June 2006

Christian men at the city gates...

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Not in our county!

On our way to a family reunion in Bristol, Tennessee, my wife, Mary Lee, our children Hannah and Taylor, and I passed this pornography store next to the southbound I-65 entrance ramp at the Indiana State Road 250 exit, just south of Seymour. We stopped and talked with the men picketing the store and expressed our appreciation for their work. These brothers have two tactics: first, they have signs all over the place telling prospective patrons that if they patronize the store their picture will be taken, posted on the internet, and sent to their employer (if they're a truck driver).

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The warning, prominently displayed.
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"Scimitar's Edge," Marvin Olasky's first novel...

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A year ago, I asked Marvin Olasky what he was working on that he was excited about, and he mentioned he was writing a novel. Several months later, he sent me the manuscript and I enjoyed reading it. Now Scimitar's Edge has been issued by Broadman & Holman and Stephen Roberts has reviewed it. Check it out, particularly you who profess Christ in academia.

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X1 Indexing Software Now Available for Free....

The most useful piece of software I've purchased in the last five years has to be X1--a Windows-based file indexer. When I first bought X1 it cost $50. The price soon jumped to $100. Along the way Yahoo put out a version of X1 that, although it indexed most document types, did not index all files on a disk, nor all Outlook databases.

I never recommended the Yahoo version of X1 because I keep old emails in backup .pst files and an indexer which fails to search archived .pst files was useless to me--and I suspect to most others who might be inclined to use a disk indexer.

Now, however, X1 has made its basic desktop software available free. This is great software, folks--the single greatest boost to my computer efficiency in years. I can find anything almost instantly--all I have to do is remember a word or two in the file or email, a date of creation, a word in the title.... And X1 has a viewer that handles almost every file type enabling you to find the precise document you're searching for with ease when a search calls up more than one document.

I've come to assume that if it's on my computer X1 will find it, and I highly recommend X1 to everyone who uses a computer as a primary tool. You'll think well of me for this recommendation even if you never agree with anything else I say.

X1 is available here. One warning, if you're running a really slow computer or a computer with very limited disk space (less than 2 GB free), X1 may not be for you until you upgrade to a new computer.

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Copyrights and Christian Bible Software

I just purchased a beautifully cared-for set of James Bannerman's The Church of Christ via Alibris. I had to check to make certain it wasn't a later printing than the used bookseller listed (1974, Banner of Truth). I've bought new books from Banner of Truth's warehouse that didn't look as good.

It's a shame that this two-volume set is no longer in print. The last printing I'm aware of was Banner of Truth's 1974 edition. Of course, photocopies of various editions have been sold over the internet--I bought one several years ago--but actual volumes of this classic remain frustratingly elusive.

Which brings me to my primary thought.... Why has no one scanned and OCR'ed this work? For that matter, why has no one scanned and OCR'ed countless other worthy classics? CCEL (Christian Classics Ethereal Library) has done a good job of scanning and serving an eclectic mix of titles, but no Bannerman--and no plans to scan him (or many other worthy titles) appear on their "Wanted List."

I'm afraid part of the reason many Christian works in the public domain haven't been scanned and made publicly available is the balkanization of the Christian Bible software market and the greed of Christian software publishers.

When Adobe came out with Acrobat they chose to distribute the Acrobat reader freely and to charge for PDF-creation software. Not long after that, they went further and opened the PDF format to the public, allowing other software companies to publish and sell PDF-creation software. As a result there now exists a healthy market in PDF creation software and a world of publications in the PDF format.

And by opening its standards and allowing others into the market, Adobe profited greatly. Its PDF creation software remains the standard for PDF production and Adobe continues to expand Acrobat's capabilities: from forms to pre-press production, Acrobat reigns.

Contrast this with Logos Bible Software's work in the Christian market. Logos not only charges for the software necessary to read books published in its format, it also charges for titles. You must buy a collection of electronic titles from Logos when you purchase their software; depending upon the price you pay you receive either a modest collection of Bibles and various other works, or a larger number of scholarly and devotional works.

While it is possible to purchase software to convert an electronic book into a Logos-compatible file, the software costs $100 and explicitly requires that any converted books not be transferred to other Logos software owners. For $240, a program that permits you to convert an electronic book into Logos format and give the converted file to fellow Logos owners is also available. But the license explicitly forbids sale of the converted work and cripples some of its features.

In essence, Logos wants the entire pie. It wants to sell the reader. It wants to sell the converter. It wants to sell the books. And, as you might expect of a Christian software company, many public domain works are sold as copyrighted material. Matthew Henry is sold as copyrighted and costs $34.95 from Logos. Jamieson, Fausett, Brown costs $79.95. The irony is, print versions of many of the works available through Logos can be purchased more cheaply than Logos electronic editions.

I could say more about the kludginess of Logos software. It takes forever to load--even on a blazing computer. Searching requires a graduate degree in Boolean terminology. Original language tools still bamboozle me after nine years of owning the program. And there is still no way to insert Bible verses from Logos into a manuscript you're working on without firing up the entire program.

But in the end, the thing that offends me is the greed of a company refusing to permit users of its software to convert and sell their own personal works--but then turning around and selling public domain texts themselves. Almost the whole CCEL could be converted for use in Logos if Logos would only put the needs of its customers ahead of its desire to profit from every text read on its software. But that wouldn't make Logos money so it's unlikely ever to happen.

For an alternative vision of how Bible software should work to the glory of God, check out the SWORD Project. This open source Bible software is available at no cost--with many public domain books available free as well.

I notice on the SWORD Project's front page news that a German publisher has made its commentary series availabale in the SWORD format. The commentary comes locked, but can be unlocked for a reasonable fee. SWORD makes no money from the sale of the commentary.

I wish SWORD the very best. Now let's get Bannerman's Church of Christ up on the web--along with a great many other deserving works in the public domain. If enough public domain works can be put up in the SWORD format, more and more publishers will put out electronic versions or copyright material for SWORD rather than Logos. And that will benefit us all.

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Acts 29 Network...

This past week, Stephen and Sebra Baker, my son Taylor, and I attended the Acts 29 Network lead pastors annual conference in Boulder, Colorado. We drove so we're tired of being in the car after forty hours of travel, but we like each other and had fun together.

The conference was great! Meeting sixty church planting pastors and their wives who are not ashamed of the Gospel of Jesus Christ most particularly at those points where that Gospel is counter-cultural was a thrill and we hope to grow closer to these brothers and sisters in the coming months and years.

Most of the Acts 29 Network churches have an edgy style of ministry aimed at unbelievers and new believers, not middle-aged evangelicals who want to be confirmed in their complacency. So, for instance, Acts 29 men and women think and act as if the biblical doctrine of sexuality is not something to be hidden, but a strong suite in leading souls to Christ. And they teach and preach accordingly. They believe in the Church and call those who believe to be committed to the fellowship of believers, making sure each church is led by a strong male eldership.

They believe in preaching and plan their services accordingly. One pastor attending the conference had recently preached a two hour sermon on church discipline, and everyone claimed it as a high point of their recent church life. Since a high proportion of their membership is under thirty, they are firm on the necessity of fleeing fornication and sodomy. In their community life, people are getting married all the time and children are always a blessing from the Lord. At the beginning of the conference, each man was asked to give a thirty second statement of one victory God had given him this past year and it was beautiful how many of the men said that their greatest victory had been the birth of their first, second, third... child.

Most of the guys are jockish and still quite competitive, but I saw less jockeying for position at this conference than other meetings of pastors I attend. There was a generosity toward one another and a sincere interest in one another's ministries that I've rarely seen before.

It's likely our readers will be hearing more about the Acts 29 Network in the months to come. We liked them a lot and hope to make common cause with them in the work of the Kingdom.

Meanwhile, if you're looking for a church to recommend to friends or loved ones who are moving to a new city, you'd do well to consider sending them to an Acts 29 Network church. (You can find them here.)

However, if you think piano and organ are the only musical instruments that are appropriate for leading corporate worship; that healthy pastors wives will work full time outside the home; that pastors shouldn't have pierced ears; that sermons should be uplifting and end inside half an hour; that elders should spend their time debating budgets and time schedules; and that no real Christian is competitive, Acts 29 churches may not be a good match.

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Pictures from our road trip...

Stephen and Sebra Baker, my son Taylor, and I went out to Boulder, Colorado, last week to attend the annual lead pastors conference of the Acts 29 Network. Here are some pictures:

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Stephen and Sebra, up Boulder Canyon.

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Racism denies the power of God...

(Note: Here's an excellent comment that was intended by its writer, Lucas Weeks, to go under the posts on racism. I've made it a main entry, though, so no one will miss it.)

I am very thankful for this discussion on racism. First, it has reminded me of the importance of distinctions. There is a powerful temptation to gloss over and ignore distinctions because they are often the source of strife and bitterness. This is seen in the "battle of the sexes", the tension between different races or nations of people, the fighting between religious groups, and so on.

One option is to see the distinctions themselves as the source of the problem, and then to bend all of one's effort towards destroying those distinctions. I think that those who have opposed Tim on this blog have correctly pointed out this tendency in our own culture. Some of what they have said about the relationships between men and women (including husbands and wives), between people of different races, and between religious groups is correct.

For example, it is true that God very specifically decided that the Israelites would be His chosen people. Furthermore, He did indeed command them to avoid mixing with other groups of people, wanting to keep the distinction between them and the other groups clear and well-defined. Jesus himself made it clear that his earthly ministry was meant for the "lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matt. 15:24).

So does that mean that the interpretation of Galatians that was presented by Rondel Rumburg was accurate? Well, yes and no. He has a number of arguments that I'd like to address.

First, Rumburg writes:

(Galatians) is a long way from no difference in salvation in the spiritual realm to destroying all differences in race, authority or sex in the physical world. The result of such an interpretation would be anarchy. To force the interpretation of complete equality on this verse in such a general sense is catastrophic. Nowhere does the verse declare everyone in the physical realm equal in Christ, but it does say all the saved are one in Christ.

Rumburg correctly points out that the thrust of Galatians 3 is that justification is found only in Jesus Christ, regardless of whether you are male or female, Jew or Greek. And he is also correct in pointing out that every person in the world is not strictly "equal". But he is carefully and deliberately wrong when he tries to suggest that faith in Jesus doesn't change the nature of the relationship between these various groups in the physical world in a fundamental way...

Greenville College, Prof. Gerald Eichhoefer, and academic freedom...

The good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep. This is a basic principle of spiritual leadership and it applies to those God has called as fathers, pastors, elders, or professors who, by virtue of their calling, are required to watch over and guard immortal souls.

If you were a professor at a state university and Alfred Kinsey was a fellow faculty member, would you speak out, warning student's against him? Or would you protect your tenure by sitting silently as Kinsey did his private and public work of normalizing sexual perversion?

Let's make the question harder. Say you were a professor, not at a secular university but a Christian college--say Westmont, Gordon, Wheaton, Taylor, or Covenant. And the colleague in question was not a zoology professor who was publishing studies that purported to show that sexual perversion was much more common than previously thought. Rather, it was a Bible professor who lectured and wrote books opposing the Scriptural doctrine of father-rule. Would you publicly warn students against him and seek to have him removed from his tenured position? Would you work to inform your students' parents that this man was undermining their son's and daughter's Biblical faith?

Let's turn up the heat even more. Say this same Bible professor not only attacked the Biblical doctrine of father-rule publicly, but was widely known on campus to have been involved in sexual immorality with one of his female students who had had an abortion but, from shame, was unwilling to testify against the professor. If you knew the story was true, would you take it to the administration for their action?

Reform is hard work and reformers frequently die bloody deaths, so if you answered "no" to any of the previous questions I commend your honesty and fully understand how the self-preservation instinct has led to your silence.

Occasionally, though, God blesses a home, church, or college with a faithful shepherd who, in the power of the Holy Spirit, is willing to die for his sheep. Such a man is my friend Professory Gerald (Jerry) Eichhoefer who, until recently, was a member of the faculty of Greenville College in Greenville, Illinois. Jerry gave up his life for his sheep when, in December of 2004, Greenville College's administration fired him as punishment for his work protecting Greenville's students.

For the previous two years, in addition to his duties as a professor of computer science, Jerry had been working to expose wolves who, under cover of faculty status in Greenville's Department of Philosophy and Religion, had been hard at work undermining the faith of their students. Jerry's work publicly exposing the department and its supporters infuriated the powers that be and led to his termination, although the administration disingenuously claimed that fiscal constraints were the reason for his departure.

Busted for homeschooling; the EU rolls on...

From across the pond--Belgium this time--here's news of the threat homeschooling represents to the real work of the modern Western state, as well as the drastic measures the apparatchiks are prepared to take to ensure their homogenizing enterprise continues unimpeded.

J. Oliver Buswell was president of Wheaton College when Mary Lee's and my parents were first students there, and after Wheaton's trustees fired him for his faithfulness to God's Word (I've read a fair bit of the private correspondence on this), he later taught Dad theology at Faith Theological Seminary. Buswell had done graduate work at Columbia University and told the story of being invited to attend a birthday party for John Dewey who was turning eighty. Dewey had served for years as a professor of philosophy there, and was the reigning patriarch of the progressive movement in education.

As Dad told Buswell's story, the talk at this party was of the ignorance of the masses, and the hope public education represented, that the masses' poor benighted children would be turned into good citizens through the enlightened instruction of teachers Dewey and his disciples trained.

I might add that in the years I've served as pastor here in the shadow of Indiana University, it's the School of Education that's received the most consistently negative reviews by the Christian students in our congregation. One young man working toward a teaching certificate in secondary education called it the School of Indoctrination.

(Thanks, David.)

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Happy birthday, Josiah!

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To put a face and soul to the post directly below, here's a picture of Josiah Henock Ummel with his mother, Heather. Josiah had his first birthday this past week. He's being raised in the nurture and admonition of the Lord, a covenant child.

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Out of the heart the mouth speaks...

Earlier today, I noticed a rather obscure post that I wrote and posted six months ago was getting a ton of hits. So I checked it out and here's what I found.

The racist site run by men who claim to be reformed Christians has posted this text under the headline, "I Saw Gooley Fly," the title of my Dad's collection of short stories:

I Saw Gooley Fly

If you're wondering why Tim Bayly is so filled with hatred for normal White people, wonder no more. The wicked always lash
out at the righteous to justify their perversion.

And under this short post, the racist site has had only one comment posted by a woman named "Joy":

I just get sick, everytime I see White folks with black kids. WTF????? And the stoopid idiots who are so blind. They earnestly believe that it is Christian to have mulatto children, and to adopt every child of every other race except a White child.They really do hate their kind.*&%%$##!!!I do not even wish God's mercy on them.
I've warned against these men on this blog, and now I do so again. If you've ever been inclined to read them, don't! Don't search for their site; don't read their vile bile; and don't be fooled by the kindler and gentler face they put on when they come on over and try to engage us in argument. Their pollution can (and will) harm you.

If there's anyone reading who's wondering whether this attack has caused me to have second thoughts about my son-in-law, Doug, and his wife, Heather's, adoption of Josiah, the answer is no--not in a million years. Rather, it's strengthened my resolve to call pastors and elders in the PCA to discipline these men.

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Housekeeping matters, including spam filters...

Dear friends, we've had a number of complaints, recently, about problems posting comments. The most common problem has been that comments that used three periods instead of a real ellipsis have been rejected, but others have complained about a variety of other things causing their comments to be rejected. One person reports that any E-mail address from the Yahoo domain name is being turned away.

And those running into these obstacles regularly accuse David or me of having blocked them. Not true. We're sorry, but we have absolutely no control over these things. Each of them is a function of the spam filtering software that runs on World magazine's servers, and even that software is almost not under World's control. It's all industry standard stuff and tweaking it for the sake of one reader would be close to impossible.

However, I am willing to work with you to get your comment up in cases where you can't find another workaround. Yes, this would mean a delay, but I'm happy to help. Just write me at tbayly at earthlink dot net.

Meanwhile, please keep a couple of things in mind. First, if someone is posting comments that go over the border of fair and reasonable conduct--say, for instance, summarizing their opponent's argument in a deceptive way and refusing to acknowledge their deception--we may very well take some disciplinary action, including banning an IP address. But when we do this, we almost always inform you of our action.

Second, although we ask that everyone posting comments follow our lead in identifying themselves with their real first and last names and E-mail address, we know that many of you are forgetful or unwilling to do so. And that's OK, sort of. But there's one place we're quite firm in our application of this rule, and that's when comments are submitted that are personal criticisms or attacks on others. In those cases we require the writer to identify himself accurately--first name, last name, and E-mail address. Always. It's only fair.

Does this mean we'll pull your comment if you're criticizing someone personally and you use a fake or incomplete name, or an invalid E-mail address? Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

A couple days ago I wrote to two people who had posted comments that were personally critical of me and asked them to please post their real and full names. They did not honor my request, but I left their comments up, anyhow, because (in this case) the comments were aimed at me and I didn't want to be thin-skinned or heavy-handed.

Nevertheless, our rule still stands. Please identify yourself with first and last name, and real E-mail address. But if you're engaging in personal criticisms or attacks of others, our request turns into a demand--you must do so.

Finally, if you're tempted to be unsympathetic towards those nasty spam filters you have to get through to make a comment, please keep in mind that in the past day, even with those filters installed, I've had to delete close to one hundred individual spam comments that got through the filters. Around one hundred!

So, good readers, please be patient. And thank you for caring about what's taught here, and sharing your own wisdom with us.

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