Accordance’s Word Frequency Graphics vs. Word-Cloud Generators

Graphic Pie Chart

Recently someone had inquired about the possibility of implementing a word-cloud generator in Accordance Bible Software, which could be beneficial in identifying the most frequently used words in a Bible passage. By now anyone reading this has most likely already seen one, but just for clarity a word-cloud is a group of words clustered together in different font sizes with those most frequently used appearing as larger text, and those less common in smaller sizes.

While word-clouds are an interesting way to deliver such statistical information, in Bible software I find them a little static and rather limited. This is where Accordance’s “Search Details” not only comes in handy, but in my opinion far exceeds the capabilities of any word-cloud generator. And although this feature doesn’t produce the same exact visual graphic as a word cloud, the end result (word frequency statistics) is produced, and it is done in an even more versatile and more visually appealing way than a mere cluster of text.

Graphic Bar Chart

For those familiar with Accordance, simply run an asterisk (*) search in the limited text range you want, and then display the “Search Details” and choose, for example, the “Pie Graphic.” In this example, you would select “Display Words” rather than “Key Number” to get a visual graphic of every word in that range as I have done in my search here. In addition to the colorfully displayed word-frequency, you also see the word count with all the options to view and organize your search results in anyway you want. In this scenario, I have only shown two of the several display options available. But the flexibility is unsurpassed, ranging from the option of creating these different types of visual analyses to generating a true textual concordance in English, Greek, Hebrew, or any other language present in your Accordance library. This, to me, is quite amazing and very practical!

To run this kind of search, you simply type an asterisk in the search box in place of a word. This tells Accordance to show every single word in your chosen search range. My sample here is from an asterisk search in Ephesians 1:1-10 (my search range). The two graphic images I have inserted are from the same search but each displays the statistics differently. In either graphic one can immediately see how central Christ is to the entire passage as well as the key role of the preposition “in.” With a word-cloud, the word ‘Christ’ would appear in a larger font along with ‘in’ etc. But I find the ‘Pie’ and ‘Bar Chart’ graphic displays to be much more appealing to the eye than a word-cloud of mere text, not to mention the ability Accordance’s “Search Details” window offers to continue working with your search results in different ways.

Cracker Jack Theology With a New Surprise in Every Package!

ImageToday I listened to yet another bible teacher lead countless thousands down a path lined with empty promises of prosperity, which have nothing to do with the biblical gospel, and which sadly continue to appeal to the greedy nature of millions that profess faith in Christ. Although he may have been quite sincere and convinced of the message he preached (The mimshach Anointing), sincerity and shouting are not the barometer for truth. His message was carefully crafted and craftily delivered. Seeing how there was no biblical support for nearly anything he said, he did not cite scripture. Instead, he turned to the aid of theatrics to convince the unsuspecting that the same anointing God had given to Lucifer was on Jesus and, is offered to us in the church today. This mimshach anointing is, according to this pastor in question, “intended to expand whatever we do until our success and prosperity reaches foreign lands and people are talking about us. Once understood and applied, this anointing will guarantee us success and we will become number one. Repeat after me, I will be number one!”

Those were his words, and I emphasize his, for they are so far removed from the biblical landscape that they could not be reached with a lunar probe. Does his sound like the biblical message to you? That we are to be number one? That others should be talking about us? That our kingdom should expand beyond foreign borders? Or how about just the fact that we have the anointing of Lucifer? That alone should be enough to raise the hair on the back of your neck. But instead of being disturbed as the pastor bounced up and down as if he were on an invisible pogo stick shouting, “I will be number one!” the crowd was overcome from head to toe with goose bumps of excitement at the idea of actually becoming a big shot in this world.

Now think hard before answering this question, how awkward would this pastor’s words sound if put into the mouth of Jesus, or the Apostles? Do you have difficulty imagining it? If you do, that’s good. If you don’t, then you need to start reading your bible a little more and listening to these preachers a little less. Wouldn’t a Christian want others to talk about Jesus, rather than herself, and Jesus to be number one rather than herself, and that God’s kingdom expand rather than her pocketbook? Where is Jesus glorified in this and to what faith, exactly, are people being called?

Anointing in Scripture is always connected to the task God has given to His servant in order to carry out His sovereign will in a particular task or role, and never for the servant’s self-gratification. And we had better well understand the limitations of our “anointing,” for when Saul overstepped his it cost him not just his kingdom but eventually his life also (1 Samuel 13:11-14). Even the Holy Spirit never takes the glory or promotes Himself or puts the attention on himself but always and exclusively exalts and promotes the Son of God (Jn 16:14).

Throwing in a Hebrew word like mimshach (meaning to anoint or spread oil on an object) may seem to add some authenticity to his message about expanding our kingdoms, a message swallowed only by those lacking the tools or the intention (or both) necessary to “test all things,” but in the end this careless misuse and abuse of Biblical words only confirmed the error of the preacher’s Cracker Jack theology. Simply reading Scripture in its context (which these fellows seldom seem to do) would remove all doubt as to the fallacy.

It is amazing to me that there should be any believer who, while having the gift of the Holy Spirit, at the same time would lack the accompanying discernment to see the falsity of these men (their sincerity granted) and their tantalizing doctrines within the prosperity movement. On the other hand, I (we) should not be entirely surprised, for the danger of deception and the reality of false teachers leading believers astray is repeatedly announced in the New Testament from Jesus through the apostles (Mt 7:13-20; Mt 24:4-5, 11, 24; Lk 21:8; Rom 16:18, 1 Cor 15:33; 2 Cor 11:3-13; Gal 2-3; Eph 5:6; 2 Thess 2:3-9; 1 Tim 1:3, 3:6-13; Tit 1:10; 2 Pt 2:1-15; 1 Jn 2:26; 4:1; 2 Jn 7). And seeing how man’s nature tends to go beyond mere survival instinct to outright self-centered covetousness, we might expect that the unbiblical message of the prosperity doctrine would appeal to millions. After all, their call to the multitudes is not one of repentance from sin and self-indulgence, but to turn away from failure and poverty so that we can be prosperous and boisterous. They do not preach the narrow road to life that few find and even fewer are willing to follow (Matt 7:13-14), but the ever widening road to riches which only the uninformed Christian could happily stumble upon and blindly follow.

We do not see Jesus or the Apostles in anyway teaching, or giving the example of a life style that believed the church had an anointing for prosperity. And no one in the early church practiced this ideology or even understood prosperity to be promised to those who are in Christ. On the contrary, the Christian hope has always been anchored in eternity and not in the shifting sand of this passing world (1 Jn 2:15-18). The teaching of Jesus and all of the New Testament is clear and replete with exhortation to a life of simplicity, suffering, self-sacrifice and self-denial.  We are told to deny ourselves, pick up our crosses and follow Jesus (Matt 16:24), not to promote ourselves in self-proclaimed exaltation like pastor Chris tells us. Consider these words of Paul to Timothy, and examine the message of these prosperity preachers in light of them, in particular v.v.6-10:

1Tim. 6:3 If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, 4 he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, 5 and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain. 6 But godliness with contentment is great gain, 7 for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. 8 But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. 9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils. It is through this craving that some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pangs.

I could go on and on with Scripture that speaks against both the teachers of such a doctrine and the need for correction to those of an unhealthy attitude towards finances. Please understand that I am not here making an appeal for poverty or stating that material blessing should never happen, or that wealth is inherently evil. But I am saying that God blesses whom he choses with what he chooses, there is no “formula,” and the prosperity doctrine is unbiblical, unsafe and unacceptable. It is abuse of the precious Word of God, and because of this kind of “fleecing of the flock” and shameful disregard for God’s message, the way of truth is maligned exactly as the Apostle Peter said (2 Peter 2). Be sure to read Peter’s words on this, you’ll be shocked at the accuracy of his description to many of today’s tele evangelists. I have much more to say about this subject, but I’ll save it for a future post.  For now, if you are still unconvinced there is anything wrong with the prosperity movement, leave your answers to these following questions in a comment on this blog:

  1. Where in Scripture do we see Jesus either teaching, or living anything remotely close to the prosperity doctrine?
  2. Where in Scripture do we see any prophet or apostle teaching or living anything remotely close to the prosperity doctrine?
  3. Where in Scripture do we see any Christian in the early church teaching, encouraging or living anything remotely close to the prosperity doctrine?

Friends, beware of Cracker Jack theology. Test the spirits to see if they are from God (1 Jn 4:1). Test everything and hold fast what is good (1 Thess 5:21).

Is There a Place for Apologetic Ministry Within and Without the Church?

ImageSeemingly irreconcilable conflicts are inherent to opposing world views, and at the center of them is Christianity. Often assumed is the specious idea that faith and reason are mutually exclusive. And this illusion is not going away in the foreseeable future. From this we learn that our objective as Christians is two-fold. On one hand, we must minimize the currently surmounting confusion in the skeptical mind by offering answers to difficult questions, while at the same time demonstrating to all that faith and reason needn’t be reconciled, for they are friendly neighbors in the biblical system of thought. In this series I will attempt to accomplish both of these objectives by way of a  limited case study I conducted recently. Firstly, I will identify the three most common questions raised by twelve people I interviewed. Secondly, I will interpret the cause of the questions. Thirdly, I will answer them. And finally, I will discuss the solutions that I believe best address the root of these issues.

1.1. What is going on in my church/community?

The questions that have come to me through my interviews in and out of our church community are numerous, but there are common threads that connect them and which allow me to narrow them down to three primary categories. They are 1.) the problem of sin, 2.) the problem of suffering in the world, and 3.) the problem of freewill.

1.1.1. The Problem of Sin

Pertaining to sin, the questions were about what it is and why it exists. Specifically, why did God give man the potential to sin, or at least after sin entered the world, why didn’t God simply eradicate it? Must sin continue as the cause of so much trouble today? One interviewee preceded Adam’s fall (Gen 3:6) with a question about Lucifer’s creation and his eventual banishment from heaven (Isa 14:12). Why did God create Lucifer if He knew that he would fall into sin, lead a celestial rebellion, and consequently become the great tempter and catalyst to man’s sin? Immediately following this came the logical perplexity for why God didn’t destroy Satan immediately. Because these questions all are so closely related to one another in that they deal with sin’s nature and origin, I have put them together under the single heading “The Problem of Sin,” which I will discuss shortly.

1.1.2. The Problem of Suffering

The problem of suffering, and why there is so much of it, must be the single most popular criticism against the existence of an omnipotent and loving God. Permeating this topic were similar questions pointing to specific instances of suffering, such as war, famine and sickness. The troublesome part for most of those interviewed was not so much why suffering exists, per se, but rather if God is all-powerful and good, why don’t we see Him doing anything about it? Once again, given the related nature of these questions, I have chosen to place them together under the single heading “The Problem of Suffering.”

1.1.3. The Problem of Freewill

Interestingly enough, this last question, “Does man have a free will?” is in a sense more of a doctrinal issue than it is apologetic. Doctrinal because it rises from the face of Scripture specifically, but still apologetic because some atheists (i.e. Sam Harris) deny that man has a free will at all. Human beings are nothing more than animalistic machines with refined behavior. Therefore I believe it is fitting to address the problem of free will here, within the context of an apologetics study, for two primary reasons. First, because it was a common enough question asked in the interviews for this case study. Second, and perhaps most importantly, because freewill lies very much at the crux of the other two questions listed, the “Problem of Sin” and the “Problem of Suffering.”

In my next post, part two of this three-part series, I will address the eyeopening socio-cultural influence behind these questions, which inevitably overflows into the context of church life. Stay tuned and let me know what uThink!

Part Two of “Abraham’s Bosom; The ‘Holding Place’ for Old Testament Believers?”

In this second installment I want to address two of three remaining questions. My next post, the third and final, will cover thoroughly the last question which was raised by Dejan in a comment to part one “Abraham’s Bosom; The ‘Holding Place’ for Old Testament Believers?”. Because his question will require some word studies in the Greek and biblical exegesis of the entire passage of Ephesians 4, I felt it was best to isolate it. This post would  become too large otherwise. If you’re curious, Dejan’s question has to do with the typical Scriptural references used to support the teaching of Abraham’s bosom as a place of captivity until Christ’s death and resurrection (Ephesians 4:8-10; Luke 16:22).

The transfiguration of Christ is the next point I want to put on the table in this discussion, for it presents a serious logical and theological problem for the doctrine of Abraham’s bosom. If, as many suggest, all believers were held captive there prior to Christ “setting them free”, then what were Moses and Elijah doing on the mountain, talking with Jesus, Peter, James and John (Matthew 17:3)? Apparently they both were free to appear and not at all in “captivity” waiting for release. And remember, Jesus hadn’t yet died nor resurrected.

What was the physical state of Moses and Elijah as we can tell from Scripture?  Elijah, as mentioned in part one, was taken away alive by a whirlwind into heaven (2 King 2:11). This is very likely an Old Testament type of the rapture to come (1 Thess 4:17). Now the text says he was taken to heaven, and I believe that to mean not the sky itself but the spiritual realm of God’s throne as described in Revelation, and, which is the destiny of every believer (Col 1:5). This is reasonable because Elijah, as Abraham and every other Old Testament saint, was justified by faith in God’s promise, looking forward in belief though the messiah hadn’t yet come (Rom 4:3; Gal 3:6). I explained this point more in “Abraham’s Bosom; The ‘Holding Place’ for Old Testament Believers?”.

Notice that Elijah’s rapture was before the cross of Christ, yet he was taken away into heaven. If Elijah was not taken to heaven, the only other option would be Abraham’s bosom or hell. We can rule out hell pretty easily. Now we’re left with Abraham’s bosom. Why sweep away a prophet to put him in a holding place? The entire picture of his rapture points to a glorious climax, not to a halfway point in the spiritual domain. The whole event becomes senseless if he wasn’t taken to heaven as the text says, and it certainly is not a picture of the rapture at that point. If he was taken to heaven, but other men and women of faith had to wait for Calvary, we have inconsistency with God’s standard, and that is not like his character.

As for Moses, we know he went the way of all men and died a physical death. God buried him but we don’t know where (Deuteronomy 34:5-7). The next we know of Moses he appears on the mount of transfiguration.

Last, but not least, consider the discussion between Jesus and the thief on the cross (Luke 23:39–43). Jesus tells him that he will be with him that very day in paradise. This statement alone declares:

1. The thief to be justified at that very moment on the basis of faith in Christ prior to his death.

2. Jesus was about to enter paradise that day, not hell (as some teach without biblical merit) nor Abraham’s bosom (Luke 23:43). Although, we should recall that in part one we noted Abraham’s bosom was simply a synonym for heaven according to the Jews.

In part three, we’ll take a detailed look at the Scripture references often cited to support the doctrine of Abraham’s bosom.

Thanks for keeping up with us on uThinkology. And remember, you are what uThink!

Abraham’s Bosom; The ‘Holding Place’ for Old Testament Believers?

It has been called the waiting chamber for those who believed and looked forward to the Messiah with redeeming faith, but nonetheless died before the messiah came. Therefore, they needed to remain in an in-between state that was neither in heaven nor in hell. That is, until redemption was accomplished by Jesus. After the cross they were freed to pass on to heaven. It’s an interesting hypothesis. But is Abraham’s bosom a holding place for the Old Testament saints (Luke 16:22)? We should consider a few points here before we jump to that conclusion.

Firstly, we have cases like Enoch and Elijah who were taken by the Lord in a sudden nature, Elijah in particular being carried away into heaven in a very spectacular manner (Genesis 5:24; 2 Kings 2:11). It would seem rather odd and without basis however, if they were carried away only to be placed into a “holding tank.”

Now someone might speculate that these were exceptions and the Lord chose to bypass the chronological need for the cross to happen. But this presents a serious, twofold problem. For one, this would not be consistent in the very argument made by those who declare that the cross had to be accomplished before the faith of Old Testament saints could be honored. Secondly, and more importantly, it fails to reflect the just nature of the Lord. Why would a few individuals be taken to heaven while others needed to await Calvary? Were these cases just worthier while others were not? Again, not the message we derive from the Bible.

Another point I’d like to make is that if Abraham’s bosom held any theological importance to salvation, or the afterlife, I believe the Bible would discuss it more than just the one isolated reference given in parabolic form (Luke 16:22). Therefore, if we promulgate Abraham’s bosom as a place somewhere between heaven and hell, being neither in actuality, then we are as guilty as those who teach purgatory based on the brief mention of fire (1 Cor 3:15) in the context of a believer’s judgment. Purgatory was not Paul’s point there either, rather the ‘burning up’ was a metaphorical description of the closeness to the total loss one may have in a fire. All possessions could be lost (in this passage the rewards of the believer) but the life of the individual survives (the eternal life of the believer). In the case of Jesus referencing Abraham’s bosom, this is first of all a parable, not intended to be foundational in building the doctrine of atonement before or after the cross.

Generally speaking, Abraham’s side was descriptive among Jews as the place of rest, comfort and joy, i.e. heaven. And Jesus’ discourse in Luke 16 was intended to communicate justice and retribution in the judgment that will be served to all after death, even the rich and powerful will be helpless before the Lord. For more of a Messianic, Jewish perspective on New Testament studies, the Jewish New Testament Commentary: A Companion Volume to the Jewish New Testament is excellent!

Some of you may disagree with me, and I would sincerely like to hear your thoughts on this subject in either case. But my position is that Abraham’s bosom simply refers to paradise. Consider this verse where Jesus says Abraham, Isaac and Jacob are in the kingdom of heaven:

“I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 8:11)

I further retain that the Old Testament “believers” were saved in the same manner that we are. By faith. Indeed, Abraham is called the father of all believers, for he believed the promise of ‘his seed’ and it was accounted to him as righteousness (Rom 4:3). This was long before the cross happened in time. And faith in God and His work is the only requirement the Lord ever places on man.

Take it from this perspective. The cross stands at a central point on the time-line of history. All believers since the cross look backwards to that moment. But the men and women of the Old Testament had to look forward into the future. Nevertheless it is the same event for both and the looking is done in faith (chronological direction bears no weight in the consequence). I might even argue that Old Testament faith of this nature was greater, for the event hadn’t even happened yet. We on the other hand, are able to stand on an historical moment in time, looking back in the knowledge that it has already happened. Nonetheless, we all look by faith. Click here for part two.

What do uThink?

uThinkology 2010 in Review

The stats helper monkeys at WordPress.com mulled over how this blog did in 2010, and here’s a high level summary of its overall blog health:

Healthy blog!

The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.

Crunchy numbers

 

A Boeing 747-400 passenger jet can hold 416 passengers. This blog was viewed about 3,800 times in 2010. That’s about 9 full 747s.

In 2010, there were 30 new posts, not bad for the first year! There were 54 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 18mb. That’s about 1 pictures per week.

The busiest day of the year was February 10th with 93 views. The most popular post that day was Who do you say Jesus was, and why should it matter anyway?.

Where did they come from?

The top referring sites in 2010 were facebook.com, WordPress Dashboard, en.wordpress.com, slashingtongue.com, and mail.yahoo.com.

Some visitors came searching, mostly for uthinkology, big bang science, concept of origin of life, church vector, and big bang.

Attractions in 2010

These are the posts and pages that got the most views in 2010.

1

Who do you say Jesus was, and why should it matter anyway? February 2010
2 comments

2

About Mark Nigro and uThinkology August 2009
5 comments

3

The Gospel According to Elton John: Making God in his own image March 2010
8 comments

4

Ministry Updates March 2010
1 comment

5

Creation, Evolution or Both? A Visual Concept Map on the The Origin of Life October 2010

Part Two: Asking Why

If you have read my last post,The Lighter Side of Theology: Asking Why,” you are already familiar with my purpose for asking “why” in our walk and ministry as Christians. And I wonder if you’ve given those six “fun” questions any thought? This little three letter word “why,” if used more often to probe our hearts and minds, would keep our motives and our biblical “correctness” in check for more things than we may realize. And that’s a healthy thing, to be kept “in check.”

I make the following points not to offend but to demonstrate that even we in the evangelical community (who boast of our Biblical basis for our church practices) fall into the error of doing and saying certain things which really are more of a tradition than anything else. The six “fun” questions from my last post hopefully were enlightening towards this fact, that they have no biblical basis.

Still I, like most other Christians, have either said, believed or done them at some point. Thank God for his grace that covers us all and never runs dry! This fact also shows how vulnerable WE ALL are towards imperfect theology and unbiblical practices. That is not to say that these things are “sinful”  but simply that the Bible is SILENT regarding them. And if we are to be “Bible based” in all we do, we must be careful to filter all things through the lenses of Scripture. Notice that God’s Word says nothing about:

1. Paul being on a horse while travelling to Damascus and then falling from it. The text simply says he fell to the ground because of the bright light of Christ’s appearing. But pictures and sermons alike almost always portray Paul as falling from his horse.

2. How many wise men came to visit Jesus. There were three types of gifts, but according to Scripture the wise men are not numbered. They could have been anywhere from two to twenty, or even more. Yet every nativity scene and even sermons, once again, portray three wise men.

3. Altar calls being practiced as a public proclamation for those commiting their lives to Christ. We find nothing even resembling an altar call in Scripture. But this is becoming the traditional way to present the gospel. And it may just be encouraging false commitments along the way. Once the first person “Goes forward” and the applause start rising from the congregation, others are more easily stimulated to walk forward under an artificial motivation caused by emotions in such an excited atmosphere. And by the way, they are not coming to an “altar” but a pulpit. The altar was in the temple. Once again, this is a term used without careful thought by the church.

4. Church as a building or a place. In Scripture it is the “gathering” of God’s people. A group, not a place. This is leading to even further unhealthy misconceptions in the modern church regarding “Having church through a television.” Obviously, if we correctly understand what church is we will not be misled in such a view.

5. The “sinner’s prayer” as the way to become born again. In the Bible, we see nothing of a “prayer” form to receive the Lord, only people believing in Jesus and then responding with baptism. Of course, I don’t think such a prayer is harmful and I am convinced that God honors each one that is sincere. But still, we need to be careful with these formulas. By this tradition, we often either give the impression that “once” a person pronounces those words they are “sealed,”  or on the other hand, until someone actually “says” those words they have not been born again. The fact is, they may have been truly converted long before ever praying along in such a formulated pattern.

6. Worship leaders telling people when to stand and when to sit. Once again in Scripture I do not find anyone instructing the congregation to stand or to sit during worship in the early church. If anything, worship was either standing or prostrate on the ground before the Lord as far as the Old Testament reveals. At any rate, no one was ever recorded as just “sitting.” But the idea of telling worshipers when to stand or sit creates a forced worship experience, and typically this is done at fixed times in the service. I uphold the need for order in our church services, but personally I am challenged with this particular practice, a practice that I myself have almost always maintained until now.

So, those are my thoughts on the six questions. I hope you’ve got something good from my bantering!

But I’d like to know in all honesty what uThink about these matters?