Epistles of Thomas

November 7, 2012

Logos Bible Software 5 released

Filed under: Uncategorized — Thomas @ 6:03

The long anticipated day has arrived – Logos Bible Software Version 5 has been released. If you frequent the Logos user forums you will know that this day has been looked forward to by many for at least two years! Three years ago L4 was released and it was a complete rewrite of L3 and included many new features such as complete library indexing and many graphical resources. Does L5 depart from L4 in such a major way? Read on to find out!


I downloaded the L5 installer and began the process of installing. I quickly discovered that I needed to download a newer version of the Microsoft .NET framework so it took longer than expected but installation was flawless. This means that L5 will not run on Windows XP so those using that OS will have to stick with the older version or upgrade their OS. After installation it downloaded a considerable number of new and updated resources. Logos gave me access to L5 Silver for the purpose of reviewing the product which includes new features such as a graphical timeline and includes their Faithlife materials. Downloading the resources took some time as it was about 1.5GB. I also have other resources and the free Perseus collection so Logos consumes a good chunk of HD real estate – 39Gb. This is because the index basically doubles the amount of space needed. If you’ve used L4 you will know that indexing takes the bulk of time when new materials are installed. I’m happy to report that L5 is fairly quick in this regard and compared to the initial release of L4 we are much better off.

Look of L5

The graphical interface of L5 is quite similar to L4. There have been a few tweaks but nothing major. This is good for the majority of users who will not have to learn to use a new program. This was a major complaint people had when upgrading from L3 to L4 and I don’t think it will be a problem for anyone using L5 after L4.

The Home Page is now completely customizable in terms of which categories it displays data from, such as excerpts from your own library resources, Logos’ various blogs and program information. I think this is a great improvement on the concept.

The menus are fairly intuitive and new users will be able to use most of L5’s features without instruction. However, there is still the fact that Logos contains dozens of keyboard shortcuts that can only be learned by searching out the Logos user wiki (reachable via the help menu at the top right (?). I love that the search screen now has a list of ways to search. This will really help users, new and old.

There are many ways to upgrade to L5 with new packages and features galore. I hope to have another review soon which will detail some of them specifically. In the meantime you can head over to their website and see what it would cost for you to upgrade or buy a new package. Logos always offers a free engine upgrade to their software but this will not include new features. The engine and a minimum crossgrade will be availble in a few weeks according to their forum. Check it all out here.


October 5, 2012

When is an apology not an apology?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Thomas @ 22:36

The word “apology” seems to be misused more than properly used in our society. Today I was reading about Motorola’s apology for breaking its promise to upgrade phone owners to a newer version of Android. I happen to own an Atrix 4G so this “apology” applies to me … and yet is it really an apology?

Here’s what they had to say:

“I think some of them [customers] have gotten a raw deal,” said Punit Soni, who runs software product management for Motorola Mobility. “We understand strongly and apologize for it.”

Certainly understanding is a part of apologizing but in my lexicon an apology also has the meaning of making something right. Now clearly Motorola (and Google the parent company) could make this right by standing by their promise but instead they have chosen to misuse the word “apologize” as if merely pronouncing it correctly makes things right. He justifies their actions by saying that “If we didn’t make the hard call here, we would be in trouble going forward.” Of course this fails to assuage outraged Motorola owners who have made it clear on the Moto forum that they will never buy another Moto phone and some are leaving Android altogether. I think the deeper issue is that Motorola (and Google) have lost their customers’ trust and abuse of the word apology isn’t going to bring that back. If those customers are not left to buy Moto phones once their current contract is up then Moto has an even bigger problem going forward.

All of this speaks to the deeper issue which is false public apologies in our society. It seems to happen daily. Some company or politician upsets the unwashed masses and is then forced to make an apology. Those who bought a phone or voted for a politician based on their false promises are left with a sour feeling. And we wonder why people are so jaded and cynical… We think nostalgically about a time when people kept their promises no matter the cost. I’m not sure that time every existed, but if it did it is long past. A word to the wise – don’t make promises you can’t keep or write cheques you can’t cover.

You can read the details here: http://news.cnet.com/8301-1035_3-57526994-94/android-users-outraged-over-motorolas-broken-promise/

September 25, 2012

American Christians and drone strikes

Filed under: Uncategorized — Thomas @ 2:01

Maybe I’m out of the loop, not being an American, but I can’t believe that I’ve heard nothing from mainstream American Christian leaders about the American drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen. Is this just not on their radar? Please read this article on the BBC and then tell me if their silence is warranted. WWJD?


Update: and this article http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/09/drone-body-count/

July 21, 2012

Amazon, What’s wrong with this picture?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Thomas @ 0:40
Tags: , ,

I get the feeling Amazon needs to work on how they categorise books…or perhaps someone is trying to be funny.

July 4, 2012

Atheist Clergy?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Thomas @ 2:45

I recently read a comment on another blog which mentioned The Clergy Project (clergyproject.org) where atheist clergy can “network and discuss what it’s like being an unbelieving leader in a religious community.” I wonder if there are similar online communities for firemen who don’t believe in putting out fires or construction workers who don’t believe in building.

Seriously though, I know that clergy often have doubts about the veracity of what they believe and that parishioners can put a heavy weight on their pastors who are sometimes seen to be the foundation of the faith, instead of the Bible. In other cases I know of ‘churches’ where it wouldn’t really matter what the pastors believe because no one takes God seriously. Presumably those who use The Clergy Project are not of this latter type because it wouldn’t be a crisis to disbelieve. They claim 300 members and I wonder if any of those are actually grace agents working to help clergy through these dark nights of the soul… It would seem somewhat dishonest to claim to be an atheist in order to bolster a pastor’s faith but then “being an unbelieving leader in a religious community” seems even less honest. The mortgage has to get paid somehow and churches aren’t very understanding about granting pastors a “crisis of faith” leave of absence.

Let us pray that the chaff leaves of its own accord so that Holy Spirit can bolster the body of Christ as all members work together, using the gifts he has given for the edification of all and the spread of the Good News that not only does God exist but he died so that his body might have True Life.

June 10, 2012

What languages did the disciples know?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Thomas @ 17:00

Some time ago (3+ years actually) I posted on whether or not Jesus could speak Greek. https://epistlesofthomas.wordpress.com/2009/01/12/did-jesus-speak-greek/ I recently read Bart Ehrman’s Forged in which he denies that Jesus and his disciples would have been fluent in Greek. Specifically, they could have been fluent enough to write the works attributed to them. e.g. 1, 2 Peter could not have been written by Peter because Peter was an illiterate fisherman. That and a recent comment on my Jesus post has got me thinking…

I have taught English overseas and Vancouver is one of the most linguistically diverse areas in the world today and thus in history. If new immigrants want to succeed in life, whether fishing, farming or the service industry they need to learn at least some English. In much of Africa this would be French, in Central Asia it would be Russian, in South America it would be Spanish. And in Brazil Portuguese is close enough to Spanish that one can get by. Was Greek Peter’s mother tongue? Obviously not. Is it possible to imagine that he could speak Greek – certainly. My wife was fluent enough in English that on immigrating to Canada most people thought she was born here. It took her five years to become fluent and she had never left her native country where English is taught in school but never used in public discourse. Given her experience and the many non-highly educated English speakers I have met it seems more than likely that Peter or any other disciple could have picked up enough Greek to be reasonably fluent in day to day life.

I would like to mention that I have also worked in a tri-linguistic area, meaning that people speak English, their mother tongue and the national language. All three are from completely different language groups and use totally different written languages. Obviously peasants are not fluent in all three but in order to sell their produce two languages are required. And anyone who wants to work with foreigners must speak English. I’ve met folks with only the minimally required education who can speak English and act as tour guides/translators. Can I imagine a fisherman being able to speak English if his livelihood depends on it – yes. Can I imagine a Galilean fisherman desiring to spread the Good News to the world learning to speak Greek – yes I can.

Oral proficiency and written excellence are two different things and Ehrman makes much of the fact that a fisherman could not have written the excellent Greek of Peter’s letters. I would tend to agree because I know hundreds of ESL folks who can hold a conversation but cannot write an argumentative essay in English. However, it is ludicrous for Ehrman to cavalierly dismiss Peter’s possible use of a secretary or proofreader on the basis that his letters don’t read like translated documents. The early church contained many native Greek speakers and according to Acts they were present on day one at Pentecost. Is Ehrman suggesting that these native Greek speakers would not have worked with Peter to produce an excellent Greek document that made his point persuasively? I have edited hundreds of essays and my wife is a professional translator/editor. Our job is to make non-native English speakers sound like native speakers when they write. There are many 2/3 world Christians who have been translated into English and enjoyed by us and yet they don’t speak or write a word of English. How is this possible – they are helped by brothers and sisters who do speak English natively. If our product reads like a translation and not a native speaker then we have failed. A “good” translation is one in which you don’t know the original language was not English, etc. I would suggest Ehrman read Stanisław Lem’s The Cyberiad. I couldn’t believe it was a translation from Polish because even the humour comes across and humour is the most difficult thing to translate – much more so than Peter’s epistles which have been successfully translated into thousands of languages with meaning intact.

Let me conclude with an illustration. Yesterday my wife was proofreading a translation of the subtitles for a video by Stephen Baldwin (http://www.iamsecond.com/seconds/stephen-baldwin/). Let’s say that 1000 years from now all that was left of Baldwin’s life are copies of some of his movies: Threesome (1994), The Usual Suspects (1995), Bio-Dome (1996) and Fled (1996) and the translated subtitles from this short video. The only evidence we would then have that Baldwin became a Christian was a non-English translation of the subtitles from this video. Scholars would argue that it obviously was not authentic. From watching all of his extant movies there is no evidence that he could even speak a language other than English so he certainly couldn’t have written this. Furthermore, based on the content of those extant movies we cannot except that he was ever a Christian. Therefore this so-called evidence is spurious and in no way connects to the real historical Stephen Baldwin. Rather it is a Christian forgery written in Baldwin’s name. This is the conclusion that Ehrman and others come to based on their interpretive framework and it is one they must come to given that framework. However, I think that I have demonstrated that it is more than possible to conceive that another explanation is tenable, even likely given the linguistic milieu in which the early church grew.

May 17, 2012

What’s with Billy Graham and angels?

Filed under: Uncategorized — Thomas @ 7:03

I’ve been struggling through Billy Graham’s Unto the Hills: A Daily Devotional this year. Seeing as he is such a well respected man I thought I would spend the year with him. I did see him in person at one of his “crusades” twenty-odd years ago but I’ve never read anything of his before. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m finding his devotionals quite shallow and find that they rarely relate to the passage he quotes. Here’s a sample from April 26 that really takes the cake. It’s got angels, not an infrequent subject of his, it’s got extra-biblical theology, it’s got warfare in the heavens. Quite impressive if it wasn’t so troublesome.

So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.

Death is not natural, for man was created to live and not to die. It is the result of God’s judgment because of man’s sin and rebellion. Without God’s grace through Christ, it is a gruesome spectacle. I have stood at the bedsides of people dying without Christ; it was a terrible experience. I have stood at the bedsides of those who were dying in Christ; it was a glorious experience. Charles Spurgeon said of the glory that amends the death of the redeemed, “If I may die as I have seen some die, I court the grand occasion. I would not wish to escape death by some byroad if I may sing as they sang. If I may have such hosannas and alleluias beaming in my eyes as I have seen as well as heard from them, it were a blessed thing to die.”

Death is robbed of much of its terror for the true believer, but we still need God’s protection as we take that last journey. At the moment of death the spirit departs from the body and moves through the atmosphere. But the Scripture teaches us that the devil lurks then. He is “the prince of the power of the air” (Ephesians 2:2). If the eyes of our understanding were opened, we would probably see the air filled with demons, the enemies of Christ. If Satan could hinder the angel of Daniel 10 for three weeks on his mission to earth, we can imagine the opposition a Christian may encounter at death.

But Christ on Calvary cleared a road through Satan’s kingdom. When Christ came to earth, He had to pass through the devil’s territory and open up a beachhead here. That is one reason He was accompanied by a host of angels when He came (Luke 2:8–14). And this is why holy angels will accompany Him when He comes again (Matthew 16:27). Till then, the moment of death is Satan’s final opportunity to attack the true believer; but God has sent His angels to guard us at that time. How thankful we should be for that promise.

Our Father and our God, I know You have mastery over death and dying. I thank You for the promise that, when my life on earth has ended, Your angels will be there to accompany me in that final moment. I will trust them to lead me safely through the gates of heaven and into Your holy presence. In the name of Christ. Amen.
Billy Graham, Unto the Hills: A Daily Devotional (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2010).

The final prayer is perhaps most troublesome of all. I’m not sure which translation Billy’s reading but there’s nothing in my Bible about angels needing to protect us after death from Satanic assault, nothing about them leading me through the gates of heaven, and nothing about Jesus requiring angelic guards when he returns to claim his own. I’m really not sure why he’s so fascinated with angles when they play such a minor role in the Bible. I realise he wrote a book about them so perhaps I should have a look at that or read his autobiography. Until then I’ll have to leave it to your imaginations because mine doesn’t go there.

April 6, 2012

Crazy Francis Chan weekend

Filed under: Uncategorized — Thomas @ 0:54

Both Logos Bible Software and Olive Tree are offering three of Francis Chan’s books free this weekend. Let’s hear it for David C Cook Publishers! You can read my reviews of the first two here: https://epistlesofthomas.wordpress.com/tag/francis-chan/ The books are available here:




April 4, 2012

Life and Liberty is the pursuit of Christ

Filed under: Uncategorized — Thomas @ 5:55

Life and Liberty is the pursuit of Christ

The ideal of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is only worthwhile if you have a chance of achieving it. Is it enough to pursue happiness if you never actually attain it? This Easter season let us reflect on Jesus Christ and his provision of life, liberty and joy to all who seek. Without his death and resurrection there would be no eternal life, no liberty from sin and death and no possibility for joy, either here or in the life to come.

Let us pursue death (to self), enslavement (to Christ) and pursue the fruit of the Spirit (including joy).

January 26, 2012

the untimely death of a loved one

Filed under: Uncategorized — Thomas @ 7:01

People often talk about “the untimely death of a loved one” as though there is such a thing as the timely death of a loved one. The general assumption is that we all die so therefore timely deaths are those that happen to your grandparents or a great-uncle or even your parents as you get older and untimely ones are those that happen to your spouse, siblings or your children.

There is some truth in this of course, as the oft quoted Hebrews 9:27 says “it is appointed unto men once to die…” so we must accept it. However, that misses the full picture. Death is always untimely. By its very nature it is a result of evil and thus “untimely” even to the oldest of us. Moreover it takes us outside of time and is thus untimely or shall we say non-time-ly. Lets read Hebrews 9:27-28 and get the fuller picture.

Hebrews 9:27–28 (NIV)
27 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

I would urge you to read the entire letter but just these two verses enlighten us with so much more. Death is not final. Following death there is judgement. This will be an unfortunate wake-up call to the “death is a great experience filled with bright lights” crowd but it is what has been revealed to us by him who went through death and came back. There is also good news, indeed great news, Christ was sacrificed so that sins would be removed and when he returns he will bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. Are you waiting for him? If not, there is nothing beyond death but judgement my friend. That is the stark reality and I would sooner believe an incarnate God who died and rose again than those who promise pie in the sky…

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