Why the title?

"Pioneers take the arrows"

Oh, wait. I should be upbeat and taking arrows doesn't sound like an upbeat thing to say.

So, let me amend that statement.

It was courage and vision that led the pioneers to leave behind a comfortable, settled life and trek West to begin a new life in a new place. Many of those from the East that went West found a strength within themselves that they didn't see while they were in their old life. Instead of being one of those that just kind of went along with the others in the old life, they became leaders and visionaries in their new lives.

The sentiments of that last paragraph come from a favorite author, Louis L'Amour, in many of his books. So, I can't really say that it is an original thought from me. However, what he said is truthful.

Welcome to being a pioneer. Look ahead and ignore the "barking dogs" that give you negative opinions and comments. Louis L'Amour also spoke of the barking dogs.

In some of his stories, it was usually a father or older man telling a young boy how it was that when the Westward bound Conestoga wagons rolled through towns, the dogs came out to bark at them. His character then told the young listener that the barking didn't stop the wagons from going on to their destinations.

Following the advice of the Louis L'Amour characters, may we all forge ahead with our plans, after carefully considering all consequences and leave the "barkers" behind.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Religious Beliefs

I had mentioned in an earlier post that my grandfather was an Elder in the Church of Christ in Keyes, Oklahoma. Since they went there, it was natural for my mother to also attend in the same place. Thus, I sort of grew up in the Church of Christ.

While there was also a few other churches in Keyes, at that age, I had no idea of the differences. So, as a means of explaining the Church of Christ, please allow me to provide some background. The Churches of Christ are known as churches that do not use musical instruments in their worship, they celebrate Communion every Sunday, and they have the belief of “speaking where the Bible speaks, and being silent where the Bible is silent.”

That last phrase basically means that if the Bible doesn’t specify a belief, we don’t follow that belief. If it does specify some aspect of worship, then we do practice that form of worship. The Bible specifies worship in the forms of singing, preaching (teaching), prayer, communion, and giving. There is no mention in the New Testament of using musical instruments in worship, thus, we don’t use any kind of music other than singing during worship.

Each congregation of Church of Christ members is completely autonomous. There is no governing council other than each congregation’s Elders. No form of higher authority over the congregations exist other than God and what we learn from the Bible.

If one follows the history of Christianity, one has to be exposed to the Reformation movement of such men as Martin Luther and John Calvin, who attempted to get the Catholic Church to move back towards more strict following of the Bible. I won’t dwell on the Reform movement, but I do want to mention the Restoration Movement.

While the Reformers tried to get closer to the Bible, they still practiced much of what the Catholic Church practiced. As a quick description of the Restoration movement, let me insert some commentary from Wikipedia:

The Restoration Movement (also known as the American Restoration Movement or the Stone-Campbell Movement) is a Christian movement that began on the American frontier during the Second Great Awakening of the early 19th century. The movement sought to restore the church and "the unification of all Christians in a single body patterned after the church of the New Testament They do not consider themselves to be Protestants in a technical sense, since they maintain that they stem directly from the 1st century church rather than from a backlash (protest) against the abuses of the medieval-era Roman Catholic church.

Now, if one wants to pattern their church’s beliefs after the New Testament church, they logically have to go to the most original documents of that era, being the books that make up the Holy Bible. In my case, I grew up using the King James Version and continued to use that version for many years. Then, when we looked into joining our current congregation, we sat down with two of the Elders of the Lakehoma Church of Christ of Mustang, OK. I stated to them that I tended to follow the King James version since I believed that one needed to have a translation as close to the original documents as possible.

To my surprise, one of the Elders explained to me that while that was good, the New International version also took into account the information on the Dead Sea Scrolls, which the King James Version obviously couldn’t have included. Then, he went further to explain that if I wanted a version that was the closest in translation, then I needed to go to the American Standard Version of 1901.

The ASV of 1901 was translated by 30 Bible scholars, both in the United States and Britain. There was one specification of the translation that stated that any translation offered by the American scholars had to be accepted by two-thirds of the British scholars, or it wouldn’t be accepted. The work began in 1872, so it was not a quick application of translating.

I went in search of copies of the American Standard Version and found only one source of the bibles. That source was Star Bible out of Texas and they are online at:


The particular copy that I have of the ASV was purchased at A & D Bookstore in Amarillo, Texas.

Our congregation is closely linked to Oklahoma Christian University in Edmond, Oklahoma. In fact, I think our previous minister and our current one both are adjunct instructors at OC. In the past, we have had Summer Wednesday night services where various speakers present lessons to us. Many of those speakers are instructors at Oklahoma Christian. One of those, now since moved on to a Texas university, is a scholar who has worked on the Dead Sea Scrolls and understands the original Greek and/or Hebrew. (I’m not sure whether he is capable in both or not.)

When I asked him about the validity of the ASV, he told me that when he translates, he can directly translate from the original into the language used in the ASV. Any other translation version that he attempts to go to requires him to first translate directly and then paraphrase to get to something similar to the New American Standard or the New International Version.

I was in a Christian book store in Oklahoma City one day when I overheard a customer asking a clerk about the various bibles. The clerk explained that the New American Standard Version was closest to “word for word” translation and the other versions went through different stages from “word for word” to “thought for thought.” So, there seemed to be a confirmation of what our Elder and the Bible scholar had both told me.
If you are interested, an online source of various versions of the Bible can be found which includes the American Standard Version. That source is at:


I have found that in using the American Standard Version, I occasionally come across a word that throws me. One such word is “usward.” Thus, when studying in the ASV, I also keep a copy of the New American Standard Version or the New International Version available so that I can get an idea of what those strange words mean in context with the rest of the verse.

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