Joe Carter – 9 Things You Should Know About Catechisms
For the Church – Navigating the Preaching Rut
John Stonestreet – BreakPoint: How C.S. Lewis Helps Us Understand this Cultural Moment
Entrusted to Dirt – Planting Forests
Crossway – 4 Ways to Prepare for Ministry
Feeding on Christ – A Cultural Moment for Revival?
Tim Challies – What We’ll Discover about God in Heaven
Narnia Web – Prince Caspian 70th Anniversary (15 Quotes)
Perhaps the most influential novelist of the 20th century is the late J. R. R. Tolkien. His middle-earth fantasies, most notably The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings trilogy, continue to mesmerize and entertain millions of new readers. In recent months I have made a concerted effort to read and re-read much of Tolkien’s middle-earth stories while simultaneously exploring the story behind the stories. Tolkien the man is almost as fascinating as Bilbo, Samwise, and Aragorn.
A few years ago I read for the first time one of Tolkien’s most overlook short-stories, Leaf by Niggle that has little to do with middle-earth. I say “little” but in reality, it provides the philosophical and biographical foundation for all we find in Tolkien’s fantasy. More recently, with fresh eyes, I’ve re-read the story and then re-read it to my entire family and want to offer a few thoughts as to why it is one of Tolkien’s best works and why all true Tolkien fans should read it regularly.
The short story is broken down into three parts. In part one, we meet Niggle who will soon be on a journey – a journey he cannot delay or avoid. The identity of this journey is key to the interpretation of the allegory. Prior to the journey, Niggle is obsessed with his painting. He imagines a tree with beautiful mountain range in the background and dedicates the rest of his time producing this tree. The problem is that Niggle is not much of a painter. He is fine at leaves, but not as gifted with trees. He focuses primarily on a single leaf and works tirelessly to get it just right. As he works, the painting gets larger and larger requiring more paint and canvass.
Then come the distractions. Weather tears up his house and his neighbor’s, Mr. Parrish. His neighbor has a weak leg and limited in his mobility requiring Niggle to help Parrish repair his home. Then he discovers Parrish’s wife is sick requiring Niggle to ride in town, fetch a doctor and a builder on behalf of his neighbor. The trip results in catching a severe cold himself which keeps him from his painting. And on and on the distractions come until he finally returns to his painting.
Then Inspector arises. Inspector is critical of Niggle for not helping Parrish more. What his neighbor needs is paint and canvas to help repair his home and clearly Niggle has both in abundance. Doesn’t he know, people are more important to paintings?
At this point the driver arrives. His journey was about to begin thus beginning part 2. Here Niggle finds himself far away from his painting and paint. Instead, he performs the work of a gardener and carpenter. At first, the work is tedious and painful but overtime, Niggle finds enjoyment in the work. During this stage we find a real transition of Niggle. Before he was very private, now he is communal. Before he cared only about his painting, now he cares more about work.
Before long, (and I am skipping much here) Niggle finds himself off the train again into the third and final stage of his journey. Most striking to him in this new, fantastic land, is a tree – the Tree. And with great detail, Tolkien describes how Niggle is now living in his the painting he once imagined, yet it is more real. Together with his old neighbor Mr. Parrish they cultivate a garden and work the area and somehow make it better. Niggle has truly grown and is complete as is his neighbor.
In the end, we are taken back to a group of men discussing the strange, incomplete painting of Niggle now that he is gone. They largely write Niggle off as a quack (though one finds enjoyment in “The Leaf” by Niggle) and before long, the painting is destroyed along with the museum that housed it. Niggle is all but forgotten to history.
Timothy George – A Thicker Kind of Mere
Crossway – God’s Purpose for the Psalms
For the Church – Yes, Preaching Really Does Change People
Ligonier – Marx on Law and Religion
Tim Challies – Extending the Borders and Enlarging the Territory
WORLD – Deadly children’s games
The King James Bible alone = the Word of God alone
I have lived in the Bible belt my entire life. Raised a Southern Baptists, I have encountered King James Only believers all along the way. From my first experience with it, I have always thought it was bizarre. I learned to memorize Scripture in the KJV and can still recite much of what I memorized as a child. Although I read from other translations as a teenager (particularly the NIV), I continue to appreciate the history behind and the artistic language of the Authorized Translation.*
Yet the insistence of some to hold fast to this belief puzzles me. Why would one plant their faith on a translation of the Bible that did not come into existence until 16 centuries after the last apostle died? How is it any better than the English translations before it or even after it?
In his book The King James Only Controversy: Can You Trust Modern Translations? James White takes on KJV-onlyism and demonstrates how foolish it really is historically, biblically, and linguistically.
Beyond his argument, which is tight and true, White succeeds best with his tone. From the beginning, White informs the reader that he is not engaged in an anti-KJV argument. Rather, his concern is turning a single translation into a doctrine of faith.
I once had a member of a church I was serving at confront me with my use of the NASB (I now preach from the ESV). He claimed that such translations were “anti-Christ” and “demonic.” I exhorted him to think differently. White’s tone is less confrontational and more pastoral. He, like most life-long believers, adores the KJV. I will never forget reading Psalm 23 from the HCSB at a funeral and was disappointed. The KJV is far better in that psalm. I have not made the same mistake since.
Given his goal to explain the controvery and why KJV-onlyism is inadequate, White is simply devastating. He shows that the arguments made by KJV-only leaders are wrong. Even more than wrong, misleading and, at times, dangerous. He demonstrates how some of the leading voices of KJV-only are guilty of intentionally misquoting authors and translations as a means of strengthening their own argument. This turns this theological debate into a moral one.
Not only does he demonstrate the weaknesses of their own arguments, he dedicates an entire chapter to the weaknesses and inconsistencies of the KJV. The political climate that spawned it, the inaccuracy of the some of the English, the inconsistent translation of some of the words, etc. show that the KJV, for all of its beauty, is a flawed translations like all translations.
Overall, I consider White’s argument to be well put together with an advisable tone.
*Although the KJV is called “Authorized” it technically is not. James I of England never officially authorized it nor has the Church of England done the same. Regardless, it is known (particularly in England) as the Authorized Bible.
Carl Trueman – The Failure of Evangelical Elites
Tim Challies – Why I Am Still All-in With E-Books
Chuck Lawless – 8 Things to Do when Your Vision is Bigger than Your Reality
Evangelical History – Carl Trueman and the Evangelical Mind
Biblemesh – 10 Temptations Facing an Elder’s Wife
WORLD – The collapse of Caracas
Trevin Wax – Can We Blame Christian Division on Algorithms?
Trevin Wax – On the Death of My Grandpa Wax: A Tribute
John Stonestreet – BreakPoint: Gratitude Is Good for You…
Babylon Bee – Doctor Botches Abortion, Child Tragically Born
Next to my home church and some of its leaders, perhaps nothing sanctified me more than Christian music during my teenage years. I listened to very little CCM, but instead invested in rock, punk, hard rock, rapcore, ska, emo, hip hop, and other styles. With the advent of digital media, a lot of my favorite bands from “back in the day” continue to put out quality music. I thought I would highlight some of these bands on Saturdays.
I was not a huge fan of Classic Crime at first but the older I get, the more I appreciate their entire discography. Next to Juliana Theory (who will be featured next week), they are my favorite active band right now.
Russell Moore – Jesse Jackson turns 80
Chuck Lawless – 12 Reasons Gossip is Destructive to a Church
Dash House – When Pastors Declare Victory Too Soon
Reformation21 – What Is “the Name?”
Beehive – The Horocruxes of Sexual Sin