle theory” cannot produce the allegedly perfectly preserved text which is the ultimate standard of appeal. Even the “Received Text” is not the best (NT) text that can be constructed from the Byzantine family of manuscripts but, as we all know, is largely the text constructed from a few manuscripts of that family and the ingenuity of Erasmus.”

Ward also quotes William Ames who says:

“God’s providence in preserving the sources is notable and glorious, for neither have they wholly perished nor have they been injured by the loss of any book or blemished by any serious defect- though today not one of the earlier versions remains intact. From these human versions all those things may be made known which are absolutely necessary, provided they agree with the sources in essentials. Hence, all the versions accepted by the churches usually agree, although they may differ and be defective at several minor points. We must not rest forever in any accepted version, but faithfully see to it that a pure and faultless interpretation is given to the church.” [William Ames (1576-1633), The Marrow of Theology, I xxxiv, 27-33 (first edition, Latin 1623; English translations 1638; 1986).]

On the Pope as the Antichrist

“Taking account of the illustrative Scripture texts, the doctrinal positions of the Confession at 25:6 are (1) the Pope is not the head of the Church; (2) he exalts himself as if he were, which (3) proves him to be activated by the anti- Christian spirit which seeks religious veneration (Matt. 21:8-9), persecutes the godly (Rev. 13:6) and illustrates the predicted apostasy in the church (2 Thess. 2:3-4, 8-9). This does not seem unscriptural in any way.

The difficulties arise from erroneous inferences such as that there is no other application of the antichrist concept than to the papacy (contrary to 1 John 2:18; 4:3), or that the man of sin passage which refers to apostasy in the church is totally exhausted in the papacy, or that the Confession binds to details of unfulfilled prophecy. In fact the context is headship in the church not the interpretation of prophecy.”

For a fuller justification of identifying the Pope as the antichrist, David Murray has just finished a very helpful 3-part series:

1. If I were the Antichrist…
2. Seven Characteristics of the Antichrist
3. Who is the Antichrist?

The backbone of Christian worship for 2,000 years

There’s been a bit of a debate over whether it’s wise to quote heretics or not. But you can’t really argue with NTW’s historical take on the place of the psalms:

Well, it surprises me that one need make a case for the Psalms, but in a great many contemporary churches, something very odd has happened….they often simply forget the Psalms. You can go to many churches where if you attend week after week after week you will never ever sing or read the Psalms.

There’s something very peculiar about that because in pretty well every branch of the Christian tradition for 2,000 years, the Psalms have been the backbone of Christian worship. Certainly in all traditional denominations, but in many non-traditional ones, as well, it’s assumed that the Psalms are the heart of worship.

One of the staplines that the publisher has been using is “what would Jesus sing?” which I really like, because the Psalms were the prayer book that Jesus Himself used, and we can see in the Gospels and in the New Testament how Jesus and the early Christians used them, and it seems to me extraordinary that we would ignore that resource in our own worship.

And here’s one on why our culture is so quick to give up Bible reading and relationships:

Part of the problem in our culture today is that people don’t like working at anything. That’s why relationships are so difficult. People think either it’s perfect or it’s rubbish, so as soon as it stops being perfect “oh, it must be rubbish,” so we throw it away. Most things that are worthwhile in human life, you actually have to work at them and only then does the real fruit come.