14 October 2010

BibleWorks followup: resources

by Dan Phillips

I mentioned in my love note for BibleWorks 8 Tuesday that
[n]obody should think, "Yeah, sure, but you have to be a total brainiac to use it." Not at all. I'm pretty much a BW8 idiot, compared to the guys who post at the forum. I would really profit from a seminar; I'm only using [BibleWorks] for maybe 5-10% of what it can do — but that 5-10% is what I care most about right now.
Wellsir, Jim Barr of BibleWorks kindly emailed me, pointing out that a seminar he just recently gave at Luther Seminary is available online.

The seminar is about two hours long, and starts from the very basic basics, and goes on to demonstrate more advanced uses and complex searches, and the use of various tools, such as maps. If you're already a BW8 user, Jim's seminar will be helpful. But if you're considering buying and would like to see a demo — there y'go!

You can also find some user-created files and resources at the BibleWorks Blog, "run by Michael Hanel, a Ph.D. student in the Classics Department at the University of Cincinnati, and Jim Darlack, a librarian at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary." (Those guys are the brainiacs.)

Here I'll just pause and marvel at three things:
  1. If you have any sense of history, isn't it simply amazing how many really powerful resources we have readily available to us today?
  2. With that same sense, look back and marvel at the achievements of Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Owen, Edwards, Spurgeon — who had few or none of those resources.
  3. Finally and shamefacedly, I think how relatively little we (by which I mean I) have to show for the possession of all these fine, gleaming tools.
Want an interesting imagination-exercise? What would a Spurgeon or an Alford or an Edwards or a Westcott or a Calvin have done with the resources we have?

It is true that "If the axe is dull and he does not sharpen its edge, then he must exert more strength" (Ecclesiastes 10:10a). However, it's a poor craftsman who blames his tool... perhaps even a poorer one who expects the tool to do the work and show the skill and heart for him. The giants of yesterday, looming over our paltry accomplishments, bear eloquent witness: a heart that is ablaze with passionate, all-encompassing love for God will scoff at the paucity of tools, and forge ahead regardless.

Single-minded love and consecrated devotion matter far more than the fineness of one's tools.

But why pose an either/or? Why not put first things first, then bring in the second things in their service? Why not both?

God grant that it be so with us.

(By which I mean me.)

Dan Phillips's signature


Dawg said...

True that -

How much more are we then responsible?

Robert said...

I think about this a lot. And I feel it even more when I think about the example I am setting for my boys. I need to set my focus upon God and His glory...then I won't get discouraged in my efforts and can count on His will and power.

Tom said...


I think some of the "greatness" of those theological giants in the past is that they forged new theological territory. They didn't have a copy of Grudem's Systematic Theology that neatly laid out the various doctrines of the church. The Reformers had the creeds, Augustine, and Aquinas and from them began to systematize doctrine. In the process, they actually had to think for themselves.

Also, I think the plethora of resources we have available today is actually more of a hindrance than a help sometimes. I mean, take any biblical topic or doctrine and search amazon, CBD, Lifeway, or any other Christian book seller, and you will probably find tens if not hundreds of resources. Which one should I use? Which one is the best? The Reformers didn't have this problem, and were able to thoroughly digest and cogitate on the limited resources they had.

Let's not forget that most of them were trained in the classics because that was really all they had... Today, there is so much more to learn and know and this dilutes our specialization to some respect.


Brad Williams said...

It could have been amazing! Or...

They may have developed short attention spans, hopped from one project to another, gotten addicted to surfing online blogs, and at least one of them would have written very snarky comments in your meta. I think it could have been disaster. That's why God put them in exactly the time they needed to be in.

DJP said...

Best chuckle of the day so far: picturing John Owen showing up in my metas just long enough to sniff, "Pinhead."

Screenname: Doctor O.

Robert said...

I would say that the resources can become a hindrance the moment that we substitute them for genuine time in the Word, with meditation and prayer flowing from and into this time. Yes, it is helpful to get some form of guidance to keep our thoughts clear. And it is good to even bounce what we think off of other believers (iron sharpening iron), but we must make sure we dedicate time to our own personal study of the Word and then we can supplement that with these other resources. And our study of the Bible should lead to a closer knowledge of Jesus and strengthening the relationship we have with Him.

Terry Rayburn said...


"But why pose an either/or? Why not put first things first, then bring in the second things in their service? Why not both?"

I agree.

In the 1980's I worked for a manufacturing company that made car parts for Ford and General Motors.

This was during the so-called "quality revolution", when America was desperately trying to catch up to the quality standards of Japan, who was killing Ford and GM on quality.

The biggest factors in the quality advantage Japan had involved two things, both of which were "manual" instead of "technological".

Toyota, for example, did this:

1. They inspected parts and assemblies *by hand*, using the "lowly" workers on the line iteself, stopping the line immediately if necessary, instead of waiting until the end assembly was done, and having it inspected only by a quality "expert", who either rejected the whole batch, or "let it slide".

2. They kept up with parts inventory, not by computer counts which are almost always messed up by "garbage in, garbage out", but by *manually* setting up a bucket system. When one bucket of parts was empty, the next bucket was brought forward, and a third bucket was sent for (JIT or "just in time".

In other words, their hands-on "touch" supplemented their high-tech science, computers, robot welders, etc.

And they ate America's lunch.

What's the point with BibleWorks?

Toyota would have been foolish to abandon their genius technology.
But the technology wasn't enough.

They needed *thinking*, *feeling*, yes, *meditation* to reach the levels they reached.

Likewise, we have every reason to use the technologies for Bible study that we are blessed with.

They help us to "redeem the time".

But if we leave it at that, without thinking, and feeling, and meditating on what those technologies bring us in study...

...if we don't spend the time of communion with the Lord Himself...

...then we will be outdistanced in what really matters by the little old grandma sitting in her rocking chair with her KJV and nothing else.

We don't need to throw out the baby OR the bathwater.

Brad Williams said...


I cringe more about the mess that would break out if Augustine showed up and called you a Donatist.

Zachary Bartels said...

More than that, what could FRANK TURK accomplish if he'd put down his three-ring binder and utilize some of these tools?

DJP said...


Unknown said...

I think the difference is that we make the presumption of using these tools to look up something rather than listen to the still small voice.

greglong said...

Or if Paul had been able to say to Timothy...

When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, and my laptop, especially the one with BibleWorks and Logos.

DJP said...

...in that order.

donsands said...

"I think the difference is that we make the presumption of using these tools to look up something rather than listen to the still small voice." Michael

I never really listen for a still small voice. And if I do, I usually hear myself anyhow.

It surely is essential to search the Scriptures first. Know the Word, and pray in faith to hide it in my heart, and allow it to wash my mind clean, and so be renewed.

And all the tools we have are gifts from our Father in heaven (James 1:17).

Very nice post indeed.

Stefan Ewing said...

It's a very hard thing to come up against, isn't it? What are we doing with the plethora of resources God has blessed us with, to read and understand His Word?

And truly, how fruitfully and prodigiously did our religious ancestors work, that the fruits of their labours were borne without the benefit of a whole electronic library at their fingertips?

As Terry said, we've got to study the Word pure and simple, or "we will be outdistanced in what really matters by the little old grandma sitting in her rocking chair with her KJV and nothing else." (I love that!)

But this has application far beyond Bible study tools. More generally, what are we doing with all the gifts, wealth, and blessings God has so graciously bestowed upon is in this age and society?

What am I doing with the gifts, opportunities, and circumstances God has put me in?

Stefan Ewing said...

(I'm so thick, I just realized yesterday that Christ's parable of the talents applies directly to just this very question. What are we doing with what He has given us?)

Rachael Starke said...

See, this is why it pays to check the meta here every single day. I'm not quite sure what kind of niche genre Church Father/Interweb Humor is,

but I'm suddenly picturing a whole NotTheologian blog where Luther and Calvin start brawling over consubstantiation...how long would it take for Luther to get taken to task for his tone?

DJP said...

One comment.

David Beirne said...

Edwards would be derided as a closed minded, moralist, money-grubbing mega-church pastor. When he died, his congregation would be angry with how his successor was stealing "their church" from them. Seriously, would a guy like Edwards or Calvin be viewed like a Falwell or Robertson (just smarter, and making more sense).

Zachary Bartels said...

It seems to me that FAR more often, "just listening for a still small voice" is an excuse not to be in the Word, not vice versa.

Dave .... said...

can I get an upgrade from BW5? (I have a Scot in the closet.)

Thomas Louw said...

I’m all for Bible software, any tools per say.
But I find myself convicted today. Is the reason that the greats were the greats because the personally took the Bible in their hands and wrestled with it?
If I start to struggle with some verse, within seconds I have a commentary, text book, soft cover book or I jump on the inter-net. I wish I could learn the discipline to read the text, reread it 50 times think about it for a week and then when it has sink in consider to look at some book to see if I’m on the track.
We so push into a corner with no time left we become ‘second handers”
I like Frank 3 ring binder thing, it talks to me about, personally tackling the scripture wrestling it down.

Steve Berven said...

I agree that we need to rely on that "still, small voice" i.e. the leading of the Holy Spirit in our spiritual discernment, but I've never been more productive in my exegetical pursuits then when I have the concordance and Blue Letter Bible cooking.

The Spirit helps give us the discernment in what we read, the resources help us read with more clarity and understanding. as well.

I think there are both essential "tools" of the trade.

DJP said...

I was certain Michael was joking about the "still, small voice."

You were joking, weren't you, Michael?

Jacob said...

Enough software recommendations, tell me something about Da Gifts. :)

Thomas Louw said...

Enough software recommendations, tell me how I must approach.
1. The last part of Mark, the scholars say it is added.
2. Is Romans 7 talking about before or after Paul’s conversion?
3. How should we to understand the way u comb your hair?
4. Tongues stopped during the apostolic age, new revelation after the Bible was given to us, but did miracles stop. (conversion of a sinner being the biggest miracle of all)
Ah, the best one, the weather :)

Jacob said...

What do miracles have to do with the sign gifts of the first-generation church? Note that God did miracles in the Old Testament. God can still do miracles whenever He so chooses. The true sign gifts evidentially have not happened since the first-generation of the church.

DL said...

"What would a Spurgeon or an Alford or an Edwards or a Westcott or a Calvin have done with the resources we have?"

Not sure about them, but I bet Luther would have planted a tree.